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.

Vaginas speak in Monologues at Laney College

“Come inside. Don’t stop. Slow down. Rock me. Wrong hole!”

These are some of the things vaginas would say if they could talk. On March 12, the Laney College Media Club presented a special performance of “The Vagina Monologues” to raise money to prevent violence against women.

By Reginald James Editor
“The Vagina Monologues” was compiled by Eve Ensler in 1996 from over 200 interviews with woman of all types. In 1998, Ensler and others launched “V-Day” to raise money for anti-violence groups.

Compelling narratives give the audience insight as to some of the deepest experiences of sexual expression, repression and oppression many women deal with. Yet, these feelings are often kept beneath the surface.

“Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas,” one woman explains in the opening monologue, “mostly because nobody ever talks about them at all.”

The word “vagina” itself is also explored. “It sounds like an infection at best, maybe a medical instrument. ‘Hurry, nurse, bring me the vagina!”

Women also give their love zones aliases, sharing colloquial favorites like “punany,” “coochie,” “twat” and “nappy dugout.” All names are recalled with humorous delight. To put an Oaktown twist, vaginas are even called the “Golden Gate” and the “Taco Truck.”

One woman reclaims the word “Cunt!” by leading the crowd to chant the word repeatedly.

One 72-year-old woman stopped looking “down there” after an embarrassing squirting accident. During her first kiss that ended with her ejaculating inside her date’s vehicle, she was driven home because her “sour milk was staining his car seat.” The experience sealed her lips for nearly half a century.

She wasn’t the only woman made to feel ashamed of her womanhood. Some were told their vaginas were “ugly.”

Another imagined something else her down there until she completely forgot she had a vagina. That is, until she met Bob, the “Vagina Connoisseur”, depicted by Media Communications professor Marla Leech. Bob was so mesmerized by her feminine flower bud that he instilled in her an appreciation for her pleasurable center.

Traci Baxter, theater arts major, described the liberating experience that came from a group “Vagina workshop” she attended with other women. The workshop forced her to look her mysterious “Black Hole” with a hand mirror.

“It had never existed before,” Baxter said. “I had depended on someone else to find it. “

At times the play is hilarious. At others, it’s troubling. This contrasting sense of pleasure and pain makes “The Vagina Monologues” intimate, personal and impactful.

Monologues takes aim at feminine products stealing vaginas’ natural scented thunder in the name of cleanliness. Having a “dry wad of cotton” shoved up a woman’s and scented productions with scents of flowers, berries and rain was unnecessary for one woman.

“Why the fuck would I want my pussy to smell like rain?” one young woman sarcastically asked. Moments later, she describes the invasive process of vaginal examination; cold stirrups, flashlights and blue latex gloves. “Why not red gloves?”

Humor was often quickly followed by painful stories the sexual exploitation of women.

A Bosnian woman’s story of being raped as a tactic of war sent chills through the audience. The monologue, “The Vagina was My Village,” tells one woman’s perception of her vagina after being tortured for a week. She said her “live, wet, water village” was “invaded, butchered…and burned” as she describes being gang-raped with a rifle, sticks and bottles, and left with their sperm inside her.

One lawyer–turned–sex worker finds her calling as a domineering call girl. Portrayed by SF Appeal’s Christine Borden, she finds pleasure in making other women moan. The crowd laughs as she demonstrates various moans, such as the clit moan, vaginal moan, the machine-gun moan, the diva moan and even the college “I should be studying” moan. Her moans arouse excitement as she expresses her sensuality without inhibitions.

The play ends with a survivor of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo sharing eight rules that helped her survive her rape.

The play tells women to find self-validation by loving the essence of self, while forcing men to acknowledge their responsibility in the fight against the sexual and emotional abuse of women.

Vaginas talk. Are you listening?

Cesar Chavez Day at Laney College

The life and legacy of Cesar Chavez will be celebrated Wednesday, March 31 in the Laney College quad. The program is being organized by the Latin American Student Association (LASA)/M.E.Ch.A. club.

The event will be from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.. As noted by Peralta Board President Abel Guillen, the birthday of Cesar Chavez is still not recognized as a holiday in the Peralta Colleges.

Organize at Laney College to fight budget cuts

The Laney chapter of the No Cuts Peralta coalition will host a meeting Tuesday, March 30 to discuss the next steps to fight the attack on higher education in California, and at Peralta.

The meeting will take place at 12 p.m. Tuesday, March 30 in the Fourth Floor conference room of the Student Center. More info at No Cuts Laney.

Media Censorship Forum at Laney College

Are you getting all the news? Are major stories suppressed?

Mickey Huff, Project CensoredFind out when Mickey Huff, director of Project Censored, addresses "Journalism in the Age of the Internet" and why the mainstream media censor major stories on Tuesday, March 30 at Laney College.

The event will take place from 2:30-4pm in A266. The event is a part of the Mass Media and Society journalism class, but is free and open to the public.

Also Tuesday, March 30
Media professionals and community organizations will come together Tuesday evening in the Laney College Forum to discuss making the media landscape more inclusive and equitable.

Women's Leadership Panel at Laney College

Laney College will host a Women's Leadership Panel Tuesday, March 30 to discuss issues facing women.
Laney College Women's Leadership Panel

The panelists include:
  • Dr. Elnora Webb, Acting President of Laney College
  • Leslie Ewing, Executive Director, Pacific Center
  • Dr. Inger Stark, Chair of the Sociology Department and Acting Dean
  • Nancy Nadel, Oakland City Council Member, District 3
  • Dr. Angela Smith, Chair of the Communications Department
The panel will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Laney College Student Center.

COA counselor gets probation for forgery, identity theft

By Reginald James Editor
A former College of Alameda counselor was sentenced Monday to five years probation and 120 days in jail for multiple felony charges, including forgery and identity theft.

Shirley Robinson, 69, who has been in custody at Santa Rita Jail for nearly a month since a jury convicted her of ten felonies, was sentenced at Alameda County Superior Court on March 29 and ordered to pay restitution and stay away from the victims.

"Robinson created a forged power of attorney in an attempt to sell the property without victim Robert's knowledge."
Alameda County DA
The convictions stem from a real estate fraud and identity theft scheme perpetrated at the height of the real estate boom of 2005, according to prosecutors. Robinson and the victim, former COA counselor Alze Roberts, were friends for 50 years.

Robinson created a forged power of attorney–authorization to act on behalf of someone else–in an attempt to sell the property without Roberts knowing, prosecutors said. To make that transaction appear legit, Robinson also stole the identity of three other individuals.

Robinson lacked remorse for her crime and refused to take responsibility for her actions, the judge said. The only remorse Robinson had, the judge said, was that she had not taken the prosecution’s initial offer of probation before she was jailed.

Robinson, who appeared in court wearing a blue county-issued jumpsuit, said was “deeply troubled” by the events that have taken place.

After being in jail for a month, Robinson said, “There’s no way I could not be remorseful for every event.” She later acknowledged her responsibility for presenting the power of attorney, after urging by the judge. “I am remorseful.”

There’s no way I could not be remorseful for every event. I am remorseful.
Shirley Robinson
Robinson was initially sentenced to five years probation. If she complies with the terms of probation, in three years time, she may get off early.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Lim requested Robinson serve one year in county jail for the charges. The judge said it was not warranted. The judge then sentenced Robinson to four months in jail, including 30 days time served with the remaining to be under electronic home confinement.

Robinson will also have to pay restitution amounting in $500 along with a parallel $500 fine once the probation is successfully completed. There is civil judgment currently on appeal with Roberts claiming $300,000 along with attorney’s fees, but it was not considered relating to this case, the judge said.

The judge ordered Robinson to submit to search and seizure of her person, vehicle, belongings and her residence, if at a reasonable hour. Robinson was also ordered to stay at least 25 yards away from Roberts, and at least 10 yards away from the other three victims and two witnesses.

