Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Wanda's Picks Radio Wed., August 6, 2014

Antoine Hunter is an African American Deaf and Hard of Hearing Choreographer, Dancer, Dance instructor, model, actor and poet. Hunter was born deaf and was raised Oakland, California and began dancing with Dawn James at Skyline High School.

He has studied West African Dance with Master C.K. and Betty Ladzekpo, and studied at the Paul Taylor Summer Intensives in 2003 and 2004 as full scholarship.

He is a lover to dance. You may had seen him in commercial or music video. Had performed and taught all over USA and all over the world such as, Rome, London, Cuba, Africa and so on.
He also has performed with Savage Jazz Dance Company, as dance artist/performer/jazz instructor; he has also performed with Nuba Dance Theater, Sins Invalid, Sonic Dance Theater of Epiphany Productions, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Alayo Dance Company, Cat Willis, Push Dance Company and Robert Moses’ Kin Dance Company, Sign Dance Collective AKA. Signdance Theatre International, Dance Captain for an commercial, choreographer for Amerikana The Musical, and many more.
Mr. Hunter has attended the California Institute of the Arts and is studying toward a B.A at St. Mary’s College of California L.E.A.P. He later becomes Founder/Director of Urban Jazz Dance Company 2007. A faculty member at East Bay Center of the Performing Arts, Dance-A-Vision, Youth In Arts, Shawl and Anderson Dance Center, Ross Dance Company, just to name a few.

Antoine Hunter, Artistic Director and Founder, Urban Jazz Dance, joins us to talk about DEAF LOUDER: The 2nd Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival this weekend, Friday, August 8 and Saturday, August 9 at 8pm; Sunday, August 10 at 4 pm at Dance Mission Theatre in San Francisco. DEAF LOUDER proudly presents a festival that celebrates deaf culture. There will be dance, poetry, song and rap by deaf and hearing performers. Starring Def Motion from London, Michelle Banks, Fred Beam, Joey Antonio, Rosa Lee, and Antoine Hunter. Other performers include James L. Taylor the 3rd, CODA Brothas, Sister Master, Half N Half, Deaf ASL singer Tonique Hunter and poet Joy Elan Sledge.Tickets: $25  For a discount use the code: “DeafLouder” (for an $18.00 ticket at Brown Paper Tickets); $12 for children 10 and under). For groups of 5 or more contact Ms. Stella Adelman 415-826-4441

There will be a special workshop Saturday with Michelle Banks at EBCPA in Richmond and Sunday from 12-2 there will be dance workshops at Dance Mission and a conversation witht the artists. Visit Antoine Hunter is an African American Deaf and Hard of Hearing Choreographer, Dancer, Dance instructor, model, actor and poet. He has performed and taught all over USA and all over the world such as, Rome, London, Cuba, Africa. He also has performed with Savage Jazz Dance Company, as dance artist/performer/jazz instructor. He is a faculty member at EBCPA, Dance-A-Vision, Youth In Arts, Shawl and Anderson Dance Center, Ross Dance Company, just to name a few.

For all Deaf Louder Festival details visit

We open with Lacey Schwart, dir. Little White Lies, featured in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 34, with screenings: Aug. 7 (PARK 7 p.m.), Aug. 8 (RAF 3 p.m.). Visit and 415-621-0523.

Music: Kim Nalley's "Trouble in Mind" and "I Wish I Knew How It Felt to Be Free."

Link to show:

Friday, August 01, 2014

Lacey Schwartz, dir. with mother
Who Would Have Known? Schwartz means Black
By Wanda Sabir

It is one thing when there is racial ambiguity based on systemic commodification of one’s people, it’s another when the questions stem from an omission or purposeful lie, which is the case when little Lacey Schwartz was born. Lacey who is accepted into the clan notices as did others her darker skin and curly hair, yet said nothing.

Perhaps upper class Woodstock, New York, is a town without many black people, certainly the childhood photos in the her film, Little White Lie (2014) do not show any students in grammar school with Lacey who are unquestionably black, nor do we see Jews with African ancestry at her family synagogue. Hers was the tight, close-knit community which can be a blessing; in this case it was, because though different, no one seemed to stigmatize the young girl for her darker skin or complexion.

