Click here to go to the Home Page Incarceration Presents Opportunity - A Luta Continua By Chuck Turner, Editorial Board

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 Editorial Board member Chuck Turner is writing this column from the U.S. Federal Prison in Hazelton, West Virginia where he is serving a three year term for a bribery conviction.� BC is in contact with Mr. Turner by email and telephone.� Click here to send an email message that BC can pass on to Chuck.

Dear Supporters,

Life has taught me that our key responsibility as human beings is to make the best out of every situation. That perspective has been an essential part of my quest to retain my sanity as a Black man in America. In other words, since our Creator has put us in a situation where our very humanity is denied by other human beings, rather than see ourselves as victims, we need to view ourselves as being challenged to develop the spiritual, mental, and emotional power to rise above the insanity of others and the situation we find ourselves in while attempting to help them regain theirs.

It would be easy to view myself as a victim as I sit here at the U.S. Federal Prison in Hazelton, West Virginia.� After 48 years of service to my race, community, and country, Federal government officials conspired to have me convicted of a crime they knew I didn't commit.� The jury was bamboozled to convict me of a crime that former US Attorney Michael Sullivan created. Judge Woodlock and Assistant U.S. Attorney John McNeil�conspired to sentence me to three years in prison despite the fact that:

a) It was my first offence;

b) The alleged bribe was $1000; and

c) Judge Woodlock received 700 letters arguing that I be given probation rather than a prison.

In addition to these reasons to feel victimized, I have been publicly humiliated; at age 70 my reputation as an honorable man has been severely challenged, and the quality of my life during the next three years has been destroyed.

However, despite the many opportunities to indulge in self pity cited above and to see myself as a victim, I choose to focus on the fact that former US Attorney Sullivan; his henchman, Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) John McNeil, and Judge Woodlock have created a tremendous opportunity for me to expand my mind for the next 36 months through having time for unlimited thinking, reading, and writing. Ironically Judge Woodlock, Sullivan, and McNeil have given me a blessing rather than the punishment that they hoped to inflict. Thanks to them, for the next three years, I will be able to focus all my spiritual, mental, and emotional energies on continuing my� pursuit of my lifelong goal of helping to liberate the people of this country, particularly African-Americans, from the pernicious death grip of the oligarchy that I believe Judge Woodlock, former US Attorney Sullivan, and AUSA McNeil consciously or unconsciously represent.

During the first two weeks of my incarceration (March 25-April 7), my thinking has focused on Boston and the situation faced by my family, friends, fellow activists, and former constituents and how to provide guidance and assistance despite my incarceration. However, as I think about the issues of housing, joblessness, education, discrimination, etc. that I struggled with as a Boston City Councilor, I keep reminding myself that I know from my experience as an organizer, activist, and elected official that while local organizing and progressive government action is essential to bring positive change, there must be a national strategy.� Local and state action is not enough; for better or worse, we are all part of a national socio-political-economic system that binds us together and effects us all.�

We must be able to create change in the functioning of that system in order to bring positive change at the local level. However, i also recognize that generalized strategies focused at the national level are not enough for our situation as African-Americans. I have said in previous reflections that the development and adoption of an Economic Bill of Rights is as essential to African-Americans' economic liberation as it is to all people in this country.

Yet, given our 45 year "experiment" with integration, it is critically important to move beyond the fantasy that education built on a foundation of the Anglo-Saxon ideology of white male supremacy financial prosperity derived from jobs in "corporate America" will free us from the vestiges of the pernicious effects of our 400 year enslavement. If we are to have "Freedom Now", we must be prepared to purge ourselves of the remnants of our experience here in the wilderness of North America. No one can save us from living in the shadows of our past except ourselves.

There are no easy answers to how to do it. But as organizers we know that the process of change begins with moving beyond denial and accepting the reality of what we are facing and experiencing. The next step is to envision strategies designed to� challenge our oppression while supporting our cleansing the remnants of our slavery experience from our psyches. Plan development and implementation follow with evaluation and the necessary strategic plan revision completing the cycle of the infinite process of change. If we have learned anything from our experiences as organizers, we know that our most important product is process.

To assist in moving our thinking forward on these critical issues, my next reflections will focus on strategies designed to challenge our oppression while aiding the cleansing of our psyches.

Peace and Love,

Chuck Editorial Board  Member Chuck Turner - Served as a member of the Boston City Council for ten years and eleven months. He was a member and founder of the Fund the Dream campaign and was the Chair of the Council�s Human Rights Committee, and Vice Chair of the Hunger and Homelessness Committee. Click here to contact Mr. Turner. Your email messages will be passed on to Mr. Turner by BC. You may also visit

You may also write to Mr. Turner.� The address is:

Charles Turner #80641038
Hazelwood Penitentiary, P.O. Box 2000,
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia 26525

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Apr 14, 2011 - Issue 422
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