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The following program is from WNET 13. The following program is from WNET 13. This is the first national television interview for Angela Davis since she was acquitted of kidnapping, murder and conspiracy in connection with the Marin County
courthouse shootout that took place two years ago. This will be a first hand account from Angela of the events of the last 22 months and her plans for the future. Sister Davis let me welcome you to black journal and let me speak for literally millions of people who are very pleased and happy with your safety. Tell me the events that I guess you're now reading in the newspapers do they cooperate with the actual accounting that of the events that you know best? Well there's been a great deal of distortion in the vast majority of newspaper accounts, television accounts, press in general and I think that the kind of publicity that the establishment press is willing to give me is simply based on the fact that they think that I'm good copy. In fact that's one of the reasons why I didn't rush to answer all of the requests that have come in for TV interviews and radio interviews and newspaper interviews. I felt that however
that appearing on black journal was something that was extremely important because I know that you are interested in serving the needs and interest of black people and therefore I decided to do this one because I feel that this is a chance for me to express my gratitude and appreciation to all of my sisters and brothers who work so hard and so long in the struggle to free me. Angela in terms of the sisters and brothers who have worked for your freedom could you put in context how the activities of those people actually ended up in your being vindicated to those charges? Well there've been all kinds of activities over the last 22 months but perhaps I can give one very concrete example of the way in which the involvement of large masses of people and particularly black people had a direct impact on the case itself. A couple of months ago there was a decision from the California Supreme Court abolishing
the death penalty. That meant at that time that we were able to make a motion for bail. There were felony defendants all over the state of California who also made motions for bail but as it turned out I was the only one who was immediately released and I suppose you know that afterwards the Supreme Court modified its original decision and stated that cases that had been capital offenses that were capital offenses before the abolition of the death penalty would continue to remain unbalable but right after the decision came down letters and telegrams and telephone calls and petitions and all kinds of things came in from all over the country and all over the world and in fact during the bail the presentation of the bail motion itself the judge acknowledged the fact that he was receiving so many telegrams and letters that he didn't
have time to read them and I know that that had an impact on the decision. What it meant was that the the judge could release me on bail knowing that there existed a climate of public opinion which would agree with that and he wouldn't feel isolated so I think that that had a very important impact and that had an important impact on the outcome of the trial because how what the jurors have felt if they saw me coming in from a holding cell underneath the courtroom flanked by guards and matrons they would tend to look at me as already guilty is already convicted. Now that's what really happens to most black people. When they come in the courtroom they're the chained I've seen pictures of the some of the sold-out brothers as they were chained and led into the courtroom. Angela how do you feel inside now I mean about being free do you have a mixed feeling about being a little bitter and a little sweet are
you most sweet I mean how how do you accepting this one the this or deal that you've been put through and secondly now you're you're new freedom well certainly the months I spent in jail the majority of which was spent in solitary confinement weren't a very happy experience at all but I wouldn't really say that I feel bitter about my own personal or deal because I know that so many of my sisters and brothers are right now suffering under conditions that are far worse than those that I had to put up while I was in prison my overall feeling about the acquittal is that the victory around my case means that there can be more victories and all the people all of the
sisters and brothers who came together in an organized fashion in order to demand my freedom can see now that it's possible to feed more political prisoners and to do something about the oppression which has enslaved black people in this country for so long. Well Angela when you say political prisoner what do you mean? Well there are a number of ways in which I would describe what a political prisoner is of course we all recognize that the United States does not recognize the existence of political prisoners and in fact in general when you talk about a person who is arrested for political reasons you're talking about the use of criminal charges in order to stifle leadership in order to isolate leaders and activists from the community there
is that kind of political prisoner we know about Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins and Yuri Newton and Leotus Johnson and I could go on and on and on a list is Inlus' solid head brothers we know that they were arrested on criminal charges as an excuse for removing them from the community removing them from their revolutionary work and activity among the people but over the last few years there has come into being another kind of political prisoner and I'm talking about all of the sisters and brothers who are victims of the system who are easy targets of the police who get railroaded through the courts into prison often for no reason at all who are there only because they're black and I think a brother during the Attica Rebellion sort of expressed this whole thing when he
