by Wanda Sabir
The shift in consciousness between 2008 and 2009 is something palpable; almost the same type of anticipation greeted the move between centuries, 20th into 21st, 1999-2000. People are planning to be on the Great Mall, standing along the Reflection Pool, in Washington, D.C., in front of the Lincoln Memorial, just to say they were there. Even if they can’t see Obama in the flesh, they will feel Obama in the persons of all assembled.
Many people have said that Jan. 20, 2009, is an opportunity to start all over again. Nine is the end of the cycle and perhaps the Obama legacy will be one marked by participatory democracy and real change for all Americans, especially Black Americans, who have been carrying around checks stamped insufficient funds drawn on the bank of democracy and opportunity for too long. If what Martin King said is correct, then Obama is the bank manager okaying our collective opportunity to redeposit that check and start spending the funds with compounded interest. And the check will clear because the promise is this Obama administration. This new infrastructure that is inclusive, almost to a fault, will honor the promises made by prior administrations and thus far not kept.
The end of the year is a time to reflect and celebrate being African. The Kwanzaa holiday, begun in 1967, is now 41 years old and celebrated by African people throughout the nation and the world. “Habari Gani?” a greeting which translates from Kiswahili into the English, “What’s the news?” is responded to with the principle of the day: “Umoja,” “Kujichagulia,” “Ujima,” “Ujamaa,” “Nia,” “Kuumba” and “Imani.”
The first principle, Umoja or Unity, is something Black people can’t get enough of. Perhaps this is why Dec. 26 is one of my favorite meditations. It is certainly the most important, which is why in the kinara, or candle holder, it is the black candle in the center, flanked by either red or green, some kinara arrangements reflecting the alternating colors in the African Liberation flag – red, black and green – the other arrangement, more typical, one black candle in the center, three red to its left, three green to its right. While symbolism is certainly important, the idea of holy days for African people, a people displaced and spread throughout the Western Hemisphere is more valuable than the drape of one’s robe or the color of a candle.
One day I’ll be able to get to all the Kwanzaa celebrations. In 2008 I was able to make three and read about others. This year we have a film, “The Black Candle,” directed by M.K. Asante Jr., to celebrate this tradition. Narrated by Maya Angelou and featuring a virtual who’s who of activists and scholars, from Chuck D to Maulana Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa’s founder, the film is a frank look at how culture is created and the social and political environments, both globally and regionally that produces a need and a vehicle to carry or translate the need into action.
Absent is the voice of Sister Makinya Kouate, a resident of Northern California, who is the reason why or how the Kwanzaa ritual is what it is and why it is celebrated throughout the country and world. Maulana Ron Karenga gave her a mimeographed sheet with the concept, and through her study and creativity and travel to African nations, she developed the celebration. At 82, she is the eldest woman at most of the celebrations; however, this year at the Nairobi celebration of Kujichagulia, she let another woman elder, Avoctja, represent the elder women, so I was able to sit by her and watch as she noted the correct practice of the ritual from the placement of the candles to the inclusion of the male elder’s comments in the program.
Her voice would have added depth and a missing aspect as to how the holiday moved from a handful of celebrants in a closed ceremony in the U.S. in 1966, to a community event in 1967, to the worldwide celebration with postage stamps and other such national recognition. I wonder, when a story leaves out key elements, if a partial truth is better than no truth at all?
I am thinking specifically of “Made in America,” a new film on the development of the Crips and the Bloods, as a response to the exclusion of Black Americans from the economic and political development of Los Angeles County. Left out of the story is Tookie Williams. I wondered how one could tell the story of gangs of LA, especially the Crips, and omit the voice of Stanley Tookie Williams. I still haven’t gotten an answer to my question or an interview with the directors, but I’ll keep you posted.
M.K. Asante Jr.’s film echoes the other work he directed, “500 Years Later.” It has the philosophical scope his work is known for, as well as the visual and lyrical content his audiences have come to love. There are rarely seen reflections by Muhammad Ali on the misconceptions of the African presence: Africans often depicted as savage. He notes this in an airplane flown by an African pilot.
