Reference Entry

Jackson, George

Norman O. Richmond

in Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780195167795
Jackson, George

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Black Panther known as one of the Soledad brothers and the author of a best-selling collection of letters written from prison. George Jackson was born in Chicago and spent his formative years in Southern California. He went to prison at age eighteen for a seventy-dollar robbery and spent a large part of the rest of his life behind bars. Jackson rose to be the leading prison intellectual of his time and during his incarceration became a member of the Black Panther Party. His two books, Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (1970) and Blood in My Eye (1972), were international best sellers. The great Caribbean intellectual C. L. R. James (1901–1989) considered Jackson's letters to be “the most remarkable political documents that have appeared inside or outside the United States since the death of Lenin” (Marable, p. 11).Jackson wrote passionate letters to Angela Davis; his younger brother Jonathan was Davis's bodyguard. In one of his letters he told Davis that he saw himself as an African but he wouldn't be satisfied until he was a communist. He was killed in an alleged prison break on 21 August 1971. His life was commemorated in the 2007 Warner Bros. film, Black August, starring Gary Dourdan. Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bob Dylan, Archie Shepp, and Steel Pulse have all eulogized his life variously in folk, jazz, and reggae musical pieces. Black August is observed by groups in the United States, Canada, and Cuba to commemorate the deaths of Jonathan Jackson on 7 August 1970 and George Jackson on 21 August 1971.

Reference Entry.  301 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History

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