by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor
Angela Davis was and remains an icon from the late 60’s, one whom I, to this day, deeply respect, who first came to us in the public eye in 1969 when UCLA and Governor Ronald Reagan went on a campaign to dismiss her over her membership in the Communist Party. She was indicted on counts of kidnapping, murder and conspiracy that were related to the Soledad Brothers case in 1970. As she went underground, the notorious FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover placed her on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list of suspects. On October 13, 1970, she was seized by the FBI in Manhattan which led to her being held in the county jail back in California. She was later acquitted of all charges.
Since that time, Ms. Davis has been an outspoken leader of prison abolition, a cause she correctly connected to the war on drugs that was initiated by then Pres. Richard Nixon. Those anti-drug policies during the time of Reagan, Bush, and Clinton dramatically increased prison terms for convicted drug offenders, including small time users. She has publicly stated that prison is one of the most important features of our image environment. This is an area that has caused us to take prisons for granted. The prison had become a key ingredient of our common sense. It is there. all around us. We did not even question whether it should exist.
In 1997 Davis and other prison abolitionists organized a September 1998 conference titled “Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison-Industrial Complex,” held in Berkeley, California.
The conference attracted approximately 3500 participants from around the world and breathed new life into a movement that created similar conferences around the globe.
A Critical Resistance National was created in 2001, which was a structure that helped direct numerous grassroot campaigns to halt this destructive process and to abolish the corporate-industrial prison complex. Dr. Davis continues to be one of many leaders in articulating the political mindset for this important issue. She has written and published the 2003 book, “Are Prisons Obsolete?”