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Good morning and welcome to Wanda’s Picks, a Black arts and culture program with the African Sister’s Media Network. We are joined in the studio by Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Malik Rahim. Welcome to the show. Today we are going to be talking about the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March on Washington. We can talk about solitary confinement, political prisoners, the 13th Amendment. We can talk about what the need is for having such an event.
The psychological warfare that is taking place in the prisons here in the United Snakes of Amerikkka is placing prisoners in the soul breaker (segregation) for confinement that equals decades. I refer to segregation being the soul breaker because that is what long term segregation is designed to do, break a man’s soul completely. Among the misconceptions about solitary confinement is that it’s used only for a few weeks or months.
A new 25-foot mural in the City of New Orleans reminds residents that Albert Woodfox, the last imprisoned member of the Angola 3, has been in prison and in solitary confinement for 43 years. On Friday, July 3rd, artist-activist Brandan “Bmike” Odums, put the finishing touches on the portrait of Angola 3 prisoner Albert Woodfox on the side of a stucco building near the Poydras Street intersection. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 declared today: “This is THE moment those of us whose lives have been touched by these men and this case over the years have been waiting for. This is the time when we must call upon the whole of our connections, creativity and courage to call with one voice for the immediate, unequivocal release of Albert Woodfox from prison once and for all without delay.”
Her name was Yuri, a Japanese woman born in the United States. I hesitate to call her a Japanese-American, for to do so suggests she was a citizen. In light of how she, her family and her community were treated during World War II, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, to call any of them citizens would be an exaggeration. Yuri Kochiyama, freedom fighter, after 93 summers, has become an ancestor.
Herman Wallace’s greatest pride was joining the Black Panther Party for Self Defense! He believed in duty, honor and dedication. He never broke the faith of the party, his comrades or the people. As I bent to kiss his forehead, my heart said, “Goodbye, I love you forever”; my soul said, “Separated but never apart, never touching, but always connected.” He was the best of us. As long as we remember him, he lives on.
This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest and brashest personality in the political prisoner world. On Oct. 4, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement. Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.
Herman Wallace, stalwart revolutionary for the cause of justice, lies with advanced liver cancer in hospice in a Louisiana state prison. Amazing that even in his final hours, minutes, seconds, days, the Louisiana judicial system which has already conceded to bail will not set it and let the man at least have a taste of freedom. Fill out the petition for Herman Wallace’s immediate release. We also need to rally behind Albert Woodfox and secure his freedom. Send prayers and positive energy to Herman’s friends and family, especially Robert H. King and Albert Woodfox, his brothers.
Several years ago, the global human rights group Amnesty International issued an extraordinary appeal to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to grant compassionate release to 72-year-old former Black Panther and political prisoner Herman Wallace, who has recently been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, after losing some 50 pounds in less than six months.
Only a handful of prisoners globally have withstood the duration of years of harsh and solitary confinement that Albert and myself have. The state may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast. I want to thank all of you, my devoted supporters, for being with me to the end.
On the morning of Tuesday, June 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is having an important public hearing on “Reassessing Solitary Confinement.” This Senate hearing comes on the heels of widespread prisoner hunger strikes that have made the use of solitary confinement a central issue.