A Portrait of Solitude

Text: END THE TORTURE. Drawing of a man in shackles

By Charlotte Casey, a SJPJC Coordinating Council Member

Local author, filmmaker, professor, publisher, and friend of the Peace & Justice Center Charley Trujillo has a new film available on the Ethnic Studies Learning Channel. A Portrait of Solitude is the story of José Villareal Jr., who spent 27 years in prison, including 10 years in solitude in Pelican Bay.

José describes how he was drawn into the school-to-prison pipeline at the age of 11 for painting graffiti on a school building and how he endured the torture of solitary confinement by becoming an activist and an artist. The half-hour film is a brief but powerful reminder of the horrors of the prison-industrial complex.   

Other films directed by Charley are available on the Ethnic Studies Learning Channel, which he established as a resource for teachers and students. Charley’s book Soldados: Chicanos in Vietnam won an American Book Award in 1991 and was turned into a film that was nationally aired on PBS.

The website for Charley’s publishing house, Chusma House, also has a report on Charley’s visit to Fukuchiyama, Japan to return the flag belonging to a fallen World War ll Japanese soldier who was killed by Charley’s father’s unit in New Guinea in 1944. He called his trip a “symbolic journey of peace.”

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