Revolutionary journalism and Prisoner Human Rights Movement
… freedom of the press … is an embodiment of freedom….Freedom is so much the essence of the human that even its opponents realize it … No human fights freedom; they fight at most the freedom of others. Every kind of freedom has therefore always existed, only at one time as a special privilege, at another time as a universal right. Karl Marx
A new book, Prison Truth, “The Story of the San Quentin News” by William J. Drummond (UC Press, 2020) tells of prisoners’ self-transformation through journalism, even under prison’s censorship. Does Prison Truth itself suffer from this self-censorship? Is there a deeper truth, a new humanism, within prisoners themselves?
The most visible manifestation of such a new humanism emerged in the torturous hell-hole of perpetual solitary confinement in Pelican Bay. Their successful mass hunger strikes (2011-13), based on their Agreement to End Hostilities, undermined gang-based identification of prisoners fomented by the prison authorities. The strikes brought an end to indeterminate solitary confinement and “changed the face of race relations” in prison according to strike representative, Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (see reverse side). That struggle continues against the ongoing abuse of “confidential information” which creates discord and racial animosity between prisoners.
We’ll explore the contrast between the practice of revolutionary journalism shaped by freedom as human essence and freedom as a “special privilege” in press freedom under censorship.