The Books That Maintain Me Alive on Loss of life Row

Another person as soon as told me that reading is to the thoughts what workout is to the body.  That someone was a different loss of life row inmate, an older black person, who experienced found adequate in me as a man or woman when I 1st came to this prison in 1985 to steer me absent from gangs, medicine, gambling and all the other negativity in which a new inmate can get trapped and not escape.

So I have invested a fantastic deal of time looking at guides, magazines, newspapers and damn close to any other thing that I can get my fingers on when dwelling in this generally unlivable put, seeking to continue to be sane in what usually seems to be an insane asylum, studying the reality about this world and its history and the many different varieties and forms of men and women who make up equally.

I have been carrying out so in a 4½-by-11-foot cage in which I am pressured to reside from my will, knowledge that the sentences of loss of life that I was provided by a jury not of my friends has been administered to quite a few men and women considered to be various in this land, even just before this land grew to become a state.

These issues and several, lots of far more have been found out and figured out by me just after reading my pretty to start with book from include to address, then continuing to do the similar with each individual guide I subsequently read.

Somewhere in my examining early on, a light-weight went on in my head and I then began to recognize why historically sure individuals in electricity did not want particular persons with no electricity to read through any kind of e-book at all.

I then really recognized why slave proprietors and the laws that have been passed all through slavery have been created to forbid a slave from even studying to go through.  They understood then, those slave house owners and lawmakers who had been at times the very same people, what I was learning—that to study is to master, and to study is to achieve know-how, and awareness is energy.  There can be no bigger electricity that will come from expertise than the electric power of self.  I also began to fully grasp why specific slaves took the daily life-ending prospect of discovering to read to get expertise and the electrical power that will come with it.

I also arrived to the summary that the history of this place is comprehensive of very poor individuals having no universities, or inferior schools, in particular if individuals lousy men and women ended up black, or other so-identified as minority peoples.  I learned why Brown v. Board of Education and learning had to materialize, and why the regulation in Plessy v. Ferguson was wrong and had to be challenged.  Individual but equivalent was a lie then and is a lie now.

In my studying textbooks on my heritage and lifestyle, I did come across knowledge, and in that know-how I observed out who I am as a male, and as a human being of African descent. I discovered that I am not who you say I am, or explain to the planet that I am, nor am I your historic stereotype.  I uncovered to inform my possess story due to the fact no a single else can, and when they check out, they do not tell my tale, they tell what they want to explain to and how they want it.

I have traveled the environment in the internet pages of my textbooks, from being in the bottom of a slave ship for the duration of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to getting sold on the auction block and forced to function as an animal on a plantation.

I have been with abolitionists as they worked to end chattel slavery, and I have been on the frontline in the Civil War. In point, I have been in just about every war that was on this land, in this state, and all simply because of my books.

These are publications that ended up and however are currently being sent to me by people who are assisting to not only teach me, but to continue to keep me alive even though on dying row. I have walked down a highway identified as independence, trying to find a issue termed liberty in a land and country that, right after emancipating me, re-enslaved me by an additional name and misused me in its jail leasing program.

I listened to Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Joe Trotter and many some others who had been all battling for and from the very same matters.  I watched Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Thurgood Marshall, and numerous, quite a few some others combat for the suitable to be, to be as they are, what they are, what we are—human beings with the common proper to daily life.

I listened to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say he read through that we had the proper to protest nonviolently for our rights, and I observed that where he browse this was in the 1st Modification to the U.S. Structure.

I have been everywhere in my books that they could choose me, from “Little Significant Horn” to the moon, from the slave master’s household to the White House with President Obama.  I have been at historic lynchings in my books, to remaining 10 ft absent from the dying chamber listed here at San Quentin jail, and in equally cases the psychological, emotional, psychological and physical torture was present.

I have browse about personal slavery and all of its torturous ills of yesteryear, to community slavery and all of its tortuous ills of these contemporary decades.

Reading publications has gotten me out of this cage, and in turning this cage into a classroom, I have educated myself in strategies that I under no circumstances believed I could, or in approaches that any one else imagined I could.  A lot of, or most of the persons who I have satisfied in textbooks, I do not know or recall their names and most likely never ever will.  But I do know their tales and their fights and their plights, for the reason that in several methods their struggle and plights are just like mine.

