One Quote from each chapter, I quoted a lot of the first lines from chapters, I found them interesting.
It’s a great book & recommend reading it. The book connected some dots for me. I saw it recommended online, that’s why I always recommend stuff because other people’s recommendations always benefit me.
I watched the movie Redemption with Jamie Foxx playing Tookie. I remember going to the video store years ago, they had an ‘urban’ movie section & rented the movie, I don’t know why. It was terrible, Jamie Foxx didn’t even try to get bigger and Tookie was a massive bodybuilder but years later I’m still doing the same stuff.
It’s the first book I became emotional at. I don’t believe that he should have been executed, people will disagree heavily but when you have the likes of Edward Kemper, a necrophile who killed his mother, grandparents and many other women is alive and kicking in prison, you see my point.
**Something to note he wasn’t killed living the violent street life or in prison by another prisoner.
Stanley Tookie Williams was executed December 13th 2005 in San Quentin Prison, California by Lethal Injection, aged 51.
- I believe it was the lingering racist effects of Jim Crow – systemic discrimination against southern blacks during the period following the civil war – as well as my incorrigible behaviour that fuled my mother’s desire to migrate to California.
- We lived in a predominantly black area of private homes, apartments and duplexes. As I grew older, I realized that it wasn’t the typical urban ghetto – it had a deceptive look of prosperity. It was a west side colony of poverty behind a facade of manicured lawns and clean streets of Cadillacs, Fords and Chevys. The neighborhood was a shiny red apple rotting away at the core.
- As a member of the black male species living in the ghetto microcosm circumstances dictated that I be either prey or predator. It didn’t require deep reflection to determine which of the two I preferred.
- As a child of poverty I justified my theft as a need far greater than that of the other people in the church. I knew the difference between the haves and the have nots. The preacher, his family and cohorts were living high on the hog. They had fine homes, fancy clothes and jewelry and the preacher sported a brand new Cadillac each year. Our family was broke, no car, no bicycle, no tv and limited clothing. I figured the few dollars I pocketed wouldn’t be missed.
- The time had come for me to enter a place of higher learning. But South Central’s education system was cloning and graduating students who could barely read, write or reason. It really didn’t matter which elementary school I was enrolled in because I was destined to be dys-educated. (I’ve coined the term “dys-education” to depict the abnormal, impaired and diseased knowledge I received in life from the public school system).
- A child can adapt in even the most harsh of surroundings and that is what I did.
- To them, our family was proper, meaning that because our speech patterns were devoid of ghetto vernacular, we were acting white. Being called proper was a euphemism for being an Uncle Tom, a white man’s black man. To me Fred’s kids were country bumpkins acting like niggers I had picked up the derrogatory term from the streets where calling a black man the N word resulted in a fight to the death.
- In spite of my being the most inconspicuous looking youth around, the cops swooped down on me because I was a black youth walking. Two white cops jumped out of the car with their hands poised on their guns and demanded I stand still. One cop asked “are you a Panther boy?” At the time I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. I knew nothing about the revolutionary group called the Black Panthers. I thought the fool was trying to call me an animal, so I responded of course not, his rough pat down search was a legendary law enforcement procedure known to virtually all black males living in South Central, involving undue intimate contact in the groin area.
- Long before high school, I was a user of street drugs. I had graduated from sniffing glue to smoking marijuana to dropping red devils, a barbiturate that is a depressant.
- In 1970 I was largely unconscious of the battle being fought on a higher level for black survival by civil rights organizations: Black Panthers, United Slaves, National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee, Nation of Islam, African National Congress, and other black organizations in the United States and abroad. I was brain dead about the Soledad Brothers, Huey P Newton, Angela Davis, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Malcolm X, Bobby Rush, Bunchie Carter, Bobby Seales, Martin Luther King Jr and other black leaders.
- While black economics programs experienced full downswing the gang factor and its circle of violence were experiencing a surge. This was a growth industry! Throughout South Central there were many factions of visible and latent street gangs with parasitical appetites. Contrary to popular belief black gangs were not a phenomenon but rather a commonality that existed long before I was born. The older gangs – the notorious Slausons, Gladiators and the business men – had become ethnicity conscious and were absorbed into the Black Panther Party or other political groups.
