In the month of April, 2022 I was transferred from Virginia’s infamous Supermax Prison called Red Onion to Jessup Correctional Institution in the state of Maryland through Interstate Compact transfer. After months of trying to settle and focus on the battles at hand, one of my primary goals was to obtain a book titled Defying the Tomb authored by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. The urgency in obtaining this book was due to the fact that this transfer presented an opportunity to possess this book, as it is banned in the state of Virginia for no other reason than to keep prisoners blind and apolitical.
During the decade I spent at Red Onion State Prison, eight years of which were in solitary confinement, I made quite a few attempts to obtain this book. However, upon arrival at the prison, it was always arbitrarily disapproved without any penological interest to warrant such.
August 12, 2022, a day before my born day I was delivered an envelope which contained two books: Defying the Tomb and Panther Vision, both by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson. I thought: What a perfect birthday gift in the month of Black August. Out of sheer excitement, I set aside all other projects I was working on and instantly began reading this book, Defying the Tomb.
Rashid is someone I am honored to have known for years and have had countless conversations with, but despite this, reading his autobiography on his revolutionary development provided a better insight of who Rashid is and how he became revolutionized. I was actually surprised to learn that his first exposure to revolutionary ideas came in 2001 after he met Hanif Shabazz-Bey in prison. The scope of his intellect would easily create an impression that he’s been exposed to revolutionary ideas from childhood.
His passion in studying revolutionary figures/movements, military thinkers and military history, sociology, and history, political science, economic theories (Left and Right), and his commitment to further his studies, constantly refining his views and testing them in practice, are rooted in his determination and desire to change the world. This determination derives from his love of all oppressed people, which is a guiding principle of any quintessential revolutionary. Just as Hanif Shabazz-Bey saw the potential in Rashid and opened his eyes to revolutionary ideas, Rashid has also in turn opened the eyes of many—myself certainly included—and exposed them to revolutionary ideas. The most profound thing about ideas is that no one can kill an idea.
Despite his accumulated knowledge and experiences over the decades, in true form of practicing Democratic Centralism, Rashid never exalts himself over others, and is always receptive to constructive criticism which is a key element of Democratic Centralism, a unique humbleness lacking in a lot of leaders past and present.
The exchanges between Rashid and Outlaw takes the readers on an incredible revolutionary odyssey from dialogs on the deplorable conditions of confinement and abuses prisoners are subjected to, unifying ideologies, Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, historical dialectical materialism, warfare, etc. And the incredible artwork isn’t merely aesthetically pleasing, but also educational. The dialogs and the artwork combined allow a dialectical balance in consciousness raising, which makes this book a must have.
Rashid’s in depth knowledge of revolutionary ideology isn’t a yardstick to measure his commitment in the struggle. This guy gained my respect due to his consistency in practice. Regardless of which state to which he’s been transferred, he always advocates on behalf of other prisoners, in many cases placing himself in harm’s way. The loyalty of any revolutionary can and must be judged only through one’s actions and their commitment to the struggle can only be determined by their continued performance under pressure. Furthermore, his commitment to politically educate his peers is not only evident in this book, he has consistently contributed essays to various publications such as San Francisco Bay View, Socialist Viewpoint, Main Line, Socialism and Democracy, and others. These publications reach thousands of prisoners across the country, however, his teachings aren’t solely limited to prisoners. And, despite being a leader and a teacher, he is always open to learning from others, as he knows the process of learning is never ending.
This book is a magnum opus, which is a must read for all and I guarantee that once you read it, you’ll become far more aware than you previously were. Then, you’ll thank me for my recommendation, and, as George Jackson stated: “Obligatory duty is ours once we become aware.” Furthermore, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission and fulfill it or betray it.” (Franz Fanon). After you read this book I hope it inspires the readers to fulfill this mission.
Dare to struggle Dare to win!
All power to the people!
* The most updated version of Defying the Tomb,” which are available from the publisher Kersplebedeb and Left Wing Books (https://leftwingbooks.net) contains information about Rashid’s break with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP) and it’s sole raining member Shaka Zulu aka Sharod Zulu, and reconstitution as the Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party (RIBPP).
Older versions of the book already in circulation do not contain this information, and Rashid wants readers to know that he does not endorse Shaka Zulu/NABPP.
Minister of Labor, Comrade Pitt
Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party (RIBPP)
Peter Kamau Mukuria #5194931
Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI)
P.O. Box 534
Jessup, Maryland 20794
Rashid has now developed prostate cancer. Rashid’s Prostate Specific Analysis (PSA) levels were first revealed in tests as abnormally high on October 8, 2021. Medical staff at Nottoway Correctional Center and the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) left Rashid for months without follow up testing allowing the cancer to advance to more serious and dangerous stages. Despite repeated signs that something was wrong, it took until June 23, 2022 for Rashid to finally be given a biopsy. It was not until July 1, 2022, nearly 11 months after his initial PSA tests, that Rashid was informed that he did, indeed, have prostate cancer.
From July up until now, he has been denied treatment, allowing the cancer to possibly spread even more. Finally on October 3rd, Rashid was sent to the hospital to see a radiologist but no further activity since that time.
The struggle for Rashid’s health and cancer treatment continues. We must move mountains to fight for Rashid to get the best treatment possible for his cancer, and for his freedom from the razor wire plantation, so that he can live and continue to lead revolutionary struggle.
Together, we must do everything we can to support and defend Comrade Rashid!
Use the toolkit at bit.ly/DefendRashidToolkit to share Rashid’s story.
To see how you can get more involved: email@example.com