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.
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.
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:
It was my first offence;
The alleged bribe was $1000; and
Judge Woodlock received 700 letters arguing that I be
given probation rather than a prison.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
BlackCommentator.com 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 SupportChuckTurner.com.
may also write to Mr. Turner. The address is:
Charles Turner #80641038
Hazelwood Penitentiary, P.O. Box 2000,
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia 26525