One of the more striking parallels that make a case for Kwanzaa is the black/white doll test 50 years ago, in 1958. Black children, boys and girls, were asked to choose the doll they thought was the most beautiful, and all the children shown chose the white doll. She was pretty, good and ultimately more valued by this society than the Black doll – translate: Black child, translate: Black people.
Kwanzaa is a child of the ‘60s and comes from the expressed need of African people to link hands or arms with the rest of the African nation. The Pan African concept certainly resonates with other such celebrations of First Fruits, yet the way Kwanzaa is celebrated and the way it happened here in this hemisphere is our gift to our collective Black nation.
Without unity or Umoja, there is no self-determination or Kujichagulia. The African self is not individual, rather collective: I am who I am because of the community that raised me. The same is true of the sacrifice and blood represented by the red candle. I have to remember the toil of my ancestors; otherwise I cannot appreciate the fruit, the blessings and the many opportunities. Things one fails to appreciate often get lost, given away or stolen.
If we reflect often on the importance these principles, which are the cornerstone of a life, then the Kwanzaa celebration of first fruits can give sustenance or food to our souls during the rest of the year, especially if we incorporate the seven principles into our daily lives for the rest of the 364 days following the Jan. 1 celebration of Imani or faith. Sister Makinyah told us on Kujichagulia that if we meditated and practiced each principle for 52.142857143 days, we would incorporate the Nguzo Saba into our daily lives between the poles, Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2010. The extra day would be a day of reflection.
I remember our ancestors on Imani, a day they called the Jubilee, a day they celebrated freedom from enslavement, a day we often sleep through. Our ancestors stayed up all night praying in the churches or cabins, “watching for daybreak,” Dec. 31, 1862. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was to become law Jan. 1, 1863, if the Confederate government didn’t lay down its arms and join the Union government in a United States of America.
So on Jan. 1, 1863, Black people enslaved in the South were free. There was nothing in place to guarantee our liberation, but many of our ancestors slipped away Jan. 1, 1863, and joined the Union Army to fight for our liberty. One such general was Mama Harriet Tubman.
Imani is a day to recall our fight for justice and liberty. We were not born slaves and every day our ancestors awakened to alive was another opportunity to break the chains that kept them physically hostage. This is our legacy and this is why we are free today.
Obama’s presidency is not the time to sit back and relax. No, it is a time for us to dust off our revolutionary armor, start training again, look at the strategies that worked and what didn’t, reestablishing ties to others and reaching out to like-minded individuals and organizations so that alliances can be developed to strengthen the movement which has been reinvigorated by this man’s personality and leadership. But he can’t, as he says, do any of this rebuilding of America on his own, and if you look at some of his appointees, you don’t want to let him do anything alone.
Participate. Let the seven principles guide your footsteps this year, beginning with Umoja. The greeting for 2009 should be “Habri Gani?” “What’s the news?” The response: “Umoja,” “Kujichagulia,” “Ujima,” “Ujamaa,” “Nia,” “Kuumba” and “Imani.”
Inaugural celebrations in the San Francisco Bay Area
There are many inaugural celebrations planned for Jan. 20, 2009, from a free screening of the swearing in at the College of Alameda to the Inaugural Ball at the Elijah Mohammed Cultural Center in Oakland. Some are listed here. Check my website, http://wandaspicks.com, for daily updates as the date grows near.
During 2008 we lost many of our heroes and heroines, some all at once. In the latter part of the year, especially in December, we said goodbye to Mama Africa Miriam Makeba, Odetta, Prince LaSha and Freddie Hubbard. 2008 was also goodbye, at least for now, to my teacher, Sister Linda Sue Karriem, whom we called “Munira,” and Sister Ummas Salama. We also said goodbye to Imam Warith Deen Mohammed. Bo Diddley, Sean Levert, Buddy Miles, Bernie Mac and my friend Imam Benjamin Ahmad also made their transitions. Norman Whitfield, Dee Dee Warwick and my friend Kimara’s father Ivan Dixon.
