Sparks Fly for Marilyn Buck
The place didn't burn down, but Sparks certainly flew Saturday night at the annual event honoring Marilyn Buck and all political prisoners. Begun in 1991as a part of a coordinated effort with women in Europe to build support for women political prisoners, held in November during its early years to commemorate Assata Shukur's escape November 2, 1979, the event has sense moved its date, this year a week before spring. The name comes from a poem composed by former political prisoner Susan Rosenberg who was present this evening and read the poem. She was joined by Linda Evans and Laura Whitehorn, who just edited a book,"The War Before: The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, and Fighting for Those Left Behind, by Safiya Bukhari, with a forward by Angela Davis, and an afterword by Mumia Abu Jamal (The Feminist Press 2010).
The program opened with a wonderful slide presentation while Kayla Marin sang inspiring songs--truly a living sound track for liberation. In fact this was the theme: freedom and justice, often two values the physically free forget all too easily. Surrounded by art on the walls, all donated with starting bids reasonable, yet two friends told me they were out bid.
Phavia Kujichagulia and her band were a force as Phavia recited a poem and then sat with her band, all men and they drummed --all in the room singing along to the worlds of the traditional tune. She then did a shout out to all the PPs and POWs. Phavia is too smooth and too cool: technical problems and her guitar player couldn't find a parking place...it's a good thing the sister could improvise and literally go with the flow.
It was great to see how many women political prisoners in the slides who were with us that evening like Linda Evans and Diana Block and others, like Ida McCray. Political Prisoners were asked to stand on a number of occasions so we could see their numbers. The SF8 were in the house, Cisco the only member still being charged.
Jerry Brown has the nerve of wanting to be governor again, and his press agent must have known better than to ask me for a signature to get him on the ballot. I certainly would have told him where to go. I saw both of them at Oakland City Hall last week.
Yuri Kochiyama was on point as usual as she recalled Marilyn and her work and reminded us of our work. devorah major shared poetry next, poetry of peace and poetry of resistance. She'd planned to write a poem for the occasion, but life got in the way. I enjoyed the poem she wrote inspired by women on a chain gang in a European prison. It was published in the Guardian newspaper there.
Soffiyah Elijah, Marilyn's council and friend, gave us an update on the case and told about Marilyn's health and transfer to another facility. She has cancer. Another friend, Hamdiyah Cooks told me the disease is in its early stages, but this means she needs a substantive nestegg so that she can afford healthcare. I don't think her parole will allow her to travel to Canada or Cuba where she need not worry about cost, just wellness.
Soffiyah also received the first Sparks Award for her work as an attorney. They will be honoring women attorneys for their work in freeing political prisoners, especially women PPs and POW. (The photo is of Soffiyah and the so-host last at Sparks Fly).
Bomberas de la Bahis Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba took us home on the riffs of Africans who resisted slavery with their hands, mouths and hearts...just as we should resist slavery, prison, slavery by another name.
I don't know how much money was raised, but when I do I will let everyone know. One group of former political prisoners gave Sparks Fly for Marilyn a check for $2000.00, one hundred dollars for every year...they quipped that Marilyn isn't out yet, so that can get the additional $500.00 to her (smile). But the goal and the challenge was to give all returning PPs and POW $100 for each year they were inside, and if these men and women can do this, then those of us in the room can do no less.
My granddaughter took pride in the fact that she was one of the only children there last night, and of the two children, the other child attended her school: Berkeley Arts Magnet (funny) considering all the art for sale that evening. She wanted to bid so badly, but the numbers started too high (smile). The photo is of Brianna looking at the painting of Marilyn Buck. As she read the program, she noticed another Biranna, political prisoner: "Briana Waters" at FCI Danbury, Route 37, Danbury, CT 06811 www.supportbriana.org
"This is another spelling of 'Briana,'" grandmother, she said.