Angela Davis speaks on a nationwide tour in Los Angeles.
“It has been said many times that one can learn a great deal about a society by looking towards its prisons. Look towards its dungeons and there you will see in concentrated and microcosmic form the sickness of the entire system. And today there is something that is particularly revealing about the analogy between the prison and the larger society of which it is a reflection. For in a painfully real sense we are all prisoners of a society whose bombastic proclamations of freedom and justice for all are nothing but meaningless rhetoric. In this society, today, we are surrounded by the very wealth and the scientific achievements which hold forth a promise of freedom. Freedom is so near, yet at the same time it is so far away. And this thought invokes in me the same sensation I felt as I reflected on my own condition in a jail. For from my cell I could look down upon the crowded streets of Greenwich Village, almost tasting the freedom of movement and the freedom of space which had been taken from me and all my sisters in captivity. Our condition here and now – the condition of all of us who are brown and black and working women and men – bears a very striking similarity to the condition of the prisoner. The wealth and the technology around us tells us that a free, humane, harmonious society lies very near. But at the same time it is so far away because someone is holding the keys and that someone refuses to open the gates to freedom. Like the prisoner we are locked up with the ugliness of racism and poverty and war and all the attendant mental frustrations and manipulations. We’re also locked up with our dreams and visions of freedom, and with the knowledge that if we only had the keys – if we could only seize them from the keepers, from the Standard Oils, the General Motors and all the giant corporations, and of course from their protectors, the government – if we could only get our hands on those keys we could transform these visions and these dreams into reality. Our situation bears a very excruciating similarity to the situation of the prisoner, and we must never forget this. For if we do, we will lose our desire for freedom and our will to struggle for liberation. …”
Figures of Speech
[PDF] The Black Panther Party, Year: 1972, Volume Number: Vol. 7-29 March