Former Black Panther to speak at Anglia Ruskin

Published: 26 September 2012 at 14:13

Civil rights campaigner and member of Angola 3 to hold discussion after film screening

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Robert King, a former Black Panther and the only freed member of the Angola 3, will be at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge on Tuesday, 9 October for a film screening and discussion.

King, who earlier in the day is to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Anglia Ruskin for his achievements as a civil rights campaigner, will discuss his experiences of 31 years of incarceration in the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola.

Prior to the discussion there will be a screening of In the Land of the Free  www.inthelandofthefreefilm.co.uk  The documentary, narrated by Samuel L Jackson, explains how three men, all members of the Black Panther Party, were convicted for the murder of a prison guard within prison, despite unreliable evidence and witnesses.

King spent 29 years in solitary confinement – in a six foot by nine foot cell – before his conviction was overturned and he was released in 2001.  The other members of the Angola 3, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, are still in solitary confinement 40 years after being convicted.

During the 1970s, the Angola 3 protested against continued segregation, corruption and abuse facing the largely black prison population within Angola, and formed one of the only recognised Black Panther Party prison chapters.

Due to their political activism, Wallace and Woodfox were targeted and then convicted for the murder of the prison guard, Brent Miller, despite the total absence of physical evidence against them.  The main eyewitness was bribed and promised his freedom by the warden in exchange for testifying, while another witness was legally blind.

King too was thrown into solitary at Angola because he was under investigation for the Miller murder, even though he wasn’t in the prison when it happened.  He was subsequently accused of the murder of another prisoner in Angola, again convicted by an all white jury despite a fellow inmate admitting to the murder, before his conviction was overturned in 2001.  It had taken 29 years for King to gain his freedom and since then he has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the plight of his friends.

The case of the Angola 3 has been cited as a gross miscarriage of justice and Amnesty International calls for their immediate release from solitary confinement, which violates the US Constitution and international human rights treaties. The acclaimed documentary In the Land of the Free and King’s autobiography From the Bottom of the Heap expose this gross miscarriage of justice.

Speaking about his honorary degree, King said:

“As the only freed member of the Angola 3 I am honoured and humbled to be accepting this honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
“Many people have been involved in my evolution and for this I am grateful.  So I will accept this award also in recognition of them, especially to my comrades Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace who are still fighting for freedom after 40 years in solitary confinement, to all political prisoners and to all those who fight for justice.”

Terry Waite CBE, himself the recipient of an Anglia Ruskin honorary degree in 2001, said:

“To lose one’s freedom is a terrible punishment in itself. To be innocent and incarcerated for years is almost beyond belief.”

The free discussion and film screening on 9 October will be held at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus on East Road, and begins at 6pm with a drinks reception. To reserve your place, please email colleen.moore@anglia.ac.uk