Charlene Mitchell on Angela Davis
I was worried you would talk a little bit about Angela's red eyes or what they think she can say about you knows those things that happen prior to us want to see worse. You know wanted or no mean wanted because I think many people in this country and many still don't you know why wasn't she out of the country. You know that everybody just assumed that she had escaped. And then I guess people's immediate reaction to the fact that she was arrested and that she had not escaped. Now people say well they were naive she was naive you know and maybe she didn't have something wrong with connections or struggling bad to believe that is a possibility for something else.
If I can I just backtrack again. When people assume that she just didn't have the right connections you know somehow that assumes guilt. Right. In other words that you have had ta to set up an underground procedure you know which allows you to get away. It doesn't say that you wake up one morning in fire and somebody blast a German name on the radio and said that you have been accused of being part of a plot to murder some are saying the first thing they're happening is I think what happened to most people is that you would fade away to try to get yourself together to think you know what when the world is happening to me. Especially in this repressive kind of society. But secondly having you know just spoken with Angela. In jail
the whole problem of one she was placed on a list now of the FBI Ten are the Ten Most Wanted considered armed and dangerous. That was J Edgar Hoover's way of saying shoot to kill. But it was not just Angela I remember it was any black woman that they considered that they could even say look like Angela I don't know if you're aware of it. They pulled Angela Sr. off of a boat and Montreal's. When she was on her way to Cuba saying that it was she. They raided several homes throughout this country saying that they thought it was Angela who went into the house. That kind of thing. So that it was impossible for her to even come back and you know say to her accusers like she had said to Reagan once before you know my politics don't indict me they indicted you for
motors. The regents review. For a change of venue they want. The appeal trial to be held and only turn to you on the Alameda County where you really don't know. How does the court's going to follow orders. Oh I think we have to realize as has been the whole evening that fascism is right around the corner. And it's up to us to stand up and resist. We have to do this at this point in history. Now when I was first confronted by the regents when they first wrote me a letter informing me that they had some kind of archaic resolution in the standing orders barring communism and Hourman in the University of California. And that you know they wanted to know whether or not I was a member of the Communist Party because an FBI agent read an article in the daily
newspaper saying that there was a member of the Communist Party who just been hired by the philosophy department and he or she quote quote quote you know that there are very very many women in the philosophy department in UCLA. That's another thing. But. You know. They I expect it may I think to you know take the First Amendment take the fifth for ever did you know they wanted to use this as a method of escalating their repressive tactics. Now I was going in there to stand up and say who I was. What I was going to. Not exactly how I was going to do it. But. I said yes I remember the communist party I belong to you know the movie club which is a group of black people in Los Angelos pushing for revolutionary change and I'm proud of it. And I said.
How you take that because I don't think that my political ideas and my political activity incriminate me I think the only thing my political ideas do is incriminate the whole network of capitalism politicians the Reagan the regents and everybody else in this country who's against the interests of the masses of people. That's cool. My political opinions and terminated this is why you know. I was in there that we had good I was going to do my little bird book and starting right there. I think that given the fact that it can be demonstrated every day that fascism is right around the corner of fascism and smear it's up to us to show the American people where things are. I think it's up to us to talk about winning over that silent majority before they're
completely duped in becoming the proponents of fascism. To do this we have to go out in the streets and going out in the streets means organizing means raising the level of political consciousness and other things too. No there is a quote which I discovered in something by W. Bush whom I think is one of the greatest men in this country because ever produced and I think that it's very relevant to what's happening now. And he said over a half century ago that fans of the movement were telling him to agitate telling him not to agitate rebel. They were saying that agitation is only destructive that we need constructive work. Now divorced hands of them with an analogy. He said had a toupee. Is agitation. Is the tooth ache therefore good. No. Is it therefore useless. No it is supremely
useful. It is supremely useful because it warms the body of decay and death. Without it. The body would suffer her own knowingly when danger lurks. You have to find out who you are. We are. Going to. Thank you. Well I was interested that you say will said she wanted to face her accusers. I was with Hussein is that where the options were open to leave the country or not. This was not an alternative that Hugh really considered as you know the kind of thing that she wanted to do and that is that's my you know conclusion. First up see Angela has always avoided options of ducking something in a war or anything that I have been construed is that right. So when the Stukas you
