Freedom’s Compass: My Letter to Marissa Alexander

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Dear Marissa, 

I received the news that you have returned to prison for another two months and then will be placed under house arrest for two more years. The media is reporting that you agreed to a plea deal, but I have a feeling you would state it differently. What I do know is that for you there are motivations that go beyond the capacity of the American media to understand. What I also know is that I will never be able to fully comprehend the measure of madness you have been made to endure. And I can only imagine the silent toll this has taken on your children. What is clear is your desire to have your life back, for you, for them. Nothing more matters.

One cannot properly account for the calculated craziness of this system that would make known its determination to see you locked away for the rest of your natural life despite the fact that you killed no one. To put any faith in such a system would be foolish and be rendered a victim to the illusion of justice for which it stands. And despite how the media and many others have attempted to portray you, you are no one’s victim. Although victimized by your former husband and then again by the State of Florida, you are no one’s victim. The clarity, conscience, courage and conviction I witnessed that first day I sat and talked with you show you to be a tall sunflower in a field of women who have been strengthened by the beauty of your boldness. And there is no way to properly measure the meaning of that truth.

In the wake of the grand jury’s non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, so many more are now opening their eyes to the corruption of this system. And as important a development that may be, what I know is that you have been living through that horror for years now.

The fact is that this judicial system does not give us any real options. We are left to find our own way through its injustices using our determination to be free as our only compass. Yours is fine-tuned and fixed by the one you call Savior, the one that knew well what it means to be betrayed and assaulted and wrongly accused. You have not only navigated your way through, you have done so without having your spirit poisoned in the process. 

I am fully aware that my value as an ally is wholly dependent on my ability to call men to account and cause us to change, even as I continue to change, myself. For our collective freedom is only to be found in the ending of this cycle of abuse that Black and Brown women disproportionately face in this society. It is only through radical faith in the building a community of resistance that we will break this cycle of oppression. I am but one bricklayer building with so many others, some I will never know. Even after your case has reached its conclusion, there will be many other women who will still find themselves doubly assaulted and wrongly convicted for defending themselves. The work continues. This is a life commitment that has been strengthened immeasurably by knowing you and bearing witness to the will of your determination and the courage of your love.

Marissa, the first time you were sent to prison, your family and friends were with you. But this time, as you are marched back into the barred walls of state-sanctioned confinement, the millions of your supporters go with you and we vow to keep vigil until you are free. And on that day, I will sing this poem by Lucille Clifton in celebration of you:

 

won’t you celebrate with me

what i have shaped into

a kind of life? i had no model.

born in babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up

here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

 

In gracious solidarity,

Ewuare Osayande

Editor, Stand Our Ground: Poems for Travyon Martin and Marissa Alexander

 

Ewuare Osayande Speaks at Free Marissa Now Concert in Florida

On July 27th, artists from all the country converged in Jacksonville, FL to support the Free Marissa Now Conference and call for her freedom. Ewuare X. Osayande is editor of Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, a global anthology of social justice poems from around the world featuring the poetry of Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez and many others. All proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander. For more information on the book: http://standourgroundbook.com/

‘Stand Our Ground’ Editor Awarded for Poem “They Will Kill You”

Sojourners Poetry Award (2)

On April 25, 2014, Ewuare X. Osayande's poem "They Will Kill You" received the "Honorable Mention" award from the Associated Church Press, one of the leading professional religious journalism organizations in the world. In a year that saw the highest number of entries, the poem was awarded the equivalent of 3rd place. "They Will Kill You" was published in the September 2013 issue of Sojourners magazine, a progressive monthly publication of the Christian social justice organization Sojourners. The ceremony was held in Chicago, IL. Sojourners' Poetry Editor, Rose Berger accepted the award.

"They Will Kill You" is featured in the anthology Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, edited by Osayande. Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander features the work of 65 poets from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Canada, and all across the United States including legendary poets Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. All of the proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander.

The book is available exclusively online at StandOurGroundBook.com.

