Civil Rights Campaigner to Get Honorary Degree

From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King

by Gareth McPherson
Cambridge News
October 1, 2012

A civil rights campaigner who spent thirty-one years locked up in a notorious American prison for a crime he did not commit is among those to be given an honorary degree by a Cambridge university.

Former Black Panther Robert King, who was the only freed member of the black rights group, the Angola 3, will be at Anglia Ruskin University on Tuesday, October 9, to pick up his degree and take part in a free discussion.

He will join artist and social critic Grayson Perry, photographer Arthur Edwards, and former NHS supremo Marco Cereste, among others, in receiving the honour next week.

The Angola 3 protested against segregation, corruption and abuse facing the largely black prison population within Angola, a prison in Louisiana.

Human rights groups say two of the Angola 3, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, were targeted because of their campaign and convicted for the murder of prison guard Brent Miller despite there being no physical evidence against them.

They say the main eyewitness was bribed and promised freedom by the warden in exchange for testifying while another witness was legally blind.

Mr King, who was thrown in the jail for the Miller murder and was convicted of another murder, spent twenty-nine years in solitary confinement—in a 6ft by 9ft cell—before his conviction was overturned and he was released in 2001.

The other members of the Angola 3 are still in solitary confinement forty years after being convicted.

Speaking about his degree, Mr. King said: “As the only freed member of the Angola 3, I am honoured and humbled to be accepting this honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Many people have been involved in my evolution and for this I am grateful. So I will accept this award also in recognition of them, especially to my comrades Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace who are still fighting for freedom after 40 years in solitary confinement, to all political prisoners and to all those who fight for justice.”

The discussion, which includes a screening of a documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, will be held at the ARU campus, in East Road, from 6pm.

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