We Who Like It Hot Call It ‘Black August’! The 2017 Update!
By ‘bro. zayid’
It is the month when our oppressors have nothing to celebrate.
It is the month where the nature of our oppression and the boldest expressions of our resistance to that oppression have been made most plain.
We who like it hot call it ‘Black August’…
As a concept of resistance, Black August has its beginnings in the mid 70’s with the prison justice movement. It was inspired by the courageous legacy of Black Panther prison organizer George Jackson, who was assassinated on August 21, 1971, one of the hallmark dates for the concept.
Originally, the concept concerned itself with and confined itself to those hallmark dates of repression and resistance for this month within the confines of these bloodsucking united states exclusively.
We revisit this concept here in a more comprehensive Pan-Afrikan manner to explore and to propose it having a broader Pan-Afrikan application.
Our ancestors first coming here ‘to work’…the ‘beginning of the end’ of their freedom…can arguably be traced back to August 20, 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia. Although those first ancestors were actually considered ‘indentured servants’ in that initial moment, with the growth of that colony and England’s new stranglehold on the slave trade in North America, the rights and privileges of Black indentured servants were legally stripped within a generation and chattel slavery would then emerge in full gear right from that citadel of settler colonialism! (There is some new evidence that indicates that the Portuguese in fact brought the first cargo of Afrikan slaves to what is now South Carolina in 1526).
In most recent times, and for the first time in decades since the bombing of the Congo in 1964 under the so-called liberal rule of Lyndon Baines Johnson, u.s. forces, demonstrating unchallenged New World Order military supremacy, bombed our Afrika when they bombed the Sudan, the land of the earth’s oldest civilizations, under the most bogus of pretenses, ‘CounterTerrorism,’ on August 20, 1998.
Ironic coincidence you think? This beast was trying to bomb us outta our land, outta our minds and outta our hearts!… on the anniversary that brought us here!...Hmmm!
Self-critically we should also acknowledge the recent betrayal of Pan-Afrikan potential in Central Afrika too. Just as were gearing up here for the heroic Million Youth March, the u.s. covertly sponsored an attack on the recently liberated Congo on August 2, 1998, using Rwanda and Uganda as proxy forces. To the honor of our ancestors, however, that betrayal has been checked and contained in a Pan-Afrikan manner by a courageous union of forces from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia…
An important recently declassified FBI memo detailing the scope and the national coordination of a sinister covert operation, which would ultimately destroy the Black Liberation Movement known as COINTELPRO,or ‘the CounterIntelligence Program,’ was set in full ‘no holds barred’ motion against the Black nation on August 25, 1967.
Many conscious of our history know that COINTELPRO was not only illegal, immoral and absolutely off da hook in its making a mockery of democratic rights. But have we truly assessed ‘how’ successful it was in disabling the Black Liberation Movement? Have we truly assessed how that crippling of our movement left our community wide open for the unprecedented violent social disintegration we currently face, set off most insidiously by a heroin epidemic in the early 70’s and the hoodsplitting crack explosion blowing up in our faces in the awful 80s and the nasty 90s? The epic Million Man March was the beginning of an answer, we hoped,…an answer for our times , but it wasn’t enough. And with Black Panther/BLA political prisoners Albert ‘Nuh’ Washington, Teddy ‘Jah’ Heath and Bashir Hameed* recently dying in captivity after being locked down for decades virtually unknown to the community they sacrificed their lives trying to defend and with that same community in more disarray now than it was when they were captured in the early 70’s, we think not.
By the way, the first of two vicious attacks against those defiant, dreadlock-wearing pioneers of environmentalism, known to the world simply as MOVE, also took place in Black August. It was on August 9, 1978 that 500 of Philly’s finest laid siege to the MOVE home compound in Powelton Village in an attempted massacre. When it was over, the world saw Delbert Afrika being brutally beaten on national television while peaceably surrendering. He was beaten with a savagery that anticipated the videotaped beating of Rodney King. James Rapp, a Philadelphia police officer was killed from what we now call ‘friendly fire.’ Bro. Delbert and his surviving comrades are now going on their 38th year of prison facing sentences that go up 100 years for Rapp’s death!…Two of their comrades have died in prison, Merle Afrika in 1999 and Phil Afrika in 2015.
