As a Black Panther & Member of the Angola 3:
Herman Wallace was convicted of armed robbery he was sent to Angola in 1971. In 1971 he established the Angola Chapter of the Black Panther Party with Ronald Ailsworth, Albert Woodfox, and Gerald Bryant after receiving permission from the Panther central office in Oakland.
As a Black Panther Herman organized to improve conditions at the prison making him, and his fellow organizers notable targets of the administration that profited from poor conditions. In 1972 a prison guard named Brent Miller was brutally murdered behind the walls of Angola. By 1974 Wallace and Woodfox he were convicted for the murder, with no physical evidence linking them to the scene of the crime. Herman and Albert have been fighting their convictions ever since, citing numerous infractions of justice including that one of the eyewitnesses was legally blind and the other was a known prison snitch who was rewarded for his testimony. After the murder, the Angola’s most visible organizers of justice, Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King—were put in solitary, where they have remained ever since. (King was released in 2001, after 29 years in solitary, when his conviction in a separate prison murder was overturned.) Several years ago, Herman was transferred to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, where he remains in solitary. Albert Woodfox, Robert King and Herman Wallace are collectively known as the Angola 3.
As a human doing:
Herman Wallace was born in the 12th Ward, New Orleans LA on October 13th 1941. Herman was the 4th of 8 children and his mother Edna Clark Williams worked for the Orleans Parish Prison until her death in 1996. Herman’s entire life has been a sacrifice to serving justice and ending the suffering of all those serving unjust prison sentences, especially those forced to endure long term solitary confinement. Herman Wallace identifies as a political prisoner and his resolved is strengthened by the unimaginable conditions he is forced to endure. Deep into his 41st year of solitary confinement, he believes whole heartedly in justice, peace and the power of the people.
Read Herman’s Obituary by the NY Times.
In 2001 Herman while in solitary at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, received a letter from artist Jackie Sumell. After two years of writing, Jackie asked Herman a very simple question, “what kind of house does a man whose been in solitary confinement for 30 years dream of?”. He responded reluctantly, true to his revolutionary nature that is critical of the consumer capitalist lifestyle. He finally relented as a favor to Jackie, “let’s do the project baby, you done gone way out there in that water, let’s see how we do together”. He later told her, “this is the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life”.
The idea for Herman’s House was born out of an unquenchable desire to share the experience of freedom. In 2003 Herman began designing his house, and entering the world outside of solitary confinement.