“I'm no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I'm changing the things I cannot accept.”
– Angela Davis
In a memo to her boss at Random House Publishing, where Toni Morrison worked as an Editor, she wrote of Angela Davis, “she is the fiercest woman I know. And I come from a long line of fierce women.”
This memo was in defense of the young activist, whom Toni herself had contacted and persuaded to write an autobiography at 26.
Toni’s boss had complained that Angela did not show any “humanness,” and seemed too disciplined to be real.
Toni wrote to him with a clap-back for the ages. “Angela is not here to meet your needs.” Angela is not here to perform your fantasy. “Your cry for more humanness,” she wrote, “is constant but I am suspicious of the word. It’s the word white people use when they want to alter a “fearless” or “uppity nigger.”
This memo sits in the archives of Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Toni’s boss’s response is not included, but the record reflects that Toni won the battle and remained editor of the book, and that Angela crafted the story she wanted for herself and the movement.
This…our dear friends, is what it looks like to have your crews back. To take a risk for the people you love and believe in, and to be willing to go the distance for what you know is right.
This is a Black girl love story involving two of the most influential Black women of any generation. It’s a story full of lessons on how to make moves on behalf of those that matter to us.