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Culture Stories

Bill Duke

Bill Duke reflects on Martin Luther King, race and colorism

January 29, 2015

As the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday, we are immersed in an intensive, often divisive conversation about race in America. Sixty years after King marched through the streets, as he did in Selma and cities throughout the South, we find ourselves still on the streets battling many of these same issues. My concern is that we are too narrowly focused. We need to make sure we battle this issue of race on all fronts.

“Incantations and Rites” was presented Dec. 6 by Daughters of Yam (at left) – devorah major and Opal Palmer Adisa – featuring their poetry and the music of Destiny Muhammad, Harpist from the Hood. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

The indispensable weapon is culture and the power of the spoken word

January 21, 2015

Our community, our humanity; our ancestors, elders and children; our poets and artists from across the Diaspora: All were brought together on Dec. 6 for the sharing of “Incantations and Rites” with the Daughters of Yam, with Destiny Muhammad, “Harpist from the Hood,” and with the hood itself. Our focus was on the issues of our Black young men being assassinated in the streets.

Kujichagulia

African American classical music: Renaissance woman P. Kujichagulia speaks

January 20, 2015

On Sunday, Feb. 1, 1-3 p.m., to kick off Black History Month, she will be giving a lecture called “Racism and All That Jazz” on African American classical music, aka Jazz, in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St. “I’m honored to have the fabulous Yemanya Napue, percussionists Val Serrant and Sosu Ayansolo and visual artist Duane Deterville collaborate with me on this presentation,” she says.

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Goldii performs at Mumia’s 55th Birthday and Book Release Party in 2009.

Mumia’s daughter Goldii leaves a powerful legacy

January 18, 2015

The Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition announced her passing on the afternoon of Dec. 17: “It is with deep sadness that we share the news about the transition of Goldii. From a daughter’s perspective, she was a dynamic spokesperson, speaking stirringly of the impact incarceration has on children and families. She was also a staunch advocate on behalf of her father’s innocence.”

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'Disobedience is Being Black or Brown' art by Victor Garcia 1014-1, web

Disobedience is being Black or Brown

January 18, 2015

I’ve been drawing all my life, drawing with everything but paint, but most of my art had no meaning. Other artists I have seen in the Bay View and other publications have inspired me to create this piece, which carries a message: The baby in handcuffs represents the young boys torn away from their mothers or society to be eternally incarcerated in men’s penitentiaries – thus the “SB260” on the breast plate.

Elder Freeman at an All of Us or None event in New York City in May 2002 – Photo courtesy Sis. Carmelita

Ronald ‘Elder’ Freeman: He walked the San Quentin yard with the noble stature of a revolutionary

January 18, 2015

When I first met Elder, he was introduced to me as Kojo. He served his time with the dignity and the spirit of a caged Panther. I know that spirit, as it was reflected by the many other Panthers who were serving time in San Quentin, like Geronimo ji jaga, the indomitable Chip Fitzgerald and many others. Back in the ‘70s, San Quentin was a dangerous prison, where someone could lose his life in the blink, yet Kojo/Elder walked the main yard with no fear.

In Harlem, 15,000 march in solidarity with the Selma voting rights struggle. – Photo: Stanley Wolfson, World Telegram & Sun, Library of Congress

Ten things you should know about Selma before you see the film

January 13, 2015

This brief introduction to Selma’s bottom up history can help students and others learn valuable lessons for today. As SNCC veteran and filmmaker Judy Richardson said: “If we don’t learn that it was people just like us – our mothers, our uncles, our classmates, our clergy – who made and sustained the modern Civil Rights Movement, then we won’t know we can do it again. And then the other side wins – even before we ever begin the fight.”

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Screenwriter Paul Webb, director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo portray a humanized Dr. Martin Luther King. – Photo: Atsushi Nishijima, Paramount Pictures

‘Selma’: Unexpected bounty

January 12, 2015

I’ve finally seen “Selma” and can report it is a proper civil rights movie. By that I mean it takes few chances either thematically or aesthetically. The icons remain intact and the movement free from revisionist recriminations. This cautious strategy is understandable in a risk-averse Hollywood. Although boxed in by those kinds of commercial expectations, “Selma” delivers even more than it should.

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‘Selma’ shockingly and sadly relevant

January 10, 2015

“Selma” gives a window into the turbulent three-month voting rights campaign, a series of pivotal protest marches in 1965 that culminated with President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The movie offers a lens into King and imperiled activists’ attempts to travel a 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital, Montgomery, in the face of blatant racism, brutality and de facto segregation.

