Among the offerings at the upcoming “I’ve Known Rivers Film Festival” is a documentary highlighting an obscure facet of the Black Liberation struggle, titled “Jackson: Not Just a Name.”
At the dawn of the 1970s, the maelstrom of Black dissent swirled throughout South Los Angeles, in part because of events like the persecution of the Black Panther Party by law enforcement, the death of incarcerated Black militant “Soledad Brother” George Jackson in an August 1971 prison escape, and the death of Jackson’s younger brother Jonathan in a failed hostage abduction attempt in a Marin County court house a year earlier.
In the wake of these proceedings, a group of socially conscious African Americans from the Avalon Gardens Housing Projects, joined together under the title of the “Jonathan Jackson Educational Cadre (or JJEC)” to uplift their community. The film “Jackson: Not Just a Name,” tells the story of this commune, whose efforts to politically enlighten the neighborhood led to their being branded a Black Nationalist organization by area law enforcement and subsequent harassment.
Evolving from a 30-minute nucleus of super 8mm film shot during this era, the 90-minute finished product evokes a transitional period in the history of Los Angeles. Black gang culture or “street tribes,” as producer/director Harold Welton calls them, were in their “embryonic” stages, and provided a significant hurdle for social activists with humanist leanings.
“Jackson: Not Just a Name,” screens on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. at the Jazz and Blues Museum, 4317 Degnan Blvd. Admission is free.