Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Monumental (W)reckoning, A Reflection

People are rising up to remove and destroy these symbols of racism and white supremacy which guide the thinking and economic and political policies making in this country. On the first Juneteenth National Observance San Francisco installed 350 African Ancestors. 

Dana King, artist, Black Bodies in Bronze, created 350 sculpted pieces to honor the original 350 Angolan captives taken from home in 1619. The Ancestors, depicted as female, surround the plinth where just one year ago, the Francis Scott Key, slave owner and supporter of African disenfranchisement and subjugation, statue came

down.

The empty plinth is one of many toxic spaces throughout America where the Ancestors are needed in a tangible way to counter the dominant racist narrative. It is not enough to decommission these historic landmarks. Municipalities need to surround these places with a counternarrative calling for a "reckoning" or" accountability" to the people harmed-- Black people. In San Francisco this public accounting has been given two years. 


Resistance is what it will take to change a landscape the powerful do not want disturbed. Wrecking or toppling thoughts and ideas and policies and laws that do not serve all equally, especially African Descendents of these 350 Ancestors and the other 10 million over 250-300 years is what this public document is about. 

Dana King is a alchemist. The ancestors speak through her hands. She channels their power and humbly allows it to flow through her fingers into bronze, steel, wire tubing. The Ancestors' faces are tipped slightly up so they see the sky. Moonlight caresses their thoughts. Freedom is on their minds as Lift Ev'ry Voice refrains echo silently from the Spreckles Temple of Music . . . as the procession walked from one side of the Concourse to the other as the audience stood in respect, Friday, June 18. 

This grand procession is led by women drummers who conjured and embodied with the other women and men singing Lift Ev'ry Voice, the Black National Anthem, a spirit of Sankofa: Remembrance and Resistance. 

These diminuative ancestors, like their creator, don't play. 

Memory lives in the blood.

Our ancestors live in us.

It is up to those of us who are "asendents" of these 350+ survivors 402+ years later to "march on till victory is won" (and after that too).

We must, as a nation, never forget the debt owed its African descendents of enslaved Africans. More importantly, this nation must never forget the foundation or legacy its heritage arises. This nation is nothing without us.  

We must never forget how great we are. Great people behave like great people. We do not let others take us out of our form-- no excuses.  
The 350 Ancestors are lovingly holding everyone accountable. Ase. 

Pictured: Dana King with singing bowl and an ariel view of the plinth with the 350 Ancestors
Photocredit: Wanda Sabir

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Monumental Reckoning June 18, 2021 @ Golden Gate Park

This is the libation Wanda Sabir shared at the Monumental Reckoning opening ceremonies, June 18, 2021. Watch the libation at deYoung Museum@Instagram   (All photos James Watkins, SF REC and Parks.)





Dana King, artist, created 350 African Ancestors, to surround the plinth in the Concourse at Golden Gate Park.  It is opposite the Spreckels Temple of Music where Ben Davis, Illuminate, hopes to get permission from the SF Historic Sites Commission (7/21) to add the words: Lift Ev'ry Voice to its stage. 

Monumental Reckoning considers the recent removal of public art depicting historic villains like Francis Scott Keys (Juneteenth 2020) who by its very presence condone the continuation of policies and practices that deny Black people access to true democracy and with it, freedom. 

On Friday, June 18, 5 p.m., the program opened with a wonderful musical tribute by Warmth of Other Suns led by Martin Luther McCoy. Queen Rhodessa Jones, Co-Artistic Director, Cultural Odyssey, was emcee. Tongo Eisen Martin, SF Poet Laureate shared a poem; Mayor London Breed gave a few remarks which included stories of her strong grandmother who was a sharecropper in Texas, decided (like many other African Americans) to leave that life for a better life in the north. She settled in San Francisco.

Mayor Breed gave the City of SF employees the day off to acknowledge and honor Freedom Day, the newest federal commemoration and now a City of San Francisco holiday. 

Mayor Willie Brown arrived too late to speak, but he was front and center at the libation ceremony which followed the procession.

Dana King, sculptor, acknowledged the elders and gave the history of Monumental Reckoning. She told the story of her research and desire to bring these 350 Ancestors to hold space for freedom and liberty where injustice was elevated for too many years. 

I call her the Ancestor Lady. For those who know her work -- King is an alchemist who breathes life into bronze or any medium she choses to shine or allow light to pass. Aṣe.

The 350 Ancestors represent, King said, the Angolan ancestors taken from home August 1619 on a Spanish ship, then twice stolen by English pirates in the Gulf of Mexico where 10-20 ended up in the English colony where they were traded for provisions at Old Ft. Comfort, which is now known as Ft. Monroe National Monument in Hampton, VA.

King hits the singing bowl 4 times for the 400 years of African history and then began to sing, the Hon. James Weldon Johnson's hymn Lift Ev'ry Voice. The lyric was pick up by all present who began to line up behind the drummers. Heart and Soul Center of Light and Glide Church choirs participated. 

