Oral Histories

Here, we present some of the oral histories that have been conducted through the Washington Prison History Project as well as link to other interviews with and testimonials from currently and formerly incarcerated people. The oral histories are currently a small aspect of the project, but one that may grow in the future. For a full collection of interviews, please visit the full  Washington Prison History Project Archive.

Mark Cook, Janine Bertram, Ed Mead (2018)

Members of the George Jackson Brigade at NWFF, February 18, 2018 (L-R: Mark Cook, Janine Bertram, Ed Mead)

L-R: Mark Cook, Janine Bertram, Ed Mead (2018)

On February 18, 2018, members of the George Jackson Brigade met at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle on the occasion of a screening for the film “Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown.” After the film screening, members of the GJB Mark Cook, Janine Bertram and Ed Mead answered audience questions and discussed the George Jackson Brigade, prisoners, prisons, activism, and related topics.

The conversation was recorded – you can watch it in its entirety below:
» Discussion with George Jackson Brigade Members

To find out more about the film, visit the filmmaker’s website.

John McCoy (2017)

John McCoy, November 2017
John McCoy, November 2017

On November 2, 2017, Dan Berger conducted an interview with John McCoy about his book, Concrete Mama, written about the Washington State Penitentiary in the late 1970s. A transcript of this wide-ranging interview is now available. For more about the book, please also visit our Concrete Mama pages.
» Interview Transcript (PDF)

Ed Mead (2016)

Ed Mead, 2016

This interview with Ed Mead, conducted on February 16th, 2016 by MACS Graduate Students Josefina Garcia-Turner and Marcus Johnson traces Ed’s lifetime as a radical leftist, and prison activist. Ed discusses how he came to be politicized while in prison, and how those experiences led to his joining of the George Jackson Brigade in the Pacific Northwest in the 70s.
» Interview Audio (1 hour 6 minutes)

Mark Cook and Ed Mead (2012)

In an interview conducted by Dan Berger in his classroom at the University of Washington, Mark Cook and Ed Mead talk about their lives and their experiences in prison. They also talk about their activities since getting out of prison. The interview audio is available in two parts, linked below. The interview transcript is also available from the WPHP archive.

» Interview Audio, Part 1 (1 hour 51 minutes)
» Interview Audio, Part 2 (4 minutes)
» Interview Transcript (PDF)


Updates from the University of Washington Bothell's Project on Mass Incarceration in Washington State