Lest we forget, it was on August 9, 1997 that Abner Louima was sodomized with a plunger up his rectum in a supreme expression of police brutality by New York City police.
Starting on August 29, 2005, we faced one of the greatest ordeals and calamities of this time. On that day, as the bewildering winds of Hurricane Katrina came barreling down on New Orleans, the world’s 1st Black cultural capital, the u.s.government decided to abandon the people of that great chocolate city because the majority of its victims were black and poor! This genocidal spectacle garnered international criticism and outrage abroad, but here at home, the national media order just accelerated what the late Charshee McIntyre called ‘the criminalizing of the race!’
It must be noted here though for the historical record, that just days later, while many among our people felt helpless about trying to do something directly, the New Black Panther Party, under the leadership of Attorney at War Malik Zulu Shabazz, dared to launch ‘Operation Rescue’! Defying curfews, roadblocks and government mandates, these brave men, armed with their God and their gun, rolled into New Orleans, went into the devastated 9th ward in particular and come out with several hundred of our people!**
Add the harrowing “Hands up! Don’t shoot” case of Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown, killed by Officer Darren Wilson in cold blood August 9th, 2014, to the litany of oppressive abuses particular to this month. Brown was then left on the streets dead for hours!...for hours!...as state forces sought to make a horrific example out of him. To their chagrin, however, Brown’s slaughter triggered instead an incredible surge in protest against police brutality all over the country! Three new words were added to our protest lexicon in that upsurge…‘Black Lives Matter’!
So we must also be very clear here…Black August is also a time of the most heroic resistance to the hottest hell we’ve faced!
On August 11, 1965, a pivotal, timemarking rebellion took place foreshadowing many more to come. It was the Watts section of Los Angeles that exploded. Black youth, tired of police brutality, boldly stepped off from their perceived limits of nonviolence and went off!… Although casualties in this uprising were high, after six days of supreme hellraizin, almost 1000 buildings were destroyed and most of those destroyed were white-owned businesses. Out of the blood and ashes of this rebellion emerged the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense! It is one of the hallmark dates of this concept in its origins.
The other of course is August 7, 1970!...On this day, an incredibly fearless young warrior chose not to wait on the white man’s courts for justice. He took it upon himself to liberate his comrades! On this day, the immortal Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson’s courageous little brother, walked into a Marin County Courthouse locked and loaded and announced that he was now in charge and he would be leaving with his comrades who were on trial! He also announced that the presiding judge would be coming also to secure their exit! He was 17 years old! 17! It foreshadowed the reemergence of the Underground Railroad in the collective persona known as the Black Liberation Army! You wanna know why you have to be searched when you go into a courtroom, you have pay homage to Jonathan for that!
On August 14, 1791, a fearless Afrikan warrior queen named Cecille called together all the field slaves of the French sugar plantation island of Haiti ( originally spelled ‘Ayiti ), to convene the launching of the most successful of all slave revolts just eight days later!…The Haitian Revolution!
A heartbreaking new Black August story must be told here too: On Sunday, August 14, 2016, Newark’s art and activist community lost one of its most beloved young voices. Breya ‘Blackberry Molasses’ Knight, died after losing a courageous battle with diabetes.
She was only 29 years old!
I loved Bre’ like she was my own. She shielded her pain from me many times. This last time was…so painful, it ultimately took her from us. Bre’ was an engaging multi-dimensional artist who loved her people, who loved our young and who loved her city, her Newark NJ! Best known as a young poet who challenged young people on the edge to figure this s*it out and to use art like she did help themselves, and who challenged her peers in performance to be about community and struggle too. She created a collective of young artists called ‘The Breathing Poets Society.’ She penned a book and a spoken word cd. She was also a brilliant graphic artist, loctitian, and entrepreneur! She cherished her political baptism from the Baraka family and political education from ol’ headz like me…
For all of her fire, and I must add that she was also born on the same day Nat Turner was born, Bre’ could be amazingly humble and respectful to those who have ‘put it down.’