Robinson, a former COA Department Chair, was employed by the Peralta Colleges for 40 years. She recently retired, according to a COA spokesperson. Roberts was a counselor at COA from 1989 until she retired in 2008.

Laney College hosts Journalism Innovations Community Forum

Media professionals, citizen journalists, community members and organizations will come to Laney College Tuesday, March 30 to discuss the making on a more inclusive, equitable new-media system.

The key topics are:
  • Media Representation and Accountability
  • Ownership and Diversity of Media Outlets
  • Regulation, Policy and What’s at Stake for Communities (particularly regarding Net Neutrality and Digital Inclusion)
  • Community Engagement in Shaping the New Media Landscape.

The Community Forum will lead up to the Journalism Innovations III conference in May. The conference brings together some of the brightest innovators and entrepreneurs in media to help define the future of the profession. This year’s conference will focuse on diversity of coverage, community engagement and addressing the digital divide.

State of the Media
Media Crisis and Grassroots Response
The East Bay Journalism Innovations III community forum is sponsored by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, University of San Francisco, G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism, Media Alliance, Center for Media Justice, Independent Arts and Media, The Black Hour and the Laney College Journalism Department.

The forum will take place from 5-8 p.m. at Laney College. For more information, email

VIDEO: Erykah Badu "Window Seat" - Music Monday

Erykah Badu has released the video for the song, "Window Seat," off her new album New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh. The album drops Tuesday, March 30.

BART police murder trial pushed up, attorney wants cops on jury

By Thandisizwe Chimurenga
Special to

The criminal trial of former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle will begin about a week earlier than originally scheduled. Judge Robert Perry moved the date to June 1 at a third preliminary hearing in downtown Los Angeles March 26.

Both the district attorney’s office and the defense hope they will be able to send the case to the jury prior to July 4 although there are no guarantees.

Michael Rains, attorney for Mehserle, the former BART officer who has been charged with the murder of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station early New Year's morning last year, did not make any references in open court to BART’s March 24 firing of Marysol Domenici, who was among the first officers to respond to the Fruitvale transit station. However, he did file a motion challenging the exemption of police officers from service on juries.

Domenici’s firing had been recommended by a Bay Area law firm hired by BART to do an independent assessment of the Mehserle shooting. Domenici’s partner, Tony Pirone, made the decision to take Grant into custody for resisting arrest. Both officers have been on paid administrative leave since the New Year’s Day shooting. BART has not stated whether Pirone will also be terminated.

Rains’ motion is in reference to the Code of Civil Procedure, section 219, which excludes police officers as a class from jury service. Rains argues in the motion that his client’s right to an impartial jury, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment and California’s Constitution, will be violated if the exemption stands. The judge stated he looked forward to reading Rains’ motion but did not discuss the issue any further.

The purpose of today’s hearing, which was scheduled in February, was to discuss a potential questionnaire for jurors in the case. The document, which was not finalized and not made available to the public, currently contains more than 130 questions and was often likened to a “psychiatric exam” during the proceedings. Judge Perry expressed his opinion to both sides that “the longer the questionnaire, the more burdensome to the jurors.”

A fourth pretrial hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on May 7 when the court will hear a series of ‘In Limine’ motions filed by the defense.

Read the complete report on Oakland Local.

Note: This story by Thandisizwe Chimurenga is funded by collaboration between Oakland Local, New America Media, and The Black Hour at Laney College, who are sponsoring independent coverage of the Mehserle trial.

COA counselor convicted of fraud to be sentenced Monday

Former College of Alameda Counselor Shirley J. Robinson, who was convicted of 10 felony counts March 1 in a real estate fraud and identity theft scheme involving a long-time friend and colleague, will be sentenced Monday, March 29 in Alameda County Superior Court.

Robinson was immediately taken into custody after the conviction for the 2005 scheme was designed to take legal title away from Robinson's friend of 50 years, Alze Roberts, according to the Alameda County District Attorney's (DA) Office,

"Robinson created a forged power of attorney in an attempt to sell the property without victim Robert's knowledge."
Alameda County DA
"Robinson created a forged power of attorney in an attempt to sell the property without victim Robert's knowledge," according to the DA's Recent Verdicts website. "In addition to forging the name of victim Roberts, Robinson also stole the identity of three other individuals to make the forged power of attorney look legitimate."

Robinson, who was allowed to retire, according to a COA spokesperson, will be sentenced at the Alameda County Superior Court on Fallon Street in Oakland.

BART fires Johannes Mehserle accomplice

BART has fired one of the police officers involved in the New Year's Day murder of Oscar Grant, KTVU has reported.

The officer, Marysol Domenici, was one of the first BART cops to arrive on the scene at Fruitvale BART station before Grant was shot. Interim BART police chief Dash Buttler -- who replaced the embattled former BART police Chief Gary Gee who retired last year-- fired Domenici, 29, as recommended by Meyers Nave, the law firm that was hired by the BART Board to do an independent investigation into the murder of Grant.

Domenici's partner, Tony Pirone, escalated the situation that led to the shooting by punching Oscar Grant in the face and calling him a "Bitch Ass Nigger," Grant's family and attorney John Burris have said.

BART has not fired Pirone, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, standard protocol according to BART.

Johannes Mehserle, the BART cop who shot the unarmed Grant in the back, has charged with first degree murder after an uprising took place in downtown Oakland. His trial was moved to Los Angeles, and is scheduled to begin this summer.

Peralta trustees appeal lawsuit by Oakland Tribune owners

By Reginald James Editor

The Peralta Board of Trustees voted to appeal a judge's decision forcing the community college district to release a report on Chancellor Elihu Harris' role in awarding a no-bid contract to a former business partner at its March 23 board meeting.

The Board voted 6-1 to appeal the BANG Vs. PCCD decision (the ruling ordering Peralta to make the district's Inspector General's report public.) Trustee Bill Withrow (Area 1-Alameda) voted against the decision, Board President Abel Guillen announced during the report of closed session actions.

The lawsuit (BANG v. PCCD, Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG 09-480017) has appeared on the Board's closed session agenda for several meetings. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ordered Peralta to release a censored version of the document, but district officials refused, according to the Oakland Tribune.

The Office of the General Inspector website states, "Draft reports cannot be released to the public until finalized and authorized by the Peralta Governing Board of Trustees."

Trustees opted not to renew Harris' contract at a January meeting. The March 23 closed session agenda also had an item to consider appointing an interim Chancellor, but the board did not take action. The Chancellor search commmittee meets this Friday, Guillen later announced.

At the meeting, the Board also voted to authorize the Chancellor to notify eight staff at the Laney College Childcare Center that they will likely be laid off. Students, faculty, staff and parents protested the budget cuts at the Laney Children's Center -- as well as the proposed closure of the COA Children's Center-- suggesting officials "Chop from the Top."

Correction: According to the Oakland Tribune, through January, Peralta has spent nearly $100,000 defending itself against BANG Peralta has spent $100,000 defending itself against BANG in January alone.

Laney College Cosmetology Department showcases "Hair then and Now"

The Laney College Cosmetology Department hosted the "Hair Then and Now," a Black History Month showcase in February 2010.

Here are selected photos, courtesy of Laney Tower photographer by Lambert Li. Captions written by former Laney Tower Editor Angelica Carapia.

More event photos on Flickr page.

Black Women in Hip Hop

The Laney College Ethnic Studies Department will host "From Limits to Liberation: Black Women in Hip Hop Wednesday, March 24 at Laney College.

Featured speaker will be Dr. Dawnelissa Fischer ("Def Professor"), associate professor at San Francisco State.

This presentation serves as an overview of black women in hip hop: including misogyny in lyrics and videos, exploration of sexual freedom in performance, music industry issues as well as the use of hip hop to politically motivate women-centered organization and outreach.

The program will take place from 1-2pm, Wednesday, March 24 in Room F200. For more information, contact Ethnic Studies Chair Tamika Brown.

