Former Communist leader to deliver ‘diversity summit’ keynote at University of Minnesota

Campus Reform Reporter

Total Shares

  • Angela Davis will deliver the keynote address this afternoon at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
  • University's promotional materials do not mention her political past.
  • Via Wikimedia Commons user Nick Wiebe.

    Angela Davis, former Communist Party USA leader and Black Panther, will be delivering a keynote address for the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s (UMD) Summit on Equity, Diversity and Multiculturalism today, according to the school’s website.

    Davis is most notorious for being charged as an accomplice to a courthouse murder/kidnapping case in August of 1970, which involved the murder of a California judge. Several of the weapons used were registered in her name and she was charged as an accomplice under state law. In the aftermath of the crime, she was put on the FBI’s most wanted list as she fled from arrest.

    Davis later ran as the Communist Party USA’s vice-presidential nominee in the 1980 election.   

    She was captured by the FBI three months later at a motel in the middle of New York City. During her trial, Davis claimed she was innocent, despite evidence that showed she purchased two of the weapons used in the crime. Moreover, Davis was found to have written letters to a man named George Jackson, a Black Panther prison organizer; the kidnappings were meant to gain leverage for his release. The letters Davis wrote expressed romantic feelings for Jackson and support for political violence. However, she was acquitted of all charges in 1972.

    Davis later ran as the Communist Party USA’s vice-presidential nominee in the 1980 election.

    Neither the university’s page on the diversity summit nor the summit’s program mention Davis’s involvement in the case or her prior political affiliation.

    Currently, Davis is spearheading the prison-abolition movement as a founder of a group called Critical Resistance, an organization dedicated to ending “the prison-industrial complex.” Her keynote address, “Education or Incarceration: The Prison Industrial Complex in the 21st Century,” will address the subject.

    Davis has often contended that any black serving a prison sentence in the United States is a de facto “political prisoner” and victims of “masked racism.” The prison system’s purpose, she says, is to “disappear” people from “poor, immigrant and racially marginalized communities.”

    Despite repeated requests for information from Campus Reform, UMD did not disclose how much money had been spent to bring Davis to campus, nor the source of funding.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter@SteveLarson