Archive for February, 2014

Remembering Robert Sobukwe

February 27, 2014

Today is the death anniversary of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, one of the most famous South African unsung heroes.

Robert Sobukwe was a charismatic revolutionary with the gift of inspiring the masses through his speeches. He was a very educated men who belonged to the Africanist wing of the African National Congress (ANC). After leaving the ANC in 1957, he become an editor of a well read newspaper, The Africanist, in JoBurg. In 1959, he became the founder and first president of Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), which can be attributed as the organization that gave birth to the Black Consciousness Movement that was made famous by Steve Biko.

On 21 March 1960, the PAC led a nationwide protest against the hated Pass Law which require black people to carry a pass book at all times. Sobukwe led a march to the local police station at Orlando, Soweto in order to openly defy the laws. He was joined on route by a few followers and, after presenting his pass to a police officer, he purposely made himself guilty under the terms of the Pass Law for being present in a region/area other than that allowed in his papers. In a similar protest the same day in Sharpeville, police opened fire on a crowd of PAC supporters, killing 69 in the Sharpeville Massacre. (Info taken from Robert Sobukwe Wikipedia)

It was the Sharpeville Massacre that gave the international community a glimpse of the cruelty and inhumane treatment Black South Africans were living in under the Apartheid regime.

Robert Sobukwe was a threat to the Apartheid system that they arrested him and sent him to Robben Island where he spent his years in solitary confinement. It was during his time in prison that he took advantage of his time and become more wiser by earning several degrees including a degree in Economics from the University of London.

When Sobukwe was released from prison he spent his remaining years under house arrest at Kimberley, South Africa, the capital of Northern Cape Province. He was very limited to to the things he could do but Sobukwe kept furthering his education. With the help of a friend, he was able to obtained a law degree and in 1975 started his own firm and began practicing in Kimberley. Two years later in 1977, Sobukwe was diagnosed with Lung cancer and after the Apartheid government refused his doctors orders to move freely under humanitarian and medical grounds, he passed away on February 27, 1978.

Let it be clear that the Apartheid regime killed Robert Sobukwe. It was in the interest of the regime to have Sobukwe dead than alive. What the regime didn’t realized was that with his death, 1,000 other Sobukwes’ were born. His spirit and struggle was kept alive through his comrades and those who were inspired by his vision. I would go as far as to say that in the work of Steve Biko, the spirit of Sobukwe was alive and ever present.

In honor of his life, here is a song by Miriam Makeba that always strikes a chord in my heart. It makes a reference to Sobukwe and may we hear this song today and remember his beautiful spirit and the love that he gave to his country and his fellow Brothers and Sisters.

Robert Sobukwe Inaugural Speech of Pan Africanist Congress

February 27, 2014

Robert Sobukwe Inaugural Speech, April 1959 | South African History Online.

Click on the link above to read the speech that Robert Sobukwe gave at the Orlando Community Hall in Soweto to form PAC. Please take time to read this amazing speech.

Here is info on Sobukwe.

My Reflection on 12 years as a Slave

February 26, 2014

I went to see the film, 12 years as a Slave, couple weeks ago with a group of friends and like everyone in the theater I had a difficult time seeing the film without being emotionally shaken. I shed a few tears even though most of my tears filled my heart with a tremendous pain.

As I watched the film I started thinking about the ways this country has not change since the days of Slavery. We may not call it slavery but we continue to live in an Institutional Slavery society where one can argue that our current economic “free market” model is an example where America has not change its evil ways. Our current capitalist model allows certain people to become “masters” over others. Corporations are the new Masters. The 1% are the new Masters. The 99% are the new slaves.

Just like the Masters cling to their religion to dehumanize the slaves, the new Masters are the Religious Right who hold on to conservative views to portray themselves as good Christians or Catholics, while ignoring the social teachings of Jesus who stress compassion for all and recognizing the humanity and dignity of every human being.

There is an African proverb that says: Poverty is Slavery. Given this proverb, our society has treated the poorest of the poor and the working class as the 21st century slaves. In America, both Democrats and Republicans have not done enough to help the poorest of the poor and the working class. It is a moral tragedy that the richest country in the world has millions of people living in poverty and on the streets. Politicians who cater to the corporations and the 1% and don’t pass laws that assist the poorest of the poor to get out of poverty is like the slave master who didn’t want slaves to be educated. Republicans in the eyes of many Americans are clearly seen as today’s slave masters. Not only are the majority of Republicans White but those Republicans who come from the South may easily have relatives who were slave owners.

Another clear example of modern day slavery is America’s Prison Industrial Complex which has many similarities between inmates and slaves. Not only are the majority of people incarcerated people of color but the presence of minorities in overcrowded prisons for nonviolent crimes allows businesses to use inmates and exploit them for free labor. These inmates have to work on slave like conditions. I could go into further detail to showcase the similarities between prisoners and slaves but after watching the movie it will be too painful.

America has to come to grasp with its past by addressing the social issues that are present today. Ignoring today’s social issues only validates yesterday’s cruel behavior.

50 years Ago, Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) Shocks the World with Victory over Liston

February 25, 2014

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the fight between Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston vs the younger Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay. Ali was a young undefeated boxer who was 8-1 underdog to win this fight.

