The Sun Belongs To Us All

How did a poem by Palestinian poet, Samih al-Qasim, come to be known and published under George Jackson's name, in English translation? George Jackson, a Black revolutionary writer, was incarcerated in California for more than a decade, until he was killed in 1971 by prison guards. Among the ninety-nine books Jackson had in his cell at the time of his death, one was "Enemy of the Sun," a collection of Palestinian resistance poetry. For four decades, the title poem of the collection has circulated in Black Panther newspapers and other venues under George Jackson's name.

For George Jackson, like many Black revolutionaries, prison was a place of both political captivity and radical education.

During the 11 years Jackson spent in prison following a one-year-to-life sentence for his alleged role in a gas station robbery, he amassed a library of more than 99 books with which he used to educate himself and which he shared among his fellow prisoners.

Jackson, a Black Panther and an author, was one of the Soledad Brothers, three African Americans charged with the murder of a white guard at Soledad Prison, California, in 1970. The incident occurred shortly after a marksman who had shot dead three Black men in the prison’s recreation yard was exonerated in a “justifiable homicide” ruling.

Less well-known is the fact that Jackson also turned to the Palestinian struggle for inspiration during this time, and that the Palestinian prisoner writings that influenced him would continue to have an impact in the US Black community for decades to come.

Symbols: For this collection there was a use of the panther which is a symbol of Black liberation and the Dove a symbol of Palestinian liberation.