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As we honor the 75th birthday of our beloved Comrade George Jackson, field marshal of the Black Panther Party behind prison walls, may we remember his revolutionary ideas and practice, his mentors and his sacrifice. Author of two books, “Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson,” a 1970 bestseller reprinted three times and translated into several languages, and “Blood in My Eye,” published posthumously and recently reprinted.
Trayvon Martin’s mother and father have my deepest sympathies and condolences in this tragic loss and travesty of justice. I would urge them to turn grief into strength and find peaceful, insightful means to fight for real change in honor of their child. The media blitz over Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman has been in-depth, saturating mainstream news for days before, during and now after the trial – commenting on every aspect of this case. It has completely obscured the current hunger strike by tens of thousands of California prisoners protesting prolonged solitary confinement.
Richard Aoki lived a full life, as dictated by the four winds and the revolutionary party that he served. He was indeed a revolutionary in every sense of the word. Well done, Field Marshal Richard Aoki. Please ride the four winds in dashing splendor, as only you can, so that young people will breathe in the essence of your courage.
Most people do not know enough about the Black Panther Party, which was founded at Merritt College in Oakland in October of 1966 by Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton and Chairman Bobby Seale. This happening is important to Black history nationally and worldwide because the Panthers were and are an example of Black people fighting for self-determination no matter the cost.
Trayvon Martin and Mumia Abu-Jamal. One is dead. One languished on death row for 30 years. They are separated in age by a generation, separated by different locations and different life-histories, but their stories of being under surveillance, watched and shot, intersect strikingly with each other and with many other people.
“The purpose of the ... control unit is to control revolutionary attitudes in the prison system and in the society at large,” said former Marion Supermax Prison Warden Ralph Aron. What is shocking to many is how can some not only resist such systematic psychological torture, but actually improve themselves under such conditions of extreme duress.
Black August is a month of great significance for Africans throughout the Diaspora, but particularly here in the U.S. where it originated. “August,” as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, “is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”
Here at the Bay View, we’ve been debating how to best commemorate Black August and celebrate George Jackson this year. Prisoners around the country often ask us for stories about them, and we have more stories than space to publish them.