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Black August DVD Review

by Kam Williams

DVD Drama Revisits the Life of Black Revolutionary George Jackson

George Jackson (1941-1971) made a surprising rise to celebrated black radical status, given his decidedly unenlightened start as a street thug marked by run-ins with the law which led to his being sentenced at 18 to a year to life for armed robbery. But, while at San Quentin, he came of age politically, abandoning petty larceny for the philosophies of Marx and Mao.

He later joined the Black Panther Party and was transferred to Soledad Prison which is where he penned his best seller Soledad Brother. His legal troubles were compounded in January of 1970 when he was charged with the murder of a prison guard,

While behind bars, he also became soulmates with Angela Davis, though that relationship never had a chance to blossom fully, since he would spent his last eleven years incarcerated. His younger brother, Jonathan, want to help, ended up only finding his own 15 minutes of fame. He staged an ill-fated kidnapping of a judge at the Marin County Courthouse in order to spring George from jail. But the judge, Jonathan and several inmates perished when the cops opened fire during their escape.

About 12 months later, George himself died under mysterious circumstances. The official report was that he had smuggled a 9mm handgun given to him by a visitor in his afro, and that he was shot dead on the prison yard when he pulled it on a correctional officer. At the time, this story certainly sounded phony to African-Americans who knew full well there was no way he could have hidden a pistol in his hair.

Black August, starring Gary Dourdan of CSI: Las Vegas, is a riveting bio-pic revisiting the Jackson legacy by focusing on his very eventful final year of life from his perspective. Based on Adapted from George's prison letters and other writings, the film isto be commended for shedding surprisingly sophisticated light on such a controversial cult figure.

Very Good (3 stars)
Unrated
Running time: 100 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes.

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