Led by Mar Stevens, all the drummers wore ancestor pigment on their faces as they marched. The women looked both regal and fierce as we all sang ourselves closer and closer to the plinth where the ancestors awaited us.

Dressed in white, the "official processioners" invited other African descendants along this Sankofa journey in Golden Gate Park to join us while others in the audience stood in respect for the solemn funeral march. 

It is one thing to think 10 million, it is another to see 350 ancestors and imagine that number multipled. It is a lot of people, a lot of Black people. 

An altar with tulips, candles, water and food was in place. It was in front of the altar that Rev. Andriette Earl, King's pastor, Heart and Soul Center of Light, led us in prayer. It was a beautiful invocation and opening of the way. 

I wrote two libations and then combined them-- long story.  I tried to highlight the lives of Native San Franciscans, knowing that the communities in San Francisco and the East Bay were tighter knit then than now and knew each other well, so I also mentioned prominent citizens on both sides of the bay, especially those born in the early 20th century whose grandparents were enslaved. 

















The Libation: 

We remember

Aṣe

Memory is important

We remember because greatness is in our genes Black people.

Aṣe

We remember because if we forget who we come from no one will remind us

Aṣe

These 350 ancestors connect us to our people from across the lands--  across the waters . . . 350 spilled into 10 million ancestors. Even if it is 3 million, that’s still a lot of African people! Who does this to another human being for profit?

In the California Constitution, Article 1, Sec.6 Slavery is still legal. Support the bill to remove “slavery” from our constitution Nov. 2022. SF Board of Supervisors voted in Feb. this year to support this Assembly Constitution Amendment-3.

Aṣe

We are American

Aṣe

We are also African

Aṣe

Claim the whole continent

Aṣe

You belong here too

Aṣe

We are the people

Claim the preamble

Demand our human rights

All of them

I see you

I see all of you

I value what I see

I value what I don't see

See me

Touch yourselves

Say

I am

Here

Aṣe

Claim it

Aṣe

You belong.

Stamp your feet

Occupy this body

Claim this space

Open your heart

Be bigger

Be more awesome

Be expansive

Claim your legacy

Our ancestors earned it

The inheritance is ours

Aṣe

"Just do it" is not a slogan

This is your country.

Aṣe

Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey Aṣe

Called us a mighty people

You can accomplish what you will he said

Aṣe

We are people of the sun

Aṣe

We walk with light

The wick is our hearts

Lit with love

Aṣe

Hug yourselves

Say

I love you to yourselves

Aṣe

We are our ancestors dreams realized

Aṣe

Black people need a pep talk

Water clears our thinking

Aṣe

We drink water

We are water

Liquid people

Aṣe

This prayer

This libation is for you

Aṣe

Call your people to come stand with you now

We need our ancestors to stand with us.

Call them

I call the warriors to join us

Be fearless

Mother Father God's got you

Aṣe

Your higher power

The energy that cannot be destroyed

Has us all

This is an ancient story

Aṣe

We remember greatness

As we recall the great loss or Maafa

Aṣe

There is so much. . .

Words are inadequate

Aṣe

Be still mind

Remember

Memory lives in the blood

Sojourner Truth asked Ain’t Black Women, Wom(b)(en) too

Aṣe

Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, "Isis Papers: Keys to the Colors";

Aṣe

We call Freedom fighter

Mary Ellen Pleasant (Aug. 19, 1817-Jan. 4, 1904), abolitionist, freedom fighter, businesswoman, entrepreneur, millionaire. (San Francisco civic leader and entrepreneur, is known as the Mother of California’s early Civil Rights Movement. She was a conductor of the Underground Railroad and she financially supported John Brown, 1857-59 (http://mepleasant.com/story.html).

Aṣe

Delilah Beasley, newspaper woman, published a paper Jan 1 1919 called Slavery in CA

We pour libations for the 350 Buffalo soldiers buried at the Presidio who fought for this nation and established the National Park Services

Aṣe

James Weldon Johnson, Esq., who would have been 150 June 17, reminds us to Lift our voices. . . to speak up and speak out-- Black people, to not silence ourselves or be silenced

Lift Ev’ry Voice and sing until earth and heaven ring with the sounds of chains breaking, ceilings cracking and freedom rolling down Mt. Tamalpais and Mt.  San Bruno 

Aṣe

A libation is a prayer

Libations acknowledge the energy that cannot be destroyed

Libations are the filaments that tie (link) our lives to the great love that holds all we see and all we can no longer see

We are because they were

They live in us

We call honored ancestors names

We call their position if we do not know their names: elder sister, great aunt. . .

The womb that held the womb

The hand that held great grandfather's hand

The shoulders standing next to the shoulders that surround us now

The "I am" that resonates in our throats with each lifted voice

I am because you were – Ancestors.

Ancestors live in us

Say it: “they live in us”

Those 350 ancestors live in us collectively

Our ancestors live in us specifically

We honor them 

We respect them

We acknowledge their courage and we are encouraged

They live in us

We say Aṣe

We say amen

We say hallelujah

We pour with gratitude

We will start with the names of public servants

Then affinity ancestors

And end with personal ancestors

This is a monumental reckoning -- the list is long. . . longer than tonight can hold. . . this weekend or the two years these ancestors will mark in San Francisco with their presence, but it is a start and for this beginning, this public acknowledgement of the political, economic and moral sins of California legislators and white citizens on its African residents -- we say Aṣe.