Dr. C. Diane Howell, editor and publisher of the Black Business Listings and founder of the Black Expo, died Wednesday, Dec. 24. Her life and work was often the topic of student research in my classes at the College of Alameda, when looking at social entrepreneurship. Dr. Howell, who had a Ph.D. in psychology and was a clinician, decided to look at developing opportunities for Black wealth and economic sovereignty, often the reason for much dysfunction in our communities.
At the yearly fundraiser and gala program, a part of the Black Expo, she gave scholarships to Black youth to encourage them in their higher education pursuits. I always thought her focus, the organization’s focus, on youth whose grades might not be in the A-B range but passing, a great incentive to the youth who might be passed over for such recognition in traditional honorary circles.
Once again, she and I never had the talk about the link between economics and the systemic Maafa or Black Holocaust that cripples the Black community located in the Western cultural paradigm in urban enclaves like East Oakland, South Berkeley and North Richmond, Bayview Hunters Point and Sunnydale. She was the emcee at the Unity Day hosted by House of Unity at Merritt College in September, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Allensworth, the Black town, in Tulare County, California.
The memorial service for Diane Howell has been confirmed for Monday, Jan. 5, at the Oakland Marriott and Convention Center, 1001 Broadway, at 11a.m. Doors will open at 10 a.m. If you have questions, visit http://www.blackexpoltd.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Expo website front page has information regarding the memorial. Our sister will be missed.
Eartha Kitt is another wonderful woman who made her transition toward the end of last month, on Thursday, Dec. 25. She was 81, born Jan. 17. I recall the wonderful concert I attended in 2006 at SFJAZZ and the photo with her back stage and the interview posted on her website. I was so excited to speak to her. I think the nerves and excitement were the same or similar to what I experienced when I spoke to Lou Rawls before his passing and Isaac Hayes. For that interview, see http://www.earthakitt.com/articles/earthakitt031506.html and for a good article on her life see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eartha_Kitt.
A friend of mine said that life seems to get shorter after one reaches a certain age. Life doesn’t necessarily speed by, but it certainly doesn’t seem to last forever – or the myth that it will last forever is denied with each passing memory clothed in flesh, like our sister C. Diane Howell, Mama Ruth Brown and Mama Eartha Kitt. Every time I see the Bernie Mac Show, I think about this man’s life and his work and how earlier this year he was being called to task for his remarks at a fundraiser for President-elect Obama. Now he is gone.
It is so important to give our loved ones and people we admire their flowers while they can smell them, which is a reason why one should support the Eddie Hart All in One Foundation and his work with youth. He and others hosted the First Annual Cheikh Anta Diop Golden Spirit Award Charity Gala Tuesday, Dec. 30, at the African American Museum and Library, 659 14th St., in Oakland. It is the 85th anniversary of the birth of Senegalese scholar Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, and what better way to honor his contributions to African history and science rooted in the sub-Saharan origins of ancient Egypt, the land of the pharaohs, than with an event which recognizes the connection between the humanities and arts and activism and the importance of education as a precursor to leadership. All the people honored that evening, speaking or performing, such as Danny Glover, the featured speaker, the Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Florence LaRue of Fifth Dimension, Lenny Williams, Tower of Power – all are examples of persons with Nia or purpose, the Kwanzaa principle celebrated and the principle for reflection that day.
Earlier that morning, Dec. 30, Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos spoke to the youth of Oakland and the East Bay at the First Unitarian Building, next door to AAMLO. Visit www.eddiehartaiof.org or call (925) 518-8104 to see how you can support the organization’s efforts.
The SF 8 and Freedom Archive Benefit at Black Rep with Paul Mooney
This fundraiser was a great success and Paul Mooney is to be commended for his commitment to the Black Repertory Group Theatre, the great community organization he supports with his time and skills each year in the annual fundraising show. This year he extended this philanthropy to include two performances for the San Francisco 8 case and the work of Freedom Archives. For information about how you can support Black Rep’s Music in the Community program, the summer arts youth camp, or information about the 44th season main stage production of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” call (510) 652-2120 or visit www.blackrepertorygroup.com. The 44th season is honoring all women.
