Kiilu Nyasha: Still Strong, Still True, and Still a Revolutionary
By Larry Pinkney, The Black Commentator, January 7, 2009
“Why Must Black People Look At Each Other Through Prison Bars? Where Is Our Freedom?” --THE BLACK PANTHER Newspaper, September 18, 1971, Vol. 7, #4
The revolutionary struggle for social, economic, and political justice on behalf of every day people in this nation and throughout the world is a long and protracted one, full of unending challenges and real obstacles. Serious political struggle is not a leisurely walk in the park. It requires dedication and sacrifice. It is all too rare that we are given examples of individuals who have waged, and continue to relentlessly wage this ongoing struggle. Nevertheless, they can be found.
Black Panther Party veteran, determined political activist, radio programmer, and published writer / journalist extraordinaire, Kiilu Nyasha (aka Pat Gallyot), is a sterling example of a woman who, since the late 1960s to the present, has served the people ‘body and soul.’
Kiilu Nyasha has, since the 1960s been a stalwart supporter of political prisoners incarcerated in this nation’s prison gulag system. She has written to and given encouragement to literally myriads of prisoners, including the late George Jackson (former Black Panther Party Field Marshal, Soledad Brother, and internationally acclaimed author) who was murdered in 1971, by this de facto fascist ‘American’ elite’s power structure. Kiilu has, and continues in the year 2010, to send funds, stamps, books, and letters of encouragement and comradeship, etc., to many political prisoners. Contrary to the well perpetuated myth that there are no political prisoners in this nation; there are in fact many. The list includes Sundiata Acoli, Eddie Conway, Mumia Abul-Jamal, Ruchell ‘Cinque’ Magee, Hugo ‘Yogi’ Pinell, Leonard Peltier, Russell Shoats, Chip Fitzerald, Herman Wallace & Albert Woodfox, Kamau Sadiki, Jamil al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown), Jalil Muntaqim, Veronza Bowers, Jr., and Lynne Stewart to name but a few. Others of this nation’s political prisoners have died in those prison dungeons. Yet others, such as Assata Shakur, have been forced into exile. Kiilu Nyasha, with every ounce of her strength and revolutionary fervor, has long been a stalwart servant of every day people, and most especially political prisoners.
The blood, sweat, tears, and suffering of Black people are the foundation of the wealth and power of the United States of America. --Huey P. Newton, THE BLACK PANTHER newspaper, February 17, 1969, Vol 2. #23
The Black Panther Party with its many programs, including free breakfast programs for children, free medical programs, free clothing programs, free escort programs for seniors, and free food programs in service to the people, incurred the wrath of the racist, avaricious corporate government of the United States of America, and was shamelessly, ultimately physically decimated by said government and its many agents. However, the legacy of the Black Panther Party still stands true and tall in the hearts and minds of conscious peoples in this nation and around the world.
Nonetheless, what is all too often missed is the invaluable role of women in the Black Panther Party. Indeed, had it not been for Black women there would have been no viable Black Panther Party, for as Kiilu Nyasha correctly states; “Women were the back bone of the (Black Panther) Party.” Kiilu should know, for she functioned as an integral part of that “back bone” of the Black Panther Party (BPP) while in New Haven, Connecticut, and elsewhere.
Kiilu Nyasha is a comrade’s comrade. She, like so many other sisters, gave of herself in every way. When in 1970, as a direct result of vicious and illegal U.S. Government COINTELPRO [Counter Intelligence Program] activities, Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins were on trial for their very lives in New Haven, Connecticut; Kiilu was there performing the urgent and necessary grunt work of coordinating legal and community efforts to rally support for our beleaguered Black Panther Party (BPP) comrades. She opened up her home to BPP activists and saw to it that their needs were met. In so doing, she did not hesitate to rise in the wee hours of the morning and work steadily throughout long and grueling days in service to the people and the Black Panther Party. She did not hesitate to give her all to the struggle.
In the year 2010, Kiilu Nyasha has not stopped. Her voice is still strong as she continues to deliver the clarion call for uncompromising revolutionary struggle and systemic change. She has written and continues to adroitly write for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and The Black Commentator. In spite of physical pain and having to use a wheel chair for mobility, her mind is sharp and her powerful voice is that of a lioness for the people. As Kiilu so succinctly says it, she remains a firm adherent to “plain living and hard struggle” in her daily life. Her life has been, and is, in a word, exemplary.
To get an important glimpse of Kiilu Nyasha’s ongoing work, go to kiilunyasha.blogspot.com . It will be an inspiration and well worth your while.
While we must always remember the enormous service to the people by men such as Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Hutton, George Jackson, John Huggins & Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter, Fred Hampton & Mark Clark, Billy X Jennings, and Emory Douglas, etc., let us not even for an instant, forget the day to day service to the people by Kiilu Nyasha and other women who were, and remain, unsung giants in service to Black people and humanity as a whole. Let them be unsung no longer!
In this period of deceit, exploitation, war, and mediocrity, Kiilu Nyasha is still strong, still true, and still a revolutionary. Thank you comrade sister Kiilu, thank you and all the brilliant and powerful women who have struggled and continue today, this struggle for the every day people!
All Power to the People!
Onward sisters and brothers. We can afford to do no less. Onward!
--This article was originally published at www.BlackCommentator.com on January 7, 2009. Permission is granted to reprint as long as The Black Commentator is cited, so please help spread the word.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn].