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The Unforgettable Life of Prison Rebel Martin Sostre

BY WILLIAM C. ANDERSON


The burden of a long sentence would be lightened by the satisfaction of knowing that the mission set out for me, that of helping my people free themselves from the oppressor, is being accomplished. — Martin Sostre

Malcolm X once said, “We’ve only suffered from America’s hypocrisy … If you go to jail, so what? If you’re black, you were born in jail.” For Black people in the United States today, this statement is still as true as it ever was. The state as prison has been the lived experience for countless Black people throughout generations, but sometimes a myriad of lives can be crystallized into a single account exposing the oppressive realities in intimate detail. The life of the great intellectual, imprisoned litigator and revolutionary organizer Martin Sostre was just that.


Not enough people know Sostre today, though his impact on the prison struggle is as large as Black radicals like George Jackson, Angela Davis and Mumia Abu Jamal. Sostre passed away on August 12, 2015 — five years ago today. His story is one that demands telling, because were it not for him, the world would not be what we know now.


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