The birth, meaning and practice of Black August

Black-August-art-by-Kevin-Rashid-Johnson-2005-1400x1070, The birth, meaning and practice of Black August, Abolition Now!
“Black August” – This Black August, let’s get to know all the heroes pictured here. Do you know their names and deeds? – Art: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, 2005

by Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson

Black August is a month designated to pay tribute to the true heroes, martyrs and history of New Afrikan (Black) people in our struggles for liberation against over 400 years of violent repression, suffering and exploitation that we have endured under the systems of bondage here in the Western Hemisphere. 

Many important events that occurred and the lives of people who contributed to our struggles fell within the month of August and coincide with our need to know, remember and commemorate the people and events that have fed the flame of our struggle to yet be free.

The concept of Black August began in the California prison system in response to the assassinations of political prisoners and prisoners of war held there, such as George L. Jackson, W.L. Nolen, Jeffrey “Joka Khatari” Gaulden and others. Joka Khatari, a torchbearer of Comrade George Jackson, died on Aug. 1, 1978. He died at the hands of California prison officials at San Quentin who refused him medical care for head injuries sustained while playing football.

Kevin-Rashid-Johnson-smiling, The birth, meaning and practice of Black August, Abolition Now!
Finally we can see Rashid in the flesh. Until now, we’ve known him only from his two self-portraits. This photo was taken shortly before he was transferred from Indiana to Ohio in mid-July.

It was Joka Khatari’s death that first inspired the concept of Black August among New Afrikans imprisoned in California. Initially it commemorated the lives and deaths of George L. Jackson, who was murdered by California prison guards on Aug. 21, 1971; his brother Jonathan Jackson, and James D. McClain and William Christmas, who died during an armed action to free Comrade George and others staged at the Marin County Courthouse on Aug. 7, 1970; and W.L. Nolen, Alvin “Fig” Miller and Cleveland Miller who were assassinated by prison guards during a racial melee that was instigated by the pigs at Soledad State Prison on Jan. 13, 1970.

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Since its early beginnings, Black August has grown to embrace many significant events and people in our history of struggles in Amerika, especially those that have occurred during the month of August.

But for these struggles and people and their sacrifices, we would not have survived until today. Black August cannot be looked upon lightly.

Black August is now observed each year by our people across the Diaspora.

Commemorating Black August is not simply a holiday observance, but a time of reflection, recognition, fortification, consciousness-building and inspiration. The events and people it pays tribute to demonstrated the greatest sacrifices and commitment and represent a higher awareness of and ongoing service to New Afrikans as a collective people, as a distinct nationality and community of people. 

But for these struggles and people and their sacrifices, we would not have survived until today. Black August cannot be looked upon lightly.

Rashid-on-phone-in-Ohio-0721, The birth, meaning and practice of Black August, Abolition Now!
Rashid is settling in to his new digs in Ohio. Since he drew the logo for the California Hunger Strikes in 2011, his influence on the movement frightens prison officials so much that they have transferred him from Virginia to Oregon to Texas to Florida to Indiana and now to Ohio. 

Our economic practices during Black August embrace community socialist values of mutual aid and support, not individual profit and exploitation of others that is the very basis of the suffering we have endured for centuries and are the values that the U.S. capitalist imperialist system works to indoctrinate us with to make us predatory against ourselves and others in its own image.

During the month of Black August, we practice fasting, exercise – twice daily or as our health permits – political education – educating us in New Afrikan history and the values of revolutionary theory and practice – and refrain from prison commissary purchases as much as possible, instead relying on mutual support.

Black August serves to instill practice and values in us that will develop our ways of thinking and being 365 days per year and to become the people of the liberated future that we are fighting to create for ourselves, for all oppressed peoples and especially for those that will come after us.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!

All Power to the People!

Send our brother some love and light: Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, A787991, P.O. Box 300, Orient, OH 43146.