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We Are Not SlavesState Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners' Rights in Postwar America$
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Robert T. Chase

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653570

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653570.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Testimonios of Resistance

Testimonios of Resistance

The Slave Narrative and the Prison Labor Strike of 1978

(p.273) Chapter 8 Testimonios of Resistance
We Are Not Slaves

Robert T. Chase

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 8 analyzes how legal testimonies and documentation became “testimonios of resistance” that crafted an effective narrative that southern prisons and prison labor constituted slavery. The chapter begins with the story of David Ruíz and follows with several other Chicano testimonios. By telling Ruiz’s story, this chapter considers the terror of racial violence, the necessity of self-defense, and the agony of self-mutilation. The chapter then broadens the movement to include the Black Panther Jonathan Eduardo Swift and a cadre of political organizers who spread the word of prisoner empowerment. Once the testimonies had developed into a mass movement, the prisoners planned the first ever system-wide prison labor strike just as the Ruiz case was going to trial. As black and Chicano radical organizers, they waged a public campaign to make the conditions of the southern prison plantation visible by insisting that the Texas control penology and agribusiness model was built on a lie—that incarceration amounted to twentieth-century slavery.

Keywords:   Testimonios, David Ruiz, John Eduardo Swift, Prison labor strike, Alvaro Luna Hernandez, Self Mutilation, Solitary

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