The Brooklyn Museum announced today that scholar and activist Angela Y. Davis will be this year’s honoree at its ceremony and dinner for the Sackler Center First Awards. Given out annually, the awards recognize women who have made significant contributions to their respective fields.
Davis is known for her contributions to civil-rights activism. In 1969, she became a household name when UCLA fired her from a position in its philosophy department as a result of her political views—she was a member of the U.S. Communist Party and was close with members of the Black Panther Party. In 1970, she was accused of aiding in an armed takeover of a courtroom in Marin County, was placed on the FBI’s most-wanted list, and after being discovered while in hiding, was imprisoned for 16 months, causing a national movement to get her acquitted, which she later was, in 1972. She is now a professor emerita at U.C. Santa Cruz, where she is recognized for her scholarship about the U.S. prison-industrial complex.
In response to the Sackler Center’s call for action, and to stand with Davis, a number of New York–based artists have created a group called Artists in Support of Social Action. The artists are as follows: Marina Abramović, Ida Applebroog, Harry Belafonte, Dara Birnbaum, Tony Bennett, Judy Collins, Petah Coyne, Kasseem Dean (Swizz Beatz), Jane Fonda, Coco Fusco, Alan Gilbert, Guerrilla Girls, Harmony Hammond, Tony Kushner, Suzanne Lacy, Debra Lee, Shola Lynch, Wynton Marsalis, Audra McDonald, Marilyn Minter, Toni Morrison, Shirin Neshat, Jessye Norman, Lorraine O’Grady, Yoko Ono, Suzan-Lori Parks, Faith Ringgold, Carolee Schneemann, Joan Semmel, Cindy Sherman, Charles Simonds, Kiki Smith, Joan Snyder, Susan Stroman, Susan L. Taylor, Julie Taymor, Mickalene Thomas, Fred Tomaselli, Kathleen Turner, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Ray Charles White, Martha Wilson, and Damian Woetzel.
“Throughout the past five decades, Angela Davis has been an outspoken advocate for economic, racial, and gender equity,” Elizabeth A. Sackler, the founder of the Brooklyn Museum’s Sackler Center, said. “Angela is a force of nature whose extraordinary work against oppression has been constant and true. I am thrilled to honor her with the Sackler Center First Awards this year—a year ripe with active dialogue and vocal calls for justice and personal freedom.”