Melvin and Jean McNair
[ By RFI ] Jean McNair, a former member of the black rights radical group the Black Panthers, died on Friday in the north west town of Caen in Normandy, from a heart attack. Forty years ago, the American started her life in France with a jail sentence for hijacking.
The incident that changed Jean McNair’s life took place in 1972 – when she and her husband Melvin, their two children and four other black Americans, hijacked a plane from Detroit to Miami with a view to getting to Africa to join a Black Panthers base.
They demanded a million dollar ransom and dropped off the passengers in Miami before ordering the pilot to fly them to Algeria.
Anger over treatment of Blacks in 1960s America and hostility to the Vietnam war, had pushed the McNair’s to seek a new life elsewhere.
However, they were arrested…