Our news today is focused on the long-term consequences of incarceration. Not only was one of the oldest juvies in the country finally shut down due to systemic abuse of young prisoners, but a number of old school imprisoned militants, from Khalfani Khaldun to Sundiata Acoli, are being hit with repression or are fighting for late-life release. Reflecting prison’s extended arc of harmful impacts, we then focus on timeless words from Frank Smith.
Known as Big Black, Smith was a prisoner at Attica who participated in the uprising in 1971 and successfully organized the security for outside negotiators who entered the prison. He was tortured by guards in retaliation for his role in the uprising, and gave the interview we are sharing today while being held in extended solitary confinement. We’ve aired some other parts of this interview in previous episodes, and in this selection, he talks about what conditions were like in Attica, and what he wanted to see changed within the institution.
This interview was originally broadcast by WBAI in February, 1972, and we share it now courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives.