Today is Haikus for Sundiata Acoli day. The event, organized by Portland poet Walidah Imarisha and launched by the Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign, is a public literary activism movement to honor Sundiata Acoli and call for his release from prison. Acoli is a political prisoner, hounded by police for his membership in the Black Panther Party in the ’60s and ’70s (Sundiata’s Black Panther activities included community work related to improving schools, housing, jobs, and child care, as well as raising awareness about drugs and police brutality), imprisoned under prejudicial circumstances following a police ambush in 1973, and repeatedly denied parole despite a spotless prison record.
For the Haikus for Sundiata movement today, supporters were asked to write haiku “focused on messages of love and respect, Sundiata’s history and/or the ways his work and sacrifice are relevant to our history.” All day, people have been posting their haiku on social media sites and on the Haikus for Sundiata Acoli Facebook page, where activists will collect the haiku and deliver them to Acoli as a sign of support as he awaits the decision of yet another parole hearing.
I read with Walidiah Imarisha at Smallpressapalooza this past March, which is how we know each other. She invited me to participate in the haiku writing today, which I gladly did, posting them to both Facebook and Twiiter using the hashtag #Haikus4Sundiata. I only managed four, but I thought I’d share them here as well. I hope you visit the Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign website to learn more about Acoli and the issues surrounding his arrest, incarceration, and politics.