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California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation (CDCr) had been locking classes of prisoners up in solitary confinement since the ‘60s as part of CDCr’s para-military low-intensity warfare, to break the minds and spirits of its subjects, California’s prisoner class. CDCr’s solitary confinement has two operating components: 1) punishing you and 2) physically and mentally destroying you.
“I” is “We” in Afrikan science. In terms of surviving 22 years of solitary confinement, “I/We survived” primarily because the indomitable spirit of our Afrikan ancestors lives on in each of our spirits. “We survived” but we were not unaffected. “We survived” but we did not leave solitary normal. “We survived” because we refused to be counted among the broken men. “We survived” because the repressive tactics and measures inflicted upon us by our captors bred a fierce resistance within us.
Black August Memorial (BAM) is our socialist oriented institution that was developed out of the special need for New Afrikan (Black) people in Amerika to implement our own ways and means to commemorate the selfless sacrifices and deeds rendered by many New Afrikan (Black) heroes and sheroes – exposing to the light of day the injustices heaped upon us daily in pursuit of the New Afrikan (Black) freedom, justice, equality and human and civil rights.
In recent months, renewed interest in the lives of those who were released to the mainline after decades in California’s infamous SHU torture units has prompted many to ask us the question: How did you survive decades of solitary confinement? To understand how I survived almost two decades of solitary confinement, you must first understand why the state subjected us to these torture units in the first place.
I can hardly believe that 47 years have gone by since the Aug. 7,1970, Marin Courthouse Slave Rebellion. Ruchell is now 77 years old. It’s a sin and a shame the fascist state has practically taken this brother’s whole life. And he has never seriously injured anyone. Quite the opposite, Ruchell has been responsible, through his jailhouse lawyering, for the release of countless prisoners over the five-plus decades he’s been incarcerated. Here’s his story, written years ago and updated.
For those who are not familiar with W.L. Nolen, this beautiful New Afrikan brotha was one of the founders of the Black Liberation Movement in the California Prison System, along with Comrade George Jackson. Comrade W.L. Nolen was instrumental in shaping and molding the exemplary model of undaunting resistance that many of us New Afrikans now find ourselves emulating today.
On this 37th anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, William Christmas and the sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee, it is still a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical fitness and/or training in martial arts, resistance and spiritual renewal.
When I received the sad and shocking news about our loss of Brother Hugo Pinell, aka Yogi Bear and Dahariki, I must say it felt like a big blow to my gut. In losing our Brother Hugo Pinell, I lost not only a brother, but a comrade, hero, motivator and educator. This bold and principled revolutionary will be sorely missed. However, Brother Yogi would want for us to push ahead in the struggle. That way we’ll be paying our beautiful brother a great honor.
This interview was broadcast live on Aug. 18, 2015, on Terry Collins’ show, The Spirit of Joe Rudolph. Terry Collins: A lot of people around here are definitely in deep mourning for the murder of Hugo Pinell on the 12th of August, this month. From my correspondence with him over the past three or four years, I know he was a person full of love. Kiilu Nyasha: If there was one word that could describe Yogi Bear, it would be love.
On Aug. 12, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell (1944-2015) was killed in the California State Prison-Sacramento. Pinell was a comrade of George Jackson, W.L. Nolen, James Carr and other founders of the modern prison movement. He was released from solitary confinement in 2014 after 45 years, the longest any state prisoner has spent in solitary.
2013 marks the 43rd anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Khatari Gaulden and sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee. During these four decades, we’ve witnessed a steady revision of the meaning of Black August and its inherent ideology.
I remember entering into prison back in 1995 for the first time and learning about our struggles from various New Afrikans. We as youngsters learned about Comrade George L. Jackson by reading “Soledad Brother” and “Blood in My Eye” and understood the struggles and that by studying we too could learn how to change our conditions.
I’m delighted to report the rally for Yogi Bear was just wonderful. Headlined “49 Years of Injustice: Release Hugo Pinell,” decrying Yogi’s 49 years in prison, 43 years in solitary confinement and 23 years in the infamous Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit), the rally was held Sunday, June 9, 4 p.m., at Freedom Archives, 518 Valencia, San Francisco.
When the prison system transformed into the Prison Industrial Slave Complex (PISC), it became a profit-making industry and, as a profit-making industry, profit becomes the bottom line. In the PISC the poor underclass is the primary commodity that fuels its profitability, while the poor New Afrikan (Black) man and woman are its prime choice.
The W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program is a community-based pen pal service to provide the people of our communities with an opportunity to connect with and engage the current class and generation of New Afrikan Black Revolutionaries on several fronts. It will provide the people with a correct understanding of the New Afrikan Black Liberation Movement via the social principles of “Each One Teach One.”
CDCR state operatives have criminalized the historical-cultural legacy of Black August under the false pretense of it being a BGF (Black Guerrilla Family) prison gang concept that promotes violence against CDCR’s state operatives. Black August is not a prison gang concept, and it definitely does not entail the promotion of any violence!
In the past year we have witnessed a succession of murderous assaults reflecting a common character structure: The authoritarian psychology: Jason Smith beaten to death by racists in Louisiana; Trayvon Martin murdered by a racist vigilante in Florida; Christian Gomez allowed to die on hunger strike by prison guards in California; 17 people, nine of them children, slaughtered in Afghanistan; Kendrec McDade slain by racist police in California; Gerardo Perez-Ruiz murdered by border vigilantes in Arizona.
"Most people realize that crime is simply the result of a grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth and privilege ... an aspect of class struggle from the outset. Throughout its history, the United States has used its prisons to suppress any organized efforts to challenge its legitimacy," wrote George Jackson in "Blood in My Eye."
Black August is a month of great significance for Africans throughout the Diaspora, but particularly here in the U.S. where it originated. “August,” as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, “is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”