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Imprisoned Black Radical Tradition

The imprisoned Black Radical Tradition, termed by queer political prisoner Stevie Wilson, is at the center of the Black Radical Tradition, or as Joy James suggests, it moves beyond it entirely; and as Dylan Rodríguez points out, “Black radicalism is the Black radicalism created and mobilized under conditions of imprisonment and incarceration.” The imprisoned Black Radical Tradition is a liberation and freedom focused tradition, determined to destroy the walls of the violent carceral system through new and intersectional definitions of prisoner, freedom, community, and blackness and protracted struggle. As Stevie Wilson has pointed out, academics working within the Black Radical Tradition have often perpetuated the marginalization of the lived experiences of incarcerated individuals. The revolutionary prison writings of Marcus Garvey, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, George Jackson, and many others, contribute to the Imprisoned Black Radical Tradition’s critical approach to the growth of the prison-industrial-complex and mass incarceration and revolutionary aspirations and struggles against them.

Essays, Articles, Conversations

Cheryl L Harris, “Whiteness as Property” (1993)

Jodi Melamed, “Racial Capitalism” (2015)
Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism, (2011)

Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans, The Prison Industrial Complex and the Global Economy (1997)

Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” (in Sister Outsider) (1984)
– “The Masters Tools Will Never Dismantle the Masters House” (1979)
Stuart Hall, “Race, Articulation, and Societies Structured in Dominance”​​​​​​​ (1969)      

Toward the Horizon of Abolition a Conversation with Mariame Kaba” (2017)  Kim Gilmore, “Slavery and Prison: Understanding the Connections” (2000)

Stephen Hartnett, “Prison Labor, Slavery, and Capitalism in a Historical Perspective”  (1998)

The Challenge of Prison Abolition: A Conversation Between Angela Davis and Dylan Rodriguez” (2000)

Prisons and Class Warfare: Interview with Ruth Wilson Gilmore” (2019)
Race, Capitalist Crisis, and Abolitionist Organizing An Interview with Ruth Wilson Gilmore” (in Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis) (2012)

Texts by Former and Current Political Prisoners

George Jackson, Soledad Brother: Prison Letters of George Jackson (1970)
Blood in My Eye

Assata Shakur, Assata: A Autobiography (1987)

Angela Davis, If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (1971)
– “Political Prisoners, Prisons, and Black Liberation” (1971)
Angela Davis: An Autobiography
– “Race and Criminalization: Black Americans and the Punishment Industry(1997)
Women, Race & Class (1981)
– “Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex” (1998)– Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003)Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire (2005)

Mumia Abu-Jamal, Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings (2015)
Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

Safiya Bukhari, The War Before (2010) 

Stevie Wilson, Abolitionist Study with Stevie Wilson

Rust Belt Radio

Jalil Muntaqim, On the Black Liberation Army (2002)    
Escaping the Prism…Fade to Black: Poetry and Essays (2015)
We Are Our Own Liberators: Selected Prison Writings (2010)


The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America 

Dylan Rodriguez, “Abolition is Our Obligation”
Dylan Rodriguez, “Shifting Responses to the Prison Industrial Complex

Dylan Rodriguez, “It’s Not Police Brutality” Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “The Economy of Incarceration” Joy James, “The Architects of Abolition

Joy James, “From Slave Ships to Black Lives Matter


Evelyn Nakano, Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor (2004)

Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (1978)

Joy James, Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture, (1996)
The New Abolitionists: The (Neo) Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings, (2005)
Imprisoned Intellectuals: America’s Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion, (2003)
States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons, (2002)
– “Refusing Blackness-as-Victimization: Trayvon Martin and the Black Cyborgs,” (2012)

Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide (1973)
To die for the people: the Writings of Huey P Newton (1972)
The Genius of Huey P. Newton (1993)
War Against The Panthers: A Study Of Repression In America (1980)

​​​​​​​​​​​​Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (1983)
– “Capitalism, Slavery and Bourgeois Historiography,” (1987)​​

W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880

​​​​​​​Thomas Sankara, Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983–87 (1989)
Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle (2007)

Robin D.G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (1990)
Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (2003)

Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation (1992)
– The Basis of Black Power

Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism
Black Power and the Third World

Lorenzo Komb’oa Ervin, Anarchism and The Black Revolution

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1961)
Black Skin, White Masks

Joshua Bloom & Waldo E Martin, Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party

Malcolm X, The autobiography of Malcolm X

Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery

David Theo Goldberg, The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism

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