For All Points-Of-The-View.
In 1968, Safiya Bukhari witnessed an NYPD officer harassing a Black Panther for selling the organization’s newspaper on a Harlem street corner. The young pre-med student felt compelled to intervene in defense of the Panther’s First Amendment right; she ended up handcuffed and thrown into the back of a police car.
The War Before traces Bukhari’s lifelong commitment as an advocate for the rights of the oppressed. Following her journey from middle-class student to Black Panther to political prisoner, these writings provide an intimate view of a woman wrestling with the issues of her time—the troubled legacy of the Panthers, misogyny in the movement, her decision to convert to Islam, the incarceration of out spoken radicals, and the families left behind. Her account unfolds with immediacy and passion, showing how the struggles of social justice movements have paved the way for the progress of today.
Why you should read Safiya Bukhari’s “The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, and Fighting for Those Left Behind.”
1) Because, says Assata Shakur:
"[Safiya Bukhari] was a warrior-woman who did everything she could to free her people and to free political prisoners."
2) Because, says Angela Y. Davis:
“This collection of speeches and writings reveals Safiya Bukhari to be one of the very best examples of dedication to radical change and to revolutionary social justice.
Her words compel us to recognize how much unacknowledged labor dwells inside and behind social justice movements. It is a great privilege to observe the trajectory of an activist who refused to surrender, no matter how bleak the prospects for freedom.”
3) Because, says Lenore J. Daniels, PhD, BlackCommentator.com:
The War Before is the work of a thinker, a theorist, a writer, and yes - an activist who not only tried to record the moment of action, but also to evaluate the past, to understand what led to a specific course in the grand narrative of resistance and counter resistance.
The movement to bring about radical change is a process, as Bukhari reminds us. That process begins by envisioning a new society. If we truly are to create a new society, we must build a strong foundation. Bukhari’s writings were a work in progress, reflecting her thoughts on organizing for an end to capitalism and working toward a new society. In the afterword, political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal states that Bukhari’s passing wasn’t the only tragedy;
the tragedy was that more people didn’t know her, learn from her, or grow from her fund of hard-won wisdom. While I acknowledge the tragedy of her physical death, I prefer to see her passing as a transition. Among the ancestors now, she offers us her wisdom in The War Before. This collection of essays, speeches and interviews, reveals a strong spirit, and should be read like a textbook, again and again.
4) Because, says Dan Berger:
enough not just to withstand state violence but to overcome our own
egotism and individualism. It is one of few books by a woman member
of the Black Panthers. Her writings are both passionate and practical
in their emphasis on movement building and freedom for those behind
For more reviews and interviews, go to safiyabukhari.com