Lacey Schwartz
Yet, Lacey knew she was missing a part of the story. How come she didn’t look like both parents, cousins or aunts—the Sicilian grandfather explanation for her skipping generations of pigment, just didn’t feel right the older she got. The questioning glances didn’t help either, especially when her mom and dad divorced. Was she the cause?

When Georgetown University accepted her application for admission, then had the audacity to call her African American when she left the race identification box unchecked (yet included the requisite photo), suddenly, someone disconnected emotionally from the sigma or shame silently attached to Lacey’s birth, named the elephant sitting in the room all her life.  

Lacey Schwartz
Georgetown helped coach the elephant out of the house onto the field where it gave Lacey room to hose it down. The stench was pretty awful—lies are like that. Clearly Lacey was onto something she had to pursue and she immediately joined the Black Student Association.

The omissions –who was she . . . loomed like huge craters in her 18 year existence.  She stepped gingerly on the debris covered surface; careful not to fall as she led two lives – one at school and another in Woodstock.  If her parents noticed her changing, neither said anything to her about it. It was as if she had really come home once she got away. Her brown skin now had social and political context. Unable to claim all of herself for 18 years, Lacey had a lot of catching up to do then.

Now –post film, after academic life, after marriage –now that she is CEO of Truth Aide Media, and interested in helping others uncover their secrets or lies, one could say the split is less apparent.

Lacey now occupies both sides of the room—she has had feet in both worlds about equal time, so perhaps she has finally caught up with herself, however, when asked says the process of healing and forgiveness might take a lifetime.

One wonders in “Little White Lies” (the word “white” is highlighted in the color to emphasis the literal coloring or racializing of the word), was the notion of blackness ignored or omitted because whiteness was preferable to blackness?

That typically white people do not talk about race, certainly played a role in Lacey’s acceptance in Woodstock, but at Georgetown University, then later at Harvard where the director got a law degree, Lacey’s evolving discovery of self and other aspects of her personal history and culture continued to be challenged as she embraced all of herself even if the parts sometimes were at war.

In an interview, the director says that she was able to make the journey because she had such a good therapist whom we meet vicariously (invisible) in multiple sessions where a sometimes tearful Lacey on film shares what she is feeling as her carefully constructed world comes tumbling down.

James McBride’s (writer) mother tells him when he asks about his skin color and how his is different than his mother, that he is the color of water, God’s color. In“Skin,” directed by Anthony Fabian, a South African family whose daughter, Sandra Laing (b.1955) is clearly black, her father has her classified as "white" because both he and her mother are. However, the child learns painfully that judicial mandates do not always win out over appearances when she is kicked out of school and her father disowns her when she marries a black man. The young woman has to leave home and family when her brother, father and community turn against her. Unlike Lacey’s story, this black woman who was raised in Anti apartheid South Africa finds herself between the two poles, accepted by neither.

Limbo is a dangerous place to occupy.

Even though race, technically, is an artificial construct, so much of American life (including post-Apartheid South African), public policy is still based on pigment or melanin content. If Lacey had been able to pass for white, she would have never known she had another father and the “little white lie” would have remained under wraps until perhaps a stray gene like a free radical—the kind Woodstock was known for, peeked its head cross generations in recognition of the complexities of relationships –who we marry, who we love, who we decide is worthy and who we disregard or pass over and the consequences of all this a la Lacey.

Late in the film, Lacey in many conversations with her mother who tells the lie, learns that her mother would not have married her biological father even if she could have, because her Dad (who raised her) in her view was the better catch. Yet, we hear her mother's hesitation, that she couldn’t see herself marrying a black man then. It just wasn’t done. Lacey’s biological father’s wife knew about the affair and his child, yet neither Lacey nor her dad did.

I don’t know what Jews do to repent, but Lacey’s mother has a lot of repenting to do. Maybe these years of silence were the purgatory this film allows her to wash with truth?

