Matt Meyer, a native New York City-based educator, activist, and author, is the War Resisters International Africa Support Network Coordinator, and a United Nations/ECOSOC representative of the International Peace Research Association. The founding chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Association and former Chair of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development (COPRED), Meyer has long worked to bring together academics and activists for lasting social change. A former public draft registration resister and chair of the War Resisters League, he continues to serve as co-convener of the War Resisters International Africa Working Group. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in commenting on Meyer’s first book (co-authored with Pan-African pacifist Bill Sutherland), wrote that "Sutherland and Meyer have looked beyond the short-term strategies and tactics which too often divide progressive people . . . They have begun to develop a language which looks at the roots of our humanness."
Meyer’s work in K-12 public education and teacher training included ten years of service as Multicultural Coordinator for the NYC Board of Education's Alternative High Schools & Programs, as well as a stint as Chapter Leader of a local section of the United Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. He helped found and direct a mini-school in collaboration with St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital’s Child and Family Institute (CFI), and led a psycho-educational CFI research delegation on re-integration and treatment of child soldiers in West and Central Africa and related work in “inner-city” USA; he also helped in the early development of the Harvey Milk High School, the first US “safe space” school for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
Meyer’s writings appear in numerous journals, magazines, and online news sites, including as a frequent contributor to Waging Nonviolence, and to the blog New Clear Vision (for which he is a contributing editorial advisory committee member). Dr. Maya Angelou noted that his Meyer's book We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America was “so needed” for its “investigation of the moral issues of our time.” He was a regular contributor to WIN Magazine and to the peer-reviewed professional journal Peace and Change (for which he serves as an Editorial Board member); his work can also be found in the Indypendent, Fellowship magazine, Truth-out.org, ZNet (zcommunications.org), and Counterpunch.org. He is a founder of the local anti-imperialist collective Resistance in Brooklyn, working on issues of Puerto Rican solidarity, political imprisonment and the prison industrial complex. Argentine Nobel Peace laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel has commented that “Meyer is a coalition-builder,” one who “provides tools for today’s activists” in his writings and his work.
Check out keynotes from “Revolutionary Nonviolence in Violent Times: 50 years since 1968” at the PJSA 2018 conference with Ward Churchill, Matt Meyer, Matthew N. Lyons, Jai Sen, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Sonia Sanchez, & more
A Soldier's Story: Revolutionary Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist, Third Edition Author: Kuwasi Balagoon • Edited by Matt Meyer and Karl Kersplebedeb Publisher: PM Press/ Kersplebedeb ISBN: 978-1-62963-377-0 Published: 03/2019 Format: Paperback Size: 9x6 Page count: 272 Subjects: Politics & Social Sciences/African American Studies / Memoir $19.95
Kuwasi Balagoon was a participant in the Black Liberation struggle from the 1960s until his death in prison in 1986. A member of the Black Panther Party and defendant in the infamous Panther 21 case, Balagoon went underground with the Black Liberation Army (BLA). Captured and convicted of various crimes against the State, he spent much of the 1970s in prison, escaping twice. After each escape, he went underground and resumed BLA activity.
Balagoon was unusual for his time in several ways. He combined anarchism with Black nationalism, he broke the rules of sexual and political conformity that surrounded him, he took up arms against the white-supremacist state—all the while never shying away from developing his own criticisms of the weaknesses within the movements. His eloquent trial statements and political writings, as much as his poetry and excerpts from his prison letters, are all testimony to a sharp and iconoclastic revolutionary who was willing to make hard choices and fully accept the consequences.
Balagoon was captured for the last time in December 1981, charged with participating in an armored truck expropriation in West Nyack, New York, an action in which two police officers and a money courier were killed. Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, he died of an AIDS-related illness on December 13, 1986.
The first part of this book consists of contributions by those who knew or were touched by Balagoon. The second section consists of court statements and essays by Balagoon himself, including several documents that were absent from previous editions and have never been published before. The third consists of excerpts from letters Balagoon wrote from prison. A final fourth section consists of a historical essay by Akinyele Umoja and an extensive intergenerational roundtable discussion of the significance of Balagoon’s life and thoughts today.
