Albert Woodfox on Solitary Confinement, the Black Panthers, and Fighting ‘the System’

In Solitary, Albert Woodfox tells a story of survival, and of black resistance

“It was always called Angola,...

after the African country where the plantation’s original slaves were born. It was fitting as far as I was concerned: the legacy of slavery was everywhere. It was in the ground under our feet and in the air we breathed, and wherever we looked.

From Solitary, by Albert Woodfox/Picking cotton, Angola State Farm 1901. Image Credit: Andrew David Lytle Sr. via Wikipedia

White Life on the Angola Plantation

Teenie Verret–wife of guard Brent Verret, whom Woodfox was falsely accused of murderingspeaks about her home.

Brent and I both grew up on what everyone calls “The B-Line,” which is a neighborhood behind the gate of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. As kids, we knew that Angola was a prison and a farm–but we just called it “home.” Angola is where we lived, it is where we went to church, it is where we went fishing and hiking and played ball with our friends, and it is where Brent and I said our wedding vows.

From Solitary, by Albert Woodfox/image credit: nationalcrimesyndicate.com

A Logic of Impossible Freedom

They wanted prisoners who had no spirit. They wanted prisoners to fear one another and abuse one another; it made them easier to control. If you were raped at Angola, or what was called “turned out,”… your life was virtually over…Your only way out was to kill yourself or kill your rapist. If you killed your rapist you’d be free of human bondage within the confines of the prisons forever, but in exchange, you’d most likely be convicted of murder, so you’d have to spend the rest of your life at Angola.

From Solitary, by Albert Woodfox

Click here for link to Solitary, by Albert Woodfox, Grove Atlantic Press, 2019.