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.

No Cuts to Education - March 4 PSA

Berkeley City College Student Allison encourages students to come out for the March 4 Day of Action.

Against Cuts Public Service Announcements

Learn more at

Kwanzaa: Umoja celebration in East Oakland

Oakland's Wo'se Church hosted Umoja, a Kwanzaa celebration, at the East Oakland Youth Development Center on December 26. This video features Jumoke Hodge, Greg Hodge, Kele, Rehema Bah, and many other community members celebrating Kwanzaa.

More Kwanzaa photos and video at BayKwanzaa.

Video by Reginald James/ for BayKwanzaa.

Don Reed's "East 14th" at Laney College

Oakland native Don Reed's one-man play "East 14th - Tales of a Reluctant Player" ends at Laney College this weekend.

Reed, who did an exclusive interview with The Black Hour last year before the show screened at the Marsh in San Francisco, recently made this clip with the folks at Good News Oakland.

Showtime for Friday, Feb. 26 and Saturday, Feb. 27 is 8:30 p.m.

The video below sets up the scene for this coming of age tale about a shy teenager, growing up in 1970s Oakland caught between the extremes of a stepfather who is an ardent door-knocking Jehovah's Witness and an illiterate, partying father who is a pimp.

More info on advanced tickets. Laney College is located at 900 Fallon Street in Oakland.

Leon Powe's mentoring program gives Oakland youth Fresh Start

Leon Powe at Youth Basketball camp at Merritt College.

By Terez McCall
Special to

The plight of foster children in the U.S. is well documented, and statistics paint a bleak picture of trauma and turmoil.

More than 3,000 foster children reside in Alameda County alone, and over half of them will become homeless by their 18th birthday, according to the California Department of Social Services.

Benefits to Youth:
  • Real-world experience
  • Realize potential career paths
  • Possible permanent career placement
  • Professional references, resume building
  • Possible educational scholarships
For these young men and women, the future can seem far from bright. NBA champion Leon Powe is all too familiar with this reality.

A native of Oakland, Powe and his siblings were placed in the foster care system after an accidental fire destroyed their North Oakland home. Powe calls the tragedy "the beginning of a long nightmare."

Yet in just a few years, he went from being shuffled between 30 homes to a professional basketball career.

Powe received numerous awards for his efforts to help the community, and says his goal is to "try to save everybody". He co-founded a non-profit organization in 2008. Fresh Start for Oakland helps foster care youth adjust to independent life.

Further Reading:Exclusive Leon Powe interview with former Laney College student Jacquinn Scales, a former guest on The Black Hour
Once young people "age out" at 18 and are released from the foster care system, they are often at a stark disadvantage. They face challenges unknown to their peers, have fewer resources or support networks, and lack important independent living skills that many take for granted.

This is where Fresh Start comes in, filling in the gap for transitioning foster youth ages 14 to 21 to help them become successful adults.

Mentoring is an important part of the program, as Powe attributes his own success to the guidance and encouragement of his mentor Bernard Ward, executive director of the organization. Mentees are linked with an individual or professional mentor in a career they aspire to pursue, giving them insight and hands-on experience in the field.

Another key component is the Independent Living Skills Program, which offers essential services such as tutoring, job search assistance, budget planning, interpersonal skill building and links to vital community resources.

Emphasis is placed on assessment and goal setting through individual counseling. Thanks to Fresh Start, Oakland foster care youth have a dedicated, supportive team on their side to help them to win.

Powe serves as an incredible example of overcoming the odds they face, and giving back to the community in return.

For more info visit

This article originally appeared in the Laney Tower newspaper.

Negro Spirituals 'Miracle' at Laney College

Working without compensation in blazing hot sunlight from "can't see in the morning to can't see at night" under the atrocious conditions of slavery in North America, enslaved Africans endured the most brutal treatment known to humanity.

To this day, the Black Church has remained a cornerstone institution in the African American community, with music being a major form of expression simultaneously capturing the Black Experience while releasing the frustrations of racial discrimination.

But African American life is not just about pain and suffering, it is more so a testament to the human spirit and the tenacity of African people.

On February 18, as a part of the Laney College World Music Series, the community got a glimpse of that spirit in musical form thanks to a free noontime performance by the Lucy Kinchin Chorale, a Negro Spiritual troupe led by long-time music professor Lucy Kinchin.

The Negro Spirituals emerged from the freedom struggle of enslaved Africans. Not only were the songs a source of inspiration and hope on plantations where slaves were overworked, and denied their basic needs, Kinchin said, but songs were later transformed into codes, or messages, to tell the enslaved how to get free.

"Things like shoes and decent clothing were basic needs that were also denied the slaves," Kinchin told the audience. "The spiritual 'Good News' says, "There are silver slippers, and long white robes in the heaven, I know."

Using a polyphonic, call-and-response hymnal, the "Good News" praised the coming chariot and the desire to not get left behind. The spirituals used biblical phrases that took on special meaning to enslaved Africans who identified with those enslaved in biblical scriptures.

Kinchin referenced freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, a formerly enslaved woman, known as "Moses," who freed hundreds of people through an informal network known as the "Underground Railroad." Tubman, also known as the "General," said she never once lost a passenger, adding, "I freed a thousand slaves and could have freed a thousand more if they only knew they were slaves."

According to Kinchin, the "Miracle" of the Negro Spiritual lies in the transformation power of the spirituals, not only as songs to endure slavery, but to fuel the escape from bondage.

"Prior to to the days of Harriet Tubman, spirituals gave the slaves the strength and the courage to endure the atrocities of their daily lives," Kinchin said. "However, the Miracle of the Negro Spiritual later becomes very clear and poignant due to the fact that these same songs became codes to aid the escape during the time of the Underground Railroad."

Kinchin cites "Steal away," "Sweet Chariot," and "Ride the Chariot" as examples of the codes shrouded in biblical references.

"[Negro Spirituals are] miraculous and I view [spirituals] as important as any other songs written," Kinchen concluded, referencing Marion Anderson, the 20th Century opera singer–who herself death discrimination–ended her performances with Negro Spirituals.

Since at least 2002, according to the Oakland Post, Kinchen has been on a mission to revive the spirituals. For more information about the World Music Series, contact the Laney College Music Department.

Video: YouTube User aheyheynow.

2/24: The Black Hour broadcasts live on 9th Floor Radio at 5 p.m.

The Black Hour Radio Show will broadcast live Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 5-7 p.m. on

Listen to new music from Sade, Ras Ceylon and Jasiri X and more.

The Black Hour host Reginald James will also give plenty of news and updates affecting Laney College and Peralta Colleges students.

After last month's show with musician Kev Choice, this month's show also features a number of dynamic guests.

