I Am Maroon

The True Story of an American Political Prisoner

Coming Soon


By Russell Shoatz

With Kanya D’Almeida

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$39.00 CAD

A cinematic memoir of justice and redemption that traces a former Black Panther's tumultuous life from gang member to Black liberation leader. 
Russell Shoatz was a gang member from age 11, battling for territory and dignity amid the white flight of 1950s Philadelphia. But at 23, after hearing Malcolm X speak on a street corner in Harlem, his life changed course. Shoatz would become a lifelong crusader for justice, a soldier in the most militant units of the Black Liberation Army, and a Black Panther fighting the notorious Frank Rizzo and his Blue Guards. The fight turned increasingly violent, and as one of the “Philly Five,” Shoatz was convicted to life in prison after a coordinated attack on a police station, which left one officer dead.
The prison walls, however, could not deter Shoatz’s battle for personal and collective freedom. He escaped maximum security facilities twice, making him a living legend, and endowed him with the moniker “Maroon,” once used to honor runaways from plantations. He survived 22 years in solitary confinement, prompting an international campaign for his freedom. And he radicalized his prison communities, working to resolve racial tensions, and collectively organize against mistreatment by guards.
In October 2021, after 49 years in prison, Maroon was released into hospice care, reuniting briefly with his children before he passed away. But for nine years before his death, he worked furiously with Sri Lankan writer Kanya D’Almeida, whom he recognized as a comrade despite their vastly different backgrounds, to record his life’s work in print. I Am Maroon charts a life of dizzying intrigue, a real-life Shawshank Redemption, set during the height of the struggle for Black liberation. With an unforgettable voice and a personality that comes off the page, Maroon reminds us that we too are capable of radical change, and leaves us a blueprint for how we might dedicate our lives and minds to the ongoing fight for freedom. 


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On Sale
Sep 3, 2024
Page Count
400 pages
Bold Type Books

Russell Shoatz

About the Author

Russell "Maroon" Shoatz was a dedicated community activist, founding member of the Black Unity Council, former member of the Black Panther Party, and soldier in the Black Liberation Army.

Kanya D’Almeida won the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, becoming the first Sri Lankan and only the second Asian writer to hold the honor. She was awarded the Society of Authors’ annual short story award in 2022.  Her journalism has appeared in Al Jazeera, TruthOut, and The Margins, and her fiction has appeared in Granta. She holds an MFA from Columbia University, where she studied under Victor LaValle.

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