Book Review: Will You Die With Me? My Life and the Black Panther Party, by Flores A. Forbes.
BY MARLAND X
The Black Panther Communist Party for Self-Defense (BPP) manifested itself in many forms during the era of 1966-1982. This book is a surface telling of the story of the BPP’s West Coast military arm, and especially of its underground covert operations executed from 1972 to 1977 by the “Buddha Samurai,” a politico-military organized group of BPP brothers and sisters (mostly brothers) who were so serious about their craft that comrade sister Ericka Huggins once observed that “their reputations would make [notorious 1930s Harlem gangster] bumpy Johnson shit his pants.” It is an autobiographical soldier’s story as told by brother Flores (aka Fly), former BPP Central Committee member and head of “the fold” (slang for this elite security grouping).
Brother Flores kicks off this tome by taking you on a brief journey throughout his adolescent years, during which he conveys the conditions that heightened his consciousness of the degenerate nature of the racist enemy state apparatus in north amerika, which included, amongst other things, the oak stick therapy session he suffered at age 14 at the hands of armed pig police elements, the housing discrimination his Navy family experienced in the U.S. Navy stronghold of San Diego, California, the fact that his parents struggled to survive economically in this capitalist board game even after his father “retired” from the imperialist U.S. Navy, and his introduction to the radical ideas of comrades Frantz Fanon and Malcolm X and the BPP through his college-attending brother’s book and newspaper collection which put a lot of this shit in its proper perspective for him. Flores and his brother, Fred, would eventually seek out BPP membership as a vehicle to help them rectify this oppression that their expanding political consciousness had heightened their awareness of.
History teaches that strong and effective organizations are usually composed of people who have a vision that is rooted deep down within their beings and lies at the core of what they believe themselves to be, believe in and value in life. When it comes to movements advocating socialism and communism, comrade Lenin put forth the thesis that “without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movements,” and that “the role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a Party that is guided by the most advanced theory.” Comrade Mao Tse-Tung echoes this truth concerning communist theory, by stating that “we should regard it not as dogma, but as a guide to action. Studying it is not merely a matter of learning terms and phrases, but of learning…the science of revolution.” In this book, Fly points out one of the oft overlooked practices that made the BPP so strong whenever we hear tales of the Party at its best: the mandatory political education (“PE”) classes, where participants were led to the fountain of scientific socialism and shown how to drink deeply therefrom, with reading and explanation/comprehension sessions, until their feet were firmly planted on the rockbed of fact and pure reason.
As the Party’s San Diego Branch founder and Defense Captain, comrade Kenny Denman, states to the young Fly, “This is hard work and a dangerous thing we are doing…People are getting killed, and you need to know what this is about.” Fly relates to us that “fighting had occurred to me as a way to wage revolution, but not reading. This stuff included using your brain and having functional skills that would make the organization work smoothly.” So it is that we find Flores’ grounding, the basis that would eventually make him and other BPP cadre forces to be reckoned with. These beautiful brothers and sisters could not be marginalized because they understood what was going on socially, politically and economically, and knew that they were fighting for themselves and the people. Ergo, the Panther slogan “power to the people” always reminds people that this whole thing was about class struggle, which often broke out into hot class warfare which made the antagonism between the oppressors and oppressed very sharp and clear. A revolutionary party must be on message, and this is accomplished by achieving and uniformity and unity in the mode of thought amongst party members which deliver truths about processes in the material world.
