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In 2015, I participated in a re-entry program at the Women’s Prison in Raleigh, N.C. Prior to this, I had never set foot in a prison before, and I was so anxious on this day to meet the two mentees that were assigned to me. On Nov. 3, 2018, I encountered another first and that was to actually visit someone in prison. I was introduced to Veronza Bowers by a fellow inmate who told me that Veronza was a former Black Panther who had been serving 46 years in prison. I was immediately interested in connecting with this iconic figure in the Black Power Movement, as my late dad was also a former Black Panther. So, on Aug. 14, 2018, thus began my journey into a beautiful, lifetime connection.
On May 4, former Black Panther Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald agreed to a five-year denial of parole instead of insisting on a parole hearing, even though he has served more time than any former Black Panther still behind bars: 49 years. Chip is now 67 years old and living with the consequences of a stroke; his friends and family fear he will die in prison. He has been moved from one state prison to another over the years and is currently in the California State Prison-Los Angeles. I spoke to his lawyer, Charles Carbone, whose office is in San Francisco.
In the spirit of the MOVE conference held May 5-7 in Philadelphia to educate the public about the MOVE organization, I will like to expound on the U.S. government sanctioned attacks on MOVE within the larger context of the FBI’s campaign of harassment, murder, frame-ups and imprisonment of Black revolutionaries during the radical ‘60s and ‘70s, and even today, in an effort to thwart the realization and actualization of Black unity, Black power and Black liberation.
Greetings Colin, We salute your courageous action protesting police brutality throughout the U.S. We are heartened to see others, including entire teams and athletes in different sports, joining you. Besides shooting Black people to death in the streets every day and every night, American law enforcement is seeking the slow death in prison of dozens of heroes of the resistance of the ‘60s and ‘70s. We urge you to speak out on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Could Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the 20th century’s most high profile political prisoners, a powerful and renowned author and a former Black Panther, have hope of being released after 34 years in prison, 30 of those years on death row? Could Mumia, unlike the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti or the Communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by the state, finally see the light of day after decades in prison like former Black Panthers Geronimo Pratt, the Angola 3 and Eddie Conway?
The New York Times sent Gary Rivlin to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, days after the storm, to cover Katrina as an outsider. Rivlin’s instincts had him looking forward “to the mess ahead. Eventually the flood waters would recede. How would New Orleans go about the complicated task of rebuilding?” This carefully researched, beautifully written book describes that process from then until now.
My friend Dequi Kioni-Sadiki is a schoolteacher and grandmother in her early 50s who’s married to a former Black Panther serving time upstate. Dequi met her husband, Sekou Odinga, a few years ago, in the course of her activist work, visiting prisoners in New York State. Dequi and Sekou fell in love and were married almost three years ago. You think something’s wrong with Dequi for getting involved with a prisoner?