Today we honor George L. Jackson — the revolutionary Black Panther political prisoner, organizer, writer and anti-colonial theorist — who was martyred on this day in 1971 when he was shot dead by prison guards in San Quentin Prison in California. He was 29 years old.
In 1960, at the age of 18, Jackson was accused of stealing $70 and sentenced to 1 year to life. Politicized on the inside through his studies, he joined the Black Panther Party and was later appointed field marshal by Huey P. Newton, tasked with building the party’s base in the California prison system. Through his organizing efforts and political education, Jackson exposed, recruited and integrated his fellow inmates into the Panthers’s revolutionary program.
Jackson’s writings traveled from his prison cell to the masses when he published his first book “Soledad Brother,” a collection of his prison letters, in 1970. His second book, “Blood In My Eye” was published posthumously after his death in 1971. As a communist and an internationalist, Jackson recognized that the mass incarceration and murder Black and Brown people in the US was inextricably linked to the exploitation of oppressed and colonized people around the world.
In the aftermath of Jackson’s death, the San Quentin prison authorities searched his cell and inventoried every item, including his personal library which consisted of 99 books. One of those books was “Enemy of the Sun: Poetry of Palestinian Resistance,” an anthology edited by Naseer Aruri and Edmund Ghareeb that was published in 1970 by Washington D.C.- based Drum & Spear Press, a revolutionary anti-imperialist Black press founded by former members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
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