Radical media, politics and culture.

Lorenzo Komboa Erwin Will Speak in New York City, October 20, 2002

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, author of Anarchism and the Black
and former member of the Black Panther Party, became
an anarchist while serving a 15 year prison sentence. Ervin has
played a key role as a speaker and an organizer in the on-going
struggle to build a truly anti-authoritarian and grassroots
movement against racism and injustice in the US and abroad.

When: Sunday October 20th at 7:30pm

Where: St. Marks Church (10th Street and 2nd Avenue)

Donations for a new edition of Anarchism and the Black
welcomeLorenzo was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1947. What he
calls the "segregated South" was an environment of violence,
racism, poverty and rejection. A youth street gang member, Ervin
joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People youth group when he was 12 years old and took part in the
1960 sit-in protests which challenged racial discrimination.

After being drafted and serving two years in the U.S. Army,
(where he was a anti-Vietnam war organizer and was
court-marshalled), he joined the Student Non-violent
Coordinating Committee in 1967 shortly before it merged
(temporarily) with the more militant Black Panther Party.

In the wake of the urban Black rebellions that rocked the U.S.,
after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in the Spring
of 1968, an attempt was made to frame Ervin on weapons charges
and for planning to kill a local Ku Klux Klan leader.

In order to escape prosecution on these charges Ervin hijacked a
plane to Cuba in February 1969. It was while in Cuba and later
in Czechoslovakia, that he first became disillusioned with state
'socialism', recognizing it as dictatorship period, not the
"dictatorship of the proletariat", as various Stalinist
governments claimed.

In Prague, Ervin was betrayed to U.S. officials. Briefly
captured and held at the American Consulate, he fled to East
Berlin where he was kidnapped by a team of American and West
German special agents sent to recapture him.

He was drugged and tortured during interrogation in the basement
of the U.S. Consulate for almost a week, and after almost dying
from this mistreatment, he was illegally brought back to the USA
where it was falsely announced by the State department and the
FBI in a press conference that he had "turned himself in" at JFK

After a farce of a trial in a small town in Georgia, where he
faced the death penalty before an all-white judge, jury,
prosecutor and defense attorneys (appointed by the court), he
was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Ervin
remained politically active in prison where he was first
introduced to the ideas of Anarchism in the late 1970's.

He read many books on the subject sent by prison book clubs, and
his case was adopted by the Anarchist Black Cross, an
international prisoner support movement. Also in prison, Ervin
wrote several Anarchist pamphlets that are probably the most
widely read writings on anarchism and the Black liberation
movement. 'Anarchism and the Black Revolution' is still popular,
and has gone through several printings.

He was also involved in many prison struggles, the early 1970's
prisoner union organizing campaigns and the Black prisoner
movement of that period.

Because of years of solitary confinement and prison mail
censorship, his case was kept in obscurity, and it was not until
he was one of the "Marion Brothers", a group of prisoners who
became well known as they struggled against the first Control
Unit at Marion Federal Penitentiary, that his case became a
public concern. Ervin's own legal challenges and an
international campaign eventually led to his release from prison
after 15 years of incarceration.

After his release Ervin returned to Chattanooga, where for over
ten years, he has been active with the Concerned Citizens for
Justice, a local civil rights group, fighting police brutality
and organizing against the Ku Klux Klan. In 1987 Ervin helped
organize a major mobilization against the Klan that resulted in
the hooded racists being run out of town.

Also in 1987, Ervin was primarily responsible for the filing of
a major civil rights lawsuit that successfully forced the city
of Chattanooga to change its structure of governance on the
basis that it systematically disempowered the Black community.
Ervin now lives in Michigan.

His current project is helping to build an "anti-authoritarian
network of community organizers" all over North America.

This event is sponsored by Organizing for Popular Power NYC

Contact: brooke@igc.org (917)807-3877