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Marilyn Buck

Marilyn Buck
Marilyn Buck.jpg
Marilyn Jean Buck

(1947-12-13)December 13, 1947
DiedAugust 3, 2010(2010-08-03) (aged 62)
Alma materNew College of California

Marilyn Jean Buck (December 13, 1947 – August 3, 2010) was an American Marxist revolutionary, and feminist poet, who was imprisoned for her participation in the 1979 prison escape of Assata Shakur, the 1981 Brink's robbery[1] and the 1983 U.S. Senate bombing. Buck received an 80-year sentence, which she served in federal prison, from where she published numerous articles and other texts. She was released on July 15, 2010, less than a month before her death at age 62 from cancer.[2]

Early life and education

Buck was born December 13, 1947 in Midland, Texas,[3] the daughter of Louis Buck, an Episcopalian minister. Her mother was a nurse; both are deceased. The family was active in the civil rights movement; when Dr. Buck opposed segregation at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, picketed, and harshly criticized the bishop, crosses were burned on their lawn and he was removed as minister from the congregation of St. James in Austin, Texas, a congregation which had been integrated by the previous clergyman and his family. Dr. Buck returned to his veterinarian career, from which he had entered the clergy, to support his family.[4][5] Buck attended the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin, graduating from New College of California while incarcerated.[citation needed] She subsequently earned a master's degree in Poetics from New College.[citation needed]

1960s and 70s activism

At the University of Texas, Buck was involved in organizing against the Vietnam War, as well as anti-racist activities.[6] She joined Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and worked with Austin's underground newspaper, The Rag. In 1967, Buck moved to Chicago where she edited SDS' New Left Notes and attended an SDS teacher-organizer school.[7] With other SDS women she helped to incorporate women's liberation into the organization's politics.[8] She subsequently returned to San Francisco where she worked with Third World Newsreel in outreach in support of Native American and Palestinian sovereignty and against U.S. intervention in Iran and Vietnam and in solidarity with the Black liberation movement. With colleague Karen Ross, she explained their practice: "We stop people on the street, and confront them with our films. Involve them as participants. It has come to them during a walk down the street, they’ve stumbled upon it. They have been confronted. The decision to watch, to register disgust or interest is now theirs. To those inquisitive, we explain more."[9]

In 1973, Buck was convicted on two counts of purchasing (otherwise legal) ammunition using false identification and sentenced to ten years in prison.[10] In 1977 Buck was given a furlough from prison and went underground instead of returning.

Support for the New Afrikan Independence Movement

In 1979, Assata Shakur, who had been convicted of killing a policeman, escaped from a New Jersey prison with help from a number of associates outside. In 1983, Buck was recaptured and convicted of participating in Shakur's escape.[11][12]

Along with a number of BLA members and supporters, Buck was convicted of conspiracies to commit armed robbery in the Brinks robbery of 1981 in which a guard and two police officers were killed. She allegedly drove the getaway car as well as helping to obtain a safe house and weapons. During the investigation into the armed robbery and killings, investigators found weapons and papers[13] in an apartment in East Orange, New Jersey rented by "Carol Durant", an alias of Buck.

Papers there led police to an address in Mount Vernon, New York, where they found bloody clothing and ammunition belonging to Buck.[13] Earlier in 1981, Buck participated in a similar armed robbery of a Brinks truck in the Bronx, during which one of the guards was murdered.[14] The bloodied clothes were from her participation in the armed robbery, in which Buck attempted to draw her weapon and shot herself in the leg.

Resistance Conspiracy case

In 1985, Buck and six others were convicted in the Resistance Conspiracy case, a series of bombings in protest of United States foreign policy in the Middle East and Central America.[15][16]

The May 12, 1988 indictment described the goal of the conspiracy as being "to influence, change and protest policies and practices of the United States Government concerning various international and domestic matters through the use of violent and illegal means" and charged the seven with bombing the United States Capitol building, three military installations in the Washington D.C. area, and four sites in New York City. Warnings were called in and no one was injured. The Capitol was targeted in retaliation for recent U.S. military invasions of Grenada and Lebanon.[17] The military sites bombed were the National War College at Fort McNair, the Washington Navy Yard Computer Center, and the Washington Navy Yard Officers Club. In New York City, the Staten Island Federal Building, the Israeli Aircraft Industries Building, the South African consulate, and the offices of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association were bombed or targeted.[16] Six of those charged in the case have since been released from prison and one was never captured.

As an author

While in prison, Buck contributed articles on women in prison,[18] solitary confinement,[19] political prisoners[20] and related issues to Sojourners Magazine, Monthly Review,[21] and other journals and anthologies.

