For #BlackAugust, we uplift and honor the freedom fighters, especially those inside the walls of our sprawling prison-industrial complex, who, with their vision, tenacity, and deep love for our communities, are leading us towards liberation.
We invite you to read the words of George Jackson, in Blood In My Eye, for this month’s #RadicalReadz. Blood In My Eye was completed only days before he was killed, on August 21, 1971, at the hands of San Quentin prison guards during an alleged escape attempt.
At eighteen, George Jackson was convicted of stealing seventy dollars from a gas station and was sentenced from one year to life. He would spent the rest of his life — eleven years — in the California prison system; seven in solitary confinement. In prison, he read widely and transformed himself into an activist and political theoretician who defined himself as a revolutionary.
This is the voice and story of a different type of prisoner. George Jackson would have been a Pulitzer prize winner, a noted writer and political leader, a teacher, making thinkers of the ilk of Noam Chomsky pale literally in comparison, had he not been Black and poor in the U.S. The 1960s were fertile times — even behind prison walls — for thinking outside the box, for acting and doing things to change the word and the world. Although this is another discussion, 1960s not only saw the rise of Civil Rights, Black Liberation, Chicano, American Indian, environmentalist, women’s, Asian American, and new and older left movements, this period also saw the consolidation and implementation of neoliberalism. The dramatic turn to the right in social and economic policies took shape by the end of the 1960s and collected its dues in blood. AIM leaders and members, Black Panthers, Puerto Ricans and other U.S.-born and bred liberation fighters and thinkers lost their lives, ended up in prison or marginalized by the rush of capitalism’ restructuring and re-concentration of wealth that continues whose ebbs and flows impacted our movements; George Jackson was one of them.
This book of a by-gone era still holds out promise, hope and lessons for our current situation.