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Black August organizer on trial in NY, seeks support 1/01

City Clubs Ban Hip-Hop Radicals
, 9/6/00,

Black August NY 2000 play list, ticket info

Black August Oakland! 8/30

New venue described in Black August NY Memo, 8/9/00

Why Black August?

The Black August Hip Hop Collective Statement of Purpose

6th Havana Rap Festival, 8/00

Write-up in BLU

Black August 1999

On line video from the 1998 Cuban Rap Festival in Havana

Balesy and Carlos, Havana Rap Festival organizers
Havana Rap Festival Organizers

New York, Oakland & Havana:
August 30, 2000 in NY

Hip-Hop exchange with Cuba creates studio/library in Havana
and raises funds for US political prisonners

Black August is based in New York and organizes an on-going exchange with rappers in Cuba.  The August concert was to take place Sunday August 13th, 2000 at Irving Plaza, NY as a fundraiser for the 6th Havana Rap Festival on August 17th-20th, 2000. It has been rescheduled to August 30th because of attempted censorship by Irving Plaza.

WHERE: New Age Cabaret (Capacity 800) in New York City.
                28 St. Marks Place between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
                6 train to Astor; N, R to 8th St.
                for ticket information call 718.622.8292

Black August announced that hip hop legends Dead Prez, DJ Tony Touch, Talib Kweli & Hi Tek, Black Thought, The Dwellas, Rise & Shine, Imani Izuri, The Welfare Poets and special guests would perform in New York.

They also expect dead prez, DJ Tony Touch,  and Talib Kweli at the 6th Annual Cuban Rap Festival.panthtrrd.gif (1961 bytes)

These folks are working with the people in Havana who put on the 6th annual Cuban Rap Festival August 17th to 20th, 2000.

Black August Organizer on Trial in NY, seeks support, 1/14/01
Received from the Malcom X Grass Roots Movement

As most of you may know, Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele will be going to trial on Monday, January 22,nd 2001. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is requesting your support in this matter. On Easter Sunday 2000, while participating in an anti-police brutality demonstration with the House of the Lord Church, Lumumba was targeted and the only one arrested out of over 150 people. Lumumba was charged with 2 counts of disorderly conduct, one count of harassment of a police officer, and one count of obstruction of government administration.

It is important that we send a signal to the police, the city and the state, that we will support our community organizers and will not sit by and let them be harassed because of their activism. We all understand that these next few years will require a significant increase in organizing on behalf of African folks. If we allow our activists to be arrested, beaten and or jailed, our conditions as a people will become drastically worse. These charges may not seem significant. However, we cannot wait until one of us is framed and or jailed again.

As organizers, we recognize the impact of our activism and resistance. We know that being arrested is almost inevitable; we understand that harassment comes with the territory. Therefore, as a community we have a vested interest in supporting the actions of those who recognize theirresponsibility to creating change. We are asking our community to be present for the first day of trial on January 22, 2001, at 120 Schemehorn street, 5th floor room BPT1. This will be a bench trial, which means that the judge will hear arguments and make a decision. For more information you can contact the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement at 718.622.8292.

Lumumba's email:

Black August Oakland, 8/30

August 18, 2000
Black August Hip Hop Benefits


The 1st Annual Oakland Black August Hip Hop Benefit Concert
Commemorating the 52 Birthday of assassinated Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.


Souls of Mischief, Black Dot Artists Collective, Goapele, Renaissance and the All Purpose DJ’s.

When and Where

Wednesday, August 30th
La Pena Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA
7 PM
$10 – 15 sliding scale.
Wheelchair accessible


Black August Collective and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Co-Sponsored by Vanguard Public Foundation, Basil Leaf Inc., Victory Gardens Project, and YACIN.

