Davis came to LIVE in October of 2010 for one of our biggest landmark events to talk with Toni Morrison about the importance of libraries.
ANGELA DAVIS: I was in jail in New York—I don’t know, did you mention that I was in jail? Some people don’t know. And one of the first places I went, I was able to go, in the jail was the library, and I didn’t see very many interesting books there, all right? I mean, I had just finished my studies in philosophy, and I went to the library expecting something very different, so what I did was I had people send books to me when I was there, and I wanted to share those books with all of the other women, there was something like a thousand women there. I was not allowed to do that. As a matter of fact, in the library there was a big cardboard box.
I could receive the books and I could read the books myself. It was okay for me read them, but don’t share them. And one of them was George Jackson’s book, Soledad Brothers, that was not allowed at all, although we did—you know, one of the things I learned when I was in jail there was how to secrete certain kinds of things, so we were able to—so we had these clandestine reading groups with books that were smuggled out of that box in the library, and it kind of reminded me of Frederick Douglass and Frederick Douglass’s effort to get an education, to learn how to read, and his idea that education really was liberation.
Watch/listen to the event here… and watch the short here…