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Good night, Kiilu!

April 29, 2018

Never afraid to speak truth to power, Kiilu was a fixture at every radical protest in the Bay Area for decades. If she couldn’t get there by paratransit, she’d often “drive” her wheelchair through traffic to get there. Here, she speaks at a rally on March 28, 2005.

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

To the people in California, the name Kiilu Nyasha is familiar, like an aunt or some other relative. For them, she was a voice of resistance heard on public radio and television, mostly on her show, called Freedom is a Constant Struggle.

To former members of the Black Panther Party, she was Sister Kiilu, initially a member of the New Haven chapter. During the 1970 murder trial of Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins, Sister Kiilu served as a legal assistant to attorney Charles Garry, who defended many top Panthers. During the trial, Kiilu was known as Pat Gallyot.

In 2002, she published a remarkable article recounting her years in the party, titled, “A Chapter in the Life of the Party.” Kiilu explained what attracted her to the Party, and the many roles she played as one of its elder members, by doing that which others could not. At the May 1st rally to Free the Panthers and Halt the Vietnam War in 1970, she saw things she’d never seen before:

“Never in my life had I seen so many gathered in one place. Estimates ranged from 20,000 to 50,000 people, from all over the country and beyond. The entire Movement was represented. To the fliers announcing the May 1 event, we added: “Bring a can of food.” So much food was collected; we filled a whole room of Garry’s offices (close to the Green) for our Free Food Program.

Hugo Pinell, Mumia Abu Jamal and Nuh Washington through Kiilu’s eyes and hand – Art: Kiilu Nyasha

“Rumors of impending violence sent a third of the Yale student body scampering home. It was the first time I ever saw National Guardsmen lining the side streets of the city, standing at attention holding rifles with bayonets. Bayonets!”

After she left the party, she suffered from MS (multiple sclerosis), which left her paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. Yet, MS neither defined her nor stopped her.

She became an immensely talented artist. She worked as journalist, commentator and host of radio and TV shows. She worked for years as a supporter of Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, the late political prisoner.

She was an endless and brilliant source of resistance to the system. She became a beloved and respected elder for young people in the Bay Area. We remember Kiilu Nyasha: mother, artist, commentator, revolutionary and inspiration.

Source: Nyasha, K., “A Chapter in the Life of a Panther,” San Francisco Bay View, Oct. 23, 2002, pp, 1, 2, 10

© Copyright 2018 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. Mumia’s latest book is “Murder Incorporated: Empire, Genocide and Manifest Destiny, Book One: Dreaming of Empire,” published by Prison Radio in 2018. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries. Send our brother some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.

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