During the 1971 Prosecution of Angela Davis, I Fought the Law — And I Won


February 1971 issue of Ramparts magazine: “It was 1971 and, being young, single, a political activist, and a New Yorker, I wasn’t home much at my third-floor walkup in Greenwich Village except to sleep. One night in March, my across-the-hall neighbor poked her head out of her apartment to nervously tell me that ‘federal marshals’ had been trying all day to find me. I couldn’t think why the feds wanted to talk to me but figured it couldn’t be anything good. So, the next morning, I packed a couple of things and moved into Susan Sontag’s vacant apartment on the Upper West Side for a few days. Susan and I had become close friends after being invited guests in Havana for the Cuban Revolution’s tenth anniversary celebrations in 1969. I had nowhere near her intellectual firepower — not many did — but I held my own with her in political debates, and she was amused, amazed, and intrigued that I was a real, live, actual US communist. What’s more, I was one with a sense of humor — even about the party — and with an anti-authoritarian bent. She lived part of the year in Paris, and I sometimes stayed in her apartment. I was working (in a manner of speaking) at American Documentary Films — distributor and producer of a handful of antiwar, anti-racist, and pro-environmental films to churches, schools, and universities — which was walking distance from her place. A day or two after my neighbor’s warning, I was walking down West End Avenue to work from Susan’s apartment. At 88th Street, a car cut me off. Two men emerged to hand me a subpoena. Turns out I was to be a prosecution witness in the trial of United States v. David Poindexter. David was a friend, and the man who was arrested at the Times Square Howard Johnson Hotel with Angela Davis, whom he’d accompanied on her flight from the authorities in California. I first met Angela in 1962. She was eighteen years old and had come north from Birmingham (known, after the Ku Klux Klan’s 1963 murder of four black girls attending Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church, as ‘Bombingham’) to study, first at Elizabeth Irwin High School in Greenwich Village and then Brandeis University. She and a childhood friend, Harriet Jackson, had applied and were accepted to be part of the 450-member US contingent at the World Youth Festival in Helsinki that year. I was the organizer of the US contingent, with an office on lower Park Avenue. Jim Jackson, Harriet’s father and a leader of the Communist Party, came by the office and encouraged me to look after his daughter and her friend Angela. …”
Jacobin
Democracy Now (December 24, 2018) – Part 1: Angela Davis on Running from the FBI, Lessons from Prison and How Aretha Franklin Got Her Free, Part 2; Angela Davis: We Owe It to People Who Came Before Us to Fight to Abolish Prisons, Part 3: From 1968 to 2018: Angela Davis on Freedom Struggles Then and Now, and the Movements of the Future


Black revolutionary Angela Davis is handcuffed between two FBI agents Oct. 13, 1970 as she leaves FBI headquarters here for an undisclosed destination. She had been sought for murder and kidnapping in the California courtroom shootout that killed four persons.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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