A Public Service – Watch Angela Davis Speak at UVa

Angela Davis 2010

by James C. Sherlock

The University of Virginia did all of us a favor when it hosted and recorded a speech by the Marxist Angela Davis through its Excellence in Diversity Series from September 2017 through March 2018.

The credit on the UVa web page below the video states:

Angela Davis’ work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice. She has authored 9 books and has lectured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America. She draws upon her own experiences in the early seventies as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.”

The Angela Davis event was supported by the University of Virginia Bicentennial with funding provided by the Alumni Board of Trustees, and by many UVA PARTNERS.

Wikipedia is somewhat less opaque:

Angela Yvonne Davis is an American political activist, philosopher, academic, and author. She is a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ideologically a Marxist, Davis was a longtime member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and is a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).

In 1970, guns belonging to Davis were used in an armed takeover of a courtroom in Marin County, California, in which four people were killed. Prosecuted for three capital felonies, including conspiracy to murder, and held in jail for over a year, she was acquitted of all charges in 1972. She visited Eastern Bloc countries in the 1970s and during the 1980s was twice the Communist Party’s candidate for Vice President;

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.

After visiting East Berlin during the annual May Day celebration, she felt that the East German government was dealing better with the residual effects of fascism than were the West Germans. Many of her roommates were active in the radical Socialist German Student Union (SDS), and Davis participated in some SDS actions. Events in the United States, including the formation of the Black Panther Party and the transformation of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to an all-Black organization, drew her interest upon her return.

Davis perceived Cuba as a racism-free country, which led her to believe that “only under socialism could the fight against racism be successfully executed.” When she returned to the United States, her socialist leanings increasingly influenced her understanding of race struggles.

Davis supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

So, with those two contrasting views of Angela Davis, the educator and the communist activist, I urge you to view her address to an adoring crowd at the University of Virginia.

Her insistence on the unbreakable link between capitalism and racism is what all should see and remember. There is no serious disagreement between Davis and other anti-racism activists such as Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, Ta-Nehisi Coates and others on this point.

It will leave viewers with the correct impression that this movement is, at its core, Marxist.

That is the reason that the movement leaves no room for “not racist” as a category of human belief system. It recognizes only “anti-racist,” which imbeds anti-capitalism, and “racist.” which is everyone else. “Not racist” could include capitalists. “Anti-racist” cannot.

The critical race theory movement and its action cells like BLM do not headline their anti-capitalism, but do not deny it. Angela Davis’ presentation at UVa refreshingly features anti-capitalism to continuing standing ovations from pony-tailed undergraduates and bald-headed faculty alike.

She starts speaking at the 28-minute mark, but it is worth watching her introduction by a second-year black studies major starting at about 21:35 min. mark.  She gets into the meat of her presentation at the 38 minute mark stating “Diversity is not enough” and moving into the core of her anti-capitalist message.

Those who accept it will need to create alternate plans for the production and distribution of goods and services in order to feed the new utopia.

It goes to the existential question – which comes first, the goose or the golden eggs.

Watch, learn and remember.

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39 responses to “A Public Service – Watch Angela Davis Speak at UVa

  1. Baconator with extra cheese

    I can’t wait for the revolution. I really wonder how millennials will taste. My only concern right now is do I stock up on hot sauce or mustard and do I transition from deer to millennials or start with millennials to save deer for later?

  2. H0 hum. Angela Davis is an important figure, love her or hate her. I found the USSR the most racist place I have ever lived. Details upon request.

    • Then, Peter, you missed my point.

      I am not outraged by Angela Davis’ appearance at UVa. I am grateful for it.

      I have forwarded the link with this post so that the uninformed will understand that anti-racism and the critical race theory that spawned it are inextricably linked to anti-capitalism.

      Those who accept it will need to create alternate plans for the production and distribution of goods and services in order to feed the new utopia.

      It goes to the existential question – which comes first, the goose or the golden eggs.

      I hope you will answer this directly

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    How does a dinosaur from the era of counter culture still have relevance?

