From Number 1 to Prisoner Number 45472
from various sources 5th June 2010
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“I’m not in jail for committing murder. I’m in jail partly because I’m a black man in America, where the powers that be will only allow a black man to be an entertainer or a criminal.” – Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, 1975.
For those of us of a certain generation, the song “Hurricane” by Bob Dylan served both to immortalize the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and to symbolize the injustice of racism. In 1966, against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, the up-and-coming boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, was accused and convicted of the murders of three whites in a Paterson, New Jersey bar. The subtitle of Carter’s autobiography, The Sixteenth Round, says it all: “From Number One Contender to Number 45472.”
Carter’s case was horribly tainted by racial prejudice and dodgy testimony, but a group of determined supporters – some of them white lawyers – worked tirelessly to have his sentence overturned. These activists found the going difficult – not just due to the truculence and indifference of police and bent witnesses but from angry elements of the black community.
The life of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter has taken more twists and turns than a Rocky Mountain highway, from obscurity to acclaim and back again – and again. Wrongfully arrested and convicted for triple murder, the former professional boxer was sentenced to three life terms, narrowly escaping the electric chair.
He became a civil-rights cause célèbre and was immortalized in the Bob Dylan song and later in the Norman Jewison movie Hurricane. In February 1988, the 22-year old indictment was finally dismissed. His presentations inspired audiences to never give up on their dreams, to go the distance, and to persevere no matter what obstacles they may face.
The release of Hurricane Carter, who was serving a life sentence for three murders he did not commit, bought support from Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali and other members of the radical chic in the 1970s. However, it took the devotion of a teenager from a Brooklyn ghetto and his “adopted” Canadian family to finally bring about Carter’s freedom in the 1980s. The hit film ‘Hurricane’, starring Denzel Washington, told the story of Carter’s life, his wrongful imprisonment and his eventual release.
Innocence International, founded by Dr. Rubin Carter in 2004, is an organisation that seeks to work as a supply depot working in close cooperation with all the many Innocence projects throughout the world. Innocence International is in the process of becoming the clearing house for the many miscarriages of justices perpetrated against the wrongfully convicted.
Carter now works as a motivational speaker. On October 14, 2005, he received two honorary Doctorates of Law, one from York University (Toronto, Canada) and one from Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia), in recognition of his work with AIDWYC and the Innocence Project. Carter has a son named Raheem Rubin Carter, born on December 28, 1976, who now resides in Tampa, Florida. Carter received the Abolition Award from Death Penalty Focus in 1996.
US boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies
20 April 2014
The Hurricane Blows