by Marshall ‘Eddie’ Conway
I hope this update finds everyone in good health and high spirits. April of 2010 will mark the 40th year that I have been held unjustly. I would say illegally but the fact is that those in power change the definition of what is legal whenever it suits them. However, regardless of what definition they ascribe to my imprisonment, the facts remains I am here because of what I believe, not for anything I have done.
In 2009, we started a mentoring project known as Friend of a Friend at the institution where I’m now housed. The last seven months of 2009 were spent training 20 prisoners to be mentors. Eighteen of these men graduated with the help of the American Friend Service Committee’s Peace with Justice Program in Baltimore. We are currently training 25 new mentees. Our goal: Through our shared skills, experience and knowledge we will produce prisoners that are critical thinkers and able leaders. This will go a long way in changing the direction of the prison system and the communities from which these young men come.
During our initial training process, we worked with a local Baltimore production group, WombWork Productions. Together we presented a play for the general population entitled “The Birth of Peace.” The success of this collaboration can be measured by the feedback we got from the general population here.
The men crave these types of activities because they help them overcome the boredom and monotony of incarceration, and this in turn helps to reduce the violence. We have a lengthy waiting list for new mentees and our current mentees are very enthusiastic about being a part of Friend of a Friend. The play was about finding a peaceful resolution to conflicts between the various street organizations in our communities. We intend on presenting this play again.
As the years have rolled by, my concern for my family has grown significantly. Too many of my young family members are growing up and I am missing out on being there for them or experiencing their progress. For example, some of my grandchildren are now going to school and others are going to college. These are memories I’m only able to experience from afar. My older family members – in particular my mother Eleanor – are experiencing some minor health issues. The fact is many of us are just getting old. Personally, I’m still struggling with high blood pressure, but I believe it is under control. Gaining my freedom will correct most of these things.
My new legal team is researching my case in order to wage the next legal battle to gain my freedom. My role in this effort will be focused on fundraising activities. So far, we have been very successful in this endeavor. The support committees in Oakland and Los Angeles and individuals in Baltimore have done great fundraising work. Other supporters around the country and abroad have helped with both large and small donations. I extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone. We are only $15,000 short of our goal, and hope to raise this amount during our next fundraising drive. To this end, we plan to use my new book, “The Greatest Threat.”
“The Greatest Threat” examines the plight of the Black Panther Party Political Prisoners/POWs and the role of the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program in their imprisonment. It is my belief that we need to examine this phenomenon and how it has impacted anti-establishment activities and dissent. This book is my attempt to put into political perspective the system’s response to any form of social discontent.
To help in our fundraising drive we are giving a copy of “The Greatest Threat” to anyone who donates $20 to the legal defense fund effort. Anyone who can pledge future contributions, please contact Erica Woodland at (410) 908-9865 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. Thanks for your continuing support.
Send our brother some love and light: M. Eddie Conway, 116469, Jessup Correctional Institution, P.O. Box 534, Jessup MD 20794.
“Marshall Law: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther,” by Marshall “Eddie” Conway is his autobiography. Release is anticipated in February 2011 by AK Press.
In 1970, the feds framed Eddie Conway for the murder of a Baltimore City police officer. He was 24 years old. They threw him in prison, took him away from his family, his friends and his organizing and tried to relegate him to a life marked by nothing but legal appeals, riots and lockdowns, transfers from one penal colony to the next. But they failed.
Forty years later, still incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit, Eddie Conway continues to resist. “Marshall Law” is a poignant story of strength and struggle. From his childhood in inner-city Baltimore to his political awakening in the military, from the rise of the Black Panther Party to the sham trial, the realities of prison life, escape attempts, labor organizing on the inside and beyond, Eddie’s autobiography is a reminder that we all share the responsibility of resistance, no matter where we are.