Angela Davis Papers Acquired by Schlesinger Library of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard

CAMBRIDGE, MA—The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study today announced its acquisition of the papers of prominent political activist and pioneering feminist thinker Angela Y. Davis. The resources of Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research were crucial to securing this landmark acquisition.

Courtesy Schlesinger Library.

“We are honored that Professor Angela Y. Davis chose the Schlesinger Library to be the permanent repository for a remarkable collection documenting a remarkable life,” said Jane Kamensky, the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library. “The Angela Y. Davis Papers capture the many facets of her impact on the history of the United States, and will enable researchers to recover new histories of topics ranging from Black liberation and Black feminism, to Frankfurt school social theory, to the rise and fall of the Communist Party in America, to the growth of mass incarceration and the prison abolition movement.”

Widely regarded as the finest archival collection for research on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library has received more than 150 cartons of unique and rare material from Davis, including correspondence, photographs, unpublished speeches, teaching materials, organizational records, and audio from the radio show “Angela Speaks.” Davis’s incarceration, trial, and the global “Free Angela” campaign are especially well documented by materials that include personal writings, transcripts, letters received in prison, and banners used in “Free Angela” marches around the world.

“My papers reflect 50 years of involvement in activist and scholarly collaborations seeking to expand the reach of justice in the world,” said Davis. “I am very happy that at the Schlesinger Library they will join those of June Jordan, Patricia Williams, Pat Parker, and so many other women who have been advocates of social transformation.”

Courtesy Angela Davis.

Angela Y. Davis is one of the foremost figures in the struggle for human rights and against racial discrimination in the United States, and a foundational thinker in African American feminism. Her long-standing commitment to prisoners’ rights dates to her involvement in the campaign to free three California inmates known as the Soledad Brothers, who were accused of killing a prison guard during a riot at the Soledad Prison in California’s central valley. Davis, just 26 years old, emerged as a leader of the Soledad Brothers Defense Committee, which galvanized the American left, including such disparate figures as James Baldwin, Jane Fonda, Jessica Mitford, and Jean Genet. Her activism on the Soledad Brothers’ behalf led to her own arrest and imprisonment. In 1970, she was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. During her 16-month incarceration, a massive international “Free Angela” campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.

“Angela Y. Davis has played a major role in American political and philosophical thought for the last half century. I remember being inspired to take a philosophy class at Yale when I learned that her mentor, Herbert Marcuse, had called her his most brilliant student,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of Harvard’s Hutchins Center. “Her consistent concern to ameliorate the conditions of the most unfortunate among us has inspired generations of students to commit their lives to service and scholarship. And her early calls for drastic prison reform have proven to be prophetic. Angela Davis’s archive will be studied for generations, and it is altogether fitting that the premier library on the history of women in America should house it.”

Schlesinger archivists have begun processing the collection, to which Davis will continue to add. The Angela Y. Davis Papers will be available for research by 2020.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund on Guilty Verdicts for Baltimore Detectives Marcus Taylor & Daniel Hersl


LDF Statement on Guilty Verdicts for Baltimore Detectives Marcus Taylor and Daniel Hersl

Today, Baltimore Police Department (BPD) Detectives Marcus Taylor and Daniel Hersl were found guilty at trial of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and other charges as part of a criminal conspiracy based out of the BPD’s Gun Trace Task Force. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill issued the following statement in response:

“Beyond the guilty verdict and prior guilty pleas in this case, it’s time to talk about what comes next for the city of Baltimore. This corruption went on unabated for nearly 10 years and was only brought to light as a result of a federal investigation. Neither City Hall, BPD’s Internal Affairs, nor the State’s Attorney’s Office was able to uncover and hold accountable the officers at the heart of this criminal conspiracy. Residents deserve new procedures, practices, regulations, safety valves, and training across city agencies – including the State’s Attorney’s office – to ensure that this cannot happen again.

“What we learned from this case is precisely what has been missing from the national dialogue on policing. Like with DOJ’s blistering report on the BPD, we heard testimony that affirmed the gross misconduct that communities have complained of for years. Far too often, the voices of community members are disbelieved or dismissed. Going forward, city leaders, law enforcement officials, and the media must be diligent in centering conversations about policing around residents’ lived experiences. It shouldn’t take federal investigations to recognize and trust the community.

“City leaders should also focus on taking steps to prevent police corruption, such as training officers on constitutional policing and developing an early intervention system to identify problem officers – both of which are required by the consent decree. We’re working to ensure that the consent decree process produces real results, but that can’t be all. It is critical that the community’s mistrust of law enforcement, which has been validated by these proceedings, is understood and that structural changes are made well-beyond just the BPD.”



Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

With the guilty verdicts having been rendered in the case of Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) will move to terminate their employment with the agency upon final conviction. Since they were indicted on March 1, 2017, they have been suspended without pay. The other individuals indicted have previously pleaded guilty and none of them remain employees of the Baltimore Police Department.

We recognize that this indictment and subsequent trial uncovered some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement. I am thankful for the FBI and the BPD internal affairs division for their professionalism while investigating and preparing this case.

During the course of the trial, we have had a team of people monitoring the proceedings. We have created a new Corruption Unit that will focus, specifically, on this case and the allegations that were made, but were not part of the indictment or prosecution. Let me make it clear; I have ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption.

Our job moving forward is to earn back the trust and respect of the community. It will be a process and I understand the doubt, fear, and pessimism, but I ensure you that rooting out anyone who thinks they can tarnish the badge and violate our citizen’s rights, is a top priority of mine.

I ask for your support, as well as your criticisms, as we move forward to making the Baltimore Police Department a great and well respected institution again. We owe it to you and we have no option but to succeed.

Darryl DeSousa
Police Commissioner-Designate