The Meaning of Freedom

The Meaning of Freedom
And Other Difficult Dialogues
Introduction by Robin D.G. Kelley





Women's Studies Quarterly

"Angela Davis in The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues provides a compilation of hard-hitting philosophical speeches centering the very real convergence of political, economical, and social forces that, in her estimation, fuels an ever-expanding system of prisons aimed at constraining the lives of diverse individuals. . . . Davis nudges us to consider unfreedom and more precisely what freedom means within and beyond the confine of prisons."--WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly, Volume 42, Numbers 3-4, Fall/Winter 2014


The Journal of African American History

"What we learn from The Meaning of Freedom is that Davis has been a dedicated scholar-activist since 1969, championing social justice initiatives and challenging the notions of freedom and democracy that are not inclusive of all peoples. Davis admits that sometimes we fight the same battles over and over, but in the process of struggling together new possibilities arise."

—Fenobia I. Dallas


Angela Davis excerpt posted as part of Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week
May 6, 2013

A chapter from Angela Davis' latest book, The Meaning of Freedom, featured on Truthout.

- Truthout

"Huffington Post: Angela Davis, Education, and the Meaning of Freedom"
Apr 10, 2013

"What is invaluable about Angela Davis' work is that she does not limit her politics to issues removed from broader social considerations, but connects every aspect of her scholarship and public interventions to what the contours of a truly democratic society might look like."

- Henry Giroux, Huffington Post

Make/Shift Magazine

"Davis is careful to bring current, pressing, and local issues into each of her speeches. The same undergirding of what the Combahee River Collective called 'interlocking' oppressions organizes not only her speeches but also her responses to audience members included in the book, providing some of the richest moments in the collection." —Alexis Pauline Gumbs


San Francisco Chronicle

"The 12 speeches delivered between 1994 and 2009, and collected here for the first time, provide as good an entry point as any into the radical life and ideas of the political activist and thinker Angela Davis."

—Thomas Chatterton Williams


"UC Berkeley publication The Daily Californian covers Angela Davis' reading at Oakland CA's Marcus Books"
Mar 6, 2013

"Davis's fearless spirit and unwavering commitment to justice were strikingly evident when she appeared at Oakland’s Marcus Books, the oldest black bookstore in the U.S., last Friday to discuss her latest book. . . . "

- Meadhbh McGrath, The Daily Californian

"Activist Angela Davis Offers Ideas For Overhaul Of Ark. Prison System"
Oct 26, 2012

Angela Davis at the University of Arkansas, October 2012, discussing the death penalty, mass incarceration, sustaining mass political movements, and why she is hopeful.

- Malcolm Glover, KUAR

Fellowship Magazine

"I'm only a few pages into this book, but I am already convinced of its importance. Angela Davis is, of course, one of the most significant radical philosopher-academic-activists of the past half-century, and her outline of the prison-industrial complex has been a template for justice-makers. Her first book in seven years is a collection of previously-unpublished speeches, drawn from a 15-year period, and it confronts the intersections of oppressions in our society — with particular focus on the demonic role of the incarceration/punishment industry, as one should expect."


SF Weekly: Read Local

"Angela Davis has devoted her career to this fundamental question of freedom, and its seemingly inherent other, oppression. The need for social change in America is great, but constantly thwarted by institutional injustice. Davis is calling for real democracy, which comes not from any law or proclamation, but by participatory social process."

—Alexis Coe


Booklist Online

"This book is a collection of Davis' lectures from 1994 through 2009, interweaving themes of freedom and bias based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Davis is at her best linking these perceptively separate segments into a broader concept of freedom across all the lines that separate us."

—Vernon Ford


"Angela Davis – 'The Meaning of Freedom'"
Sep 28, 2012

Angela Davis discusses electoral politics, activism, incarceration and why she is hopeful for social change in the U.S.

- Tavis Smiley, The Tavis Smiley Show

Bust Magazine

"Angela Y. Davis proves that it's still possible to find a new, refreshing way to discuss race, gender, class, and sexuality. In this heartfelt examination through previously unpublished speeches, Davis discusses these issues with simple language and challenges us to think about how feminism and racism relate to our everyday lives."

—Bust Magazine


Ms. Magazine

"In this collection of 12 previously unpublished speeches, the longtime activist asks readers to imagine a social landscape devoid of institutional and cultural injustice. Freedom is a process of becoming, she asserts; it can't be fully realized without collective participation by a demanding society."

—Ms. Magazine, Fall 2012 Issue


San Jose Mercury News

"As always, Davis is particularly concerned with the prison-industrial complex, yet her thoughts on marriage equality, immigration and globalization are just as  thought-provoking."

