Digital Commonwealth

Frank Grace Papers, 1976-1985

University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries Special Collections and University Archives

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A radical political organizer, Frank "Parky" Grace was a founding member of the New Bedford chapter of the Black Panther Party. Radicalized by a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967, Grace became involved in the antiwar movement upon his return and organized the local branch of the Black Panthers shortly before the New Bedford Rebellion of 1970. In 1972, he and his brother Ross were charged with the murder of a young drug dealer, receiving life sentences. Parky contended all along that he had been framed by the police for his political activity and in 1982, Ross corroborated his brother's claim that he was not present at the scene and admitted his own responsibility for the murder. Parky Grace was released from prison in 1984 and lived subsequently in New Bedford and Boston. He died in Boston on October 2001. The Grace Papers consist of a powerful series of letters written to Gloria Xifaras Clark while Grace was confined in Walpole State Penitentiary. Informed by his revolutionary politics, the letters offer insight into the conditions of imprisonment, his treatment by guards, and his relations with fellow prisoners.

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