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Black August:  On George Jackson and Colin Kaepernick

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28, 2016 by legacybc

#SitWithColin

Black August is a time for us to reflect on the perpetual struggle against racism and white supremacy in this country.  Likewise, it is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the struggle (or join it, for that matter).  During Black August, one of the things that we do is read the works of George Jackson.  Jackson, a revolutionary theorist, witnessed and experienced some of the worst examples of the inhumanity that this system of federated States is capable of.  This perspective is important lest we forget how vicious the monster is.

On the surface, the differences between Jackson and Kaepernick could not seem more stark.  In 1961, Jackson was convicted for a $70 robbery and sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of one-year to life in prison.  54 years later, Kaepernick would sign a 6-year $119 million contract to play football for the San Francisco 49ers.

At the time of Jackson’s incarceration, there was an active prison movement within the California prison system.  Jackson was introduced to the movement by W.L. Nolan and others and would soon become politicized by them and through the study of revolutionary theorists such as Karl Marx and Franz Fanon.  The prison movement was geared to towards advocating for humane treatment within the prisons where it was not uncommon for Blacks to be brutalized and even killed by guards.  In fact, both Nolan and Jackson would eventually be gunned down by prison guards.

45 years following Jackson’s assassination, it remains necessary for a movement to exist that is dedicated to struggling for the protection of Black lives from state sanctioned violence at the hands of state agents.  It appears as though Kaepernick has been inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, just as Jackson was inspired by the prison movement.

This is significant in light of Jackson’s analysis of the fate of Black leaders.  In his book, Soledad Brother, writing to his lawyer, Fay Stender, Jackson compared the plight of Black people to the plains buffalo, a herd animal, and the manner in which they are hunted.

The great American bison or buffalo — he’s a herd animal, or social animal if you prefer, just like us in that. We’re social animals, we need others of our general kind about us to feel secure…..  Social animals eat, sleep, and travel in company, they need this company to feel secure. This fact means that socialistic animals also need leaders. It follows logically that if the buffalo is going to eat, sleep, and travel in groups some coordinating factor is needed or some will be sleeping when others are traveling. Without the leader-follower complex, in a crisis the company would roar off in a hundred different directions…… The hunter understood this. Predatory man learned of the natural occurrence of leadership in all of the social animals; that each group will by nature produce a leader, and to these natural leaders fall the responsibility for coordination of the group’s activity, organizing them for survival. The buffalo hunter knew that if he could isolate and identify the leader of the herd and kill him first, the rest of the herd would be helpless, at his mercy, to be killed off as he saw fit.

Jackson goes on to discuss why he thinks that those who have achieved success in society tend to be disinclined from speaking out against injustice or joining movements for change.

The potential black leadership looks at the pitiable condition of the black herd: the corruption, the preoccupation with irrelevance, the apparent ineptitude concerning matters of survival…… He weighs this thing that he sees in the herd against the possible risks he’ll be taking at the hands of the fascist monster and he naturally decides to go for himself, feeling that he can’t help us because we are beyond help, that he may as well get something out of existence. These are the “successful Negroes,” the opposite of the “failures.” You find them on the ball courts and fields, the stage…..

George Jackson was assassinated, not so much because of his scathing and insightful critique of our society, but because of his ability to organize and inspire people.  One of the stated objectives of the FBI’s CounterIntelligence Program was to “prevent the rise of a Black Messiah who could unify and electrify the [people].”  Fearless, strong, inspirational, and uncompromising Black leadership is anathema to white supremacy.  

Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem and his pointed statements explaining his actions was momentous.  It puts him in the category of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and other athletes who took unequivocal oppositional stances against social injustice – racism in particular.  Furthermore, it wasn’t impulsive.  It was calculated and deliberate.  He knows how intimately the NFL is associated with the military.  He knows that that simple gesture may have been career suicide, but he took a principled stance anyway.  For that he deserves our support.  

I have many friends in the movement who shun professional sports because of the social distraction that the tend to represent.  It is indeed an indictment against our societal priorities when the Super Bowl is the most watched event on television.  How many people would pay $50 to watch a ball game before they would donate $50 to a political party, or a non-profit, or a homeless person?  How many of us read the sports page first?  How many of us know the various statistics of players and games, but are clueless to the expenditures of the local, state, and national budget?  I get it.  And as “woke” as I may be, I’m guilty of it myself.  I love football.  

