The combined efforts of Beyond Attica & The Universal Zulu Nation provided an energetic and constructive platform for reflections on the 1971 Attica Prison Uprisings as well as recommendations toward solutions in the present day.
Taking place on a windy Saturday afternoon—the eve of what would mark exactly 44 years since state troopers and national guard soldiers descended on Attica, massacring 39 individuals (29 inmates, 10 hostages)—‘Beyond Attica’s tone of vigilant remembrance and guarded optimism seemed a fitting one for commemorating the uprisings and their aftermath. Taking place in the Adam Clayton Powell Plaza (125th Street just off 7th avenue), one of Harlem’s go-to outdoor public spaces served to heighten the historical aspect, an aspect that was drawn out with expert clarity by Elder Scholar/Harlem University professor Dr. Leonard Jeffries (see audio clip below).
Several others spoke out during the economically scheduled lineup, their messages ranging from the uplifting (Black Panther & former Political Prisoner Bro.
Tarik’s repeated assertions to the crowd ‘You are a very important person.’), to the poignant (Howard Starks who recently came home from Attica where he was imprisoned as a minor and subjected to solitary confinement, poisoning and other means of torture), to the poetic (Luke Nephew of The Peace Poets spat his call to action ‘All For You‘, written for his students). Equal parts passion and pragmatism, punctuated by some light rain and heavy tracks (courtesy of UZN’s DJ Magnificent), ‘Beyond Attica’ proved a worthwhile venue for the collective recollection that allows for shared ground from which to build.
When and if Attica’s 80+ year span will be cut short remains to be seen, but the conversations as to how to make that happen which occurred in Harlem a couple of weekends back–and continue to take place–are firm steps in that direction.
(Monthly Campaign Meetings: Every 2nd Monday, The Correctional Association, 2090 Adam Clayton Powell, Suite 200 (Harlem), 6-8pm, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Photo credit: 1). Bro Tarik drops the positive methodology. 2). Luke Nephew mid-verse. 3). Bro Shep demands community control of the police. 4). Dr. Leonard Jeffries sketches a history of struggle. 5). Howard Starks recalls the ‘department of cruelty’. 6). Event MCs keep it moving. 7). Peace Poets Luke Nephew & Frank Lopez get the people involved.