In 2008, award winning filmmaker and community activist Kevin Epps wrote, directed and produced a documentary, “The Black Rock,” a film that tells the story of the African American history on Alcatraz. This month, Epps is releasing a companion book to that documentary called “Black Alcatraz,” which goes deeper into the experiences of the Black prisoner on the island while correlating those stories to today’s prison system.
In 1969, the legendary African American activist Bayard Rustin wrote, “The Negro can never be socially and politically free until he is economically secure.” Rustin could have been describing the civil rights unionism of ILWU Local 10.
“Kevin Epps is an intellectual and a San Francisco treasure. And the words that come to mind when I think of him is that he is very meek. He is humble."
The Navy is withholding from San Francisco taxpayers that, to jump-start billions for FivePoint Holdings, a branch of the Lennar corporation, it is fast-tracking Treasure Island redevelopment. San Franciscans remain uninformed that because the Navy is conducting 20 simultaneous building demolitions and site excavations, 39 chemical digs, and 820 radiation, arsenic and petroleum removal actions, islanders are currently hard-hit by wind-borne toxins.
By the late 1940s, after the war, virtually every young Black youth in San Francisco had a chance to attend City College, for free. We now need another generation of K-12 Black students to gain that chance. Now, the challenge for an entire community of Black people is how to ignite the interest of young Blacks to compete for the education they need – as Malcolm X once stated, “by any means necessary.”
When the Occupy San Quentin rally ended, San Rafael police followed us to the Richmond Bridge. I don’t know if it was Jabari Shaw’s orange CDCR jumpsuit that kept them wondering – Is he an escapee, one of ours? – or if it was the sheer magnitude of fearlessness represented by women like Kelly, a former prisoner who would not let her traumatic experience silence her. One brother got so full looking at the guards on the other side of the gate watching that he looked like he was going to leap the gate and hurt someone as he recalled the violations of his person over and over again. Members of All of Us or None dropped everything to embrace him when he left the stage.
Brother Mumia is a shining light for those of us in the belly of the beast who are in a struggle against a wicked system. He has demonstrated to us that even on Death Row, one can still educate, inspire and motivate – some of the same things that he was doing at the time of his arrest.
Prisoners in the Security Housing Units, SHUs, at Pelican Bay and Corcoran state prisons in California are beginning an indefinite hunger strike on July 1, 2011, to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment in what is being called “an unusual show of racial unity.” Breaking news: Prisoners at Centinela have joined the hunger strike. A prisoner there reports: “Only a few inmates are walking the yard. No Blacks or Hispanics have left their cells. No one has gone to work. He said all the races are united in this fight.”
Grammy Award winning South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo is coming to town March 12 at UC Berkeley.
Fighting oppression will be much harder without Helen Jones. Whether fearlessly scolding the oppressor or tenderly encouraging the oppressed, she could always be counted on to volunteer for a good cause, no matter the sacrifice. She taught us and united us and befriended all who needed her. In everyone who challenges wrong and dares to right it, Helen’s great heart will forever beat for justice, and the stars in the sky will reflect the twinkle in her eye.