Black Panther - Jamal Joseph - Black History and Literature Library
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  • Black Panther - Jamal Joseph - Black Activist, Black Man, Black Panther - Black History and Literature Library

    Black Panther - Jamal Joseph

    Jamal Joseph (formerly Eddie Joseph; 1953) is an American writer, director, producer, poet, activist, and educator. Joseph was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. He was prosecuted as one of the Panther 21. He spent six years incarcerated at Leavenworth Penitentiary.

    Born Edward L. Joseph in Havana, Cuba, Jamal Joseph was raised in New York City where he joined the ranks of the Black Panther Party in September 1968 at the age of 15. The Assassination of Martin Luther King had occurred that same year, leaving Joseph feeling outraged. He sought out the Panthers believing them to be the most militant Black group around. However, when he asked his local branch to arm him, instead of receiving a gun as he expected, the local chapter gave him a stack of books by African-American authors instead. He was informed that is how he would be "armed".

    In 1969, Joseph was one of the defendants in the Panther 21 trial, which accused the Panthers of planning a series of deadly attacks across New York City. Joseph spent a year in prison pending the verdict before it was deemed he, as well as all other defendants, were ultimately not guilty. During Joseph's time in the Black Panther Party, he befriended Afeni Shakur, who was later one of his fellow defendants in the Panther 21 trial, and would act as Godfather to her son Tupac Shakur.

    In 1981, he was convicted for harboring a fugitive, Mutulu Shakur (Afeni's husband), who had taken part in the robbery of a Brink’s armored car in Rockland County, New York as part of an operation by members of the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground. For this, Joseph served 5 and a half years in Leavenworth State Penitentiary in Kansas, where he earned two college degrees and wrote his first play.

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