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Since the Christmas Eve calamity, Midtown residents have organized the “We Are Midtown” campaign seeking community support. – Photo: Mike Koozmin, SF Weekly

Community struggle, resiliency and determination at San Francisco’s Midtown Park Apartments

May 31, 2014

The cover story of this week’s San Francisco Weekly is the saga of Midtown Park Apartments that faces a struggle for its very existence in light of dubious actions and activities by San Francisco Housing Director Olson Lee and his staff. The City, which owns the Midtown property, has neglected to make millions of dollars worth of repairs over the past several decades despite hiring property managers to maintain the property, collect rents and enforce terms of tenancy.

Griot Leon A. Waters leads a Hidden History tour on the New Orleans General Strike of 1892, the first one organized by Blacks and whites together. Three unions – two white and one Black – demanded a shorter work day of 10 hours, overtime pay after 60 hours and a union shop. The 25,000 striking workers won a 25 percent wage increase, a shorter work day and other gains. – Photo: HiddenHistory.us

Joe Debro on racism in construction, Part 5

May 30, 2014

The movement from farm to city forced the proletariat to unite in order to wrest decent pay and working conditions from large corporations, which tended to control entire industries as well as to reduce competition from immigrants and others, including Negroes. The history of the American labor unions, like that of big business itself, is filled with examples of racism, nationalism and exclusionism.

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Open letter to American universities that invited Kagame to speak

May 30, 2014

As a coalition of Africa-focused human rights and peace organizations representing a broad range of individuals, we write to express our dismay at your decision to welcome President of Rwanda Paul Kagame to your universities. We regret to inform you that your invitation of Paul Kagame to your institution co-signs his repressive practices inside Rwanda and his aggressive interventions in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Stop the censorship! Restore the Urban Dreams website!

May 28, 2014

Members of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, including (among others) the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, BART workers and AC Transit bus drivers, were appalled to hear that the Oakland Unified School District succumbed to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police and the right-wing Fox News by shutting down the educational Urban Dreams website, which includes material on Mumia Abu-Jamal and Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. constantly faced hostility from police, just as Mumia does today. Here, state troopers bar him from the Alabama Capitol on March 25, 1965. – Photo: AP

Oakland Unified School District bans lessons on MLK and Mumia: Demand they restore them! Protest May 28

May 28, 2014

Under pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police and Fox News, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) just shut down the entire Urban Dreams website including material on Martin Luther King and Mumia Abu-Jamal authored by Oakland teacher Craig Gordon. OUSD is censoring and attacking the academic freedom of students in the Oakland schools and of teachers. This shameful action must be reversed immediately!

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On strike since Marikana Massacre, hungry workers cut production of world’s platinum by nearly half

May 27, 2014

Nomfanelo Jali stirs porridge she hopes will quell her children’s chronic hunger. Food has been scarce since her husband joined 80,000 workers on strike with South Africa’s main mineworkers’ union, AMCU. The strike, now four months long, is the longest – and costliest – in the nation’s history. Platinum production in the country accounts for 40 percent of the global market, and the work stoppage has pushed up the price of the metal worldwide.

Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865, in Charleston, S.C., to honor 257 dead Union soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in an upscale race track converted into a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for two weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 3,000 Black children, where they marched, sang and celebrated.

The first Memorial Day was Black

May 26, 2014

As we pause to remember the nation’s war dead, it’s worth remembering that Memorial Day was first celebrated by Black Union troops and free Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of the Civil War. The free Black population of Charleston, primarily consisting of former slaves, engaged in a series of celebrations to proclaim the meaning of the war as they saw it.

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This photo, taken May 21, shows a desecrated Marcus Book Store, San Francisco’s shrine to Black culture and the oldest Black book store in the U.S., emptied of thousands of books and other treasures, its shelves and furniture smashed with sledge hammers by the new owners.

Desecration of Marcus Books! Sweis family declares war against Blacks in San Francisco

May 25, 2014

Last week, rather than allow Marcus Books family members to relocate after evicting them, the Sweis family stole all of the books and used sledge hammers to smash the book shelves and furniture. To the Black community, this is a repeat of history, where invaders come in time and time again to smash the symbols and evidence of a people’s greatness. This will NOT be tolerated. Will you stand with us and DEMAND the Sweises respect our history? We need to pressure the Sweises to do the decent thing.

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Allen Jones

Mayor Lee uses San Francisco Human Rights Commission to discriminate against Blacks

May 20, 2014

As a member of the Equity Advisory Committee of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (SFHRC), I learned a lot. It was all bad for The City’s Black community. The SFHRC was formed in 1964 to fight discrimination against Blacks in The City. Today, it is clear to me that this charter commission discriminates against the Black community – with no end in sight.

