Once I was out in the general population, my laughing strategy turned to silence. I was given a job assignment in the laundry room and spent most of my non-working hours in the library reading or in the dorm writing letters. When I wrote to family and friends I tried to maintain the fiction that everything was copacetic. But my handwriting told a different story as the words shivered uncontrollably across the page like the last dash of a chicken whose neck has been wrung.
WESLEY BROWN is an acclaimed novelist, playwright, and teacher. He worked with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1965 and became a member of the Black Panther Party in 1968. In 1972, he was sentenced to three years in prison for refusing induction into the armed services and spent eighteen months in the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary. For twenty-six years, Brown was a much-revered professor at Rutgers University, where he inspired hundreds of students. He currently teaches literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and lives in Chatham, New York.