called her a communist at UCLA she could have legally said on the record I'm not you know I'm not just not you I don't have to answer the question because it's an illegal question. But Angela's answer was now that you asked me the question I know I don't have to answer it but I'm going to tell you anyway. Yes I am a communist. So as you know Angela faces you know problems and there's this. And but I think that she felt it was very necessary for her to be able to articulate what brought this kind of thing about and to continue her fight to free the soul of their brothers which was a very important thing for Angela. And still is I mean she always talks about it now. I've tried to point out the fact over and over again. As I said that my case is rather insignificant and it only receives so much attention because Ronald Reagan saw it necessary to get involved in the news
media you know jump in anything that he has to say. He has a long tradition on television and movies in that time. But when I say that trying to put this in the context of the general repression that's taking place in this country I'm talking about the exile of Eldridge Cleaver I'm talking about the unwarranted imprisonment of about Bobby Seale. Who's been sentenced to four years for contempt of court. This sounds like something that might have come out of slavery or out of the Spanish Inquisition. And this isn't even to mention all of the brothers and sisters who fight every day under the bullets of fascist fascist police forces all over this country in the ghettos in the body. This isn't to mention the heroic fight. Of the
Vietnamese people. Who are fighting for self-determination for freedom. And I can't in any way play in smart individual plight on that level. And I'm and I have continued to say and I will continue to hold the position better of my job at UCLA prevents me from fighting against exploitation against oppression against repression. You know I have to say later for my job. If you believe in something as strongly as I have these SEE BELIEVE IN IN IN IN THEIR case it is an importance of people understanding what was happening not just to them as individuals but to black people in prisons and people in prisons and how that was being used. I don't see how. What choice she had actually she had no choice. I mean you know there was never a choice to leave the country. Really I think she finally came to the conclusion she could beat this frame up and it
was a frame up and that people would see that it was a friend. You know and I thought I think she wanted to make them admit that it was a frame up. And so I think that was why. Hard to determine if there was some thing that lawyers were bringing you know about the evidence that the court if they presented it they had you know no real grounds to extradite or her prosecutor a California grand jury you know was called into a hurried session because the first extradition papers that Rockefeller's signed they realized that they could hold up in any court because they were sat with nothing so they. There was no indictment. You see Rockefeller sat there first. Extradition papers with no indictment. So they really knew that that could be beaten in the courts. So they had a hurried grand jury hearing
and they've said that Angela was they indicted her for murder kidnapping and conspiracy. But they sealed. The proceedings of the California grand jury. So the New York attorney Angela's attorneys nor the judge has ever had an opportunity or Rockefeller at all to see what those proceedings were. So they are accepting the word of the California far readies that they have sufficient information. Now a governor should only saw my extradition papers when he has presented before him. Legal arguments enough to say that we have enough evidence to say at least this person should be tried. But how can he sign it if there is never even than one grain of evidence presented to him that that's what I was just trying to get something through right. Right. And it sets a precedence you know.
You know it sets a precedent in the country and the precedent is that you take. And it's they all Fugitive Slave Law. Right. The Fugitive Slave Law was that if you were caught as a slave in the north at all the slave owner had to do was claim you and you had to be sent back proper right and that was the property. And it's the same law that's with the extradition laws based on. So you are you know if you are a non-radical in this country you know if Angela says Opri arre you are criminal. Now you know from I mean you know I think that tags this country as a way of using tags to confuse issues you know names
or whatever to make people inactive. You know and it say for instance all the jihadis you know in other places in this country and you know in the army you know who have for one reason or another stood up. You know get all these numbers and things behind their names you know. Now those numbers then are worth as much but it's a tax so that when they come out of the service and start getting ready to get jobs those tags are going to affect their lives. You know I'm not communism. That's another tag as a tag you know
to confuse the issue so that to make less important what a person is saying you know that this is giving you the movement the American religion. This is whole thing about you know Panthers You know we created a whole thing around who Panthers are. So that now we see you know people with guns and stuff we don't see people talking about breakfast programs free medical attention. You know people controlling what happens in their communities. You see because we're mediately turned off by the tag you know the name whatever somebody wants to but there's an attack to something else. It's not just a turn away attention it is to allow certain
things to happen to you. Right. That blunts the edge that is coming to your little bear market to your defense right. Right. And see they see the thing that you mention about the Black Panther Party is very interesting because it is my estimate that well in Chicago last year we talked about you know if things were not stopped. It with the way they were treating the Black Panthers now behaving you know and so on that it would have been all over the country. Well that conference was how well the first week of March. By this spring you had can't you had orange and I'm sorry you had Augusta and you had JACKSON Right right. And now you have Angela. You know it's a whole string of repressive measures that can be taken against anybody who dares to stand up and disagree in any kind
