African American Heritage

Women in Black Power

African American women played an important and influential role in the black power movement. They held leadership roles in various black nationalist organizations, including the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, while at the same time fighting against the sexist ideologies of the male members. Black power women worked in organizations or on their own to bring attention to issues of gender identity, classism, racism, and sexism. Many of the black women involved in the black power movement continued their fight into the 1970s and 1980s, within the growing black feminism movement. New organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance and the Combahee River Collective argued that the liberation of black women would lead to freedom for all people.


 Grace Lee Boggs (June 27, 1915 to October 5, 2015) 

Grace Lee Boggs was a Chinese-American activist, philosopher, and feminist. She graduated from Barnard College with a bachelor’s degree and received a Ph. D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College. Boggs was influenced by the political and social activism of Richard Wright, Katharine Dunham, and C. L. R. James. While living in Detroit, Boggs who was impressed with the teachings of Malcolm X, became involved in the local black power movements.

Record Group 65: Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957 – 1978 [Detroit, Michigan Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 1487615)

Selected Records

157-3166 Grace Lillian Boggs

(National Archives Identifier 5242524)

 Angela Y. Davis (January 26, 1944- ) 

Angela Yvonne Davis is a prominent political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as the leader of Communist Party USA in the 1960s and had close ties to the Black Panther Party.  Her interests include the abolishment of the prisons and the prison-industrial complex.  She is currently retired from her professorship at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she taught in their History of Consciousness Department and is the former director of the Feminist Studies Department.

Angela Davis is well known a notable arrest and trial in 1970.  A 17-year old high school student, Jonathan Jackson, took over a Marin County courtroom where he armed the black defendants and took the judge, prosecutor, and three female jurors hostage.  In the end of the whole ordeal, the judge, Jackson and the armed defendants were killed while the prosecutor and one of the jurors were injured.  Davis was accused of purchasing the guns used in commission of the crimes so she was charged with “aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder”.  

Angela fled persecution.  Four days after the initial warrant was issued, J. Edgar Hoover listed Angela Davis on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List.  She was on the run for two months before being apprehended in New York City.   Movements were created worldwide demanding her release.  Angela Davis was tried and found not guilty by an all-white jury.

RG 65 Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Classification 44 (Civil Rights) Headquarters Case Files, 1924-1978 (National Archives Identifier 2329984)

Selected Records

44-50522, Section 1 Serials 1-5, California, New York (1971-1972) "Soledad Brothers," George C. Jackson; Angela Davis; L. Patrick Gray (National Archives Identifier 7657450)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Headquarters Case Files, 1957 - 1978 (National Archives Identifier 4795307)

Selected Records

157-19609 v.1 [Classification - Civil Unrest] - Black People in Defense of Angela Yvonne Davis (National Archives Identifier 6072769)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Los Angeles, California Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 1513564)

Selected Records

157-2220 Angela Davis 

(National Archives Identifier 5551400)

157-2325 Angela Davis

(National Archives Identifier 5551387)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [San Diego, California Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 1535906)

Selected Records

157-692 Angela Yvonne Davis

(National Archives Identifier 5543606)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Washington, District of Columbia] (National Archives Identifier 4685574)

Selected Records

157-614 Marion Barry--Stokely Carmichael--Angela Davis (National Archives Identifier 5421007)

157-1383 Stokely Carmichael--Committee to Free Angela Davis--Student Mobilization Committee (National Archives Identifier 5421198)

157-1615 Republic of New Africa Program/Workshop, Jackson, MS--Angela Davis (National Archives Identifier 5421390)

157-4160 The Freedom for Angela (Davis) Committee--Angela Davis--Young Socialist Alliance (National Archives Identifier 5422549)

157-4189 New Haven Committee to Defend Angela Davis--Black Panther Party (National Archives Identifier 5422556)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Atlanta, Georgia Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 1450334)

Selected Records

157-4901 Proposed march from Eutaw, AL to Montgomery, AL, 3/29-4/2/71, in support of Angela Davis and other political prisoners, sponsored by Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF)/Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (National Archives Identifier 5150653)

157-5830 Angela Yvonne Davis--Angela Davis (National Archives Identifier 5150728)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Baltimore, Maryland Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 1455551)

