In His Own Words: Albert Woodfox interviewed by Amnesty International UK

Amnesty International UK has released a new interview with Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3. Listen to the podcast here.

Accompanying the podcast interview is a post on Amnesty UK’s blog that features an extended statement by Albert Woodfox, entitled: It’s a human right to agitate the ‘injustice’ system. Albert’s full statement is featured below:

A year ago on 19 February 2016 I walked out of a Louisiana prison a free man after serving 44 years in solitary confinement.

At that moment I became ‘famous’ as the longest serving person in solitary confinement in the world, as well as being the last member of the Angola 3 to be free.

For over 44 years – along with fellow Black Panthers Herman Wallace and Robert King – we turned our death chambers into classrooms and courts of law from which we educated fellow inmates and stood up against a violent, racist and brutal prison system which targeted us for our activism.

We believed then, as we believe now, that it is a human right to challenge and agitate the ‘injustice’ system.

The confinement the Angola 3 endured was not only cruel and unusual punishment but also torture and as a result of our case, solitary confinement was recognized as such by the UN Rapporteur on Torture in 2013 and then later by Amnesty.

Also, since our freedom, we have seen positive legislative changes curbing the use of solitary confinement – most recently in Louisiana itself.

But the spotlight was not always on the Angola 3 and I know too well what it is to be an ordinary man put into extraordinary circumstances.

And so since my release I have travelled throughout the US and to Europe with King to continue to take a stand against the flawed US prison system and against the use of solitary confinement on behalf of the political prisoners still incarcerated in the US, including seventeen Black Panthers such as Russell Maroon Shoatz and Kenny Zulu Whitmore. I also continue to take a stand in honor of Herman Wallace who stands by my and King’s side in spirit and who we deeply miss.

Since my release, one of the questions I am most frequently asked is why after over four decades of struggle I continue to take a stand after what I have been through. To a young man who asked me this in England last year, this is what I said:

    “So future generations do not have to suffer like we did.

    So that people can be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. 

    Old men like us are fighting to make sure you see victory – as one day we are going to win.”

So even when it feels like you are not going to win, when you grow disillusioned with politics which put greed before people’s human rights, when you don’t think you can make a difference – please remember that if you had not taken a stand to support the Angola 3 and joined the hundreds of thousands of activists around the world who did, I may not have been able to write this to you today.

Keep strong.

The struggle continues.

Albert Woodfox
March 2017


Albert Woodfox and Robert King in Canada: Thunder Bay 3/2 and Montreal 3/17

WATCH:  Part one of Albert and Robert’s talk at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario 

IN THE NEWS:  Chronicle Journal, Thunder Bay  II  CBC Radio-Canada interviews Albert and Robert  II  The Argus reports on Lakehead University event 

(ABOVE PHOTOS: Robert King and Albert Woodfox join filmmaker Ron Harpelle on CBC Radio-Canada)

March 2, Thunder Bay, Ontario: Albert Woodfox and Robert King of the Angola 3 in Ontario, Canada for panel and screening of the film “Hard Time” about Robert King, made by Ron Harpelle. Event at 7pm, Trinity Hall, 310 Park Ave. Read our 2014 interview with Ron Harpelle.

In the context of the Week Against Police Brutality (https://cobp.resist.ca/), a discussion on incarceration and political repression with Albert Woodfox et Robert H. King will take place Friday March 17th at 6:00 pm at the Alumni Auditorium room H-110 of the Henry F. Hall Building (1455 de Maisonneuve West) of the Concordia University.

***English follows***

Dans le cadre de la semaine contre la Brutalité Policière (https://cobp.resist.ca/) se tiendra une discussion sur l’incarcération et la répression politique avec Albert Woodfox et Robert H. King le vendredi 17 mars, à 18h à l’auditorium H-110 du 1455, de Maisonneuve Ouest (édifice Henry F. Hall de l’université Concordia) à Montréal.


Albert Woodfox est un militant Black Panther et ex-prisonnier politique qui fut libéré en février 2016, à l’âge de 69 ans, après avoir été détenu et torturé pendant 45 ans, dont 43 ans en isolement, dans la prison d’Angola, en Louisiane. Il s’agit d’une durée record de temps passé en isolement pour un prisonnier américain. Cette punition cruelle et inhumaine lui fut infligée pour un crime qu’il n’avait pas commis, en raison de ses positions politiques et de la couleur de sa peau.

