It is no secret that Black bodies were treated like chess pieces during the Cold War, and Angela Davis is no different. There were many African-American guests invited to East Germany to speak about U.S. oppression. However, Davis was particularly beloved through various projects from the government and individuals. I examine the East German iconization of Davis through their campaign: “1 Million Roses for Angela,” and “Freiheit für Angela” by utilizing a recently uncovered archive of over 200 boxes of letters, banners, pictures, and postcards sent primarily from East Germany during her arrest and trial, 1970-1972. These pieces make a whole through volume. They show those involved with the trial to show that other nations were watching. Davis represented the “hero of the other America,” that is, a non-capitalistic America. Because of her communist beliefs, East Germans considered her a comrade and an icon. The solidarity projects aided in freeing Davis. In the talk, I argue the ways in which meaning was created out the state fashioned project and that Davis achieved saint like status in the GDR.
Dr. Jamele Watkins is a Post-doctoral Fellow in the German Department at Stanford University. She engages in intersections of race and gender in the 20th and 21st Century. Her projects include Afro-German performance, visual culture and feminism, and transnational solidarity projects and affinities. Currently, she is working on her book project: Roses for Angela, which focuses on the East German solidarity campaigns to free Davis.