It is okay to feel sorrow

This is not a celebration it is a commemoration.

Black people die and not only are there no grave markers, not only are there no ceremonies-- we are disappeared as if we never existed.

This libation is the long awaited acknowledgement that we were and we still are here:

Aṣe!

Our ancestors live in us

Their presence encourages us, it strengthens us

Our ancestors live because they loved and continue love us.

Love never dies. We pour libations with water. Water has no enemies.

We pour libations for the 350 ancestors who were taken by the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista which was captured by English pirate ships the White Lion and the Treasurer in August 1619 along the coast of Veracruz, Mexico. The 20-30 Angola captives were then brought to King James Colony in Virginia @ Point Comfort (now Ft. Monroe National Monument) and traded for provisions thus starting the English trade in human flesh.

However, earlier in 1535, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés used 300 enslaved Pan Africans to colonize Baja, California.  The west coast is pivotal in the story of captured and enslaved African bodies.

We pour libations for these African lives represented by the Ancestors surrounding the plinth in front of us

Say Aṣe

Say: they live in us

Say: Aṣe

Say: they live in us

Say: Aṣe

Say: they live in us

Aṣe
She lives in us

[Bridget “Biddy” Mason (Aug. 15, 1818-Jan. 15, 1891) walked with a caravan from Mississippi to Utah to Southern California. The African-American nurse and a Californian real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist founded of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, California (https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/mason-bridget-biddy-1818-1891/).]

Colonel Allen Allensworth, April 7, 1842, Louisville, KY- September 14, 1914, Monrovia, CA, who with educator William Payne, former miner, John W. Palmer, minister William H. Peck, and Harry A. Mitchell, a real estate agent, founded the first and only independent township in California governed in 1908 by formerly enslaved African Americans.

Aṣe

William Alexander Leidesdorff
 1810-1848) “was a social, economic and political force in pre-gold rush San FranciscoCalifornia with a number of “firsts” credited to his name. When he was named the U.S. Vice Consul to Mexico in 1845, he became the nation’s first African American diplomat.  He was elected to San Francisco’s first city council and its first school board in 1847.  He built the first hotel, the first shipping warehouse, he operated the first steamboat on San Francisco Bay, and he laid out the first horse race track in California.”

We pour libations for the ancestors who moved west from the south in what is called the Great Migration, ancestors who built prosperous, thriving communities

Aṣe

Dr. Carlton Goodlett, founder and publisher, The Sun Reporter

Aṣe

[Dr. David Blackwell, 1st African American appointed full professor at UCB (1954)]

Aṣe


CL Dellums, VP Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
Ron Dellums, Congressman, Oakland Mayor

Aṣe

Enola D. Maxwell
 (1919-2003) Executive Director of the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House (PHNH). In 1971, she not only became the first black director, but also the first African American to be appointed to any position in the PHNH. 


Aṣe

Barbara Christian, 1st AA woman tenured at UCB (1978)

Aṣe

Doris Ward (1932-2018) trustee for the San Francisco Community College District. Ward also took on several more positions including County Supervisor in 1979, President of the Board of Supervisors in 1990, and served as the San Francisco County Assessor-Recorder in 1996. While on the Board of Supervisors she wrote rent control legislation, worked for better oversight for police and pushed for more affordable housing. In 2000, she also became a delegate for the Democratic National Convention as a representative for California before she retired in 2006.

Aṣe

Vernon Alley, musician, who served on the SF Human Rights Commission and later the SF Arts Commission. In 1993, Vernon Alley was voted into the San Francisco Prep Hall of Fame. In 2002, he received the presidential medal from San Francisco State University, where he graduated in 1940 and continued to perform at alumni events. Vernon continued to be a devout public servant, joining the San Francisco Arts Commission. The city of San Francisco commemorated his influence by naming an alley between two buildings on Brannan Street “Vernon Alley.” Alley’s musical prowess was acknowledged by the Human Rights Commission, who recruited him not only to be a member, but to also serve as Musical Director for “Evolution of Blues.” As a member of the Human Rights Commission, Alley passionately fought for civil liberties and advocated against police discrimination.

Aṣe

His brother, 
Edward Henry Alley, Jr., (1910-2005) known as Eddie Alley, was one of the Fillmore’s leading big band drummers for decades. Alongside his brother, Vernon Alley, who was an equally celebrated bassist, Eddie Alley’s musical prowess helped break barriers between white and black audiences. Alley is one of the many change makers on the walls of the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center because of his great impact on the Fillmore community in San Francisco.

Aṣe

Dr. William Byron Rumford wrote The California Fair Housing Act of 1963, better known as the Rumford Act (AB 1240), while a CA Assemblyman. It was one of the most significant and sweeping laws protecting the rights of blacks and other people of color to purchase housing without being subjected to discrimination during the post-World War II period.  It was enacted in in response to weaknesses in earlier fair housing legislation in California and evolved from a larger civil rights struggle that emerged over the movement to create a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) at the state level between 1946 and 1959.

