by Malik Washington
“If Huey Newton and Martin Luther King Jr. ever met, they certainly formed no bond. They are bound nonetheless today by the common threads of how they lived and how each died. In one of history’s curious accidents, their deaths help tell the tale of their times. Dr. King and Huey Newton shared a deep concern for their people and for the plight of the poor. They aroused the passions of their generations. They were charismatic figures whose words were remembered and repeated. In different ways, the movements they led helped change America.” – Robert C. Maynard and Dori J. Maynard, “Letters to My Children”
Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, was the first day of our amazing fundraiser, held here in our beautiful community at Mendell Plaza at the intersection of Third and Palou. We are so very grateful for all the performers, artists, musicians and speakers as well as community leaders. I am especially thankful for all the folks from the community who came out, ate, partied and partook in the positive energy overflowing throughout our event.
Our fundraiser started off with wise and passionate words from our long serving Arts and Culture Editor Sister Wanda Sabir. Wanda welcomed everyone and reminded us of the strong legacy of liberation and resistance which continues to be promoted by our new staff here at the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper.
Sister Wanda poured libations to honor and pay homage to our sisters and brothers who have gone on to join the ancestors. Once she was done saying the names of loved ones and friends dear to her, she invited everyone in attendance both virtually and physically to say the names of loved ones dear to them. It was a powerful moment of connection with our community and our supporters who were participating in the Zoom experience. This was the “spirit” I wanted to begin with, and Sister Wanda fulfilled my wish.
I must say, all the Friday evening performers were incredible – but I have to tip my hat to Rico Tiger, Ravaa, Big Mike and Talley of One Tyme. These brothers really turned the party out! One Tyme not only entertained us; they had a message of peace and unity that resonated with everyone.
This first fundraiser with our new staff here at the Bay View was a learning experience as well as a chance for all of us to introduce ourselves to our community. This event had something for everybody. We’ve received a flood of praise for each performer and artist who participated, from Fillmore multi-instrumentalist Stephanie Woodford to Laura Cohen’s anti-capitalist art band SPOOOKY BOOOGIE.
The pop locking and amazing moves of Dat Boi BPoppin aka Branden Powell really infused energy into the night. I was looking at Dat Boi, thinking to myself: “I remember when I could do that!” It was nice to smile and laugh in this difficult time of COVID-19.
I believe it is important for all of you to know that our community newspaper is a scrappy little family newspaper. We take on bigtime oppressors like Tetra Tech and Lennar for the good of the people. We do not do this work for big money or for “attaboys” and accolades – we do this work because it is needed!
We placed an image of Marie Harrison, the community’s late beloved advocate and environmental activist, on the front of our fundraiser flyer for a reason. Marie represents the fighting spirit of Bayview Hunters Point. You can’t come into this neighborhood and just handle us any ol’ kind of way. Everyone in this community has backbone and spirit. I love it here!
It was only fitting that near the end of our first night of fundraising, Arieann Harrison, Marie’s daughter, gave an electrifying speech to the crowd on Zoom and at Mendell Plaza. Arieann is continuing the legacy of activism and freedom fighting her mother ignited from the early 1990s until her untimely death on May 5, 2019, from chronic lung disease most likely caused by the notoriously contaminated Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
Arieann Harrison brought the revolutionary energy we needed and wanted to this event. What many people may not know is that she represents a combination of both her mother, Marie, and father, Naim. Arieann is a survivor who has overcome great obstacles. Now, with the Marie Harrison Foundation, she will be able to help educate and raise up the next generation of freedom fighters born and bred right here in Bayview Hunters Point.
I don’t know if you noticed, but we purposely chose performers who were raised here or who have a strong connection to this community. We also had City College (CCSF) students and alumni playing an integral part in organizing this fundraiser.
I would be remiss if I did not extend my heartfelt feelings of gratitude to our Asian sister in struggle Eira Kien of the student activist group CCSF Collective. She provided us with the technical expertise, connections and organizational skills needed to make the virtual portion of our broadcasting a reality. Thank you, Eira!