Transfer from Laney to UC Berkeley

Want to transfer to UC Berkeley?

On Monday, March 29, UC Berkeley students from Stiles Hall will be on campus to help Black, Latino and indigenous students with transfer info, tips and support on making it happen.

Students need a GPA of 3.0 or higher and at least 30 transferrable units. The event is free (and lunch is provided). Sign up in EOPS A-106 or the Transfer Center T-301 by Friday, March 26.

The workshop takes place Monday, March 29 from 12-2pm in room F-204 at Laney College. You can register online at

Lynching, Death Penalty history connected

On Wednesday, March 24, there will be a teach-in at Laney College called, "Lynching Then, Lynching Now: The Roots of Racism and the Death Penalty in America." The program connects the link between lynching and the death penalty in the United States.

The Fourth Annual Stanley Tookie Williams Summit was held at Merritt College December 2009
Speakers include Barbara Becnel, Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network, former death row inmate Lawrence Hayes, Jack Bryson of the Movement for Justice for Oscar Grant, and Jabari Shaw, VP of the Laney Black Student Union. Death row inmate Kevin Cooper will be calling in from San Quentin.

The event begins at 7 p.m. in D-200. The program is being sponsored by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee and the International Socialist Organization (ISO). Call 510-333-7966 for more information.

Oakland, Laney College students march, rally in Sacramento for Higher Education

2008 photo of Marlene C. Hurd speaking at March in March in SacramentoLaney College students and employees are joining the educational budget cuts rally in Sacramento, on Monday, March 22. They will be marching to stop budget cuts, fee increases and staff layoffs.

Once in Sacramento, the group will march from Raley Field in West Sacramento to the State Capitol.

The Laney Team will be assembling at beginning at 7 a.m. Buses are scheduled to depart promptly at 7:30 a.m.

ASLC candidates meet

Committee explains election rules, one candidate disqualified for absences

By Reginald James Editor

Sixteen candidates for the 2010 ASLC elections assembled before the Elections Committee at a mandatory candidates meeting March 16 on the fourth floor of the Laney College Student Center.

"You cannot hang your poster over another candidate’s poster. You cannot move another candidate's flier."
Sara French
ASLC Elections Chair
The committee briefed candidates about appropriate campaign conduct, expense limits and important election-related dates. Candidates received a copy of the Peralta Student Elections Code and were able to ask the committee questions.

The Election Committee currently includes Chair ASLC Secretary Sara French, President Ju Hong and Treasurer Courtney Hom.

“You cannot hang your poster over another candidate’s poster,” Elections Committee Chair and ASLC French said. “You cannot move another candidate’s flier.”

Hong said that rule will be strictly enforced, considering that it happened during last year’s election.

“Let’s be respectful,” Hong stated. “Let’s have a clean campaign.” Hong added that student’s can only campaign on campus. “There’s a liquor store down the street. You can’t just put up a poster. That’s a violation.”

2010 ASLC Election Candidates:
Dawna Williams
Elizabeth King
Harry Jiang
Anton Bosneaga

Brian Nelson

Erin Lofstrom-Perez

Darnice Davis
Zuleivi Aguilar

Publicity Commissioner
Brandy Smith
Xuwen Guo
Talitha McAdams

Luniva Shrestha
Andrew Kim
Lingsi Ke
Stephen Hy
Leonard Hutton
Hom, who ran against Hong for ASLC President last year suggested that candidates be innovative. Last year, she put fliers on students’ cars in the parking lot near Eighth St. When asked by presidential candidate Dawna Williams if that was a violation, Hom responded, “We didn’t get called out for it. It’s on campus property. So, as far as I know, it’s fine.”

Student Activities Adviser Algeria Kirven, who is also a member of the committee, said candidates will not be allowed near the Student Center when the polls are open on Tuesday, April 20 and Wednesday, April 21.

“We don’t want anybody to be campaigning inside the Student Center,” he said. He added that on election days, candidates have to get all their materials down from inside the Student Center. “And they have to be removed from campus by 48 hours after the election.”

Campaign expenses are limited to $150 per candidate.

“No more than $150,” French said, “and we do have to have itemized receipts for each and every candidate.” Donated items should be included, also. Candidates will all get access to the printer and copier in the ASLC Senator’s office on the fourth floor of the Student Center, she said. Since everyone has the same access, it will not count towards the total. Receipts should be turned in by April 19 at 4 p.m.

"No more than $150 and we do have to have itemized receipts for each and every candidate."
Sara French
French then wrote numbers on slips of paper and held a random lottery to determine the order of candidates’ names on the election ballot.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth King protested the procedure, requesting Kirven count draw the numbers, but French cited the Election Code that states the Election Committee Chairperson must draw the numbers. The candidates’ names, as they will appear on the ballot appear on the sidebar at right.

All candidates were present except Publicity Commissioner Candidate Talitha McAdams was disqualified at the meeting for missing the mandatory meeting. The Black Hour pointed out that the elections code states there would be a minimum of two mandatory meetings. The Committee unanimously voted to disqualify McAdams, regardless.

ASLC Presidential candidate Anton Bosneaga arrived 15 minutes late. Committee members could be heard discussing the tardiness at the table, but did not take any action nor formally address the matter.

Important Election Dates

Elections: April 20-21
Receipts Due: April 19
One other write-in candidate for senator was present.

Regarding the upcoming student trustee elections, French stated there were “no student trustees running,” as far as she knew. “Nothing has been formally presented that people have met the qualifications to run.”

Candidates were invited to a candidate’s forum being organized by the Media Communications Sports Production class Wednesday night.

After the meeting was adjourned, and candidates had their photos taken by the Laney Tower newspaper, College of Alameda student Jurena Storm arrived and was announced as the lone candidate for student trustee.

Kirven is also a member of the election committee, but can only vote in the event of a tie. The two remaining committee seeks are neither vacant, or members were absent Monday.

The ASLC Elections Committee will announce the election winners April 22 at 12 p.m... The following Tuesday at 5 p.m. is the deadline to file an election protest.
ASLC spring 2010 Elections are April 20-21. For more info, call ASLC at (510) 464-3535 or (510) 464-3536.

Omali Yeshitela speaks in Oakland on one year anniversary of Oakland Police vs. Lovelle Mixon

Omali Yeshitela speaks in 2009 following shoot out that led to death of four police officers and Lovelle Mixon.

One year ago, four Oakland Police officers were killed after stopping Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, who was also killed.

What: Omali Yeshitela speaks in Oakland on one-year anniversary of OPD vs. Lovelle Mixon
When: Mar 21, 2010 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Where: Uhuru House, 7911 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA
Contact: International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement,, 510-569-9620
Thousands of police officers throughout the nation came out to a state's funeral at the Oakland Coliseum March 24. The next day, hundreds of people came out to a march and rally organized by the Oakland branch of the Uhuru Movement for "African resistance" and an "end to police terror."

Uhuru Movement leader Omali Yeshitela, founder of the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will speak Sunday, March 21 at the Uhuru House in East Oakland.

"Conditions for the African community are worse than ever," said "The Oakland city government's only solution to the economic crisis is more police terror and closing more schools. As the U.S. war in this country and worldwide intensifies, Black folks might fight for genuine economic and social justice on our terms."

VIDEO: Chop from the Top

Exclusive video featuring the budget cut anthem, "Chop from the Top."

Ise Lyfe performs in Berkeley

Oakland spoken word artist, educator and activist Ise Lyfe will present a staged performance of his new book, "Pistols and Prayers" Friday, March 19 at the Berkeley Repertory Theater.

"Pistols and Prayers" is a cultural collage of spoken word, African American folk spirituals, classical music, Hip Hop and theater, Pistols and Prayers is a celebration of the African Diaspora and its impact on urban America.

