Angela Davis Has Lost Her Mind Over Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Black Freedom Movement era icon Angela Davis tells people that Barack Obama “identifies with the Black radical tradition” – “as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the Black radical tradition.” In doing so, Prof. Davis “is repudiating herself, her history, her comrades – all in a foolish attempt to artificially graft a totally unworthy Barack Obama onto a place he not only does not belong, but most profoundly does not want to be.”

Angela Davis Lost Her Mind Over Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Angela Davis says that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the Black radical tradition.”

The “delusional effect” that swept Black America with the advent of the First Black President has warped and weakened the mental powers of some of our most revered icons – and it has been painful to behold. Earlier this month, Angela Davis diminished herself as a scholar and thinker in a gush of nonsense about the corporate executive in the White House. The occasion was a conference on Empowering Women of Color, in Berkeley, California. Davis shared the stage with Grace Lee Boggs, the 96-year-old activist from Detroit. The subject was social transformation, but Davis suddenly launched into how wonderful it felt to see people “dancing in the streets” when Barack Obama was elected. She called that campaign a “victory, not of an individual, but of…people who refused to believe that it was impossible to elect a person, a Black person, who identified with the Black radical tradition.”

There was a hush in the room, as if in mourning of the death of brain cells. Angela Davis was saying that Barack Obama is a man who identifies with the Black radical tradition. She said it casually, as if Black radicalism and Obama were not antithetical terms; as if everything he has written, said and done in national politics has not been a repudiation of the Black radical tradition; as if his rejection of his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was not a thorough disavowal of the Black radical tradition. In his famous 2008 campaign speech in Philadelphia, Obama blamed such radicals for compounding the nation’s problems. He viewed people like Rev. Wright as having been mentally scarred by battles of long ago, who were unable to see the inherent goodness of America, as he did. This is the man who said he agreed with President Ronald Reagan, that the Sixties were characterized by “excesses.” Can anyone doubt that Obama considers the historical Angela Davis, herself, to be a part of the political “excesses” of the Sixties and early Seventies that he so deplores?

This is the man who said he agreed with President Ronald Reagan, that the Sixties were characterized by “excesses.”

And that is the saddest part of the story. Angela Davis, who retired as a professor of the history of human consciousness, in 2008, seems not to be conscious of the fact that she is repudiating herself, her history, her comrades – all in a foolish attempt to artificially graft a totally unworthy Barack Obama onto the Black radical tradition – a place he not only does not belong, but most profoundly does not want to be. This is the guy who declared, at his first national broadcast opportunity, that “there is no Black America…only the United States of America.”

How, then, did Angela Davis connect Barack Obama to the Black radical tradition? She didn't, because even an icon cannot do the impossible. Instead, Davis quickly told the crowd, in Berkeley, that “we need to figure out how to prevent somebody like Mitt Romney from getting elected.” But the vast majority of Black people are going to wind up voting for Obama, anyway, because he's not white and Republican. There is no need to pollute the proud tradition of Black radicalism by dipping the corporate warmonger, Obama, into the historical mix. In doing so, Professor Davis has soiled herself, and done a terrible injustice to Black history and tradition. And, the biggest shame of all is, she has diminished herself and insulted our people for the sake of a president who doesn't give a damn for their history or their future. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].



Sad and Psycho

This is pretty psychotic.  "Identifies?"  Yeah, like the wolf under the sheepskin, or Dracula with his mouth closed...


Tragic, but if I said I was shocked, I'd be lying. 99% of her generation sold out and only the smallest number will make themselves outcaste by speaking against him.The "misleadership" class strikes again.

