Angela Davis told students to "dismantle capitalism" Wednesday during a web-based seminar on diversity and inclusion for an elite preparatory school in California, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
"Ultimately I think we're going to have to dismantle capitalism if we really want to move in a progressive direction, if we want our children and children's children and their children to begin to move along a trajectory that is described by freedom," the author and educator said during the Head-Royce School’s 2021 CommunityEd series in its final program.
A spokesperson for the school said that they invited Davis to speak after considering her history, and said that they felt her speech would allow the students a chance "to focus on her activism."
Davis is an American political activist, author, and educator who was a longtime member of the Communist Party USA. In 1970, guns belonging to Davis were used in an armed takeover of a courtroom in Marin County, California, in which four people were killed. Prosecuted for three capital felonies, including conspiracy to murder, she was held in jail for over a year before being acquitted of all charges in 1972. She visited Eastern Bloc countries in the 1970s and during the 1980s was twice the Communist Party's candidate for vice president; at this time, she also held the position of professor of ethnic studies at San Francisco State University.
The spokesperson, Jennifer Beeson, added, "There's kind of a complex and layered history that she has. We viewed this as a teachable moment for students interested in activism, which is a core to being in our community."
Davis added during her speech that students should try to maintain an international focus and "struggle against" the idea that the United States is the greatest country in the world.
"Of course it's the United States that claims to represent America, and I think that we have to struggle against this notion that this is the best country in the world, that we are always the ones to give leadership even when we're talking about social justice struggles," she said. "We have to take internationalism into consideration."
She also said that immigrants face "unlivable" circumstances in their home countries due to American businesses, which is driving them to seek refuge in the United States.
"The detention of immigrants is the most profitable sector of the private prison industry and this is much connected to struggles against the prison industrial complex," Davis said. "And the fact that we have mass incarceration driven by racism is a product of capitalism."
She also addressed her history of international travel and the large carbon footprint that has created, adding later, "This is the first time I have not been on a plane for an entire year since I was a young child. I also have to say parenthetically that my carbon footprint isn't what it should be, and I'm aware of that. I'm aware of the connections of struggles against climate change, for environmental justice, our struggles against racism and heteropatriarchy and capitalist exploitation."
Davis said that in her decades of activism, she’s learned that there’s always a new battle for equality, noting the struggle that transgender women face, and saying that the community is "subject to more forms of violence" than any other.
"We think of freedom as an endpoint. But I don't think there is an endpoint. Freedom is an infinite struggle. There's always more work to do," she said.
The Free Beacon notes that the tuition at Head-Royce begins at about $33,000 for kindergarten through fifth-grade, while tuition for middle school costs about $37,000 and high school $47,000.
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