Black August by Mumia Abu Jamal

August is a month to assess and build upon the legacy of Black people’s resistance to the armed repression of the U.S. state and its agents. The author, the nation’s best known political prisoner, wrote this article August 4, 1993. Abu Jamal

“George Jackson was my hero. He set a standard for prisoners, political prisoners, for people. He showed the love, the strength, the revolutionary fervor that’s characteristic of any soldier for the people. He inspired prisoners, whom I later encountered, to put his ideas into practice. And so his spirit became a living thing.” — Dr. Huey P. Newton, Ph.D., former Minister of Defense, Black Panther Party (Revolutionary Memorial Service for George Jackson, 1971)

August, in both historic and contemporary African American history, is a month of meaning.

It is a month of repression:

• – August, 1619 – The first group of Black laborers called indentured servants, landed at Jamestown, Virginia

• – August 25, 1967 – Classified FBI memos went out to all Bureaus nationwide with plans to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” Black Liberation Movement groups.

• – August 1968 – The Newark, N.J. BPP office was firebombed.

• – August 25, 1968 – L.A. BPP members Steve Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence and Tommy Lewis were murdered by the LAPD at a gas station.

• – August 15, 1969 – Sylvester Bell, San Diego BPP, murdered by the US organization.

• – August 21, 1971 – BPP Field Marshall George L. Jackson assassinated at San Quentin prison, California. Three guards and two inmate turncoats killed, three wounded.

August is also a month of radical resistance:

• – August 22, 1831 – Nat Turner’s rebellion rocked Southampton County, Virginia, and the entire South when slaves rose up and slew their white masters.

• – August 30, 1856 – John Brown led an anti-slavery raid on a group of Missourians at Osawatomie, Kansas.

• – August 7, 1970 – Jonathan Jackson, younger brother of Field Marshal George, raided the Marin County Courthouse in California, arming and freeing three Black prisoners, taking the judge, prosecutor and several jurors hostage. All, except one prisoner, were killed by police fire that perforated the escape vehicle. Jon was 17.

And in an instance of Resistance and Repression:

• – August 8, 1978 – After a 15-month armed police standoff with the Philadelphia-based naturalist MOVE Organization, the police raided MOVE, killing one of their own in police crossfire, and charging nine MOVE people with murder. The MOVE 9, in prisons across Pennsylvania, are serving up to 100 years each.

August – a month 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

August saw slaves and the grandsons [and grand daughters] of slaves strike out for their God-given right to freedom, as well as the awesome price, the ultimate price always paid by those who would dare oppose the slave master’s will.

Like their spiritual grandfather, the blessed rebel Nat Turner, those who opposed Massa in this land of Unfreedom met murder by the State; George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, Wm. Christmas, Bobby Hutton, Steve Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence, Tommy Lewis, Sylvester Bell, all suffered the fate of Nat Turner, of the slave daring to fight the slave master for his freedom.

[Editors Note: Michael Brown was shot to death on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, igniting a torrent of protest that launched the current national movement against police terror.]

Black August 2004: Mumia Abu-Jamal on the Haiti Revolution