Angela Davis is a Marxist University of California professor who won the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize and was once accused of supplying weapons to a black supremacist who went on to murder Superior Court Judge Harold Haley and two inmates.
The 79-year-old identitarian, one of the founders of critical race theory and a former Black Panther, was shocked to learn on Tuesday's episode of PBS' "Finding Your Roots" that she is the descendant of a slave owner as well as of one of America's first settlers.
Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the documentary television series that explores guests' genealogies, provided the geriatric communist with a list of the passengers on the Mayflower. Among the 101 people aboard the ship that sailed to the colonies in 1620 was one of Davis' ancestors, William Brewster.
Davis appeared unwilling to process the information, saying, "No, I can't believe this. No! My ancestors did not come here on the Mayflower. ... No. No, no, no, no. ... Oof. That's a little bit too much."
Gates interrupted Davis' protest to ask, "Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that you may have descended from people who laid the foundation for this country?"
Davis previously suggested that "racism is embedded in the fabric of this country."
"Never. Never. Never. Never," Davis told Gates.
According to Gates, on her mother's side, Davis descends from a Revolutionary War soldier, Stephen Darden, who was a drummer for the 4th Virginia regiment in the 1770s. Darden reportedly moved to Georgia and became a slave owner.
Gates indicated that Davis' father, Benjamin Frank Davis, was aware that his father was a white man, Murphy Jones. Jones and Davis' paternal grandmother, Mollie Spencer — who was born into slavery in 1824 on a Marengo County cotton plantation — had as many as four children together.
Davis, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, said, "I always imagined my ancestors as the people who were enslaved. My mind and my heart are swirling with all of these contradictory emotions."
Some of the contradictory emotions may have been the result of the decades she has spent engaged in leftist and racial activism.
The Bulwark reported that the woke academic and Israel critic revealed by PBS to be the descendant of a slave owner was not only formerly a member of the violent Black Panther Party and a student of the totalitarian professor Herbert Marcuse, but a leader of the American Communist Party.
In response to Alan Dershowitz's request to support political prisoners of the communists in the Eastern bloc, Davis allegedly responded that "they are all Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism."
Russian writer Vitaly Korotich reportedly suggested that Davis, called a "dangerous terrorist" by former President Richard Nixon, had ultimately served as "a useful tool for the Brezhnev government, used to bolster Communist ideals and speak out against the West during the Cold War."
The Marxist professor continued criticizing the United States long after the Cold War ended, stating in a 2017 speech, "This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement."
Upon learning of her family's history, Davis told Gates, "I'm glad on the one hand that we've begun to solve this mystery. We have something that we didn't have before. But at the same time I think it makes me even more connected to struggling for a better world."
Michael Young, a visiting fellow at the Center for Renewing America, noted on Twitter that while shocking to Davis, the revelations about her past revealed "that even the most hardened and radical woke activists have a history that is far more complicated then their own ideology allows for. Davis is (by her own standard) a colonizer, and (by her own standard) an oppressed minority."
"The important insight is that Angela Davis' own life is proof that the history of Americans does not fit into the intersectional categories of race and gender woke activists want to sort people into," said Young, adding, "Wokeness wants to divide us into oppressor and oppressed according to our ancestry, or skin color, or other qualities. But Angela Davis [sic] own life shows that the world is far to complicated for that, and none of our bloodlines are exempt from the sins of history."
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