Black August uplifted as alternative Black History Month » TheNewsBig

WASHINGTON – For Jonathan Peter Jackson, a direct relative of two excellent members of the Black Panther Get collectively, revolutionary thought and family historic previous have on a regular basis been intertwined, notably in August.

That’s the month in 1971 when his uncle, the famed Panther George Jackson, was killed all through an rebel at San Quentin State Jail in California. A revolutionary whose phrases resonated out and in of the jail partitions, he was a broadcast author, activist and radical thought chief.

To many, February is the month dedicated to celebrating Black People’ contributions to a country the place that they had been as quickly as enslaved. Nonetheless Black History Month has an alternative: It’s recognized as Black August.


First celebrated in 1979, Black August was created to commemorate Jackson’s fight for Black liberation. Fifty-one years since his dying, Black August is now a monthlong consciousness advertising marketing campaign and celebration dedicated to Black freedom fighters, revolutionaries, radicals and political prisoners, every residing and deceased.

The annual commemorations have been embraced by activists inside the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement, numerous whom draw inspiration from freedom fighters like Jackson and his contemporaries.

“It’s mandatory to do this now as a results of tons of people that had been on the unconventional scene all through that time interval, kin and non-relatives, who’re like blood kin, are coming into their golden years,” acknowledged Jonathan Jackson, 51, of Truthful Hill, Maryland.

George Jackson was 18 when he was arrested for robbing a gasoline station in Los Angeles in 1960. He was convicted and given an indeterminate sentence of 1 12 months to life and spent the next decade at California’s Soledad and San Quentin prisons, numerous it in solitary confinement.


Whereas incarcerated, Jackson began discovering out the phrases of revolutionary theoreticians such as Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, who advocated class consciousness, tough institutions and overturning capitalism by the use of revolution. Founding leaders of the Panthers, along with Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, had been moreover impressed by Marx, Lenin and Chinese language language Communist chief Mao Tse-tung.

Jackson turned a pacesetter inside the prisoner rights movement. His letters from jail to relations and supporters had been compiled inside the bestselling books “Soledad Brother” and “Blood in My Eye.”

Impressed by his phrases and irritated collectively along with his state of affairs, George’s youthful brother, Jonathan, initiated a takeover on the Marin County Superior Courtroom in California in 1970. He freed three inmates and held a variety of courthouse employees hostage, in an attempt to demand the discharge of his brother and two totally different inmates, recognized as the Soledad Brothers, who had been accused of killing a correctional officer. Jonathan was killed as he tried to flee, although it’s disputed whether or not or not he was killed in a courtroom shootout or fatally shot whereas driving away with hostages.


George was killed on Aug. 21, 1971, all through a jail rebel. Inmates at San Quentin jail began formally commemorating his dying in 1979, and from there, Black August was born.

“I really need that further people knew about George’s writings (and) knew about my father’s sacrifice on that fateful day in August,” acknowledged Jonathan Jackson, who wrote the foreword to “Soledad Brother” inside the early ’90s, shortly after graduating from college.

Monifa Bandele, a pacesetter inside the Movement for Black Lives, a nationwide coalition of BLM groups, says Black August is about learning the massive historic previous of Black revolutionary leaders. That options figures such as Nat Turner, who is known for primary a slave revolt on a southern Virginia plantation in August 1831, and Marcus Garvey, the chief of the Pan-Africanism movement and born in August 1887. It comprises events such as the Haitian Revolution in 1791 and the March on Washington in 1963, every occurring inside the month of August.


“This idea that there was this one slim strategy that Black people resisted oppression is thought as a delusion that’s dispelled by Black August,” acknowledged Bandele, who may also be a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a bunch that raises consciousness of political prisoners.

“And what we observed happen after the Nineteen Seventies is that it grew exterior of the (jail) partitions as a results of, as people who had been incarcerated obtained right here residence to their households and communities, they began to do neighborhood celebrations of Black August,” she added.

The strategies of honoring this month moreover can be found in assorted varieties and have developed by means of the years. Some take part in fasting, whereas others use this time to verify the strategies of their predecessors. Weekly event sequence are moreover widespread all through Black August, from learning groups to open mic nights.

Sankofa, a Black-owned cultural coronary heart and occasional retailer in Washington that has served the D.C. neighborhood for nearly 25 years, wraps up a weekly open mic night in honor of Black August on Friday. The event has drawn native residents of all ages, many who’ve shared tales, study poetry and carried out songs with the theme of revolt.


“This month is all about resistance and celebrating our political prisoners and using your complete faculties that we’ve to free individuals who discover themselves in jail, let me say, unjustly,” emcee Ayinde Sekou acknowledged to the group all through a present event at Sankofa.

Jonathan Jackson, George’s nephew, moreover believes that there are largely systemic causes as to why Black August, and his family historic previous notably, aren’t extensively taught.

“It’s robust sometimes for radicals who weren’t assassinated, per se, to enter into the favored discourse,” he acknowledged. “George and Jonathan had been in no way victims. They took movement, and they also had been killed taking that movement, and sometimes that’s very obscure for people who will accept a political assassination.”

Jackson hopes to honor his father’s and uncle’s legacy by the use of documenting the info of elders from that interval, as a manner of fixed the fight.

“We’ve to get these testimonies. … We’ve to understand what occurred, so as that we’ll improve on what they did. I really feel now may very well be as good a time as any to get that completed,” he acknowledged.



Associated Press writers Aaron Morrison and Terry Tang contributed to this report.


Almaz Abedje, an area of the D.C. area, is a member of AP’s Video Newsgathering employees. Observe her on Twitter at

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