So I know the ancestors blew her powder blue and pink mind with an incredible love and Alafia (Welcome dance)I know they greeted her with.
Born on October 2, 1987, the same day as the unconquerable Nat Turner, and left us on August 14th, 2016, the same day that the ‘Aytian Revolution was launched…and it also happened to be this Black August baby’s birthday.
I will never know a ‘happy’ birthday ever again…
I could on for days…Just had to my chil’ a Black August shout out, because if there was ever a Black August child ever born, it was my Bre’…
Baba loves u, sweetheart…
Now speaking of Nat Turner…
On August 21, 1831, Rev. Nat Turner launched his own prophetic answer to the Haitian Revolution when he led a force of armed field slaves in Amerikkka’s most famous slave insurrection in Southampton, Virginia. Before his capture, dozens of the overseer and slave owner class were vanquished by those willing to pay the ultimate price for freedom!
Last year, saw a powerful film done on him by Nate Parker, a courageous film on several fronts…
First and foremost, the fact that it gone done and got in the movie houses was huge!...Even though this incredible uprising took place 186 years ago, it unnerved the Amerikkkan order of white supremecy like no other to this day! The fact that it got done and went that far without dehumanizing him was an incredible feat. This is not to say that there weren’t efforts to derail the project because there were. To be sure, Hollywood and the nat’l media order had no problem with the villification of the filmmaker…unearthing a terrible indiscretion that has its own problems and issues on its own terms that should be dismissed. But that story was an ‘old’ story, brought up here and now, not to condemn the damnable indiscretion…But to undermine the potential of the volatile content of the film.
Second, he took Hollywood’s racist racial legacy head on and turned it on its head when he dared name the film ‘Birth Of A Nation’! For those that don’t know, one of the most unique contributions to global white supremecy to come from these racist united states was the far-reaching, well choregraphed, racist, demeaning and projecting of our very worst stereotypes to promote the paramount value of segregation as a necessary tool of white privilege. The first, and still for many, Hollywood ‘model’ cinematic masterpiece was a film called ‘Birth Of A Nation’!...The film was done in 1915, and it demeaned Afrikan people like no other with all of the most ugly and grotesque stereotypes our people have faced, including necessarily, the worst of all of its cornerstone stereotypes, the perverted ‘Black Buck’! The ‘nigger’ with an unquenchable, savage appetite for white women!...It demolished one of the most democratic periods in Amerikkkan history…Reconstruction, and it glorified and further sanctioned the terrorism of the KuKlux Klan!...The Nat Turner film is not perfect…Many have some real problems with how it ended…But the way this young filmmaker dared to take on Hollywood’s racist legacy in service to our legacy of armed resistance with the making of the film is something I particularly appreciate…
This is not at all to diss or to minimize nonviolent direct action; For on August 9, 1956, 20,000 Afrikan women fearlessly took to the streets of Pretoria, South Afrika and defied the vicious ‘Passbook Act of 1956, which made aliens of Afrikans in their own land during the obscene racist reign of Apartheid. It is from this defiant act that we get the phrase “You have struck a rock.”
“Now you have attacked the women! You have struck a rock! You have dislodged a boulder! You will be crushed!” rings the phrase from this heroic expression of Afrikan women defying the bloody teeth of Apartheid.