Our method of thinking about and analyzing the world is called dialectical materialism. If you don’t do this and you just cling to generalities and assumptions, you will kill yourself with the fated “crisis in thought” phenomena, where the main thrust of the movement is on random activities rather than being based on thought, education and clear objective; the membership is espousing various opinions and compounding the problem of non-unified thought; and, the vacuum is filled with viewpoints and positions of hostile ideologies, lack of understanding among members and cliques and the breeding of mistrust and enmity among various factions in the party. Unfortunately, as time wore on during the era in question, less and less emphasis was places on the PE classes in the BPP and both the crisis in thought and the pig infiltration of the party ranks set in. We cannot afford to make this mistake again, and we would do well to remember comrade George Lester Jackson’s charge on this point: “Full commitment generally comes as a result of awareness, and awareness is the product of study and observation. The things a person has gone to the effort of reading and analyzing say a great deal about his character. In other words, very few Black intelligence agents will have studied Marx, Mao, Lenin, Fanon, cats like that in depth. You can generally tell what process a man’s mind has gone through by what he’s studied, observed.” We must move as a cohesive unit…this starts with education.
As noted earlier, this book, this weapon in our arsenal, is a soldier’s surface telling of the operations of the BPP’s West Coast military and security apparatus. Such stories are important to communicate because we, being materialists, understand that there will be no revolution in the fascist state of amerika without an army because under such conditions, politics and war are inseparable. So, we find gems dropped here such as the procurement of arms and ammo from renegade or sympathetic members of the empire’s military forces (and the necessity to immediately transfer this technical equipment (TE) to another area of the country, in order to thwart the snitches and raids); the deployment of nomadic ‘goon’ squads to conduct criticism/self-criticism sessions, impose disciplinary sanctions, root out infiltrators and conduct necessary purges; the construction of soundproof indoor shooting ranges in the basements of homes, and practicing on them with simulated bullets (plastic rounds with a smaller amount of gunpowder than usual); practicing gun safety in order to eliminate accidental discharges of weapons and just plain ole’ stupidity from the equation; and finding the right books for guidance on how to correctly execute your job. For example, an armorer should have the small arms of the world encyclopedia; particulars on conducting security guard duty/watch detail over BPP offices, so as to prevent break-ins and raids (eg. using 2-person teams at a minimum…1 inside, 1 outside, and rotating); the fortification of BPP offices and pads with wire fences, multiple 10 feet deep tunnels running away from the property, eagles’ and snipers’ nests, sandbags, gun ports with wire mesh to prevent tear gas from being tossed into your defensive location, steel plates for the windows, floodlights and the trench systems, etc; the movement of warriors who had been in shootouts with the fascist pigs to safe houses in other parts of the country or world; the creation and maintenance of safe houses; particulars on assuring the safety and security of Party members; learning to dress in and be comfortable with business attire in order to thwart easy identification by hostiles; learning to tell the difference between 7.62 mm and 7.62 x 39 ammo (former is for American m60, the latter for the Russian AK-47); moving sensitive material from place-to-place in innocuous containers such as clothing bags, briefcases and trunks; trafficking sensitive items during rush hours; learning proper combat handgun shooting techniques such as the weaver stance; and applying urban guerrilla texts’ techniques to the unique conditions presented by U.S. streets, etc. I wish he would have given the reader some specific and detailed lessons learned in this last area of concern, but alas, the tome is lacking such critical information.
But don’t get it twisted; it was not all blood and guts/fighting to destroy the enemy’s military strength for these particular Party members. Indeed, they were tasked with recognizing that as vanguard elements they were a propagandist and organizer of the revolution. So, Brother Flores doesn’t neglect to tell of how he and other Party members also undertook the arduous task of carrying on minute and detailed political and mass work by establishing Party chapters and branches in new territories; selling the Party’s newspaper organ; attempting to establish people’s red political power in the halls of city, state and federal government, so that government would administer to the needs of the people; and organizing community survival programs which helped the masses meet their daily needs and defend themselves while the Party guided them to the level of consciousness where they would seize the time, act against those who continue to oppress and exploit them, and institute a human and equitable society. Unfortunately, the BPP would eventually disintegrate and let the hourglass pass into ashes. But this reviewer sees something on the distant horizon. We as a people are destroyed, but not quite yet conquered, for the Panther spirits live on and the truth is not extinguished in our hearts, their progeny.
