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Candy Man Been Here!

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:40 pm    Post subject: Candy Man Been Here!  Reply with quote

Robert Hillary King is the most unusual and lovable candy man in the world. He was here in San Diego for a book signing this afternoon and I bought his book and as soon as I got home I ordered some of his candy. The book is called From the Bottom of the Heap: The Autobiography of Black Panther Robert Hillary King, and his homemade candy, which he made while in Angola prison, is now called Freelines and is available over the internet.

King's book is available from PM Press here:

Here's their brief review:

In 1970, a jury convicted Robert Hillary King of a crime he did not commit and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He became a member of the Black Panther Party while in Angola State Penitentiary, successfully organizing prisoners to improve conditions. In return, prison authorities beat him, starved him, and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained in a six by nine foot cell for 29 years as one of the Angola 3. In 2001, the state grudgingly acknowledged his innocence and set him free. This is his story.

It begins at the beginning: born black, born poor, born in Louisiana in1942, King journeyed to Chicago as a hobo at the age of 15. He married and had a child, and briefly pursued a semi-pro boxing career to help provide for his family. Just a teenager when he entered the Louisiana penal system for the first time, King tells of his attempts to break out of this system, and his persistent pursuit of justice where there is none.

Yet this remains a story of inspiration and courage, and the triumph of the human spirit. The conditions in Angola almost defy description, yet King never gave up his humanity, or the work towards justice for all prisoners that he continues to do today. From the Bottom of the Heap, so simply and humbly told, strips bare the economic and social injustices inherent in our society, while continuing to be a powerful literary testimony to our own strength and capacity to overcome.

A slightly longer review in .pdf form is available here:

You'll want to check out PM Press. They only started last year and they have some really great stuff. I've ordered their DVD "Beyond Elections," and intend to buy a lot more from them.

As for the candy, King's website says:

In 1962, at Angola Prison in Louisiana I learned to concoct a special praline-like candy from a fellow prisoner named "Cap Pistol". I continued to make this recipe of sugar, butter, milk and pecans, even during the 29 years I spent in restricted confinement. In my cell I made my candy using a stove of stacked tin cans, and tissue for fuel. The ingredients came from other prisoners on the cellblock that saved their butter pats and sugar packets. The pecans were smuggled in by other means.
On my first full day of freedom I was compelled by my aunt, who is like a sister, to make a batch of candy at her house.

Later Laurie Lazer, a friend in San Francisco, helped me come up with the name Freelines. We liked the name because it sounds like pralines, which my candy is similar to, and I was finally free. It just made sense... Freelines.

Now that I AM FREE I hope to make life a little sweeter for you!

And it takes PayPal.

Mr. King is a soft-spoken man with a southern accent but he held the riveted attention of his audience with every word. Among other things, he stated clearly that the 13th Amendment did not abolish slavery. As we on madmark know, slavery was abolished except as punishment for a crime, and one can be "duly convicted" of the "crime" of being black, the "crime" being poor, or for committing nonviolent, victimless "crimes" like smoking weed. One our of every 100 Americans is in prison and that includes ONE OUT OF EVERY NINE BLACK MEN IN AMERICA.

As one of the Angola 3, Mr. King spent 29 years in solitary confinement. The other two, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, are still in prison even though they are innocent. At present it is the State of Louisiana that is denying them bond because there no longer is a legal case against them, so if they were released there would be no way to bring them up on any charges or return them to prison.

Mr. King stressed that there is a big difference between legality and morality. What is legal isn't necessarily moral -- at one point slavery was legal, and in fact, since our justice system is so immoral, it still is.

King is a humble man but his strength of character makes one feel privileged to be in the presence of greatness. PM Press will be publishing the schedule of his book tour, so if you get a chance to see him, don't miss it. And there's a possibility that he will be in Europe early next year for those lucky enough not to be in the U.S.


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