Min. Farrakhan with Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams.

[Editor’s note: The following two messages were delivered by Stanley “Tookie Williams” on June 19, 2005 while residing on death row at San Quentin Prison in California. He recorded these messages during a historic visit by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, along with a delegation think tank working to stay his execution. He wanted the messages to be played during Min. Farrakhan’s address to the general prison population after meeting with him on death row, but he was not permitted to do so. The messages were specially tailored by him to address members of street organizations that would be attending the first quarterly meeting of the Southern California Gang Intervention Summit the following day, June 20 in Los Angeles, California. His taped message was played to the audience of nearly 300 gang intervention activists and gang members.]

Stanley Williams (center) is surrounded by (l-r) Barbara Becnel, Duane Moody, Minister Farrakhan, and Minister Tony Muhammad.

Stanley Williams co-founded the Los Angeles street organization, the Crips, in 1971 at the age of 17. Eager to get him off the streets, the Los Angeles Police Department charged Stan with four murders. Stan has always maintained his innocence. His conviction was based on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of several witnesses who were felony offenders testifying in order to lessen their sentences. In 1981, Stan was convicted and sent to San Quentin’s death row.

From death row, Stan embarked on a journey of redemption. He decided to break away from the Crips and speak out against gang violence. He wrote a series of children’s books that discouraged gang activity. He also set up the Internet Project For Street Peace, which encourages gangs to end their fighting. A combination of his many efforts earned him several Nobel Peace Prize nominations.


An appeal has been sent to the Supreme Court. If it is rejected an execution date can be set as early as this summer. An increasing movement continues to work to stay that order against his life and end the unjust application of the death penalty in American courts.

Win the battle with the beast within self

Greetings to all of you. My name is Stanley “Tookie” Williams. I have been residing here on San Quentin’s death row for over 24 years. Indeed, it is an honor to speak to this noteworthy audience today, not with a “holier than thou” sermon, but with a viable message that promotes transition and redemption.

Admittedly back in the day, I used to be my own worst enemy. Oft times, I engaged in personal battles of turmoil. I didn’t know that to restore order with any conflict, be it internal or external, it begins with me.

Being incarcerated, akin to a caged animal, I inevitably had to challenge my existence with this simple self-analysis: Am I a man or a beast? It wasn’t until I was in solitary confinement during 1988 to 1994 when I was able to answer that question.

Gradually, my transformation began to develop through the disciplines of serious soul searching, education, spiritual cultivation, edification and redemption. It was during that critical phase when I discovered my humanity.

Henceforth, I chose the path of inflexible resistance, meaning I refused to allow the animalistic prison conditions, anyone or anything to define who I am. That’s when I knew I was not a beast.

For over a decade, I have developed an understanding that I’ve written and I’m obligated to share with all of you. The legitimacy of war is not with man. The nemesis is the enemy within oneself.

To conquer this personal demon brings life. To be defeated by it evokes death. Those who shy away from this life-altering battle will remain locked in mere conflicts with other men that have no true purpose or spiritual worth.

If a man must fight, let it be to the death against the beast within himself. Win that battle, no man, no woman, no racial hatred, no system, no vindictiveness and no Machiavellianism can ever defeat you.

Today, and forever more, I can honestly say to all of you and to the world that the war within me is over. I’ve battled my demons and I was triumphant.

Without trying to sound preachy, each of you possess the innate ability to transcend these prison walls by virtue of your own positive message to your loved ones in society and/or in prison. Teach them how to avoid our destructive footsteps. Teach them to strive for higher education. Teach them to promote peace and teach them to focus on rebuilding the neighborhoods that you, others and I helped to destroy. As men of honor and integrity, it is our responsibility to reach out.

In conclusion, may all of you achieve your goals and reclaim your freedom. Moreover, I want to thank Minister Louis Farrakhan and Mr. Roderick Hickman for making this opportunity possible.

Bumani–That’s Swahili for “peace.”

Embrace the science of a social agenda

Greetings to all of you. Before I begin, let us pause for a brief moment of silence for those who have lost their loved ones to senseless violence.

Thank you.

Indeed, this is an honor for me to speak to all of you. My name is Stanley “Tookie” Williams. I have been residing on San Quentin’s death row for over 24 years. I also have the undesirable identity for being the cofounder of the Crips, which today is a genocidal legacy I regret.

Across this nation, countless Black youth and adults are ending up in juvenile halls, youth authorities, prisons and/or being murdered, due to drugs, gangs, crime and violence. Clearly, we, Black folks, have become our own worst enemy. To live nowadays is the greatest challenge you will ever have to face in life.

I say to all of you that we are going backwards, not forwards. Each time we initiate Black-on-Black brutallity, Black-on-Black crime, Black-on-Black drug sales and usage, and other anti-Black acts, we are going backwards and perpetuating our own extinction. It’s time to come anew.

My Brothers, there’s no disguising the social problems. We can no longer allow ourselves to remain victims of the negative conditions. Just as there is a science to boxing, playing basketball, rapping skills, computer technology and parenthood, there is a scientific approach to our problem.

To legitimately survive in this country, we must embrace the science of a social agenda, meaning a plan that will promote better access for all of us to an education, honest employment, health care, affordable housing and spiritual growth; a social agenda that won’t cause harm or death to another Black person.

Such an agenda can be initiated by any one of you.Take a page out of my peace protocol. Learn how to establish community meetings by contacting community leaders, parents, church leaders, local businesses, youth and adult centers, local politicians and other interested parties. Get in touch with local rappers, entertainers, professional athletes and other entrepreneurs-turned-multimillionaires to discuss their participation in helping promote social change. That, my Brothers, is social power.

With that in mind, I call on all of you to unite your thoughts, energy and fortitude on a new battlefield. Therefore, I, Stanley “Tookie” Williams, challenge each of you to stand up against this long war of crime, violence and drugs, to proclaim a new and visionary struggle.

I challenge each of you to discard your anger for wisdom, and to shed the skin of vengeance for peace. I can’t do this alone nor can anyone else. We need all of you.

In conclusion, may all of you develop a united front to address the social dilemmas within your community and across this country. I also want to thank Minister Louis Farrakhan for making this opportunity possible, and other persons. I thank you, my brother.

May the Almighty bless us all.

Bumani–That’s Swahili for “peace.”