- Our quest for a title was narrowed down to three names, Bub liked the Black Overlords, Big Curtis favored The Assassins and Raymond had the unusual title the Cribs. In a unanimous vote Cribs became our new name and epithet. When Buddha asked me whether I liked the name, I said cool Tookie and the Cribs what do you think? I’ll never forget his expression of horror and disbelief and a genuine concern for my name being attached to the title. Buddha reminded me that the title meant the police would hold me responsible for everything that happened. I grudgingly listened because I knew what he was saying was true. Though I dropped the idea of having my name before the cribs title the name itself was short lived. Most of us, while intoxicated mispronounced cribs and started saying Crips and it stuck. For a while on the east side the title cribs was being written on walls. Throughout the west side the name Crip was being scribbled on walls. Surprisingly, the mix up in the title didn’t jeopardize anything. Eventually the word Crip replaced Crib but neither had any underlying political organizational cryptic or acronymic meaning. Both titles depicted a fighting alliance against street gangs nothing more nothing less.
- In 1971 during the same month of the Crips origination there emerged a female version of ourselves the Criplettes. They gained notoriety for the indiscriminate attacks on both female and male opponents overwhelming them with numbers and jacking them for their possessions; the founder of the Criplettes was my then girlfriend Bonnie Quarles.
- Like most of my homeboys in this volatile microcosm I didn’t dwell upon death, blind ignorance made me indifferent to its possibility. Though my homeboys began to be killed off, my inner self remained untouched. I shed no tears growing up, I had seen enough ruthlessness to desentize me. By lashing out at gangs and the world I felt no empathy, no penitence for what I touted as the ultimate display of manhood. At 17½ I could not feel others suffering or loss of a loved one they felt. I stared at the corpse of each friend as if they were sleeping or in a drug state coma, to me they were flashes of my future which I dared not face or feel. There were crips like Melvin’s homeboys 14 year old brother Deedee, murdered by the cops Raymond’s homeboy Craig, blown away by a vengeful adult. My homeboy driver Dan shot down because of his resemblance to me. I would have risked my life for them but I lacked the humanity to mourn their deaths even as I recognised that death would one day visit us all. I saw dying as the end of the losing equation in the scheme of survival.
- It was 1972 I was 18, the crips gang wasn’t even a year old but we were the baddest human beings on this planet. I started doing the crip walk taught to me by Dancing Sugar Bear who originated it.
- Buddha was also the 1st of us to style a Blue Bandana, although there has been numerous false accounts written about the origin of the blue bandana association with the crips. It initially became a part of Buddha’s color coordinated ensemble of blue Levis, blue shirt and dark blue suspenders. Oftentimes Buddha’s blue bandanna hung loosely outside of his left back pants pocket or wrapped around his head pirate style or used to wipe his brow (later we would wear the blue bandana in memoriam of Buddha’s demise). That tribute to him eventually morphed into the allegorical color of blue for crips.
- I was still charged with the crime, luckily my stepfather had a friend, a seasoned and skilled attorney, Johnnie Cochran. His brilliance in the courtroom had my 2 accusers tripping over themselves with so many obvious lies that the district attorney was shaking their head in disgust.
- Odd that I could play father to them but was too trifling to take care of my own sons Travon and Stanley whose mother was my then girlfriend Beverly. Being irresponsible and low minded I convinced both Bonnie and Beverly to not list me as the father, to say they weren’t sure who the father was so I could avoid paying child support. I had stooped low and didn’t feel the slightest discomfort about my lack of ethics.
- At Gold’s gym I met Mr Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger, one day Jackie and I strolled past Arnold and a female on the boardwalk at Venice beach, indicating me Arnold said to his companion “see that guy there, those aren’t arms they’re legs!”.
- Even from the gutter level of existence and detested as the scum of the earth I sought approval and respect from my peers no different than anyone else.
- Since my rivals failed to lay me to rest in crip martyrdom I knew I’d be back in the commission sooner or later. For a while I traveled throughout Compton feeding my ego with night raids that felt ridiculous as I limped away after each dirty deed. Terrible tee and Godfather enjoyed the action but for me the thrill was gone, I was the walking wounded unable to perform the simplest of movements with my crippled legs. I was tormented by thoughts of never being able to smash the so called death squad haunted by feelings of inadequacy returning the favor lex talionis style was something I needed and wanted.
- The years 1977 to 1979 were the lowest point of my life. I allowed drugs to rule my consciousness and render me an addict. Much of my existence in one fashion or another was connected to drugs having used marijuanna, angel dust, LSD, barbiturates, cocaine, Thai stick and glue; none of these were more chronic than sherm a cigarette soaked in phencyclidine better known as PCP.
- I was used to it, happiness was something I’d never experienced.