    • Four reasons:
      1. Because she exposed what has been relatively unmentioned: the direct and, proponents believe, unbreakable link between critical race theory and anti-capitalism.
      2. Because it is an opportunity to watch that opinion play out in person.
      3. Because the tickets sold out in 2 minutes.
      4. Because of the loud cheers from the students in the audience at nearly her every word. Chilling.

      Most people think anti-racism is just another term for diversity and inclusion. It is not. The loudest voices in the anti-racism industry – Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo, Ta-Nehisi Coates and others including BLM – agree with Ms. Davis’ anti-capitalism.

    • Exactly.

      Big Goose Egg Jim. ” Those who accept it will need to create alternate plans for the production and distribution of goods and services in order to feed the new utopia.”

      You’re using a 50 year old (or older) playbook here. The US has been headed to socialism since when, oh yeah, McCarthy?

      geeze….guy

      • She is a communist, Larry, not a socialist. She and the others are not talking about a bigger welfare state. They want the transformation of society to actively suppress the tenets of the Enlightenment including individual rights on which this nation was founded.

        • Okay, fine. We’ve had people like that, including her, around for almost as long as the country has been a country.

          Big Deal. Why do we have to do boogeyman?

          Also – I’m sure you’re aware – just because someone says they are something – in their own mind, it may or may not be all of what many others might think it is (or not).

          And how much credibility does she really have anyhow if she is anti-semetic?

          We got lots and lots of misguided wannabes… running around lose. Frankly, I’ll take her any day as less a threat to the country over the ones spouting white supremacy and carrying weapons into the streets.

          • The rousing standing ovations at UVA seem to indicate she has a lot of credibility with some people.

          • This smacks of J.Edgar Hoover and his views about communism and the civil rights movement.

            good lord.

            have we gotten smarter than that?

            nope.

          • “We got lots and lots of misguided wannabes… running around lose. Frankly, I’ll take her any day as less a threat to the country over the ones spouting white supremacy and carrying weapons into the streets.”

            Okay. But please tell me, when has a white supremacist who carries a gun in the streets been invited to give a speech at UVA as part of their “Excellence in Diversity Series”?

  4. Calling her a leader in the “struggle” for “justice” is ridiculous. She consistently showed no interest in the welfare of persecuted Jews, gays, or ethnic minorities living under repressive regimes (like Crimean Tatars denied the ability to return to their homeland by Stalin’s successors after experiencing genocide under Stalin). As Cathy Young points out in the Jewish publication The Forward, “perhaps the most shameful part of her career is her consistent stance as a supporter of, and apologist for, repressive Communist states…On her trip to East Germany, Davis visited the Berlin Wall, where 262 people were killed trying to escape from communist paradise to capitalist hell. A 1972 photo shows her glowing as she shakes hands with Erich Honecker, the General Secretary of the East German Communist Party who gave orders to shoot at escapees.” She rebuffed calls to speak out on behalf of political prisoners in Russia and Eastern Europe, and said dissidents jailed in Russia should stay in jail. As Young observes, “She was nowhere to be heard when several women who launched an underground feminist publication ‘Women and Russia’…were jailed or forced to emigrate. She never raised her voice against Soviet laws criminalizing male homosexuality (which, unlike rarely enforced sodomy laws in the United States of that era, resulted in the imprisonment of thousands), or against brutal anti-gay repressions in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. And to this day, she has never voiced regret about her alliance with totalitarian regimes.”

    • I actually agree somewhat with Fred here and this points out the sheer folly of trying to link her viewpoint to an advocacy for socialism/communism when she apparently has gigantic blind spots for other cultures.

      No one (I hope) would argue that Louis Farrakhan argues for “socialism”.

      Neither does Angela Davis.

      They both represent, in my view, an example of how the far left can be as bad as the far right – and trying to link her or him to socialism, fascism, etc.. just further pollutes the whole narrative.

      The following might offer some more perspective on the convoluted nature of both:

      ” Angela Davis Denounces Farrakhan March For Excluding Women”

      https://apnews.com/article/ef9dc06106a4c2d9aecdd37743745b2f

      If we want to highlight some of the equally awful thinking of some on the right – it would be easy. There are extremists all around left and right.

      • “…the sheer folly of trying to link her viewpoint to an advocacy for socialism/communism when she apparently has gigantic blind spots for other cultures.”