“The success of the Movement for Black Lives over the last three years has demonstrated the power inherent in a challenge to white supremacy that is at once radical, nonhierarchical, intersectional, and queer-centered. But for many in today's political world, this constellation of commitments pops out of nowhere, with little articulate history. And that is a shame, because there is always a history, and to understand where we came from tells us a great deal about where we are. A conversation with our elders—whether departed or not—always deepens our understanding. This important, often-brilliant, and little-known collection from a Black anarchist political prisoner, whose struggle moves from the early ’60s Panthers to the early years of the AIDS epidemic, deserves wide discussion. The words in these papers and letters speak important truths to our current situation and will provoke heated debate on both theory and practice, as we move into a new and dangerous era, ever rekindling the hope of radical transformation.” —Mark Lance, professor of philosophy, Program on Justice and Peace, Georgetown University
“We have to get our jewels where we can, for this is how we carry on from one generation to the next—it's revolutionary cross-pollination. To paraphrase Che, we need one, two, three, many more Kuwasi Balagoons in order to get free of the chains that bind us.” —Sanyika Shakur, author of Stand Up, Struggle Forward
White Lives Matter Most: And Other “Little” White Lies Author: Matt Meyer • Foreword: Sonia Sanchez Publisher: PM Press ISBN: 978-1-62963-540-8 Published: 10/01/2018 Format: Paperback Size: 5x8 Page count: 128 Subjects: Politics-Activism / History-U.S. $14.95
Modern-day movements to end racism in the U.S. seem sadly doomed to fail. If more fundamental approaches to social change and more sober analysis of U.S. history are not considered, our efforts will lead to continued fragmentation—or worse. The essays in this book—written by lifelong anti-imperialist organizer, educator, and author Matt Meyer—reveal the successful strategies and methods of multigenerational and multitendency coalitions used in recent campaigns to free Puerto Rican and Black Panther political prisoners, confront neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, and many more.
Meyer’s reflections on the need for a new, intensified solidarity consciousness and accountability among white folks provide a provocative and urgent challenge. These essays—some coauthored by Black Lives Matter and Ferguson Truth Telling leaders Natalie Jeffers and David Ragland, Puerto Rican professor Ana López, Muslim interfaith activist Sahar Alsahlani, and Afro-Asian cultural icon Fred Ho—offer up-to-the-minute insights. Read on, and get ready for hope in the context of hard work.
Praise: “This legendary freedom fighter brings together the best of the peace movement and the best of the anti-racist movement.” —Cornel West
“The stories Matt Meyer tells should be listened to by all people who work for freedom and justice: not just for the few, but for everybody.” —Talib Kweli, hip hop artist, entrepreneur, and social activist
“The rich and still evolving tradition of revolutionary pacifism, effectively sampled in these thoughtful and penetrating essays, offers the best hope we have for overcoming threats that are imminent and grim, and for moving on to create a society that is more just and free. These outstanding contributions should be carefully pondered, and taken to heart as a call for action.” —Noam Chomsky, on We Have Not Been Moved
“This book demonstrates the scope of the Panthers’ intellectual gifts as well as the compassion and revolutionary spirit at the center of their radical grassroots activism.” —Publishers Weekly on Look for Me in the Whirlwind
Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions Authors: Sekou Odinga, Dhoruba Bin Wahad, Jamal Joseph • Editors: Matt Meyer & déqui kioni-sadiki • Foreword: Imam Jamil Al-Amin • Afterword: Mumia Abu-Jamal Publisher: PM Press ISBN: 978-1-62963-389-3 Published: 08/2017 Format: Paperback Size: 9 x 6 Page count: 648 pages Subjects: Political Activism/African American Studies/Autobiography $26.95
In the tumultuous year of 1969, amid music festivals and moon landings, assassinations and million-person antiwar mobilizations, twenty-one members of the militant New York branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP) were rounded up and indicted on multiple charges of violent acts and conspiracies. They were charged with plans to blow up a variety of sites—from a police station in Manhattan to the Queens offices of the Board of Education and the Bronx Botanical Gardens. Though some among the New York Panther 21 (NY 21) had hardly even met one another, the group was gathered together as an obvious attempt by the FBI, in cooperation with city and state authorities, to discredit, disrupt, and destroy the organization which was attracting so many young people across the world. In the ensuing preparation for a trial that would become the longest and most expensive in New York’s history at the time, information came out about the FBI’s illegal Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), as members of the BPP were assassinated, forced into exile, framed, and set against each other.
In the case of the NY 21, splits between the California-based Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, and the New York–based Panthers, who had a more internationalist and clandestine approach, became hostile and murderous. At the same time, solidarity for the 21 extended well beyond predictable Black Liberation circles, including a cocktail party fund-raiser hosted by Leonard Bernstein which was infamously derided in mainstream media reports. Support for the 21 also included publication of the collective autobiography Look for Me in the Whirlwind, which is reprinted for the first time in this volume.