Flores gets into the major 1971 defection/purge that went down in the BPP, splitting the Party into factions following either Comrades Huey Percy Newton and David Hilliard, or Eldridge Cleaver. Fly states that he went with Huey’s idea which was to de-emphasize the gun and armed self-defense as its primary means of addressing the conditions which the Party confronted and relating to the community, and elevate and expand the Party’s work with the Service to the People survival programs, conquering of political offices via participation in electoral politics, and community economic development. Eldridge, on the other hand, wanted to seriously ramp up the organized offensive-defensive military actions against the enemy state (‘Babylon’ as he so eloquently styled it), making it very clear to the empire that we, as the vanguard, would indeed give body to the rhetoric of ‘by any means necessary’ in this class war of liberation. Both of these men were correct, of course, as (quoting Comrade Brother George again) “politics is violence [and] we must never delude ourselves into thinking that we can seize power from a position of weakness, with half measures, polite programs, righteous indignation and loud entreaties. If this agitation that we like to term as nonviolent is to have any meaning at all, we must force the fascist to taste the bitterness of our wrath. Nonviolence must constantly demonstrate the effects of its implied opposite. The dialectic between Narodnik and Nihilist should never break down.” and “we may advance a simple rule here: the likelihood of significant social change in the United States may be gauged by the extent to which the covert, armed, guerrilla aspect of the struggle is developed and consolidated…If on the other hand,…leadership is able to successfully do what amounts to the work of the state, that is to say, to convince most people to shy away from armed struggle, and to isolate those who do undertake to act as guerrilla from the mass of support which should rightly be theirs, then the revolution will be forestalled.” To be sure, even Karl Heinrich Marx stated on different occasions that “force is the midwife of every old society which is pregnant with a new one”; and that “the weapon of criticisms is no substitute for criticism by weapons. Material force must be opposed by material force.” Even the ruling class’ running dogs and power elite understand this critical dynamic; Witness:
“Our people understand that the guys with the guns make the rules!” -Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association CEO and Executive Vic President, speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (“C-PAC”) February 28, 2009.
“You got to get a mental attitude that these guys can’t really hurt us. They’re not going to shoot us. It’s not Iraq. Worst thing can happen to us is we run up a bunch of legal fees… and might have to pay a fine…” -U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, caught on tape by the FBI in 2006 in a telephone conversation with oilman Bill J. Allen, discussing the corruption/bribery probe against them. The tape was played at his jury trial on October 6, 2008.
So, we see that the oft-stated position that Eldridge had his theory and reading of the concrete conditions messed up, and that Huey was correct and only he could be right and, thus, Eldridge was wrong, was a horrible misreading of reality. But these brothers, and the ones who followed them to the extreme of waging death matches against their BPP comrades, failed to pick up on the untenable nature of dealing in absolutes and the necessity of unifying these two concepts for the movement to progress in any significant manner, and when this was combined with the death blow concoction of COINTELPRO disinformation and disruption campaigns, super-large egos, minds clouded by too much drug usage (effective chemical lobotomies no doubt), and a paper BPP Central Committee that never voted on this critical matter and just let Huey be the decider rather than practice democratic centralism…well, history is best qualified to reward our research: everything eventually went to shit, with the Party eventually completely disintegrating and the truly committed revolutionaries in both factions either dropping out, being shot and put in earthen graves, or suffering living deaths and isolation via the cold prison doors or exiled to communities located outside of the belly-of-the-beast. Fly saw this coming, relating in his book that “I thought my world was coming apart before I even got started.” He states that he eventually backed Huey’s position because he assumed that the Party wasn’t ready to continue engaging in armed guerrilla warfare actions due to the fact that the organization had suffered significant losses of life in only a little over 3 years time and this was thought to be unsustainable when it was a known fact that wards of liberation of protracted events that span decades.
