Mariann G. Wizard : Poet/Political Prisoner Marilyn Buck Dies in New York

UPDATED Wednesday, Aug. 4 at 9:03 a.m. (CST)

Marilyn Buck was released from prison July 15, 2010.

Recently released from Texas prison:
Cancer takes poet Marilyn Buck

By Mariann G. Wizard / The Rag Blog / August 3, 2010

AUSTIN — Friends of long-time political prisoner, former Austinite, and acclaimed poet Marilyn Buck, 62, were saddened by news of her death at the home of her attorney Soffiyah Elija, early Tuesday, August 3.

Buck was released from the federal prison medical center in Carswell, Texas, July 15, 2010, and was paroled to New York City.

Buck served 25 years of an 80-year prison sentence for politically motivated crimes undertaken in opposition to racial injustice and U.S. imperialism. As a prisoner, Marilyn, while moderating her ideas about methods, continued to stand tall for her beliefs.

A selfless advocate for others, especially in the arena of prison medical care, Marilyn was diagnosed late last year with a uterine sarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer, too late for treatment to save her life.

While attending the University of Texas at Austin, Buck became involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements, and worked with SDS and the underground newspaper, The Rag. In the following years she became increasingly committed to and active in support of the black liberation struggle in this country.

Buck is survived by three brothers; several cousins; her long-time counselor, Jill Soffiyah Elijah; and loving friends worldwide. Her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Louis Buck, who both pre-deceased her, were leading civil rights activists in Austin in the early 1960s.

According to sources close to Marilyn’s family, there will not be a funeral, but memorial gatherings will be scheduled in the future in New York City, in California’s Bay Area, and in Texas. Funds raised for her hoped-for transition to the free world that had not been dispersed at the time of her death will be used according to her wishes to assist other aging prisoners.

The size of the U.S. prison population guarantees that increasing numbers of those released after lengthy sentences will lack savings, health insurance, or the network of friends from all walks of life that sustained Marilyn — and benefited from her generous, principled spirit — throughout her years behind bars.

Marilyn Buck was the recipient of funds raised at a June 25 community support event and benefit in Austin hosted by eight local groups, including NOKOA the observer and The Rag Blog, and supported by many businesses, artists, poets, and compassionate individuals.

Youth Emergency Service, Inc., fiscal sponsor for the event, will continue to accept tax deductible contributions through PayPal at its website, or by check or money order, made out to YES, Inc., at PO Box 13549, Austin, TX 78711.

CORRECTION: The Rag Blog was originally informed that Marilyn Buck died in a New York hospital. Now we have learned that Marilyn in fact died surrounded by friends at the Brooklyn home of her attorney and long-time close friend, Soffiyah Elijah, where she was living after being paroled to New York City. Linda Evans announced the following through Freedom Archives:

Our dear comrade Marilyn Buck made her transition today [August 2] at 1 pm est peacefully and surrounded by friends at home in Brooklyn. Details of memorials and where to send cards and donations will follow soon.

Also see:

The Rag Blog

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10 Responses to Mariann G. Wizard : Poet/Political Prisoner Marilyn Buck Dies in New York

  1. Liz Roberts says:

    Marilyn did not die in a hospital. She was ‘at home’ at her friend and attorney, Soffiyah Elijah’s place, surrounded by those who loved her.

  2. Thanks, Liz, for the correction; I was misinformed yesterday by a grieving friend. Marilyn died without shackles, and as you say, surrounded by loving friends; we are grateful for this (very) small mercy.

  3. Markin says:

    Marilyn Buck should never had spent one day, no one hour in priosn. Now she, like others of our generation of ’68, has passed on. We are left to struggle on.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007 Bob Feldman

    `Marilyn Buck’

    Way out in California
    Is where they have her locked
    For she is strong and beautiful
    And her name is Marilyn Buck.

    They sentenced her to eighty years
    Because she is morally tough
    Her rebel soul they cannot break
    And her name is Marilyn Buck.

    From Texas to Chicago
    The War she tried to stop
    She fought alongside Black comrades
    And her name is Marilyn Buck.

    Assata Shakur, from prison freed,
    Did give them all a shock
    And another rebel they could not find
    Her name was Marilyn Buck.

    The Capitol bombed, where the Congress met
    To finance CIA plots
    And one of the resisters charged
    Her name was Marilyn Buck.

    Political prisoners still locked up
    The list is very long
    There’s Mutulu Shakur and Sekou Odinga
    And each one deserves their own song.