Acclaimed spoken word Hip Hop artist Ise Lyfe provides a glimpse into his coming of age as a man, artist and advocate for social change. His journey is accompanied by the African American folk traditions of renowned singer-songwriter Melanie DeMore and young Master Cellist, Michael Fecskes. KMEL's "DC" will be on the 1's and 2's.

"PISTOLS & PRAYERS" by Ise Lyfe begins at 8 PM at the The Thrust Theatre (Berkeley Repertory Theatre) at 2025 Addison St. Berkeley. General admission is $20, with half price tickets for youth ages 17 $ under. (Must be at least 13 years old to attend)

Limited tickets available at the door. Doors open at 7 PM.

COA Black History Month Panel Discussion

The College of Alameda held a panel discussion February 23 as a part of the campus' Black History Month program.

The topic of the program was called, "Our Future: It's not a job, it's a career."

Video courtesy of Peralta TV

College of Alameda students rally against budget cuts

COA Rally against budget cuts video courtesy of Peralta TV's P-Span
By Reginald James Editor

Over 100 students, along with faculty and staff, staged a rally on the College of Alameda quad March 4 for momentum in the battle of budget cuts. Organizers hoped to get COA students to attend an evening rally in San Francisco and to participate in the March 22 demonstration at the State Capitol.

“We’ve been getting a lot of bad news lately; teachers and staff being laid off, friends and fellow students being turned away from the classroom,” COA student Jean Washburn said. “And there’s more bad news to come.” She added that students could not sit around and wait for things to get better.

“I want to hear some good news now, but it’s not going to happen unless we make it happen. Together we can take back our education. Together we can take back our future and our dreams."
Jean Washburn
“I’m impatient. I want to hear some good news now, but it’s not going to happen unless we make it happen,” Washburn said. “You have to make noise in order to be heard. We will be heard tonight in Civic Center. We will be heard in Sacramento on the 22nd. We will be heard across the state and the nation saying, ‘We are students, we are powerful. Together we can take back our education. Together we can take back our future and our dreams.”

Speaking after Washburn, COA Political Science professor Robert Brem said that students will be ignored if they do not stand up for education and democracy. He added that students could not just protest on campus and expect the media and legislators to take them seriously.

"The purpose of this protest is not to protest at COA,” Brem said. “The purpose is to get your ass to San Francisco tonight,” referring to evening rally at Civic Center where students from throughout the Bay Area later ascended.

“We are currently experiencing the evisceration of our educational system,” Brem said. “You are experiencing the creation of a third world nation. Democracy is built on education.”

COA Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) Coordinator Helene Maxwell said funding for her program was cut in half. She said that long-term action was needed to save education in California.
“We are currently experiencing the evisceration of our educational system."
Robert Brem

“This is not a one day movement, it has to continue,” Maxwell said. She encouraged students to sign the petitions for the California Democracy Act (CDA), a proposition to change the state constitution to allow a simple majority to approve state budgets opposed to a 2/3 majority.

Jurena Storm, vice-president of administration for the Associated Students of College of Alameda (ASCOA) was pleased to see so many students “uniting for a cause that affects all of us.” Storm was recently a panelist in a discussion on Higher Education along with Two East Bay lawmakers and said that lawmakers were clueless to the impact of budget cuts on students’ educations.

“They had no idea about students sitting on the floors because there’s not enough chairs in the classrooms,” Storm said. “They had no idea about students dropping out because they can’t afford the tuition. They have no idea about students struggling because their parents have lost their jobs and can no longer afford for them to go to school.”

"Nobody has told you, but they’re talking about raising tuition to $40 per unit. If you’re not registered to vote, nobody cares what you think. You want to get rid of legislators, vote.”
Toni Cooke
“The people in the legislature don’t know. It’s our job to tell them. They work for us and we have to demand the work for us.

Toni Cooke, coordinator of the campus’ EOPS program, encouraged students to “come together as a community” and not “stand back as bystanders.”

“Nobody has told you, but they’re talking about raising tuition to $40 per unit,” Cooke said, referring to the California Legislative Analyst Office’s (LAO) proposal to raise community college enrollment fees. “If you’re not registered to vote, nobody cares what you think. You want to get rid of legislators, vote.”

Following the speakers, poetry about education was read, and other students were able to come to the microphone and express how budget cuts affected them.

Washburn ended the event with a call-and-response chant, yelling “Who got the power?” to the crowds’ unscripted response, “We’ve got the power!”

ASLC election candidates forum

Candidates for the 2010 ASLC elections will speak at a Student Election forum Wednesday, March 17 in room D-200.

Elections Forum
Wednesday, March 17
6:30-7:30 p.m.
D-200, Laney College
Sponsor: Laney Media Events Class
The event is being organized by the Laney College Media Communication's Media Events class and will be moderated by Reginald James, host of "The Black Hour."

"This first forum will give the candidates an opportunity to share their message with a group of students while giving the media class a hands-on, educational opportunity to practice what they're learning," James said.

What's important to you?
Email The Black Hour and tell us what questions you want to ask the candidates.
Each candidate of the total 15 candidates will get to make a two minute presentation. Presidential candidates will also answer questions about their experience, leadership styles and objectives.

The candidates forum will take place between 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Room D-200. The Black Hour is currently working with the ASLC Elections Committee to organize another forum specifically dealing with issues raised by Black students at Laney College.

Ericka Huggins speaks at Laney College

ericka huggins by danfigphoto 6

Activist stresses human value of women, need for men to work to end sexism

By Reginald James Editor

Activist and former Black Panther leader Ericka Huggins addressed an overflowing African American Studies class Feb. 22 at Laney College.

As a part of campus' Black History Month program, Huggins engaged students in a discussion themed, “Women, Social Justice and Economics.” She discussed the historical dehumanization and discrimination Black women faced and how the “multi-generational trauma” of slavery has forced Black women to face dual oppression due to both race and gender.

“If she’s taught she has no right to respond, she will accept it and go into a shell. Rather than explode in confrontation, she will implode. She might begin to hate herself."
Ericka Huggins, on sexism
Black women were a commodity, and “not just (their) labor, but bodies were sold,” Huggins said. “Slavery was economic leverage for everything else that happened to other people immigrating, migrating or forced to be here” in America.

This legacy of oppression has led to some women internalizing feelings of inferiority, and even self-hatred, Huggins said.

“If she’s taught she has no right to respond, she will accept it and go into a shell,” Huggins said, referring to how women react to sexism. “Rather than explode in confrontation, she will implode.

“She might begin to hate herself.”

Ericka Huggins speaks at Laney CollegeHuggins told the story of Johnnie Tillman, an early 20th century female activist who founded the National Welfare Rights Organization in response to Black women being barred from receiving welfare. Refuting the stereotype of Black women as “welfare queens” in a “culture of poverty,” she told the story of women fighting for dignity, while seeking assistance. She called the suggestion that women would have a baby for the purpose of collecting a check, “male-thinking.”

As a single mother and member of the Black Panther Party, working 19 hour days, Huggins received welfare. She felt dehumanized, not because she received public assistance, but because her male case worker spied on her and invaded her privacy, like a slave plantation.

“During that time, I’ve never been so devalued and humiliated in my life,” Huggins explained. Even after Tillman’s struggle, “the vestiges of discriminatory policies in welfare remained.

Huggins was widowed when her husband, John Huggins, was assassinated at UCLA by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), she said. People would judge her negatively because she was a single parent, not knowing why.

"If Johnnie Tillman started the National Welfare Rights Organization in a little room in a housing project in Arkansas, each of us can step up and step forward.”
Ericka Huggins
Not deterred from the struggle, the former director of the Panther’s Oakland Community School is still an educator. She currently teaches Women’s Studies at Cal State East Bay and San Francisco State. However, due to budget cuts, she will not be able to teach in the fall. She encouraged students to be organized to created a world they want to live in. She asked students for suggestions on improve conditions for women in the U.S.

