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The name Amiri Baraka has been known to me since my teens, when I was a member of the Black Panther Party. Baraka posed an intriguing figure, for he radiated both love and rage, funneled through his poems, which pulsated with revolutionary fire. He was born in 1934 in Newark, N.J., as Everett LeRoy Jones and become a rising star of the Beat era in the East Village of New York.
The Block Report is in a rebuilding phase after being unjustifiably banned from the Pacifica airwaves under a plan engineered by former Pacifica lawyer and current Oakland mayoral candidate Dan Siegel. One of the main campaigns we are working on right now is to expose Siegel’s pro-police history to the left leaning crew that supports him in his Oakland mayoral campaign.
Looking good, feeling good and making good decisions has a lot to do with what you put into your body. Health and green activist and musician AshEl Seasunz has been on the frontline of educating Black, Brown and low income neighborhoods in the Bay Area about the benefits of healthy eating, with SOS non-profit, which sells freshly squeezed organic juices and offers presentations from leading experts nationally.
“Fruitvale,” the award-winning movie about the last 24 hours in the life of Oscar Grant, is set to debut in mid-June in Los Angeles. I caught up with the Bay Area’s own Ryan Coogler to talk about the film. I had some questions about why this film did not include the life and death of Lovelle Mixon and would it be able to be used as a weapon against police terrorism. Read Ryan Coogler’s answers in his own words.
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.
For the second week in a row, one of the largest audiences for any show on KPFA was disappointed not to hear the People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey and his Block Report on the air Wednesday at 8 a.m. Instead we heard an announcement by interim general manager Andrew Phillips that JR has been suspended. Getting punished for doing “too well” happens to Black folks much too often. Sign the two petitions to end the suspension of JR Valrey from KPFA and attend the Town Hall Meeting, Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m. at Laney College. This story is constantly being updated with new signatures and comments.
Be wary of the attempts to get folks to buy into a concept that we once railed against called “preemptive strikes.” When Bush kicked this off, we hit the streets by the thousands. Obama doesn’t use that term, instead he invokes the image of us being in a life and death struggle against “evil terrorists.” As a result, many have checked their conscience at the door.
From the powerful voice of Mumia Abu-Jamal opening the event to jazz rapper Do D.A.T.'s video-illuminated revelations on life in the hood, from beloved journalist Kevin Weston's story of his escape from death's door to renowned filmmaker Kevin Epps' telling about his first job delivering the Bay View, Black Media Appreciation Night at Yoshi's Nov. 26 saw stars like Panthers Big Man and Emory Douglas, Phavia Kujichagulia, Walter Turner, Donald Lacy, Wanda Sabir, Greg Bridges, JR Valrey and Dr. Willie Ratcliff place Black media on the front lines of the struggle for justice.
Terry Collins, co-founder of KPOO 89.5FM, and Willie Ratcliff, publisher of the San Francisco Bay View, blessed the airwaves last Tuesday afternoon with a warm and revealing discussion of life and resistance and the upcoming Black Media Appreciation Night, honoring the champions of independent Black media. Black Media Appreciation Night is this Monday, Nov. 26, 8 p.m., at Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakland. For tickets and more information, go to http://www.yoshis.com/oakland/jazzclub/artist/show/3104.
The rap group dead prez have by far some of the most radical politics of any artists in American music today. We caught up with M1 to talk music and politics for a minute, right before they come out here this Saturday, Nov. 24, and rap songs from their new album “Information Age” as a part of the Rebel Soul Fest, which is going down at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.
The fiery writing of JR Valrey began appearing in the Bay View a dozen years ago. JR made our original vision for the Bay View reality: to inspire Black youth to build a powerful Black community. As the Bay View’s associate editor and one of KPFA’s most popular programmers with his provocative Block Report Radio shows, JR and the youth who grew up on his empowering words and pictures are growing in influence, making a difference every day – and they’re just getting started.
Reminiscent of Tupac in his heyday, Valrey speaks expressively, exercising his freedom of speech and bringing prominence to real Black issues that we face on a day-to-day basis. When he speaks, people listen. He educates the masses on police terrorism, a cause that he is well informed and passionate about.
Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown) is one of the most revered Black revolutionary leaders from the ‘60s who is alive today. He was a legendary organizer with SNCC and briefly with the Black Panther Party, then later in an Islamic community in the West End of Atlanta, Georgia. This is one of the true fathers of rap music. Atlanta will rally Monday, March 19, 3-5 p.m., at the Georgia Capitol, 206 Washington St., to bring Imam Jamil back to Georgia from federal prison in Florence, Colo.
KPFA, 94.1 FM or kpfa.org, is a community station that needs and deserves your support. I am a broadcaster on KPFA with two weekly shows: The Morning Mix on Wednesdays from 8-9 a.m., which deals with community politics, and the Block Report every Friday from midnight to 2 a.m., where we play mostly music and do cultural interviews. Please donate during Wednesday’s Morning Mix, because your donation is your vote to keep the show on the air.
You are listening to the Minister of Information JR on Hard Knock Radio. Today we are talking to Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding, who was murdered July 16 in Hunters Point over a $2 transfer for Muni. Denika, how are you?
"I was at his (President Aristide's) house, we heard a roar of shouts of joy, and then over the walls people started coming in, pouring into the courtyard of the house when they saw the car. People were accompanying the car as many as three miles from the airport to his house," relates Pierre Labossiere of the jubilant welcome that greeted the Aristides on their return to Haiti ending seven long years of exile for them and brutal repression of the people they had to leave behind. Pierre tells the story of the Haitian people and how their never-say-die spirit continues to inspire the world.
“COINTELPRO 101” is a recently released documentary that takes a long hard look at the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program to crush resistance that led to the deportation of Marcus Garvey, the assassinations of Malcolm X, George Jackson, Fred Hampton, Martin Luther King Jr. and more.
"Dec. 9, 2010, marks the first time in a long time that a group of Georgia prisoners were successful in demonstrating that they were – and are – absolutely positively tired of the slavery-like conditions of the state of Georgia," writes 18-year prisoner Eugene Thomas. Listen to a Block Report interview with Eugene by M.O.I. JR broadcast on KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio.
Journalist JR Valrey, who was born in 1978, grew up mostly in Oakland, where the legend of the Black Panther Party was all around him. “A lot of the people around here are Panthers, or knew Panthers or are members of the Black Guerilla Family, which was an organization that Field Marshall George Jackson of the Black Panther Party founded. The revolution is very deep in Oakland. It’s not so cosmetic as it is other places. It’s not just about bandannas and t-shirts and concert throwing and posturing. I think it’s more grassroots here and more ingrained in the spirit of the people.”
On Black Friday 2010, at 16th and Mission in San Francisco, Creative Housing Liberation held a “Housing Harvest” rally with songs and speeches followed by a tour of four vacant neighborhood properties. Creative Housing Liberation would like to invite “all kinds of folks, including families,” to be involved in future housing occupations and demonstrations.