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EVOLUTION OF A PREMATURE

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REVOLUTIONARY Reflections on the College of Alameda Black Students Union, 2002-2005

Reginald James


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Evolution of a Premature Revolutionary


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EVOLUTION OF A PREMATURE REVOLUTIONARY

Reflections on the College of Alameda Black Students Union (BSU) 2003-2005

Reginald James

University of California, Berkeley Department of African American Studies

Introduction to African American Studies Professor Leigh Raiford

December 11, 2012


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CONTENTS Preface Chapter 1: The Mis-Education of a Nigga Chapter 2: From Compton to the Capitol Chapter 3: Race Neutrality and Race Consciousness Chapter 4: Afrikan Youth on the Move Chapter 5: Harambee: “Let’s Pull Together” Chapter 6: Buena Vistas: A Good View of Blackness Chapter 7: Expressions of Black Consciousness


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DEDICATION To the Members of the College of Alameda Black Students Union, past, present and future, continue to strive for freedom, justice and equality for all. You have the power! For my BSU Comrades: Eduardo Tuto, Jamar Mears, DeBorah Willis, Felicia Oliver, Teresa Perry, Derrick “Debob” Barbosa, Josh Clemmons, Traci Lee, Claudia Bass, Adrianna Montes, Xiomara Castro, Deja Allen, Wakeelah Muhammad, Kenny O’Keith, Ms. Tyra Lewis, Simmie Muhammad, Elijah Warren (RIP), and Antwon Rollins, Thank you for the Patience, Encouragement, and Commitment to our Struggle and Empowerment. And special thanks to Alze Roberts, Maurice Jones, and Frissel Walker, Thank you for your Guidance and Wisdom.


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Evolution of a Premature Revolutionary PREFACE This memoir emerged from my participation in African American

Studies 100: Introduction to Black Intellectual Thought at UC Berkeley in the Fall 2012 semester. Travelling back mentally, I recalled memories I’d long forgotten. Although it has been difficult recalling some events and experiences, my reflections have crystalized matters I did not understand at the time. I attempted to present a straightforward story of my evolution as a member of the College of Alameda Black Student Union. The first two chapters address my first year in the Alameda BSU and my exposure to Higher Education activism. The next three chapters cover my first year as BSU President. The final three cover more experiences that further developed my ideology on race leadership. Some matters were spared as not to present negative image of others. If any remarks are offensive, blame it on my head and not my heart. Some topics escaped detailed attention as my memory has since faded. Reflecting on my participation in the BSU and how it contributed to my ideas about race, no single event or moment stands out. The BSU gave me cumulative experiential knowledge that informed the evolution of my Blackness and my humanity. I am better for having written this. I hope others grow from reading this and understand the value of Black organizations.


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The Mis-Education of a Nigga

I GREW UP right across the street from the College of Alameda. I used to tell the story of how I would “hop the fence” from my apartments to get to campus. Too often, I’d hop back over the fence to go back to the ‘hood to kick it. That’s one of the main reasons I ended up on academic probation after my first year in college. It wasn’t paying no way, so I dropped out. I returned a year later. After getting my first “A” grade that summer, I figured I could better myself with an education. It was the month of September 2002 when I joined the Black Student Union. I forgot how I learned about the Friday afternoon meeting, but I went into the Student Lounge hella mad. I’d never seen any financial aid money while enrolled, first because I didn’t have a high school diploma. Later, it was due to my low GPA. Not to mention the financial aid office didn’t help me with the paperwork. Many Black students at the time believed the financial aid office was racist and discriminated against Black students. For good reason: although Black students received the most Board of


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Governor fee waivers for TANF and SSI recipients, and comprised the largest group of CARE recipients, Asian students received the most Pell Grants, Federal Work Study positions and EOPS allocations.1 The meeting was held in an area older folks called “The Pitt.” In the center of the room, with a small, flat amphitheater area filled with wooden seats with royal blue wool cloth covering, the Executive Board sat behind three tables in a semi-circle. I had a meeting about Pre-Paid Legal–a legal insurance marketing business (Read: Pyramid Scheme) I was a representative for. So I stood up, wearing my brown Ralph Lauren suit, and addressed the Board. I was angry about my financial aid challenges and because I didn’t even know a BSU existed on campus. If they suppose to help Black Students, what were they doing for me? They needed to do real outreach and involve more students, I said, and not just be sitting up in a room like some armchair revolutionaries. The president, an international student from Mozambique named Eduardo Tuto, listened attentively. He calmly responded that I needed to join the organization. Ha! I was coopted! 1 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Data Mart. Financial Aid Summary Query: College of Alameda, Annual 20022003, by Ethnicity. < http://datamart.cccco.edu/Services/FinAid_ Summary.aspx>


