by Leroy Moore
August is here and yes, we celebrate Black August. “Black August is an annual commemoration and prison-based holiday to remember Black freedom fighters and political prisoners and to highlight Black resistance against racial oppression. It takes place during the entire calendar month of August,” Wikipedia reports, adding: “Black August was initiated by the Black Guerilla Family in San Quentin State Prison in 1979 when a group of incarcerated people came together to commemorate the deaths of brothers Jonathan P. Jackson (died Aug. 7, 1970) and George Jackson (died Aug. 21, 1971) at San Quentin State Prison.”
In the late 1990s, I was deeply involved with some Black disabled people who were incarcerated. I used to answer their letters that I got from the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and Poor Magazine. One wrongfully incarcerated prisoner that Poor Magazine, SF Bay View and I joined with his mother to get some media attention for that led to his freedom was Micheal Manning of Pennsylvania. Read https://everydayabolition.com/2013/02/23/leroy-moore/.
August in Oakland is also now known as Joe Capers Month. In February of 2013, Krip-Hop Nation put together a Bay Area concert tour to raise awareness of the work of Joe Capers. After the tour, Naru Kwina of Oakland and I applied to the City of Oakland to have the month of August to be Joe Capers Month and we received the official proclamation by the Mayor of Oakland that said from now on August will be Joe Capers Month.
Who was Joe Capers? If you were in Oakland in the ‘80s and ‘90s, you’d have heard of the likes of Tony, Toni, Tone, young MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Too Short and Dawn Robinson of En Vogue, just to name a few, and back then there were only a few home studios. Joe Capers, aka Blind Joe, a blind musician and producer, was one of the creators of the sounds of the Oakland music scene in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Joe Capers and friends built the first completely accessible studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was in the Oakland hills, opened in August 1989. Capers’ studio recorded the artists named above and many more who went on, as we now know, to be legends in the Hip-Hop and Soul arena locally, nationally and internationally. Joe Capers took youth off the streets of Oakland and taught them to produce and engineer, making his studio affordable in a time before home recording studios had become what they are today.
Joe Capers passed away on Nov. 27, 2002. Krip-Hop Nation and Naru Kwina with his non-profit, Alternative Minds, released the film documentary on Joe Capers in 2020. Read more here http://www.alternative-minds.com/2017/04/12/the-joe-capers-project/.
Although I moved to LA for graduate school last year, I still want to recognize this August all disabled and deaf people behind bars, and I also want to recognize Joe Capers Month in Oakland.
Leroy F. Moore Jr., poet, researcher, journalist and activist, founder of Krip-Hop Nation and founding member of the National Black Disability Coalition, can be reached at Kriphopnation@gmail.com. Leroy wants all his Bay Area friends to know, “My first year of my Ph.D. study went well.” Congratulations!