Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Week of Revolution, Music & Teases

So, this week jumped off with a bang. Yesterday, my 6 year-old and I participated in a rally for the release of the Scott sisters. The rally was organized by women from out of state, a collective called the Gray Haired Witnesses. The woman in the video above is Sister Marpessa, one of the members of the Gray-Haired Witnesses. I shot the video above at the rally yesterday after meeting her in person for the first time. I'm not sure of her debilitation (she was wheelchair bound), but, she is a warrior mama who has not allowed illness to stop her movement. She was the reason the majority of the folks, including me, were out there yesterday.

I met Sis. Marpessa last month when covering a story about the impending rally to release the Scott sisters. I was intrigued by their story. I called Sis. Marpessa, the listed contact, and we instantly formed a rapport. I later became part of the rally program, singing my song "The Blame Game".

The work of the Gray-Haired Witnesses-- a collective of elders who are engaged in activism and freedom efforts for African-Americans brutalized by the US Justice system--is inspiring on so many levels. I learned yesterday that they are inspired by women like Ida B. Wells-Barnett who is actually my long-time historical idol and the reason why I chose to be a journalist (as one of my jobs:-) Ida B. Wells was a freedom fighter who reported on lynching and risked her life speaking about the inhumane treatment of black people. Amidst death threats to her and her family, she never wavered.

I had an amazing (albeit hot) time at the rally that took place in front of the white house. I'm sure that I am like most African-Americans and have at least one close relative who has been or is in the prison industrial complex. The plight of the Scott Sisters lets us all be aware that their situation can happen to anyone.

I saw Chioma Oruh at the rally, a former member of the Saartjie Project like me, who I hadn't seen since early last year and it was such a pleasure to see her. She was glowing, about 8 months pregnant with a new baby. I was so happy to see her. Chioma is an activist, doing incredible work regarding not only US based justice issues, but things pertaining to African people throughout the diaspora. She and I had a very good talk about how we both believe that significant mobilization around issues will be led by women in this generation. She is one of the organizers of last November's "Black is Back" rally and is an amazing spoken word artist.

Today, Soul Siesta at the MLK Library in DC

Today is another busy day, but more of an arts-filled one. Me and the ladies of my play Running: AMOK will be celebrating Black Music Month and the Juneteenth holiday at the Martin Luther King Library in DC's Gallery Place area. Singing an array of music hits and reading excerpts from the book Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul, we will be performing at 1pm for what I have dubbed "Soul Siesta". It's pretty early in the day, yes, but here's hoping that folks come out to have their lunch and enjoy the tunes. Also, this Thursday is the teaser show for my play. Get the details HERE.

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