On August 15 and 16 the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold its 11th Annual Conference.
The Conference will hear reports from leaders of the more than 15 organizations comprising the Coalition. The various working groups of the Coalition will also report on their work over the last year since the last Annual Conference.
The month of August is recognized as “Black August” by many militants associated with the prison movement. This is due in part to the impact of George Jackson, imprisoned revolutionary and Field Marshal of the Black Panther Party, who was killed in San Quentin prison on August 21, 1971. Jackson was murdered by prison guards one year after his 17-year-old brother, Jonathan, was killed escaping from a Marin County courthouse siege after taking three people hostage and demanding the liberation of black political prisoners known as the Soledad Brothers.
Black August is also significant in the African liberation movement because it is the birth month of Marcus Garvey, who was born on August 17, 1887. Garvey built the largest, most influential African liberation organization and anti-imperialist movement since our colonial enslavement.
The 2020 Annual Conference of the Black is Back Coalition will focus on the issue of political prisoners and Black Power. It is a theme that speaks to this moment in history when the resistance of African people threatens to derail the imperialist locomotive that has enslaved and dominated Africans and the world’s peoples for the last few hundred years.
Millions of people within the U.S. and throughout the world have been thrust into political motion since the May 25, 2020 blatant police murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African subject of U.S. domestic colonialism.
The length, breadth and ferocity of the spontaneous mobilizations in response to Floyd’s murder reveal the depth of the crisis of the entire world capitalist social system that has slavery and colonialism as its foundation.
The domestic military arm of the state, called police, is the primary organization of government that most imposes itself into the lives of black people and many of the oppressed of the world every day.
This is why the U.S. has the world’s largest prison population, with Africans along with so-called “Hispanics” and other colonized Indigenous people constituting two-thirds of those who are incarcerated.
An April 20, 2015 article in the New York Times revealed that more than 1.5 million African men in the U.S. are missing from everyday life primarily due to mass imprisonment and early death.
This is the mostly unrecognized reality for our people in the U.S. that underlies the uprising of Africans responding to the murder of George Floyd. The police that killed Floyd are also the key state organization responsible for the numbers of Africans in prison and a major contributor to the early death rate in our communities.
Africans and other colonial subjects were forced into our relationship with the U.S. through gunpoint as colonial slaves. The police are the domestic colonial military forces of state power that came into existence just to protect the rulers and the status quo or the existing state of affairs between the oppressed and the oppressor.
This is because people will not willingly submit to colonial slavery – the theft of land, labor, freedom and human dignity — and a life of brutal and humiliating perpetual servitude. Inevitably the people will rise up in resistance.
This is what is represented in the explosion of protest following the grotesque murder of George Floyd. And if today’s resistance appears unusual it is only because the U.S. has succeeded in hiding evidence of our anti-colonial struggle in the 1960s when, unlike the movement of this era, protest achieved a revolutionary character.
During that time courageous men and women boldly stepped forward, sometimes with arms in hand, to challenge the cruelest and most powerful opponent of our freedom, the hegemon that bestrode the world of poverty and broken dreams it had created.
Many of those people rot in prison today, more than two generations later. Others died in prison or as a consequence of having been imprisoned. Others have fled underground or, like Assata Shakur, escaped to other countries.
The U.S. has always presented itself to the world as the premier champion of freedom and democracy. It has created the narrative that its shores are the magnet for the freedom-seeking oppressed of the world. It is a narrative that flows effortlessly from lips and pens of white settlers who explain their own presence and wellbeing in the U.S. as stemming from a mystical, inherent, quality of this land and government.
Because of this, because it did brutally silence the resistance of the sixties in the U.S. and much of the world, because its military and economic power dominates the world, the U.S. has been able to control its sanitized image and minimize any critique that contradicts its self-definition.
Now there have been millions of protesters and uprisings in the U.S. since May 25. This has forced even the usual government-complicit media corporations to initiate penitence-laden, empirical-based evidence of an unrelenting history of African oppression and exploitation to explain the protests and uprisings.
This is the perfect time — when the people’s uprising threatens the long-term stability of the U.S. government and the capitalist system stands naked and trembling before the world — to demand the immediate release of those selfless and implacable freedom fighters whose resistance earned them the enmity of the U.S. settler state.
We must add the existence of the concentration camps called prisons to the historical crimes of the U.S. against our people. We must expose the presence of political prisoners who dared to challenge the reality that the U.S. is only now reluctantly being forced to acknowledge.
The U.S. has to deny the existence of political prisoners to protect its severely frayed veneer of the well-meaning, if sometimes bumbling, purveyor of democracy and justice. Forcing the presence of U.S.-held and tortured political prisoners onto full public view is fundamental to the anti-colonial struggle for Black Power that George Jackson and Marcus Garvey pursued until their death.
Forward to the August 15-16 Black is Back Coalition Annual Conference!
Freedom to all Black Political Prisoners held in U.S. dungeons!
Freedom to all Political Prisoners!
Open the prison gates and free them all!