by Kenray Ogun
The month of August has been righteously self-redefined as ‘Black August’, it is a significant month of Black History; it is significant to me – it is the month of my own birth.
In the Afrikan ‘Yoruba’ cultural tradition August is the month of ‘Ogun’ - the Orisha archetype of trailblazing 'overcoming obstacles'; a powerful, fierce warrior who defends his people and fights against injustice; Ogun has the intelligence and creativity to invent tools, weapons, and technology.
Black August developed out of the racist repressive California prison system in honor of George Jackson, Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas, Hugo ‘Yogi’ Pinell, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden known as the San Quentin Six.
George Jackson became identified by prison authorities as the key leadership figure of a prison organization known as the Black Guerilla Family (BGF); Jackson was viewed as a major threat and became a target of constant prison repression including being welded shut in his cell.
Jackson struggled to eradicate racism and provide safety and dignity to Black prison inmates. Jackson was a voracious reader like Malcolm X studying political economy and radical theory. Jackson wrote many of his friends and supporters from prison; these writings were later made into the well-known books, 'Soledad Brother' and 'Blood in My Eye'.
George’s brother Jonathan Jackson was gunned down outside the Marin County California courthouse on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to free McClain, Christmas, and Magee the only survivor.
George Jackson was murdered by prison guards during a Black prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971, along with three prison guards. On August 1, 1978 Black Guerilla Family leader Khatari Gaulden was murdered; August 1979 marked the official beginning of Black August.
During the month of August we are encouraged to individually and collectively educate ourselves ‘learn lessons’ about historical Black resistance movements that occurred in August such as Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion, the Haitian Revolution, the March on Washington, the Watts Rebellion and the Philadelphia MOVE Bombing. It is a time to honor the lives of some of our greatest Freedom Fighters who were born in the month of August, like Marcus Garvey, the Jackson brothers, and others.
Black August is a time for Black folks to join together and honor the lives of our freedom-fighting Ancestors and fallen soldiers; to advocate for political self-determination, to promote economic self-reliance, to increase our cultural competency, and to practice self-care.
To observe Black August individuals are encouraged to fast, eat wholesome food, exercise, support Black-owned businesses, abstain from alcohol and drug usage (unless medically required) the whole month as inspiration and practice extending it to an ongoing basis.