Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis grew up in the era of Jim Crow and rising protest against it. Educated at Brandeis and the University of California San Diego, she was deeply influenced by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse. A member of the Communist Party, she was attacked by Ronald Reagan for her radical politics and was placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted List” because of her involvement in 1970 in the attempted escape of a group of black prison inmates known as “the Soledad Brothers.” A jury exonerated Davis of every charge, including murder. She has remained an activist, fighting for racial and economic justice and, more recently, against the “prison-industrial complex” and for the abolition of prisons. Davis taught at the University of California at Santa Cruz for many years, and has written several influential books, including an autobiography (1974) and Women, Race and Class (1983). Her 1999 book, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, explores female blues singers of the 1920s and 1930s and their celebration of women’s sexual freedom, including love between women. Davis came out as a lesbian in 1997.