Angela Davis speaks to a full house at Urban Issues Breakfast Forum

Line outside the California African American Museum

Line outside the California African American Museum

Standing in line, some speculated that Friday April 19 attracted the largest Urban Issues Breakfast Forum crowd they had ever seen. Three lines wrapped around the California African American Museum: one for VIPs, another for reservations, and a last line filled with hopefuls crossing their fingers for the chance to hear Angela Davis speak.

“We want an end to all wars of oppression,” Davis said to a cheering crowd. “We want freedom for all black and oppressed people now held in U.S. federal and state prison and jails.”

Davis, prominent black scholar, activist and feminist, referred to the prison-industrial complex, the idea that the prison system thrives due to its profitability. This was the topic of her talk as well as a central theme in her newest book, “The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues.”

Davis began her talk by drawing parallels to previous social movements. This included the Civil Rights Movement in which Davis was heavily involved. Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944, she was tied to the Black Panther Party, although never actually a member.

Members of the crowd

Members of the crowd

“Democracy is still very much a work in progress,” she said. “If those struggles of 50 years ago count for anything, they should inspire us to action today.”

Davis continued to cite examples she believed contribute to the prison-industrial complex, including a company called G4S, the leading security company in the United States.

She asserted her belief in the link of mass incarceration in the United States to both domestic and international issues. Related domestic issues, she said, include lack of education and healthcare. She cited the connection to prisoners in Palestine as an international example.

The crowd often clapped in agreement when her words particularly spoke to them.

One audience member articulated the connection the crowd felt toward Davis.

“Angela Davis is a cultural icon for me,” said Kiana Cornish. “She is a child of the movement and so am I. I have a strong cultural pull towards her.”

Davis is a professor emeritus at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work as an activist spans over five decades.

The Urban Issues Breakfast Forum presents monthly speakers to address relevant social, economic and political issues. Two prominent black journalists, Anthony Asadullah Samad and Bob Farrell, founded the non-profit to foster discussion among the community about these types of important issues.angela davis article image

Despite the early start time at 7:30 a.m., listeners often fill the room. Some even arrived at 6:30 a.m. to ensure they could hear Davis speak.

They left with a powerful message.

“We need a system that is based on peace, justice, and equality for the world,” Davis said.


  1. Isidra Person-Lynn says:

    Thank you for your coverage because I couldn’t make it!

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