It is with overwhelming sadness, we join our communities in sharing this news.
Our beloved friend, comrade, mentor, client, and inspiration, Russell Maroon Shoatz transitioned from this life on Earth today. After 49 years in prison, Maroon was finally released on October 26th. He passed away at his sister’s home 52 days later, surrounded by the love and care of his family.
There are few words, if any, that will do justice in describing Maroon, the impact he’s had on all of us, the gigantic legacy he leaves behind. If you are reading this, chances are, at some point you came in contact with Maroon, either directly – or subliminally: many projects in the struggle for Black Liberation and abolition can be traced back to him, the contemporary Political Prisoners’ rights movement in Pennsylvania beginning with him.
Some of us were lucky enough to know Maroon personally, and for that, we are infinitely grateful. We commemorate him by carrying out his life’s work, by reaffirming our commitments to see the dissolution of Empire and advance absolute, unconditional liberation for Black people everywhere. Maroon reminds us, “history records the stories of multitudes who risked their lives to obtain or regain their freedom” (2012).
We are grieving for Maroon. He has left us physically on this plane, but his spirit and visions live on in the movements he inspired and animated from a prison cell, the countless hearts and minds he filled with hope and wonder when so many of us felt lost and helpless, the iconic essays he wrote that will continue to galvanize future generations of young people in the struggle.
In his own words,
“Rest easy fighting maroons. There are many now and to come who will derive inspiration from your valorous examples – inspiration that will ‘arm their spirits’ to fight the good fight. . . til victory or death!!!” (1995).
Rest easy, and in power. Long live Russell Maroon Shoatz.
“Former Black Panther Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz Freed From Prison After 49 Years” by Mike Ludwig, Truthout (10/26/21)
“Compassionate release for Maroon” by Betsy Piette, Workers World (10/25/21)