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UT-Austin paid Angela Davis $25,000 for speech bashing capitalism


‘The real reason slavery was abolished was because it was no longer of service to capitalism,’ Davis said

A prominent racial activist was paid $25,000 for her recent keynote address at the University of Texas at Austin. During her speech, Angela Davis bashed capitalism as exploitative and called the murder of Tyre Nichols by black police officers “systemic racism.”

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.

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 went on to argue that capitalism “is at the very core of what we have come to perceive as structural racism.”

She also said capitalism “came to being through history, and will also cease to exist, however that happens, through history.”

Davis also said in her speech that Jim Crow laws were not an outgrowth of white supremacy after the Civil War, but a product of capitalist northerners who wished to exploit laborers.

“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 said.

Davis also criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his effort to keep critical race theory out of public school classrooms, arguing the theory should be integrated into educational curricula.

“Can you imagine turning critical race theory into a bad word, and removing queer theory from black studies,” Davis said.

Davis called the Memphis Police Department’s killing of 29-year-old African American man Tyre Nichols an example of systemic racism, despite the fact that Nichols died earlier this year at the hands of five black officers.

“Is it racism if black cops murder black people? Of course it is,” Davis said.

Responding to a question from a self-described future school instructor who is “unapologetically a communist, abolitionist, feminist and pro-Palestine,” Davis applauded the individual for looking to be a teacher.

“That is the most important work today — education — so thank you for going into that field,” Davis said.

Organizer Lorraine Leu, curator of the Eric Williams Memorial Lecture and professor of Latin American cultural studies at UT Austin, did not respond to requests from The College Fix.

Bob Bonner-Davis, chief public information coordinator within the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs, told The College Fix in an email Monday, after the article was published, that Davis was paid $25,000 for the speech. The Fix had filed a public records act request for the information.

According to Davis’ representatives, her speaker fee ranges between $25,000 and $38,000.

In December 2022, author and activist 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 University of Connecticut paid “white fragility” scholar Robin DiAngelo $20,000 to lead a three-and-a-half-hour workshop.

Earlier this year, Davis discovered she is a descendant of a slave owner and also descended from a traveler on the Mayflower.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include Davis’ remuneration for the speech.

MORE: UCLA honors Davis as role model

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About the Author
College Fix contributor David Glasser is a rising second-year student at the Florida State University College of Law, with over six years of news and opinion writing experience for various publications. He is set to graduate in 2026.