The Movement for Black Lives stems from a long tradition of revolutionary Black freedom struggles, many of which began inside prison walls. Abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s book Golden Gulag demonstrated how the state of California came to lead the nation in mass incarceration, producing the overcrowded and inhumane conditions which leave incarcerated Californians defenseless against the Covid-19 virus. We can weave together the past and present and reveal the transformative power of incarcerated people’s struggles for liberation through what historian Kelly Lytle Hernández has called the “rebel archive.” 

We partnered with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and the Freedom Archives to create three exhibits detailing this history and the transformative organizing of incarcerated people. The first illustrates the struggles for liberation and brutal state repression of incarcerated revolutionaries in the Black Power era, while the second focuses on the CCWP and the struggle against medical neglect led by incarcerated survivors of gendered violence in the mid-1990s. In the third, we juxtapose a map and data dashboard detailing how COVID-19 and state medical neglect have ravaged California's prisons and jails, with the personal stories of incarcerated people living through the crisis. 

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