At a moment when the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement recites a daily “We Have a Duty to Win” affirmation penned by exiled revolutionary Assata Shakur, the membership of the NY 21—which includes the mother of Tupac Shakur, two of those charged with assisting in the prison escape of Assata, and one Panther who, at age eighty, remains in prison despite having served more than forty years—is largely forgotten and unknown. Their legacy, however—reflected upon here in this special edition—provides essential truths which have remained largely hidden, even in the myriad books and movies of Black Panther nostalgia and mythology. The voices of the Panthers contained in these pages resonate today because they boldly confront, with creativity and candor, both their own history and our deepest challenges today.
“Listen to these voices of young men and women—from places like New Jersey or Panama, New York or Antigua—who poured their insights, courage, and creative energy into New York City’s fledgling Black Panther Party that generated chapters in all five boroughs. Unlike out west, where police shot and killed Panthers to disrupt the revolutionary group, New York relied more heavily on courts, jails, and prison to sabotage the organization.
These men and women were tried in the case called the “New York 21”—a barrel full of preposterous crimes which the Panthers supposedly conspired to commit—that led to the arrest and imprisonment of all the leaders (except those who reached an escape route before the police caught them at home). The state fully expected that the Panthers would remain behind bars for decades after being convicted, given that a police informant had masqueraded as a Panther until their arrest. However, the powerful example of Afeni Shakur, who defended herself, the fierce dedication of brilliant attorneys, and the organizing talents of Panther supporters on the outside made the trial the longest-running case in New York—with a short one-hour jury deliberation before finding the 21 not guilty on all charges.
This reprint edition allows a new generation to hear these amazing stories, and additionally, to read the authors’ reflections and insights for today.” —Kathleen Cleaver, Black Panther Party Communications Secretary (1967–1971); Senior Lecturer, Emory University School of Law
“Look for Me in the Whirlwind could not come at a timelier moment in history. As newly-emerging grassroots movements challenge state violence against Black people in the U.S., it is essential that new generations learn anew, and that older ones are reminded, of police and FBI tools of repression deployed to demobilize Black radical activism and its growing influence on the Black working class in the ’60s. These remembrances, by those framed in the NY Panther 21 case, are vital building blocks for reconstructing the history of one of the least understood chapters of the Black Panther Party. They are also indispensable reading for those seeking to understand how individual activists and their movements were able to hold their center in the face of harrowing government repression.” —Johanna Fernandez, Professor of History, Baruch College Department of Black and Latino Studies, City University of New York; co-curator, ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York
Oscar Lopez Rivera: Between Torture and Resistance Author: Oscar López Rivera Editor: Luis Nieves Falcón Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu Introduction by Matt Meyer Publisher: PM Press ISBN: 978-1-60486-685-8 Published February 2013 Format: Paperback Size: 8.5 by 5.5 Page count: 160 Pages Subjects: Politics–Activism/History–Puerto RicoScience $15.95
“Listening to Oscar’s voice in this book makes something clear that one such as Nelson Mandela would know well: his sense of liberty has not been extinguished by the jailers’ bars or the torturers on call.” —Celina Romany-Siaca, former president, Puerto Rican Bar Association
“The story of Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera told in this book is a story of the lengths to which our government will go to punish and silence voices of liberation. But it is also the story of the courage of one man who perseveres in his hunger and thirst for justice.” —Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, founding president, Pax Christi USA
The story of Puerto Rican leader Oscar López Rivera is one of courage, valor, and sacrifice. A decorated Viet Nam veteran and well-respected community activist, López Rivera now holds the distinction of being one of the longest held political prisoners in the world. Behind bars since 1981, López Rivera was convicted of the thought-crime of “seditious conspiracy,” and never accused of causing anyone harm or of taking a life. This book is a unique introduction to his story and struggle, based on letters between him and the renowned lawyer, sociologist, educator, and activist Luis Nieves Falcón.
In photographs, reproductions of his paintings, and graphic content, Oscar’s life is made strikingly accessible—so all can understand why this man has been deemed dangerous to the U.S. government. His ongoing fight for freedom, for his people and for himself (his release date is 2027, when he will be 84 years old), is detailed in chapters which share the life of a Latino child growing up in the small towns of Puerto Rico and the big cities of the U.S. It tells of his emergence as a community activist, of his life underground, and of his years in prison. Most importantly, it points the way forward.
With a vivid assessment of the ongoing colonial relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, it provides tools for working for López Rivera’s release—an essential ingredient if U.S.-Latin American relations, both domestically and internationally, have any chance of improvement. Between Torture and Resistance tells a sad tale of human rights abuses in the U.S. which are largely unreported. But it is also a story of hope—that there is beauty and strength in resistance.
