The Bay View is serializing the introduction to “Annotated Tears, Vol. 2,” by Talib Williams, who is currently incarcerated in Soledad, California, and has written the history of that storied place. In the spirit of Sankofa, we learn the past to build the future. Part 2 begins with the continuation of a letter written by George Jackson to his lawyer, Kay Stender, from his book, “Soledad Brother.”
On this 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast Program, let us meditate on the incredible legacy of the original Black Panther Party. Although this is a plea for help and a call to action, this piece is also a dedication.
Along with the Panthers visionary activism, they wrote and performed poetry. Panther poets “(un)consciously” recited language with body gestures to influence and inspire social change.
Radicals and revolutionaries fought for freedom from all forms of oppression. And the last I looked, that was a good thing.
Now that we’re supposedly free, Blacks have become the majority of the U.S. prison population. And that is because the free labor of Black slaves built this country into a profitable, prosperous enterprise for whites who are trying to keep it that way.
This is the story that Missouri prisoner Shyheim Deen El-Mu’min wrote on paper bags when guards confiscated the writing paper from him and all the prisoners in his solitary confinement unit. The entire story is one of the longest we’ve ever received, over 10,000 words that filled 14 single-spaced pages when transcribed, so we’ll be presenting it in parts. This is the introduction, addressed to Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff.
The first book I read after I decided to consciously educate myself to be a part of the movement was Sanyika Shakur’s “Monster” in the mid-‘90s. I was inspired by the sharpness of his ideas, his vocabulary and his grasp on history. I respected him in the same way I respected Tupac Shakur. I knew that one day I wanted to be able express myself as articulately as the two of them.
Political activists around the country are still absorbing the news of Geronimo ji Jaga’s death. His commitment, humility, clear thinking as well as his sense of both the longevity and continuity of the Black Freedom Movement in the U.S. all stood out to those who knew him.
By far one of the most revolutionary cultural groups to put words to music in the United States is the Last Poets. Many, including myself, trace the roots of rap music to the spoken word, lyrics and speeches of the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron and the current political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin, otherwise known as H. Rap Brown.