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News :: Human Rights : Police and Prisons : Race
Angola 3 Newsletter: National Book Awards, Smithsonian Scholars, A3 in SF and more
04 Dec 2019
This issue of our newsletter provides an update on recent A3 activities, including upcoming events, media interviews with Albert Woodfox and Robert King, reviews of Albert's memoir "Solitary," the National Book Awards, Smithsonian Institute Scholars, and an update from SULC Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell about A3 ally & current Angola inmate Kenny "Zulu" Whitmore.
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Zulu Whitmore celebrates Christmas with family (Dec. 28, 2016)
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Conference begins Wednesday
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Albert Woodfox's final prison uniform, archived at the Smithsonian Museum
View the fully formatted version, with dozens of embedded links here:

https://angola3news.blogspot.com/2019/12/a3-newsletter-zulu-whitmore-nat


A3 IN THE NEWS: New Orleans Public Radio interviews Robert King II Albert Woodfox at the University of Chicago II NPR Illinois interviews Albert and others at National Book Awards event II Reading Albert Woodfox's Solitary While Being Detained at Guantanamo


A3 Newsletter, December 3, 2019: Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

Winding up a wild year of non-stop, back-to-back events, Albert will be heading to the Making and Unmaking Mass Incarceration Conference in Oxford, Mississippi on Wednesday and then on to San Francisco where he will be a special guest at the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Conference on Saturday, December 7.

Above, we have compiled several new interviews with Albert and Robert..

Looks like the beat will go on in 2020. Albert and King are starting out the new year heading to San Francisco for the de Young Museum "Soul of the Nation" exhibit's free public panel discussion on January 11, in conversation with artist and longtime A3 supporter Rigo 23, discussing how art and artists helped create the visibility for the Angola 3 case.

Wishing all Angola 3 supporters the very best over the holidays and we are all hoping for a much, much better New Year!!


Smithsonian Institute Scholar Chooses Solitary As His Favorite 2019 Book

The Smithsonian Magazine reports that Albert Woodfox's memoir Solitary was one of the books chosen by a cross-section of scholars from the Smithsonian Institute who were asked to recommend their favorite book of 2019. It was Paul Gardullo, a museum curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, who chose Solitary. In the article, Gardullo explains his decision:

(quote begins)

One of the inaugural exhibitions at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is entitled, Making a Way Out of No Way. The crucial phrase encapsulates the hope and strategies for making change and it mirrors the museum's mission, meaning and approach to understanding African American history and its influence on the world. With his searing memoir, Solitary: My Story of Transformation and Hope, Albert Woodfox has given voice to one of the most profound testaments to have been published in this century of this spiritual and existential act.

Woodfox was a member of the "Angola Three," the former inmates who were imprisoned at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (famously known as Angola). Originally convicted of armed robbery, Woodfox, along with Herman Wallace and Robert King, were placed in solitary confinement in April 1972, accused of killing a corrections officer.

On November 20, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned Woodfox's murder conviction, and in April 2015, his lawyer applied for an unconditional writ for his release, which was granted on February 19, 2016. Woodfox was the last member of the Angola Three to be released from prison, where he served the world's longest term in solitary confinement.

His incredibly powerful and distressing book charts his life story, most of which was lived within a six-by-nine-foot cell in Angola, a former slave plantation and since then a working prison farm.

I had the opportunity to collect Woodfox's oral history along with the last set of his prison-issued clothing after his release and just before NMAAHC opened to the public in 2016.

In Solitary, Woodfox delivers penetrating insight into American society and the deep humaneness that I witnessed in the short time I spent with him. It is a personal meditation that becomes a window into America's soul and the nation's troubled history with race and incarceration.

In relating what he still holds dear as his greatest achievement--teaching another inmate to read--Woodfox writes, "After years in prison and solitary confinement, I'd experienced all the emotions the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections wanted from me-anger, bitterness, the thirst to see someone suffer the way I was suffering, the revenge factor, all that. But I also became something they didn't want or expect-self-educated. . . . Reading was my salvation."

With Solitary, Woodfox gives readers an unexpected and profound gift: the ability to see humanity in the midst of the worst conditions and to find hope there. He makes visible the tools needed to set our country on a path for transformation toward reckoning, justice and reform.

(quote ends)

Congratulations to National Book Award Winner Sarah H. Broom!


We want to send our congratulations to New Orleans writer Sarah Broom, author of "The Yellow House," for winning the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction!

Albert Woodfox's book "Solitary" was also one of four finalists nominated for the prestigious award's Nonfiction category. The New Orleans publication, The Advocate, concluded their article on Sarah Bloom and Albert's nominations by writing:

"The fact that two Louisiana-based titles were nominated underscores the state's outsized influence on American culture. For those of us who live here, it's a reality that's easy to overlook."

