by Wanda Sabir
Now that I don’t do weekly Picks, I wonder how I ever did. That was a lot of work. First of all, July brings to mind many historic events, such as Frederick Douglass’ speech at an event July 5, 1852, “commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall. It was biting oratory, in which the speaker told his audience, ‘This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.’ And he asked them, ‘Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?’
“’What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2927.html; and read ‘What to the slave is your Fourth of July?’ in the Bay View).
Another event which July 1 calls to mind is the solar return celebration of Sister Makinyah Kouyate. This year is the 15th celebration and her 85th year. She gave us the date in turns around the sun, but I’d have to get that statistic and add it later – impressive is putting it lightly.
A modest woman, Sister Makinyah is the daughter of two loving parents whom she honors with this celebration among family and friends. It’s great listening to her talk about concert recitals at the Kaiser Auditorium, 24 Black youth classically trained musicians with African American orchestral leaders. Jonathan Eubanks, the photographer’s sister, was one of the young women performing there. She spoke about playing the organ for her church, the same church founded by her great-grandmother 100 years ago this July 10 – St. Augustin in Oakland. This church was one of the first, if not the first African Methodist Episcopal church in the Bay Area.
She spoke about the first Black Student Union at Merritt College but more about the Black Studies Department, the first in California; next was San Francisco State and then Cal State East Bay and so on. She spoke about those early days and how she hired the teachers and then took their classes to monitor content. Everything was taught from an African centered perspective, so if the psychology course was the same as one would get outside Black Studies the teacher was not rehired. She spoke of how the Black Studies graduates were not recognized for the academic achievement, so Sister Makinyah organized the first Black graduation. A local church supported the students, painted the church Black and the pastor had his children post the fliers around town.
The police accused Sister Makinya of posting the fliers and took her forcibly to jail. They kicked a fellow organizer, stomped Sister Makinyah’s mother and hit Sister Makinya on the head and broke her reciever. At a City Council meeting before finals and graduation, the accused brought charges again the police who beat them up. The police were transferred to Utah – a victory for the people! Ron Dellums was on the Berkeley City Council then. I thought Sister Makinyah and her parties’ victory encouraging, given the Oscar Grant trial wrapping up now.
Sister Makinyah said if one doesn’t know one’s history it can be rewritten without your knowledge.
‘News Flash from Haiti: Six months after the earthquake’
Haiti update, “News Flash from Haiti: Six months after the earthquake,” is Saturday, July 10, 4-6 p.m., at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley. Speakers Nia Imara, Robert Roth, Ayana Labossiere, Saqib Keval and Pierre Labossiere, some recently back from Haiti, will update Haiti earthquake relief and reconstruction efforts and describe mobilization for democratic elections.
Learn about the remarkable work of Haitian grassroots organizations since the earthquake and their growing mobilizations for democratic elections, for full grassroots participation in relief efforts and for the return to Haiti of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Photos and videos will be shown. A $7-$20 donation is requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. This event is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit www.haitisolidarity.net.
On the fly
Kim Nalley with special guest Houston Person is at the Rrazz Room in San Francisco. They are doing a special 7 p.m. July 4th concert. Opening night June 30 was an evening of really superb music. Both Person and Nalley, along with a wonderful rhythm section with, among the trio, Tammy Hall, made parting a true sorrow. Nalley and Person are also appearing at the San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Festival Sunday, July 4, at 2 p.m. on the California Street Stage. The outdoor festival is free. Kim mentioned something about her famous fried chicken at the Rrazz Room that evening. Hm, one never knows what surprises are in store.
Don’t forget the San Francisco AIDS Walk July 18. Stern Grove Music Festival continues this month every Sunday at 2 p.m. The San Francisco Opera is featured Sunday, July 4. Visit www.sterngrovemusic.org. Richard Bona is in town for one night and Ricardo Lemvo is in town for two. Visit www.yoshis.com.
The World Socialist Forum is at the Marriott Hotel Convention Center through this weekend, downtown Oakland. Also, the San Francisco Opera’s “Girl of the Golden West” by Giacomo Puccini continues through Friday, July 2. Visit www.sfopera.com. SF Symphony presents “Cool Nights, Hot Classics” through July 25. Visit www.sfsymphony.org/summer for programming.
Musical tribute: ‘The African American Experience through Music’
Tubenu Productions presents “The African American Experience through Music” (1600-1860s) with the Bryant Bolling Creative Art Ensemble, July 11, at 5 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland, $20. This production acts as a healing for all races in America.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7:30 or 8 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m., can be heard by phone at (347) 237-4610 and are archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network.