Freedom Archives


The Freedom Archives is a non-profit educational archive located in San Francisco dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of historical audio, video, and print materials documenting progressive movements and culture from the 1960s to the 1990s. 

Offering a youth development program focused on engagement with these historical materials and providing media production training, we also produce original documentaries and educational resources for use by schools and organizations as tools for community building and social justice work. One such example is our Resistance to Forced Sterilization Curriculum–a resource that repurposes items from our collection to lift up and illuminate historic acts of resistance in the still very relevant struggle for reproductive justice. By activating our collection to foster meaningful engagement with progressive histories, our work cultivates confidence in possibility while asserting the importance and ongoing relevance of past voices of resistance.


Constituting a compelling record of more than 50 years of recorded sound, images, and cultural diversity, the Freedom Archives’ collection reflects a vibrant legacy of resistance and community organizing distinct to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Below, you will find a selection of materials curated for San Francisco History Days. This content speaks to a particularly significant moment in Bay Area prison and Black liberation struggles and ties in closely with the current political moment, where the persistence of racist police brutality has prompted a surge of popular support for both the Black Lives Matter and abolition movements. 

BAY AREA PRISONS AND RESISTANCE: George Jackson and the San Quentin Six

On August 21, 1971, George Jackson was fatally shot by prison guards inside San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California. Two other prisoners and three guards were also killed. In the days that followed, prisoners were beaten and brutalized. Meanwhile, authorities contrived a frame-up to cover their crime and accused George Jackson of having a pistol which was smuggled into the prison as justification for his assassination.  Following the events of August 21, a group of prisoners vocal about the ongoing racial violence at San Quentin were indicted for muder and conspiracy, despite lack of evidence. They became known as the San Quentin Six: Hugo Pinell, Fleeta Drumgo, Willie ‘Sundiata’ Tate, Johnny Larry Spain, David Johnson, and Luis ‘Bato’ Talamantez. 

Becoming the longest and most costly trial of its era, the San Quentin Six and their supporters fought tirelessly to expose the collusion between prison authorities and the state in aiding and abetting the events of August 21. Marking one of the first times that the brutal and inhumane conditions of prison life reached the public, the San Quentin Six broke new ground in forging prisoner-led solidarity networks, with the rights of all incarcerated people at its center.

1. Video – George Jackson / San Quentin (16mm film)

This extraordinary video is from a 16mm film “work print” made in 1971–1972, and includes interviews with George Jackson, Georgia Jackson (George and Jonathan Jackson’s mother) and Angela Davis, while she was on trial in the Marin County Courthouse Jail (before her acquittal). 

George Jackson was originally convicted of armed robbery for stealing 70 dollars from a gas station. For that offense, he was sentenced to one year to life in prison. The video illuminates past struggles against state repression and incarceration, while lifting up George Jackon’s revolutionary legacy.*

*Note: We have not been able to identify the other prisoners. The film has no titles or other credits.

2. Audio Recording – “Marin County Rebellion,” from Prisons On Fire: George Jackson, Attica, and Black Liberation (Freedom Archives)

What is the legacy of the prison movement? And what do these forgotten histories tell us about prisons, repression, and the struggle for freedom today? This excerpt from Prisons on Fire contains archival audio and contemporary interviews, music and narration. We hear the voices of George Jackson, Jonathan Jackson Jr, and Georgia Jackson, among others.

3. Image – The San Quentin Six

Excerpt from “The San Quentin Six,” pamphlet. San Quentin Six Legal Defense Fund. San Quentin Six Collection. 

“The San Quentin Six” pamphlet discusses the murder of George Jackson and the background of the charges against the San Quentin Six.

4. Image – San Quentin Six: Chronology of a Frame-Up

Cover page of “San Quentin Six: Chronology of a Frame-Up” pamphlet. San Quentin Six Legal Defense Fund. San Quentin Six Collection. 

Contains a descriptive, bilingual timeline of the events leading to the charging of the San Quentin Six and up through the fourth anniversary of George Jackson’s murder.

5. Image – Photo of Inez Garcia and the San Quentin Six

LuisBato’ Talamantez, David Johnson, Inez Garcia and Willie ‘Sundiata’ Tate at a rally in San Francisco. San Quentin Six Collection.

Bato, David, and Sundiata were part of the San Quentin Six. Inez Garcia was a prominent figure in the 1970s women’s movement. She was imprisoned for homicide after attempting to defend herself from a repeat rape offender. Her widely covered trial, which took place in Monterey, California in 1974, marked a milestone in the movement against gender-based violence. Inez was acquitted in 1977.

6. Image – Letters to Mother From Prison

Excerpt from “Letters to Mother From Prison,” a booklet composed of letters from political prisoners Fleeta Drumgo, Larry West, Khatari (Jeffrey Gaulden), Johnny Larry Spain, Hugo Pinell, Luis Talamantez, David Johnson, and Willie Tate. Compiled by Inez Williams in order to share their voices with people across the globe and “make them human again.” San Quentin Six Collection.