Sunday, January 3, 2016

Marvin X replies to Oakland City Council President, Lynette McElhaney

Please attend the Community Meeting on the Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District
Sunday, January 3, 3PM, Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin, downtown Oakland. We meet with Oakland City Council President, Lynette McElhaney, Monday, January 4, 3:30PM. Make both meetings or the one you can. Be there or be square!

Dear Lynette,
As per the meeting at City Hall on Monday, January 4, 3:30PM, we should vote on the name and get it out of the way. I am tired of tripping about the name. We think those who oppose the name Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District may be those who are opposed to the movement of Black people in general, those who want to continue business as usual which means no business at all. Who would be against the word movement except those who want no movement. We know the last thing the so-called Negro wants is to move. Since he resists movement, he is being moved on or moved out. The Black Arts Movement was/is forward motion rather than the SOS we've experienced since the 60s. Black Arts Movement Cultural And Business District will tie Oakland into the international movement of Black people for liberation, a movement that would put Oakland on the map as a city of radical Black consciousness, art and culture, including politics. For sure we need movement beyond pure black capitalism from the Nixon era.
The other items we would like to see on the agenda are banners and vendors along 14th Street. Please revise your agenda so voting on the name is a top priority item along with banners and street vendors on 14th Street. We would like to see banners and street vendors along 14th Street by February, Black History Month, 2016. On the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, we think the Black Panther flag should fly along side the BAM flag. As you know, the Black Arts Movement was considered the sister of the Black Power Movement that includes the Black Panther Party. Alas, many of the Black Panther leaders came through the Black Arts Movement: Black Panther co-founder Dr. Huey P. Newton said, "Marvin X was my teacher. Many of our comrades came through his Black Arts Theatre, e.g., Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Samuel Napier, et al."

--Marvin X, BAM District

 Paul Cobb's letter to Lynette McElhaney
President of the Oakland City Council
 Post News Group

We elect public officials to advocate and provide leadership Witness Barbara Lee's stalwart positions on "Ban The Box"! She didn't call for every formerly incarcerated person to fly to Washington,D.C.

We have presented many articles about jobs and workforce training and numerous residents, unemployed persons and community-based non-profits have come to the council yet you have called for more community outpouring. Is there a magic number.?

Sometimes, like in the example of Ms. Brooks's Department of Race and Equity, a public official can lift up an issue and it will draw and/or garner community support later. Every issue doesn't firstly require poll-testing and agonizing community demand sessions as a fig leaf justifying action.

When I was on the school board I raised issues of equity, Fairness and inclusion for minorities, whether there was a public outpouring or not. The people have put you in a leadership position "for such a time as this" when our needs are so great. To be risk adverse, by resorting to defensive explanations about the strictures of process and calling for help from the gallery, about jobs, Black Arts District, foreclosures, affordable housing and such issues means that your governing principle is predicated on bringing some noise and/or stacking the chambers to either leverage your colleagues or hide behind the masses as an excuse for action. The people you require to give you support as a condition of your vote will also show up to bless you if you take some initiative of your own on their behalf, whether your colleagues approved or not. .

And speaking of decibel levels, you could have pre-empted the need for public demonstrations
of discontent by quietly and adroitly providing leadership to alert the Mayor about city staff placing fines on churches. At some point we must all step out on faith and act on our beliefs. If you believe a Black Arts District, jobs,  minority equity and the first amendment rights of faith-based institutions needs your attention and concerted leadership,  then you would know that your community has your back. When one cares and loves their people one acts and even dares to stand alone for what one believes is right. Love is belief put to work.

Leadership doesn't require crowd-sourced advocacy, sometimes like the biblical Daniel, our leaders must dare to stand alone for what is right, because if you require community-based massive outpourings of citizens demanding action as a predicate for your decision-making, then you should convene a weekly delegate assembly of all the citizens of your district to go over each item on the agenda to give you directions as to how to vote on their concerns such as Issues relating to Jobs, affordable housing, protecting faith and houses of worship, banning the box, hiring youth and the formerly incarcerated ought to be genuflectional.  That is why you are there. Leadership is serving the needs of the people.

Your district and your people need you to act with alacrity, not timidity. To paraphrase James Baldwin's letter to his nephew in "The Fire Next Time", to act is to be committed. To be committed is to be in danger. But not to act can also put a leader in danger of being considered irrelevant.

Do you need a crowd to come to the chamber to deliver  that message? I look forward to your remarks Saturday at the Joyful Noise celebration because many of the clergy and community residents who will be there will also be demanding your leadership on future votes regarding the Black Arts District,  jobs, housing, police/community relations as well. I will see you at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church where we can have a quiet "come to Jesus meeting".

Thank you,

2016, 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland, California, the city of resistance

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