Saturday, June 26, 2010

Update Letter from Eddie Conway


Greetings to everyone,

I wish you all well and hope that this letter finds you in good
spirits. The past few months have been full of good and exciting news
as well as some that was saddening. I honestly don't know where to begin.

Jack Johnson, the other BPP member who was held on the same charges
as me, was released from prison in May of this year. This was news
that I found both good and bad. I was pleased to see the brother gain
his freedom after forty years of fighting this corrupt and racist
criminal justice system. However, I am still being held illegally
after four decades and nothing can make right the destructive actions
of the COINTELPRO operations. This does however push me to work even
harder for my release.

The saddest and hardest time of this whole prison ordeal just
recently hit me. My mother, Eleanor Conway passed away in early June.
Though she died peacefully in her sleep, her transition has left the
family sad and in pain. This was due in part to my inability to start
the grieving process by viewing mother as she made her final rest, or
attending her funeral. While I recognize that my mother has made her
transition to join the ancestors, the loss is still too profound for
words because my mother was so dear to me. During this time, I fasted
and reflected upon her life, and eventually found some degree of
spiritual comfort. I thank all of you who faxed letters, sent email
messages and made calls to the secretary of public safety on my behalf.

In the midst of this period of grief, another issue came up that
caused confusion and concern among family, friends and supporters.
This is the issue of my relationship to Sister Nzinga. For clarity,
we have been divorced for over seven years. I am married only to
gaining my freedom and living with a little sunshine in my life.

The fundraising effort has received much support; we are now less
than $10,000 short of our target. This money goes to pay the legal
team that is being headed up by Phil Dantes. For some, it may seem
discomforting to speak of freedom and money together. I find it
surreal, something reminiscent of a time when the terms were clear
and people of African descent had to buy their freedom or steal it,
but this is the reality of the present day criminal justice system.
Freedom ain't free. That said, thank you to all of you who have
purchased the book, The Greatest Threat and helped to organize
events. The next letter will provide a legal update, and information
about what people can do to help with the legal effort.

My supporters are planning several events for the summer and fall.
The main happening is an August 20th program featuring the artist
Emory Douglas who has donated a print that we will be using to raise
funds. He will be on hand to sign prints; there is a flyer for this
event enclosed in this letter or attached to this email. September
23rd, AFSC, AK Press and the Creative Alliance in Baltimore will host
a pre-release event for my memoir Marshall Law: The Life and Times of
a Baltimore Black Panther. Local activists and artists will be
reading selections from the book. We are also interested in planning
programs in other cities.

On the prison front, the Friend of a Friend (FOF) mentoring program
here in this institution continues to grow. The program successfully
graduated our first class of men who received mentoring. Of this
group, we have several who will become mentors; we have other
activities scheduled for the summer ranging from mediation training
to theater activities. FOF keeps many men in the prison connected to
the outside community, and helps them to thrive despite
incarceration. Through this program, we have created a community
service/outreach project. Collectively, mentors and mentees have
adopted the United African Alliance Community Center run by Bro. Pete
and Sister Charlotte O'Neal in Tanzania. The members of FOF had the
opportunity to meet Sister Charlotte when she came to the prison back
in April. The men felt so moved by the O'Neal's work that we pulled
together a fundraising effort for UAACC, and we plan to continue our
support of the work of our brother and sister.

At present, I am in good health, but I still have high blood
pressure, and often I am in a battle with the medical department each
month to get the necessary medication. At the time, I am
contemplating legal action if the issue continues. Finally, as the
economic situation continues to worsen for oppressed communities, we
must focus some of our efforts on building solid networks. It is
critical that we learn to set aside differences that are petty and
squash some of our real disputes so that we can work together across
communities. Basic survival should be a part of the dialogue anytime
groups come together because many of our people are scrounging for
bread and land. There is a need now for the same social programs that
the Black Panther Party implemented 44 years ago. The need never went away.

In Struggle,


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