Albert Woodfox, who spent four decades in solitary confinement before his release from a Louisiana prison earlier this year, says his first impression of race relations in America is that they haven’t changed much at all since 1970.
“Everybody has fear,” says Albert Woodfox. “Fear is the soul telling the body that it’s in danger. Some people overcome that fear. I overcame it by having a cause. That’s what the party told me: always be honourable, always serve the people.” Woodfox, now a grizzled 69-year-old, has had more reasons to be afraid than most, and when he says that he has known “more pain and suffering than any human being should be asked to suffer,” he is not exaggerating. At the hands of the American penal and judicial system he has endured wrongful imprisonment and deprivation of basic needs to a degree that seems outlandish in an advanced democracy. Yet his experience is not unique. It is an extreme version of something inflicted on thousands of others, and it is on behalf of these others that, he says, he continues to fight.”
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