Black August Convention: Returning to the Source

A Message to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Movement for Black Lives, Black Is Back Coalition, Black United Front and Organization For Black Struggle, Etc.

By 1Hood United & George Jackson University

index2This is a call for Black August to become more than an annual Commemoration to our fallen Freedom Fighters and Resistance but for it to also become a National Convention for each city/state/region to organize and mobilize around an Agenda of Nation Building and Self Determination. Presently we have many movements, such as the MXGM, M4BL and BIBC pursuing great agendas in our peoples interests however these separate agendas need to be coordinated. An annual Black August Convention could unite these agendas into a more cohesive National Agenda that could be collectively pursued. As jumping points to the project of an annual Black August Convention the New Afrikan celebrations of Kwanzaa and Juneteenth would serve as quarterly meetings and rallies for the mobilization of people, organizations, networking and recruitment. Organizations would also use these events to meet and evaluate the progress we have made toward the annual agenda set at each Black August Convention (BAC).

This call for a BAC has roots within our People’s history of resistance in amerikkka. In August, 1920 over 25,000 Africans from all over the world converged in New York’s Madison Square Garden to convene a month long Convention on the Declaration of the Rights of the Negro People’s of the World called for by Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). At the time it marked the largest gathering of Africans in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to asserting a demand for Self Determination for African people, the Convention unanimously adopted the Red, Black and Green as the National Flag for African peoples of the world. At a time when Africans in the United States were being lynched under the red, white and blue our people voted decisively to come out from under amerikkka’s governance and sought their own Sovereignty and Banner.

This was just one chapter of resistance by African peoples during the historic month of August within African history in the Western Hemisphere and over 97 years later African people in amerikkka are still pursuing Self Determination. Our people have always sought self-governance, whether within the present political system or within a territory of our own someone on this earth. From the first captured Africans that jumped ship or fled the plantations for the hills to live in Maroon communities to the advocates of Black Statehood. Our history is full of men and women who advocated Nationhood for the descendants of enslaved Africans. Men and Women like David Walker, Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, Henry Highland Garnet, Martin Delaney, Harriet Tubman, Queen Mother Moore, Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X and countless others. It is time we return to this tradition and an annual Black August Convention would be the medium to do so.

The New Afrikan celebrations of Kwanzaa and Juneteenth have a role to play in organizing a BAC. Kwanzaa, despite its present commercialization is a New Afrikan celebration that embodies some of the best principles of African culture. The Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) of Kwanzaa are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective Work), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Celebrated on the last 7 days of December, Kwanzaa would be a natural follow up to a Black August Convention to evaluate our progress toward the goals set at the Black August Convention.

Juneteenth is another New Afrikan holiday celebrated nationally within our communities. It commemorates the date on June 19th, 1865 that enslaved Africans in Texas received word of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing them from slavery. At its root, Juneteenth is about Our People’s desire and struggle for Freedom, it is not about the Emancipation Proclamation. Falling between the dates of June 17th and 19th, it is a logical rallying and mobilization point for a Black August Convention using its festivals and to prepare the BAC Agenda.

In utilizing Kwanzaa and Juneteenth we must emphasize that we are not endorsing the commercialization that accompanies these New Afrikan holidays. Rather we are embracing them as stepping stones to rebuilding a National Movement and Agenda. Kwanzaa and Juneteenth are not the agenda, they are the platforms to promote and renew the Black August Convention agenda to provide continuity to our struggle so organizations and activists do not disperse back to their own individual projects after Black August.

By transforming these New Afrikan holidays into strategic events that unifies us as a people and movement toward the Agenda of Self Governance we are following the astute recommendations of our true warrior class, the Black Liberation Army, who advised the movement in the 70’s that: “in establishing the Black Commune (Movement) and along with it the Black cultural strategy, we must be careful we move forward and not backward…We should keep in mind that culture I’d established in the process of revolution also. The heroes/heroines that arise during this period (of struggle), become national heroes/heroines for all time. The dates of memorable occurrences become holidays; the acts & practices, which are taken up by the people during the course of the struggle, are later instituted as ritual or national custom. In short our cultural revolution need only follow the course outlined by the imperatives of our struggle.” BLA Study Guide, 1976.

In pursuit of these “Imperatives of our Struggle” it is Proposed that an annual Black August Convention have the following Working Committees on:index

1.) Cultural Restoration: Practicing and Building revolutionary culture and Critical African

Centered Theory*, not reactionary cultural studies/practices.

2.) Self Government: Autonomy, Sovereignty, Independence.

3.) Self Reliance: Cooperative Economics, Health Care, etc.

4.) Self Defense: Securing our communities, Community Control of Police.

5.) Reparations.

6.) Political: Holding Accountable Black elected officials.

7.) Mass Incarceration.

The above committees are just recommendations that could be expanded or elaborated further by organizations and activists interested in this call from activists behind the walls. The committees however would unite the various agendas already in existence so that as a movement we are complementing each other, not competing with each other.

In closing we must remember that Our Struggle is a PROTRACTED STRUGGLE that moves from one generation to the next. Black August represents a continuation of this struggle, the hosting of the torch from one season of struggle to the next, and from one generation of Freedom Fighters to the next generation of Freedom Fighters. In going forward let’s answer the call of Comrade George Jackson in building the Black August Convention & Agenda: Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution.” – Blood In My Eye.

In Unity & Struggle

Saleem Bandele

For 1Hood United & George Jackson University

*For an example of Critical African Centered Theory see the essay “De-colonizing our Lives: Divining a

Post-Colonial Therapy” by Makungu Akinyela

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