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MUHAMMAD: Time to Celebrate 'Black August'

Askia Muhammad | 8/21/2013, 3 p.m.
Askia Muhammad

In addition to the great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom which took place on Aug. 28, 1963, there are a number of other important milestones in August which have prompted some to refer to the month as “Black August.”

On Aug. 21, 1831, Nat Turner led the most successful slave rebellion in this country, in Southampton County, Va.

While still a young child, Turner was overheard describing events that had happened before he was born. This, along with his keen intelligence, and other signs marked him in the eyes of his people as a prophet “intended for some great purpose.”

On May 12, 1828, Turner had a vision: “I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first...

“And by signs in the heavens that it would make known to me when I should commence the great work, and until the first sign appeared I should conceal it from the knowledge of men; and on the appearance of the sign... I should arise and prepare myself and slay my enemies with their own weapons,” Turner said.

On Aug. 13, 1831, there was an atmospheric disturbance in which the sun appeared bluish-green. This was the final sign, and a week later, on August 21, Turner and six of his men met in the woods to eat dinner and make their plans. At 2 a.m., that morning, they set out. His rebellion killed at least 55 White people who had profited from or had their lives made easier by slavery. But when the White militia crushed the rebellion, they killed up to 200 Black folks and after a trial, hanged Turner and desecrated his body.

By contrast, during the Civil War, Confederate rebels were never hanged or even prosecuted for their treason. Yet, the Confederate rebellion (of which many Whites today are proud, proclaiming it their southern “heritage”) killed about 250,000 soldiers, and another 400,000 soldiers died from disease, starvation, and imprisonment.

In 2007 Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) sponsored a resolution in Congress “that the President should grant a pardon to Marcus Mosiah Garvey to clear his name and affirm his innocence of crimes for which he was unjustly prosecuted and convicted.” Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born in Jamaica, on Aug. 17, 1887. Black August.

During Garvey’s time, pervasive discrimination and subjugation of African Americans in the United States created a climate of intolerance toward Black social activists, and a determination by the United States government to undermine and destroy the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

Garvey was arrested numerous times, with charges being dropped on each occasion, thus indicating that the arrests were solely for the purpose of harassing him and disrupting the UNIA. In 1926, after his unjust conviction, nine members of the jury that convicted Garvey signed an affidavit recommending the commutation of his sentence.

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