Angela Yvonne Davis (born January 26, 1944) is an American political activist, philosopher, academic, and author. She is a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ideologically a Marxist, Davis was a member of the Communist Party USA until 1991, after which she joined the breakaway Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. She is the author of over ten books on class, feminism, and the U.S. prison system.
Born to an African American family in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis studied French at Brandeis University and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt in West Germany. Studying under the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, a prominent figure in the Frankfurt School of Marxism, Davis became increasingly interested in far-left politics. Returning to the U.S., she studied at the University of California, San Diego before moving to East Germany, where she gained a doctorate at the Humboldt University of Berlin. Back in the U.S., she joined the Communist Party and, as a Marxist feminist, involved herself in a range of leftist causes, including the second-wave feminist movement, the Black Panther Party, and the campaign against the Vietnam War. In 1969 she was hired as an acting assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA’s governing Board of Regents soon fired her due to her Communist Party membership; after a court ruled this illegal, the university fired her again, this time for her use of inflammatory language.