5 p.m. (First Hour)
  • Siraj Fowler: Photographer and multimedia producer Siraj Fowler. Brother Siraj just returned from Haiti where he participated as a part of a media-medic team organized to give real reports about the situation in Haiti.
  • Jack Bryson: Activist Jack Bryson is the father of two of the friends of Oscar Grant that were brutalized before witnessing their friends get killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. Bryson will give an update on Mehserle's murder trial

6 p.m. (Second Hour)
  • Mama Ayanna: New Afrikan Medicine Woman and long-time Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) activist Mama Ayanna will talk Haiti, healing and organizing.
Tune in live to at 5 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time), or listen to The Black Hour archives.

OPD, DA had no case against journalist

The arson case against Oakland journalist JR Valrey has been dismissed.

Photo: East Bay Express

Valrey was covering the Jan. 7, 2009 Oscar Grant rebellion in downtown Oakland when he was tackled and arrested by Oakland Police.

Valrey is an Associate Editor with the San Francisco Bay View newspaper as well as producer of Block Report Radio.

Of the dozens of journalists there, Valrey was the only one arrested. Police confiscated his camera as "evidence" and he was charged with felony arson, punishable for up to five years.

The San Francisco Bay View reports that OPD and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office had no case, and one year later, Valrey's case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

Of the 105 people arrested that night -- known as the Oakland 100 -- Valrey was one of just three given felony charges. As an eye witness to rebellion, Valrey maintained his innocence and says he was targeted for his extensive investigative reporting on police brutality, or police terrorism.

"Minister of Information JR is the critic the Oakland PD most fears; for years he has covered their war against the Black community as other media cowered in silence. On Jan. 7, 2009, as JR was covering the first Oakland Rebellion following the New Year’s execution of Oscar Grant, the police grabbed the chance to put him away for a long time," writers Mary Ratcliff, editor of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper. "He’d just left an impromptu press conference at the door of City Hall, where Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums sought refuge from reporters’ questions – the most pointed coming from JR."

Photo: East Bay Express

The East Bay Express -- called the Nazi Bay Express by some activists, ran a front page "hit piece" on Valrey calling him an "Agent Provocateur." And the Chauncey Bailey Project -- which Valrey once criticized as the "Anti-Bakery Project" -- implied he was involved in that journalists' death.

Despite facing trial on trumped up charges and being attacked by media outlets, in the past year, Valrey has continued to document incidents of police terrorism, raise money for Oakland 100 defendants, continued putting pressure on KPFA for the Berkeley Police's brutalization of broadcaster Nadra Foster and its dearth of Black public programming. He also recently organized a media-medic team to document the Jim Crow situation in Haiti.

He also produced an acclaimed documentary, "Operation Small Axe" focusing on community organizing efforts in the Bay Area surrounding the killing of Oscar Grant.

Visibly pleased after the dismissal on Monday, Feb. 22, the Minister of Information for the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC) had a clear message.

"Free 'em all!" Valrey said while lifting a clenched fist into the sky. A victory for the people.

Currently, only one other defendant, punk rock artist Holly Works, still faces charges. Her trial is set for March 1.

A special "Power to the People" Victory Celebration will be held tonight, Monday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Black Dot Cafe in West Oakland. 1195 Pine Street. Speakers include: POCC Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and Pam and Ramona Africa from MOVE.

To follow the writings of JR, visit the San Francisco Bay View newspaper or Block Report Radio.

African drumming, poetry at Oakland Black History Month Celebration

The Tabia African American Ensemble brought the pulsating rhythms of West African drums along with song and poetry to Laney College Weds. Feb. 16 for Black History Month.

Tabia is a Swahili word that means "talented." Tabia was founded in 1985 and promotes African American culture through historical figures, drumming, poetry, song and storytelling.

Adaku Davis performed poetry as a personified African continent while Arlene Sagun plays drums.

Ericka Huggins to speak at Laney College

Educator and activist Ericka Huggins, a former political prisoner and leader in the Black Panther Party will speak at Laney College Tuesday, Feb. 23.

In 1969, at age 18, she became a leader in the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party with her husband John Huggins. Three weeks after the birth of their daughter, John Huggins was killed and Huggins was widowed. After returning her husband’s body to New Haven, Connecticut, Ericka opened a Panther chapter there.

In May 1969, Huggins and fellow Party leader Bobby Seale were targeted and arrested on conspiracy charges sparking “Free Bobby, Free Ericka” rallies across the country.

A lifelong writer and poet, upon release from prison in 1972, Huggins became writer and editor for the Black Panther Intercommunal News Service. Her book of poetry chronicling her experience of imprisonment and liberation, Insights and Poems, co-authored with Huey P. Newton, was published in 1974.

Huggins directed the Panther's reknown Oakland Community School. She created the vision for the innovative curriculum for the school, which became a model for and predecessor to the charter school movement. In 1976, Huggins became both the first woman and the first Black person to be appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education.

She will speak about being a woman in the movement, social justice and economics, as a part of Laney College's Black History Month program.

Huggins speaks Tuesday, Feb. 23 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Laney College in Room E-200.

Laney College hosts 'The History of Black Economic Empowerment'

Graphic: Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)

Join The Black Hour Thursday, Feb. 25 to discuss "The History of Black Economic Empowerment" at this year's, Black History Month Community Forum.

History of Black Economic Empowerment
The Black Hour Community Forum
Thursday, Feb. 25, 10:30-11:50 am
Laney College E-207, Oakland, CA
An esteemed panel will discuss this year's Black Hstory Month theme along with opportunities for economic advancement in a bleak economy.

Featured panelists include: Paul Cobb, Publisher of the Oakland Post Newspaper(s); Marcel Diallo, founder of the Black Dot, Retha Robinson, director of the Koshland Program of the San Francisco Foundation; Michael Carter, Sr., Chairman of the Black Wall Street District (Oakland); Tamika Brown, African American Studies professor and Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department of Laney College.

The panel will be moderated by Reginald James, host of The Black Hour Internet Radio Show.

Last February, as a part of the Community Forum Series, The Black Hour hosted, "The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas."

Race and Class: The Fight for Civil Rights in the Age of Obama

The Laney College Chapter of the Internationalist Socialist Organization (ISO) will host a public meeting and discussion on Race and Class in the Age of Obama Wednesday, Feb. 24 at Laney College in Oakland.

Related Posts:
Racism still plagues America
Haiti needs doctors, not marines
"The American economy has gone through what has been called the great recession," Of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor said, "but the crisis in black communities across the U.S. constitutes an outright depression, spurring desperate conditions that have gone largely unreported because of the racist indifference of the government and mass media."

The meeting will feature activist Jack Bryson, father of two young men who brutalized by BART police before Grant was killed by Johannes Mehserle.

The event takes place Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. in the Student Center on the 4th Floor.

Laney Black Student Union Talent Show

Can you sing, dance or rap? The Laney College Black Student Union (Laney BSU) will host a talent show Sunday, Feb. 21 in the Laney College Theater.

Cash prizes for the winners. Admission is $5 for students, and $8 for General Admission.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. (No admissionafter 6:30 p.m.) For more information, contact DJ Ego. Laney College is located at 900 Fallon Street in Oakland.

Our People - Laney College Librarian Margaret Traylor

Laney College librarian and activist Margaret Traylor reads "Black Athena" as a part of the library's 2007 "READ poster" campaign.

