In the 1960s, Eddie Ellis, a Harlem activist, helped found the Black Panthers. In those heady days, revolutionary visions of equality filled the air. But being a Panther leader was extremely dangerous. The FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), which targeted black and Latino activists, had Eddie at the top of their list and soon he found himself accused of killing a person he'd never even seen. For this, he spent 23 years in a New York State prison.
Once outside, Eddie returned to activism, but this time at Harlem's Community Justice Center (CJC). The CJC strives for many of the Panthers' goals, but without the often unfair association to violence which stigmatized the Panthers. He joins other ex-prisoners (who wear green uniforms during their incarceration) to battle inequities which still mark the meting of justice. He notes that African-Americans and Hispanics make up only 28 percent of New York's population, but are 85 percent of the state's prisoners. 75 percent come from New York City's "Seven Neighborhoods," where unemployment, arrest, and death rates are the state's highest.
WEARING THE GREEN introduces others who've joined the fight, including Georgie Prendes who, after 15 years in prison, developed an innovative acupuncture program to curb addicts' urge to get high. Together they work to make these communities self-respecting so that today's children will not be able to say what Warren Harry, another CJC associate and ex-Panther who served 17 years, does: "the streets got me."