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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.
Congratulations to Brothers in Pen for a fantastic book party and reading Oct. 20 at San Quentin State Prison. The work, whether fiction or poetry, creative nonfiction, memoir or dramatic lit, is stellar and the huge panel afterward, where the writers shared their creative process and the importance of art in their lives, was equally valuable and enlightening. That such beauty is possible behind bars is testament to the power of art to light darkness.
The Oakland International Film Festival is an opportunity for Oakland to shine – its artists the polish and vehicle. From its inception 15 years ago, when the City of Oakland was one of the only cities in the nation with a film office, sadly eliminated an administration ago, this festival has maintained its focus – on Oakland and its diversity of talent: directors, writers, actors, technicians – famous and up and coming. The festival is on April 4-8. To learn more and get tickets, visit http://www.oiff.org and https://oaklandroots40th.info/.
2017 marks the centennial of the nation’s bloodiest race riot in the 20th century in East St. Louis, Illinois. Migrant Black people were hired to work as miners to replace striking white workers at the Aluminum Ore Co. The white workers stormed City Hall demanding redress from the mayor. Shortly thereafter, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed Black man set off the reign of terror in downtown East St. Louis in which unarmed Black men, women and children were pulled from trollies and street cars and beaten and shot down in the street.
Given the trajectory of 2014 regarding Black lives, perhaps February would be a great time to reflect on what bell hooks calls “the love ethic,” a principle Dr. King embodied and preached. Langston Hughes would have been 116 on Feb. 1 (his mother, Carrie Langston, was born Jan. 22, 1873). Albert Woodfox will be 68 on Feb. 19. Hopefully he will be eating cake under some sunny sky, a freed man by then.
Hodari is something of a renaissance man. If you have spent time on the cultural scene, you are familiar with some of his work – the annual Life is Living Festival, the Black history oratory and poetry group Young Gifted and Black, Youth Speaks or the statewide initiative fighting Type II Diabetes called The Bigger Picture.
LET’S STROLL! Every time I drive or walk past KENNEDY MARKET and Check Cashing store and CLUB LONG ISLAND, both located on opposite corners of Third and McKinnon Street, my mind recalls the days of the KENNEDYS – EMMIT AND DOROTHY KENNEDY, former owners of both spots who lived up above the store. They were a successful, hardworking couple – PIONEERS of 3-street legacy!
Back when Mumia was a member of the Black Panther Party, he traveled west to work with the Oakland chapter – an important time in his evolution as a radical journalist. Now the story of his life and revolutionary times comes to The New Parkway Theater. Read about it and all of Wanda's Picks for March 2013.
Rico Pabón is one of the most talented, versatile, dedicated and well-informed artists that I know on the West Coast. At home in the studio or on the stage, the Afro-Puerto Rican bilingual musician known as Rico Pabón is a man of many genres. Although hip hop is the music of his generation, he is just as comfortable singing traditional Afro-Carribbean tunes with a live band.
Happy Mother’s Day to Yuri Kochiyama! I’d like to also wish the women who haven’t seen their children in a long time, some since birth, a special Happy Mother’s Day. Our prayers are with you even if you feel alone at a time when in America prisons systematically separate mothers from their children, often permanently.
June 9 we had an up close and personal interview on Wanda's Picks Radio with the great pianist, George Cables. He was at Yoshi's in San Francisco with his friends, Bobby Hutcherson and Charlie Haden and is on to New York for a tribute to Freddie Hubbard later this week. Listen any time at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Wandas-Picks/2009/06/09/Wandas-Picks-Special. You will not be disappointed.
Guests on Friday's Wanda's Picks Radio are Tovi Scruggs, M.Ed., and Sharon Morrison Parker, directors of ASA Academy, who talked about an exciting conference next week: "MAN UP! First Annual Black Boys Conference: Extending the Arm of Brotherhood to Achieve Manhood" on Saturday, March 28.