Category Archives: COINTELPRO

Herman Bell on the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party

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Hello,

herman-spring-2015

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.

 

-Nancy

The Political Thought of Afeni Shakur

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afenishakurAfeni 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.

-Ismahan

The Burning Urgency of Now

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herman bell imageDo not condemn these men to prison for life as they’ve already spent decades there. Be not in a rush to throw fresh stones at this misfortune without taking a long look in your own mirror and see the face of injustice that has long been a bane to the long suffering of Black people so that others might exact from the sweat of their brow, stripes across their backs, and terrorist lynchings to attain the untold wealth and prosperity that this nation currently enjoys. And even today you continuously lock them in your prisons in unprecedented numbers. The urgency of now is upon us.

When is “enough is enough?” The burning urgency of now calls for change, for a sharp turn into the headwinds of new possibilities for ourselves, for our children and for our nation. We want these men home. Release of them would be symbolic. Thus retribution for retribution sake is liken to a dead letter with no forwarding address.

-Taken from a recent letter written by political prisoner Herman Bell. Read at Freeing Our Political Prisoners, San Francisco, California on October 23, 2015. Herman Bell is a former Black Panther who has been locked up since 1973. Since his imprisonment, Herman has continued his work as an educator and activist.

Recent Outreach Updates

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WhenFreedomBecomesResponsibility2

Zine created and published by Brenda Montaño

Greetings,

This past week has been a busy one for the Archives! Please consider making a donation (on our blog) or here to help the archives continue to remain grounded in the community and conduct outreach programs such as these:

Asian Pacific American Library Association Conference at USF: We presented at the Building Bridges with Organizations Community Session which brought together a wide range of community organizations and Asian American librarians from all over the country. The session provided us an opportunity to showcase our resources, meet with potential collaborators in the Asian American community, and forge connections with libraries, information centers, and other organizations.

UC Berkeley Debate Camp: We visited a high school policy debate camp at UC Berkeley to talk with students about this upcoming year’s topic which is about curtailing domestic surveillance. We watched COINTELPRO 101 to provide students with a robust historical context on the issue of government surveillance and discussing the political stakes of domestic surveillance beyond individualistic privacy rights. After the documentary we split into breakout groups to further engage certain topics and get feedback from the students. The discussions were wonderful and the students were able to connect issues such as Stop and Frisk, TSA searches and Islamophobia to larger issues of counter-insurgency and state repression.

When Freedom Becomes Responsibility- Collecting Stories of Xican@ Resistance in Colorado: A former intern, colleague and comrade Brenda Montaño debuted her zine highlighting her experiences working with us in Colorado on our upcoming documentary on the Xican@ student movement. Lots of great stuff in this zine!!! To purchase her work search SING YOUR LIFE LITERATURE PRODUCTS on etsty.com.

-Nathaniel

Another Year of COINTELPRO

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Greetings,

March 8th marks the 44th anniversary of the Media, Pennsylvania break-in that helped expose COINTELPRO to the world. The story received even more attention last year when after living with the information for 43 years, the eight anti-war activists who broke into the FBI field office, decided to come forward. For some, the identity of the burglars signaled the end of a 40 year mystery. However for the multitudes of people who lost friends and family members as a result of state sanctioned police violence, frame-ups and illegal prosecutions, COINTELPRO is still a very real part of their lives that continues past the media coverage. In addition to our documentary COINTELPRO 101, which is still shown in national and international spaces, we have a detailed collection focusing on the program as well as the efforts by grassroots organizers and activists to hold the FBI and other government agencies accountable.

For the first time, you can now stream COINTELPRO 101 on vimeo.

Cointelpro 101 from Freedom Archives on Vimeo.

And with Spanish subtitles here:

Cointelpro 101 from Freedom Archives on Vimeo.

Check out our archival collection on COINTELPRO:

-Nathaniel

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