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What makes San Francisco Mime Troupe the award-winning theatre it is is its amazing work, which is always topical and timely. Its current production, July 1-Sept. 10, “Walls” is no different. Playwright and SF Mime veteran Michael Gene Sullivan’s new work looks at federal immigration policy from George W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton to Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The quartet has much in common, each president responsible for policies which criminalize its immigrant population.
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.
Libations to Ornette Coleman, musician, composer, March 9, 1930-June 11, 2015. Libations also for Brother Tahuti, a beloved elder who made his transition mid-June. Those of us who commemorate our African Ancestors of the Middle Passage have formed an organization which took me recently to Washington, D.C. At the website guests can learn about commemorations throughout the United States and beyond.
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.
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.
Quentin Easter was certainly a man whom too many of us will miss, miss for his warm compassionate smile, unruffled presence and positive outlook in the face of tremendous stress and obstacles.
Next month the most important item on my agenda is Maafa Commemoration Month to reflect on the legacy of slavery and how everyone benefited from this human rights travesty except those who did the work. We began Aug. 30 with a successful Maafa 2009: Hurricane Katrina Fundraiser and Reportback, thanks to all the poets and the visual artists who donated art for the silent auction and of course to Tess and Yeme, the proprietors of Shashamane Bar and Grill.
Required reading for Americans pre-fireworks and festivities should be an important speech given by abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, who, in “What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?” questions this holiday which took place while citizens were denied their right to justice, freedom and equality. At the Oakland Public Conservatory, Michael Lange and youth wordsmiths Ayinde Webb, the drummer in the Frederick Douglass Youth Ensemble, and Jamani Williams will read excerpts.
Our beloved Mother Mary Ann Wright passed last month; she was 87. She was soft-spoken when not in the pulpit or behind her bullhorn holding church at her multiple food giveaway sites. I marveled over this woman who'd done so much to comfort the poor, a woman loved by all who knew her.