For more information contact:

Kali Akuno (510) 433-0115 /
Langston Edwards (510) 835-5802 /


The Oakland Black August Hip Hop Benefit concert is part of the 3rd Annual Black August Hip Hop Benefit series in New York and Havana, Cuba organized by the New York Black August Collective, which are Stress Magazine ( and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Proceeds from the Black August Benefit aid the Black August Political Prisoner Emergency Fund and support numerous Cuban charities, including a public hip hop library and studio in Havana, Cuba.

The Black August tradition was established during the 1970’s in the California prison system by men and women of the Black/New Afrikan Liberation Movement as a means of acknowledging and studying the legacy of Afrikan resistance in the Americas and honoring fallen freedom fighters like George and Jonathan Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, Williams Christmas and Fred Hampton. The Black August Collective / Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Hip Hop Benefit pays special tribute to the more than 100 New Afrikan Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War held captive in united states prisons and Political Exiles living aboard, men and women like Nehanda Abiodun, Sundiata Acoli, Janine Africa, Janet Africa, Herman Bell, Ruchell Magee, Jalil Muntaqim, Sekou Odinga, Hugo Pinell, Assata Shakur, and Mutulu Shakur to a few.

For more information on the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Black August or Political Prisoners consult and/or contact the following websites and emails:

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement:, email:,, or

BLU Magazine:


Jericho Amnesty Movement: or

Black August NY 2000 play list, ticket info , 8/16


Wednesday, August 30, 2000
New Age Cabaret
23 St. Marks (8th Street)
Bt. 2nd and 3rd Avenues

Doors open at 7:00 PM
Showtime 8:00 PM

performing live will be:


DJ TONY TOUCH and more                                

Admission - $20.00


for tickets and information call the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement at
(718) 622-8292 -

Produced by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Stress Magazine


To: All Our Peoples
From: The Black August Hip Hop Collective
Date: 8/9/00
Re: 3rd Annual Black August Benefit Concert Postponement to August 30th

The 3rd Annual Black August Benefit Concert was originally scheduled to take place at Irving Plaza on Sunday, August 13th.

Because our objectives go beyond the production of a single event and extend to both supporting the global development of hip hop culture and promoting awareness about the political issues that effect these youth communities, we felt compelled to cancel our show at Irving Plaza because of their refusal to allow dead prez to perform at their venue.

Though Irving Plaza is within its contractual rights to ask us to make this choice, it is our moral right and obligation not to censor one of our own in hip hop, especially this group which truly and meaningfully provides an alternative view to the symbols and negative messages that presently plague our culture. Regardless of the artist singled out in this particular police line-up, we cannot compromise this principle because if it is dead prez today, tomorrow it may be Mos Def or Talib Kweli, Common or Rah Diggah, or whoever else strives to support their communities with their artistic expressions.

We apologize for the inconvenience and we hope we have your support. We understand that changing the venue and the date at such a late date could prove fatal to any event, but we believe that you will see the importance of supporting this decision and this show. This goes beyond taking a stand for any individual artist, it goes beyond supporting Cuban hip hop; we are now talking about the importance for us to own our own venues, preserve our own culture, depend upon each other for support, and make things happen in the face of adversity. There are some that would be very happy to see this event shut down, to see the construction of this bridge between various political and cultural forces halted, to see us fail, but we have faith that you, our community, will not let this happen. We are taking Black August 2000 back to the grassroots, so come out in support on August 30th at the New World Cabaret!


WHAT:  3rd Annual Black August Hip Hop Benefit Concert in New York City and the

              6th Annual National Cuban Rap Festival in Havana, Cuba.

WHO:    Dead Prez, DJ Tony Touch, Talib Kweli & Hi Tek, Black Thought,
              The Dwellas, Rise & Shine, Imani Izuri, The Welfare Poets
               and special guests in New York City.

              DJ Tony Touch, Talib Kweli, and dead prez alongside over a dozen of Cuba’s best
              and brightest rap acts, in Havana.

WHEN:    August 30th in New York City.

                 August 17th-20th in Havana, Cuba.

