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.

Egyptian solidarity demonstration in San Francisco

New revolutionaries at Egypt solidarity protest in San Francisco

On Saturday, January 29, a solidarity demonstration with the Egyptian people was held in San Francisco.

Over 350 people marched up Market St, according to organizers, with nearly 1,000 people rallying in the U.N. Plaza near Civic Center.

For over five days, Egyptians have hit the streets demanding dictator Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt, resign. The recent unrest in Tunisia sparked what some are calling the new Egyptian Revolution. Mubarak is widely unpopular in Egypt, but maintains power by silencing opposition and use of police forces to crush dissent.

U.N. Plaza

While traveling throughout Egypt (Kemet) in the summer of 2010, many Egyptians expressed their displeasure with Mubarak's rule. While many had hope in U.S. President Barack Obama, many were wary of his continued support for the Egyptian dictator.

Financial Literacy Workshop at Laney College

Laney College Theatre
900 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA 94607
6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Welcome and Overview of the CA Educational Systems and Costs
  • “Start saving now”: Overview of Ways to Save for College
  • Financial Resources and Financial Aid Information

Millions of dollars of available financial aid money for college students never makes it.

Assemblymember Sandré R. Swanson is co-hosting a Student Financial Aid Workshop at his alma mater of Laney College on Thursday Jan. 27. The workshop will give students an overview of higher education in California, ways to save for college, and financial resources and financial aid resources.

The program takes place from 6-7 p.m. in the Laney College Theater.

There will also be a Cash for College 2011 the same night at the East Bay Consortium. The workshop will give high school students information about financial aid. The second workshop is from 7-8:30pm at the East Bay Consortium at 314 E. 10th Street.

To RSVP, please call 866-305-9991 or e-mail
For more information, please call (213) 833-6025.

Black clergy, officials to strategize on addressing crime in the East Bay

Local Black elected officials and clergy will meet on Wed. Jan. 26 in Oakland to discuss solutions to crime in the community.

Speakers include: Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts and Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, as well as other experts who will share their strategies on combating crime and other forward thinking initiatives.

This meeting by the Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders of the East Bay, will be an opportunity for residents to learn how can be active in addressing issues of crime, according to the Office of Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson.

The meeting takes place Wednesday, January 26 at 7:30 a.m. at Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St. Breakfast will be provided for all attendees. There is a cost of $5.00 per person for all non-members. RSVP with Aisha Brown via email or by calling (510) 272-6686.

Netta Brielle - Screaming - Music Monday

Using her tremendous music talent to speak out against violence, Bay Area songstress Netta Brielle recently released the video for her song, "Screaming."

"I was determined to shoot this video in my hometown, Berkeley, CA, because in the last few years the crime rate has increased drastically," Brielle said. "With all the negative attention Berkeley and Oakland, CA have been getting in connection to gun violence, I felt it was very necessary for me to bring something positive to my community."

Brielle continues, "Keith Stephens, Zillion Cash, Ronnie Easiley, Marcus Mosely, Maceo Smith, Shandonee Williams, Gary Fergusen, Jr., Ricky 'Greedy' Devers and Khatari Grant are just a few young people who grew up in my neigborhood that have been victims of gun violence. Growing up, violence was always right around my corner until one day it ended up in my backyard."

"I want the youth in my community as well as communities across the world to know that they can follow their dreams, because they do come true (as corny as it may sound.) I want young girls to know "I'm just like you" and I'm going to be that example... "

An example of greatness.

Visit and read more about Netta Brielle.


John George Democratic Club hosts Ranked Choice Voting Forum in Oakland

The John George Democratic Club will host a forum Saturday, Jan. 22 called, "Ranked Choice Voting: How Did It Work?". The event will feature Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan in conversation with journalist Jesse Allen-Taylor. A follow-up discussion, "What's next?" will take place with Joe Tuman, a SFSU Political Science professor.

Kaplan and Tuman were third and fourth place finishers in the 2010 Oakland mayoral race. Taylor, formerly with the Berkeley Daily Planet, launched the independent website, "Anyone But Perata" (

In November, City Councilwoman Jean Quan defeated former State Senate President Pro tem Don Perata in Oakland's first Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) election.

