Interview with Angela Davis

Again, how would you characterize the opposition you were facing and what did that make you feel and how would you deal with that fear?


Well, it was a very frightening phase of my own life as I'm sure it was of all of those who participated during that particular moment of, of our movement. We were confronted with the possibility of being attacked by armed police at any given moment. I purchased a weapon. Most people had guns and we bought guns, not because we were intending to use them in any offensive way, but because it, we needed them in order to protect ourselves, to defend ourselves. We learned how to use weapons, ah, because we had to be able to guarantee that we would not, ah, be senselessly shot down by the police as were so many people during that period, the police or infiltrators. We knew that there was a nationally coordinated effort to wipe out the Black Panther Party and to wipe out the militant Black movement in general. And of course, ah, many people, ah, argued that because of the nature of this repression, we lived in a society which had embraced a full blown fascism. I, personally, was not one who argued that, that era, ah, was a fascist era. I felt that the repression was definitely fascist-like in character. But there were still things that we were able to do within the traditional, ah, channels of the society. There was still some democratic rights that we enjoyed and we had to take advantage of those. Those who argued that we lived in a fascist country, if they followed the implications of that, would then say that our organizing has to be clandestine, that we must arm ourselves and we must engage in, ah, guerrilla, ah, activity. And of course there were those who felt that way at that time. But I felt that we could openly organize the people with whom I worked were for organizing in an open manner in the community, ah, doing the kind of work we did with, a, a SNCC for example, bringing people together around instances of police brutality, ah, organizing the community to fight back, ah, when, ah, ever there was a, a police killing in the community or when, ah, ah, a liquor store owner for example might kill a young Black man whom he thought was about to, ah, rob his store. So that was the kind of work that, ah, we were doing then despite the repression.