Cuts hurt poor in Alameda County

Photo: Flickr user God Monster

On April 1, Alameda County will cut off General Assistance (GA) welfare leaving thousands of recipients without anything to live on for the rest of 2010. It is estimated that 7,000 people will be affected, as well as their families.

Activists say Alameda County should reverse its decision to cut benefits.

Steve Weiss of Bay Area Legal Aid writes on Oakland Local:
"The Tuesday morning Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting may be their last opportunity to reverse a decision made last year, on a 3-2 vote, to make extensive cuts to the county’s General Assistance program.

General Assistance (GA) is a last resort safety net cash program for indigent adults without dependent children who have little or no savings or other source of income. GA is technically a loan, and must be repaid if the recipient later returns to work or qualifies for Social Security or SSI disability benefits. The maximum grant in Alameda County is $336.

Last year the county imposed several deductions from the cash grant, including a $40 medical care deduction for those who are uninsured and rely on the county medical center for health care, and a further deduction for those in shared housing. The County has also imposed an additional deduction for people whose grant is now less than their rent, which is the subject of pending litigation.

Under that policy, someone who rents a room for $300 per month, and previously received $336 in GA, would now lose the entire housing portion of their grant solely because the $40 medical care deduction reduced their grant to $296, $4 (four dollars) less than the monthly GA grant.

While all of these cuts are irrational, and harmful to the recipients and our community, the most troublesome cut is the imposition of a three month time limit for “employable” recipients that is set to take effect on April 1, 2010."

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, at 10:30 a.m., at 1221 Oak St. on the 5th floor to reconsider the policy. If you are unable to attend, activists encourage you to contact your County Supervisor.

District 1: (Email) Scott Haggerty (510) 272-6691
District 2: (Email) Gail Steele (510) 272-6692
District 3: (Email) Alice Lai-Bitker (510) 272-6693
District 4: (Email) Nate Miley (510) 272-6694
District 5: (Email) Keith Carson (510) 272-6695

You can also join the No Cuts to GA Coalition on Facebook.

East 14th - True Tales of a Reluctant Player at Oakland's Laney College

The Laney College Theater Department presents four shows of "East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player" for its Oakland debut Friday, Feb. 10 through Saturday, Feb. 27.

The one-man play features actor and comedian Don Reed telling his coming of age story in 1970s Oakland.

Friday and Saturday evening showtimes are 8:30 p.m. "Players under 17 are not admitted." $10 student tickets are available.

More info on advanced tickets. Laney College is located at 900 Fallon Street in Oakland.

REVIEW: Sade's 'Soldier of Love'

Sixth studio album worth the wait

Editors Note: The following is an excerpt from a recent Laney Tower review of Sade's new album, "Soldier of Love.

By Tracey Tate
Special to

'Soldier of Love'
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

-The Black Hour
Sade plays with us. She toys with our affections. She's here, and then she disappears. She lulls us in with her rhythms, pulsations, lyrical stories that shoot straight to the heart.

Then she's off for 10 years gathering more stories for her next project.

Sade has moved on from being a heartbroken lover and is now Soldier of Love.
"I only make records when I feel I have something to say. I'm not interested in releasing music just for the sake of selling something. Sade is not a brand," she said.

Sade has grown up. From flirting with a "Smooth Operator" and confessing "Your Love is King," her voice is still haunting, her words still mournful, but Sade has moved on from being a heartbroken lover and is now "Soldier of Love." Her poetic verses have deepened, as have her background instrumentals.

'I'm at the borderline of my faith/
I'm at the hinterland of my devotion/
In the frontline of this battle of mine, but I'm still alive/
I'm a soldier of love.'

Smooth jazzy tracks have been typical of Sade. But on the title track, "Soldier of Love," snare drums, a marching beat, and a chorus that sounds like soldiers chanting during drills creates an indelible musical footprint in your mind. Sade painfully admits that in the battle of love she stands tall, she is enduring.

"I'm at the borderline of my faith/I'm at the hinterland of my devotion," she sings. "In the frontline of this battle of mine, but I'm still alive/I'm a soldier of love."

Sade is no longer the dependent woman she was in 2000 when she released "Lovers Rock," declaring her desperation and dependence.

In days of bootyliciousness, it's refreshing to hear musical purity at it's best. "Soldier of Love" does not disappoint, particularly if you are heartbroken and need commiseration.

Tracey Tate is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning Laney Tower newspaper. A 25 year veteran of the Beauty industry, she blogs at

COA Children's Center Closing

College of Alameda Children's Center ClosingPhoto: COA Children's Center

Parents attending Peralta Colleges face another obstacle in the path towards education.

At the Jan. 26 Board of Trustees meeting, Interim Vice-Chancellor of Educational Services Dr. Wise Allen announced a proposal to close the College of Alameda Children’s Center.

"In order to operate within the budget in the childcare program," Dr. Allen said, "we’re proposing to close down the facility at the College of Alameda."

"In order to operate within the budget in the childcare program, we’re proposing to close down the facility at the College of Alameda. This is our only choice."
Dr. Wise Allen
He said state cuts to categorical funds resulted in Peralta receiving $380,000 less than previous years.

Under the proposal, the COA Children’s Center may be leased out to get additional revenue to support the other Children’s Centers at Merritt and Laney colleges in Oakland. Berkeley City College contracts with Bananas for childcare.

Dr. Allen said Peralta would continue to serve approximately 120 children, the combined number currently served by the three children’s centers. Allen anticipates meeting this goal by “reshuffling staff patterns” and “perhaps reducing staff.”

"This is our only choice,” he said.

Peralta’s Childcare Program, “Fund 68”, is funded through a combination of monies from the U.S. Department of Education and money allocated to community colleges by the state. According to Allen, the current staff levels have been maintained because a full allocation of $750,000 came from the state, combined with $921,000 from the federal government.

"With a carry-over balance, we were able to fund the status quo. We no longer have those dollars."
Dr. Wise Allen
"With a carry-over balance, we were able to fund the status quo,” Allen said. “We no longer have those dollars."

The COA Children's Center currently serves preschool children ages 3-5 at a cost of $750 per month (full-time). The cost is $560 per month for under 32 hours per week.

Peralta's contract with the state would be amended this spring, with the closure effective July.

In 2006, Peralta closed the Infant and Toddler programs -- childcare serving children under 3 years of age -- at Laney College and COA for budgetary issues. Despite protests by students, faculty and staff at Laney College -- who collected over 2,000 signatures -- the programs were "consolidated" to Merritt College.

One justification for consolidating the program up the hill at Merritt was because of the renown Early Childhood Development class. Students could be used to offset laid off staff, in an educational environment.