The event takes place Saturday, January 22 from 2-4pm at the Buttercup Grill at Broadway & 3rd Street in Oakland. This event is co-sponsored by Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), the John George Democratic Club, GDC, the Stonewall Democratic Club, the Oakland East Bay Democratic Club, and the Niagara Movement Democratic Club. Refreshments will be served.

The John George Democratic Club takes its name from former Alameda County Supervisor John George, the first African American elected to the County board.

Photo: Don Perata, Jean Quan.

Haiti Activists: Prosecute Baby Doc, Return Aristide

By Haiti Action Committee
Special to

Haiti Action Committee strongly supports the call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Jean- Claude Duvalier. We also take this moment to support the Haitian people’s campaign to return President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti.

It is unconscionable that the dictator Duvalier is now staying at a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince while the twice-democratically elected President Aristide remains in forced exile in South Africa.

We have witnessed the return of former dictator Jean Claude “ Baby Doc” Duvalier to Haiti with disbelief and outrage. During his rule, from 1971 to 1986, Duvalier launched a reign of terror against any form of political opposition. Thousands of Haitians were raped, murdered or disappeared. Over 3000 political prisoners were tortured and then killed at Fort Dimanche, Duvalier’ s torture chamber.

One former political prisoner, Rolande Michell, told The New York Times the following story about his incarceration:
"It is a bad place," said Mr. Michell. "They starved me, but I was fortunate. They starved men to death. They beat men to death. I saw them cut into the muscle of one man's leg so he would limp. You could hear men screaming all the time.

"They made me promise to be faithful to Duvalier. I promised so they would not kill me."

Haitians who lived through the Duvalier era carry these memories with them today. Duvalier’ s return sends them a chilling message – that in today’ s Haiti, Duvalierism is alive and will be tolerated as part of the political landscape.

It took a determined popular movement to oust Duvalier. It was this movement – representing the vast majority of Haitians -- that swept President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to an overwhelming electoral victory in 1990. And it is this movement that is demanding his return today.

Ousted in a U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004, President Aristide remains the most respected and trusted voice of the poor within Haiti. Perhaps that is why the current Haitian government, the U.S. State Department, and the United Nations – the same authorities that allowed the return of Duvalier – continue to block President Aristide’ s return.

A 2005 Wikileaks cable documents the US government "insistence that all efforts must be made to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process.”

They are standing on the wrong side of history. It is time for President Aristide to return and time for Jean-Claude Duvalier to be held accountable for his crimes against the Haitian people.

Photo: Former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier retreated to a private residence north of Port-au-Prince after missing a flight out of the country on Thursday morning. Photo by Ramon Espinosa (AP)

The Haiti Action Committee is a grassroots organization working for the masses of the Haitian people. Visit the website for breaking news and analysis about events happening on the ground.

Volunteers needed to help families file taxes

It's that time of year again. W-2's are arriving in the mail and before you know it April will be here. Get a jump start on taxes this year.

Volunteers are needed to help prepare free income tax returns for working class individuals and families through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

  • Provide assistance to low-income individuals and families
  • Help families qualify to receive thousands of dollars in tax credits
  • Learn how to file your own taxes
A Free VITA Volunteer Training will take place at Oakland City Hall on Sat. Jan. 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Topics include: Orientation to the VITA Program, Intro to Basic Tax Law, How to Become an IRS-Certified VITA Volunteer Income Tax Preparer and Volunteer Placement.

"The training session will provide you with an orientation to the Controller’s VITA program, an intro to basic tax law and the software used to prepare VITA tax returns," according to Tina Hossain in the Office of State Controller John Chiang. Volunteers will also receive "information on the IRS certification exam you need to pass to be an IRS-certified VITA Volunteer Income Tax Preparer."

No previous experience is needed. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the training is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 4 located at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

Space is limited and RSVP is required by Friday, January 21. To RSVP, please call (213) 833-6032 or email and provide the following information: 1) Name 2) Title 3)Organization 4) Phone Number 5) Email Address 6) Mailing Address. Volunteers must indicate they are registering for the Oakland session.

For questions or additional information about the Oakland VITA training session call (213) 833-6032. More information about the VITA program, visit the IRS' website.

Income taxes are normally due April 15, but in 2011 they must be filed by April 18 (due to a holiday). The Oakland program is being sponsored by State Controller John Chiang, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblymember Sandré Swanson, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

Martin Luther King Day of Service in Oakland

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service brought people together throughout the county to honor the legacy of Dr. King by serving.

