Rallies for Angela Davis
Angela Yvonne Davis is a political activist who worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panthers, and the Communist Party, which she joined in 1968. In 1970 she was accused of aiding the perpetrator of a courtroom shooting, and was jailed for 16 months before her trial. In June 1972 she was acquitted of all charges.
Davis' arrest led to a significant ‘Free Angela Davis’ campaign across the country, including Collegeville, Minnesota. On Saturday, October 31, 1970, the Organization of African American Students (O.A.A.S.) hosted a rally outside of the Abbey to talk about Angela Davis and her upcoming trial. A total of 25 students attended, with the President of the O.A.A.S. Homer Brown noting afterward that no more than seven white students were present at one time. Due to the low number of white attendees, the rally was later moved into the refectory, where participants used a public address system to project chants and speeches. Brown stated he was disappointed by the turnout and hoped more whites would come, even if it was to disagree, just to show that they had some interest in black-white relations.
The Black Student Union (which had changed its name from the O.A.A.S.) hosted additional events in 1971 and 1972. One was held on September 27, 1971, for Angela Davis and all political prisoners. Another was held in the CSB Benedicta Arts Center (BAC) on April 5, 1972. The BSU rented out the BAC for the rally and sold tickets, the proceeds of which would go to the legal defense fund for Angela Davis. This rally was also controversial within the community as a Communist Party member, Bettina Aptheke, was among the speakers. Despite opposition and threats, in terms of crank calls, notes and bricks placed outside the BAC, the rally took place with 500 people in attendance.
Angela Davis later came to SJU in 1974 as a guest speaker and returned again in 2000. By then she was heralded as an “internationally known professor and author…at the forefront of political and social struggles of the past three decades.”
Simonette, Al. “Angela Davis Rally Held Here; Campus Attitudes Questioned.” The Record, November 13, 1970, p. 1.
Cornell, Lynn. "Activist Angela Davis Calls for Women's Prison Reform." The Record, March 9, 2000, p. 3.