The meaning of Black Media Appreciation Night 2014

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

On Sept. 13, 2014, the most progressive of the Bay Area’s Black and pro-Black journalists came together to celebrate one another and to give awards to a well deserving few. It was also a salute to the real legacy of Black journalism in the United States that was born out of the fight for human rights and self-determination.

Dr. Willie Ratcliff, Bay View publisher and co-sponsor with the Block Report of Black Media Appreciation Night, celebrates his 82nd birthday at the reception leading up to the awards ceremony. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Dr. Willie Ratcliff, Bay View publisher and co-sponsor with the Block Report of Black Media Appreciation Night, celebrates his 82nd birthday at the reception leading up to the awards ceremony. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Three people essential to BMAN ’14 are Tamika Chenier, director of the beautiful African American Art and Culture Complex, renowned artist Eesuu Orudide, who made the treasured awards out of polished oak, and renaissance woman Phavia Kujichagulia, MC for BMAN ’14 and an award winner at BMAN ’12. – Photo: William H. Jones Jr.
Three people essential to BMAN ’14 are Tamika Chenier, director of the beautiful African American Art and Culture Complex, renowned artist Eesuu Orudide, who made the treasured awards out of polished oak, and renaissance woman Phavia Kujichagulia, MC for BMAN ’14 and an award winner at BMAN ’12. – Photo: William H. Jones Jr.

Black people’s first journalists, people like Frederick Douglass, talked about the wretchedness of slavery, Ida B. Wells documented the many lynchings across the country of Black people, and Marcus Garvey communicated self-improvement across a number of colonial languages to create one of the biggest Black multi-national organizations that the world has ever seen.

Coming on the heels of the kidnapping of over 200 girls in Nigeria, the Ebola epidemic in Africa, the Ranisha McBride verdict, the Ferguson rebellions, the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, the Adrian Peters child abuse cases and the release of political prisoner Marshall Eddie Conway, the Black media had a lot to talk about.

U.S. mainstream media has been engrossed in demonizing and criminalizing the image of Black people, crystallizing why it is important for us to get together to begin to communicate and organize the distribution of information in our community on our own behalf.

Without the right information, we cannot make informed decisions in our own collective self-interest. The Black media becomes even more vital in a society built on capitalism and white supremacy in the technological age.

On Sept. 13, 2014, the most progressive of the Bay Area’s Black and pro-Black journalists came together to celebrate one another and to give awards to a well deserving few.

The second Black Media Appreciation Night was held at the African American Art and Culture Complex in the Fillmore District, now known as the Western Addition of San Francisco. It once was a neighborhood filled with Black people known for its night life. Now it is one of the most gentrified parts of San Francisco, with the gentrifiers even going so far as to change the name to disassociate themselves from the great jazz and legendary night life of the old Fillmore, known worldwide as Harlem of the West.

San Francisco’s elected, best-in-the-nation public defender Jeff Adachi has kind words for his friend, Dr. Willie Ratcliff, at the BMAN reception in the spacious lobby of the African American Art and Culture Complex, as Joyous deAsis, youth writer with Poor News Network, looks on. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
San Francisco’s elected, best-in-the-nation public defender Jeff Adachi has kind words for his friend, Dr. Willie Ratcliff, at the BMAN reception in the spacious lobby of the African American Art and Culture Complex, as Joyous deAsis, youth writer with Poor News Network, looks on. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Djialli (griot) Phavia Kujichagulia pours a libation into the bonsai tree that SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi had just serendipitously given Dr. Willie Ratcliff as a birthday gift. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Djialli (griot) Phavia Kujichagulia pours a libation into the bonsai tree that SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi had just serendipitously given Dr. Willie Ratcliff as a birthday gift. – Photo: TaSin Sabir

The event started with a reception honoring the 82nd birthday of Dr. Willie Ratcliff, publisher of the SF Bay View newspaper. Then legendary jazz trumpeter and djialli (griot) Phavia Kujichagulia officially kicked off the awards ceremony with libations during the opening performance with her band, Ma’at. She also hosted the event and handed out many of the stunning awards, hand-crafted with love by celebrated artist Eesuu Orudide, who was present to cheer on the honorees.