- Living in South Central, an environment that made it difficult to be a daydreamer with idyllic views. I didn’t have the cerebral stability usually found in hope, I lived in a mental funk craving salvation but the crip god denied me reprieve from my hell. I was dying a slow death with no purpose or legitimate cause worthy of such a sacrifice, though I’d boldly challenge any gang rival I shield away from revolting against the conditions I allowed to dominate my past present and future, I was a total mess.
- I did not see Samuel again for 2 years until the day he took the witness stand to testify under oath untruthfully that I had killed 3 people, though I was ultimately charged with 4 counts of 1st degree Murder and 2 counts of robbery using a firearm.
- Though I cannot condone it, much of the violence inflicted on my gang rivals and other blacks was an unconscious display of my frustration with poverty, racism, police brutality and other systemic injustices routinely visited upon residents of urban black colonies such as south central Los Angeles. I was frustrated because I felt trapped. I internalized the defeatist rhetoric propagated as street wisdom in my hood that there were only 3 ways out of south central, migration death or incarceration. I located a fourth option: incarcerated death.
- Throughout the 2 years of being disorientated I completely forgot that Raymond Washington had been murdered in August of 1979, 5 months after my incarceration.
- I was becoming a student of sociology and psychology owing to my keen observation of others, people can be creatures of habit and in significant ways it was necessary for me to be aware of such behavior.
- We shared a common interest in vocabulary development, so we exchanged lists and quizzed each other on enunciation, orthography, semantics and correct use of each word in a sentence.
- Plenty of people have claimed they had an epiphany that radically altered their lives I wasn’t fortunate enough to encounter a dazzling light visions or a voice of infinite wisdom to shake my world to its foundation, being brick headed it would’ve taken the sky falling on me to notice the need for a change in my life. I failed continually to see the bigger picture. I trudged through life with no purpose or direction.
- In the midst of the distractions I still possessed the enthusiasm to reinvent myself, it was difficult to transform my criminal mentality into a mindset with a conscience, everything was working against me. I was an imprisoned black man condemned to die cofounder of the infamous and hated Crips and no one believed I’d ever change, even I had doubts.
- At that moment I knew that my life as a Crip had come to an end, in a cold sweat I shook myself out of this awful reverie, consumed by sadness not for crippen but for the lives of all the crips who had died, for the innocent black lives hurt in the crossfire, for the decades of young lives ruined, for a causeless cause.
- During my darkest moments when the burdens seemed too heavy to bear, a human angel came into my life to help lighten the load in the latter part of December 1992. As I was exercising a guard placed a letter on the cell bars I stopped and read the letter from a black journalist and author Ms Barbara Becnel then tossed it on the bunk and continued my workout. Usually after reading missives from journalists, authors and the news media I’d tear them up and flush them down the toilet, throughout the years I sensed many of them were parasitical opportunists seeking to exploit the legacy and line their pockets but something urged me to reread this letter. Once I finished my workout and took a birdbath I sat down and perused Barbara’s letter again, it was both fate and good timing that induced me to even consider responding, Barbara assured me that her intentions were honorable. She was writing a book about the history of California’s black gangs because of Raymond Washington’s demise she wrote, I was the sole surviving person who could provide an accurate account of the crips growth to become the most notorious black gang in California and to expand its reach across the USA into South Africa and elsewhere. Though I didn’t detect duplicity on Barbara’s part I still viewed her with suspicion.
- It was a belated effort on my part but I was proving that even from the wretched abyss of Death Row the impossible was possible.
- In 1997 Barbara and I came up with an idea for an educational website www.tookie.com that has hundreds and thousands of internet visitors from all walks of life. I wrote another book – Life in Prison for junior and high school youths published in 1998, it has won 2 national book honors including one from the American library association.
- While standing waiting for the guard to take a picture a tactful Barbara asked Winnie (Mandela) to convince me to keep my eyes open, I always close them before a photo is taken I have done so for years it is my way of blocking out the madness that surrounds me.
- There are prison guards just as inhuman and irrational as some prisoners, case in point the 1971 Stanford prison experiment which divided students into two groups. One group posed as prisoners and the other as guards both in a makeshift prison setting. The 6 day experiment resulted in a barbaric transformation in attitude among those students role playing as prison guards resulting in termination of the experiment. This was a scaled down version of the full blown madness behind these walls where some of the most sadomasochistic minds belong to guards. Some of the males and females working in prison undergo a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde metamorphosis, their family members and friends would be appalled to discover how odious, conniving, mendacious, perverted, insidious and animalistic they can be at work. Or perhaps they would not.
- Everybody I know thought it was phenomenal that you were able to turn your life around, write children’s books, get a visit from Winnie Mandela and be nominated for a Nobel Peace prize and you did all from behind bars on Death Row.
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