‘Stand Our Ground’ Raises $1350 at Rutgers University

Osayande Rutgers 2014 SOG3 On March 31st Ewuare X. Osayande gave a presentation at Rutgers University on his book Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander. The event was held at the Camden campus and was sponsored by the Africana Studies Program. The event raised $1350 in book sales. All of the proceeds have been donated to the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander and the Trayvon Martin Foundation. During his talk entitled "Standing Our Ground: Resisting the State-Sanctioned Assault on Black Life," Osayande addressed the Stand Your Ground law and the role of the state. "It is not just the fact that Black people are being killed left and right that has us outraged. The issue is the state's failure to go after those that kill Black people with the same vigor they show when the victim is white. Black people were not in the streets in the thousands just because Trayvon was murdered. We were in the streets because they let his killer go the night he was murdered. Remember, it would take an entire month of protest before the state intervened and arrested Zimmerman. And to those that would now say, 'Well, Zimmerman was found not guilty,' please remember that the murderers of Emmett Till were also found 'not guilty'." Osayande went on to discuss the Marissa Alexander case. "They are now trying to lock up Marissa for 60 years! That is the same amount of time Michael Dunn received and he actually murdered someone! The racism we are living under is absolutely outrageous!" Osayande concluded his presentation reading some of the poems in the book to a packed assembly of Rutgers students, faculty, staff and the public. He encouraged students to get involved in organizations working for social justice. The event ended with a engaged question and answer period. Dr. Wayne Glasker, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University and host of the event remarked that, "We can curse the darkness or light a candle. Every candle helps. Osayande's Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is such a candle against the darkness." Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is available online at Standourgroundbook.com.

ALERT!: FLORIDA SEEKS TO LOCK UP MARISSA FOR LIFE!

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Angela Corey, Florida State Attorney, has recently announced that she will seek a 60 year sentence for Marissa Alexander when she goes to trial in July. If Corey is successful, this would equate to a life sentence for the 33 year old mother from Jacksonville, FL. This action on the part of Corey and the State Attorney's office must be seen for what it is - a flagrant abuse of authority and the public trust. Corey's actions are a clear case of "cruel and unusual punishment" in this case of an abused mother who fired a warning shot to fend off her then estranged husband who is on record as having threatened to kill her. Corey's actions and efforts against Alexander send the wrong message to battered women all over this country and the men who abuse them. Corey must be fired and prosecuted. It is time for the U.S. Department of Justice to step in and charge Corey with violating Marissa Alexander's civil rights.

This past September Alexander was given a new trial after an appellate court dismissed the initial court ruling that placed the burden on Alexander to prove that she had been abused and was acting in self-defense. Alexander was found guilty in that case and was serving a 20 year sentence although she killed no one. Since September Alexander has been under house arrest awaiting the new trial. Originally scheduled for March 31st, the trial is now set to begin on July 28.

With this recent decision, Corey has shown herself to be heartless, cruel, vindictive and unworthy of the public trust. For Corey, this is not about justice - if it ever was. This is about revenge against a Black woman whose case has garnered the support of millions of people across this country and even around the world. Alexander's case has become a symbol of a U.S. justice system that is broken, corrupt and unjust. Her case proves that the "Stand Your Ground" law is not created to protect those whose lives have been threatened. As the trials of George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn have shown, this law is designed to protect white men when they kill young Black men. It is but the latest legislative act of systemic racism in a system that has never provided equal protection under the law for the African American community.

Marissa Alexander needs our support now more than ever! Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander has raised thousands of dollars to support Marissa Alexander and the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Your purchase of the book provides critical support to help free Marissa and end "Stand Your Ground."

Fire Angela Corey! End "Stand Your Ground"! Free Marissa Alexander Now!

-- Ewuare X. Osayande, Editor, Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander

In Her Own Words: Marissa Alexander Thanks ‘Stand Our Ground’ Book

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In a letter dated July 1, 2013, Marissa Alexander expresses her gratitude for Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, the global anthology that is raising funds to support her fight for freedom. In Marissa Alexander is an African American mother from Jacksonville, FL sentenced to a 20 year sentence in 2012 for defending herself against an abusive husband. 

Sister Marissa's indomitable spirit and resilience shines through her letter. In it she shares her grand appreciation for the book: 

“The work in the book by the writers can simply be summed up as “WOW” for a lack of a better term! When I received it, I prayed and then when I opened it up to read, I could not put it down, with each page I turned I was blessed, amazed and literally had goose bumps. The art of writing is not a lost art form. It also further encouraged me to know, see and understand that each and every writer who contributed in the book realizes the power that words have and that the pen is still mightier than the sword. I will take it upon myself to humbly and respectively say, from my heart and soul a sincere thank you and bless you to each and every one who had their hands involved on that project, coming from the many Trayvon Martins and Marissa Alexanders of the world!” 

On September 26th, an appeals court threw out her conviction and ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander, but she remains in prison. Support for her is more crucial now than ever! Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is a global anthology featuring legendary poets Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka and Haki Madhubuti plus 62 poets from all over the world. All of the funds raised from the sale of the book are being donated to the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander and the Trayvon Martin Foundation. The book is being sold online exclusively at http://standourgroundbook.com/ .