However, all of the reasons why one might choose to shun sports are the reasons to support Kaepernick.  Similarly, all of the reasons to cheer for sports are the reasons to support Kaepernick.  He is danger of losing endorsements and possibly his job because he is taking an unpopular stance.  It’s our job to make it popular.  To show that he is not alone and significant portion of the population appreciates what he did.  Voice your opinion on social media.  Support him and chastise others for standing during the anthem.  Might I suggest #SitNextToColin and #WhyAreYouStanding.  If you can afford it, purchase his jersey on the NFL Shop website or other retailers as a boycott in reverse.  Currently, the highest selling jersey is rookie Ezekiel Elliott.  Why? Because he is dynamic and fans are excited about him.  Kaepernick is dynamic and those of us who agree with him should be excited about him.  Supporting him at this moment will encourage others to take similar stances.

This strategy is applicable to all of our leaders and comrades within the movement.  People are apt to be more fearless when they know that others have their back.  However, too often we fail our leaders.  Betty Shabazz and her family should never have wanted for anything after her husband, our “shining Black prince” was assassinated.  But that wasn’t the case.  How many political prisoners have been buried alive and forgotten?  What of the fate of their families?  We have to appreciate the risks that people take when they stand out front.  And although Kaepernick may not be a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, currently, he is standing (sitting) out front and vulnerable.  Furthermore, at present he has a larger microphone than any of us.  Protecting him now is protecting our movement.  The enemy will attempt to make an example out of him.  So should we.  Let us heed George Jackson and avoid going the way of the buffalo.

 

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Lawyers, Advocates: Prison Hunger Strike Force Feeding Order Political Attack on Peaceful Protest

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2013 by legacybc

For Immediate Release—August 22, 2013

Lawyers, Advocates: Prison Hunger Strike Force Feeding Order Political Attack on Peaceful Protest
Strikers Vow to Continue, Prisoners Rejoin Strike, Supporters Redouble Efforts

Press Contacts:
Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Oakland—As prisoners enter their 46th day of the massive California prison hunger strike, supporters continue to condemn Monday’s controversial court order that authorizes force feeding of strike participants and that disregards their medical wishes.  According to lawyers just back from a visit to Pelican Bay, the order has emboldened prisoners to continue their strike, while others have decided to rejoin the strike in response to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) attack.

Attorney Anne Weills met with strikers in Pelican Bay Tuesday and Wednesday.  “Although some have lost around 30 pounds and are getting significantly weaker, they are still very sharp intellectually and are still deeply united in their struggle for a life with dignity,” said Weills. “They are very much committed to their demands and are waiting for Governor Brown to send someone to Pelican Bay to negotiate about those demands.”

Weills reported that prisoners were disturbed that the Judge who signed the controversial order, along with the Prison Law Office and the Medical Receiver’s office would align themselves with the CDCR’s political repression of the peaceful protest.  Strike supporters are particularly disturbed and outraged that the order against strikers’ advanced medical directives (AMD) adds legal weight to the CDCR’s sensational, and largely unsubstantiated, propaganda that all strike participation is part of a gang conspiracy. “This is an extraordinary political attack on the hunger strikers,” continued Weills. “ It is even more absurd when a spokesperson for the Medical Receiver’s office stated that among the hunger strikers who have been starving since July 8th, there are very few who have any advanced medical directives in the first place. So who is being coerced?  There is not one shred of evidence that has been presented to Judge Henderson that anyone has been coerced to sign anything.  Where are the declarations of such a person? Where is a declaration from a real hunger striker which states that they are being coerced?   Is this a fraud being perpetrated on a federal judge, who trusts the Plata plaintiff’s attorneys?  Why was there no evidentiary hearing?”

“This is a continuation of CDCR’s attacks on a nonviolent protest,” said Dolores Canales of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition. “We have seen this before.  This is about dehumanizing the strikers, delegitimizing their demands, and disrupting the widespread support for the protest coming from the community.  But, as always, this will only cause the strikers, their loved ones, and their supports to fight harder.”  Amid CDCR’s latest stunts and Gov. Brown’s continued silence, strike supporters are continuing to put pressure on California politicians, demanding action from the state’s Public Safety Committee .