“We can mobilize women, joining together with men so that we can pressure the state to allocate more funds to programs we need,” Laney College student Terez McCall said.

Huggins concluded that, “If Johnnie Tillman started the National Welfare Rights Organization in a little room in a housing project in Arkansas, each of us can step up and step forward.”

“We think we can’t because we’ve been told that we’re powerless, we can do things.”

Photos courtesy of

Anti-abortion group births debate at Laney College

Anti-abortion group at Laney College-1

Mer Stevens demonstrates against anti-abortion group
Laney College student Mer Stevens organized a counter demonstration against the "racist and sexist" anti-abortion group."
By Reginald James Editor

An anti-abortion group caused quite a stir on campus when they arrived at Laney College March 8. The group showcased banners with graphic images of dismembered fetuses.

“We came to campus to educate students about the truth about abortion,” said Don Blythe, member of the Sanctity of Human Life Network’s ‘Project Truth.’ He said many students people don’t actually know what an abortion looks like. “People don’t know what abortion is, it’s just a word, but when you put the reality of abortion on a picture the words have meaning.”

Mer Stevens of the Laney International Socialist Organization (ISO) responded by organizing a counter demonstration. Another woman at the ISO’s table asked why all “Project Truth” missionaries were men, including two children. Jonathan Whueller, with the anti-abortion group, quickly responded, "They're in the library."

Vice-President of Student Service Dr. Donald Moore apologized in a March 9 email sent out to the campus faculty and staff listserv for the display being on campus during International Womens' Day and Womens' History Month.”

"We’re here specifically targeting African American students so they can be educated to know it is genocide. We’re losing our race at a rate that is astronomical."
Lori Hoye
“The college’s position is to support that which encourages civil discourse and debate and that protects freedom of speech, which ultimately on an academic campus is what a higher education institution wishes to protect,” Moore wrote in the email.

But after someone allegedly spat at Blythe as he prepared to leave on Monday afternoon. He then called for local reinforcements.

Bay Area Pastor Walter Hoye and his wife, Lori, came Tuesday to show “what actually happens inside an abortion clinic.” Both Pastor Hoye and his wife are Black.

“We’re here specifically targeting African American students so they can be educated to know it is genocide,” Lori Hoye said. “We’re losing our race at a rate that is astronomical.” The Hoye's are both African America, while Stevens and Blythe are of European descent.

"Abortions save women's lives. Women should be the final authority on how their lives are lived."
Mer Stevens
Stevens said that the group’s propaganda was racist and sexist and it suggests that “black women can’t be trusted to make decisions about their own lives, their own bodies and their own families.” She added that having an abortion at age 19 got her out of an abusive relationship.

“Abortions save women’s lives,” Stevens said. “Women should be the final authority on how their lives are lived.”

“Every time I see that, it keeps bringing up what I’ve been through in the past. I know for many women, who’ve had abortions, they don’t want to keep reliving it everyday.”
Laney College student
“I don’t think anyone has a choice to take another person’s life,” Lori said. As the child of a rape victim, she makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest either. “Life is life, and God decides when life is conceived and He decides when life occurs and He’s the only one that should take it away.”

A Laney College student and a recent mother, who previously had an abortion, said she understands both sides. She has friends who’ve also had abortions who are still dealing with post-abortion trauma and felt the images should not be displayed prominently on campus.

“Every time I see that, it keeps bringing up what I’ve been through in the past,” she said. “I know for many women, who’ve had abortions, they don’t want to keep reliving it everyday.”

"I’m sure these pictures hurt people’s feelings, but it’s the truth. The truth does hurt."
Pastor Walter Hoye
Pastor Hoye compared displaying the aborted fetuses to the publication of images of Emmett Till; a necessity to spread the truth.

“Wouldn’t you publish that picture?” Hoye asked, referring to the iconic civil rights image. “I’m sure these pictures hurt people’s feelings, but it’s the truth. The truth does hurt.” He added that women also come up to him and thank him for displaying the images.

Hoye was jailed in 2008 under Oakland’s “Bubble Ordinance” which bars protesters from coming within eight feet of anyone entering an abortion clinic.

Moore said the same group was also “involved in litigation with Peralta over their visit to COA about (two) years ago.”

In 2008, three members of an anti-abortion group were arrested at COA and charged with trespassing, according to the Laney Tower. The “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust” were asked to leave campus after failing to follow campus procedures.

Blythe said he was warned that there would be serious opposition to Project Truth’s message at Laney College. But, with one exception, he found students to be “very respectful” whether they agreed or not.”

“That’s what America is about,” Blythe said,” being able to have a civil debate.”

Moore’s email concluded, “Ultimately, having both views of an issue presented provides a richer environment for our students.”

On March 1, the group began their spring tour at Chabot College while they landed at San Jose City College on March 15. For information about SOHLNET, visit their website. You can also learn more about the International Socialist Organization (ISO).

ASLC offers scholarships to Laney College students

ASLC, the Associated Students of Laney College is offering $10,000 in scholarships to Laney College students.

Academic Achievement (3)
Total: $2,500
Single Parent (3)
Total: $2,250
Vocational Student (4)
Total: $2,750
Financial Need (5)
Total: $2,500
There are 15 scholarships total. All qualifying students, regardless of citizenship or immigration status can apply.

There are scholarships for vocational students, single parents, academic achievers (with a minimum GPA of 3.5), and for students who demonstrate financial need and more.

ASLC Scholarship applications are available in the rotating literature displays on the fourth floor of the Student Center. You can also download them below.

Applications are due to Student Activities Adviser Algeria Kirven by 4 p.m. on April 2. For more information about ASLC Scholarships, call (510) 464-3535 or (510) 464-3536.

Laney College ASLC Student Scholarship Awards 2010 FINAL

Laney College students walkout, rally for education

Laney College students march to downtown Oakland
Photo by Alessandro Tinonga

"When you go and try to access the library on Saturdays, it’s closed. When you try to get into a class, they’re closed. Our district administration knew these budget cuts were coming from the state and they gave themselves half a million dollars in raises."
Sara Connors
By Reginald James Editor

Over 500 Laney College students, faculty and staff walked out of class on the March 4 “Day of Action” to protest cuts to education funding.

During a rally on campus, students, faculty and staff held signs reading “Schools not Jails, Schools not Wars!,” “No privatization” and “Education saves lives.”

Sara Connors, labor representative of the Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT), the union that represents faculty, said the recent cuts showed a “crisis of priorities.”

"When you go and try to access the library on Saturdays, it’s closed. When you try to get into a class, they’re closed,” Connors said. “Our district administration knew these budget cuts were coming from the state and they gave themselves half a million dollars in raises.”

Laney College student performs "Chop from the Top."
Jabari Shaw, vice-president of the Laney BSU followed Connors with a song about the budget cuts entitled, “Chop from the Top.”

“They need to chop from the top, cut the Board and administration,” Shaw rapped. “Chop from the top, don’t limit my education.”

Louis Quindlen with Machine Technology Dept. said that one semester at Laney College now costs more than a year at UC Berkeley when he attended.

Faculty purchased $600 worth of BART tickets for students who wanted to travel to the rally in San Francisco at Civic Center.

“It’s wrong that prisons are California’s only growth industry,” Quindlen said. “We need to be investing in education, because you are California’s future.”

Alpha Lamba Fraternity VP Representative Dawna Williams, who co-emceed the event with ASLC Senator Brandy Smith, said the rally was not just a one day event.

Oakland, Laney College students protest budget cuts and financial aid delays

Video courtesy of BlockReportNews

“EOPS is suffering 50 per cent cuts, 50 percent cuts at DSPS. No childcare at College of Alameda,” Williams said, referring to the COA Children’s Center, which is slated to be closed. “Is Laney College Childcare next?”

