How Did Angela Davis Overcome Being FBI’s Most Wanted?

Angela Davis
Emeka Ochiagha
June 11, 2021

Angela Davis is a Black radical activist, a professor, a prison abolitionist – and was once the FBI’s Most Wanted “Criminal!” What did she do – and how did she get away with it?

On August 7th, 1970, Jonathan Jackson attempted to free prisoners who were on trial in the Marin County Courthouse. Jackson was killed, along with three prisoners and a Superior Court Judge. It was soon discovered that the guns used by Jackson were registered in Davis’ name.

Davis fled from California to NYC, which landed her on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. When she was finally discovered months later by law enforcement, she was set to embark in a high profile trial. Surprisingly, Davis decided to represent herself!

She never apologized or permed her afro to be respectable. She didn’t need to. She was a Black philosophy professor – she put the American justice system itself on trial! She argued that the FBI’s case was weak and that the trial was politically motivated because of her activism. The result?

Faced with charges of conspiracy, murder and kidnapping, Angela Davis was acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury. Her story shows us that when you're equal parts brave and brilliant, you can make America look stupid, challenge their corrupt systems, and maintain your freedom!

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