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Each year, it is important to revisit this historic classic speech by the powerful orator, Frederick Douglass, delivered in 1852, stating, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. … You may rejoice, I must mourn.” Listen to James Earl Jones reading the speech. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Michael Lange and James Brooks with Angela Wellman’s Oakland Public Conservatory would perform the work with jazz artists.
When the Occupy San Quentin rally ended, San Rafael police followed us to the Richmond Bridge. I don’t know if it was Jabari Shaw’s orange CDCR jumpsuit that kept them wondering – Is he an escapee, one of ours? – or if it was the sheer magnitude of fearlessness represented by women like Kelly, a former prisoner who would not let her traumatic experience silence her. One brother got so full looking at the guards on the other side of the gate watching that he looked like he was going to leap the gate and hurt someone as he recalled the violations of his person over and over again. Members of All of Us or None dropped everything to embrace him when he left the stage.
October is Maafa Awareness Month, a time to reflect on recovery from the residual impact slavery had on the Black community and how the centuries of free labor benefited everyone else. The ritual this year is Sunday, Oct. 10, 5:30 a.m., at Ocean Beach, Fulton at the Great Highway, in San Francisco. Maafa is Kiswahili for “great calamity, reoccurring disaster,” a term used to describe the Black Holocaust of the European Slave Trade and how the post traumatic stress syndrome shows up in our thoughts and behavior unwittingly.
Required reading for Americans pre-fireworks and festivities should be an important speech given by abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, who, in “What to the American Slave is Your Fourth of July?” questions this holiday which took place while citizens were denied their right to justice, freedom and equality. At the Oakland Public Conservatory, Michael Lange and youth wordsmiths Ayinde Webb, the drummer in the Frederick Douglass Youth Ensemble, and Jamani Williams will read excerpts.
Our beloved Mother Mary Ann Wright passed last month; she was 87. She was soft-spoken when not in the pulpit or behind her bullhorn holding church at her multiple food giveaway sites. I marveled over this woman who'd done so much to comfort the poor, a woman loved by all who knew her.