Noted activist, scholar, educator, and author Angela Davis will visit the University of Hartford on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, to discuss her life, career, and social justice issues. She will appear in Lincoln Theater on the University’s main campus, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, Conn., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Davis’s appearance is sponsored by the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz in the University’s The Hartt School with support from the department of Africana Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and Hillyer College. Javon Jackson, director of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz and professor of jazz saxophone, and undergraduate Africana Studies students will lead the discussion. The discussion is part of the University’s Black History Month observance and is another in a series of ongoing events centered around “UHart Unity.”
“We are proud to present this opportunity for our student body and the surrounding community to hear from an individual who can offer perspectives and thoughts on the struggle for equality based on her firsthand experiences,” says Jackson. “This event could prove to be significant in informing our students about our history and in helping them to shape their individual legacies as forces for good.”
Davis is an icon of black politics and social activism in the United States dating back to the 1960s when she was a leader of the Communist Party USA and had close ties with the Black Panther Party. Through her activism and scholarship over ensuing decades, she has been involved in many movements for social justice around the world.
After earning an undergraduate degree in French at Brandeis University, master’s degree in philosophy at University of California, San Diego, and doctorate in philosophy from Humboldt University in Germany, Davis began her teaching career in 1969 at the University of California, Davis, where she was soon fired by the school's administration because of her association with communism. She fought in court and got her job back but left when her contract expired in 1970.
Davis went on to teach at colleges such as UCLA, Vassar, Syracuse, the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford. Her work as an educator—both at the university level and in the larger public sphere—emphasizes the importance of building communities of support for economic, racial, and gender justice. Most recently, she taught for 15 years at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where after retiring in 2008, she is now distinguished professor emerita of history of consciousness—an interdisciplinary PhD program—and of feminist studies.
In recent years, Davis has focused on the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early 1970s as a person who spent 18 months in jail and on trial after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.” She was charged with conspiracy as a result of having purchased firearms used in an armed takeover of a Marin County, Calif., courtroom, in which four persons were killed. She was acquitted of this charge and later became a co-founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison–industrial complex, a term used to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social, and political problems.
In the political arena, Davis ran unsuccessfully in 1980 and 1984 on the Communist Party ticket for vice president of the United States. She left the party in 1991. She is the author of 10 books. Her most recent book of essays, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, was published in February 2016. In 2017, Davis was a featured speaker and honorary co-chair at the Women's March on Washington held on Jan. 21—the day after the inauguration.