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Aug 5 39 tweets 24 min read
Revolutionary salute to #BlackPantherParty former political prisoner of the #Angola3 (over 4 decades in solitary) comrade #AlbertWoodfox passes on to the ancestors. Forever loyal to your trench of struggle. Love and solidarity to your family, friends and comrades.
“It has been my experience that because of institutional and individual racism, African Americans are born socially dead and spend the rest of their lives fighting to live.” From the book Solitary, by Albert Woodfox
“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, Mama, I thought. The first thing I’d do is go to her grave.”
“For years I’d lived with the burden of not saying good-bye 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 given me street clothes to wear, for later.I laid them on my bed. Many ppl wrote to me in prison over the yrs, asking me how I survived 4decades in a single cell, locked down 23hrs a day.”
“I turned my cell into a university, I wrote to 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.”
“I was born in the “Negro” wing of Charity Hospital in New Orleans, the day after Mardi Gras, February 19, 1947. ”- Albert Woodfox
“ mom was my world. Proud, determined & beautiful, she took care of us. She couldn’t read or write but she could add n subtract n was good w money; she could squeeze a penny until it screamed. Growing up in the Jim Crow South she had a lot of practice surviving on v little’l
“My grandmother showed me how to clean and cook the fish we caught. She taught me how to farm. I fed the chickens and worked in the fields.” #AlbertWoodfox #Angola3
“My mom wanted the best for us,but since she was functionally illiterate she couldn’t get what would be considered a regular job. So, she took odd jobs and did whatever was necessary to provide for us, and sometimes that included prostituting herself.” #BlackPantherParty #Angola3
“[Albert’s Mum:] “I want my children to have a better life.” sometimes our need to survive poverty got in the way. When money was tight and there was no food I shoplifted bread and canned goods. It never felt like a crime to me, it was survival.”
“Everything in those days was segregated between whites and blacks. Black people weren’t allowed to go to a lot of places because of Jim Crow laws .. “The first time I was called a nigger by a white person I was around 12” #AlbertWoodfox #Angola3
“Most of the policemen were white in those days. They came through our neighborhood picking up black men for standing on the corner, charging them with loitering or vagrancy, looking to meet their quota of arrests. ” #Solitary
“Once in custody, who knows what charges would be put on those men. My friends and I knew it would be whatever the police wanted.” - Albert Woodfox
“We always knew police picked up men in our neighbourhood cos they were black n for no other reason. We never talked about it though. We couldn’t have articulated racism if we tried. We didn’t understand the sophistication of it. We only absorbed the misery of it.” #AlbertWoodfox
[6th grade] “1st time I became aware that white ppl had it better.But it was the first time it began to dawn on me that everybody knew white ppl had it better.. the 1st time I understood that something was terribly wrong in the world, n nobody was talking about it”
“I stayed in school for three more years, but somewhere inside me I was done with school. I turned my attention to the street. There, I quickly learned everyone had one choice: to be a rabbit or a wolf. I chose to be a wolf.” - #AlbertWoodfox #Solitary #Angola3
“Sexual slavery was the culture at Angola [prison]. The admin condoned it. I saw men raped at RC. Freemen didn’t do anything to stop it. They wanted prisoners who had no spirit .. to fear one another and abuse one another; it made them easier to control.” #AlbertWoodfox #Angola3
“At that time, the midsixties, there were no checks and balances; there was no oversight. It was as if the cruelty of Angola’s history, coming out of slavery and convict leasing, leaked into our present world. Angola was run like an antebellum slave plantation. ”#AlbertWoodfox
“The hardest job I ever had in my life was cutting sugarcane, Angola’s main crop. Cutting cane was so brutal that prisoners would pay somebody to break their hands, legs, or ankles, or they would cut themselves during cane season, to get out of doing it. ” #AlbertWoodfox
“Harlem had changed since the last time I had been there, to buy drugs.. seemed to be less prostitution and drug use visible on the street, less brutality. I watched as men and women my age wearing leather jackets and berets moved through the neighborhood, selling newspapers..”
