Angela Davis Urges Progressives to 'Accelerate Our Activism'

Americans should "reflect on the extent to which we are living with the relics and ghosts of slavery."

In an article late last week at the Chicago Reader that borders on the hagiographic, Maya Dukmasova reports on a speech on the election aftermath given by "legendary" Marxist, feminist, racialist, radical academic Angela Davis at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel.

"Seventy-two-year-old Davis looked regal," Dukmasova gushed, "her gray-gold Afro in a halo around her face, her gap-toothed smile and lilting voice as captivating as it was 50 years ago." Dukmosava wrote disingenuously that Davis "was depicted in the media as a dangerous terrorist" back in the day, when Davis was on the FBI's most wanted list.

Um, Davis wasn't just "depicted" as a dangerous terrorist by the media -- she was a dangerous terrorist. To read more about Davis' radical history, check out her profile here at the Freedom Center's Discover the Networks resource site.

Dukmosava breathlessly described the audience of approximately 1,600 people as "a racially diverse who's who of progressive and radical Chicago—including Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, and the leadership of Black Lives Matter Chicago, Black Youth Project 100, Assata's Daughters, and the #LetUsBreathe Collective. Two of Sandra Bland's sisters were there. John Cusack sat in a front pew with black baseball cap pulled low." Oooh, a celebrity!

Davis urged the audience to move beyond mourning and accelerate grassroots political organizing in response to the election of Donald Trump: "How do we begin to recover from this shock? By experiencing and building and rebuilding and consolidating community," she said. "Community is the answer" -- because it takes a village to tear down the capitalist heteropatriarchy, don't you know.

In her presentation, Davis praised Chicago as one of her "political homes," an "antiracist, anticapitalist, feminist political community." She warned that the election showed we can't underestimate "the extent of the ideological influences of racism, of islamophobia, anti-Semitism, heteropatriarchy, xenophobia," and that Americans should "reflect on the extent to which we are living with the relics and ghosts of slavery."

Though she supported Hillary Clinton's campaign, Davis criticized the "outmoded notion of feminism that revolved around white, middle-class, and bourgeois women." And though she praised socialist candidate Bernie Sanders for making his critique of capitalism public center stage, she also criticized him for needing "a crash course on intersectionality," a popular feminist concept that refers to the intersection of the various feminist and racial identity groups.

Davis also praised the Black Lives Matter movement and called for free health care, free education, and the abolition of prisons and police ("because we need new notions of security. Why do we accept forms of security that are fundamentally grounded in violence?" she demanded as the audience exploded in applause). She emphasized civil disobedience, called for every city to be a sanctuary city for immigrants, and named the mythical Islamophobia as "the most salient form of global racism today."

Following the lecture, the majority of questions posed to Davis were about what to do in the the face of a Trump presidency, according to Dukmasova. Davis didn't claim to have all the answers. "Whatever we are already doing, we need to do more," said Davis. "We need to accelerate our activism."