Edited transcript of a talk given by Ashanti Alston at Hunter College on Oct. 24, 2013.
Ashanti Alston is an anarchist activist, speaker, writer, and former member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army (BLA) and a former political prisoner. Ashanti was also the co-chair of the National Jericho Movement (to free U.S. political prisoners.) Ashanti came of age as the political action of the 1960’s was hitting its peak. He recalls struggling through Malcolm X’s biography as a teen and feeling awestruck at the 1967 rebellions that saw numerous American neighborhoods temporarily taken over by the people who lived there, including his home town of Plainfield, New Jersey. He joined the Black Panther Party while still in high school, starting a chapter in Plainfield, and later going underground with the Black Liberation Army. For a while, Alston straddled the above ground Panther work of selling newspapers and running breakfast programs with more aggressive underground tactics. In 1974 he was involved in a Connecticut “bank expropriation,” captured and imprisoned for 11 plus years. Today, Ashanti is active in the prison abolition movement (Critical Resistance and the National Jericho Movement), in Anarchist People of Color organizing, and in efforts to connect organizers of colour in the north with the Zapatistas (Estacion Libre) in Mexico.