Further Reading:
* Budget crunch kills Laney Children's Center
Berkeley Daily Planet (May 2006)
* Laney Community presses to reopen child care center
Berkeley Daily Planet (Aug. 2006)
* Low income and working poor parents protest the closure of Infant and Toddler Child Care Centers in the Bay Are and beyond
Poor News Network (Aug. 2006)
* Students fight loss of campus day care
Contra Costa Times (Aug. 2006)
* Building and Controvery at Peralta in '06
Berkeley Daily Planet (Jan 2007)
* Laney students need childcare
Laney Tower (March 2007)

Black Theater Ensemble at Laney College

Laney College will host the Tabia African-American Theatre Ensemble on Wednesday, February 17. The Black History Month performance will feature Black History through historical figures, poetry, song and dance.

Tabia, which means "talented" in Swahili, performed at Laney College's Pre-Kwanzaa celebration in December.

The event will take place from 11am-noon in Room D-200 at Laney College in Oakland.

Other Laney College Black History Month Events.

Green for All's Julian McQueen to speak at Laney College

Julian McQueen speaks at PowerShift '09 ConferenceContinuing the dynamic series of Black History Month events, Laney College hosts "The Road Map to Green Jobs for African Americans" Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Featured speaker Julian McQueen is currently the Program Manager at Green for All. An Oakland native, McQueen graduated from San Francisco State University. He was previously an organizer with the League of Young Voters.

"He trains local leaders to build the green economy from the ground up by serving as the facilitator of the Green For All Academy," his bio reads. "He trains leaders with the tools they need to communicate the promise of the green economy and to engage disadvantaged communities in support of green jobs and climate protection strategies."

McQueen speaks from 6-7:30 pm at Laney College, Tuesday, Feb. 16 in Room E-200.

Other Laney College Black History Month Events

Black Panther Emory Douglas headlines Oakland 100 Benefit

Oakland 100 fundraiser at The Black DotBlack Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas headlines a fundraiser for the remaining defendants of the Oakland 100 on Tuesday, Feb. 16 in West Oakland.

The Oakland 100 is the name for the over 100 people who were arrested during the Jan. 7, 2009 Oscar Grant Rebellion in downtown Oakland. The demonstration has been widely credited with leading to the arrest of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle, the officer who shot Grant in his back on New Year's Day in 2009.

Douglas, who used his art to speak out and organize against police brutality and terrorism, will give a slide presentation of his artwork, widely circulated by the Black Panther Newspaper.

The Oakland 100 fundraiser will be held Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Black Dot Cafe in West Oakland.

First Public Hearing on Toxic Triangle of Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco at Allen Temple Baptist Church

Photo: Communities for a Better Environment (CBE)

Black and brown, and low-income communities bare the brunt of environmental impacts, and environmental laws are rarely enforced equally. As a community wake up call to environmental racism, the Toxic Triangle Coalition will hold a public hearing Saturday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland.

Richmond, San Francisco, and Oakland contain hundreds of toxic sites in African American communities and other communities of color. It's not a coincidence.

For years, industries and corporations have practiced environmental racism, with the complacency of local, state, and federal governments. Stand with African American communities and communities of color in Richmond, San Francisco, and Oakland to say NO to environmental racism and developer driven public policy!

The Triangle Triangle Coalition is comprised of more than a dozen local advocates, community and faith based organizations, research and policy institutes working for environmental justice and an end to the toxic assault on residents of Bayview-Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, East and West Oakland, and Richmond.

Photo from "True Cost of Chevron" campaign

This event is endorsed by Allen Temple Baptist Church Prophetic Justice Ministry, Communities for a Better Environment, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), Greenaction, SLAM, Mothers of Hunters Point, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland Climate Action Coalition, Merritt College African American Studies, Ella Baker Center, West County Toxic Coalition, People Organized to Demand Environment & Economic Rights (POWER), Nation of Islam and The Greenlining Institute.

The Toxic Triangle Public Hearing will be Saturday, Feb. 13, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Allen Temple Baptist Church located at 8501 International Boulevard in East Oakland.

VIDEO: Anti-racist activist Tim Wise speaks at Laney College in Oakland

Photo: Flickr user Black Hour

Tim Wise discussing White Privilege and Racism in the Obama age.

Anti-racist writer and activist Tim Wise discussed racism and white privilege in the age of President Obama at Laney College Feb. 3.

Wise said that even with the election of President Barack Obama, America is still plagued by racism, and that Obama's election has increased white resentment due to a perceived loss of white privilege.

The Black Hour filmed the event and presents the lecture in its entirety below.

Tim Wise speaks at Laney College in Oakland (Part 1)

Watch the complete series on The Black Hour's You Tube page.

Activists to BART: Take responsibility, don't blame Oscar Grant's friends for his death

BART Board Meeting
Thursday, Feb. 11
9 a.m.
344 20th Street at Harrison St
Oakland, CA

Activists unhappy with BART recently blaming Oscar Grant's friends for his death plan to protest the BART Board of Director's meeting Thursday, Feb. 11. A rally and press conference was held Wednesday, Feb. 10 at Fruitvale BART.

BART attorney Dale Allen told the Sacramento Bee that BART will "vigorously fight [Oscar's friends' lawsuits] based on their contributing actions to the tragic accident."

The statements came on the heels of BART announcing a $1.5 million settlement with Sophina Mesa, the mother of Oscar Grant's daughter Tatiana. Grant was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle last New Year's Day.

"This settlement was the opening Oscar’s killers needed, to devalue Oscar’s life and launch a campaign to blame Oscar’s friends," Rachel Jackson of the New Year's Movement for Justice said. She points out that Rodney King settled for $3.8 million in 1991 and the BART settlement, which allegedly guarantees Tatiana’s future stability, "isn’t even half what Rodney King got, and Mehserle’s criminal trial hasn’t even begun."

John Burris, attorney for the Grant family said in a press conference last week that BART was leaking confidential information to deprive the young men of their civil rights. Additionally, he said it was an attempt to lower the amount of money BART should pay to Grant's family, and the young men.

Grant's mother and co-plaintiff in the $50 million civil lawsuit against BART has refused to settle.

Jackson said, "BART is obviously working closely with Mehserle's defense, and when the trial starts the devil in the details will come to light." She encourages the community to attend the meeting to expose BART's lies.

The BART Board meeting takes place at 9 a.m. at the BART Headquaters, 344 20th Street on the 3rd Floor.

Community members demonstrate outside of the BART Board meeting Jan. 8, 2009 one week after BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant, III.
Photo: Reginald James

Community speaks out against BART's attack on Oscar Grant's friends

Activists continues to demand "Justice for Oscar Grant"

BART will not be allowed to demean Oscar Grant's friends and blame them for his murder, activists said. A community rally and family press conference was was held Wednesday, Feb. 10 at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakand after the "unsettled-settlement agreement."

Grant was shot and killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on Jan. 1, 2009. Last month, BART announced it had reached a $1.5 million settlement agreement for Grant's daughter, Tatianna. After media reports suggested that Grant's friends testimony would help Mehserle -- who claimed he meant to fire his taser at Grant and not his pistol -- the Grant family's attorney John Burris held a press conference where he angrily accused BART of leaking confidential information and attempting the endanger the young men by labeling them as "snitches."

