Interview with Amiri Baraka

Now when you get somebody like a George Jackson who is beginning to, to talk about reading, those kinds of things, are you seeing that also when you go into prison?


Well you always saw that. It depends on the focus, I mean, Bumpy Johnson, when he went to Alcatraz for twelve years, I mean, he educated himself, he had, I guess, a triple post doc in literature and,you know, world culture. I mean based on people who were locked up, like Malcolm said he read the dictionary when he was in prison. I mean people make use of their time depending on their consciousness in prison and you find some very well-educated people in prison because they got the time, to do that, but during the period of revolutionary insurgence, the kind of focus of that reading becomes different, people that are reading, you know, [Frantz] Fanon, Malcolm X doctrines and so forth and so on and uh Nkrumah and,you know, the whole question of, of, of organizing in prisons and leading the prison movement to liberation movements, this becomes much more of, of, of the time. The Nation of Islam was always well organized in prisons, ah, some of the other organizations, like I said in New Jersey we were well-organized in prisons Congress of African People were after the people. We had teachers in the major prisons who went there every week, you know, teaching,you know, about the cultural revolution and the Black liberation movement and things like that. So there was a closer tie based on, ah, the revolutionary,you know, um, character of the times.