[sixties-l] Fwd: BLACK AUGUST 2000: A Story of African Freedom Fighters

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Jul 24 2000 - 23:39:23 CUT

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    >From: kiilu
    >Sent: Friday, July 21, 2000 8:33 PM
    >BLACK AUGUST 2000: A Story of African Freedom Fighters
    >by Kiilu Nyasha
    >Black August is a month of great significance for Africans throughout
    >the diaspora, but particularly here in the U.S. where it originated.
    >"August," as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, "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.".
    >On this 21st anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor
    >our fallen 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 is still a time to embrace the principles of unity,
    >self-sacrifice, political education, physical fitness and/or training
    >in martial arts, resistance, and spiritual renewal..
    >The concept, Black August, grew out of the need to expose to the
    >light of day the glorious and heroic deeds of those Afrikan women
    >and men who recognized and struggled against the injustices heaped
    >upon people of color on a daily basis in America.
    >One cannot tell the story of Black August without first providing
    >the reader with a brief glimpse of the "Black Movement" behind
    >California prison walls in the Sixties, led by George Jackson and
    >W. L. Nolen, among others.
    >As Jackson wrote: "...when I was accused of robbing a gas station
    >of $70, I accepted a deal...but when time came for sentencing, they
    >tossed me into the penitentiary with one to life. It was 1960. I
    >was 18 years old.... I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels, and Mao
    >when I entered prison and they redeemed me. For the first four
    >years I studied nothing but economics and military ideas. I met
    >black guerrillas, George 'Big Jake' Lewis, and James Carr, W.L.
    >Nolen, Bill Christmas, Torry Gibson, and many, many others. We
    >attempted to transform the Black criminal mentality into a black
    >revolutionary mentality. As a result, each of us has been subject
    >to years of the most vicious reactionary violence by the state.
    >Our mortality rate is almost what you would expect to find in a
    >history of Dachau. Three of us [Nolen, Sweet Jugs Miller, and Cleve
    >Edwards) were murdered several months ago [Jan. 13, 1969] by a pig
    >shooting from thirty feet above their heads with a military rifle.
    >(Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson)
    >When the brothers first demanded the killer guard be tried for
    >murder, they were rebuffed. Upon their insistence, the administration
    >held a kangaroo court and three days later returned a verdict of
    >"justifiable homicide.". Shortly afterward, a white guard was found
    >beaten to death and thrown from a tier. Six days later, three
    >prisoners were accused of murder, and became known as The Soledad
    >"I am being tried in court right now with two other brothers. John
    >Clutchette and Fleeta Drumgo, for the alleged slaying of a prison
    >guard. This charge carries an automatic death penalty for me. I
    >can't get life. I already have it."
    >On August 7, 1970, just a few days after George was transferred to
    >San Quentin, his younger brother Jonathan Jackson, 17, invaded
    >Marin County Courthouse single-handed, with a satchel full of
    >handguns, an assault rifle and a shotgun hidden under his raincoat.
    >"Freeze," he commanded as he tossed guns to William Christmas,
    >James McClain, and Ruchell Magee. Magee was on the witness stand
    >testifying for McClain, on trial for assaulting a guard in the wake
    >of a guard's murder of another Black prisoner, Fred Billingsley,
    >beaten and teargassed to death. A jailhouse lawyer, Magee had
    >deluged the courts with petitions for seven years contesting his
    >illegal conviction in '63. The courts had refused to listen, so
    >Magee seized the hour and joined the guerrillas as they took the
    >judge, prosecutor and three jurors hostage to a waiting van. To
    >reporters gathering quickly outside the courthouse, Jonathan shouted,
    >"You can take our pictures. We are the revolutionaries!"
    >Operating with courage and calm even their enemies had to respect,
    >the four Black freedom fighters commandeered their hostages out of
    >the courthouse without a hitch. The plan was to use the hostages
    >to take over a radio station and broadcast the racist, murderous
    >prison conditions and demand the immediate release of The Soledad
    >Brothers. But before Jonathan could drive the van out of the parking
    >lot, the San Quentin guards arrived and opened fire. When the
    >shooting stopped, Jonathan, Christmas, McClain and the judge lay
    >dead. Magee and the prosecutor were critically wounded, and one
    >juror suffered a minor arm wound.
    >Magee survived his wounds and was tried originally with co-defendant
    >Angela Davis. Their trials were later severed and Davis was eventually
