On the evening of February 27th at El Buen Amigo in Buffalo NY, a full house turned out to launch the revised edition of Exiting The Prism: Fade to Black, a collection of poetry by former Black Panther Jalil Muntaqim. Mr. Muntaquim is now entering his 45th year as a political prisoner and former Black Panther/Black Liberation Army member incarcerated in Attica NY. The revised edition features a substantial commentary by the legendary Ward Churchill. The event drew an audience from as far as Montreal Quebec, who gathered to support parole for the author and honor his living legacy. As in previous years, El Buen Amigo and the Latin American Cultural Center have had a full roster of events celebrating Black History Month; this event was a part of that local cultural tradition.
The evening began with a historical overview of surveillance, policing and the repressive legacy of Cointelpro, delivered by scholar activist David Reilly and the personal reflections of Natasia Johnson, a leader in the Black Student Union at Niagara University. Natasia told poignantly of how she had visited Brother Jalil, and spent most of the time answering questions from him about herself. She spoke of him as a mentor and guide, who encouraged her to never forget who she was as a black woman, where she came from, and to pursue her dreams with the aim of bringing those skills and aspirations back to empower her community.
Emcee Lou DeJesus, founder of the Buffalo Anti Racism Coalition and chapter representative for Buffalo Save The Kids, spoke about the recent Erie County Holding Center casualty, a young African American woman named India Cummings, and urged all those who support the parole of Jalil Muntaqim to visit him as often as possible. Lou emphasized the urgent need to let the powers that be know that Brother Jalil is remembered, respected, loved and has a broad base of people concerned about his wellbeing and working toward his freedom.
The final presentation was on the extensive afterword by Ward Churchill, presented by scholar activist Brandon Absher, who wove readings of Brother Jalil’s poetry into an exploration of Brother Jalil’s life of poetry, love, resistance and revolution in the face of ever-increasing state repression.
The vibrant and healthy intersectionality of the multiracial, multigenerational crowd was perhaps best evidenced in the scope of the announcements: a town hall against trapping on common land in Grand Island, state surveillance and repression, building a concerted movement for racial justice on campuses and in communities, FBI entrapment and white allies in racial justice. This event is clear and convincing proof that a small, but significant, body of Western New Yorkers are hard at work to create a world of justice and freedom. For more information about these and other upcoming liberation projects, check out the Buffalo Anti Racism Coalition page on Facebook for events and updates, and send questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or text (716) 279 8504.