Aṣe

Frances Albrier, President, National Council of Negro Women, SF Chapter which organized Black voters (1956-57). There is a Community Center in South Berkeley named after her. Her daughter Anita Black, a retired nurse, is 98 years old now. Ms. Albrier was the granddaughter of formerly enslaved people and moved to Berkeley, California, from Alabama in 1920, beginning nearly six decades of community activism while working as a nurse, maid and union organizer.

As early as 1939, Albrier campaigned as the first African American candidate for Berkeley’s City Council. By 1940, she had formed the Citizens Employment Council to fight for jobs and fair employment practices for the city’s black community. After being denied work at the Kaiser Shipyards during World War II, Albrier fought for and won a job as the first black woman welder in the company’s Richmond shipyards. Her victory paved the way for thousands of African American and women workers to secure better-paying jobs in the Bay Area’s booming shipyard industry.

Albrier would go on to integrate Berkeley’s League of Women Voters and the Red Cross, teaching first aid classes to local youth for many years. During the 1950s, she created the first Negro History Week displays to be shown in an Oakland department store window. A champion of voter rights, Albrier was a prominent member of the National Council of Negro Women and the Citizenship Education Project. In her later life, Albrier became a peace and disarmament activist and a pioneer in fighting for the rights of senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Maudelle Shirek (June 18, 1911 – April 11, 2013)[1] was an activist, former Vice Mayor and eight-term City Council member in Berkeley, California.  Shirek was born in Jefferson, Arkansas[2] and grew up on a farm, the granddaughter of slaves. Today is her 100th birthday. She moved to Berkeley in the 1940s and immediately gained a reputation for her dedication to civil rights issues. She married Brownlee Shirek and worked as office manager for the Co-op Credit Union.[3]

She was active in the anti-war movement, was a staunch union supporter, founded two Berkeley senior centers, championed HIV/AIDS awareness, and helped organize the Free Mandela movement. She was one of the first elected officials in the United States to advocate for a needle exchange program.[4]

Thomas Berkeley, Oakland Post

Jerri Lange, maverick newswoman

[Carlotta Campbell, journalist, college professor]

Brother Cleophas Williams (June 12, 1923-June 24, 2016), first Black President of the International Longshoremen and Workers Union, Local 10, SF. He served 4 terms. 

Dr. Diane C. Howell, Black Business woman and educator; Black Expo founder

Habeebah Rahman, teacher, Sis. Clara Mohammed School

Elretha and Elmer Rashid, founding members Temple then Mosque 26 in SF

Dhameerah Ahmad, Black Panther Party Member, educator, revolutionary; Brother Mark Simon, Aṣe, Lateefah Simon’s father (and aunt)

Hon. Richard Brown, Black Panther, Jurist

Kiilu Nyasha, revolutionary journalist @Freedom is a Constant Struggle

Reginald Major, writer, activist. “The Panther is a Black Cat” (devorah major’s father)

Dr. Intisar Sharif, champion for early childhood education

Dr. Julia Hare, pioneering Black Psychologist

Ave Marie Montague, founder, SF Black Film Festival, publicist
Kali O’Rey, SF Black Film Festival director, graphic designer and artist (Juneteenth Film Festival. Since he died unexpectedly in August 2020, his children, Cree, 30, and Kali Jr., 26, have succeeded him and are presenting SFBFF this weekend.


Dr. Ruth Waddy, Pioneering Black Artist. . . CA Arts Commissioner. She is the mother of Sister Maryom Ana Al Wadi, San Francisco State University (SFSU) pioneer in the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies (1966-1968) 

Ray Taliaferro, maverick journalist (KGO); civil rights activist, co-founder of the National Black Journalism Association; President, SF NAACP; member, SF Art Commission; musician

We call the names of the yet to be born.

Aṣe

We call the names of those who left here too soon. Their crime Black skin

My nephews: Carlton Lee Gatlain, killed at 17, in SF, no suspects

Obatiye Edwards, killed at 17, Oakland Policeman

Matthew "Peanut" Johnson was the 16-year-old whose murder by SFPD set off the 1966 Hunters Point Uprising.

James Baldwin, author of “The Fire Next Time,” came to Hunter’s Point to talk to the youth and community leaders in 1966.

Mario Woods, 26, was in a mental crisis holding a small knife when SFPD officers surrounded him and murdered him firing squad-style in 2015 on Third Street.

Dr. Martin Luther King who marched for civil rights in San Francisco

Aṣe

El Hajj Malik El Shabazz or Malcolm X.  Sister Betty Shabazz.