was asked by a reporter what he was charged with and he said he was charged with being black that's why he was there and coupled with the oppression that leads black people and brown people people of color into the jails and prisons of this country has been a new kind of political awareness that has spread all over the jails and prisons throughout the country George Jackson and Fleet of Drungo and John cliche and Rochelle McGee I could go on and on and on to name the sisters and brothers who have achieved a political awareness and a political political commitment behind the walls but you see once they do this then they are subjected to all of the terror that the prison system has to offer and so they end up spending years and years and
years in prison under the worst of circumstances Angela tell me how I have been frequently asked this we've received letters fans of Angela Davis and some brothers and sisters don't understand your concept of communism they don't understand they cannot let's say reconcile blackness and communism what is your philosophy in that respect well first of all I think that black people particularly black youth I'm brown youth are beginning to see through the lies and distortions of the government and a beginning to see that much of what has been said about communism in this country is simply not true the reason I am a communist is because I feel that only through a total revolution which is going to overthrow the capitalist control of the economy which will
seize the wealth from all of the giant corporations that exploit and control the lives of all working people particularly black people and see I feel that the reason why racism is so blatant and has been a part of the history of black people from the time we were first kidnapped from the shores of Africa is because it has helped those capitalist gain more and more profit and if you look at any factory any plant who does the worst jobs who gets pays who gets paid the smaller salaries it's black people so racism serves as a as a buttress as an justification for super exploitation and I feel that if we're going to talk about total liberation of black people we first have to
liberate ourselves from the material conditions of our oppression and the material conditions of our oppression are no jobs a bad jobs unemployment bad housing bad medical care and all of the kinds of things that will be eradicated under socialism I think however that there's been a lot of confusion even in the movement even among sisters and brothers who were fighting for liberation about what communism is all about people talked about black people being used by communists and I think that that really underestimates our ability as black people to be leaders and not only to lead ourselves but to lead white people also and as a as the communists in this country I see that the greatest revolutionary potential exists among black and brown people and you let me
ask the classic question and so just just one more thing and I'd like to make the point that when I talk about a communist revolution I'm talking about a revolution which encompasses the majority the vast majority of people in this country who are working people but a revolution which is led by people of color working people of color would you see this as as a means of one eradicating racism as well as classism the two are inextricably combined as I said before racism in terms of its material base means super exploitation economically it means that black people get the worst of the entire lot economically it also means that the capitalist the boss is able to divide black workers from white workers why because he tells the white worker that his
problem is not those who control his lives those who take his labor and turn it into profit for themselves but his problem is is the black man who's trying to get his job and so racism is operated as a divisive force to prevent the emergence of a real revolution in this country well the kind of thing that you that you're trying to do Angela do you see that as being in any way in conflict with black nationalism well it depends on what you mean by black nationalism of course I would never equate the oppression of black people in this country with the exploitation of white people I think that there is an essential difference and there is a national aspect of our struggle as black people and we have to maintain that cohesiveness and that unity among ourselves and order to be
effective in a broader revolution I would say also that for white people for white workers the most important thing they have to do now is combat racism so that racism and the fight against racism becomes the key to a broad revolution embracing all people in this country all working people when you say revolution when you say overthrow the government number one what do you mean by revolution do you mean an armed confrontation do you mean a change in the values of the system when you say overthrow the government again are you speaking in terms of violent confrontation are you speaking in terms of political process what is it that you have in mind well I mean that depends really on those who will the power if it were possible to have a peaceful revolution and when I say revolution I'm talking about a complete and total change in the entire fabric of this society a change in the distribution of
wealth we have to seize all of the wealth from the general motives and from the fools and from all of the giant corporations that control the destiny of this country today but we also have to revamp the educational system we have to revamp all of the political institutions now if those who are in power now would simply accept the demands of the revolution then there would be no necessity for violence if if there is violence in the process of waging a revolution that would be determined by the ruling class that would be determined by those who will power now see let me just give you a small sort of microcosmic example of what I mean say a group of people get together and go