The film has its world premiere this weekend at the Castro Theatre as a part of the SF Jewish Film Festival 2014, with screenings Sunday, August 3 (CAS. 7 p.m.), Aug. 4 (CAL 6:40 p.m.), Aug. 7 (PARK 7 p.m.), Aug. 8 (RAF 3 p.m.). Visit and 415-621-0523.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, July 30, 2014

We open with an interview with author, Doris I. Mangrum, whose A Soiled Identity: From Triumph to Tragedy and Back Again, tells the story of Darnell Cookson, former Marine and former felon as he rejoins society. However, this is not a typical rehabilitation story. Told in the protagonist's voice as if we were seated in his home one evening getting to know one another, we meet Darnell just as he arrives home from prison to new wife, new child and many relationships he has to restore, like that between he and his two older daughters by a prior marriage, and his kid brother who is making a bit too much money fast. Darnell tries to hold his head up when applications are rejected and interviews have no follow-up calls, but it is hard. Darnell's reentry is a community venture; each chapter ends with what Mangrum calls, "Choice Moments" where her audience gets to imagine a "what if?" In "Live Your Life," the reader is invited to learn from Darnell's experiences while we also gear up to participate in an "Idea Infusion," which per chapter is a way to make the returning veteran or prisoner feel welcome and supported, whether that is throwing a "just because" party for children whose parents aren't home (349) or developing a visitation and writing program for veterans in a VA hospital (171).

Doris I. Mangrum
is a nationally recognized motivational speaker, separation and reunification author, award-winning filmmaker, editorial columnist, family advocate, and television talk show host and producer. She is an authority on matters concerning the pangs of long separation and the reunification process. Her career spans over three decades with twenty-five of those years dedicated to families affected by incarceration, deployment, study abroad or any reason causing prolonged periods apart from loved ones.

Her radio and television broadcasting career includes:
2008 – 2009 – Pivotal Parenting Point with Doris Mangrum – KDYA Gospel 1190 AM – host and producer

2009 – 2013 - Let’s Saidiana – KDYA Gospel 1190 AM – host and producer

2013- present – Stop the Madness: Practical Ways to Influence the Incarceration Crisis – Berkeley Education Television – Comcast Channel 28 airing Wed., Aug. 6, 1 p.m. (PST)

Musicians Damu Sudii Alii (piano) and Paul Tillman Smith (drumset) join us to talk about the music, of course, but also a wonderful music series in two Oakland restaurants. The jam sessions are free and open to professional musicians to sit in on and play. See

The Village of Peace
(SFJFF 2014) tells the story of the Hebrew Israelites, African Americans who moved from America to establish a home in Israel. Directors and producers join us this morning to close the show: Ben Schuder, Director/Producer and his brother Sam Schuder, Producer.
Ben Schuder, Director/Producer – Born in Oakland, CA. Attended a high school program that inspired a passion for filmmaking. During the summer of 2005, Ben participated in a documentary workshop in Morelia, Mexico, where he helped teach students the art of documentary filmmaking. The experience motivated him to enroll in a film school in Los Angeles, where he graduated with honors. Since graduating, Ben has been working in the industry and gaining valuable experience while deepening his portfolio. In 2013, Ben co-edited the feature-length narrative film LICKS (2013), which premiered at SXSW Film Festival and won Best Picture at Chelsea Film Festival. The Village of Peace is Ben’s directorial debut.

Sam Schuder, Producer – A proud Oakland native, Sam grew up with a passion to create. In his teenage years, he made numerous short films, mostly improv comedies. In 2007, driven by his love for film, he moved to Los Angeles to develop his skills within the industry. He got a job in television production and gained valuable work experience. Sam's vision is to create content that inspires, empowers, and promotes positive social change. When he visited The Village of Peace for the first time, he realized that implementing his work experience to share the powerful story of the African-Hebrew Israelites would be a natural marriage.

Music this show: Ben Vereen: "Defying Gravity;" "With a Song in My Heart"

This weekend there are multiple events honoring the legacy if Mary Yuri Kochiyama who made her transition in May 2014. There will be teach-ins August 1-3, 2014.  We were going to play an interview with directors of a marvelous film about Yuri and Angela Davis, When Mountains Take Wing (first aired June 2010:    The film:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wanda's Pick Radio Show Special, Saturday, July 26, 2014 with guests Amikaeyla Gaston & Kristoff St. John

Amikaeyla Gaston
Our first guest, Amikaeyla Gaston is a multiple-award-winning singer, international best-selling recording artist and cultural change catalyst working at the intersection between science and the arts - particularly music. As the Founder and Director of ICAHSI, the International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute, she travels the world as a cultural ambassador furthering surprising connections in unexpected places through the arts, activism, and advocacy.

Winner of eight Washington Area Music Association Awards for Best Jazz, World and Urban Contemporary Vocalist, Amikaeyla was named DC’s best female composer in 2006 and 2008. She also won the 2005 DC Mayor’s Arts Award for Innovation in the Arts, and was recently honored with first prize for Best World Music Composition from the 2010-2011 Maryland State Arts Council. Proclaimed as one of the “purest contemporary voices” by NPR, powerhouse Amikaeyla is “like listening to velvet waterfalls” (MTV) and her soulful flavor captures the listener with dynamic passion and sincerity. (

Following a tragic near-death experience caused by a hate-crime, Amikaeyla overcame death through music.  After a year and a half in the burn units of Bethesda Naval hospital, Amikaeyla fully recovered and attributes that miraculous recovery to sonic healing. Invited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to come to India and sing at the commemoration of the Golden Buddha Statue, Amikaeyla realized that her true calling was to heal others through music.  Inspired and called to action by her connection with His Holiness, she subsequently founded the International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute. Since then she has been traveling the world as a cultural ambassador working with the UN and US State Department helping to alleviate the pain and trauma of war survivors, at-risk populations and refugees. She has appeared internationally on numerous radio and television programs performing and speaking, and recently was featured as a guest lecturer at the training academy for US diplomats at the Foreign Service Institute. There, Amikaeyla was asked to share insights, methods and tools with cultural and public affairs officers for the most effective use of art and artists in sharing the us with the world in ways beyond politics.

Her Music As Medicine - Healing with an Artful Purpose programming - a multi-faceted therapeutic approach through music, movement, & theater modalities - has taken her around the world to Cuba, China, Taiwan, Africa, India to work with women and children, and since last fall, she has been to Israel, Beirut, Amman,Damascus, Palestine, Tajikistan,Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan & Sierra Leone.  This program has gained recognition and has been reviewed on national and international television. She is a featured presenter and trainer for the WorldTrust organization on Conflict Management, Resolution, and Cultural Competency in non-profit and health organizations throughout the nation and her work has been utilized and implemented by the Department of Health & Human Services, The American Psychological Association, US Consulate General’s Cultural Affairs office, Sabreen International, Department of Health & Human Services, National CityDance, and many more.

Our second guest, Kristoff St. John is best known for his role on ‘The Young and the Restless’ but the actor has much more than “soap star” on his resume. The NAACP award winner is releasing a new documentary, “A Man Called God” that took 33 years to film.
Father and Son, Christopher and Kristoff St. John

“A Man Called GOD” is a documentary that was written and produced by “The Young and the Restless” star Kristoff St. John. It explores the St. John family traveling from Los Angeles to India in search of God. The documentary itself took place in 1980, and what the family would soon uncover is that their quest would turn into something more devilish than one would think.

With a fan base of 50 Million people worldwide, Sai Baba performs modern day miracles; Healing the sick and diseased, materializing solid objects out of the air. The St John family, Christopher, Maria and 14 year old Kristoff are slowly swallowed up by Sai Baba and his cult as they participate in the spiritual daily ‘Ashram’ routine, documenting on film their treacherous visit. The cult eventually overwhelms the family, with Sai Baba revealing his demonic thirst for pedophilia and other evils. Short clip from film:

Music from: Amikaelya's Being in Love and Lush, John Santos's Filosofía Caribeña, Vol. 2, Sweet Honey in the Rock's interpretation of the classic: "Motherless Child."

