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


Just Stand: A Video Interview With Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3

(PHOTO: Albert enjoys a canoe ride in Austin, TX.)

Since Albert’s release on his birthday, February 19th, a few short months ago, he’s been really busy…  After nearly a month of visiting with family and friends in New Orleans sharing more birthday cake than he’s been able to consume in over forty years, Albert has been catching up with his dreams. This trio of video-interviews with Albert recorded recently, during a visit to Sacramento, will give you a glimpse of just how well Albert is doing.

This first release, entitled “Just Stand” is in three parts:  (1) A Message to Supporters, (2) Visiting Yosemite National Park and (3) Spending Quality Time With Family.

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox stands strong during a recent visit to Sacramento, California)

A MESSAGE TO SUPPORTERS –  After thanking the many supporters around the world that never gave up in fighting for his release, Albert sent them this message: “What they should take from my freedom is that you stand. You don’t back away. You don’t make unnecessary compromises. You stand, and no matter how painful, you stand.” Watch the full interview here.

VISITING YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK –  Just a few days before this interview was conducted, Albert visited Yosemite National Park, where he endured a challenging uphill climb. Albert reflects: “As you get older, you always wonder what you lose, and I think it felt very, very great to know that my will and determination have not changed, even though I’ve grown older. I know I have changed somewhat physically, [but] mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I’m as strong as I ever was.” Watch the full interview here.

SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH FAMILY –  In this segment, Albert discusses his relationship with his family, with whom he tries to spend as much time as he can: “I’m a Dad, a Grandpa, and a Great Grandpa. I’m so grateful that my family accepted me back.” Watch the full interview here.

Albert has been spending time in Houston with his brother Michael and his family as well as time in New Orleans with his daughter, grandson and grandchildren. His first speaking engagement was a trip to Pittsburgh for the International Conference on Solitary Confinement at University of Pittsburgh with King. When that was over, he spent a week in Austin with King and Austin supporters before heading off to California to fulfill one of his long held dreams, a trip to Yosemite. On the way he stopped in Los Angeles to attend the Death Penalty Focus Gala, where he was joined by an old friend from Angola, recently released Gary Tyler and about twenty exonerees attending on behalf of the Innocence Project. He also had a chance to drop in on long-time supporter and artist, Rigo 23 and family before heading north. After Yosemite, Albert attended the Malcolm X Festival in Oakland. On his return to New Orleans, Albert and King’s cousin, Noonie, cooked up a “surprise” birthday party for King and celebrated with many local supporters.

The next few months are equally as busy. In August King and Albert will be in New York at the National Lawyers Guild Convention where Albert will accept the Arthur Kinoy award. After the NLG conference, Albert and King will spend time with BPP comrades in New York. In September they will be in Oakland for the Political Prisoner’s Conference and later in the month they will be speaking at a number of venues in Chicago. They’ll return to Oakland in October for the 50th Anniversary gathering of the Black Panther Party. Then in late October, they visit the UK and France to meet with Amnesty supporters, along with special events in the UK including London, Liverpool and Cambridge  As you’ll be able to see from the short interviews and attached photos, Albert deals with all the activity like a champ – it’s hard to believe that he’s spent four decades in a box, as he handles himself with grace and humor regardless of the situation presented.

Freedom for our comrade, elder, and political prisoner Leonard Peltier is long overdue. Please sign Amnesty International USA’s new online petition calling on President Obama to release him. Please also consider supporting the Leonard Peltier Statue Project. Free all political prisoners!

(Albert and Rigo 23, with the latest artwork from Rigo 23 illustrating that all of the Angola 3 are Free.)

(King and Albert in Austin- reunited in freedom!)

(Comrades from Houston and Austin join King and Albert for a welcome home party for Albert.)

(Albert with Louisiana exonerees John Thompson and Gary Tyler at Death Penalty Focus event.)

