More than a memoir, Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead takes the reader on a tour of America’s underbelly. From Iowa to Compton to Venice Beach to Fairbanks, Alaska, Mead introduces you to poor America just trying to get by—and barely making it. When a thirteen-year-old Mead ends up in the Utah State Industrial School, a prison for boys, it is the first step in a story of oppression and revolt that will ultimately lead to the foundation of the George Jackson Brigade, a Seattle-based urban guerrilla group, and to Mead’s re-incarceration as a fully engaged revolutionary, well-placed and prepared to take on both his captors and the predators amongst his fellow prisoners.
Through his work organizing against conditions in solitary confinement, and then with queer prisoners in the legendary Men Against Sexism, followed by his exile from Washington to the dungeons at Marion, Brushy Mountain, and Florence, Ed Mead’s practice stands as a rebuke to the inhumanity and indifference which surround the world’s largest prison system.
As the late Black Liberation Army soldier Safiya Bukhari observed, “we must at least write our history and point out the truth of what we did—the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Ed Mead has done that here, recounting his life’s story with unflinching honesty, providing a model of personal integrity and revolutionary creativity and determination for us all.
What People Are Saying
“Lumpen is a page-turning retelling of Ed Mead’s life, from his early days growing up on the frontier of Alaska, to the frontiers of prisoner organizing from inside and later outside prison. The everydayness of his descriptions of how the George Jackson Brigade came to be, to the simple necessity to form Men Against Sexism while behind bars, reminds us that everyday justice can lead us to extraordinary places. In a mostly ahistorical queer left, this book is a must read!” – Ryan Conrad, editor of Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion
“There are many who talk the talk. Ed Mead is one who actually walked the walk. In fact, he’s never stopped walking it, an example of commitment and integrity from which there’s much to be learned. His autobiography should be read by everyone serious about the struggle for liberation.” – Ward Churchill