George Jackson was born in Chicago on September 23, 1941, the second son in a five-child family. Early on in life, his circumstances and the poverty and blight surrounding him — along with the constant consumerist brainwashing received through billboards, television, and radio advertisements — drove him to a life of fighting for survival.
Armed robberies and shoplifting led him to constant faceoffs with the law, and in 1961, he was sentenced to one year with the possibility of life in prison after a robbery during which he stole $70 at gunpoint from a filling station. He was sent to San Quentin State Prison, where he became notorious for engaging in physical altercations with both prison officials and other inmates.
“I met Marx, Lenin, Engels, Trotsky and Mao when I entered prison, and they redeemed me.” so said Jackson after being introduced to revolutionary Marxist theory and practice by a fellow inmate. A revolutionary formation called the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) was founded by Jackson and W.L. Nolen in 1966, operating based on Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong. The stated goals of the BGF are overthrowing racism and the U.S. Government and liberating prisoners. After meeting Huey P. Newton in prison, Jackson joined the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.
In January 1969, Jackson was transferred to the notorious Soledad Prison along with his friend and teacher, Nolen. In 1970, Nolen was shot to death by a racist guard named Opie Miller (who was eventually cleared and ruled the perpetrator of a justifiable homicide) during an armed struggle with members of the Aryan Brotherhood. Shortly after Nolen’s murder, Jackson was formally charged with the murder of a corrections officer who was thrown off the third floor of the prison’s Y wing.
On August 21, 1971, Jackson mounted a daring escape attempt by using a pistol to hold several people hostage and eventually flee to the yard, where he was executed. He left all of his financial resources and his legal defense fund to the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and a legacy of tenacious and brutal resistance to racist state brutality.
Attempted Escape at San Quentin Leaves Six Dead
Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson
Blood in my Eye