African Liberation Day 2017 in East Oakland!
I knew East Oakland was a unique place to hold African Liberation Day (ALD) because of its history of activism, legacy of the Black Panthers and the depth and wealth of cultural-arts.
However, I did not know how much the Elmhurst neighborhood would embrace ALD. The Black and Brown residents that live between 81st and 85th Avenues and crisscrossing the alphabet letter streets of “A” through “E” turned out, showed up, and were fully engaged for the 6 hour event at Tassafaronga Parks and Recreation Center on May 27th, a Memorial Day Holiday weekend.
This was the first time ALD was held in this beautiful East Oakland neighborhood. For the past 6 years the event was embraced at the Eastside Arts Alliance indoor space. We would pack Eastside with 50 to 60 people. But, this ALD at Tassa (as it is affectionately called) had over 150 people!
The warm spring day was full of cultural, political, global and local expressions and presentations. In respect to the indigenous people, we opened with Cuauhtli Mitotiani Mexica dancers. Former Black Panther, Elaine Brown gave the keynote, long-time spiritual worker, Tony Gonzales of AIM-West updated us on Native American struggles, and East Oakland’s own, M’Kala Peyton offered her deeply moving poetry.
I live in Brookfield Village, a neighborhood about 5 minutes from Tassa, where ALD 2017 was held. I have lived there for 15 years and have never been to an African centered cultural event in this part of East Oakland. If you missed it, all I can say is we hope to see you next year. In closing, I want to give a big shout out to all the performers and speakers:
AIM – West
Tyrone Stevenson Jr. (“Original Scraper Bike Team”)
Val Surant & Kujichagulia
Kele Nitoto and Baba Ustadi
Cuauhtli Mitotiani Dancers
Urban Shield Security Service
Community Ready Corps
Haiti Action Committee
Nation of Islam
McClymonds-Mack to Africa
Eastside Arts Alliance
AFRAM Merritt College
Written by Nehanda Imara