(Albert and King’s cousin, Elnora put together a sizzling surprise birthday party for King at the Craig Center in Algiers on June 11th.  The theme was “white linen.” This photo of Albert dancing with longtime supporter Shana Griffin, was taken by the esteemed Ted Quant to memorialize the evening. View more photos from the party here.)

Just Stand: A Video Interview With Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3

(PHOTO: Albert enjoys a canoe ride in Austin, TX.)

Since Albert’s release on his birthday, February 19th, a few short months ago, he’s been really busy…  After nearly a month of visiting with family and friends in New Orleans sharing more birthday cake than he’s been able to consume in over forty years, Albert has been catching up with his dreams. This trio of video-interviews with Albert recorded recently, during a visit to Sacramento, will give you a glimpse of just how well Albert is doing.

This first release, entitled “Just Stand” is in three parts:  (1) A Message to Supporters, (2) Visiting Yosemite National Park and (3) Spending Quality Time With Family.

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox stands strong during a recent visit to Sacramento, California)

A MESSAGE TO SUPPORTERS –  After thanking the many supporters around the world that never gave up in fighting for his release, Albert sent them this message: “What they should take from my freedom is that you stand. You don’t back away. You don’t make unnecessary compromises. You stand, and no matter how painful, you stand.” Watch the full interview here.

VISITING YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK –  Just a few days before this interview was conducted, Albert visited Yosemite National Park, where he endured a challenging uphill climb. Albert reflects: “As you get older, you always wonder what you lose, and I think it felt very, very great to know that my will and determination have not changed, even though I’ve grown older. I know I have changed somewhat physically, [but] mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I’m as strong as I ever was.” Watch the full interview here.

SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH FAMILY –  In this segment, Albert discusses his relationship with his family, with whom he tries to spend as much time as he can: “I’m a Dad, a Grandpa, and a Great Grandpa. I’m so grateful that my family accepted me back.” Watch the full interview here.

Albert has been spending time in Houston with his brother Michael and his family as well as time in New Orleans with his daughter, grandson and grandchildren. His first speaking engagement was a trip to Pittsburgh for the International Conference on Solitary Confinement at University of Pittsburgh with King. When that was over, he spent a week in Austin with King and Austin supporters before heading off to California to fulfill one of his long held dreams, a trip to Yosemite. On the way he stopped in Los Angeles to attend the Death Penalty Focus Gala, where he was joined by an old friend from Angola, recently released Gary Tyler and about twenty exonerees attending on behalf of the Innocence Project. He also had a chance to drop in on long-time supporter and artist, Rigo 23 and family before heading north. After Yosemite, Albert attended the Malcolm X Festival in Oakland. On his return to New Orleans, Albert and King’s cousin, Noonie, cooked up a “surprise” birthday party for King and celebrated with many local supporters.

The next few months are equally as busy. In August King and Albert will be in New York at the National Lawyers Guild Convention where Albert will accept the Arthur Kinoy award. After the NLG conference, Albert and King will spend time with BPP comrades in New York. In September they will be in Oakland for the Political Prisoner’s Conference and later in the month they will be speaking at a number of venues in Chicago. They’ll return to Oakland in October for the 50th Anniversary gathering of the Black Panther Party. Then in late October, they visit the UK and France to meet with Amnesty supporters, along with special events in the UK including London, Liverpool and Cambridge  As you’ll be able to see from the short interviews and attached photos, Albert deals with all the activity like a champ – it’s hard to believe that he’s spent four decades in a box, as he handles himself with grace and humor regardless of the situation presented.

Freedom for our comrade, elder, and political prisoner Leonard Peltier is long overdue. Please sign Amnesty International USA’s new online petition calling on President Obama to release him. Please also consider supporting the Leonard Peltier Statue Project. Free all political prisoners!

(Albert and Rigo 23, with the latest artwork from Rigo 23 illustrating that all of the Angola 3 are Free.)

(King and Albert in Austin- reunited in freedom!)

(Comrades from Houston and Austin join King and Albert for a welcome home party for Albert.)

