Angela Davis Essay - Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series Angela Davis Analysis

Masterpieces of Women's Literature Angela Davis Analysis

Angela Davis: An Autobiography is consistently and overtly political and analytical, not highly personal or confessional. In fact, Davis repeatedly describes her own efforts to pull all of her immediate personal experience into a broader political context, thus keeping her readers focused on her overarching socialist critique of American culture. In this sense, the book reads primarily as an extended critique of American class, race, and gender politics, then secondarily as an account of one woman’s life. Davis suggests that the two are interrelated. Her tone and structuring of the narrative suggest clearly, however, that she prioritizes the significance of the political above that of the personal.

Several key issues emerge as central to Davis’ portrayal of her simultaneous involvements in the emerging Black Liberation movement and in the evolving politics of the socialist Left, including her membership in the Communist Party.

One theme running as an undercurrent throughout the book is the tension between political priorities as they were defined by the racially integrated Left, including the Communist Party, and political priorities as they were defined by the Black Liberation movement, including the Black Panther Party. Davis was originally drawn to the Los Angeles based Black Panther Political Party (BPPP) in 1968, while she was still deciding whether to join the Communist Party. Later that year, the BPPP transformed itself into a branch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) after a conflict erupted with the Oakland-based Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). As Davis discovered, her own socialist priorities were often in conflict with the SNCC national leadership at the time. After her close friend Communist Party member Franklin Alexander was expelled from the SNCC in what Davis perceived as an anticommunist purge, Davis left the SNCC and later in 1968 joined the Communist Party through the Che Lumumba club, a Los Angeles black “cell” (small section) of the Party. Although Davis later also joined the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, partly because she believed they were more sympathetic to Marxist ideas, she often recounts tensions between her socialism and...

(The entire section is 911 words.)