out and demonstrate in order to dramatize their demands around a particular issue you know that's fine if they are able to do this in the way in which they want to but what happens in many cases you have police forces unleashed on them because they are peacefully demonstrated and my position is that we do not stand there and allow ourselves to be shot down in beaten we have the right we have the human right to defend ourselves and to defend our principles and defend what we want to do and so I would say that in the event of violence in a revolution you always have to see that in the context of defending gains of the people we have a right to defend those gains Angela now many people black national organizations middle of the road organizations black
people are talking about using the political process some blacks in the community have now gotten behind the govern some behind Humphrey some behind Shirley Chisholm do you see politics as a viable force in our struggle do you plan to become involved in the political process of getting people elected to affect change mean the electoral process yes because there are many different levels of political struggle well I think that the electoral process is something that should be utilized it's not something that should be seen as the solution because I don't think that simply by changing the faces and changing the figures in the government there's going to be any kind of fundamental change when we talk about a revolution we're talking about a fundamental change in the system at complete and total overthrowing and transformation of the system I
feel that the electoral process is significant in the sense that it serves as it serves to measure the level of consciousness which black people and people of color and white people as well have achieved take someone like Ron Delams the fact that Ron Delams was elected to Congress said something about the collective mood of the people in his area and precisely because it said something about their collective mood he cannot forget that he has a responsibility to make known the the the needs and the interest and whatever his contingency feels are the important issues of the day Angela to draw an analogy in another direction the many people are saying that many people some
institutions particularly white press that the fact that you've been vindicated of the charges proves that the system of justice will work for black people the fact that you were found innocent by an all-white jury in only thirteen hours of deliberation and only thirteen weeks of a trial proves that the system can work you know I suppose they must feel that we are totally unsophisticated at first I really found it incredible that they could do this again they did it after the acquittal of the the New York 21 they did it after Bobby and Erica and now they're doing it again but see it seems to me that the very fact that they're so quick to jump up and say here's another acquittal it now demonstrates conclusively that there's nothing wrong with the American system of justice if they weren't aware of all of the problems in the judicial system of the way in which it has been historically used and continues to be
used as a weapon of oppression against black people they wouldn't be so defensive about the whole thing how can you say that this demonstrates that the that there is justice in the American courts when we know that the jails and prisons across the country are filled to the brim with black and brown people we know that on death row right now the vast majority of the prisoners who are going to be executed are people of color we know that when a black person is picked up from the community and brought to jail he's gonna have to depend on a public defender because more than likely he won't be able to hire a good lawyer and this public defender what is he gonna do he's going to tell him to copy plea even though he knows in many cases that his client is
is just as innocent as he is that it just doesn't make any sense at all and then just just one more thing I am convinced that if there had not been the kind of struggle that occurred around my case that I probably wouldn't be out you know the word you had not been Angela Davis well not not Angela Davis but I mean the well-known the well it's it's a see this whole victory it's not my victory it's our victory it's a victory of all those who struggle around me not because I happen to be a special kind of a person but because I am also like all of our sisters and brothers in the jails and prisons a victim of the government's repression and so what I'm gonna try to do now is to build the very same kind of movement that was built around me and the kind of movement that that liberated me from prison in order to free more of our brothers and
sisters because that's that's the real significance of this victory speaking of your plans and my time is short and I'd like to get some some quick questions speaking of your plans one do you plan to go to Tanzania and teach at the university there well I have been told that such an invitation is forth coming and I am of course very tempted to take it I really haven't made any definite plans about that however I would say that no matter how tempted I might feel as a as an individual to go to another country where you know life is more beautiful in a country which doesn't have all of the oppression and all of the misery that we see here I feel a very special kind of responsibility to stay here and help to build a movement that's gonna bring about some change
for my people in this country speaking of other countries it's also rumored in in the white press that you are now going to Bulgaria and to Russia for vacation well there are all kinds of rumors it's true that I did receive an invitation to visit the Soviet Union I don't know where the rumor that I was going to Bulgaria stem from but as I said before I'm planning for the time being to remain in this country and help to do some of the work to build the kind of movement that we're talking about of course and sometime in the future I probably will spend some time abroad because I feel that I have to also express my appreciation and gratitude to all of the millions of people in Africa and in Europe and in the socialist countries all of the when I was in jail in both in Marin County and Palo Alto I'd get each day a huge male bags full of letters from the socialist countries and they waged a really tremendous
