Jackson was surprisingly explicit about his ideas in spite of the fact that he was a helpless prisoner whose well-being and hopes of freedom were dependent upon the goodwill of his captors. He believed in the armed overthrow of the American government and the establishment of a socialist state. In some letters, he suggests that African Americans should have their own independent nation in North America. He distrusted white people and did not see any possibility of sharing power with them. Like Malcolm X, Jackson believed that the white race was inherently evil.
He frequently refers to the fact that Europeans had been at war among themselves and against the nonwhite peoples of the world for hundreds of years. It was his contention that African Americans were a “colonial” people treated almost exactly like most of the people who had lived under European rule in Africa. He thought that since black Africans had been brought to North America against their will, they were entitled to reparations for their pain and suffering. He believed that it was the historic mission of African Americans to lead an armed revolution against U.S. capitalism and imperialism, and it was his contention that some of the best revolutionaries were to be found in U.S. prisons.
Jackson sympathized with the North Vietnamese, who were engaged in a bloody war against a reactionary South Vietnamese government supported by the might of the United States military machine. He strongly believed that African Americans should not participate...
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Jackson’s book was a best seller and won the nonfiction book award from the Black Academy of Arts and Sciences for 1971. It attracted both critical praise and condemnation, depending largely on the political sympathies of the critic. Julius Lester, writing for The New York Times Book Review, called it the most important single volume from a black writer since The Autobiography of Malcolm X and added that Jackson made the volatile Eldridge Cleaver “look like a song-and-dance man on the Ed Sullivan show.”
Many commentators, including Angela Davis, Eric Mann, and Bobby Seale, have openly charged that Jackson was murdered in a conspiracy because he was too dangerous to be released from prison and too dangerous to be kept inside. Jackson’s book appeared during a turbulent period in American history, when the war in Vietnam was raging. Soledad Brother was regarded as a book of antiwar protest because of its contention that domestic racial oppression and involvement in wars against former European colonies were both motivated by the same fascist principles being displayed by Americans in Vietnam. Jackson’s book has been credited with helping to force the United States to terminate hostilities against the North Vietnamese because Jackson specifically advised African Americans not to participate in foreign wars. This was a powerful factor in motivating the government to find a way out of the unpopular and divisive conflict....
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