Interview with Mary Frances Berry
QUESTION 20
JACKIE SHEARER:

Um, I'd like to ask you if you felt, when the prison uprising took place in Attica in 1971, did you feel that that was part of the movement, an extension of the movement, or something altogether different?

MARY FRANCIS BERRY:

We thought, in the 60s and the 70s, that the effort to reform and change conditions and protest around prison issues and what was happening to Black prisoners was a part of the struggle. It's not that we condone criminality, or that if somebody, you know, beat up our momma or something we were going to say, "They shouldn't go to jail." We understand that their are people who are criminals. But we know about the, and we knew then, about the injustice in the criminal justice system. And the discrimination. And the conditions that in some cases led people to do what they did. And we knew what was happening to them in the prisons. And so we were sympathetic to efforts on their part to try to change their situation. And so the prison justice movement was part of the movement.

JACKIE SHEARER:

OK, cut please.


MARY FRANCIS BERRY:

I remember Fred Hampton's murder and, and thinking at the time that, you know--



MARY FRANCIS BERRY:

I remember Fred Hampton's murder, and I remember all of the activities surrounding Bobby Seale and Huey Newton and the Panthers and Eldridge Cleaver and the rest of them, and feeling at the time that they were all part of the movement for justice. Because, I understand as a historian that all of these activities play a role in the movement. You have to have a multi-faceted strategy. People may engage in activities in which I would not engage, and I play the role that I play, but I understand where they fit, and they're all part of the movement.