On this edition of From the Vault we pay tribute to Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, who died on June 3, 2011. This decorated Vietnam War Veteran and Minister of Defense for the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party was accused and convicted of murder in 1968, despite steadfastly maintaining his innocence. Pratt served the next 27 years of his life in prison; in 1997, Pratt’s conviction was overturned when new evidence surfaced that proved the prosecution’s chief witness, Julius Butler, was a police and FBI informant who lied under oath at the trial. After reaching a multimillion dollar settlement with City of Los Angeles and the U.S. Department of Justice, Pratt dedicated his life and resources to helping men and women he believed to be wrongly incarcerated, working until his death in his adopted homeland of Tanzania. Today we present chilling testimony of human conviction and perseverance, as Geronimo Pratt shares his story of life behind bars from an October, 1997 address at Pasadena City College in California.
From the Vault is presented through the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, past grants from the Grammy Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners.
PURCHASE a copy of this program or learn more about and purchase copies of the historic archival recordings used within this episode. To purchase a CD copy of this program by phone, please call Pacifica Radio Archives at 800.735.0230 x 262.
Click here to send an email to From the Vault.