Exhibits you have to see
There is so much great art I missed, like the “Impressionist Women” at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. I still haven’t gotten over to the reopened Steinhart Aquarium or Morrison Planetarium. I almost missed the Oakland Museum exhibit “Birth of Cool” and “Cool Remixed,” but I got by with my granddaughter. I also didn’t miss the lovely Dia de los Muertos there either or the one at Laney College, which collaborated with Maafa San Francisco Bay Area. We featured art by TaSin Sabir with a lovely altar assembled by Neter Aameri. It was one of the favorite installations. Patrons said they loved its simplicity – white candles, white rice, spices, water, crystal containers and the artist mixed media image inspired by the Maafa ritual. Visit http://maafasfbayarea.com and https://www.calacademy.org/visit/.
Exhibits you haven’t missed that you have to see include the Martin Puryear exhibit at the SFMOMA and the companion exhibit at the de Young. The poster exhibit is up until Jan. 11, the sculpture exhibit through Jan. 25. Also closing Jan. 11 is the Hewitt exhibit at the Museum of the African Diaspora, MoAD.
Yes, you will be running around, but it is worth it. Puryear is one of our premiere sculptors and his posters are rarely seen, if known. The Hewitt features art from an African American collector and features rare work from some of our premiere artists like Romare Bearden and others.
Don’t forget to get by the First Fridays at the Oakland Museum and the Joyce Gordon Gallery. The African American Art and Culture Complex is closed through summer 2009, so we can look forward to the newly renovated and reopened facility. SomArts is another gallery which has great exhibits one should frequent often. Their Diaz de los Muertos is unparalleled – it is so African centered and inclusive.
Intersection for the Arts Gallery is another venue off the radar for many, so add a visit to the upstairs gallery when you attend the Jazz Series concerts or one of the many great plays or other performance showcases this coming season. Hit me up online or on the air this year as I try to keep you in the loop regarding the link between art and politics.
The work is just starting, when many of you probably thought it was over. Stay blessed and don’t forget our brothers and sisters behind bars, our freedom fighters like Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Marilyn Buck, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, both back in solitary confinement, the same place they’ve spent 36 years of their 41 behind bars for defending inmates’ human rights, stopping the rape of young men and raising public awareness of the brutality of the Louisiana penal system to a national stage. Write, call, agitate! Visit www.Angola3.org. And for information about California’s incarcerated women, visit http://womenprisoners.org/.
‘Greensboro: Closer to the Truth’
The film, “Greensboro: Closer to the Truth,” directed by Adam Zucker (USA, 2007, 83 min.) screens Wednesday, Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m., at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, is presented by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in association with the San Francisco Black Film Festival and the Progressive Jewish Alliance.
In November of 1979, a multiracial group of union organizers staged an anti-Klan rally in Greensboro, North Carolina. Shortly after the rally commenced, the KKK drove up, pulled out rifles and automatic weapons and opened fire on the demonstrators. Five protesters were killed, including two Jewish organizers from the North, in what became known as the Greensboro Massacre.
Twenty-five years later, director Adam Zucker introduces us to survivors of the tragedy on both sides from the African-American Communist leader-turned-minister who advocates for forgiveness, to the Imperial Wizard of the Klan who asserts that the bullets that day were “guided by God,” to the widowed survivor who demands to know why police were mysteriously absent from the rally that day and the Klansmen acquitted of charges.
“Greensboro: Closer to the Truth” follows these characters as they converge in 2004, many of them for the first time since the massacre, for the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission ever held in the U.S. Director Adam Zucker expertly weaves together original interviews with archival film – including eerie internal footage of an official KKK meeting and disturbing television documentation of the gruesome massacre. “Greensboro: Closer to the Truth” screened at over 25 festivals and won the 2007 Audience Award for Best Feature at the Rome International Film Festival.
The Screening Room of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is at 701 Mission St. in San Francisco. Individual tickets are $6 for students, seniors and Jewish Film Forum or YBCA members and $8 for the general public. The box office number is (415) 978-2787 or order tickets online at www.ybca.org.
Community screening of ITVS film ‘Tulia, Texas’
After a lone undercover cop moves into a small farming town, 46 people are arrested for selling cocaine – nearly all of them African American. It would be heralded as one of the biggest drug busts in Texas history, until a team of lawyers set out to uncover the truth. Filmmakers Cassandra Herman and Kelley Whalen look at a small town’s search for justice. The film screens at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak St. in Oakland, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m. There is also free parking in museum garage at the free event – entrance on Oak Street.
The ITVS Community Cinema Series at the museum features sneak previews of films scheduled for upcoming broadcast on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens at the Oakland Museum and at the San Francisco Main Library. These free community events are a way for the audience to interact with directors and also a way to encourage organizing around some to the key issues many of these documentaries raise, such as the corrupt nature of the legal system in this country to date. The ITVS Community Cinema Series will be shown captioned and the panel discussions following the film will be ASL interpreted by DEAF Media. Visit http://www.itvs.org/shows/.
‘United in Nima: Bay Area and Ghanaian Youth Share Lives Through the Lens’
“United in Nima: Bay Area and Ghanaian Youth Share Lives Through the Lens,” on exhibit Jan. 8 – March 25, has its free opening reception, Thursday, Jan. 8, 5-8 p.m., at SF Camerawork, 657 Mission St., Second Floor, San Francisco. For more information, visit www.sfcamerawork.org or call (415) 512-2020.
The exhibit features photographs by low income youth from SF Camerawork’s First Exposures photography mentoring program and teens living in the notoriously poor Nima slum of Accra, Ghana, who spent three weeks together last summer in Africa sharing their lives, culture and art.
The five teenagers – 17-year-old Naomi Castro, 15-year-old Marcio Ramirez of San Francisco’s Mission District, 18-year-old Karen Gochez also from the Mission, 18-year-old Jontonnette Clark of Bayview Hunters Point and her sister Bethany Castro, also 18 and from San Pablo – who traveled to Ghana in July 2008 are all students in the First Exposures program that pairs low-income Bay Area youth with professional or fine art photographers for weekly photography classes and one-on-one guidance. Many of the young people, ages 11 to 18, have faced challenging life circumstances and several have experienced homelessness or have lived in foster care.
One of the program’s long-term mentors, Jamie Lloyd, was inspired to create a similar program in Ghana in 2005. She established The Ghana Youth Photo Project to provide similar opportunities for youth in Nima, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Accra. Lloyd’s involvement in both programs opened the door to the possibility of this unprecedented cultural exchange. SF Camerawork seized the opportunity, raising funds and preparing the students for their journey, which included everything from helping them get their first passports and immunizations to shooting and printing the photographs they would bring to Ghana to share their lives with the students there.
‘Test Patterns: Recent Video From South Africa’
This winter, SF Camerawork presents “Test Patterns: Recent Video From South Africa,” another new exhibition that brings together the work of nine contemporary South African video artists who explore ideas of citizenship and belonging in the post apartheid era. The artists include Churchill Madikida, Penny Siopis, Berni Searle, Simon Gush, Jo Ractliffe, Ismail Farouk, Ruth Sacks, Steven Cohen and Usha Seejarim. The exhibition is on view Jan. 8 through March 25 at SF Camerawork, the Bay Area’s only nonprofit gallery dedicated to contemporary photography located in the heart of San Francisco’s vibrant downtown art scene at 657 Mission St.
Video is a distinctly post apartheid medium. Artists in the United States began working with video in the 1960s, but South Africans hadn’t even seen television until 1976. The government had banned it previously, fearing it would expose the country to the dangerous ideas of the non-apartheid world. And it was not until the 1980s that television was available in any language other than English or Afrikaans. South African national identity under apartheid, as it was portrayed on TV, belonged strictly to the whites.
