Elaine Brown is a former leader of the Black Panther Party, and author of A Taste of Power (Pantheon, 1992) and The Condemnation of Little B (Beacon Press, 2002). A Taste of Power was optioned by HBO in September 2013 for its prospective miniseries The Black Panthers.
She is presently co-authoring, with Karima Al-Amin, For Reasons of Race and Belief, The Trials of Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) (slated for 2014 publication, Lawrence Hill Books), and she is completing the non-fiction book Melba and Al, A Story of Black Love in Jim Crow America (for 2014 publication by Feminist Press). She is the Editor of Messages to Our Brothers and Sisters on the Other Side of the Wall, a collection of autobiographical essays by black prisoners in New Mexico, published (2007) by the New Mexico Department of African American Affairs.
Elaine is now the Youth Economic Development Coordinator with the office of Alameda County (Oakland), California, Supervisor Keith Carson, creating profitable businesses for cooperative ownership by young people who are former prisoners or otherwise deemed unemployable and “disconnected” to provide them opportunities for self-sufficiency and prosperity.
Elaine is the Executive Director of the Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee, supporting the legal appeal of Lewis ("Little B"), who, arrested in 1997 in Atlanta, Georgia, at the age of 13 for a murder he did not commit, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, where he remains.
In 1996, Elaine established the nonprofit education corporation Fields of Flowers, based in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1997, she co-founded Atlanta-based Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice; and, in 2002, co-founded and became a Board member of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform. Elaine is a member of the Committee to Free Romaine "Chip" Fitzgerald, the Steering Committee of the December 9thGeorgia and International Prisoners’ Rights Movement, Occupy4Prisoners and the Advisory Board of the 100 Black Men Charter School, Oakland, California (where she now resides).
In November 2005, Elaine ran for mayor of Brunswick, Georgia, with the intent of using the office to create a base of economic power for the city's majority black and poor population through redistribution of the massive revenues of the city's port. Later, she became a co-founder of the Brunswick Women's Association for a People's Blueprint.
Elaine lived in France for seven years before returning to the U.S. in 1996, and has traveled extensively throughout the world, from China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Algeria to Germany, Italy, Russia, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Belize and elsewhere.
Elaine studied classical piano for years, and has recorded two albums of original songs, one for Motown records, Until We're Free, and her classic 1969 album Seize the Time, which includes "The Black Panther Party National Anthem" (The Meeting), re-released as a CD in 2007 by Warner Bros.
Elaine regularly lectures at colleges and universities throughout the country on "New Age Racism in America" and realization of the vision of eliminating racism, gender oppression and class disparity toward an inclusive and egalitarian world society.
Elaine grew up in the ghettos of North Philadelphia, is listed as a distinguished graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Girls, and attended Temple University, UCLA, Mills College and Southwestern University School of Law. She is the mother of one adult daughter, Ericka Abram. Her papers have been acquired by Emory University.
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Throughout the last four decades, Elaine has been committed to and organized significant efforts toward effecting progressive change in the United States. In addition to Black Panther Party leadership, which included editing the Party’s news organ, running for public office in Oakland (1973 and 1975), and leading the Party (1974-1977) as its Chairman, since that time Elaine has actively worked for such social change through to today. Much of her recent work has been focused on radical reform of the criminal justice system and related efforts. In this regard, Elaine has authored and edited books about the plight of prisoners and the injustices in the criminal justice and prison systems, published numerous articles and newsletters in support of prison reform, and lectured widely at colleges and universities on the question. Elaine is quoted as a reliable source and expert on the criminal justice system and considered a noted advocate for its radical reform.
1. Fields of Flowers, Inc. Elaine founded this educational non-profit corporation in 1996 (Atlanta, Georgia) to establish an education center serving the basic needs of and educating poor, black children.
2. Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice. Co-founded this grassroots organization in 1998 (Atlanta, Georgia) to advocate for children adjudicated and incarcerated as adults. Organized a membership base of over 300 mostly black women who had teenage sons who were either in prison or charged with crimes under Georgia’s law providing for prosecution of children as adults, commonly called SB440.
3. Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee. Founder (1998) and Executive Director of this group dedicated to the freedom from prison of Michael Lewis, known as “Little B,” a black boy tried and convicted in Atlanta, Georgia, as an adult for a murder he did not commit, sentenced to life in prison at 14 years old.
4. National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform. Co-Founder (2003) and Executive Board Member of this organization, based in Atlanta, Georgia, which, among other things, developed a massive correspondence network with thousands of prisoners in Georgia and throughout the country, by which over 5,000 prisoner-members were recruited; published a newsletter and other materials; developed transitional housing for parolees; provided a transportation network for prison visits by families; raised funds for prisoner telephone calls and Christmas packages; procured employment for parolees.
5. Historically As a member of the Black Panther Party (1968-1978), helped establish the Party’s first Free Busing to Prisons Program (1969) in Southern California; set up Free Legal Aid Program; wrote and performed songs, including The Black Panther National Anthem, recorded on two albums. As a leading member (1971-1978), editor of the Party’s official newspaper; administrator of model elementary school (Oakland, California); ran for public office twice (1973 and 1975); organized and managed 1977 campaign of Oakland’s first black mayor (Lionel Wilson); ultimately, as Chairman, supervised all Party operations.
Represented by two lecture agents, Elaine regularly lectures at colleges and universities throughout the United States, primarily on the topic “New Age Racism in America,” focusing on the massive incarceration of blacks and other people of color. Below is a partial list of lecture venues. 1995-present:
· California State University, Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles, Monterey
· Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
· Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California
· Colorado State University, Fort Collins
· Columbia University, New York, New York
· Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
· Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
· Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
· Florida International University, Miami
· Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
· Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
· Mills College, Oakland, California
· Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia
· Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
· Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
· Pepperdine University, Malibu, California
· Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York
· Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts
· Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia
· Stanford University, Stanford, California
· State University of New York, Buffalo, Canton, Plattsburgh
· Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut
· University of Alaska, Fairbanks
· University of California, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego
· University of Colorado, Boulder
· University of Georgia, Athens
· University of Massachusetts, Amherst
· University of Minnesota, Duluth
· University of Nebraska, Omaha
· University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
· University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
· University of Oregon, Eugene
· University of South Dakota, Vermillion
· University of Virginia, Lynchburg
· University of Washington, Seattle
· University of Wisconsin, Madison
· Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
· Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York
· Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania