The “Black August is Black Love” art show, lecture and open mic was held on the evening of Aug. 10 at the Brown Building in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood. The Brown Building is a community and cultural organizing space organized in cooperation with the Lesbian Wellness Project. For the past year, Rahui Suré Saldivar-Soto, Workers World Party organizer, has coordinated regular art shows along a variety of intersectional themes regarding, race, class, gender and sexuality.
The Black August Planning Committee, spearheaded by Workers World Party members, chose the theme “Black August is Black Love” to define this month of events. As Che Guevara famously noted: “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. similarly noted, this “strength to love” is “the kind of spiritual dynamic so desperately needed for survival.”
The keynote speaker was Laila Aziz of Pillars of the Community. Aziz detailed the centrality of Black August’s origins in the California prison system and its sustained international presence. Mychal Odom and Gloria Verdieu of Workers World Party-San Diego also spoke to the capacity crowd.
There are two elements to Black August: Black August Resistance (BAR) and Black August Memorial (BAM). In the former, the long history of Black liberation struggle is honored. In the latter, African/Black/New African elders and martyrs are remembered. Aziz underscored the monthly theme, noting George Jackson’s bisexuality and his love affair with Angela Davis, as well as noting the indispensability of Black queer people and Black women to Black liberation. Aziz’s historical context was pointed and well received.
Odom began by telling the crowd, “All prisoners are political prisoners” and urged them to get involved in local campaigns against police abuse and mass incarceration. Adding historical context, Gloria Verdieu read Mumia Abu-Jamal’s statement on the Haitian revolution.
The remainder of the event showcased the visual art and spoken word of local cultural workers such as the pointilist Dara Njeri, Joi Cole, Kay Marie, Maharani Peace and others.
This event served as the first of many Black August events in San Diego, three of which are directly organized by Workers World-San Diego.
The other WWP-sponsored events will be the art show, “Spirit of Sagon: Anti-Police Brutality in San Diego, Past and Present” on Aug. 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 6443 Imperial Ave., and the official Black August Commemoration forum on Aug. 25 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Malcolm X Library.