Michael Aloysius Tabor (December 13, 1946 – October 17, 2010) was one of two children of Grace and Michael Tabor Sr. He joined the Panther Party when he was 19 and went by the name of a 19th -century Zulu king, Cetewayo. He was an member of the Black Panther Party who was charged and tried as part of an alleged conspiracy to bomb public buildings in NYC and kill members of the New York Police Department. Four months into the trial Tabor and another defendant fled to Algeria. Despite his ultimate acquittal on all charges, Tabor remained in exile in Africa until his death, never returning to the United States.
Tabor was born on December 13, 1946, in Harlem and joined the Black Panther Party while in his teens. In 1970, Tabor and 12 other members of the Black Panthers were charged for their involvement in a plot to kill police officers and to plant bombs in New York City commercial and public buildings, including the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. Support for the prosecution’s case came from undercover officers who claimed that the defendants had developed plans for a series of bombings and had conducted classes to instruct those participating in the plot how to construct explosive devices.
Together with fellow defendant Richard Moore, Tabor failed to appear at their trial in February 1971, forfeited $150,000 in bail and were declared fugitives. Blank Panther leader Huey P. Newton called Moore and Tabor “enemies of the people” for evading justice while on trial and putting the other defendants and the party at risk. Connie Matthews, Newton’s former secretary and Tabor’s wife, also left the country and was said to have taken valuable records with her. The two finally surfaced in Algeria the following month together with Eldridge Cleaver.
The New York Times published a lengthy letter from Moore on the day before the verdicts were read explaining that they had fled the U.S. because they feared that their lives were at risk. On May 13, 1971, after an eight-month-long trial, the jury in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan delivered an acquittal on all 156 counts. In a statement issued from Algiers, Tabor stated that the trial represented “an attempted railroad and that the defendants’ rights were flagrantly violated” and said that he was “overjoyed that the brothers are free”.
Algeria expelled Tabor and he and Matthews moved to Zambia in 1972, where Tabor wrote about politics and hosted a radio show. Despite repeated requests, Tabor refused to return to the United States. He died at age 63 in Lusaka, Zambia, on October 17, 2010, due to complications of multiple strokes. He was survived by his second wife, Priscilla Matanda, as well as by a daughter and three sons.
“I often asked him if he would be interested in returning to the United States,” he said, “but he adamantly said he would remain in Africa.”