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Here at MMI, August is Black August. 

If you’re not familiar with the tradition, Black August is a celebration of Black activism and resistance in the U.S. It’s a time to acknowledge and pay homage to Black revolutionaries and incarcerated freedom fighters past and present. To activists who have and continue to work toward collective liberation.

Black August began in 1979 in response to the racism endemic to the American prison-industrial complex—specifically, as a way to honor and reflect on the lives of incarcerated Black activists  Khatari Gaulden, who died August 1, 1978, and George L. Jackson, who died August 21, 1971. Although the tradition has roots in the 1970s Black Liberation Movement, it feels as resonant today as ever. The past year and change have been uniquely challenging for the Black community. Whether it’s the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic (which has disproportionately impacted communities of color), police violence, or the everyday racism that underscores every social, economic, and legislative policy that governs our lives, we are constantly reminded that there is still much work to be done.  

But it’s also important that we pause to celebrate the work and sacrifice of all the Black revolutionaries who continue to affect social change in Memphis and across the country—whether through music and art or through policy. This month, and every month. Below, we’ve compiled a few resources and links below to help you honor Black August, Memphis style.

Want to add to our list? Leave us a comment!

 

Black August History and Learning Resources 

Black August - A Celebration of Freedom Fighters Past and Present

What Is Black August? 

Study, Fast, Train, Fight: The Roots of Black August

 

Around Town 

The Memphis Memorial Committee Honoring Ida B. Wells: Visit the statue memorializing journalist and activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, which was unveiled on July 16! 

National Civil Rights Museum: The museum offers 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts that guide visitors through five centuries of history—from the beginning of the resistance during slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the seminal events of the late 20th century that inspired people around the world to stand up for equality. Click here to check out the exhibits! 

Ernest Withers Collection: Dr. Ernest Withers, Sr. (1922 – 2007) a native Memphian, is an internationally acclaimed photographer recognized for his iconic photographs in Memphis and the broader south during the Civil Rights era. His well-known images of musicians during Memphis’ early days of legendary blues, soul, and rock and roll scenes; his chronicling of Civil Rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and participants in Memphis’ 1968 “I AM A MAN” sanitation strike; and his preservation of the end of the Negro Leagues comprise an unequaled time capsule of the heartland of Mid-Century America.

Hattiloo Theatre: The only freestanding Black repertory theatre in five surrounding states. Each year, Hattiloo features an eight-production season, running from August through June. 

Memphis Heritage Trail: The Memphis Heritage Trail (MHT) is a cultural district and expansive community redevelopment plan to celebrate the rich business, cultural, and musical heritage of African American achievements in Memphis. It aims to educate and promote an appreciation for diversity, history, and culture to a global audience through authentic interactive experiences. MHT covers a historic 20-block redevelopment area in South City and also links to the historic Orange Mound and Soulsville communities.

Memphis Music Museums: Rock, soul, hip-hop, and country—American music is Black music. Visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, the Blues Hall of Fame Museum and more, to learn about the history, legacy, and activism of Memphis’ Black musicians. 

 

Selected Local Black-Owned Businesses

Cxffeeblack: Cxffeeblack is primarily an entrepreneurial venture with specific social implications, started by Bartholomew Jones and Renata Henderson to reclaim the Black history of coffee and remain its Black future. The goal is to generate a profit from apparel and events and consultations and then use those funds to provide opportunities for people of origin to create and generate inspiring work. Check out this article from High Ground News highlighting Cxffeeblack’s education and anti-gentrification work!

Terra Cotta Memphis: A Black-owned plant shop featuring gifts from local artisans. 

MMI’s database of Black-owned Memphis restaurants

Da Guilty Vegan (food truck): Da Guilty Vegan specializes in traditional comfort food with a plant-based twist. Their specialty is the Jail Bird! If you attended our block party last month, you saw them there! 

Situational Cravings (food truck): Situational Cravings connects innovative multicultural fusions between Southern, Spanish, and Caribbean cuisine. Voted best birria tacos in the city. Also one of our block party partners! 

Da Sammich Spot (food truck): Da Sammich Spot is a new Black-owned business in Memphis providing the community with fresh foods from afternoon to late evening. Also one of our block party partners! 

 

Film

Black Power Mixtape

Summer of Soul

Night Catches Us 

Judas and the Black Messiah

 

Music

A Black August Mood (CCR Events)

What We’re JaMMIng To: Juneteenth Edition

What We’re JaMMIng To: Black Music Month Edition 

 

Photo: AP