16 December 2016
Albert Woodfox: Unbowed, Unbroken
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
We print below Albert Woodfox’s speech to the December 2 New York City Holiday Appeal benefit.
All power to the people! It is an honor for me to be here. I want to thank the Partisan Defense Committee and all the comrades who are here in attendance for asking me to come here and speak before you. Given all the wonderful things that have been said by wonderful comrades before me, I feel like a backup dancer right now.
I guess my message to you is that for those of you who are just entering social struggle, welcome. To those of you who have spent decades, look at me and see that the strength and determination of human spirit defies all evil.
I wish I could say that I can see the horizon. I have been struggling for the last 44 years in solitary confinement. But we just elected a maniac. For those of you who are involved in social struggle, I say: You must be more determined. You must be willing to make whatever sacrifice is necessary because this struggle is not about us.
A young man asked me—we were visiting Harlem—why was I still involved in social struggle? And I thought about it for a moment and I said, “Old men like me struggle so young men like you could know victory.”
For 44 years I defied the State of Louisiana and the Department of Corrections. Their main objective was to break my spirit. I saw other men who had been broken by the state—by the use of other inmates and by the brutality of prison guards. Once a man’s spirit has been broken he can never get it back. He will never be the same. And those are the kind of things that motivated me, my comrades Robert Hillary King and Herman Hooks Wallace, to continue to struggle at a time when all we had was one another.
So I will ask you here tonight to look at me: unbowed, unbroken. You played a part in that. Everyone here tonight who has ever written a letter to me or to another prisoner, it is that kind of strength that gives us the will to keep going, to keep making a sacrifice.
I have been asked many times would I change anything? Not one thing. Because what I went through allowed me to be the man I am today, the Black Panther I will always be. Thank you.
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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1102, 16 December 2016)
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.