WRITTEN AND CONTRIBUTED BY KWYN TOWNSEND RILEY
What You Need To Know:
The month of August is a month of acknowledgment and commemoration of the countless organizers, activists and freedom fighters who sacrificed their freedom and lives in the struggle for Black liberation.
During the month of Black August, organizers and activists take this time to honor freedom fighters and political prisoners who put their lives on the line, risking social and economic security to defend the self-determination of Black communities.
August is a celebration of many people including James Baldwin, a queer novelist, playwright, essayist, poet and activist. August is a revolutionary month that demands to be acknowledged with discipline, reflection and rebellion.
To quote Critical Resistance, “[t]he month of August bursts at the seams with histories of Black resistance–from the Haitian Revolution to the Nat Turner Rebellion, from the Fugitive Slave Law Convention and the foundation of the Underground Railroad to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, from the March on Washington to the Watts Uprising, from the births of Marcus Garvey, Russell Maroon Shoatz, and Fred Hampton to the deaths of W.E.B. du Bois and George Jackson’s own younger brother, Jonathan, killed while attempting to free the Soledad Brothers from prison.”
The roots of Black August go back to California prisons in the 1970s, during a period of sustained struggle and resistance against racialized violence against Black imprisoned people, especially those calling for Black liberation and challenging state power. Ignited by the deaths of Jonathan and George Jackson in August 1970 and August 1971, and honoring others who gave their lives including Khatari Gualden, William Christmas and James McClain, a group of imprisoned people came together to develop a means of honoring that sacrifice and promoting Black liberation.
Why We Need to Know: