Monday, August 04, 2008

Mountaintop; Port Huron Project 5 at deFremery Park, Mbongi...Black Healers

I've been busy and this post will talk about Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3. I will start with my feelings of sadness on the anniversary of my friend and colleague Chauncey Bailey's murder, also the murder of my friend and sister Ayanna, whose son Khatari was also killed last year just days after Chauncey was shot, August 4. So I was recalling the pain and feeling these moments intensely this weekend. I felt depressed and had difficulty getting out of the house, but I made it out both days, Saturday and Sunday. I think it is kind of amazing that Hugh Masekela is in town this weekend, the same weekend he was in town last year also.

The Angela Davis speech reenactment at Lil' Bobby Hutton Park or deFremery, between 17-18th Streets on Adeline Street in Oakland was a huge success. I wasn't living in Oakland 39 years ago and wasn't a part of the Black Panther Movement either, but on the Commemorator Newspaper table, there was a book with photos taken at such rallies as this in the '60s.

When I arrived from San Francisco's Bay Area Playwright's Festival, I'd missed the first actress' (Aleta Hayes) presentation, but I was happy to hear there would be another presentation by Sheilagh "SheCat" Brooks. So I mingled, said his again to Emory Douglas, who'd I'd seen the evening before. Greeted Elder Freeman and friends I'd seen earlier that afternoon at the concert at Yerba Buena Gardens at the AfroSolo concert celebrating the saxophone. There were three sets featuring three bands--all good, from Ranzel Merritt Quartet and Robin Nzinga Smith Quartet to Richard Howell Quintet.

Off script, the actress memorized Angela Davis’ speech and delivered it as if she’d been there in 1969 –Vietnam might have been what she said, but we all heard Iraq as the points raised resonated today just as powerfully as they did then. It is in moments like this that one realizes how cyclic history is…it’s like a roller coaster ride one didn’t pay for, yet can’t exit. Is this the reason why the bible speaks of civilizations destroyed—man just never learns, so one scratches the bunch and restarts the cycle with a new number?

Is this all an exercise in futility or is there some methodology or reason to the madness? I remember in the Last Poets song on the revolution, one line is—“this is madness! This is madness!

It really is, and this madness, is making our people ill.

My new friend, Leseja, said we have the answers…all we have to do is be still and ask the question, and then listen. He teaches a class at the Black New World on Saturday mornings.

There is usually so much noise—we can’t hear ourselves when the answers come. We have to remove the static…ambient noise so truth can find the station we’re trying to tune into.

I wonder about the greeting today, and the subsequent conversation and how neatly everything fell into place just by my choice to greet the brother and invite his participation in the many other connections happened.

Yes, I know I’m on the path, yet, lately… not just today, but for the past few months...years, I see how my choices lead to situations where I am where I need to be precisely when I need to be there. Just like the time I missed the plane and it was good because I met Bishop’s new husband.

Saturday evening at the park was so wonderful. Afterwards I dropped my purse at my friend's house, and then walked the Lake. The walk was good. I missed my walk, Sunday evening. I lingered too long at the Marriott and then at Geoffrey's. I decided that, even if I have to go back to bed, I'm going to have to walk earlier in the day, like the break of day, rather than its close.

The Mbongi ended with drumming....

Saturday late afternoon, Embarcadero was slow and it took me what felt like forever to get to Ft. Mason, where Magic Theatre is and the Bay Area Playwright's Festival took place this closing week. When I was at Marcus Gardley's play two weeks ago, folks told me not to miss Katori Hall's The Mountaintop. The play takes place the evening before Martin King is killed. I didn't get a program, so I don't know the name of the narrator, at this writing, but Steven Anthony Jones was King, Jahmelah was Carrie Mae, and there was a narrator.

The evening was rainy, and there was thunder and lightning, which made Martin King nervous. Carrie Mae, a maid for the Lorraine Motel was about to go off duty, and King delayed her departure with conversation and shared cigarettes. Later on the talk grew more serious as Carrie Mae, shared information with King which made him realize that his time on earth was soon to be over. He asked her if she was an FBI agent--her orders were from someone who was more powerful than these domestic terrorist agents.

The conversation, imagined between Martin King and the playwright's angel was inspired, as was his telephone conversation with God. Jahmelah's Carrie Mae was such an earthly celestial body. I thought it so wonderful that this creation was accessible--if she could be an angel was the potential and capacity for the rest of us.

She told King she was sent to escort him home, and he didn't want to go. He wasn't ready to go and cursed God for pulling him away from the task before he was able to complete it. She hung up on him, but Carrie Mae made an agreement with him to allow him to see what would come of society after he was killed. So 40 years later, after Katrina, 9/11, the war in Iraq...etc. King addresses society, and I'm not certain how the angel swings this, since King is dead.

I had to leave the discussion before I could speak to the director to ask how exactly this happened, but I had to get to the Port Huron Project 5 for 6 and of course, like I said, I arrived at 6:30 p.m. Port Huron refers to the speech Tom Haden gave when he founded the SDS or Students for a Democratic Society. (Tom Haden was a Yippe and one tried at the Chicago 7 hearing. All on trial served time, even the attorney, Phillip Weinglass, Mumia Abu Jamal's former attorney.)

I certainly hope, the Mountaintop, will get produced. Its topic is certainly timely, the 40 anniversary after Martin King was killed, 40 years after the Association of Black Psychologists was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area.

So the photos are of both days. I think you can tell the difference between the two sets. The dressy black people are at the conference :-)


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