        What does one have to do with the other? Do you actually believe that a characteristic of socialists/communists is their love and acceptance of cultures other than their own?

        Also, how about this? “I have always been a communist” – Angela Davis, May 25, 2016. And I can most definitely find other instances where she proudly states she is a communist. She is the one who “link[s] her viewpoint to an advocacy for socialism/communism” – she doesn’t need any help from any of us.

      • Highlight if you can conservative, classical liberal thinking published and taught at the University of Virginia in any but the undergraduate Commerce, Graduate Business and Law schools.

        The Law school offers a choice, but even that school offers 31 courses in a concentration on Race and the Law.

  5. re: ” I have always been a communist”

    yeah… this is sorta like some white supremacist saying: “I’m a patriotic American”. right?

    Claiming you are something does not make it so. Only in your own mind.

    So-called “communists” around the world have engaged in racism, hate, ethnic cleansing, etc, etc… so why associate yourself with folks who are that way in the first place?

    • She ran twice for Vice President of the United States on the Communist ticket. She doesn’t call herself a socialist, but rather a communist.

    • “yeah… this is sorta like some white supremacist saying: “I’m a patriotic American”. right?”

      To you, maybe – which would definitely explains some things.

    • “So-called “communists” around the world have engaged in racism, hate, ethnic cleansing, etc, etc… so why associate yourself with folks who are that way in the first place?”

      Ask her.

  6. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Davis has an interesting story. Growing up in the hot plate of civil rights era Birmingham, Alabama and transforming into a full blown Marxist at a very early age. I bet she was on Nixon’s “enemies list”.

  7. Herbert Marcuse, who Angela Davis has often cited as a major influence on her thinking, was called the “father of the new left”. Like many of the Frankfurt School, Marcuse wrote of “critical theory” not of “Marxism”

    The legacy of the 1960s, of which Marcuse was a vital part, lives on, and is still practiced by oppositional groups and individuals who refuse to conform to the existing systems of what they call oppression and domination.

    Particularly informative is “A Critique of Pure Tolerance” written in 1965. In that book Marcuse and his co-authors argued that “the realization of the objective of tolerance” requires “intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed.” He makes the case for “liberating tolerance”, which would consist of intolerance to conservative, classical liberal movements and toleration of left-wing movements.

    Recognize anything?

    • re: ” The legacy of the 1960s, of which Marcuse was a vital part, lives on, and is still practiced by oppositional groups and individuals who refuse to conform to the existing systems of what they call oppression and domination.”

      I think it’s a big stretch to try to tie today’s activity on structural racism to some folks activities more than 50 years ago.

      Trying to equate the current-day participants in anti-racism efforts as closet Marxists is rich.

      What this really reminds me of is the back and forth over school desegregation.

      One side was adamant that integration was fundamentally wrong and called the other side anarchists and worse, including “_igger lovers” and “communists”.

      look at the sign that says Communism in this photo:

      • “Trying to equate the current-day participants in anti-racism efforts as closet Marxists is rich.”

        Nothing I have said characterizes the leaders of the anti-racism movement as closet Marxists. They are quite open about it.

        The main difference between Marx and critical theory is that Marx saw the revolution led by the proletariat. Critical theorists see the proletariat as largely compromised by the consumerism that capitalism has spawned. So critical theorists try to assemble an army made up of a series of monolithic classes who they declare have not benefited equally from capitalism.

        Race, gender and sexual proclivities are some of the class boundaries. Black is a class. Female is a class. Gay is a class. The critical theorists tout intersectionality as the links between the classes. Black is a class. A black lesbian represents intersectionality.

        If she is also a believer in individual rights and a devout Christian, her wishes don’t matter outside her designated classes that, for the survival of critical theory, they insist are and must be monolithic.

        • re: ” They are quite open about it.”

          Do you mean the folks at Loudoun or VDOE? who are actually implemented these policies? They are “quite open” about it?

          Or do you think they are “hiding in plain sight”?

          It boggles my mind just how much Conservatives engage in conspiracy theories these days…

          • You just changed the subject from “the leaders of the anti-racism movement” to the Loudoun County school board to make your point. It is what you do when stymied in a conversation.

