A Soldier's Story: Revolutionary Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist | Left Wing Books

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A Soldier's Story: Revolutionary Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist

Format: 
ISBN: 
978-1-62963-377-0
Year: 
2019
Price: $19.95 (USD)

Kuwasi Balagoon was a participant in the Black Liberation struggle from the 1960s until his death in prison in 1986. A member of the Black Panther Party and defendant in the infamous Panther 21 case, Balagoon went underground with the Black Liberation Army (BLA). Captured and convicted of various crimes against the State, he spent much of the 1970s in prison, escaping twice. After each escape, he went underground and resumed BLA activity.

Balagoon was unusual for his time in several ways. He combined anarchism with Black nationalism, he broke the rules of sexual and political conformity that surrounded him, he took up arms against the white supremacist State—all the while never shying away from developing his own criticisms of the weaknesses within the movements. His eloquent trial statements and political writings, as much as his poetry and excerpts from his prison letters, are all testimony to a sharp and iconoclastic revolutionary who was willing to make hard choices and fully accept the consequences.

Balagoon was captured for the last time in December 1981, charged with participating in an armored truck expropriation in West Nyack, New York, an action in which two police officers and a money courier were killed. Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, he died of an AIDS-related illness on December 13, 1986.

The first part of this book consists of a historical essay by Akinyele Umoja and an extensive intergenerational roundtable discussion of the significance of Balagoon’s life and thoughts today. The second section consists of poetry by Balagoon, including several never published before. The third section contains court statements and essays by Balagoon himself; while most of these had been included in previous editions, there are some that have not been available since they were published in various movement publications in the 1980s. The fourth section consists of excerpts from letters Balagoon wrote to the canadian publication Bulldozer/Prison News Service following his capture. The fifth section consists of three texts by Balagoon that people had in their possession but which have never been published before. Finally, the sixth section contains a reproduction of the exercise booklet for revolutionary prisoners that Balagoon created while incarcerated.

Co-published with PM Press.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction to 2019 Edition ......... 6
Introduction to the First Edition ......... 8
B.L.A., by Albert Nuh Washington ......... 10

Kuwasi in the Twenty-­First Century ......... 11
Maroon: Kuwasi Balagoon and the Evolution of Revolutionary New Afrikan Anarchism,
by Akinyele Umoja ......... 13
3 Haiku That Barely Suggest the Sparkle of Kuwasi Balagoon, by David Gilbert ......... 46
Kuwasi: A Virtual Roundtable of Love and Reflection, Compiled and coordinated by Matt Meyer, with Joan P. Gibbs and Meg Starr, featuring Sekou Odinga, Bilal Sunni-­Ali,
Kim Kit Holder, Meg Starr, Danielle Jasmine, Amilcar Shabazz, Ajamu Sankofa, David Gilbert, dequi kioni-­sadiki, Kai Lumumba Barrow, Dhoruba Bin Wahad, and Ashanti Alston ......... 47
Black Cats Named Kuwasi, by Kai Lumumba Barrow ......... 62

Poetry ......... 65
your honor ......... 66
with no questions ......... 67
secretary watts ......... 68
spring comes ......... 69
big ben ......... 70
i remember ......... 73
life is rough ......... 74
the klan marched ......... 75
mother of pearl sky ......... 76
rain ......... 77
some solo piano or guitar ......... 78
filtered through the roof ......... 79
we’ve got to ......... 80
when the world is stale ......... 82
lock step ......... 83
refused ......... 84
rockland ......... 86

Kuwasi Speaks ......... 89
In the Other Army ......... 90
Statement at Preliminary Hearing ......... 93
Brink’s Trial Opening Statement ......... 95
Brink’s Trial Closing Statement ......... 129
Brink’s Trial Sentencing Statement ......... 141
Destroy All Traitors ......... 145
Statement to New Afrikan Freedom Fighters Day ......... 148
Anarchy Can’t Fight Alone ......... 150
The Continuing Appeal of Anti-­Imperialism ......... 155
Why Isn’t the Whole World Dancin’? ......... 160
A Letter to Overthrow Newspaper ......... 170

Letters from Prison ......... 173

Kuwasi Remembered ......... 199
In Memory of Kuwasi Balagoon, New Afrikan Freedom Fighter, by David Gilbert ......... 201
New Afrikan People’s Organization Memorial Statement ......... 204
Statement by Prisoners at Auburn ......... 206
A Eulogy, by Sundiata Acoli ......... 207
Born on Sunday, by David Gilbert ......... 208
In Memory of Kuwasi Balagoon, by Marilyn Buck ......... 210
Some Reflections on an Unpublished Poem, by Meg Starr ......... 211
An Unpublished Poem, by Kuwasi Balagoon ......... 213

Found and Shared ......... 215
1. Where Do We Go From Here? ......... 217
2. On Traitors ......... 250
3. The Vocations of Warrior and Soldier ......... 261

Kuwasi Balagoon Exercise Book ......... 268

Contributors ......... 278

 

What People Are Saying

“The success of the Movement for Black Lives over the last three years has demonstrated the power inherent in a challenge to white supremacy that is at once radical, non-hierarchical, intersectional, and queer-centered. But for many in today's political world, this constellation of commitments pops out of nowhere, with little articulate history. And that is a shame, because there is always a history, and to understand where we came from tells us a great deal about where we are. A conversation with our elders—whether departed or not—always deepens our understanding. This important, often brilliant, and little known collection from a Black anarchist political prisoner, whose struggle moves from the early 60s Panthers, to the early years of the AIDS epidemic, deserves wide discussion among today's radicals. The words in these papers and letters speak important truths to our current situation, and will provoke heated debate on both theory and practice, as we move into a new and dangerous era, ever rekindling the hope of radical transfomation.”
—Mark Lance, professor of philosophy, Justice and Peace Studies Program, Georgetown University; general director, Institute for Anarchist Studies

“We have to get our jewels where we can, for this is how we carry on from one generation to the next, it's revolutionary cross-pollination. To paraphrase Che, we need one, two, three, many more Kuwasi Balagoons in order to get free of the chains that bind us.” —Sanyika Shakur

What People Are Saying

“The success of the Movement for Black Lives over the last three years has demonstrated the power inherent in a challenge to white supremacy that is at once radical, non-hierarchical, intersectional, and queer-centered. But for many in today's political world, this constellation of commitments pops out of nowhere, with little articulate history. And that is a shame, because there is always a history, and to understand where we came from tells us a great deal about where we are. A conversation with our elders—whether departed or not—always deepens our understanding. This important, often brilliant, and little known collection from a Black anarchist political prisoner, whose struggle moves from the early 60s Panthers, to the early years of the AIDS epidemic, deserves wide discussion among today's radicals. The words in these papers and letters speak important truths to our current situation, and will provoke heated debate on both theory and practice, as we move into a new and dangerous era, ever rekindling the hope of radical transfomation.”
—Mark Lance, professor of philosophy, Justice and Peace Studies Program, Georgetown University; general director, Institute for Anarchist Studies

“We have to get our jewels where we can, for this is how we carry on from one generation to the next, it's revolutionary cross-pollination. To paraphrase Che, we need one, two, three, many more Kuwasi Balagoons in order to get free of the chains that bind us.” —Sanyika Shakur