Monday, June 13, 2011
geronimo ji jaga returns to the source
I'm sure you've heard by now that geronimo ji jaga has transitioned. He died of an apparent heart attack in his sleep at his home in Tanzania on Thursday, June 2nd. Some people still call him some combination of the name I'm using with "Pratt," which geronimo called a "slave name."
geronimo (who humbly chose to write his name with no capital letters) fought in Vietnam, bringing home with him two bronze stars, a silver star and two purple hearts, along with a case of malaria he struggled with for the rest of his life. Joining the Black Panther Party, he quickly rose to the position of Minister of Defense in the Los Angeles area, where he was attending UCLA to study political science.
Recognized almost immediately both inside and outside the BPP as a strong leader, geronimo was targeted by COINTELPRO in the 1960's and ultimately framed for the murder of an elementary school teacher in 1970. The result was, as it has been for many Black leaders in the United States, that geronimo spent the next twenty-seven years of his life in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
The conviction was vacated in 1997 when it was shown that the key witness against him was on the payroll of both the FBI and the LAPD when he testified. Additionally, though the husband of the murder victim identified geronimo as the killer, the man had previously identified a different individual entirely as the killer and this information was withheld from the jury. So, geronimo ji jaga eventually won a settlement of $4.5 million for being wrongfully imprisoned. The story is told in a book entitled, Last Man Standing: the Tragedy and Triumph of Geronimo Pratt by Jack Olsen.
I could and would wax more poetic, but I'm facing surgery tomorrow afternoon to remove most or all of my thyroid and I'm feeling distracted and somewhat mortal myself just now. Still, I wanted to get this up first in memory of a revolutionary who lived the principles he was willing to die for to the day he left us here to carry on in his stead. We will.
I'm presenting here -- in four segments -- an interview Tavis Smiley did with geronimo ji jaga when he was released from his long, grueling prison ordeal. Enjoy. And remember: be grateful for his life. And his example to us all.
[Unfortunately, there seems to be a glitch that won't allow me to embed this segment in the post, so you'll have to follow the link. You may watch the remaining three segments here or on YouTube.]