Aṣe

Kwame Ture or Stokely Carmichael

Aṣe

Dr. Huey P. Newton
Aṣe

Afeni Shakur
Tupac Amaru Shakur (6/16/1971—he would have been 50)

Aṣe

Nia Wilson (
November 12, 1999 - July 22, 2018)

Aṣe

Bonnie Pointer (June 9, 2020)

Aṣe


Ruth Williams, the mother of seven sons, taught drama for many years at the Bayview Opera House to the children of Bayview Hunters Point, including Danny Glover. The Opera House was at one point renamed for her but later the honor was diminished so that now, only the theater inside the opera house bears her name.


Aṣe


Paul Mooney, Black Panther of comedy, grew up in the East Bay and would bring some of his best work home every year to the Black Rep in Berkeley and Geoffrey's in Oakland and other Black-owned venues.


Aṣe


Yolanda Jones who headed the one Black-owned construction company that has survived the lockout of Blacks from construction during the last two decades, and her company continues to hire workers from the neighborhood.

 

Earl Sanders, first Black SFPD chief, abhorred the vulnerability of Black men to police racism and tried to change the culture inside SFPD.

 

Rochelle Metcalf, a "woman about town" whose newspaper columns covered the Black community, wrote a column for decades in the Sun Reporter called I Heard That and later moved to the Bay View, where her column was called Third Street Stroll.

 

Kenneth Harding, a 19-year-old who ran from police when they demanded proof he'd paid his $2 Muni fare, was murdered, shot in the back of his head, as he ran through Mendell Plaza at the main Bayview Hunters Point intersection of Third and Palou and died in a pool of his own blood with police guns pointed at both him and the crowd that begged to comfort him.

 

Dr. Caesar Churchwell, a popular dentist, served as vice chair of the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce and the driving force behind a travel boycott called by the Chamber. African American business and civic organization leaders around the country pledged not to hold their conventions or other events in San Francisco until the City addressed the economic exclusion of Black San Franciscans.

 

Ronnie Goodman was an artist who spent many years in prison and many more living on the streets of San Francisco. In the early '90s, he drew a comic strip called J-Cat and Bootzilla that he would mail twice a month from San Quentin to the SF Bay View for inclusion in every paper, His art, when not about prison, mostly focused on the hard lives of unhoused people. He also painted huge outdoor murals that inspire the city.

 

Marie Harrison, mother, grandmother, writer and organizer, who would sit up all night with her grandson as his nose bled and bled, figured the smoke pouring out of the largest and oldest PG&E plant at the foot of the Hunters Point Hill was the cause. She spent the rest of her life organizing the community to shut it down and, once that was accomplished, fight against all the environmental racism that plagues the community. She died of a breathing problem caused by the pollution.

Aṣe to Marie Harrison.

Eugene E. White's love of painting began in his childhood in Ozan, Arkansas, and scenes of everyday life in the rural South were some of his lifelong favorite themes.  Coming to San Francisco in 1958, he opened the City's first Black-owned art gallery in 1962. He painted for the people, mainly in public spaces -- his "Juneteenth" mural at Ella Hill Hutch Community Center is particularly beloved. A bench in Buchanan Mall Park dedicated to him is a favorite place for his widow, Lynnette White, to give history lessons to local young people. July 11, is Eugene E. White Day in the City of SF.

 

We pour libations for the many people dying daily on the streets of this great city and this great nation-- Aṣe. They live in us

Sister Beatrice X, Love Not Blood will call names of other Black people who were killed by police

We say Aṣe

They live in us

Now is your time to call your names of your honored ancestors. Please call your names—of your honored ancestors

Aṣe

They live in us

We pour libations for the yet to be born as we acknowledge the realms above (Aṣe)

Below (Aṣe)

Within (Aṣe)

Juneteenth is freedom day

We pour libations for James Weldon Johnson, whose birthday was yesterday, 6/17. He would have been 150 years.

“Lift Ev'ry Voice” reminds us: the dead are not dead. Aṣe. Our honored ancestors live in us. Aṣe. As long as we call their names, as long as we continue the work of African liberation, as long as we lift their voices they live.

Aṣe  Aṣe.  Aṣe.  Aṣe-o

 

 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

MAAFA Reader Project Narrative Sample 2010-2020

The story of African people and how they arrived in America is an opera, tragic in its simplicity, a true story which remains unexamined, its descendents trapped in memories too horrific to speak, yet speak we must. The Maafa Reader Project is interested in these stories.

The Maafa or "the calamity" in the Kiswahili language, is a part of a larger vision, one where Sankofa - Africans "going back to fetch it," fetching resources and guidance from the ancestors celebrated in the Maafa ritual," and Ayaresa - "health and well-being," also have equal value. If a people do not remember and celebrate their past-- Sankofa, they really have no sense of who they are and cannot effectively move forward with Ayaresa.

Is closure a possiblity? Why? Why not?

The book project is a means to establish a dialogue, a conversation between descendents of enslaved Africans who had to create a new life when everything familiar was taken away.

The book will be divided into sections: At Home, Taken, In Transit, Disconnected, Lost, Found. Each section will begin with a preface, written by the editor, which sets the tone for the selections to come - from the artists and scholars whose work was accepted.

