Comrades, Captivity and Sunlight

By Greg Thomas
Submitted to Session P4553 (Black Palestinian Solidarity and Anti-Blackness: A Way Forward, 2016 Annual Meeting
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
In Fall 2015, I launched a museum exhibition entitled “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine” at the Abu Jihad Center for the Palestinian Captives’ Movement on the Abu Dis campus of Al Quds University on the edge of Jerusalem. The ongoing project links Blacks in North America and Palestinians; Black Panther and Palestinian liberation struggles; Black and Palestinian prisoner movements; and, most particularly, George L. Jackson and Samih al-Qasim. The symbolic centerpiece of this showcase is a “meeting” of “Comrade George,” or the BPP Field Marshal, and the Druze poet al-Qasim – both communist, both literary, both captive or ex-captive, both internationalist in their pan-Arab or pan-African opposition to local as well global settler-colonial imperialism. After Jackson was assassinated by prison guards on August 21, 1971, Palestinian resistance poetry was seized from his cell, a collection entitled Enemy of the Sun edited by Naseer Aruri and Edmund Ghareeb; and then, somehow, some of al-Qasim’s poetry recovered from this cell would be mistakenly published under Jackson’s name in the Black Panther newspaper. This poetry would lead a long, Black life in North America for decades. “Comrades – Captivity and Sunlight” is a fresh set of reflections on the “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine” exhibition at the Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoner Movement Affairs. Rearticulating all of the aforementioned Black/Palestinian links, I also argue that the amazing Black Panther absorption of Palestinian poetry of resistance in the early 1970s would find a contemporary analogue in the amazing Palestinian absorption of the Black Panther George L. Jackson in Fall 2015 – in the midst of a new popular uprising.