The March On Washington of August 28, 1963 must also be acknowledged for Black August in spite of its obvious co-opted limitations. Not because it was a high point for the legacy of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement; We must acknowledge it here because we understand that the state saw that on its own terms, the scale of the mobilization made it too successful for their interests and then marked ‘The Drum Major For Justice’ for death! Declassified government documents are very clear. COINTELPRO operations escalated against our movement after that march and escalated against him in particular! Let the ‘Dreamers’ speak to that!…
On the eve of that march, the sun set on one of the immortal pioneers of PanAfrikanism. WEB DuBois died in Ghana at age 97 in service to Ghanaian independence and PanAfrikanism in Black August on August 27, 1963.
Another March on Washington note…Malcolm was not the only Black voice on the ‘national’ scene warning America of the limits of our people’s commitment to ‘Nonviolence.’ James Baldwin, who warned of The Fire Next Time, was banned from speaking by the white liberal overseers of the March after having been originally invited to do so!...Baldwin, another fearless legendary literary ‘son of Harlem,’is also a Black August baby, born on August 2, 1924.
We absolutely must also acknowledge why the date was chosen for that march. On August 28, 1955, a young man from Chicago visiting his family in Mississippi, was made missing and viciously lynched. His face and body was so savagely ravaged by his killers that his mother decreed to have her son’s funeral with the casket open so the whole world could see what lynching looks like! That young man was Emmitt Till. It was our people’s last straw under the terrorism of Jim Crow!
Fannie Lou Hamer bum rushes the ‘64 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, NJ with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and boldly and eloquently ‘questions’ Amerikkka on August 22, 1964!
On August 13, 1926, a man was born who would lead the most enduring revolution against u.s. imperialism to date! That man is Fidel Castro. That revolution of course is the heroic Cuban Revolution. No nation, anywhere in the world, has done more for Afrika, for the PanAfrikan idea, than the Cuban Revolution under the leadership of the ageless Fidel!
We would lose Fidel after 90 long, hot, heroic years on November 25th!...
It was under Fidel’s stewardship that Cuba became, and still is, the world’s most generous and heroic nation. A country not rich in oil or any of the other precious raw materials to drive the machinery of an international order, Cuba’s wealth is and has always been its people and their legendary example of ‘internat’l human solidarity’! No other nation in the world has given the world more, especially the Afrikan world more, than the Cuban Revolution! From putting their entire stability and security on the line going ‘back to Afrika’ to fight in Southern Afrika against Afrika’s military superpower, the Apatheid Regime of South Afrika, to sending legions of doctors and medical professionals checking an Ebola epidemic just two years ago, from providing sanctuary to the oppressed resisting neo-colonial terror in their own countries from all over the world, to training over 10, 000 doctors from some of the poorest sectors of the world for ‘free’ in Cuba under the condition that they return to their countries to serve the most impoverished among their people, Fidel showed us all what ‘human solidarity’ looks like like no other!...
Que Viva, Fidel! Que Viva!...Que Viva, la Revolucion! Que Viva!...
On August 26, 1966, one of the most underappreciated recent people’s victories on the Afrikan continent was launched in earnest when SWAPO launched the armed struggle to rid Namibia of the dual scourge of Apartheid and colonialism!
We already mentioned George Jackson’s legacy and assassination. We must also acknowledge that he was also an original revolutionary thinker who also penned two classic seminal revolutionary works, The Soledad Brothers and Blood In My Eye.
For those of us who want to see Black August used in its fullest terms, the ceremonial and ideological center of Black August is, of course, the birth of Marcus Garvey on August 17, 1887 in Jamaica. On that same date in 1920, in a packed Madison Square Garden, Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association gave us our own flag!…A flag for all of us no matter where we be on this earth!…The Universal Afrikan Liberation Flag!…The Red, the Black, the Green!…
And you wonder why the state of Pennsylvania sought to execute Mumia Abu-Jamal on August 17, 1995?…Is it a coincidence that they used the birth date of the Black nation’s first modern political prisoner to attempt to stage this freedom fighter’s lynching?…We think not.