campaign Cuba they had a committee there and did they just went all out in my defense and also I feel that I that in expressing my gratitude to the people in countries abroad I also have the responsibility to help maintain the momentum of the movement that was forged around me so that we can also break some more chains and tear down some more walls. Angela you're a philosophy professor and a philosopher I think sometimes philosophers use terms they assume that lay people understand one of the terms I think has become confusing is the statement that you were in love with George Jackson now did you mean that well how did you mean that? Well of course as I love all my people I also love George Jackson but then I had a special kind of relationship
with George as a result of working on his defense on the outside and getting to know him as a person and then once I was arrested becoming closer to him because of the similarity of our conditions the prosecution's theory of the case of course was that I was ruled by emotions of passion and love for George and my response to that was very simple and I think a lot of it had to do with the male supremacist notions and ideas he felt that because I was a woman he was going to be able to pull this off I mean I was just completely floored when I heard that because what he was really saying was that to love
someone as a crime and that secondly following your theory to be a woman minted if you did you would be out of control by your emotions yeah that I would have absolutely no ability to be rational and to make decisions of my own Angela time is short I'd like to get a very important question in because I'm sure you'd like the public to know how you feel what about your parents your mother and your father during this last two years of course the last two years have been a very difficult time for my parents particularly because they live in the south and because of all of the pressures that they've had to withstand but they've really been beautiful extremely beautiful because instead of succumbing to all of these pressures they became stronger and my entire family was involved in the defense my mother spent a great deal of time speaking across the country has did my sister and my brother who is a football player and
got a lot of pressures from that in and I think that out of this this whole ordeal there has developed an even greater solidarity among us but it's a solidarity which is developed through struggle that's the most important engine I have to say this on behalf of our viewers that once again you look well and we're happy to have you out in minimum and we're very pleased that you're back with us and as your plans unfold we want to be kept abreast of them and I'd like to thank you so very much for being on black germ
Black Journal
Episode Number
Interview with Angela Davis
Producing Organization
WNET (Television station : New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
Angela Davis makes her first national television appearance in an exclusive interview with Tony Brown, following her recent acquittal of charges of kidnapping, murder and conspiracy after the San Rafael courtroom shootout. "Black Journal" is a production of NET Division, Educational Broadcasting Corporation (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Series Description
Black Journal began as a monthly series produced for, about, and - to a large extent - by black Americans, which used the magazine format to report on relevant issues to black Americans. Starting with the October 5, 1071 broadcast, the show switched to a half-hour weekly format that focused on one issue per week, with a brief segment on black news called "Grapevine." Beginning in 1973, the series changed back into a hour long show and experimented with various formats, including a call-in portion. From its initial broadcast on June 12, 1968 through November 7, 1972, Black Journal was produced under the National Educational Television name. Starting on November 14, 1972, the series was produced solely by WNET/13. Only the episodes produced under the NET name are included in the NET Collection. For the first part of Black Journal, episodes are numbered sequential spanning broadcast seasons. After the 1971-72 season, which ended with episode #68, the series started using season specific episode numbers, beginning with #301. The 1972-73 season spans #301 - 332, and then the 1973-74 season starts with #401. This new numbering pattern continues through the end of the series.
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Race and Ethnicity
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Executive Producer: Brown, Tony
Interviewee: Davis, Angela
Interviewer: Brown, Tony
Producing Organization: WNET (Television station : New York, N.Y.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: 1832276-3 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Master
Color: Color
Duration: 0:30:00
Library of Congress
Identifier: 1832276-5 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Master
Color: Color
Duration: 0:30:00
Library of Congress
Identifier: 1832276-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 2 inch videotape: Quad
Generation: Master
Color: Color
Duration: 0:30:00
Library of Congress
Identifier: 1832276-2 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Copy: Access
Color: Color
Duration: 0:30:00
Library of Congress
Identifier: 1832276-4 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Copy: Access
Color: Color
Duration: 0:30:00
Library of Congress
Identifier: 1832276-7 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Copy: Access
Color: Color
Library of Congress
Identifier: 1832276-6 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Master
Color: Color
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Chicago: “Black Journal; 67; Interview with Angela Davis,” 1972-06-20, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Black Journal; 67; Interview with Angela Davis.” 1972-06-20. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Black Journal; 67; Interview with Angela Davis. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from