Executive Director of the Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee and former leader of the Black Panther Party
The Condemnation of Little B–New Age Racism in America
In 1997, Michael “Little B” Lewis, a 13 year-old black adolescent, was sentenced to life imprisonment following his adult conviction for a murder Brown says he did not commit. What is the nexus between this tragedy and the relentless ramifications of slavery for black people in America, duplicitously entrenched now as a national policy of “New Age Racism?”
This program is sponsored by The Women’s Center, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Department of American Studies, Department of Sociology, The President’s Office of Institutional & Diversity Initiatives, and The Office of Diversity Initiatives.
The case of Michael Lewis, known as “Little B,” to some extent symbolizes current race relationships in the United States. At 13 years old, Lewis was arrested, tried and convicted as an adult for a murder that Brown believes he did not commit. Lewis was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. This case is an indirect reflection of the state of race relations in the U.S., as indicated by the following set of statistics.
Statistics from the NAACP’s Fact Sheets:
• One-half of the U.S. population will be non-white by 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau).
• In 2005 there were 530,000 black males age 18-24 in college; that same year there were 193,000 black males age 18-24 in prison (Bureau of Justice Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau).
• The average African-American family median income was $30,858 compared to $50,784 for non-Hispanic Caucasian families (2005 U.S. Census Bureau report).
• While African Americans make up about 13% of the U.S. population, they own just 3% of the assets. The average total net worth of white families is $70,000 compared to just $6,000 for African-American families (2005 U.S. Census Bureau report).
• African Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed as the average American (2005 Bureau of Labor Statistics).
• In 2005, 19.5 percent of African Americans compared to 11.2 percent of non-Hispanic Whites did not have health insurance (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).
Biography (provided by the speaker)
• Elaine Brown is a former leader of the Black Panther Party, and author of A Taste of Power and The Condemnation of Little B. A Taste of Power was optioned in January 2007 by HBO in connection with its six-part series The Black Panthers, now in development.
• Brown is presently co-authoring For Reasons of Race and Belief, The Trials of Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown) with Karima Al-Amin (for 2010 publication by Basic Books), and is completing the non-fiction book Melba and Al, A Story of Black Love in Jim Crow America, slated for publication in 2009 (Seven Stories Press). She is the editor of Messages from Behind the Wall, a collection of autobiographical essays by black prisoners in New Mexico, published in February 2007 by the New Mexico Department of African American Affairs.
• In 1996, after living seven years in France, Brown moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she established the nonprofit education corporation Fields of Flowers. In 1997, Brown co-founded Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice, and, in 2002, co-founded and became a Board member of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform. Presently, Brown is a member of the Georgia Geechee Council, a partner in Seize the Time, Inc., a member of the Committee to Free Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald, and a partner in The Toubakolong Partnership (The Gambia).
• In November 2005, Brown ran for mayor of Brunswick, Georgia, with the intent of using the office to create a base of economic power for the city’s majority black and poor population through redistribution of the massive revenues of the city’s port. She is co-founder of the Brunswick Women’s Association for a People’s Blueprint.
• Brown is Executive Director of the Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee, supporting the legal appeal of Lewis (“Little B”), who, arrested at the age of 13 for a murder he did not commit, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison (1997).
• Brown regularly lectures at colleges and universities throughout the country on “New Age Racism” and realization of the vision of eliminating racism, gender oppression and class disparity toward an inclusive and egalitarian world society.
• A fluent French speaker, Brown has traveled extensively throughout the world, from China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Algeria to France, Italy, Russia, Argentina, Uruguay, and elsewhere.
• Brown, who studied classical piano for years, has recorded two albums of original songs, one for Motown records, Until We’re Free, and her 1969 album, Seize the Time, which includes “The Black Panther Party National Anthem” (The Meeting), re-released as a CD in January 2007 by Warner Bros.
• Brown grew up in the ghettos of North Philadelphia, and is the mother of one adult daughter, Ericka Abram.
• Brown has attended Temple University, UCLA, Mills College and Southwestern University School of Law.
• Brown’s papers have been acquired by Emory University.