Orisanmi Burton eulogized CNUS founder Eddie Ellis in CounterPunch after his death in summer 2014. Burton recalled Eddie's life and the tremendous legacy he left behind.
With the passing of Eddie Ellis in July of 2014, another giant of the black freedom struggle has joined the ancestors. Eddie features prominently in my dissertation research on prison-based organizations and study groups in New York. I was fortunate enough to get to know him over the past two years and his impression on me in that brief time was tremendous. As anyone who has encountered him knows, Eddie was a masterful communicator, guarded about his personal life, but immensely generous with his ideas in any sort of intellectual exchange. Over the course of his life he has been associated with luminaries like Larry Neal, Amiri Baraka, Malcolm X, Queen Mother Audley Moore, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansburry, Yuri Kochiyama, Stokely Carmichael, James Foreman, and Derrick Bell, yet when he and I spoke he would, at times, ask about my opinions and listen carefully to what I had to say. For this I was honored.
Eddie’s life was rich, and often painful, but it seems to me that his vital talent was his ability to draw on his personal experience and the experiences of those around him in order to analyze a given situation and create possibilities that otherwise would seem impossible, not just for himself, but also for those around him. He brought out the brilliance in others. In what follows, I will try to honor Eddie by providing a few political “snapshots” that illustrate this point.
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