Angela Y. Davis
Angela Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. Her family lived in the "Dynamite Hill" neighborhood, which was marked in the 1950s by the bombings of houses in an attempt to intimidate and drive out middle-class black people who had moved there. Davis occasionally spent time on her uncle's farm and with friends in New York City. Her siblings include two brothers, Ben and Reginald, and a sister, Fania. Ben played defensive back for the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Born to an African-American family in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis studied French at Brandeis University and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt in West Germany. Studying under the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, a prominent figure in the Frankfurt School, Davis became increasingly engaged in far-left politics. Returning to the United States, she studied at the University of California, San Diego, before moving to East Germany, where she completed a doctorate at the Humboldt University of Berlin.
After returning to the United States, she joined the Communist Party and became involved in numerous causes, including the second-wave feminist movement and the campaign against the Vietnam War. In 1969 she was hired as an acting assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA's governing Board of Regents soon fired her due to her Communist Party membership; after a court ruled this illegal, the university fired her again, this time for her use of inflammatory language.
Davis has received various awards, including the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize. Accused of supporting political violence, she has sustained criticism from the highest levels of the US government. She has also been criticized for supporting the Soviet Union and its satellites. Davis has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. In 2020 she was listed as the 1971 "Woman of the Year" in Time magazine's "100 Women of the Year" edition, which covered the 100 years that began with women's suffrage in 1920. Davis is included in Time's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.