Angela Davis, May 16, 1980

Davis wanted posterDavis libertad

I could have sworn this event was held at Santa Monica College (hey, it was almost 40 years ago, okay?) but apparently it was at Lincoln Auditorium, a 550-seat theater at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica. Definitely it was sponsored by the SMC women’s group and the Black Student Union.

I went with my daughter, who is deaf, and was 12 or 13 at the time, but who very patiently read a book during the event. I took one set of notes so I could explain what was said, later, if she was interested. So I probably simplified some stuff. Plus, there was a whole different set of notes, for more journalistic purposes, that said things like, “Crowd about one-third unreconstructed hippie and two-thirds middle or upper middle class.”

The talk started about half an hour late, so there was plenty of time to sign the petition for a police review board. It’s probably un-feminist to note what Davis wore, but — brown leotard, no bra, tan slacks, striped blazer, and no glasses.

$150 billion (I guess this was the military budget for the year? Like I said, less than ample notes.)
Moderate standard of living for a family of 4 – $20,000.

The United States already has enough armaments to kill the whole world 20 times over.

Capitalism – people who don’t do any work at all are the richest, and have power over everybody else – this is what we have now.
With Communism, the people who do hard work will get the money instead.
(At the time, Davis was the CP’s vice-presidential candidate, but I don’t recall that being mentioned.)

Capitalism is dying. In many countries all over the world the people are telling the big rich American companies to GET OUT. President Jimmy Carter is a member of the Trilateral Commission – a group that loves capitalism and wants to keep it everywhere.

In our country right now capitalism is dying. There is lots of unemployment – not enough jobs for people – especially black people, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, etc. In Oakland (where she lives), half of the young black men can’t find any jobs.

When young people can’t find jobs, they get bored and start doing bad things and crime. Kids take a lot of bad drugs, and really the police and the government are happy to see them do it. The government thinks if kids are busy being screwed up on bad drugs, they won’t have time to think about how screwed up the government is.

Last year the police killed a woman in Los Angeles because she didn’t pay her gas bill. The police are going crazy and think they can shoot anybody whenever they want to. In the November elections we need to try to get a Citizen Review Board so people can investigate and keep an eye on the police so they can’t just go around shooting people who didn’t do any crime.

Students and workers should be on the same side. Students should realize that in a few years they will need jobs, and try to help fight unemployment.

The way things are now, all the big companies think profits are a lot more important than people. Corporations move their plants to another country where they don’t have to pay the workers as much. Even when they do have jobs to give people, blacks and women are the last to be hired and the first to be fired.

Some people think that women who are on welfare, who get money from the state to take care of their kids because they can’t get a job, should be forced to have an operation so they can never have any more kids. Puerto Rico – 1/3 of women are permanently sterile. 1/3 of American Indian women have been sterilized.

The abortion rights struggle is important, but the struggle against sterilization abuse is also important. The department of Health, Education and Welfare no longer funds abortion, but still fully funds sterilization.

California’s Proposition 9 would cut state income tax dramatically, which would affect students because California was the only state with free college. If Prop. 9 passed, it would reduce the faculty by 7000 and close 4 campuses.

Davis wants to slash the military budget and institute a six-hour workday. Most jobs now are 8 hours a day – she wants people to work 6 hours but still make the same money. Plants would have 4 shifts a day instead of 3, so this would create more jobs.

The government is trying to make us mad at Iran and Afghanistan so we can have another war and the rich people can make more money.

My more grownup-oriented notes said the talk lasted less than an hour, with only three questions taken from the crowd afterward, and Davis seemed ill-prepared to address any issues pertinent to Santa Monica or even Los Angeles. This paragraph is from what I published about it:

“Although Davis smiled a lot and spoke softly, in mostly persuasive rather than denunciatory tones, the enthusiastic crowd was ready to applaud wildly at the merest hint of an inflammatory statement. They had obviously come to be rabble-roused by fiery, clear-headed, inexorable oratory, and got instead something considerably tamer. I was disappointed by the lack of any new insights on issues, and a dependence on slogans and cliches not appropriate to a PhD. Still, the talk ended with a very lengthy standing ovation.”

Still… this was Angela Davis. Being in the same room, hearing her talk, meant something. It meant a lot.

Davis ColumbiaDavis OaklandDavis Berkeleujpg

Photo credit: Columbia GSAPP on Visual Hunt / CC BY

Photo credit: Oakland Local on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-NDDavis

Photo credit: Berkeley Center for New Media on Visual hunt / CC BY-SADavis Berkeleyu

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About Pat Hartman

Before publishing the two books "Call Someplace Paradise" and "Ghost Town: A Venice California Life", my main project was "Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics. " I wrote extensively for "Scene," a monthly arts and entertainment magazine with a circulation of 25,000. Also proofread, sold ads, put together the music calendar and, for a couple of years, served as editor. Presided over a couple issues of the local NORML newsletter, as well as being featured speaker at chapter meetings. Wrote a complete screenplay; collaborated on another one; worked on a couple of scripts (additional dialog and general brainstorming) with an indie film producer. Booked the talent for a large music festival. Wrote, designed, illustrated and produced various catalogs and brochures for small businesses. Spoke at a high school as a panelist on Women in the Professions; was a featured speaker at the 1991 Women in Libertarianism Conference; presented public programs on "Success in One Lesson" and "The Bloomsbury Group: What's It To Us?" Created the website VirtualVenice.info and wrote many politically-oriented pieces for Earthblog.net
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