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A Tale of Two Political Prisoners – and You Can Help Both of Them

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    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    Two heroic political prisoners need your urgent help. Albert Woodfox, of the Angola 3, has spent four decades in solitary confinement. Lynne Stewart, the people’s lawyer, is fighting cancer in a Texas prison cell. “Lynne’s family and legions of supporters are asking that she be given compassionate release from prison so that she can at least have a chance at survival.”


    A Tale of Two Political Prisoners – and You Can Help Both of Them

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

    Woodfox has had his conviction overturned twice.”

    There are two people who deserve your attention, today – right now. One has been held in solitary confinement for most of the past 41 years. The other has been fighting most of her life in defense of political prisoners – and has become one, herself. Albert Woodfox, of the Angola 3, is 66 years old. Lynne Stewart, the famed human rights lawyer, is 73, and suffering from Stage 4 breast cancer.

    Albert Woodfox and two other Black men at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison were convicted in the death of a prison guard in 1972, a case that became a cause célèbre for a variety of reasons, including the lack of physical evidence. The three had formed a unit of the Black Panther Party in the prison, in 1971. When the guard was killed, they were immediately put in solitary confinement, where two of them, Woodfox and Herman Wallace, remained for most of the intervening years under a sentence of life imprisonment. The third member of the Angola 3, Robert Hillary King, was released after 29 years of solitary confinement when his conviction was overturned and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. King has travelled the world speaking out for his imprisoned comrades and for the release of all political prisoners. The Angola 3 have been the subject of three films, one narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

    Woodfox has had his conviction overturned twice, most recently this past February, when a federal court found evidence of intentional racial discrimination in jury selection at Woodfox’s second trial, in 1998.

    Amnesty International is asking the Louisiana attorney general not to appeal the judges ruling, so that Woodfox can be released or given a new trial. They’ve organized a “Take Action” letter writing campaign, which you can join by going to or

    Lynne Stewart’s breast cancer was found to be spreading.”

    Lynne Stewart is a people’s lawyer, who has put her own freedom on the line in the struggle to preserve all of our rights. In 2009, she was sentenced to 28 months in prison for having vigorously defended one of her clients, the so-called “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman, in the World Trade Center bombing case. When she appealed, Stewart’s sentence was increased to 10 years in federal prison – the system’s twisted revenge. At a prison near Fort Worth, Texas, Lynne Stewart’s breast cancer was found to be spreading. Her husband and longtime political partner, Ralph Poynter, says 10 years is a virtual death sentence. Lynne’s family and legions of supporters are asking that she be given compassionate release from prison so that she can at least have a chance at survival.

    There is no time to waste. To join in asking for Lynne Stewart’s compassionate release, go to the International Action Center’s website, and sign the petition. That’s You can also write directly to Lynne from the same address:

    For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at



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    Done. I'd change one word's ending: the cancer has spread,

    seriously spread, into her lungs and beyond, rather than spreading.  I may sound a bit picky, but it's for a reason: her cancer spread due to delay by the gov't.  If she doesn't get a chance at good medical care, her sentence becomes a "death sentence".  The article, Mr. Dixon, is excellent.  I have been hearing about the Angola 3 for a long time; I signed a letter via the link(s) in your article.  I had earlier signed the petition for Lynne Stewart you link  to. Last November, I had posted an e-edition of my July 16, 2010 art, "Free Lynne Stewart", a xerographic, color, from photo of the paper (one of a limited edition, which I ran another batch of earlier this month) on my Flickr public photostream page.

    This morning, I did a 2013 edition of the art, which is the first art one sees on my Flickr page (of 16).  It is available for viewing by anyone and available for download, free.  Lynne and I have birthdays just several months apart.  Her website is  I have written to her.  She has been a help to the women in the prison, called a medical facility.  Her spirit remains strong.  She has a lifetime of good work as a lawyer, defending the persecuted being prosecuted.   This made her a prime candidate for political prisoner, didn't it?  She was a school librarian when she decided to become a lawyer for the defense of people without much money.  Even Judge Koetel mentioned her good work in her original sentencing, before his mind was "changed" to change her sentence, changed to increased "time"...

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