What's former Black Panther Angela Davis been up to since being acquitted of charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy forty-four years ago?

Livin' off the fat of the land she despised–that'swhat!–and racking up honors right and left–well at least left. Her latest accolade: this year's Sackler Center First Award, known for "honoring women who are first in their fields." It is awarded by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

Previous laureates have included novelist Toni Morrison, Miss Piggy and Anita Hill. Roger Kimball wryly comments that Davis must be the first Sackler winner to have parlayed a place on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list into a tenured professorship at the University of California.

The award scene was, to use a phrase from the sixties, when Ms. Davis was better known, pure radical chic. Kimball describes it:

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum was packed to overflowing for the ceremony. It began with a songfest. A couple dozen children from the Manhattan Country School, a boutique “progressive” institution, sang what seemed like 40 or 50 verses of “We Shall Overcome.” Elizabeth A. Sackler, chairwoman of the Brooklyn Museum and scion of Alfred M. Sackler, who made a large part of his considerable fortune marketing the painkiller OxyContin, introduced the evening. She noted proudly that she had grandchildren attending the school where singing “We Shall Overcome” is a daily ritual.

The evening also featured a welcome by Chirlane McCray, wife of Warren Wilhelm Jr., known to most New Yorkers as Mayor Bill de Blasio. The bulk of the evening was taken up with rituals of self-congratulation and a screening of a mercifully abridged “educational” version of “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,” a 2012 documentary about the signal event in Ms. Davis’s career as a radical: her arrest, prosecution and exoneration.

There followed a brief conversation between Ms. Davis and the prima donna Ms. of all Ms.’s, Gloria Steinem. Kathy Boudin, the former member of the Weather Underground who was convicted of murder in 1981, was also in attendance. It was old-home week for wizened radical chic.

In her introduction, Ms. Sackler said that the name Angela Davis, “the embodiment of all we hold dear,” is “synonymous with truth.” Really?

Kimball recounts Davis journey from privileged Brandeis undergraduate (where she became a disciple of Herbert Marcuse) to privileged post-grad student in Europe, to radical alum of the violent sixties during which people less privileged than Davis suffered at the hands of Ms. Davis and her her charming friends.

One such person who suffered was a prison guard murdered at Soledad prison in California. Ms. Davis' love interest at the time, George Jackson, then a denizen of Soledad, a career criminal and Black Panther, was implicated in the murder. The trial for the murder was quite a scene:

That August Jackson’s 17-year-old brother Jonathan burst into a Marin County courthouse during a trial. He distributed arms to the defendants, took the judge, the prosecutor and at least one juror hostage. Some of the weapons, as later testimony at her trial revealed, had been bought by Ms. Davis two days before. Jonathan intended to trade the hostages for the release of his brother and then flee to Cuba.

In what became a shootout, Jonathan and two of the defendants were killed. The judge’s head was blown off by a shotgun taped under his chin. Another hostage was paralyzed for life. In 1971, in a detail omitted by the “Free Angela” documentary, George Jackson and several other inmates murdered three prison guards and two white inmates, before being shot himself.

After the bloody courthouse melee, Ms. Davis fled and went underground. The FBI apprehended her in New York some months later. “Free Angela” argues that she was prosecuted because she was a Communist and black. In fact, she was prosecuted as a material accessory to murder.

How did she get off? In part, for the same reason that O.J. Simpson got off: celebrity, edged with racial grievance mongering. There was also the temper of the times. When she was apprehended, a hue and cry went around the world—especially in precincts hostile to American interests.

I caught snippets of a Black Panther documentary on PBS the other night. The clueless narrator talked about how "social justice" concepts have evolved since then. I gather that she thought the Panthers were a "social justice" organization.