She published her poetry in journals, anthologies, a chapbook, and an audio CD. She received a PEN American Center prize for poetry in 2001. Her poems appeared in the anthologies Hauling Up the Morning,[22] Wall Tappings,[23] Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth,[24] Seeds of Fire,[25] and in her chapbook, Rescue the Word.[26] Her poems appear on the audio CD Wild Poppies (Freedom Archives 2004).

Her translations and introduction to Cristina Peri Rossi's poetry appeared in State of Exile, Number 58 in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series.[27]


She died at home in Brooklyn on August 3, 2010, after a long battle with uterine cancer, having been released from the Federal Medical Center, Carswell due to her illness on July 15.[3]


  1. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H. (May 12, 1988). "2 Ex-fugitives Convicted of Roles in Fatal Armored-Truck Robbery". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  2. ^ "Friends of Marilyn Buck".
  3. ^ a b Fox, Margalit. "Marilyn Buck", The New York Times, August 5, 2010. Accessed August 5, 2010.
  4. ^ Wizard, Mariann G. (19 May 2010). "Warrior-Poet Marilyn Buck: No Wall Too Tall". The Rag Blog.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Billingsley, Jake. "Black History Month - A White Minister Speaks Against Segregation -1960". Family friend, co activist, and church member. Facebook. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  6. ^ James, Joy (2005). The New Abolitionists (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 259. ISBN 0-7914-6486-5.
  7. ^ James, Joy (2003). Imprisoned Intellectuals - America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-2027-7.
  8. ^ CEML (2002). Can't Jail the Spirit: Political Prisoners in the U.S. Chicago: CEML. p. 192.
  9. ^ Fruchter, Norm (1968). Interview with Marilyn Buck and Karen Ross. New York: Film Quarterly (No. 44). Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  10. ^ "WOMAN IS JAILED AS A GUNRUNNER; Says She Changed Returned to Texas Mysteries Remain Once an Honor Student, She Draws 10 Years on Coast". The New York Times. October 28, 1973.
  11. ^ The New York Times. (November 29, 1979). "Bail Set at $2,500 In Chesimard Case". Section 2, p. 4, column 4.
  12. ^ ones, Charles Earl. (1998). The Black Panther Party (reconsidered). Black Classic Press. ISBN 0-933121-96-2., p. 425.
  13. ^ a b The Brinks Robbery of 1981 - The Crime Library on Archived 2008-04-22 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H. (May 12, 1988). "2 Ex-Fugitives Convicted of Roles In Fatal Armored-Truck Robbery." The New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
  15. ^ "6 Radicals Deny Charges in '83 Capitol Bombing". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 26, 1988. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  16. ^ a b Shenon, Philip (1988-05-12). "U.S. Charges 7 In the Bombing At U.S. Capitol". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-01. Seven members of a group describing itself as a "Communist politico-military organization" were charged today with the 1983 bombing of the Capitol and attacks on several other buildings, including at least four in New York City, according to the Justice Department.
  17. ^ "November 7, 1983: Bomb Explodes in Capitol". United States Senate. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
  18. ^ Day, Susie. "Cruel but Not Unusual: The Punishment of Women in U.S. Prisons. An Interview with Marilyn Buck and Laura Whitehorn", Monthly Review July–August 2001. Reprinted in Joy James, ed., NeoSlave Narratives: Prison Writing and Abolitionism. SUNY Press, 2004. []
  19. ^ Buck, Marilyn. "Incommunicado: Dispatches from a Political Prisoner" in Joy James, editor, Imprisoned Intellectuals: America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003. ISBN 0-7425-2027-7. []
  20. ^ Buck, Marilyn. "Prisons, Social Control and Political Prisoners", Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2000. A fuller version is at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2010-04-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Buck, Marilyn. "The U.S. Prison State", Monthly Review February 2004. []
  22. ^ Blunk, Tim, and Ray Luc Levasseur, eds. Hauling Up the Morning. New Jersey: The Red Sea Press, 1990. ISBN 0-932415-60-1.
  23. ^ Scheffler, Judith A., ed. Wall Tappings: Women's Prison Writings. 2d ed. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY. 2002. ISBN 1-55861-273-4.
  24. ^ Buck, Marilyn. "Poems From Prison", in Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella II, eds. Oakland, California: AK Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1-904859-56-7.
  25. ^ Andersen, Jon, ed. Seeds of Fire: Poetry from the Other USA. England: Smokestack Books, 2008. ISBN 0-9554028-2-4.
  26. ^ Buck, Marilyn (2001). "Rescue the Word". Friends of Marilyn Buck.
  27. ^ Peri Rossi, Cristina, translated with an introduction by Marilyn Buck. State of Exile.Pocket Poets Number 58. San Francisco, California: City Lights, 2008. ISBN 0-87286-463-4.


External links