As part of Vanity Fair's September issue, Ava DuVernay and Angela Davis discussed changing the world.
Ava DuVernay and Angela Davis are two of the most influential voices of our current moment.
Today, a transcript of a conversation between them was released, and it's as moving and mobilizing as you might expect.
The conversation will be published in the September issue of Vanity Fair, as part of a special issue entitled The Great Fire. The issue features Breonna Taylor on the cover and was guest-edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who also wrote the cover story, an interview with Breonna Taylor's mother.
In the interview, DuVernay and Davis expressed their mutual admiration for each other's world-altering work.
DuVernay is one of the most groundbreaking directors of our times. She broke through with her second film, Middle of Nowhere, which told the story of a woman in Compton dealing with her husband's prison sentence and her own internal demons.
Her work on 2014's Selma—about the 1965 Civil Rights marches—made her the first Black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award. She also became the first Black woman to direct a major blockbuster that brought in $100 million at the box office with A Wrinkle in Time. More recently, her Netflix documentary 13th has become required viewing for anyone looking to learn about the history of racism and the prison industrial complex America, and her documentary When They See Us, chronicled the story of the Central Park 5.
Angela Davis needs no introduction, but her career and legacy would take hundreds of pages to summarize. A prominent Black Panther, communist, and activist during the Civil Rights movement, she has become a popular academic and is one of this current moment's most quoted and referenced thinkers.
Davis came to international recognition when she was imprisoned from 1970 to 72 after having been placed on the FBI's list of 10 most wanted criminals. She ran for vice president in 1980 on a Communist Party ticket. A prison abolitionist, her book Are Prisons Obsolete? was a formative text in the study of the prison industrial complex. Today, as a professor at UCLA, Davis's scholarship is fundamentally intersectional, recognizing the interlocking forces of capitalism, gender, race, and global oppression.
Davis spoke to DuVernay about the complexities of this current moment and took a bird's eye view of the slow, painful process of changing the world. Here are six major takeaways: