University of Texas features high-paid speaker who bashes capitalism and defends Communist mass incarceration of dissenters

University of Texas features high-paid speaker who bashes capitalism and defends Communist mass incarceration of dissenters
Angela Davis (Image: YouTube screen grab)

The College Fix reports that a “prominent communist activist typically paid between $25,000 and $38,000 per speech used a recent keynote address at the University of Texas at Austin to bash capitalism as exploitative….Angela Davis, the vice presidential nominee for the Communist Party USA in 1980 who was previously on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, was the keynote speaker at UT-Austin’s Eric Williams Memorial Lecture on April 4.”

As the College Fix notes, “Davis, who supports reparations, started the lecture by promoting the theory that slavery in the West did not end because of Enlightenment-era ideas about liberty and equality, but because industrial capitalists wished to engage in more pernicious racial exploitation.” ‘The real reason slavery was abolished was because it was no longer of service to capitalism,” Davis said. Davis claimed that capitalism “is at the very core of what we have come to perceive as structural racism.” She also claimed capitalism “came to being through history, and will also cease to exist, however that happens, through history.”

Davis falsely claimed that capitalist northerners were responsible for Jim Crow: “We tend to think that it was only the old white planters who were responsible for the creation of what became the Jim Crow system — no, it was the capitalists from the north who went down to the south.”

Davis lamented Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s attempts to keep critical race theory out of public school classrooms: “Can you imagine turning critical race theory into a bad word, and removing queer theory from black studies?”

Davis applauded a self-described future teacher who is “unapologetically a communist, abolitionist, feminist,” saying, “That is the most important work today — education — so thank you for going into that field.”

Organizer Lorraine Leu, curator of the Eric Williams Memorial Lecture and a professor at UT Austin, did not respond to requests from The College Fix about what UT paid Davis for her speech.

The College Fix asked Brian Davis, an employee of UT-Austin’s media affairs division, what Davis was paid for her speech, but he refused to answer and told it it would have to file a public records request to find out. The College Fix filed such a request on April 27, but UT-Austin has not yet responded to it.

According to Davis’ agents, her speaking fee is between $25,000 and $38,000. This amount is similar to the fees charged by other high-profile Marxist and anti-racist speakers.

Last December 2022, Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist,” was paid $35,000 by the University of Illinois for a one-hour lecture. In 2020, the Fairfax County Schools paid Kendi $20,000 for a one-hour presentation on “anti-racism” to school staff.  The “key concept” in Ibram Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist is that discrimination against whites is the only way to achieve equality: “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination,” writes Kendi in that book. Kendi is a leading “critical race theorist.” “To love capitalism is to end up loving racism. To love racism is to end up loving capitalism…Capitalism is essentially racist; racism is essentially capitalist,” according to Kendi’s book. It is a “comprehensive introduction to critical race theory,” gushes the leading progressive media organ Slate.

Three years ago, the University of Connecticut paid leftist “white fragility” scholar Robin DiAngelo $20,000 to lead a three-and-a-half-hour workshop.

Davis was a big supporter of communist attacks on free speech and political dissent.  She condemned jailed Jewish dissidents in the Soviet Union as “Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism” who should “be kept in prison.” These dissidents were trapped in the world’s largest prison system, the Gulag, in which tens of millions of people perished during imprisonment or forced labor. Davis had no problem with the Gulag at all.

Yet Davis called for abolishing prisons in America, where prisons are used to incarcerate murderers and thieves, rather than dissidents. “Abolish prisons, says Angela Davis,” is the title of a glowing portrait of Davis in the Harvard Gazette, an official publication of Harvard University. “In a lecture at the Kennedy School of Government’s ARCO Forum Friday (March 7), activist and intellectual Angela Davis advocated for the abolition of prisons, casting the issue in human rights terms and urging a broader vision of justice,” wrote the Gazette.

