by Kiilu Nyasha
This is the 29th anniversary of Black August, first organized to
honor our martyred freedom fighters, Jonathan and George Jackson,
Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, William Christmas, and the sole
survivor of the August 7,1970 Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell
Cinque Magee. It's a time to embrace the principles of unity,
self-sacrifice, political education, physical fitness and/or training
in martial arts, resistance and revolution - transforming ourselves
into the new man, the new woman.
As Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, "August is a month of meaning, of
repression and radical resistance, 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."
Primarily, August is the month we recall the great loss exacted upon
our Black revolutionary movement with the assassination of George
Jackson and his younger brother, the teenaged Jonathan Jackson.
Jonathan was martyred when he led the August 7th rebellion; George
was martyred a year later, August 21.
I had the privilege and the good fortune of being in the right place
at the right time to initiate a correspondence with George in the
winter of 1971, and months later, a one-hour visit in the holding
cell of San Quentin. I've met no one before or since more dedicated
to revolutionary change.
As you will note from some of the quotes below, George was a
brilliant leader who set a righteous example of intellectual,
physical growth and advanced development of consciousness.
Attorney Steve Bingham, tried and acquitted of all charges in the
case resulting from the events of August 21, '71, once told me that
when prison staff cleaned out Jackson's cell after he was killed,
they found 99 books covering the history of the world. In fact, he
had sent me a book list (I had a lot of catching up to do.), and told
me he read some six dailies and several books a week, while doing
1,000 fingertip pushups a day. He was in solitary confinement for
most of his 11 years in prison for a $70 robbery when he was 18 years old.
Bingham noted in an interview, "It's clear to me that his
responsibility in bringing international attention to prison
conditions in California brought on him the wrath of the California
Department of Corrections. This, together with his designation as
Field Marshal of the Black Panther Party, certainly put him in their
Moreover, his two books, bestseller "Soledad Brother: The Prison
Letters of George Jackson" and "Blood In My Eye," completed just
before his death were also factors.
As California prisons prepare to integrate double cells, beginning
with Mule Creek in Ione and Sierra Conservation Center (what a
euphemism!) in Jamestown, Jackson's words should be heeded:
"If there were any differences or grievances between us in the black
colonies and the peoples of other colonies across the country, around
the world, we should be willing to forget them in the desperate need
for coordination against Amerikan fascism… To destroy it will require
cooperation and communion between our related parts; communion
between colony and colony, nation and nation.
Moreover, it's important to bear in mind that "race" is a false
construct, that our genetic map is 99.9% the same indicating one
human race (having cultural, religious, national, political
differences), and that all humans originated on the Mother continent of Africa.
From "Blood in My Eye," George Jackson calls upon us to:
"Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our
situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are
dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor
butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done,
discover your humanity and your love in revolution."
Given today's harsh realities, the need to organize a revolutionary
movement is greater than ever.
Today's social and environmental problems are many times worse than
they were 30 - 40 years ago and threatening to worsen. Economic
disparities are greater than ever with one percent of the world's
population owning 80% of the wealth. Multibillionaires vs. billions
of people living on less than a dollar a day!
Food riots have broken out in Haiti, Bangladesh, Egypt and elsewhere
as food prices soar along with the cost of fuel. And millions are
going hungry right here in the belly of the beast.
The U.S. now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world – and
rising. It currently has 2.4 million people locked up with seven
million more on probation or parole.
California has the greatest number of prisoners and prisons – some 90
prisons, jails, and camps housing more than 170,000 men and women. –
with a plan to add another 53,000 beds! And the cost is astronomical.
Add to this the lack of adequate health care, education and
employment, proliferation of drugs and guns, homelessness, hunger and
destitution, unjust imperialist wars, and climate-change disasters.
The result is the destruction of our families and communities, social
isolation/alienation, PTSD, drug addiction, child and spousal abuse,
and violence turned inward as manifested in random, senseless
killings of oppressed people by other oppressed people.
By the end of the 1970's, the Black Panther Party was dissolved -
victim of the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO that used every "dirty
trick" in the book to destroy it, as well as its youthful lack of
experience. Yet its impact upon the Black community, the nation and
the world was immeasurable.
I still believe Comrade George was correct when he said, "withdrawal
from the enemy state and its social, political and economic life is
the first step toward its destruction."
As George put it, "Fascism has temporarily succeeded under the guise
Modern-day fascism is the combined dictatorship of big business and
government, characterized by greed, militarism, racism, homophobia,
I think the fascist powers that be feel compelled to put a fresh face
on fascism – a brown face.
We cannot be so naïve as to think that Democratic Party nominee
Barack Obama has broken all records in campaign fundraising because
he's going to change things for you and me. Please. As Jamil al-Amin
(H.Rap Brown) noted, "If voting could change things; they'd make it illegal."
It should be obvious that Obama cannot and will not produce real
change, like moving from capitalism to socialism, redistributing the
wealth, abolishing the prison system per se, changing domestic and
In fact, upon his sealing the nomination, Obama beat a path to AIPAC
(American Israeli Political Action Committee, the Zionist lobby)
where he pandered grossly to the Zionist occupiers of Palestine. This
is nothing short of a betrayal of the Arab/Palestinian people,
especially those desperate children, women and men currently under
siege in Gaza, an open air prison.
But Obama knows on what side his bread is buttered. No candidate for
Congress or the White House can get there without the Israeli lobby.
Congressional representatives, Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard
learned it the hard way.
"When we participate is this election to win, instead of disrupt,
we're lending to its credibility, and destroying our own. With all
the factors of control over the electoral process in the hands of the
minority ruling class, the people's party can always be made to seem
isolated, unimportant, even extraneous...
"All political parties, as things stand, will support the power
complex." -George Jackson
In conclusion, let's honor this Black August by honoring the politics
of our beloved Comrade brother, George Lester Jackson. Study his
works and struggle to release political prisoners, especially his
comrades, Hugo L.A. Pinell and Ruchell Cinque Magee, doing their 44th
and 45th year, respectively, in California gulags.
In closing, I ask you to send your love energies to our wounded
warrior, Comrade Mjumbe Gazi, who is gravely ill with lung cancer,
hospitalized in Oakland. His voice can be heard on "Black August
Commemoration 2006," a four-hour radio program produced by yours
truly and archived at KPFA.
Long live the guerrilla.
Power to the people.
Free 'em all!
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Kiilu Nyasha, was a Black
Panther and has been part of the international struggle for nearly 40
years. She is currently host of a weekly TV program, "Freedom Is A
Constant Struggle," on SF Live (Cable 76), a columnist for the SF
BayView newspaper and a member of the SF8 Committee.