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Tuto appointed me “Programs Chair” a few weeks later. I doubt the position even had official duties, but I focused on Projects and Activities. The first activity was a creation of an Open Mic. Besides selling Pre-Paid Legal memberships, I produced Hip Hop and rapped. I figured Open Mics would give me a place to perform and build a fan base. In case this school hustle didn’t work for me. Students in our BSU supported the proposal initially, but our advisers were cautious. Alze Roberts, a longtime counselor, and Maurice Jones, an English professor, worried performers content might not be appropriate. So we established guidelines. Among those I remember: no “niggas,” “bitches” or violent lyrics. Like that’s all niggas talked about! As a rapper “from the streets of Alameda”2, I doubt I saw this as censorship, or as a class issue. These old mothafuckas always hating on the young niggas. If our language was acceptable on campus, did that mean we weren’t either? Still, in an “intellectual environment,” I figured we could step our game up, and express our thoughts without so-called profanity. The open mic programs were successful for recruiting members. And they were a spectacle. It’s hard to remember specifics, but I remember one Open Mic we 2 Lyrics from “East Bay Funk” by L.S.D. (my rap moniker at the time). The song appeared on the Island Boy Mixtape Vol. 1. 989 Productions: 2003.


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held a rap battle. Brandon Del Rosario and Tauheed Sabrie had a competition so intense that some white lady called the Sheriff. She thought they were fighting! Both are still performing: “Word 4 Word” and “Tauheed the Fearless,” but they debuted at the BSU Open Mic.3 Sad thing is, we spend so much energy battling each other that we gave the system a pass. No progress was made on my financial aid issue. Although we did not resolve the financial aid issues that semester, I’d joined an organization that supported my development. I was become more than just a “nigga.” We’d all need to grow in order to fight the beast of systemic discrimination.

Reginald James on College of Alameda bus to Budget Cut Protest, “March in March,” March 2003.

3 Word4Word’s Website: http://www.wearechosenfew.com. Tauheed’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/TauheedFrom88th


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From Compton to the Capitol

THAT SPRING, our BSU Vice-President, Jamar Mears, transferred to Cal State East Bay. Folks called Jamar “Bird.” I never knew why. He gave me the nickname, “GQ.” Why? “Because you wear a suit to school every day.” Seeing a young Black man on campus reminded him of the men’s fashion magazine. The East Bay campus was close to his apartment in Hayward. I remember some real live BSU parties there on the Hill. Black people know how to party. Tuto appointed me VP to replace Bird. I suppose it could have been my enthusiasm and the fact that we’d grown close over the months. Besides, he probably wanted another younger person on board since many of our members were older. At that time, Tuto served as Vice-President of the Black Caucus of the California Student Association of Community Colleges. CalSACC, as it was known, was the statewide advocacy organization for community college students that also functioned as a shared governance body for the State Chancellors’ office.


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Education policies required input from students, and CalSACC was our voice. The Black Caucus came about to influence that group after years of Black students attending CalSACC conferences without consideration for their issues. Back then I didn’t know much about CalSACC or the Caucus. All I knew was there was going to be a conference in Compton and “lots of cute girls would be there.” Compton occupies a unique place in the Hip Hop imagination. At least mine. The home of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube! The militant, ultraviolent, misogynistic lyrics of NWA raised me. Or corrupted me. Nonetheless, the idea of going to Compton was exciting but scary. I’d been to LA once as a child. All I knew of Blacks in Los Angeles through Hip Hop and movies about Bloods and Crips, like Colors. Compton blew my mind! The conference was well organized and attended by over 150 Black students from throughout California. Workshop topics address Black male and female relationships, the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration, and Black Studies. I later recalled, “I never been around so many Black people without a fight breaking out!” Being around so many positive–and young–Black people changed my life. I was a part of a movement. We were motivated, organized, and unified. The challenges we had at Alameda, people


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had in LA. I also learned about CalSACC and how my campus was a part of a larger system of higher education and that community college once was free. Yes, free! I also began to learn that the Black struggle for education was long. And it wasn’t over. At the conference, CalSACC was organizing students for a March to the state capital. Governor Gray Davis proposed increasing community college fees. Enrollment fees were $11 per unit then. I remember traveling with the BSU and the Associated Students (student government) up to Sacramento. Dozens of buses assembled across the river in West Sacramento. Wearing my Red, Black, and Green poncho with an 8Ball on the back, I joined tens of thousands of students to march on the Capitol. From across the bridge, Gray Davis’ house, we screamed, “No cuts! No fees! Education should be free!” and “They say cut back! We say Fight Back!” When our group arrived to the steps on the West side of the Capitol, I saw Tracy Marquez, president of CalSACC. I’d met her a month before in Compton. She remembered me and, somehow, I ended up speaking. The feeling of address thousands of people was exhilarating. Way more people than our open mics! The spirit of the Griot ran through me. I grabbed the microphone in my fist and lead the crowd in a call-and-response. I forgot what else I said after


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that, but it must have been memorable. A year later, someone remembered my speech. But it could’ve been because I was one of few Black people to address the crowd. That spring introduced me to mass protest and direct action. I later attended anti-war protests against the Iraq War in Oakland. I also continued working with the BSU and Black Caucus. I’d organized a canned food drive and help organize speakers for Black History Month. The BSU even went to LA for an NAACP event about SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. While attending CalSACC’s annual spring leadership conference, someone nominated me for Treasurer. With hesitation, I accepted the nomination. When I’d first enrolled at COA, I planned to major in business. I forgot who I ran against, but apparently won by a decent margin, Tuto later told me in our hotel room at the Wilshire Grand. During my speech on my candidacy, attendees were impressed by my humility and dedication. Tuto said he like my statement, “I don’t have a lot of mone, but I will use my time to work for our people.” When we returned to Alameda, Tuto, who graduated that spring and joined Bird at East Bay, appointed me his successor. No one objected. I was to lead our people.


