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News :: Police and Prisons
Angola 3 Update: Albert Woodfox's Birthday, Book Release and Tour
20 Feb 2019
Today marks the third anniversary of Albert Woodfox's release (and his 72nd Birthday), and February 8 marked the eighteenth anniversary of Robert King's release. Albert Woodfox's new book "Solitary," will be released by Grove Atlantic Press on March 5, and Albert will begin a book tour around the country.
albertbookcover.jpg
Click on image for a larger version

Albert-Canoe.jpg
Albert Canoeing in 2016
kingreleased2001.jpg
Robert King's release on Feb. 8, 2001.
View embedded links and additional photos here:

http://angola3news.blogspot.com/2019/02/a3-newsletter-so-much-to-celebra



A3 Newsletter: So Much to Celebrate

Happy Anniversary!

At long, long, long last...

From 1998 to 2016, we sent a newsletter annually commemorating another year that King, Herman and Albert remained in prison. It is such a great joy to be able to commemorate their freedom.

Today is the anniversary of Albert's 2016 release. This is Albert's third year out here in the so called free world...the third year he can see the sky, go where he wants to go and do what he wants to do. After 44 years it seems like a miracle every time we talk on the phone or we book another trip to Europe or elsewhere for him to give a presentation. We're so excited to share the news of Albert's long awaited book, Solitary, which will be released on March 5 by Grove Atlantic Press. The book tour schedule is featured below and you can visit the Grove Atlantic website for more information: https://groveatlantic.com/book/solitary/

This month also marked the 18th anniversary of Robert King's Feb. 8, 2001 release from Angola. True to his word when he was released, King has been free of Angola, but Angola and all prisons will never be free of his critical efforts. King and his partner Kenyatta presided over a rousing home-warming last month. See the photo at the top of the page!

To cap all this off, Malik Rahim's special awards evening occurred last month as well and we're happy to share some of the accolades and images from this memorable event that honored one of the founders of the Angola 3 effort.

--For more on the three year anniversary of Albert's release, visit the compilation of news articles from three years ago today, as well as the many interviews with Albert in the days that followed. If you have not yet done so, also be sure to watch our interview with Albert conducted in May, 2016, just a few months after his release.



Book Excerpt Reflects on Three Years Ago

(EXCERPT BEGINS)

February 19, 2016.

I woke in the dark. Everything I owned fit into two plastic garbage bags in the corner of my cell. "When are these folks gonna let you out," my mom used to ask me. Today, mom, I thought. The first thing I'd do is go to her grave. For years I lived with the burden of not saying goodbye to her. That was a heavy weight I'd been carrying.

I rose and made my bed, swept and mopped the floor. I took off my sweatpants and folded them, placing them in one of the bags. I put on an orange prison jumpsuit required for my court appearance that morning. A friend had given me street clothes to wear, for later. I laid them out on my bed.

Many people wrote me in prison over the years, asking me how I survived four decades in a single cell, locked down 23 hours a day. I turned my cell into a university, I wrote them, a hall of debate, a law school. By taking a stand and not backing down, I told them. I believed in humanity, I said. I loved myself. The hopelessness, the claustrophobia, the brutality, the fear, I didn't say. I looked out the window. A news van was parked down the road outside the jail, headlights still on, though it was getting light now. I'll be able to go anywhere. To see the night sky. I sat back on my bunk and waited.

(EXCERPT ENDS)

Albert's Book Tour Begins

--Tucson, Arizona: March 2, 10:00 AM

Tucson Festival of Books

Panel Discussion with Shane Bauer & Lara Bazelon

Moderated by Margaret Regan


--Tucson, Arizona: March 3, 10:00 AM

Tucson Festival of Books

Panel Discussion with Lara Bazelon & Edward Humes

Moderated by Grace Gamez


--New Orleans, Louisiana: March 20, 6:00 PM

New Orleans Public Library, 219 Loyola Avenue

Book sales provided by Octavia Books

In conversation with Emily Maw


--Washington DC: March 25, 7:00 PM

Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW

(More details to be announced)


--Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: March 26, 7:30 PM

Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street

In conversation with Tracey Matisak


--Brooklyn, New York: March 27, 7:30 PM

Brooklyn Public Library, 431 Sixth Avenue

In conversation with Jelani Cobb


--Long Island City, New York: March 28, 10:30 AM

Fortune Society, 2976 Northern Blvd.

