Longtime Communist Party USA member Angela Davis, the 1960s radical who twice was the party’s nominee for vice president, is calling Barack Obama a black radical, raising objections from her fellow travelers.
Davis, who also was associated with the Black Panther Party and was acquitted of murder charges in 1970, said the Obama election was a “victory, not of an individual, but of … people who refused to believe that it was impossible to elect a person, a black person, who identified with the black radical tradition.”
She said it was good to see people “dancing in the streets” over Obama.
The comments were reported by Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report, who declared: “Angela Davis Has Lost Her Mind Over Obama.”
“The ‘delusional effect’ that swept black America with the advent of the first black president has warped and weakened the mental powers of some of our most revered icons – and it has been painful to behold,” he wrote. “Earlier this month, Angela Davis diminished herself as a scholar and thinker in a gush of nonsense about the corporate executive in the White House.”
He explained Davis’ comments came at a conference on Empowering Women of Color at Berkeley, held in March.
“Angela Davis was saying that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the black radical tradition. She said it casually, as if black radicalism and Obama were not antithetical terms; as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the black radical traditions; as if his rejection of his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was not a thorough disavowal of the black radical tradition.”
Wright, the Chicago pastor under whom Obama was taught for 20 years, famously shouted, “God d— America!” to his congregation.
At All Voices, a commentary said Davis’ statements were “met with shock.”
“Angela Davis is an elder icon among many black radicals,” the commentary said. “She was for a long time a member of the Communist Party and was also in the Black Panthers. She was even once charged with murder though her only connection to the killing was the purchase of some guns involved. … However now it seems she is a well-behaved Obama supporter!
“As Ford points out Obama has not the slightest desire to belong to the black radical tradition. In fact, Obama in a national broadcast said ‘there is no black America … only the United States of America,” All Voices said.
“Rush Limbaugh and other right wing talk show hosts should be able to have fun and get some mileage from Davis’s comments – Imagine even a former Black Panther and long time Communist says that Obama is a black radical.”
Ford said, “Angela Davis, who retired as a professor of the history of human consciousness, in 2008, seems not to be conscious of the fact that she is repudiating herself, her history, her comrades – all in a foolish attempt to artificially graft a totally unworthy Barack Obama onto the black radical tradition – a place he not only does not belong, but most profoundly does not want to be.”
Davis became part of the establishment in California by taking a job as acting assistant professor at UCLA in the 1960s. The regents tried to fire her for her participation in the Communist Party but were stopped by a lawsuit. Later they succeeded in removing her from the post because of statement such as that the regents “killed, brutalized (and) murdered” demonstrators.
She was tried because she bought some of the guns used when Jonathan Jackson, on Aug. 7, 1970, took control of a California courtroom. The judge, one of the jurors, the prosecutor and three black men were killed in the resulting gunfight.
Ultimately, she was acquitted of charges.
About the time the Soviet Union collapsed, Davis became a member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a reformist wing of the Communist Party USA. She recently has been speaking at Occupy Wall Street protests in Philadelphia and Washington Square in New York City.