Former Political Prisoner
Marilyn Buck was imprisoned for 25 years in the united states for her anti-imperialist actions carried out in support of national liberation, women’s liberation, social and economic justice. While in prison she developed uterine cancer, which resisted treatment. Seriously ill, she was released on July 15, 2010. She died a couple of weeks later, on August 3.
In the 60’s Marilyn participated in protests against racism and the Vietnam war. In 1967 she became part of Students for a Democratic Society. Marilyn became part of a radical filmmaking and propaganda collective, showing the films as an organizing aid at community meetings, high school groups, workers’ committees and in the streets. She also participated in international solidarity groups supporting the Vietnamese, Palestinians, and the Iranian struggle against the Shah. She worked in solidarity with Native Americans, Mexicano and Black liberation struggles.
As a direct result of all of this activity, she became a target of COINTELPRO. In 1973, she was arrested and convicted of buying two boxes of bullets. Accused of being a member of the BLA, she sentenced to 10 years, the longest sentence ever given for such an offense at the time. In 1977 she was granted a furlough and never returned, joining the revolutionary clandestine movement. In 1985 she was captured and and faced 4 separate court trials. She was charged with conspiracy to support and free PP/POWs and to support the New Afrikan Independence struggle through expropriations. In 1988 she was indicted for conspiracy to protest and alter government policies through use of violence against government and military buildings and received an additional 10 years for conspiracy to bomb the Capitol.
As Judy Greenspan explains:
Marilyn died today not in the hospital but at Soffiyah Elijah’s house, her close friend and attorney with her friends around her. The federal bureau of prisons and the U.S. Criminal injustice system killed Marilyn by denying her adequate medical care, careful diagnoses, and timely treatment for her cancer. They allowed the uterine cancer to spread until it was inoperable. And they made her serve every single day of her sentence that they could for her “heinous crimes” of actively supporting the Black Liberation struggle, aiding in the escape of comrade Assata Shakur, participating in military political actions against U.S. Wars at home and abroad and remaining defiant and opposed to the U.S. Imperialist racist system every day that she was inside the belly of the beast. Marilyn Buck, Presente!
Along with political prisoners David Gilbert and Laura Whitehorn, Marilyn was interviewed by comrades from the Resistance in Brooklyn group. These interviews were all published in the booklet Enemies of the State, available from Kersplebedeb. Click here for more information.
Marilyn has also won the poetry prize from the PEN Prison Writing program, and a booklet of her poems entitled Rescue the Word was published in 2001. (Unfortunately, this booklet is now out of print.)
In her own words: “I am also a strong advocate to free political prisoners/POWs and also to take on the U.S. prison plantation system. Being a political prisoner is not my only work. I think it is wasteful and short-sighted to relegate political prisoners to only working around themselves. Just because we are prisoners does not mean that we have lost our reasoning, analytical powers. We still have a world views based on long years of experience. Too many, even in our political movements would prefer to relegate us to museum pieces, objects of campaigns perhaps, but not political subjects and comrades in an ongoing political struggle against imperialism, oppression, and exploitation. The state tries to isolate us, true; that makes it all the more important not to let it succeed in its proposition. We fight for political identity and association from here; it is important that political forces on the outside not lose sight of why the state wants to isolate and destroy us, and therefore fight to include us in political life — ideological struggle, etc. In many struggles many militants have been exiled yet they have still been considered part of their struggles, not merely objects. We, we here, could be considered internally exiled. Don’t lock us into roles as objects or symbols.”
In 2004 a CD of Marilyn’s poetry – Wild Poppies – a poetry jam across prison walls – was released by the San Francisco-based Freedom Archives. It contains forty six poems (32 of which are written by Marilyn) read by over twenty different poets, and provides a wonderful testimony to her politics and her spirit. This CD can be ordered from Kersplebedeb via the Leftwingbooks.net website.
An excerpt of a video interview with Marilyn in prison in 1989 has been put on Vimeo by Freedom Archives:
Incomplete List of Writings by Marilyn Buck
- Legal Issues for Women in Federal Prisons , with Laura Whitehorn (1996)
- Shawnee Unit – A Control Unit For Women , with Silvia Baraldini, Susan Rosenberg, and Laura Whitehorn
- “On the Burning of African-American Churches” (1996)
- Kick-ass poetry by Marilyn
- Prisons, Social Control, and Political Prisoners (1999)
Marilyn Buck was one of three euro-amerikan political prisoners interviewed in 1998 by comrades from Resistance in Brooklyn. These interviews (also with David Gilbert and Laura Whitehorn) were published in the pamphlet Enemies of the State, available from Kersplebedeb. For more information, and to read excerpts from this pamphlet, see here.
Please note that the text of many poems on the Wild Poppies CD are available on this site – please click here for more details.
Marilyn Buck was also one of the revolutionary prisoners who contributed to the book Hauling Up the Morning, available from Kersplebedeb.