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The Oakland International Film Festival is one of the premiere multi-cultural annual events in the Bay Area. Every year this festival educates Oakland and the surrounding area about the world around us, locally and internationally. I sat down with David Roach, the director of the Oakland International Film Festival, to discuss this year’s line-up and his take on what has been happening on the cinema scene and in Hollywood recently.
March 21 marks the seventh anniversary of one of the biggest events in Oakland history and in the nation’s fight against police terror in recent times. I am talking about the police murder of Lovelle Mixon two months after the videotaped police execution of Oscar Grant. Mixon’s fearlessness, audacity and strength in the heat of battle against the police, who have been rampantly killing Black people in Oakland’s Black community with impunity for decades, created a snowball effect of frustration and courage, which, in combination with the half a dozen rebellions in downtown Oakland surrounding the Grant case, pushed the tide of popular opinion in California towards the conviction of Mehserle.
“Beasts of No Nation” is a Netflix film that crudely exposes the face of the wars in Africa and the false poverty that has been created by U.S. and other Western imperialist governments spearheading a corporate plan to rob the richest continent on earth of its natural resources. I would not have been thrilled if I’d had to pay to watch the disturbing drama. For free, it’s still disturbing, but well written otherwise and beautifully shot as well.
Mike “Dream” Francisco is one of the first internationally known muralists from Oakland. He was one of the founding members of TDK; a group that started off as some high school trouble makers and grew into a posse that still paints to this day – now they paint legal, commissioned murals. They started off as Those Damn Kids; now they represent the dream kontinuing.
Here is the story of two legends who gave everything to their people for decades and continued to their last breaths. Salute to the Freeman brothers, Roland and Elder. Elder Freeman was a mentor and uncle-like community figure at whose feet I sat for half my life, learning from him and his comrades fundamental lessons: true African communalism and how to sincerely love Black people through action
Vaytus, owned by Aniefre Essien and Brandon Sledge-Mellon, is a Black-owned music streaming provider. “Vaytus is a word that we made up from the words ‘elevate us.’ Music is powerful, and we believe good music elevates people,” says Aniefre about the unusual name. These brothas have a mission that is bigger than just filling their pockets. Their business pays artists fair rates for their music.
Of all the hundreds of police murders of young Black men in recent years, the two that sparked the strongest resistance and the largest rebellions were the BART police murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland on New Year’s Day, 2009, and now the Ferguson, Missouri, police murder of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. Today we’re going to Ferguson, Missouri, to check in with the uncle of Oscar Grant, Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson. Uncle Bobby is live on the ground in Ferguson.
Jason Anderson has been a staunch activist in the Oakland area for about half a decade and has been working very hard on keeping the historic Liberty Hall building, the original Oakland home to Marcus Garvey’s UNIA in West Oakland, in the hands of the Black community. It has been an uphill battle, but this veteran of Occupy Oakland is up for the challenge.
The fiery H. Rap Brown, chairperson of SNCC, minister of justice for the Black Panther Party and one of the original four targets of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO to neutralize Black power, is presently entombed in the federal prison at Florence, Colorado, one of the world’s 10 worst prisons. Pursued relentlessly since the ‘60s, he was wrongfully convicted in 2002 – the prosecutor bragging that they finally got him after trying for 24 years. His wife, attorney Karima Al-Amin, tells his story on the Block Report.
On the 20th anniversary of the demise of my father, Fred Ali Batin Sr., the 18th anniversary of the Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area – the Ritual Sunday is Oct. 13, 2013; see http://maafasfbayarea.com/ – and approximately the 60th day of the hunger strike to end the inhuman conditions in California’s Security Housing Units or SHUs, I just want to pause and reflect.
Six term congresswoman, ‘08 Green Party presidential candidate and international peace activist Cynthia McKinney has been willing to risk her life to represent for Black people, fearlessly investigating such hot issues as Katrina, Haiti, the Congo, Libya and more. Currently she is writing her Ph.D. dissertation on President Hugo Chavez and attended his recent funeral in Caracas. Meet this warm and courageous woman at Bay View fundraisers Wednesday, April 24, at the Laney College Forum, 900 Fallon St., Oakland, at 6:30 p.m., and on Thursday, April 25, at the Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa, at 7 p.m.
Boxing is viewed in the U.S. and around the world as a man’s sport, but that is quickly changing. Under the tutelage of Frisco’s boxing trainer extraordinaire Ben Bautista, Flyweight Champion of the World Ava Knight is a rising star in the world of boxing
Malcolm X is one of the best known figures of the human rights struggle and one of the most attacked by institutions that serve the elite. A new book – “A Lie of Reinvention” – defends his legacy against an attempted ivory tower assassination. Editor Jared Ball says Manning Marable's book on Malcolm "is a corporate product, a simple commodity to be traded, but for more than money; it is a carefully constructed ideological assault on history, on radical politics, on historical and cultural memory, on the very idea of revolution."
White people did not bring civilization to the Americas, nor did Black history begin with slavery. Runoko Rashidi is a world class historian. He will be making a historical tribute to Dr. Ivan Van Sertima and examining the early African presence in the Americas – before Columbus – in downtown Oakland at Geoffrey’s, 410 14th St., on Sunday, Oct. 14, from 1-4 p.m.
The boxing world has its eye on Northern Cali, because the area is producing champions in every division, right and left. Later on, I will talk to more of the fighters, but I wanted to write this story first, so that people could see boxing from the eyes of trainers, not just fighters.
Long before Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield held a professional boxing title, he was considered a beast in the streets of San Francisco – because of his hands. Eight years after retiring as a street fighter, this professional boxer has risen to superstardom.
Tupac Shakur, a very talented rapper and actor who defined the aspirations and frustrations of a generation, was shot on Sept. 7, 1996, and died on Sept. 13. On June 16, Bobby Beats, the father of Digital Underground’s Money B and a former Black Panther, organized one of the biggest, most exciting and most meaningful Tupac birthday parties in history.
You may recognize Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward as two major figures in today’s world of boxing, but very few have heard of Raquel Miller, a female fighter from the streets of Hunters Point. All of that is about to change with this 2011 Golden Gloves winner and rising star taking the Northern Cali boxing world by storm.
Safety First is one third of the super art crew Black Diamonds Shining, which also consists of Dead Eyes and Ras Terms. These brothas are very talented visual artists who seem to be everywhere in the Bay where people are talking about young Black and Brown art by contemporary artists. We have to buy and support local art so that we can keep our local dope artists in business.
Storytelling is one of the most ancient forms of entertainment – before radio, television, paper and cinema. Ayodele “Wordslanger” Nzinga is one of the Bay Area’s most talented griots who tells stories of the past through her West Oakland-based theater company, The Lower Bottom Playaz. The legendary August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” opens July 13.
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