Revolution #243, August 21, 2011

Attica Brother Akil Al-Jundi

The following excerpts are from an interview Revolution (then the Revolutionary Worker) did with one of the Attica Brothers, Akil Al-Jundi, who died in 1997 (see RW #1118).

RW: The eyes of people around the world were on the situation in Attica. It was a focal point. What was important to you, to people inside, during those four days?

Akil Al-Jundi: What was important to me as a participant in the rebellion was to have as high a degree of unity as possible between all prisoners, to keep our focus, or as the book and program1 now says, to keep our "eyes on the prize.'' To secure all prisoners and to secure our high-price, which were the hostages.

RW: Attica was remarkable for the kind of unity that was forged among prisoners of all different nationalities. What enabled that unity to be forged?

Akil Al-Jundi: I think it comes down to one simple thing. Once white prisoners realized that the things that oppressed them are the things that oppressed us, and that they really didn't have anything to gain by going along with the system, that it was in their interest to side with us, then it made things easier. Because, you see, white prisoners act the same way as white workers act out in the street. They basically profit from white skin privilege. And when you don't want to share that with Third World people, it prompts a problem. But if you can understand that, it's important that you do, from a humane perspective as well as from your own self-interest, then people can come to terms.

RW: In the course of fighting the system that's oppressing them?

Akil Al-Jundi: Yeah. As long as you can understand that the same people that lock your butt up, lock us up. The same judges that give you time, give us time, all right? That you do your time in the same prisons that we do our time, in the same cells, you can't go no quicker than we can go--in other words, you can't walk out today and we gotta stay tomorrow. You may be sentenced to less time, and you may do lesser time when you're in prison than we do, but you're still in prison. You still have a number like we have a number, you still go to the mess hall like we go to the mess hall. If you got a family, they're concerned about you the same as ours are concerned about us. So the question of the class of prisoners is that everyone is treated the same way, technically. Which is that all of you are prisoners. And so the different amenities that white prisoners think they're getting--it's really not in their long-term interests to help to perpetuate. We need to be down with each other...

1. Eyes on the Prize was a documentary about the Civil Rights and Black Liberation struggles widely seen on PBS in the late '80s and early '90s. [back]

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