Florida Book Awards, Silver Medal for General Nonfiction
“A fascinating, introspective biography of the life and times of former Black Panther member and African American expatriate Pete O’Neal. It breathes life and historical memory into the ancient and transnational idea that Black Lives Matter.”—Kwasi Densu, Florida A&M University
“The United States government’s war against the Black Panther Party is not a thing of the past. The war continues to this day in the continued exile of Pete O’Neal, whose incredible journey is beautifully captured by Paul Magnarella.”—Mark Gibney, author of International Human Rights Law: Returning to Universal Principles
In the tumultuous year after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, 29-year-old Pete O’Neal became inspired by reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and founded the Kansas City branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP). The same year, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover declared the BPP was the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” Black Panther in Exile is the gripping story of O’Neal, one of the influential members of the movement, who now lives in Africa—unable to return to the United States but refusing to renounce his past.
Arrested in 1969 and convicted for transporting a shotgun across state lines, O’Neal was free on bail pending his appeal when Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the BPP, was assassinated by the police. O’Neal and his wife fled the United States for Algiers. Eventually they settled in Tanzania, where the O’Neals continue the social justice work of the Panthers through community and agricultural programs and host study-abroad programs for American students.
Paul Magnarella—a veteran of the United Nations Criminal Tribunals and O’Neal’s attorney during his appeals process from 1997 to 2001—describes his unsuccessful attempts to overturn what he argues was a wrongful conviction. He lucidly reviews the evidence of judicial errors, the prosecution’s use of a paid informant as a witness, perjury by both the prosecution’s key witness and a federal agent, as well as other constitutional violations. He demonstrates how O’Neal was denied justice during the height of the COINTELPRO assault on black activists in the United States. Paul J. Magnarella is emeritus professor of criminology, law, and society at the University of Florida. He has served as an expert on mission with the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and as a legal researcher for the United Nations Tribunal for Rwanda. Magnarella is the author of many titles, including Human Rights in Our Time and Justice in Africa: Rwanda’s Genocide, Its Courts, and the UN Criminal Tribunal.