I now walk on the path that they created with their blood, sweat, tears and bodies.  Why I was drawn to reading through largely about historical past, American background, which African American history is, I never know. But in undertaking so, I found an inner strength that I did not know that I experienced in just me.  I identified a non secular interior strength that I did not know that I had inside of me. I discovered a voice that I did not know I experienced in just me. I located a cause not to give up, not to give up, not to surrender that I did not know that I experienced in just me. I found a will and willpower that I did not know that I had in just me.

All of these items and extra that I identified in just myself I located in looking at books about the lives of folks through the historical past of this planet and state. I identified out by looking at publications that I am not alone in my quest for justice, for so-termed flexibility, for my humanity. I have uncovered from books that no 1 can get absent your self-regard or dignity if you do not allow them. I have located via guides that not just the white gentleman but persons of all cultures and of unique races have contributed to the earning and constructing and development of this place.

I have been transported from this dwelling hellhole in which I exist to dwelling hellholes of the earlier. In accomplishing so, I have discovered significantly about our state and its persons, each excellent and lousy.

I know that no matter how normally I hear people say, “Times have altered,” in point, some matters and some people today have not changed. I have discovered that the evil and wickedness in men and women who enforced chattel slavery and its wrongs and crimes towards humanity are alive today in people who are enforcing the dying penalty and all of its proven wrongs and crimes from humanity.

At the same time, I have uncovered that the goodness in individuals people today of yesteryear that led them to abolish chattel slavery is alive and in the hearts of folks these days who are working to abolish the loss of life penalty. I owe this serious lifestyle and demise knowledge to the numerous diverse books I have go through about the years.

In walking the “Trail of Tears” with my Indigenous American sisters and brothers and their kids and elders, I uncovered that no person is safe and sound in this place, not even the individuals who under no circumstances claimed this land as their possess but who took care of it as a mum or dad normally takes treatment of a child.  Capitalism and greed are what reigns supreme in this region to the detriment of all. With no publications, I would not have figured out these truths about this region.

I will continue on to read through, review and find out as extended as I am alive, but primarily as extensive as I am in jail and on loss of life row, the place guides have presented a genuine form of escapism from my hellish existence.

In no specific purchase, below are some of the guides that I have read through in the far more than 33 a long time that I have expended on your death row:

  • “King Leopold’s Ghost” by Adam Hochschild
  • “A People’s History of the United States 1492 to Present” by Howard Zinn
  • “Voices of a People’s Heritage of the United States” by Howard Zinn
  • “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Alex Haley
  • “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin
  • “The Last 12 months of Malcolm X” by George Breitman
  • “Any Indicates Required: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X” by George Breitman
  • “Malcolm X on Afro-American History” by George Breitman
  • “Malcolm X: The Guy on His Ideas” by George Breitman
  • “The Assassination of Malcolm X: by George Breitman, Herman Porter & Baxter Smith
  • “A Lifetime of Reinvention—Malcolm X” by Manning Marable
  • “How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America” by Manning Marable
  • “The Declaration of Independence and Other Fantastic Files of American Historical past 1775-1865” edited by John Grafton
  • “Great Speeches by African Us citizens, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Reality, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, and Others” edited by James Dale
  • “Twelve Many years a Slave” by Solomon Northup
  • “There Is a River, The Black Battle for Liberty in America” by Vincent Harding
  • “Not Fade Absent, A Memoir of Senses Shed and Found” by Rebecca Alexander with Sascha Albert
  • “The 50 percent Has By no means Been Told: Slavery and the Building of American Capitalism” by Edward E. Baptist
  • “Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson
  • “Ella Baker, Independence Bound” by Joanne Grant
  • The Bible
  • “Lies My Instructor Informed Me” by James W. Lowen
  • “Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
  • “The Fiery Demo, Abraham Lincoln & American Slavery by Eric Foner
  • “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • “The Attractive Struggle” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • “Locking Up Our Individual: Crime and Punishment in Black America” by James Forman Jr.
  • “Mandingo” by Kyle Onstott
  • “The Condemnation of Blackness, Race, Criminal offense and the Producing of Contemporary Urban-American” by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  • “One Working day in December – Celia Sanchez and the Cuban Revolution” by Nancy Stout
  • “The Satan Is Below in These Hills: West Virginia’s Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom” by James Environmentally friendly
  • “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
  • “Jailhouse Lawyer” by Mumia Abu Jamal
  • “Slavery by One more Name” by Douglas Blackmon
  • “The New Jim Crow: In the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander


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