"The murder of Oscar Grant is not settled," Minister Keith Muhammad said. The leader of the Oakland Nation of Islam Mosque 26B said "This so-called settlement is unsettling because BART officials and its attorney have made conscious efforts to drive down any settlement demands by demeaning Oscar Grant and his friends, who were witness to his murder."

He referenced last week's press conference in which Burris compared BART's recent smear campaign to the infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court decision. He added that the young men's rights were violated. He added they are experiencing "Post-traumatic stresses after witnessing the murder of their friend."

"We stand in helping Mr. Burris to fight to insure that no system of laws will ever again declare that a Black man, that a poor man has rights that law enforcement is bound to respect.

"It is unsettling to watch media reports that BART will fight vigorously any additional attempts at settlement and before the ink has dried on the prior settlement, that it would leak evidence and inforamtion from private negotiations and misrepresent witness statements made in the public," Muhammad said.

Grant's uncle Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson spoke on behalf of Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson. Despite reports about a settlement being reached, Johnson indicated that the family still stands united for justice.

"We have started this journey together," Johnson said, "and we as a family, extended family, will continue this journey together."

"We stand behind him (Burris)," said Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, Grant's uncle. and, as you can see, the community stands behind him and us to seek justice for Oscar Grant.

"The young men aren't on trial for murder," said Jack Bryson, father of two young men who were on the platform when Grant was kiled. "Johannes Mehserle is on trial for murder." He called the media reports which victimize his sons "disturbing."

"The media is just focusing on these young men," Bryson said, but "I have not seen one story on Tony Pirone. Bryson said Pirone "initiated this murder, and escalated this murder." He called the murder of Grant a "hate crime" as Pirone punched Grant in the face and called him a "Bitch Ass Nigger" three times moments before Grant was shot in his back.

"You're running their faces through the news like they did this murder," Bryson said. The media was presenting Mehserle as a model police officer on the reports, according to Bryson. "If he did all that, why is Oscar Grant dead?"

"A black man's life is not worth a caucasian person's life," Wilson Riles said. The former Oakland City Council Member added "That's not justice and will never be justice."

Ten years after the passage of Proposition 21, community activist Tony Coleman said racial profiling and crimilization of youth continues.

"Today it's still the same criminalization of young people going on today," Coleman said, "and even more so that they executing them."

Coleman called for young people to get involved.

"We need you young people!" Coleman yelled. "Young people, this is your fight! You have to come and join this fight!

Don't rely on the system to get your justice," he concluded, echoing Kwame Ture, "Organize, Organize, Organize."

Rachel Jackson with the New Year's Movement for Justice said that the "tragedy" that took place at Fruitvale on January 1, 2009 sparked a statewide movement. She pointed to the fervant organizing taking place in Los Angeles -- where Mehserle's murder trial has been moved -- adding that this attack on young people would help galvanize youth.

"BART is pouring gasoline on a fire here," Jackson said. "We're going to stand with the family to the end." Jackson also pointed out that Pirone and Marysol Domenci -- who attacked Grant and friend's prior to Grant's murder yet "BART still has them on the payroll."

"BART is paying them $100,000 a year," Jackson yelled, "and there's still no justice."

She called on people to attend BART board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 9 a.m.

"Not only is mehserle on trial, but through this case, so is the justice system," said Muhammad. "Judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and general media are all under the watchful eye of a community that will only be satisfied by justice."

The press conference ended with the chant: Justice for Oscar Grant!

IndyBay has the raw audio of the press conference. It is below:

The BART Board Meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 11 at 9 a.m. at 344 20th Street near Harrison, 3rd Floor.

The Unsettling Settlement: Minister Keith Muhammad demands Justice for Oscar Grant

Note: The remarks below were delivered at the Wednesday, Feb. 10 community rally and press conference at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland. The rally was called following recent media reports, and statements by attorney John Burris, who represents the family of Oscar Grant, that "jeopardized" BART's $1.5 million settlement with the family for BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shooting and killing Grant.

By Minister Keith Muhammad
Special Guest Blog

On January 1st, 2009, BART officer Johannes Mehserle responded to a call at Fruitvale BART where he found BART Officer Tony Pirone and others detaining, demeaning and aggressing Oscar Grant III and his friends. Within minutes of his arrival and seconds from hearing Officer Pirone hurl racially offensive, threatening assaults at Oscar Grant, Mehserle pulls his weapon, takes aim, and kills an unarmed father, son, and citizen.

The recent so-called partial settlement with the mother of Oscar’s child settled nothing. In fact, reports in the media and BART attorney’s have been extremely unsettling. By definition, either a matter is settled or it is not. The BART Board, in its rush to settle has voted to approve an incomplete deal. Why this sudden rush to settle? Who benefits by this rush?

The rush to settle may please BART. BART has been on a public relations blitz since January 2009. It seems pleasing to Johannes Mehserle and his attorney, who regardless of judge imposed gag orders, has publicly expressed agreement with this settlement. It may please all those hired who gain financial benefit in the process; but this rush is not pleasing for those whose demand is justice.

The murder of Oscar Grant is not settled. The mother of Oscar remains strong in their unsettled $50million lawsuit. His criminal trial is scheduled soon in LA and must proceed unhindered by false information that is being leaked, according to Attorney Burris, by persons in or near this case on behalf of BART.

We stand firmly with the family of Oscar Grant as it pursues justice in the matter of its slain son. This so-called settlement is unsettling because BART officials and its attorney have made a conscious effort to drive down any settlement demands by demeaning Oscar Grant and his friends, who were witnesses to his murder.

Attorney Burris referenced last week the infamous Dred Scott decision in which Supreme Court Judge Taney declared that a Black man has no rights that a white man is bound to respect. Burris declared that Black men have rights where he came from.

In fact, every right we claim, we’ve had to fight for. Frederick Douglas was right, saying, “Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never did and it never will.” What rights do Oscar Grant and his friends now have? What rights did Johannes Mehserle and Anthony Pirone offend?

Oscar Grant lost his life. His child is without her father. His mother is without her son. His sister is without her brother. His friends lost the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; made to fight media scrutiny while enduring post-traumatic stresses after witness the murder of their friend.

These lost rights are worth fighting for. We say to Attorney Burris, fight. Fight to insure that no system of laws will ever again declare that no black, no poor man has rights that law enforcement should respect.

It is unsettling to watch media reports that BART will fight vigorously against any additional attempts at settlement and before the ink dries, leaks concerning private negotiations and misrepresentations of witness statements are made public.

To be clear, Oscar Grant and his friends are not on trial; Johannes Mehserle is. We will not stand by and watch BART officials work to derail the righteous demands for justice made by the Grant family and community to drive down any attempts to settle this matter reasonably.

Not only is Mehserle on trial, but through this case, so too is the justice system. Will this system defend the rights of the Black, the Brown, and the poor who have been voiceless in a system that often persecutes and prosecutes them? The poor need a voice. Attorney Burris should not sing solo in defense of these men. We need a chorus of voices to demand justice.

Judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and general media are all under the watchful eye of a community that will only be satisfied by justice. The recent “partial settlement” has not settled this case. The murder of Oscar Grant demands justice; not partial settlements that leave a mother in pain, in search for justice.
“Justice stands afar, and equity cannot enter, because truth has fallen in the street.”

Jakada Imani to speak at Laney College

Jakada Imani, Executive Director of the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center will speak at Laney College Tuesday Feb. 9 as a part of the campus' Black History Month activities.

Imani will speak in room E-207 from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Photo: The Oakbook

The Black Hour featured in Laney Tower

The Black Hour was featured in the latest issue of the Laney Tower newspaper.

Photo: Flickr user

The article talks about 9th Floor Radio, the radio station on which The Black Hour broadcasts monthly and various programs on the station.

"Shows such as "The Black Hour" produced by Reginald James feature discussions fueled by current events and local guests, ranging from politicians and activists to artists and musicians. "The Black Hour" was one of 9th Floor Radio’s earliest shows...(now airing for over two years)."

The newspaper also features a photo of Reginald James during interview with Bay Area musician Kev Choice.

Read article at and listen to archives of The Black Hour on 9th Floor Radio.

Attorney John Burris confronts BART's attack on Oscar Grant's friends

Photo: IndyBay

BART has breached confidentiality and is lying to criminalize and endanger the lives of Oscar Grant's friends who were on the Fruitvale platform when he was murdered last New Year's Day by a BART police officer. The transit agency wants to undermine a civil rights lawsuit against the agency, according to the family's attorney.

Just one week ago, BART announced a $1.5 million settlement with the mother of Oscar Grant's child, Sophina Mesa. Attorney John Burris -- who is representing the family in various civil lawsuits against BART -- held a press conference alongside Grant's famiy and friends to discuss recent media reports based on confidential information that was leaked by BART.

"We have protective orders in this case. So, some of this stuff that's come out through protective orders is shocking to me," Burris said. "For the information to come out about what's going on in this case, seems to me that it's unethical and its a violation of the rules of conduct and there must be an ulterior purpose for it."

"Is it about truth and justice?" Burris asked. "That has yet to be seen."

Burris compared BART's treatment of Grant's friends to the infamous Supreme Court Dred Scott decision.

"BART's position here suggests that these young men have no rights that BART has to respect," Burris said. He said he would "fight until the end of time" to ensure that their civil rights are respected.

Burris added that BART police officers -- and rumored lovers -- Tony Pirone and Marysol Domenci threatened to used their tasers unconstitutionally, based on the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which said officers could only use tasers when there is an immediate threat (PDF).

"How could it happen? BART had to do it. Why would they do it?

He added that BART's ulterior motive was to label Grant's friends with a "snitch jacket." Grant's friends have been threatened and called snitches due to BART's ethical breach, according to Burris. He said that BART's comments are trying to minimize their "financial obligations" by casting Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson in a negative light.

"The stuff they said about the settlement conference was designed to make them look better than they are," Burris added. Referring to the recent settlement, Burris said, "these comments could put all that in jeopardy."

Burris said he had no reservations about trying the case.

"We have a video tape where a man kills a kid who was on ground with his hands behind his back," Burris said.

When asked who was to blame, Burris blamed BART.

"BART hired the lawyers, I assume the lawyers speak for BART," Burris said.

IndyBay has provided the complete video of the press conference called by Burris.

Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.

Poetry at West Oakland Library

The West Oakland Library is hosting the 20th African American Celebration through Poetry. Poets of all ages - especially those sharing their work for the first time - are encouraged to participate.

The event takes place Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline Street. Admission is free. More information at (510) 238-7352 or

Oakland girl, Afua Vinson missing

UPDATE: Afua is home safely, according to the family.

Afua VinsonFifteen year old Oakland girl Afua Ayana Vinson has been missing for over 24 hours. She was last on getting on the AC Transit Line 15 bus at 58th and Martin Luther King heading towards downtown Oakland Wed. Feb 3 at 9:30 p.m., according to her family.

Vinson is African American, has brown eyes and a Black curly weave. She is 5'3" and weights 105 lbs. She was last seen wearing grey skinny jeans, a white jacket and a Black A's hat (with Red/white "A").

Anyone with any information to help find the whereabouts of Afua should contact:
  • Michael - 510-992-9969
  • Jennifer - 510-395-2968
  • Kia - 510-830-7134
  • David - 510-485-6677

If you're on Facebook, join the Search for Afua Facebook Group ( to get updates from the family.

Update 2/5, 11:59 pm
"Its been confirmed that she was seen yesterday at bushrod park wearing the same clothes, gray ripped jeans, red and black fitted hat." - Saudah

Afua was spotted on 34th and Telegraph Ave this afternoon around 4:30 p.m.

Lupe Fiasco - "I'm Beamin" - Music Monday

This week's Music Monday: Lupe Fiasco's "I'm Beamin" off the upcoming album, "Lasers."

Rosa Parks would be 97 years old today

Today would be Rosa Parks 97th birthday.


In the Jim Crow south of 1955, everything was segregated; school, church, restaurants, hotels and public transportation. Black people had to sit on the back of the bus, and if a white person wanted their seat, they'd have to give it up.

In Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks decided she'd had enough. Parks refused to give up her seat for a white passenger and move to the back of the bus. She was arrested - like many others before.

As the Secretary of the Montgomery Chapter of the NAACP, "Parks’ resistance spread through a community that was tired of enduring years of insult and humiliation," said the Smithsonian Institute. "For more than a year, in the face of violence and intimidation, 50,000 black citizens forced a segregated bus system to open its doors to equality."

Rosa Lee McCauley Parks was born February 4, 1913. She passed away October 24, 2005.

Five years ago, Parks was honored by AC Transit, and for her work for the Transit Justice Movement. Organizations like Urban Habit are still working to End Race Discrimination in Public Transportation today.

Interestingly enough, now young Black people often ride on the back of the bus. Why is that?

Tim Wise: Racism still plagues America

Even with the election of President Barack Obama, America is still plagued by racism, according to author and activist Tim Wise.

Photo: Reginald James/

About 150 people packed Laney College's Room D-200 Wednesday, Feb. 3 to hear the Black History Month lecture based on Wise’s most recent book, “Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama.”

Wise -- who is white -- said the recent economic downturn, fear over health care reform, the changing demographics of America, and the election of the first African American president in the U.S. has caused great anxiety for white people in America. The rise of the “Tea Party” demonstrations and much of the backlash against the Obama administration is due to a perceived loss of “white privilege.”

'For the first time you actually have to realize that America’s not just about white folks.'
Tim Wise

"For the first time you actually have to realize that America’s not just about white folks,” Wise said, referring to the luxury of America being seen as a nation for white people. “When all of a sudden that changes, an awful lot of people aren’t ready.”

“All of a sudden you have a white America” no longer “totally convinced that everything’s going to be okay. He added that the economic collapse has caused many white people to feel as if they are “losing” the country and wanting “their” country back. “They’re talking about going back to the day when they were the norm. They could take it for granted that they were the norm.”

