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We pour libations for Fats Domino, New Orleans musical legend, who died Oct. 24. He was 89. The Architect of Rock n’ Roll was the child of Haitian Kreyòl plantation workers and the grandson of an enslaved African. And we also pour libations for Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), who made his transition Oct. 30. He was 80. Congratulations to Drs. Vera and Wade Nobles on their 50th wedding anniversary this month.
RYSE debuts its third annual production at El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater on May 6 and 7. “Richmond Renaissance” is an original play written and performed by Richmond youth. Set in AnnaBelle’s, a Black-owned juke joint in 1940s North Richmond, Richmond Renaissance counters the often negative Richmond narrative of poverty and violence by highlighting the community’s wealthy cultural past as an epicenter for blues, jazz and zydeco.
2017 marks the centennial of the nation’s bloodiest race riot in the 20th century in East St. Louis, Illinois. Migrant Black people were hired to work as miners to replace striking white workers at the Aluminum Ore Co. The white workers stormed City Hall demanding redress from the mayor. Shortly thereafter, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed Black man set off the reign of terror in downtown East St. Louis in which unarmed Black men, women and children were pulled from trollies and street cars and beaten and shot down in the street.
Elaine Brown’s “A Taste of Power,” a memoir which chronicles her leadership of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense when co-founder Huey P. Newton is imprisoned, still resonates with me. The idea that a Black woman is nominated to the leadership position of the most powerful civic organization in the country at that time is still remarkable and speaks to what Kathleen Cleaver calls revolutionary imagination.
“Dr. Mutulu Is Welcome Here” is the title of the campaign and the program Malcolm X Grassroots Movement hosted Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day, in Oakland. As we walked into Sole Space, a venue that also sells shoes and art and is a part of the corner building that houses Oakstop, we were invited to pose with a photo of Dr. Shakur. Mama Ayanna, seated at the door, welcomes and greets comrades and friends of friends as other members of MXGM host the program.
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.
This is the month we wear our Blackness with pride – so walk on, walk on. I want to thank Rhodessa Jones, Shaka Jamal, Pat Jamison, Elaine Lee, Walter Turner, Vera Nobles and Elouise Burrell for your leads and references for South Africa.