Communist History Month in California
Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, has posted a TikTok video of “5 Golden State trailblazers to celebrate this Women’s History Month.” The background of her second choice, Angela Davis, may be unfamiliar to many Californians.
The African American Davis was a member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) a wholly owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union, ruled by an all-male, all-white Communist dictatorship. Under that one-party dictatorship, women and men had no free speech or assembly rights.
Davis also supported the all-white, all-male Communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe, including the East German regime of Erich Honecker. That regime built a wall around East Berlin and shot women and men attempting to escape to what was then West Germany.
Davis’ support for political prisoners did not include those in Communist regimes such as Czechoslovakia, invaded by the Soviet Union in 1968. In 1972, Czech dissident Jiri Pelikan invited Davis to support imprisoned dissidents, but Davis declined.
In 1979, the Soviet Union awarded Davis the Lenin Peace Prize shortly before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The following year, Davis ran for vice president of the United States, with the CPUSA, on a ticket with Gus Hall, whose career went back to the Stalin Era. Davis and Hall ran again in 1984, losing to Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
Angela Davis was also a supporter of Cuba’s Communist dictatorship under white Stalinist Fidel Castro, one generation out of Spain. Castro held many black political prisoners, and as cinematographer Nestor Almendros showed in Improper Conduct, the regime also imprisoned homosexuals in forced labor camps.
Davis never criticized human rights abuses in any Communist regime and remained in the CPUSA until 1991. If Californians thought Angela Davis was an odd choice to celebrate Women’s History Month, it would be hard to blame them.
Gov. Newsom’s wife also selected transgender activist Isa Noyola, union leader Dolores Huerta, lesbian activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, and writer Joan Didion.