Former Black Panther Robert King at Exley

robert-kingRobert King, former Black Panther prisoner and member of the Angola 3, will be telling the story of the organizing activities that landed him in solitary confinement in an Angolan prison Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana for 29 years.

Since being released from prison in 2001, King has been involved in a variety of nonprofit and activist groups including the Common Ground Collective for New Orleans hurricane victims, and makes his own pralines, which he calls “freelines“, to support his activism.

This event is cosponsored by the Adelphic Educational Fund.

Date: Monday, April 13th
Time: 8 pm
Place: Exley 150

More information about King after the jump:

“I was born in the U.S.A. Born black, born poor. Is it then any wonder that I have spent most of my life in prison?” —Robert Hillary King

In 1970, a jury convicted Robert Hillary King (formerly known as Robert King Wilkerson) of a crime he did not commit and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He became a member of the Black Panther Party while in Angola State Penitentiary, successfully organizing prisoners to improve conditions. In return, prison authorities beat him, starved him, and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained in a six-by-nine foot cell for 29 years as one of “the Angola 3.” In 2001, the state grudgingly acknowledged his innocence and set him free.

In his autobiography, From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King (PM Press, 2008), King begins his story at the beginning: born black, born poor, born in Louisiana in 1942. At the age of 15, King journeyed to Chicago as a hobo. He came back to Louisiana, married and had a child, and briefly pursued a semi-pro boxing career to help provide for his family. Just a teenager when he entered the Louisiana penal system for the first time, King tells of his attempts to break out of this system, and his persistent pursuit of justice where there is none.

The conditions King endured in Angola almost defy description, yet King never gave up his humanity, nor his tireless work towards justice for all prisoners. That work continues to this day, now “from the outside” — as he speaks out against the failures and inequities of the criminal injustice system, and fights to free his Angola 3 comrades Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, who have been behind bars for 36 years, most of them in solitary confinement.

Robert King’s story is one of inspiration, courage, and the triumph of the human spirit. Says Malik Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground Collective (in post-Katrina New Orleans): “For a person to go through 29 years in one of the most brutal prisons in America and still maintain his sanity and humanity, that’s what makes people want to listen to Robert.”

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