Angela Davis Defense Committees

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Angela Davis Defense Committees and similarly named organizations The Communist Party USA set up a national organization to defend CPUSA member Angela Davis from charges that she supplied a shotgun to a prisoner who used it to kill a judge in a failed jail escape (the Soledad Brothers. The national organization's name went through several changes and was often referred to by those different names. For standardization of names, this section is entitled the "Angela Davis Defense Committees" though each known name will be listed and described below as to its origins and functions.

The history of the CPUSA's efforts to create a national front to support Angela Davis and "all political prisoners" was detailed in the House Internal Security Committee hearings "Revolutionary Activities Directed Toward the Administration of Penal or Correctional Systems, Hearings, Part 1-4, particularly Part 4, HISC, 1973. Among the exhibits in Part 4 (No. 25)was a copy of "Political Affairs", "Theoretical Journal of the Communist Party, USA", October 1970, Vol. XLIX, No. 10, James J. Tormey, "The Need for a National Defense Organization," pp. 30 - 40, and in Exhibit 30, same hearing, "Party Affairs",January 1973, Vol. VII, No. 1 (the internal publication of the CPUSA for members only), was a report/subsection by Charlene Mitchell,"Racism and Class Injustice" - "For Freedom for Political Prisoners and Victims of Racism and Class Injustice", pp. 32 - 40. It detailed the Party's role in creating a "national defense organization" for Angela Davis and all political prisoners. This was a clear admission that the Angela Davis committees, especially on the national level, were created by the CPUSA and basically controlled by its members and trusted supporters.

Two other key articles about the Angela Davis case are worth reading because they reveal the Communist Party's thinking behind the setting up of their defense committees/fronts, as well as the history of their efforts to build them and keep them under Party control.

The first article, which is extremely important in understanding the Angela Davis Defense Organization system and history, was found in Political Affairs, May 1972, Vol. LI, No. 5, Elaine Mann, entitled "The Fight Against Racism and the Angela Davis Campaign". Mann was identified only as "a white comrade active in the defense movement." Her first three paragraphs sum up the gist of the whole article (pp. 13-27). They are as follows:

"As this article is being written, the trial of Comrade Angela Davis is just getting under way. As of now there are only two predictables: (1) The prosecution will do all in its power to push through its frameup of Angela. (1) Only a massive defense movement can free her."

"The movement to free Comrade Angela Davis has already proved to be one of the most remarkable in the history of this country - in many respects, in fact, already the most outstanding. And now the Communist Party is accelerating its all-out effort in the fight to defeat this Nixon-Reagan frameup - to build a movement so powerful that Angela can quickly take her place in the vanguard of the fight against reaction instead of being made its victim."

"One of the most basic factors in building a movement to free Angela and all political prisoners - and to prevent the escalation of new frameups - is consistency in mass struggle. And achieving this requires first of all the consistency of Communists."

Another key paragraph was found on page 15 under the subtitle "Black and White in the Committees", which said: "The scope of activities to free Comrade Angela by many types of organizations in the Black community has been tremendous. At the same time, the Committees to Free Angela Davis - which play a leading role in and out of Black communities - are bringing together Black, Brown and white forces, Party and non-Party. And in many many instances, people who join a Committee to Free Angela Davis go on to join the Party."

This article is a "must" read for anyone who wants to learn out the CPUSA creates and operates one of their front organizations.

The second article appeared in Political Affairs: Journal of Marxist Thought & Analysis, September 1972, Vol. LI, No. 9, William L. Patterson, "Some Features of the Angela Davis Case". His second paragraph under the heading "Why the Persecution" is a perfect example of the delusional thinking that is the communist mind, in that he takes a purely criminal case and turns it into a "civil rights struggle." He wrote the following:

"Why the Persecution"

"The Angela Davis "legal" case had its beginning as a civil rights struggle. Angela had become a philosophy teacher of note in the University of California, at Los Angeles. She taught as a Marxist-Leninist scientist. But for Angela her science was a living thing. She lived what she taught. Her science had revealed and proved for her that the ruling class of capitalist society was responsible for the racist myths of white superiority."

She was charged as an accessory before the fact regarding supplying a shotgun to a convicted felony, one of the Jackson Brothers, George, which was used by the other brother, John, to deliberately kill a judge he had taken hostage during an escape try. She was eventually acquitted though the evidence was heavily against her, a possible early case of jury nullification by the Communist Party legal network and its sympathizes.

The National Organization

The CPUSA formed a group to organize the official Angela Davis "defense" committee and it was called, in 1972, the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners . They circulated a letter in June 1972 which listed its officials and sponsors.

