My journey in Activism actually began when I was 20, on my first day in the ADOC.
After I was processed into the system, due to my Life without Parole sentence, I was placed in the Lock up Unit – to my benefit, with some of the state’s most Revolutionary Conscious brothers. One of those was a brother by the name of ‘Johnny Mac’ Young.
After a brief conversation, he sent me the Autobiography of Malcolm X and a newspaper called the REVOLUTIONARY WORKER – this planted the seed that lead to the awakening of my consciousness.
After a few months, on August 1, 1995 I was sent to the infamous Holman Prison, where I was assigned a bed next to a Black Panther by the name of Richard ‘Mafundi’ Lake. For the next year, Mr Mafundi would teach me the history of Africa, African people and our struggle in this country against oppression – this nurtured the seed.
In 1997, I met a brother name Jesse Morrison and became a student in the ‘Lifers Group,’ a self-help program he started on Death Row prior to getting his conviction overturned. He taught me about Leadership and Prison Politics – this cultivated the seed.
* In 1998 in response to the ADOC attempting to stop allowing us to get Christmas packages from home, all inmates at Tutweiler refused to eat or work, then all the men at Holman joined the women by starting a Hunger and Work Strike . This was my first experience with prisoner Unity, organizing, protest and negotiations. Which would serve as the foundation for all of my future prison activism work – this was when theory met practice.
* In 1999 I began studying with the Nation of Gods and Earths (5%ers) where I developed a genuine love and concern for my fellow brothers. I began studying and teaching classes on philosophy, psychology, african & world history and GED subjects.
* In 2000 I met James ‘Mac’ McConico and joined the Law Class (Halifax County), where we taught classes on the Constitution, Rules of Criminal Procedures, Evidence, Appeal procedures and literally worked on thousands of cases, helping everyone in the prison. For the next 15 years, this would become my life work- to help improve the conditions and situation of the brothers trapped in this unjust and economically driven system – he gave me Structure.
PUTTING IN WORK
* In July of 2007, we began a Self Help Planning group called the BLACK AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, where we planned and organized programs such as KWANZAA, BLACK HISTORY CELEBRATIONS, JUNETEENTH, etc. We used these events to stress education and to build unity amongst the different affiliations.
* In August of 2007 in protest to an oppressive management style, unsanitary and inhumane living conditions all the men at Holman engaged in a Non-Violent and Peaceful Hunger and Work Strike for 4 days until our demands were met. I served as the Spokesperson and represented the prisoners interest in the negotiations with the ADOC. As a result, the ADOC was forced to remodel every Dormitory in the prison. I was labeled as a threat to the ADOC and was transferred St Clair CF.
* In 2009 I aided several brothers in developing a prisoners-based SELF HELP GROUP / CONVICTS AGAINST VIOLENCE (CAV), which produced and promoted an Educational environment. The results caused it to be acknowledged in ADOC regulation. Until 2010, and the coming of Carter Davenport and his Administration. At which time the CAV PROGRAM was systematically dissolved and all educational material was removed from the Cell Blocks. Chaos and Confusion ensued.
However, there were several of us that continued our Education in the Religious Classes (5%, NOI, Rastafarian). It was around this time, 2010, that I began the FREE EARL MOVEMENT, via Newsletters and Social Media. I organised several Awareness and Fundraising Events in Enterprise, Alabama (*the city of conviction). I also created a Newsletter, REFINED MINDZ, where I highlighted several cases involving wrongful convictions of other men in the ADOC. I remained a Legal Aid in the Law Library at St Clair until the end of 2012.
In November of 2012 there was physical altercation between several prisoners and Correctional Officers (Beginning with the Captain, Lieutenant and a Sergeant). The day following the altercation, I informed the Lt that I saw her hit a prisoner with a trash can while he was subdued on the ground. Her days working here are numbered.
She/Lt informed the Warden that she didn’t feel safe around me. I was written up for Threatening an Officer, then I was placed in Solitary Confinement.
* In March, 2013, I was transferred back to Holman CF.
* In 2013, I helped coalesce past strategies and tactics into the FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT (FAM), for Human and Civil Rights.
* After months of back and forth dialogue, In August of 2013, Melvin (Ray) and I formed FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT. I immediately began teaching classes on Organizing and Pooling our Resources in the Struggle against the ADOC. With the assistance of several dedicated brothers from every affiliation, we came together in Unity and Solidarity.
* I expanded the promotion of others that had been wronged by the Alabama Judicial System. And went full fledged Social Media and created a variety of pages:
– THE LOST SUN OF COLLEGEVILLE, JUSTICE FOR ROBERT RODGERS
– JUSTICE FOR OEATHA ARCHIE
– I AM ROBERT EARL PHILLIPS
– WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS/ALABAMA
– WHY THE HABITUAL OFFENDERS LAW NEEDS TO BE REPEALED
– THE YOUTH SUMMIT;
– along with the FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT sites.
* On January 1, 2014, at Holman Correctional Facility, Free Alabama Movement launched the STATEWIDE SHUTDOWN/ WORK STOPPAGE. Technically the Work Strike spread to 2 different Facilities and lasted 21 days.
On the 22nd of January, the day after the Strike ended at Holman, I was surrounded by approximately 15 CO’s, including a Videographer. I was escorted to my assigned area, where a very thorough search was done of all my belongings. They found nothing. – *Remember it was recorded* –
After the search was completed, I was then escorted to the Shift Office to talk to the Lieutenant. Once in Shift Office, I was told to take off my clothes. At which time a Strip Search was conducted, Twice. Again, They found nothing.
The Lieutenant then told me to tell my people to stop posting stuff about Holman on Facebook. I was then allowed to go back to the Dormitory.
However, 5 minutes after being back in the Dorm, the CO called my name and said they wanted me back in the Shift Office.
Once I reported to the Shift Office, I was informed that a wooden makeshift cell phone battery was recovered by one of the CO’s during the search so he had to place me in Segregation.
Two hours after being in Segregation, I was served 2 Disciplinaries (possession of cellphone battery and Participation in Social Media Network of being Administrator of FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT Facebook page).
Then the next morning I was served Notification of a Custody Review Hearing based upon the two above-mentioned Disciplinaries (**I hadn’t even been found guilty of them yet).
* In February of 2014, I was reclassified to Solitary Confinement indefinitely.
* In May of 2014, due to Inhumane Food Serving practices, Myself and 4 other Brothers began a Hunger Strike for 5 days. In which the Administration agreed to and did alter their Segregation Food Serving practices.
* In 2014, FAM and IWW created the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC).
* In 2014, FAM helped create the FREE MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT.
* In 2015, FAM helped create Mothers And Families (MAF) an Outside Support System for Alabama prisoners- slaves
* In 2015, FAM helped create the FREE OHIO MOVEMENT.
* In 2015, FAM and several other organizations began Educating, Organizing and promoting a National Prisoners Work Strike to Amend the 13th Amendment and End Slavery.
* On September 9th, 2016, FAM helped set in motion the biggest prison strike in U.S. History.
* In 2016, FAM helped create the FAM QUEEN TEAM, a group of female Activists promoting and advocating for legislative change for Alabama’s judicial and penal system.
* In 2018, I assisted other prisoners in creating the Non-Alliance Peoples Party (NAPP), a grassroots organizing machine.