On May 12, the SF Freedom School and United Playaz sponsored a performance by Awele Makeba about this topic. This was a fundraiser for the SF Freedom School--students were invited guests. We had a good crowd, somewhere between 50 and 60 people, a crowd that was interracial and intergenerational.
Before the performance began, a member of the Brown Berets from Watsonville introduced herself and explained the Brown Beret's mission and 3 members of the United Playaz also explained what UP was all about. Both seem to have a similar mission of creating a community for youth to help them get through school. Providing structure and guidance to youth through these organizations has helped members to overcome the many obstacles in their way to graduation, jobs or college.
Awele brought three other actors with her from BayArt (Alfonso "Gift" Harris, Michael Lange, James Brooks)
Awele began the performance by reading the names of those lynched in 1893 as recorded by Ida B. Wells in A Red Record (1895). Then Awele asked the audience to provide the names of people they knew who had died from violence. James Brooks read a passage by Bayard Rustin, From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement,
and one by Martin Luther King, Jr. that described the philosophy and strategy of nonviolent direct action. Awele read from an interview with
Diane Nash about her participation in the Nashville Sit-Ins and Boycott of 1960.
Michael Lange read John Lewis’ speech from the 1963 March on Washington—-the original one--that Lewis was compelled to modify for actual delivery. “Gift” Harris read from Malcolm X’s The Ballot or the Bullet. At this point the performance had begun to run over the time limit and the planned readings from Robert Williams, the Deacons for Defense and Black Panthers were skipped over to read notes and transcript from Bastards of the Party, an HBO documentary about the roots of gang violence in Los Angeles today.
The original idea of the evening was to have short performances of the historical record of the black response to racist violence that explored the tension among three difference responses: pacifism, tactical nonviolence and armed resistance. The performance was to be followed by an hour discussion of the topic as illustrated by the history and how it related to present day issues of racism and violence.
While the original plan was not executed, the evening was very successful. During the 15 minute discussion that followed the performances, one of the members of United Playaz talked about the importance of faith in developing a culture of nonviolent response to the violence in their communities, wondering why her religion is not in the schools since that was a crucial element in her ability to be positive and constructive in her life. Brook responded sympathetically and asked the question about how that would work given that not everyone subscribes to the same religious beliefs. Other comments included remembering the impact of the death of Emmett Till, the sense of people not knowing how to fight back in nonviolent ways today, and how corrupt the dominant culture is (that day a luxury hotel for cats and dogs had its grand opening while across the street homeless people slept in doorways)
Here's what Matier and Ross had to say about the hotel:
Wag the dog: San Francisco really is going to the dogs -- and cats as well -- judging by this weekend's grand opening of the Wag Hotel, an upscale South of Market pet palace that features rooms complete with plasma TVs, an indoor swimming pool and -- we kid you not -- doggie massages and blueberry facials.
The 239-room hotel on 14th Street, between Harrison and Folsom streets, is the Wag's second -- the first opened in Sacramento in 2004. Its owners are planning several more "modern and sophisticated hotels designed exclusively for the urban dog and cat.''
-- Luxury suites -- with "plush raised bedding,'' sofas, rugs, wall paintings and flat-screen TVs featuring doggie-themed cartoons and Animal Planet programming. Plus two meals a day. Prices range from $40 to $85 a night.
-- Two-story cat condos -- with private bathrooms and a view of a freshwater aquarium -- for $20 a night, complete with around-the-clock-staffing.
-- Individual spa services, including pet massages at $25 for a 25-minute session.