The breakaway of video from its exclusive use as a television broadcast tool and into the hands of activists and artists is significant in South Africa. If television had been the preserve of white national identity, video became a way to develop diverse narratives about South Africa’s past and to recalibrate contemporary ideas of citizenship and belonging in the post apartheid era.
The exhibition will be presented in two parts. Part One explores ideas of memory and identity under colonialism and apartheid. Part Two surveys post apartheid South Africa as it struggles to define a new national identity amidst the significant challenges of skyrocketing unemployment, HIV/AIDS, corruption, instability, migration and xenophobia.
Martin Luther King Day events
This is just a list from the East Bay. I’ll have to get back to you regarding the huge celebration at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. I’m not on their mailing list and I am rushing to make the deadline.
The 23rd Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is Wednesday, Jan. 14, 12 noon to 1:30 p.m., at 300 Lakeside Drive, Second Floor Auditorium, Oakland. The event is free. “The Long Trek Up the Mountain: Where Are We Now?” is the theme of this year’s event to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The public is invited to enjoy 90 minutes of music, refreshments and thought provoking words from invited keynote speaker, Dr. Clayborne Carson, professor of history and founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. This program is presented by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District. For information, call (510) 464-7110.
“Oakland Celebrates the Dream Opening Ceremony” is Thursday, Jan. 15, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland’s City Hall. Admission is free. Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as Oakland marks Dr. King’s 80th birthday. The event will feature live entertainment, inspiring presentations and a keynote speaker to be announced. A resource fair will present information on volunteer opportunities, community events and celebrations commemorating Dr. King, his life and his vision. In the event of inclement weather, the celebration will be moved to the Elihu M. Harris State Building at 1515 Clay St. It’s presented by AT&T and the City of Oakland. For information, call (510) 444-CITY or visit www.oaklandnet.com/celebrations.
For “Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Day: A King and an Emperor,” Sunday, Jan. 18, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m., at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. at 10th Street, Oakland, the similarities between the lives of Dr. King and political activist, athlete, singer/actor Paul Robeson are highlighted by Paul Von Blum, senior lecturer in African American Studies at UCLA, in a program that includes performances by spoken-word artist Ise Lyfe, baritone Autris Paige and Jetaun Maxwell from Dance Theater of the Gospel. Families can make their own front pages from African American newspapers of the King and Robeson eras. It’s presented in collaboration with the Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee. Call (510) 238-2200 or visit www.museumca.org/. This event is free after admission to the museum.
This is one of my favorite events: “In the Name of Love: Annual Musical Tribute Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” This year, its seventh, it’s on Sunday, Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m., at Oakland Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. I always feel that “In the Name of Love” invokes the spirit of this great man and inspires those of us who are here to continue the work and to stay committed in times of success and when the road seems insurmountable. There is a fee, but the money couldn’t go to a greater cause. Last year, radio personality and civil rights activist Ray Taliaferro gave the keynote; two years earlier it was Ron Dellums. I remember Dellums told us to take our seat at the table of democracy with our list of demands. He said the time for marching was over. Taliaferro spoke of his first meeting with Martin King and a concert he produced and conducted at the Cow Palace.
“In the Name of Love” is a stunning tribute to one of the greatest humanitarians of our time and is hosted by Clifford Brown Jr., another radio personality and a great man. He and I spoke at length last year about Martin King and his programming for the national holiday featuring King oratory. Visit http://www.brownradio.com/clifford.htm.
With Barack Obama as our president-elect and only two days from his historical inauguration, this year’s event promises to be a profound celebration of civil rights. Congresswoman Barbara Lee is tentatively scheduled as the keynote speaker, radio personality Clifford Brown Jr. will serve as emcee once again and performers include Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, Faye Carol, Kenny Washington, Jeannine Anderson and Nicholas Bearde as well as the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company and the Oakland Children’s Community Choir with the Oaktown Jazz Workshop. The event is presented by Rhythmic Concepts, Inc. For information, call (510) 287-8880 or (800) 838-3006 or visit www.mlktribute.com.
