Interview with Angela Davis

What was your family's response and the community that you come from, grown up in, response to the turn that you took to the left?


My mother was active in left causes as a young person. She was active in the NAACP which eventually became, ah, an illegal organization in the State of Alabama. She was active in an organization called The Southern Negro Youth Congress which had been initiated by Black communists. And as a matter of fact, my mother, ah, had many friends who were members of the Communist Parties. I, ah, did not initially join the Communist Party when I first became a political person because I had a tendency to see communists as being my parent's age. And not, ah, ah, I didn't see it as an option for myself as a young person. In a few years, of course, I, ah, changed my mind. But, my mother, ah, had been active in left causes for many years. And she had always, when I was growing up, told me that I should dare to be different, ah, and she reminds, she reminded me of that, ah, over and over again, that I should not be afraid to stand up for what I believed. So that, even though there were difficulties, ah, my mother immediately supported me. My father immediately supported me. There were members of our community in Birmingham, Alabama who, particularly during the time I was, ah, in jail, ah, played very important roles in the, the, ah, the movement. My mother traveled all over the country speaking on my behalf. My father spoke. My brother spoke. As a matter of fact my brother, who was a professional football player at the time, had very, ah, serious problems with his own career because he had, ah, decided to take a stand on, on my behalf. So, if there is one thing I had during that period, that was family support and it was community support, ah. Many people of course did not understand what it meant to be a communist. I encountered many Black people who said that, ah, they really were not aware of, of what it meant to be a communist but they did know that every time anyone attempted to do something for the Black community that person was called a communist. So that they knew there must be something positive about it. So there was support. Despite the real vicious anti-communism that combined with the racism and, as I always point out, also the sexism to make me a, a target from three different directions. There was always, ah, a very strong support.