In conversation with Vinnie Schiraldi


--Princeton, New Jersey: April 17

Princeton University

(More details to be announced)


--Los Angeles, California: May 2, 6:00 PM

Eso Won Books, 4327 Degnan Blvd

(More details to be announced)


--Berkeley, California: May 4

Bay Area Book Festival

(More details to be announced)


--Visit the Grove Press website (scroll to the bottom of the page) for the latest information about Albert's book tour, here: https://groveatlantic.com/book/solitary/


'Living legend' Malik Rahim honored for decades as civil rights activist in New Orleans

On January 18, community activist and longtime A3 supporter Malik Rahim's life was celebrated at a powerful event held at the Southern University campus in New Orleans. The New Orleans Advocate reported on the night:

(EXCERPT FROM ADVOCATE BEGINS)

Finally, about 11 p.m. Friday, it was time for Malik Rahim to speak.

The 71-year-old community activist had just been honored with a four-hour "Living Legend" ceremony at the Southern University at New Orleans campus that included more than two dozen speakers, artistic performances and short films, all focused on Rahim and his life's accomplishments.

At the event, which kicked off the weekend before the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, Rahim was heralded, again and again.

"You, sir, are the dean of social struggle and the godfather of the revolutionary change. And you are a living legend who is happiest when you are fighting for your people," said Angela Allen-Bell, the director of the Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights and Justice at the Southern University Law Center.

Midway through the celebration, a group of young children ran in, carrying stacks of newspapers and yelling, "Read all about it." They distributed an eight-page edition of the Black Panther newspaper devoted entirely to Rahim.

Monique Moss and her Third Eye Theater honored Rahim with dancing and drumming featuring Titos Sompa, a legendary performer from the Republic of Congo. The Spirit of Fi Yi Yi Mardi Gras Indians danced and sang. Poets Black Pearl and Sunni Patterson offered odes to New Orleans and rebellion.

Finally, Rahim was presented with a pile of official proclamations, from the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, the New Orleans City Council and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.

As he held the proclamations and looked down at the microphone in his hand, he said, "I'm at a loss for words," noting that he is rarely tongue-tied.

"You got that right," shouted a man with a tall shock of gray hair.

Even the catcall added depth to Rahim's story. The man with the gray hair, Albert Woodfox, 71, helped to found the Black Panther Party chapter at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. He spent nearly 44 years in solitary confinement at Angola but was released three years ago, thanks to a coalition that Rahim helped to form nearly 20 years ago that worked to free him and the two other members of the Angola Three, Robert King and the late Herman Wallace...

(EXCERPT FROM ADVOCATE ENDS)

--Read the full article here: https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/article_cb4e64e6-1d15-11e9-
See also:
http://www.angola3news.com
https://groveatlantic.com/book/solitary/

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Angola 3 Update: Albert Woodfox's Birthday, Book Release and Tour
02 Mar 2019
Albert Woodfox’s new book "Solitary: Unbroken by four decades in solitary confinement. My story of transformation and hope" will be released on Tuesday, March 5, but Albert’s book tour began today, March 2, in Arizona at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Also today, National Public Radio released a new interview with Albert, which you can listen to and/or read the transcript here:

https://www.npr.org/2019/03/02/699663270/albert-woodfox-on-serving-more-

Featured below is a powerful excerpt from the interview:

SIMON: Over the years, Brent Miller's widow, Teenie, became convinced you couldn't have been the person who murdered her husband, right?

