Malik Rahim

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Malik Rahim
Malik rahim.JPG
Malik Rahim
Born Donald Guyton
1948 (age 65–66)
Algiers, Louisiana
Nationality American
Occupation Community organizer
Employer Common Ground Relief

Malik Rahim (born Donald Guyton in 1948) is a former Black Panther, and a long-time housing and prison activist in the U.S. state of Louisiana. He gained publicity as a community organizer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2008, Rahim ran for Louisiana's 2nd congressional district seat of the U.S. House of Representatives as a Green Party candidate, but lost to Republican candidate Joseph Cao.

Early life and Black Panther involvement (1948-70)[edit]

Rahim was born and raised in Algiers, Louisiana. He attended Landry High School, but left prior to graduation to join the Navy and serve in the Vietnam War.

In May 1970, after leaving the service, Rahim joined in attempting to organize a chapter of the Black Panther Party for Louisiana. Their first step was the creation of the "National Committee to Combat Fascism," an organization that became the Black Panther Louisiana chapter. The group set up in a house on Saint Thomas Street, from where it administered its political activities and breakfast, tutoring, and anti-crime programs, but was soon evicted by the owner. The future Panthers moved into a house on Piety Street, near the Desire housing project. They were again served with an eviction notice, but now refused to move out. The house was raided by police on September 14, leading to a shootout and the arrest of several Panthers. The Panthers moved into a house in the Desire project. Police attempted a raid on November 19, but after a shootout and brief standoff, thousands of residents of the project prevented the police from entering. On November 26, police succeeded in raiding the house and arresting the Panthers present by disguising some officers as priests who participated in the breakfast program. Rahim, by now the chapter's defense minister, was one of several Panthers charged with attempted murder for two shootouts, but the charges were dismissed.

Education, prison sentence and activism (1970-2002)[edit]

Rahim earned a G.E.D. and attended one semester of college in California. However, he became involved in crime, and served a five year prison sentence for an armed robbery in Los Angeles, ending in the early 1980s. By his account, this led to his return to political activism, focusing initially on rights for prisoners and programs to assist and house them on their release, and eventually on more general housing issues.

In the next two decades, he helped to found and operate a number of political and advocacy organizations. In San Francisco, he led the Bernal Dwellings Tenants' Association from 1995-7, unsuccessfully opposing the demolition of the structure as part of the HOPE VI plan, and was a founding member of "Housing is a Human Right," a citywide non-profit affordable housing advocacy organization, in 1996. On returning to Louisiana, Rahim helped found and run the "Algiers Development Center and Invest Transitional Housing," a program for ex-offenders that has housed more than one thousand former inmates. He was a founding member of the Louisiana anti-death penalty group "Pilgrimage for Life," with Sister Helen Prejean, and in 1998 of the "National Coalition to Free the Angola 3," an organization working for the release of three Black Panthers convicted of murdering a prison guard - the three maintain that they are innocent and that the charges were politically motivated.

Green Party, Hurricane Katrina, and Common Ground (2002-Present )[edit]

In 2002, Rahim became involved in electoral politics for the first time, running for the New Orleans City Council on the Green Party ticket, receiving 3,654 votes (2%). Rahim ran on a platform of a "living wage," improved conditions at public housing, and reform of youth programs and the juvenile justice system.

Ignoring evacuation orders, Rahim remained in the city of New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the chaotic days after the hurricane, he wrote an article about conditions in the city, entitled "This is criminal". Out of the ad hoc relief distribution center set up at his late mother's house in this period, he co-founded the Common Ground Collective with two organizers from Texas (Scott Crow and Brandon Darby[1]), which distributed aid and ran a community health clinic with the help of volunteers from across the United States. In the next few months, he traveled across the country speaking about his observations and encouraging volunteers to travel to New Orleans to work on the group's behalf. Immediately after Katrina, he was featured in the documentary Welcome to New Orleans.

In 2006, Rahim announced plans to run for mayor of New Orleans, but did not appear on the ballot. This year he was also awarded the 'Community Builder Award' by Global Exchange, an international human rights organization based in San Francisco.

In July 2008, Rahim filed to run for Louisiana's 2nd congressional district seat of the U.S. House of Representatives as a Green Party candidate. He ran against Democratic incumbent William J. Jefferson, Republican candidate Joseph Cao, and Libertarian Party candidate Gregory Kahn. Cao won; Rahim finished third in the four candidate field receiving 2.8% of the vote.[2]

In 2008, Rahim was honored for his commitment to humanity by being selected as the recipient of Thomas Merton Award.[3]

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