Selected Records

157-5202 Angela Yvonne Davis

(National Archives Identifier 5215707)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Jackson, Mississippi Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 1513558)

Selected Records

157-13900 Black United Front Proposed Demonstration to Free Angela Davis and Other Confined Negroes at Free the Prisoners Day Program--Jackson, MS (National Archives Identifier 5600677)

157-15790 Freddie Louis Bell, Angela Davis Liberation Party, Dallas, TX (National Archives Identifier 5602544)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Charlotte, North Carolina Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 5563491)

Selected Records

157-7895 March and Rally Protesting Arrest of Angela Davis (National Archives Identifier 5563491)

157-8039 Free Angela Davis Rally (National Archives Identifier 5563346)

157-9580 Angela Davis (National Archives Identifier 5563491)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Cincinnati, Ohio Field Division] (National Archives Identifier 1487610)

Selected Records

157-5136 Angela Davis

(National Archives Identifier 5218022)

HICK John R. Hickman Audio Collection

Sound Recordings of Historical Radio Broadcasts, World War II Government Documentaries, and Popular Radio Shows, 1906-1993 (National Archives Identifier 1487762)

Selected Records

Interview with Angela Davis (National Archives Identifier 2842900)

Interview with Angela Davis from Prison (National Archives Identifier 2843659)

WJC-FL Records of the First Lady's Office (Clinton Administration), 1993 - 2001

Bobbie Greene's Files, 1997 - 1998 (National Archives Identifier 7763273)

Selected Records

Angela Davis (National Archives Identifier 26413763)

MR University of Washington Collection

Audio Recordings Forming the Milo Ryan Phonoarchive of Radio Newscasts Relating to World War II and Special Coverage of Other Historical Events, ca. 1931 - ca. 1977 (National Archives Identifier 113397)

Selected Records

CBS News (National Archives Identifier 117231)

 Miriam Makeba (March 4, 1932 to November 9, 2008) 

Zenzile Miriam Makeba, nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer and civil rights activist known for becoming the first African artist to globally popularize African music. Makeba was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on March 4, 1932. Her professional career began when she was featured in the South African jazz group the Manhattan Brothers in the 1950s and made her U.S. debut on  November 1, 1959 on The Steve Allen Show. While traveling to London she met Harry Belafonte who helped her gain entry into the US as well as fame there. She tried to return to South Africa in 1960 but discovered that her passport was cancelled, making her an exile. Later that year she signed with RCA Victor and released Miriam Makeba, her first U.S. studio album. Throughout the 1960s she spoke out against apartheid in South Africa and later in the decade she met and married prominent civil rights leader and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael in 1968 who she would go on to divorce in 1973. Makeba continued on in her activism and music career and in 1990 she would return to her home country of South Africa on a French passport after much persuasion by Nelson Mandela. Makeba died on November 9, 2008 after falling ill while taking part in a concert organised to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation local to the Region of Campania. She was a strong supporter of human rights and continued her activism to her last breath. Black power records at the National Archives related to Miriam Makeba focused on FBI investigations into her marriage to Carmichael.

RG 47 Records of the Social Security Administration, 1934-ca 1992

Motion Picture Films from the “Social Security in Action” Television Program Series, ca 1958-ca 1966 (National Archives Identifier 11301)

Selected Records
Miriam Makeba (National Archives Identifier 11582)

RG 65 Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1896-2008

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [San Diego, California] Field Division (National Archives Identifier 1535906)

Selected Records
157-2864 Miriam Makeba (National Archives Identifier 5543852)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [Atlanta, Georgia] Field Division (National Archives Identifier 1450334)

Selected Records
157-5192 Miriam Makeba--Mrs. Stokely Carmichael--Internal Security--South Africa (National Archives Identifier 5150675)

Classification 157 (Civil Unrest) Case Files, 1957-1978 [New York, New York] Field Division (National Archives Identifier 5388190)

Selected Records

157-2294 Miriam Makeba (National Archives Identifier 5388189)

RG 306 Records of the US Information Agency, 1900-2003

Production Library Audio Recordings, 1999-2005 (National Archives Identifier 118159)

Selected Records
Folk Singers in America Miriam Makeba (National Archives Identifier 125327)