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On the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, Wednesday, April 4, we need to stop and reflect on the many landmark movements which began 50 years ago … like hip-hop. For the Oakland Museum of California to showcase this culture in an exhibit entitled “RESPECT: Hip Hop Style and Wisdom” now through August 2018 is to elevate this conversation and its creators to a level unprecedented.
I watched two Black Panther movies today: “Panther,” the one put out by Mario and Melvin Van Pebbles in 1995 and, in my opinion, prematurely discarded from theaters, and the new one by Marvel, “Black Panther.” Angela Bassett stars in both films and the span of 23 years has not cracked her beautiful Black! if you liked “Black Panther,” I encourage you to revisit “Panther,” which has a lot of strong on-point performances.
What I loved this year was all the celebratory dancing from just before our ancestors crossed into the unknown territory to landing on these shores and celebrating life and the possibility of freedom, which remained physically just beyond reach for centuries. In small steps as we regained agency over ourselves, even if our bodies then and now continue to be exploited, liberation was a bit sweeter.
Dr. Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory, 84, joined the ancestors Aug. 19, the same day as the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in Washington, D.C. A longtime advocate for human rights, Gregory ran for president of the United States, went to Iran to negotiate the release of Americans held hostage, is also known for his Bohemian diet and extensive fasts for human rights. Ten years ago he visited Oakland to honor the lives of the 918 adults and 305 children – including 40 infants – who lost their lives along with U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and a United Press International film crew.
His name was Richard Claxton Gregory, born Oct. 12, 1932, in St. Louis, Missouri. But the world knew him as Dick Gregory, comedian, human rights activist, social critic and presidential candidate. As a young man, he won an athletic scholarship as a runner, which took him to college. But he really hit his mark as a comedian who told sidesplitting jokes about American segregation and racism. The great civil rights activist Dick Gregory died this week.
“The responsibility of being the first in history to charge the government of the United States of America with the crime of genocide is not one the petitioners take lightly,” according to the primary document in the new edition of the book “We Charge Genocide,” published by New York City-based International Publishers. Released in February, the book’s title comes from the petition “We Charge Genocide: The Crime of the U.S. Government against the Negro People.”
It is a hobby that began almost 50 years ago. Now, decades later, Albert Feldstein has the desire to preserve this history and share his button collection with others in a purposeful manner, the result being a new and unique poster entitled, “A Black History of America in 110 Buttons: The Events, The Issues, The Organizations, The People.” The goal of Feldstein’s poster is to recall the historic people and events which characterize African-American history. For some, it will rekindle memories – while for younger generations it will provide an impetus for research and a greater appreciation of past struggles.
Dedon Kamathi, a former Black Panther and Central Committee member of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, passed away at the end of August after suffering a stroke. I first spoke with Dedon way back in the 1980s when I was arranging to bring Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) to speak in my then hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii. Dedon was one of the first revolutionary Black internationalists I was to get to know and work with, and his loss hit me hard.
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.”
Thespian, comedian, humanitarian, radio broadcaster and father would all be words to describe this Bay Area renaissance man who has been putting his stamp on Oakland and the Bay Area’s culture for decades. Donald Lacy will be performing his world renowned play, “Color Struck,” on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 3 and 4, at Laney College, 900 Fallon St., at 8 p.m. Check out this Oakland legend as he speaks to us about his history and thoughts.
The house was packed for the San Francisco NAACP Freedom Fund Gala, “We Shall Not Be Moved Until Justice Rolls Down Like a Mighty Stream,” at the Union Square Hilton on Saturday, Nov. 9, when Tavis Smiley, named one of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” by TIME magazine, broadcaster, author of 16 books, publisher, advocate and philanthropist, took the mic. Beginning with excerpts from his introduction by San Francisco NAACP President Dr. Amos C. Brown, here is Tavis’ provocative and profoundly moving address:
Lynne Stewart devoted over 30 years of her life to helping others as a criminal defense lawyer. She defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the state. Now Lynne Stewart needs our urgent help or she may die in prison. Our determination can compel the Bureau of Prisons to file the motion for compassionate release that will free Lynne Stewart.
Leo lives in every navy blue or ash T-shirt with brown, beige, Tan, ivory, hands circled in solidarity, In every fiery speech during San Francisco strikes and Port Of Oakland shutdowns, in fights for health care, cradle To grave, in housing, library, post office and school struggles, In good fights against fracking and in the Occupy Movement …
“Long Distance Revolutionary,” the new documentary about political prisoner and prolific writer Mumia Abu Jamal, will have its international premiere in the Bay Area on Oct. 6 and 8 at the Mill Valley Film Festival. There have been a number of documentaries done about the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, but this one puts his life at the center of the discussion.
Brother Richard Aoki demonstrably and sincerely dedicated the vast majority of his life and his every living thought to achieve the overcoming of racism, poverty and inequality, without giving up. Richard was indeed exactly who he claimed to be, who is exactly what people back in the day of the struggle also knew him to be: a dedicated, brilliant revolutionary.
I would like to wish all the fathers a blessed and happy Fathers’ Day 2012. It is a hard time to be a parent of a youngster, not to mention an adolescent or youth. The challenges are great, in direct proportion to the rewards. I’d like to congratulate the young fathers who are stepping up and participating in their children’s lives, especially when society equates parenting with one’s largess or paycheck.
Veteran comedian and activist Dick Gregory was arrested Sept. 3 for blocking the entrance way in a protest against British Petroleum for its handling of a $20 billion victims’ compensation fund, yet his protests continue.
Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) set up in the aftermath of the BP drilling disaster, has denied all damage claims for illnesses associated with exposure to the toxic BP crude oil and/or toxic chemical dispersants that were applied to the oil spill.
Did you know that there were FBI files on Marcus Garvey, dated 1919? On Martin Luther King? On Dick Gregory? Did you know the FBI tried to get the Mafia to take out a hit on Dick Gregory – a comedian? What activists have to understand is that the government – every government – targets activists!
Several prominent figures from the international anti-apartheid movement have sent South African President Jacob Zuma an open letter “in the hopes that he can assist” former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family in returning to Haiti “as soon as possible.”
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