Monday, January 30, 2017

A3 Newsletter: Reflections on Freedom (includes new Albert Woodfox video interview: A Voice for the Voiceless)

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox and Robert King at an event hosted by The Guardian in London, England during the recent European Tour.)

A3 Newsletter, January 30, 2017: Reflections on Freedom

It's been a few months since we've sent out a newsletter - taking a bit of a break in December after the wild and wonderful year that unfolded after Albert's release in February, almost one year ago! 

2016 was a busy year and 2017 looks like it will be eventful as Albert and Robert actively continue campaigning for the human rights of all prisoners. During the successful European tour last October, they visited some of the cities that had supported the campaign over the last decade. They met supporters, NGO activists and spoke throughout England, from London to Liverpool and then in Paris, France. Featured below is a round up of the tour.

In December, Robert took a trip to Washington D.C. to join in the effort to bring attention to Leonard Peltier's request for clemency, joining artist and Angola 3 supporter Rigo 23 at the installation of his 9-foot-tall statue of Leonard at American University. Sadly, not only was Leonard not granted clemency, but the FBI demanded that the sculpture be removed from the museum grounds, and astoundingly, the museum complied without any apparent concern for freedom of expression. A legal suit is being filed against this action. As to Leonard, this would be a good time to reach out to him and let him know that the struggle continues and that he has many supporters out here that will continue fighting on his behalf.

There was good international media coverage in the UK and France resulting from the European tour and in the US, the New Yorker released their extended piece on Albert, written by Rachel Aviv.

Both Albert and King remain committed to speaking out in support of political prisoners, against the use of solitary and the criminal injustice system in the USA. Next month King will travel to San Francisco to attend a symposium at The Exploratorium on February 16, entitled In My Solitude: The Detrimental Effects of Solitary Confinement on the Brain and to speak on a panel the very next day at an event jointly hosted by UCSF Medical School and UC Hastings Law School, entitled Solitary: On Law and Policy in California. King will then be returning to Austin, Texas for a screening of the film "Cruel and Unusual" and book-signing on February 23.

March is a busy month with trips to Toronto and Montreal in Canada and a speaking engagement at Harvard. Stay tuned for more information about those events.

2016 European Tour 

Angola 3's UK and French supporters were excited to welcome Robert with Albert for the first time. Albert got the opportunity to meet many of the UK and French supporters who have been campaigning on his and Herman's case. The visit took place during the USA presidential election and there was much discussion about how little has changed with the issues of race and injustice, which are as urgent today as they were in the 1970's when Woodfox and King were campaigning from behind prison walls.

The visit started in London with Albert and Robert launching Amnesty UK's Write for Rights Campaign, followed by sold out events at John Moores University in Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University, Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge and an event with The Guardian newspaper. In Paris, Amnesty France hosted one of their largest attended events ever with over 800 people coming to hear Albert and Robert. This remarkable evening was made all the more poignant with a beautiful performance by Louisiana based supporter and artist Sarah Quintana who sang a song she wrote for and dedicated to Herman, entitled "Almost Free."

Albert and Robert thank everyone who made this visit possible and welcomed them with such warmth.

A Voice for the Voiceless: Watch the New Segment of Our Interview With Albert Woodfox

In this newly released excerpt from the A3 Coalition's interview with Albert in May 2016, Albert explains:

"Since we've been released, King and I have had many long nights of discussion asking 'How can we remain relevant to the struggle in this country and in the world?'

Watch the full video here.

New Yorker Article: How Albert Woodfox Survived Solitary

Featured below is a short preview of the New Yorker article reporting on Albert's recent travels and life experiences, as well as examining the months leading up to his release last February:

By summer, Woodfox felt that he was getting his "street legs," as he called them. A sly sense of humor surfaced. But he was also increasingly exhausted. He spoke at panels about prisoners' rights in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Baton Rouge. "I feel an obligation, because when I was in the position of the guys in prison I used to wonder why nobody spoke for us," he told me. His friend Kenny Whitmore, who is still at Angola, told me that when Woodfox was freed "he took a part of me with him." Whitmore said, "That old man is going full speed ahead."

In early August, Woodfox flew to New York City to receive an award from the National Lawyers Guild, an association of progressive lawyers and activists, at the organization's annual conference. He wore a gray blazer over a T-shirt that said "I Am Herman Wallace." At the podium, he announced that he wanted to honor "my comrade and good friend." He extended his palm toward King, who was in the third row of the auditorium, but became too choked up to say his name. Woodfox pressed his lips together and paused, regaining his composure. "I hope that my being here tonight is a testament to the strength and determination of the human spirit," he said.

After the speech, Woodfox and King headed to a lounge on the second floor of the law school, where people were selling buttons, T-shirts, and posters that said "Free All the Angola 3." Woodfox signed a dozen posters, writing in steady, capital letters, "I AM FREE! ALBERT WOODFOX." People kept approaching him to ask if they could take selfies. "It's amazing to be in the room with you," one person told him. "Talk about moving and inspiring!" another said. "O.K.," Woodfox said in response to most compliments.

Read the full article here.

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