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After gracing the planet for 76 years, Aretha Franklin joined the ancestors Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. President Obama: “Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade – our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.”
I am not a world-renowned freedom fighter. In fact, I contributed to the destruction of lives and communities. In spite of this ugly truth, Willie and Mary Ratcliff and the Bay View family have given me opportunities when no one else would. I am not unique. The Bay View is THE voice of countless Sisters and Brothers. Indeed, WE are the Bay View, and if we are not for ourselves, who will be for us? Twenty-four dollars is a paltry sum. The San Francisco Bay View is priceless.
From May through August, three floors of black and white jazz photographs are on display at the African American Art & Culture Complex. They depict Harlem of the West, the San Francisco Fillmore jazz era that was bustling from the 1930s through the 1950s. Jazz was “king” and the Fillmore music scene was alive and flowing from end to end in the African American community.
Let me be the first to say that “Miles Ahead,” the film about the legendary trumpet player Miles Davis, is completely and utterly terrible and devoid of historical information. I’ve been a huge fan of Miles Davis’ music and also the acting of the man who plays Miles, Don Cheadle. Cheadle lost major points with me in this disgusting move to defile the legacy of one of the greatest internationally known trumpet players in history.
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (“Isis Papers”) made her transition Jan. 2, 2016. She was 80. The psychiatrist who challenged white supremacists on what she called “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy)” to look at their own melanin deficiency for what it is, “envy,” stirred and continues to stir the waters. She always stated theoretically that “Black lives matter,” way before the #blm movement.
I was introduced to Augusta Lee Collins at Dave Petrelli’s Twinspace in San Francisco where thespian Anita Woodley performed her “Mama Juggs” one woman play about 5 years ago. Since Anita Woodley worked closest with him, I thought it would be fitting to get her to talk about her colleague, musical comrade and friend, who transitioned after being hit by a car in Oakland. Here is Anita Woodley in her own words.
“Asni,” a documentary about the legendary, controversial and provocative Ethiopian musician and actress who was at her height in the ‘50s-‘60s in Addis Abba, Asnaketch Worku, will be screening on Friday, Sept. 25, 8-10 p.m., Starline Social Club, located at 645 W. Grand Ave. in Oakland. Check out filmmaker Rachel Samuels as she speaks on her majestic cinematic portrait of the great Ethiopian musician and thespian Asknaketch Worku.
Margaret Stroud Block, long time civil rights activist, passed away June 20 in Cleveland, Mississippi, where she was born and raised. She lectured at universities and organizations throughout the U.S., particularly in the eastern part of the country, on civil rights and current education policies. Margaret was a dear friend. We met each other in the mid-‘80s when Proposition J was proposed.
Jazz was the opposite of everything Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, believed in. It is improvised, and relaxed, and free-form. It follows its own rhythm. Anslinger looked out over a scene filled with men like Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk, and he longed to see them all behind bars. In the end he scaled down his focus until it settled like a laser on a single target – Billie Holiday.
Congratulations to William Rhodes on a successful trip to South Africa, where he took a quilt created by his students at Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School in San Francisco to honor the legacy of an international hero, President Nelson Mandela, and returned with art panels from workshops conducted with youth in various townships and regions from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
It is the slavery issue that begins the African American-Roma association and molds many of the cultural similarities that follow. It starts with the propaganda around the plantation labeling the slaves as “soulless” “talking animals,” helping to justify the lucrative trade against an increasing religious and political conscience declaring “all men are created equal.”
1995 was a very auspicious year. My “Entering Oakland” poem, which made fun of Oakland’s ominous border signs that actually read “Entering Oakland,” was a catalyst in getting the city’s signs changed to “Welcome to Oakland.” Now I’m attempting my biggest endeavor ever, a Cultural World’s Fair.
Beyonce performed Etta’s signature song, “At Last” at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, laying claim to the tune James relied on to make a living. James told an audience shortly after that that Obama “is not my president” and “that woman he had singing for him, singing my song … she’s going to get her ass whipped.”
Though we have witnessed our leaders and family members being killed, tortured and brutalized as they fought for their civil liberties, we cannot give up the fight by not voting. People have died so you could do so. Of the 16 running mates for mayor, only Public Defender Jeff Adachi has placed his money where his mouth is.
Ever since I became aware of your music and revolutionary message, your work has moved me. Spiritually, you had the gift to make us experience what you were experiencing. It was like you could put the movie you were singing about on the projectors of our minds.
What would happen if 34.5 percent of White men did not have jobs? According to new U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old Black men has reached Great Depression proportions – more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population. Some African Americans are asking: “Will it take a revolution to spark economic change in Black America?” “All eyes are on the uprisings playing out in Egypt and Tunisia, yet America systematically turns a blind eye to the oppression in its own backyard.”
We often hear about the Harlem Renaissance, but we rarely hear about Harlem’s ghetto heroes and sheroes and the lives they lived. Maybe after such Black biographical books as this one and Lil’ D’s “Weight,” our young people will stop trying to emulate white thugs and come to see that no matter where we as Black people come from or what we strive for, we always have to fight this corrupt system as our main adversary.
by Minister of Information JR In 2010, it is important for us to realize how vital it is for us to make our own media....
Gil Scott Heron is one of the greatest legends that Black music has breathing in this country. To many, his music is the soundtrack to different eras, the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. This piano player, songwriting and composing poet, has set the bar very high when it comes to passionately expressing a wide array of emotions. He is also a beast at getting a political message across through song, right next to people like Fela Kuti, Peter Tosh, Nina Simone and the likes. This is Part 3 of a four-part interview. Here’s Gil Scott Heron in his own words ...
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