This position, which Comrade Elaine Brown took also, reminds this reviewer of an observation that one of empire’s devils made: “a few funerals tend to have a quieting influence.” It also occurs to me that, in addition to the well-reasoned analysis of concrete conditions that underlined Huey’s position, there existed some unspoken desire amongst that faction to somehow escape the destiny that held that “the revolutionist is a doomed man” (Sergei Nechaiev and Michael Bakunin’s Catechism), that “in revolution, one wins or dies” (Ernesto “Che” Guevera de la Serna) and that “A true revolutionary realizes that if he is sincere, death is imminent. The things he is saying and doing are extremely dangerous. Without this realization, it is pointless to proceed as a revolutionary.” (Huey, “The Correct Handling of a Revolution” July 20, 1967, a little over 3 years before this 1971 purge mess came along). I think that this fear fully manifested itself just 6 years later, when in October 1977, Huey tells Elaine that the Party had not been all that mattered in life to him and that “I don’t want to save the world [anymore]. I just want to be Huey.” (See Elaine’s autobiography, A Taste of Power).
Fly tells us that by 1972, Huey believed the Party to be spread too thin over 42 chapters, with money being seriously drained from Party coffers, and with many BPP members, including the leadership, having no idea who most of their own Party members were, which was a recipe for easy infiltration of the Party apparatus by enemy state agents. Brother Huey had the idea that the Party should close ranks, regroup and rejuvenate along the lines of the exemplar laid down by Chairman Mao’s 1934 Long March to the southwest Shan-his province in China (of note: only 6,000 of the original 100,000 Chinese people who started this march made it to the destination alive), by executing a 5-year plan that would culminate with the BPP securing political control of the city of Oakland, California and its lucrative containerized sea port in order to “wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the proletariat organized as the ruling class, and increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.” (see The Communist Manifesto)—Essentially, the effective dictatorship of the proletariat, designed to return the benefits of production, consumption and distribution to the people, the masses. After this Oakland base of operations, this socialism stronghold, was firmly established, the plan was to move to higher ground by deploying sorties to relaunch the revolutionary process in other major and strategic parts of the U.S. empire. It was, thus, that many of the chapters and branches of the BPP were shuttered and their forces concentrated in Oakland; this, in addition to the problems arising from the Huey/Eldridge split.
Now, this Brother Huey, he was no fool, and Flores tells us that it was during this 1972 transition that Huey created this elite grouping of military operatives known as the Buddha Samurai to handle specialized high-vale security detail and deal with the grimy street operations that Huey styled as the “stern stuff” of organized violence aimed at the lumpen proletariat and petite-bourgeoisie elements engaged in the “illegal” drug trade. Members of this selected elite grouping were said to be some of the most trusted and talented elements of the Party and included both brothers and sisters capable of both attending to the daily administrative and traditional work of the Party (Buddha) and carrying out decisive military operations (Samurai). Fly would be appointed to this security cadre, then headed by Raymond “Masai” Hewitt, who made it a priority to train and drill these members daily so that they would be highly organized and deserving of the “elite” tagging.
However, from the surface information supplied by Flores in this book, I think that this magnificent unit was somewhat misapplied by Huey (something else I perceive could have been prevented, had the BPP’s Central Committee existed in more than political theatre form), as he directed their greatest energies to levying street taxes on the Bay Area’s unlicensed drug dealers and speakeasy owners. While I fully appreciate all of the valid justification for that tack, for reasons I have yet to see anyone explain, Huey did not aim these shock troops at the empire’s licensed drug dealers (viz., doctors, pharmacies/drug stores, monopoly pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists and the lawmakers, executive branch members and armed pig enforcers who created this class distinction and made it possible for the bourgeoisie drug trade to flourish), or the establishment elements who were misusing the sales and income taxes already being levied on the speakeasy owners and street dope boyz by the enemy state apparatus. Was such a tack a major strategic error on the BPP’s part? This point deserves greater analysis from our thinkers. not surprisingly, these street elements joined forces and not only placed a $10,000 bounty on Huey’s head, but also killed that brilliant brain of his by giving him the tried and true chemical lobotomy, getting him addicted to the very dope he was taxing and trying to suppress.
