Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
long version: mp3, 6.17
short version: mp3, 3.11
has many markers throughout the long history of resistance in the
Americas. There are more than we could ever recount here. But here
are a few that are important and undeniable events that affected
other events and indeed had global impact.
It was a hot,
humid morning in August 1619, when dark skinned Africans were unloaded
from a ship in the English colony of Jamestown in Virginia. They
were called indentured servants by the people who purchased
their contracts. It is unknown what the Dutch sailors called them.
Some thirty years later, they would be called something that millions
of other Africans would be called on American shores for the next
two hundred years, Slaves. They were in fact captives. Chained,
stolen captives of a vicious race war against black life by the
merchant princes of Europe. For those people who call themselves
African Americans their unique history begins here.
date in the struggle for liberty in the Americas happened on another
shore among people who spoke no English and perhaps no European
languages at all. Their freedom struggle, however, would change
the course of world history. And before it ended transformed the
face of at least two empires. I speak of the valiant people of Haiti,
at the time called Saint-Domingue. In the northern reaches of that
Caribbean island, in August 1791, Africans mostly from the Congo
held religious services in the dark of the night. They prayed to
their ancient gods of African memory and vowed to
fight against every slave owner and overseer in the land. They vowed
to not stop until free or dead. It was a sweaty time when the slaves
rebelled against their tormentors. It would be thirteen long years,
but by January 1804 a new and independent nation was born. Free
of the monstrous transatlantic slave trade. The Haitian revolution,
the first truly successful slave revolution in history has succeeded.
The destruction of the French army by the black and mullato armies
of Toussaint L'Ouverturemeant far more than a military or even a
political victory. It meant the end of French dreams of an American
empire and the loss of the richest colony in the world. It meant
Napoleon could not hold the vast mid-American territories called
Louisiana. The revolution therefore weakened French holds on the
Americas and allowed the United States to purchase a prize that
would double the new nations size overnight. All of this began
in the dead of night in August 1791 when slaves planned a revolution.
On August 21,
1831 the explosive rebellion of Nat Turner turned southern society
inside out. Although he has been labeled by traditional, that is
white, historians as a madman, Turner was in fact a deeply religious
man who was moved by signs and (???) that he saw in the summer sky
compelling him to fight for the freedom of his captive people. Only
in a slaveocracy would the idea of freedom fighting and resistance
seem mad. Some thirty years after Nat Turners rebellion, the
civil war would deal a death blow to American bondage.
If there is
a fasis of American history that does not go beyond the books in
records of yesteryear, it has been the various Seminole American
wars that were waged across Florida. There were at least three Seminole
US wars and one of them ended on August 14, 1842. Though some will
ask, what does an Indian American war have to do with Black August?
Well thats because the nature of the Seminoles and the
real reasons behind their raging wars with the Americans is hidden
beneath the mists of history. The very name Seminole derives from
the American Spanish term for escapee, refugee or runaway. It stems
from the term Semeron (???), which was used by the Spanish to denote
Indian or African runaways from slavery. The English in Jamaica
and (???) islands called their runaways maroons from the same root
word. The Seminoles were once part of the Creek Confederacy, but
unlike many of their contemporaries they forge close and lasting
relationships with runaway Africans and habitually refuse British
and American demands for the return of slaves to white service.
The American general who fought in the Seminole wars, Thomas Jessup,
put the question squarely when he declared, this, you may
be assured, is a Negro not an Indian war. General Jessup wrote
those words because of the hundreds of black warriors fighting on
the side of the Seminoles and because the Seminoles refused to sell
men, women and children who had become their kinfolk. It is noteworthy
that of all the Indian wars fought against the Americans the Seminole
wars cost the most American casualties.
August 30, 1856.
When the name of John Brown is evoked the shadow of Harpers
Ferry arises in the mind. Of the small group of rebels who tried,
unsuccessfully, to seize an American armory and fullment rebellion
among the slaves. But years before Harpers Ferry, John Brown
had waged war against pro-slavery forces in Osawatomie, Kansas,
after Missourians had sacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas some three
months earlier. The fighting in Kansas led to excited reports about
bleeding Kansas. What they were were tough, nasty border wars between
anti and pro-slavery forces. Each trying to dominate the other.
Indeed, Brown was called Osawatomie Brown before Harpers Ferry
marked him as a martyr for the sacred cause of freedom.
1965. The fires of Watts, a black community in Los Angeles, CA were
markers for rebellion for the generation of blacks in the 1960s.
These rebellions, staged in response to brutal police attacks on
people, cost the lives of 34 people and also almost 20 million dollars
worth of property damaged or destroyed.
August 5, 1970.
The Black Panther partys minister of defense, Huey P. Newton,
spent some four years in prison before winning his release on $50,000
bail on this date. It marked his physical return to the party at
the time a period of great hope.
August 8, 1978.
One of the earlier MOVE confrontations. Some nine MOVE men and women
were sent to prison for hundred of years stemming from a deeply
flawed trial. MOVE members continue to fight for the release of
their imprisoned comrades. MOVE veterans of the August 8 police
assault have been in prison for 25 years in dungeons throughout
Pennsylvania. They remain rebellious spirits who oppose a repressive
status quo. The spirit of Black August moves through centuries of
Black, Indian and multi-cultural resistance. It is an emblem of
the spirit of freedom. It is a long smoldering spark of the fire
in the hearts of a people, hearts burning and yearning for freedom.
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
The Power of Truth
is Final -- Free Mumia!
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.