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Race Neutrality and Race Consciousness

THAT SUMMER, I spent most of my time working at the West Alameda Teen Club, an afterschool program sponsored by the Alameda Boys and Girls Club. We operated an Open Gym at Chipman Middle School on Tuesday and Thursday nights. That spring, the group also moved into the community center in the Esperanza Housing Projects. Most of the participants were Black youth from the neighborhood. I also spent a lot of time that summer promoting a CD I produced, “The Island Boy Mixtape.” Most of the songs focused on a narrow view of the Black struggle in West Alameda. Recording in a small studio I assembled in the Esperanza, we talked about our drug- and alcohol-influenced experiences and dealings with the police. Hardly conscious, listening to those recordings give me insight into my mind before I transitioned into a consciousness of my “Blackness.” Meanwhile, as we traveled throughout the Bay selling the CDs on public transit and out of the trunk, Governor Davis and the State Legislature raised community college fees to $18 per unit.


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Seven dollars a unit may not mean much to some people, but for someone who didn’t receive financial aid and worked with youth for eight dollars an hour, it mattered. The fee increase and antiwar protests heightened my awareness of state and global politics. A recall election targeted Governor Davis. On September 17, the BSU hosted a Voter Education event. We hoped to educate students about “the history of Black Voting. My prepared notes listed topics like the “Voting Rights Act,” “modern disenfranchisement” of “incarcerated and paroled convicts,” as well as “gerrymandering, poll tax, literacy tests, and lynching.” The event began with the recitation of a “Black Student Union Pledge” I’d appointed an older member, DeBorah Willis, as Vice-President that semester. She led the crowd in reciting the pledge: Black Student Union Pledge I am Beautiful I am Proud I am Strong I am Cultured I am Determined I am Unique I am the Future I am the BSU4 The rest of the program focused on the 2003 Gubernatorial recall and its proponents; and the State Propositions and their supporters 4 James, Reginald, “Black Student Union Pledge.” 2005.


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and opponents. One Proposition in particular garnered student interest: Proposition 54. The UC Regent who spearheaded actions to end affirmative action in California, Ward Connerly, was now leading an effort for “race-neutral” classification in California. Also that fall, my comrades at Laney College asked me to support a protest in San Francisco targeting Connerly. I traveled on BART and MUNI to UCSF, where the Regents meeting was held. There were probably less than two-dozen of us there. Inside a theater, the Regents were seated on stage. Connerly, escorted by UC Police, was booed upon entrance. I don’t remember much about that meeting, but I remember my friend Clydell Piers standing and calling Connerly “a Uncle Tom Negro.” Prop. 54 sounded cool to me, at first. Since racism is so prevalent, let’s stop categorizing people by their skin color or national origins. But people’s eyes ain’t race neutral. Maybe that’d be easy on paper, but would that really end institutionalized and interpersonal racism? And banning data tracking, proponents said, could mask inequality, such as the inequalities at COA with financial aid. The fact that a Black man was proposing these measure led me to an important point: All skinfolk ain’t kin folk. About this time, I began using the phrase “Uncle Tom” regularly


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to describe the actions of Black folks I believed did not benefit the masses. As I observed this man, with obvious identity issues, I realized I needed to begin addressing my own. That fall, I began growing my hair. As a child, I’d often wear my hair in an afro or high top fade, but in high school, I mainly rocked the low-cut waves. Every night, I put a glob of grease in my hair and brush it forward furiously. Afterwards, I’d put on a “wave cap,” or doo rag to lay the hair down. I’d put so much grease in my hair the doo rag changed colors. I’d cut my hair twice a month and get a “line up” weekly, to keep my hairline framed. I even kept a brush in my back pocket. Had to keep the waves ‘dippin!” A year earlier, I’d cut my hair. I’d usually worn braids. I no longer wanted to be “GQ.” As I learned more about Black History, I wanted to throw off the shackles of white beauty standards and let my hair go free and grow freely. I vaguely recall writing a paper for Mr. Jones’ English 1B class about hair. Mr. Jones was one of the first Black people, born in America that spoke multiple languages: Arabic and Spanish. He had a very laid back and diplomatic approach. I only recall him getting angry twice. He definitely epitomized the idea of being professional. Still, he was the only professor at COA I recall having a conversation with about the literary contributions of Tupac. He encouraged me to become a better writer, even though


