Black August

Black AugustFrom Kayla Reed, Co-Founder and Political Strategist, Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives (in an email sent Friday, August 7, 2020).

Fifty years ago, today — August 7, 1970 — Jonathan Jackson was killed in northern California while attempting to liberate a group of Black freedom fighters known as the Soledad Brothers, of which his brother, George Jackson, was a part. The Soledad Brothers inspired hunger strikes and protests, bringing attention to the atrocities of the prison industrial complex and its architects. George was killed by the state a little over a year later on August 21, 1971 as he, too, attempted to liberate folks from prison.

This Black August, we honor Black freedom fighters who have long fought to abolish U.S. systems of punishment and mass incarceration, to end the war on Black people.

  • Assata Shakur – Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army leader who became a U.S. political prisoner, forced to find exile in Cuba in 1979, where she lives today.
  • MOVE 9 – Nine members of MOVE that were unjustly imprisoned after police invaded the communal home where they fought for Black power in Philadelphia. The MOVE 9 included four Black women: Debbie Sims Africa, Janine Phillips Africa, Merle Austin Africa, and Janet Holloway Africa.
  • Queen Mother Moore – A Harlem-based civil rights activist, who organized with Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, and founded several organizations of her own. She dedicated her long life to Black liberation and pan-Africanism.
  • Nehanda Abiodun – A Black revolutionary leader and anti-drug radical who also found exile in Cuba after the U.S. attempted to make her a political prisoner. Nehanda was a leading organizer with Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and New Afrikan organizations. In Cuba, she became known as the Godmother of Cuban Hip-Hop.
  • Angela Davis – Black Panther Party leader and decades-long freedom fighter dedicated to abolition and Black liberation; active in today’s liberatory movements, reminding us: “freedom is a constant struggle.”

This Black August, we follow in the footsteps of Black radicals in the fight for liberation.

Revolutionary moments such as the Watts Uprising, Haitian Revolution, Nat Turner Rebellion, Fugitive Slave Law Convention, and March on Washington all happened in August. Many revolutionaries including Marcus Garvey and Fred Hampton were born in August.

Our fight for abolition and an end to the war on Black people continues. We carry on the legacy of the radicals who came before us, and we are guided by a Black queer feminist vision that shows us how to lead with care and justice. The 2020 Black National Convention will offer a Black revolutionary space to move an unapologetically Black national agenda.

Let’s carry on the legacy of Black August:

 

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