EOPS is suffering 50 per cent cuts, 50 percent cuts at DSPS. No childcare at College of Alameda. Is Laney College Childcare next?"
Dawna Williams
Preschoolers at the Laney College Children’s Center also walked out and marched on the quad, chanting hen around the campus repeatedly chanting, “No more cuts!”

Some confusion ensued after a group of about thirty students broke off mid-rally and hiked up the stairs to the Financial Aid office.

“It’s time to take some real action,” Laney College student Alexandra Hernandez said prior to the group storming the Tower administration building. The group carried a banner while chanting, “Financial Aid Now!” on the second floor hallway.

ASLC Senator Leonard Hutton encouraged students to sign up for the March 22 march at the state capitol. Students from throughout the state will march in Sacramento, rally on the capitol steps, then go meet with legislators.

"If you want the state to hear our plea, you have to show up,” Hutton said. “Let them know, education is a right."

The planned march to Oakland City Hall, to join a larger rally, started earlier than publicized. Hundreds walked towards downtown Oakland. The group marched past the Alameda County Superior Courthouse, a symbolic gesture in a state that pays more to incarcerate people than it does to educate them, organizers said.

At 14th and Oak St, the Laney College was joined by a group of Oakland high school students, and together, marched to Broadway.

Lady Eagles lose in state semifinals

Laney College EaglesIn only their second season, the Lady Eagles basketball team reached the State Finals. After a nail-biting victory at home last week against San Joaquin Delta Mustangs at home. But the Eagles were defeated 70-62 to Ventura at the Women's Great at in Thousand Oaks Thursday night during a quarterfinal game.

Below are highlights and interviews from the Laney vs. Ventura women's basketball quarterfinal match-up at the California Community College Athletic Association's state championship held at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Laney Eagles highlights

Photo by Richard Quinn for the Ventura County Star. Laney College’s Laticia Booker, left, tries to block a shot by Ventura’s Kris King during Thursday’s quarterfinal game in the Women’s Great Eight at Cal Lutheran’s Gilbert Center. Ventura won, 70-62.

Transformative Visions at Studio One in Oakland

Graphic: OneLife Institute

OneLife Institute presents “Transformative Visions,” a multimedia art show and spoken word/jazz concert with a message of peace and possibility, from 2:00 - 5:00 PM on Saturday, March 13, 2010, at Studio One Art Center, 365 - 45th St., in Oakland. Admission is free and open to the public.

Scheduled to coincide with the annual observance of 'A Season for Nonviolence' and the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, “Transformative Visions” is intended to both challenge and inspire by offering spiritually-rooted responses to the critical concerns of the present day.

The concert features jazz greats RHQ – the Richard Howell Quintet – with Destiny Muhammad, the “Harpist from the ‘Hood.” Spoken word artists will perform original works that address a variety of activist concerns and carry a prophetic and empowering message of positive social change.

Bay Area visual artists will display works affirming values such as dignity, freedom, compassion, interdependence, peacemaking, justice, and healing. The art exhibit will be on display throughout the month of March.

"'Transformative Visions'" centers on the power of the arts as ministry and activism," says Rev. Liza Rankow, founder and director of OneLife Institute. “In these times of local and global violence, economic crisis, and social division, it’s important to come together in community and affirm that each of us carries a creative vision. Within each of us is the power to transform ourselves and our world.”

For more information, call 510-595-5598 or visit

Vagina Monologues at Laney College

Vagina Monologues at Laney College
Laney College Media Club will present, "Vagina Monologues" Friday, March 12 at Laney College.

The Vagina Monologues were born in 1998, when Eve Ensler conducted 200 interviews with women about sex, relationships and violence against women. The will feature performances by Laney College students.

The event is a part of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. The event seeks to raise awareness to violence against women, like rape, battery, invest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.

The Vagina Monologues begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 12. General Admission is $10, $5 for students with valid ID.

2010 Laney College student goverment elections near, candidates introduced

Candidates for the spring 2010 ASLC elections have been announced by ASLC Secretary and Election Committee Chair announced candidates this week.

ASLC, the Associated Students of Laney College is the official student government of Laney College.

Candidates are as follows:
Anton Bosneaga
Harry Jiang
Elizabeth King
Dawna Williams

Brian Nelson

Erin Lofstrom-Perez

Zuleivi Aguilar
Darnice Davis

Publicity Commissioner
Xuwen Guo
Talitha McAdams
Brandy Smith

Leonard Hutton
Stephen Hy
Lingsi Ke
Andrew Kim
Luniva Shrestha
Students are still eligible to run as "Write-In" candidates. A Mandatory candidates meeting will be held Monday, Mar. 15 at noon in room 401 of the Student Center.

For more information about being a candidate or the election, email ASLC Elections Committee Chair Sarah French at sfrench428 (at) yahoo (dot) com or Student Activities Adviser Algeria Kirven at akirven (at) peralta (dot) edu

The Black Hour is establishing an election committee for the purposes of establishing a list of issues important to Black students at Laney College, organizing a candidates forum to hear students' proposals and position on issues and evaluating candidate's positions and finally making endorsements.

For more information, contact The Black Hour at theblackhour (at) gmail (dot) com.

Ubaka Program holds Talent Show Auditions at Laney College

The Laney College Ubaka Program is holding auditions for a spring talent show March 9 and March 11.

Rappers, dancers, poets, singers, poets, musicians, actors and artists are invited. The auditions take place Tuesday, March 9 and Thursday, March 11 from 3-5:30 PM in the Laney College Theater.

Night auditions will be held Tuesday, March 16 and Thursday, March 18 from 5:30-7:30 PM. Email Ubaka students for more information.

Ubaka is a part of the statewide Umoja Initiative.

Lady Eagles soar over Mustangs 56-54, advance to State Finals

Raushanah Bashir drives to the hole
Laney College guard Raushanah Bashir drives to the hole against the San Joaquin Mustangs

The Laney College Woman's Basketball team advance to the state finals tournament after defeating San Joaquin Delta 56-54 Saturday, March 6.

The No. 4 seed Lady Eagles made 24 of 40 shots free throws, compared to the No. 5 Mustangs' 10 out of 20. Sophomore and Eagles forward Shonetta Crain-Williams scored 13 points.

But the game was decided in the end, when the Eagles made 8 of 14 free throws at the line. The second year Eagles (25-5) clinched their first Northern California Regional Championship and advance to the State tournament of Eight, where they will face Ventura, Thursday March 11 in Thousand Oaks.

Black C - "Brand Nu" - Music Monday

OAKLAND Laney College Lady Eagles one game away from state finals

The Laney College Women's Basketball team is one game away from the State Finals.

Lady Eagles (Laney College) vs. San Joaquin Delta Mustangs
Saturday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Laney College Gym
Oakland, CA

Admission$7 - General
$5 - Student w/ID
On Saturday, March 6, the Lady Eagles (No. 4 seed) host San Joaquin Delta Mustangs of Stockon (No. 5 seed) for the California Community College Women's Basketball North Region Finals.

Last week, the Eagles defeated San Jose City College 52-49. The Lady Eagles are on a 19 game winning streak.

If the Eagles (24-5) defeat the Mustangs (23-7) this Saturday, they will advance to next weekend's State Finals.

Doors open at 6 p.m.. Game time is 7 p.m. Admission is $8 for the public and $5 for students with ID.

Note: Lady Eagles supporters are encouraged to wear Green and White. T-Shirts will be available at the game.

Students protesting budget cuts shutdown Oakland freeway

150 educational rights activist arrested

Enraged by budget cuts to higher education, students through California walked out, held sit-ins and took to the streets Thursday. In Oakland, some protestors went further.

Complete Coverage of March 4 Day of Action on
More than 150 protestors were arrested March 4 after walking onto a downtown freeway. Traffic came to a standstill as they marched onto the Market Street exit, weaving between cars near the Interstate 880 to 980 interchange.

Some motorists honked their horns in support and smiled. Others were visibly upset with their commute being stalled.

