Here we are.
Standing at the beginning of September. Looking back at a Black August where we fought against the news cycle to give ourselves space to think; where we fought against the system to re-educate ourselves; and where we fought to keep raising the banner. Looking back at a Black August where we lost nine Black men to police shootings in the U.S. Looking back at a Black August where we prepared ourselves with new motivations, new lessons, and new causes. We think of anarchy as this violent thing in the movies but at its core it’s about the abolition of the state which it holds to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful.
For those who missed The Thread VI this August: we were 1,000+ strong: holding space to discuss, heal, and convene within the context of Black August. We discussed resistance and revolution. We discussed fighting the system and breaking it down from within. We discussed spirituality and wealth creation. At any given time we were angry, we were hopeful, we were saddened, we were inspired, we were spiritual, and we were ready.
In our opening panel, a fireside chat on Black August, Autumn Marie and Russell Shoatz III from the Malcolm X Grassroots movement joined me for a powerful conversation. The panel showed us their gratitude for this moment in time and the global reach of this movement; as Autumn said, "thank you for Black people around the world who were not silent". But this movement is far from over. Black August teaches us the importance of getting educated, and that education continues. The panel ended with the words of Assata Shakur:
It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains
Let us present:
Black August Book Club
After the panel, and after The Thread, we came away with a fuel to keep educating ourselves. With help from our amazing speakers, here is your Black August reading list:
First Quarter: The System
From Autumn: Live from Death Row, Mumia Abu-Jamal.
📗 An unflinching account of the brutalities and humiliations of prison life, and a scathing indictment of racism and political bias in the American judicial system.
From Autumn: Blood in My Eye, George L. Jackson.
📗 George L Jackson's account of life in prison, including seven years in solitary confinement, and his transformation into an activist and revolutionary.
Second Quarter: History and the Present
From Autumn: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975.
📺 The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 mobilizes a treasure trove of 16mm material shot by Swedish journalists who came to the US drawn by stories of urban unrest and revolution. Gaining access to many of the leaders of the Black Power Movement. The filmmakers captured them in intimate moments and remarkably unguarded interviews.
From Cheraé: Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, Dan Senor and Saul Singer.
📗 Start-Up Nation addresses the trillion dollar question: How is it that Israel -- a country of 7.1 million, only 60 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources-- produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada and the UK?
From Russell: Mondragón, the Basque region, and the Worker Cooperative Complex
📚 Russell recommends learning about Mondragón, a federation of worker co-ops in Spain. The federation, made up of over 257 co-op companies and 74,000 people shows the power and potential of co-ops as a form of business, governance, and society.
Third Quarter: Resistance
From Autumn: Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson.
📃 A collection of Jackson's letters from prison, Soledad Brother is an outspoken condemnation of the racism of white America and a powerful appraisal of the prison system that failed to break his spirit but eventually took his life.
From Tastemakers: In Search of Our Mother's Gardens, Alice Walker.
📃 Walker's essays, statements, and speeches on Womanist theory, which she defines as: "A black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expression of mother to female children and also a woman who loves other women, sexually and/or nonsexually. Appreciates and prefers women's culture. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female".
From Tastemakers: Resisting State Violence Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture, Joy James.
📗 An incendiary critique of contemporary American society that also offers concrete solutions for the dilemmas facing progressive politics.
Fourth Quarter: Revolution
From Russell: Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz.
📃 Russell's father's first published collection, a powerful set of writings and proposal for how to move forward embracing new political concepts and practices. Written from Shoatz during his current incarceration.
From Autumn: Assata: An Autobiography.
📗 This intensely personal and political autobiography belies the fearsome image of JoAnne Chesimard long projected by the media and the state. With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials.
From the Panel: Ella Baker and Flat Leadership.
💻 Learn about Ella Baker, a brilliant Black hero and civil rights leader. Ella's leadership and movement building was a cornerstone to civil rights organizing in the 1950s and 1960s and is a legacy to the movement of today.
From the Panel: Pete O'Neal, a Panther in Exile
📺 Learn about Pete O'Neal, an American exile and Black Panther.
Our Thread speakers are activists, revolutionaries, and leaders in the world. Our Black August panel was a crash course education and a powerful motivation. If you, like us, feel ready to take action, here's how you can support our panelists:
Join the Malcom X Grassroots Movement for community control and self-determination
Support The Jericho Movement for the freedom of all political prisoners
Watch, Read, Participate in The Movement for Black Lives