Living With A Legend


Living With A Legend




Parnell Herbert's life and motivation to be an act of change.


Parnell Herbert talks about how he grew up in New Orleans and how he went on to become a community activist.


Sydney Odom


My Nola, My Story via Youtube


Mass Communication department at Xavier University of Louisiana


December 6, 2018


Parnell Herbert


My Nola, My Story


My Nola, My Story 2018 Exhibit.




Adobe Premiere,video



A Digital Humanities project by Xavier University of Louisiana's Mass Communication department students led, by Dr. Shearon Roberts

Original Format


*Living With a Legend Title appear*

Parnell: Hello Sydney.

Sydney: Hi. Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Parnell: Ok. Well, Hi. I’m Parnell Herbert. I’m the godfather of the most beautiful young lady *Video of Parnell Ervin* in the world.

*Black Screen* *Then drawings with four faces* *Music begins to play* *The Blank Panther Image With Man Holding Fist In The Air* * The President’s Commission on White House Fellowship Pin Picture* *Free All The Angola 3 picture* *Witness The True Story of the Angola 3 picture* *Picture Parnell Ervin*

Sydney: Legend a noun that describes a person or thing that inspires. Parnell Herbert can be described in many ways godfather, community activist, leader, and a pioneer for equality and justice for all mankind. By doing this, he continues to advocate for change inspiring the world around him. A living legend.

*Black Screen~Start from the beginning*

Parnell: I was at Charity Hospital in New Orleans on the colored side. When I was born the hospital was separated from coloreds to white. And um. It was back in 1948, family lived in the Lafleet projects we actually lived in a one bedroom apartment and there was nine people in that house back during that era growing up in the project was more of a family environment. Today is where all the projects considered rough or violent. But back then it was a wonderful place to grow up. I was alittle bit of a problem child. I was suspended three times in the first ten months in the tenth grade and after the third suspension, I just decided why go back? Everytime I go back all they do just suspend me again and it was all about blaming them not me. So after that first year, I just thought I would go back to clark and they wouldn’t take me back. So I had to go to Booker T. Washington, but by then I had gotten use to making my own money and being what I call the man. At sixteen years old, I decided I didn’t want to stay in school so I dropped out of Booker T. Washington but I knew that for me their were three paths to take either be killed in the streets, become addicted to drugs, or wind up in prison. My two older brothers were both in the navy at the time and they convinced me that I should join the navy. So I joined the navy and that was a big change in my life, worked on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier for three and a half years and that was the most exciting period of my life. This feeling explains a feeling of power and energy from this aircraft fueling the plane loading the bombs on the plane and this was during Vietnam so um during that era I actually did a three cruises to Vietnam from the ages of 17 to 20 years old. At that time the voting age was 21 and the drinking age was 21 I went to Vietnam and back three times. I could not vote nor could I buy a drink.

*Black screen with question~ How did you become a community activist and help the Angola 3?*

A community activist was long before I became involved with Angola 3. I went to a workshop an organization called People’s Institute For Survival And Beyond it’s a multiracial multigenerational organization that deals with the undoing of racism. Their policy or their philosophy is racism is created by man, anything created by man can be dismantled by man. During that time one of the things that I of the missions that I have adopted was the Angola 3. Angola 3 was three men who were incarcerated at Louisiana state penitentiary in Angola Louisiana. And they were framed for a murder that they did not commit while they were in the prison. My daughter Shauran came home and told me she met a man who had said he had been in solitary confinement for twenty-nine years. And she insisted that this guys name was Robert King. Said it was Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox. You know said, well wait a minute I grew up with a guy named Albert Woodfox And she said hold up come on ….Let’s look at the computer! His photograph came up of the kid that I grew up with. You know I said that’s Fox the guy I grew up with and that’s when I got serious about learning about Angola 3 and their plight. And those brothers their story was amazing. Robert King the brother that she met actually did twenty-nine years in solitary and eventually he was exonerated and released. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox remained in Angola in solitary and Herman did forty-two years in solitary. He was exonerated and released and two days after his released he died. He was home but he did get to die a free man. Okay fast forward, two years ago Albert Woodfox on his seventieth birthday was exonerated and released and now he is home and he is doing fantastically well it was a couple of lawsuits that they had found, they won those suits and Fox bought himself a house and a car. He bought his daughter a house and a car. He’s taking care of his family, his grandchildren and he is just doing fantastic. It does my heart good to think of where this brother came from, what he went through and where he is now. It’s a wonderful thing to see.

* Black screen Tell me about the Angola 3 play you wrote*

I realized that part of their problem was that no one knew of their plight. One of the things I thought I could do was to help expose their plight and bring it out to the publics eye. So I did the play, I wrote the play Angola 3 and told their story and whatever manner I could tell it as a playwright. That was after my first play the Motherland before they came because I’ve always been political because everything I’ve done. I don’t know. Throughout life really it’s been political. Alot of people like to compare them to Nelson Mandela. Brother Mandela spent eighteen years in solitary But um…well…. these brothers when Albert Woodfox got out he has spent forty-four years in solitary confinement. Longer than anyone in documented history. These brothers have become panthers and as panthers but they were trying to do is humanized the penitentiary that they were in. Angola was the most brutal penitentiary in the nation. Inmate rapes, beatings, segregations, it’s a horrible place to be. Theses brothers got indoctrinated into the black panther party, they adopted the ten point plan with the black panthers. And they put an end to an inmate rape in that penitentiary. They put an end to the abuse. They fought very hard and that’s why they were framed for murder they did not commit in that penitentiary to silence them to break the hold that the panthers were doing because the penitentiaries feeling like we cannot have the inmates around the asylum. It was all about shutting them down so they were framed for these murders but even while they were in solitary confinement they were still able to do the work they were doing before and preventing some of these young inmates from being raped, brutalized, better conditions at the penitentiary.

*Black Screen So what comes after?

What comes after well I tried to lead a much normal life as I could. I can tell you right now I still work for the People’s Institute For Survival and Beyond. We continue to do undoing racism workshops. I’ve become very close to Robert King, and Albert Woodfox The two surviving members of Angola 3. About a year ago...a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and because of the early detection I was able to get proton therapy and proton therapy cured my cancer. So I sit here now cancer free. Again because of early detection, That’s the message that I carry now. I go to places, I hang out with people and I talk about it. Especially black males

* Black Screen - Would new orleans still be home?*

New orleans was not not a bad thing. I see so many advantages elsewhere .At one point I wanted to live in San Diego. In fact for my travel….during my travel in the navy I went to several different companies and states and cities. I always said that there are two places that I saw that I would like to live, If I didn’t live in New Orleans. One was San diego, California and the other was Vancouver Canada. They were just very clean and there was just flowers on the interstate, instead of trees and weeds like we have here. Opportunities in all the wrong places. New orleans is not a very opportunistic city and I would suggest for the young people growing up today it’s fine New Orleans is a good city you’ve got your family, friends, a culture and traditions but there are opportunities elsewhere .

Alright and we’re done

*Picture of Parnell and two kids*

Thank you

*Music and Credits*


11:17 (eleven minutes, seventeen seconds)


Sydney Odom


Dr. Shearon Roberts


Date Added
December 6, 2018
Item Type
Moving Image
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Sydney Odom, “Living With A Legend,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed September 25, 2022,