For me Black August means many things. It is the beginning of the Haiti’s revolution. It is about Nat Turner’s slave uprising and Gabriel Prosser attempt at the same. It is a month of reflection on the losses that we as a people have suffered in that month. It is a month of courageous struggle and sacrifices. It is a month of resistance. It is a month of high elation and extreme sorrow! Elated because of our resistance; sad because of our losses. It is indeed a month of reflection on all the above!

Personally, for me it is a time of painful remembrance. The memory of August 7th, 1970, the day of Jonathan Jackson’s raid on Marin County Courthouse is painful. He and the three prisoners he liberated for a short time were all shot dead except for Russell Magee who still lingers in a California prison. The remembering of August 21st, 1971 when comrade George Jackson had his life snuffed out by being shot in the head by san Quentin prison officials as he laid on the ground wounded. To know that prison officials got away with murder on that day and have never paid any dues for the crime that they committed against one of our greatest teachers, resisters, and leaders is painful. In fact in court they lied about how he died thereby covering up his murder.

It was a day of brutal beatings and nigger callings of lying naked on the grass while hogtied. It was a day of extreme humiliation forced to crawl on one’s elbows and knees and to listen to prison guards singing songs about George Jackson laying a rotting in his grave”. I am sure that Nat Turner experienced worst as he waited to be hanged. It was also a day of vengeance where prisoners took revenge against their tormentors, prison guards, slaying three of them along with two trustees who unfortunately were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am sorry about them.

Out of the events of that day six prisoners, Hugo Pinell, Fleeta Drumgo, Luis Talamantez, David Johnson, Johnny Spain and Willie (Sundiata) Tate were single out for punishment by the state and became known as the San Quentin Six. In 1971 legal proceeding were initiated against the six. On August 12th, 1976 our trial ended with acquittals for three of us. David Johnson and Hugo Pinell were convicted of assaults. Johnny Spain was convicted of conspiracy to murder. Johnny was released many yrs. ago. It is only Hugo that remains locked down in the shu. We all faced assaults by prison staff but none of us faced the kind of torture on a daily basis that Hugo Pinell suffered. That brother had clubs stuck up his ass and was assaulted as he travelled back and forth from San Quentin to court in Salinas, California where he was a defendant on another case. Hugo knows what pain is. Sometimes, after he returned from court, he would have blood dripping from his face and, occasionally, there would be a tear in his eyes. He never complained. He silently pushed on. He was and is a soldier. But, it is time for him to come home. Other than prison medical personnel or prison guards he hasn’t touched another human being since 1970.

In a letter written in 2007 Hugo says, ‘as you know, I haven’t had a contact visit since Dec. 1970….he says furthers, “my point is that, with this isolation and with the board having so much juice, my situation is deeper because they can keep using more b.s. to say I’m not suitable for release, thus I’m really doing life without even tho my time was completed long ago. This brother wrote this after he had already done forty-three yrs. At present he has been locked up 47 yrs. Again speaking on his conditions of confinement, he says, “In the shus you can’t have much of anything, more importantly you can’t have contact visits, period! In 2009 I was given a 15 year denial… I would be bullshitting you if I I didn’t admit this hurt. It has hurt me all along, especially not being able to touch mom, grand mom, and others.

The recent hungry strikes in the shu units of several California prisons was an attempt to address some of the issues that Hugo have spoken of in many of his letters. The sensory deprivation as you can see from Hugo words clearly is one of the worst things that you can do to another human being. It is considered inhumane by international standards. How can this continue to happen in the US of A? It is just the same as when polices in our inner cities decide to and do murder sometimes innocent people without due process of a trial. This happens throughout the US of A and has been condemned internationally. How many cops have served time for such murders? It is almost unheard of.

The criminal justice system is bias against us and all people of color as well as the poor. In today’s atmosphere (climate) where working and poor people are catching hell all over the landscape it is interesting that those on the very bottom of society—prisoners—are rising up, being fed up with living a torturous existence and trying to do something about it. It is only fitting that we who are also suffering stand up and fight against those who want to hold up down while profiteering off of sweat of the working class. The downtrodden will rise and so will working class and poor people.

All power to our communities and our people. Put the neighbor back into the hood,