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Organization was another important aspect of the prison reform movement which, as shown through primary documents, was inspired directly from the civil rights movement.

To begin, in addition and in conjunction with his community action work, Walter Taylor created “Community Concern for Prisoners,” a program which served to elicit a more favorable view of prisoners in society.This organization mirrors those of the civil rights movement, such as the Black Panthers, in that it provides an organized way for activists to achieve change through community action.[1]

[2] Black Panther Party

Taylor’s work with the Project Threshold, an organization which helped promote positive images to high school age youth, bettered the view of prisoners in the eyes of society as the public could see inmates acting in peaceful ways, behavior contrary to the violent master narrative propagated by the government.[3]


The organizations formed in regard to the Attica trials were also effective in achieving change. While the government attempted to blame prisoners for the massacre, organizations such as the Attica Defense Committee and Attica Brothers Legal Defense Fund worked to keep injustices in the minds of the public. Combining strategies of organization and literature, The Attica Defense Committee released pamphlets calling “upon the conscientious citizens of America to assist [them] in putting an end to” the injustice faced in the prison reform movement. The pamphlets also included pictures of men making symbols of the black power movement in order to strengthen the relationship between the prison reform movement and civil rights movement.[5]

[6] Literature produced by prison reform activists, including civil rights imagery in order to link themselves to the civil rights movement.

The Attica Brothers Legal Defense Fund employed similar methods of disseminating information to the public, releasing booklets such as “Attica is All of Us,” which gave insider looks within the Attica Riot and blamed racism and discrimination of political leaders and the government.

[7] Pamphlet released by the Attica Brothers Legal Defense Fund.

Through sophisticated organization, prison reform activists were able to achieve change in the hearts and minds of the public and, in conjunction with other strategies such as dissemination of literature, were able to link themselves to civil rights activists and achieve grassroots success.

[1]“Walter Taylor Elected to the San Quentin Inmate Advisory Council as

Representative.” Article. February 4, 1969. Walter J. Taylor Papers, 1934-2000 – Box 1.


[3] “Walter Taylor Elected to the San Quentin Inmate Advisory Council as

Representative.” Article. February 4, 1969. Walter J. Taylor Papers, 1934-2000 – Box 1.


[5] “Support The Attica Brothers.” Attica Defense Committee. Pamphlet. Jomo Joka

 Omowale Papers, 1969-2008 – Box 11.






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