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The Black Is Back Coalition Honors the Tremendous Life and Legacy of Our Revolutionary Freedom Fighter, Ralph Poynter


It is with a profound mixture of many emotions that the Black Is Back Coalition informs our supporters of the death of one of our fearless, and stalwart freedom fighters, Ralph Poynter, the Co-Chair of the BIB Political Prisoners Working Group, the founder of the Lynne Stewart Committee, and the co-founder of the New Abolitionist Movement.  He made his transition to the ancestral realm on 12/25/23.

Ralph created a body of work spanning decades.   One of the struggles that he made a life commitment to was public education, and he was one of the lead organizers in the fight in the 1960s in NYC  for a decentralized school system and Black community control of school boards.     He states that he has spent more than 50+ years of his political life improving public education and that his leadership facilitated the appointment of New York City’s first Black and Puerto Rican principals in the sixties, which required that he confront the NYPD Army of Occupation that was installed to maintain systems of oppression.    This was a challenge that Ralph willingly accepted, and in the course of exercising communal and self defense, he was sentenced to time on Rikers Island.   Never one to miss an opportunity to mobilize the people, he helped organize fellow inmates in one of the first successful prison rebellions, winning important concessions.

Another area of struggle that Ralph made his primary focus is the fight to free all political prisoners.     He writes, “One of my primary focuses 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.” His commitment to freeing all political prisoners lead to the establishment of the BIB Political Prisoner’s Working Group, in which he worked diligently with many organizations throughout the country, such as the Jericho Movement, to help secure the release of our freedom fighters, including his partner, the indomitable attorney, Lynne Stewart.    Ralph also co-produced two radio shows with Betty Davis, the co-founder of the New Abolitionist Movement and the Chair of the BIB Black Community Control of Education Working Group.   They are  “What’s Happening” on Blog Talk Radio, ” and “What’s Happening” on WBAI  and dedicated segments on each show to the plight of political prisoners.

Ralph committed every second of the majority of his life to serving the freedom struggles of the people and attended his first organizing meeting at 5 years old when his father took him to a labor meeting.   In his later years he would often conduct his radio shows while hospitalized, even as he was nearing his final hours.   One comrade  said that when she spoke with Ralph about two days before his transition that his commitment to the fight to a free Palestine dominated their conversation.

The BIBC is planning a commemoration dedicated to the legacy of this tremendous warrior, that will be announced soon.  In the meantime we ask you to watch the video below of Ralph delivering fire like only he could at our annual Black People’s March on the White House in DC, on 11/3/18.

But the only way to truly honor and remember our Comrade Ralph Poynter is to commit, recommit, and recommit again  to doing the work required for liberating the people from this ruthless, parasitic system of colonialism, and to bringing the younger generation on board.    The Black Is Back Coalition is committed to doing this work and the times command that you be committed to doing the work as well.

The wake and funeral for Ralph will be on Sunday, January 7th, and Monday, January 8th in New York.    For details please visit Frank R. Bell Funeral Home

The BIBC  send our most heartfelt condolences to his large circle of family, friends and comrades.