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Slavery has indeed marked this nation. Its soot leaves a residue the best detergent cannot wipe away or wash out. Truth – bitter, the missing ingredient is hard to swallow, let alone see – yet this is what The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and by extension The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration demands we face. It is not in your head or imagination that these atrocities to other people reside.
In a historic day of action, more than 800 protests on Saturday urged lawmakers to pass gun control. In Washington, D.C., alone, organizers say up to 800,000 people took part in the March for Our Lives, which was organized by students who survived the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In New York, another 150,000 people took to the streets; 85,000 rallied in Chicago; 55,000 marched in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands also rallied in Atlanta and Pittsburgh. And 20,000 people gathered in Parkland, Florida.
Though pioneering journalist Richard Durham (1917-1984) made Chicago his home, Professor Sonja D. Williams’s “Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio and Freedom” (2015) offers a portrait of a man who was not contained by geography – spatial or otherwise. Williams will be in town this weekend to share the Durham story at the African American Museum and Library, 659 14th St., Oakland, Saturday, March 11, 2-4 p.m.
“Let’s Take Action,” a think tank organized by Los Angeles native Michael Morgenstern and New York transplant Joe Conte, aims to bring people together who may have a tough time talking about race but want to do something about the conditions they see. When I decided to attend this function, I had one question on my mind: Why now? Why all of a sudden are whites caring about the deaths of Black men in America at the hands of police?
The love affair between Black folks and the Clintons has been going on for a long time. It began back in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for president. What have the Clintons done to earn such devotion? Did they take extreme political risks to defend the rights of African Americans? Did they courageously stand up to right-wing demagoguery about Black communities? Did they help usher in a new era of hope and prosperity for neighborhoods devastated by deindustrialization, globalization and the disappearance of work? No. Quite the opposite.
Maya Angelou had to be the name of a poet. It is too perfect, too lyrical to fit any other personality. She blazed an incandescent streak across the heavens as the voice of memory – as poet, actress, author and activist. She taught generations of students as an honored professor of literature. As a young woman, she struck the boards as an African dancer. And she was a close friend and colleague of Malcolm X.
Last week, rather than allow Marcus Books family members to relocate after evicting them, the Sweis family stole all of the books and used sledge hammers to smash the book shelves and furniture. To the Black community, this is a repeat of history, where invaders come in time and time again to smash the symbols and evidence of a people’s greatness. This will NOT be tolerated. Will you stand with us and DEMAND the Sweises respect our history? We need to pressure the Sweises to do the decent thing.
Beverly Henry died. I just got the email today. The state of California owes women prisoners their lives back – imagine going into prison healthy and leaving with a terminal illness. This is the case for many of the women there. Beverly Henry told me to tell her story and I plan to begin right now. A warrior to the end, it was her voice that told women to stand up for their rights even perhaps especially behind bars.
“The Black Arts Movement and Its Influences” conference will be going down with a host of legendary Black artists who have contributed to the liberation of our minds over the last 50 years. People like Askia Toure, Umar Bin Hasan of the Last Poets, Emory Douglas, the Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, Avotcja, Ayodele Nzinga, Ras Baraka and Ishmael Reed, to name a few, will be participating.
Marcus Book Store, at 1712 Fillmore St., San Francisco, is packed with knowledge it has purveyed since 1960, for 53 years. Now the oldest Black book store in the country has been ordered out. But the community is REFUSING to let Marcus Books close. The Sweises, who bought the property, want the judge to evict Marcus Books. Everyone is urged to BOYCOTT their businesses, Big Dog City Cab and Royal Cab companies. On Tuesday, July 2, 3 p.m., the community will caravan to the Sweis home in South City for a PROTEST RALLY at 4 p.m.
The literary work of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, has captivated the imaginations of ghetto-dwellers for decades. Much different from the writings of Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison and Richard Wright, who all hold up a piece of the American pantheon of legendary Black writers, the work of Iceberg Slim was a chronicle into what was going on in the underbelly of capitalism, America’s ghettos.
October is Maafa Commemoration Month. The term Maafa refers to the Black Holocaust, that period when African people were stolen and traded in the greatest, most widespread cooperative economic venture to date, which resulted in the displacement of human beings as commodities. The Kiswahili term Maafa extends that definition of loss and trauma, that is, PTSD or post-traumatic slave syndrome – the flashbacks, both conscious and unconscious, reoccurring instances of the atrocities 150 years after the end of slavery which have direct association to the brutality of chattel slavery.
Minister of Information JR interviews Jessica Holter, Bay Area erotic poet, AIDS awareness worker and founder of the Punany Poets. Jessica talks with JR about sexuality, hip hop, HIV and erotica.
Under the system of lifelong forced servitude, Black people could be tortured to death at a moment's notice with impunity. White oppressors could sense that at some point the coin will flip. This mirrors today, where police continue to kill Black people with impunity.
The thing that most threw me off about this East Oakland native is that she loves opera. She has been singing longer in her life than she hasn’t been, and seems to be able to hit notes that makes glass break. She has recently been cast in a Black opera called “Dark River,” which tells the story of legendary Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. It opens at the Oakland Metro Opera House on Nov. 12 and runs until the 22nd.
Can you imagine 45,000 people dying each month and hardly a peep from anyone in the age of the Internet? There is a media blackout about Congo and no worldwide resolution to end the conflict and carnage there. The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise awareness about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on behalf of the people of the Congo.
Ishmael Reed is one of the most read writers of his generation, along with Toni Morrison and Amiri Baraka, living in America. In 1962, Reed co-founded “East Village Other,” a well known underground publication at the time, and was a member of the Umbra Writers Workshop, which helped to give rise to the Black Arts Movement. He has published nine novels, four collections of poetry, six plays, four collections of essays and a libretto. He currently lives in Oakland, and I approached him one day while he was visiting KPFA’s studios to ask him what he thought about the state of affairs between the police and Oakland’s Black community, with the backdrop of the police murder of Oscar Grant and, in a separate incident, the police murder of Lovelle Mixon, after Mixon allegedly killed four Oakland police officers.
One of the definite queens of soul music, folk guitarists and amazing song writers of our time is India.Arie. She has been nominated numerous times for Grammys, but more importantly she has been one of the symbols, within this decade, of dark skinned talented Black women musicians rising to prominence. Mainstream media in America, since its inception, has been about destroying the image of African people.
We need to confront our racial past - and our racial present. In things racial, we have always been and continue to be essentially a nation of cowards. This Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must - and will - lead the nation to the "new birth of freedom."
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