Black August Honolulu
In Hawai‘i, we end the month of July observing Lā Ho‘iho‘i Ea, a holiday that recognizes and celebrates the independence of the Hawaiian Kingdom, restored after the Paulet Affair in 1843. The same year, abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet called for a general slave strike across the US on August 22. A few years later, the Hawaiian Kingdom's constitution of 1852 asserted in Article 12 that "Slavery shall, under no circumstances whatever, be tolerated in the Hawaiian Islands: whenever a slave shall enter Hawaiian territory he shall be free." As a sovereign nation, Hawai‘i extended its protection of personal sovereignty to anyone who reached Hawaiian shores.
Started by Black activists in the late 1970s to commemorate fallen political prisoners and to educate the community about conditions in US prisons, Black August is a month-long observance organized around building community, healing, renewing connections to the land, strategizing, and promoting discipline and physical well being.
Across diverse Black communities, August has been a time for resistance and assertions of self-determination, from the Haitian Revolution in August 1791, to the Nat Turner Uprising in August 1831, the founding of the Underground Railroad in August 1850, the March on Washington in August 1963, to the Watts Uprising in August 1965. August is the birth month of Marcus Garvey, Fred Hampton, and iKiribati and African American scholar of the Pacific Teresia Teaiwa.
More recently, the community response to the August 2014 police killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri drew international attention to the repression of Black communities and was a major turning point in a still growing movement for justice for Black people around the world. The month of August has long been a fertile time of resistance and movement building.
This year, our Black August events are firmly grounded in the experience of Blackness in the Pacific as we work to link the struggles for a sovereign Hawai‘i to the struggle for West Papuan independence and the global movement for Black lives to the global movement for climate justice.