Fly relates one instance where a few members of this Buddha Samurai guerrilla clique and Huey went to a speak easy to “hold court,” and the do’ boyz laid an Al Pacino/Scarface high (6 to 8 inches) mountain of that girl (cocaine) in front of Huey and proceeded to snort a lot of that shit up his nose with a $100 bill and a straw. As I read this, I kept having flashbacks to the Fall 2008 season of BET’s American Gangster series, where the wife or daughter of Sanyika Shakur (f/k/a LA CRIP “Monster” Kody Scott) observed that a person cannot lead a revolution and be a drug addict at the same time (the sister was lamenting the fact that Comrade Sanyika had exited the hard-cell prison walls with so much scientific socialist insight and potential to lead the next great push forward because of his influence in the streets, but he had let the significant pressures of leading such a movement drive him to abusing the drugs and had, thus, missed that opportunity). These are major opportunities for true liberation that have been blown, my people, partially because of this damn cult of personality taking over (as opposed to democratic centralism and a strong no-nonsense Central Committee guiding the party) and a certain amount of selfishness on the part of our leaders. We cannot have a Party that glorifies our leaders by heaping sickening adulation upon them and cloaking them in an aura of infallibility. Taking such a course of action is akin to the sickness which is the Catholic church and their ‘infallible’ pope (no human being is without error or mistake, and you are ill if you believe otherwise) and introduces a ‘cult of personality’ into our ranks which will do infinite harm. w communists take an oath of fidelity and total subjugation not to any 1 person, but rather to the programme, party line, and the self-determination and liberation of the people. Class struggle – this is where our revolutionary duty lies. Don’t get it twisted! We must correct for this if we are to make any great leap forward any time soon, and I would urge that the movement be ever mindful of the enemy’s strategy of utilizing the drug angle in various ways to kill off our revolutionary potential.
Eventually, as told to us by Comrade Sister Elaine in her autobiography, the Brother Masai (BPP Minister of Education) called Huey and the so-called Central Committee out in 1972 for not practicing what they were preaching, viz. democratic centralism, and stated that the BPP’s Central Committee was nothing more than a rubber-stamping group of rank-and-filers in reality; Huey retaliated against this truth-telling by busting the Brother down in rank and duties, which in-turn forced Masai to walk away from the Party over principle. Fly states that it was after Comrade Masai resigned that he was appointed to head the Buddha Samurai, much to the consternation of other Party members who thought him too young and inexperienced to be charged with such great responsibility. Despite these protestations, Fly would apparently handle his duties with deft adroitness and would be promoted to the Assistant chief of Staff and Party Armorer position two years later in 1974 after Elaine assumed leadership of the Party, thus solidifying his leadership position of the Buddha Samurai security cadres, where he reports that he did everything from assuring the quality and availability of the necessary weaponry/TE to attending to the administration of the Party’s community survival (pending revolution) programs and various fundraising activities.
Karl Heinrich Marx once expounded, “Only the economic organization is capable of setting on foot a true political party of labor, and thus raise a bulwark against the power of capital.” It appears that Comrade Elaine, as BPP Chairwomyn July 1974 to October 1977, was successfully attempting to put this theory into practice, utilizing then liberal capitalists’ (viz., the Oakland Mayor and the California Governor) influence to secure the following for the Party: multi-million dollar government contracts for construction projects and control of the thousands of permanent jobs that came with them that could, in turn, be made available to poor and Black people; grants from various philanthropic groups and foundations, government programs and private contributors, which were funneled through the Party’s multifaceted 501(c)(3) non-profit apparatus to support and expand the community survival programs and people’s revolutionary education complex (these were also funded with some of the money expropriated from the unlicensed drug dealers); and to wrest some leniency from the bourgeois kourts when Party members stood before them, etc.