This book will also discuss this need for acknowledgement. How else can one explain the simultaneous creation of Maafa rituals throughout America in Oakland, Southern CA, New York, Galveston, Chicago, Seattle, Detroit, Montgomery, and New Orleans. Something is definitely in the air.  The Reader will explore these phenomena.

Akintiunde Kofi Camara, creator of Eintou, a unique African merican poetic form and African American historico-cultural philosophy with the musical strategies of the blues and jazz, writes in a submission to the Maafa Reader Project:

Were I a reader of African humanity,

upon whose pages

was inscribed the wisdoms of the ages,

then the Maafa would be a 350 paged chapter

of diatribes on my lowest, darkest hour,

during which white power soured the sweet taste of liberty,

and his greed lead blindly to chains, whips

and sordid quips about colored skin..


Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz writes in "Hush Child Hush," another submission to the Maafa Reader Project:

In May 1991, the United States General Services Administration began preliminary work for a federal office tower at Broadway and Duane Streets and the former gravesite, stretching five acres, was unearthed. The land had been allocated to the city's black population, some free, most enslaved, in the late 1600's when even cemeteries were segregated. With the passage of time, the original intent of the land became memory until the excavation more than a decade ago. I knew we wouldn't always be forgotten.

Kenneth McManus writes in his submission to the Maafa Reader Project:

Memory is key

In the recounting of past woe

And no mark

Serves as a better guide

Than the road map of keloid

Tissue

On my great-great grandmother's

Or great-great grandfather's

Back

Nothing raises up

Those memories

Like that

terrible

scar tissue

Linking one beating

To the next . . . 

Those keloids


Tell a keen story

And make my tender back

Concave

To avoid

The next anguished slap

Of leather . . .
 

Mwatabu S. Okantah writes in his submission: "Pilgrimage: Home to Africa,"

. . . I come home to Africa to reclaim our untold story and to sink my spiritual roots into native soil. I come to Africa to journey into our collective black Self. I was in Senegal because the winding river or my poetry had emptied into Afreekan ocean, where along the battered coastline of our endurance stood Cheikh Anta Diop, a towering lighthouse, guiding the wandering and the lost into safe shores. He provided us with the means to restore the historical continuity, and dignity, in our lives. Late in the winter of 1988, I had been commissioned to write an epic poem in his honor.


The European Slave Trade begun by the Portuguese in the 1490s, then extended into a North American market by the Spaniards in November, 1526, followed by the English in August, 1916, not only disrupted the lives of African people, it shook the world at its foundation, a slippery and unstable precipice all nations, especially those initial western nations still retain at its foundation.

The Maafa, a tragedy and catastrophe of enormous consequences affects all of us in ways imaginable and unimagined. The Editor(s) hope the Maafa Reader Project will bring those hidden variables to the forefront: the humanity issues, the social justice issues, the mental and physical health issues, the historic issues, and the reciprocity issues.

The ordeal legally ended on January 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, did not address the bigotry and hatred that would fuel a race and class war that continues into the twenty-first century, a war that denies African American citizens their human rights, as spelled out in the United Nations Charter, not to mention equal rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Civil Rights Act of 1965 and subsequent laws, while addressing some of the legal inequities that directly impact African Americans, have not touched the psychological and economic aftermath of this great calamity or Maafa on the African American citizens here in this United States, not to mention Africa and the rest of the African Diaspora.

The Maafa Reader Project will look at the broad spectrum of this history-African history which is American history through, as previously mentioned: poetry, prose, scholarly research, photography and other creative genres.

The goal is a greater understanding of this period in world history and its impact on society in cities like Oakland, California and parallel developments elsewhere like Johannesburg, South Africa.

2021 MAAFA Reader Project Call for Submissions

Deadline: June 30, 2021*

To celebrate the 25th anniversary (2020) of the San Francisco Bay Area's MAAFA Commemoration or "Black Holocaust Ritual," scholars, poets, writers and artists are invited to submit work for inclusion in the "Maafa Reader." The goal is to have a reflective record of the various ways African people in the Diaspora recall the Middle Passage, honor the ancestors and offer creative interventions in the cyclic persistent trauma descendents of enslaved African people experience in the west 155 years after the end of the Civil War for those in the USA.

We hope the reach is national and international, drawing on traumatic stories or residual memories and the consequences of having been forcefully removed from our homeland five centuries ago.

The call is also for those left in Alkebulan (ancient name for Africa) to reflect on the devastation this loss wrought on the families and communities left behind. What was the cultural drain to the collective consciousness? What should or how does the New Afrikan feel about the Motherland, a place where most of us have never lived? Who's responsible for our enslavement? Can we forgive those who sold us, those who bought us?

What is the link between colonialism and enslavement? Are the consequences of the two similar? What role did religion play in the colonizing of Africa? Why are so many Africans in the Diaspora Christian or Muslim, is this in itself a contradiction and or a barrier to true mental and spiritual liberation? Can holding onto any tools: language, religion, history, or systems of government lead to anything positive, if while under colonial rule or enslavement, the only beneficiary was the white power structure?

We are especially interested in the stories of incarcerated African men, women and children and children in group homes and foster care. This in itself is its own special type of Maafa.

