“George Jackson was my hero. He set a standard for prisoners, political prisoners, for people. He showed the love, the strength, the revolutionary fervor that’s characteristic of any soldier for the people. He inspired prisoners whom I later encountered, to put his ideas into practice, and so his spirit became a living thing.” A quotation from Dr. Huey Newton, Ph.D., former Minister of Defense at the Black Panther Party at the Revolutionary Memorial Service for George Jackson in 1971.
August, in both historic and contemporary African American history, is a month of meaning. It is a month of repression. August 1619, the first group of Black laborers called indentured servants landed at Jamestown, Virginia. August 25, 1967, classified FBI memos went out to all bureaus nationwide, with plans to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” Black liberation movement groups. August 1968, the Newark, New Jersey Black Panther Party Office was firebombed. August 25, 1968, LA Black Panther Party members Steve Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence, and Tommy Lewis were murdered by the LAPD at a gas station. August 15, 1969, Sylvester Bell, San Diego Black Panther Party member, murdered by the US organization. August 21, 1971, Black Panther Party Field Marshal George L. Jackson, assassinated at San Quentin Prison, California, three guards, and two inmate turncoats were killed, three wounded.
It is also a month of radical resistance. August 22, 1831, Nat Turner’s rebellion rocked South Hampton County, Virginia, and the entire South when slaves rose up and slew their white masters. August 30, 1856, John Brown led an anti-slavery raid on a group of Missourians at Osawatomie, Kansas. August 7, 1970, Jonathan Jackson, younger brother of Field Marshal George raided the Marin County Courthouse in California, arming and freeing three Black prisoners, taking the judge, prosecutor, and several jurors hostage. All except one prisoner were killed by police fire that perforated the escape vehicle. John was 17. And in an instance of resistance and repression, August 8, 1978, after a 15-month armed police standoff with a Philadelphia-based naturalist MOVE organization, the police raided MOVE, killing one of their own in police crossfire and charging nine MOVE people with murder. The MOVE Nine, in prisons across Pennsylvania, are serving up to 100 years each.
August, a month 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. August saw slaves and the grandsons of slaves strike out for their God-given right to freedom, as well as the awesome price, the ultimate price, always paid by those who would dare oppose the slave masters will. Like their spiritual grandfather, the blessed rebel Nat Turner, those who oppose masa in this land of unfreedom met murder by the state. George and Jonathan Jackson, James McLean, William Christmas, Bobby Hutt, Steve Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence, Tommy Lewis, Sylvester Bell, all suffered the fate of Nat Turner.
Of the slave daring to fight the slave master for his freedom. Ruchell Magee, for the crime of surviving the Marin County Courthouse massacre, has been consigned to a “life” in California slave coffles, modern-day dungeons called Adjustment Centers, where he has languished since August 1970. He is a political prisoner guilty of the unpardonable sin of insurrection. And though not executed by hanging like his ancestor Nat Turner, nor executed by firing squad like his co-rebels, he endures a cruel living death in the bowels of Babylon. Their sacrifice, their despair, their determination and, their blood has painted the month Black for all time. Let their revolutionary sacrifice not be forgotten, or taken in vain.
From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal. For more information about my case, racism, and the death penalty, and what you can do, contact Equal Justice USA at 301699042.