social change | November 14, 2012

Angela Davis Asks: What It Really Means To Be "Free" In America? [VIDEO]

"One out of every 100 adults is behind bars [in the United States]" Angela Davis cites in a recent keynote address. Even more shocking? "25 per cent of the world's incarcerated population lives in jails and prisons in The United States of America." The human rights activist questioned why it is that the United States has the highest incarcerated population in the world in her speech about race, the justice system, and the consequences of mass incarceration at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Having spent 18 months of her life either on trial or in jail, Davis has become a prominent speaker combating oppression at every level of society—with a primary focus on inequality in the justice system.

In her books, Abolition Democracy and Are Prisons Obsolete?, she presents extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. She questions how "free" the population really is if, "one of the ways [by] which we can determine we are free is by realizing that we're not in prison." This is especially true for members of visible minorities, particularly native Americans, who she says are imprisoned in vastly larger volumes than any other group of people in the country. As a teacher and a world renowned social activist, Davis speaks with passion and experience. In her popular speeches, she breaks down the "prison industrial complex" and asks audiences to seriously consider what life would be like if there were no prisons—and everyone was truly free.