As we move into a second year of the politics of Covid-19 and its impact on national communities free and incarcerated how has your community been impacted? How have you managed the loss? How have your mourning rituals shifted or changed?

Stories of those impacted by natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina (15 years ago) and recent government neglect and weak response to the predominately African American affected populations are also desired. Connections between this Maafa and that experienced by ancestors of those Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi (now Texas) natives are evident. Oral histories, along with photographs of key moments in our diasporic history, are encouraged.

Reflect on the whole notion of freedom. What does it mean to be free? And while you're at it, what about what's due to those who labored for centuries without pay? Are reparations in order?

Choose your topic. There is no length requirement; just be clear, succinct and edited. Submissions may be made by email in Microsoft Word or text file to mail@maafasfbayarea.com or by mail to Anthology Editor, P.O. Box 30756, Oakland, CA 94604.

Please include a short bio - no more than 50 words - with your work. You will be notified as to whether or not your submission was accepted.

*This call is being reissued because the response was insufficient. If you have already submitted work in the past, please resend it. The service we employed deleted all the work. Our apologies for the inconvenience. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area Reflection, October 11, 2020

 Thanks to everyone who was able to attend the 25th Annual Maafa Commemoration San Francisco Bay Area in Zoom. The beach ceremony was by invitation. Here is a link to both events and a commentary on the first: Beautiful day!


Wanda Sabir Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, African Ancestor Ritual was really wonderful. We gathered early morning distanced so that we could keep each other safe. The beauty of the gathering evident in the patience and comradery, love and compassion. Youth helped with the altar this year, young women named for goddesses, MAAT and KALI and a young man accepted Brother Neter Aa Meri's call for assistance. We saw them take the food to the ocean, distribute flowers to those assembled along with candles and other items. As they ate the potatoes, rice and other items, I recalled years past when I'd arrive at 4 AM as Neter Aa Meri was building the altar and explained the various items on the table as I tried to name all the images in the backdrop poster.

 King Theo led a wonder Holistic African Movement, preceded by Brother Dar's lovely rendition of Negro Spirituals such as Many Thousands Gone and Old Freedom. Uncle Bobby and Sister Beatrice joined Sister Wanda Sabir in recalling the largest Slave Revolt in US History in January 1811 in Louisiana, just east of New Orleans. Last year, in November, hundreds of us gathered to reenact the March to New Orleans for Freedom. The morning wasn't as cold as the previous year. Anchoring the morning rituals were the spiritual crew from Wo'se Sacramento, with Ministers Alicia Teasley and Imhotep Alkebu-lan. They were a great team. One could feel the earth cracking open as Minister Imhotep walked the circle with the Unity cup inviting everyone to dip his or her hand into the liquid. I had on gloves and thought about viral transmission briefly as I complied.

 Lessons for future gatherings would include hand sanitizer for everyone and a hand washing station. We were distanced and Brother Che, lead officer in the Community Ready Corps and when available, founder, Turha Ak, have been volunteering security for MAAFA SF Bay for a number of year stressed the importance of wear masks and covering one's mouth and nose and distancing. Sunday there were four men securing the space for us. Brother Dar opened the Ritual with select Negro Spirituals, Many Thousands Gone with Oh Freedom. We liked it so much, we had him sing it again before the morning Ritual closed.

King Theo shared an African Holistic Movement that like every activity that morning, spoke to the themes: unity, sacred spirit, Sankofa and Ancestral wisdom. From the songs Minister Alkebulan had us singing to Min. Alicia's invocation to the creator, we were reminded that we are the medicine. The healing lies in each of us and in the collective application of the medicine. Wellness is communal.


The drummers were outstanding! The balance of the energies evident in the interplay. Ayikwei H T Scott's set up was unique. He had an array of percussion instrument enhanced electronically-- enabling his orchestral presence. Ava Square-Levias led us in movement which helped up located once again within our person our strength. She is one of my favorite choreographers, because she consistently lives the movement, that is, Black or African Liberation Movement as an embodiment.

 Oscar Grant's Uncle Bobby or Cephus X Johnson and Sister Beatrice joined me in remembering the Slave Rebellion Reenactment last year in November. It was Dread Scott's brainchild, to have a body of Africans dressed in period costumes March to Lew Orleans along the same path these Africans in January 1811 marched. Hundreds of us traveled from throughout the country to New Orleans where we met East along the River where the sugar plantations were located. Each morning over several days we met to pick up machetes, muskets or cane knives, eat breakfast and the board buses to take us to the site. We walked on levees along a road, the same trail of tears our ancestors whose names we called, marched for freedom-- our rallying cry, just as theirs, "Victory of Death." "On to New Orleans." "We're Going to End Slavery." NOLA was the political seat at that time, so the Africans were headed there to discuss their demands.

 Sister Beatrice said that even though this was a reenactment, most of us were not acting. It took several conversations for the white crew who didn't comprehend what African Americans present were reliving and the emotional toll this March to NOLA was creating. The two then began to call the names of people killed by police. Desmond Iman invited those present to release pent up emotions attached to anger and grief so that we could free ourselves. As he shared a personal story of loss he has carried since age 11 when his 11 year of cousin who lived in the south was a victim of racial terror.


