“My name is Sekou Mgobogi Abdullah Odinga. I am a Muslim and a POW. I was born in Queens, N.Y., on June 17, 1944. I was raised in a family of nine – Father, Mother, three brothers, and three sisters. I was kicked out of school in the tenth grade for defending myself against an attack by a teacher.
“At age 16 I was busted for robbery and sentenced to three years as a ‘Youthful Offender.’ I spent 32 months at Great Meadows Correctional Institution (Comstock) in upstate New York, where I finished my high school education. In 1961-63 Comstock was very racist. No Blacks worked in any capacity at the prison. One of the sergeants working at Comstock was the head of the kkk. My first political education came at Comstock. In 1963, I was caught in a serious race riot at Comstock.
“The teachings of Malcolm X, who was then with the Nation of Islam, became a big influence on me at that time. After my release, I became involved in Black political activity in New York, especially revolutionary, nationalist politics. In 1964, I also became involved in the Cultural Nationalist movement. By 1965, I had joined the organization of African American Unity, founded by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X). I began to move with and among many young African Nationalists. My political consciousness was growing daily. I was reading and listening to many Afrikan Nationalists from Africa and the U.S. and became convinced that only after a successful armed struggle would New Afrikans gain freedom and self-determination. I also became convinced that integration would never solve the problems faced by New Afrikans.
“After Malcolm’s death, the OAAU never seemed to me to be going in the direction I desired. By late ’65 or early ’66 I hooked up with other young Revolutionary Nationalists to organize ourselves for the purpose of implementing what we felt was Malcolm’s program. We organized the Grassroot Advisory Council, in South Jamaica, New York. We were all very young and inexperienced and got caught up in a local anti-poverty program.
“By 1967 I was thoroughly disillusioned with that, when I heard about the Black Panther Party (BPP) in Oakland, California. Myself, along with some of my closest comrades, decided this was the type of organization we wanted to be a part of. We decided that some of us would go to California, investigate, and join the BPP if it was what it claimed to be. By the spring of 1968, we heard that representatives from the BPP were coming to New York and there was a possibility of organizing a chapter. I attended the meeting and decided to join and help build the BPP in New York. I became the section leader of the Bronx section, sharing an office with the Harlem section.
“On January 17, 1969, the day Bunchy Carter and John Huggins were murdered in Los Angeles, I went underground. I was told that Joan Bird, a sister in the party, had been busted and severely brutalized by the police and that the police were looking for me in connection with a police shooting. On April 22, 1969, I awoke at 5:30 AM to the sound of wood splitting around my door. When I investigated, I found that my house was completely surrounded with pigs on my roof, fire escape, in the halls, on the street, etc. I was fortunate enough to evade them and go deeper into hiding.
“In 1970, I was asked to go to Algeria to help set up the International section of the BPP. After the split in the Party, caused by the COINTELPRO program, I decided to come back to the U.S. to continue the struggle. I continued to work until my capture in October of 1981. I was charged with six counts of attempted murder of police, for shooting over my shoulder while being chased and shot at by police. I was also charged with nine predicate acts of a RICO indictment. I was convicted of the attempted murders and given twenty-five years-to-life for it. I was convicted of two counts of the RICO indictment (the liberation of Assata Shakur and expropriation of an armored truck) and given twenty years and $25,000 fine for each RICO charge. All sentences run consecutively. ” – Sekou Odinga, in Can’t Jail the Spirit, 4th edition, March 1998
Sekou Odinga is imprisoned for actions carried out in the fight for Black Liberation. He is also a New Afrikan POW. In 1965 Sekou joined the Organization for Afro-American Unity (OAAU), founded by Malcolm X. After Malcolm’s death the OAAU was not going in the direction he wanted and in 1967 he was looking at the BPP. In early 1968 he helped build the Bronx BPP. On January 17, 1969 the police killed two Black Panthers, and a fellow NY Panther, who was in police custody, was brutally beaten. Sekou was informed police were searching for him in connection with a police shooting. Rather than face possible death as many of his comrades had in custody, Sekou joined the Black underground with the BLA. He remained underground partaking in revolutionary clandestine activity for 12 years until his capture. Upon being captured he was charged with 6 counts of attempted murder of police, among a litany of other charges that included the liberation of Assata Shakur from prison and expropriation of an armored truck. He is serving consecutive 25 life state time and a 40 year federal sentence. Currently in Lompoc, CA, Sekou is continually harassed by prison administration with mail and visiting regulations.
Write Sekou Odinga:
Sekou Odinga # 05228-054
USP Florence ADMAX
P.O. Box 8500
Florence, CO 81226