He added that it could make it difficult for white people to discuss race or racial inequality when they have their own problems to deal with. Wise suggests this is the time when people of all races should unite to solve the country’s collective problems, but it isn’t happening.

The election of the first Black president has lead to increased “rhetoric of racial transcendence,” Wise said, even though the majority of white people did not vote for Obama. He said that Obama has avoided discussing race unless he is forced to, and gave the example of Obama’s campaign speech on race when he was forced to distance himself from his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Ironically, “the very thing that allowed him to win was the idea that he’s different,” from other Black people, Wise said. “Yet, it’s the very thing that now makes it impossible for him to respond to even the overtly racist stuff that gets thrown at him.”

“It was President Obama who implanted this notion in the minds of the American public,” Wise said, referring to Mr. Obama’s 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention that put him on the national scene.

In that speech, Obama said, “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

Mr. Obama never mentioned race during his first State of the Union address, Wise said. Wise referred to MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ recent remark about Obama being “post-racial.”

'Only white people have been able to erase our racial identity and act like it doesn’t matter, and forget that we’re white. Whenever you’re a member of a dominant group, you have that luxury; the problem is when you project that luxury onto others who don’t have it.'
Tim Wise

"I forgot that he was black for a whole hour," Matthews said. Wise said that Obama probably didn’t forget he was black, but Matthews’ comment is evidence of inherent white privilege and negative connotations of black people.

The statement implies that Black people can only specialize in “black issues” and are incapable of being leaders of all people, Wise said.

"It’s a damned good thing I forgot" Obama was black, and “if I remembered I wouldn’t have been able to listen,” Wise said the remark implied. “Somehow there is something wrong with blackness that needs to be forgotten.

“Only white people have been able to erase our racial identity and act like it doesn’t matter, and forget that we’re white.

“Whenever you’re a member of a dominant group,” Wise said, “you have that luxury; the problem is when you project that luxury onto others who don’t have it.”

Photo: Reginald James/

The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer period.

Responding to a question about the rise of hate groups following Obama’s election, Wise said “People of color are far more at risk of people not necessarily in hate groups.” Wise referring to police officers and loan officers who may be or may not be racist, but work in racist institutions. “Oscar Grant wasn’t a killed by a Klansmen,” he said.

When asked about the use of the “N-Word,” Wise stated that it was a “Black conversation” that did not need to involved white people in the decision.

His advice on confronting subtle or subconscious racism was critical confrontation. He said some whites may not be conscious of their racism, but by asking questions or critiquing racist remarks or statements, you can encourage people–who are not overtly or intentionally racist, to improve.

“You don’t want to just jump on them, you want them to think.”

Tim Wise is also speaking at the First Congregational Church in Oakland tonight.

Haiti: Don't hate me because I'm Black

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from a new column in the Laney Tower newspaper, "Back to Black." The column is written by The Black Hour producer Reginald James. Be sure to visit for the complete scoop.

An estimated 200,000 people have died after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the island nation of Haiti on Jan. 12. One million people are homeless, according to the U.N. and untold numbers of children are now orphaned.

This natural disaster is rooted in the economic and military intervention by those who hate to see Black people free.

As abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a U.S. Minister to Haiti said once, the “revolutionary spirit of Haiti is her curse, her crime, her greatest calamity and the explanation of the limited condition of her civilization.”

Read the entire "Don't hate Haiti because it's Black" column on

Laney: Haiti Needs Doctors not Marines

U.S. Marines during 2004 coup
U.S. Marines during 2004 coup
Photo: Socialist Viewpoint

The Laney College Black Student Union and the International Socialist Organization are hosting a Public Meeting and Discussion on Haiti Wed. Feb. 3.

"Come find out the truth about the U.S. government’s responsibility for the poverty in Haiti that has transformed the earthquake into a human catastrophe, and why sending in the Marines is no solution at all," said Laney College student and activist Cam Sturdevant.

The event will be held Wednesday, Feb. 3 at Noon in the Black Student Union -- formerly the Club Knowledge "Liberty Lounge" -- Room 403 on the Fourth Floor of the Laney College Student Center.

Haiti Celebration and Teach In in Oakland

Celebrate the history, culture and contributions of Haiti while learning about its continued resistance from slavery to the present.

If you are a teacher or work with young people, come thru. This event is to give political context to Haiti through interactive and artistic activities:
we cannot let mainstream media dictate how young people see and understand Haiti!

Libete: Haiti Will Rise
Wednesday, February 3 4:30-7:30pm FREE
EastSide Cultural Center
2277 International Blvd Oakland
more info: 510.533.6629

Eastside Arts Alliance and Dignidad Rebelde has partnered to create limited-edition silk screens of the "Haiti Will Rise" image for sale. All proceeds will go to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. To buy, visit

Co-Sponsored by: Haiti Action Committee, Leadership Excellence, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Youth Together, EastSide Arts Alliance and Media Academy Black Student Union

PHOTO: Libete: Haiti Will Rise Cultural Celebration and Teach-In, originally uploaded by

Tim Wise to speak at Laney College

Read story on

Tim Wise will speak at Laney College Feb. 3
Tim Wise at Laney College
Wednesday, Feb. 3
11 a.m. to Noon, Room D-200
Anti-racist writer and activist Tim Wise will speak at Laney College Wednesday, Feb. 3. Wise will discuss his recent book, "Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama."

Wise also the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. He also published a collection of his essays, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male.

Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. Wise also trained journalists to eliminate racial bias in reporting.

Wise will speak from 11 a.m. to Noon in Room D-200 at Laney College (900 Fallon Street) in Oakland.

Black History Month Begins at Laney College

Laney College kicked off Black History Month February 1 on the main quad.

Laney College Interim President Dr. Elnora Webb speaks at Black History Month Kick-Off with Dr. Karolyn Van Puten and Tamika Brown

The event began with a Lift E’ry Voice and Sing – the Black National Anthem – performed members of the Laney Black Student Union. The quad was decorated with red, black and green balloons.

African American Studies professor Tamika Brown, chair of the Ethnic Studies department, discussed the 2010 Black History Month theme, “The History of Black Economic Empowerment.” She said the theme is significant today, and to upcoming campus events.

“We’ll have people talking about Green Jobs and how Black people fit into that new economy,” Brown said, “as well as how the economy is affecting Black men.”

In some urban areas, the unemployment rate is as high as 50 percent, according to Brown.

“We’ll also discuss racism in society. Does it still exist post-Obama?” Brown asked.

Faculty Senate President Dr. Karolyn Van Puten said that Black History Month speaks to the “peculiar history” of the United States and the need for people of African Descent to “reclaim our identity from what was trashed,” referring to enslavement.

“Take this opportunity to expand beyond this black skin,” Van Puten said. She added that Black History Month is relevant to all people, not just African Americans.

Acting College President Dr. Elnora Webb spoke of the crippling affect slavery and racism has had on the psychology of African Americans, and the need to find value in all people.