Dr. King once said, "Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve." True to this theme, dozens of people came together for Urban Releaf's clean-up at the Lake Merritt Garden Center in Oakland.

"Volunteers joined their team leaders and began working on a number of projects throughout The Gardens at Lake Merritt which included weeding, pruning, installing a french drain, planting trees, cleaning paths, laying new decomposed granite pathways in the Lakeside Palmetum, and cleaning the nature center and bird sanctuary. according to The Garden Geek.

There was also a clean-up hosted by Mayor Jean Quan in East Oakland, the annual Martin Luther King Shoreline Clean Up with the East Bay Regional Parks District, and a number of other events throughout Oakland and the East Bay.

Photo: The Garden Geek

Common - 'A Dream' - Music Monday - Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

In memory of Dr. King's birthday, this week's Music Monday is "A Dream" by Common.

The Black Hour emerged from a dream inspired by a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. about Black Radio. A week later, the Laney Black Student Union held an event a Laney College to honor Dr. King that January. Within a month, planning was taking place for the first episode of The Black Hour on 9th Floor Radio.

Oakland MLK event honors King's mentor

The East Bay Church of Religious Science will host “The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman” in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday weekend, Sunday, January 16, 2011, from 3:00-5:00 PM. The public is invited.

The Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman was a guide and mentor for Dr. King and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. His work speaks directly to today’s personal and social issues, highlighting the powerful connection between spirituality and social transformation.

Thurman was a philosopher, theologian, educator, reformer, and author of more than 20 books, including Jesus and the Disinherited and The Inward Journey. In 1936 he led the first African American delegation to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, and became an advocate of Gandhi’s methods of nonviolent social change, inspiring many in the American struggle for civil rights, justice, and freedom. Thurman co-founded the first interracial interfaith congregation in the United States, the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, in San Francisco.

Ebony magazine named Dr. Thurman among the 50 most important figures in African American history, and Life magazine hailed him as one of the greatest preachers in the nation.

The event will provide an introduction to Thurman’s life and legacy. It will feature excerpts from the video interview "Conversations with Howard Thurman," and consider the relevance of his wisdom for the critical issues of the present day.

The presenter for the session will be Dr. Liza Rankow, an interfaith minister and the director of OneLife Institute ( She regularly teaches classes on Thurman in community and academic settings, and is co-editor of the recently released six-CD audio collection, "The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman."

Rev. Rankow will also offer a ten-week class on Thurman at the East Bay Church, on Thursday evenings, beginning February 3, 2011.

The church is located at 4130 Telegraph Ave, Oakland. The Rev. Dr. Elouise Oliver is the Senior Pastor. For more information: or call 510-420-1003.

Orientation for College of Alameda warehouse and forklift program

Two orientations for the College of Alameda’s Warehouse and Forklift training program will be held on Tues. Jan. 11 and Wed. Jan. 12. at the Workforce Collaborative.

As a part of the Alameda Transportation and Logistics Academic Support program, ATLAS, training prepares students for jobs as forklift drivers, packagers and freight, stock and material movers.

The 11 week training program begins February 7, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. -4:30 p.m. Students must attend a two-hour orientation to participate in the class. Orientations take place Tuesday, January 11 and Wednesday, January 12 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Other ATLAS programs include Green Diesel Truck Technician and Office Administration for the Logistics Industry. The ATLAS program is collaboration between The Workforce Collaborative and the College of Alameda, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. For more information, call the Collaborative at 510-891-8773 x 301. The Collaborative is located at 1433 Webster St in Oakland.

Photo: Moodboard/Corbis Images

Vigil held for Chris Jones, high school student slain in East Oakland on New Year's Eve

Friends: Stop the Violence

  • Sunday, Jan. 9: A musical celebration in honor Chris Jones. 6 p.m. at Seventh Avenue Baptist Church, 1740 Seventh Ave., Oakland.
  • Monday, Jan. 10: 11 a.m. funeral service, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 1909 Market St., Oakland.
  • The family requests memorial donations be sent to Xperience Ministries Inc., P.O. Box 262, Oakland, CA 94604.
Oakland, CA – A sunset vigil for 17 year old student Chris Jones was held on Friday, January 7 in East Oakland. Jones was "cowardly" gunned down New Year's Eve in the driveway of his home by unknown shooters while putting his niece in a car seat. Police believe it is a case of "mistaken identity."

