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Angela Davis, Bernie Sanders, and The Movement

Angela DavisEarlier this month Ebony.com published an interview with Angela Davis where she threw a nod of support toward Senator Bernie Sanders in the upcoming presidential election. That headline ran amongst Bernie supporters like a flash fire and then moved out of frame quickly. Ms. Davis has a long history of proudly supporting communism, she was a member of the Communist Party U.S.A until 1991, at which time she became, and continues to be, a member of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, according to her Wikipedia page. This may be one reason why the story was put on the back burner so fast, as the continued misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the difference between Democratic Socialism and Communism continues to stalk the Sanders campaign, it is a dangerous political prospect to push that story too far forward into the spotlight.

Socialism and Communism, are two words that our country has lived in abject fear of but few truly understand what they even mean. We have allowed our justified fear of corrupt, totalitarian regimes who utilized or rose to power under certain social and economic systems to create an unjustified fear of those social and economic systems. Newsflash, a corrupt capitalist system isn’t any better.

As a country, we need to stop being afraid of words and start understanding their meanings so we can make informed educated decisions. But more importantly, as a movement, we need to stop giving the far right the power of making pejoratives of the very things of which we should be proud. When we allow them to scare us away from using words and terms in fear of the negative context they have created for them, we give them the power to silence our political and social movements, to negate our progress, and force us to start at square one every news cycle.

For instance: Social Justice Warriorthe ‘insult’ often hurled at those of us who will go toe to toe with them in a debate on basic human rights by those who are pained that our country has become overly P.C., a.k.a treating other people with respect. The Far Right has managed to take a phrase that in its literal sense, means someone fighting for justice for everyone, the core of the American Dream, and turn it into something shameful and every time we avoid using that phrase we are telling the world that it is something we are ashamed of and we need to stop letting them drive the narrative and setting the framework for our conversations and actions, but I digress.

Angela Davis’ ties with The Black Panther Party and support of communism brought her into the public eye when she was on trial in 1970 for her connections with, George Jackson, a man whose brother took hostages in a Marin County Courthouse in an attempt to gain Mr. Jackson’s release and four deaths occurred. After being found not guilty of all charges against her, she continued to work for civil rights with the creation of Critical Resistance. The world is changing and with President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba yesterday it is probably past time that we let go of our propaganda based fears and start thinking beyond our borders.

Ms. Davis points out in her interview that we could not have gotten this far along without the foreign support that we have received:

Angela Davis: “I am particularly interested in [having] activists associated with the Black freedom movement to realize that our struggles never would have achieved this universality that they have achieved without solidarity that has come from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and Australia. Our struggles are global, therefore, it is important for us to incorporate this global vision into our on the ground battles against police crimes and the prison industrial complex. Since I was very young I have been involved in organizations— the Communist Party, the Black Panther Party— that have had this global perspective.”

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/news-views/angela-davis-black-liberation-interview#ixzz43aj6yVVY
Follow us: @EbonyMag on Twitter | EbonyMag on Facebook

I refer to her comments on Sen. Bernie Sanders as a nod rather than an endorsement because I read a hint of waiting for something more before she says more, in her response to the interviewer’s question, but nonetheless, when the question was put before her, Sanders is the only name that she mentions. In order for us to understand why this matters and why you should care, even if it’s not a glowing verbose endorsement, we need to know what she has consistently stood for and railed against in her lifetime. When we do that we can see the parallels in what Bernie Sanders has brought to the fore of this presidential race and the list of things Ms. Davis brought up in her interview.

Free Education/Decommodification of Education:

Universal/Single Payer Healthcare:


Privatized Prisons:


I hear grumblings within the African-American community, that we shouldn’t vote for Bernie Sanders “until he addresses our concerns specifically” an argument that seems to center solely around the issues of reparations. The task of how reparations should be made is so monumental that even those who champion the idea don’t have a feasible solid answer on how to enact such a measure.

I have also seen an ill-advised movement for African Americans not to vote at all. Based on the premise that withholding our vote will somehow spur politicians to care about the issues of our community motivated by the need for our vote –the same votes they work overtime attempting to block with gerrymandering and bogus voter I.D. laws.

Senator Sanders’ ideas are deemed too radical, even by some in the Democratic Party, this method of instilling fear in the voting populace, preaching to us that in reaching for too much we will lose everything, is an attempt to bottle neck us into voting a certain way, but the ideas of justice and equality should not be ideas that evoke fear; race equality, gender equality, pay equality, what among these things are cause for fear? These are topics that have been discussed for decades. These topics are at the core of our Constitution. These are ideals that we shouldn’t have to deal with now because they should have been solved long ago, but yet here we are.


Written by Pamela Getz

Writer and Activist. Follow Pamela on Twitter @goddesspamela.

Pamela Getz is Editor of International Affairs for Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

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Angela Davis, Bernie Sanders, and The Movement