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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

"Power to the People": Angela Davis b. January 26, 1944


Libertad Para Angela Davis, Cuban Poster 1971


A Cuban in solidarity with US freedom fighter, civil rights and communist activist Angela Davis.


In October, 1970 Davis was arrested by the FBI on trumped up murder charges. She was imprisoned for 16 months in California -- some of it in solitary confinement. In July, 1972 she was acquitted on all counts at trial, but only after an international solidarity campaign put the injustice of what was happening to her in the spotlight.


A Marxist and feminist Davis has fought for the oppressed both in the United States and globally her entire life. Born January 26, 1944. Davis continues her tireless work today. She is also a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the author of over 10 books.


In early 1971 an English language roundup of news and events in 1970 published by the Soviet Novosti Press Agency included two remarkable open letters. One is from the National Committee of the US Communist Party to Davis and the other is from Davis to her supporters. There is also a brief write up by the Daily World's Moscow correspondent about the background of the arrest and expressions of Soviet solidarity with Davis.


We republish those today in her honour:


THEY CANNOT OVERCOME THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE


The National Committee of the US Communist Party, an Open Letter to Angela Davis


We extend to you our warmest comradely affection and revolutionary love. Your imprisonment on frame-up charges and the urgent necessity of gaining your freedom has been central to our deliberations this weekend. We have placed the task of building a movement to free you in the forefront of our efforts in the coming period.


Your courage, your determination and abilities have prompted the ruling class to imprison you. Your commitment to Marxism-Leninism, your identification with the struggle of the working class and your commitment to ending the oppression of Black people have inspired people all over the world. Today throughout this country and the whole world a cry has begun to rise demanding your freedom...


The capitalist state apparatus has imprisoned your body but has been unable to contain your spirit.


Yours is the spirit of Sacco and Vanzetti, of Tom Mooney and Angelo Herndon. It is the spirit which has sustained Communists imprisoned by the ruling class for over 50 years. It is true spirit alive in the jail cells and torture chambers holding Communists, working class leaders and democrats throughout the capitalist world. It is the spirit that says to the enemy: No matter how much force you employ, no matter how many of us you jail—you cannot overcome the power of the people.


Angela, we long to have you free, amongst us working to rid the world of imperialism and exploitation and building a socialist society.


Angela Davis who at the time was in the Women's House of Detention in New York State, addressed the following message to all her friends and well-wishers, to all honest people in the United States and abroad.


I Am not Alone


The bourgeois press seized upon my recent capture by the Federal [police] as an occasion to inject more confusion into the minds of the American public.


Focusing the bulk of its articles on my personality and background, the press has clearly attempted to camouflage the political issues involved in my case...


The reactionary...forces of this country have chosen to persecute me because I am a Communist revolutionary, participating together with millions of oppressed peoples throughout the world, designed to overthrow all of the conditions that stand in the way of our freedom.


While newspapers and magazines wasted pages upon pages, attempting to resurrect my past, they should have instead been cognizant of hundreds upon hundreds of American revolutionaries who have been confronted with a fate no different than mine.


Government agents incessantly employ the most devious and barbarous means to rid the country of all those who are challenging racism, exposing capitalist exploitation, and working, organizing and fighting for freedom.


Scores of members of the Black Panther party have been mutilated and murdered, hundreds from among their ranks have been shoved into the nation's prisons; and still others have been forced into exile...


Ronald Reagan and the State of California, having first demanded my job because I am a member of the Communist party, are now demanding my life. Why?


Not because I am the dangerous criminal they portray; not because I am guilty of their framed-up charge for which there is no evidence whatsoever, but because, in their warped vision, a revolutionary is, a priori, a criminal...


One more is being held captive, but more importantly, the revolution continues to grow in vigor and verve...


If masses of people will fulfil their obligation to protect the men and women who have devoted their lives to the struggle for equality and freedom, let there be no doubt about it—victory will soon be ours...


Power to the People.


New York.

Women's House of Detention

Angela Yvonne DAVIS


FACTS, MEETINGS, REFLECTIONS...


Angela Davis is a symbol of another "dirty war" being conducted by the reactionary forces in the US led by the Nixon-Agnew Administration. It is a "dirty war" against Communists, militant blacks fighting for the liberation of 25 million black Americans, and courageous fighters against the war in Vietnam, especially the heroic US youth.


The US military-industrial complex and its political representatives are persecuting a brave, talented, young black woman who committed the unforgivable "crime" of proudly proclaiming her membership in the Communist Party of the US when she was appointed instructor of philosophy in the University of California.


Never, even during the worst days of McCarthyism, were black militants harassed, killed, and jailed as now. Never was such a brutal war against the black ghettos waged. Never before were our universities and even high schools turned into armed camps as now and students shot down...


The fight for the freedom of Angela Davis is more than the struggle for the life of a heroic human being. It is a fight for the full freedom of Indians hemmed into poverty-stricken reservations, for equal rights for Chicanos and Puerto Ricans crammed into disease-ridden slums.


The fight for Angela Davis is a fight for an immediate end to the "dirty war" in Vietnam and an end to the immoral hypocritical policy of Vietnamization. It is a fight for democracy in the US and for an end to the anti-communism which has poisoned the life of our country too long.


The social crisis in the US which the late Senator Robert Kennedy characterized as the greatest crisis since the Civil War (1861-65) has given rise to mass struggles, especially for ending the war in Vietnam and ending the unequal status of black Americans, that are unprecedented in breadth as well as militancy.


From what I have observed, the Soviet people. especially the youth, fully understand the meaning of the persecution of Angela Davis and are anxious to do all they can to free her.


Almost every letter, no matter where it had come from, was imbued with the spirit of solidarity with Angela, and demanded that she be released immediately "We ask the editors of Komsomolskaya Pravda to convey to the American government our words of indignation and our resolute demand: Free the fighter for truth, free Angela Davis!" That telegram was sent in by the students and teachers of the secondary school at Stolbishchensk.


All letters reflect the same spirit of solidarity that burst into flame in the early days of the October Revolution when the workers of Petrograd demonstrated before the US Embassy and helped save the life of an early victim of US reaction, Tom Mooney. It is a spirit that has since then inspired fighters for democracy, national liberation and socialism everywhere.


Mike DAVIDOW, Daily World correspondent in Moscow, USSR



Poster, USA 1971

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