On April 6, Jalil Muntaqim, previously known as Anthony Bottom, will be at the SUNY Brockport campus to deliver a talk entitled, “History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim.” He was invited by one of our faculty members who was approved for a Promoting Excellence in Diversity grant.
Mr. Muntaqim joined the Black Panther Party at age 16 and the Black Liberation Army at 18. In 1971, he was convicted in the killing of two New York City Police Officers. He spent nearly 50 years in prison for this crime before being released on parole in 2020.
The University has received strong feedback about this visit. Some are outraged that a man who has been convicted of such crimes was invited onto campus. Others look forward to the opportunity to learn about Mr. Muntaqim’s experiences.
We do not support the violence exhibited in Mr. Muntaqim’s previous crimes, and his presence on campus does not imply endorsement of his views or past actions. However, we believe in freedom of speech. SUNY Brockport has routinely held speaking events involving controversial speakers from various background and viewpoints, and will continue to do so. These conversations are uncomfortable. They are meant to be. They’re about gaining a new perspective.
Mr. Muntaqim’s talk will give those who choose to engage an opportunity to learn about his perspective and what may have contributed to his past experiences. Individuals will have the opportunity to ask difficult questions. They can ask why he chooses to identify as a former political prisoner. They can ask how his life experiences have informed the work he does now. Every individual can decide for themselves what they, personally, should do with that information. Should they just absorb it? Do they want to learn more? Do they wish to reject it?
Thank you for your continued willingness to engage in critical and respectful dialogue.