Of course, the capitalist-imperialist pigs would have never conceded any of this ground without the BPP possessing the threat of large-scale organized violence unleashed against the people’s class enemies right there within the belly of the beast, had their modest demands not been met, and I am confident that the anti-class-enemy examples then being set by our valiant warriors in the Black Liberation Army were not too far from the devil’s reckoning when contemplating these negotiations, but it appears that this hard power (a potent military arm) went to the heads of many of the brothers and had them practicing some very backwards bourgeois socialization tendencies towards the sisters in the party, instead of being the revolutionized new men they were destined to be.
In point-of-fact: While the administrative, overt/aboveground side of this economic and political equation was effectuated mostly by the womyn in the Party (the more familiar forces being Comrades Phyllis Jackson, Joan Kelly, Norma Armour, Regina Davis, and Ericka Huggins), the covert/underground military matters were enforced by a security cadre which was male dominated and chauvinistic in many of its practices, and this oppression of the womyn in the party (amongst other things), when left unchecked and allowed to run wild (such as when Huey was allowed to call all of the shots during the 1970-1974 and July 1977-1982 periods), would prove to be the Party’s ultimate undoing. Our lesson is that the oppression and exploitation of womyn is a politically and morally indefensible reactionary tendency which marries the movement to failure. Remember this: sex is not a class…class is sexless…class is amorphous in point of sex. The sister will not be free without the brother, nor the brother without the sister, so let us keep our shit together in this area from here on out. But back to these ugly facts: in her autobiography, Elaine described the physical beatings and compulsive/peer-pressure sexual encounters endured by some of the sisters in the Party at the hands of the Brothers, and that some of the Buddha Samurai brothers’ (post-Huey 1977 return) blatantly disregarded Party rules and discipline, as well as reverted to the physical beatings of the sisters for perceived slights (real or imagined), and rampant drug usage and abuse, all with the explicit blessings of Huey who refused Elaine’s pleas that he put these patriarchal proclivities in check forthwith. Elaine had this mess eliminated while Huey was in exile in Cuba, 1974-1977, but his return to the states was used as a cover by the brothers to start the bullshit up again, and this forced Elaine to walk away from the Party and Huey’s indifference. Elaine’s last act in the Party was to call a Central Committee meeting to discuss these matters, but in his book, Flores tells us that during this October 1977 confab (minus Elaine, who was in the wind after scheduling the meeting) the only thing that the sisters were concerned with was getting permission (reversal of a party rule) to sate and sex men who were not members of the BPP, just as the male Party members were already allowed to do. Now, that seems like a pretty narrow agenda considering the broad range of negative conditions then confronting these sisters (and even that narrow proposal was voted down by the brothers along gender lines), but that’s how it went down according to Fly in this book. I think that a transcription of the minutes of that Central Committee gathering would be a really good teaching point for us on this subject matter if we could ever procure such, but that will have to await another day. I just need to repeat here the maxims that “Brothers, the Sisters are not our stronger-halves or our weaker-halves, but are our other-halves; Our womyn hold up half the sky, and a people and their communities are not conquered until the heart of the womyn are on the ground.” Doesn’t history support this thesis?
