Angela Davis - University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles

Davis was an acting assistant professor in the philosophy department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), beginning in 1969. Although both Princeton and Swarthmore had expressed interest in having her join their respective philosophy departments, she opted for UCLA because of its urban location. At that time, she also was known as a radical feminist and activist, a member of the Communist Party USA and an associate of the Black Panther Party.

The Board of Regents of the University of California, urged by then-California Governor Ronald Reagan, fired her from her $10,000 a year post in 1969 because of her membership in the Communist Party. Black students and several professors, however, claimed that they fired her because of her race. The Board of Regents was censured by the American Association of University Professors for their failure to reappoint Davis after her teaching contract expired. On October 20, when Judge Perry Pacht ruled the Regents could not fire Davis because of her affiliations with the Communist Party, she resumed her post.

The Regents, unhappy with the decision, continued to search for ways to release Davis from her position at UCLA. They finally accomplished this on June 20, 1970, when they fired Davis on account of the “inflammatory language” she had used on four different speeches. “We deem particularly offensive,” the report said, “such utterances as her statement that the regents ‘killed, brutalized (and) murdered’ the People’s Park demonstrators, and her repeated characterizations of the police as ‘pigs.’”

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