The protests were part of a statewide "Day of Action to Defend Education" in which students held sit-ins, rallies and teach-ins. Students marched from Oakland high schools, Laney College and UC Berkeley to downtown Oakland for the rally. Another regional rally was highly attended at Civic Center in San Francisco.

Protestors sieged by police after taking over the 880 freeway in Oakland in both directions as part of the March 4 Day of Action for Education.

Oakland Police and California Highway Patrol officers chased protestors on the freeway, catching some after they crossed I-880 northbound to the I-880 southbound lanes. Police stormed protestors, dropping them to the ground and clubbing the fallen in the legs, backs and buttocks with Billy clubs.

One Oakland high school was injured after he fell from the freeway, according to witnesses on te ground. Police said he attempted to climb down a tree to escape charging police. But branches broke, according to witnesses on the ground, and he fell down onto 5th Street below. He was transported by ambulance to Highland Hospital.

There were 150 people arrested, including 10 minors who were mostly cited and released to their parents’ custody, according to officer Jeff Thomason, Oakland Police spokesman, in an e-mail to the press.

Police blocked off northbound I-880 traffic near the Broadway entrance, before a frenzy of police cars zipped up and down the freeway.

The protestors, who left from a "peaceful rally" at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of Oakland City Hall, shut down the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway. Police cordoned off the intersection to prevent pedestrians from walking on 14th. The protestors, made up of people of all ages and races, headed north to 15th Street.

Protestors walked to Franklin and began to walk against traffic. At 11th and Franklin streets, in front of the office of the University of California President, protestors converged, dancing to music, holding up signs and showcasing the “Occupy Everything” banner to university police who guarded the building's entrance.

Marchers walked west on 11th toward Broadway. They shut down that intersection for several minutes, they continued to Martin Luther King Jr. Way as police ran after them.

Protestors turned left on Martin Luther King, but police formed a barricade line at 10th. Unable to move forward or turn left toward downtown Oakland, they went west toward Castro Street.

At Castro, some protestors walked onto the freeway while others, unwilling to risk arrest, walked off the shoulder.

After being arrested, booked and photographed on the Jackson Street offramp, many were transported to Glen Dyer Jail, near Oakland Police headquarters, and to Santa Rita Jail on misdemeanor charges. Some charges include unlawful assembly and obstructing public places.

Photos by Reginald James for

UC Berkeley "Blackout 2010": Black students hold silent protest in solidarity with UCSD students

Blackout 2010 Berkeley Protest

Black students at UC Berkeley, in solidarity with their brothers and sisters at UC San Diego held "Blackout 2010," a silent protest and blockade of Sather Gate.

The Daily Planet writes, "The group—comprised mainly of black students on campus—wore black clothing, with black scarves around their mouth, to silently protest racist acts at UC San Diego, including an off-campus event (the "Compton Cookout" mocking Black History Month. The situation escalated when a noose was found hanging in UCSD’s Geisel Library two weeks later."

Read the complete story in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Laney College March 4 Walkout, Rally, March Schedule

Photo: Flickr user

Thursday's schedule of activities:
  • 11AM: Walk out of classes
  • NOON: Rally on the Main Quad at Laney College
  • 1PM:March to Oakland City Hall
  • 5PM: Rally at the Civic Center in SF
Students, faculty and staff at Laney College plan to walk out Thursday, March 4 at 11 a.m. to protest Higher Education cuts. Upset of budget cuts and fee hikes, a noontime rally is a part of a statewide Day of Action.

Students plan to march to Oakland City Hall at 14th and Broadway to join a rally with students from College of Alameda, Merritt College, UC Berkeley and numerous Oakland High Schools, and K-12 students.

Following the rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza, students will meet at 5 p.m. for a regional rally at Civic Center in San Francisco.

Students have been actively organizing on campus for months, distributing flyers and producing banners. Below is a slideshow with photos from's Flickr page.

Higher Education under attack, stand up with Laney College students March 4

By Reginald James
Editor of
For years, Higher education has been under attack. With the economy, community college enrollment has skyrocketed. At the same time, the state is balancing its budget on the backs of students with draconian cuts to education. While all people are affected, Black students will bear the greatest brunt.

The California Community Colleges are the largest system of higher education in the world. Community colleges are an affordable option for basic skills, career training or preparation to transfer for a four-year college. Legions of people in our community have benefited from the education they received in community college.

But after the 1996 Proposition 209 - which eliminated affirmative action for education - enrollment of Black students at the UCs and CSU's plummeted.

Nationwide, one of every 14 Black collegians attends a California Community College, and one of every seven Black students in community college attends school in California.

As education spending is being chopped, spending on prisons continues to increase.

The state Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) estimates that by 2012 the state of California will spend more annually on prisons that it spends on higher education. Black and brown people are incarcerated at rates much higher than their population.

So despite having one Black face in the White House, there are too many Black men (and women) in the Big House. Prisons are the new plantations, providing below wage labor for private industry profits.

Meanwhile, essential programs and services that all students' need are being cut, like EOPS and childcare. Student enrollment fees continue to increase, forcing students out of college. Additionally, cuts to the UC and CSU are pushing other students back into community colleges, taking away seats from students who have no other option. Despite rallies in Sacramento the last two years, the situation has not improved. The state is still not prioritizing education.

It's time students took the fight through our own turf.

On March 4, students from colleges throughout the East Bay will walk out of class. After the 11 a.m. walkout at Laney College a rally will be held on the campus quad. Students will then march through downtown Oakland to City Hall. It is important to make our presence felt to the community at-large, that knows about the value of community colleges, but don't know about the danger of losing these institutions.

An "Education Rally for California's Future" will be held at San Francisco's Civic Center at 5 p.m. with students from throughout the Bay Area.

Walk out for those ancestors who were deprived of the right to an education. Walk out for your classmates being forced out of school because the class they needed was full or cancelled.

March for those incarcerated in concentration camps called prisons that need a second chance when they are released or never even got a first chance.

March for our professors and staff who break their backs to educate us. All the while, many are in danger of losing their jobs.

Stand up for your family. For those younger brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews who won't have a chance to get an education.

Stand up for your children, and your children's children, to ensure that they have more opportunities than we have today.

The walk out and march ain't a field trip; it's a message. We matter. Without us, there is no community in "community college."

Why Laney College student Alessandro Tinonga is protesting March 4

Editor's Note: The following appeared on the website of

By Alessandro Tinonga
Special to
LAST FALL, following a speakout and town hall meeting, members of the student government, professors and representatives from various student groups formed the No Cuts Peralta Coalition to fight budget cuts on campus here. The coalition has been successful in getting a core of two dozen students to lead protests against proposed cuts.

Also last fall, the administration and board of trustees of the Peralta Community College District tried to pass draconian budget cuts that would have cut millions from student services. Due to protests by the coalition and members of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, approval of the budget had been postponed three times.

Protests also brought continued attention to the corruption and cronyism of Chancellor Elihu Harris and his administration. In January, it was announced that the district would not renew the contract for Harris or Vice Chancellor Tom Smith.

Despite these successes, the cuts are still being handed down to the students and staff. Over a dozen staff were served with layoff notices in December, and over 500 classes have been cut throughout the district.

Furthermore, the cuts to education in the UC and CSU systems have forced many students to seek classes in community colleges, leading to a growing student population. The influx of students coupled with reduced classes and student services has led to frustration. This semester began with students suffering long lines and longer waits to get registration and financial aid processed.

Members of the coalition hope that the March 4 actions will build solidarity between students, staff and faculty, and organize frustrated students into the movement to save public education.

Outreach thus far has been successful in creating a buzz on campus. Laney College is plastered with walkout fliers. Additionally, the Peralta Federation of Teachers Local 1603 support the March 4 actions.

Some students and faculty are hesitant to participate in the walkout. One student said, "If I miss one day of classes, I may not get the grades I need. I feel like my education can slip right out of my fingers." We as student activists should be patient and understanding about such concerns. By reaching out and mobilizing as many students as possible, we can build confidence.

