Middleweight boxing champion Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died on Sunday at age 76. He was twice wrongly convicted in a 1966 triple murder. Celebrities rallied for his release, but after his second conviction, many fell away.
Thom Kidrin was among the few who kept up support and lobbied relentlessly for Carter’s release. In 1985, a federal judge ruled Carter had been wrongly convicted.
Kidrin joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss his friend’s life and legacy.
Interview Highlights: Thom Kidrin
On what drew him to Rubin after so many turned away
“I think Rubin had many strong characteristics. Certainly his power of presence; he did have a strong aura about him. Physically strong, but more importantly I think the energy that he put out — tremendous smile, tremendous intellect, a great quick whit, but Rubin also had a human compassion, a component that could tie into your heart. And I think the combination of the injustice that was done to him — his ability to suffer through that, and certainly when all people turn their back on him, which was striking because everybody believed the system was corrupt and unjust and how could the same system retry him and not find the same verdict. But that was sufficient enough for people to say, well, he must be guilty because he had his second trial.”
On bringing Rubin books on philosophy when he was in jail
“Rubin used to joke to me and say, ‘I’m your big experiment, aren’t I,’ and I said ‘look, the fact of the matter is that no matter how many books on law you read, you are not going to free yourself. The system has to work its way through. But you have to be free within your mind and expand your mind through more esoteric type of reading.’ … And we had many, many hours of conversations about that, and I could see in his demeanor he became less strident in his speaking style. Very philosophical. He started to melt the angry person that felt that he was truly unjustly charged and had a sole purpose of vindicating himself from the legal system, realized that he had to get above that.”
On Rubin’s last days and months with cancer
“He was lucid. He was not giving up the fight. He said, ‘look, I know death is coming for me, but I’m ready to go. I’ve done what I could do, I’ve met who I’ve wanted to meet, I’ve said what I had to say and I’ve had a great life and it’s been heaven for the last 28 years.’ … I think he strongly felt that he made some mark and that if anything, he would hope that his legacy would be that people would remember him for speaking out for those that were wrongly convicted.”