For New Yorkers, the name Eddie Ellis drew admiration, respect and even some awe.
For he was a man of passion, action and brilliance, as shown by his many lives as a Black Panther, a prison lifer, and a scholar who worked as an activist among youth to turn their lives away from the dead-end of prison.
He was also a broadcaster on WBAI for many years, on their weekend “On the Count” show produced by ex-prisoners.
He was also (yes, also) an organize, who founded the nonprofit Center for Nu Leadership On Urban Solutions, a criminal justice think tank bringing new thinking to outmoded theories that don’t work in the real world.
Ellis lectured globally in such issues, from Harvard to Stanford, from London to South Africa.
During his 25 years in prison, Ellis devoted his time to education, earning 2 Associate Degrees from SUNY Sullivan County Community College in Paralegal Studies; a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Marist College; and a Master’s Degree, summa cum laude, in Theology from New York Theological Seminary.
He used his skills to bring hope and life to youngsters in Harlem- and indeed, the 7 neighborhoods in New York that feeds and swells the state’s prisons.
In fact, it was his thinking, with other prisoner-scholars in Green Haven Prison in Stormville, NY, in 1979. that uncovered the 7 neighborhood notion of where 87% of state prisoners come from.
Edwin ‘Eddie’ Ellis spent 25 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and left to continue serving the people’s most precious hopes – it’s children.
Ellis, a member of the Harlem branch of the Black Panther Party, returned to the ancestors, after 72 years of life.