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No joy, no peace

January 3, 2015

You may have noticed that my monthly article offering helpful suggestions to fathers and would-be fathers has been on somewhat of a vacation – a vacation that’s taken me on a journey deep inside myself to look at the pervasive attacks and legalized annihilation being levied on our children and our families. An environment supporting “business as usual” murders as commonplace doesn’t lend itself to joyful inspiration.

The Lower Bottom Playaz’ cast of August Wilson’s “Jitney,” which runs through Jan. 3. – Photo: TaSin Sabir

Wanda’s Picks for January 2015

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! Happy Birthday to my granddaughter Brianna, niece Wilda and friend Fred T. I am still smiling about America’s new relationship with Cuba and the freed Cuban 5. If you are in New Orleans (NOLA), don’t miss “Prospect 3: Notes for Now,” the biennial there being celebrated throughout the city through Jan. 25.

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‘Midnight and the Man Who Had No Tears’

December 31, 2014

Bay Area author Tiffany Golden recently published her first book, “Midnight and the Man Who Had No Tears,” a fictitious tale written so that Black children can see themselves and be validated in children’s literature. Children’s literature was a fundamental part of my upbringing that helped to cultivate my love for reading into adulthood, and I think that we as Black people need to show a higher appreciation for this form of literature and the authors who create it.

Dr. Chinosole joins the ancestors

December 30, 2014

Dr. Chinosole, born Patricia Thornton in New York July 14, 1942 (Bastille Day, she always reminded), died on Oct. 4, 2014, in Oakland. She was a brilliant intellect, academic, freedom fighter and friend. When she chose the name Chinosole, it was that one name, no first or last; it means “freedom.” Her friends, colleagues and family will gather to commemorate her life on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, at 1 p.m., at 550 24th St., Oakland.

“The Baptism of Jesus” – Art: He Qi

The work of Christmas

December 24, 2014

When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home, When the shepherds are back with their flock, The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among brothers and sisters, To make music in the heart.

– Dr. Howard Thurman

Athlete-activists can’t be scared silent after the murder of two NYPD officers

December 22, 2014

Over the last month, we have seen a veritable “Sports World Spring” as athletes have spoken out on politics in a manner unseen since the 1960s. They have been inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations directed against the killing of unarmed Black men and women by police as well as the inability of the criminal justice system to deliver justice. Now, in the wake of the horrific killing of two NYPD detectives, everything has changed.

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How can I prepare my 13-year-old Black autistic son for encounters with police?

December 21, 2014

Today, like far too many days, another unarmed Black male was killed by a white police officer who felt threatened by and most likely didn’t see the value in a Black life. It makes no difference that this child or man may have broken the law because that hasn’t been proven. It does matter that this so-called “peace officer” decided that that Black male was guilty when he saw he was Black.

Bayview Hunters Point Community Legal puts the law on your side, needs your support this holiday season

December 17, 2014

Civil law, intended to protect the vulnerable in our society, has been shown to be extremely effective at protecting the housing, property, family and employment rights of our neighbors when utilized. Sadly though, poor people in our society are almost never able to use the civil law to protect their rights. Simply put, this is because there aren’t enough trained lawyers available to help the poor, vulnerable and oppressed enforce their civil rights.

Reggie Bush makes plain his opposition to police murders during pre-game warmups on Sunday, Dec. 7. – Photo: Rick Osentoski, AP

#BlackLivesMatter takes the field: A weekend of athletes speaking out

December 8, 2014

The marches in the streets are not done. The die-ins disrupting traffic are not done. Any kind of closure for the families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley and so many others is far from done. Athletic protest actions have the effect of amplifying the impact of a new struggle for human dignity in the face of racism. It has found expression in all 50 states and in solidarity actions in cities around the world, all with the message that Black lives matter.

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Third Street Stroll …

December 5, 2014

As I stroll on 3-STREET, within the blocks bounded by Newcomb and Palou, took time to get a close up look at the Community Christmas Tree on the grounds of the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre. Ules Tabron Jr., who works for the Opera House, plays Santa every year – look for him during festivities; Dec. 18, 5-9 p.m., in the HEART of the PEOPLE’S Plaza, on Third, between Oakdale and Palou, decorated with beautiful lighting above.

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'Jitney' Lower Bottom Playaz poster

August Wilson and Ferguson: Wilson’s ‘Jitney’ opens on Broadway, Oakland, Dec. 26

December 4, 2014

August Wilson’s largest message is to remember. He insists we remember our song, that we do our duty to life by remembering we were born free with dignity and everything. He is a Sankofa playwright capable of making the past come to life in the present. His methodology a metaphor for remembering you must look back to move forward successfully; if you drop the ball, you’ve got to go back to get it to be successful in the end zone.

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