"She was a warrior-woman who did everything she could to free her people
and to free political prisoners."
—Assata Shakur


Freedom fighter Safiya Bukhari and a voice for political prisoners
Two things recently brought back memories of Safiya Bukhari: the release of Stanley Nelson’s film on the Black Panther Party and the various commemorations surrounding the uprising in Attica prison in 1971. Given her political commitment to the legacy of the Panthers and relentless dedication to the welfare of political prisoners, she would have undoubtedly been in attendance at these events.
Herb Boyd - Amsterdam News

Black Panther's Posthumous Writings Cover Activism's Risks, Rewards
"An astute collection of essays written to encourage the always-uphill battle to win freedom and equality for the world's disenfranchised and impoverished people."
Eleanor Bader - Truthout

The War Before is not just another book by a former panther it is a glimpse into the unglamorous and ceaseless work of a nationalist and yet another piece of the history of the Black Liberation struggle in America.
Adisa Vera Beatty

Taking a Stand for Political Prisoners in the US
"It is 1990 and I am the newly elected student government president at Hunter College…for all the knowledge I have gathered at this point, I do not know enough to predict the learning curve I am about to embark upon, in large part because it is in this period that I meet Safiya Bukhari."
Asha Bandele - AlterNet

"Should be required reading alongside the memoirs of BPP cofounders Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton."
The War Before
makes many significant contributions to scholarship, including its examination of women in the BPP. Bukhari recognizes serious problems of sexism and misogyny, but argues that this was symptomatic of the Left in general and, relative to other leftist groups, the Panthers had gone much further to address the problem.
Hans Bennett - Z Magazine

"Of Black Panthers, Prisons, and a Life in Struggle for Social Justice"
Mention the Black Panthers, and Safiya Bukhari is probably not the first person most would think of. Yet perhaps she should be. Bukhari was a dedicated and tireless organizer from the time she joined the Black Panthers in the late 1960s until she passed away in 2003. Thanks to Laura Whitehorn, a former member of the Weather Underground and now a journalist, new generations of activists and others can learn of Bukhari through the essays, interviews and speeches Whitehorn has gathered...
Dan Berger - OpEd News

"Tell No Lies and Claim No Easy Victories"
I hear Bukhari reiterate that nothing short of a revolution will eradicate the racism, capitalism, and imperialism that oppress me and my people as well as other exploited and oppressed people everywhere.
Lenore Daniels - Black Commentator

The incarcerated know firsthand the brutal realities of repression in capitalist society, so it is no coincidence that some of the most important revolutionary writing has come from behind bars.
Sara Falconer - Upping the Anti

Safiya was radicalized by "the racism, the grinding poverty, and the police harassment that were part of daily life."
Tina Gerhardt - The Sixties

Bukhari served nearly nine of those years. She was disillusioned by the government’s war on the party’s community survival programs, astonished that police would spread the rumor that the Panthers served poisoned food to children, horrified that Panthers were being murdered outright.
Martha Gies - The Monster That Won’t Stop Coming

This book goes way beyond her trailblazing work around PP/POWs. She provides about the best sense I’ve seen of what it was like to be a Panther in those breakthrough but dangerous years of 1966-1973.
David Gilbert - Anti-imperialist political prisoner

Freedom and dealing with its absence: Lessons learned outside the mainstream, but necessary for those across the spectrum to understand history in general
by Eric Jackson - Panama News

"The War Before offers no easy answers, but instead it tasks everyone interested in creating a new world with difficult and necessary questions."
Walidah Imarisha in Left Turn Magazine

"A Life Worth Saving,"
These...are the works of a relentless revolutionary organizer, prisoner, and modern African-American woman.  There is personal material here reflecting on Bukhari's conversion to Islam and her understanding of its place in her life as a revolutionary.  There are also descriptions of the politics and workings of the New York Panthers and the successor organization the Black Liberation Army (BLA).  There are speeches about political prisoners in the United States and memories of her life in the BPP.
Ron Jacobs - Counterpunch

BC Books
Safiya Bukhari began her life as Bernice Jones. She had a middle-class, Christian upbringing and was expected to become a professional like her siblings.  Bernice’s parents had taught their children higher education would bring them success in the world. 



