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Activist Johnny Spain on Finding Power in His Biracial Heritage

The organizer and former Black Panther member was born to a white mother and black father in the South. When he was six years old, he was adopted by a black family in California. His mother sent him away for his own safety, but he never understood why, and grew up feeling abandoned. At 17 he was sent to prison after killing a man during an aborted mugging. In prison he met George Jackson who changed his life by exposing him to the teachings of the Black Panther movement. Spain became a leader in the Black Panther Movement in prison. Jackson was killed during an attempted prison break, and Spain was convicted of conspiracy. Later that charge was overturned, and Spain was freed in 1988. He's now a community organizer in San Francisco. There's a new book about him: "Black Power White Blood: The Life and Times of Johnny Spain" (Pantheon Books).

21:45

Other segments from the episode on July 22, 1996

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, July 22, 1996: Interview with Johnny Spain; Interview with Jack Hill; Review of the Eric Dolphy's CD box set "The Complete Prestige Recordings."

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