In background, other members of the District planning committee. Far right: Elder Paul Cobb.
photo Brigitte Cook
Despite our spirited discussion with President of Oakland City Council, Lynette McElhaney, and the consensus of those present at our January 4th meeting at city hall, the President appears to insist the vote on the naming at her first "secret meeting" will stand. People who support the BAM District name were mysteriously not invited: Paul Cobb, Marvin X, Duane Deterville, Aries Jordan, Janeal Peterson, Almaz, et al):
The City of Oakland's planning session moved closer to officially declaring the Black Arts Movement Business District along the 14th Street corridor. City Council President, Lynette McElhaney chaired the session with BAM District planners. She presented the group a draft resolution that will be presented to a City Council committee on Tuesday, January 12, 1:30PM. The draft resolution was expanded by the community committee. The consensus was to submit the name Black Arts Movement Business District. Marvin X said, "You want to give your baby a good name as a good name is better than gold! The Black Arts Movement District name has vitality and history." Someone mentioned that the Black Arts Movement is not dead but still moving. Paul Cobb added to the name discussion by saying it is about movement. We wouldn't be here if not for the Movement, so that word is important and necessary. We're still moving and will always be on the move."
Paul gave a short history of the district, adding to the draft. His knowledge was shocking to those present who are ignorant of the vital role Black's have played in Oakland. Paul noted a Black woman breastfed writer Jack London at her house along the corridor, as well as the Black woman who founded the Seven Day Adventist Church, of which he is a member.
--Amiri Baraka, BAM founder
Need we mention BAM actor Danny Glover is yet alive. BAM baby Ras Baraka is Mayor of Newark, NJ. BAM/Black power baby Ta Ha Nesi Coates has a best seller on the market. It was noted in the meeting BAM star student Dr. Ayodele Nzinga's Lower Bottom Playaz just completed the ten cycle plays of August Wilson at the Flight Deck Theatre, downtown Oakland. Marvin X commands Academy of da Corner at 14th and Broadway, teaching, counseling citizens suffering trauma and unresolved grief from the ravages of Oakland's domestic colonialism, in the BAM tradition.
Black film is the Direct result of BAM Theatre. The District should have a name that inspires our movement toward liberation. We should not be afraid of our own radical identity and destiny. The essential theme in our liberation narrative is how we survived or how we got ova'. We got ova because we Moved. It wasn't because we were Black but because we Moved!
Well, domestic colonialism is alive and well (and its child "neo-colonialism"--colonialism in black face) as brother Muhammad Kareem of Hunters Point just reminded us in a phone conversation on the latest police killing in San Francisco. Kareem said the proposed Oakland Black District will be another colonial trick to benefit the reactionary Black Bourgeoisie. After all, what do we have to show for three regimes of Black mayors, Wilson, Harris, Dellums?
We hope it won't but it will probably be the last vestiges of the Black nation in the colony of Oakland. "Brother Marvin, you should see all the homeless on the streets of San Francisco. While we argue about names, we are becoming refugees just like the Syrians!" Marvin X replied to the original publisher of the Bayview Newspaper, "Well, the Polish Jews argued and disputed until it was too late, Hitler came for their asses." In our City Hall meeting, Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb said, "We want the District to be the continuation of our Movement not a museum of past accomplishments. Black Arts Movement should be part of the name." Again, Ishmael Reed, "If it wasn't for the Black Arts Movement, Black culture would be extinct!"
We urge you to attend the January 12, 2016 meeting at City Hall, 1:30PM.