Fly’s last days on the West Coast with the BPP would shortly follow the above-noted Central Committee meeting, when, on October 23, 1977, he and a few of his Buddha Samurai Comrades went on a modified Frantz Fanon-type “right to initiative” operation (viz., non-Central Committee sanctioned assassination action, act first and explain later) to eliminate the female pimp of a prostitute/female sex worker that they were accused of murdering (the female pimp was scheduled to testify at a preliminary hearing in the case). After supplying some quality details on how to properly carry out such a mission, Fly tells us that they nonetheless botched the job by going to the wrong door of a duplex home, where after an innocent old Black lady bust a couple of caps at them when they were coming through the door. One of Flores’ operatives panicked, shooting (with an M-16, mind you) and killing the Buddha Samurai member Louis Talbert ‘Texas’ Johnson, and wounding Fly with a near catastrophic hand wound. This event forced Flores into the Party’s underground network of extraordinary forces (made up of our black and white comrades) which provided him with food, clothing, shelter, money, companionship, entertainment, and alternative identities for 3 years, and he provides some surface details of his existence in the network. Fly would remain within the protective embrace of this red network until he came to the conclusion that the BPP was no longer about the struggle of liberating the people, the masses, from the horrors of generational poverty and class warfare. After consulting with legendary BPP attorney Charles R. Garry who confirmed this observation (placing emphasis on Huey’s drug addiction and the absence of effective Party leaders and programs), Fly turned himself in to the grips of empire’s repressive state apparatus in October 1980. Flores states that during his pre-trial jail stay, comrades still in the Party came to visit him, where he learned that the membership was down to only a handful, and that the only thing the brothers in the so-called ‘leadership’ talked about on these visits was getting fucked-up on drugs and hanging out (so much for ‘power to the people!’ huh?).
It was at this point, sometime between 1980 and 1982 that Fly states that he no longer wanted to be a Black Panther and decided to ‘reinvent’ and lookout for himself as a person. Basically, he dropped out. Fly quit. This is confirmed in no uncertain terms when he describes being emotionally shaken by the fact that capitalism’s imperialist machine seemed to have railroaded nearly all of his childhood friends into the very ails in which he was confined, but that he would no longer do anything about it. He states, “America had my entire childhood jailed all at once. Shit, if I had been the old Flores, that is Buddha Samurai, swaggering and dumb enough to think I could convince these guys that this was not the life they had chosen, I would have attempted to educate, organize, agitate, and just plain old start some shit and see how far we could push the system. But…I had changed…I decided to avoid these guys and get on with my life. I would not tell them that they had been wronged, simply because that was no longer my job or goal in life. My job and goal was to look out for me.” Can’t get no clearer than that. I may be wrong, and do correct me if I am, but that seems like some foul counter-revolutionary shit to me!
He must have either never been told, or forgotten that the eyes of the future are looking back at us and praying for us to see beyond our time. Anyway, after a 1983 jury trial, Flores was convicted of second degree murder while armed, and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. The balance of his book deals with his jail and prison experiences and his quest for post-secondary education. Flores eventually receives a masters degree in urban planning in 1989, after his release from prison, and at the time of the 2006 printing of his book he was the Chief Strategic Officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation in New York City. The brother doesn’t make clear whether he is utilizing his higher educational skills and knowledge in the service of the oppressor class or the oppressed masses before closing out his book. Maybe someone can enlighten us on this point if you are privy to this information. but what I, this Black male born in October 1969, do know, is that I sure wish that the main players would not have walked away from the Party and its righteous mission so nonchalantly. I partially blame those elements for being a factor in my not being even vaguely aware of what the principle contradiction was until I was nearly 36 years old. On the other hand, all of my love, yea my very life, to those of you who have pushed ahead with this struggle of liberation in this class war that we are engaged in, and made sure that the knowledge, wisdom, understanding and practice was there when the people needed you. Out of these ashes we shall rise again and the Black Panther will once more roar. We shall take the cat’s paw and drag the chestnut of imperialism into the fires of the depths of hell. The sacrifices of our martyrs is heavy on my mind, but their deaths only sharpen my fighting spirit, for no defeat is final…they simply reveal lessons to be learned in preparation for the next and greater attack. Out of defeat will arise a new society, and we will know then that we had the courage to once again give body to the rhetorical call: “Will you die with me?” and response: “Yes comrade, I’m with you until death or the day of final liberation.”
All power to the people! Panther power to the vanguard!
Marland Henry Gibson
Indiana State Prison
1 Park Row
Michigan City, IN