    >acquitted of all charges. Magee was convicted of simple kidnap and
    >remains in prison to date -- 37 years with no physical assaults on
    >his record. An incredible jailhouse lawyer, Magee has been responsible
    >for countless prisoners being released -- the main reason he was
    >kept for nearly 20 years in one lockup after another. He is currently
    >at Corcoran State Prison, having been recently transferred from
    >Pelican Bay, remains strong and determined to win his freedom and
    >that of all oppressed peoples.
    >In his second book, Blood In My Eye, published posthumously, Jackson
    >noted: "Reformism is an old story in Amerika. There have been
    >depressions and socio-economic political crises throughout the
    >period that marked the formation of the present upper-class ruling
    >circle, and their controlling elites. But the parties of the left
    >were too committed to reformism to exploit their revolutionary
    >potential....Fascism has temporarily succeeded under the guise of
    >reform." Those words ring even truer today as we witness a form of
    >fascism that has replaced gas ovens with executions and torture
    >chambers; plantations with prison industrial complexes deployed in
    >rural white communities to perpetuate white supremacy and Black/Brown
    >The concentration of wealth at the top is worse than ever: One
    >percent now owns more wealth than that of the combined 95% of the
    >U.S. population; individuals are so rich their wealth exceeds the
    >total budgets of numerous nations -- as they plunder the globe in
    >the quest for more.
    >"The fascist must expand to live. Consequently he has pushed his
    >frontiers to the farthest lands and peoples.... I'm going to bust
    >my heart trying to stop these smug, degenerate, primitive, omnivorous,
    >uncivil --- and anyone who would aid me, I embrace you.
    >"International capitalism cannot be destroyed without the extremes
    >of struggle...We are the only ones...who can get at the monster's
    >heart without subjecting the world to nuclear fire. We have a
    >momentous historical role to act out if we will. The whole world
    >for all time in the future will love us and remember us as the
    >righteous people who made it possible for the world to live on....
    >I don't want to die and leave a few sad songs and a hump in the
    >ground as my only monument. I want to leave a world that is liberated
    >from trash, pollution, racism, nation-states, nation-state wars
    >and armies, from pomp, bigotry, parochialism, a thousand different
    >brands of untruth, and licentious, usurious economics." (Soledad
    >On August 21, 1971, after numerous failed attempts on his life,
    >the State finally succeeded in assassinating George Jackson, then
    >Field Marshall of the Black Panther Party, in what was described
    >by prison officials as an escape attempt in which Jackson allegedly
    >smuggled a gun into San Quentin in a wig. That feat was proven
    >impossible, and evidence subsequently suggested a setup designed
    >by prison officials to eliminate Jackson once and for all.
    >However, they didn't count on losing any of their own in the process.
    >On that fateful day, three notoriously racist prison guards and
    >two inmate turnkeys were also killed, presumably by Jackson who
    >was shot and killed by guards as he drew fire away from the other
    >prisoners in the Adjustment Center (lockup) of San Quentin.
    >Subsequently, six A/C prisoners were singled out and put on trial
    >-- wearing 30 lbs of chains in Marin courthouse -- for various
    >charges of murder and assault: Fleeta Drumgo, David Johnson, Hugo
    >L.A. Pinell (Yogi), Luis Talamantez, Johnny Spain, and Willie
    >Sundiata Tate. Only one was convicted of murder, Johnny Spain. The
    >others were either acquitted or convicted of assault. Pinell is
    >the only one remaining in prison and has suffered prolonged torture
    >in lockups since 1969. He is currently serving his 10th year in
    >Pelican Bay's SHU, a torture chamber if ever there was one. A true
    >warrior, Pinell would put his life on the line to defend his fellow
    >As decades passed, our Black scholars, like Mumia Abu-Jamal, learned
    >of other liberation moves that happened in Black August. E.g., the
    >first and only armed revolution whereby Africans freed themselves
    >from chattel slavery commenced on August 21, 1791. Nat Turner's
    >slave rebellion began on August 21, 1831 (coincidence?), and Harriet
    >Tubman's Underground Railroad started in August. As Mumia stated,
    >"Their sacrifice, their despair, their determination and their
    >blood has painted the month Black for all time."
    >Let us honor our martyred freedom fighters as George Jackson
    >counselled: "Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the
    >reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here,
    >that people are already 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"

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