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At 6:13 a.m. on July 23, Big Man joined the ancestors. Above all else, Elbert “Big Man” Howard loved his comrades and all oppressed people, who he never stopped fighting for. His Celebration of Live will be on Saturday, Aug. 25, 1 p.m., in the Bobby Hutton Grove inside of DeFremery Park, Oakland. Big Man was responsible for a free medical clinic for sickle-cell anemia and a work-study program for parolees at Merritt College. He was the first editor of The Black Panther newspaper, rebuilt Black Panther chapters decimated by COINTELPRO and built Solidarity Committees in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party by Bunchy Carter in 1968. Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter was the least known of the iconic Black Panther Party leaders in the turbulent late 1960s but was arguably the most legendary as the leader of the L.A. chapter of the Black Panther Party who was murdered in 1969 at the age of 26, only a year after founding the chapter.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
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.
Last week I was alerted to an inflammatory story from Bay Area ABC news reporter Dan Noyes that basically sought to disparage the Black August commemorations. The story noted that “police sources” had leaked an FBI bulletin to him stating that prison guards and police were going to be attacked by members of the Black Guerilla Family in commemoration of Black August. Many found the allegations to be outlandish. Black August is a month that is held to high esteem by many in the Black community who celebrate the resistance movements that have long been a part of our history for the past 300 years.
The recent victory won by the prisoner hunger strikers, the “solitary settlement” in Ashker v. Brown, is indicative of the solidarity among prisoners today, and it is for this reason I am sharing my story and history of Dahariki Kambon. We must carry on the spirit of what he stood for; his fight was against the racist oppressors and their cruel laws and policies of injustice and inequality.
As a founding member of the Black Panther Party at the age of 28, Howard swiftly became the party’s minister of information, editing the group’s official newspaper, traveling to Japan as a spokesman and initiating a free medical clinic for sickle-cell anemia and a work-study program for parolees at Merritt College. Now, at age 78, Elbert "Big Man" Howard hosts Jazz Connections, a biweekly jazz show on KRCB-FM in Rohnert Park, and Jazz Styles, a monthly show on KOWS-FM in Sebastopol – playing the same music that he and his comrades relaxed and shared ideas to 50 years ago.
To those of us who were alive and sentient, the name Huey P. Newton evokes an era of mass resistance, of Black popular protest and of the rise of revolutionary organizations across the land. To those of subsequent eras – youth in their 20s – the name is largely unknown, as is the name of its greatest creation: the Black Panther Party. It is up to the oppressed of every generation to plumb the depths of history and to excavate the ore of understanding, to teach us not what happened yesterday, but to teach us why today is like it is, so that we may learn ideas to change it.
Black Media Appreciation Night is rolling around again. Here is our opportunity to return the love that so many Black journalists, artists and organizers have dished out to us over the years in the form of articles, broadcasts, songs and events. We are inviting and urging you to come out to support the people who care about reporting and making art so that your voice can be represented on the airwaves and screens across the planet. Come show your love to this year's award winners, led by Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza. Early bird tickets are only $25.
Black August adds another hero and martyr to the roll. By some accounts, it was his first day on the yard after 46 years in solitary confinement when Hugo “Yogi” Pinell was assassinated Aug. 12. Prison guards celebrated on social media: “May he rot in hell” and “Good riddens” (sic), they typed. Yogi was the only member of the San Quentin 6 still in prison, and his role in the events of Aug. 21, 1971, the day George Jackson was assassinated, has earned the guards’ incessant enmity ever since.
On the final day of our May trip to Palestine we visited the Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoners Movement Affairs in the brilliant sunlight of Jerusalem. The simultaneous visit to Bethlehem of a Pope who paid respect to the Palestinian right to self-determination was nice enough. But the very thought of such an institution alone astounded me. Neither a “dead” museum nor a bourgeois one in the conventional style of Europe, the fact of its existence in Palestine exhilarated me.
On Sept. 13, 2014, the most progressive of the Bay Area’s Black and pro-Black journalists came together to celebrate one another and to give awards to a well deserving few. It was also a salute to the real legacy of Black journalism in the United States that was born out of the fight for human rights and self-determination. The night was dedicated to the memory of the recently transitioned journalist and editor Kevin Weston.
From the moment the doors opened on the evening of Sept. 13, it was apparent that the honoring of our global African media would begin its night of empowerment with the tradition of honoring one of the community’s foremost elders. We celebrated the 82 years of life and struggle of Dr. Willie Ratcliff and Dr. Ratcliff’s 22 years of Black media ownership of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. Black Media Appreciation Night 2014 was filled with wisdom, communication and the exchange of knowledge, as well as people receiving awards for life changing, revolutionary work.
I was working at Central Headquarters of the Black Panther Party (BPP) when George Jackson was murdered by guards in San Quentin Prison in 1971. George Jackson was one of the leaders of the developing Prison Rights Movement at the time. He helped develop a new consciousness among prisoners based on political education, service to the community and the destruction of the evil capitalist system.
Because of Andy Lopez’ killing, the main focus of many people I know is on youth executions at the hands of law enforcement. I see this in terms of a broader context, i.e. the long-range agendas of the right-wing Republican Party. The week-to-week shooting deaths of our Black, Brown and other youth by so-called law enforcement must be studied in the context of the systemic all-over picture. Clearly, there is a pattern and a plan there, if one would just look closely.
2013 marks the 43rd anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, George and Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, Khatari Gaulden and sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee. During these four decades, we’ve witnessed a steady revision of the meaning of Black August and its inherent ideology.
After years of the abuse of authority by Adjustment Center (A/C) committee members and unit staff, a collective group of Death Row prisoners in the A/C will be joining in the statewide non-violent, peaceful hunger strike in July 2013 to demand that the warden of San Quentin use his power of authority to bring about positive change to prisoners housed in the A/C SHU.
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.