(Albert with Louisiana exonerees John Thompson and Gary Tyler at Death Penalty Focus event.)

(Albert and King’s cousin, Elnora put together a sizzling surprise birthday party for King at the Craig Center in Algiers on June 11th.  The theme was “white linen.” This photo of Albert dancing with longtime supporter Shana Griffin, was taken by the esteemed Ted Quant to memorialize the evening. View more photos from the party here.)

Support the Leonard Peltier Statue Project / Take Action with Amnesty USA

Take Action by joining Amnesty International USA’s call for President Obama to release Leonard Peltier!

Featured below is the full post from the Leonard Peltier Statue Project:

9" epoxy resin model, Alcatraz Prison Mess Hall, February 13, 2016 - First "Indians of All Tribes Day."
9″ epoxy resin model, Alcatraz Prison Mess Hall, 
February 13, 2016 – First “Indians of All Tribes Day.”

As you might already know, Leonard Peltier has now spent four entire decades behind bars for a crime he has not committed. Even though, by most countries’ standards, he has now fulfilled both of the consecutive life-sentences to which he was wrongly sentenced, he remains behind bars.

Throughout his incarceration, many powerful national and international voices have raised their support for his case, including dozens of members of the United States Congress, Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Amnesty International, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and countless others. The injustice of his situation has been raised via national best-selling books, documentary films, paintings, posters, songs, petitions, walks, marches, protests, gatherings and prayers.

Original Alcatraz Island Occupiers - 1969/71 - gather with statue's model at Alcatraz on February 13th.
Original Alcatraz Island Occupiers – 1969/71 – 
gather with statue’s model at Alcatraz on February 13th.

Currently there are several campaigns under way, united in their goal:  to have President Obama grant a long overdue clemency to Leonard Peltier, thus allowing for a historical healing process to finally begin. Healing for Peltier himself, his family and the larger extended family of all the Indigenous Peoples living within the United States borders.

Only after this initial step of goodwill can the relationship between the United States Federal Government and the Indigenous Peoples living within its borders evolve past the painful standstill at which it’s stood. Native American youth suicide rates are the highest of any other cultural group in the United States.

Here are a few links of many:

Petition 2 Congress – Please Support Executive Clemency for federal prisoner Leonard Peltier!

Amnesty International – 40 Yeast Behind Bars: Free Leonard Peltier

Before Leonard joined the American Indian Movement, he applied twice to attend art school in Santa Fe, but got turned down. Even so, he has never stopped painting, despite all of the severe limitations he faces in prison.

Self-Portrait. Detail of Peltier's painting used as the blue print for the 9 foot tall sculpture.
Self-Portrait. Detail of Peltier’s painting used as the blue print for the 9 foot tall sculpture.

The goal of this project is to honor Leonard Peltier as both a symbol of Native struggle for self-determination in North America and as a persevering artist. Leonard has never stopped inspiring others to resist and to work towards the betterment of all relations inhabiting this shared Earth.

Using Leonard’s most recent self-portrait as the blue print, artist Rigo 23 has set out to build a 9 foot tall statue which – once finished – will tour the United States raising awareness for the Clemency Campaign and Mr. Peltier’s long-overdue release from prison.

The multimedia sculpture will be made so that it can be taken apart and reassembled for ease of travel and exhibition. The feet, arms and face will be carved out of redwood and the body will be covered in water resistant epoxy resin. All parts will be sustained by a steel structure running inside the hollow torso and legs.

Our ideal goal is to complete the sculpture by the end of July 2016 and to accomplish this we need to raise $40,000. It is a tight time frame, but given the vast number of people the world over that care for Leonard Peltier, we are confident to be able to accomplish this goal.

