Reginald Franklin Lockett's Homegoing, May 22, 2008
I have been running this week at work. It’s been one thing after another with school –finals and last minute preparations. I gave my first of three finals Friday, May 23. We had a scholarship awards dinner Friday night; afterwards I went to Kimball's Carnival to see, Legally Blind, great ensemble! It was hard going to work a day after Reginald Lockett’s funeral, which was a wonderful tribute to this great man’s life. Although, the open forum was postponed until later on at the repast, the speakers which included many relatives, among them his daughter Lauren Jones, a painter, who lives in San Francisco, I felt each speaker spoke about an aspect of this man, who by the way was gazing with his eyes shut at them as they spoke –the coffin open the entire time.
There were proclamations from the City of Oakland and the federal government, and relatives had driven all night or flown in that morning to pay their final respects. At the Black New World later on poets I hadn’t seen in a long while, like John Hatch and Avotcja, and others I’d seen as recently as Mother’s Day, plus many visual artists whose work hung on Reggie’s walls at home and grazed the covers of his books, were present. Marvin X gave me a poem at the funeral he’d composed honoring Reginald one of the anchors and founders of the Black Arts Movement on the West Coast.
Ted Pontiflet perhaps described Reginald best at the funeral earlier that day, when he spoke about their weekly rendezvous at the Oakland Farmer’s market in Old Oakland and at Jack London Square. I could just see and hear the two men throwing words on the page the way a painter tosses color on a canvas— I felt envious that I couldn’t think of a similar relationship with anyone I knew…though I had had such in the past.
As the service at Beebe Memorial Cathedral, progressed, Reggie’s dad, Mr. Jewell Lockett (92), sat closest to the casket. In a wheelchair, every now and then he’d look over in the direction of his granddaughters, Maya Lomasi Lockett and Lauren Jones, seated to his right or nod his head. One speaker spoke about Reggie and his dad’s relationship as one that was close. He mentioned the weekly dinners he and his dad shared.
There was poetry throughout the program. Al Young sent a statement which Ishmael Reed, another one of Reggie’s friend’s, read after relating a few personal comments. Reed recalled Reggie’s annual gift of a classic Sweet Potato pie each Christmas…another friend of the family, Maya’s best friend, said she’d miss his famous jerk chicken.
Word Wind comrades, Q.R. Hand and Brian Auerbach both recited poems—Brian’s one he’d just written as he channeled Reggie. A few poets read poems created in this fashion. If nothing else, this dearly beloved man was certainly an inspiration.
I videotaped the service for Maya and also took photos, then rode with Carol Afua and Derethia and Brother Yusef Al Waajid to the cemetery in Richmond. I’m glad I did because at the repast I ran into several people who couldn’t find the plot. Rolling Hills Mortuary is a big place. The first funeral we saw, parked and then walked up to wasn’t ours. We then got directions and hopped back into the car and went over to the correct plot. Reggie’s place of rest had a gorgeous view overlooking more hills. I don’t remember if it was called Garden of Eternal Peace or not, but it was a poetic reference.
The streets along Telegraph Avenue as I drove into the parking lot were under construction so the electricity was affected inside the church—the power went out so the pastor, officiating, Rev. Ron Swisher told the speakers to use their preacher voices. The president of San Jose City College said he’d use his lecture voice and so he did as he told the touching story of meeting Reggie 20 years ago when he had an interview for the position of college president. (And then the electricity returned—it was as if “Let there be light,” was proclaimed, “light and sound” )
I could see Reggie giving the perspective SJSC candidate directions to his appointment. I could also see how appreciated and valued Professor Lockett’s presence was to the president, who said his office was just across the hall from Reggie’s classroom and to the students who’d had a noontime vigil honoring Reggie earlier that week. He said at graduation later that evening they would have a moment of silence in honor of Reggie’s memory. He also said that he always addressed Reggie as Mr. Lockett.
Rev. Swisher, pastor of Taylor Memorial Church, Reggie’s pastor, whose friend and colleague at Beebe let the family hold the service there, because Taylor was under construction presently, told us of how he prepared for the morning talk about his parisher’s life. He spoke of how the family made Reginald’s 4 books of poetry available to him and his reflection on one poem in particular, that spoke to him most. This particular poem was about Reggie and his grandmother watching Friday night fights on television. He also spoke about her reading the bible as Reggie did his homework up to the time when the match was on. The pastor said that he used to box, as did his father, and the proceeded to use this poem to illustrate the life of a man whose first literary inspiration was James Baldwin, the book, native son. If ever there was a “native son, native to this land, America, native to so much more, the African and human Diaspora—was certainly Reginald Lockett.
A friend of mine, told me that a psychic told her that Reggie was happy, and that his only regret was that he hadn’t pushed Linda martin to stop postponing their marriage and do it. He also worried a bit about his dad. Other than that he felt he’d accomplished all that he’d planned for this life. As my friend told me this, it was as she was there at the funeral and repast where other’s expressed the same sentiments.
