African arts showcase at UC Berkeley

The spirit of Africa was alive at the African Arts Society's "Showcase" on November 20 at UC Berkeley.

Ready to Learn Fun Fair

Children enjoyed face painting, legos and storytelling at the Ready to Learn Fun Fair at Peralta Elementary School in Oakland.

Occupy Oakland calls for West Coast Port Shutdown

Organizers say Port owners are "1%." Port begs to keep the Ports Open for 99% workers.

Oakland Labor Day BBQ hosts good time for 'fam bam'

The "I am Oakland" collective hosted the Labor Day Fam Bam BBQ at Mosswood Park on September 6.

Protest against censorship of Palestinian Children's Art

In response to censorship of Palestinian children's art by an Oakland art museum, dozens came out to protest in Oakland.

RIP Peabo Wellington

College of Alameda student Jepeabo Wellington was murdered days before the school year began.

Students gain college acceptance at Black College Fair

Hundreds of young people attended the third annual Black College Fair at Laney College, the second year the Oakland community college has hosted the event.

BART buffs Gary King, Jr. memorial mural

Gary King, Jr. was gunned down by Oakland Police Sept. 20, 2007. And on Sept. 24, 2009, nearly two years to the day BART has buffed over a community mural erected in King's memory.

The mural, by artist Paul Barron, was painted at then end of 2007. Months earlier, the unarmed King was beaten, tazered and shot in the back by Sgt. Patrick Gonzales. has posted a flyer demanding BART pay for the mural to be restored.

--News brief from photographer and artist Mercedes Martin.

This Week in the Bay: Sept. 28-Oct. 3

Here's a rundown of events happening in the East Bay this week.

Mama at Twillight: Death by Love

Back by popular demand, Mama at Twillight: Death by Love" is back on stage at the Sister Thea Bowman Theatre in West Oakland.

The play touches on universal issues of love, family and gendered roles. It also looks specifically at the challenges of a black family facing the tragedy of HIV/AIDS infection.

This production is not recommended for small children. Teenagers and family groups are encouraged to attend. Tickets are $10.00 for seniors, students and( per person) for groups of 5 or more, $15 general admission, $20.00 table side seating with amenities (group rates available). Call the box office at (510) 208-1912 or via email:

The Sister Thea Bowman Theatre is located at 920 Peralta Street in Oakland. Check out the Lower Bottom Playaz doing Theatre in the Yard at the Prescott Joseph Center, Fridays & Saturday, 8 PM, Sundays, 2PM. Mama at Twillight runs through Oct. 11.

African American Male Conference at Merritt

Merritt College hosts its first African American Male Conference, "
Preparing Leaders for the World" Saturday Sept. 19 in the Student Center.

Black Men & Boys: Bring Your A Game

A Night of Short Plays REVIEW

By Flora Lynn Isaacson
Special to The Black Hour

PEN OAKLAND is a Bay Area Chapter of the International Organization of Poets, Essayists and Novelists. They are sponsored by PEN USA, the Clorox Company Foundation, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the West Oakland Senior Center and The Berkeley Daily Planet.

Peralta officials address budget woes

Community colleges will no longer be "open-access" institutions if state budget priorities are not changed.

That was the message given to Peralta faculty, staff and students at a packed budget presentation Sept. 9 in D-200. The Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT), the union for Peralta faculty, sponsored the event.

Budget crisis (part 1) video courtesy of Peralta TV's P-Span

"There are a quarter million students who normally attend California Community Colleges that are not going to get in."
Chancellor Elihu Harris
"There are a quarter million students who normally attend California Community Colleges that are not going to get in," Chancellor Elihu Harris said. Some Peralta student services may see as much as 50 percent of their budgets cut this year. In the 2010 spring semester 400 class sections may be cut.

Harris told the group of primarily faculty members, "We're certainly doing what we can to cut expenses. We've cut the district budget six percent and are asking colleges to cut about two percent.

"Categoricals are going to be the hardest hit," Harris continued, referring to the possible 50 percent reduction in matriculation, EOPS, CalWORKS and DSPS program funding. "That's going to be disastrous."

Vice-Chancellor of Finance Tom Smith said that approximately $12 million of the Peralta's budget is being cut. Peralta's annual budget is over $100 million.

"We are trying to cut as far away from the classroom as possible," Smith said. Various Peralta employee groups have been asked to take up to 12 furlough days, or unpaid days off, to help meet the budget deficit. These include not only part-time and full-time faculty, but classified staff as well as administrators, confidential employees and unrepresented staff.

Smith discussed the challenge of meeting the fifty percent law - a budgetary restriction that requires half of all funding to be spent on the classroom. He stated that many colleges are cutting adjunct faculty, which is on the "wrong side of the fifty percent law," according to Smith. Five community college districts have informed the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office that they will not comply. Peralta intends to comply with the law.

Wise Allen, associate vice-chancellor of education services, gave an overview of Peralta's enrollment--the district's bread and butter.

"Enrollment is what generates the bulk of revenue in the Peralta District," Dr. Allen said. Enrollment is up 11 percent, according to Allen.