National Staff:

The letterhead of May 22, 1972 listed the following as officers/staff and sponsors:

National Sponsors:

The Chicago Organization

In the CPUSA newspaper Daily World, February 9, 1971, pages 1 and 11, several rallies concerning clergymen supporting the Communist Party front known as The Committee to Free Angela Davis (and by other similar names) were written about by CPUSA member Stephanie Allan. A dual story entitled "Angela rallies held in churches" covered events in Chicago and White Plains, NY.

In the Chicago event, sponsored by the Chicago Angela Davis Defense Committee (one of several forms of that parent organization's name), a number of speakers were heard at the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side. From the DW of 2/09/71 came the following paragraphs and names of speakers:

"Sponsors of the rally, the Chicago Angela Davis Defense Committee Angela Davis, brought together, under the theme of "The Fight to Save Angela's Life is the Right for Our Own Lives," a large program of speakers and other performers."

"Included were":

The Westchester/White Plains, NY Organization

White Plains, New York Rally: Daily World February 7, 1971, pp. 1 & 11, "Angela rallies held in churches" by Stephanie Allan

Held at the Allen A.M.E. Church in White Plains, NY, several hundred people attended the "first mass meeting organized by the White Plains Committee to Free Angela Davis.

Participants and leaders were:

"The high spot of the meeting was provided by Rev. A. Sharpton and Rev. J.L. Scott of Operation Breadbasket, who told about the struggle against A&P, and how the boycott movement could be developed in the Black community. These speakers - the 16-year-old Rev. Sharpton and the older Rev. Scott - spoke in simple, eloquent but politically profound terms. They exposed the connection between A&P, U.S. monopoly capitalism, racism and imperialism, and related these to the Angela Davis case and the threat to the vital rights of the Black people."

"There are five functioning Free Angela Davis Committees in Westchester, with two more in process of organization."

"Co-chairing the Westchester Committee with Warren is:

  • Mae Morgan Robinson - black political leader, member of the N.Y. State Committee of the Democratic Party, and member of the Black Democratic Caucus which has passed a resolution in support of Angela Davis."

Michigan Committee to Free Angela Davis

The Michigan Committee to Free Angela Davis, based in Detroit, Michigan, was very active in 1971, holding several protests and propaganda operations in support of indicted Communist Party USA leader, Angela Davis, who was a prime suspect in supplying the shotgun that was used by the Soledad Brothers in their deadly jail-break attempt. A judge, taken hostage by Jonathan? Jackson, had his head blown off by a shotgun owned by Davis, and it is suspected that she smuggled it to her communist lover George Jackson to facilitate his escape.

An article in the CPUSA newspaper, the Daily World (DW), of Feb. 3, 1972, entitled "4 in Detroit Council vote Angela Day", revealed the extent of the activities of the CPUSA-created and partially led Michigan Committee to Free Angela Davis. Those activities and their participants included the following:

  • The Committee created a resolution/letter which was sent to the liberal Detroit City Council asking them to affirm Angela Davis' right to bail. The vote was a 4-4 tie, which the leftists saw "as a partial victory", according to the author, Mary Louis. They also called on the Mayor, Roman Gribbs "and the Common Council to declare Jan. 26 Angela Davis Day in Detroit and grant use of public facilities for a rally for Angela Jan. 26." This request was denied but, "as a result of public pressure, Councilman Carl Levin then introduced a resolution to the Common Council affirming Angela Davis' right to bail. The four members below voted for the resolution.

January 26th "Angela Davis Day" rally, Detroit:

Central Methodist Church, Detroit, rally week of late January/early February, 1972

Both Vaughn and Morcum accumulated at least 3-4 decades of supporting the CPUSA, its fronts and causes, as well as occasionally helping out the rival Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party.

San Francisco Free Angela Davis Committee

In the Baltimore Sun, Jan. 5, 1971, AP, "Davis Case Support Seen As Building", *Cassandra Davis was identified as the coordinator of four San Francisco Bay Area Free Angela Davis Committee organizations.

"So far 47 Free Angela Davis Committees have been organized in the United States and seven similar groups have been founded abroad, said Cassandra Davis, coordinator of four San Francisco Bay Area committees."

"The two Miss Davises are not related."

"More than 2,000 volunteers have been planning demonstrations, mailing out thousands of leaflets and petitions, and trying to raise $50,000 for legal and campaign expenses, she said."

"She reported $2,000 had been raised to date."

Southern Angela Davis Committee to Free All Political Prisoners, Louisville, Oct. 7

Source: "Revolutionary Activities" hearings, Part 4, HISC, 1973 as cited below, p. 1500 & 1585 as Exhibit 29

Black People in Defense of Angela Yvonne Davis

This group issued a statement of support for Angela Davis on October 19, 1970 which said, in part:

"We have a responsibility to know that she is being mistreated because she is black. And we have a clear responsibility to know that if she gives up her life, it is not a Communist life, but a black life. We are asking black people to face the awful truth: that we are on the line."

