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The Brother You Choose: Paul Coates and Eddie Conway Talk About Life, Politics, and The Revolution

Susie Day

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Former Black Panthers Paul Coates and Eddie Conway discuss lives, politics, and their friendship that helped Eddie survive decades in prison.

In 1971, Eddie Conway, Lieutenant of Security for the Baltimore chapter of the Black Panther Party, was convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to life plus thirty years behind bars. Paul Coates was a community worker at the time and didn't know Eddie well -- the little he knew, he didn't much like. But Paul was dead certain that Eddie's charges were bogus. He vowed never to leave Eddie -- and in so doing, changed the course of both their lives. For over forty-three years, as he raised a family and started a business, Paul visited Eddie in prison, often taking his kids with him. He and Eddie shared their lives and worked together on dozens of legal campaigns in hopes of gaining Eddie's release. Paul's founding of the Black Classic Press in 1978 was originally a way to get books to Eddie in prison. When, in 2014, Eddie finally walked out onto the streets of Baltimore, Paul Coates was there to greet him. Today, these two men remain rock-solid comrades and friends -- each, the other's chosen brother.

When Eddie and Paul met in the Baltimore Panther Party, they were in their early twenties. They are now into their seventies. This book is a record of their lives and their relationship, told in their own voices. Paul and Eddie talk about their individual stories, their work, their politics, and their immeasurable bond.

Contributor Bio(s)
 
 
 

Susie Day began listening to people in prison at the DC Jail, where she interviewed four women charged with the 1985 bombing of the U.S. Capitol. She lives in Manhattan with her partner (and Capitol-bomber), Laura Whitehorn.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a distinguished writer in residence at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He is the author of the bestselling books The Beautiful StruggleWe Were Eight Years in Power, and Between The World And Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015. Ta-Nehisi is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He is also the current author of the Marvel comics The Black Panther and Captain America.

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