Angela Davis Praises Obama but Likened Farrakhan to Grinchwitch

I knew Angela Davis was going off track when, in 1995 during the Million Man March, she as a Black 'Feminist' likened Min Farrakhan's call for Black men to be good & responsible fathers & husbands- onto an agenda akin to that [of all people]- Newt Grinchwitch's!!! Now she's gushing praise for war-mongering O-Bomb-em [who even bombs African countries IE: Libya & Somalia- I think the Vietnam era Davis was against that War] as O-Bomb-em gushes praise for Ronnie Ray-Gun- the same Ray-gun who as Cali's Gov tried to have Angela Davis locked up for life & banned for life from teaching in Cali!!! WOW How Ironic & How quickly they forget!!!

So now Davis thinks that Obama is in the Black radical tradition- HELL Obama ain't even in the mainstream [but serious] Black Freedom Rights Tradition [ala MLK]! Remember O-Bomb-em's dubious Nobel 'Peace' Prize Orwellian 'War is Peace' Speech- where he {not so}Subtly dissed Rev Dr ML King's anti-war positions??? And Remember that during the 2008 Presidential race on the 40th anniversary of MLK's assassination- that although Killory/Billory & even {insane}McCain [who even publically apologized for opposing the MLK holiday] came to MLK's memorial museum in Memphis- Obama was MIA / AWOL!!! He wasn't there nor was he w the King family in Atlanta at the ML-King Center or Ebernezer Church. He was on the campaign trail in HOOSHER-Ville IN!!! 

So Davis is claiming that Obama exemplifies the Black radical tradition- HUHH??!! Damned Angie girl- where the HELL have you been for the past 4-5yrs [or is it more like the last 8 -9 yrs]??!!! Obama ducks even having to mention Black folks!!! Angela Davis claims that one of her great concerns now is the 'Prison Industrial Complex' [a term I first heard from her in fact]! So where was Obama last yr concerning Troy Davis' unjust execution [IE: legalized lynching]- HE WAS AGAIN MIA / AWOL!!! 

Losing It or Already Lost It

Thanks Mr. Ford for another raw truth article.  Personally I think Angela should get a complete physical and mental examination, because it sounds like she might be suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer.  I hope that what it is because if it isn’t that only leaves a couple of other options, she is self medicating (DRUGS legal or illegal) or she is BAT SHIT CRAZZZY!!!

I’m not hating I’m just saying you can’t have the life experiences that she herself has had and then turn around and make the statements that she has made.  There has to be a total disconnect between yourself and your own life experiences to come to the conclusions that her statements imply.  I am a child of the sixties and there is no way that I can fix my lips to say that Obama is somehow a part of the Black Radical tradition.  Let alone let the thought of connecting Obama to Black Radicals of that time or any other.  As they say in the hood someone must have pealed your cap for you to say/think like that.  It will be very painful to she this woman who went through so much slowly turn into a Black Michelle Bachman (We all know that this child is off the porch off the ranch off the cliff). 


LOL Please help us all




S Murph

Not exactly

Ford takes Ms. Davis' remark out of context which serves Ford's narrative of harsh criticism against Black support for Obama in 2008.  I recommend going to the KFPA website and listen to Ms. Davis remark for yourself.

Ms. Davis refers to Obama's victory within the context of the Black struggle.  The Black Overclass that exist today is a product of that struggle.  Obama is no different and Ms. Davis refers to the jubilation in Oakland that existed for several days after the Obama victory.

However where Ms. Davis falls short and deserve criticism is that she states that "we" have to "stop" Romney from being elected.  This is in line not surprisingly with Capitalist "feminist" Gloria Steinum call to "stop Romney.   This is the same "lesser evil" canard that went around during Bill Clinton's re-election just after he canned AFDC that hurt many poor women and women of color.  It is in this vein that Ms. Davis "sells out" Blacks as Obama is nothing more than a Zionist tool and Ms. Davis is not unlike BAR for failing to identify Zionist hegemony that has taken over the USA and has corrupted the entire political process.

Almost expected

A great article, Mr. Ford, but those like Prof. Davis are so commonplace today.

I checked the membership list just to be sure that her name wasn't on it, since that lobbyist group for the international ultra-rich has seeded academe with so many of their kind from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, UC, etc.

