“Life of Payne” is a riveting memoir about a bank robber, revolutionary, father, and Black Panther party financier, Winfred Wade Payne. In his tell-all memoir titled “Life of Payne” written by Clark Atlanta University Professor Dr. Joseph Jones, Dr. Jones tells Mr. Payne’s life story as a revolutionary, father, and self-proclaimed liberator of Black people with scholarly conviction.
Mr. Payne details his troubled upbringing in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1970s, at the dawn of the Black Panther movement, growing up with an absent father and young single mother. Payne recounts rubbing shoulders and working with infamous gangster figures like John Gotti, Nick Civella & Ramon Matta – after his life of crime landed him on the FBI’s most wanted list. He was hit with a 25-year prison sentence after fleeing and escaping police custody multiple times.
After 70 years of pain, Payne reflects back on his troubled past and stresses in his memoir stating that “crime doesn’t pay,” despite what the world might tell Black youth. Payne’s militant views and rebellious spirit carried him into many misadventures where he was a bank robber by day and Black Panther party vigilante by night. The memoir covers each arc of his life including his childhood adolescence, his time in the movement, his time in prison, and his time as a grandfather and caseworker after his nearly 20-year incarceration.
“We’d say we were doing it for the right reasons, but really a lot of the money went to us, but a lot went to help the party and help people. It helped people. It helped Black folk.” – Winfred Payne
Quentin Anderson, a Spike Lee fellow at the Gersh Agency and recent Morehouse College graduate, has secured the rights to adapt Payne’s life story into a live-action, blaxploitation-style limited series. This series will explore strain theory, Black existentialism, Black masculinity, and the “coming of age” experiences of Black baby boomers born on the “wrong side of the tracks”. This story occurs with the backdrop of a tattered and desegregated 1970s Black American Midwest (after the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968).
The young producer plans to tell the story as an in-depth action-drama, as an ode to the blaxploitation film era, and the original “gangster crime” lore established (and often criticized) during that time period in film history. While talks with multiple studios have commenced after the SAG and WGA Strike, this highly anticipated series has reportedly caught the eye of a few Hollywood A-listers looking to attach to the project late next year.
“Most of these children look up to and revere old gangsters … And there’s nothing beautiful or glamorous about being a gangster.” – Winfred Payne
Payne now runs a non-profit, Alternatives For Youth, where he does casework with troubled youth in need of a shining example of what it means to turn your life around for the better, despite your harsh circumstances or upbringing.
He hopes that this adaptation will spread his message of resilience and compassion far and wide. As the timely deaths of young influential rappers, Black icons, and countless others continue to cloud the optimism of millions of Black youth across the country, Payne’s story couldn’t come at a better time. Payne’s memoir is now available for purchase here.
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