The Behind the Walls Committee at DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality) has long advocated for a series of reforms in our prison system. To that end, the committee held an event on Saturday to mark Black August, featuring “guest revolutionaries Fred Hampton Jr, Monica Moorehead, Marco McWilliams and mYia X.
From the event description:
“DARE’s Black August Series has been a part of its programming since 2011. We celebrate Black August to remember the context of black existence, centuries of struggle, and refocus energy to the continued struggle for justice. Black August originated in the prisons of California in 1979 and its roots come from a history of resistance by black people in those prisons. Its purpose is to: honor the lives and deaths of fallen Freedom Fighters, bring unity among black prisoners, and education and awareness to family members, friends, and communities about the conditions for black prisoners, and to educate people about and honor the history and actions of continued resistance of black peoples to oppression, colonization and slavery in the United States with particular emphasis on prisoners, political prisoners, freedom fighters and their historical acts of resistance.”
Below is the the video from the program.
mYia X is an American rapper, singer-songwriter and actress:
Monica Moorehead is an American retired teacher, activist, and perennial candidate for the presidential nomination of the Workers World Party.
“an organizer and musician, charged with keeping the Black Panther Party and Fred Hampton Sr‘s legacy. Hampton Jr grew up in the light of his father’s legacy, which at times brought prejudice and difficulties within an anti-black system. In the protests after the acquittal of Rodney King’s police attackers, Hampton was sentenced to 18 years in prison for arson, although the trial focused largely on his political beliefs and little on the case itself. While in prison, Hampton Jr continued his father’s legacy of activism, starting the Prisoners of Conscience Committee/Black Panther Party Cubs, who continue to carry the torch of the Black Panther Party. Hampton Jr discussed the importance of understanding the history of the Black Panther Party and the legacy of state-supported anti-blackness and incarceration of black people today.”
Hampton Jr’s father, Fred Hampton Sr, is described by the event organizers here:
“On December 4 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Illinois State Attorney’s Office, and the Chicago Police Department succeeded in their state-sponsored assassination of Fred Hampton, a rising star in the Black Panther Party, who called for economic justice and revolution across racial lines. The leader of the Chicago Black Panther chapter, Hampton brokered a nonaggression pact between Chicago’s most powerful street gangs, organized rallies, worked with the People’s Clinic, and the Free Breakfast Program — marking him as a person of interest to the FBI. For years, government officials threw everything they could at the prodigy to end his fervor and undermine the Party, eventually succeeding in their machinations. Fred Hampton’s murder is important, especially today, as it highlights the history of injustice that black people face at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system. Black people, like Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott, and Eric Garner, and countless others are still killed, just as Fred Hampton was.”
Here’s the video from a panel discussion featuring Hampton, Moorehead, mYia X and Marco McWilliams answering questions from the audience. Marco McWilliams is a public scholar writing on forms and formations of self-defense as resistance in the lives and organizing traditions of Black women and is the founding organizer of the Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) Black Studies Program:
Organizer John Prince of the Behind the Walls Committee took a moment to remember Shakur el-Amin, a beloved DARE community member who passed a way a week before the event.
DARE’s Behind the Wall Committee works towards:
- fair chance licensing reform
- re-entry support policies within the prison
- limiting the use of solitary
- access to health care (mental and physical health)
- regulation of the use of probation violation
- automatic expungement policies
- expunging the records of folks with drug offenses related to marijuana
- mandatory reporting policies
- prison oversight
- real rehabilitative recreational programs
- a cap on the number of years of probation and parole
- legislation to raise prison wages and dismantle the private prison industry
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