The "lesser evil" Wall Street meme appeals to too many today --- and either is an easy excuse to turn off their thought processes or avoid the alternate path --- the other being the path of least resistance.

Is expected.

Good comment.  I wd like to know:  Where the hell is big bad muttering John Lewis?  Where the hell is  speak out and cry Oprah?  Where the hell is  John block single payer Conyers? Where the hell is Al join with Newt Sharpton? We know where no speak Clarence Thomas is.  Where the hell are the Jesse Jackson twins?

There are so many sell-outs in this country it is horrifying.

Thank goodness for Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, and all the rest at BAR!!!!

There is literally nothing

There is literally nothing about this article that was easy to read/listen to. It is scary to see so many people who were down for the revolution... down to DIE for the revolution before I was born become to deflated and irrelevant. Could 1960s Angela Davis even recognize 2012 Angela Davis if the two ever met in some kind of timewarp? I can't help but cringe as Ford spoke because I used to look up to her so much and would protect her image like I guess she would Obama's. But even as I understand the correctness in BAR's analysis on the current president, I will also have to appreciate its thoughts on our former revolutionary/ies. Disillusionment can't begin to describe how I have felt about my elders since the selection of Barack Obama.


But as Frantz Fanon has long ago stated: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it." It is time for the young people of today to step up to the plate and, of course, we are, but just not in the numbers necessary to make any major dent like older ones.




There is a lesson for all of us

Personality politics that we galvanize around is a vulnerability easily exploited by reactionary forces.  Our first oppression was race-based.  These days, some of our worst enemies are own kind. We need to fight for and uphold justice where ever it is denied and suppressed.  That this lady is spewing such sychophantic BS demonstrates she was never anchored to the root principles of freedom and justice.  It is an indictment on the bankruptcy of the black radical movement that most of its proponents are now comfortable with imperialism and fascism dished out by a so called black POTUS.  It means they were weak-minded in the first place.

The Potency of Omission

Nothing about this article is relevant or legitimate.

Glen Ford has taken a statement by Angela Davis and ripped it from its context, then written a few paragraphs about his own personal opinion on the orphaned Davis comment meanwhile leaving the entirety of what Angela Davis actually said--before and after her statement on Obama--out of the picture. In scholarship and in journalism we call that academic dishonesty. Or, if you like, lies.

One thing that can always be counted on for lucidity, intelligence, and consistency is the viewpoint of Angela Davis. Her comments about Obama reveal nothing about her mental state, since they refer to some simple facts. Obama was in the congregation of Jeremiah Wright and it's safe to say that one cannot have been a member of the congregation of Jeremiah Wright without having been, in some form or another, identified with black radical politics. That does not make Obama a black radical, but certainly like most blacks in America today he is conversationally familiar with names like Carmicheal, Cleaver, Robert Williams, etc. This is, to me, an obvious fact.

This means that the Presidency is (obviously) nothing much more than a symbolic station in the American hierarchy and can do very little to change ground realities for the people. And we should expect nothing from it. We cannot look to a president, even if s/he were black, radical, Native American, Angela Davis, or Jesus himself, as the catalyst for change. It has never been true that the presidency can effect real change, it will never be true that the presidency can effect real change--the presidency is built to ensure a long and comfortable life for the ruling class. 

What Angela Davis says, has always said, and almost certainly said in her comments in Berkeley (I cant find a transcript anywhere) is that people, and people's movements, will always be the only thing that will change the world. Her point--if I can guess--was probably to point out that a woman who was reared in the white racist violence of mid century Birmingham has some right to admire the fact that her country now has a black president--a fact which, at the time she was coming into her own in America, seemed about as likely to happen as an Arab Muslim woman becoming president seems today.