We closed with a ringing of bells for the 400+1 years of African American history 1619-2020. The beach was empty almost to the end. We started a bit after 6 AM and ended at about 8. We went a bit over. The plan was to end at 7:15, sunrise.


The Ritual at the beach was by invitation to keep people safe. A few people showed up whom we did not know, but they were few. The commemoration was virtual this year.
Here is a link to both: Virtual 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration Part II 


and Virtual 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration Part I

Thanks to Brother Kwalin Kimathi who hosted the first program (as well as gave tech support as did Sister Koren Clark) and to Brotha Clint and Sister Afua who joined him in Zoom to talk about the MAAFA Tradition in the SF Bay. We also want to thank Melvin Phillips who videotaped for the livestream broadcast and thanks to Brother Che and the other men from Community Ready Corps for onsite security. 


Special thanks to King Theo Aytchan Williams, Iya Ava Square, Iya La Tanya Carmical, Ayikwe Scott, Baba Darinxoso Oyamasela, Mins. Alicia Teasley and Imhotep Alkebulan, Desmond Iman, Brother Neter Aa Meri and his assistants; Sistar Gwendolyn “Sunrise” Traylor; Brother Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Sister Beatrice X Johnson. For the second part of the 25th Anniversary of MAAFA SF Bay Area, we want to thank Sister Karla Brundage for her tech support, Sister Koren Clark for tech support, Sister TaSin Sabir for her website and media development; Brother Mike Jackson, Montgomery MAAFA and ICCAAMP for his media support; and of course all the contributors to the Virtual 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration in order of appearance: 

Sister Wanda Sabir, host; Sister Opal Palmer-Adisa, Ph.D.; Brotha Clint; Baba Kola Thomas; Seestah IMAKHÜS Njinga Okofu Ababio, Brother Alonzo “Zochi” Young, (Ethiopia); Iya Mahealani Uchiyama; Aishah Bashir and her mom: revered ancestor, Iya Jaquelyn Hadiah McLeod; Joan Tarika Lewis on her cousin, revered ancestor, Sister Makinya Kouyate; Baba Ustadi Kadiri & Sister Bisola Marignay on revered ancestor, Brother Tahuti; Ms. Nia McAllister; Sister Bisola Marignay, Ph.D.; Iya Queen Hollins, Earthlodge; Iya Osotunde aka Mama C (Tanzania); Kumasi-- Black Liberation Pledge; Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, MD., revered ancestor, “A Liberating Black People’s Prayer for Peace” (©1996); Ms. Koren Clark on her father, honored ancestor: Dr. Syed Malik al Khatib (1940-2014); Min. Alan Laird, M.Div; Baba Eddie Abrams -- Umoja House; Karla Brundage -- The Black Arts Movement; Min. Mxolisi, M.Div., Wo’se co-founder; Sister Piwai (Zimbabwe); Sister Omitola Akinwunmi (Uganda)—she will lead the Virtual Maafa Townhall Workshop 11/22, 2-4 in Zoom; Sistar Gwendolyn “SunRise” Traylor; Brother Mehib Holmes, Atlanta, GA; Sister Kharyshi Wiginton, “MeToo,” Texas; Brother Bryant Bolling and Sistar Zakiyyah Capehart-Bolling; Honored ancestor, John Coltrane for his “Love Supreme” -- and to all those who are a part of the MAAFA Commemoration SF Bay Area Global family. 


Don’t forget to visit the MAAFA SF Bay Area Boutique for gifts.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

4th Sunday September Virtual MAAFA Townhall

 We are really excited to have Ms. Alita Henderson joining us to talk about her project: Say I Love You to Yourself. Ms. Henderson writes: "Taking the time to pause and reflect on your personal needs…your self-care needs is the reason I promote “Say I Love You To Yourself”.   I facilitate a safe space to engage in this work and help you get reacquainted with what nurtures and nourishes you.  This formula will be different for each of us. 

"The external forces of our society (institutional racism, the minor aggressions) that we normalize or internalize, negatively impact our whole person (mind, body & spirit). We must change this paradigm.  We must become the balm to our wounded souls. We must learn to speak healing over ourselves and to one another.  Learning to appreciate ourselves is the start of this healing path."  

Bring your pounding sticks. Ava will lead us in a song. 

Upcoming: October 25, 2-4 p.m., Iya Arisika Razak will host an ancestor meditation workshop. 

You can bring a person of African Ancestry to the meeting with you. Let me know the person's name and email address in advance. These events are free, but we ask for a donation for the facilitators. The 25th Annual MAAFA Commemoration is next month too. Sunday, Oct. 11, 11-1:30 PM PT we will have a Virtual MAAFA Commemoration Ritual broadcast via Zoom and maybe YouTube. I have attached a flier. The beach ceremony is by invitation only. You can watch this (6 AM PT- 7:15 AM PT) as well via Facebook.com/maafabayarea

Friday, September 25, 2020