Textbook: None. Selected writings found online will constitute the textbook.
Read the following information on George Jackson. Relate the information to the following questions to the best of your ability.
(1) Do you think there are any similarities between the prison experiences of George Jackson and Malcolm X?
(2) Why does commitment to revolution have a special meaning in prison?
(3) What do you think George Jackson meant when he said "give up your life for the people"?
(4) If George Jackson had been formally educated, do you think he would have been any more intelligent?
(5) George "was able to inspire devotion because he emphasized his commonality with other people, not his uniqueness." Is emphasizing one's commonality rather than one's uniqueness something that a white power system teaches one to do?
When he was eighteen, George Lester Jackson was sentenced from one year to life in prison for allegedly stealing $70.00 from a gas station. He spent the next eleven years, the rest of his life, in prison, eight and one half of those years in solitary confinement. In Jackson's own words, "Black men born in the U.S. and fortunate enough to live past the age of eighteen are conditioned to accept the inevitability of prison. For most of us it simply looms as the next phase in a sequence of humiliations. Being born a slave in a captive society and never experiencing any objective basis for expectation had the effect of preparing me for the progressively traumatic misfortunes that lead so many Black men to the prison gates."
The turning point in George's life came when he met Fanon, Marx, Mao, Lenin, Malcolm, etc., people who provided him with a new way of regarding himself and Our struggle-- a new standard of moral judgement. According to George, the social insights of Fanon and others made it possible for him to have a sense of himself as a member of the human community, a member of a revolutionary brotherhood. George met the Black guerillas, George "Big Jack" Lewis, James Carr, W. C. Nolan, Bill Christmas, Tony Gibson and many others who attempted to transform the Black criminal mentality into a Black revolutionary mentality.
In prison, commitment to revolution has a special meaning and a special price. To be identified as a revolutionary by the prison authorities means an almost permanent denial of parole, separation from the other prisoners, solitary confinement, transfers from one prison to another, beatings and the worst food. It brings down on one the entire punitive and repressive forces of a completely totalitarian system.
Inside prison George practiced a very special kind of devotion and love. Most of his "offenses" inside prison-- the reason why he was forced to spend over seven years in various forms of solitary confinement, involved his defense of other inmates. If you were the victim of a racial attack inside prison, there was a good chance that George would turn up at your side fighting for you.
What made George particularly dangerous to the prison authorities was his enormous talent as an organizer. George used his power to make others feel powerful. He was able to inspire devotion because he emphasized his commonality with other people, not his uniqueness.
George Jackson paid a heavy price for his activities. When the prison authorities couldn't break him through solitary confinement, they attempted to have him murdered by other inmates. When that did not work, they, themselves, murdered him.
George Jackson's message is crystal clear: "Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of Our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch, give up your life for the people."
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