From 1987 through early 1988, Daniel and Joyce Stokes published Into the Night, "a newsletter for freedom for political prisoners held in the United States." Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this simply-produced publication offered updates and commentary on Americans imprisoned for politically-motivated acts. Reflecting both the legacy of 1960s radicalism and the resurgent activism associated with U.S. imperialism in Central America, Into the Night offered news on the Ohio 7 sedition trial, the MOVE organization, and the fate of Plowshares war resisters.
The Stokes collection contains correspondence from subscribers and supporters of Into the Night, fleshing out their political philosophy and the conditions of imprisonment. Drawn from groups including the MOVE organization, the United Freedom Front, Black Liberation Army, and Plowshares, the correspondents include Ramona Africa, Alberto Aranda, Philip Berrigan, Marilyn Buck, Carl Kabat, Ray Luc Levasseur, Ruchell Cinque Magee, and Carol Manning. The collection also includes copies of other radical publications and a complete run of Into the Night itself.
The collection is open for research.
Background on Daniel and Joyce Stokes
A poet and writer, Daniel M. J. Stokes was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Dec. 27, 1950, the son of Ervin William and Elizabeth (Ray) Stokes. A former editor of the East River Review, Stokes has contributed work to a number of magazines and published several books of poetry, beginning with Wired/LSD: Poems (New York: Culture Review Press, 1974) and including The World and Other Places (Cambridge, Mass: Chthon Press., 1975), Poems from Mexico (Mexico City: s.n., 1987), and Poems on the Run, 1984-1988 (Mexico City: In Exile Press, 1995).
From 1987 through early 1988, he and his wife, Joyce, published Into the Night, "a newsletter for freedom for political prisoners held in the United States." Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., this simply-produced publication offered updates and commentary on Americans imprisoned for politically-motivated acts. Reflecting both the legacy of 1960s radicalism and the resurgent activism associated with U.S. imperialism in Central America, Into the Night offered news on the Ohio 7 sedition trial, the MOVE organization, and the fate of Plowshares war resisters.
Sent free of charge, the newsletter reached an audience of prisoners convicted of draft resistance, antinuclear protest, and anti-racist and anti-imperialist revolutionary activity, and it was read by others who had become radicalized during their imprisonment. From the outset, Into the Night generated significant resistance from prison authorities, and for unclear reasons, it appears to have ceased publication after its fifth number in March 1988.
Centered around the newsletter Into the Night, the Stokes Papers contains correspondence from a range of self-identified political prisoners, accompanied by an interesting, but ultimately miscellaneous suite of publications from the radical press. As small and tightly focused as it is, the collection provides a valuable window into the radical edge of the late 1980s political spectrum, and particularly the conjunction of antiracist and anti-imperialist groups within the prison system.
Although some of the correspondence is at best mundane -- mostly requests for subscriptions -- several prisoners provide compelling analyses of their political views and the conditions of imprisonment. Most correspondents are represented by only one or two letters, however the Ohio 7 "seditionists" (Ray Luc Levasseur and Carol Manning), the MOVE organization (Ramona Africa and William Phillips Africa), and members of the Black Liberation Army are somewhat better represented.
Among other noteworthy items in the collection are letters from Chicano revolutionaries Alberto Aranda and Alvaro Hernandez, including protests filed with the Texas Department of Corrections regarding the decision to deny Aranda access to Into the Night, and two lengthy letters from Aranda discussing political prisoners. Marilyn Buck's letters provide a sharp analysis of the need for political ideology along with a copy of court proceedings filed by her and Mutulu Shakur (see also the folder relating to the Resistance Conspiracy Case). Several African American revolutionaries discuss their political motives and life in prison, including Ramona Africa (filed under MOVE), John Albury (Born Allah), Anthony Bottom (Jalil Muntaqim), Eric Clemmons-Bey, Kenneth Akbar Muhammad Jenkins, Ruchell Cinque Magee, and Richard Williams.
Finally, the collection includes a small number of radical antiwar and antinuclear resisters, most notably Philip Berrigan, Carl Kabat, George Ostensen, and Gillam Kerley.
While editing Into the Night, the Stokes kept copies of other radical publications, many intended for political prisoners or fellow revolutionaries, the more uncommon of which have been retained within the collection, which also includes an apparently complete run of Into the Night, including paste-ups of four of the five extant issues.
On Black consciousness, becoming a revolutionary
On political prisoners, politicization behind bars, Alvaro Hernandez.
Information flyers on Plowshares.
On the definition of political prisoner.
Includes an article on victory in the Ohio 7 sedition trial.
On ideology and sustaining a revolutionary consciousness; brief filed with Mutulu Shakur on status of political prisoners.
Includes issue no. 1 of Call for Justice, the Committee's newsletter.
On her near disappearance as a prisoner; willingness to be exchanged to Cuba.
On his political history and involvement in the "Brinks case."
On attempting to be classified as a POW
On Prisoners United for Revolutionary Education; copy of Arm the Spirit, vol. 1:1 (newsletter of PURE); "The Prisoners Defense Committee report on brutality and torture in Texas Department of Corrections;" background to becoming a political prisoner while imprisoned
Articles: "United States at war with innocent Palestinians," Palestine, captive Iranian sailors, Philip Berrigan and Plowshares, Soviet Union and human rights, Alvaro Hernandez.
Articles: Escape of Assata Shakur; MOVE, Brian Wilson, Ramona Africa on "Long live John Africa! Long live John Africa's revolution!"
Articles: updates on MOVE and other political prisoners, "The Government calls it conspiracy -- we call it resistance" (on the Ohio 7), Ray Luc Levasseur on "VVAW article," "Kazi Toure: Community threat?"
Articles: "The crime is treason the punishment" (on Felipe Noguera's testimony regarding the Ohio 7 Sedition trial), Gillam Kerley on "Political oppression and the struggle against the draft."
Articles: "For freedom, nothing less," on the spirit of Malcolm X and John Brown and Mutulu Shakur and Marilyn Buck, "State of California trying to silence Ruchell Cinque Magee," on censorship of Into the Night, Ray Luc Levasseur's "Memere" (poem), Ray Luc Levasseur on "Free the Ohio 7."
On unjust conviction, racial disparities in prison system, revolution.
Circular letters on political prisoners.
Committee Against Registration and the Draft
On Ohio 7 sedition trial; Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Copies of three legal briefs, letters, "Black August," Kazi Toure.
News releases from Ramona Africa and Wiliam Philips Africa.
Transcript of testimony of Felipe Noguera, Sedition Committee updates, posters and publicity
Appeal for help from "IWW union organizer and jailhouse lawyer."
Vol. 5:2 enclosed in letter filed with Gillam Kerley.
Member of the Squamish Five; includes two poems.
Includes update on Ohio 7 Sedition trial and information on Kazi Toure.
Acquired from Robinson Street Books, 2010.
Processed by Dex Haven, July 2010.
A number of collections in SCUA contain materials on political prisoners and political trials in the United States, including:
Cite as: Daniel and Joyce Stokes Papers (MS 661). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.