Short link to radio show:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wanda's Picks Radio Show Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Professor KC Williams
We open with an excerpt of a conversation with Professor KC Williams about a Hate Crime she experienced at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, North Carolina. To support her drive for legal council: 

Gerald Lenoir is the founding Executive Director and currently the Co-director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration founded in Oakland in 2006 to support fair and just immigration reform and to bring African Americans together with immigrant communities to fight for social and economic justice.   He is a founding steering committee member of the national Black Immigration Network, a co-founder of the Priority Africa Network in Oakland and a board member of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

For over 35 years, Gerald has been a leader in progressive social movements. He is a board member of the Interfaith Peace Builders and led its first African Heritage Delegation to Israel/Palestine in 2011.  He served on the editorial board for War Times/Tiempo de Guerras, an anti-war national newspaper, from 2002 to 2004.  He is the former Executive Director of the Black Coalition on AIDS in San Francisco and co-founder/former board chair of the HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County. Gerald is a long time leader in the racial justice and anti-apartheid movements in the United States.  In addition, he has served as a strategic planning consultant for social justice, immigrant rights, HIV/AIDS and health-related organizations. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014, 2-5 at Everett and Jones Barbecue in Jack London Square (2nd @ Broadway, Oakland, CA) there will be a program honoring Mr. Lenoir's legacy as he passes it forward to the current BAJI co-chair.

Martha R. Bireda, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of the Blanchard House Museum of African American History and Culture of Charlotte County (FL). She is Director of the Museum’s Maroon Study Center, and the New Image Project, a project dedicated to positive identity development of youth of color. She is the author of six books including the recent:  Obi: Seminole Maroon Freedom Fighter. Dr. Bireda is also an Alternate Commissioner for the Gullah‐Geechee Historical Corridor. Visit

Show link:

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Wanda's Picks Radio, Wednesday, July 9, 2014: Madagascar Made

TaSin Sabir at Book Release Party
Photo credit: Everett Bass


TaSin Sabir joins us in the studio today to talk about her book, Madagascar Made (2014).

Her artwork can be described as vibrant and full of powerful and emotional messages. Skilled in a range of mediums, (including photography, painting, film, web & print design, and screen printing), TaSin uses this love for art making to express topics that are of an importance to her.

In 2004, TaSin graduated from California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA), where she received a BFA in Fine Arts Photography.

TaSin signing Madagascar Made. Her father, Bilal Sabir watches.
Photo Credit: Everett Bass
Born and raised in Oakland, California TaSin’s artwork has been exhibited all around the Bay Area and Nation. Such galleries include, The Oakland Museum of California, The African American Historical and Cultural Society Museum, The Richmond Art Center, The Judah Magnes Museum, Pro Arts Gallery, Joyce Gordon Gallery, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. TaSin has also published another photography book with Dr. Sonia BasSheva Mañjon: 100 Families Oakland: Art & Social Change (2007).

In 2007, TaSin took her passion for art and love of her community and opened a galley in Oakland called The Oakpod. During its time The Oakpod was a vital source for art and entertainment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since its closure, TaSin has become an independent curator and curated shows for the Joyce Gordon Gallery, Maafa organization and others.

Currently TaSin is a freelance photographer and designer specializing in utilizing all her skill sets to create one of a kind projects for her clients.

TaSin with her mother Wanda Sabir at Madagascar Made
Release Party.
Photographer: Everett Bass.
Synopsis for book Madagascar Made

For a Diaspora Citizen, true freedom lies in choosing where one belongs. Such is the case for TaSin Sabir who fell in love with Madagascar, its people, fauna and flora at eleven years old in a geography class. When she finally made a journey home recently as an adult, the Sakalava people (West Coast) embraced her too. Madagascar Made (2014) illustrates this journey in bold, bright color. When TaSin donned her people's traditional basket hat, even police were surprised when this perceived native daughter spoke fluent English and carried an American passport. His facial expression was priceless. This is the creative genius of a Diaspora citizen, we belong and then, we do not. Hidden in plain sight, Madagascar Made shows in several self-portraits, TaSin here and TaSin there--Madagascar portraits on sight juxtaposed with shots posed similarly on another West Coast. Madagascar Made embraces the multiplicity of the African sojourn then and now and the fact that we are a global presence to be embraced as TaSin Sabir does photographically in this brilliant book.

