40 Years In Solitary

From The Guardian., After 40 Years In Solitary, activist Albert Woodfox tells his story of survival.

The former Black Panther and member of the Angola 3 reflects on how he turned his cell from a place of confinement to a space for personal growth

My wrists were handcuffed to my waist by a leather strap. These restraints would become standard for me for decades to come. They walked me to a car and I got in. A captain next to me started elbowing me in my chest, face, and ribs. They drove me to a building just inside the front gate that housed the reception center and death row. Inside was a cellblock called closed cell restricted, or CCR: another name for solitary confinement. In the stairwell they beat me viciously. I couldn’t fight back or defend myself because of the restraints.

My body was badly bruised from being beaten but I was still able to move around the cell on my own. I walked to shake off the pain. The cell was 9ft long and 6ft wide. I could take four or five steps up and back the length of the cell.

In the late afternoon of 17 April 1972, the guards brought my friend Herman Wallace in and put him in the cell next to me. He had been beaten badly in the dungeon and in the stairwell of CCR. I couldn’t see him but we stood at our bars next to each other and talked. We talked about how we could let our families and party members know what happened to us. We both thought that the Black Panther party would save us and there would be a movement to free us. I thought there would be mass protests in the street. “The people will rise up and not let us be railroaded,” Herman said. That’s how na├»ve we were. 

Continue reading @ The Guardian.

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