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I received C’s in both of his courses. A major idea in my paper about hair was unpacking symbolic representation of identity. Was someone with an Afro “blacker” than someone with a perm? That semester I also enrolled in my first African American Studies course. The readings were informative, but the lectures were spent decrying the state of youth today. Irrelevant. I still somehow emerged wanting to know more about my Afrikan heritage. Over the years, the growth of my hair has paralleled the growth of my Black Consciousness. But symbolism does not substitute substance. As BSU President, I still pushed for a solution to the financial aid issue. At one of our meetings, our adviser, Alze, said she could get the College District’s Chancellor to come to a meeting. Elihu Harris, a former mayor of Oakland, had been appointed that year. We scheduled him to attend a Friday afternoon meeting in October. I talked to at least 50 students, myself, in the two weeks before that meeting, as a part of our outreach. Asking, “Do you have any issues with financial aid?” is an effective recruitment strategy. On the Tuesday night before our meeting, the College President visited my Trigonometry class and asked me to come out to speak to her. She was scared. I don’t recall why we hadn’t spoken to her about the issue directly, and didn’t say much to


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her, accept she was welcome to attend Friday. Later talking with Alze and other students, I was commended on not saying much. As BSU President, they told me, people who may not have our interests in mind might attempt to back me into a position of saying something on behalf of our students that does not benefit us. It’s a game of chess, not checkers. Cold part is though, when the Friday meeting came, many of the students who’d come out, every week, complaining about financial aid, did not show up. Those that did, did not have proper paperwork and other matters in order. If wearing an Afro does not represent true Black Power, being unprepared to confront the powers that be certainly ain’t either. Organizing Black people is hard work and I needed to understand what others did before me and beyond campus. Left, as Treasurer of the Black Caucus of the California Student Association of Community Colleges’ Black Caucus at CalSACC Fall Legislative Conference in Irvine. October 2003. Right, Alameda BSU President at Black History Month Opening Day on COA Quad. February 2004.


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Afrikan Youth on the Move

AT 21 YEARS OLD, I was often the youngest person in the room. Not through my community work, but on campus and some community organizations Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d gotten involved with. This gave me a fresh perspective on some issues. In some spheres; however, sometimes, elders (and old people) would take youth for granted. So I tried to use my Presidency to support young people and work with people who valued young people. That fall, among events the BSU sponsored was a canned food drive and Black College Day. Since we were a community college, I wanted to involve the community. This included the young people I worked with in West Alameda. Since one of our Committee Chairmen played basketball, and many athletes were friends of BSU members or members themselves, the BSU began attending sports events. Another reason, truthfully, was because the BSU once collected door proceeds. So we reached an agreement, through our advisor, the counselor for athletes, and the basketball couch, that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d promote


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the games in exchange for door proceeds. In early 2004, I made a deal to raise funds for a local drumline, the Chipman Cougar Cadet Corp. The Cadet Corp performed during Half-Time and we used the proceeds from the door to pay them. The predominantly Black youth wowed the crowd with their self-taught performance. For years after, I was commended on the show. The youth had an opportunity to play before a crowd and the basketball team got community support. We also held a fundraiser that year for the Will Moore Scholarship Fund, honoring a COA basketball player and BSU member that died in July 2003. Numerous students I attended COA with have since died. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m pleased the campus now has a Violence Prevention program. Too often, young people lack structured activities to keep them out of trouble. Or, we do not receive the opportunities to create and maintain those activities. While running the Open Gym program, I started a traveling basketball team: the Wildcats. The first year, we only participated in one league at the downtown Oakland YMCA. Thanks to a donation from the COA BSU, my team was able to participate. The Alameda Boys and Girls Club would not pay the $50 league fee. The Wildcats dominated the league. The team went undefeated in five games. I recall one day when an all-star team was assembled


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amongst the other teams, this team was handled defeated by the Black youth from West Alameda. I know participation in youth sports can help children’s confidence and abilities at working with others. Working with Black youth also encouraged me to be a better role model, or just a better person. The night before one of our games in March 2004, I’d just dropped my players off from practice. I headed over to Alameda Point with a friend who I’d formed the rap group, “Island Boys” with. I forgot what Macc Martelli’s business was on Alameda Point that night, but I recall standing outside and smoking weed. I’d dropped the youth off 20 minutes earlier, so they caught me off guard when four of them came around the corner. They caught me right as I was inhaling the smoke from a blunt I’d rolled. I coughed. One of the boys, my shooting guard named Jermaine said, “Hit that shit like a man!” I can laugh about it now. Then, I was caught. His older brother Eddie asked, “Reg, how you gone tell us not to do drugs and you over here getting high?” Like legions of hypocritical adults and parents before me, I replied, “I’m a grown ass man. Y’all make sure you on time to roll to the game tomorrow.” Some might argue that I was within my right as an adult to do my thing (as long as it wasn’t around or with the youth). Me? I came to realize, as one of few positive Black


