By Abayomi Azikiwe – August 5, 2021
In 2021 African Americans remained disproportionately imprisoned and subjected to various forms of political repression.
Since 1979 when prisoners at the San Quentin Correctional Facility in California declared the month of August as a period of commemoration honoring political detainees along with those who have sacrificed their well-being and lives in the movement for African emancipation, this holiday has grown in recognition and participation.
For decades the United States government has denied the existence of political prisoners while the entire criminal justice system has grown exponentially.
Looking back even further, the centuries-long enslavement of African people has never been officially acknowledged by the U.S. capitalist state as a crime against humanity. Not even one president out of those elected since the demise of legalized slavery in 1865 has officially apologized for the pain and suffering enduring by African people between 1619 to the Civil War.
Such an admission of guilt by the state and the leading financial institutions and corporations which were built on the profits accrued through slave labor, would inevitably suggest the need for reparations. The question of reparations remains a major source of denial by the state and the capitalist system.
After the period of enslavement there were the attempts to reconstruct a democratic dispensation. However, the overthrow of Federal Reconstruction between 1877 extending to the conclusion of the century which included the passage of Civil Rights Acts and three amendments to the Constitution (13th, 14th and 15th) that specifically addressed the emancipation and the granting of “citizenship rights” to African Americans, set the stage for the criminalization of an entire people.
Resistance to national oppression has always prompted an expansion of the prison system in the U.S. In the South, facilities such as Angola in Louisiana and Parchman in Mississippi were structured in a manner quite similar to plantations. African Americans have been routinely framed for crimes in which they did not commit in order to send them to penitentiaries where they work for slave wages under dangerous and highly exploitative conditions….