Word, Beats & Life Inc. held the first screening of “Black August: A Hip Hop Benefit Concert” directed by dream hampton, renown Hip Hop writer, activist and founding member of the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement (MXGM), on Wednesday November 17, 2010 at the Atlas Theater, Washington, DC. The documentary highlighted the work put in by the non-profit organization and the power of Hip Hop as a galvanizing force in bringing awareness of the plight of US political prisoners and garnering support through MXGM’s annual ‘Black August’ concert.
Riveting interviews with exiled, imprisoned and liberated activists, such as Assata Shakur, Nahanda Abiodun, Kathleen Cleaver, Mutulu Shakur, and more former Black Panthers and Black Liberation Army members, share their continued struggle for human rights and their fight against the prison industrial complex. The documentary is a call to bridge the gap between the young and the old to collectively confront the different challenges from the radical past to the present using Hip Hop as a vehicle in creating global social change. With scenes of international cultural exchanges between US artists such as Mos Def, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, and more, with Cuban and South African artists – the most notable scene was the passionate cultural exchange between South African natives and the American artists at the World Conference Against Racism in Durbin, South Africa. The scene definitely struck a chord with the audience, as it was resonate in the discussion following the screening. Nevertheless, the various themes of human struggle, the plight of US political activists, and the need to increase awareness of the subject while bridging the cultural divide between the continents of Africa and the US via Hip Hop is evident in “Black August.” The DVD is anticipated to drop in Spring 2011.
The Smugger also had the opportunity to meet and interview Ms. Meron Wondwosen, who served as a coordinator for the annual MXGM’s Black August concert and was featured in the film. Hear what she had to say in this exclusive: