Dr. Angela Davis will be the keynote speaker at the Chrysalis Foundation’s 2016 INSPIRED fundraiser in Des Moines on September 29.
The Chrysalis Foundation was founded in 1989 by social activist Louise Rosenfield Noun, Senator Elaine Szymoniak and attorney Barbara Barrett to “provide Iowa women and girls leadership skills, educational and economic opportunities, and a voice within their communities.”
INSPIRED is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year, an event organizers say is an opportunity to “share information and education on issues important to the success of women and girls.”
Author and activist Angela Davis is the Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“A woman of Dr. Davis’ status will be a tremendous draw for those who lived through the eras, studied or read about the movements, and perhaps have an interest in her perspective on gender and society,” Chrysalis Foundation Executive Director Terry Hernandez told Iowa Free Press.
“Her expertise on both feminism and civil rights was the ideal perspective, as well as her own life experiences.”
Davis has written many books, including critically-acclaimed works about the “prison-industrial complex.” Her latest book Freedom is a Constant Struggle was published by Haymarket Books this month. This collection of essays was authored by Davis, edited by human rights activist Frank Barat and includes a foreword by Dr. Cornel West.
“Dr. Davis has studied and published a significant body of work on issues of culture, gender, class and poverty, and civil rights, and can deliver meaningful commentary on how to understand and address these issues,” Hernandez said.
These issues align with the mission of Chrysalis, according to Hernandez, and with much of the work of Chrysalis founder Rosenfield, “who was active in civil rights, women’s rights, and personal freedoms.”
Davis is one of the most iconic figures of the 1960s and 70s. She was born in Jim Crow-era Birmingham, Alabama on “Dynamite Hill,” the site of the 1963 bombing of a Black church that killed four Sunday school girls. She grew up with the girls and knew their families. As she grew older, she became active in the Civil Rights movement and other struggles.
Davis traveled for her studies and completed her Ph.D in Philosophy at Humboldt University of Berlin. She was thrust into the national spotlight in 1969 when she was forcibly removed from her teaching post at UCLA’s Philosophy Department due to her political activities.
On October 13, 1970, Davis was arrested on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy from an incident in August. She was the third woman in history to appear on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. The effort was seen by many people as a “frame-up.”
Davis’ cause sparked international protests calling for her release. The General Secretary of the Communist Party USA Gus Hall said in 1971, “We should not underestimate the fact that the Angela Davis case is now the focal point of the struggle against repression and racism.”
The “Free Angela Davis” campaign helped end her 16 months of incarceration and led to her acquittal in 1972. Davis would run with Gus Hall as the Vice Presidential candidate representing the CP USA ticket in 1980 and 1984.
Former California Governor Ronald Reagan famously said that Davis would never teach in the University of California system. History proved Reagan wrong. Not only does Davis still teach in “the Golden State,” but lectures all over the world.
For more information, visit http://www.chrysalisfdn.org/