Today, August 21st, is the 49th anniversary of George Jackson’s murder by San Quentin guards. Jackson was a leading theorist and militant in the prisoners’ movement which had emerged over the previous decade in close relationship to the rise of Black Power. His books, Soledad Brother and Blood in my Eye, remain touchstones for prisoners’ discussions across the US. Jackson famously organized within a collective of other courageous prison rebels.
After that, we finish last week’s conversation between Bella Bravo and abolitionist researchers Zhandarka Kurti, and Jarrod Shanahan. Kurti is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Tennesee in Knoxville, and also works with Face to Face Knox, a campaign to restore in-person visitation to Knox County detention centers. Shanahan is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Governors State University.
Together, they have written several pieces, including the article referenced in this conversation, Prelude to a Hot American Summer, about the George Floyd Uprising. Today, we share the final part of their conversation about the current moment, its relationship to the Black Lives Matter movement of previous years, and the impact of the coronavirus on incarcerated people.
We are grateful to Freedom Archive for providing audio records of George Jackson’s speech, and of Harry Belafonte, which is featured in their important audio documentary on Jackson, titled Prisons on Fire. Many more materials can be found at freedomarchives.org