When we began all of this, California had 11 prisons and roughly 20,000 prisoners. The prison industrial complex of California has now grown to 33 prisons and nearly 160,000 adult prisoners.
A number of organizations have come into existence over the intervening years to grapple with various aspects of an out-of-control system of modern-day slavery that has grown to become the most powerful political force in California. The efforts, though sincere, have had meager success against an entity that even governors are wary of.
The missing ingredient has always been people. Most organizations will tell you money is scarce, time never works in our behalf, but people are what are needed most. There are no government programs or studies that will do the things needed as regards those locked away and very nearly forgotten or the youth outside being groomed to join them. We need people!
This is the 25th year of our Black August commemorative gatherings. As we remember 25 years of preaching to the choir, we now ask them to sing. Let that singing involve volunteering your skills, knowledge, experience, money, sweat and time as well as your voice in raising awareness and creating and employing solutions to our collective situation.
This one is for those forgotten by many, both living and dead. Those unremembered in their passing by a people for whom survival has become a minute-by-minute struggle - ignored in both the reasoning for and the magnitude of their final days. This one is for those unknown to most, though they struggle unflinching in the concentration camps of America.
This one is for the youth standing on the verge of the void, so close to falling but still within our grasp. Souls whose earthly names are rarely if ever spoken in fond humility and respect for the selfless way they left us.
Invisible and often forgotten by even those whose lives they’ve touched are the brothers and sisters who endure much locked away standing firm for us. Several generations of children who have existed in the vacuum created by the death or incarceration of parents or whole families. We have much to commemorate.
Text taken from article in SF Bay View by Shaka At-thinnin, Chairman of the Black August Organizing Committee: Black August resistance needs you now! | More Coverage of 25 years of Black August organizing in the SF Bay View: Men on fire: An Interview with Shaka At-Thinnin | Frank ‘Big Black’ Smith, hero of Attica, passes