WHERE: New Age Cabaret (Capacity 800) in New York City.
                28 St. Marks Place between 2nd & 3rd Avenues
                6 train to Astor; N, R to 8th St.
                for ticket information call 718.622.8292

                El Amfiteatro de Alamar in Havana (Capacity 2500, 4 nights)

HOW:     Shows are All ages. For NYC Show: Tickets are $20.
               Tickets available at Fat Beats. For tix & info call 718.622.8292.

               For Havana Festival: Tickets available at El Amfiteatro de Alamar.

WHY:    100% of the proceeds from the Black August Hip Hop Benefit Concert in New York City goes to support the creation of a public hip hop library and studio in Havana Cuba and towards general support for human rights organizations working in the United States. Humanitarian aid in the form of medicine, toys and educational materials, as well as music and recording equipment, is also collected in the U.S. and donated in Cuba. All participating artists donate their performances and the Black August staff donates its time to organize the event. All sponsorship of and contributions to the event are tax-deductible.

Why Black August?

The Black August tradition was established during the 1970’s in the California prison system by the men and women of the Black/New Afrikan Liberation Movement as a means of acknowledging and studying the legacy of resistance in the Americas. The arrival of the first Africans for the purpose of enslavement was in August (1619), the Haitian Revolution was in August (1791), the Nat Turner Rebellion was in August (1831), the Underground Railroad began in August (1850), the birth of Marcus Garvey was in August (1887), the March on Washington was in August (1963), the Watts rebellions were in August (1965), and the assassination of George Jackson was in August (1971), for example. The concept of Black August allows hip hop culture to be placed within the historical and political context that we believe will inform, inspire and guide new generations as we confront the issues facing our communities, our society and our world.

The Black August Hip Hop Collective Statement of Purpose

The Black August Hip Hop Collective strives to support the global development of hip hop culture by facilitating exchanges between international communities where hip hop is a vital part of youth culture, and by promoting awareness about the social and political issues that effect these youth communities. Our goal is to bring culture and politics together and to allow them to naturally evolve into a unique hip hop consciousness that informs our collective struggle for a more just, equitable and human world.

The Black August Hip Hop Collective is devoted to supporting youth everywhere as they express themselves through hip hop’s range of visual and performance art forms. This support will be generated through cross-cultural, concerts, monetary or equipment donations, technical support, and artist-to-artist contact and collaboration across international borders. This support is also manifested through The Black August Hip Hop Collective’s active opposition to the criminalization of youth and youth culture, and what we view as the related issues of the advancing global prison industry, the continued existence of political prisoners in the United States, the persistence of white supremacist propaganda, and the prevalence of human rights violations. Through an effective merging of hip hop culture and political information, The Black August Hip Hop Collective promotes our own hip hop aesthetic, which emphasizes sincere self-expression, creativity, and community responsibility.

Write-up on the Black August tradition in BLU Maganzine

"Black August - a celebration of Freedom Fighters," BLU's 9th issue, is now available at The issue explores the beginning of the Black August tradition in the California penal system in the early 70s and the connections between the revolutionary aspects of hip hop culture and the legacy of freedom fighters. The magazine also includes a historic interview with Bob Marley by Mumia abu Jamal, interviews with Geronimo ji Jaga, H Rap Brown aka Imam al Amin, and Hurricane Carter, contributions from asha bandele, Junot Dํaz, and political exile Nehanda Abiodun, and a full color tear-out poster featuring freedom fighter George Jackson.

The CD is 13 tracks from artists like Les Nubians, Cee Knowledge of Digable Planets, Bahamadia, Boukman Eksperyans, and Angelique Kidjo with cameo appearances by George Jackson, Skratch from the legendary Roots crew, Mumia, Assata Shakur, Mos Def, and Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets.

BLU is a magazine of creative culture, conscious politics, and spirituality that comes with a CD for $5. For more information call 800 778 8461.

