Former Black Panther, Political Prisoner and Member of George Jackson Brigade Mark Cook to Speak at MVCC

by MVCC Student Social Justice Club

Former political prisoner, Black Panther and member of the George Jackson Brigade Mark Cook is stopping in Utica to give a lecture as part of statewide speaking tour. The newly formed Student Social Justice Club, an organization at Mohawk Valley Community College, is sponsoring the event. Cook is slated to speak Monday, February 22 from 7:00pm – 8:30pm in ACC 116 at MVCC. Refreshments and food will be provided at the event.

Cook will share his personal story about becoming a revolutionary activist in the 1960s-70s in the Pacific Northwest and talk about the life of experiences he has as an activist and organizer. Mark Cook, who hails from Seattle, was radicalized when he was younger by his experiences with incarceration and also with the rise of the New Left and the Black Panther Party. 

He was one of the key organizers in Washington State’s prisoner justice movement. He was active with the National lawyers Guild, assisted with the Washington State Prisoner Union and while he was serving time in Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla he formed one of only two major Black Panther branches that existed inside a prison. Because of the awful living conditions, discrimination and segregation in the prison, Cook helped lead the longest prisoner strike in Washington State history.

After he was released from prison, Mark Cook joined the urban revolutionary group called the George Jackson Brigade. It was one of many groups that existed during the 1960s and 70s that changed the nature of struggle in the New Left. The brigade led a campaign of bombings in the Northwest that lasted between 1975 and 1978. Their bombings were mostly symbolic, the targets of which represented the prison system, imperialism and racism.

The group was ultimately destroyed by the FBI and law enforcement and many of its members, including Mark Cook, were sent to prison for decades for charges stemming from various actions the brigade had taken. While he was incarcerated he worked as a jail house lawyer and continued his political activism. He was released from prison in 2000 and continues to organize around prisoner justice issues to this day.

This event is free and open to the public. Please contact 315 240 3149 with any questions about the event.


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