—Georgia Rowe


"Angela Davis Defines What Freedom Really Means"
Aug 30, 2012

Philadelphia Tribune journalist Bobbi Booker considers The Meaning of Freedom, by Angela Davis.

- Bobbi Booker, The Philadelphia Tribune

"Can revolution be etched in stone?"
Aug 8, 2012

Tim Gee blogs about Angela Davis and her book The Meaning of Freedom.

- Tim Gee, New Internationalist blog

Ebony.com

"This document of contemporary thought by a major world-historical figure, Davis' first full-length book in almost a decade, makes it timelessly clear that while no freedom fight will ever be easy—'We can't rely on simple categories'—every real triumph, however small and short-lived, will always be worth it."

—Todd Steven Burroughs


Hasta la Victoria! The Long Arms of Angela Davis
Jan 20, 2010

"I first heard about Angela Davis in 1969.

Fresh out of college, I had been active in the student movement (SDS), the Underground Press (The Rag), and in el movimiento Chicano. The civil-rights movement had shifted from nonviolence to more radical and militant protest to combat the establishment's ploy to criminalize and demonize this new activism.

It was therefore no surprise to read in the New York Times an editorial about how regents of the University of California at the bidding of Governor Ronald Reagan planned to dismiss Angela Yvonne Davis, an assistant professor of philosophy 'with a background of black militancy and membership in the Communist Party.'"

- Gregg Barrios, San Antonio Current

Five Ws and an H – 70s activist Angela Davis coming to town
Sep 20, 2009

"Angela Davis was one of the most polarizing and famous figures of her generation – a beautiful, black revolutionary with wild hair and impeccable academic credentials who embraced Communism, espoused change and became one of the first – and still few – women named to the FBI's Most Wanted List...

In 1972, Davis was acquitted on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to take hostages during an abortive attempt to free three prisoners at a California courthouse. Davis had been accused of obtaining weapons for the kidnappers but was not present during the hostage-taking in which a judge was killed.  Her defenders said it was really her political beliefs that were on trial."

- Peggy Curran, The Gazette

Angela Davis: Professor, Democratic Socialist, Prison Abolishionist
Aug 6, 2009

"Angela Davis, the daughter of an automobile mechanic and a school teacher, was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on 26th January, 1944. The area where the family lived became known as Dynamite Hill because of the large number of African American homes bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. Her mother was a civil rights campaigner and had been active in the NAACP before the organization was outlawed in Birmingham.

Davis attended segregated schools in Birmingham before moving to New York with her mother who had decided to study for a M.A. at New York University. Davis attended a progressive school in Greenwich Village where several of the teachers had been blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.  There, Davis became acquainted with socialism and Communism and was recruited by the Communist youth group, Advance. . . 

Books published by Davis include If They Come in the Morning:Voices of Resistance (1971), Angela Davis: An Autobiography (1974), Women, Race, & Class (1981) and Women, Culture & Politics (1989). See carousel above for more books and MP3s of speeches."

- Leshell Hatley, Scholarly Celebrations

VIBE 365: June 4, 1972, Angela Davis Is Found Not Guilty
Jun 4, 2009

"After 33 hours of jury deliberations, controversial political activist Angela Davis was found not guilty of murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy charges on June 4, 1972 in California. The all-white jury cleared the African-American intellectual and militant, then 28, on all charges after the former assistant professor at the University of California was connected to an August 1970 effort to free James McCain, a black convict accused of allegedly attempting to stab a police officer. In a courtroom at the Marin County Hall of Justice, Jonathan Jackson, the brother of imprisoned Black Panther leader George Jackson (Davis had been one of the black power icon's biggest supporters), and two others disrupted McCain’s trial proceedings by drawing guns, including one registered in Davis’ name."

- Vibe Magazine

Inside USA - Angela Davis
Oct 5, 2008

Video: "Put on the FBI's 'Most Wanted' list when she was just 26, Angela Davis became an enduring symbol of 1970's Black Power. She joins Inside USA to discuss incarceration in the land of the free, capitalism in a time of economic crisis and what it means to be the face of Black Power in a supposedly post-racial US."

- Al Jazeera English

'We Used to Think There was a Black Community'
Nov 8, 2007

"Angela Davis was intrigued to see recently that a significant number of young black women to whom she was delivering a talk were wearing images of her from the 70s on their T-shirts. She asked what the image meant to them. 'They said it made them feel powerful and connected to other movements,' she says. 'It was really quite moving. It really had nothing to do with me. They were using this image as an expression of who they would like to be and what they would like to do. I've given up trying to challenge commodification in that respect. It's an unending battle and you never win any victories.'"

- Gary Younge, The Guardian