Stories from the block

by Jamilah King

Block-Reportin1, Stories from the block, Culture Currents It’s always important to tell stories of struggle and resistance. Not so much to recount how far a person’s come so much as to show how those battles are never fought in isolation.

In “Block Reportin’,” a compilation of interviews by Oakland journalist and filmmaker JR Valrey, those stories are laid bare. It’s a collection of nearly a decade of interviews with local political leaders, national Black resistance leaders, artists and family members who’ve suddenly seen themselves cast into the spotlight.

Valrey’s known throughout the Bay Area for his unapologetic political positions, some of which I’ve admittedly been on the receiving end of at times. But what’s clear is that he’s driven deeply by love for his people and his community.

At least that much is obvious by the sheer range of folks he’s had access to over the years, including Mumia Abu Jamal, Black Panther artist Emory Douglas and Angela Davis. There are also more controversial figures, like a post-prison interview with “Freeway Ricky” Ross, who’s largely credited with introducing crack cocaine into urban communities, and an encounter with Malcolm X’s much maligned grandson Malcolm Shabazz. It’s a clear reminder of how imperfect and complex true justice can be, particularly for Black folks throughout the Diaspora.

So today’s love goes to the stories from the block. For more on how to get “Block Reportin’,” visit it online.

San Francisco native Jamilah King is the news editor at, where this story first appeared, coordinating story assignments and news breaks as well as covering urban politics, youth culture and Internet policy. She tweets at @jamilahking. To see other Love posts, visit our Celebrate Love page. Send suggestions to; put Celebrate Love in the subject line.