We commemorate Black August in a time of collective grief, clarity, rage, and rebellion. Mighty waves of popular uprising against the ravages of white supremacy and anti-Black racism are flooding the streets, rising within and outside of prison walls, and reverberating through communities and institutions. Upon centuries of enslavement and subjugation exists an intolerable present, where the state continues to wield violent force against Black people in the form of mass criminalization and incarceration, repression and militarized police brutality, and willful neglect and discrimination, only amplified in the face of a deadly pandemic. And so, Black people resist. First, to survive. And, like generations of ancestors before, to fundamentally alter our collective condition and make freedom real. This is the legacy of Black August.
Black August began in the 1970s to mark the assassination of the imprisoned Black Panther, author, and revolutionary George Jackson during a prison rebellion in California. It is a time of reverence to honor political prisoners, freedom fighters, and martyrs of the Black freedom struggle. This month, we celebrate all the political prisoners who have helped us understand that prison is political and that our collective freedom depends on abolishing the state’s capacity, through incarceration, policing, and surveillance, to disrupt communities and diminish principled struggle against the unjust status quo. The month of August is also rich with the history of Black resistance outside, from the Haitian Revolution to the Watts rebellion and the Ferguson uprising. Black August is a reminder of power in unity, and a mandate to continue joint struggle.
For over fifty years, the Center for Constitutional Rights has worked together with people inside, from Attica to Pelican Bay, with freedom fighters, and with survivors, to protect Black resistance and eliminate the power of the state to inflict harm on our communities. Today, we continue working to decarcerate prisons, jails, and detention centers, to end death-by-incarceration sentences, and to push back against the state’s violent repression of those demanding a transformed society. As the Black freedom struggle continues, so too does our commitment. Join us this Black August to reflect, to learn and to unlearn, and to advance the righteous rebellion towards Black liberation. Together, we will honor the faith that past resistance has taught us and lean into the hope that the present fight for liberation has brought us.
For more information about currently held political prisoners, you can check these websites to learn their stories and offer support:
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