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William Potts, also known as Lieutenant Spartacus or William Freeman, was a former member of the Black Panther Party who was charged with hijacking a Piedmont Airlines flight in 1984. Potts left his aunt’s home in New Jersey that March with $120 she had given him to pay her electric bill. Instead, Potts bought a Piedmont Airlines plane ticket.

Potts, who is now 56, had demanded that the New York plane skip its intended flight to Miami and head to Havana, Cuba. As collateral, Potts claimed to have planted explosives aboard the flight. Potts has now returned to the United States to face a 20-year prison sentence. This is in addition to the 13 years he had already served in Cuba. Potts thought he would be free in Cuba and train as a militant, but was arrested after the plane landed in 1984. He hopes that his time in Cuba will be taken into consideration for his U.S. sentence on the charges of air piracy.

Little Known Black History Fact: William Potts  was originally published on

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