          • Seems to be they’re tied together in these blog threads, no?

            Can you differentiate them?

          • Perhaps. Are you saying that “the leaders of the anti-racism movement” are separate from CRT and structural racism are separate and apart? If you can make the distinction, I’ll follow along.

  8. Capt. Jim,
    I looked through your post again and think I understand your point although I am not sure.
    What bothers me is that you seem to be conflating Angela Davis and radicalism with efforts to study and eliminate racism. Davis dates back a long time to my days in high school and curiously, her UVA talk was in 2018 and doesn’t appear to be linked to the recent protests about police brutality. Also, don’t forget that J. Edgar Hoover tried very hard to link Martin Luther King Jr. to Communists back in the 1950s and 1960s.
    I found an op ed in the Post this morning to be very enlightening. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and now a law professor at Georgetown, notes that the uproar over “critical race theory” seems to be limited to conservative circles and he doubts that Trump knew anything about it until recently. Butler writes:
    “Critical race theory is an intellectual movement that started on law campuses and spread to history, education and sociology departments, among others. It began as an effort to understand why, decades after civil rights had been granted to African Americans, things had not much improved. Laws had been passed barring discrimination, but Black Americans continued to experience discrimination in every market we enter — whether trying to get a taxi or trying to get a mortgage.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/04/trumps-bizarro-world-white-resentment-calling-out-racism-is-itself-racist/?itid=sf_opinions
    I have tried to explore the theory since you brought it up and can’t find a wide group that is concerned about it, other than the Fox News crowd, I hardly think that reviewing race tensions is a bad idea. What is a bad idea is mixing advocates of overcoming racism with the radical left. I just don’t buy it.

    • “Critical race theory is an intellectual movement that started on law campuses and spread to history, education and sociology departments, among others. It began as an effort to understand why, decades after civil rights had been granted to African Americans, things had not much improved. Laws had been passed barring discrimination, but Black Americans continued to experience discrimination in every market we enter — whether trying to get a taxi or trying to get a mortgage.”

      These words are written by Paul Butler, a black man, a former federal prosecutor, who is the Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University. He apparently sees no contradiction between his theory and his own success.

    • For a different view, read “The Truth About Critical Race Theory” on today’s Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-truth-about-critical-race-theory-11601841968?mod=hp_opin_pos_1

      The author describes the government “training” sessions which Trump recently banned.

      He writes in conclusion:
      “To any fair-minded observer, these are not “racial sensitivity trainings,” as Mr. Wallace described them at the debate. They are political indoctrination sessions. While this misrepresentation is a disappointment, it isn’t a surprise. Progressive activists and their media enablers routinely manipulate words to conceal the truth: Violent riots have become “mostly peaceful protests” and “defund the police” has become “reimagine public safety.”
      If Mr. Trump and the Republicans want to win the election, they must quickly break through this blockade of euphemisms and educate American voters about the facts. When the debate shifts from generalizations to specifics, progressives will find themselves defending the indefensible.”

      I disagree with the author on that last point. Movement progressives have no intention of trying to defend the indefensible. See Marcuse’s “A Critique of Pure Tolerance”. They intend to attempt to ban opposing views in the nation as they have effectively at the universities.

      They will not succeed at that, but a lot of damage to America will be done in the attempt.

      • re: ”

        OPINION COMMENTARY
        The Truth About Critical Race Theory
        Trump is right. Training sessions for government employees amounted to political indoctrination.

        so one opinion is quoting another? 😉 echo chamber?

  9. It is the surprise with which many readers of this essay respond to my article which was its point.

    The CRT/anti-racism movement seeks to reverse the Enlightenment, not just expand the welfare state.

    I mentioned in the article Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo and Ta-Nehisi Coates, three of the biggest selling authors today and the acknowledged thought leaders in the anti-racism movement.

    There is not an inch of distance between those three and Angela Davis on the need to eliminate both capitalism and the Bill of Rights that is there to preserve both individual rights and the rights of states against the federal government. Those concepts represent the core of the Enlightenment, and the movement totally opposes it root and branch.