Jones was a student at the East Oakland School for the Arts located on the Castlemont High School campus. He played piano and drums. He recently had enrolled in classes at Laney College and planned on attending Cal State East Bay to study music.

During the Friday night vigil, Jones' mother, Brenda Grisham said, "We need to stop this violence. It makes no sense."

Friday night vigil attendees, including many who have been involved in the Justice for Oscar Grant Movement, hoped that the same type of energy could be used to stop horizontal violence ("Black on Black" violent acts).

"We must take a stand about this senseless violence and murder in our community, said Mama Ayanna Mashama. "It is important for us to come together and create a culture of resistance to the conditions that create these acts." Two of Mashama's children were also senselessly taken by violence.

When one attendee noted that people had not come out like other protests, Minister Keith Muhammad of the Nation of Islam mentioned previous "Stop the Violence" protests that had taken place earlier last decade in which many walked the streets, and that they were not only in response to law enforcement shooting Black people.

"We must take a stand about this senseless violence and murder in our community. It is important for us to come together and create a culture of resistance to the conditions that create these acts."
Mama Ayanna Mashama
A vigil was also held the night before (Thursday night), with many of Jones' teachers and classmates in attendance. He was the last homicide victim of 2010.

Jones was remembered as a bright spot in the lives of all he encountered.Oakland Tribune reports, "Chris Jones' teachers were confident he'd become a professional musician. Not only did he appear to have perfect pitch, but he possessed a hunger for learning and the grades to get into a four-year college."

A musical celebration for Jones will be held Sunday, Jan. 9 at Seventh Avenue Baptist Church, 1740 Seventh Ave in Oakland. A funeral service will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at St. John's Baptist Church in West Oakland on Market Street.

Oscar Grant dollars in Bay Area circulation

Oscar Grant lives on in many ways. Memories of friends and family were captured in numerous family photos and even a short documentary. The family takes regular trips to Grant's gravesite, like their recent one after a New Year's Day vigil at Fruitvale BART.

Oakland Hip Hop artists made the Hayward-raised Grant one of town's own, as journalist Eric K. Arnold wrote. Visual artists created numerous murals and street vigils while emcees and DJs created songs and turf dancers gigged in his memory.

Now, Oscar Grant dollars. A few media outlets have received email and snail mail announcing the dollar bills with a note attached.

"The line between security & tyranny is a fine one, and justice requires close & continuous attention to it," reads the note. "The 'Oscar Grant' dollars put into circulation around 1/1/11 are intended as a non-violent reminder of that idea."

The dollars and note above were mailed to Colorlines Magazine, an online racial justice magazine that has consistenly covered the Oscar Grant movement and sentencing of convicted killer cop Johannes Mehserle.

If you see and Oscar Grant dollar in circulation, let us know.

Photo: Colorlines' Tumblr.

Remembering Oscar Grant, two years later

Uncle "Bobby" holds up Tatiana, Oscar's daughter

A vigil for Oscar Grant was held on New Year’s Day at Fruitvale BART, two years after he was shot and killed by former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle.

“Two years ago today, Oscar Grant was murdered up there,” said Jack Bryson, pointing to the BART platform above where cell phone video captured the shooting of his son's friend. “Life just ain’t the same.”

A crowd of 100, including Grant’s family and friends, gathered in a barricaded sidewalk area outside the station, holding candles in the cold afternoon. The crowd was smaller than a vigil held last year that included elected officials, poetry and music with a stage blocking off a street.

“We may not have power in numbers,” said Bruce Hall, bishop for the family of Derrick Jones­­, “but there is power in the people here.” Jones was shot and killed by Oakland police in November.

Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, thanked people for attending and shared her hope that no one else would have to suffer what she’s experienced, at the hands of law enforcement.

“I hope that the police will begin to take responsibility and not try to cover things up,” said Johnson. “I pray they will take responsibility for the murder of my son.” Grant’s fiancée, Sophina Mesa and daughter, Tatiana, were also in attendance–along young men who were on the platform with Grant and other family members–but did not speak.

