George Jackson

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George Lester Jackson (1941–1971) was a member of the Black Panther Party, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family. Jackson saw himself as a Marxist and was fond of quoting far left ideology but in his writings he reveals himself to be an anti-white racist and fascist. He was opposed to the emancipation of women. He came to fame as one of the Soledad Brothers and died in an unsuccessful attempt to escape from jail. He is sometimes but not always regarded as a political martyr.

Biography

Jackson was born in Chicago, Illinois, one of five children of a poor black family that lived in the slums. His parents tried to give him a good and religious education, but he rejected it. In his teens he got several criminal convictions for armed robbery, assault, and burglary and spent time in a juvenile correction center, where he was enabled to pursue his education.

In 1961, aged 20, he was convicted of armed robbery. The crime consisted of holding a man at gunpoint at a gas station, and the fact that there was only $70 in the till to steal does not make it any less violent. He pleaded guilty and was given an indeterminate sentence of minimum one year to life. Later he claimed that he had not committed the robbery, but he admitted carrying out many others. He was sent to San Quentin State Prison, where he was quite soon found guilty of assaults on guards and fellow inmates. Such behavior meant that he was not eligible for parole and early release. He effectively sentenced himself to remain incarcerated. He had a lawyer and wrote to her but she was unable to do much for him while he continued to re-offend.

In prison, Jackson met other black American criminals such as Huey P. Newton who taught him to see himself as a social victim, and led him to join the Black Panthers, a movement for violent revolution. He used the prison library facilities to read the works of Karl Marx, Lenin, and Mao-tse-Tung.

In 1969, Jackson was transferred from San Quentin to the Soledad prison in California, where in January 1970, he and others were charged with the murder of a guard John V. Mills who had shot several black inmates during a riot in the prison yard. Jackson if convicted this time faced a possible death penalty.

In August when he came to trial, a gang of armed Black Panthers led by his younger brother Jonathan, stormed the Marin County courthouse, and took the judge and several jurors hostage, demanding the release of the prisoners. Police retaliated, and in the subsequent shoot-out Jackson was killed, along with the judge and two other people.[1]

Writings and Political Philosophy

Jackson's books "Soledad Brother" and "Blood in My Eye," were published while he was in prison.

Soledad Brother which contains the letters that he wrote from 1964 to 1970, reveals Jackson to have been a thorough-going anti-white racist, black supremacist, and fascist. He reserves the term "Man" exclusively for black people. He insists that black people are superior to whites and that he is highly intelligent, although he is not fully able to explain why in that case he is where he is. He frequently advocates violence, glories in the violence he has carried out and insists that he is a revolutionary rather than just an unsuccessful criminal. The book was reprinted several times, with an introduction by Jean Genet the French homosexual jailbird and sociopath.

In Soledad Brother Jackson wrote, "I could play the criminal aspects of my life down, but then it wouldn't be me." He admits that even as a young child, "I served mass so that I could be in a position to steal altar wine." His idea of fun was to deliberately set a large oil-tank on fire. "My disposition for guns and explosions was responsible for my first theft...Downtown we plundered at will." He describes how at the age of fifteen he stole his father's car and crashed it into a shop window. The shop owners brought no charges. He writes, "Love of self and kind is the first law of nature" and complains when his mother sends him a birthday card with a picture of white people on it. He writes with contempt of Europeans who according to him "do not possess the quality of rational thought" (p.43-44) then goes on to say "This is a predatory man's world. The real world calls for a predatory man's brand of thinking." He writes with disapproval of women who aspire beyond a domestic role. "The white theory of the emancipated woman is a false idea" and leads to "the breakdown of the family unit." [2]

Jackson's rabid racism, his advocacy of violence, and his naive enthusiasm for Marxist theory set him far apart from the Civil Rights movement as led by Dr Martin Luther King. While his friends in the Black Power movement such as Angela Davis elevated him to the status of a martyr, that is not a universally accepted view.

References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/09/20/archives/jackson-an-enigma-in-life-and-in-death-jackson-an-enigma-in-life-an.html
  2. Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson by George Jackson and Jean Genet, published 1970, reprint by Chicago Review Press, 1994.