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male role models, I had to give a positive example. Those young men and women would notice all sorts of small things, even a new pair of shoes. While under my influence, I promised that I would expose them to more than what appeared to be limited options or circumstances. Before the game, I took the Wildcats to a conference in West Oakland. The African Women’s Charity Organization, a group “in the process of building a revolutionary youth movement”, organized the African Youth Conference in March 2004. The conference was held at Jubilee West, a building on Chester and 8th Street once home to the Local Branch of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. A fact I didn’t know until that meeting. As BSU President, I was asked to speak. I don’t remember what I said, but at that time, the saying “Think Globally, Act Locally”, influenced many of my actions. My growing global consciousness had been activated in 2003. But I don’t think I had any semblance of a Pan-African ideology. True, my BSU mentor was an African. He once showed us a video from Mozambique showing the city of Maputo. I recall my own shock that there was a city with a skyline. Tuto’s intent was to show another Africa. Below is an excerpt from a communiqué from the organization: “Most people in our generation grew ashamed of being


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African. We hated everything that had to do with Africa. We hated the fact that we were African. Therefore we hated ourselves, and it is not possible to build any kind of strong movement if you hate yourself. President Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana said, “All people of African descent, whether they live in North or South America, the Caribbean, or in an other part of the world are Africans and belong to the African nation.” Africa is our mother.”5 The building of an African Youth Movement would create another Africa. Our ancestors were stolen from Africa and survived horrid conditions in the Americas. Building on our Black History Month activities and my first African American Studies course that fall, I began to seek more knowledge of African history. Our experience in the Buena Vistas increased my interest in protest actions and social movements. I also began studying the Civil Rights Movement and Black Student Movement and groups like SNCC. Besides our advisers, I was influenced by speeches like 5 The “How to Build a Youth Movement” Flyer from December 2003 also reads, “We are in the process of building a powerful African Youth Movement that will connect all African youth, inside and outside of Africa. This is a very important part of the African independence movement. An African Youth Movement is necessary in order to educate, mobilize, and organize the largest number of African youth as possible


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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Where do we go from Here?” to books like, Stokely Speaks. Through email listservs, speakers, and community events like Carijama–an annual Caribbean themed festival at North Oakland’s Mosswood Park–I continued to seek knowledge of our African past, to inform the Black present and future. Without objection, I continued to lead the BSU. I ran for President of the Black Caucus, but lost by one vote. I accepted a nomination for Secretary. A humbling moment, the position helped develop my organizational and communication skills. In order to build a movement, the BSU needed to build our members’ leadership skills, host events to attract more people, and we need to both get the word out and document our story. We needed a voice. We needed a newsletter.

Alameda BSU Vice-President DeBorah Willis, entertainer “Silver Dollar,” BSU Adviser Alze Roberts, and President Reginald James.


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Harambee: “Let’s Pull Together”

MARCUS GARVEY had a newspaper. So did Ida B. Wells, Malcolm X, and W.E.B. DuBois. Even Farrakhan has one now! I don’t recall who said these words first, but Josh Clemmons, BSU Ministry of Information, and me had our minds set on launching a Black Student Union newsletter. Using a newsletter as a form of outreach worked well with me. It was easier than talking to people face to face. Although I’d critiqued the BSU for its lack of outreach, I was shy also. I had no knowledge of the Saul Alinsky community organizing methods. I knew very little of the strategies of groups like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee or the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, whose Black Power image I emulated with my Afro. What I felt I lacked inside, I projected outwards. My hair represented my commitment to the struggle. I even had an Afro pick with the fist and the peace sign. A contradiction for someone who didn’t yet believe in the power of non-violent struggle. I liked symbols of Black culture. Throughout this period of time, as I rose in leadership, I dealt


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with the paradox of being a shy leader. It shocks people who think they know me or have perceptions of me, but I’m often introverted. My reserved demeanor both stems from my enjoyment of people watching and a lack of confidence. I recall chairing a BSU meeting one Friday. Like usual, we attracted between 15-30 students every week. More than once, I’d be leading the meeting only to find out later people in the audience could not hear me. I still remember an older member, Miss Lewis, telling me at a meeting, “Speak up honey, we can’t hardly hear you.” I was intimidated by the task before me. I barely knew Parliamentary Procedure. And Black folks don’t care much about Robert’s Rules of Order no way. Plus, that first semester, my GPA had been below a 2.0. I should’ve been ineligible. Reflecting back, my growing up with bucked teeth and a gap definitely impacted my self-confidence. Also, being “lightskinned” sometimes made me feel like I was not “Black enough.” Authentic “Blackness” required more melanin than I had. Growing up in Alameda probably exacerbated this feeling of inauthenticity. If my mother hadn’t moved to Alameda, and I stayed in Oakland, somehow, I’d be “Blacker.” These fictitious, superficial measurements of Blackness were problematic and created false notions I’ve fought years to decolonize from my mind. Josh talked about Garvey’s Negro World and the UNIA used it to


