by Comrade Pitt
I recently completed reading “Democracy Denied: Five Lectures on U.S. Politics” written by Victor Wallis, the managing editor for Socialism and Democracy for over 20 years, author of “Red-Green Revolution,” a prisoner rights activist, and teacher at Berklee College of Music. The elegant artwork in the book was contributed by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, the minister of defense for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party and United Panther Movement, a politically conscious prisoner who authored “Defying the Tomb” and “Panther Vision” – an organizer, artist and activist.
Subsequent to reading this book, I shared it with six other prisoners, two of whom I’ve known for nearly 10 years and who were completely apolitical, having never once showed an iota of interest in anything related to politics. Yet, they found this book to be reader friendly and well articulated. That’s a testament to the excellent writing that both highly political and apolitical minds alike can easily comprehend.
During outside recreation, as we all were locked in individual dog cages that are side by side, I initiated a conversation into what we read in “Democracy Denied.” Much to my surprise, rather than the brief feedback I anticipated, this conversation lasted for the duration of the recreation period and continued days thereafter as one topic opened the door for yet another conversation.
That’s due to the author covering a wide range of topics from slavery, civil war, class struggle, climate change, women’s rights, prison injustices, Marxism-Leninism, etc., all of which are thoroughly researched as the author employed historical dialectical materialism in presenting these topics to the reader. “Democracy Denied” isn’t just another book to read once and put away. It is an indispensable book to be studied by individuals and/or groups who are genuinely interested in understanding why the world is as it is.
The lectures are additionally compelling because Rashid’s political art brings to life the lectures, but most importantly, they challenge the reader to think. The artwork vividly illustrates Rashid’s political comprehension and maturity. I am proud to say that I am one of the many students of both Victor Wallis and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson.
As public awareness continues to grow about the inhumane treatment and conditions that prisoners are subjected to daily, many people have yet to reach this realization. Wallis not only understands but has been essential in assisting us to confront and address these injustices head on.
As a prisoners’ rights activist, he fathoms that prisoners’ real strength lies in public awareness and involvement. In virtually all of his writings, including in the pages of “Democracy Denied,” he always includes the struggles prisoners are subjected to and he meticulously articulates our experiences to a broader audience, which in turn sheds a much needed light into these dark, barbaric places.
“Democracy Denied” is certainly a book I recommend and urge anyone to study. Karl Marx famously stated: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Well, this book serves as a blueprint.
Send our brother some love and light: Peter Kamau Mukuria (Comrade Pitt), 1197165, Red Onion State Prison, P.O. Box 1900, Pound VA 24279.