Mehserle was sentenced to two years in prison in November after a Los Angeles jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter this past summer. The trial was moved from Alameda County after Mehserle’s defense, Michael Rains, argued that the threat of mass protests, media saturation, bias’ of African Americans, and statements by elected officials made it unlikely for his client to get a fair trial.

Minister Keith Muhammad said Judge Robert Perry ridiculed those who wrote letters asking for the maximum sentence of Mehserle. He added that Mehserle blamed Grant and his friends for the shooting during his impact statement during sentencing.

“I feel so defeated by what Judge Perry did for Johannes Mehserle,” Bryson said. “But two years later and people are still here. We’re not letting this fade away.”

“It lifts my spirit.”

Grant’s uncle, Cephus “Bobby” Johnson, thanked those in attendance and asked for continued support. “It’s because of you, the community, we’re still standing. It allows us to continue. You are our strength,” Johnson said.

“Every tragedy represents and opportunity to move the agenda for justice forward,” said John Burris, attorney for the families of Grant and Jones. Burris said 30 years ago, when 15-year-old Melvin Black was killed by Oakland Police, the shooting led to reforms such as the Civilian Police Review Board. Similarly, Grant’s death has led to improved policies at BART, such as its Civilian Review Board that is currently seeking applicants. “That would not have happened if not for Oscar Grant.”

Burris said the family was disappointed with the decision of District Attorney Nancy O’Malley not to appeal Perry’s decision to throw out the gun enhancement during sentencing, but understood it would have been an “uphill battle” to prove.

An arbitrator recently ruled that BART officer Marysol Domenici, despite lying on the stand during pretrial, must be reinstated with full back pay. Her partner, Tony Pirone, was also fired by then-interim BART police chief Dashel Butler last spring.

The struggle for justice for Grant and other victims of police oppression is not over, Burris said. “I’ve been involved in 10 cases since Oscar Grant. The only difference was that his was caught on camera.” He added that the spotlight was on Oakland.

BART Police observing Oscar Grant vigil

Over a dozen BART and Oakland Police vehicles were staged just west the station, while a smaller contingent of officers, including new BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey waited near the station entrance. Considering the recent documentation of federal surveillance of the Oscar Grant Movement, many were not surprised to learn they were under surveillance.

Grant's shooting death led to mass demonstrations in January 2009 once cell phone video of the shooting was published on You Tube. Subsequent protests took place throughout early 2009, spring and summer of 2010, and this past November. Protestors questionably arrested for unlawful assembly during the November 5 sentencing of Mehserle have yet to be charged, according to the Oakland 100, a solidarity group for those arrested during protests.

After Derrick Jones supporters took over City Council meeting last month, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts asked the FBI to investigate the shooting. The U.S. Department of Justice is also reviewing Grant case as well.

“Sadly to say, they may need some help,” Johnson said. Johnson has regularly thanked the public for demonstrations that many say initially led to Mehserle’s arrest in January 2009. “We need to let them know we want answers.”

Muhammad said that despite Mehserle killing Grant physically, Johnson’s son still lives on in the struggle for justice, as people continue to declare, “I am Oscar Grant.”

“The journey is not done,” Muhammad said.

Oakland memorializes Oscar Grant with 'turf dancing' video

On the two anniversary of the murder of Oscar Grant, the Turf Feinz and Yak Films released a memorial dance video, "RIP Oscar Grant."

"The multimedia production company Yak Films and the Oakland dance crew Turf Feinz released a dance video commemorating the death of Oscar Grant, a young father who was fatally shot by a transit police officer in Oakland, Calif., on New Year’s Day 2009," reads a press release sent out New Year's Eve.

“Oscar Grant’s death was a tragedy that affected a lot of people in Oakland, especially youth,” said Kash Gaines, the co-founder of Yak Films who filmed the video. “The video is meant to be a message to everyone in Oakland about the injustices here and how we use artistic expression to deal with it."

In 2010, Yak Films and Turf Feinz reached international prominence with the viral popularity of another memorial video for a young man who was killed in a car accident on an East Oakland corner. The video "Dancing in the Rain"" has received more than 2 million You Tube views.

Learn more about the Bay Area legacy of Hip Hop dance by visiting. Check out Yak Films' website.

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