On August 16, 1959, underappreciated Garveyite Carlos Cooks convened a special Afrikan Peoples Conference in Harlem, which formally called on our people to drop the term ‘negro’ and to instead use either ‘Black’ or ‘Afrikan’ to refer to the race. How so many of at this late date are unable to see ourselves as being nothing more than ‘niggaz’ is a serious expression of how far we’ve been setback.
Several nations of the PanAfrikan world stepped forward in this month. Trinidad, Burkino Faso, Chad, Gabon and Cote ‘d’Voir, each stepped out on their own and declared their ‘independence’ in Black August.
He was just getting into another gear on the electoral front when his drum was sounded in ‘The Land of the Ancestors’ in 2014, but he lived and died always looking to break, fresh, new ground in struggle…Pioneering New Afrikan Independence Movement leader and Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, the now immortal Fannie Lou Hamer Democrat Chokwe Lumumba was also born on August 2, 1947.
Edward Wilmot Blyden, an important forerunner of critical Black nationalist thought who literally was the bridge between 19th and 20th century Afrikan nationalism, was born in Black August on August 3, 1832 in Virgin Islands as was Civil Rights legend, Reparations pioneer and champion of international human solidarity, the late Rev. Lucius Walker in 1930!
One of the important things to emerge from the recent renewed interest in Black August is practical support of our freedom fighters, our political prisoners, the real flesh and blood targets of COINTELPRO! One such freedom fighter, organizing legend Dr. Mutulu Shakur was born of August 8, 1950. Get his address from his website (www.mutulushakur.com) and send him some love! Another is of course the true ‘Maroon’! Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz is also a Black August baby! Born on August 23, 1943, this ‘Maroon’ of the Black Panther Party and the revolutionary underground had to endure 33 years in solitary confinement!...33 years!...Before winning his legal battle against being in solitary forever, this incredible man penned his searing, unapologetic memoir Maroon, The Implacable! In prison since 1975, the time has definitely come to free ‘Maroon and of his comrades! Go to his webpage (www.RussellMaroonShoats.Wordpress.com) and become a part of the call to free ‘Maroon and ‘free’m all!...
Speaking of political prisoners and solitary confinement, Hugo Pinell, the legendary Panther political prisoner, was assassinated on August 12, 2015, just after getting out of solitary confinement after 46 years!...46 years!...He was 71 years old!...He shouldn’t been locked up like that after all these years anyway!
There is no Panther in the land of the living or the land of the ancestors closer to me and my heart than the incredible Safiya Bukhari!... I am a proud ‘cub’ of this incredible Black woman!...Working onThe Black Panther Party Newspaper under her watch, yes, we had it back out in the early 90s, was my favorite ‘cub’ experience!...She left us for the Land of the Ancestors on August 24, 2003 after her ocean-sized heart gave out!
148 years after Gabriel Prosser was going to scorch plantations before being betrayed,
Black Panther organizing legend and martyr Fred Hampton was born on August 30, 1948.
Black Belt swingers Charlie Parker, Count Basie and Lester Young, giants of a music which brought us international respect, were all born in Black August.
May all of our Augusts be fiery hot and holy with resistance!
All Power to the People! Black Power and Free The Land!
©2017 all rights reserved
‘bro. zayid’ kazi angaza kikongo muhammad
*Since this was originally written, the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army lost two more political prisoners in captivity, Abdullah Majid and Mondo Wa Langa!
**Since this article first appeared, Malik Zulu Shabazz, to the disappointment of many, went delusional with his ego. He personally triggered an ugly split within the New Black Panther Party, trying to hijack their nat’l elections in order to impose his ‘crew’ on the nat’l body while still ‘calling the shots.’ He then unceremoniously ordered a physical attack on Black Panther legend Dhoruba Bin Wahad at their so-called ‘nat’l summit’ in August 2015, claiming he survived an ‘assassination attempt’ by Bin Wahad…
‘bro.zayid’ is the press officer for the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, the media advocate for the Newark AntiViolence Coalition and a well known cub of the legendary New York chapter of the Black Panther Party…He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org... 973 202 0745..