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In a time when true friendship is a lost art, I can truly say that Dedon Kamathi was my friend. How difficult it is for me to use the past tense. Dedon would say that he was my most loyal follower. But the truth of it was that he was my leader. His favorite saying was “Ready for the Revolution.” Dedon was ready for the revolution, but the community that he gave so much to continues in its state of unreadiness.
When I first met Elder, he was introduced to me as Kojo. He served his time with the dignity and the spirit of a caged Panther. I know that spirit, as it was reflected by the many other Panthers who were serving time in San Quentin, like Geronimo ji jaga, the indomitable Chip Fitzgerald and many others. Back in the ‘70s, San Quentin was a dangerous prison, where someone could lose his life in the blink, yet Kojo/Elder walked the main yard with no fear.
Here is the story of two legends who gave everything to their people for decades and continued to their last breaths. Salute to the Freeman brothers, Roland and Elder. Elder Freeman was a mentor and uncle-like community figure at whose feet I sat for half my life, learning from him and his comrades fundamental lessons: true African communalism and how to sincerely love Black people through action
Lifelong freedom fighter and field secretary and founding member of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party Ronald Elder Freeman made his transition on Oct. 8, 2014, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. Ironically, Elder Freeman’s brother, Roland Freeman – the two were born only a year apart and were, they say, as close as twins – died exactly a week after Elder as he was preparing to bring Elder’s ashes back to California.