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May 2, 1974

“On Thursday May 2, one of the largest audiences ever to fill the Vassar Chapel waited for almost an hour…to hear Angela Davis speak on ‘Racism and Repression in the United States.’”

The Miscellany News

A radical activist since her college years, Davis told the crowd of some 1,800 that the Nixon administration no longer “feel obliged to go through the motions of democracy” and that their “infinitely horrible crimes” at home and abroad justified any means necessary to remove them from office. “Capitalism, she remarked,” Naomi Baden ’75 reported in The Miscellany News, “is ‘a basically criminal sytem’” that robbed “workers of what is rightfully theirs—their labor and their products. Further, Davis said, the United State is the apex of capitialist development,” a system “hanging precariously on the edges of Third World revolution.” “Angela Davis,” Baden concluded, “explained that it was no longer useful to reflect upon one’s historical responsibility. Rather, she pleaded, it was time to act. Ending on a distinctly pessimistic note, Davis warned that if we waited too long, it would be too late to save ourselves from the repressive policies of this nation.”

The Miscellany News

Dismissed in 1969 from the philosophy faculty at UCLA at the request of Governor Ronald Reagan because of her membership in the Communist Party and then reinstated, Davis was charged in 1970 as an accomplice in the abduction and murder of Superior Court Judge Harold Haley but found not guilty in her 1972 trail. Her ownership of the gun used to kill the judge was, a jury found, insufficient evidence of her involvement in the crime.

Between 1972 and 1975, the Angela Davis Lecture series brought prominent African American progressives to campus under the auspices of the Urban Center for Black Studies of Vassar College.

The Years