Angela Davis: Freed by the People
September 20, 2019–march 7, 2020
The Lia and William Poorvu Gallery
Hours: 9 AM–5 PM, Monday–Saturday
Schlesinger Library, 3 James Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Opening reception to coincide with the conference Radical Commitments: The Life and Legacy of Angela Davis
October 28, 2019, at 4PM
No single person sits more squarely at the intersection of transnational struggles for freedom than the controversial political activist and pioneering philosopher Angela Yvonne Davis. Her arrest, incarceration, and trial formed one of the most widely debated legal cases in world history. President Nixon labeled Davis a “dangerous terrorist” and a threat to the security of the United States. At the same time, people around the globe rose up to protest in her name. These allies saw Davis as a political prisoner and a symbol of the struggle for racial justice, the liberation of women, and equality. Because she sparked worldwide movements that changed the 20th century, Davis was “freed by the people” well before her trial came to an end.
Decades later, Davis’s influence continues to grow. Her work asks courageous and often contentious questions that stem from racial oppression: Is revolution possible? Can women be emancipated? Are prisons necessary? Her life story demonstrates that simply raising challenging questions can precipitate change.
Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America now houses a trove of archival materials that capture the complex world Davis navigates in the ongoing struggle for freedom. This exhibition, together with the Papers of Angela Y. Davis, offers new insights into Davis’s journey and promises to catalyze fresh research into the questions she has asked throughout her life. Freed by the People documents a global history, a personal journey, and a quest for a more equitable future.
Exhibition organized by Elizabeth Hinton, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the departments of history and of African and African American studies at Harvard University, and the exhibition committee of the Schlesinger Library
Committee members: Marilyn Dunn, executive director of The Lia Gelin Poorvu Executive Director of the Schlesinger Library and Librarian of the Radcliffe Institute; Paula Aloisio, archivist and metadata specialist; Kenvi Phillips, curator for race and ethnicity; Meg Rotzel, arts program manager; Jehan Sinclair, processing archivist, Harvard University Archives; and Jackie Wang, Arleen Carlson and Edna Nelson Graduate Fellow