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Activist Angela Davis to Speak at UW-Eau Claire Forum Feb. 7

RELEASED: Jan. 26, 2005

EAU CLAIRE — Activist Angela Davis, a living witness to the historical struggles of the contemporary era, will speak Monday, Feb. 7, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Forum will present her address, titled "Punishment and Democracy," at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

Angela Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the United States and abroad. Over the years, she has been active as a student, teacher, writer, scholar and organizer.

Davis' political activism began in her youth in Birmingham, Ala., and continued through her school years in New York. She was active with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and became associated with the Black Panthers and with the black power politics of the late 1960s and early 1970s. She joined the Communist Party when Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968; 12 years later she ran as the party's candidate for Vice President of the United States.

In 1969 Davis came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the philosophy department at the University of California, Los Angeles as a result of her social activism and her membership in the Communist Party. In 1970, she was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List on false charges and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and that culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. During her 16-month incarceration, a massive international "Free Angela Davis" campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972.

Davis' long-standing commitment to prisoners' rights dates back to her involvement in the campaign to free the Soledad Brothers, which led to her own arrest and imprisonment. Today, she remains an advocate of prison abolition and has developed a powerful critique of racism in the criminal justice system. She is a member of the advisory board of the Prison Activist Resource Center and currently is working on a comparative study of women's imprisonment in the U.S., the Netherlands and Cuba.

Former California Gov. Ronald Reagan once vowed that Angela Davis would never again teach in the University of California system. Today, she is a tenured professor in the history of consciousness department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1994, she received the distinguished honor of an appointment to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies.

Davis has lectured in all 50 United States, as well as in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the former Soviet Union. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and she is the author of five books, including "Angela Davis: An Autobiography" (1974); "Women, Race and Class" (1981); "Women, Culture and Politics" (1989); "Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday" (1998); and "The Angela Y. Davis Reader" (1998). She is also the editor of "If They Come In The Morning: Voices of Resistance" (1971).

Davis' current work focuses on the prison-industrial complex, and she is currently working on a book of essays on punishment and democracy.

"Over the last few decades there has been a shift from rehabilitation to punishment," Davis has said. "The prison system, both state and federal, no longer pretends to rehabilitate people and that is a serious problem. ... We need to think about radical alternatives — education instead of incarceration, free drug programs instead of the criminalization of drug use — and we are especially concerned about the degree to which prisons have become a source of profit."

Tickets are $7 for the public, $5 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $3 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available at the Service Center counter in the east lobby of Davies Center and also will be sold at the door. The Service Center is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support to The Forum. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for The Forum.

Funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, The Forum is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

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JS/NW

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