Guide to the Jomo Joka Omowale Papers, 1969-2008
Jomo Joka Omowale, born as Cleveland McKinley Davis and also known as Eric Thompson, is a parolee in North Carolina who spent much of his life imprisoned in New York and Virginia. He was a leader of the Attica prison riot in 1971. Collection includes court transcripts, legal papers and correspondence, court documents, press coverage and clippings, and internal prison policies and procedures from Omowale's many years in various prisons. Cases include armed robbery in Virginia, the Attica riots and subsequent trials, three trials regarding a police shooting in Brooklyn, and a murder of a drug dealer in Virginia. Omowale was convicted in the final case, and his pursuit of parole in Virginia following the elimination of parole in the 1990s is another significant component of the collection. Other materials include prisoner poetry and writings, personal correspondence between Jomo and his family, prisoner poetry, Attica Brothers Legal Defense materials, and court documents regarding a White Panther Party trial in 1970. Also includes hundreds of mugshots from New York. Acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive (Duke University).
- Collection Number
- Jomo Joka Omowale papers
- Omowale, Jomo Joka
- 25 Linear Feet, 18750 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
Collection includes legal documentation and court transcripts from Omowale's various trials, including Attica-related trials and the subsequent lawsuits brought by the Attica Brothers. Also represented are court cases from his armed robbery conviction in Virginia Beach; his repeated murder trials in New York regarding police shootings (and his lawsuits against New York following his acquittal from those shootings); and his murder conviction in Virginia in 1985. Also included are many materials from his wife and attorney, Elizabeth Gaynes, particularly regarding his legal defense in those trials as well as her attempts to gain his parole in Virginia in the 1990s and 2000s.
Other materials in the collection include personal correspondence between Omowale and Elizabeth Gaynes, as well as correspondence between him and other family members, in particular his daughter, Emani. Other correspondence exists between him and other Attica Brothers, regarding the Attica trials and the lawsuits that followed. Photographs, particularly of mugshots, are another significant component of the collection. The remainder of the materials are prison writings; publicity and press coverage of Jomo Joka Omowale's many court cases; news clippings about him, parole, and other related topics; and miscellaneous documents collected by Omowale during his time in prison.
Acquired as part of Duke University's Human Rights Archive.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Jomo Joka Omowale Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Includes clippings with coverage of Black Panther Party, Attica riots and trials of Attica Brothers, as well as coverage of the lawsuits filed by the Attica Brothers against New York. Includes legal correspondence and documents, proceedings, motions, and orders from the court cases following the Attica riots. Also contains Attica Brothers Legal Defense materials, as well as legal documents from a White Panther Party case from 1970. Finally, includes witness files from the Wade Hearing held in 1975.
Legal documents, correspondence, and other materials relating to Omowale's non-Attica trials, including his armed robbery conviction in Virginia, his repeated murder trials in New York, and his murder trial in Virginia. Also includes a large amount of material from his quest for parole in Virginia in the 1990s and 2000s.
Includes handwritten correspondence between Jomo Omowale and Elizabeth Gaynes, as well as by Omowale to other family members. The Attica Brothers correspondence largely discusses the trials and condition of the Attica Brothers still in prison. Also included in this series are various poems and writings, both by Omowale and other prisoners, as well as by some of Omowale's supporters. Also included are clippings and press coverage of Omowale and his court cases.
Court transcripts from the Attica trials and its Wade Hearing from 1975, as well as other trials both against and brought by Jomo.
Miscellaneous materials include correspondence, legal paperwork, fliers, and other materials. The crime scene photographs are extremely gruesome.
Contains a variety of materials including black community newsletters, articles about the KKK and racial oppression, zines created by prisoners, and handouts and pamphlets about particular convicts.
Hundreds of black-and-white 3x5 inch mugshots of prisoners, which appear to have been taken from New York prisons. Prisoners are identified and some information is provided on the reverse of the photograph.
|1942 April 10||
Born as son of sharecroppers, Infield, North Carolina. Grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Married Bobbi Lee Forman. They divorced in 1978.
Jailed for burglary, Princess Ann Jail, Virginia.
Arrested in Virginia for robbery; escaped and went to New York.
Arrested in New York for robbery, sent to Sing Sing Prison.
Transferred to Auburn Prison, New York.
Involved in Black Panther Party in Auburn Prison; transferred to Attica Prison.
Involved in Attica Prison riots: Controled the "D" Door. Was shot 6 times when police stormed the prison.
Vincent Doyle took over Davis defense in Attica trial and appointed Elizabeth Gaynes as counsel.
Davis accepted "Alfred plea" for time served and was released from New York. He returned to Virginia to complete his sentence there. He then returned to New York to complete his time for his initial sentence, and was paroled in New York.
Governor of New York pardoned Davis for his involvement in the Attica Prison riots.
Married Elizabeth Gaynes.
|1978 April 2||
Involved in a shooting in Brooklyn, NY, which ended with the death of two police officers and Dalou, an aquaintance of Davis. Davis was also shot. He was arrested for the murders and was severely beaten en route to the hospital, requiring reconstructive surgery on his face. His vision was permanently impaired.
Davis was tried 3 times for the murders of the policemen and Dalou. The first 2 trials ended with hung juries, and he was acquitted the third time and released.
Davis and Gaynes separated. He moved to Virginia Beach, where he was involved (with 2 others) in an attempted robbery of drug dealer Robert Stith. Stith was killed during the robbery. Davis was wounded in the leg. He fled to Washington and then went on to New York.
Davis was a fugitive on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. His co-defendents entered guilty pleas.
Davis was captured and tried for murder and robbery. He was sentenced to prison, to be eligible for parole in 10-11 years.
Repeatedly denied parole under Virginia's law eliminating parole.
Paroled. Moved to North Carolina to live near his children.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Attica Correctional Facility
- Attica Defense Committee
- Black Panther Party
- Davis, Cleveland M.
- Gaynes, Elizabeth
- Omowale, Jomo Joka
- Omowale, Jomo Joka
- Thompson, Eric
- Murder -- Virginia
- Murder -- New York
- Prison riots -- New York
- Trials (Murder) -- New York
- Trials (Murder) -- Virginia
- Trial practice -- New York
- Trial practice -- Virginia
The Jomo Joka Omowale Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2011.
Processed by Meghan Lyon, February 2011
Encoded by Meghan Lyon, February 2011
Materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.
Accessions in this finding aid: 2011-0026