Revolution #211, September 12, 2010

"Reading the letters is powerful; hearing the letters is spectacular"

We received this from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund

On Tuesday, August 31, 50 people attended a benefit for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, featuring dramatic readings of letters from prisoners, at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. About 40 of the 50 people were new to PRLF. They included an incoming freshmen class of 25 from DePaul University in Chicago, an African-American woman student at a theological seminary, and students and staff from the University of Chicago. The key force behind the event was a summer intern for PRLF, a student at the University of Chicago; she mobilized several of her friends in the spoken word community.

The power of the dramatic readings was astonishing. The young artists poured heart and soul into the readings, which were organized around the theme, "Prisons as Universities of Revolution." As one woman in attendance said, "Reading the letters is powerful; hearing the letters is spectacular." And the audience was rapt—no one was texting or email checking. The readings ended with a video of Joe Veale doing his letter, "Prisons as Universities of Revolution." When Joe describes the laughter across the cellblock at what it meant for inmates, the "worst of the worst," to be debating Plato, the audience laughed at the irony. Through Joe's moving fundraising pitch and another one by the Director of PRLF, Mike Holman, $515 was raised for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund towards renewing subscriptions and fulfilling requests for subs.

The Director of PRLF addressed the situation with Gregory Koger, the PRLF volunteer and videographer who was convicted of misdemeanors for cell-phone-taping a speech by Sunsara Taylor. Gregory had his bond revoked, is in jail, and will be sentenced on September 8.

The Director's comments included: "Gregory, once tagged as one of the 'worst of the worst,' met Revolution through PRLF while in prison. Starting in prison and continuing after his parole, to today, he took up the broader questions in the world and became a revolutionary, educating and transforming himself, as he describes, into an emancipator of humanity. He must not be imprisoned again, he must be released. He SHOULD be widely invited to speak about his transformation, so others can learn from him.

"The rulers are trying to tell the masses who dare raise their heads to look to a better world, 'don't even think about it, we will smash you down if you do.' We visited Gregory in Cook County Jail yesterday.... He told us to tell you all today that sometimes when you are fighting the system, you get locked up. You have to keep fighting the system. And those on the outside have to keep fighting the system, including for those who can't physically be present. And to all his supporters, he sends his thanks and love."

One young man, on reading one of the flyers about Gregory, came up before the program and said, "This is outrageous. What can I do about this?"

Several people at the event volunteered to work with PRLF. The script of the event will be posted at

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