Black August Booklist

Black August is a call for reflection, study, and action to promote Black liberation. Its roots go back to California prisons in the 1970s, during a period of sustained struggle and resistance against racialized violence against Black imprisoned people, especially those calling for Black liberation and challenging state power. Ignited by the deaths of Jonathan and George Jackson in August 1970 and August 1971, and honoring others who gave their lives including Khatari Gualden, William Christmas and James McClain, a group of imprisoned people came together to develop a means of honoring that sacrifice and promoting Black liberation.

While August is significant because of the deaths of the Jackson brothers, it is also a month with many other significant moments in Black history in the United States including the formation of the Underground Railroad, Nat Turner’s rebellion, the March on Washington, the Haitian Revolution, the Fugitive Slave Law Convention, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the births of Marcus Garvey, Russell Maroon Shoatz, and Fred Hampton to the death of W.E.B du Bois.

So there was an idea that this could be a time that imprisoned people in the California prison system could use for reflection, study, and to think about how to strengthen their struggles. During the month, people wouldn’t use radios or television, would fast between sun up and sun down, and practice other measures of self-discipline.

Excerpt from Black Liberation and the Abolition of the Prison Industrial Complex: An Interview with Rachel Herzing
Inmates in Attica State Prison voice their demands during the Attica Prison Uprising 1971

Black August Books

Golden Gulag
Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Assata Autobiography Assata Shakur

Live from Death Row
Mumia Abu-jamal

Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising And The 1960s
Gerald Horne

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
C. L. R. James

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson

Revolutionary Suicide
Huey P. Newton

Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture
Joy James

As Black as Resistance
Zoé Samudzi and William C. Anderson

Octavia Butler

In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose
Alice Walker

Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

American Negro Slave Revolts
Herbert Aptheker

A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story
Elaine Brown