Following a massive FBI manhunt for Angela Davis, she was captured in New York City, October 13, 1970 after being on the run for two months. Davis, one of the leaders of Black Panther Party movement, was charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy for allegedly supplying weapons for an attempted courtroom escape led by Jonathan Jackson to free his brother George Jackson, another leader of the movement.
Davis’s bail was set at more than $100,000. An unlikely person came forward and offered to pay it. Aretha Franklin.
Franklin, who died today in her home in Detroit, Michigan at the age of 76, was a little girl when her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin led the Detroit Walk to Freedom, the largest civil rights march in history before the March on Washington. In that march, Martin Luther King delivered the first version of his “I Have a Dream” speech.
But less than a decade later, Aretha Franklin was willing to step up when Davis was arrested and pay her bail.
“(I didn’t care) whether it was $100,000 or $250,000,” Franklin told Jet magazine. Davis was released and cleared of all charges after spending 16 months in jail. Aretha Franklin supported the Black Panther movement despite her father’s objections.
“My Daddy says I don’t know what I ‘m doing,” she was reported to have said. “Well, I respect him of course, but I’m going to stick by my beliefs. Angela Davis must go free. Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace.
“Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in Communism, but because she is a Black woman and she wants freedom for black people. I have the money; I got it from black people – they’ve made me financially able to have it – and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”