I started the Black Elders Fund after the passing of our beloved elder Baba Tahuti. His body was held on ice for much too long before his eventual homecoming ceremonies because most of his family lived thousands of miles away and our local community was not prepared to take care of him.
With Baba Tahuti’s passing and the recent passing of other distinguished elders, including Kamau Amen-Ra, Augusta Lee Collins, Michael Lange, Reginald Lockett, Kamau Seitu, Casper Banjo, Edsel Matthews, Arnold White, Joy Holland and others, I noticed that our elders and their families have needs that could be better taken care of, not only after their transitions but while they are still alive!
For example, both Baba Tahuti and Brother Kamau Amen-Ra were recently found dead, not by loved ones, but by neighbors.
Jazz great Abbey Lincoln used to bemoan how the world heaps so much love upon its artists after they pass away, giving them much more attention, accolades and media play, when if they were given that kind of love, praise and adoration while still alive, many of these artists, inspired, would probably stick around a little if not a lot longer!
Everybody loves the Girl Scouts of America! They’re so adorable in their cute little uniforms, selling their products and getting their little hustles on as young girls aspiring to be independent and ambitious entrepreneurs for good causes. So we love to buy their cookies! But hey, what is more adorable than a Black elder who has managed to survive and even thrive for decades as a Black person in America, while helping others do the same?
The purpose of the Black Elders Fund of Oakland is to serve local elders in need and or purely on the basis of merit, to support them and the work they’re doing, help them with present day needs, provide services for them, rides and financial aid, do errands, check up on them and collect and archive their stories, recipes and wisdom for the community and the diaspora.
For as the Afrikan proverb says: When we lose an elder it is like a library burning to the ground. Therefore, your donations and services volunteered are very much appreciated!
Our next recipient of the Tahuti Award for Black Excellence is Cheryl Davila, who is running for Berkeley City Council, District 2. She is our local Shirley Chisolm, a sister of integrity and accountability who cannot be bought or compromised. The Black Elders Fund of Oakland, in conjunction with Paradise’s Buy Black Wednesday Social Club, will be honoring Sister Cheryl at Asmara’s Restaurant, 5020 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m.
Paradise is president of the International Black Writers & Artists Local 5 in Oakland and was honored by the City of Oakland with “Paradise Day,” on Oct. 6, 2007. Find him on Facebook at Paradise Freejah Lovesupreme.