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Black August: A Black Radical Tradition

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This chapter honors Black resistance and Black August, a thirty-one day commemoration of people and events that center Black/New Afrikan lives, voices, perspectives, and acts of resistance. Margaret Atwood argues that without memory there can be no debt, and dequi kioni-sadiki provides us with memories from the perspectives of those who the United States has attempted to eliminate, assimilate, and enslave. In this chapter, she describes the history of resistance in the Black/New Afrikan tradition giving voice to people in prison, political prisoners and prisoners of war, paying homage to the historical and contemporary acts of Black resistance, and raising fundamental questions about the relationship between a civilized society and its prison system.

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  1. 1.

    Nick Estes is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, cofounder of Red Nation, an Indigenous resistance organization, professor and author of Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Long Tradition of Indigenous resistance.

  2. 2.

    “Black” is the political term used by Kwame Ture as the clarion call of the 1960s Black Power Movement. “New Afrikan” reflects a Pan African identity, purpose, direction, and refers to the descendants of enslaved Afrikans born in the United States and across the Afrikan diaspora.

  3. 3.

    A Political Prisoner is a person held in confinement because of their support of, or identity with, a people struggling for freedom from an oppressive government or against its oppressive policies. A Political Prisoner of War is a national combatant of an oppressed nation held in confinement by the oppressor nation because of their support of, or identity with, the oppressed nation’s war for self-determination, independence, or national liberation from the oppressor nation.

  4. 4.

    Turtle Island is the name given this land by millions of Indigenous people thousands of years before it was invaded, colonized and renamed the united states of America by European settlers.

  5. 5.

    Pan-Africanist revolutionary formerly known as Stokely Carmichael and leader of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) coined the term Black Power.

  6. 6.

    National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party—

  7. 7.

    Songs by James Brown, Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield, and the Impressions.

  8. 8.

    COINTELPRO—the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program, a covert operation used to “disrupt, discredit and otherwise neutralize” surveil, infiltrate, progressive, radical and revolutionary organizations, and movements.

  9. 9.

    Dred Scott was an enslaved Afrikan who sued to maintain his Freedom after traveling with a slave owner to a non-slaving hold state. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that living in a free state and territory did not entitle an enslaved person to his freedom. In essence, the decision argued that, as someone’s property, Scott was not a citizen and could not sue in a federal court. The majority opinion by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney also stated …that African Americans could never become U.S. citizens. This is known as the Dred Scott Decision rendered March 6, 1857.

  10. 10.

    Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in Oakland, California in October 1966.

  11. 11.

    George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette became the Soledad Brothers when they charged with the murder of a prison guard at the Soledad prison where they were held. They were facing the death penalty if convicted.

  12. 12.

    Davis, Angela. April–May 1971. “THE BLACK PRISONER.” The Black Scholar. Vol. 2 No. 8/9. pp. 2–7.

  13. 13.

    Following the murder of George Jackson, three prison guards were killed. Six Black/Brown men—Fleeta Drumgo, David Johnson, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, John Larry Spain, Luis Talamantez, and Willie Tate—were charged. They were known as the “San Quentin Six” and were subjected to horrific torture, violence, brutality, and punitive segregation by the prison administration before being acquitted of all charges. In retaliation, the Aryan Brotherhood murdered Yogi on the prison yard days after his release into general population following decades of solitary confinement.

  14. 14.

    Attica is a men’s prison in upstate New York where from September 9 to 13, 1971 it was taken over by the prison population who held prison guards hostage in order to negotiate for their list of demands for better living conditions. Then NYS governor Nelson Rockefeller’s response was a bloody police siege that ended with state-sanctioned shooting deaths of ten (10) prison guards, forty-three (43) Attica Brothers, and the vicious torture and beating of hundreds more.

  15. 15.

    McDonald’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Walmart, Sprint, Verizon, Victoria Secret, JC Penney, American Airlines, Avis Rent-a-Car, Kmart are just some of the corporations who exploit prison labor to reduce operating costs. Per hour wages are anywhere between $.10 and $.50 cents per hour, in states like Georgia prison labor is unpaid.

  16. 16.

    Sundiata is the co-defendant of Assata Shakur, and was in the car on the NJ Turnpike during the May 2, 1972 police involved shooting that resulted both of them being wounded and the death of their comrade, Zayd Shakur.

  17. 17.

    George L. Jackson quote.

  18. 18.

    The Jericho Movement for Amnesty & Recognition of u.s. held Political Prisoners & Prisoners of War supports, advocates and fights for the release of Black/Brown, Indigenous, Asian, Puerto Rican, white (anti-imperialist) PPOWS. For more info and facility listings, visit:

  19. 19.

    *Albert Woodfox, Robert King and Herman Wallace were known as the Angola 3, who spent 30 + years in solitary confinement as punishment for membership in a prison chapter of the BPP.

  20. 20.

    Euphemist term white southerners used for the enslavement of Afrikan people. Also a book by the same name: Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South by Kenneth M. Stampp. Vintage Publisher. December 1989.

  21. 21.

    From April to November 1919, white supremacists terrorized and engaged in mob violence, murder, and racist attacks of Black communities in more than three dozen cities across the U.S., including a three-day-long massacre in Elaine, Arkansas.

  22. 22.

    The summer of 1967 was marked by over 150 Black rebellions that erupted in cities across the u.s.—Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tampa, Detroit, Toledo, Watts, and elsewhere in protest of the oppression, injustice, inequities in cash-poor and working-class Black/New Afrikan communities.

  23. 23.

    Weeks and months of rebellions and protests after the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager by white police officer, Darren Wilson, who the grand jury refused to indict.

  24. 24.

    Shirley Graham DuBois (November 11, 1896-March 27, 1977), author, playwright, human rights/political activist and wife of W.E.B. DuBois.

  25. 25.

    Quote from Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chair and current Political Prisoner. Quote by Shirley Graham-DuBois, Pan-African scholar, activist, comrade and wife of W.E.B. DuBois.

  26. 26.

    Assata Shakur is a NY-based Panther who was liberated from a NJ prison on November 2, 1979. In 2002, she was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List with a $1 million bounty offered for her capture. It has since increased to $2 million with a mislabeling as a “Domestic Terrorist” added. She is the Mother of one adult and has several Grandchildren.

  27. 27.

    Nehanda Abiodun was a NY-based Panther when she escaped capture in the October 1981 Nyack, NY-Brinks expropriation. She remained in exile until her Transition on January 30, 2019. She leaves behind two children.

  28. 28.

    Black August Virtual Benefit Concert—

  29. 29.

    Jessica Care Moore is a five-time Apollo winner, an internationally renowned poet, playwright, performance artist, producer, author, and publisher. Her latest book of poetry, We Want Our Bodies Back is available on her website:

  30. 30.

    George L. Jackson quote.

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kioni-sadiki, d. (2022). Black August: A Black Radical Tradition. In: Wilson, B.C. (eds) Care, Climate, and Debt. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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