Albert Woodfox forme avec Herman Wallace et Robert King un groupe connu sous le nom des Angola 3 (http://angola3.org/), trois hommes afro-américains qui furent emprisonnés en 1971 dans un des pénitenciers les plus violents des États-Unis. Membres des Black Panthers, ils militèrent activement en prison en faveur des droits des détenus.

Robert King fut détenu à Angola pendant 32 ans, dont 29 furent passés en isolement. Dès sa sortie en 2001, il milita pour la libération de ses deux amis. Herman Wallace fut libéré en 2013, mais mourra peu de temps après. Depuis que Woodfox a recouvré sa liberté en février 2016, King et lui parcourent l’Europe et les États-Unis pour revendiquer l’abolition de l’isolement carcéral et la libération des prisonniers politiques aux États-Unis.

*Entrée gratuite*
*Accessible aux fauteuils roulants*
*Traduction vers le français et l’espagnol*
—————————————————————————————

In the context of the Week Against Police Brutality (https://cobp.resist.ca/), a discussion on incarceration and political repression with Albert Woodfox et Robert H. King will take place Friday March 17th at 6:00 pm at the Alumni Auditorium room H-110 of the Henry F. Hall Building (1455 de Maisonneuve West) of the Concordia University.

Albert Woodfox is a Black Panther activist and ex-political prisoner who was released in February 2016 at the age of 69 after having been detained and tortured for 45 years in the Angola Penitentiary (Louisiana), of which 43 years were spent in solitary confinement. No American prisoner has ever been put in solitary confinement for so long. This cruel and unusual punishment was inflicted to him for a crime he did not commit, because of his political beliefs and the colour of his skin.

With Herman Wallace and Robert King, Albert Woodfox was part of a group known as the Angola 3 (http://angola3.org/), three African-American men sent to prison in 1971 in one of the most violent detention facilities in the United States. Members of the Black Panthers, they fought to defend prisoners’ rights while inside.

Robert King stayed in Angola for 32 years, of which 29 years were spent in solitary. From the time he came out in 2001, he crusaded to free his two friends. Wallace was released in 2013, but died shortly after. Since Woodfox recovered his freedom in February 2016, he has been traveling Europe and the US with King to advocate for the abolition of solitary confinement and the liberation of political prisoner in the US.

***Free entrance***
***Wheelchair accessible***
***Translation into French and Spanish***

Albert Woodfox and Robert King of the Angola 3 to speak at Harvard on March 8

 Watch the full length video of Albert and Robert’s talk at Harvard here.


RELATED:  Austin, Texas event on Feb. 23 with Robert King and Albert Woodfox

At 5:30 pm on Wednesday, March 8, the Angola 3’s Robert King and Albert Woodfox will be speaking together at Harvard University it Cambridge, MA. Please check back here and at the Facebook event page for more information.

The Harvard Crimson has released a new article in advance of next month’s event, entitled “Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in a Louisiana Prison.”  Featured below is an excerpt. Read the full article here.

Albert Woodfox and Robert King are coming to Harvard on March 8th. They have dedicated their post-incarceration lives to fighting for “the abolishment of solitary confinement and freedom for political prisoners.” “I choose to use my anger as a means for changing things,” Woodfox said after his release.

“Everybody has fear,” Woodfox continued. “Fear is the soul telling the body that it’s in danger. Some people overcome that fear. I overcame it by having a cause.”

We hope you will join us.

The New Yorker’s In-Depth Article on Albert Woodfox’s Life After Release

Be sure to read this long New Yorker article reporting on Albert’s recent travels and life experiences,  as well as examining the months leading up to his release, nearly one year ago. An excerpt is featured below.

Read the full article here.

By summer, Woodfox felt that he was getting his “street legs,” as he called them. A sly sense of humor surfaced. But he was also increasingly exhausted. He spoke at panels about prisoners’ rights in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Baton Rouge. “I feel an obligation, because when I was in the position of the guys in prison I used to wonder why nobody spoke for us,” he told me. His friend Kenny Whitmore, who is still at Angola, told me that when Woodfox was freed “he took a part of me with him.” Whitmore said, “That old man is going full speed ahead.”

In early August, Woodfox flew to New York City to receive an award from the National Lawyers Guild, an association of progressive lawyers and activists, at the organization’s annual conference. He wore a gray blazer over a T-shirt that said “I Am Herman Wallace.” At the podium, he announced that he wanted to honor “my comrade and good friend.” He extended his palm toward King, who was in the third row of the auditorium, but became too choked up to say his name. Woodfox pressed his lips together and paused, regaining his composure. “I hope that my being here tonight is a testament to the strength and determination of the human spirit,” he said.