The New York Times article of Oct. 20, 1970, which contained this quote, started with:

"A group of black poets, artists and writers has urged the black community not to deny Angela Davis 'money, time and involvement' because of her Communist Party affiliations."[1]

Leaders and members of this group included:

  • Nikki Giovanni - Co-chairman, a poet
  • Chester Higgins, Jr. - co-chairman, photographer; recently published book of photographs entitled "Back Woman" (not the same book as that of Toni Cade, below

Individuals and Organizations Associated With Defending Davis But Not a Formal "Defense Committee"

Over the course of the period from the indictment of Angela Davis for aiding and abetting the murder of a judge and the attempted escape of three radical prisoners Soledad Brothers from the Marin County Courthouse in San Rafael, California, on August 7, 1970, numerous people tried to or did help in her legal and/or propaganda defense. Some of them did not belong to those groups that constituted the "Angela David Defense Organization" or a Committee to Defend Angela Davis and they will be included in this catch-all section. Some of them eventually joined the ADDC network so their names may appear in several places at this Keywiki site.

For the moment, only a brief reference/citation will be provided about the individuals but some will eventually have their own pages due to their prominence in the Far-Left in America.

  • Margaret Burnham - New York City attorney, one of Davis' defense lawyers. She had extensive ties to the Communist Party USA CPUSA through relatives, if not marriage. This will be provided in future additions.[2].

Burnham was also a member of the NAACP and its NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and according to an column by Evans and Novak, she was one of the leaders of the black radicals who seized control of it from traditional liberal attorneys, including its leader Jack Greenberg. The key sentence in this column was:

"Miss Davis immediately contacted Margaret Burnham, an old friend and staff member of the legal Defense Fund, asking her services as attorney to fight extradition in California."[3]

  • John Abt - "another New York City lawyer", one of the main attorneys for the CPUSA, and identified Soviet spy during WW2[4].

Burns was the leader of one of three heads of leftist organizations that "requested permission to act as friends of the court for Miss Davis, and to file a brief challenging the attempts to extradite Miss Davis." This request was turned down by the judge.[6].

The three groups were:

  • Rev. Ralph Abernathy - president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference SCLC. Abernathy was the successor to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his SCLC. From the late 1960's until sometime in the 1980's, he participated or sponsored many CPUSA fronts and causes, including being a V.P. of the Soviet front the World Peace Council WPC.Then he changed his ideological views and worked with anti-communist groups to oppose many of his former communist/radical comrades. His defense of Angela Davis appeared in the CPUSA newspaper, Daily World, World Outlook Section, February 20, 1971, in a long tirade entitled "I bring an indictment against the American system". This was his speech at the Feb. 2nd birthday tribute to Angela Davis held at the Manhattan Center, NYC.


  1. Blacks Told to Back Miss Davis Despite her Communist Links", Oct. 20, 1970, NYT
  2. Miss Davis 'Manhandled' On Plane, Lawyer Says", Washington Post WP, Dec. 24, 1970
  3. Defense of Miss Davis Creates Split in NAACP Unit Ranks, "Inside Report", Rowland Evans and Robert Novak", Field Enterprises, Inc. (syndication), Baltimore Sun, Dec. 4, 1970.
  4. Miss Davis 'Manhandled' On Plane, Lawyer Says", Wash. Post., WP, Dec. 24, 1970; Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, John Earl Haynes & Harvey Klehr, Yale Un. Press, 1999; The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors, Herbert Romerstein & Eric Briendel, Regnery, 2000,
  5. (1) Cited as an international communist front organization: Committee on-Un-American Activities, House Report 3123 on the National Lawyers Guild, September 21, 1950, originally released Sept. 17, 1950, p. 13; and (2) Cited as being among "international Communist fronts *** functioning at the present time.", Senate Internal Security Subcommittee [{SISS]] of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Handbook for Americans, S. Doc. 117, April 23, 1956, p. 93, also. p. 59, as listed in [[Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications (and Appendixes], house Document 398, revised and published December 1, 1961, House Committee on Un-American Activities, HCUA
  6. Order for Extradition of Angela Davis Upheld Here", New York TimesNYT, December 4, 1970, by Barbara Campbell
  7. Revolutionary Activities Directed Toward the Administration of Penal or Correctional Systems, Part 3, Hearings, July 24 & 25, in part, 1973, HISC, Appendix A, exhibit No. 1, [Hearing preliminaries, 7,24,73], Staff Study, The National Lawyers Guild.
  8. Revolutionary Activities Directed Toward the Administration of Penal or Correctional Systems, Part 4: Testimony of Richard R. Norusis, Investigator, Minority Staff, Hearings, House Internal Security Committee, July 25, 1973 (in part),(Including Index);HISC