It was on February 25, 1964, in front of more than 8,000 fans at the Convention Hall in Miami Beach when then 22-year-old Ali shocked the Boxing and Sports world by making world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston quit in the 7 round. Liston would complain that he had injured his shoulder. The fight was ruled a seventh-round technical knockout in Ali’s resume.

It was during the build up to this fight that Ali would coin his famous phrase saying that he was going to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and knock out Liston on the 8th round. Liston in return stated that the fight was not going to last more than 2 rounds.

Muhammad Ali youth and quickness proved to be much for Liston as he kept connecting on Liston. Sonny in return couldn’t deal with Ali’s quickness as he tried to land a powerful shot on the first round that he swung and missed and supposedly injured his shoulder from that first round to the end of the fight.

When being interviewed after the fight, Ali shouted, “I Shook Up The World!” Muhammad Ali celebrated his upset victory by going to a private party at a Miami Hotel that was attended by Malcolm X, a dear friend of Ali. Shortly after winning the Heavyweight Title, Muhammad Ali announced to the world that he was joining the Nation of Islam. Later that year, the name Cassius Clay would vanish from the minds of sports fans and the world would be introduced to one of the greatest boxing names of all time-Muhammad Ali.

West Coast Day of Action For Homeless Bill of Rights

February 6, 2014

During the MLK weekend, L.A. CAN, Hunger Action LA, Occupy Venice, Food Not Bombs and several other organizations participated in a West Coast Day of Action to bring awareness about the California Homeless Bill of Rights. Member organizations (such as LA CAN) from the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) had their own special event to bring awareness about the Homeless Bill of Rights in their own city. The following videos will show the successful event that we had in Venice Beach.

The Hat Lot: Hats That Match

February 6, 2014

Couple weeks ago, I was driving by 120th and Avalon in South L.A. when I noticed a lot full of hats. I decided to stop by and check them out. I was impress how the hats were organized. I decided to ask the owners couple questions about how they started and I was blown away by their inspirational story.

3 years ago, Dana started selling hats on the fence since the lot inside was full of grass and it was not taken care of. Dana stated that Nora would always walk by the lot to go to the store and one day he decided to stop her and talk to her. Dana went on to say, “I use to call her Speedy because she would just walk by us and when I decided to stop her and talk to her, we have been together ever since.”

Dana and Nora developed a great relationship with the owner of the lot that Dana himself decided to clean the lot. One day Dana approach the owner with the idea of selling hats and his t-shirts inside the lot. The owner had so much respect for them that he agreed. With the help of the community they had a mural on the wall that read, “Hats That Match.” Dana and Nora have turned the empty lop into a very unique Hat store. A business that is respected in the community.

Dana and Nora got married on 12-12-12 and have been keeping their unique Mom and Pop Business going. They have people from out of state go visit them to buy some of their unique hats.

One thing that many customers won’t notice about Dana and Nora is that they are currently homeless sleeping in the house of Dana’s brother since October. It would be nice if the greater community can somehow come together and assist them in finding a permanent place to stay. Having a permanent place will not only allow them to have the peace of mind of having their own home but it will allow them to keep their focus on expanding their unique business. This is one of the thousands of stories that should be told in the news, LA TIMES, or covered by the media so that the greater Los Angeles community can be inspired by their amazing work and hopefully a kind soul will be able to assist them in finding their own place.

Here are the pictures of the amazing Hats that Match.

Dana and Nora talking about Hats That Match

Here is a client purchasing a hat

Please Support People’s Yoga!

February 4, 2014

I am happy to announce that my friends, Lauren and Leah, co-founders of People’s Yoga are in a position to win a FedEx Small Business Grant, if readers like you click on the link below and vote for them.

http://smallbusinessgrant.fedex.com/Gallery/Detail/8aea928e-e1d6-402b-bcfa-314ab704ec25/

This YouTube video shows how much of an impact they have already done and if people like you continue to vote for them, People’s Yoga will continue to make an impact in people’s lives and will be a great asset to the East L.A. Community.

Please share this information to those who believe in the power of Yoga, the promotion of health and wellness in our communities and the belief that when the greater community organizes themselves, people’s dreams can come true. Let’s make People’s Yoga become a recipient for the FedEx Small Business Grant!

Happy 95th Birthday Jackie Robinson!

February 1, 2014

Yesterday was Jackie Robinson’s birthday. He would have been 95 years old.
I have written a lot about Jackie Robinson. Just type in Jackie’s name in the sear engine of my blog to find out the various articles I have written about my favorite player.
In honor of his birthday, I decided to include this movie about Jackie’s life where he portrays himself. This movie is better than the 42 movie that came out last year. I have my critiques of the film and I have included the link below for those who wish to know what they are:

https://victorjara42.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/jackie-robinson-fan-shares-thougts-on-42-the-movie/

I hope those who just know Jackie Robinson as a baseball player will come to know more about him from this film and from the thoughts that I have shared in the link above. Jackie was more than a Baseball player. He was a Revolutionary. A man who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement of our country. A man who believe in social justice and was a tireless human rights advocate after his baseball career. May we remember Jackie for being a true American Legend.
Happy Birthday Jackie!