After the speech, Woodfox and King headed to a lounge on the second floor of the law school, where people were selling buttons, T-shirts, and posters that said “Free All the Angola 3.” Woodfox signed a dozen posters, writing in steady, capital letters, “I AM FREE! ALBERT WOODFOX.” People kept approaching him to ask if they could take selfies. “It’s amazing to be in the room with you,” one person told him. “Talk about moving and inspiring!” another said. “O.K.,” Woodfox said in response to most compliments.

UK Guardian interviews Albert Woodfox on eve of UK Tour: ‘I choose to use my anger as a means for changing things’

RELATED:  Albert Woodfox and Robert King’s European Tour in November  II  View photos and updates from the Euro Tour at our Facebook page

(PHOTO:  Albert and Robert in conversation with Samantha Roddick at the Amnesty UK event on November 1)

OTHER MEDIA COVERAGE:  Albert Woodfox and Robert King interviewed by Democracy Now! about Black Panther political prisoners  II  Albert interviewed by ITV  II  Albert interviewed by BBC News Hour 

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox and Robert King on Democracy Now, Oct, 26, 2016)

A new UK Guardian article written by Rowan Moore features an interview with Albert Woodfox, where he reflects upon life after release, among other things. An excerpt is featured below, but you can read the full article here.

It was, he says, “so disappointing when I got out to find that conditions when I left 45 years ago are still here. With the first black president, everyone thought we had reached a milestone, but it just looked different.” If, he continues “America has nothing else to thank Donald Trump for, it is to show that racism is very much alive. He didn’t come out of nowhere. I thought the battle would be economic, not sick-assed philosophy about racism 45 years later.”

And so he is travelling and speaking, jetting from one American city to another to speak of his experiences and to fight, along with Robert King, for “the abolishment of solitary confinement and freedom for political prisoners” – and political prisoners is what he believes many of those incarcerated in America to be – “who remain victims of the criminal injustice system in the USA.” Apart from his fugitive trip to New York, he had never been out of Louisiana until this year, but now he travels from coast to coast and north to south, and is coming to Britain next month for a multi-city tour. All this from a man who came out of jail with hepatitis C, diabetes, renal failure and hypertension. His health has improved dramatically in the months of his freedom, partly due to receiving treatments denied him inside.

“We’re trying to get some kind of civil oversight,” he says, “to hold the administration accountable. When society looks the other way then the judicial system, from police to the courts to the prisons, becomes judge, jury and executioner.” The treatment of people like himself “is more than a legal issue, it’s a moral issue. It’s no different to what they do in other countries that we call dictatorships. We just have a more sophisticated way of doing it.”

He gets support from the people who campaigned for his release, from fellow activists, and especially from his brother – “my rock” – who is all that is left of the family he grew up with. But in general he likes to downplay the drama of his transition and to stress that, through continuing the activism that he started inside prison, his move to life outside was made easier. “There’s some residue, but it doesn’t dominate my life. I was not connected to the prison system. I did not have to break a lot of ties to the prison culture. I was already free in my mind. There was more like a physical adjustment. I had to learn to live beyond a 9ft cell.” Has he even had a holiday since his release in February? “I went to Yosemite. I read a lot of National Geographic in prison and I had a lifetime desire to go there. It was overwhelming.”

Albert Woodfox & Robert King’s European Freedom Tour in November

Announcing Albert Woodfox & Robert King’s European Freedom Tour Events – November 2016

The International Angola 3 Coalition is delighted to announce the first European visit from Albert Woodfox in November 2016.  Albert Woodfox (the last remaining member of the Angola 3 to be freed from prison in Louisiana, USA in February this year after 43 years in solitary confinement) and Robert King (released 15 years ago after 29 years in solitary falsely accused of the same crime) will visit the UK and France to meet supporters and to continue their campaign to call for the abolition of solitary confinement and freedom for political prisoners who remain victims of the criminal (in)justice system in the USA.

The visit will take place during the USA presidential election and comes at a time when questions of race and injustice in the USA are as relevant today as they were in the 1970’s when Woodfox and King were members of the Black Panther Party whilst in prison campaigning for human and civil rights. 

