31 July 2011

"Revolutionaries must be realists." ~ Angela Davis

Angela Yvonne Davis, circa 1969

In the mid-1980s, as an undergrad at the University of California, San Diego, I got a job that entailed calling graduates of the university to solicit donations for the Alumni Association.

To perform this job, I would grab a handful of information sheets at the start of each shift, on each of which was a scattering of data that the association had gathered about a particular grad. I would call that grad and run through a script designed to elicit a financial contribution.

I got so I could run the routine pretty quickly and I was persuasive, apparently, because I made the alumni association--and myself--a fair amount of money.

So! One day, grabbing an info sheet and scanning the first name, year of graduation, degree and academic department, I got hold of an "Angela" who looked to be working as a professor somewhere. I started on the script:

Hi, Angela, this is <insert tapu's real name here>, calling for the UCSD Alumni Association. We have in our files that you received your Master's Degree here in the Philosophy Dept. What did you think of your time here and of the quality of education you received?

She spoke amiably about her high opinion of some of the philosophy professors, and how one in particular--Herbert Marcuse--had drawn her to study there. Hah...? Huh?? My minor was Philosophy. I stole a glance at the full name:  Angela Yvonne Davis. Right. I had Angela Davis on the phone and I was about to ask her for a contribution to the University of California. Like, where she had become embroiled in revolution to the point that the FBI put her on the Most Wanted List. Like, where she was when then-Governor Ronald Reagan tried to get her banned from ever teaching in the UC system.

She was in the midst of her second run for Vice President on the Communist ticket and I wanted her to send privileged So Cal surfer students some cash so they could soon join the wealthy business class of their parents.

I started backing down. But Angela Davis cut to the chase for me. She pledged 1000 dollars then and there. Most people pledged 25-100 dollars. She told me she had gotten a first-rate education at the University of California and that she would always respect that opportunity. I thought I would die.

Is there anyone hotter than Angela Davis?

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