Music this show: Rossy's One Eye on the Future, One Eye on the Past: "Mandry Ve," "Ramasy," and "Sira Sira." (Shanchie).

Link to the broadcast:

TaSin getting an award for photography at the Black Media Appreciation Night this Saturday 7/12/14 at the African American Art & Culture Complex San Francisco. starts at 7pm

TaSin's photographs from book Madagascar Made in this exhibit: The Capture of Life, Absent from Color. Exhibit runs from July 4 – July 26, 2014 at Joyce Gordon Gallery, Oakland.

Web links (photography and design portfolio) (you can preview the book, promo video and purchase)

Q&A about book on SFBayView site

Friday, July 04, 2014

Wanda’s Picks Radio Friday, July 4, 2014

We opened with a prerecorded interview with Nefertina Abrams, Royal House of Makeda Productions, and Melame Gange, ModeAfrika apparel, (first aired 7/2/2014) re: Ubuntu-Faqir Simunye Pan African Love and Unity Festival on its concluding night, July 4, 2014, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Humanist Hall on 27th Street, in Oakland. We open with Gange’s “African Suns.”

Melame Gange and Nefertina Abrams, July 3, 2014
Ubuntu-Faqir Simunye Pan African Love and Unity Festival
photo credit: Wanda Sabir
David J. Dennis, Sr., Civil Rights Activist
and Community Organizer
We then play a segment from an interview with Civil Rights Movement architect, Dave Dennis, who is just returning home from a successful 50th Anniversary Conference at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. The goal of the conference was to answer the following questions: What were the lessons learned? How do they apply to today’s challenges? What is the next phrase? How will an appropriate response be developed for the next phase?

While speaking to Mr. Dennis about the conference and current issues on the stove top boiling over presently like Voter’s Rights and Educational Opportunity, especially for black youth as access to higher education is still neither the norm or representative of the majority of black families, Mr. Dennis the first in his family to graduate from high school.  50 years later, I meet students in my classroom who are the first to graduate from high school and college.

Next steps obviously include access to college education and programs in place to address the attrition rate among black men. Ironically, the issues around voter’s rights are expiring as state’s reevaluate residents’ rights and make certain residents ineligible or make voter registration difficult and access to the polls another hurdle in a society where historic memory is a tragedy of youthful ignorance and social apathy.

See and USA Today Freedom Summer

I share a bit from a wonderful article in the AARP newsletter about the two men, Bob Moses and Dave Dennis’s reunite after many years apart concerning another human rights issue, educational opportunity, something that still eludes many black children and Moses and Dennis’s work through The Algebra Project to demystify and bring these kids into the social economic loop

The absence of such access reflects systemic efforts and a national move to keep black people forever on the bottom of the heap; if one limits a people’s access to knowledge, a permanent underclass is normalized. Not anything new, when one looks at the slave codes which forbade educating black people. Privatization of education, increased prison building and development, plus a legal framework which supports these insidious policies, just point to the massacre we are seeing unfolding as the cradle to prison pipeline grabs more and more of our youth, youth who are not able to compete intellectually in the ring and so become casualties. Call it preventable crib death.

The Algebra Project fits these children with gloves and schools them in a winning strategy, that is, how to win the battle which continues to rage 50 years after the strides made 50 years ago. The poison is in the formula, the bottle, the bedding, everything connected politically to our success as a nation up from slavery. We cannot trust anyone, especially a politician, to have our best interests at heart if we forget to hold these same interests dear as well.

