When I arrived to autograph books and distribute the Movement Newspaper, Voice of the Black Arts Movement International and Oakland's Black Arts Movement Business District, the organizers informed me this year's festival was limited to three blocks and their perception is that it will shrink more in coming years in tandem with the ever shrinking North American African population that used to inhabit the Fillmore with soul people and their businesses, clubs, restaurants, bars, barber and beauty shops, yes, Harlem of the West, along with West Oakland's 7th Street. The show is over now, except for the annual Juneteeth Festival, a pitiful reminder of San Francisco's Black cultural heritage.
The new colonial occupiers, aka gentrifiers, depart their condos and apartments to come face to face with a sea of North American Africans enjoying themselves, eating, drinking, buying, selling in the best African tradition. The curious whites want to know what kind of festival is this? When we inform them it is the Juneteenth Festival, they reply with, "Oh, Oh, Juneteenth, that's right!" Now we know they don't know a goddamn thing about Juneteenth but their pervasive addiction to white supremacy will not allow them to admit they are ignorant of Juneteenth or any other subject in the universe.
But more importantly was the question I asked the North American Africans when I gave out The Movement Newspaper, including our Janteenth issue, "Did you know Oakland had Janteenth?" Of course they did not know the Oakland City Council passed legislation on January 19, 2016, establishing the Black Arts Movement Business District along the 14th Street corridor from the lower bottom to Lake Merritt. Clearly there are city and business persons who want to delay informing North American Africans they have an arts, culture and business district in the downtown area, especially since we are in a race with developers to occupy the same space.
The Fillmore lost to developers years ago during the redevelopment or "negro removal" era. Oakland's BAMBD district seems headed toward a similar fate, although West Oakland suffered "negro removal" then and now with the white occupation of West Oakland residential space as well as the business district Silicon Valley firms lead the way of displacement. The only salvation for the BAMBD will be going beyond community benefit packages to partnerships with developers so we will at least be owners and/or partial owners of business and residential buildings in the BAMBD.
But without radical education that prepares North American Africans for high paying jobs that will qualify us to buy homes and rent apartments at market rate, we are doomed. Radical education must not only involve STEM but apprentice programs in the trades. This radical education should be offered to all those inmates of America's prisons and jails to decrease the need to commit economic crimes.
We have repeatedly called upon the Oakland City Council to pass the necessary policy changes to permit people in our district to vend on the street regularly as happens in Berkeley, San Francisco and elsewhere in Oakland, such as the Fruitvale with its plethora of street vendors. This will be a model for entrepreneurship, especially for our young men and women who think they must sell drugs and/or pimp and prostitute to survive. Long ago we asked, "Why is the dope man the number one employer of our youth?"
Despite the shrinking space of San Francisco's Juneteenth, organizer Arnold Townsend was happy today's festival went well, in fact, he said it's gone well the last three years without youth violence.
He said our youth just need to learn how to socialize with adults and learn how to be on good behavior in the presence of their elders.