Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

“If Revolution could get into more prisons…”

The following correspondence is from Ray Hill, a co-founder of the Pacifica station KPFT in Houston and host of the weekly radio program “The Prison Show”:

Allies in Struggle:

I am an activist in Houston, Texas, who began organizing in the mid 1960’s in the civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, gay/lesbian rights, and free speech and press movements. I am a co-founder of KPFT-FM, Houston’s Pacifica radio station. I was sent to Texas prison in 1970, sentenced to 160 years (20 consecutive eight-year sentences) for commercial burglaries. In 1975, I was released by discharge after four years four months and 10 days. My release was the result of my jailhouse lawyering.

Instead of losing my commitment to struggle, I nurtured it in prison but I left haunted by the empty men I left behind. Beaten down by their brutal keepers and by their own guilt, shame and fear, most are resigned to their oppression and actually fear being released to continued drug, alcohol and other forms of self abuse that can only lead to their return.

I felt I had to do something about their loss of hope. When I became the first ex-convict and openly gay person to be approved as general manager of an FCC licensed broadcast facility in the U.S. in 1980, I started “The Prison Show” to politicize and encourage Texas inmates. That has continued for more than 29 years.

You can help. The problem is that those oppressed by prison are convinced they are only getting what they deserve. I am reminded but a quote from Sister Harriet Tubman when being recognized for freeing hundreds of slaves, she said: “I could have freed thousands if I could have convinced them they were slaves.” So it is with prisoners. They are slaves and they are surrendered to their slavery status. If we could expose them to revolutionary ideas, some would begin to drop their self imposed shackles and learn to walk and think upright.

The Revolution Newspaper is asking for donations to a fund that will pay for the subscriptions to the paper sent to inmates inside prisons everywhere. On “The Prison Show,” I reach 22 Texas prisons in my broadcast footprint and two federal prisons with access to radios, all in the greater Houston area. On most Friday nights I have several thousand prisoners listening for encouragement. If the Revolution could get into more prisons, the subscribers would have the tools to carry the message to others around them and help generate hope and maybe the beginning of self worth that can help shake off the oppression they have come to accept.

Do nothing and nothing will happen. Support this effort.

I’ll see you on the radio.

Ray Hill, Houston

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