What Is Black August?
A month dedicated to learning about and honoring Black revolutionaries who fought against oppressive systems.
The month of reflection was initially started in the late 1970s after an imprisoned Black Panther was murdered. The revolutionary was George Jackson, assassinated during a prison rebellion in California.
Today, we remember those political prisoners, freedom fighters, and martyrs of the Black freedom struggle.
Though February is Black History Month, the month of August is held for radical Black History.
This year in particular however, the month to commemorate these pioneers is imminent now more than ever.
The rise in awareness around anti-blackness, about the systemic racism in America, and about police brutality has burst in the last two months because of the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, among many others.
In 2018, political prisoner Herman Bell, a former Black Panther in his 70s was granted parole after 45 years in prison.
In 1971, Bell shot and killed two New York City Police Officers. He formed part of an organization called RAPP, Release Aging People in Prison, and was granted parole after being denied seven times.
“This month, we celebrate all the political prisoners who have helped us understand that prison is political and that our collective freedom depends on abolishing the state’s capacity, through incarceration, policing, and surveillance, to disrupt communities and diminish principled struggle against the unjust status quo,” said the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
The CCR works with those who are imprisoned to free them, protects the Black resistance, eliminates state power that inflicts harm to the communities and works to decarcerate prisons.
In other words, they fight for criminal justice reform.
When it comes to learning and reflecting, some of the activists were those who overturned society and made progressive change for the future. Let us remember too Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, the March on Washington, and Ferguson’s rebellions all occurred in August as well.
“August is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice, of righteous rebellion, of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us,” said Mumia Abu Jamal, Philadelphia native, activist, and journalist.
Abu Jamal became well known for his writing about the criminal justice system in America after he was convicted of murdering a police officer in 1981. He was sentenced to death, but was able to appeal and was taken off of death row in 2011.
He served as a member for the Black Panther Party since the age of 14, but left to finish his schooling. Later on, he worked as a radio reporter covering the actions of MOVE in the 70s before joining them and even served as the President for the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.