Book Review || Autobiography of Angela Davis

This book changed my entire life.

I thought I was just going to be reading about the life of a very historical figure in the Black liberation…boy was I wrong! This book lit a fire within me. Not on the militant side, but in the sense that I felt like I wasn’t doing enough; I needed to do more for my people.

This autobiography was a very intimate detailed account of Angela Davis. The book was not so much in chronological order, starting from Angela evading her arrest, then to her childhood, then to life in prison, after that, chronicling her life in school and as a professor, then finally to her being locked up and fighting for her case….and of course all of the in betweens. All in all the book is broken down into five parts.

Angela’s life was beautiful, even in the “tragedy”. This book, to me, shows what a real revolutionary is, regardless of violence and political party standpoint. Being a revolutionary is fighting for what you know is right, fairness of all people, fighting repression and oppression, being ACTIVE, being organized, and standing up for others as much as yourself even if that means you will suffer. It is so amazing how the “judicial” system & the media portrayed her as this awful Communist women that would stop at nothing to kill white people. The tried to punish her (well, kill her) for her views and for the fact that she was a strong woman who organized her community. They tried to send her to the death chamber for fighting against the system. They tried to use her as the poster child for, “look here, negro, if you try to disrupt or dismantle the system that we have in place to oppress you & make us rich, I will ruin your life, those around you, and I will kill you or punish you if I need to.” It is a shame how many political prisoners we have. In a land of “freedom”, “free speech”, & the right to believe in what you want to believe in…it sure looked like (& still does tot his day) that if your beliefs don’t keep you in line with the “good citizen” you are programmed to be, the have to kill you before it spreads like a virus.

I can REALLY understand why colonizers, racists, and capitalists did not want their captives, people of color, to know how to read and write. Reading and writing are extremely fundamental. For the fact that Angela chronicled her life and put it out for the public is something I know plenty racists leaders were not happy about. This book, besides painting a very clear picture of what life was like while Angela grew up, portrayed the “justice”, penal, & white supremacist society for exactly what it was (and still is).  I cannot lie to you and say that there were parts that I read that broke my heart. To read about the unfairness, the (police) brutality, the provocation, the lies, the mistreatment, etc. that my people had to go through, although it occurred decades ago, still affected me. Every word. Every account. As Angela described situations, I couldn’t help but feel sad and upset that these are the exact same things that happens today. It makes me heavy to know that we have gone no where as a country and damn near nowhere as a people.

This book made me question SO many things. Where are our leaders? Was the government successful in locking up our leaders so that they could not train & raise new ones? Was the government successful in scaring away those that would rise up? Why are prison privatized and why do racist, capitalist, whit folks still see us (especially our black men) as such a threat all the while seeing us as property and live stock to help further the monetary increase of the nation? What makes racist white people so afraid of us? Why do these racist, scared white people enter law enforcement and what makes them draw their gun to pull the trigger so fast? Why has NO change been seen in our judicial and law enforcement department? Where are our journalists, our documentarians, our writers? What are we doing as a people to ensure our freedom and the freedom of those to come? Where are our politicians, lawyers, and other people in high up positions? Where are the people to rise up against this thing that has needed to die so long ago? Where are our allies? Where are the privileged people who will speak for us when our own voice is quieted? Where are these organizations to organize and mobilize the community into effective togetherness? Will racism & fascism ever go away? Are people so caught up in & distracted by social media (which separates humans & makes people have a ver individualistic mindset) that we cannot see that there are so many things messed up in this world that has to be stopped or changed effective immediately? Are we really going to repeat this history, the same history that occurred 50 years ago; the same history that has not been addressed from hundreds of years ago?……I can literally go on, but I will digress here (because this is turning away from being a book review)

Back to the point at hand, Dr. Angela Davis demonstrated so much intelligence and strength throughout the length of this book. How she fought as hard for others that she did for herself. How once she made her mind up, that was it, she saw it through until the end. Angela Davis is beyond an honorable woman.

Her recollection of her time behind bars is so vivid that I could feel myself there. I could see how she lived for 22 months. When she described her conditions in each institution, whether it be the Women’s House of Detention in NY or the Marin County Jail in CA, I could only imagine what she went through every day. It is astonishing to me, how strong minded she was; how she refused to let her surroundings get to her and render her useless in the fight for her life.

One thing that stood out to me, that was a common thread across every section of the book was that Davis had a team. She had people who supported her and acted upon that support. The people that she was surrounded by was as dedicated to the cause as she was; and they too stopped at nothing. Without her team, without the support of those close to her and the strangers who too believed in the vision (& the right for everyone to have freedom, to be free from oppression & repression), Angela Davis would have surely been locked up for life or killed by the hands of a very unjust legal system. Envisioning the rallies and speeches she had, that she organized, hearing about how many people she pulled together, WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA OR THE INTERNET, by simply printing out literature, going out into the community, and speaking to people herself….it was beyond inspiring. It motivated me to continue to do the work that I am doing. Resources, or the lack thereof, will not hinder me. I will keep pushing forward because I know in my heart that it is what I need to do. Whether or not I get the recognition, whether or not I reach X amount of followers, whether or not I get a million dollars in my bank account, I will press on. I will do the work. I will heal my community, I will rebuild my community.

Thank you Dr. Angela Davis for the work that you have done and the work that you continue to do even up until today. Thank you for your passion and determination. Thank you for your energy and effort. Thank you for choosing to fight. Thank you for deciding to tell your life story to the world. Thank you for being you.

I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about a woman who fought hard to make a change, stand up for what is right, and expose the injustice system for what it really is (especially in the world we live in today, even more so if you are an American & you see who this country just made president). You do not have to be a Black woman to enjoy the words within the covers. I will say though, as a Black woman, this book left me extremely motivated and inspired even though I did not fully agree with every single one of Angela Davis’ standpoints or beliefs.

If you have read this book before, what are your thoughts?

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