Now, regarding the food on Friday night – I’m talking about those chicken and rib dinners with potato salad! We owe our thanks and appreciation to our beautiful and compassionate sister in struggle Chief Executive Officer Gwendolyn Westbrook at Mother Brown’s Dining Room for this big donation. They’re right around the corner from us. Thank you, Gwen! The hood ate good that night.
For those of you who tuned and Zoomed in to our second day of fundraising, you were treated to a feast of art, dancing, culture and video interviews with some of the multicultural, multiracial, homegrown business owners serving our community. Among these were Naughty Boy Retail, African Outlet, the Jazz Room, Fox and Lion Bread Co., April Spears of Café Envy and Auntie April’s, Radio Africa, Mother Brown’s and Palou Market – all of whom are just within a few blocks of each other along Third Street!
On Day Two, Bay View Managing Editor Nube Brown took us on a tour of some of the wonderful murals present in Bayview Hunters Point. We hope to continue the mural walk through a continuous monthly dialogue by hearing from you. The crumbling, fading Joseph Lee Rec Center mural on Oakdale, though beautiful, elicited a myriad of issues important to our historic Black community, including restoration – not only of the mural, but of our people’s overall well-being, respect and the proper distribution of city funds. Please share your stories, thoughts and experiences about the many murals we have yet to revisit and discover together. Reach Nube at email@example.com to take part.
One team member here at the Bay View who doesn’t get enough recognition is our Distribution Manager Dennis Webb. Many of you living farther from our Third Street offices would not be able to read this wonderful National Black Newspaper if it weren’t for Dennis Webb! Dennis is a product of this community, known and respected by all and equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and people here. He teaches me something new every time I speak with him.
Many of you may have noticed the brother with the black tam taking photos during both days of our events. That brother is a dear friend of the Bay View, a gifted photographer by the name of Johnnie Burrell. Johnnie is not only an artist and gentleman; he is a talented martial arts instructor – so humble that you’d never realize this man is the “Real Deal Holyfield” when it comes to utilizing his feet and hands.
I really don’t know if any of you took time to analyze the dance performance from Zaccho Dance Theatre – it was deeply moving. I saw the expression of pain, anger and sorrow as my visual senses perceived the murdering of one of our brothers on these sometimes bitter streets. Did anyone see what I saw?
We are a National Black Newspaper. So with us, you are going to see not just Black culture, but African culture as well. There is no continent of Black. We are descendants of African people. We have a land mass that we can identify with, we have language(s) and we most certainly have a culture. Don’t let anyone try to make you forget where you came from.
With that in mind, I promise you that when people hear or talk about District 10, they know that we fight for our rights down here. Supervisor Shamann Walton fought his ass off to close that juvenile detention center. The other day, Shamann asked me if I’d done my research on him. I sure as hell did! I’m pleased with what I learned and hope that Shamann continues his service to our community. We’re grateful to have included a video he made in tribute to Dr. Willie and Mary Ratcliff’s time at the paper’s helm.
On Day Two we were blessed to receive a donation of food for the crowd from Eskender Aseged, owner of Radio Africa Café and Kitchen. One thing I learned from him is that he and his staff at Radio Africa are incredibly supportive of this community and will go to great lengths to contribute to local activities. Eskender told me to let him know any time the Bay View sponsors a function so that he can support us. We can’t ask for any more than that from any business owner in the Bayview Hunters Point community!
Many of you know that I am a former prisoner and that this newspaper provides a platform for incarcerated voices. We at the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper will never forget or abandon any of our sisters and brothers trapped “behind enemy lines.” We will continue to amplify their voices, and part of the money you donate goes to supporting our loved ones who are incarcerated.
A soul-stirring performance from the inimitable Curtis Family Cnotes was the perfect conclusion to our fundraiser. Maestro Curtis, his wife Nola and their children raised their voices in passionate song, performing tributes to Sly Stone, Bill Withers and many more. The Cnotes, aka San Francisco’s “first family of song,” ministered to our hearts, with Maestro dropping knowledge and revolutionary thought in our minds.
