Greetings Maroon supporters,
This month, we bring you a final update on Maroon’s recovery from radiation treatment of prostate cancer; a brief report back from a birthday gathering held for Maroon in Philadelphia; the latest installment of our interview with Selma James, human rights champion and longtime Maroon supporter; and a tribute to Hugo Pinell, beloved hero of the Prison Liberation Movement, tragically killed this month at New Folsom Prison in California.
The opening image is a poem Maroon recently penned to honor and inspire The Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland.
Connect with Maroon directly by writing to Russell Shoats #AF-3855, SCI-Graterford, P.O. Box 246 Route 29, Graterford, PA 19426 – 0246
Feel free to contact us with your own ideas and connections to strengthen our efforts. Please also consider contributing to our ongoing fundraising for Maroon. No amount is too little, and all contributions make an impact.
As always, we offer our deepest thanks for your support, and our hope to celebrate with you the full and unconditional release of Maroon, and all political prisoners, in the days to come.
Free Maroon! Free Em All!
The Shoatz Family and Friends
Major Health Problems Overcome!
This will be the final report because as you will read below, thankfully, I have overcome the “major health problems” that I have been wrestling with. (HOORAY!!)
It’s been eight weeks since my last radiation therapy session, and as doctors forecasted, I have gotten better and better.
I still have to take about a dozen different associated medications, and my daughter Sharon has faithfully researched and provided me with detailed information on all of them. So far the side effects are not ones that cause alarm.
Gonna close by thanking everyone who has helped me and my family members prevail on the prison establishment to provide me with proper health care services. And you can depend on me to continue my decades-old efforts geared towards struggling for human rights.
Maroon’s Birthday – August 23, 1943
On Saturday, August 22, friends and family of Maroon gathered at Philadelphia’s Sayre Recreation Center to celebrate Maroon’s 72nd birthday and pay tribute to Maroon’s mother, the late Gladys Shoatz.
Taking a page from writings in Maroon The Implacable, those in attendance worked to continue the rehabilitation of the center’s outdoor space into a thriving community garden, named in commemoration of Maroon’s mother.
Maroon supporter Connie Grier wrote on the day of the event, “Sometimes, in order to SEE the vision, you have to BE the vision. Today is a beautiful day, not just weather-wise, but because of a beautiful thing that is manifesting. Even I, with my allergies, hatred of all things grass, and aversion to bugs, knew I had to spend some time here today. My heart brothers have spoken. Today, in honor of the earthday of Russell Maroon Shoatz, a community garden is being rehabbed. Men, young and old, have pledged to participate.
Maroon wants the community to benefit and bond over nutrition, farming, and health. There are red radishes, corn, and beans growing already, but the vision is ready to be expanded to the entire space. Nothing happens in isolation. When communities come together, magic occurs. A great beginning.”
Selma James Interview – Part 3
Selma James, writer, activist, co-founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and coordinator of Global Women’s Strike, is interviewed by Raphael Cohen, from Free Maroon Bay Area, in Oakland, California. In part 3 of this 4-segment series, James shares her impressions of Maroon’s recent writings on the limitations of democratic centralism and vanguardism in political organizing.
Echoing Maroon, she blasts the tendency of careerist politicians to use this model as a means of usurping power from the grassroots in an effort to advance their own undemocratic agendas. She talks of avoiding this longstanding trap in order to keep power in the hands of the masses. She then discusses her late husband C.L.R. James’ classic text on the history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, and reflects on Maroon’s opinion that, 75 years since its initial publication, it remains one of the most important books in politicizing U.S.-held prisoners today.
As Black August draws to a close, it’s a timely moment to reflect on the Haitian Revolution, and this book’s acclaimed role in inspiring resistance to racist oppression. Read Maroon’s essay on the ongoing importance of The Black Jacobins here.
The Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz joins in mourning the loss of Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, longtime prison activist and social justice hero who, as many of you are no doubt aware, was killed at New Folsom Prison earlier this month.
As our friends at Critical Resistance write, “Imprisoned since 1965, Hugo Pinell—like many other people of his time—was politicized while inside, educated and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and other freedom movements on the outside. Hugo became a part of the Prison Liberation Movement, which saw the prison as a front of struggle connected to the global upsurge of oppressed people against colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy.
This was a period of intense education, organizing, and resistance among imprisoned people—some locked up as political prisoners, some transformed while inside, nearly all targeted by prison administrations for their political stances and activism.
In 1971, Hugo, along with five other prisoners at San Quentin State Prison in California, were charged with raising a rebellion at the facility’s Adjustment Center, during which prisoner movement leader George Jackson was assassinated. Several weeks later, actions commemorating the assassination of Jackson by prisoners at Attica went on to spark the massive rebellion at that prison. The story and political trial of the San Quentin Six helped people across the planet to understand the conditions inside prison, the resistance of prisoners, and the connection across the walls that the Prison Liberation Movement was trying to make.”
Rest In Power Yogi!