It seems that the CDCR’s plans have backfired as Weills reports prisoners are rejoining the strike. “As a result of recent events and Judge Henderson’s Order, I was told yesterday that more than 50 people in the SHU at Pelican Bay are now going back on hunger strike,” said Weills. “From what I understand, that 50 may turn into 100 very fast, and that many have already been on rolling hunger strikes—going two weeks on, and then two weeks off.  This will all continue until an agreement is reached.”

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Schedule for Black August 2011 in DC

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2011 by legacybc

Schedule for Black August 2011 presented by the Black August Planning Organization

For more info, black.august07@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook. Join our list-serv.  Follow us on Twitter @BlackAugust_DC.

Friday August 5th at Ras Lounge & Restaurant (4809 Georgia Ave) 8pm-12am, Uptown Friday Nights at Ras presents: Fund-raiser for Sekou Odinga sponsored by the Black August Planning Organization. Suggested donation $10.

The event will feature Bilal Sunni Ali who will engage those present from 8-930. Bilal Sunni Ali was a childhood friend of Sekou, they came together in the movement from the Black Panther Party to the Republic of New Afrika and the Black Liberation Army. They were also co-defendants in the case for which Sekou has been in prison for almost 30 years. Bilal was also the saxophonist in Gil Scott-Heron’s Midnight Band; following his presentation on Sekou, he will offer a musical presentation dedicated to Gil, joined by Ka’ba of Precise Science and BlackNotes. From 10pm onward, we will enjoy roots reggae sounds courtesy of DJ Fiyaman. Last chance to hear him before he relocates to Georgia.

Special performance by Maimouna Youssef has been confirmed. The program will be hosted by Stef Is Dope, also performing.

People can write checks directly to the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee (with Sekou Odinga in the memo line) or for tax deduction purposes write it to NYC Jericho/IFCO (and write Sekou Odinga in the memo line.

Sekou Odinga-#09-A3775
Shawangunk C.F.
PO Box 700
Wallkill, NY  12589

More info on Sekou at: www.sekouodinga.com

Sunday August 7th at Sankofa Video & Books (2714 Georgia Ave) 4-6pm, BAPO and Sankofa present a book signing featuring Kalonji Changa, author of How to Build a People’s Army. Kalonji is the Founder/National Coordinator of The FTP Movement and is the East Coast Coordinator Black August Organizing Committee.

How to Build a People’s Army is a guide to successful community organizing on a basic and practical level. Protocol, discipline, political education, loyalty and respect seem to be absent from today’s liberation struggle. The first edition of How to Build a People’s Army is designed to better the relationship between the movement and the masses.

Monday August 15th at Watha T. Daniels/Shaw Library (945 Rhode Island Ave NW) 630-9pm, BAPO presents our annual CR Gibbs lecture in honor of Black August. This presentation is entitled:”Triumph of Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, & the Civil War in the District of Columbia.”

In addition to the major themes embodied in its title, this presentation describes the special struggle by African Americans in the city to keep the memory of our own,unique freedom day (April 16,1862) alive, which at the height of the Jim Crow-era in D.C was not only a mark of self-affirmation and community liberation,but in itself also an act of resistance.

Sunday, August 21, 4pm, at Sankofa Video & Books Cafe (2714 Georgia Ave). Book signing and discussion with Herman and Iyaluua Ferguson on AN UNLIKELY WARRIOR: THE EVOLUTION OF A BLACK NATIONALIST REVOLUTIONARY A bio/memoir of the life of Herman Ferguson written by Iyaluua Ferguson with Herman Ferguson.

Herman Ferguson, 90 years young, was a dedicated colleague of Malcolm X. Unlike the stereotypical Malcolm X devotee, painted by the media of the time as a ghetto dwelling sub-working class malcontent, Ferguson was the example of a successful, well-educated suburban family man who gravitated to Malcolm X in the social ferment of the early 1960s. In the process, he self-consciously sacrificed his American dream for a Black revolutionary vision. This biography/memoir, An Unlikely Warrior, is directed at students of the civil unrest of the 1960s and particularly to young readers eager to explore the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of the separatist ideology in the United States, the growth of the Republic of New Afrika, and the turbulent days of the late 1960s. Moreover, it speaks to the emotional cost of political activism, its impact on families and supportive friends in the face of government repression.

