February 10, 2017
Happy Black History Month. Knowledge is power, something Black people from Frederick Douglass to Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks to Kamala Harris have never taken for granted. If white people would kill a Black person for teaching someone to read, not to mention knowing how to read – enough said! The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s organization, has chosen the theme: “Crisis in Education” for 2017.
February 5, 2017
I went to San Francisco’s 2017 Dr. King Day celebration riding the same wave that hounded every other participant. As I suspected, a tragic election caused crowd levels to swell significantly compared to a year ago. I’d say at least three times the number of 2016 attendees walked in this year’s march. One ugly cloud loomed: the transfer of federal powers – which finally did arrive four days later – had crept oh so dreadfully near.
January 26, 2017
Today marks the first anniversary of President Obama ending juvenile solitary in the federal prison system in response to the case of New York City teenager Kalief Browder, who committed suicide in 2015 at the age of 22. In 2010, when Kalief was just 16, he was sent to Rikers Island, without trial, on suspicion of stealing a backpack. He always maintained his innocence and demanded a trial. Instead, he spent the next nearly three years at Rikers – nearly 800 days of that time in solitary confinement.
January 16, 2017
Here are some quotes I think are apropos for today’s political reality, which shows what a revolutionary thinker Dr. King was; even better, he practiced what he preached. “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
December 2, 2016
A call for a national work stoppage was issued for Sept. 9, 2016, to inmates all across America to bring an end to the “exception” – the slavery clause – in the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment upholding slavery for prisoners. Sadly, I, along with a very small sprinkle of inmates here and there on “the farm” (a reference to Angola, a former slave plantation turned into the largest prison in the country) answered the call.
November 19, 2016
Tell me, what does it mean when a white adjudicator is unmoved by the racism, oppression and police terror that Black folks in this country are subjected to but becomes unhinged when a Black man decides to demonstrate in opposition to it. Again, what does it mean? That “white adjudicator” just so happens to be United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As for that Black man, he is no other than San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepemick.
October 14, 2016
Perhaps the reason why Nat Turner is almost completely buried within documented and oral histories is connected to the fear his rebellion caused in the Southampton and by extension the Southern antebellum community. Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” visits this story as Donald Trump draws a white male constituency very much in keeping philosophically with the angry mob who tear the flesh from the iconic Prophet Nat Turner’s body.
September 20, 2016
I have been asked to write a SOLIDARITY statement to everyone about the Camp of the Sacred Stones on Standing Rock. Thank you for this great honor. I must admit it is very difficult for me to even begin this statement, as my eyes get so blurred from tears and my heart swells with pride as chills run up and down my neck and back. I’m so proud of all of you young people and others there.
July 15, 2016
We lost many loved ones this past month, from photographer extraordinaire Kamau Amen Ra to community organizer, prolific writer and longshoreman Brother Cleophus Williams to my dear Sister Monica Pree, not to mention Muhammad Ali. We reflect on Independence Day, a day marked by the blood of African Ancestors of the Middle Passage – the first to die a Black man, Crispus Attucks, on March 3, 1770, in what became known as the Boston Massacre.
July 10, 2016
International peace activist Cynthia McKinney brought a very important point to me recently when she asked me to think about the fact that every time Black people reach a moral high ground over the police, something tragic happens to the police. It drives home the subliminal point that other ethnicities should be sympathetic to police who are paid to control these Black animals, who, untrained or barely trained and armed, can kill multiple elite, trained officers. Consider the cases of Larry Davis in New York and Lovelle Mixon in Oakland.
June 11, 2016
It’s not some grand conspiracy, but it’s grand theft nonetheless. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ voters will lose their ballots, their rights, by the tens of thousands. The steal is baked into the way California handles No Party Preference – “NPP” voters – what we know as “independents.” There are a mind-blowing 4.2 million voters in California registered NPP – and they share a love for sunshine and Bernie Sanders.
March 16, 2016
I began writing a eulogy for Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores years ago, though she died only last week. Berta was assassinated by Honduran government-backed death squads on March 3. Like many who knew and worked with her, I was aware that this fighter was not destined to die of old age. She spoke too much truth to too much power. Long may Berta live, in the hearts, minds, passions and actions of all of us.
February 29, 2016
Author Akua Agusi’s children’s books deal with the history of Black giants like Marcus Garvey, Madame C.J. Walker, Queen Nzinga and Imhotep. And there are many more in the works. Please support revolutionary Black art and literature with your purchasing dollars so we can continue to keep Akua in business and inspire more people to make conscious and revolutionary art and literature. Check her out in her own words.
February 20, 2016
The activism in Oakland today parallels both the activism to end police brutality in Oakland in the 1940s and 1950s and the Black Panthers’ activism beginning in 1966. A new source of activism has been added today: the victims’ families. “Policing in the 21st Century: Where Do We Go from Here,” uniting police victims’ families with Black Panther Party veterans will be held Saturday, Feb. 27, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at First AME Church, 530 37th St., Oakland; it’s free and open to the public.
February 8, 2016
Muhammad al-Kareem founded the New Bayview newspaper, later renamed San Francisco Bay View, in 1976 and turned it over to the Ratcliffs in late 1991. So in 2016, we’re excited to be celebrating the newspaper’s 40th anniversary, beginning on Sunday, Feb. 21, 1-5 p.m., at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. You’ll hear Muhammad, a panel consisting of writers associated with the Bay View in different eras, a fashion show and musicians reminding us of the beauty and talent within our community. We’ll serve food, too – and it’s all FREE. Spread the word!
December 22, 2015
Ten years ago – the weight of shackles – pressed hard against his body – collapsing his lungs – squeezing his life – but not his spirit – determined to bury him – beneath the rubble of ashes – beneath time – cast him to oceans – like forgotten Ancestors – written out of history – a historical footnote. – But – we haven’t forgotten – the death of Malcolm and Martin – or the struggles of Harriet. – No more can we forget Dec. 13, 2005 – Stanley Tookie Williams –
August 27, 2015
It was with true sadness that, on Aug. 13, I received the news that legendary California prison activist Hugo Pinell was killed in a California prison. Hugo Pinell was locked up in California state prisons for 50 years! That is insane. Hugo Pinell spent decades teaching, advocating and struggling for human rights, justice and dignity for prisoners. He taught and fought for racial and revolutionary unity among all prisoners.
August 25, 2015
Since my release in October 1981, my deepest commitment in life has been to fight for the full restoration of civil and human rights of formerly incarcerated people and for those who have the current misfortune of occupying cages. It is through this lens that I attempt to come to grips with the tragic murder of Hugo Pinell and its possible ramifications.
August 14, 2015
Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll. By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was assassinated Aug. 12. Prison guards celebrated on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.
August 13, 2015
I was the founding chairman and national organizer of the Black Panther Party. Our first organizing tactic was to legally observe the police in our Oakland and Berkeley Black communities. During those hard core late 1960s racist, fascist times, we took a big chance with our lives patrolling the police. It was a time of rampant vicious police brutality and murder of Black people by police that was 10 times worse than today.