Friday, August 03, 2012


George Jackson, born Sept. 23, 1941, was not quite 30 when he was murdered at San Quentin Aug. 21, 1971, yet his writings from prison had built a large and passionate following. Inside St. Augustine’s Church in West Oakland on the day of his Revolutionary Memorial Service, the first Black August event, were 200 Black Panthers in full uniform, while 8,000 people listened outside, perched on rooftops, hanging from telephone poles and filling the streets. As George’s body was brought out, the people raised their fists in the air and chanted, “Long Live George Jackson.” - Photo: Stephen Shames

It is Political Prisoner Friday at Scission and this doesn't exactly fit, but I doubt that any political prisoners will be upset by my substituting this instead.  

Black August, The Autumn Marie writes, a month long observation honoring Black people and events that have contributed to the freedom and liberation of Afrikan people. It is a tradition that involves community building, fasting, physical training, reading/studying, reflection, and self-discipline. Started in the prisons, Black August has grown to be respected and practiced by thousands beyond the walls.

Rather than me explain the historical background, I will quote from a commentator at a forum on the Assata Shakur web site.

Black August originated in the California penal system to honor fallen Freedom Fighters, Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden. Jonathan Jackson was gunned down outside the Marin County California courthouse on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to liberate three imprisoned Black Liberation Fighters: James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee. Ruchell Magee is the sole survivor of that armed liberation attempt. He is the former co-defendant of Angela Davis and has been locked down for 38 years, most of it in solitary confinement. George Jackson was assassinated by prison guards during a Black prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971. Three prison guards were also killed during that rebellion and prison officials charged six Black and Latino prisoners with the death of those guards. These six brothers became known as the San Quentin Six. 

Khatari Gaulden was a prominent leader of the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) after Comrade George was assassinated. Khatari was a leading force in the formation of Black August, particularly its historical and ideological foundations. Khatari, like many of the unnamed freedom fighters of the BGF and the revolutionary prison movement of the 1970's, was murdered at San Quentin Prison in 1978 to eliminate his leadership and destroy the resistance movement.

The brothers who participated in the collective founding of Black August wore black armbands on their left arm and studied revolutionary works, focusing on the works of George Jackson. The brothers did not listen to the radio or watch television in August. Additionally, they didn't eat or drink anything from sun-up to sundown; and loud and boastful behavior was not allowed. The brothers did not support the prison's canteen. The use of drugs and alcoholic beverages was prohibited and the brothers held daily exercises, because during Black August, emphasis is placed on sacrifice, fortitude and discipline. Black August is a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance.

In the late 1970's the observance and practice of Black August left the prisons of California and began being practiced by Black/New Afrikan revolutionaries throughout the country. Members of the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) began practicing and spreading Black August during this period. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) inherited knowledge and practice of Black August from its parent organization, the New Afrikan People's Organization (NAPO). MXGM through the Black August Collective (now defunct) began introducing the Hip-Hop community to Black August in the late 1990's after being inspired by New Afrikan political exile Nehanda Abiodun.

Traditionally, Black August is a time to study history, particularly our history in the North American Empire. The first Afrikans were brought to Jamestown as slaves in August of 1619, so August is a month during which Blacks/New Afrikans can reflect on our current situation and our self-determining rights. Many have done that in their respective time periods. In 1843, Henry Highland Garnett called a general slave strike on August 22. The Underground Railroad was started on August 2, 1850. The March on Washington occurred in August of 1963, Gabriel Prosser's 1800 slave rebellion occurred on August 30 and Nat Turner planned and executed a slave rebellion that commenced on August 21, 1831. The Watts rebellions were in August of 1965. On August 18, 1971 the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) was raided by Mississippi police and FBI agents. The MOVE family was bombed by Philadelphia police on August 8, 1978. Further, August is a time of birth. Dr. Mutulu Shakur (political prisoner & prisoner of war), Pan-Africanist Black Nationalist Leader Marcus Garvey, Maroon Russell Shoatz (political prisoner) and Chicago BPP Chairman Fred Hampton were born in August. August is also a time of rebirth, W.E.B. Dubois died in Ghana on August 27, 1963.

The tradition of fasting during Black August teaches self-discipline. A conscious fast is in effect from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. Some other personal sacrifice can be made as well. The sundown meal is traditionally shared whenever possible among comrades. On August 31, a People's feast is held and the fast is broken. Black August fasting should serve as a constant reminder of the conditions our people have faced and still confront. Fasting is uncomfortable at times, but it is helpful to remember all those who have come and gone before us, Ni Nkan Mase, if we stand tall, it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.

The following is from the San Francisco Bay View (again).

