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In the 20th century, few names, especially of Black people, ring louder than that of Martin Luther King. His life, his dedication to the civil rights movement and his martyrdom in April 1968 made him a global icon of social justice. Born in 1929, if he were not martyred, he would be enjoying his 90th year of life. But he was martyred and, too, he was considered an enemy of the state. Why?
Over the past 14 years, Living Jazz has provided FREE music education to Oakland public elementary schools serving high percentages of low-income families (Title One) through the Living Jazz Children’s Project (LJCP). Over 4,500 second and third graders have now benefited from LJCP and, as a result, have had the life changing opportunity to perform as the opening act at “In the Name of Love,” Oakland’s only non-denominational musical tribute honoring Dr. King, one of the many programs Living Jazz has produced since 1984. This year’s MLK Musical Tribute will be on Sunday, Jan. 20, 7 p.m., at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center.
October 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the historic and remarkable organizing initiative to boycott the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Dr. Harry Edwards led the boycott efforts, as well as the creation of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, in which he involved countless Black activists from throughout the country, including H. Rap Brown. On Oct. 21, 2018, I was fortunate to interview Dr. Edwards about his 1968 organizing efforts and his affiliation with H. Rap Brown (now Jamil Al-Amin) who also played a leading and inspirational role in this historic 1968 event.
On July 22 this year, nearly two years after Trump’s election and the rise of “The Resistance,” I tuned in to KPFA-Berkeley’s Sunday Show and heard host Philip Maldari speaking to The Nation’s national affairs correspondent John Nichols. Philip Maldari: John, just last Monday we had this fabulous press conference in Helsinki, Finland, where these two heads of state [Trump and Putin] had a chance to speak to the world. Do you want to decode what happened there? John Nichols: Do I want to what? PM: Decode – explain.
I recently finished reading David Barton Smith’s book, “The Power to Heal, Civil Rights, Medicare, and the Struggle to Transform America’s Health Care System.” It is an excellent history of healthcare in the United States, particularly in the 1950s and ‘60s. For me, as a longtime Medicare for All advocate, the book also provided insight about our continuing struggle to achieve better healthcare in the U.S. at a lower cost for everyone.
Dr. King’s assassination was the key marker in the transition of a great era of social change, from one where “inclusion” in the broader capitalist system was the general thrust to one where the general focus of the Black fight for equality became a broadly defined “self-determination,” rooted in a recognition of the entrenched nature of racism, not simply as a function of attitudes, but as a method of social control.
Two-term Richmond City Councilperson Jovanka is a leading contender for the open California State Assembly District 15 seat being contested by a dozen candidates. Jovanka wants “power to change the laws, to change oppressive, corrupt and racist policies … Politics impacts everything … We have to put ourselves at the table. If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” She wants your vote and your support June 5 (and again in November) so she can take your causes to Sacramento.
The 13th Amendment reads in Section One: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Understanding this contradictory character of the 13th Amendment sheds light on the utilization of the criminal justice system in the perpetuation of bondage for the purpose of institutional racism and class exploitation.
Slavery ended in the U.S. after the 13th Amendment was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865. However, disabled slaves were kept on plantations because slavery was connected to the ability to work. Jim Downs, among other scholars, wrote an essay entitled, “The Continuation of Slavery: The Experience of Disabled Slaves during Emancipation,” which explains that disabled slaves were seen as non-workers. Because they could not work, they were kept on plantations to be “taking care of.” But in reality, they continued to work for their “masters.”
The problems with Alan Dershowitz’s position regarding Obama’s taking a picture with Farrakhan are two-fold. First, by associating Obama with Farrakhan’s views, he is painting with too broad a brush. The second problem with Alan Dershowitz’s complaint is the static nature of his worldview. We can love our allies, and still have a concern that they do not speak against our interest when our interests diverge from theirs. Alan Dershowitz and others of our allies must come to understand this.
As a nation and as revolutionary nationalists, we must dissect and use the method of scientific socialism in our pursuit of self-determination. We must study and struggle using the New Afrikan revolutionary teachings laid out by our forerunners to raise national consciousness, spark a social revolution and move the RNA toward national liberation. The “New Afrikan Liberation Movement” is not the same as the more narrow “Black” movement in general. We are fighting the U.S. not just as an oppressed “race” or class of individuals, but as a colonized nation that has declared its independence.
There is an alternative politics of memory that Americans can also practice, and it might help to keep fascists out of public squares and do something concrete, literally at the same time: Honor Reconstruction. Remembering Reconstruction ought not to shunt aside the politics of Confederate memorials. Yet remembering this pivotal era certainly deserves to be built into the new national politics of memory. The sesquicentennial of Reconstruction is September 1, 2017.
Some 400 people packed a special city council meeting here on June 20 to demand that the city end its “shameful collaboration” with federal police and spy agencies. But the council, while widely hailed as “progressive,” ignored the near-unanimous popular opinion and voted to renew three controversial police programs: participation in a Regional Intelligence Fusion Center, participation in the Urban Areas Security Initiative and acquisition of a bulletproof armored personnel carrier.
Our dear brother and Black Panther comrade Sekou Kambui made his transition May 9, 2017. The struggle for freedom defined him in so many ways. After 47 years as a political prisoner in Alabama prisons, and his release in 2014, he can now rest in peace. Farewell, my dear friend. – Audri Scott Williams -- We will never forget you, Sekou Kambui. Thank you for being an inspiring part of our lives and your relentless commitment to struggle. We miss you deeply. #RestInPower – Denver ABC
UN-Habitat, the UN’s human settlements program, states that the number of people living in slum conditions is now estimated at 863 million, which was only a couple hundred million less in the 1990s. The Shack Dwellers Movement or Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) is a political group dedicated to the betterment of the urban poor’s living. They strive to organize “a society where everyone counts and where capital and the state are subordinate to society.”
“Cream” is a political and socially conscious short that is set in Oakland in 1968, at the time of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. The film deals with identity, self-respect and knowledge of self in a Black family setting. Check out filmmaker Alexandra Lebona as she talks about her film, “Cream,” which has been selected to screen at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.
Louisiana has per capita the highest incarceration rate in the world. This statistic includes comparisons to South Africa, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt. And, with 87 percent of these people being Black, the United Nations Human Rights Council should be investigating Louisiana’s legal system as a rather ingenious form of ethnic cleansing. Louisiana must decarcerate – or accept the fact that this is modern legal apartheid.
Today, reading the current reporting and editorials of the large, white-dominated, corporate newspapers, I have a sense of déjà vu. But now it is not just the newspapers of the Southern segregationists that are spewing lies. The “alt right” haters have gained a prominent voice in the national discourse, and they are on their way towards gaining even greater influence, with Steve Bannon entrenched in the White House. So now, as much as ever, the voices of the Black newspapers are needed to combat the evil we face.
“Race is the Rubicon we have never crossed in this country.” That’s David Billings’ thesis in his provocative new historical memoir, “Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in the United States History and Life.” It documents the 400-year racialization of the United States and how people of European descent came to be called “White.” Billings tells us why, despite the Civil Rights Movement and an African-American president, we remain, in his words, “a nation hard-wired by race.”
Thursday, Nov. 10, Nate Parker visited historic McClymonds High School for a screening of his film, “Birth of a Nation” (2016). His visit and the screening were a part of Supervisor Keith Carsen’s Community Empowerment Forums which, hosted that evening by Elaine Brown, former Black Panther Party chair, are to create spaces for public discourse and problem solving. In this case, the topic was the importance of knowing one’s history.