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Angela Davis on George Floyd: 'As long as the violence of racism remains, no one is safe'

The veteran civil rights campaigner on growing up in segregated America, the opportunity of the Black Lives Matter movement and what inspires her to keep fighting It is 1972, and Angela Davis is answering a question about whether she approves of the use of violence by the Black Panthers. She is sitting against a backdrop of powder-blue breeze blocks, the walls of a California state prison cell. Dressed in a red turtleneck, with her signature afro and a lit cigarette, she stares at the Swedish interviewer – almost straight through him – as she delivers her reply: “You ask me whether I approve of violence? That just doesn’t make any sense at all. Whether I approve of guns? I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Some very, very good friends of mine were killed by bombs – bombs that were planted by racists. I remember, from the time I was very small, the sound of bombs exploding across the street and the house shaking … That’s why, when someone asks me about violence, I find it incredible because it means the person asking that question has absolutely no idea what black people have gone through and experienced in this country from the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.” Watching the short clip explains Davis the icon in an instant: the image, the intent, the intellect. She was immortalised in the 2011 documentary The Black Power Mixtape, and clips of the interview have been shared on social media as the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has triggered global protests against police violence. Her 1981 book, Women, Race and Class, is being shared widely as essential reading for anyone wanting to learn about being actively anti-racist, alongside James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. Continue reading...
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