We ask that you share this page with your circle of acquaintances and consider contributing to this effort by:

  • using the PayPal button below (no PayPal account required)

  • or sending a check to the address below, made out to:

PDF/Leonard Peltier Statue Project
P.O. Box 40250
San Francisco, CA 94140-0250

Warmest Greetings,

Lenard Foster – Mr. Peltier Spiritual Advisor
Tony Gonzales – American Indian Movement – West, Director
Rigo 23 -Visual artist, creator of the Tommie Smith and John Carlos sculpture at San José State University

Delegates to the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, gather around statue's model at Flying Eagle Woman Fund reception in New York City on May 13, 2016.
Delegates to the 15th Session of the United Nations 
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, gather 
around statue’s model at Flying Eagle Woman Fund 
reception in New York City on May 13, 2016.

This project is endorsed by: American Indian Movement (AIM) ,ANIS – Associacion Nacional Indigenas Salvadoreños, Flying Eagle Woman Fund, Indigenous Women’s Life Net, and Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples.

Click here to contact us.

Support the Leonard Peltier Statue Project / Take Action with Amnesty USA

Take Action by joining Amnesty International USA’s call for President Obama to release Leonard Peltier!

Featured below is the full post from the Leonard Peltier Statue Project:

9" epoxy resin model, Alcatraz Prison Mess Hall, February 13, 2016 - First "Indians of All Tribes Day."
9″ epoxy resin model, Alcatraz Prison Mess Hall, 
February 13, 2016 – First “Indians of All Tribes Day.”

As you might already know, Leonard Peltier has now spent four entire decades behind bars for a crime he has not committed. Even though, by most countries’ standards, he has now fulfilled both of the consecutive life-sentences to which he was wrongly sentenced, he remains behind bars.

Throughout his incarceration, many powerful national and international voices have raised their support for his case, including dozens of members of the United States Congress, Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Amnesty International, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and countless others. The injustice of his situation has been raised via national best-selling books, documentary films, paintings, posters, songs, petitions, walks, marches, protests, gatherings and prayers.

Original Alcatraz Island Occupiers - 1969/71 - gather with statue's model at Alcatraz on February 13th.
Original Alcatraz Island Occupiers – 1969/71 – 
gather with statue’s model at Alcatraz on February 13th.

Currently there are several campaigns under way, united in their goal:  to have President Obama grant a long overdue clemency to Leonard Peltier, thus allowing for a historical healing process to finally begin. Healing for Peltier himself, his family and the larger extended family of all the Indigenous Peoples living within the United States borders.

Only after this initial step of goodwill can the relationship between the United States Federal Government and the Indigenous Peoples living within its borders evolve past the painful standstill at which it’s stood. Native American youth suicide rates are the highest of any other cultural group in the United States.

Here are a few links of many:

Petition 2 Congress – Please Support Executive Clemency for federal prisoner Leonard Peltier!

Amnesty International – 40 Yeast Behind Bars: Free Leonard Peltier

Before Leonard joined the American Indian Movement, he applied twice to attend art school in Santa Fe, but got turned down. Even so, he has never stopped painting, despite all of the severe limitations he faces in prison.

Self-Portrait. Detail of Peltier's painting used as the blue print for the 9 foot tall sculpture.
Self-Portrait. Detail of Peltier’s painting used as the blue print for the 9 foot tall sculpture.

The goal of this project is to honor Leonard Peltier as both a symbol of Native struggle for self-determination in North America and as a persevering artist. Leonard has never stopped inspiring others to resist and to work towards the betterment of all relations inhabiting this shared Earth.

Using Leonard’s most recent self-portrait as the blue print, artist Rigo 23 has set out to build a 9 foot tall statue which – once finished – will tour the United States raising awareness for the Clemency Campaign and Mr. Peltier’s long-overdue release from prison.

The multimedia sculpture will be made so that it can be taken apart and reassembled for ease of travel and exhibition. The feet, arms and face will be carved out of redwood and the body will be covered in water resistant epoxy resin. All parts will be sustained by a steel structure running inside the hollow torso and legs.