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inform and grow its membership. With an English professor as an adviser, we would create a platform for student voices to be heard while helping students improve their writing. Josh came up with the name, “Harambee.” Swahili for “Let’s Pull Together.” I had no idea where in Africa where the people even spoke Swahili. Yet, in my search for Black Culture and an African identity, I embraced Harambee. It was unique. It was African. I was with it! Our first issue was supposed to out in March, but only Josh and me finished our articles. I’d written an article about the “boat people” CNN portrayed coming from Haiti. The U.S. treatment of Haitians was unfair compared to if they’d been Cubans. Instead of continuing to wait for others, I printed my article on an 8 x 11 piece of paper, made photocopies, and plastered the article throughout campus. He struggle between having my ideas heard and fear that they would be inadequate had impaired me before. But the inhumanity of their treatment forced me to overcome that fear and be heard. That fall, we produced our first issue of Harambee. The Fall 2004 issue was well received on campus and beyond. To attest to this fact, I share correspondence from a comrade, Rashad Andrews from the BSU at a sister college: “I bring you all greeting from the Black Student Union Student of Merritt College. I am inspired by the efforts


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Evolution of a Premature Revolutionary put forth by your newsletter staff. The Harambee was well received here on campus, and pushed the wheels on our on newsletter to start turning at a faster pace. The Harambee has set the bar for future B.S.U. newsletters to come. That’s what we need in our community; visible black leadership moving in a positive direction. On behalf of B.S.U.M.C. thank you and keep moving forward our people need it. –Rashad Andrews, B.S.U.M.C. President

The article featured a letter from the president, a Black History Trivia Quiz, an opinion piece by Debob about “Too Many Second Chances,” and an article about gentrification taking place right across the street from the College of Alameda. The process of researching current events, history and analyzing the news began to encourage a critical consciousness within me. I could not simply be Black by Default. Sure, Blackness is what Blackness does (For some). For me, Blackness needed historical origins. Rooted in the traditions and aspirations of my elders and ancestors, the stories of my people furthered an affinity, a deeper group consciousness. If Harambee solidified a sense an African identity within me, the forceful removal of my family and community from West Alameda quickly radicalized my thought processes and gave me courage to speak out for others who could not do so for themselves.


31 PHOTOS

Members of the College of Alameda Black Student Union attend a Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Basketball game in the campus gymnasium.

Spring 2004.


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Members of the College of Alameda Black Student Union photographed for the first issue of Harambee, the newsletter of the Alameda BSU. College of Alameda Main Quad. September 2004.


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The College of Alameda Black Student Union members attending the 7th annual CalSACC Black Caucus Leadership Conference in Los Angeles. From left, Nicole Mitchell, Secretary; DeBorah Willis, Vice President; Reginald James, President; Derrick Barbosa, Membership Chair; Josh Clemmons, Publicty Chair and Harambee co-editor. February 2005.

Alameda BSU members at NAACP Conference on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, Los Angeles, Calif. Far left, former VP Jamar Mears, center Eduardo Tuto, far right, VP Reginald James. March 2003.


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Reginald James at the 6th annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. February 2004.

Reginald James and Laney College student Shanina Shumate at â&#x20AC;&#x153;March in March IIâ&#x20AC;? in Sacramento, California. March 2004.


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Buena Vistas: A Good View of Blackness

I MOVED into the Buena Vista Apartments in 1989. At the time, Black residents were fighting the City of Alameda for discriminatory housing policies in Guyton and Henderson v. Alameda.6 My Mom and me moved into Alameda a few years before after her divorce from my father. We’d lived in a shelter until she found a one bedroom home by the beach. Due to intervention from the County Social Services, I was soon placed in foster care. When I returned to her care, she’d remarried and lived in Building 13. The BVs, as we called them, were built in 1965 for civilians and enlisted personnel at the Alameda Naval Air Station (NAS). Located on the West End of Alameda, BVs were once the largest subsidized housing complexes in the East Bay. After the closure of the NAS, the ‘hood sometimes seemed like a ghost town. 6 For an overview of Guyton and Henderson v. City of Alameda, see: http://tenantsvsalameda.blogspot.com. The website includes a summary and news accounts of the case and activism led by Black tenants.


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Businesses on Webster St, the West End’s main drag, that once catered to sailors closed. The Military Housing across the street slowly emptied as families moved out. By 2000, East Housing was empty. More than a few nights I slept in those abandoned apartments. I had no place else to go. Instead of making those homes available to families, City leaders decided to sell the property to a developer, Catellus, for what’s now called the Bayport. In 1990, after the conversion from subsidized housing that led to Guyton v. Alameda, the owner changed the name to Bridgeport. In 1996, after defaulting, a Florida based realty group named Fifteen Group bought the property and changed the name to Harbor Island. Still, the people called it the BVs. And the BVs was the epicenter of Alameda’s Black community. In 2004, the Bayport homes began rising across the old railroad tracks. People wondered what was going to happen. Million dollar homes across the streets from the BVs? We weren’t surprised to hear that our community was an “eyesore.” That spring, working with the City’s Development Services department, a group of teens from my program and me canvassed the neighborhood with a “Physical Improvement Survey.” A longtime resident, Vickie Smith, raised objections then, saying the survey looked “funny.” The Black youth conducting the survey also had funny feelings.


