The Only Panthers Left: An Intellectual History of the Angola 3

by Holly Genovese

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Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace, and Robert Hillary King, colloquially known as the Angola 3, spent most of their adult lives in solitary confinement, Wallace and Woodfox for the murder of Louisiana State Penitentiary Prison Guard Brent Miller, and King for a separate false murder accusation. They were Black Panther Party members, activists, artists, and writers who used their artwork and intellectual production to protest the unjust systems of incarceration and solitary confinement that they faced as political prisoners. The Angola 3 participated in direct action protest—food and work strikes in particular—but also wrote and created artwork to challenge dominant narratives about the Black Panther Party. I argue that while the members of the Angola 3 do not fit conservative conceptions of intellectuals, they have used intellectual means to redefine the memory of the Black Panther Party and lay claim to their own experiences in prison. The Angola 3’s engagement with other prison writers, the black radical tradition, and their own intellectual and artistic production in the years since they were released can also expand our understanding of both the prison arts movement and prison literature writ large.

About the Author

Holly Genovese is a PhD student in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also completing Graduate Portfolios in Black Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies. Her dissertation will consider black poetics, life writing, hip hop, and street art by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in the American South as resistance to the carceral state. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Teen Vogue, The Washington Post, The LA Review of Books, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She has served as co-curator for exhibitions at Eastern State Penitentiary, McKissick Museum, and the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks. Holly holds a BA in History and Political Science from Temple University and MA in History from the University of South Carolina.

Project & Publications Type: Rapoport Center Working Paper Series