Two Black Veteran Activists Remembered

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Host Michel Martin marks the passing of two historic lives. Former Black Panther Geronimo Pratt died on Thursday in Tanzania. He served 27 years in prison for a murder he insisted he did not commit, before his conviction was overturned in 1997. Martin also marks the death of Albertina Sisulu, a veteran of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Sisulu spent months in jail for her work championing the rights of women and children. She was 92 years old.

MICHEL MARTIN, host: I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

It's Friday, so of course we're going to hear from the Barbershop guys in a minute. But before we do, we want to mark the passing of two people of historic note: one who became a symbol of an imperfect justice system in this country, and one who lived much of her life under the thumb of apartheid in South Africa.

First, we want to acknowledge the death of former Black Panther Geronimo Pratt. His lawyer confirmed that he died yesterday in Tanzania, at the age of 63. Pratt, a Vietnam veteran before he joined the Black Panther Party, served 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, before his conviction was overturned in 1997.

His conviction and subsequent exoneration served as a symbol, for many, of the ongoing struggle to perfect the justice system in this country, particularly where race and unpopular defendants are involved.

Also, we note the passing of Albertina Sisulu, an anti-apartheid movement veteran whose husband spent 25 years in custody at South Africa's infamous Robben Island Prison, where Nelson Mandela also spent much of his time as a political prisoner. Albertina Sisulu championed the rights of women and children, and spent months in jail herself, and had her movement severely restricted by the South African government and security forces. She was 92 years old.

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