(PHOTO: Robert King and Professor Michael Thorne, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University)
Robert King Receives Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England
Tuesday Oct. 9, Robert King received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree
from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, United Kingdom, for his
achievements as a civil rights campaigner (view reports by the BBC and Cambridge News).
At the bottom of this email is the full text of the speech made by King
at the ceremony, which moved the audience of over 2,000 to a standing
While in the UK, King will also be appearing at other events, including:
--Caged in the USA: What will happen to individuals if extradited to the US?, in London, on October 18, at 7pm, organized by Cage Prisoners (read more here).
--Screening of In the Land of the Free, about the Angola 3, in London, on October 16, at 7pm (read more here).
King will also be speaking in Chicago on November 9 (more info soon).
RELATED: HRC Coverage of September 18 Rally and Hearing Against Solitary in Philadelphia, PA, with Robert King
Robert King's Autobiography Expanded and Updated
Featuring a new foreword by Mumia Abu-Jamal
, PM Press has just released a new paperback edition of Robert King's award-winning autobiography-- first published in 2008.
book is described as "a story of inspiration and courage, and the
triumph of the human spirit. The conditions in Angola almost defy
description, yet King never gave up his humanity, or the work towards
justice for all prisoners that he continues to do today. From the Bottom of the Heap
so simply and humbly told, strips bare the economic and social
injustices inherent in our society, while continuing to be a powerful
literary testimony to our own strength and capacity to overcome."
Read more about it here
Louisiana Premiere of Herman's House the Film
The new film by Angad Bhalla, documenting
the collaborative project between Herman Wallce, of the Angola 3, and
artist Jackie Sumell, will be shown at the New Orleans Film Festival on
Oct. 14 & 15 (buy tickets here
film's announcement says: "The injustice of solitary confinement and
the transformative power of art are explored in Herman's House a feature
documentary that follows the unlikely friendship between a New York
artist and one of America's longest serving solitary prisoners as they
collaborate on an acclaimed art project."
This ruling will be the focus of an event in London on Oct. 18, with Robert King.
European Court Ruling Opens Door for Extradition to Torture Conditions in US Prisons
In a recent article
about the ominous ruling in the case of Babar Ahmad and Others v The United Kingdom
Chris Hedges reports that "the ruling of the European Court of Human
Rights, handed down Sept. 24 after the men requested that the court
block their extradition, in essence certifies that U.S. prison
standards are compatible with European human rights. This opens the
door for any European nation receiving extradition requests from the
U.S. to swiftly turn prisoners over to U.S. authorities. The ruling
came despite the fact that 26 human rights groups including the ACLU,
the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Human Rights First supported
the prisoners' contention that they would be housed in inhuman
conditions in the United States. The human rights groups predicted that
the court's ruling would have "serious implications ... for
legitimizing the use of conditions of confinement that violate human
rights.'" Learn more: CagePrisoners.comThis important case has been the focus of two previous interviews by Angola 3 News: Do US Prisons Violate European Human Rights Law? and War, Prisons, and Torture in the US & UK.
Amnesty International Issues Scathing Report on SHUs and Solitary Confinement in California Prisons
important new report by Amnesty International has concluded that "the
US state of California must make substantial changes to their prison
isolation units and halt the inhuman suffering of thousands of
prisoners."The Edge of Endurance: Conditions in California's Security Housing Units
is based on exclusive access gained by Amnesty International to
isolation units in California and explores the conditions of confinement
endured by more than 3,000 prisoners - including 78 who have spent in
excess of two decades in isolation.
"The conditions and length of
imprisonment in California's isolation units are simply
shocking...Recent reform proposals do not go far enough to address
Amnesty International's many serious concerns with California's long
term isolation units; if further changes, such as those proposed in
detail in our report, are not incorporated into these reforms,
California would still fall short of international law and standards for
humane treatment of prisoners and the prohibition of torture and other
ill-treatment," said Angela Wright, US Researcher at Amnesty
International who visited a number of prisons in the state.
