Scholar and activist Angela Davis to speak May 3 at Rockefeller Chapel

Scholar and activist Angela Y. Davis will deliver a lecture titled “Feminism and Abolition: Theories and Practices for the 21st Century” on Friday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Davis is a distinguished professor emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her scholarly interests include feminism, racial inequality and social change.

Davis rose to international prominence in the 1960s as a civil rights activist, radical feminist and member of the Black Panther and Communist parties. She taught in the philosophy department at the University of California, Los Angeles before being dismissed for her public support of the Soledad Brothers, three inmates of Soledad State Prison accused of killing a prison guard.

In 1970, Davis became embroiled in one of the most prominent court cases in recent history when she was accused of involvement in the abduction of the Soledad Brothers. Her 16-month incarceration sparked a major public outcry and launched the “Free Angela Davis” campaign.

Following her acquittal in 1972, Davis spoke around the world and continued her scholarly work. She ran for vice president on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984. She is a vocal critic of the prison system and a founding member of Critical Resistance, an organization aimed at abolishing imprisonment.

She is the author of nine books, including Angela Davis: An Autobiography; Women, Race, and Class; Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday; The Angela Y. Davis Reader; Are Prisons Obsolete?; a new edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; and The Meaning of Freedom.

She previously spoke at UChicago in 2008 for the George E. Kent Lecture.

The May 3 event is the culmination of yearlong series of public events and programs on Davis’ work jointly organized by the Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture, and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality through its Classics in Feminist Theory series. Earlier events included a roundtable discussion on the incarceration of women and a screening of Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, a new documentary about Davis’ life and activism.

Davis’ lecture is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. It is co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory.