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    Sister Dana sez, “Join me as an eager cheerleader for President Joe…”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Words of Wisdumb from a Fun Nun–

    Sister Dana sez, “Join me as an eager cheerleader for President Joe Biden and his goal of 100 million Americans vaccinated in the first 100 days. Go, Joe, go!”

    On January 15, a broad coalition of community, labor, and education organizations representing Oakland residents, workers, tenants, teachers, and students held a virtual press conference to kick off the 7th Annual RECLAIM MLK’S RADICAL LEGACY WEEKEND. The weekend of events included trainings, workshops, artistic performance and ritual, and direct action. It culminated on January 18, MLK Day, with a mass car caravan from the Port of Oakland to Eastmont Mall, demanding “we reinvest 50% of the Oakland Police Department’s dollars to community supports and services that actually keep us safe.”

    At the press conference, organizers unveiled a new campaign to win reparations for Oakland’s Black students. This demand is part of the Black New Deal platform to uplift Oakland Black residents. Other key demands of this platform included making housing a human right and reimagining public safety by refunding the community with half of OPD’s budget. 

    LIVING JAZZ invited us to celebrate unity and freedom in their 19th annual musical tribute, IN THE NAME OF LOVE, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Taking place MLK Weekend and days before the presidential inauguration, this event was committed to delivering inspiration, reflection, and the hope we need to stand united as we enter 2021. Living Jazz Executive Director Tracey Hoffman welcomed us. Dana King, well known journalist and artist, was host. The stellar lineup featured locally and internationally known singers, activists, and spoken word artists—coming together to inspire hope and to utilize the power of music as a positive agent for social change. Among the cast were The Kronos Quartet & Mekit; The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, taking us all to church with “I Won’t Stop Singing My Praise”; and iconic jazz singer Miss Faye Carol with a glorious historical memorial song to Black activists of the past and those martyred by murder, “We Remember Greatness.” Congresswoman Barbara Lee presented the Oakland Citizen Humanitarian Award to Dr. Noha Aboelata of ROOTS Community Health Center. This stirring show concluded with Toshi Reagon and several singers of the cast in a rousing “Freedom” song.

    GLIDE is a nationally recognized center for social justice, dedicated to fighting systemic injustices, creating pathways out of poverty and crisis, and transforming lives. Through their integrated comprehensive services, advocacy initiatives, and inclusive community, they empower individuals, families and children to achieve stability and to thrive. Recently, GLIDE put out an inspirational message: “We are witnessing what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., observed during the struggle for Civil Rights: that violent behavior breeds bitterness and chaos and undermines progress for us all. In contrast, Dr. King championed the idea that nonviolent protest, inclusion, and reconciliation would lead to a more just and loving society—a beloved community.”

    Not merely in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., but also in remembrance of those we’ve lost to injustice and brutality, the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS has premiered HEAVYfeaturing SFGMC and ten other gay men’s choruses across the country singing this illuminating song of hope.

    I will close this sector of MLK reporting with Dr. King‘s May 10, 1967, address: “We must face the hard fact that many Americans would like to have a nation which is a democracy for white Americans but simultaneously a dictatorship over Black Americans.” Okay, just one more King quote: “We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love!”

    Over 400,000 are dead in America from the coronavirus. San Francisco participated in the national MEMORIAL TO LIVES LOST TO COVID-19 by lighting City Hall and 12 other buildings across the city in amber and gold. The memorial took place in Washington, D.C., and nationwide on January 19 in cities and towns across the country. The D.C. memorial featured the lighting of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the illumination of buildings and ringing of church bells in a national moment of unity and remembrance.

    President Joe Biden has announced that he will be appointing Pennsylvania Surgeon General Dr. Rachel Levine to the position of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in his administration. Levine would be the first out transgender person appointed to a federal position and approved by the U.S. Senate.

    HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (HRC) and their 13 community partners for the LGBTQ community presented their premier POWER OF EQUALITY INAUGURAL online on January 20 commemorating the historic election of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Kamala Harris. From the comfort of our homes, we enjoyed musical performances and heard from equality leaders from across the LGBTQ movement. HRC President Alphonso David welcomed us in words of inspiration and song. The incredible lineup included Grammy, Tony, and Emmy Award-winning actor, singer, and activist Billy Porter, Shea Diamond, Matt Bomer, Dana Goldberg, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Alexandra BillingsMelissa Etheridge, Jesse James Keitel, and many other celebs, politicos, and org directors. President Biden encouraged us to help him BUILD BACK BETTER!

    “Today our country finally moves forward under new leadership that will deliver on the basic principles that can heal our fractured democracy: unity, common decency, and compassion for all Americans,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement. “We are ready to put the past behind us and step proudly to meet the incredible challenging months and years ahead.”  

    On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order to declare the administration’s policy to prevent and combat LGBTQ discrimination as well as any overlapping forms of discrimination. His orders highlight a bold and clear set of priorities for this administration around racial and LGBTQ equality, the environment, the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration, and more. And just five days into the Biden-Harris administration and the unlawful transgender military ban was NO MORE! With one stroke of his pen, President Biden put an end to this disgraceful and discriminatory policy once and for all.

    Recently, Castro activists went after Bank of America (501 Castro Street) for placing signs alerting residents and community members that posters, signs, and other materials could no longer be placed on the building—after decades during which the corner of the building at 18th and Castro has been a communal space for memorials to the recently deceased. For over four decades the site (affectionately nicknamed “Hibernia Beach” where residents casually hung out in front of what was then Hibernia Bank) has been an altar and place of grieving for our recent dead friends and family.

    State Senator Scott Wiener and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman spoke with senior Bank of America people about the incredible importance of this sacred site to our community. After that meeting, B of A has agreed to remove the signs. Senator Wiener said previously that the bank manager would take care of the area and store memorials that had been up for a while until someone could claim them. However, this branch has been closed for months, so there was no one to monitor the site, and the bank was concerned after political and other signs were pasted to the building itself and covered the windows. “However, B of A immediately acknowledged the importance of the site to the community and agreed that it was of the utmost importance that people be able to post memorials on the small fence as usual,” Senator Wiener said. “The bank branch will be putting up different signs eventually that will discourage people from posting things other than in that area, which they are reserving for the community.” He concluded, “We are working on activating community groups to take over the maintenance.” Plans are now circulating to possibly make this an official protected historical site. (For more about Hibernia Beach, see the cover and pages 13–15 of this issue.)

    San Francisco lost another incredible community activist with Ken Jones, who passed away at age 70. On January 18, members of the HARVEY MILK LGBTQ DEMOCRATIC CLUB Board and the Castro community came together to put up a memorial for Ken Jones at the aforementioned reclaimed corner of 18th Street and Castro.

    Mayor Breed and City Librarian Michael Lambert have announced that Tongo Eisen-Martin has been named San Francisco’s POET LAUREATE, the eighth artist in city history to hold the title. Eisen-Martin was appointed by Mayor Breed after being nominated by a nine-member Selection Committee comprised of past Poets Laureate, city officials, and members of the Bay Area poetry and literary community. He will succeed Kim Shuck, who served as San Francisco’s seventh Poet Laureate. Eisen-Martin is a poet and the founder of Black Freighter Press. His book, Heaven Is All Goodbyes, received a 2018 American Book Award, the 2018 California Book Award for Poetry, and was short-listed for the Griffin Poetry Prize. In his vision for Poet Laureate, Tongo writes of organizing poetry circles in the Tenderloin, Bayview-Hunters Point, and Sunnydale, and recruiting and nurturing artists from San Francisco’s marginalized communities.

    Sister Dana sez, “Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and 145 other Republicans in the House and Senate attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and incited the white supremacist attempted coup that killed 5 people. They do not belong in Congress at all!”

    Published on January 28, 2021