George Jackson, born Sept. 23, 1941, was not quite 30 when he was murdered at San Quentin Aug. 21, 1971, yet his writings from prison had built a large and passionate following. Inside St. Augustine’s Church in West Oakland on the day of his Revolutionary Memorial Service, the first Black August event, were 200 Black Panthers in full uniform, while 8,000 people listened outside, perched on rooftops, hanging from telephone poles and filling the streets. As George’s body was brought out, the people raised their fists in the air and chanted, “Long Live George Jackson.”
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
Written Aug. 4, 1993
“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.” – from the eulogy by Huey P. Newton, former Minister of Defense, Black Panther Party, at the Revolutionary Memorial Service for George Jackson, 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.
--Aug. 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.
--Aug. 25, 1968 – Los Angeles BPP members Steve Bartholomew, Robert Lawrence and Tommy Lewis were murdered by the LAPD at a gas station.
--Aug. 15, 1969 – Sylvester Bell, San Diego BPP, was murdered by the US organization.
--Aug. 21, 1971 – BPP Field Marshall George L. Jackson was assassinated at San Quentin Prison, California. Three guards and two inmate turncoats were killed, three wounded.
August is also a month of radical resistance:
--Aug. 22, 1831 – Nat Turner’s rebellion rocked Southampton County, Virginia, and the entire South when slaves rose up and slew their white masters.
--Aug. 30, 1856 – John Brown led an anti-slavery raid on a group of Missourians at Osawatomie, Kansas.
--Aug. 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. Jon was 17.
And in an instance of resistance and repression:
--Aug. 8, 1978 – After a 15-month armed police standoff with the 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 9, 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 master’s will.
Like their spiritual grandfather, the blessed rebel Nat Turner, those who opposed Massa in this land of un-freedom met murder by the state: George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Bobby Hutton, 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.
© Copyright 2009 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read Mumia’s brand new book, “Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.,” available from City Lights Publishing, www.citylights.com or (415) 362-8193. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. For Mumia’s commentaries, visitwww.prisonradio.org. For recent interviews with Mumia, visit www.blockreportradio.com. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light at: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Greene, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg PA 15370.