“The Dream Lives On: Multicultural Peace Celebration and Rally” is Monday, Jan. 19, 9:30 a.m. Doors open at 10 a.m. and the event goes until 12 noon at ILWU Warehouse Hall Local 6, 99 Hegenberger Road, Oakland. Admission is free. The union’s annual celebration will be held during the day on the eve of the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the first African American elected to lead our country. Keynote speakers are Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Rev. Byron Williams, columnist and pastor. Call (510) 632-1670.
Also, on Monday, Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Day, are the East Bay Regional Park District’s “75th Anniversary Restoration Projects” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at four Oakland locations: Damon Slough parking lot on Zhone Way and Oakport Street, Garretson Point parking lot at the end of Edgewater Drive, Martin Luther King Grove off of Swan Way and Arrowhead Marsh parking lot off of Swan Way. Participate in coastal cleanup and restoration work together with East Bay Regional Park District, Save the Bay, SF Audubon Society, Earth Team and Hands on Bay Area. For information, call (510) 544-3182 or visit www.ebparks.org.
The 11th Annual Martin Luther King National Holiday Celebration, “Make the Dream Real,” from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, with a luncheon following, is also Monday, Jan. 19. It’s at Taylor Memorial Methodist Church, 1188 12th St., Oakland, and admission is free; so is the luncheon. Arrive early as the church sanctuary fills to capacity early and there are satellites set up in adjoining rooms and those are packed also. I think I stood in 2008, and it was a long event and crowded despite the rain.
Kokomon Clottey will open with sacred drumming, honoring our ancestors. There will also be youth performers, and three Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Awards will be given to deserving community members who are doing exemplary service work. The upcoming celebration highlights the power of service and what ordinary citizens can do to bring change to our communities. This year, Danny Glover has been nominated to receive a Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award for the years of exemplary service work for social and racial justice globally. This event is presented by the Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc., Taylor Memorial Methodist Church, Rev. Ron Swisher and Dr. Matthew Fox. Call (510) 652-5530 or visit www.ahc-oakland.org to learn more.
Embracing the Dream presents its “10th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration, Economic, Health and Peace Fair” on Monday, Jan. 19, from 12 noon to 5 p.m. at Star Bethel Church, 5800 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. Learn important skills to live a healthy, peaceful lifestyle at this free celebration. Call (510) 978-6470 for more information.
That evening, Monday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m. – doors open at 6:30 p.m. – at Star Bethel Church, enjoy “Rejoice! Oakland’s Pre-Inaugural Gospel Concert.” There is a $20 suggested donation. Oakland’s celebration for President-Elect Obama and the First Family features stellar award-winner gospel artist Jonathan Nelson plus many local artists, choirs and groups. The program, to benefit people living with HIV/AIDS and local young Brothers of Barack, a mentoring program to inspire our community’s young men, is also presented by Embracing the Dream. Call (510) 978-6470 or (510) 663-7979, ext. 119, or email email@example.com.
Oakland’s “MLK Theater Matinee” is Monday, Jan. 19, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the African American Museum and Library, 659 14th St., Oakland. Admission is free. Live the life experience of Martin Luther King Jr. as AAMLO presents an extraordinary film collection, including “The Rise and Death of a Great Leader,” directly from their archives. It’s presented by the African American Museum and Library. You are encouraged to RSVP by calling (510) 637-0200 or visiting www.oaklandlibrary.org/AAMLO.
Ring In the Reign of Barack Obama at Inauguration West
Commemorate a groundbreaking historical event at Inauguration West, the official West Coast celebration of the inauguration of Barack Obama as he ascends to the United States presidency on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Dance, drink, eat and enjoy breathtaking vistas from indoors or the heated outdoor City View Terrace on the fourth floor of the Metreon at 101 Fourth St. in San Francisco from 6 to 10 p.m.
Entertainment will be as noteworthy as the occasion, with the energetic vocals and silky smooth dance moves of Morris Day and the Time, danceable disc spinning from the renowned Rick and Russ Show and a special guest appearance by football legends Ronnie Lott and Roger Craig. Host Kevin Brown from the KBLX Morning Show will be on hand to tie the evening’s events together seamlessly.