    They see personal and economic freedom as tools of oppression of minorities. They cannot explain and thus choose to ignore the profound capitalist successes of minority entrepreneurs. They cannot explain the academic success of immigrants from India, China, Korea and Japan and so choose to call them white.

    They all link anti-racism inextricably with anti-capitalism and think both must be destroyed together. That is their position, not mine.

    If you watched the Davis tape that I linked, I did not offer it as a one-off, but rather as a perfect window through which to see into the movement.

    • Jim talks about the “success” of immigrants. Look at the following:

      The overall numerical limit for permanent employment-based immigrants is 140,000 per year. The 140,000 visas are divided into five preference categories, detailed in Table 2.

      Table 2: Permanent Employment-Based Preference System
      Preference Category

      “Persons of extraordinary ability” in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers, multinational executives and managers.

      Members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business.

      Skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, professionals with college degrees, or “other” workers for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal.

      “Other” unskilled laborers restricted to 5,000

      Certain “special immigrants” including religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, former U.S. government employees and other classes of aliens.

      Persons who will invest $500,000 to $1 million in a job-creating enterprise that employs at least 10 full time U.S. workers. For petitions filed on or after 11/21/2019 the investment amounts increase to $900,000 to $1.8 million, with future increases at specified intervals.

      https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/how-united-states-immigration-system-works

      • The question is, Larry, how did these immigrants succeed in capitalist economies both abroad and here in America? How did they get to be “members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business.”

        Critical theorists contend that members of their groups cannot succeed under capitalism, much less excel.

        • equating immigrants that immigrated here as already educated and wealthy to people who are not – as a comparison to what?

          You assume that people who came here wealthy already, got that way by their own efforts and not because of existing family wealth?

          what kind of comparison is that?

          • You continue your practice of telling me what I assume. You should stop that and tell people what you assume.

            How have immigrants of color, for example, demonstrated “exceptional abilities in science and business” if the capitalist system is stacked against them?

            Critical theorists, much like you, ignore the inconvenient facts of the successes of not only Asian immigrants, but also African Americans who have succeeded under our systems of individual rights, personal agency and our capitalist economy.

            The academics who push critical theory, many of them black, are examples of success in a system in which they contend that blacks cannot succeed.

          • Pretty simple Jim. I do not think the Capitalist system is stacked against people who already are well educated and wealthy.

            So I’m not assuming what you think but what you are saying as one who is equating immigrants as if they are poor and uneducated competing against poor and uneducated Americans and outcompeting them.

            But it’s a seriously false anaology because the US does not allow poor and uneducated folks to immigrate for the most part and the ones that come in undocumented end up just disadvantaged as those who are already poor and uneducated Americans.

            But you’re also playing conspiracy theory because so many different in instiutions and corporations are involved – including the leadership of VDOE and school systems – and you’re framing it as some kind of cult led by radicals and that’s just another false narrative.

            You’ve got companies like Apple, and IBM, GOOGLE, etc who are also involved in this.

          • “You assume that people who came here wealthy already, got that way by their own efforts…”

            And do you assume they didn’t?

  10. I do not understand how anyone on this blog can call Angela Davis anything else but what she was, is, and always will be: a Marxist to the core who hates America. She was literally a longtime member of the Communist Party of the USA. In the early 70’s she was complicit in the murder of people who were in a courtroom that was taken over by radicals, served time, and was acquitted on a technicality. Later in the decade Ms. Davis was awarded the Soviet Union’s “Lenin Peace Prize.”

    These are not apocryphal anecdotes. They are facts.

    Angela Davis is an SNL skit Far, Far Left anarchist. She hates the United States but is perfectly willing to get a salary, benefits, and pension from the University of California system as well as lecture fees from “useful idiots,” as Vladimir Lenin famously said, like the UVA professors, students, and Administration who paid her to lecture us on racial diversity.

    There is no defense for zealots like her. Allowing her to speak is not “freedom of speech.” It is pandering to a moral hypocrite who spews lies and hate. I consider this no better than allowing a KKK racist to lecture us on racial purity and the inadequacies of people of color. The UVA Administration would not allow that, nor should they. Ms. Davis is no different.

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