    There’s Sundiata Acoli and Mumia
    And Herman Bell and Robert Seth Hayes
    And Jamil Al-Amin and the Africas
    And Carlos Alberto Torres.

    So if you get discouraged
    And wish you had more luck
    Remember the freedom fighters
    And the soulful Marilyn Buck.

    Yes, way out in California
    Is where they have her locked
    For she is strong and beautiful
    And her name is Marilyn Buck.

    To listen to this protest folk song, you can go to the following music site link:

    The Marilyn Buck protest folk song is sung to the tune of the traditional folk song, “Mary Hamilton.” Marilyn Buck ( is currently imprisoned in the Pleasanton federal prison in Dublin, California. For more information about the current situation of U.S. political prisoners like Mutulu Shakur, Sekou Odinga, Sundiata Acoli, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Herman Bell, Robert Seth Hayes, Jamil Al-Amin (f/k/a H.Rap Brown), the Africas and Carlos Alberto Torres, you can check out the Jericho Amnesty Movement site at and the Prison Activist Resource Center at .

  4. Markin says:

    I will just repeat here a comment that I have made previously, on June 27, 2010 on an entry on “The Rag Blog” on Marilyn Buck’s case:

    “Every young leftist militant, hell, every old leftist militant and even those who have lost their way since the 1960s and forgot what we were fighting for then, and now, should read this story. It tells two tales- if you go up against the American imperial state you better be ready to win, or else. And it also tells that there really was some very, very good human material, like Marilyn Buck, in the 1960s with which we could have built that better world we were fighting for if we could have understood the first tale better. I wish, and I wish like crazy, that we had a few more, actually quite a few more, militants like Marilyn Buck these days. Let’s get moving. All honor to Marilyn Buck and the other fighters, like Mumia, still behind bars for “seeking that newer world.”

  5. ish says:

    What a great loss. I’ve linked to you on my blog’s memorial post.

  6. Markin says:

    A recent post from my American Left History blog, June 10, 2010, of a poem by Marilyn Buck that told some hard, benighted American truths for 2010 as well as 2005. Farewell, liberation fighter.


    From The Pen Of Marilyn Buck

    Confessions before the Orchestra

    Marilyn Buck


    Photographs: hooded man wired
    naked men in piles
    torture nightmares in daylight

    zombied people stalk
    the earth crushed bones
    restless and numb

    where to flee
    the torturer lives next door
    wears guard gear
    stand-ins for shades in civilian clothes

    the prez spits on Geneva
    I don’t need you, bitch
    don’t hang on me, don’t beg
    I do what I want
    call me Capt. America

    tortured and maimed
    buried in hidden cells, American jails
    can’t call anyone
    tongues tripped
    wired into confession
    lie dried in red ink
    manufactured consent
    plucked out
    like eyeballs
    electrical persuasion, cattle prods
    and dogs, raped
    no sleep disorientation humiliation

    Tell me what I did …
    Whatever you say I did
    I did

    symphonic guilt composed by scholars
    orchestrated by SOA “professors”
    played by intelligence musicians on homebodies
    and world bodies

    Capt. America’s death dirge
    tortures justice

    March 2005

  7. Leslie C. says:

    Alice Embree just gave me the news of Marilyn Buck’s death on the phone. I had not read the Rag Blog yet.

    This is so sad, and so totally infuriating. Many of you knew Marilyn Buck well, and I did not even know who she was, until you all have educated me, with your messages and your articles on the Rag Blog.

    I know you hoped and expected that she would have some time “on the outside” to live–and to educate folks. This is such a loss.

  8. Jake Billilngsley says:

    Go girl, go. Fly away from this world of trouble and sorrow to find that new energy from whence to forge the swords into plow shares, go my friend,go and be glad in that new morning.

  9. Mariann says:

    It has been pointed out to me that my statement that, “As a prisoner, Marilyn [moderated] her ideas about methods…” could be misunderstood and possibly even used against other political prisoners. For any such possibility, I am incredibly repentant and feel quite stupid! For the record, to the best of my knowledge, Marilyn Buck NEVER altered her belief in the people’s right to self-defense and, if necessary, to revolution, by any means required, and if anything became even stronger in her advocacy of these rights while imprisoned. However, as a prisoner, she was necessarily forced to find other methods to live in the world where she found herself; this may seem obvious when stated so simply and not stating it simply was my error in the first place.

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