US Public Radio interview with Arundhati Roy

Smiley and West, NPR — December 13, 2013

West: From PRI, Public Radio International in Princeton I’m Cornel West.
Smiley: And in Los Angeles I’m Tavis Smiley.

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

West: Brother Tavis, we are blessed to have one of the great and courageous intellectuals of our time. She is Arundhati Roy. We call her Sister Roy. Of course she’s the winner of the Booker Prize of her renowned novel The God of Small Things. She is the author of a variety of very powerful prose, non-fiction prose. She is in the process now of finishing a new text called Capitalism: A Ghost Story.
What a blessing to have you, Sister Roy.
Roy: Thank you, Dr. West.
West: Let’s start, before we get to your magnificent political activism, your visionary political activism, let’s go all the way back to your upraising, your training as an architect very much like Thomas Harding, becoming a great writer like Thomas Harding.
How do you connect your childhood with your training as an architect to your becoming a great writer?
Roy: I don’t know if I’m a great writer.
West: I can testify to that.
Roy: I’m a little embarrassed by all the good things you’re saying about me.
I grew up in south India as the child of a divorced mother which was unusual in that area. You know it’s a very parochial community called the Syrian Christians. My mother had married outside the community and then got divorced and come back to the village.
Growing up there in a very traditional space where caste was practiced, where there was all kinds of bigotry hidden and not so hidden, then growing up outside of this great Indian family unit.
I suppose it just made you look at society and wonder why it wasn’t offering you the certainties and the assurances that it offered a lot of other people from my kind of background.
I think that’s what initially made you want to explain it to yourself through writing.
The architecture was actually something that I did because I knew that I had to do something where I could earn a living very quickly so as to not be dependent on anybody because I knew that once that happened I wasn’t going to have even half a chance to write or to think or be anything other than live a very constricted, suffocating life. Continue reading

George Jackson, US political prisoner and Black Panther, executed by prison guards 41 years ago today

[In 1970–one year before he was killed by San Quentin prison guards–George Jackson wrote:“We have a momentous historical role to act out if we will. The whole world for all time in the future will love us and remember us as the righteous people who made it possible for the world to live on. If we fail through fear and lack of aggressive imagination, then the slaves of the future will curse us, as we sometimes curse those of yesterday. I don’t want to die and leave a few sad songs and a hump in the ground as my only monument. I want to leave a world that is liberated from trash, pollution, racism, nation-states, nation-state wars and armies, from pomp, bigotry, parochialism, a thousand different brands of untruth, and licentious usurious economics.”]

August 21st marks the 41th anniversary of the execution of George Lester Jackson. The Chicago- born Jackson would have celebrated his 71th birthday on September 23rd.

Jackson was a prisoner who became an author, a member of the Black Panther Party, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family prison organization. He achieved global fame as one of the Soledad Brothers before being executed by prison guards in San Quentin Prison.

 

 

George Jackson:

Video Based on an edited portion of Prisons on Fire by the Freedom Archives (2001) with video editing by Oriana Bolden.

Source: Freedom Archives

Elmer G. “Geronimo” Pratt dies at 63; former Black Panther whose murder conviction was overturned

Geronimo ji jaga (Pratt), a former Black Panther whose 1972 murder conviction was overturned after he spent 27 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, has died at 63

By Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times

Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, left, with attorney Johnnie Cochran in 1998. Pratt, a former leader of the Black Panther Party, spent 27 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

June 3, 2011
Elmer G. “Geronimo” Pratt, a former Los Angeles Black Panther Party leader whose 1972 murder conviction was overturned after he spent 27 years in prison for a crime he said he did not commit, has died. He was 63.Pratt, whose case became for many a symbol of racial injustices during the turbulent 1960s, died Thursday at his home in a small village in Tanzania, said his sister Virginia. The cause was not given.

May, 1980: Edwin Drummond and Stephen Rutherford climb a third of the way up the back of the Statue of Liberty with a protest banner reading, "Liberty Was Framed - Free Geronimo Pratt." Pratt, a former Black Panther, served 27 years in jail before his conviction in a 1968 California murder case was vacated. He was released in 1997.

Pratt’s case became a cause celebre for a range of supporters, including elected officials, activists, Amnesty International, clergy and celebrities who believed he was framed by Los Angeles police and the FBI because he was African American and a member of the radical Black Panthers. Pratt maintained that the FBI knew he was innocent because the agency had him under surveillance in Oakland when the slaying was committed in Santa Monica.”Geronimo was a powerful leader,” Stuart Hanlon, Pratt’s longtime San Francisco attorney, told The Times. “For that reason he was targeted.”Pratt was arrested in 1970 and two years later convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1968 fatal shooting of Caroline Olsen and the serious wounding of her husband, Kenneth, in a robbery that netted $18. The case was overturned in 1997 by an Orange County Superior Courtjudge who ruled that prosecutors at Pratt’s murder trial had concealed evidence that could have led to his acquittal.A federal judge later approved a $4.5 million settlement in Pratt’s false-imprisonment and civil rights lawsuit.

Pratt, who also went by Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, was born on Sept. 13, 1947, in Morgan City, La., a small town about two hours from New Orleans. The youngest of seven children, Pratt was raised as a Roman Catholic by his mother and his father, who operated a small scrap-metal business.

Growing up in the segregated South amid a tight-knit black community had a profound effect on Pratt, he later told interviewers. Continue reading