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Welcome! Welcome – canoe, slave ship, raft, riverboat, barge, banana boat, tug – WELCOME: to the boat we’re All in –
After gracing the planet for 76 years, Aretha Franklin joined the ancestors Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. President Obama: “Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade – our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.”
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.
As I sit here in a 4½-by-11-foot cage on Thanksgiving Day, I first and foremost am thankful to be alive. On Feb. 10, 2004, I came within three hours and 42 minutes of being strapped down to a gurney, tortured with lethal poison and murdered by volunteer prison-guard executioners. So, yes, I am very thankful to be alive. I am also very thankful for all the people – my legal team, friends, family, supporters and activists working to end the death penalty – who have helped make my being alive possible. I have respectfully asked the governor and others to look at my case with an open mind, outside the legal box that has me close to being killed for murders of which I am innocent.
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.
From May through August, three floors of black and white jazz photographs are on display at the African American Art & Culture Complex. They depict Harlem of the West, the San Francisco Fillmore jazz era that was bustling from the 1930s through the 1950s. Jazz was “king” and the Fillmore music scene was alive and flowing from end to end in the African American community.
Let me be the first to say that “Miles Ahead,” the film about the legendary trumpet player Miles Davis, is completely and utterly terrible and devoid of historical information. I’ve been a huge fan of Miles Davis’ music and also the acting of the man who plays Miles, Don Cheadle. Cheadle lost major points with me in this disgusting move to defile the legacy of one of the greatest internationally known trumpet players in history.
The featured front page story in the Feb. 18 San Francisco Chronicle begins, “The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church, a uniquely San Franciscan storefront ministry dedicated to the music and preachings of the soulful sax man, is facing eviction and may be gone as soon as Sunday’s sermon ends. Let your voice be heard by signing the petition in full support of the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church remaining in the West Bay Conference Center.”
The 20th anniversary of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Maafa Commemoration, Sunday, Oct. 11, was really lovely. The day was slightly overcast, and when I arrived there was a drumming circle, with Afrikans dancing and singing. The lit walkway leading to the Doors of No Return and the shrine before the ocean was inviting, yet no one seemed anxious to make that journey – we knew where that path lay and were not looking forward to the turmoil – so the children of the children of the children of that time long ago stayed on the shores and watched the sea. We are looking for 20th anniversary reflections to publish on maafasfbayarea.com.
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.
This December will mark the 50th anniversary of the recording “A Love Supreme,” the John Coltrane album which many consider to be his seminal work. In celebration of this momentous occasion and its call for global peace, the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church will celebrate A Love Supreme Mass on Monday, Dec. 8, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. The mass is the high point of a global festival from Dec. 5 to the 9th.
The story of Souls of Mischief and their crew Hieroglyphics is the story of how Oakland became respected for its lyricism in a genre that was dominated by East Coast wordsmiths. It is a story told by Shomari Smith in his new documentary, “’Til Infinity,” which is about the 20th anniversary of the Souls of Mischief classic album. “’Til Infinity” will be premiering at the Oakland International Film Fest on April 6 at 9 p.m. at the Black Rep Theatre.
Archbishop King and Rev. Mother Marina will be honored on Sunday, Dec. 15, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at an evening of fine dining, divine music and testimony. Keynote speaker will be Rev. Christopher Muhammad. The event will be at the West Bay Community Center, 1290 Fillmore St. near Eddy in San Francisco. Tickets for the event, including dinner and music, must be purchased in advance.
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.
Marcus Book Store, at 1712 Fillmore St., San Francisco, is packed with knowledge it has purveyed since 1960, for 53 years. Now the oldest Black book store in the country has been ordered out. But the community is REFUSING to let Marcus Books close. The Sweises, who bought the property, want the judge to evict Marcus Books. Everyone is urged to BOYCOTT their businesses, Big Dog City Cab and Royal Cab companies. On Tuesday, July 2, 3 p.m., the community will caravan to the Sweis home in South City for a PROTEST RALLY at 4 p.m.
In the world of jazz, John Coltrane is viewed as a spiritually driven supremely gifted sax player, one of the greatest horn players to ever live. So when I ran into Gary Golio’s book “Spirit Seeker,” I was interested in seeing if he was trying to exploit our beloved St. John Coltrane or if he was trying to bring another generation into the knowledge of Coltrane’s legacy. He did the latter, masterfully.
The day is Buy Black Wednesday. I am setting foot in the Pan Afrikan Market Place called Little Nubia, modeled after Harlem in its “hey day,” old Timbuktu and Black Wall Street. So there are over 600 Black businesses in a 10-square-block area. Red, black and green is everywhere. Flags from every Afrikan nation flutter in the summer breeze.
Amoeblog invited author, journalist, broadcaster and activist JR Valrey, aka the People’s Minister of Information, to be a guest contributor. The Oakland-based Valrey, who was interviewed and profiled on the Amoeblog last month, is known for his work on KPFA radio, the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, and his book “Block Reportin’.” The book will soon be available for sale in Amoeba Hollywood’s book section.
October is Maafa Commemoration Month. The term Maafa refers to the Black Holocaust, that period when African people were stolen and traded in the greatest, most widespread cooperative economic venture to date, which resulted in the displacement of human beings as commodities. The Kiswahili term Maafa extends that definition of loss and trauma, that is, PTSD or post-traumatic slave syndrome – the flashbacks, both conscious and unconscious, reoccurring instances of the atrocities 150 years after the end of slavery which have direct association to the brutality of chattel slavery.
A recent evening at the African American Museum and Library in Oakland was special. The line wrapped around the corner of 14th Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way as people lined up to hear Isabel Wilkerson talk about her book, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.”
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