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The following is a transcript of Stacey Abrams’ Feb. 5 statement, as prepared by The New York Times: Good evening my fellow Americans and happy Lunar New Year. I’m Stacey Abrams and I’m honored to join the conversation about the state of our union. ...
It is our intention to transform “prison slaves” into respected and productive members of the international proletariat movement. As a proletarian, YOU, the sister or brother sitting on your bunk, or in your cubicle, or in the day room reading this essay – YOU are a WORKER and not a SLAVE. Your lives matter, and you have great potential to be an extremely productive and successful member of the new society we are struggling to create.
The Democrats are complete trash to me, after destroying Black communities and disenfranchising generations of Black men, women and youth; they now need their votes to survive. However, these same people have done nothing to stop the recidivism that feeds the private prison machine that they all profit from. They also have not worked to make the many Black communities whole again after they were destroyed via mass incarceration and the so-called war on drugs.
This call is for a two-week national strike beginning on Aug. 21, the anniversary of George Jackson’s assassination, and extending until Sept. 9, the anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion in 1971. The call has been taken up inside from coast to coast, and across at least 17 different states. The author of this call, Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, is a national collective of incarcerated people who fight for human rights by providing other incarcerated people with access to legal education, resources and assistance.
Good evening, Georgia. I stand here tonight grateful to the thousands of you who have joined me on this drive to history. We are writing the next chapter of Georgia’s future. Where no one is unseen, unheard or uninspired. A Georgia where we prosper – together! And I know, for the journey that lies ahead, we need every voice in our party – and every independent thinker in the state of Georgia – energized and by our side to succeed, so I hope you will join our fight for the future.
In 2017, Cheri Honkala, the founder of the Poor People’s Campaign for Economic Human Rights, ran for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Philadelphia’s District 197. I spoke to her about what happened. It was a special election last year for a representative to the Pennsylvania State House. On the night of the election, there were literally hundreds of calls to our campaign headquarters and the district attorney’s office about election fraud.
Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.
The following message is from a group of prisoners who are spread throughout the Florida Department of Corrections. It was sent anonymously and compiled from a series of letters received on Nov. 26 and 27. According to their statement, these prisoners plan to initiate a work stoppage or “laydown” beginning Monday, Jan. 15, coinciding with Martin Luther King Day, in nonviolent protest of conditions in Florida prisons. They are calling it Operation PUSH.
Steve Bloom, a comrade and veteran activist, asked me several questions regarding my contribution to “Look for Me in the Whirlwind.” The questions delve into aspects of our political struggle against oppression back in the 1960s and ‘70s and are still pressing concerns. My story is closer to what untold numbers of highly motivated 1960s and 1970s “revolutionaries” usually don’t write about or discuss nowadays. I believe I have answered comrade Steve Bloom’s questions.
Pastor Kenneth Glasgow was one of roughly 500 people who convened in Oakland, California, last weekend for the first national conference of the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement. Hailing from more than 30 states, it was a shared fact of life among participants that the change they need – including fundamental civil rights – will not simply be handed to them by people in power. They must fight for it themselves.
Of the millions of people imprisoned in the U.S., most will return home someday – but to what? Barriers to finding a place to live or earning a living – or merely surviving – surround formerly incarcerated people like prison walls. We’re organizing The Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement 1st National Conference in Oakland to come together and find ways to break down those walls.
When activist Mercutio Southall Jr. was curled up on the ground getting kicked, punched and choked by Donald Trump supporters at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, he thought: “I can’t die today. I’ve got shit to do. I have little kids. Fuck these people.” Southall told ThinkProgress that he decided to go to Trump’s event with two friends in order to speak out against the frontrunner candidate’s “racist” rhetoric.
Recently, Congresswoman Corinne Brown revealed that white legislators from Florida’s redistricting body changed her district to include the state’s overcrowded but under-represented prisons. If the Congressional Black Caucus had fought for and prevailed on prisoner enfranchisement, Rep. Brown would have no viable argument against her redistricting, for prisoners would be allowed to vote as everyone else.
Bay Area All of Us or None (AOUON) members drove across the country this past weekend to Selma, Alabama, to attend the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday, which included a speech by President Obama and a reenactment of the historical march. They went to speak out about voting rights for formerly incarcerated people as well as the need for an executive order to Ban the Box for federal contractors.
The USA proclaims itself the “land of freedom,” but the reality is we live under the world’s most corrupt legal system. It has rigged courts, bribed judges, phony trials, extortion by lawyers and over 2 million prisoners. That’s more prisoners than any other country, in real numbers and proportionately. You can be sent to prison and even put to death with absolutely no evidence.
Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference is underway! Join us through June 29 at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., as we bring everything full circle. Just as in 1964, young people will be at the center of the Freedom Summer 50th commemoration with their own Youth Congress. The Youth Congress will cover topics like voting rights, education, healthcare and workers’ rights, but with a definite nod to a younger audience.
On Wednesday, March 5, the full U.S. Senate failed on a procedural vote to support the nomination of Debo Adegbile to be the next assistant attorney general for civil rights. According to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Adegbile’s representation of Mumia Abu-Jamal when he headed the NAACP LDF is reason enough to derail his nomination.
Like the 1963 march, the 2013 march has the potential to become a watershed moment in history. But to make it so, we must do the hard work of building genuine relationships and alliances across the lines of color, nationality, gender and sexual orientation. We must build a grassroots agenda and an organizing strategy. We must leverage the people power represented at the march to effect public opinion and national policies.
Tea Party Republicans are crowing about the “sequestration” cuts beginning March 1. “This will be the first significant Tea Party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington,” says Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas. Sequestration is only the start. What they set out to do was not simply change Washington but eviscerate the U.S. government.
Esther Cooper Jackson, born in Arlington, Virginia, graduated from Ohio’s Oberlin College, received her MA degree in sociology from Fisk University, then remarkably turned down a scholarship offer to Chicago University to earn a PhD to relocate to Birmingham, Ala., where she became the organizational secretary for the Southern Negro Youth Congress.
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