BY MALCOLM MCLAUGHLIN
It was as a “political prisoner” – as the owner of a radical bookshop and forum for revolutionary debate in Buffalo, New York, who was framed by the police and thrown into jail – that Martin Sostre attained national recognition in the 1960s. At that time, his name was often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Huey P. Newton. In the years since, his reputation somewhat declined and, yet, it is argued here that, he has much to tell historians about his turbulent age: as a jailhouse lawyer for the Nation of Islam in his youth, during his first term in prison, as a Black Power activist in Buffalo, or, later, as a campaigner for prisoners’ rights, and as a community activist in the 1980s–90s, his career traversed a crucial period in American history. This article reconstructs Sostre’s career, illuminating the making of radical culture in the 1960s, the connections between older and newer phases of struggle and between prison and ghetto.