Pomona to bring Angela Davis to campus in April

Well-known political activist Angela Davis will return to the Claremont Colleges in April. (Courtesy of the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation)

Angela Davis, a well-known political activist, will visit Pomona College in April “for a week of interaction” with the community, including two public talks, according to a news release

Davis is the author of nine books and a prominent activist for gender equality, prison reform and racial justice, according to Biography.com, and will be Pomona history department’s 2020 Ena H. Thompson Distinguished Lecturer, according to the release

While on campus, Davis will participate in two public events, “An Evening with Angela Davis” April 7, 2020, and “Radical Agendas and Possible Futures” April 9, 2020. Details about the events and tickets will be added to Pomona’s website and the history department’s Facebook page in February.

Tomás Summers Sandoval, a Pomona history professor and this year’s Thompson lectureship coordinator, said in an email that he chose Davis because she’s “an important scholar and amazing public speaker.” 

Davis has “a life story and work history that speaks to the past as much as the future,” Sandoval added.

Davis formerly taught at the Claremont Colleges, but was fired after just two semesters, according to the release. Her return to Claremont follows a history of controversy with the colleges over her ideologies and teaching contract.

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And while she was on campus, administrators took significant steps to keep her visibility low, according to The New York Times.

“Arrangements have been made to minimize Miss Davis’s appearance on campus,” then-chairman of Scripps College’s board of trustees Kenneth Rhodes said in a letter, the NYT previously reported.

Students who attended her seminars, which administrators purposely scheduled to take place during weekends and times of low campus activity, were “sworn to secrecy” about her lectures, according to the NYT.

Only 26 students were allowed to enroll in the seminar, and the school did not disclose which weekends she would be on campus ahead of time, the NYT previously reported.

She’s returned to Claremont since her firing, however, including for a speech at Scripps College in 2016, according to previous TSL reporting.

Before her time in Claremont, Davis’ activism as a prison abolitionist led to the termination of her contract at UCLA, where she was hired to teach philosophy in 1969, the release said. 

In 1970, she was placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list after being accused of supplying weapons used in a San Raphael, California, courtroom shootout, in which four people died. The shootout was an attempt to free radical activist George Jackson from prison, according to the History Channel

Davis was incarcerated for 18 months but was acquitted, the news release said.

Since leaving prison, Davis has taught both in the U.S. and internationally, according to the release. She’s worked at the University of California Santa Cruz as a Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies for the past 17 years.

Before Davis visits campus, students will have the opportunity to attend reading groups and film screenings of Davis’ work sponsored by Pomona’s history department, the release said.

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