“Black August is a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance.”
August is a month rich in history of highs and lows in the struggle for Black Self-Determination. From the births of Marcus Garvey and Fred Hampton, Reginald Lewis’ buyout of Beatrice Foods, and the 1st black nursing school to open at Spelman College to the arrival of the first enslaved Afrikans to the 13 colonies, the establishment of The Underground Railroad and the U.N.I.A and the revolts led by Nat Turner, Toussaint L’Ouverture and Gabriel Prosser, this month carries historical roots that cannot be matched by the one legislated for us to celebrate the same people each year. This is Black August. A month for us.
The practice of Black August observation originated in the prison camps of California. Its purpose is to honor fallen fighters in the struggle for Black Liberation. Originally enacted by the San Quentin Six, the founding brothers abstained from radio, television, drugs, alcohol and loud, boastful behavior, as well as participated in a sunrise to sunset fast, strict physical training and a revolutionary study regimen. In the late 1970’s, Black August spread from California’s prison yards to communities throughout the country and expanded observation from the sacrifices of those struggling in California’s prison camps to include all our ancestors who struggled against colonialism, imperialism and for cultural empowerment. Today, many local, national and international organizations recognize Black August and engage the community throughout the month by way of study groups, festivals, concerts and community meetings.
This is my fifth year personally participating in Black August and the third year that we at Stolen Outfitters as a company have observed the month and tailored designs for those who embrace it, a practice that we plan to continue on an annual basis. Over the few years of observation, we have produced shirts to honor the lives and works of Gil Scott Heron, Marcus Garvey, Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu- Jamal. A portion of the proceeds from the Mumia shirts have gone to aid in his defense. We give thankhs to The MOVE Organization and Ramona Africa, in particular, for providing an avenue to help our brother. On a personal note, Sister Ramona has been an important figure in my own development, since I had the opportunity to spend time with her and Pam Africa over the course of a few days during Black August 2010. Her example inspired me towards a more proactive approach in regards to my passions, which include but are not limited to Stolen Outfitters.
This year, we have more designs in queue(to be released weekly) and more plans for outreach in our communities. We hope our products can open lines of communication about people and topics that are important and inspire you to get familiar with those who have sacrificed, reflect on your own role in the community and increase your efforts in BEING the change we need.
“August 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.” – Mumia Abu-Jamal