"In spite of the fact that here the silence from outside is more painful than the solitude inside the cave, the song of a bird or the sound of a cicada always reaches me to awaken my faith and keep me going." —Oscar López Rivera
Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz Author: Russell Maroon Shoatz Editors: Fred Ho and Quincy Saul with a Foreword by Chuck D and an Afterword by Matt Meyer and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge Publisher: PM Press/Ecosocialist Horizons ISBN: 978-1-60486-059-7 Published: April 2013 Format: Paperback Size: 9 by 6 Page count: 304 Pages Subjects: Politics-Activism, African American, Political Science $20.00
Russell Maroon Shoatz is a political prisoner who has been held unjustly for over thirty years, including two decades in solitary confinement. He was active as a leader in the Black Liberation Movement in Philadelphia, both above and underground. His successful escapes from maximum-security prisons earned him the title “Maroon.” This is the first published collection of his accumulated written works, and also includes new essays written expressly for this volume.
Despite the torture and deprivation that has been everyday life for Maroon over the last several decades, he has remained at the cutting edge of history through his writings. His work is innovative and revolutionary on multiple levels: • His self-critical and fresh retelling of the Black liberation struggle in the U.S. includes many practical and theoretical insights; • His analysis of the prison system, particularly in relation to capitalism, imperialism, and the drug war, takes us far beyond the recently-popular analysis of the Prison Industrial Complex, contained in books such as The New Jim Crow; • His historical research and writings on Maroon communities throughout the Americas, drawing many insights from these societies in the fields of political and military revolutionary strategy are unprecedented; and finally • His sharp and profound understanding of the current historical moment, with clear proposals for how to move forward embracing new political concepts and practices (including but not limited to eco-socialism, matriarchy and eco-feminism, food security, prefiguration and the Occupy Wall Street movement) provide cutting-edge challenges for today’s movements for social change.
Calls for Russell Maroon Shoatz' release from Solitary Confinement Gain International Momentum.
Also- Matt Meyer & Luis Nieves Falcón on Democracy Now!'s coverage of the 32 Days for 32 Years Project and the call to release Oscar Lopez Rivera from Prison
Check out Matt Meyer and Mandy Carter on RT TV:
This book, Maroon the Implacable, is that very funky instruction manual on how to make revolution against Imperialist America.” —Amiri Baraka, former Poet Laureate of New Jersey
“If the Great Dismal Swamp is no longer a refuge, nevertheless the message of the Maroons lives on, and Russell Maroon Shoatz is today its untamed voice. Free Maroon the Implacable!” —Hakim Bey, author of TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone
“At the core of the book is the theme of maronage—the will to escape from conditions of enslavement at any cost. This is what Russell Maroon Shoatz has done, not physically, but in the world of ideas by escaping from the rigid patriarchal framework he inherited and revaluing and promoting the role of women in the history of liberation. This book is a document of this transformation carried out against tremendous odds and told with searing honesty.” —Silvia Federici, author of Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle
“Russell Maroon Shoats’s life reads like fiction composed by Victor Hugo. But this Jean Valjean for our time is the living truth, and his writings are a beacon for a new, revolutionary age. What a treasure has here been uncovered!” —Joel Kovel, author ofThe Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World
“Though he’s been inside for forty of his sixty-eight years on earth, the problems he raises about the justice movement are amazingly up to date. Above all, he thinks organizationally... He is always trying to work out what to do. Where he looks for answers is the only sensible place: not in ideas but in the historical experience of the grassroots.” —Selma James, author of Sex, Race, and Class: The Perspective of Winning
“For twenty-seven years I visited prisoners on death row, one of whom was Russell Shoatz, who we called Maroon. From him I always got a lesson in politics that fortified me and made me understand just what was happening in our country and what I should be doing about it. He trusted the truth of ‘power to the people,’ and it kept him focused and hopeful. His body was incarcerated but his mind soared. My mentor!” —Frances Goldin, publisher of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Barbara Kingsolver, and Adrienne Rich Buy book now | Buy e-Book now | Read Reviews | Back to the top
We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America Editors: Elizabeth Betita Martínez, Mandy Carter & Matt Meyer with an Introduction by Cornel West and Afterwords/poems by Alice Walker & Sonia Sanchez Publisher: PM Press ISBN: 978-1-60486-480-9 Published October 2012 Format: Paperback Size: 9 by 6 Page count: 608 Pages Subjects: Politic/History $29.95
We Have Not Been Moved is a compendium addressing the two leading pillars of U.S. Empire. Inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who called for a “true revolution of values” against the racism, militarism, and materialism which he saw as the heart of a society “approaching spiritual death,” this book recognizes that—for the most part—the traditional peace movement has not been moved far beyond the half-century old call for a deepening critique of its own prejudices. While reviewing the major points of intersection between white supremacy and the war machine through both historic and contemporary articles from a diverse range of scholars and activists, the editors emphasize what needs to be done now to move forward for lasting social change. Produced in collaboration with the War Resisters League, the book also examines the strategic and tactic possibilities of radical transformation through revolutionary nonviolence.