Magic Johnson has turned Donald Sterling’s attack into a teachable moment, telling Anderson Cooper: “The stigma is still there. ... It’s a shame that Donald used this platform with you, instead of using this platform to come out and apologize to the world, which would have been great.” In a New York Times op-ed, Charles Blow called Sterling’s comment, ‘Is he (Johnson) an example for children?’ particularly revolting. “In attempting to AIDS-shame Johnson,” Blow writes, “Sterling further shamed himself – if that’s even possible – and proved supremely disrespectful of and destructive to people living with HIV and those (like Johnson, who responded magnanimously) who are working to reach the affected and protect those at risk. In this it is clear that Johnson is a far better example for our children than Sterling.” New Yorker writer Michael Specter noted the effectiveness of Johnson’s 1991 disclosure he was HIV-positive: “Within a month of Magic Johnson’s announcement, the number of people seeking HIV tests in New York City rose by 60 per cent.” – Photos: Francine Orr, LA Times, and Mark J. Terrill, AP

Black AIDS Institute strongly condemns Donald Sterling’s bigotry

May 19, 2014

During an interview with Anderson Cooper on May 13, disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling tried to distract the public from his history of racial bigotry by changing the conversation to attacking and stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS. The Black AIDS Institute urges communities, advocates, policymakers and, once again, the NBA to work aggressively to create an environment where we eliminate HIV-related stigma.

PG&E, Ed Lee and the SFPUC v. clean energy

May 19, 2014

This weekend was the conference on Dirty Energy and Clean Solutions. ​Ironically, the conference in San Francisco came at the same time that San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proposed to cut the entire $19 million dollar budget that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors had set aside to create a renewable power option for city residents looking for an alternative to PG&E power.

“A school bus picks up children at Washington Elementary School as part of Berkeley Unified School District’s desegregation effort” is the caption for this photo illustrating a story about the persistent achievement gap at BUSD published in the UC Berkeley student newspaper, the Daily Cal, in 2009. Since then, the Black student population at UC Berkeley has continued to plummet, jeopardizing coverage of issues critical to the Black community. – Photo: Karen Ling, Daily Californian

March and Rally for Equity in Education: Parents of Black students in Berkeley public schools plan May 19 protest

May 19, 2014

A team of parents and supporting organizations announced today that they will march and rally on Malcolm X Day, May 19, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to support equity initiatives in public schools and protest unfair disciplinary actions and a culture of low expectations for Black children. The team is also pressing school districts to target the needs of Black students with new state funding pursuant to a Local Control and Accountability Plan.

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Video shows officer kicking handcuffed 13-year-old for opening a window

May 16, 2014

Community groups today condemned the brutality of police officers who allegedly handcuffed, choked and violently kicked a young Florida boy for opening the window on his school bus. The attack on the young man is part of a broader pattern of police brutality in Florida and the painful realities of the school-to-prison pipeline in the state.

People gather at the Chapel Mbeyo in Mbeyo, Rwanda, on April 6, 2014, the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide. – Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Miami Herald

Rwanda: Absolute power at any price

May 16, 2014

Gen. Paul Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane in which President Habyarimana and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, French citizens, and all others on board were killed on April 6, 1994. This assassination triggered the genocide. Since then President Kagame has imposed a reign of terror to keep himself and the ruling party in absolute power.

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Ammiano: Accreditation body must give City College more time

May 15, 2014

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano today called on the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to give City College of San Francisco more time to address its alleged deficiencies so the 80,000-student institution is not forced to close this year. Ammiano’s statement comes on the heels of California Assembly passage of AB 2087, his bill on community college governance, on a 74-0 vote.

Ras Baraka announces mayoral victory to students at high school he principals 051414

Ras Baraka, Amiri Baraka’s son, becomes mayor of Newark by earning it

May 14, 2014

Ras Baraka, one of the sons of the late poet and playwright Amiri Baraka, handily beat rival Shavar Jeffries Tuesday night to become the next mayor of his father’s city. How he did it was no mystery to those paying attention. Baraka, the city’s South Ward councilmember until Tuesday night, got the support of the people because of his consistent commitment to them for 23 years. His slogan was, “When I become mayor, we become mayor.” Baraka, 44, will become Newark’s 39th mayor at his July 1 inauguration.

Marcus Book Store, 1712 Fillmore St., San Francisco

Marcus Books: The wealth-hoarders and land-stealers change the locks on Black history in San Francisco

May 13, 2014

The undisputed flagship of Black history and literature, Marcus Books, is currently fighting to stay alive in San Francisco, which might now be known as the undisputed pinnacle of wealth-hoarding and displacement. The Johnson family is planning a series of actions to fight this unjust removal, but for now readers can call Royal Cab and tell the Sweis family to sell Marcus Books back to the Johnson family.

Girls abducted by Boko Haram on April 14 recite Muslim prayers in a video released May 12.

Nigeria: Abduction of students sparks outrage while imperialists pour in

May 12, 2014

A video purportedly released by the armed Boko Haram sect based in northeastern Nigeria showed what was said to be school girls who have been held by the group for a month. The Boko Haram leader said that the young women could be released in exchange for the prisoners belonging to their organization being held by the Nigerian government.

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Justice Committee co-chairs call for funding priorities change to ease prison crowding, improve public safety

May 9, 2014

Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., co-chairs of the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment, have issued recommendations to Speaker John A. Pérez, based on the committee’s seven hearings held in 2013-14. “We learned a lot from these hearings, with the big lesson being that these problems have solutions,” said Ammiano.

Skepticism growing toward ‘twin tunnels’ project: Gov. Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan in hot water

May 7, 2014

By now, most California residents have heard about Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to construct two 40-foot diameter peripheral tunnels 150-feet below the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the state’s largest and most critical water supply. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), estimated to cost between $25 and $67 billion, has been under intense scrutiny from local and congressional lawmakers, Delta residents, farmers and fishermen.

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