April 14, 2017
“Jitney,” August Wilson’s first play, set in 1977, takes place in the Hill District in Philadelphia, a place Wilson called home. “Jitney,” a part of Wilson’s 10-play canon that chronicles Black life from Jim Crow South to illusive Northern freedoms, speaks to the absence of permanent change for Black people despite legislative acts 1865 to now. It runs through April 16; visit www.african-americanshakes.org.
February 4, 2016
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (“Isis Papers”) made her transition Jan. 2, 2016. She was 80. The psychiatrist who challenged white supremacists on what she called “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy)” to look at their own melanin deficiency for what it is, “envy,” stirred and continues to stir the waters. She always stated theoretically that “Black lives matter,” way before the #blm movement.
January 2, 2016
August Wilson is considered one of America’s greatest playwrights, and the work that comprises The American Century Cycle, one of the outstanding achievements of the modern theater, is performed across the globe. But only Oakland’s premiere North American African theater company has performed the entire Cycle in chronological order. The Lower Bottom Playaz close the cycle with the timely production of the only play in the cycle that is told from the lens of developers. Wilson’s Hill District in Pittsburgh, Penn., and Oakland, Calif., 2015 hold a lot of common ground. “Radio Golf” continues through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, 2 p.m., at the Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland.
December 17, 2015
August Wilson is considered one of America’s greatest playwrights, and the work that comprises The American Century Cycle, one of the outstanding achievements of the modern theater, is performed across the globe. But only Oakland’s premiere North American African theater company has performed the entire cycle in chronological order. Don’t miss the final installment of The Lower Bottom Playaz’ American Century Cycle Project.
November 4, 2015
“Twenty Years of Speaking Truth to Power” is the theme for CCWP’s 20th anniversary gala, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m., at the Women’s Building 3543 18th St., San Francisco. For information, call 415-255-7036, ext. 4, and if you’d like to volunteer at the event, visit womenprisoners.org. Featured guests include Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter; Jayda Rasberry, organizer with Dignity and Power Now; Thao Nguyen, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down; and the Heiwa Taiko Drummers.
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.
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.
September 5, 2014
Congratulations to William Rhodes on a successful trip to South Africa, where he took a quilt created by his students at Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School in San Francisco to honor the legacy of an international hero, President Nelson Mandela, and returned with art panels from workshops conducted with youth in various townships and regions from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
August 2, 2014
Congratulations to Gerald Lenoir for carrying the torch and blazing the way for so many social justice issues from HIV/AIDS awareness in the Black community to his recent work in just migration for Pan Africans. Much success on your new work! Farewell to Alona Clifton and much success in Atlanta. Congratulations also to Almaz Negash, founder and director of African Diaspora Network in Silicon Valley for her national recognition and award at the Continental African Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
July 9, 2014
The Glide Memorial Church family worked wonders at the celebration of San Francisco native Maya Angelou’s life that she requested before she died. They juxtaposed carefully chosen visual moments with prerecorded Maya moments, which made her presence so palatable that the sanctuary lights came under the control of Spirit Maya and played with our collective vision – the room almost dark and the lights flickering off and on.
July 1, 2014
The Lower Bottom Playaz, in their 14th season, present “Two Trains Running,” the seventh play in the American Century Cycle by August Wilson, at The Flight Deck. The Lower Bottom Playaz take pride in paying actors and technical crew and need to raise $2,500 by July 31; please contribute all you can to this troupe that is the pride of the Black Bay Area and buy your tickets for performances Aug. 1, 2 and 3.
January 11, 2014
Amiri Baraka was a giant to those who know him. And now that he is physically gone, his legend will only grow. The FBI once identified him as “the person who will probably emerge as the leader of the pan-African movement in the United States.” Even those who critiqued him considered him to be brilliant, even referring to him as the Malcolm X of literature and spoken word. He often said bluntly and yet humbly that “Malcolm X was my leader.” Amiri Baraka put into practice what Malcolm taught him about cultural revolution.
October 31, 2013
Gina M. Paige explained that the organization, African Ancestry, started with Dr. Rick Kittles, genetic researcher at Howard University who was interested in isolating the gene that caused prostate cancer, one of the leading causes of death in our community. He found this research methodology applicable in other genetic detective research and so in 2003 African Ancestry was founded with Ms. Paige.
July 2, 2013
Ayodele “Wordslanger” Nzinga is a major thespian and theatrical force in the Bay Area hailing from the Lower Bottoms of West Oakland. She is now involved in producing the works of the great August Wilson and is currently producing “Seven Guitars,” which will run the last weekend in June and the first two weekends in July. Tune in as Ayo gives us some game on our history.
May 9, 2013
Congratulations to my nephew Wilfred Batin, 9 years old, who was one of two honor roll students from Rosa Parks Elementary School honored this year at City Hall. Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who deserve more than a day to honor them. Congratulations to all the college graduates!
July 8, 2012
Storytelling is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment – before radio, television, paper and cinema. Ayodele “Wordslanger” Nzinga is one of the Bay Area’s most talented griots who tells stories of the past through her West Oakland-based theater company, The Lower Bottom Playaz. The legendary August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” opens July 13.
September 4, 2011
Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, was the opening of August Wilson’s play, “Seven Guitars,” directed by Kent Gash, at the Marin Theatre Company. I hadn’t seen the play in about 15 years. Wilson was alive then and he was work-shopping his latest – play five in the eventual 10-play cycle – at ACT-SF with the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in a co-production.
April 10, 2011
When Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis, he was about to join the sanitation workers in their protest for a union and more decent wages. The movement for civil rights was taking hold in the North and America didn’t like it – so off with King’s head.
December 14, 2010
Minister of Information JR speaks with actress-storyteller-writer Rie Shontel about her provocative one-woman show “Mama Juggs.” Now you have the opportunity to see this gifted sista, who has performed around the country and in Africa and now includes Blues legend Augusta Collins in the show. “Mama Juggs: Three Generations Healing Negative Body Image” will play Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Twin Space, 2111 Mission St., San Francisco, and on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 29 and 30, at the Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St., West Oakland.
November 26, 2010
It’s been 25 years since the film version of Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” opened to much controversy. Despite the controversy, the story is one that is still read, watched and celebrated in many forms. The San Jose production of the musical is fantastic! This is the final weekend.