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2017 marks the centennial of the nation’s bloodiest race riot in the 20th century in East St. Louis, Illinois. Migrant Black people were hired to work as miners to replace striking white workers at the Aluminum Ore Co. The white workers stormed City Hall demanding redress from the mayor. Shortly thereafter, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed Black man set off the reign of terror in downtown East St. Louis in which unarmed Black men, women and children were pulled from trollies and street cars and beaten and shot down in the street.
When people hear the story of Ed and Mondo, some say the prison time is a waste of their lives. They have wasted nothing. Despite their circumstances, and they are bleak to be sure, they each live productive lives, “lives that matter.” During the last 45 years, both men have continued to teach and influence, to set a positive example and guide their peers. They serve as a reminder to us all to make each day count for something more than ourselves.
New information revealed at Omaha’s annual Black August Weekend, held at the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, may engender a glint of hope for Nebraska political prisoners, Mondo we Langa and Ed Poindexter. The two await the answer to an age-old question: How long is life? We Langa and Poindexter, also known as the “Omaha Two,” have been imprisoned 43 years.