More info on the book at www.anunlikelywarrior.com

Saturday August 27th 5th Annual Pilgrimage to Richmond and Happily Natural Day, The Black August Planning Organizations makes its 5th Annual Pilgrimage to Richmond, Va and visit Happily Natural Day. This will be an all-day trip in honor of the slave rebellion organized by Gabriel [Prosser]. Leaving DC at 7am, we should be back by 10pm.

First, led by Janine Bell of the Elegba Folklore Society, we will travel to the James River where the slave ships came in. … From there we will walk the route that the enslaved Africans took to the slave auction block into downtown Richmond, followed by a visit to historic Shockoe Bottom and the reclaimed [enslaved] African burial ground. We will visit Happily Natural Day for a few hours to eat lunch patronize the event. Finally, We will visit Spring creek where it was to begin and this portion of the tour will be provided by Ana Edwards of the Richmond Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality.

TRANSPORTATION TICKETS FOR THE PILGRIMAGE ARE $35 AND CAN BE PURCHASED ONLINE AT: https://www.brownpapertick​ets.com/event/189105. FOR MORE INFO, CALL 908-296-5397 OR EMAIL BLACK.AUGUST07@GMAIL.COM.

OTHER EVENTS

The Dream City Collective is holding a Screening of the film, ‘Black August’ on August 3 at 8pm, 5525 Illinois Ave NW. See an important review of the film here.

And the UNIA-ACL will be hosting Bilal Sunni-Ali in concert at the B Davis Dance Center (6218 3rd Place, NW) from 6-11pm on August 6.  Bilal will be commemorating the lives of Geronimo ji Jaga and Gil Scott-Heron; He will also be sworn in as an Ambassador of the UNIA-ACL government.

DONATE TO BAPO: http://www.chipin.com/widget/id/ba7bb4670a52a14b

Activists accuse Israelis of racial profiling

Posted in Uncategorized on December 26, 2009 by legacybc

Activists accuse Israelis of racial profiling.

BAOC Statement on the Black August movie

Posted in Uncategorized on August 4, 2008 by legacybc

Statement on Black August the movie:

To say the movie was a sham would be too much like lending it credibility through negation. The production of this movie is a direct attack on the true origins of the original concepts of Black August as put forth by those sincere and steadfast revolutionary individuals who died standing firm within California’s concentration camps. The many brothers left in isolation behind the walls who still live half lives due to their commitment to collective revolutionary ideals have no connection to or input in any aspect of this concoction. They have suffered these decades in obscurity for faithfully commemorating all of the principles embodied in why the original Black August was conceived. This movie is an insult to the memory of comrade George Jackson, W.L. Nolan, Cleveland Edwards, Alvin Jugs Miller, Fred Billingly, the man-child comrade Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas and those not named who gave their last breaths so that the indomitable will and spirit of revolutionaries to come would know the path. The people who put together this collection of indictments against true revolutionaries both gone and surviving have no knowledge or understanding of the times or characters of the individuals portrayed. The movie cosigns the inaccurate and fictional account of people, places, and most especially events the state invented and encouraged the mass media to spread far and wide. Law enforcement has a new tool that is remarkably well
suited to discrediting the accomplishments and continued efforts of actual Black August members. Most people have no idea one way or the other what went on during those of our darkest days and any romanticized notion can and will be accepted as fact without benefit of reason if no reason exists to believe otherwise. This statement is to refute, contradict and vehemently declare that the basis of this movie is falsehood fabricated to entertain while disillusioning any and all who watch it without knowing the truth. It is set before you in the fashion of any other Hollywood farce and should be taken as such.

Let us correct a few of the misconceptions many will believe simply because they are put forth as truth by the filmmakers and their advisors. The brothers this movie speaks about in very degrading terms stood out from those around them because of their revolutionary
character and leadership. They were not seen in the light of the drug dealers and street corner gangland thugs who portrayed themselves as ghetto fabulous and superstars amongst the prison populace. There was a rigid discipline and commitment these brothers held to that raised them from the immature actions of their ignorant beginnings as individuals and set them working towards the collective good of all.