An insider's, intimate look at an extraordinary collection of idealists, adventurers, reformers and visionaries  "who left the vivid air signed with their honor." America and the world owes them a lot.
Terry Bisson

Safiya Bukhari's essays provide a unique peek into the workings of the Black Panther Party in the 60's and 70's, and Laura Whitehorn's insightful introduction and brilliant editing allow us to follow Safia's constantly evolving philosophy as well as her growth as an intelligent, passionate, hard working idealist. It's not surprising that this book enhances our understanding of the history of the Black liberation movement. What is surprising is that it should be such a compelling page turner and that we should find ourselves growing increasingly infatuated with Safia and her obsessive, undying effort to gain real freedom and justice for Blacks in America.
Marion Minton

The book is WONDERFUL!!!! Not only does it provide an unusually intimate portrait of a true American revolutionary but weaves in the untold history of real radicalism in a unique moment of our nation's history while allowing the reader a particular understanding of the continuing legacy of slavery. Laura Whitehorn does a superb job combining all these factors while letting Safiya's words speak for themselves. i recommend this book for everyone who wishes a greater understanding of our present society.
Sally O'Brien

Not knowing anything substantial concerning the Black Panther Party, I was glad that Safiya Bukhari's writings about her role in the party -and her overall fight for black liberation and justice - were the first that I had read regarding the topic. A very active member in a time that was still difficult for women to be political and be taken seriously, Bukhari was diligent about being involved in many of the community programs started by the Black Panther Party and held many posts within the Party, including being in charge of the national committees for the defense of political prisoners within the Party; this would later comprise a bulk of her life's work–activism for political prisoners–as she herself was one. However, Bukhari's writings extend beyond the party and showcase a complex, contradictory and very human woman living amidst a world that is often unjust. The War Before is a very enlightening and thought-provoking read.
Natalie M. Peart

"The War Before" is a magnificent, serious, moving, and important piece of work that insists the grave will not keep Safiya's life in the ground. Meticulous footnotes and index allow the reader to excavate the text. For those of us who remember those long years and are privileged to have worked with and known some of these revolutionary women and men who attempted to build a legitimate counter-power to empire---and the pieces included about her learning the rules and points and authorities of the BPP speak to this--the work is heartbreaking and heartbuilding. I especially appreciate Safiya's self critical stance that runs like an artery of frank talkin' honesty throughout. The intro is excellent and I imagine (hope) that it will move younger readers to learn more about the revolutionary minded current we were all, Black/New Afrikan, Puerto Rican, Chicano Mexicano, Native American and white, trying to make a reality.
Felix Shafer

Articles, Interviews & Media

4 Struggle Magazine
An interview with Laura Whitehorn about a woman wrestling with the issues of her time—the troubled legacy of the Panthers, misogyny in the movement, her decision to convert to Islam, the incarceration of out spoken radicals, and the families left behind.

Angola 3 News
When did you first meet Safiya Bukhari?
Laura Whitehorn: I met Safiya in the visiting room of the Federal Correctional Institution (for women) in Dublin, California, in 1997—but when we embraced, it felt as if I’d known her all my life.

Baltimore City Paper
Could you talk a little bit about how you became involved in editing The War Before?
Laura Whitehorn: After Safiya died in 2003 at the age of 53, her daughter Wonda Jones asked me to help gather, type up, and edit Safiya’s papers. I agreed. Wonda had lost both her mother and, only a few days earlier, her grandmother. She had grown up as one of those children on the Left who has to share her mother with the world. Here was a chance for her to reclaim her mother wholly.

Boston Globe
Safiya Bukhari was a premed student in Brooklyn in the 1960s when her sorority traveled to Harlem to help local black youth. That one act of community spirit - spurred by the burgeoning idea that young blacks didn’t have to travel to Africa to support the black diaspora - launched a career of activism that led her to the Black Panthers and to prison.

Law and Disorder
In the book about Laura introduces us to Safiya Bukhari, a member of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. The War Before traces Safiya’s life’s commitment of organizing around the rights of the oppressed.

Monthly Review
Safiya Bukhari - I was nineteen when I joined the Black Panther Party and was introduced to the realities of life in inner-city Black America. From the security of the college campus and the cocoon of the great American Dream Machine, I was suddenly stripped of my rose-colored glasses by a foray into Harlem and indecent housing, police brutality, hungry children needing to be fed, elderly people eating out of garbage cans, and hopelessness and despair everywhere.

The Black List
In 1968, Safiya Bukhari witnessed an NYPD officer harassing a Black Panther for selling the organization’s newspaper on a Harlem street corner. The young pre-med student felt compelled to intervene in defense of the Panther’s First Amendment right; she ended up handcuffed and thrown into the back of a police car.