"Dave Dennis was a Freedom Rider and Co-Director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) in Mississippi. Dennis was the Mississippi director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), but he worked with SNCC members and other civil rights activists in Mississippi under the COFO umbrella to avoid intra-organizational conflicts. COFO organized activists for a Mississippi voter registration drive during "Freedom Summer." Dennis spoke at the funeral of James Chaney, and he worked closely with both Bob Moses and Medgar Evers" (Blackside, Inc.).

He writes on his website: Dave Dennis Connections that "he has been fifty years in the making.  As a speaker, Dave will make available to the public his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement from 1960-1965, using those experiences to frame his personal analysis of the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on present society, both positive and negative, and to share his personal experiences and observations on education that are derived from his involvement with the Algebra Project and the impact of that work on the present and future education system(s) in America."

In an interview with Blackside Inc., Nov. 10. 1985, for the seminal series, Eyes on the Prize: The Civil Rights Years 1954-1965 we are privy to transcript which is not included in the series.

In this work Mr. Dennis reflects on the battleground, tragedies of war and lessons he learned which were not necessarily anticipated. One of these that the United States under Johnson especially after JFK was killed, would not protect the Civil Rights volunteers. The FBI observed, yet did nothing to stop the bloodshed. In a preconference workshop, legal interns from throughout the country, with some from outside this nation, were assigned cold cases, that is, murder cases of black people also casualties of the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1965), plus Jim Crow Laws which have yet to be solved. The cases span the years 1910 t0 1979.

This organization founded by Dr. Margaret Burnham out of Northeastern University, the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) takes its lead from the reopening of, prosecution and resolution of the Emmett Till case, his murder said by many to be the start of the Civil Rights Movement. Mrs. Rosa Parks was certainly thinking of the youth when she refused to surrender her seat on the Montgomery bus not long after his murder. The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 passed unanimously on September 24, 2008, and signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2008.   See

In many ways the passage of the Civil Rights Act, reflects a compromise which to date, still does not benefit black people who are in many ways worse off regarding economic access to wealth and quality education despite having so many black people in political office. It is a Trojan Horse, Mr. Dennis says of the Act, impressive, yet when one examines its interior--it leaves much to be desired. He says this as he proceeds to share the four buckets trajectory to outline next steps for the ensuing 50 years.

There was a lot of celebration and congratulations, I am certain at the grand reunion two weeks ago, but these elders or veterans of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM), men and women, plus the 700 or so youth were clear that the battle was not won as they rolled up their sleeves and joined hands. Mr. Dennis said it was easier to organize people 50 years ago because then people were more tangibly connected; now it is hard to find this same synergy within the black community. Even the churches are not as cohesive a destination as before, perhaps because many are so huge, parishioners do not have personal relationships with one another.

Nonetheless, people are encouraged to make their voices known to their city council, county supervisors, on up from governor and congress and senators to our president whose name is attached administratively to policies which undermine the gains made 50 years ago June 2014.

Neferina Abrams’s Royal House of Makeda Productions is an edutainment company whose focus is on creating unity within Africa the African Diaspora through the Arts and Entertainment. The Ubuntu-Faqir Simunye Pan African Love and Unity Concert is more than just some music concert, it is a space to network, learn about businesses you can support, put faces to names, build a network, it is a beginning and certainly not the answer to every question. 
Neferina Abrams and her mother, Mrs. Geraldine Abrams?
Opening Night, July 3, 2014
photo credit: Wanda Sabir

Ms. Abrams gives a lecture chronically Pan Africa’s historic unity which includes oral testimony from an Ethiopian elder the honorable Getachew Asrat, was a child who helped our Great Leaders plant trees to symbolize the growth of African Unity during the 1963 conference in Ethiopia.

Abrams says, “Think of my show like those trees, I am trying to grow unity through the practice of culture. I am an Africana History lecturer and a visual anthropologist which is a person who studies culture with a camera and makes documentaries.
Sista Dymah Rodgers (singer)
"Living on the Edge"

Next she is traveling to Barbados to do research on enslavement during the research process. She states: “I found records of an ancestor of mine who had been enslaved on the island.  I will be doing a documentary which I will show upon my return.  I am also getting ready to begin doctoral research in which my thesis will be a feature length documentary on 'Repatriation.’”

