Saturday, February 14, 2015
Open Letter from the Black Arts Movement to the Citizens of Oakland CA
14 February 2015
On behalf of the Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary Celebration participants, and all BAM artistic freedom fighters throughout America, we sincerely thank our wonderful fellow citizens of Oakland who made possible the event at Laney College on February 7, 2015. Firstly, we thank the President of Laney College, Dr. Elnora T. Webb, for being brave enough and wise enough to invite the BAM artistic freedom fighters to her campus. We especially want to thank the Laney College faculty and staff who made the BAM celebration a success, in particular the facilities staff, technicians, security persons, culinary school, business office, art department and curator Dr. Leslee Stradford; and the President's staff: Maisha, Randolph and Brandi. We thank the Laney students and the community who took time from their schedules to learn something about the Black Arts Movement. We understand it was truly an educational experience for many.
We truly appreciate the support of Mayor Libby Schaaf and President of the City Council, Lynette McElhaney. We look forward to their declaration of the Black Arts Movement District along 14th Street. We think the BAM District will serve as a model for other cities in America who wish to acknowledge the artistic, cultural and economic contributions of North American Africans to this society. We think BAM has and will continue to contribute to the cultural consciousness so urgently needed in this time of broken systems/broken minds.
We pray that President of Laney College, the Mayor and City Council persons will spread the good word about BAM to other cities as we continue our journey to the 27 cities with significant populations of North American Africans, as suggested by ancestor Amiri Baraka. We suggest the City of Oakland establish a sisterly relationship with the City of Newark, New Jersey, especially since Amiri Baraka's son is the Mayor. As a BAM/Black Power Baby, Mayor Ras Baraka is in the tradition and this Oakland/Newark relationship can contribute new energy and inspiration so needed by both Oakland and Newark, NJ.
We thank all the participants who gave freely of their time and energy, including the San Quentin Prison artists whose work will be exhibited throughout Black History Month in the Laney Art Gallery. Thanks to the William James Prison Art Project for making the exhibit happen on short notice. Thanks to Paul Cobb and the Post News Group for getting the word out along with LaNiece Jones Associates, KBLX, KPFA and KPOO. Conway Jones, Jr., we appreciate your advice, encouragement and words of inspiration. You said this BAM celebration is the most important event to happen in Oakland in the last 50 years. Thank you Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and US Congresswoman Barbara Lee for your commendations.
BAM artistic freedom fighter