Black August


Henry Padron-Morales

Rochester NY celebrated Black August Beginning on August 1, 2021. The opening event was answering the question; What is Black August? At 6pm a screening of the film George Jackson Lives! Was held at Visual Studies Workshop (VSW) 31 Prince Street ROC, NY.

Black August originated in California prisons in the 1970s as a month of reflection and study following the death of George Jackson. August is also a month of significant BIPOC events.

The Black August Organizing Committee is composed of activists who are establishing the event which has been celebrated around the country for 50 years. It is time to bring that commemoration and celebration to Rochester.

Moments in BIPOC that make August a month to learn:

  • San Quentin Six 1971
  • “Soledad Brothers.”
  • Nat Turner’s rebellion
  • Watts Rebellion
  • March on Washington 1963/1970
  • Jackson brothers and Emmett Till
  • Marcus Garvey and Fred Hampton born
  • Underground Railroad
  • Protest vs. Neo Nazis 2017
  • Emancipation/Slavery Abolished Caribbean – Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, Anguila, Monserrat
  • Puerto Rico Grito de Lares
  • Beatrice Medicine, Eva Dykes, Aurora Castillo born

We are currently living in a time of great potential for elevating the discussion around racism, the prison industrial complex, voting rights, and imperialism as it effects Black-Indigenous-People Of Color.

Following are three of the month long events that will be offered to the community beginning on:

8/1 What is Black August?

Teach-In and Film Screening 4-6 pm

The kickoff event for Rochester’s inaugural commemoration of Black August is a teach-in and film screening answering the question, “what is Black August?” Led by former political prisoner Jalil Muntaquim we will dive into two short films about George Jackson, whose assassination drove the creation of Black August. At this event, we will be distributing free copies of Blood in My Eye by George Jackson along with a daily read-along schedule made in collaboration with Philly Black August organizers.

8/13 Black August International Resistance

What does it mean? 6:30-8 pm

This Zoom webinar hosted on Fidel Castro’s birthday will discuss liberation movements in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Palestine, and Haiti and how our struggles for freedom are connected.

8/19 Black August Art Show 

Rochester artists and join visiting artists in showcasing art highlighting political prisoners and the Black liberation movement. Youth from Teen Empowerment and local summer camps will be joining to share poetry, spoken word, and music from their perspectives.

8/27 Block Party

The community block party is an opportunity for local activists and community members to unite and celebrate our cause, commitment to, and demand for justice in Rochester, NY

There will be music and vendors.

8/28 Field Day

The Black August Organizing Committee will collaborate with the Backpack Drive sponsored by Anthony Hall, Rochester City Council Member. There will be many family friendly activities following the theme of Demanding Justice through community building, organizing, and keeping us safe.

8/29 Healing 4 A Good Hood

Transforming the Criminal to Revolutionary Mind State: This event will provide the people strategies that can be used to maintain mental, physical, and spiritual Power during our struggle for Justice, Freedom, and Equity for Black and all oppressed people. A collective endeavor.

The Black August Organizing Committee is living proof that we can present and celebrate the work and struggle of Revolutionary activists past and present. It is not a coincidence that we have come together to celebrate Black August in 2021. The past 50 years were not a coincidence either!

This is a joint article using excerpts from the work of the Black August Coordinating Committee to which I am grateful for the love, and revolutionary commitment that makes up a collective vision for the future.

Join us as we celebrate. Bring family and friends. Spread the word.

Henry Ignacio Padrón-Morales is co-owner of Hipocampo Children’s Books, LLC. He is a retired kindergarten early childhood bilingual/dual language teacher of the Rochester City School District. Henry participates in a broad range of activist, artistic, and intellectual pursuits. He is a published author whose work is archived in the Hunter College-Center for Puerto Rican Studies. He taught at Writers and Books and the SUNY Geneseo/Brockport Education programs for decades. He has written, collaborated, and been published in poetry anthologies, academic subject matter focusing in early childhood education, and linguistic research.