We were obviously rooting for Albert to win the National Book Award for Nonfiction. However, if that was not meant to be, we are glad that the award went to Broom for her excellent memoir, The Yellow House.

The Advocate writes that Broom's "book about growing up in New Orleans East is a history of the city in the years before and after Hurricane Katrina told through the lens of Broom's family and the home they shared. Reviewers have praised the book since its August release as a major work whose evocative sketches elevated it above and beyond the ever-expanding collection of 'Katrina memoirs' into a foundational portrait of contemporary New Orleans and its people."

New Reviews of Solitary by Counterpunch and Vox

In the past month, the online magazines Vox and Counterpunch published new reviews of Albert's book.

Vox Magazine featured a review of each book nominated for a 2019 National Book Award. In her review of Solitary, Vox writer Aja Romano calls it "a vital first-hand account of carceral brutality, told with astonishing aplomb...Woodfox rattles off detail after detail of the hellscape he's thrust into - a bogglingly complex ecosystem of violence and corruption. 'It's painful to remember how violent Angola was in those days,' he says at one point. 'I don't like to go into it.' But he does, with prose that shocks because it is so readable, plainspoken, and awful."

Romano reflects: "It seems unthinkable that anything can be uplifting in such a place, but the collective spirit and sense of brotherhood among the Angola Three sustains and animates their long, grueling fight for freedom."


Another review from this past month was by Counterpunch's Eve Ottenberg, who writes that "this book is about a confrontation with evil. It is about being in the hands of wickedness itself and still, somehow, not succumbing, not submitting to utter powerlessness."

Ottenberg notes that Woodfox, King, and Wallace "helped their fellow inmates by treating them as human beings deserving of respect and dignity. Woodfox writes that his greatest achievement in Angola was teaching another prisoner to read. The Angola 3 made a special issue of prison rape, protecting victims and announcing to potential rapists that they would have to fight Woodfox, King and Wallace."

Angela A. Allen-Bell reports back from Kenny "Zulu" Whitmore's Nov. 25 Court Hearing
--Zulu's next hearing is on December 11

SULC Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell was one of many supporters (including Robert King and Albert Woodfox) that attended Kenny "Zulu" Whitmore's court hearing on November 25 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Following the hearing and a strong showing of public support at the courthouse, Prof. Bell told the A3 Coalition that "Zulu's spirits were really lifted by our presence today. The State now has until the next court date (December 11) to test the fingerprints."

If you live close enough, please help support Zulu by attending his court date next month. The December 11 hearing will be at the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, LA.

In the meantime, Prof. Bell urges supporters to keep up the public pressure: "The Louisiana courts need to know all eyes are on them."

For more information about Zulu's case, please visit www.freezulu.org

Send Zulu Some Holiday Season Love!
Write Him:

Kenny Zulu Whitmore
86468 - Cypress #3
LA State Prison
Angola, LA 70712
U.S.A.


--Other Important News Stories:


The New Black Codes (Truthdig)

The FOP wants the Philadelphia DA removed from Mumia Abu-Jamal's case --Supporters respond (SF Bay View Newspaper)

Settlement Reached to End Permanent Solitary Confinement for People Sentenced to Death in Pennsylvania (Abolitionist Law Center)

Scott Warren Not Guilty in Trial for Border Humanitarian Work --Reflects on 2 Years of Government Persecution (The Intercept)

The Slave Revolt Reenactment Taking Over New Orleans (City Lab)

A Sinister Slavery Railroad Once Led to Louisiana (The Advocate)

Leonard Peltier's 2019 Thanksgiving Message: Walking on Stolen Land (Native News Online)

Rattling the Bars - Eddie Conway's Update on Forgotten Political Prisoners (Real News Network)

Will Nebraska Governor honor his oath of office and examine the case of Black Panther Ed Poindexter? (Michael Richardson)

"They do not need Louisiana's permission": Pipeline companies seize land rights with eminent domain (Southerly Magazine)
See also:
http://www.angola3news.com
http://www.angola3.org

