Sunday, February 8, 2015

Notes on the Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary Celebration at Laney College, Oakland CA, Feb 7, 2015

      BAM/Black Power Baby Rashid Shabazz, Marvin X and Dr. Nathan Hare, father of Black Studies

BAM Notes:
Chris Stroffolino, Laney College Radio

The 50th anniversary of the Black Arts movement conference at Laney College in downtown Oakland, curated by Marvin X, was no mere nostalgia event: "If we have a theme, it is passing the baton to the next generation of artistic freedom fighters," he writes. One of the most vital, engaging, gathering of performers, artists, activists, musicians, and educators I've had the honor of attending (including, for instance, Nathan Hare, Phavia Kujichagulia, Judy Juanita, Elaine Brown, Davey D., Aries Jordan, and a performance by Young Gifted and Black) breathed new life into the struggle against this culture's addiction to white supremacy. This amazing gathering of talent caught the attention of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who declared a Black Arts district in downtown Oakland: What might that consist of? Affordable housing for artists? A stepping up of initiatives to educate the youth of Oakland into a tradition too often ignored in our "education" system? More funding to put artists to work in gov't funded projects to rebuild the city's infrastructure (a la WPA on a local level)? An Oakland radio (or even TV) station that truly serves the community, and other anti "urban removal" (anti-gentrification) strategies should all be on the table. This was/is Oakland culture at its finest.--Chris Stroffolino
BAM Poet's Choir and Arkestra Members: Poetess Kalamu Chache', percussionist/steel drummer Val Serrant, poet Lakiba Pittman at Laney College BAM celebration.

San Quentin Prison art by Michael Williams.  BAM/Post News Group Isaiah 61 Project
in cooperation with the William James Prison Art Project and Laney College Art Gallery,
curated by Dr. Leslee Stradford, Laney Art Department.

Lakiba Pittman, member BAM Poet's Choir/Arkestra

Thanks to Marvin X  for being the catalyst which led to the "Black Arts Movement 50th Year Celebration and Conference... Passing the Baton." It took place yesterday - February 7th, 2015 - at Laney College (Black Arts Movement West) !!! The Black Arts Movement (BAM) brought culture to Black America and the world, and was founded by Amiri Baraka, Marvin X, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, The Harlem Renaissance and more.

Started ~1965, the Black Arts Movement was the artistic branch of the Black Power movement. Although started in Harlem, it quickly spread across the continent and the world with deep roots in the bay area. Catalyzing the movement in Oakland and San Francisco, it also spread to the Nairobi community (E. Palo Alto, CA) in the early 70's. Prior to that the man who became my husband and father of my only son was in the underground revolutionary arm of what became The Black Panthers. Years later I sang with the Wajumbe Cultural Ensemble out of San Francisco, led by Nontsizi Cayou and became an integral part of the Nairobi Experience which was a renaissance movement that included education (Nairobi College - one of the first independent Black College institutions on the west coast), health and well-being (way ahead of the health movement today - we had own own gardens, co-ops, fun-runs, meditation), Nairobi Day School, Nairobi High School, the Nairobi Messengers, the Voices of Nairobi (a precursor to Sweet Honey In The Rock), the Nairobi Cultural Center (started by Talala Mshuja and still exists today), Nairobi Institute of Cultural Arts (started by cultural artists - Malonga Casquelourd, Tumani Onabiyi, José Roberto Santos Lorenzo, Al Hajji Robert Rowland, Lakiba and more), Nairobi Vocational & Maintenance School (started by Loyci Stockey) ... and the beginnings of Fua Dia Congo - a Congolese Music & Dance Ensemble. It was a privilege for me to be a part of the Nairobi experience and a privilege for me to be a part of this day.

It was A POWERFUL event with speakers, panelists, artists and vendors including Elaine Brown, Joan Tarika Lewis, ToReadah Mikell, Aries Jordan, Aqueila M. Lewis, Kujichagulia Phavia, Mechelle LaChaux, Samantha Akwei, PaRadise ThePoet, Davey D Cook, Val Serrant, Nefertitti Jackmon, Terry Collins, Renaldo Rickets, Claude Lockhart Clark, Randolph Belle - and more, throughout the day; an art gallery featuring well-known artists like James Gayles, Renaldo Rickets plus artists from San Quentin (one pic is attached) - the William James Prison Art Project, a reception with Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, Paul Cobb of the Post News Group, Dr. Elnora T. Webb, Laney College President, and other dignitaries including Nathan Hare, a play by Marvin X directed by Dr. Ayodele Nzinga and the day concluded with the dynamic and powerful BAM Poet Choir and Archestra of which I am a member. YOU HAD TO BE THERE!!!! and hope you help us to spread the living and timely messages and spirit that our ancestors continue to feed us while directing us how to lead our people to a full encompassing of our power and glory. Each poet and musician was on fire with truth, heart, soul, wisdom, humor, direction, dynamic and healing. We are seeking other opportunities to share our creativity - contact Marvin X for booking information: 510-200-4164.

 Sista Adama Mosley (in white outfit) working out

 Samantha Akwei (Red shirt), Assistant to Marvin X, working out

 YMCA Wellness Trainer, Lynn Cole

 Michael Bennett, Physical Wellness Director, YMCA SF Hunters Point/Bayview

 Wellness Trainer, former Laney Dance Instructor, Lynn Cole

 Left to Right: Grandsons of Marvin X, Jah Amiel and James

Participants of the BAM Physical Wellness Boot Camp at Laney College

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