Tonight: Marshall Law launch event in Baltimore!
Tonight (Friday, April 29) is the Baltimore launch event for our new book, Marshall Law: The Life and Times of a Baltimore Black Panther. With all of the new books coming out, and all of the crazy tabling events in March and April, it’s been hard to find time to sit down and write about all of the new stuff, but this book is one I’m particularly proud of.
Since I first moved to Baltimore eight years ago, I’ve known about the case of Marshall “Eddie” Conway, a former Black Panther and current political prisoner who’s been in prison in the state of Maryland for over 40 years, for a crime he didn’t commit. Over the years, I’ve had contact with Eddie and the folks who are working tirelessly to try to secure his release, either through parole, pardon, or a new trial, but aside from organizing the occasional fundraiser and trying to do my part to raise awareness about his case, I’ve never felt like I was able to contribute to the cause of Eddie’s freedom in a concrete or effective way. So, I was absolutely thrilled when Dominque Stevenson, Eddie’s primary contact on the outside, and the co-author of Marshall Law called me and asked if AK Press would be interested in working together with them to publish Eddie’s autobiography.
One year and many edits later, the result is this incredible book. From Eddie’s childhood growing up in a still-segregated, but rapidly changing Baltimore City, to his years spent in Vietnam, to his political awakening and the birth of the Black Panther Party in Baltimore, Marshall Law is a poignant, captivating story about coming of age as a young Black man in America. It’s also a story about strength and struggle in the face of odds that seem insurmountable. From the infiltration of the Panthers and the struggle against COINTELPRO, to the sham trial and Eddie’s subsequent incarceration, and on to the years–decades–that followed, up until the present day, Eddie and Dominque have developed a narrative that’s kind of awe-inspiring. The work that they have done both outside and inside the prison, the outreach to youth, the struggle to keep kids out of the prison pipeline, to build better communities, to strengthen the organizing relationships that exist only tangentially between the myriad activist communities in Baltimore and beyond is sorely under-appreciated, and it’s my great hope that the publication of this book will help to make that work known, and respected, around the globe. And, if this encourages individuals, organizations, and anyone else to bring pressure to bear on the state of Maryland and the federal government to advocate for Eddie’s release, so much the better. As a recent Baltimore CityPaper review of Marshall Law concluded, “In this narrative, summoned from the void that is prison, a unique individual is called into being. Like many narratives of incarceration, Marshall Law is also the story of a soul that has freed itself. We should take note. Now the state of Maryland needs to let Marshall “Eddie” Conway come home.” Well said.
If you’re in the Baltimore/DC area, please do come out for the launch event tonight, which includes staged readings from Marshall Law by Bashi Rose and WombWorks Productions, music by Baltimore jazz legend Lafayette Gilchrist, a call-in and Q&A from Eddie, live from Jessup Correctional Facility, and an update on the current situation of political prisoners in the United States by the incomparable Laura Whitehorn. It takes place at The 2640 Space, from 7-10PM (2640 Saint Paul Street); donations to Eddie defense fund are appreciated, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
And, be sure to check out some of the recent media around the book, including the CityPaper review mentioned above, which includes an interview with Eddie, and the review that Ron Jacobs just posted of the book on CounterPunch. We strongly encourage review of this book far and wide, so read it, and post about it on your blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, and beyond, or submit it to any and every journal you know! And be sure to let us know when you do.
Prison Prose: A Lifer Explains His Life, Baltimore CityPaper: http://citypaper.com/news/prison-prose-1.1137774
Lifer Lessons: Marshall Eddie Conway talks about prison life, Baltimore CityPaper: http://citypaper.com/news/lifer-lessons-1.1137776
A Doomed Man? Eddie Conway’s Story, CounterPunch: http://counterpunch.org/jacobs04272011.html