“It’s important to know who we are and why we feel how we feel,” Webb said. “It’s important because the way we feel about ourselves has an impact on how we treat ourselves and other folks.”

Webb added that many of the behaviors have been passed down from slavery, generation to generation, but African people have a history beyond slavery.

“Slavery is just a recent part of our history,” Webb said. “We need to understand history to understand who we are as a complete people.”

Laney BSU spokesman Ray Henderson encouraged students to be active in the fight against budget cuts.

“We are fighting for our education,” Henderson said, and to “get people off the streets so they can learn.”

Laney BSU members then showcased some of their musical talents, rapping and reciting poetry.

Scholar Carter G. Woodson originally started Black History Month in 1926. It began as Negro History Week, but later became Black History Month. Woodson selected the month of February because it was the month both abolitionist Frederick Douglas and President Abraham Lincoln were born.

February 1 was the 50th anniversary of The Greensboro Four sit-in. The demonstration ushered in a new era or youth-led direct action tactics for civil rights.

Laney College 2010 Black History Month Events

Below is a calendar of Black History Month events taking place at Laney College. Laney College is located at 900 Fallon Street near Lake Merritt BART. The campus is accessible by AC Transit bus lines 1, 1R, 11, 18, 40, 59, 62 and 88.


Black History Month Jump Off
Jump Off National Anthem Speaker: Dr.Webb
Monday, February 1, 11:30a-1pm
Black National Anthem, Keynote Speaker: Dr. Elnora Webb and BSU Group "THe Truth"
Location: Main Quad

Between Barack and a Hard Place: Challenging Racism, Privilege and Denial in the Age of Obama
Wednesday, February 3 11a-12pm
"Between Barack and a Hard Place: Challenging Racism, Privilege and Denial in the Age of Obama" features Tim Wise, a Prominent anti-racist writer and activist
Location: D-200

Economic and Social Justice in Oakland
Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 10:30–11:50am
Featuring Jakada Imani, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center
Location: E-207

CANCELLED: Open Forum on Healthy Black Relationships
Tuesday, February 16, 11a-1pm
Location: Forum

The Road Map to Green Jobs for African Americans
Tuesday, February 16, 6-7:30 pm
Speaker: Julian McQueen, Green for All, Program Manager
Location: E-200

Tabia African-American Theatre Ensemble
Wednesday, February 17, 11am-12pm
Tabia, a Swahili word for “talented,” presents black history through historical figures, poetry, song, and dance.
Location: D-200

Open Forum on Healthy Black Relationships
Tuesday, February 16, 11a-1pm

The Road Map to Green Jobs for African Americans
Tuesday, February 16, 6-7:30 pm
Speaker: Julian McQueen, Green for All, Program Manager

Tabia African-American Theatre Ensemble
Wednesday, February 17, 11am-12pm
Black History through poetry, song, and dance.
Laney College, Room D-200

The Miracle of the Negro Spirtiual
Thursday, February 18, 12-1 pm
Laney College, Room G-189

Spoken Word Fest
Tuesday, February 23, 12-1pm
Freestyle artists, poets, singers and rappers
Location: Main Quad

Women, Social Justice and Economics
Tuesday, February 23, 6-7:30pm
Speaker: Erica Huggins, Activist, former political prisoner & leader in the Black Panther Party
Location: E-200

Forum: History of Black Economic Empowerment
Thursday, February 25, 10:30-11:50am
Panel discussion on the History of Black Economic Empowerment.
Featured panelists: Marcel Diallo, Black Dot Collective and Lower Bottoms Village; Paul Cobb, Oakland Post Publisher; Michael Carter, Sr., Black Wall Street District; Tamika Brown, African American Studies Professor at Laney College and Retha Robinson, San Francisco Foundation - Koshland Program.
Location: Room E-207
Sponsored by The Black Hour

Black Student Union Thank You Dinner
Friday, February 26, 7-9 pm
Location: Student Center

Merritt College 2010 Black History Month Events

Below is a calendar of Black History Month events taking place at Merritt College. Merritt is located at 12500 Campus Dr and is accessible by AC Transit bus line 54.

Merritt College, ASMC Presents:
Celebrating the Roots of Our Culture
Black History Month, 2010

Embracing Our Heritage: A Grand Kick-Off Celebration
Tuesday February 2, 11am-1pm
R-110 Newton/Seale Student Lounge
Minister Greg Hodges (Wose), African Drum and Dance and Libations to our Ancestors
Keynote Address: Prof. Manu Ampim
“When You Study Africa, You Study the World: Celebrating Our Heritage”
Plus "Free Soul Food" Sampler just like your mama made!!

Black Cultural Power: Kuumba/Creativity

Wednesday February 17, 11am-1pm
R-110 Newton/Seale Student Lounge
Spoken Word and Student Art Contest
Dances by the Merritt Family from “Back in the Day” to “The Jerk” come show your stuff!! Free food and prizes!!

FILM: Merritt College: Home of the Black Panther Party
Thursday February 25, 11am-1pm
R-110 Newton/Seale Student Lounge
View Film dedicated to Merritt College’s Panther History. Post Film Discussion Lead by Melvin Newton of the Black Panther Commemorator. Also, free food and prizes!!

ASMC Chambers R-127 every Friday 11-1pm
(2/5) Sankofa. A film about slavery and connecting with our past
(2/19) Maafa 21. A film about Black Family genocide (a shocking must see!!)
(2/26) The Spook Who Sat by the Door. A film about outsmarting the system

The History of Black Economic Empowerment

Graphic: Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)

Editor's Note: The following message about Black History Month is from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the organization founded by Carter G. Woodson. It speaks to the 2010 Black History Month Theme: "The History of Black Economic Empowerment."

The need for economic development has been a central element of black life. After centuries of unrequited toil as slaves, African Americans gained their freedom and found themselves in the struggle to make a living.

The chains were gone, but racism was everywhere. Black codes often prevented blacks from owning land in towns and cities, and in the countryside they were often denied the opportunity to purchase land.

Organized labor shut their doors to their brethren, and even the white philanthropist who funded black schools denied them employment opportunities once educated. In the South, whites sought to insure that blacks would only be sharecroppers and day labors, and in the North whites sought to keep them as unskilled labor.

Pushing against the odds, African Americans became landowners, skilled workers, small businessmen and women, professionals, and ministers. In the Jim Crow economy, they started insurance companies, vocational schools, teachers colleges, cosmetic firms, banks, newspapers, and hospitals. To fight exclusion from the economy, they started their own unions and professional associations.

In an age in which individuals proved unable to counter industrialization alone, they preached racial or collective uplift rather than individual self-reliance. The late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries witnessed an unprecedented degree of racial solidarity and organization.

In 1910, a group of dedicated reformers, black and white, gathered to create an organization to address the needs of African Americans as they migrated to the cities of the United States. The organization that they created a century ago became what we all know as the National Urban League.

For a century, they have struggled to open the doors of opportunity for successive generations, engaging the challenges of each age. ASALH celebrates the centennial of the National Urban League by exploring racial uplift and black economic development in the twentieth century.

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