The visit will start in London with Albert and Robert launching Amnesty UK’s Write for Rights Campaign on Tuesday 1 November followed by the below UK public events:


Thursday 3 November, 5.30 pm – Liverpool

The Angola 3 and the Struggle for Freedom in the USA’s Criminal ‘Injustice’ System. Prof. Joe Sim in conversation with Albert Woodfox and Robert King.

Venue:  Liverpool John Moores University, John Foster Building, Room G01, 80-98 Mount Pleasant, 
Liverpool L3 5UZ

Reserve your free place here.

Friday 4 November, 5.30 pm — Manchester

Black Power and the Struggle for Freedom in the USA’s Criminal “Injustice” System – The Story of the Angola 3.  Conversation with Woodfox and King.

Venue: Manchester Metropolitan University, Faculty of Education, Brooks Building, 53 Bonsall St, Manchester M15 6GX

Reserve your free place here.

Monday 7 November, 7 pm – London Guardian Event

Life in solitary confinement in the USA: the story of the Angola 3. The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone talks to Albert Wodfox and Robert King on the eve of the US election about their experiences and the struggle for civil rights in the US from the 60s to the present day.

Venue: The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU

To attend, book your ticket here.

Tuesday 8 November – 6pm – Cambridge

Black Panthers to Obama’s America: Black Power and the struggle for freedom in the criminal (in)justice system – personal accounts of the Angola 3. In conversation with Albert Woodfox and Robert King.

Venue:  Anglia Ruskin University,  East Road, LAB 026, Cambridge

Reserve your free place here.

Tuesday 15 November –Paris, France

Rencontre de 19h à 22h

A la Bourse du Travail de Paris – salle Ambroise Croizat

Lieu : 3, Rue du Château d’Eau Paris 75010 France

More information here.

Albert and Robert look forward to meeting friends and supporters. Please spread the word of these events to friends and networks!

NOLA October 1: Solitary Gardens Unveiling with Albert Woodfox and others

RELATED:  Albert Woodfox at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, LA on October 3

Solitary Gardens Unveiling
Plant the future. Honor the past.

WHEN:​  Saturday, October 1st 5-6:30pm

WHAT: ​ Please join Albert Woodfox, Malik Rahim, Nana Sula, Vaku and jackie sumell for the 3-year commemoration of Herman Wallace’s freedom after 41-years of unjust captivity.
Project unveiling, tree planting ceremony, special guest speakers and presentations.

WHO: ​ SOLITARY GARDENS is a public art project and land use alternative by jackie sumell that begs us to imagine a landscape without prisons. The project utilizes the tools of prison abolition, permaculture, and alternative education to facilitate unexpected exchanges between persons subjected to solitary confinement and volunteer communities on the “outside.” The six-foot-by-nine-foot Solitary Gardens maintain the blueprint of a US solitary cell and are “gardened” by prisoners through written exchanges with volunteers. Prisons are the descendants of slavery. Solitary Gardens will be constructed from the ancestral byproducts: sugarcane, cotton and indigo — exposing the illusion that slavery was abolished.

WHERE:​  2600 Andry Street, New Orleans LA 70117 (across from the newly built MLK High School), site of the Solitary Gardens.

CONTACT:  ​Please Contact Mary Okoth for press questions:
p: 571.426.9181
e: Grow@SolitaryGardens.org

Solitary Gardens thanks the Nathan Cummings Foundation, NORA (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority), the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, VOTE (Voice of the Experienced), Dillard University, SUA NOLA (Supporting Urban Agriculture, New Orleans), Eyebeam NYC, IDIYA Makers’ Space, Antenna Gallery, Swan River Yoga, Reyn Studios, LESGC (Lower East Side Girls Club), Vaku and all those forced to endure the inhumane conditions of solitary confinement; may you prevail with the victory of love.

Albert Woodfox speaking in Chicago IL on Sept. 18 and 21

LISTEN:  Albert interviewed on Chicago’s WBEZ Radio(PHOTO:  Albert & the Chicago support crew that organized his Chicago tour- led by Melinda Power who also helped organize his August NLG talk.)Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2pm at Trinity United C…

Albert Woodfox in San Francisco on Sept. 7

MEDIA COVERAGE:  SFBV Newspaper  II  Liberation NewspaperSeptember 7:  Albert is speaking in San Francisco, California on Wed. Sept. 7, 7pm at 2969 Mission St. For more information, please visit the ANSWER Coalition website.