WOODFOX: Yes. When I got out, I had an opportunity to sit down with her and, you know, have dinner and meet with her and her daughter. And, you know, our hearts always did go out to Ms. Rogers because, you know, we knew that she was not being told the truth. You know, all of the evidence that pointed to someone else killing Brent Miller, she was never made aware of that to my understanding. And - but once, you know, our investigators and stuff, you know, talked to her and give her all the facts, then on her own she come to the conclusion that, you know, we had been wrongfully convicted for the death of her husband, you know. And she became an ardent supporter for our freedom, you know.
Lengthy excerpt from Solitary reprinted by The Guardian
05 Mar 2019
A short excerpt from The Guardian's lengthy excerpt is reprinted below, but you can read the full piece here:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/mar/04/after-40-years-in-solita

By the time I was 40 I saw how I had transformed my cell, which was supposed to be a confined space of destruction and punishment, into something positive. I used that space to educate myself, I used that space to build strong moral character, I used that space to develop principles and a code of conduct, I used that space for everything other than what my captors intended it to be.

In my forties, I saw how I’d developed a moral compass that was unbreakable, a strong sense of what was right or wrong, even when other people didn’t feel it. I saw it. I felt it. I tasted it. If something didn’t feel right, then no threat, no amount of pressure could make me do it. I knew that my life was the result of a conscious choice I made every minute of the day. A choice to make myself better. A choice to make things better for others. I made a choice not to break. I made a choice to change my environment. I knew I had not only survived 15 years of solitary confinement, I’d honored my commitment to the Black Panther party. I helped other prisoners understand they had value as human beings, that they were worth something.

Malcolm X wrote, “Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.” Malcolm gave me direction. He gave me vision. The civil rights leader Whitney Young said of being black: “Look at me, I’m here. I have dignity. I have pride. I have roots. I insist, I demand that I participate in those decisions that affect my life and the lives of my children. It means that I am somebody.” There wasn’t one saying that carried me for all my years in solitary confinement, there were one thousand, ten thousand. I pored over the books that spoke to me. They comforted me.
New York Times book review
05 Mar 2019
The New York Times' review described it as an "uncommonly powerful memoir," concluding that "if the ending of this book does not leave you with tears pooling down in your clavicles, you are a stronger person than I am. More lasting is Woodfox’s conviction that the American justice system is in dire need of reform."

--Read the full article here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/books/review-solitary-albert-woodfox.
Re: Angola 3 Update: Albert Woodfox's Birthday, Book Release and Tour
18 Mar 2019
Listen to the new interview with Albert, by 89.9 WWNO New Orleans Public Radio

https://www.wwno.org/post/reading-life-albert-woodfox


Albert's new book "Solitary," was also recently featured in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/what-one-mans-40-years-in-solitar


EXCERPT FROM WASH POST REVIEW:

At Angola, Woodfox endured the horrors Americans have come to accept as “normal” in prisons: violence from inmates and guards alike, the constant threat of rape, substandard food and unsanitary conditions.

At one point during the revolving-door incarcerations of his early manhood, however, something changed for Woodfox. In 1970, after he was arrested during a trip to New York and sent to the Manhattan House of Detention — known to prisoners as “the tombs” — Woodfox met several members of the Black Panther Party. He was entranced. Unlike most of the prisoners he had encountered, the Panthers had “pride and confidence . . . fearlessness, but there was also kindness. . . . They treated all of us as if we were equal to them, as if we were intelligent.”

The Panthers set up meetings, taught people how to read and tried to organize the men. Many prisoners ignored them, but Woodfox jolted into political awareness with a convert’s zeal. He learned about the “institutionalized racism” of the criminal justice system: “It was purposeful and deliberate . . . and it wasn’t just blacks who were marginalized. It was poor people all over the world. . . . It was as if a light went on in a room inside me that I hadn’t known existed.”
Albert interviewed on the By Any Means Necessary radio show
19 Mar 2019
Listen to the segment with Albert here:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiosputnik/40-years-in-solitary-the-stor


Listen to the whole show here:

https://sputniknews.com/radio_by_any_means/201903191073353141-why-theres/
Coverage in the New Orleans Advocate
20 Mar 2019
Here is a new article published by the NOLA Advocate: "New Orleans' Albert Woodfox tells the story of his long road to freedom through 40 years at Angola"

Read the full article here:

https://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/article_7153c264-442b-11e9-


EXCERPT:

Woodfox and his "Solitary" writing partner, George, met in 1998 while she was a reporter and producer with Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now program. As soon as he was released from prison, Woodfox and George began the hard work of writing the book, going through notes and articles, and talking for hours about his time in Angola.

