Monday, December 28, 2009

Join us in helping to send Sister Althea on her journey home

The Angola 3 Coalition suffered a tragic loss this Christmas. Althea Francois, one of Angola 3’s earliest supporters and a life-long activist for peace and social justice, crossed over to the ancestors on December 25th at the far too early age of 60.

Althea spent her life actively engaged in the struggle for justice, starting with her involvement in the Black Panther Party, where she began her efforts to help political, economic and racial prisoners. She embodied the finest and most basic ideals of empathy and generosity and inspired all of us that had the privilege of coming in contact with her.

As Angola 3 member Robert King struggled to find words to express the depth of his sorrow, he invoked the biblical reference…"I was hungry and you fed me, was thirsty and you gave me drink, was in prison and you visited me. Althea fed us with hope. She had an enormously giving spirit that we will all deeply miss."

In the late ‘90’s, Althea and Marion Brown, together with Malik and Mwalimu, Shana and Brice, Anita Yesheaux, Vicky Wallace, and Ed (Alton Edwards), solidly grounded the efforts to free the Angola 3 and create a base for political prisoner work in New Orleans. When King was released in February of 2001, he moved to the home that Althea and Marion were staying in on Bartholomew St. in the 9th Ward. For the first few years of visiting the prison and organizing the effort, Althea’s home was the base that all of us worked from. There was always food and room for another mat on the floor.

Althea was finally able to purchase a home-base for her daughters and grandchildren in the Gentilly area of New Orleans. Katrina ripped apart the security she had at long last established and the years since 2005 were a tense balancing act between work in Atlanta, work in New Orleans, her children and her grandchildren. Though Al rarely complained, she was beset with a number of crippling maladies- asthma, high-blood pressure and the incessant pressure of keeping a family together in these difficult times with never enough support.

She loved her daughters with the ferocity of a lioness and was so proud of their accomplishments. They were the center of her being and I know that what would worry her most now is the pain they will feel at her loss.

Sadly, Althea had no insurance and no savings, thus leaving her daughters not only with the grief of losing her, but with the challenge of raising funds for her funeral. If you can help with a donation to the family, please send what you can to defray the funeral costs one of three ways:

1. Call Rhodes: Jasmine Navarre, Director. 504-241-5556;

Please let them know you would like to give funds for the services of Althea Francois.

2. Donate Online directly:

You do not have to have a pay Pal account to use this option. Look for link on bottom after you enter your donation amount.

3. Mail funds to:

Olga Francois c/o Todd Taylor, 7704 Benjamin St. New Orleans, LA 70118

Please join the family for a celebration of her life and service:

Saturday, January 2, 2010 @ 1:00PM

Rhodes Funeral Home

3933 Washington Avenue

New Orleans, LA

(504) 822-7162

Additional information will be posted as received.

--View the photo presentation from Althea's January, 2009 birthday party here. Al loved her some Nina Simone. We've included two selections below for you to listen to.

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