Our ideal goal is to complete the sculpture by the end of July 2016 and to accomplish this we need to raise $40,000. It is a tight time frame, but given the vast number of people the world over that care for Leonard Peltier, we are confident to be able to accomplish this goal.

We ask that you share this page with your circle of acquaintances and consider contributing to this effort by:

  • using the PayPal button below (no PayPal account required)

  • or sending a check to the address below, made out to:

PDF/Leonard Peltier Statue Project
P.O. Box 40250
San Francisco, CA 94140-0250

Warmest Greetings,

Lenard Foster – Mr. Peltier Spiritual Advisor
Tony Gonzales – American Indian Movement – West, Director
Rigo 23 -Visual artist, creator of the Tommie Smith and John Carlos sculpture at San José State University

Delegates to the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, gather around statue's model at Flying Eagle Woman Fund reception in New York City on May 13, 2016.
Delegates to the 15th Session of the United Nations 
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, gather 
around statue’s model at Flying Eagle Woman Fund 
reception in New York City on May 13, 2016.

This project is endorsed by: American Indian Movement (AIM) ,ANIS – Associacion Nacional Indigenas Salvadoreños, Flying Eagle Woman Fund, Indigenous Women’s Life Net, and Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples.

Click here to contact us.

New UK Guardian interview with Albert Woodfox, two months after his release

In a UK Guardian article published today, Albert Woodfox reflects upon two months of life outside of prison walls and solitary confinement. The article concludes with the following excerpt:

The most disturbing part of freedom, Woodfox says, has been the dawning realisation since his release that in America in 2016 there is very little sense of political or social struggle. When he entered prison in the 1970s the country was on fire with political debate; now, as he puts it, “everybody seems to be ‘Me, me, me, me, me.’ It’s all about me, what I need and how I’m going to get it.”

That public indifference has in turn, he believes, allowed solitary confinement to flourish, to the extent that 100,000 Americans are subjected to it each year.

“The people and the government and the courts have turned their back on prisons, and that lets the wardens and officers act as judge, jury and executioner,” he says. “People don’t seem to be socially aware, that’s why solitary confinement exists and why it’s so brutal. Because nobody cares.”

New UK Guardian interview with Albert Woodfox, two months after his release

In a UK Guardian article published today, Albert Woodfox reflects upon two months of life outside of prison walls and solitary confinement. The article concludes with the following excerpt:

The most disturbing part of freedom, Woodfox says, has been the dawning realisation since his release that in America in 2016 there is very little sense of political or social struggle. When he entered prison in the 1970s the country was on fire with political debate; now, as he puts it, “everybody seems to be ‘Me, me, me, me, me.’ It’s all about me, what I need and how I’m going to get it.”

That public indifference has in turn, he believes, allowed solitary confinement to flourish, to the extent that 100,000 Americans are subjected to it each year.

“The people and the government and the courts have turned their back on prisons, and that lets the wardens and officers act as judge, jury and executioner,” he says. “People don’t seem to be socially aware, that’s why solitary confinement exists and why it’s so brutal. Because nobody cares.”

A3 Newsletter: Solitary Under Attack as 2016 Begins

(PHOTO: Tabling at the Amnesty Art for Rights event in New Orleans, December 2015)We want to send thanks from Albert and Robert to Amnesty activists for December’s Write for Rights campaign. Albert enjoyed receiving the thousands of letters and postcar…

A3 Newsletter: Solitary Under Attack as 2016 Begins

(PHOTO: Tabling at the Amnesty Art for Rights event in New Orleans, December 2015)We want to send thanks from Albert and Robert to Amnesty activists for December’s Write for Rights campaign. Albert enjoyed receiving the thousands of letters and postcar…

A3 Newsletter: Solitary Under Attack as 2016 Begins

(PHOTO: Tabling at the Amnesty Art for Rights event in New Orleans, December 2015)We want to send thanks from Albert and Robert to Amnesty activists for December’s Write for Rights campaign. Albert enjoyed receiving the thousands of letters and postcar…