The D.C. Superior Court says a courthouse display on influential black women included Angela Davis for her “contributions to the political debate” and should not be viewed as an endorsement of her views or as a statement on accusations she was involved in a California kidnapping 40 years ago.
Ms. Davis was accused of owning firearms that were used to kidnap and kill Judge Harold Haley in Marin County, Calif., in 1970. A report in the New York Times on her arrest about two months later at a Howard Johnson hotel in Manhattan described her as a “young black militant” who formerly worked as an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California at Los Angeles.
She was never accused of being at the scene of the crime and was acquitted of kidnapping and murder charges at trial.
At the courthouse, she is depicted alongside the likes of first lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Carol Moseley Braun, the first black female U.S. senator.
“Court employees on the Black History Month Committee created a poster with photos of famous African-American women involved in politics and included professor Davis because they believe she made contributions to the political debate,” D.C. Superior Court spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said. “The D.C. courts do not endorse the views of any of the women included in the poster.”
Ms. Davis‘ recent work has focused on incarceration and its effect on minority populations and the poor. She is listed as a professor emerita at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Her biography on the university’s website says Ms. Davis‘ activism began during her youth in Birmingham, Ala., but rose to “national attention” in 1969, when she was removed from her teaching position at the University of California at Los Angeles “as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party, USA.”
“In 1970,” it continues, “she was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history.”