Bio: Khalil Azeem


Kahlil Azeem (1928-1979), activist and author. Born James Vantrease in Meridian, Mississippi, he was sent to live with relatives in Boston after his mother died in 1933. At the age of 19 he was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 25 years in prison. At Norfolk Prison Colony, he was converted to the Nation of Islam by his fellow inmate, Malcom X. Paroled in 1960, he was active with the movement for some years, but left before Malcolm was murdered after also breaking with the sect. Azeem became a radical Marxist and spent three years in Cuba. Returning to the US in 1971, he was charged with violating his parole for the illegal visit. He went underground and was implicated in a series of robberies to finance revolutionary activities, although evidence of his actual involvement was slim. He was betrayed by an FBI informant who had infiltrated radical circles in Chicago, and was shot dead in a police raid on his apartment in 1979. He was the author of two books, the polemical Capital Crimes (published in Cuba) and the fugitive memoir, American Road, published after his death. He was perhaps best known for the posters of him originally printed by the African Revolutionary Party, which became a favorite in college dorms in the late Sixties and early Seventies as an iconic symbol of rebellion.


About Chris Floyd

Tennessee. Moscow. Oxford.
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