Standard “candidate level” admission includes such A-list amenities as a red carpet entrance and photo wall, sumptuous buffet, champagne toast, no-host bar, big screen simulcasts of Inaugural Ball coverage live from Washington, D.C., film clips of “Barack Obama: The Man and His Journey,” courtesy of the San Francisco Black Film Festival, “The Election Trail” multimedia presentations and commemorative Inauguration West keepsake souvenirs. VIP “cabinet level” admission includes all of the “candidate level” perks plus a VIP reception in the President’s Lounge, hosted by VIP Lineup, intimate living room setting, high level hors d’oeuvres, amped-up video screens, two complimentary drinks, jazz reception, event photo and the opportunity to mingle with special guests.
Inauguration West is presented by 102.9 FM KBLX, “The Quiet Storm,” in association with Ave Montague and Associates and VIP Lineup. Tickets are $75 for standard “community organizer level” admission, $100 for “candidate” and $125 for “cabinet level” VIP admission. A portion of the proceeds benefits All Stars Helping Kids, Omega Boys Club, the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) education programs and the San Francisco Black Film Festival’s Urban Kidz youth program. For more information about Inauguration West, visit http://www.inaugurationwest.com or call (415) 771-9271.
Walking Tour: New Era/New Politics
“Walking Tour: New Era/New Politics,” on Saturday, Jan. 24, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, starts at the African American Museum and Library, 659 14th St., Oakland. It is free. Stroll through downtown and discover the places where Oakland African American leaders made their mark, including C.L. Dellums, Ron Dellums and Lionel Wilson. The event is presented by Oakland Tours Program.
Theatre at The Marsh
“East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player” with Don Reed is a part of the “March Rising” series and premieres Wednesday, Jan. 7. Back in 1970s Oakland, his stepfather forced him to be a straight A, God-fearing church boy – but he wanted to be just like his dear old Dad. Too bad he didn’t know dear old Dad was a pimp. Tickets are $10-$15 sliding scale. The Marsh San Francisco is located at 1062 Valencia St., near 22nd Street. The Ticket Hotline is (800) 838-3006; for information, call (415) 826-5750 or (415) 641-0235.
Brian Copeland’s “Not a Genuine Black Man Solo Stage Show” is back on the Marsh Mainstage Theater Jan. 16 through Feb. 14, Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 5 p.m. Copeland is also performing at a one-night-only benefit Jan. 9 of his acclaimed one-man show on Friday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m., in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College. A reception and book signing will follow. Tickets, on sale now, are $25 general admission and $20 for seniors and students with identification. Proceeds will be used to fund the Foothill College Brother-to-Brother mentoring program. To purchase tickets, call (650) 949-7360 or visit http://preznet.fhda.edu/fas.html.
‘Mud’ at Cutting Ball
Directed by Paige Rogers, the María Irene Fornés play “Mud” stars one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s star actors, so I just wanted to let you know about this performance at one of my favorite theatres, The Exit at 277 Taylor St. in San Francisco, (415) 419-3584, http://www.cuttingball.com/, because a month can come and go so fast. Turn your head and, wow, has it been eight years of Bush – and has Obama really been campaigning for two years and did we know him as well in 2006 as we think we do now? Right! So don’t miss this play, opening Friday, Jan. 9, and running through Feb. 8. Paige is a great actress; it will be fun seeing her as director.
The notes are as follows: It is 1973 and Mae has just begun to learn how to read; things finally seem to be taking a turn for the better. As she tries to rise above her humble Midwestern origins, Mae must keep the two men in her life, foster brother and former lover Lloyd and new boyfriend Henry, from dragging her back down. Little does Mae know that the first strong decision she’s ever made about her life may be the last decision she will ever make. Produced through special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc. The script to this play may be purchased from B.P.P.I. at http://www.BroadwayPlayPubl.com.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website and blog at www.wandaspicks.com for an expanded version of Wanda’s Picks, her photos and her radio show.