of or with an alternative solution to problems. You know I think it's very important. Maybe if we just for the benefit of the people out there because I know that one of the one of the main reasons that there has not been. A greater movement developed in the support of Angela Davis is because of that word and that I know how I personally we act to work sir consciously just communist. You know I think that everybody in this country who was NO MATTER HOW OLD during the whole 50s was affected by the whole McCarthy period. Yes there I mean I know that that's true that whether they were you know little people
or have big people or however you know they were in some way affected you know exposed to those television things and all that kind of stuff. You know people the whole blacklisting the whole the whole scare and it's what the country has never overcome it. You know I was the reason there were no youth movement during that whole snow of any significance during the whole period of the 50s. You know and as people come out of that you know the 60s 10 years have gone since the 50s you know 11 now but still it's still there. Well I think the unit is so is people say communist. Then everybody kind of you know gasps for breath this is a work different
you know you do your last thing inside of yourself but if you think that when people look at blacks if they misstep with a black red pass they have horns and you say you know you try to listen not to Congress. Right. See it was really weird but also like people really don't you know like I mean people just don't you know I kind of turn away because they feel they they really should. Involve themselves but if they involve themselves there somebody will say that there can be honest you know it is a limit to people who say that you are communist as people know that. Then you know that means your jab or whatever or whatever. Think of it was specially like you know where i can we can debate things like you
know I feel believe you that so as to get by you know not talking about the issues you know the attack you personally you know you know what you get to for you to see one of them one of the great things about being the cause of this is that you know you had said that on the face of it you make no apologies for that I have no difficulty with that. Whereas there are a whole number of people. And to get really what you just asked you know about some of the support and some of the lack of support you know Frangela. Within the black movement for example there are a whole number of people who have determined that they will support Angela. But they must make it known that they are not supporting her politics. Well one of the things that I have said is you know that the major thing is to Free Angela and in the marketplace of ideas you know you will decide whether some other philosophy wins or whether Angela's philosophy wins you know. But if you are really
talking about freeing her you got to free her. Recognizing that she is a communist because for her to carve out now on her political philosophy is to kill a certain part of Angela. Now while you may be freeing her in terms of the sense of her body that what makes her live and breathe on her own her own philosophy if you kill that you know her ability and her her right to do that not to have that is her opinion. Then you kill a certain amount of her and that people have to accept it and they have to close ranks. He wants to be right. He actually doesn't care whether Rockefeller. Comes on sometimes like a liberal. As long as when it came time that when they didn't want to go there anymore their Rockefeller pulled off his support to go there. That's what Rockefeller was concerned about. And Nixon might say well now I might not
shouldn't say these things away but Nixon said the same thing when he was vice president for for Eisenhower you know so it just depends who's the top man at the moment so they do close ranks even with the support of him. You know if you do know a division between your ministry of ecology mistruths and Henri Paul for you know you know just absolved our new fall wrong. See I only it's just a question either of the of the blood movement. Exactly think the white radicals or would be radicals are liberals. There is also this saying well you know if if it were just you know it. Even if she were just a black panther
- Producing Organization
- KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
- Contributing Organization
- Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
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- Charlene Mitchell is interviewed about the decisions Angela Davis made, including speaking out against repression and admitting that she was a communist, that lead up to her indictment and later arrest. Recording contains Angela Davis giving a speech about her willingness to give up her UCLA job to be able to speak her truth and fight for justice. This program was recorded by WFCR, Amherst, Massachusetts. Broadcast on KPFA, 18 Jan. 1971.
- Davis, Angela Y. (Angela Yvonne), 1944-; Black Panther Party; Communism -- United States; African Americans--Civil rights--History
- Media type
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 4064_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_BB4136_Charlene_Mitchell (Filename)
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- Chicago: “Charlene Mitchell on Angela Davis,” 1971-01-18, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-gb1xd0r69t.
- MLA: “Charlene Mitchell on Angela Davis.” 1971-01-18. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-gb1xd0r69t>.
- APA: Charlene Mitchell on Angela Davis. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-gb1xd0r69t