(leader of Free Lynne Stewart campaign; activist against miseducation in NYC and for freedom of U.S. political prisoners)

Ralph Poynter

ralph (at) justiceunity.org

You may know me as the persistent leader of the Free Lynne Stewart campaign. After organizing thousands in Lynne's support, we won! Now we're both fighting another important struggle: saving our essential community media outlet, WBAI.

Raised by a union organizer, I first taught elementary school in Harlem, joining the United Federation of Teachers. But when the UFT colluded with management to support the racist Board of Education against Black communities' demands for Community Control of schools, I founded the Teachers' Freedom Party and became a leader in that fight.

Much of my 50+ years of political activism has focused on improving our public schools. My leadership facilitated appointments of NYC's first Black and Puerto Rican principals  Doing this required confronting the NYPD Army of Occupation installed to maintain ideological control of schools. In the course of self- and community-defense, I was convicted and served time on Rikers Island, where I organized fellow prisoners in one of the first successful prison rebellions, winning important concessions.
My primary focus now is freeing U.S. political prisoners serving unconscionable sentences. Their sacrifices made possible the moderate civil-rights advances in the '60s/ '70s, but many of them languish, forgotten. I'm also active in the Green Party and in Uhuru, an organization dedicated to freedom for African descendants. With Betty Davis, I co-founded the New Abolitionist Movement, working to eliminate miseducation in NYC.
For over 30 years, Lynne worked as a "People's Lawyer," defending social and political activists and causes. After what was deemed a too-zealous representation of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, she was jailed and disbarred, and is on probation. Her health is not the best but she wants to serve as a change agent at WBAI.

We want to use our experience to help save WBAI--so as to help save our communities and transform the system. On the board, changes must be made, such as searching for a Program Director committed to more creative, progressive programming reflecting the struggles of diverse peoples, and helping develop new generations of broadcaster-activists. The board must focus more on evaluating management and the budget and less on playing politics.

We have the strength of will and intellect to help protect this valuable outlet from co-optation. No station sale, no signal swap!

We urge you to support the entire Justice & Unity slate--endorsed by Bernard White, Esperanza Martell, Charles and Inez Barron, the International Action Center, and many others--in the following order:

1. Lynne Stewart WRITE HER IN AS #1

2. King Downing

3. John Brinkley

4. Ralph Poynter

5. Pauline Park

6. Dacio Quintana

             7. Eugene Hamond

For unknown reasons, Lynne's online membership didn't register. Please write in her name--rank her #1. Her full statement is at www.justiceunity.org.

She was elected to the Station Board in 2009, but was immediately incarcerated for 4 years. She writes, "I survived my prison ordeal and now want to help restore WBAI to greatness. We are fortunate to have WBAI and must build it up and pass it on."