Militant Journalism

Sacramento activists demand recognition of Black August

On Aug. 1, the Black August Organizing Committee led a coalition of community groups to Sacramento City Hall to deliver a resolution recognizing the month as Black August. BAOC along with Anti Police-Terror Project Sacramento, Sacramento for Black Lives (formerly BLM Sacramento), the Party for Socialism Liberation, and members of the community gathered at 9 a.m. before entering and delivering the statement.

The resolution reads (with minor edits for clarity and style):

“Today, Thursday, August 1, 201 … we, The Coalition are submitting this RESOLUTION request to the Mayor and each City Council member of the City of Sacramento. It is our hopes Mayor Steinberg and each City Council member vote in favor of this RESOLUTION at the August 20, 2019, City Council meeting. We are urging you to take a stand and lead in a movement to recognize how the prison system has polarized citizens in Sacramento, the state of California, and overall throughout this country. When it comes to the plethora of oppressive experiences shared by Black people in America, California and Sacramento, we need to and should take the lead on what it means to be a voice for those who have been disenfranchised based on the color of one’s skin. …

“Our youth and elders are the source of our strength, vitality, and future building. The spirit of our youth represents possibilities and our elders endow wisdom. The impact is wide-reaching and deeply layered, reshaping our cultural existence, equating to the continued rise in body count tragedies experienced inside and outside of prison walls; hence the importance of connecting every prison cell to every city block. Black August is a focal point for collective unity with the purpose of empowering Black people. Black August is a time of sacrifice and to fortify within oneself principles and habits that help us heal and grow as a people. If the Black community is supported in efforts to grow and heal, it will directly affect the destructive patterns that have plagued the Black community for centuries. Case in point, in the grander scheme of things, Black August perpetuates better outcomes for Black communities, households, and individuals living and working around Sacramento.”

Black August started in 1979 as a commemoration of Khatari Gaulden, who was killed the year before on Aug. 1 as a result of medical neglect by San Quentin Prison authorities. Instead of adding Aug. 1 to the existing days of observation that marked the deaths of activists like W.L. Nolen, Alvin Miller, Cleveland Edwards, and George and Jonathan Jackson, the prisoners standing in resistance to the massive California prison-industrial complex declared the whole month to be Black August.

The BAOC was created in Oakland the same year of 1979 to build solidarity between cell block and city block. Forty years later, in 2019, there is an increasing need to fight back against the new and growing prison plantations that swallow youth by the thousands for the profits of a few. While corporations get slave labor at next to no cost and prisons consume our tax dollars with their ever-growing budgets for expansion plans, the people are caught in the middle. Black August is a time to rededicate oneself to the struggle for liberation of all political prisoners by observing significant dates such as Aug. 1, 7, 13 and 21 but also by fasting, physical exercise, and political education study circles throughout the month.

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