NPJ Book Review: Angela Davis: An Autobiography by Angela Y. Davis

Review by Sue DeGregorio-Rosen, RN, CLNC, Contributing Editor


Noteworthy! Originally published in 1974 this brilliant and compelling  work is relevant today. Davis is efficacious, insightful, humble and thought-provoking. She reveals the complicated and convoluted struggle of the black community during the Civil Rights era. This examination shines a spotlight on the author and how she became and remains an important voice in a  very revealing time in our history. 

Davis begins with her upbringing in Birmingham, Alabama, to her educational travels in Europe to her political activity to a professor in California at the UCLA and then her harrowing arrest in New York City after being placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. She was subsequently found not guilty of all charges in the state of California of conspiracy, murder, and kidnapping that were related to an accusation of supplying weapons to Jonathan Jackson to free certain members of what was termed as black radicals that lead to a shootout that killed two inmates and a Judge. She was innocent but her innocence was not universally accepted. 

 Davis writes in a truly relatable format, with humility and pride. She reveals to the reader touchstones in her life concerning her family, her upbringing, close friends, and colleagues.  We  discover in her own words, her arrest and trial, and her firing by Governor Ronald Reagan from UCLA .  She allows us to understand her decision making and the process, and her decision making around joining the Communist Party.

A page turner, I could not put this book down and was introduced to many other topics in detail such as organizing, communism, socialism, capitalism, political prisoners, prison reform, the Black Liberation Struggle, feminism, Soledad, San Quentin. This remarkable woman captures the actual events in her own words of what happened during pivotal moments that transcend the 1960s.

This work is an important part of history that gives a probing and thorough  description, with both conviction and warmth of the Civil Rights struggle in the USA. Angela Davis is one of the most important figures in the frenetic times of the 60’s and 70’s and continues to fight for political freedoms. This is a must read if you are at all interested in racism, prison reform, and class injustices.