BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Angela Davis, a Birmingham native and prominent activist, has signed a five-book deal with Hamish Hamilton publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. So what role might her home city of Birmingham play in the publications?
Two of the books planned for publication are reprints of Davis’ former works. Freedom is a Constant Struggle from 2016 and a new edition of An Autobiography, edited by the late Toni Morrison, are scheduled to be released in January 2022. The latter, An Autobiography, includes extensive references to Birmingham.
Davis grew up in a mixed race, middle-class neighborhood around Center Street that would come to be known as Dynamite Hill because of the frequent bombings of those opposing the strict racial segregation that was the norm at the time. According to numbers compiled by southern historian Glenn Eskew, Birmingham, termed “Bombingham,” was the site of 50 dynamite bombings between 1947 and 1965.
Davis was also close with the families of the four little girls — Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair — that domestic terrorists murdered in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963. Davis’ mother even drove Robertson’s mother to the site of the bombing, where she found out her daughter had been killed.
Davis recalled these events in a 2018 interview with Amy Goodman, but said that it was important to remember the context in which the bombing occurred.
“We could talk about that incident,” Davis said in the interview, “but I think it’s also important to realize that that wasn’t the first time a church had been bombed… that was a routine expression of racist terror that happened all the time.”
Goodman also asked Davis if she had ever had a discussion about the bombings with another famous Birmingham native, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who served under President George W. Bush.
“No,” Angela Davis said. “You know, all kinds of people are from Birmingham.”