For the past 21 years, the Brooklyn-based Malcolm X Commemoration Committee has co-organized their annual tribute for the families of political prisoners. There’s always a dinner, performances, tributes, raffles and vendors offering culturally and politically themed wares.
Attendees always include relatives and supporters of political prisoners such as Russell Shoatz, Mumia Abu Jamal, Veronza Bowers, Seth Hayes, Jalil Muntaqim, the Move 9, Sundiata Acoli, Mutulu Shakur, Imam Jamil Al-Amim and the now released Marshall “Eddie” Conway and Sekou Odinga.
From humble beginnings at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza to Local 1199 Bread and Roses Cultural Project, and now this past weekend to Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, the 21st annual Freedom Fighter Dinner Tribute brought out the dedicated grassroots activists whose objective is to bring home political activists, many of whom have been in prison for three or four decades, because of their political activism during the 1970s. Some, such as Mumia Abu Jamal, were members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army or other groups that were fighting for Black civil rights 40 years ago.
Hosting was dequi kioni sadiki (sic), chair of the MXCC, who honored activists and lawyers such as Jill Soffiyah Elijah, Joan Gibbs, Florence Morgan, Bob Boyle, Michael Tarif Warren, Nkechi Taifa, Susan Tipograph, Lynne Stewart and Eve Rosahn.
“Over 150 years has collectively been served by these brave men thanks to COINTELPRO, and look at how this ended,” said sadiki. “Facing circumstances like these are almost impossible without committed lawyers like those who we will honor.”
Organizers have decried the fact that most recently Obama and a variety of governors have denied petitions of the likes of long-held political prisoners Shakur, Leonard Peltier, Jalil Al Amin and Jamal, who is in poor health.
This dinner was established 21 years ago by the much revered Iyaluua Ferguson, wife of late co-founder and chairman emeritus, Herman Ferguson. Saturday, March 4, the event was co-sponsored by the National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party. Organizers repeated once again that all proceeds go to the commissary accounts of the political prisoners, whose families and supporters were at the dinner, which this year was held at ImageNation’s Raw Space.