Leigh Davenport is the Editorial Director of HelloBeautiful.com. A proud alumna of Spelman College, she is a foodie with a shoe fetish who loves a healthy intellectual debate about anything that combines pop culture and politics. A Chicagoan (and die-hard Bulls fan) currently posing as an uptown girl, Leigh claims Harlem & Venice Beach as her homes away from home. @leighdav
You know her name, and you may think you know her story. You’ve heard her voice on hip-hop interludes, you may even own a t-shirt with her name on it, but you might be surprised how much you really don’t know about Angela Davis. In the stunning new documentary film, ‘Free Angela!’, director Shola Lynch provides a compelling, sensitive and powerful story about Davis, whose name has become synonymous with revolution, power and radical change. As the object of a national manhunt that turned in to a trial that captured the nation and the world, Davis became only the third woman ever to be placed on the FBI’s most wanted list.
1. She is woman power personified. In a time where we’re forced to debate the politics of our teen idols and pop stars, “Free Angela!” reminds us of what it means to truly live a life of political commitment, that wars were fought, lives were lost and change did not come by the type of outfit women wore at Superbowl games.
2. There’s an amazing love story involved. The prosecutors made Angela’s relationship with George Jackson, and the love letters sent between them, the central motive implicating her willing involvement to buy the weapons used in the Marine County Courthouse shooting. Angela, who gave her own opening argument at her trial, vehemently rejected that assertion, calling it sexist and ludicrous, despite admitting that she was deeply connected to George Jackson.
3. Angela’s interview is incredibly powerful. For a woman who was the most wanted woman in the nation, Angela Davis presents as an incredibly healed, whole and free from contempt. It’s striking to see the softness in her eyes, the calmness in her speech, and yet, the pain that is clearly still present when she recalls some of the more humiliating aspects of the ordeal. The stereotypical sort of fierceness one might expect her to have is entirely absent, making her all the more interesting.
4. The legal drama makes Law & Order seem like a Disney movie. The actual legal case (if you’re a bit of a law nerd, like myself) is quite interesting. That she fled from the authorities, only to be caught, have the trial changed jurisdictions and managed to be found innocent by an all white jury is simply incredible. Listening to how it all plays out surely makes you rethink the art of the possible.
5. Her Afro is epic. Take it from a girl who doesn’t much believe in natural hair, after watching this documentary, you may rethink your stance on the Afro. Besides just looking aesthetically amazing, Angela Davis afro became a criteria for racial profiling while she was on the run. She physically redefined what a rebel looked like: light skin, afro and a gap–imagine all the mugshots of Black women who fit the profile. Now that is a reason to feel empowered by rocking your natural do.