Scope and arrangement
The Angela Davis Legal Defense Fund Collection is comprised of legal documents and other materials associated with the legal and political campaign to have Davis acquitted of all charges against her. The bulk consists of legal briefs and other legal documents which reflect the actions taken prior to the change of venue from Marin County to San Jose, California. The rest of the collection relates to the activities mounted by the Angela Davis Defense Committee and other supporters to generate publicity and support for Davis. In addition, there is information on the Soledad Brothers, political prisoners and prisons in the United States. The collection is divided into four series: Legal Documents, Support Activities, Printed Matter, and Prisons and Prisoners.
The Angela Davis Legal defense collection is arranged in four series:
The series is divided into five subseries: Davis v. State of New York; U.S. District Court/Davis v. John V. Lindsay, et al; United States v. David Rudolph Poindexter; California v. Angela Davis and Ruchell Magee;and State of California v. Angela Davis,documenting the different cases and jurisdictions. The documentation consists of motions and petitions, affidavits and depositions, preliminary injunctions, stenographers notes, and writs.
The series comprises material noting the broad range of support amassed in Davis' defense. Included are statements and other documentation from United States Congressmen John Conyers and Walter E. Fauntroy; the National Conference of Black Lawyers who organized a nationwide panel of distinguished black law professors that acted as consultants to the defense team; the Arab Women's League of Jordan, the Communist Party of Venezuela; and the National Union of Mexican Women. Documentation concerning the Presbyterian Church's donation of $10,000 to the Davis Defense Fund and the ensuing controversy, is also located here. The documents consist of newspaper clippings, flyers, and letters.
This series contains a variety of printed material relating to Davis and the trial. Writings by and about Davis can be found in this series, including information concerning the controversy at the University of California at Los Angeles which is documented in an article that appeared in the AAUP Bulletin,Fall 1971. The folder labeled “Angela Davis” includes a prison interview, articles discussing her chances for receiving a fair trail, and a reprint of an article which appeared in Muhammad Speakssent out by the New York Committee to Free Angela Davis. Writings by Davis include an article she wrote entitled, The Nature of Freedom. The San Rafael Independent Journalfolders consist of articles from that newspaper documenting the events from the time of the incident in August 1970 up to the change of venue for Davis' trial. A weekly trial bulletin entitled, Frame Up, from the National United Committee to Free Davis and All Political Prisoners provides a detailed account of Davis' trial, from February to May 1972.
An early draft of If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance(1971), edited by Davis is located here. Included are copies of essays/articles by John Clutchette, Fleeta Drumgo, George Jackson, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, which first appeared in other publications, as well as several unsigned typed essays on individual political prisoners. A copy of a manuscript for Min S. Yee's The Melancholy History of Soledad Prison(1973), is also here. Prison conditions are documented in A Convict Report on the Grievances of the Prison Population with Suggested Solutions, by John Irwin, as well as in clippings and other essays. There are also letters from prisoners written to Margaret Burnham, during her tenure as an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (1970).