Jun 6 2011

Tupac’s Godfather Geronimo Ji-Jaga: The Definition of Tragedy Turned Triumph

Geronimo Ji-Jaga died Thursday, June 2nd in Tanzania, Africa.

Music in the video: “The Fire” by The Roots f. John Legend

I’m the definition
of tragedy turned triumph
It’s David and Goliath,
I made it to the eye of the storm,
feeling torn like they fed me to the lions…

Geronimo Pratt spent 27 years in maximum security prisons (eight of those years in solitary confinement) for a murder he did not commit. The FBI knew he was at a Black Panther meeting in Oakland on the evening a young white woman was killed on a tennis court in Santa Monica — because they had him under 24-hour surveillance.

Former TIME bureau chief, Jack Olsen wrote a stunning and unforgettable account of Geronimo’s journey from Elmer Pratt, U. S. war hero who “killed a lot of people” on behalf of this government, to Geronimo ji-Jaga, a man whose spiritual experiences in the “black holes” of  Folsom and San Quentin stripped him of all bitterness.  The Last Man Standing is a book I highly recommend. Reading it forever changed me as a human being.

Geronimo ji-Jaga’s trial, conviction and incarceration (and eventual freedom) should remind us of the countless innocents who remain jailed or exiled for crimes they did not commit. Their hope for justice lies in the hearts, thoughts and actions of those of us who are free to fight on their behalf.

Geronimo’s conviction was overturned in 1997 and he was released. He received a financial settlement from the government, but they admitted no wrong-doing in stealing 27 years of his life.

For more about exiled former Black Panther Paul Oniel (shown in the video above) and his work serving his community in Tanzania, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/HUITZILOPOCHTLI002