by Marguerite Laurent - August 13, 2004

This year marks the 26th anniversary of Black August, an event that was first organized in 1978 as a memorial to both commemorate the tremendous sacrifices of Jonathan and George Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, Nat Turner, Assata Shakur, and celebrate the revolutionary actions of these radical figures as well as provide a platform for a future generation of continuing resistance. For oppressed peoples all over the planet and their allies, the torrid month of August is to fuse our reflection and rage, courage, conviction, and ACTION. 98 degrees in the shade!

The Black August movement was set off by the counter-totalitarian organization founded by George Jackson, the Black Guerrilla Family, out of the need to create an above ground _expression of the shared convictions that led those of us with the requisite courage at the appropriate historical moment to fight and sometimes die during definitive acts - historically linking Turner1s Southampton rebellion in 1831 and the Marin Courthouse 1970 takeover.

As the leader of a Prisoner's Rights Movement during the Sixties, George Jackson inspired a multi-racial class-based movement of resistance within the US prison system that culminated in the San Quentin, Attica, Angola, Joliet, Folsom, and Reidsville rebellions. The politics of that movement extend far beyond prison walls as well. The BGF was a revolutionary organization in opposition to the US government and the ethnic divisions and economic subjugation upon which it thrives, fighting in solidarity with ALL inner city people, ALL oppressed peoples of the 3rd world, and confronting the kind of oppression that occurs every day today - from Abner Louima to Rodney King, to the 107 unarmed civilians killed in DC and PG county alone in the past decade, to the general condition of the intolerable slums that surround nearly every city in the 21st century world. The BGF also inspired other revolutionary formations, including the Weather Underground, the east coast BLA, and countless international groups. The BGF established the Black August festival as way to resist the capitalist culture's attempt to simply criminalize acts of revolutionary anti-capitalist resistance such as the August 7 Takeover and subsequent acts of armed rebellion, along with the men and women who carry them out.

Today Black August festivals are held in cities around the world, and there is an independent film in post-production. The family of George and Jonathan, along with many of those who fought alongside them, are proud that the legacy of the two brothers has lived on. That said, the Family is concerned about the DOZENS of men and women that fought alongside the brothers who are still living today, including movement elders like Nicaraguan national Hugo Pinell, August 7th actor Ruchell Cinque Magee, exiled revolutionary and writer Assata Shakur and many others. Most remain behind bars, others are in dire circumstances today. Despite advancing age and poor health these political detainees are no closer to coming home today than in 1970. Instead the government is bringing new cases against aged revolutionaries both for insurrectionary acts allegedly committed decades ago, as well as Śnew1 acts of resistance. The U.S. prison population was under 250,000 when the brothers fought and died, today it is 2.6 million and includes 1 in 3 Black men. In its thirst for "law and order" the state has grown ever more repressive in its tactics since the brothers fought and died.!

The line between commemoration and exploitation is far too often porous, entertainment to often passes for radical intervention. The Family feels it is essential to know precisely how the resources collected in the names of the two revolutionary brothers are being used. In order to mend the factions between the first generation of revolutionaries, and navigate the minefield of missteps, some of which were already made in the past, it is necessary that the Family have the decisive international voice in the planning for Black August, which was first and foremost created to provide resources for political prisoners and their families, as well as to raise political consciousness in disenfranchised communities.

It is WRONG and INAPPROPRIATE for those who had little actual connection Jonathan and George and the revolutionary movement they founded to seek to commercialize that legacy solely for personal gain, as some have done, simply because they have a ideological or political affinity, while the social conditions grow worse daily and the revolutionaries who fought with the brothers endure living burials. The Family and friends of the two brothers call on those of us who are people of conviction to come together to assure that those taking on the work of organizing in the name of Black August honor the spirit of resistance it was created in.

Blessings from the Family should be given for any festival, conference, and event using the Black August Movement or the Jackson Family name in the coming years. All currently operating festivals should also want to do so.

Contact: blackaugustmovement@yahoo.com or call your local OG

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