Woodfox lights up with the smile at the mention of George.

“She made me face it all,” he said. “She never let me off the hook. And if I didn’t want to talk about something, she kept pushing..."

...His book sends a clear message to the reader: “Don’t turn away from what happens in American prisons.

“To those of you who are just entering the world of social struggle, welcome.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune article
22 Mar 2019
Read the full article, "Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 somehow survived almost 45 years in solitary with his mind intact," here:

https://www.nola.com/opinions/2019/03/albert-woodfox-of-the-angola-3-som


EXCERPT:

Wednesday night at the main branch of the New Orleans Public Library, Woodfox talked about his ordeal with Emily Maw, senior counsel of Innocence Project New Orleans. Maw described the book as being — paradoxically — about solitary and solidarity. Woodfox agreed, saying that he never had reason to question the other two men’s commitment to him or to their cause.

King was released from prison in 2001. Wallace, whose conviction was tossed in 2013, was released from prison the day before he died of liver cancer. But he died outside of prison, which was important to those who loved him.

“Their desire was to break us — which they failed miserably at — or have us die in a 6x9 foot cell,” Woodfox said Wednesday. But, somehow he kept the madness at bay. “The State of Louisiana,” he said, “never come close to breaking me.”
Interview with Radio Times, WHYY: "Ending Solitary Confinement"
27 Mar 2019
Today, WHYY, the NPR station in the Philadelphia area interviewed Albert Woodfox while on his book tour. Listen here:

https://whyy.org/episodes/ending-solitary-confinement/
Interview with Democracy Now!
29 Mar 2019
While in NYC for his book tour, Albert was interviewed this morning by Democracy Now.

Part one: https://www.democracynow.org/2019/3/29/43_years_meet_the_man_held


Part two: https://www.democracynow.org/2019/3/29/freed_prisoner_albert_woodfox_on_


EXCERPT:

AMY GOODMAN: When you got out of jail, the first thing you did was go to your mother’s grave.

ALBERT WOODFOX: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: When did she die?

ALBERT WOODFOX: She died in ’94, December. And, you know, it was—

AMY GOODMAN: More than 20 years before you got out.

ALBERT WOODFOX: Yeah. It was—you know, in the African-American household, it is always coming to terms with the loss of someone in the family, when you can say that final goodbye, when you can say from your heart and your soul, you know, “I love you, and I’ll miss you, but I’ll never forget you.” And so I was denied that right. I was denied the right to go to my mom’s wake or funeral and say that final goodbye. So I had to live with that burden, you know, until the day I was released from prison.

And the same thing with my sister, you know, when I lost my sister in 2002 to cancer. And the lawyers had made arrangements for me to attend the funeral. But on the day that the sheriffs from Orleans Parish come to pick me up, Warden Cain canceled everything. And now, this is a man who projected the image of being a Christian and believing in family and everything, but yet, because of my political beliefs, because they couldn’t break me, because I would never renounce the Black Panther Party as they demanded as a term for being released from solitary confinement, you know, he saw—I guess he saw another opportunity to inflict pain upon me. And so I was denied the right to say goodbye to my sister.

And on the day I was released, you know, we went straight to the graveyard, and the graveyard was closed, because there had been a 2-hour delay in releasing me. I wanted to climb over the fence. And my brother was like, “No, no, no. You know, we’re not having that. You just got out of prison. We’re not going to give these people…” So we left, with a deep heart, and we went and said goodbye to my sister and my brother-in-law, who was also a childhood friend. And the next day, with an abundance of flowers, we went, and I was finally able to lift that burden that I carried for so long.