Amongst the historic texts included are rarely-seen writings by anti-racist icons such as Anne Braden, Barbara Deming, and Audre Lorde, as well as a dialogue between Dr. King, revolutionary nationalist Robert F. Williams, Dave Dellinger, and Dorothy Day. Never-before-published pieces appear from civil rights and gay rights organizer Bayard Rustin and from celebrated U.S. pacifist supporter of Puerto Rican sovereignty Ruth Reynolds. Additional articles making their debut in this collection include new essays by and interviews with Fred Ho, Jose Lopez, Joel Kovel, Francesca Fiorentini and Clare Bayard, David McReynolds, Greg Payton, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Ellen Barfield, Jon Cohen, Suzanne Ross, Sachio Ko-Yin, Edward Hasbrouck, Dean Johnson, and Dan Berger. Other contributions include work by Andrea Dworkin, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Starhawk, Andrea Smith, John Stoltenberg, Vincent Harding, Liz McAlister, Victor Lewis, Matthew Lyons, Tim Wise, Dorothy Cotton, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Kenyon Farrow, Frida Berrigan, David Gilbert, Chris Crass, and many others. Peppered throughout the anthology are original and new poems by Chrystos, Dylcia Pagan, Malkia M’Buzi Moore, Sarah Husein, Mary Jane Sullivan, Liz Roberts, and the late Marilyn Buck.
“When we sang out ‘We Shall Not Be Moved’ in Montgomery and Selma, we were committed to our unshakeable unity against segregation and violence. This important book continues in that struggle—suggesting ways in which we need to do better, and actions we must take against war and continued racism today. If the human race is still here in 2111, the War Resisters League will be one of the reasons why!” —Pete Seeger, folk singer and activist
“The rich and still evolving tradition of revolutionary pacifism, effectively sampled in these thoughtful and penetrating essays, offers the best hope we have for overcoming threats that are imminent and grim, and for moving on to create a society that is more just and free. These outstanding contributions should be carefully pondered, and taken to heart as a call for action.” —Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist
“One of the biggest stumbling blocks to building a successful movement against war has been our inability to cross racial and cultural lines, bridging the divides created and maintained by the powers that be. Since the 1960s, there have been some hopeful signs—in grassroots groups and in educational efforts—but the road forward is still long and difficult. The contributors to We Have Not Been Moved, with extraordinary scope and vision, have given us an indispensable tool to fight oppression, resist war and injustice, and create powerful new coalitions for lasting social change. This volume should be required reading—alongside of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States—in every sociology and political science class.” —Connie Hogarth, life-long peace and justice activist and inspiration for Manhattanville College’s Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action; co-founder and former executive director of the Westchester People’s Action Coalition
Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners Edited by Matt Meyer Published: September 2008 ISBN: 978-1-60486-035-1 Format: PDF Page Count: 912 Dimensions: 6 by 9 Subjects: Politics, Prison Abolition $37.95
Let Freedom Ring presents a two-decade sweep of essays, analyses, histories, interviews, resolutions, People’s Tribunal verdicts, and poems by and about the scores of U.S. political prisoners and the campaigns to safeguard their rights and secure their freedom. In addition to an extensive section on the campaign to free death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, represented here are the radical movements that have most challenged the U.S. empire from within: Black Panthers and other Black liberation fighters, Puerto Rican independentistas, Indigenous sovereignty activists, white anti-imperialists, environmental and animal rights militants, Arab and Muslim activists, Iraq war resisters, and others. Contributors in and out of prison detail the repressive methods--from long-term isolation to sensory deprivation to politically inspired parole denial--used to attack these freedom fighters, some still caged after 30+ years. This invaluable resource guide offers inspiring stories of the creative, and sometimes winning, strategies to bring them home.