 

Donation Update: Global Poetry Anthology Raising Thousands for Justice for Trayvon and Marissa

On September 16th, Freedomseed Press made a donation of $600 to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and another $600 to the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander for a total of $1200 based on the sales of Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander over the previous month. Since the book's publication in May, $5000 has been raised and donated.

Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is a global anthology of social justice poetry featuring legendary poets Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti, Askia Toure plus 61 poets from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Canada and all across the United States. All of the proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander.

Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, is scheduled to speak at a special Senate hearing on “Stand Your Ground” legislation. The funds raised from the sale of Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander help support the Martin family's ongoing activism toward reforming the “Stand Your Ground” laws in the state of Florida and all across the United States. The funds also help support the appeal process being initiated by Marissa Alexander's legal defense team.

Marissa Alexander is an African American mother currently serving a 20 year sentence in Florida for firing a warning shot from a gun she legally owned just a few minutes after being strangled by her then estranged husband. On Saturday, September 14th - her birthday - rallies were held in cities all across the country to bring national attention to her case.

The cases of Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander expose the duplicity of an American judicial system that remains entrenched in racism and sexism. Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is the first and only book to address these two cases and raise funds for justice. It is a testament for these revolutionary times.Your purchase of the book helps to support the building of a movement for justice for all! The book is available online exclusively at StandOurGroundBook.com.

If you are interested in bringing a book reading and discussion to your community or campus, please contact the book's editor, Ewuare X. Osayande, at StandOurGroundBook@gmail.com.

New Video Poem in Support of Marissa Alexander on Her Birthday

On September 14th, Marissa Alexander's birthday, Ewuare X. Osayande, editor of Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, published a new poem entitled "Love's Resilience" in support of the growing movement to free Alexander (see video below).

Marissa Alexander is an African American mother serving a 20 year sentence after being found guilty on three counts of aggravated assault. In August 2010 - just nine days after giving birth - Alexander was attacked by Rico Gray, her then estranged husband. The attack and threats of death ended after Alexander fired a warning shot that landed in the ceiling of her home. The only person that was physically injured that day was Marissa Alexander. The State of Florida denied Alexander the use of the "Stand Your Ground" defense and offered her a 3 year deal which she rejected. In the wake of the "not guilty" verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, renewed attention has been brought to the case of Marissa Alexander.

"I didn't need to wait for the verdict in the Zimmerman trial to see the gross disparity of justice between these cases," says Osayande. "Let us remember that Zimmerman was able to leave the crime scene and walk free for almost a month. All that time, Marissa was in prison. These two cases expose the duplicity of the American judicial system. It took a national outcry to get Zimmerman arrested. It will take a national outcry to get Marissa released."

Today, on Marissa Alexander's birthday, rallies are being held all across the country to bring attention to her case. Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is a global anthology of social justice poetry. It is the first and only book that brings these two cases together in the effort to ignite a new Civil Rights Movement in this country. All proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander.

 

‘Stand Our Ground’ Poets Reflect on King’s Speech 50 Years Later

Ewuare X. Osayande, editor of Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, and fellow poets featured in the book Lamont Steptoe and Adriann "The Pen" Bautista reflect with other Philadelphia poets on The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech fifty years later.

The gathering was The People's Poetry Festival held in Vernon Park in Germantown, Philadelphia on Saturday, August 24th. The festival was organized by the Black Writer's Musuem. The legendary poet Haki R. Madhubuti, publisher of Third World Press and featured poet in Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, received the Lifetime Achievement Award later that day.

The video was developed by Brad Larrison for WHYY Newsworks.

Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is a global anthology of social justice poems. All proceeds from the sale of book are being donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander. The book is available online exclusively at StandOurGroundBook.com.

‘Stand Our Ground’ Featured in Sojourners Magazine

Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is featured in the September issue of Sojourners magazine, a progressive Christian social justice magazine. According to their mission statement, Sojourners envisions "a future in which Christians put their faith into action in the passionate pursuit of social justice, peace, and environmental stewardship, working in partnership with people of other perspectives, for the common good of communities, families and individuals." The September issue includes "They Will Kill You," a poem by Ewuare X. Osayande, editor of Stand Our Ground. The poem is currently available on Sojourners website.

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Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander is an anthology of social justice poetry featuring legendary poets Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti plus 62 poets from around the world.The cases of Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander expose the duplicity of an American judicial system that remains rooted in racism and sexism. Stand Our Ground is an effort to raise funds for both families to aid in their respective work for justice even as it raises the consciousness of a generation toward the pursuit of justice for all! All proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to the Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Legal Defense Fund for Marissa Alexander. Thousands of dollars have already been raised. More information on the book is available at StandOurGroundBook.com.