by Carole Seligman
I had the true honor of attending a welcoming reception for Albert Woodfox, the last of the Angola 3, on Sept. 7 in San Francisco. Albert was the speaker at a spirited meeting of friends and supporters sponsored by ANSWER.
Albert spent 43 years of his 44 years in prison in solitary confinement, mostly in Angola, Louisiana State Prison, a former slave plantation, actually still a slave plantation-prison.
This was an incredibly inspiring event because not only did Albert look wonderful, with a big smile on his face, but he looked relaxed, happy and full of revolutionary optimism and resistance, happy for the re-connection to his family members, happy to be out of prison.
He spoke in support of political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli and many others. He spoke about the torturous conditions in prison. He spoke in support of the California prisoners in special housing units who are being deprived of sleep. He put on a “Free Kevin Cooper” T-shirt to be photographed wearing it, with a fist up salute.
What a remarkable human being is Albert Woodfox, who spoke of his belief in the “dignity of the human being” and his refusal to be broken despite the frame-up against him by the Angola prison authorities, his refusal to quit the Black Panther Party. He spoke about organizing in defense of young prisoners against rape and sexual violence, organizing an anti-rape squad.
He spoke about lawsuits he launched against the strip searches he and all prisoners were forced to undergo several times a day, every time they exited or entered their cells – sometimes six times a day! – and described the humiliation of the procedure and the sadism of the guards who carried it out.
He was firm in expressing the idea that society as a whole, and not just the prisons, is responsible for the conditions of racism, poverty and violence that infect the country.
Albert Woodfox is a person who gives me faith in the possibilities for resistance to this barbaric social system we live in. Thank you, Albert Woodfox. Thank you, ANSWER, for sponsoring the event.
Carole Seligman, who is active in the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee and the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, can be reached at email@example.com.