Contributors include: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dan Berger, Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Bob Lederer, Terry Bisson, Laura Whitehorn, Safiya Bukhari, The San Francisco 8, Angela Davis, Bo Brown, Bill Dunne, Jalil Muntaqim, Susie Day, Luis Nieves Falcón, Ninotchka Rosca, Meg Starr, Assata Shakur, Jill Soffiyah Elijah, Jan Susler, Chrystos, Jose Lopez, Leonard Peltier, Marilyn Buck, Oscar López Rivera, Sundiata Acoli, Ramona Africa, Linda Thurston, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and many more.
"Within every society there are people who, at great personal risk and sacrifice, stand up and fight for the most marginalized among us. We call these people of courage, spirit and love, our heroes and heroines. This book is the story of the ones in our midst. It is the story of the best we are." --asha bandele, poet and author of The Prisoner's Wife
“This extraordinary volume powerfully and eloquently brings together the voices of so many U.S. political prisoners. Taken one at a time, the stories, poems, communiqués, and analyses are not only heartbreaking in the suffering, courage and indomitable fortitude they manifest, but also paint a clear and damning picture of routine U.S. repression. When read as a whole, this book can do no other than inspire a new generation of activists and revolutionaries to free these prisoners and to bring down this whole wretched system of exploitation, theft, and murder. Thank you to the editors and to the contributors, and thank you most especially to the political prisoners themselves, who are giving their lives and are teaching us by their example how to be free men and women.” --Derrick Jensen, activist and author of How Shall I Live My Life
"As a convicted felon, I have been prevented from visiting many people in prison today. But none of us should be stopped from the vital work of prison abolition and freeing the many who the U.S. holds for political reasons. Let Freedom Ring helps make their voices heard, and presents strategies to help win their release." --Daniel Berrigan SJ, former Plowshares political prisoner and member of the FBI Top Ten Wanted List.
White Lives Matter Most: And Other “Little” White Lies: A Review Publishers Weekly October 2018
This slim collection of essays by activist and teacher Meyer, who is white, and adapted speeches by activists of color seeks a right way for white allies to engage in meaningful political activism, especially when “no person raised white under white supremacy, like no one raised male under patriarchy, can... completely extinguish from every fiber of our psyche all forms of supremacist attitudes.” Meyer begins by testifying to the unwarranted amount of focus white narratives can take up, obscuring and obfuscating the lives, histories, and voices of people of color. “From the genocidal policies of the Middle Passage and Manifest Destiny,” he writes, “America has always meant White Lives Matter Most.” He outlines threats to meaningful dismantling of racially oppressive systems and international solidarity, from the oppression of indigenous peoples to bipartisan political support for war, which he argues not only diverts resources from helping the marginalized but also foments xenophobia. Meyer calls for whites to engage in “extreme solidarity,” learning more deeply than is typical about the roles and teachings of oppressed people in the struggle for racial justice, leaving the ivory tower to join that struggle, and ensuring the struggle is not inappropriately dominated by white people. Given the focus of the book, it seems odd to put only the white Meyer’s name on the cover as author, rather than editor, when four of the 12 pieces were coauthored or authored by activists of color. Ultimately, this questionable packaging decision underscores the book’s very cogent argument that whiteness is often inappropriately centered.
"Because of this, Look for Me in the Whirlwind remains essential reading for anyone seeking to understand both the Black Panthers in all their complexities, as well as the emerging politics of the Black Liberation Army."
On December 14, 2017, those shows combined forces for a two-hour special dedicated to our recently-published Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st Century Revolutions. Co-editors Matt Meyer and Dequi Kioni-sadiki joined host Sally MAe O'Brian and Basir Mchawi, with Tyrene Wright, and SPECIAL GUEST Sekou Odinga, one of the original members of the Panther 21. We read excerpts from the book, explained how the book came to be and how it an be used by today's educators and organizers, and told some stories about struggle, then and now.
Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions By Ron Jacobs CounterPunch November 13th, 2017
Recently, PM Press took the original text of Look for Me in the Whirlwind and added some more recent articles, poems and reflections written by a few of the original defendants and their supporters. Titled Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions, this book is both an essential piece of history and a call to reinvigorate the movement for Black liberation and free those still imprisoned as part of the COINTELPRO operation four decades ago. Perhaps the most striking (and distressing) aspect of the additions to the original text is the fact that the struggles of the late 1960s and early 1970s are so similar to the struggles of today. Then again, given the history of the United States, maybe it isn’t so striking after all.
Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions: A Starred Review Publishers Weekly November 2017
In the era of Black Lives Matter, this chronicle of the Black Panther 21—the group charged in 1969 with the conspiracy to commit violent acts in what became the longest trial in New York history—is more relevant than ever. This book offers accounts from the 21 members put on trial, including Sundiata Acoli, the Black Liberation Army fighter sentenced to life in prison for the death of a New Jersey state trooper; Jamal Joseph, an Academy Award–nominated filmmaker; Afeni Shakur, mother of rapper Tupac Shakur; and Assata Shakur, member of the Panther-associated Black Liberation Army and the first woman on the FBI’s most-wanted list. Members discuss their experiences growing up without fathers or going to school under a racist educational system, with teachers who would regularly demean black students with reading assignments that instilled a sense of inferiority in them. Such anecdotes allow readers to understand the Panthers as individuals and gain perspective on their work in their local communities, which included creating breakfast programs for hungry children and patrolling the streets at night with law books and legally owned firearms. This book demonstrates the scope of the Panthers’ intellectual gifts as well as the compassion and revolutionary spirit at the center of their radical grassroots activism.
Oscar Lopez Rivera: Between Torture and Resistance By Ian Sinclair PeaceNews September 2013
The book is strongest when Rivera is reflecting on his physical and psychological imprisonment. 'They will never be able to break my spirit or my will. Every day I wake up alive is a blessing', he affirms. Activists involved with political prisoners will be interested to see that activism does make a difference - his conditions improved in 1997 because of pressure being applied to the US government, he says. And all activists will surely be heartened by Rivera's seemingly never-ending resolve: 'It is much easier not to struggle, to give up and take the path of the living dead. But if we want to live, we must struggle.'
We Have Not Been Moved: A Review By Ian Sinclair PeaceNews February 2013
At 582 pages it's a daunting book. However, there is much of interest in the long-form essays, articles, interviews, photos, poems, manifestos and dialogues from both well-known and less well known activists. Barbara Deming's moving first-hand account of a mixed race peace walk in the Deep South in the early 1960s is a real pleasure to read, as is Dave Dellinger's thoughtful reflection on the class dynamics of anti-war groups. Another highlight is anarchist Chris Crass's very practical guide 'Tools For White Guys Who Are Working For Social Change'. As these contributions suggest the title doesn't fully do justice to the book's varied concerns - a significant number of contributors have a deep interest in revolutionary nonviolence.
Maroon the Implacable: A Review By Steve Bloom Solidarity This book is a collection of essays, composed mostly for the education of fellow prisoners. It is written, therefore, in a popular style that’s easy to read. But it is also filled with deep and profound insights. That is a rare combination.
Most of the material — except for one essay written explicitly for the book — previously existed only in the form of scattered small pamphlets or manuscripts (in the literal sense of being hand-written) in the files of family and friends. The editors, for the sake of completeness, have included everything that was available to them.
Different essays will, therefore, have different weight or interest for different readers. But even a piece like “Respect Our Mothers, Stop Hating Women” (2010), with conclusions that might seem obvious to those who went through discussions in both activist and academic circles in the wake of the feminist rebirth during the 1970s, takes on a qualitatively different meaning if we understand the context of macho culture that predominates in a prison where men are incarcerated.
Maroon the Implacable: A Review Publishers Weekly June 2013 Shoatz-a leader in Philadelphia's Black Liberation Movement and a former Black Panther-describes his activism and philosophy in this wide-ranging collection of essays and interviews dating from the mid-1990s through the present. He is currently serving multiple life sentences in Waynesburg, Penn., for killing a police officer (though he claims to be a political prisoner). Shoatz chronicles his transformation from Philadelphia gang member to Harlem activist, and how his escapes from prison earned him the nickname "Maroon" (Maroons were fugitive slaves who settled in Jamaica, Haiti, Brazil, and others parts of the Americas, as described elsewhere in the book). Whether read for activist inspiration or as an academic artifact, Shoatz's writings are an engrossing portrayal of a life contemplated from the recesses of 20 years in solitary confinement. He turns out to be a feminist who advocates matriarchy, and a critic of capitalism. Having experienced "harsh, demeaning, and brutal institutions," the author also argues for prison reform. Shoatz's essays are bookended with a foreword by Chuck D and an afterword by Matt Meyer and Nozizwe Madlala Routledge.
Resisting Racism and Militarism in 2013 by David Swanson Michaelmoore.com January 2nd, 2013 We Have Not Been Moved is a book with many lessons to teach. King spoke against the war on Vietnam despite being strongly advised to stick to the area of civil rights. Julian Bond did the same, losing his seat in the Georgia state legislature. African Americans marched against that war by the thousands in Harlem and elsewhere, including with posters carrying the words attributed to Mohammad Ali: "No Vietcong ever called me nigger!" So did Asian Americans and Chicanos. SNCC risked considerable support and funding by supporting the rights of Palestinians as well as Vietnamese, urging draft resistance, and stating its disbelief that the U.S. government's goals included free elections either at home or abroad.