Still all eyes on us

August 2, 2012
by Comrade Bobby M. Dixon, Minister of Justice of the NABPP-PC

In this drawing by Black Panther veteran and revolutionary journalist Kiilu Nyasha are George and Jonathan Jackson and (top left) Ruchell Magee, who, having survived the Marin Courthouse Rebellion of Aug. 7, 1970, has been punished ever since and is now in his 49th year in prison. Write to him this Black August: Ruchell Cinque Magee, A-92051, CSATF C2-107L, P.O. Box 5242, Corcoran CA 93212.
From behind the enemy lines of the California state prison system, from within the belly of the beast – that is the Amerikan injustice system – I greet you all and call your attention to the annual commemoration of Black August. I invite you, fellow prisoners and families throughout Amerika, to join us in honoring our beloved martyrs with fasting, study, sharing Panther love and knowledge in the spirit of our fallen comrades and Trayvon Martin, killed by a racist vigilante in Sanford, Fla., in February and Kendrec McDade, killed by racist cops in Pasadena, Calif., in March.
We’ll honor Troy Davis, executed on Sept. 21, 2011, in a Georgia state prison, and also Sean Bell and Gus Rugley, Hasan Shakur and all who have laid down their lives in the struggle to give humanity a brighter future. Comrade George Jackson, field marshal of the original Black Panther Party Prison Chapter, was gunned down in the yard by guards at San Quentin, and Hasan Shakur, the original minister of human rights of the New African Black Panther Party Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC), was executed by state of Texas for a crime he did not commit.

We also remember Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black man who the Oakland police handcuffed behind his back as they forced him to lie face down on a BART platform and then shot him in the back. This cold-blooded murder was caught on cell phone videos that millions have seen on TV and the internet. People in Oakland immediately took to the streets in righteous protest, and protests continue.

These murders have become a symbol of the continuing national oppression in “post-racist” Amerika. This must stop! And we must move beyond protest to make revolution and advance society to communism.

I invite you, fellow prisoners and families throughout Amerika, to join us in honoring our beloved martyrs with fasting, study, sharing Panther love and knowledge in the spirit of our fallen comrades.

We shed tears for our fallen comrades and for the masses brutally victimized by the racist, fascist, murdering police. We have a right to cry over our dead, for every life is precious beyond measure. The loss of each who has been killed by the oppressor in this land of our exile and enslavement is intolerable. We consecrate this month to those who have been taken from us but who will never be forgotten – for the love of freedom which their lives were dedicated to.

Our grief is real, and so is our determination to continue the struggle until all are free and the oppression of our people is no more. Our grief and our pain makes us more human – and stronger because it is based upon love. Our love and determination helps the people to struggle on and brings us closer to liberation. We must stand up as one – a united 
people, determined to win our liberation in this century.

Of his beloved younger brother Jonathan, George Jackson wrote that he “died on Aug. 7, 1970, courage in one hand, assault rifle in the other; my brother, comrade, friend, the true revolutionary, the Black communist guerrilla in the highest state of development; he died on the trigger, scourge of the unrighteous, soldier of the people.” Jonathan, then a 17-year-old high school student, had raided the Marin County Courthouse in an effort to free his brother.
Black August is a month of great significance for Africans throughout the Diaspora but particularly here in the U.S. where it originated. “August,” as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, is “a month of injustice and divine justice, of repression and righteous rebellion, of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”

The concept of Black August grew out of the need to expose to the light of day the glorious and heroic deeds of those Afrikan women and men who recognized and fought against the injustices heaped upon people of color on a daily basis in America.

To clear our minds, I propose that we eat but one meal a day throughout the month of August and fast completely on Aug. 7 in honor of Jonathan Jackson and on Aug. 21 in honor of George Jackson and again on Aug. 31 in honor of Hasan Shakur. On these three fast days, we should be quiet and contemplative and throughout August we should study and abstain from watching TV and listening to the radio.

“August,” as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, is “a month of injustice and divine justice, of repression and righteous rebellion, of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”

During this month, the veterans of the struggle and elders among us should make a special effort to reach out to and teach the youth our history and the lessons of our people’s struggle. We should strengthen our commitment to practicing Panther love and throw away old grudges and resentments and initiate new friendships. We draw those around us closer and build the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood between us.

Besides fasting, comrades should work out and get a little physical exercise and strive to put mind, body and spirit in balance. Some texts I recommend for study are:

1. “Revolutionary Notes” by Julius Lester
2. “Read Like Your Life Depends on It” by Art Lewin
3. “Bad: The Autobiography of James Carr
4. “No Justice No Peace: From Emmett Till to Rodney King” by Terry Morris
5. “Race Matters” by Cornel West
6. “Race in 21st Century America,” Curtis Stokes, Theresa Melendez and Gernice Rhodes-Reed, editors; foreword by Darlene Clark Hine

Send our brother some love and light: Bobby M. Dixon, C-41652, CMF H-209L, P.O. Box 2000, Vacaville CA 95696. He is minister of justice for the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC).

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