We could get hundreds of students to walk off campus and march to downtown Oakland. However, if we get a hundred or so students to participate in the rally and get them involved in the movement, that would also be a step forward.

Alessandro Tinonga is a Laney College student and an organizer with the Laney chapter of the International Socialist Organization.

Laney College Acting President Elnora Webb supports March 4 Day of Action

Editor's Note: The post below was sent out by Acting Laney College President Dr. Elnora Webb to campus faculty and staff in support of the March 4 Day of Action.

By Dr. Elnora Webb
Special to
I ask you to join me in support of the student-led effort to MARCH this month to argue for sound investment in higher education and community colleges in particular. Please make reasonable class schedule and class work accommodations to support our Laney Students on March 4 (rally in San Francisco) and on March 22 (rally in Sacramento) to defend public education.

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

You may ask, how you can further support Laney students in their effort to improve the State’s investment in their education?

As instructors, you could determine the efficacy of rally participation as part of the learning for your courses and tie meaningful assignments to it.

As a classified staff, you could spread the word about this effort and provide meaningful insights into the history of student advocacy and its effect on improving the conditions within education locally and throughout society.

As administrators, you could engage in similar efforts while providing more substantive suggestions for student involvement and the involvement of our colleagues across the college.

We will join thousands of students from across California who have had enough with the divestment in their college education. Many of us have lost patience with the disconnected and broken aspects of the system of financing in this State We call for a prominent and solid commitment to the millions of students who are pursuing higher education. These students seek life-sustaining wage earning careers, the knowledge and skills to build healthy lives and communities, and core competencies to contribute to the innovations necessary to prompt economic, social, and political reforms essential to sustain California and the nation.

It is time for us to stand together to defend education. The community colleges are canceling classes, cutting counseling and other support services. Tens of thousands of students are being denied access to this essential education.

The UCs and CSUs are doing the same, cutting jobs and classes and raising fees beyond the reach of most people in the state.

Attacks [on education] are attacks on our future. People across the state have been under attack – with layoffs, falling wages, unemployment and evictions. And there are fewer public services to provide any support.

We often face these attacks alone, but education unites us all. We need to stand together. We must stand together. We are the family, friends, neighbors, instructors, staff and students who make up this system of education. We are more than six million students in the K-12 system, nearly three million community college students, and 670,000 students in the CSUs and UCs.

Mobilized together, we are a powerful force.

We have a choice in front of us. People across the state know that something needs to be done. We face a looming budget deficit for the years ahead and the attacks will continue. Meanwhile we live in a state with enormous wealth, home to multi-billion dollar banks and corporations.

We have an opportunity to stand together and begin to organize and mobilize our forces. Our future and the future of young people across the state and nation is at stake. What happens next depends on us all.

Thank you very much for your support.

Students banned from 'loitering' inside Laney College theater lobby

Laney College student receives haircut in the Laney Theater Lobby
Photo: Reginald James/

By Reginald James Editor

Students are no longer allowed to hang out in the lobby area of the Laney College theater building due to disruptive behavior, faculty said.

Jim Cave, the stage and production supervisor of the Theater Department said he’s dealt with unruly student behavior since the start of the semester.

"People (are) dancing, playing music, making beats, table dancing. This ain't BET.
Jaiden Phoenix
“They were disruptive, rough-housing, eating, drinking in the lobby, what we would call ‘loitering,’” Cave said of the students. He said the building has “a poor acoustic atmosphere”, and noise from the lobby disrupts classes inside the theater. Students also blocked access to classrooms on other floors by sitting on the stairs and congregating in the “Green Room” near the elevator. “Then they leave a big mess,” he added

“People (are) dancing, playing music, making beats, table dancing,” theater student Jaiden Phoenix said, speaking of the students’ behavior. “This ain’t BET.”

Cave ended up getting into “shouting matches” after repeatedly asking students to “quiet down,” but they would comply.

Phoenix recounted the disrespectful attitude shown towards Cave when he approached students.

“I watched him go out there and ask them to quiet down, but by the time he leaves, they doing what they do,” Phoenix said.

"If you’re quietly studying, you’re okay. But if you’re loud, eating and drinking, you’ll have to leave"
Dep. Charles Brown
Peralta Police
Cave said a student was giving another student a haircut. “I told them it wasn’t a place to cut hair. Then I turned my back, and they started up again.”

He acknowledges that his initial approach to the students was not as “level-headed” as it could’ve been, suggesting that the irritation of his requests being repeatedly ignored affected his approach.

“Can’t nobody stop them, they gone do what they do,” Phoenix lamented. “But, they gone do it outside.”

A sign reading, “The Theatre Lobby is temporarily off limits to all students” was hastily posted on the windows of the theater lobby. The Peralta Police immediately reinforced the rule.

“If you’re quietly studying, you’re okay,” said Peralta Police Deputy Charles Brown shortly after forcing about eight students out of the lobby on Feb. 23. “But if you’re loud, eating and drinking, you’ll have to leave.” Now, only theater students are being allowed to gather in the lobby.

The Theater Lobby is temporarily off limits to all students.
The lobby area, located near the theater entrance adjacent to the main quad had been a refuge for students looking for a place to socialize. Students who were kicked out that last month dispute some of the claims, saying that they took responsibility for their behavior, did not block people from getting to class and even cleaned up after themselves, for the most part.

First-semester student Ryan Walker said he and his classmates flock to the theater lobby because the Student Center is overcrowded. He said people hang out in the lobby to avoid the weather while waiting for rides or for the next BART train or AC Transit bus to come. “We came in here to get away from the weather,” Walker said. “If you don’t want people to hang out, why are there seats in there?”

"We came in here to get away from the weather. If you don’t want people to hang out, why are there seats in there?"
Ryan Walker
"The theater lobby is for studying, rehearsal and [for use] as a passageway,” Cave said. Horseplay led to a student crashing through a window in the theater lobby window early February.

Cave sympathizes with the students’ need for a place to socialize, but wants them to do it elsewhere if they don’t behave differently.

Cave said student’s behavior in the lobby area has been an issue, on and off, for at least five years; however, because new students come each semester, the issue keeps reoccurring. In the lobby, there are no posters that indicate what conduct is acceptable in the lobby.

English major Chelsey Crow and three of her classmates went into the theater lobby on March 2 but, to her surprise, was asked to leave by Dep. Brown.

"It’s not like there’s a lot of places to go. The cafeteria’s really small.
Chelsey Crow
“It’s not like there’s a lot of places to go,” Crow later said. “The cafeteria’s really small.” Crow said she and her friends then went to the Student Center, but had to sit on the floor of one of the two raised platforms because there were no empty seats.

Walker and other students noted that the majority of the students who gathered in the theater lobby were Black, and felt they were being discriminated against, suggesting that other students wouldn't be treated similarly. Hhowever, Crow and her friends are white.

"I kick them all out,” Brown said in response to the suggestion that Black students are discriminated against, “no color about it.”

"If we can establish a respectful relationship and if the lobby can be used in a way that it should be used, I don’t have a problem with students here"
Jim Cave
“It’s not a Black thing,” Phoenix contends, seated alongside two other African-American theater students rehearsing in the lobby area. “It’s about ignorance.”

“If we can establish a respectful relationship and if the lobby can be used in a way that it should be used, I don’t have a problem with students here,” Cave said. “That means quiet, no cell phones, no food, no eating and no sitting on the steps over there by the elevator.”

Even theater Arts students are getting used to the rules being enforced. Ernie “DJ Ego” Rocker was eating ice cream in the theater when Cave had to tell him to go outside to eat.

“Set a good example for the other students,” Cave scolded. Moments later, another theater student Kelaisha Birdlong entered the lobby with her own ice cream.

“No food in the theater,” Rocker informed her.

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