We Who Like It Hot Call It ‘Black August’ (Revised version)
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 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.
Beginning on the matter of our national oppression, the first buying and selling of our ancestors, the first time we were “put on the open market” in what is now the united states, using the language of those of you who strangely want to bed down with capitalism, knowing full well that your ancestors were capitalism’s first prime capital, took place on August 20, 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia.
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 they made us slaves!...
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, ‘noholdsbarred,’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 in their 33rd year of prison facing sentences that go up 100 years for Rapp’s death!…One of their comrades, Merle Afrika, died in prison in 1999.
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! A genocidal spectacle that 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!
So 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 whiteowned 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, field marshal 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 insurgent collective persona of 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 queen-sized 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…The Haitian Revolution!
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!
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 it was too successful for their interests and 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’ and the ‘Dream Redeemers’ speak to that!…
We 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!
On the eve of the March on Washington, 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.
Back to our legacy of resisting our oppression by any means necessary. On August 13, 1906, Black soldiers in Brownsville, Texas, tired of being violated by the lynch mobs for ‘wearing the uniform,’ decided to use their arms to “stop them.”
On that same day twenty years later, 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!
(In a note of powerful irony, this year, on Fidel’s birthday, PanAfrikanism will be the order of the day, as thousands will take to the streets of Harlem for a march condemning the bombing of Libya and the continued outrageous sanctions against Zimbabwe! (See annexed flyer.) The rally, initiated by the December 12th Movement, will feature Minister Louis Farrakhan, PanAfrikan scholars Molefi Asante, Leonard Jeffries and James Small, Nicaragua’s former foreign minister and former president of the UN general assembly, Fr. Miguel D’Oscobo, our own Malik Zulu Shabazz, and many more! Participants will assemble on 110th Street and Malcolm X Blvd at 10am.)
On August 26, 1966, one of the most underappreciated recent peoples 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 in Black August.
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.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur, wrongly incarcerated since 1986, was born on August 8, 1950.
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!
Black Power and Free The Land!
©2010 all rights reserved
‘bro. zayid’ kazi angaza kikongo muhammad
*‘bro.zayid’ is the nat’l min. of culture of the new black panther party…