From the Publisher
“The most important single volume from a black since The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” —Julius Lester, The New York Times Book Review
"The power of George Jackson's personal story remains painfully relevant to our nation today, with its persisten racism, its hellish prisons, its unjust judicial system, and the poles of wealth and poverty that are at the root of all that. I hope the younger generation, black and white, will read Soledad Brother." —Howard Zinn, author, A People's History of the United States
Jackson gained notoriety shortly before his death in 1970 when his younger brother unsuccessfully tried to free him at gunpoint when Jackson and two others were on trial for killing a guard. Written between 1964 and 1970 while serving time in Soledad Prison for robbery, the letters reveal the brutality and racism faced by prisoners and call for unity among African Americans. This edition contains a new foreword by Jackson's nephew Jonathan. Soledad Brother remains "recommended for most libraries" (LJ 12/15/70) and is a solid title for Black History Month in February.
That prisons have long been a means of containing black
male self-assertiveness and anger is a self-evident truth to a
large number of African Americans. George Jackson's Soledad
Brother gives testament to this, as well as to the reality of the
enormous power, talent, and intelligence being restrained behind
bars. A collection of Jackson's letters from prison, Soledad Brother
is an outspoken condemnation of the racism of white America
and a powerful appraisal of the prison system that fuiled to break
his spirit but eventually took his life.
At eighteen, Jackson was given a one-year-to-life sentence for
stealing $70 from a gas station. In prison Jackson became radicalized
and, together with another prisoner, started a Marxist revolutionary cell.
Through a series of events, Jackson would be charged with the murder of
a white prison guard and would subsequently be killed while allegedly trying to escape—despite the fact that all charges against him had been dropped. At
Jackson's death, he was thirty years old. Twelve of those thirty years had
been spent in prison, seven and one-half of those years in solitary
Jackson's letters make palpable the intense feelings of anger
and rebellion that filled black men in America's prisons in the
1960s. But even removed from the social and political firestorms
of the 1960s, Jackson's story still resonates for its portrait of a
man taking a stand even while locked down. Although he was a
naive petty thief when he was first arrested, Jackson, like men
from Malcolm X to Nathan McCall, found redemption behind
bars. Soledad Brother was published in 1970; Jackson was killed
the following year.