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2013 August

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Lyric Performing Arts Academy is set to open in September ‘13: an interview wit’...

With the U.S. economy turning a blind eye to unemployment in the Black community, it is on us to create business and employment opportunities for our community, and Taiwo Kujichagulia-Seitu and her collective of dedicated women, known as the Lyric Dance and Vocal Ensemble, have answered the call by opening the Lyric Performing Arts Academy in downtown Oakland.

Black Autonomy Prison Federation is born

Black Autonomy Federation is the activist arm of Power to the People, Inc., based in Memphis, Tenn., a non-profit tax-exempt organization. Meeting during the June 2013 annual conference, we created the organizational framework for the Black Autonomy Prison Federation because of mass imprisonment of Black youth and mindless violence in the Black community.

‘Vigilante on the Loose’: Black filmmakers put Overtown back on Front Street

“Vigilante on the Loose” is based on a true story about a community plagued with past injustice. This time they chose to stand their ground. Filmed on location in Miami, Florida, the film was produced by Vision Entertainment Group and directed by Timothy Hodges. The once thriving Black section of Miami known as Overtown is virtually destroyed after so-called urban renewal.

Public Safety chairs Ammiano, Hancock announce hearings on hunger strike issues

Today Sen. Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano announced that they will hold public hearings on the conditions in California prisons that have led to the inmate hunger strike, now in its 54th day. They anticipate that hearings may begin as early as this fall and continue into next year. The two legislators, chairs of the Senate and Assembly Committees on Public Safety, urged an immediate end to the hunger strike so that energy and attention can be focused on the issues that have been raised.

Agreement to End Hostilities benefits both the streets and the prisons

On Aug. 12, 2012, the Pelican Bay D-Short Corridor Collective issued the historic Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) in all prison and juvenile facilities and called for its extension to our communities. The strategic and material benefits for our ongoing human rights struggle, thousands of prisoners and their families, is obvious. Less obvious is the unprecedented opportunity for social progress and community development represented by this AEH.

Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant, reflects on reliving his murder in ‘Fruitvale Station’

Who could forget the murder of Oscar Grant by BART policeman Johannes Mehserle on a platform on Jan. 1, 2009. That murder, caught by other BART passengers on video that quickly went viral, sparked a movement for justice that led to the first conviction of a killer cop in California history. Because of the work of the Oscar Grant Foundation, an award-winning movie is telling Oscar’s story. It’s called “Fruitvale Station.”

Criminologists tell Gov. Brown: Negotiate with hunger strikers now before there is blood on...

“It is now time to return the control of our prison system to California,” says Gov. Brown. We say it’s time to return California’s criminal justice system to a sense of human dignity and social justice. We call upon the governor and Legislature to immediately sit down at the bargaining table with representatives of the current prison hunger strike and enter into meaningful negotiations before prisoners die or suffer irreparable damage to their health. Stop the political posturing and name-calling, and start negotiating before there is blood on your hands.

Why I joined the multi-racial, multi–regional Human Rights Movement to challenge torture in the...

I’ve been asked several times how it was possible that rivals from different racial and/or regional groups were able to see past differences and come together to form the Human Rights Movement. The Human Rights Movement is a concerted effort to end long term solitary confinement and make better the living conditions in all SHU and Ad Seg housing facilities across the state of California and the nation as a whole!

Video released of Georgia guards beating prisoners with hammer

The deplorable beatings you’re witnessing occurred on New Year’s Eve, just before midnight, on Dec. 31, 2010. It’s taken two years and nearly eight months for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to release this video. A very persistent family member of one of the victims finally persuaded them to give it to her, and Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, a strong advocate for justice for prisoners, posted it to YouTube for the world to see.

Katrina Pain Index 2013: New Orleans eight years later

Eight years after Katrina, nearly a 100,000 people never got back to New Orleans, the city remains incredibly poor, jobs and income vary dramatically by race, rents are up, public transportation is down, traditional public housing is gone, life expectancy differs dramatically by race and place, and most public education has been converted into charter schools.

Day 52: Demand this abuse end now, today, before it’s too late for some...

California prisoner hunger strike advocates and supporters continue their efforts to compel state decision makers to negotiate with hunger strikers as they endure their 52nd day without food. Meanwhile, legal observers at Corcoran State Prison say that the 70 people still on strike at that facility are facing harsh retaliation by prison officials, including the denial of medical care and the confiscation of personal property.

The 2013 March on Washington: Where do we go from here?

Like the 1963 march, the 2013 march has the potential to become a watershed moment in history. But to make it so, we must do the hard work of building genuine relationships and alliances across the lines of color, nationality, gender and sexual orientation. We must build a grassroots agenda and an organizing strategy. We must leverage the people power represented at the march to effect public opinion and national policies.

Celebrating celebrating?

TV screens, newspaper pages and radio stations have been replaying, reprinting and rebroadcasting dark, grainy black and while film, photos and audiotape of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech – his “I Have a Dream” speech – in a hypocritical celebration of the 50 years since that fateful day in 1963, in Washington, D.C.

Pelican Bay guards ask why are we hunger striking

To sustain our perpetual resistance on a qualitative level requires that “human bridges” be built between inside and outside activists. We have created community-based projects such as the W.L. Nolen Mentorship Program and the Pelican Bay Human Rights Movement First Amendment Campaign that will enable us to achieve this end. And so we invite the people to come join us in taking our human rights struggle to the next level.

Beyond the dream: Martin Luther King Jr. and Africa

When discussing the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., especially his “I Have a Dream Speech,” what is often missed is his concern for global justice, particularly in Africa. While Dr. King’s outspokenness about the Vietnam War toward the end of his life has been well documented and discussed, his views about the need to support anti-colonialism and anti-Apartheid in Africa is less so.

McClymonds girls championship basketball team stars in ‘I Just Wanna Ball’

During the year 2013, the McClymonds High School girls basketball team became a powerhouse. Within a two-year period, they went from a program known for decades as a loser to winners of Oakland’s athletic league, the first since 1976. What they accomplished on the court was definitely staggering, but the bigger breakthrough was off the court.

On Day 50 of the California prisoners’ hunger strike, I wonder, will change only...

As a member of the Mediation Team, never did I think I would be a part of a Hunger Strike that would enter into its 50th day. Never did I think that I would be denied access to the face to face meetings that have taken place within the CDCR because I am a family member. And never did I think that CDCR would refuse on all grounds to meet even the most reasonable demands of the prisoners.

I will agitate until you comply with the five core demands or I’m dead!

I come before you with the first of what may be a series of speed bumps and roadblocks in our path towards accomplishing the initial goals set forth: the five core demands. The other small demands being met are just a distraction to appease those of the prison masses long enough. Don’t be fooled! When the smoke clears, those small demands granted will be once again revoked.

Getting the ‘System Out of our System’: an interview wit’ AshEl Seasunz

Looking good, feeling good and making good decisions has a lot to do with what you put into your body. Health and green activist and musician AshEl Seasunz has been on the frontline of educating Black, Brown and low income neighborhoods in the Bay Area about the benefits of healthy eating, with SOS non-profit, which sells freshly squeezed organic juices and offers presentations from leading experts nationally.

Appeal for hearing on California prisoners to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization...

Should the Commission grant this request for a hearing, we will provide the Commission with testimony from prisoners, as well as oral presentations by family members of prisoners, advocates and lawyers. We would ask that the Commission recommend to the United States government and the state of California that they immediately take all measures necessary to address grave violations of human rights in the prison system.