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Mama Vickie, as I call her now, remembered when Black residents of the Estuary Projects were forcefully removed from military housing in the late 1960s. Her premonition came true. Just days after a perceived victory for Section 8 residents in Alameda, my family and over 400 others received notices we would have to move. We fought back. With a large Afro emanating from my mind, I spoke out at City Council meetings with my neighbors. Black residents led the charge. We organized the Harbor Island Tenants Association. Elders introduced us younger participants to traditions evoked during the Civil Rights Movement. I remember singing, “We Shall not be Moved” with my neighbors. My community fought back! Though we lost the battle, the war is not over. The struggle against housing discrimination and predatory real estate practices continues. The “Battle of Harbor Island” ultimately ended up in Federal Court.7 I will not retell the story here, as a reflection one year later was published in both the Alameda Journal and Alameda Sun newspapers in 2005.8 I will 7 The video “The Battle of Harbor Island,” if from “Civic Unity: Five Years in the West End of Alameda,” good overview of the organizing by tenants. The full documentary shows the community efforts to develop unity in the community. <http://vimeo.com/12085156> 8 James, Reginald, “It’s Been Over One Year Since 400 Families Were Exiled From Alameda.” Indybay.org. 07 November 2005. Accessed December 8, 2012. < http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2005/11/07/17818381.php>


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share an excerpt from a comment I left on an alternative news website a week afterwards: The Harbor Island Apartments (reknown as “the BVs”) on Buena Vista gave all tenants 60-day notices to quit on Monday. This comes after months of turmoil and years of neglect. The reason: “economic reasons”. Landlords can evict residents for rehabilitation to apartments. So after all my community has gone through, all the years living in inferior conditions. They just kick us out. Why is this happening? Gentrification. Our apartments are the largest in Alameda. Right across from the college of Alameda and in the “lowest income census tract in Alameda”. We have a diverse population, a third of Alameda’s black residents (in a 3 block radius), Bosnian, Eritrean immigrants, Filipinos, you name it we got it baby. But we also happen to be directly across the street from the land developer’s prize, Bayport. This 87-acre site was formerly “East Housing”, housing for the Navy. But when the base closed, they gave it to the highest bidder, Instead of rehabbing the 550+ housing units.  I can’t believe this is happening in my city, but the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We got money for a war but


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can’t house the poor.9 Reflecting on my remarks eight years later, I see the evolution of my ideology on race and what I now know to be global white supremacy capitalism. After describing the legal background and experiences of residents, I discuss the socio-economic conditions of the community. Although I state one-third of the Census Tract 4276’s are Black, I did not know at the time that 70 percent of residents were Black also. The ‘they’ I speak of are not of my community and obviously do not have our interests in mind. While noting this is largely an anti-Black effort, I write in solidarity with other people’s suffering feudal oppression. I also draw a connection between militarism and the violent removal of a community. Some might say, they didn’t beat you up and force you to move, did they? No, but a redevelopment process that does not involve the people is destructive capitalism that frequently hurts poor people and people of color. Many BSU members supported our community activism and me. Still, I felt the institution felt completely removed from what was happening right across the street. At the time of the tenancy 9 James, Reginald, “Too Early for Celebration.” 29 July 2004. Comment on “Section 8 Victory in Alameda.” December 10, 2012. <http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2004/07/22/16897531.php?show_comments=1#16905311>


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terminations (the legal terminology) many students lived in the Buena Vistas. Over 400 Black students left COA that academic year, due to enrollment fee increases and our exile from the BVs.10 For students studying politics, sociology or economics, a prime example of the intersections of race, public policy and those disciplines occurred across the street. Yet, these discussions only emerged through our initiative to make our education relevant to our conditions and experiences. Growing up in the BVs was a unique Alameda experience. It was the largest concentration of Black people on the island. If people knew you were from Alameda, they assumed you lived in the BVs. Some saw it as the “ghetto.” I saw it as home. While I played up the “ghetto” factor in the raps of my younger years11 in search of a stronger Black identity, I later downplayed this when discussing my community. The prevailing idea that BVs residents were all 10 California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Data Mart. Enrollment Status Query: College of Alameda, Annual 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2004-2005, by Ethnicity. < http://datamart.cccco.edu/ Students/Enrollment_Status.aspx> 11 See “East Bay Funk” by L.S.D. The lyrics, “I’m from the BVeez/ knocks spotted with TVs/spot for the L.Geezy/you got it cuz? Fa sheezy” refers to two things: a drug addict I witnessed stealing TVs as a child and the purchasing of marijuana, often called “Light Green,” or “L.G.” 2002. Released on 2003 “Island Boy Mixtape.” 989 Productions. <http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?PID=204533&t=1>


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drug dealers was false. Even in my misguided raps, it was obvious I was a young Black Intellectual engaging in the oral tradition of Black expression. It was also obvious to the elders who could look past my silly statements to hear the poetry beneath my struggle.

Reginald James, Alameda BSU President and CalSACC Black Caucus Secretary at 7th annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference at Santa Monica College. February 2004.


