Interview with Angela Davis

What was the importance of the coalition that made your ultimate legal victory possible? What was the importance historically to this period? What was that coalition?


Well, there was a spontaneous response, ah, the spontaneous response was not sufficient to serve as the basis for a movement that had to endure, ah, two years of support activities. So that what was key to achieving my acquittal was the organizing, very serious organizing work that took place on a community basis, in factories, in churches, in schools, in every existing institution in our, ah, country. Some 250 committees were organized from one end of the country to the other. ah, and those committees were always multi-racial. The committee was a multi-racial community. It was a committee which brought together workers and students, a committee that brought together religious activists and people, ah, who might be involved in the women's movement, the peace movement. It was an important lesson because the lesson learned was that we could indeed be successful if we could bring together all of the progressive forces in this society. And of course I shouldn't be saying we because I sat in jail during the time all of this work was going on. I did have a part in, ah, developing the strategy both the legal strategy and the political strategy. And, ah, I was not always correct in the suggestions that I made. I can remember that I was opposed to organizing around a bail, ah, movement. Because at that particular time I was charged with three capital crimes. ah, and at that time of course if you were charged with a capital crime you were not eligible for bail. But there were those in the committee who argued that, a, a bail movement should be, ah, established. There might be people, for example, who would be willing to stand up for my right to bail but who might not yet be willing to call for my freedom outright. And I felt at that particular time that that was not a realistic goal because the legal possibilities of achieving bail did not exist. As it turned out I was wrong. Because, ah, ah, the California Supreme Court overturned capital punishment which made me then eligible for bail. In the meantime, ah, people all over the country and all over the world had gathered thousands and thousands of signatures so that as soon as the California Supreme Court overturned capital punishment, there were letters and telegrams and telephone calls flowing into the judge, who then did establish bail. But he set bail at $100,000 which was, ah, ah, absolutely exorbitant during that period. We didn't have $100,000. And a White farmer from a rural area of California came forth and said that he would put up his, ah, farm as bail.