A symbol of turbulent times in the United States civil rights movement comes to Fresno when writer, activist and educator Angela Davis visits campus to discuss her film, “Free Angela & All the Political Prisoners,” after it is screened as part of Fresno State’s CineCulture at 5 p.m. Friday, May 2.
The screening and discussion, “A Conversation with Angela Davis: Politics, Prisons and the Modern Struggle for Equality,” is free and open to the public in the Satellite Student Union. Campus parking is free after 4 p.m. on Fridays.
Davis gained international recognition in 1970 when she was incarcerated for 18 months, spawning the “Free Angela Davis” movement that stands as a militant symbol of the civil rights era. She is now an advocate for oppressed women and minority populations and is working to reform the American prison system.
The 102-minute film, with executive producers including Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jay-Z, documents the life of Davis from her days as a young philosophy professor at UCLA whose political and social activism and membership in the Communist Party, USA led to her removal. Her membership in the Communist Party led to then-Gov. Ronald Reagan’s request in 1969 to have her barred from teaching at any university in California.
Soon after, Davis was implicated in the Aug. 7, 1970 Marin County courthouse shooting that left a judge and three black men dead. She was not directly involved in the incident, a kidnapping and hostage situation, but was accused of purchasing the guns that were used and was charged with murder.
She became a fugitive and ended up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List before her capture that led to one of the most famous trials in U.S. history and the world-wide movement to free her.
Her $100,000 bail was paid in 1972 with the help of Rodger McAfee, a dairy farmer from Caruthers. This local element is part of the film. Davis was acquitted of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges.
The “Free Angela Davis” movement inspired such musical creations as John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Angela” and the Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Black Angel.”
Davis is now professor emerita of history of consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, and feminist studies at the University of California Santa Cruz.
She has written “Abolition Democracy” and “Are Prisons Obsolete?” and is completing a book titled “Prisons and American History.”
Davis is a member of the executive board of the Women of Color Resource Center, a Bay Area organization that emphasizes popular education of and about women who live in conditions of poverty. She also works with Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, an abolitionist organization based in Queensland, Australia that works in solidarity with women in prison.
CineCulture is a film series open to students, employees and the community. It is co-sponsored by the Fresno State CineCulture Club which promotes cultural awareness through film and post-screening discussions, said Dr. Mary Husain, club adviser and CineCulture class instructor.
For more information, contact Husain at firstname.lastname@example.org or club president Tom Boroujeni at email@example.com.
(University Communications news assistants Jodi Raley contributed to this report.)