Stay tuned.

One of the dancers Opening Night
Melame Gange’s African Suns celebrates our heroes and the spirit of promise inherent in African sons.  We close the show with his single “Dancing Partner.”  He writes: "This new lover’s rock reggae anthem pays homage to the 50’s era, celebrating dance culture and the power it brings to the human spirit. Gange’s soulful vocals are accompanied by an assortment of instruments that complement the retro spirit of the song encouraging listeners to find their dancing partner."

“This is a protest song” says the singer. “I’m protesting the end of the era where people used to dance. We need that. We need music that moves people to dance.”  The song is available on   Also visit

What I like about the song is Gange’s beautiful vocals. The native Virgin Islander is making his mark on the local and international world of Reggae Music one hit single at a time. This soulful, roots reggae singer, is motivated by a deeper understanding of life, history and culture with a sincere desire to help his people find FREEDOM through music. In addition to his mesmerizing stage presence and captivating voice, his raw vocal talent is most often coupled with issues that he is passionate about, creating a conscious level of music that the people can relate to and “support de ting.” Gange has shared the stage with many of reggae’s royalty bringing forth a message of peace.

Melame Gange is the founder and lead designer of ModeAfrika apparel, a conscious clothing brand that merges history, culture and fashion into each of their unique designs. He is also the founder and Executive Director of Beach Fyah, an annual concert that showcases local music, art and fashion, held at deferent beaches throughout the Caribbean. Stay tuned for Beach Fiyah 2014 “Support de Ting”!

For bookings, drops, dubs and other inquiries contact

Music: selections from Meklit and Quinn and Melik Hadero; the Nile Project: Salaam Nubia from Aswan and Tezete; Melame Gange's African Suns and Dancing Partner.

Link to show 7/2/2014 audio:

7/4/2014 show:

Show link  for July 2, 2014

Kali and Maji Opening Night, July 3, 2014
Aunt Geraldlynn, Nefertina and Mama Geri Opening Night, July 3, 2014
Two Poetess, Kelly Spice (R)

1. Rebroadcast of Ms. Bonnie Boswell, niece of Civil Rights Leader, Whitney Young, Executive Producer and Producer of Power Broker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights, aired Feb. 6, 2013.

2. Nefertina Abrams and Melame Gange join us to talk about the first annual THE 'UBUNTU-FIQIR SIMUNYE' PAN AFRICAN LOVE & UNITY CONCERT, July 3 nd 4, 2014, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. (both days) at the Humanist Hall in Oakland, CA. Admission is $10 for adults, children are free.

3. We close with part 1 of an interview with Civil Rights Maverick the Hon. Dave Dennis, Freedom Rider and Co-Director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) in Mississippi. Dennis was the Mississippi director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), but he worked with SNCC members and other civil rights activists in Mississippi under the COFO umbrella to avoid intra-organizational conflicts. COFO organized activists for a Mississippi voter registration drive during "Freedom Summer." Dennis spoke at the funeral of James Chaney, and he worked closely with both Bob Moses and Medgar Evers. Visit; (to watch film on-line)

Vendor at Unity Festival Opening Night

D. Haloka and Sprandore

Gange and Ms. Abrams

Ebun and D. Haloka

W. Sabir, Ebun and musician and
choreographers for the African Dance Troupe

Soul of the Lion Proprietor

Ghanian vendor

All photos from Pan African Love and Unity Festival Opening Night July 3, 2014. Photo credit for all pictures: Wanda Sabir

Pan African Unity Festival in Oakland Day 1

Sister Nefertina, Makeda Productions hosted the first day of a two day celebration of Black Love. From the good food, to the great vibrations, libations to the ancestors and wonderful African dance and drumming--it was a memorable evening--Edutainment or food for the soul.

Don't miss Day 2, July 4, 2014, 7 p.m.-1 a.m. at the Humanist Hall in Oakland on 27th Street, between Telegraph and Broadway.