/  08.05.2022

Albert Woodfox was held in solitary confinement longer than any human in United States history. Woodfox spent 43 years of his life surviving in a 6-by-9-foot cell in one of the most brutal prisons in the country. He was recently released in 2016. His brother, Michael Mable, and longtime attorneys, George Kendall and Carine Williams, confirmed his passing on Thursday (Aug. 4). They cited complications from COVID-19 as his cause of death at age 73.

Woodfox was a member of the “Angola Three” – wrongfully convicted prisoners accused of the 1972 murder of Louisiana prison guard, Brent Miller. The penitentiary was built on a slave plantation, and the prisoners were forced to pick cotton without compensation in chain gangs in the outlying field. In response, Woodfox and fellow Angola member Herman Wallace formed a Black Panther chapter in the prison to protest against unpaid cotton picking and segregation. He always insisted his Black radicalism was the cause for his mistreatment. Woodfox and Wallace were blamed for Miller’s death despite the lack of physical evidence. The duo remained in solitary confinement for almost 40 years without a break.

Wallace was released in 2013 following a long-standing legal battle. He sadly passed away from cancer two days later. On the other hand, Woodfox celebrated regaining his freedom on his 69th birthday. Days after walking free, he sat down with The Guardian to discuss how he survived in such inhumane conditions. He said, “We made a conscious decision that we would never be institutionalized. As the years went by, we made efforts to improve and motivate ourselves.”

Woodfox says one of the most rewarding aspects of his prison stint was teaching other inmates how to read. He told the outlet, “Our cells were meant to be death chambers but we turned them into schools, into debate halls. We used the time to develop the tools that we needed to survive, to be part of society and humanity rather than becoming bitter and angry and consumed by a thirst for revenge.” The University of Toronto’s Professor Robyn Maynard tweeted, “Rest in Power, Albert Woodfox. You taught us all so much about what it means to fight for freedom in spaces in captivity.” Read some reactions below:

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