Boxed In: The True Cost of Extreme Isolation in New York's Prisons
Another hard-hitting report about
solitary confinement in US prisons has just been released by the New
York Civil Liberties Union, who explains that "the NYCLU conducted an
intensive year-long investigation to shed light on the use and
consequences of extreme isolation in New York prisons. Our study
involved communication with more than 100 people who have spent time in
extreme isolation. We spoke to prisoners' family members and
corrections staff. We analyzed thousands of pages of official records.
And we found that New York's use of extreme isolation is arbitrary,
inhumane and unsafe."Read the full report and learn how to take action here.
We Won: AB 2530 Passes in California Following Grassroots Campaign Targeting Governor Brown
early September, to help publicize the grassroots campaign supporting
the AB 2530 bill that bans shackling of pregnant prisoners, Angola 3
News published an interview
with Birthing Behind Bars co-founders Tina Reynolds and Vikki Law , where they explained that this "bill is significant because it prevents the CDCR from shackling and restraining women during any
stage of their pregnancy, not just during labor, delivery and recovery.
It also forces the CDCR to inform women that they have a right not
to be shackled or cuffed behind the back during the entirety of their pregnancies."
Robert King's Speech at Anglia Ruskin University
(October 8, 2012)
the only freed member of the Angola 3 I am honoured and humbled to be
accepting this honorary Doctor of Laws degree. I am also delighted to
have this honour of Doctor of Laws conferred upon me by Anglia Ruskin
University. I have been asked to say a few choice words - and I want to
is great to be standing here - in the footsteps and shadows of so many
graduates who have gone onto achieve great things. Some of you as well
will become barristers, solicitors or as we would say in the USA -
lawyers - who will also do great things.
few choice words to you are: barristers or solicitors are people but
they are also among that group of people in society who help make up the
great intellectual gene pool of that society. You are the purveyors of
truth, your enlightenment brings reasoning to a situation where
reasoning often time does not exist: you bring vision - not just visions
of becoming wealthy or famous but visions for a better world.
live in a world that was meant to be perfect but has been made
imperfect by people. This present state of affairs is also perpetuated
by learned but uncaring persons. However as caring barristers and
solicitors, my encouragement to you would be - you can help to change
this situation by not only becoming purveyors of legality but also
purveyors of morality as well. For often times, legality is void of
The country where I
was born - America - we give legality too much deity. We deify it and
make it holy. When we give legality this kind of god status we err. In
the American political arena oftentime politics is void of morality. A
case in point, is the history of slavery in America. It was not until
people began to see slavery as being reprehensible and amoral that it
was abolished, as we know it.
evolution began in prison - in Angola State Penitentiary, in Louisiana -
in an 18,000 acres former slave plantation. My experience in a 6 X 9
foot cell for 29 years in solitary confinement taught me the difference
between legality and morality. It made me realize that despite the fact
that the 13th amendment allegedly abolished slavery, I concluded that
slavery was never abolished. I learned that a person could be actually
innocent of a crime but convicted legally and that this person would be
designated a legal slave - as it was in 1864 where the constitution
decreed that if you were black being a slave was your lot. Modern day
slavery is alive and well in America but it has taken on a different
form - from the plantation to the prison.
in accepting this award, I am mindful that slavery still exists in
America. A case in point, are my 2 comrades - Albert Woodfox and Herman
Wallace who are now serving their 40th year in solitary confinement -
and tens and thousands of others who have also been unjustly convicted
but remain in prison in America in slavery. Unfortunately, we have to be
mindful that America's style of justice often finds itself on the
shores of England; high incarceration rates, highest number of life
prisoners in Europe, the privatization of prisons, increased use of
solitary confinement and other miscarriages of justice.
struggle for a more moral and just society continues. It rests upon
your shoulders. The vision for morality also continues. The quest for a
better world continues as well. Please be visionaries, purveyors of
morality and justice.
Thank you Anglia Ruskin University for this honorary letter of recognition.