Black August originated in the concentration camps (prisons) of California in 1979 and its' roots come from the history of resistance by Black/New African/African brothers in those prisons. It's original purpose is to honor and commemorate the lives and deaths of several fallen Freedom Fighters, amongst them were Jonathan Jackson and George Jackson of Pasadena, W.L. Nolan, James McClain, William Christmas and Khatari Gaulden; to bring education and awareness to family members, friends, associates and communites about the conditions for the Black/New Afrikan prisoners held within those concentration camps (in particular in California) and to educate our people about and honor the history and actions of continued resistance of Black/New Afrikan/Afrikan peoples to oppression, colonization and slavery in the U.S. and throughout the Diaspora, with particular emphasis on freedom fighters and historical acts of resistance.
Jonathan, a Blair High School student at the time of his assassination was the first freedom fighter in the group celebrated to be killed. In August 1970 a bright and well-mannered boy in my mother's AP English class in Pasadena. Seventeen-year-old Jonathan Jackson had smuggled guns into a Marin County courtroom to stage a holdup in hopes of freeing his older brother George Jackson from Soledad Prison. Jonathan and three others, including the judge, were killed in the resulting melee; George died a year later in prison, shot in the back by a guard.
Although Jonathan was eulogized by Black Panther Huey Newton in a "revolutionary funeral" in Oakland, with a reported 3,000 raised-fist mourners in attendance, few remember him today. And even George, whose letters from prison were published in October 1970 as "Soledad Brother," is largely forgotten. The 1972 trial and acquittal of embattled UC professor and avowed communist Angela Davis as an accomplice in the Marin holdup — the smuggled guns were registered in her name — may spark recognition in those old enough to recall the "Free Angela" campaign. I still have my yellow-and-black button with the slogan.
George Jackson was assassinated on August 21, 1971 by San Quentin prison guards. The assassination was a deliberate move on behalf of the US government to eliminate the revolutionary leadership of George Jackson. In the midst of the governments set up orchestrated to murder George, three prison guards were killed in a counter rebellion. The government charged six Black and Latino prisoners with the guard's deaths. These six brothers became known as the San Quentin Six (who were later acquitted of all charges).
To honor these fallen soldiers and the revolutionary vision and principles they embodied, brothers throughout the prison camps of California unite together to continue their revolutionary work. The brothers and their family members, friends and supporters who participate in the collective founding of Black August wear black armbands on their left arm and study revolutionary works, particularly those of Comrade George Jackson. During the month of August the brothers do not listen to the radio or watch television. Additionally, they don't eat or drink anything from sun-up to sundown; and loud and boastful behavior is not allowed.
The use of drugs and alcoholic beverages is prohibited and the brothers exercise daily to sharpen their minds, bodies, and spirits in honor of the collective principles of self-sacrifice, inner fortitude and revolutionary discipline needed to advance the New Afrikan struggle for self-determination and freedom.
Black August is therefore a commemorative time to embrace the principles of communion, unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and determined resistance. A select few community members joined them in solidarity. The intent among those who commemorated and practiced Black August was to createl revolutionary consciousness and encourage the spirit of resistance among themselves and our communities.
Blood In My Eye by George L. Jackson
Soledad Brothers by George L. Jackson
Put George L. Jackson on your list of must reads..
Let us honor our martyred freedom fighters this Black August. As George Jackson counseled: “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution.”