The unwarranted viciousness with which Glen Ford has attacked Angela Davis is unforgivable, and his salient omissions (that is, the full text of Angela's speech) seems to suggest in fact some amount of propagandism going on at BAR. To tear down the life and work of such a one as A. Davis for a single decontextualized comment shows a level of hostility to truth and integrity that no media outlet can defend.

What a reasonable journalist might have done is print the transcript of the Davis speech and allow the public to decide for themselves--instead of slamming one of the finest and most admirable minds America has ever produced. But perhaps her lifelong achievements as a teacher, in the black power movement, the class struggle, the feminsit struggle, and against the prison-industrial complex just doesnt warrant a bit of caution and circumspection before lashing out like a child.

Unforgivably biased journalism at its absolute worst.

Next time we should have less agenda, and more report.

What of Davis' Feminist Agenda w this Blurb on Million Man March

I said above that 'Ms' Davis was going off base when she likened NOI Min Farakhan's objectives for the Million Man March to the politics Newt Grinchwitch [based on her notion of 'feminism']- Here's her statements;

From Wikipedia: Angela Davis- unsuccessfully rallied against the 1995 Million Man March, arguing that the exclusion of women from it promoted male chauvinism, and that the organizers of the March, including Louis Farrakhan, preferred women to take subordinate roles in society...

PBS Frontline: The 2 Nations of Black America April 20, 2006 Interview w Angela Davis [@ ]: PBS Frontline: You were critical of the Million Man March - What was the substance of your criticism?

Angela Davis: 'My criticism was based on the conservative politics of the Million Man March, the way in which the politics of the march coexisted quite harmoniously with the politics of Newt Gingrich, for its focus on family values... assuming a patriarchal family structure in which Black men would Atone- and assume their role as   the   patriarchs of the family, cause that's what the atonement was all about. That Black men were not really being the fathers that they needed to be, not really taking on the burden of the family in the way they needed to do it. I found that extremely problematic...'


Well I find 'Ms' Davis' critique of Farrakhan by likening the objectives of the Million Man March [For Black Men to be try & be better Husbands, Fathers, Brothers & Mentors???] to that of Newt Grinch-witch- to be extremely problematic! There have been some criticisms of Farrakhan- especially about what went down between him & Malcolm & how Farrakhan {mis}Handled It- but IMO: 'Ms' Davis was / is way off base here!

So now 'Ms' Davis claims that Obama is a product of the Black Radical Tradition?! When for purely poly-trickal reasons Obama threw his mentor Rev Wright under the bus & then also his church [where he was married by Rev Wright & where Rev Wright baptized Obama's daughters]?!! The 1960s & 70s version of Angela Davis was anti{Vietnam}war, yet now she hypes O-bomb-em after he, as a supposed 'Son of Africa', has led the charge in attacking African countries IE: Libya & Somalia?! Because, according to Davis, we have to stop Romney from getting elected [IE: main-stream US Dim vs Repug poly-tricks] as if Obama is substantively that much different [FYI: Obama's phony health-care plan, including its dubiously legal mandate forcing all to buy Corp 'health' insurance, is a nation wide roll-out of Romney's Mass. State plan. - Romney hypes attacking Iran as Obama says 'All Options are on the Table' RE attacking Iran.]??!! So now, due to Obama, Ms Davis is into main-stream US [Dims vs Repugs] poly-tricks- I remember she used to be a communist / socialist.

I suspect the reason there was a hush in the room after Ms Davis made this very curious assertions about Obama- is because w vets of the movement like Grace Lee Boggs & Glen Ford on the scene- they remember all to well what Black radicals [like the 1960s - 70s version of Angela Davis] were really all about- And Obama just does NOT qualify!  

But if Bro Glen Ford disingenuously took what 'Ms' Davis said 'out of context'- please enlighten us w the full context of what she said- by posting extended quotes from the event where she made this curiously dubious pro-Obama statement.


I don't know who Angela Davis is. But I do know this: Anyone who sings the praises of Barack Obama is not someone I want to know...................

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