After all was said, the coffin was closed and the pall bears carried it out of the church, the family following closely behind it. The singer, Linda’s cousin sang as we processioned out. I thought how lovely and how fitting to not include the said final viewing in the ceremony. We were left then with the uplifting messages and a final view of Reggie as he made his final journey to his temporal resting place. I sat with Dafina and Greg, which I was so happy to share this moment with. I couldn’t have done this alone. And although, I believe there is more to life than this body and what is visible to the eye, I will still miss seeing my brother Reggie walking the Lake with Derethia or alone. I’ll miss his encouraging presence in my life, I’ll miss knowing he’s here recording African American history with his illuminated pen.
After the repast, I went over to the new vegetarian soul food kitchen on 13th Street, almost next door to the Tribune Tower. I had southern friend tofu with lentils and greens. The food was great but a bit too spicy for me. I have allergies and I was so hungry I forgot to ask about the ingredients like black and red pepper, and tomatoes. I ate it anyway, pushing the tomatoes to the side and had to take medicine afterwards for itchy hives. I won’t do that again. But at $10 bucks, I would certainly recommend the restaurant to folks for a meal. It is laid back, friendly and really convenient for anyone looking for a place to have lunch or dinner in downtown Oakland. The servings are also significant. I gave my greens to a carnivorous friend. And they sell peach cobbler made with organic raw sugar, something else I’m allergic to, but I asked about dessert
I caught BART over to San Francisco for opening night at the San Francisco International Arts Festival where I saw “Speaking in Chinese,” a USA/China collaboration with artists, . It was really intriguing. The dance theatre performance was based on a novel by Love in a Fallen City, a 1943 novella by Chinese American writer Zhang Ailing and featuring the lovely orchestra and chamber music of Shanghai composer Zhu Jian’er. The setting is a time of war and strict Chinese cultural traditional during the 1940s. Imagine and black man and a Chinese young woman, who falls in love with her sister’s groom.
Dancers, C. Derrick Jones (Catch Me Dancer Theatre) and Hou Honglan (National Ballet of China) was beautiful as they tell this story.
I really enjoyed the piece…the dance styles were so different—the feminine, lithe body of Hou Honglan, light and airy—one point, twirling… in contrast to C. Derrick Jones’ earth-centered, his body literally touching the floor. He drew her to him, this man she tried to resist—the magnetism electric as she succumbed to his passion. They rolled across the floor…tossing confetti, rolling yarn…explosions going off in the midst of this brief interlude. One wonders if it is for the moment of everlasting. The landscape is intriguing, two paintings show Shanghai and the other could actually be the Bay Area, the bridge in the second bridge evoking, the San Rafael bridge.
A bowl hung center stage between the two bridges, a smoking balm gave the space a dreamy-like—aura. Jones occasionally blew on the bowl as he hung on the chain, it a prop in his dance—he twirling swinging between the two possibilities—
Speaking Chinese concludes this evening Saturday, May 24, 7 p.m., at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission Street, San Francisco. I got a chance to meet, Hou Honglan whose family, though, safe, was directly affected by the recent earthquake which hit the dancer’s hometown. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be here for the weekend and not at home with her loved ones. Andrew Wood, festival founder, asked the audience to sign a card in the lobby that evening. There was also a dish to leave donations.
The SFIAF continues for the next three weeks. Visit www.sfiaf.org for all the details or call (800) 838-3006. There are a lot of free concerts at Union Square in San Francisco, as well as a concert closing afternoon, with Omar Sosa’s Afreecanos outdoors at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Garden, Third and Mission, Sunday, June 8, 1 p.m. with DJ Third World Liberation Music.
Keep an eye out for the details to come for the next event: November 4, 2008, Reggie’s birthday celebration of his life. Next original plan.
Notes: Happy Birthday Archie Shepp, May 24
“To My Queen,” (How Deep is the Ocean) Walt Dickerson passed May 15, also, he was 80 years old. Art Sato was doing a tribute to both men, Reggie and Walt Dickerson, viberphonist.
Saturday, May 24, 2008 “Forms and Feelings,” KPFA (2-3) 3-4 p.m. (I tuned in at 3:30 after Sharifah sent me a text.) Art Sato was sitting in for Jim Bennett. I saw Art at Reggie’s funeral. Art’s show followed 4-6 p.m. www.Alyoung.com and
www.Redroom.com are places you can read about Reggie.
Friday, May 30, Tributes: Noon to 1 p.m. Living room on KPFA
Saturday, May 31, “In Your Ear,” 4-5 p.m. KPFA
Avotcja’s show, Friday, June 6 on KPOO 12-3 p.m. Music and poetry all day, KPOO airing since “the Civil War.”)
His life was a “yes.” She reads his poem “Yes.” He’s really a treasure. The Movement by Reginald Lockett, performed by him, Q.R. Hand, Brian Aucerbach, and Lewis Jordan on saxophone.