Lorenzo Komboa Ervin

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin is a revolutionary Black writer, radio broadcaster and former political prisoner of the Black Panther Party. He has been involved in anti-Klan and civil rights work in Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

During the late 1960’s, Lorenzo was a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in eastern Tennessee, and later joined the Black Panther Party when the two groups merged in 1967-1968. In the summer of 1968, a “Black Power” Jury convened in Hamilton County, Tennessee, to investigate SNCC’s role in planning disturbances in Chattanooga. Lorenzo was summoned to testify, and left the city when he learned that the police and the Ku Klux Klan planned to kill him if he refused to testify. The police had shoot-to-kill orders. Lorenzo, fearing for his life, decided to leave the country. On February 25, 1969, he hijacked a plane to Cuba. He later went to Czechoslovakia, and from there, U.S. law enforcement agents chased him to East Germany. They managed to kidnap him and bring him back to the United States, where Lorenzo was tried by a racist jury and sentenced to two life prison terms.

During the almost 15 years that he served in federal prisons, Lorenzo was active as a prisoner unionist and a jailhouse lawyer. He wrote legal appeals that won the release of several of his fellow prisoners. In 1983, he was released from prison after winning the appeal of his case, which he wrote.

Since his release from prison, Lorenzo has worked as a community organizer in Chattanooga and has written several articles about Black community organizing and prison issues for the journal, Black Autonomy. In 1997, he founded Black Liberation Radio of Chattanooga, a micro-radio station.