My Brilliant Pen Pal: Ashanti Alston

At a time in which virtual communication has all but replaced postal mail, we wish to celebrate a moment when checking the mailbox could be exciting and fun, to reinvigorate the pleasure of having a pen pal. Here's how it works:

  • you will have until November 1st to register for the event.
  • In a matter of weeks, you and your fellow audience members will receive in the mail a short essay, letter, work of art, etc., from your new pen pal, something that our special guest has written or created specifically for this event and which will not be available to anyone else for at least several months.
  • You will then be encouraged to write back to the DHC with a question or comment for the pen pal (using the U. S. mail and the SASE we will provide with the first mailing).
  • The staff at the DHC will collect and curate responses and pass a selection along to the pen pal.
  • The pen pal will then respond to the selections, as well as some questions from DHC director, H. Peter Steeves.
  • You will then receive a copy of the responses by mail, bringing your brief but brilliant correspondence to a close.

Register on EventBrite:


Ashanti Alston is an anarchist, penal abolitionist, and former Black Panther. Growing up in New Jersey, he was witness to the 1967 rebellions that led to the liberation and occupation of various neighborhoods by the people who lived there—including Plainfield, his hometown. Inspired to get involved in direct political action, he joined the Black Panther Party at the age of seventeen, and later became a member of, and went underground with, the Black Liberation Army. For fourteen years, Alston served time as a political prisoner. Today he is still working with the Jericho Movement, which aims to free all political prisoners, and giving talks and writing inspirational analyses concerning the dismantling of the myriad oppressive regimes in which we find ourselves enmeshed. Reaching out to those struggling within what he terms “the matrix of resistance”—e.g., feminists, those in the LGBTQ+ community, anti-colonialists, animal liberationists, youth movements, the Zapatistas, etc.—Alston, a “Panther for life,” reminds us that core, personal relationships are at the heart of our power and that together “we can revisit the belief in victory being ours if we want it.”

“[T]he people can change this world. Mind that we’re on Turtle Island and like, man, we got to figure out how to do this in a way that gets this Empire off the back of the turtle. You know, it’s like whatever you do, you think about those most impacted: First Nations, Black folks, brown folks, poor folks, trans folks. Check in, let’s be there for each other so that we’re just not doing things off of the top. That is our strength, that is our power, transformation is there. But that’s the very thing that the system will work against, to keep us, like, at each other’s wits end, to keep us not caring. We can pull this off, and man, our children, we got these children, we got to do it for them.”

Ashanti Alston, July 2020

Sunday, November 1, 2020 to 11:59pm

Recent Activity

© 2001-2017 DePaul University | Contact Us | Emergency Plan | Consumer Info | IBHE | Privacy Statement | Terms of Use |