Are you innocent of being a revolutionary, or are you guilty of being a revolutionary? Rather an absurd question, especially if put to the many political prisoners in the US, fourteen of whom are former Black Panthers. Yet it seems like so many of us on the outside have fallen into the government’s criminal injustice trap of placing so much importance on whether our political prisoners are guilty or innocent of the crimes the government has charged and convicted them of. Could this be the reason why so many of these brave elders, who have sacrificed their entire adult lives for the revolutionary ideals espoused by the BPP, have received so little support and recognition over the forty-plus years of their imprisonment?
As we all recognize the tremendous courage, brilliance, and achievements of the Black Panther Party on its 50th anniversary, we should honor those who risked their lives for the Black liberation movement and continue to pay such a high price for their ideals. They were courageous as youth in the community. They are now elder political prisoners and tremendous Afrikan role models to the many thousands of Black people forced to live their lives behind prison walls. One of them, Herman Bell, has just written and recorded a piece especially for the occasion of the BPP’s 50th Anniversary. It’s an 11-minute message – so kick back and take a few minutes to listen to what our brother has to say.
Over the summer we’ve been going through old piles, re-organizing the archive space and re-arranging book shelves. Needless to say we found some cool stuff.
This image is taken from the Clifford Glover Contingent’s Coloring Book published by the May 19th Communist Organization. Clifford Glover was a 10-year-old black youth murdered by Thomas Shea, a white on-duty, undercover policeman, on April 28, 1973. His death, and the policeman’s later acquittal for a murder charge, led to an urban rebellion in the South Jamaica section of Queens, New York. The inside cover of the coloring book reads:
“We want our children to be part of building this new socialist society. That is why we built the Clifford Glover Brigade for our young people to march with us today, under the leadership of the Black Liberation struggle. We want them to understand that a system that survives through the murder of Black children by killer cops and the klan provides no future for them. But for them to live in a better world, they must start fighting for it by fighting white supremacy now. That is the way that they will learn new values and can grow into young revolutionary women and men.”
-Solidarity Statement from May 19th Communist Organization in recognition of New Afrikan Freedom Fighter Day, July 18, 1981.
This past spring, the Progressive Librarian, a journal for Critical Studies and Progressive Politics in Librarianship, published an article we wrote entitled “Don’t Trust Anyone Over the Age of 30”: Youth Empowerment and Community Archives. The spring issue recently became available online and we wanted to share the article with you! You can read the article by clicking here.
We’re happy to have been able to share our experiences working with young people and we are excited to welcome two new young people beginning internships with us in the next couple of weeks. You can find more about internships at the Freedom Archives here. Come build with us!!
Afeni Shakur, known to most of us as rap icon Tupac Shakur’s mother, passed away last month (2nd May 2016). In his 1995 song “Dear Mama”, Tupac Shakur speaks about the deep appreciation for his mother and the difficulties she faced with drugs and poverty when raising him. But what many people are often not aware of is that Afeni Shakur was a revolutionary thinker and activist who shaped the political discourse of Black Liberation movements in the 70s. She joined the Black Panther Party in 1968 and was a crucial member in the NYC chapter. In April 1969, she was accused of conspiring with 20 other Black Panther Party members to carry out bombings in New York. Afeni Shakur defended herself in the so-called Panther 21 trail, earning an acquittal on all charges after serving a total of 11 months in jail.
In remembrance of Afeni Shakur’s legacy as a revolutionary, mother and activist, I have digitized sound bytes from an interview with Afeni Shakur in 1972, in which she speaks passionately about why she joined the Black Panthers, lessons to draw from the Panther 21 trail, and what it means to be a political prisoner as well as how to foster racial solidarity within and outside of the prison. Listening to Afeni Shakur does not only provide insights into the political climate of the early 1970s and the Panther 21 trail, but also evokes memory and inspiration of a recently departed ancestor.
Afeni Shakur: Joining the Black Panthers:
Afeni Shakur: Solidarity during Panther 21 Trail:
Afeni Shakur: On Racial Solidarity:
Afeni Shakur: On Lessons from the Panther 21:
The Freedom Archives is a space that has allowed me to discover and learn more about Black history, prison movements and other national and international political movements. It is dedicated to honoring lesser known revolutionaries, such as Afeni Shakur. To enable us to continue doing this type of work help support the Freedom Archives.
Today we honor the birthdays of Ho Chi Minh, Malcolm X, Yuri Kochiyama and Lorraine Hansberry. All were extremely important in their unyielding fight for self-determination, national liberation and against racism in all its forms. We’re happy to have all of their voices contained somewhere in the Freedom Archives along with other archival materials like Ho Chi Minh’s poetry and former political prisoner and member of the Angola 3 Robert King Wilkerson interviewing Yuri Kochiyama. Below are a couple of the many digitized materials we have featuring Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh.
An essential component of the Freedom Archives is to preserve and spread the wisdom and lessons of our movement elders. Connecting issues of today with historical content is an important task in building strong, sustainable and inter-generational movements. Your financial support plays a key role in making all this work happen, creating greater access for newer generations to use our materials and helping to broaden their vision for a more just future.
Ho Chi Minh Speaks to the US Anti-War Movement (in English):
Malcolm X on African Liberation:
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Thanks so much and visit our search site to check out our entire collection.