Lifetime Achievement Award winners Emory Douglas and Karen Johnson stand in support as Gregory Johnson speaks of the courage and persistent resistance that will prevail in the epic struggle to reclaim the historic landmark home of Marcus Book Store, heisted by the notorious Sweiss family, enraging the entire Black community. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Lifetime Achievement Award winners Emory Douglas and Karen Johnson stand in support as Gregory Johnson speaks of the courage and persistent resistance that will prevail in the epic struggle to reclaim the historic landmark home of Marcus Book Store, heisted by the notorious Sweiss family, enraging the entire Black community. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
TaSin Sabir displays her BMAN ’14 Champion of Photography award and her certificate from San Francisco Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen, representing the city’s two largest historic Black districts, the Fillmore and Bayview Hunters Point. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
TaSin Sabir displays her BMAN ’14 Champion of Photography award and her certificate from San Francisco Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen, representing the city’s two largest historic Black districts, the Fillmore and Bayview Hunters Point. – Photo: TaSin Sabir

The honorees included the acclaimed homegrown photographer TaSin Sabir, who recently released “Madagascar Made,” a photography book about her recent soul-searching journey to Madagascar, receiving the Champion of Photography award. The Johnson family, Karen, Greg and Tamiko, owners of Marcus Book Store in San Francisco, the oldest Black book store in the U.S., were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting Literacy in the Black Community.

Leroy Moore, Champion of Disabled People in Media, accepts his award from Dr. Ratcliff. Leroy has been telling the stories that bring brilliant, talented, beautiful Black disabled people from around the world out of the shadows and into the light of media though the Bay View and Poor Magazine for over 20 years. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Leroy Moore, Champion of Disabled People in Media, accepts his award from Dr. Ratcliff. Leroy has been telling the stories that bring brilliant, talented, beautiful Black disabled people from around the world out of the shadows and into the light of media though the Bay View and Poor Magazine for over 20 years. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden infuses love into what many would call his gangsta-style rap, writing and filmmaking. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden infuses love into what many would call his gangsta-style rap, writing and filmmaking. – Photo: TaSin Sabir

Leroy Moore, founder of Krip Hop Nation and Sins Invalid and writer for Poor News Network, was honored as the Champion of Disabled People in the Media. Harrison Chastang received the Champion of Broadcast News award for his work as news director on the Black-owned San Francisco-based KPOO radio station and technical advisor to Black media.

Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden was honored as Champion of Positive Black Images in the Media after completing his two books, numerous rap songs, and a heartfelt documentary on some young little sistas growing up hard in the violence and drug infested streets of West Oakland. Deverol Ross received the Champion of Technical Support award for his work behind the scenes with radio shows like the Block Report and Hard Knock Radio and stations like KPFA and KBLX, who depend on his know how and knowledge of electronic equipment.

Dev Ross is the genius who keeps media humming as the engineer for KPFA and Black broadcast media. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Dev Ross is the genius who keeps media humming as the engineer for KPFA and Black broadcast media. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
UC Berkeley Professor Cecil Brown, who wrote not only the biography of his close friend Richard Pryor but also his film, “Which Way Is Up?” shares a joke with BMAN organizer The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey. JR’s Block Report Radio co-founded and co-sponsored Black Media Appreciation Night with the Bay View newspaper, where he is associate editor. – Photo: William H. Jones Jr.
UC Berkeley Professor Cecil Brown, who wrote not only the biography of his close friend Richard Pryor but also his film, “Which Way Is Up?” shares a joke with BMAN organizer The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey. JR’s Block Report Radio co-founded and co-sponsored Black Media Appreciation Night with the Bay View newspaper, where he is associate editor. – Photo: William H. Jones Jr.

Author Cecil Brown was honored as Champion of Biographical Literature because of his recent biography on the legendary comedian, also his friend, Richard Pryor. Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Political Art in Black Media, earned over decades beginning with his world-renowned artwork for The Black Panther newspaper.

Melonie and Melorra Green – “The Twins” – have been charming the Bay as hosts of The Ibeji Lounge Tuesday nights on KPOO and visual arts coordinators at the African American Art and Culture Complex. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Melonie and Melorra Green – “The Twins” – have been charming the Bay as hosts of The Ibeji Lounge Tuesday nights on KPOO and visual arts coordinators at the African American Art and Culture Complex. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Samm Styles, a filmmaker who walks right in where others fear to tread, is best known for the films “Black August” (2007), “A Cross to Bear” (2012) and “Milk Money” (2011). – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Samm Styles, a filmmaker who walks right in where others fear to tread, is best known for the films “Black August” (2007), “A Cross to Bear” (2012) and “Milk Money” (2011). – Photo: TaSin Sabir

KPOO broadcasters Melonie and Melorra Green, hosts of the Ibeji Lounge every Tuesday 8-10 p.m., were honored as Champions of Culture and Black Women in Radio. Samm Styles took home the Champion in Film Making award after making films like Black August and others.