The largest source of Peralta's state funding is based on the district's number of Full-Time Equivalent Students (FTES). One full-time student taking 15 units is equal to one FTES. Peralta is currently serving approximately 20,300 FTES, yet are only being funding for 19,300 FTES. Peralta was informed of the reduced FTES funding after schedules had been built, according to Dr. Allen.

To increase revenue for the state, community college enrollment fees were increased 30 percent this summer to $26 per unit. For the first time, however, the revenue from fee increases are going to individual community college districts, and not the state's general fund. Still, Peralta is bracing for another round of mid-year cuts - a midyear budget reduction.

"We're the only system in the state where, mid-year, the state can go back and take money out of our budget - after adopting a budget," Allen said. For the past three years, community college budgets have been cut mid-year.

Vice-Chancellor Smith said that reserves would be used to pay for anticipated mid-year cuts, and previously told the Tower that reserves would be used to pay for Disabled Student Programs and Services, as it is federally mandated that those services be provided to students.

Smith added that community colleges are no longer funded as "open access" institutions.

Community college is "supposed to be open access for student to go to community college in California," Smith said, but "that policy of every student who wants to go to college can go to college, that's no longer funded."

Allen also discussed the disparity in higher education funding between community colleges and the UC and CSU systems. The UC system receives approximately $19,000 per FTES. The CSU system receives approximately $12,000 per student. While K-12 receives approximately $8,000 per student, community colleges receive just $4,600 per FTES.

Abel Guillen, vice-president of the Peralta Board of Trustees who was also present at the meeting, called the presentation a "sterilized version" of the budget cuts' impact on people.

"What we're missing here is the human impact of what these budget cuts are," Guillen said. He said the cuts to the categoricals will most affect "people who would otherwise not be able to come back to school." He suggested starting an "awareness campaign" to inform the public of the budget cuts' impacts to the community colleges.

Marty Hittleman, president of the California Federation of Teachers - the statewide faculty union - blamed Sacramento politicians for community college budget woes. He talked about the state's 2/3 majority requirement to pass a budget and inadequate funding for Proposition 98, a state proposition enacted to set a formula to guarantee a minimum amount of funding for K-12 and community colleges.

"If we don't change that, we're going to continue to have budget problems," Hittleman said.

A Merritt College student attending the forum expressed concern for future generations of students.

"What are they going to have if they continue to cut," she said, referring to current elementary and secondary school students. "The plan needs to change to work for the community."

Article by Reginald James, Editor.

Watch Gang Wars: Oakland (Part I)

Last night, the Discovery Channel aired a new episode of Gang Wars. This episode hit close to home: Oakland.

Some folks see this stuff as a badge of honor, while others see it as source of shame. Either way, for another image of what's happening on the streets of Oakland, watch this docu-drama.

This Week in the Bay: Sept. 14-19

Here's a rundown of events happening in the East Bay this week.

The Van Jones Takedown

By Rosa Clemente

Over the Labor Day weekend Van Jones, a member of the Hip Hop generation and special advisor for green jobs at the White House Council for Environmental Quality, tendered his resignation, and it was accepted by the Obama administration. I will be the first to say that I never found Van Jones to be a radical, a Black Nationalist or a communist as Fox News has suggested.

Although I appreciate his book The Green Collar Economy, I never believed that a green economy will save working people. I felt that the book gave solutions on how to save the current capitalist system. And fundamentally that presents a problem, as many in this country are suffering because of capitalism and its failures.

Twenty-four hours in Gaza

‘From the Ghetto to Gaza Speaking Tour’: Welcome M-1 of dead prez to the Bay Area – East and West Oakland, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Jose, Santa Cruz – for six days of sharing his recent experiences in Gaza, Cairo and Europe and comparing them with ghetto life in the U.S. – six events Sept. 24-29 benefiting the SF Bay View and Block Report Radio

source: San Francisco Bay View

By Mutulu Olugbala
aka M-1 of dead prez

You may have heard me say, “I work for the people; the streets are my office.” Well, my recent mission to Palestine was a testament to that statement. Through the Existence is Resistance organization, I bore witness to a very moving and eye-opening experience.

As a man-at-arms in an African Liberation Movement in the U.S. which is currently in the process of re-organizing and re-inventing itself in these times, I see the role of international solidarity critically important to our future world view. So when asked, “Why are you all the way over there when there is a war going on in your own community?” I proudly quote dead prez’ “Psychology” (“Let’s Get Free,” 2000): “My enemy’s enemy is my man!”

Ghetto to Gaza Tour with M-1 of dead prez

Increased fees, more students, less services

Students attending the Peralta Colleges this fall are faced with higher fees, crowded classrooms and reduced educational options.

The governor approved a 30 percent fee increase this summer, effective for the Fall 2009 semester, increasing student enrollment fees to $26 per unit, up from $20. This increase was justified as a way to reduce California's deficit.

Mumia: Between the Government and the People

As democratic forces mobilize in response to the suspicions resulting from the recent Iranian presidential election, they are meeting repression from a government that is fueled by the twin forces of paranoia and theocracy.

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