On October 1, 2013 Herman was freed from prison. On October 4, 2013, Herman succumbed to his terminal liver cancer and passed. Rest in power, Herman!
Herman Wallace is part of the Angola 3, three men who successfully started the first Black Panther Party chapter in a prison. They were making significant gains in reducing abuse within the notorious Angola Prison and expanding prisoner rights when they were framed for the murder of a prison guard in 1973. All three were then placed in solitary confinement where Herman and Albert Woodfox remain. Robert Wilkerson spent 27 years in solitary until he was finally released in 2001.
Herman was born October 13, 1941 in New Orleans. It was here that Herman grew up with his 8 other siblings. As a young boy he started turning to smaller crimes like stealing cars and theft. At 18 he was arrested for auto theft and spent a year in the Louisiana State Penitentiary where he witnessed for the first time the horrors that go on in prison.
After his prison term Herman worked in the shipyards with his brother where he also met his future wife Brenda. The two of them got married and moved into a new place together. Herman’s luck changed when he and Brenda separated and soon after two white co-workers conjured up a story to get Herman fired.
Herman Sentenced to Angola
Out of a job and on his own, Herman turned to bank robbery. In 1967 Herman was charged with five counts of bank robbery and sentenced to 50 years by the state. He escaped prison through the roof-top that December and made his way to Pensecola. The police eventually caught up with him and he was sent back to New Orleans, where he escaped jail several more times, only to be caught and returned.
After his last attempt Herman was placed on death row. He and the other death row inmates decided to pull out the plumbing in their cells hoping to get moved out of their isolation units. The cells all flooded and their plan worked. By chance, Herman was moved to the same tier as the New Orleans Panther 12.
New Orleans Black Panthers
The Black Panthers would meet right there in jail and Herman found himself sitting in on all of them, drawn to their generosity and revolutionary message. Herman was new to politics, but his leadership skills and enthusiasm became apparent to the Panthers. Malik Rahim became close with Herman and they began to organize together.
The Panthers decided the prison was unfit and beyond repair and that they would burn it down. In Herman’s words, the Panthers
“put everyone on alert of what we were about to do and for everyone to prepare themselves. We began to create a huge disturbance to make sure security was on standby and then we began to strike matches. The building was in flames. While fire gushed out the windows, we had flag flying full-mass out the window with the likeness of a Black Panther. We could see the newspeople and the bystanders pointing at the flag, and we began to chant, “BLACK POWER!” The sheriff of the jail personally came and asked that we abandon our fight…He promised us that there would be no retaliation for our actions. We had won a battle. It was the first time in my life I had experienced what power was — real power. And though it was a small gesture, it was enough to set my life on a course that I maintain to this day.”
what they were convicted for, how the trial went, the sentencing, etc.
Life in Prison¶
work they’ve done, conditions and abuse they’ve faced
support sites, ongoing campaigns (parole, medical treatment, etc.)
-zines, writings, videos, etc.