Angela Davis Today on Violence in the 70s

In “the Black Power Mixtape” that premiered Thursday on “Independent Lens,” Angela Davis gets pretty angry at a Swedish journalist who interviewed her in jail in the early 70s and asked about violence.

But, she told reporters at the TV critics press tour (whom she didn’t seem to hold in any higher regard) “I think I would probably answer that question in very much the same way today.

“While I would love to inhabit a world without violence, I also have to recognize how saturated our societies are with violence, and sometimes we have to, as, I think, Erykah Badu points out in her commentary in the film, assert our right to defend ourselves and our aspirations and our principles.”

I asked her if she remembered the day when those Swedish journalists visited her – constituting the first media visit she got behind bars.

“Yes, I remember that interview in part because it was the first media interview I was allowed to participate in during my incarceration,” she said. “It was important not so much because I was ignored or marginalized, but because of the inflammatory coverage. As a matter of fact, when I was finally released, uh, on numerous occasions journalists described me as the woman who killed a judge.”

In fact, she was found not guilty to having any connection to a courtroom standoff in which five were killed.

“So I appreciated the opportunity by the Swedish journalists to talk about the movement as I perceived it at that time,” Davis says. “I never saw the television shows. I had completely forgotten that the Swedish journalist was, in fact, the first journalist who was allowed to interview me in jail. But I did welcome the opportunity to engage in a conversation. Although I must admit I remember being a bit tired of getting the same kinds of questions, and, in part, I answered that question about violence because it was the question that everyone asked. Why do you advocate violence — as if for some reason we were the ones responsible for all of the violence that characterized that era.”

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