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I’m in San Diego

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In what I thought would be a casual trip to meet Krishna Toolsie because he would miss my book signing, I ended up speaking to three classes at San Diego City College when they heard I was in the building. Much appreciation to  Darius Spearman (Black Studies) and Enrique Davalos (Chicano Studies) who brought their classes together to hear about Ferguson. Prof Toolsie had just covered Reconstruction when I came into his classroom which gave me the opportunity to talk about the history of black gains and white backlash in the U.S. The students from both sessions asked insightful and thoughtful questions.

Jamala and Makeda “Dread” Cheatom at World Beat Center exchanging gifts.
Jamala and Makeda “Dread” Cheatom at World Beat Center exchanging gifts.

Me and Martin Eder (Activist San Diego) then headed over to the World Beat Center to check on logistics for my book event on tomorrow. We were lucky that Sista Makeda was in the house. She’s the founder of the Center and a whole lot more to the San Diego progressive community. We are definitely kindred spirits. I am so humbled by the hospitality of the Center and its staff (got fed some good vegetarian food, got some homemade shea butter). World  Beat hosted me with my first book.

I already know I’ll be incorporating the local struggle around the police murder of Fridoon Nehad in my remarks.

AFL-CIO Holds Racial & Economic Justice Town Hall

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Greater St. Mark Family Church-The Racial and Economic Justice Public Town Hall Meeting was held to address the barriers to building a strong labor movement so that a strong racial justice movement can endure. Opening remarks by Kristian Blackmon (Jobs with Justice), Hazel Erby (St. Louis County Council), Adolphus Pruitt (NAACP) and Montague Simmons (OBS) laid bare how racism within the unions affects its own cohesion as well as the solidarity between the labor movement and the broader community. Quite graphic examples were heard by the AFL-CIO Labor Commissioners on Racial and Economic Justice. Then there were other invited testifiers like myself who voiced the challenges we observed in the movement. The bottom line is that our common interests is supposed to that of improving the lives of working people. And that means we got a lot of work to do.

I later hung out with members of the AFL-CIO Advisory Group and some of the Commissioners. Always glad to see Jocelyn Woodwards, Carmen Berkley, Dorian Warren, Steve Pitts. There was James Gibb (a third generation mineworkers with lots of history about blacks in the mines), AFGE’s J. David Cox, Tiffany Loftin, Tefere Gebre and others. Anxious to hear what today’s private session before will produce.

Sunset Baby

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Tonite I had the privilege of facilitating the post-production discussion of “Sunset Baby.” I felt such a familiarity with the complex themes, the raging subtext and the play’s complicated characters. I heard converging stories of Afeni Shakur (Tupac’s mama), the Ferguson uprising, the crack cocaine epidemic, the Black Liberation Struggle, black masculinity in America…How can black people find love with one another?

“Sunset Baby” was written by  Dominique Morisseau, a talented and award-winning playwright. She often draws her ideas and emotions from her roots in Detroit.

There’s the powerful performances by Ron Himes as Kenyatta Shakur, Lawd Gabe as Damon and Erin Renee’ Roberts as Nina, named after Nina Simone by her parents–providing a musical backdrop to the story. This was Roberts first show with The Black Rep and Gabe is becoming a mainstay. I’ve seen his range in a several Rep productions. And well, Ron is Ron– the consummate actor/director.

You don’t have much time to see “Sunset Baby” because it ends on January 31.