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Black August Reading List

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 GarveyRussell 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


Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts

 Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr. 

 Waiting Til the Midnight Hour by Peniel E. Joseph

 Jackson Rising by Kali Akuno & Ajamu Nangwaya

 All About Love by Bell Hooks

 The Will to Change by Bell Hooks

The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality by Cheikh Anta Diop

How we Fight White Supremacy by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin

The Fall of America by Elijah Muhammad

Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

Stolen Legacy by George G. M. James

Skill in Action by Michelle Cassandra Johnson

Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon

Golden Gulag by Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Assata Autobiography by Assata Shakur

Live from Death Row by Mumia Abu-jamal

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

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

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson by George Jackson

Revolutionary Suicide Huey P. Newton

To Die for the People by Huey P. Newton

Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land by Leah Penniman

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

As Black as Resistance by Zoé Samudzi and William C. Anderson

Kindred by Octavia Butler

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

American Negro Slave Revolts by Herbert Aptheker

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

Anarcho-Blackness: Notes Toward a  Black Anarchism  by Marquis Bey