Sekou Odinga

By: Makaya Kelday

Sekou Mgobogi Abdullah Odinga is a father of eight, grandfather of eighteen and a political prisoner currently being held captive at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York State for his actions as a Black Liberation Freedom Fighter.

Sekou was born in Queens, New York and grew up in a family of nine. He was kicked out of school in the tenth grade for defending himself from the attack of a teacher and by sixteen, he was serving a three year sentence at Comstock in upstate New York for committing a robbery.

Prison introduced Sekou to his first political education and when he was released, he became involved in black political and nationalist movements in New York. In 1965, Sekou joined the Malcolm X-founded Organization of African American Unity but the OAAU suffered greatly after Malcolm’s murder. By 1968, the Oakland-based Black Panther Party sent representatives to New York to explore the possibility of opening a New York chapter. After attending a meeting, Sekou decided that this was the type of organization he wanted to be a part of and became the leader of the Bronx section of the BPP, helping to found the New York chapter of the party. After the murders of Bunchy Carter and John Higgins on January 17, 1969, many Panthers were forced to go underground due to police terrorism and false warrants. On April 22, 1969 Sekou awoke to his home being surrounded by police but managed to escape the situation.

In 1970, he was invited to go to Algeria to set up the International Chapter of the BPP, but returned to the US swiftly as the Party soon became divided into two factions due to COINTELPRO intervention and efforts to destroy the Party. Upon his return to America and after the demise of the BPP, he continued his revolutionary organizing with the Black Liberation Army until his capture in October of 1981. He was charged with six counts of attempted murder of police (stemming from his defense of Sundiata and himself during a police attack two years earlier) and nine predicate acts of a RICO indictment for the liberation of Assata Shakur and the expropriation of an armored truck. Sekou was convicted on all counts and sentenced to 25 years-to-life of state time and 40 years of federal time to run consecutively as well as given a $50,000 fine. He was sentenced on April 19th, 1981. He served 28 years of state time at Lampoc Prison in California and was then transferred to Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York State on July 23rd, 2009 to serve his federal sentence. According to NYS Department of Corrections Sekou is not eligible for parole eligibility until August 22, 2033.

From within the prison walls Sekou has made contributions to books such as Can’t Jail the Spirit and Let Freedom Ring and he remains a cornerstone of the New Afrikan Independence Movement. Comprised of a broad coalition of New Afrikan-nationalist organizations, the NAIM seeks to establish a Republic of New Afrika in land currently designated as Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and South Carolina.

For his actions, Sekou has been mislabeled a criminal and an outlaw by the United States, as are all Freedom fighters. What’s the call? Free ’em all!

For more information contact:

The Sekou Odinga Defense Committee
PO Box 1272
New York, New York 10013
Tel: 212-234-4336 or SekouOdingaDefenseCommittee@gmail.com

For more info on Political Prisoners and Prisoners Of War go to:
TheJerichoMovement.com

To write to Sekou:
Sekou Odinga #09-A-3775
Shawangunk Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 700
Wallkill, New York 1258

In Sekou Odinga’s own words:

“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.

“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 recently finished his federal sentence and is now serving his 25 to life New  York sentence.

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