One theme repeatedly brought to the forefront all through our fundraiser was the need for multiracial unity and the urgent call to make Black Lives Matter! Our brother in struggle, Mr. Charles, purveyor of the Black-conscious t-shirts on Third and Palou, has a shirt that says, “All Lives Won’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter.” We shouldn’t have to apologize or feel some type of way when we boldly say, “Black Lives Matter.”
Kenneth Harding was murdered by SFPD at Mendell Plaza; his life mattered. In this month’s paper, you’ll read about Steven Taylor and his grandmother Ms. Addie Kitchen’s fight for justice; Steven Taylor’s life mattered. I want to thank the Curtis family for continuing to unselfishly give of themselves and share their talents and revolutionary Black Love.
What may have been lost on many during our fundraiser events was the actual passing of the “torch” from Dr. Willie and Mary Ratcliff to myself and the incredible team that we have assembled here at the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. In my wildest dreams, I never would have thought that upon my release from prison I would become editor of this legendary and historic National Black Newspaper.
I want all of you to think about something: The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper was the first newspaper in America that diligently covered the killings of our people by the police. We have always been trailblazers in this field of journalism. The Bay View is not just an outstanding example of Black Liberation Journalism – it stands as an example of Black Enterprise, Black Entrepreneurship and Black Excellence.
Throughout my life, I have always strived to be the best that I could be at everything I did. I’ve now put my heart and soul into being the best editor in the United States and to make the Bay View a household name. I am grateful that the Ratcliffs have chosen to provide me with this wonderful opportunity and I want to thank Nube, Griffin, John, Wanda and so many others for believing in me and supporting me as we make this transition.
At this time, we would like to acknowledge all of the artists who contributed art work for our art auction. This auction will be on going until Dec. 31, 2020. If you would like to bid on or purchase one or more of the artworks presented during our fundraiser, you can visit our website, www.sfbayview.com, then click on the Behind Enemy Lines section and then choose Art on the Inside. We are currently working out the kinks in this process so it will be easier for our followers and supporters to access the art.
We’re making plans to provide a permanent space for incarcerated artists to display and sell their masterpieces on our website. That will enable us to share the art with everyone – both to simply view and enjoy and also to purchase pieces you especially like to hang on your own wall.
We would like to sincerely thank Jess Nguyen, Aaron Bogan and our sister in struggle Afatasi the Artist for their artistic contributions. The following California prisoners donated art: James “Baridi” Williamson, Soaring Eagle, Stan Bey, Michael Alvarez and Anthony Vasquez Ramirez. We thank all of you and look forward to presenting more of your art at our next fundraiser which will be in February 2021, God willing.
I want to reiterate that we are here to serve this community as well as the millions of prisoners languishing in American prisons and jails. I want to remind all of you behind the wall that change and transformation are possible – but you must work constantly at it. I leave you all as I came: in the spirit of peace.
As I end this recap of our fundraiser, I want to thank everyone who donated and attended. We raised a little over 10 percent of our goal of $45,000 and we will continue fundraising until Dec. 31, 2020. You can look forward to another fundraiser in February 2021 during Black History Month. I promise you that it will be a “stone gas, honey!”
The staff of the Bay View sends out huge love and solidarity to our comrades and friends at El Tecolote newspaper and Acción Latina. Editor Alexis Terrazas, Juan Gonzales, Fatima Ramirez and Josue Rojas showed up big for us, providing critical guidance and resources all along the way. If you were wondering who helped us create the amazing fundraiser flyers, it was sister Chiara Di Martini, a graphic designer and artist working with the historic bilingual Latinx newspaper.
I ask that all of you continue to spread the word about the Bay View and encourage people to donate so that we can continue to serve and celebrate this community. We love y’all!
Dare to struggle, dare to win. All Power to the People!
Bay View Editor Malik Washington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact him whenever you see news happening. Please visit our website, sfbayview.com, and share the knowledge, wisdom and understanding and Black culture contained in our one of a kind national Black newspaper.