But Davis did not care about human rights in communist countries, where human rights could not be permitted to slow the pace of communism and its total transformation of society. Vast numbers of people were incarcerated and killed by the Soviet Union’s communist government in the Gulag, without any criticism from Davis. The Los Angeles Times described the vast suffering in the Gulag camps in just a single region of Siberia, where 3 million people died.

Scattered throughout the mountains and glacier-sculptured river valleys in the Soviet Union’s northeastern corner, from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Arctic Ocean, are the ruins of more than 100 Gulag camps in which an estimated 3 million men, women and children were executed or died….To some Soviet citizens, the names Magadan and Kolyma have the same ring as the names Buchenwald or Dachau to a Jew.

“Kolyma in eastern Siberia was the largest camp area in the U.S.S.R., had the highest death rate. Whole camps perished to a man,” wrote Alexander Solzhenitsyn…“Prisoners worked at 75 degrees below zero, in six-foot snow, beneath it only permafrost. One bowl of gruel a day. Kolyma camps were known for executions and mass graves.” At one Kolyma camp…“the prisoners were so famished they ate the corpse of a horse lying dead for more than a week in summer, which not only stank, but was covered with flies and maggots. They ate a half-barrel of lubrication grease brought there to grease the wheelbarrows. . ..“Thousands were sent here for petty theft, for making jokes about Stalin, for unbelievable inconsequential reasons as ‘enemies of the people,’” said Yuri Pavlov, 57, a columnist for the newspaper Magadanskay Pravda…Soviet citizens who had been captured by the Germans during World War II and later freed were believed to have been tainted by their Fascist captors, and were re-arrested on arrival home and sent here and to other parts of Siberia…“Americans liberated many Soviets from German prison camps,” Pavlov said. “When they (the ex-POWS) returned home at war’s end, they were sent to the Gulag in Siberia because Stalin thought they were all spies because the Americas saved them. It was crazy.”

A Jewish Harvard law professor noted “that he appealed to Davis, with her very close relationship with the USSR, to intercede on behalf of imprisoned Soviet Jewry activists…. ‘Several days later, I received a call back from Ms. Davis’ secretary informing me that Davis had looked into the people on my list and none were political prisoners. “They are all Zionist fascists and opponents of socialism.” Davis would urge that they be kept in prison where they belonged.’”

As the National Review notes, Davis’s support for human rights abuses is well-known:

Davis is an unrepentant champion of domestic terrorists and murderers. In the early 1970s, Davis famously bought two of the guns used in a 1970 Marin County courtroom kidnapping-shootout perpetrated by Black Panthers, in which a superior court judge and three hostages were murdered. After being charged with “aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder,” Davis went into hiding. Even after the FBI caught up to her, and even after evidence showed that she had been in correspondence with the planners and well aware of their violent disposition, she was acquitted in 1972. Davis never stopped defending convicted Black Panther murderers, including those who had tortured a teenager to death, and yet she is still treated as a celebrity.

Davis collaborated with some of the world’s most nefarious regimes. The CIA estimated that at least 5 percent of the entire Soviet Russian propaganda budget in 1971 had been spent on propping up and defending Davis (as opposed to four going to the war in Vietnam). And she reciprocated eagerly and often. Davis first visited the Soviet Union 1972, a year of renewed political repression and forced labor. “Miss Davis Hails Soviet’s policies,” read a New York Times headline from August of that year. “Soviet ideologists raised Miss Davis to the status of virtual folk heroine during her California trial on murder‐conspiracy charges before she was found not guilty earlier this year,” the report noted. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn singled out Davis out tool of Soviet propagandists in his 1975 “Communism: A Legacy of Terror” speech.

In 1979, Davis would return to Moscow to collect her Lenin Peace Prize, praising “the glorious name” of the mass-murdering founder of the Soviet Union and his “great October Revolution.” On neither trip did she utter a single word of criticism or concern about the largest prison system that mankind had ever created. Only high praise.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.