“..& talking to ppl. They escorted women on “check days” to get groceries, protecting them from being robbed. I couldn’t have described it at the time, but they were unifying Harlem, bringing ppl together. I found out they were members of the #BlackPantherParty.” #AlbertWoodfox
“I’d never seen black ppl proud and unafraid like that before. They were so confident, even around police. I was used to seeing a certain look in black ppl’s eyes, fear, esp when they were around police. Panthers weren’t intimidated. Instead, it was the police who seemed scared.”
[3 new prisoners] “introduced themselves as members of the #BlackPantherParty for Self-Defense. Unfortunately, I only remember the name of one of the men—Alfred Kane. But I’ve never forgotten the men themselves. They taught me my first steps...” #AlbertWoodfox #Angola3
“they had the same pride and confidence that I had seen in the Panthers of Harlem. The same fearlessness,but there was also kindness. “What do you need?” they asked. Within a few days they ran the tier, not by force but by sharing their food.” #AlbertWoodfox
“They treated all of us as if we were equal to them, as if we were intelligent. They asked us questions. “Does everyone know how to read?” they asked. “We will teach you.” They set up meetings and invited all of us to come. I was skeptical but curious, so I went.” #AlbertWoodfox
“The concepts they talked about went over my head: economics, revolution, racism, and the oppression of the poor around the world. I didn’t understand any of it. But I kept attending the meetings. Over time I learned they were part of the #Panther21, arrested the year before..”
“arrested the year before with 18 other members of the Black Panther Party in New York City. Thirteen of them were on trial, indicted on a total of more than 100 charges” - #AlbertWoodfox #Panther21 #Angola3 #Solitary
“The charges & high bail were manufactured to get them off the street so they couldn’t do work of the party in their neighbourhoods ..included breakfast and other community projects, distributing the Panther newspaper, and having meetings to recruit more members.” #AlbertWoodfox
“The words the Panthers spoke started to make more sense to me. The Panthers explained to us that institutionalized racism was the foundation for all-white police departments, all-white juries, all-white banks, all-white universities, and other all-white institutions in America.”
“It was purposeful and deliberate, they told us, and it wasn’t just blacks who were marginalized. It was poor people all over the world. ”- #AlbertWoodfox #Angola3 #BlackPantherParty #Panther21
“It’s a common myth that the #BlackPantherParty was a racist organization. Racial hatred was never taught in the party.” - #AlbertWoodfox
#Solitary #Angola3
“When Panthers raised a clenched fist, it was for unity. If you raise an open hand your fingers are separate, you are vulnerable. When you close those fingers and your hand comes together into a fist you have a symbol of power and unity. ” - #AlbertWoodfox #BlackPower #Vanguard
“mainstream media turned the Panther salute of a raised clenched fist for #BlackPower into a rebuke against other races, which it was never intended to be, instead of a call for unity, which is what it was…” #AlbertWoodfox #Angola3
“..A raised fist was for unity between Panthers, unity within black communities, and unity with anyone waging the same struggles for the people, for empowerment and equality and justice.” - #AlbertWoodfox
[post release] “I had to learn to use my hands in new ways: for seat belts, for mobiles, to close doors behind me, to push buttons in an elevator, to drive. I had to relearn how to walk down stairs,how to walk without leg irons, how to sit without being shackled.“ #AlbertWoodfox
“It took about a year for my body to relax from positions I had got used to while restrained.I allowed myself to eat when I was hungry. Gradually, over 2yras,I let go of the grip I held against feeling pleasure,& of the unconscious fear that I would lose everything I loved.”
“Racism today isn’t as blatant as it was 44 years ago, but it is still here, underground, coded. We have to make changes that are deeper, as a society. Without roots, nothing can grow.” #AlbertWoodfox

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