A Stronger Movement Against War by Michael Fiorentino WIN REVIEW Fall 2012
Buy the book forces us to ask a deep question: How do we construct a viable antiwar movement in the United States that confronts the institutional racism right here at home? The section “Chicken and Eggs: War, Race, and Class” provides the reader with helpful historical context. In particular, Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s piece stands out as a lucid explanation of the connection between mass incarceration of people of color and militarism.
With an entire chapter devoted to John Brown, as well as material from Assata Shakur and other liberationists, this book is a brick in many ways. I talked to one EF!er last night about Let Freedom Ring, and after seeing its size, he declared it’d be the last thing he threw at the cops if they came banging down his door (after he ran out of ammo). Of course, I suggest reading it rather than throwing it. If it is rather like a large brick, it will provide a fundamental piece to build the foundation your knowledge of the state, on which your activism will be reliably grounded.
By Jaan Laaman, Ohio 7 anti-imperialist political prisoner
Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners, is a very new, very informative and very useful book. It is edited by Matt Meyer and published by PM-Kersplebedeb.
This is a huge book, over 800 pages, comprised largely of just what the subtitle says: documents from the movements to free U.S. political prisoners. This includes significant historical documents like the complete indictments, presentations and findings of three International Tribunals that have investigated the reality and conditions of political prisoners held by the U.S. These were: Special International Tribunal on the Violation of Human Rights of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War in United States Prisons and Jails (1990), International Tribunal of Indigenous Peoples and Oppressed Nations in the USA (1992), and International Tribunal on Human Rights Violations in Puerto Rico and Vieques by the United States of America (2000)...
The Prison Industrial Complex and Political Prisoners By Hans Bennett Z Magazine, February, 2009
Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free US Political Prisoners, is an epic 877-page compilation of both pre-existing documents and original articles. Explaining the context of its release, editor Matt Meyer cites the recent persecution of the San Francisco Eight, who are former Black Panther Party (BPP) members being charged with a 30-year old crime. Beginning with the 2006 grand jury, “the state threw down a gauntlet. When it became clear that the investigations were reopening cases based on evidence obtained primarily through torture, the message was unmistakable: Be afraid, be very afraid, and don’t even think of fighting back. When these same men stood strong, firm on the principle that they would not take part in a new, government sponsored witch-hunt, they sent a counter-message on behalf of us all: we will not allow our communities, our struggles, our communities, our very lives to be criminalized by a corrupt and racist criminal justice system.” This spirit of resistance to state repression flows throughout Let Freedom Ring.
The Sixties presented social movements with some of recent history’s most spectacular schisms, many of which continue to be debated. Assimilation versus revolutionary nationalism versus cultural nationalism; and Old Left aesthetics versus New Left rejection of convention were among them. But none so clearly defined the troubles of that period like the verbal and other skirmishes over militancy.
Pacifism, the use of political violence and the peculiar merging of the two that came to be called self-defense were prominent fixtures of the Vietnam War era. The integrationist sit-ins contrasted with the incendiary solidarity acts of groups like the Weather Underground, which were at times motivated by those same sit-ins as well as the fiery deeds and iconography of the Black Power movement, which itself clashed at points with the mainstream civil rights movement in how each saw the way forward.
Though it isn’t about those debates, Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners cannot be divorced from such either...
Meyer, Matt, Elavie Ndura-Ouedraogo and Judith Atiri, eds., Seeds Bearing Fruit: Pan African Peace Action for the 21st Century, Africa World Press: 2010
Meyer, Matt and Elavie Ndura-Ouedraogo, eds., Seeds of New Hope: Pan African Peace Studies for the 21st Century, Africa World Press: 2008
Meyer, Matt, Time is Tight: Urgent Tasks for Educational Transformation—Eritrea, South Africa, and the U.S.A., Africa World Press: 2006
Meyer, Matt and Bill Sutherland, Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle, and Liberation (with Bill Sutherland; foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu), Africa World Press: 2000
“Revolutionary Nonviolence: The Marriage of Gandhi and Che,” in: Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution, O/R Books: 2012
“Resistance in Brooklyn: Accountability for Anti-Imperialist Action,” in: Accountability and White Anti-racist Organizing: Stories From Our Work, Crandall, Dostie, & Douglass Books, Inc.: 2011
“Hard to Find: Building for Nonviolent Revolution and the Pacifist Underground,” (with Paul Magno), in: The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism, Rutgers University Press: 2010