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Defying the Tomb: Book launch brings prison writings to the people

March 2, 2011

BY KAREN EMILY

Reprinted from basicsnews.ca

Defying the Tomb

On January 27, Torontonians gathered to celebrate the launch of revolutionary prisoner Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson’s new book. Defying the Tomb includes articles by Rashid, as well as the correspondence between himself and “Outlaw,” another revolutionary prisoner. Rashid discusses the role of today’s Black entertainment media, the current state of ‘the left,’ the challenges of organizing within prison, and the lessons to be learned from past struggles, including those of the original Black Panther Party.

Rashid has been held captive in Virginia’s prison system for more than 20 years, 18 of which have been in solitary confinement. He first became exposed to revolutionary ideas after meeting Hanif Shabazz-Bey, a long-held political prisoner. Since then, Rashid has become a jailhouse lawyer, revolutionary artist, theorist and leader in the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC). The NABPP seeks to organize the Black proletarian masses and urban poor, alongside other oppressed nationalities and classes. The Prison Chapter serves as the nucleus of the United Panther Movement, and its guiding mission is to turn U.S. concentration camps (prisons) into schools of liberation.

Rashid has faced violent repression from prison guards as a result of his effective prison organizing, relentless litigating against the prison regime and the threat his knowledge poses to the prison industrial complex.

The Toronto book launch was jointly organized by BASICS Community News Service and Toronto Anarchist Black Cross (ABC). The evening kicked off with a panel featuring Dr. Chris Harris (a.k.a. Wasun), Sara Falconer and Steve da Silva. The panel discussed the history and influence of the Black Panther Party and other Black revolutionary organizations; the repression faced by Rashid and the importance of supporting imprisoned revolutionaries; and the theory and practice of the NABPP-PC and its application to struggle in Canada today. A lively discussion followed, with audience members going deeper into the lessons learned from past struggles, and the extent to which those struggles can be replicated or built upon today.

Afterward, people mingled and continued the discussion, while Wasun dropped tracks from his new album, Prison Notebooks, and Revolutionary Love spun revolutionary tracks the rest of the night.

For more information on Rashid, visit rashidmod.com

Order the book from Kersplebedeb

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