Adam Hudson was honored as Champion of International News for his coverage of important stories, most prominently for travelling to and reporting on Guantanamo Bay. Thandisizwe Chimurenga received the Champion of National News award for her coverage of the trial of Ted Wafer, murderer of Renisha McBride, and the recent unrest in Ferguson.

Journalist Adam Hudson covers the world, uncovering stories others ignore and telling the truths others fear, a feat that earns him the Champion of International News award. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Journalist Adam Hudson covers the world, uncovering stories others ignore and telling the truths others fear, a feat that earns him the Champion of International News award. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Leon Breckenridge, a young media maker mentored by Kevin Weston, Bay View arts editor Wanda Sabir and Champion of National News Thandisizwe Chimurenga are three pillars holding up Black culture as a shining inspiration to the world. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Leon Breckenridge, a young media maker mentored by Kevin Weston, Bay View arts editor Wanda Sabir and Champion of National News Thandisizwe Chimurenga are three pillars holding up Black culture as a shining inspiration to the world. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
For the masses who loved him, Legacy Award winner Kevin Weston’s spirit lives through the three powerful women who accepted his award, little daughter Lelah, his spittin’ image, wife Lateefah Simon and mother Geraldine Singleton. They and the countless media makers he mentored are his legacy. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
For the masses who loved him, Legacy Award winner Kevin Weston’s spirit lives through the three powerful women who accepted his award, little daughter Lelah, his spittin’ image, wife Lateefah Simon and mother Geraldine Singleton. They and the countless media makers he mentored are his legacy. – Photo: TaSin Sabir

And the night was dedicated to the memory of the recently transitioned journalist and editor Kevin Weston, who trained a good number of the Bay Area’s Black journalists as well as journalists of all colors. His family, consisting of his little daughter Lelah, his widow Lateefah Simon and mother Geraldine Singleton, came to accept the award.

As all ears were on Davey D, reporting on the corporate threat to net neutrality, all eyes were on his adorable son, who danced and wound the mic cord around and around his daddy. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
As all ears were on Davey D, reporting on the corporate threat to net neutrality, all eyes were on his adorable son, who danced and wound the mic cord around and around his daddy. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Music master Kev Choice filled the hall and all our hearts to overflowing as he led us on a journey through many genres, building to a crescendo of glorious sound that transported the audience to a realm where progress is possible and our best efforts are not futile. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Music master Kev Choice filled the hall and all our hearts to overflowing as he led us on a journey through many genres, building to a crescendo of glorious sound that transported the audience to a realm where progress is possible and our best efforts are not futile. – Photo: TaSin Sabir

The night was beautiful, with broadcasters like Greg Bridges of KPFA’s Transitions on Tradition coming through to present some awards and Davey D of Hard Knock Radio alerting us to the latest attack on net neutrality. Superstar Kev Choice engulfed the hall with the sounds of many genres in an amazing one man keyboard set.

Donald E. Lacy Jr. holds the Bay Area Black community together for five hours every Saturday morning on KPOO, as he’s done for over 30 years, on top of his success as a comedian, thespian and director of the LoveLife Foundation, giving hope and skills to youth and others in need. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
Donald E. Lacy Jr. holds the Bay Area Black community together for five hours every Saturday morning on KPOO, as he’s done for over 30 years, on top of his success as a comedian, thespian and director of the LoveLife Foundation, giving hope and skills to youth and others in need. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
San Francisco Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen came to Black Media Appreciation Night bearing beautiful certificates for each of the award winners. Black voters have entrusted them with a mandate to stop the hemorrhaging of Blacks from San Francisco and the widening chasm between rich and poor in The City. – Photo: William H. Jones Jr.
San Francisco Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen came to Black Media Appreciation Night bearing beautiful certificates for each of the award winners. Black voters have entrusted them with a mandate to stop the hemorrhaging of Blacks from San Francisco and the widening chasm between rich and poor in The City. – Photo: William H. Jones Jr.

Bay Area-based comedian and KPOO broadcaster Donald Lacy got us laughing at ourselves in a lively comedy set. And to top it all off, San Francisco Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen presented additional certificates paying tribute to the honorees. The night was magnificent, so be on the lookout for another Black Media Appreciation Night next year.

Also remember it’s getting harder and harder for the Black media to survive, because when Black people are not gripped by an international tragedy, we forget the importance of supporting Black media and want to assimilate into watching, reading and listening to what everybody else is watching, reading and listening to. Once we realize that mainstream media was created to justify the terrorism being waged against us in this country, every second of every day, then we will begin to realize we have to support our own media if we are to think outside of this psychological cage that we have been stereotyped into – that is propagated through white supremacist media.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and the newly released “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.