PM Press Blog


By Quincy Saul

On Tuesday night, Maroon came home to West Philadelphia,
and what was once a demand is now a reality. Maroon is free!
What was once a cry for justice is now a convocation for joy.
Free Maroon!

And yet he was already free –
after a half century in prison, and decades in solitary confinement,
“I’m actually freer than many of you,” he wrote.
Free Maroon! How about that!
We started to work for his freedom because he was already free,
free to see things our freedom prevented us from seeing so clearly.
We always left him in those visiting rooms, us out to our cars and him in to his cell,
feeling like he was freer than us in some way.
We’re still learning what freedom means.

“I’m just another runaway slave from the plantation,”
Russell Shoatz was quoted in the newspapers, decades ago,
after a month on the run, hunted by both state and society.
They called him AF-3855. He called himself Maroon.

He was free when he took the name Maroon.
In a way we only realize now, “Free Maroon”
is redundant – because maroons are by definition free;
even if captured or killed they are free,
free to never be slaves again.
The maroon is the full definition of freedom.
Because freedom is both freedom from and freedom to –
Maroon means not just freedom from the plantation;
but also freedom to create another civilization;
another mode of production, another way of life,
a mosaic of languages and cultures in a livelihood of resistance
carried on the common wind of the Caribbean
from Palmares to the Great Dismal Swamp.

On Tuesday night, Maroon hit the streets of West Philly!
The real OG is back on his corner.
The story is decades long, and has hundreds if not thousands of characters.

Maroon who I first visited with Fred Ho,
in the Control Unit visiting room at SCI Greene –
“We’re both dead men,” they agreed,
Fred in a tailored green suit, Maroon in shackles,
Fred with his death sentence, Maroon with his life sentence.
They were both free, in mind and spirit;
warrior men at peace with life and death.
The story is for us to know and you to find out,
if you care, if you dare.
Ask around, about the international campaign to
Free Maroon.

We’ve seen it with our own eyes already,
Maroon’s freedom:
Free Maroon ideas and analysis,
affecting and advancing struggles and strategies,
thousands of miles away.
People with decades of university education,
slowly coming around to his ideas and analysis,
and young people, grasping them right away.

Maroon was already free – free to strategize
“Prefigurative Matriarchal Ecosocialist Self-Defense” –
Free to discourse on geopolitics and history way beyond most intellectuals –
Maroon free to memorize whole books –
Free to be a master in supermax –
Free to master himself, free for ruthless self-criticism –
Maroon free to be humble,
Maroon free to be a giant at around 5’6”.

Maroon free to interpret and analyze American popular culture like no one else:
A real-life Oracle to help you unplug from the Matrix and survive its Agents.
The Walking Dead is about climate change, and the future is Mad Max.
What you need is “Matriarchal Prefigurative Praxis in Controlling Male Violence”.
Free Maroon is your operator, and your training module is
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

On Tuesday night Maroon came home to West Philly.
Not because the system works,
and not because his captors were compassionate.
Maroon came home because of a movement –
because a movement persevered and planned and mobilized and won.
Each one teach one.

Now Free Maroon is is at home with his family.
A spiritual quilombo radiates out from West Philly to an international MOSAIC:
A Movement of Oppressed Sectors Acting in Concert
shines with the light and basks in the warmth of Free Maroon.
Ancestors applaud, spirits sing!
Maroon is surrounded by people who love him,
Maroon is off the plantation, back in the mocambo of his youth –
Party like it’s a palenque!
On Tuesday night, Maroon came home to West Philly.
The real dragon has flown out!

Maroon might die any minute –
what else is new? he might say with a smile.
Maroon survived hell and made it home.
Maroon won. Like in Suriname, and Haiti, and Jamaica,
and Colombia and Venezuela and Honduras and Mexico
and New Orleans and North Carolina
Maroon survived.
Like an Atlas he took on the weight
of a global empire’s most sophisticated oppression;
he carried it and defeated it, in spirit and mind and body.

Maroon the American Hero:
Steelworker, milkman, fire fighter,
Black Liberation Army General;
an Odysseus who made it home
from revolutionary war
with mind power and with soul power –
All praises to the most high!
Maroon surrenders to freedom.

Free Maroon opens a new chapter in the history of marronage,
the chapter of maroons as a class in and for themselves.
Their historic mission, to be fulfilled or betrayed:
to coordinate the exodus which dismantles the pyramids –
to uproot the plantations and to prefigure polycultures.
The revolutionary maroon is home in West Philly!
After tens of thousands of nights locked up, alone,
Maroon is home!

How delicious is Maroon’s freedom tonight?
More than ours, who worked for his freedom.
But by contemplating his freedom, we get more free.

Quincy Saul is the co-editor of Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz (2013) and Maroon Comix: Origins and Destinies (2018)

Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz
Maroon Comix: Origins and Destinies