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Why Activist Angela Davis Isn't Endorsing Any Candidate For President

"We need a new party," Davis declared.

Revolutionary activist Angela Davis is not impressed with the current roster of candidates running for president. 

Davis -- whose work has always taken a critical look at issues of race, gender, prisons and politics -- spoke with Democracy Now! in an interview posted Monday and explained why she is not endorsing a candidate. 

"I don’t endorse," Davis told Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman. "I believe in independent politics. I still think that we need a new party, a party that is grounded in labor, a party that can speak to all of the issues around racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, what is happening in the world. We don’t yet have that party." Watch a full video clip below: 

Davis condemned the "fascist appeal" of Donald Trump as well as his failure to outright denounce the endorsement of David Duke, the white supremacist and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. 

"The Ku Klux Klan, of course, evokes the racist, terrorist, violent history of—associated with the era following slavery up to the present," Davis said. "The extent to which Donald Trump was beating around the bush, seemingly in an effort not to alienate those who might support the Klan today, is an indication that he is helping."  

For decades, Davis has been regarded as a radical activist, freedom fighter and feminist icon who has consistently spoken out against many of America's ills. Davis has always been passionate about ending oppression in all its forms and fighting for the abolition of prisons. It is a position fueled by her own experience spending 16 months incarcerated after being placed on FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List on false charges 50 years ago. 

Davis' profound activism has helped to distinguish her as leading black revolutionary figure. Many present-day Black Lives Matter activists are inspired by her accomplishments and she said she shares a strong appreciation for their work, too. 

"I think it’s really wonderful that Black Lives Matter activists are participating in this electoral period in this way, forcing candidates to speak on issues about which they might not speak," Davis said.

Davis said she admires the ways in which activists today have demanded attention in the current election cycle, particularly as it involves calling out candidate Hillary Clinton on past comments she made referring to at-risk youth as "superpredators" and demanding she acknowledge the repercussions of her support for the 1994 Crime Bill, which sent a disproportionate number of black men and women to jail.  

"It seems to me that if she’s interested in the votes of not only African Americans and people of color, but of all people who are progressive and attempting to speak out against the racism of over incarceration, she would simply say, 'I was wrong then,' that 'superpredator' is a racially coded term,'" Davis said. "It’s so interesting that she tends to rely on a kind of universalism that prevents her from acknowledging the extent to which racism is so much a force and an influence in this country."

While Davis said Clinton is reluctant to address racism, she said she also believes her opponent Bernie Sanders suffers from certain limitations, too. When it comes to Sanders, Davis said she believes he engages in "a kind of economic reductionism" that prevents him from fully understanding and relaying information that will "enlighten us about the persistence of racism, racist violence, state violence," Davis said. 

"It seems that he does not have the vocabulary that allows him to acknowledge the role and the influence that racism has played historically," she added. "He thinks that economic justice will automatically lead us to racial justice."

Despite having little enthusiasm for the current presidential election cycle, Davis said she has hope that America's future elections will pursue a more progressive agenda.  

"I think we need to be looking ahead toward a very different kind of political process. At the same time, we put pressure on whoever is running," Davis said. "So I’m actually more interested in helping to develop mass movements that can create the kind of pressure that will force whoever is elected or whoever becomes the candidate to move in more progressive directions." 

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