“We the jury find Angela Y. Davis not guilty.”
With those nine words, activist Angela Davis found herself acquitted on all three counts of murder, kidnapping, and criminal conspiracy — charges she was falsely accused of in 1972.
This week marks the 42nd anniversary of Davis’ acquittal.
Since those tense 16 months she spent behind bars awaiting the landmark trial, Davis, known internationally for her persistent efforts in combating oppression in the U.S. and abroad, continues to motivate, inspire, and challenge injustices around the world.
This of course, did not happen overnight. Davis is a product of the rural South – Birmingham, Alabama to be exact – and her political journey started when she was just a teen.
As a teenager, Davis organized interracial study groups as a social statement against the racial and social issues in the South. In her later years, Davis’ passion for radical social justice grew and landed her into trouble with the FBI in 1970, after they labeled her as one of America’s Most Wanted in relation to the kidnapping of five people and murder of a California judge.
Although Davis was not directly involved in the kidnapping and murder, she did buy the firearms used in the crime (California law states that “all persons concerned in the commission of a crime” can be tried). Angela Davis faced a total of three life sentences for a crime she never committed, but after a lengthy trial, was found not guilty.
Today, Angela Davis remains a prominent voice in political activism, and is a living testimony to our country’s history, how far we have come, and how far we have to go. This week, we celebrate her activism, grace and beauty, and remember just how impactful her fight for freedom was.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images