The character of comrade George set him above even these because his knowledge, intricate understanding and practice put him on par with leaders and movements from around the world. This movie does him no justice! George Jackson never had emotional outbursts of immaturity or temper tantrums. While he walked within those walls he never raised his voice in undisciplined anger. There were no one sided ass whippings given to comrade George the entire time he was in prison. Whenever he was shackled with thirty pounds of chains being escorted from one place to the other, he always walked in an upright and dignified manner so that all who saw him knew the chains were meaningless and weighed nothing to him. He did not walk with a swagger or strut because he considered it demeaning and undignified and beneath the character of any who considered themselves conscious. There was never anyone imposing discipline or beliefs on him. W. L. Nolan and George were comrades who shared a commitment to fight the oppression of all oppressed people most especially Africans. One was not the inspiration of the other. They had a common cause, as did several other soldiers who have been left
out of the history books for various reasons but were very important to our growth and determined impact on others. The bond shared between George and Angela Davis was not romantic but ideological and galvanized many both inside America’s gulags and within struggles the world over. The fantasy imaginings in the movie of the two of them dealing only with their sexual nature is strictly Hollywood. These things simply did not happen by any stretch of the imagination of rational beings.

George never told anyone that he threw a prison guard off a tier to his death. Likewise he never told anyone that he ordered his younger brother Jonathan to go and carry out the actions at the Marin county courthouse that led to his death. There was never a group of so-called revolutionary individuals who confronted George in any setting to demand that he get himself together and come to them for guidance. The scene in the movie where George is being directed in pushups and call-and-answer while W.L. Nolan supervises is total fantasy to lend credibility to individual egos and aspirations. It never happened!

Probably the biggest piece of fiction put out by the state and glamorized by the movie is the gun under the Afro wig. With the type of security and scrutiny George was subjected to on a regular basis, he could not have sneaked an extra pencil back to his cell. Each time a high power security individual is escorted from one place to another in prison there is a series of routines that are always observed. George would have been strip-searched several times going to and coming from any visit no matter who the visitor was. Strip searches involve a lot of bending over and spreading your butt cheeks while naked. Bending over and running your fingers through your hair vigorously in front of guards is all part of making sure not even small amounts of drugs are smuggled in by concealing them in your hair. It is virtually impossible to balance something shaped like a gun and weighing several pounds underneath a wig while bending over or walking handcuffed under the watchful eye of sadistic guards looking for any excuse to kill you. We must question the rationale of anyone putting this theory before the public as fact or entertainment. In either event it is only to the detriment of the memory of this bold and courageous brother who stood up for us at a time when standing meant death for so many that this movie preys on the lack of knowledge that generally exists within the Diaspora of our continued efforts at enlightenment. In the movie George is shown ordering people following him as he makes a mad dash towards the cellblock exit, to leave no witnesses behind. This is supposed to account for the two dead guards and three inmates left on the tier. Once again the movie is in true Hollywood style telling you to believe the lies spread by comrade George’s assassins and those who knowingly and unknowingly assist them in their war on the revolutionary minded.

In another part of the movie w.l. Nolan is shown ordering other Africans to choose a man from among the white and Mexican inmates on the prison exercise yard and attack. This is not the way it happened. African inmates were intentionally hand picked and placed onthat yard with the most violent and racist elements of both white and Mexican gangs. These particular individuals had a long history of hatred for and violence against Africans. The guards made sure that brothers were grossly outnumbered and waited for the inevitable. The racists attacked and the brothers were shot down and killed by the expert rifleman working the tower for that special occasion. A ricochet bullet shot off the testicle of one of the white racists. That was their only casualty. The Africans on the yard were murdered while fighting for their lives. It should also be noted that if he had not been out to court on another case on that day, Hugo Yogi Pinell would have been on the yard and probably killed along with the other soldiers.

In the movie Jonathan is portrayed as paranoid and juvenile both emotionally and intellectually. This could not be further from the truth. At this time in his life this young brother was more mature than most of those around him which caused him to have very few people he could truly relate to. He could out shoot most of those who called themselves his comrades and was a quite skilled martial artist in his own right. He would not have been intimidated by anyone or anything. As far as the boob tube depiction of those events and conversations that so directly coincide with the oppressor’s version of history, it is total fabrication and meant only to confuse and confound. Do not be taken in by this nonsense. It is not even a good fairytale.

We would encourage all those involved in the making of this movie who know in and of themselves that it is untrue, to speak out and let others know from you. If left as it is it will become another urban myth believed to be based in fact. In closing please know that no member of Black August had anything to do with the making of the movie or condoned its making. We do in fact condemn it as falsehood and an insult to all that we stand for. Please recognize it for what it is propaganda of the adversary. A true accounting of our history is forthcoming.

Shaka At-Thinnin
Kumasi
Black August Organizing Committee