Please Forward Widely
Kersplebedeb Distribution is pleased to announce the publication of Hope Breathing Life: Postcards for Liberation by Zolo Agona Azania.
Hope Breathing Life is a collection of postcards representing the art of Zolo Agona Azania. Zolo is not only a remarkable artist but also a political prisoner, the victim of a racist frame-up, who has spent a quarter century behind bars, most of it on death row.
Owusu Yaki Yakubu, in his piece "Who Is Zolo Agona Azania?" (pubished as an introduction to Zolo's pamphlet Money and Power: Hook or Crook) provides this useful summary of how Zolo ended up where he is today:
"Zolo Azania is one of the numerous African-Americans who await execution as a result of a racist criminal justice system. Moreover he is a politically conscious activist, who at the time of his arrest and capture in 1981, was actively involved in the movement for the self-determination of African-American people. The fact that he defined himself as a New Afrikan and was committed to the liberation and independence of Black people within the borders of the U.S., directly influenced the way the police, the prosecution, and the Indiana courts denied him a fair trial and fanned the flames of prejudice to obtain the death penalty.
"Zolo was sentenced to death after his conviction for a 1981 bank robbery and the killing of a Gary Indiana police officer who was fatally wounded in an exchange of gun fire with three men who fled from the bank. Zolo was not arrested at the bank, but miles away walking unarmed down the street. The prosecution intimidated witnesses, suppressed favorable evidence, presented false eye-witness and expert testimony, and denied him the right to speak or present motions in his own behalf.
"The two other men charged and convicted with Zolo received sentences of 60 years, but because of Zolo’s political history and beliefs, and in order to permanently silence his militant voice for liberation, the State ignored the rules of evidence and fair trial to obtain the death penalty from an all-white jury. The State suppressed a gunshot residue report showing no residue on Zolo’s hands as well as other favorable scientific evidence, suborned perjury by telling a critical witness who was unable to make an identification to identify Zolo, and falsely and sensationally accused him of firing the fatal bullet,
“execution-style.” The trial, which was moved from Lake County (Gary, Indiana), which has a substantial Black population, to Allen County (Fort Wayne) with a small Black populace, was tried amid media and law enforcement hysteria. Armed police surrounded the courthouse, and uniformed police ringed the walls and front gallery inside of the courtroom."
Twenty-five years after his wrongful conviction, two-sentencing trials and numerous appeals later, Zolo is awaiting a third death sentencing trial. Throughout his ordeal, Zolo has maintained a strong spirit of hope and a commitment to justice for all.
As he continues to struggle for his life in Indiana, Zolo also reaches out to us with his words and his art. From his tribute to the struggle of Emmett Tilll’s family to his depiction of the story of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the paintings collected in this book are a testament of his spirit. It has been several years since Zolo has been able to paint on a canvas. At the institution where he is currently being held, the only art supplies allowed are colored pencils. He also works with other media; he draws and makes collages from pictures and words clipped from magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets. His illustrations have been used in radical newspapers such as Social Change and Development and Burning Spear, as well as in small press publications of his writings.
As Zolo prepares for his death sentencing trial, he continues to draw attention to the plight of all death row prisoners in Indiana. Zolo writes: “Another legal murder was premeditatedly planned and carried out at midnight, July 27, 2005. i hate these things. i am determined to fight harder. Losing has never been an option to me. What has happened to me can easily happen to any poor person.”
With the publication of “Hope Breathing Life”, we hope to share with you the vibrant spirit of Zolo’s art. This is the first time this art has been collected and reproduced in full color. The collection spans over twenty years, displaying artistic skills learned in prison and genuine talent.A recent ruling in Zolo’s case stopped the state from continuing to seek the death penalty. The prosecutor is appealing, and early in 2006 the case will be heard before the Indiana Supreme Court. Funds from the sale of this booklet will be used in Zolo’s ongoing support campaign.
To see scans of Zolo’s postcards online, or to place an order via PayPal, please go to Hope Breathing Life: Postcards for Liberation
For wholesale and review orders, please contact Kersplebedeb at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Zolo and his case, please go to:
Zolo Agona Azania Page
Categories: book-review, prison, publishing, racism