Video from the 1998 Rap Festival

Go to's outstanding site for video clips from the 1998 festival:

City Clubs Ban Hip-Hop Radicals, 9/6/00

as first seen in the Village Voice
September 6-12, 2000

City Clubs Ban Hip-Hop Radicals
Taking the Rap
By Chisun Lee

M-1, half of the activist hip-hop duo dead prez, swigs an auspicious-looking liquid from a plastic container as he awaits his turn on the mike at the annual Black August hip-hop benefit concert. His poison? "Cucumber, parsley, celery, and some other greens," which he blended himself to combat a wicked cough. A fitting elixir for an act that typically draws "vegetarians and sisters who wear headwraps," according to event coproducer Clyde Valentin. In fact, the crowd this night at New Age Cabaret on St. Marks Place is young, bohemian, and multicolored, and the sweaty mist hovering above reeks more of incense than of the lesslegal combustibles usually found at a concert.

Perhaps the management of Irving Plaza, where the event was originally to be held, anticipated a more volatile scene when it refused to allow dead prez on its stage, forcing planners to move the benefit to a different place and time. But Black August coordinators believe that dead prez's revolutionary message - in antistate songs like "Cop Shot" and "Assassination" - rather than crowd safety, was Irving Plaza's main concern. They are convinced that the club's decision was political and claim that censorship dogs dead prez at major performance spaces throughout the city.

The sold-out August 30 benefit was the third in an annual series that commemorates significant events in black resistance that have occurred in the month of August, such as the 1963 march on Washington and the 1971 San Quentin prison uprising, and supports progressive hip-hop and humanitarian efforts. It was originally slated for August13. But when Irving Plaza nixed dead prez a few days before showtime, the progressive groups and individuals who form the Black August collective decided the benefit could not go on without one of its most politically outspoken acts. Irving Plaza's representatives declined repeated opportunities to comment.

Black August member Kofi Taha recalls how Irving Plaza manager, Bill Brusca, initially explained the club's objection to dead prez, whose members are radical African activists (and equally radical vegetarians). Citing lyrics from one of dead prez's signature songs, "Police State," and a review that called the group's work "music to riot by," Brusca, Taha says, refused to host a group that "supported violence against the police." The offending lyrics, Taha recalls, were pulled from the passage: "I throw a Molotov cocktail at the precinct/You know how we think/Organize the 'hood under I Ching banners/red, black, and green instead of gang bandannas/FBI spying on us through the radio antennas/and them hidden cameras in the streetlight watchin' society/with no respect for the people's right to privacy. . . . The average black male/live a third of his life in a jail cell/'cause the world is controlled by the white male."

"We had to scramble" to find a new venue, says Black August coordinator Monifa Bandele of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. New Age Cabaret agreed to host the benefit and even took down its American flag in keeping with the anti-establishment politics of the event. But the center holds hundreds fewer than Irving Plaza, has a stage a fraction of the size of Irving Plaza's, forbids alcohol, and does not have an adequate sound system or in-house security. The Black August collective shelled out thousands to rentsound equipment and provided its own security. The last-minute change meant losing the original headliners, De La Soul and Mos Def, and forgoing hundreds in ticket sales.

Still, more than one Black August organizer goes out of his way to praise Brusca's professionalism and cooperation up until the club received a final list of acts for the benefit. "I honestly believe he was under some pressure, "Taha says, suggesting that Brusca was accommodating higher-ups. Although Brusca reportedly defended the club against accusations of censorship by saying that Irving Plaza will not host provocative but nonpolitical acts like Marilyn Manson, Black August organizers dismiss the justification as a weak excuse.


"'The hip-hop community has been classified as an enemy of the state by law enforcement agencies. It comes down to everything from their dress code to their lyrics. Hip-hop is no different than any other art form, any other culture, any other group of youths attempting to express themselves.'"


Police lieutenant Eric Adams, president of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, an organization that has frequently butted heads with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the police union, as well as police leaders, agrees that politics could likely have underscored Irving Plaza's decision. "They have a legitimate concern," he says of club managers. "Not only the PBA but the subculture of policing has shown that when individuals are critical of the police department, they come under some form of scrutiny, either receiving a large number of summonses or some form of police-induced harassment. You really don't want bad business with your law-enforcement officer. It could make life uncomfortable, to say the least." A PBA spokesperson declined to comment.

One magazine music editor snorts that "all these political groups think the establishment's out to get them." And Matt Hickey, Bowery Ballroom's booking manager, insists, "I've never heard of the group." (He refused to comment on a dispute involving dead prez at the Black August benefit that took place at the Ballroom last year, saying he did not work there at the time. No one else at the club would respond to inquiries about management's reported banning of dead prez or its reaction when the collective nevertheless smuggled in the performers and sent them on stage.)

But the group has made its reputation with politically charged content similar to what they offered last Wednesday. Upon taking the stage, M-1's cohort,, greeted the cheering crowd with the announcement: "We just got back from Cuba, y'all!" The duo proceeded to admire women "who look fly in clothes that are comfortable" and extol the virtues of "fresh fruit and whole wheat" and "tofu." But before long they were urging the crowd to say "Fuck Giuliani!" which it did with great enthusiasm. And deferring to popular demand, they closed their brief set with "Cop Shot"-"Cop shot, cop shot . . . keep shooting my people/we will shoot back . . . another dead pig knocked straight off my block/Cop shot, cop shot, cop shot/black cop, white cop, all cop."

That song, according to Bandele, also got Black August turned away from Wetlands, "what we considered to be a politically conscious venue" and where dead prez has performed in the past. Supporters say the duo is now unwelcome at all the major performance spots in the city.

"It would be naive to think it is not possible" that police pressure put dead prez on the city's performance blacklist, Adams says. Indeed, activists cite numerous instances in recent years of police displeasure at musician critics, especially when the name of death row inmate and alleged cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal is involved. A 6000-strong Mumia rally this May at Madison Square Garden, where artists like Mos Def performed, drew over 100 PBA members who staged a counterprotest. Less visible, says Connie Julian of the Artists Network of Refuse and Resist, was the refusal of some security companies, staffed largely by off-duty cops, to work the event, which seriously complicated preparations for the rally.

A January 1999 Rage Against the Machine benefit for Mumia in New Jersey was similarly protested by police and government officials. And this June, Bruce Springsteen's reference to the shooting of Amadou Diallo in the song "American Skin" brought PBA protesters back to the Garden. The national Fraternal Order of Police has compiled a list of hundreds of artists, celebrities, and venues associated with Mumia- supportive efforts for "identification purposes," including numerous hip-hop groups.

Dead prez's troubles remind supporters of the controversy that surrounded once political acts such as Public Enemy, KRS-One, Ice-T - who in 1992 debuted "Cop Killer," which protests racial profiling - and N.W.A., whose 1988 "Fuck tha Police" prompted the FBI to warn off the record company.

Indeed many identify, on law enforcement's side, not only an objection to lyrical content, but also a criminalization of hip-hop as a genre and culture. One music promoter declared that not a single sizable stage in the city since the closing of Tramps has been friendly to hip-hop acts. And Adams says, "The hip-hop community has been classified as an enemy of the state by law enforcement agencies. It comes down to everything from their dress code to their lyrics." But, he argues, "Hip- hop is no different than any other art form, any other culture, any other group of youths attempting to express themselves."

Yet dead prez stands out from the majority of current commercial hip-hop acts. They belong to the National People's Democratic Uhuru movement, a spin-off of the Black Panther-influenced Afrikan People's Socialist Party. Their performances are peppered with shout-outs to the Cuban hip-hop scene and Assata Shakur. The rhetoric of radical politics pervades their every sentence. ("It's bigger than Irving Plaza. It's bigger than S.O.B.'s or Bowery Ballroom," says M-1. "They're only representations of the ruling class. The police are only representations of the ruling class.") Reacting to Black August's decision to protest the dead prez ban by pulling out of Irving Plaza and sacrificing major performers and money, declares, "That's solidarity."

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