Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own Country

By Esther Cooper Jackson; Constance Pohl | Go to book overview

45
Pages from the Life of a Black Prisoner, No. 4, 1971

FRANK E. CHAPMAN JR.

Frank Chapman had been corresponding with the editors of Freedomways since 1964. His earlier article, "Science and Africa", was published in Freedomways, Vol. 6, No. 3 ( 1966) in a special section on prison writings.

To enter prison at the age of 19 is no extraordinary event for thousands of young Black people in the Ghetto -- it merely happens every day. The day I entered the Missouri State Penitentiary was November 3, 1961. To me it wasn't just another day because I entered those gray walls with a sentence of life and fifty years for murder and armed robbery. Elsewhere I have told the story of how this came about, so here I will tell about my experience in prison and my current effort to secure my freedom.

I was brought to prison in a train along with fifty other inmates. When we arrived at the train station, we were picked up by a bus which transported us inside the prison. Upon arrival we were all taken past an iron gate into a large room. We were lined up and told to take off all our clothing. After we were all naked, the guards told us to bend over so they could inspect our rectums, then we were told

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