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On the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, Wednesday, April 4, we need to stop and reflect on the many landmark movements which began 50 years ago … like hip-hop. For the Oakland Museum of California to showcase this culture in an exhibit entitled “RESPECT: Hip Hop Style and Wisdom” now through August 2018 is to elevate this conversation and its creators to a level unprecedented.
“Dr. Mutulu Is Welcome Here” is the title of the campaign and the program Malcolm X Grassroots Movement hosted Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day, in Oakland. As we walked into Sole Space, a venue that also sells shoes and art and is a part of the corner building that houses Oakstop, we were invited to pose with a photo of Dr. Shakur. Mama Ayanna, seated at the door, welcomes and greets comrades and friends of friends as other members of MXGM host the program.
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.
The Saint John Coltrane Church is a historical fixture in the San Francisco Black community and a direct descendant of the work of the late great Marcus Mosiah Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association. One reason the Coltrane Church is important is that it defines for itself who are the saints that are worthy of our praise, instead of basing its doctrine on the philosophy and understanding of god that came out of the Council of Nicea.
The 20th anniversary of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Maafa Commemoration, Sunday, Oct. 11, was really lovely. The day was slightly overcast, and when I arrived there was a drumming circle, with Afrikans dancing and singing. The lit walkway leading to the Doors of No Return and the shrine before the ocean was inviting, yet no one seemed anxious to make that journey – we knew where that path lay and were not looking forward to the turmoil – so the children of the children of the children of that time long ago stayed on the shores and watched the sea. We are looking for 20th anniversary reflections to publish on maafasfbayarea.com.
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.
On Sunday, Feb. 1, 1-3 p.m., to kick off Black History Month, she will be giving a lecture called “Racism and All That Jazz” on African American classical music, aka Jazz, in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St. “I’m honored to have the fabulous Yemanya Napue, percussionists Val Serrant and Sosu Ayansolo and visual artist Duane Deterville collaborate with me on this presentation,” she says.
The Glide Memorial Church family worked wonders at the celebration of San Francisco native Maya Angelou's life that she requested before she died. They juxtaposed carefully chosen visual moments with prerecorded Maya moments, which made her presence so palatable that the sanctuary lights came under the control of Spirit Maya and played with our collective vision – the room almost dark and the lights flickering off and on.
Since 1979, June has been designated as Black Music Month. The annual celebration was the result of a collaboration between songwriter and producer Kenneth Gamble of Gamble and Huff and broadcasters Ed Wright and Dyana Williams. The Root spoke to Gamble about how Black Music Month was born, what the first celebration at the White House was like and whether the annual observance remains relevant.
I am happy to report that our beloved Elder Ronald Freeman, veteran L.A. Chapter Black Panther Party founding member and deacon in the African Orthodox Church, is doing a lot better. Keep praying for him, ‘cause he wants to go home and get to Cuba. Send him cards at All of Us or None, c/o LSPC, 1540 Market St., Suite 490, San Francisco, CA 94102.
Opening night in Jack London Square, Miles smiled on us. The evening temperate, soft breeze and a new moon above – perfect. The club was full, so full the line snaked down the hallway into the kitchen – well, not quite, but use your imagination. My friend had reserved seats, center stage second table from the front – perfect.
The Bay Area and beyond paid tribute to Belva Davis Feb. 23 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, pouring out memories of her struggles as a “first” on many fronts, breaking through racist barriers and bringing Black people, perspectives and issues to the mainstream news. The unforgettable night also marked the 50th wedding anniversary for Belva and Bill Moore, first Black news cameraman in commercial television on the West Coast.
When you talk about Oakland’s homegrown musical talent, you have to talk about people like the Tonies, Ledisi, Sheila E, the Escovedos, Silk E, the Coup and many more. Kev Choice is a chip off of that old block. He is a multi-instrumentalist as well as an MC. Kev Choice will be performing at Oakland Yoshi’s on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. Check out Kev Choice in his own words.
A recent evening at the African American Museum and Library in Oakland was special. The line wrapped around the corner of 14th Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way as people lined up to hear Isabel Wilkerson talk about her book, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.”
Minister of Information JR speaks with actress-storyteller-writer Rie Shontel about her provocative one-woman show “Mama Juggs.” Now you have the opportunity to see this gifted sista, who has performed around the country and in Africa and now includes Blues legend Augusta Collins in the show. “Mama Juggs: Three Generations Healing Negative Body Image” will play Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Twin Space, 2111 Mission St., San Francisco, and on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 29 and 30, at the Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St., West Oakland.
Set on the banks of the Mississippi during the Civil War, "…and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi" is a poetic journey of forgiveness and redemption inspired by the myth of Demeter and Persephone. This thought-provoking play combines traditional storytelling, gospel music and a wicked sense of humor to create a rich, imaginative world that allows trees to preach, rivers to waltz and Jesus to moonwalk. The run has been extended through April 25.
By far one of the most revolutionary cultural groups to put words to music in the United States is the Last Poets. Many, including myself, trace the roots of rap music to the spoken word, lyrics and speeches of the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron and the current political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin, otherwise known as H. Rap Brown.