This work is in the public domain.
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Albert in Mississippi
05 Dec 2019
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Albert spoke alongside Patrick Elliot Alexander, who is an associate professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. He earned a Ph.D. in English from Duke University, and specializes in African American literature, 19th-century American literature, and critical prison studies. His first book, From Slave Ship to Supermax: Mass Incarceration, Prisoner Abuse, and the New Neo-Slave Novel, was published by Temple University Press in 2018, and his articles on teaching African American literature in prison appear in the Journal of African American History, south: a scholarly journal, and Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service Learning, and Community Literacy. In 2014, Alexander co-founded the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program, an award-winning college-in-prison program that currently offers for-credit college courses for imprisoned men at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary and for imprisoned women at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.
See also:
http://www.angola3news.com
http://www.mumiconference.com/
Re: Angola 3 Newsletter: National Book Awards, Smithsonian Scholars, A3 in SF and more
11 Dec 2019
A new article about the Making and Unmaking Incarceration Conference was just released by the University of Mississippi newspaper: https://news.olemiss.edu/scholars-advocates-convene-um-unmake-mass-incar/

Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

OXFORD, Miss. – Against the backdrop of a nation with 2.2 million people behind bars, the University of Mississippi hosted a three-day conference focused on drastically lowering U.S. incarceration rates, improving higher education programs for inmates and envisioning a world without prisons.

“Making and Unmaking Mass Incarceration” brought scholars, activists, writers, former inmates and others to Ole Miss and Oxford on Dec. 4-6. At the Lyric Theater, UM Provost Noel Wilkin welcomed attendees and stressed the need for removing sweeping generalizations from public discourse.

“Higher education plays an important role in this area,” Wilkin said. “We must continue to generate and disseminate facts and we must also continue to share data to support the notion that reforms can achieve outcomes that are less expensive and more effective at decreasing crime rates. The data supports and warrants improvements, and generalizations that every crime is the same, or that every person who is incarcerated is the same, work against reform.”

“Disavowing people’s generalizations and focusing people on facts should be an important strategy to encourage change.”

The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the industrialized world. Mississippi has the nation’s third-highest rate of its citizens behind bars, second only to Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The keynote speech was given by Albert Woodfox, author of “Solitary.” Woodfox spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement in a 6-by-9-foot cell at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola Prison, for a crime he says he didn’t commit. He was released in 2016.
Beyond Prisons reportback from the MUMI conference
11 Dec 2019
Modified: 01:05:40 AM
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Tonight I got to listen to, meet, and then interview Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3. What an honor! This man has so much love for humanity and he remains as committed to the struggle for Black liberation today as ever. He spent 44+ years in solitary confinement. Yet when he speaks there is not a trace of bitterness or anger in his words or in his voice. That's a level of praxis that I have yet to achieve.

I recorded the keynote and the short interview that I did with him afterwards, and I am looking forward to sharing this with y'all soon...

Read more here:

https://www.facebook.com/beyondprisonspodcast/photos/a.1080850478770061/

See also: https://www.kimwilsonart.net

Kim is an educator, self-taught artist, and cohost and producer of the Beyond Prisons podcast. Beyond Prisons is a podcast on incarceration and prison abolition that centers people impacted by the prison system.

Dr. Wilson holds a Ph.D. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy, a Master’s in Education in Adult and Organizational Development, and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. Her doctoral research focused on the effects of incarceration and reentry on communities. Dr. Wilson has twenty years experience teaching in the humanities and in education.

Kim is the mother of three adult children. Her daughter is doing well. Her two sons are currently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP) in Delaware. Kim speaks candidly about her story and the impact that incarceration has had on her and her family. She uses art as a tool for healing from carceral trauma, and teaches others how to cultivate their own creative practice.

As a freelance consultant and facilitator, Kim has facilitated hundreds of workshops over the years. She works to raise awareness about the conditions in prisons, and organizes with others to build a world without prisons. She writes and speaks on issues related to prison abolition.

Her work has appeared in Shadowproof, TruthOut, and Abolition Journal, and her art has been shown in galleries across the country.
Another important article about Louisiana prisons
11 Dec 2019
Modified: 01:23:01 AM
The Advocate: Louisiana's life without parole sentencing the nation's highest — and some say that should change

https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_f6309822-17ac-11ea-

EXCERPT:

Louisiana has more inmates serving life without parole than Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee combined: about 4,700 people behind bars with no chance at release.
100819 LWOP inmate influx

Those convicted of second-degree murder make up the largest subset — 51 percent of the total — compared to 19 percent for aggravated rape and 16 percent for first-degree murder, according to Department of Corrections data analyzed by researchers at Loyola University. More than half were under 25 when convicted and about 75 percent are black. When factoring in other long sentences too, almost one in three Louisiana prison inmates will die behind bars, according to the national nonprofit The Sentencing Project.

Many places, including Southern states, make most lifers eligible for parole after 20 or 30 years. But in Louisiana "life means life." People convicted of certain crimes are automatically locked up forever, with no input from judges, juries or the state's parole board.