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The Black August Slave Rebellion: Every slave has a right to rebel

July 1, 2016

by Nate Butler

The Black August Rebellion is a month that the California state prisoners fast. They fast in the month of August to pay homage to the fallen comrades.

“Black August” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

“Black August” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 1859887, Clements Unit, 9601 Spur 591, Amarillo TX 79107

The Black August Rebellion didn’t start with Brothers Ruchell Magee, Jonathan Jackson or George Jackson. The movement started on the shores of Africa with our ancestors.

Our ancestors were brought here as slaves many years ago on a slaveship named “Jesus.” A lot of our ancestors were killed jumping overboard right into the clutches of hungry sharks. The Europeans killed our ancestors like it was a rite of passage.

Once my ancestors landed on Amerikkkan soil, it was a living hell. Our ancestors were beaten, raped, lynched, humiliated, set on fire. The women had babies cut from their bellies.

This evil slave system took pleasure in diminishing our way of life and spiritual way of living and thinking. For anyone to just say it was a daily struggle would be an insult because they faced cruelty.

I say this statement with honor: “When it comes to acts of insanity Amerikkka is on top of the ladder.” Our ancestors knew to bring about a change would mean death to a lot of them, but with hope in their hearts and death in their face, at the altar of courage and sacrifice many of our ancestors lay.

That fighting spirit was placed in generations of my people who followed. Black August was set into motion under many, many years of resistance. From the Deep South way over to the North and out to California the train of rebels was moving.

Our ancestors knew to bring about a change would mean death to a lot of them, but with hope in their hearts and death in their face, at the altar of courage and sacrifice many of our ancestors lay.

The bloody prison movement came about with a vision and some violence – in other words, Brothers was pushing pen and sword. George Jackson stood out because he was charismatic and very intelligent with strong will power.

We have a lot of beautiful young and old Brothers over here in Pennsylvania prisons who represent them same qualities and stand under that flag. Some of the Brothers are well known because of their great writing skills, but the majority just languish inside these “death camps” with no outside support.

War has been declared on us, our body and mind. And a true general of the struggle knows this war for independence must be fought simultaneously on many different fronts – economically, politically, militarily, psychologically and culturally.

The bloody prison movement came about with a vision and some violence – in other words, Brothers was pushing pen and sword. George Jackson stood out because he was charismatic and very intelligent with strong will power.

We must come together and start holding some Black folks responsible, because some of them don’t care that a temporal war is being waged nor do they identify the oppressor. They willingly sacrifice the body of the nation in exchange for the hope of a spiritual reward in the hereafter.

Or they induce us to believe that the status of our subjugation is a blessing and we should accept that status as our deserved fate. Bullshit! It’s time to put down the plan for our political, social, psycho­logical, and economic independence.

Ruchell Magee of the 1970 Marin Courthouse Rebellion wrote: “To some degree, slavery has always been outlawed and condemned on the outside by the hypocritical mockery of chattering lips. But on the inside, in prisons where slavery is embedded and proudly displayed as a Western way of life and a privilege of God himself, slavery is condoned on all of its numerous levels.”

Nate Butler wrote this long ago – it’s postmarked July 30, 2014, from prison in Coal Township, Penn. Nate doesn’t show up on Pennsylvania’s online inmate locator, so let’s hope he’s free and doing well. And let’s hope that if he learns his story was finally published, he’ll get in touch.

How to commemorate Black August

Though Nate’s letter is two years old, it’s right on time. Every year letters come from people wanting to know more about Black August and how they can commemorate it. They want to know beforehand, not after the end of August. So this year, we’ll inspire you with Nate’s words and instruct you by reprinting passages from another story from the past.

“Black August Resistance” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

“Black August Resistance” – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

This is the program to follow if you want to commemorate Black August; it is taken from “Getting ready for next Black August: Black August Memorial Commemoration Committees“ by Black August Co-Chairs Adbul Olugbala Shakur, Ifoma Modibo Kambon and Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa, BAMCC Coordinators Akili Shakur (Baltimore) and M. Ajanaku (Chicago), published Aug. 29, 2012. These are the core sections of the Black August Memorial (BAM) program:

“We fast from sunrise to sunset the entire month of August. Those who are not physically able to complete the entire fast can make the necessary adjustments, but fasting is required throughout the month of Black August. There are also four days of resistance, the 1st, 7th, 13th, 21st. On these days we make the ultimate sacrifice. We fast the entire 24 hours on the days of resistance, from midnight to midnight, and we exercise every six hours during that 24-hour period, 12 midnight, 6 in the morning, 12 noon, 6 in the evening and 12 midnight. Being in prison we are able to do this program; out there with school and/or work, each person can modify their program. The exercise every six hours program is optional for those who are not physically capable, but the 24-hour fasting on the four days of resistance are mandatory for those with no health concerns, and exercising at least once a day is mandatory during BAM. We encourage people to exercise between 1 and 6 in the morning.

“Aug. 27 is Flag Day. On this day, everybody participating in BAM will be required to display the Red, Black and Green. The coordinators will teach and/or provide literature on the history of our flag. Each participant will be required to display our flag in front of their homes, apartments, housing projects and businesses, providing that they own the business, as well as a Red, Black and Green bumper sticker on our vehicles. The goal is equally to have our people displaying our flag 365 days a year.

“Black August Resistance (BAR) Forum: At least two to three times a week, the BAM coordinators will hold these forums where they will teach our people about our history of resistance, e.g., Nat Turner, David Walker, Denmark Vesey, Martin Delaney, Harriett Tubman, Gabriel and Nanny Prosser, Tunis Campbell, Marcus Garvey, Robert Williams, Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, George Jackson, Bunchy Carter, Deacons for Defense, Blood Brotherhood, Black Liberation Army, Black Panther Party, Revolutionary Action Movement, just to name a few. Mainstream schools don’t teach this aspect of our history.”

The writers suggest other activities as well – a book fest, a political prisoner letter writing campaign, classes on all sorts of topics, physical fitness competitions, a memorial feast on Aug. 31 and even a beauty pageant – some of which may not be practical in prison.

However you mark Black August, do it. You won’t be alone. The writers outline this history:

“Black August was inspired by the death of our fallen Black dragons Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas and James McClain, murdered by guards and so-called law enforcement on Aug. 7, 1970; W.L. Nolan, Cleveland Edwards and Alvin “Jug” Miller, murdered by a racist prison guard as they defended themselves against an officially-orchestrated racist attack on Jan. 13, 1970 – W.L. Nolan was the leader of the New Afrikan Revolutionary Prison Movement, and Comrade George Jackson was his successor – and then the assassination of George Jackson on Aug. 21, 1971. …

“By 1985 via the Black August Organizing Committee (BAOC), New Afrikan prisoners in at least 60 percent of the U.S. prison system were participating in BAM and there were annual BAM events in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Berkeley and Richmond, California, and New York. As we celebrate the 33-year (now 37-year) anniversary of BAM, New Afrikan prisoners in every prison system across the country participate in BAM, and there are BAM events in at least 30 different cities across the country, as well as Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti (before the tragic earthquake), just to name a few.”

Do make sure that this year you honor our comrade and hero lost last Aug. 12, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell. The next chapter of Black August history is yours to write.

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