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7

Expressions of Black Consciousness

BUSH STOLE a second election in the fall of 2004. I recall the twin defeat of November 3, Election Day 2004, being the same day we moved from the BVs. A documentary that addresses our exile quotes me stating, “It’s a bitter ass day. I mean, Bush got re-elected… I gotta get the heck outta here.”12 They may have got me out of Harbor Island, but I’m not off the island! I used to defiantly declare. I’d dropped out of school that fall. The stress of work, school, the political battle–and the process of moving– was too much to handle. I returned in the spring. The first event I was involved in was the 2005 “Poetic Protest” of January 20. Organized with and hosted by journalist and professor Wanda Sabir, the event was a creative protest against President Bush’s multi-million dollar coronation. After the event, Wanda encouraged me to write up an article and send it to the Laney Tower newspaper. 12 Lopez, Alan, “Film shows tough times on West End.” 22 February 2008. Alameda Journal. Accessed December 10, 2012. <http:// www.reginaldjames.info/2011/02/film-shows-tough-times-onwest-end.html>


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The article was published with my byline and the words, “Special to the Tower.”13 A semester later, I joined the Tower staff and eventually became Editor-in-Chief. But in 2005, I focused on Harambee and developing unity among Black students in Peralta and throughout California. In the spring 2005 issue of Harambee, I wrote an article called “Students are the Spark,” reprinted below: If you were to study the American Civil Rights Movement or look at many of the international struggles of any era, students, and young people in particular, are at the forefront of the movement for social change. We have the ideas, energy and desire to see and be, the changes the world needs. It was the Greensboro Four in 1960 (that) staged the first sit-in to protest segregated diners in the South. It is the responsibility of the students to initiate change. We cannot lay idle and expect any change. Life is change. To paraphrase Gil Scott-Heron of the Last Poets: All we do is change. We come in from work and change. We change our hairstyles. How much have you changed in the past year? How would you like to change your surroundings? The responsibility is on you. If you aim for the stars, you 13 James, Reginald, “Poetic Protest in Alameda.” Laney Tower. 3 February 2005:7.


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Evolution of a Premature Revolutionary might only hit the moon. But if you aim for the ground, you’re just going to hit the dog do-do. Collectively, we have more power than we do individually. We must unite behind a single, or well-defined group of purposes and objectives. It is said that, “an organized lie will defeat an organized truth.” We must organize and fight for ourselves, our younger siblings, and children, to make sure they have the same opportunities we enjoy (and take for granted), the things our ancestors fought, strived, lived, and died for. As MC Hammer once said, “Let’s get it started.”14

I look back on my writings and see my struggle. My struggle to find my voice. My struggle to empower others. I was a premature revolutionary. I had the heart and the vision, but I lacked a program and systematic methods to deconstruct the forces that opposed me. I knew Black people needed unity and organization, but I lacked an understanding of the ways to bring it about. I juxtaposed The Last Poets and Oakland’s MC Hammer. I had a consciousness that pull from any and all available expressions of Black culture, as I saw them. In doing so, I reconstructed my own understanding of what it meant to be Black. Blackness was not the idle darkness of 14 James, Reginald, “Students are the Spark.” Harambee. College of Alameda Black Student Union newsletter. Spring 2005. Volume 2 (1): 3.


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the night sky or the absence of the Moon’s light. Blackness was an action word the permeated our being. Blackness was not a burden, but a blessing passed on from our ancestors. To progress, we had to struggle to keep it alive, and organize to make it thrive. My experience as Black Caucus Secretary taught me a lot about meetings. Most were a waste of time. Inefficient. Ineffective. The BSU meetings were no exception. Every Friday we’d have over a dozen people present and it felt like we never got anything done, just a lot of venting. To be more strategic, I reorganized our meeting structure in the Fall of 2004. We’d have our mass meetings one per month. Our Executive Board would meet biweekly, and Committees would meet the other Friday. In theory, I still think the idea was sound. In practice, I feel it destabilized the group. People stopped coming on Fridays. The format of having open, unstructured meetings gave people a space and opportunity to be heard, to connect with other students struggling. I later came to understand that Black students in higher education need spaces to convene and enjoy each other’s presence. This can be seen on quads of any community college with at least a 10 percent Black population. Black students congregate outside enjoying each other. If I could go back, I’d cultivate this environment and build on those social connections to organize, or gather information to


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better understand student needs. In my impatient zeal, I mistook social bonding for social baggage. To rebuild our membership that spring, I reinstituted the weekly meetings and began planning a strong Black History Month program. I’d developed a number of community contacts through my activism around budget cuts and housing. I planned a calendar with speakers, dancers, singers and more. The only thing missing was a team to implement the program. That fall, my relationship with my VP declined. I’d appointed DeBorah my first semester and she continued with our board the next year. Our advisers had stopped attending meetings. Apparently they weren’t getting along. When they attended the January meeting for Black History Month, they told me I had “too much planned.” Our adviser Alze suggested we focus on one or two key events. I later agreed with this critique. Sometimes the situation of Black people seems so overwhelming I take on more than I can handle. With too many irons in the fire, people get burned. I got burnt this time. Instead of helping me organize, I felt they hid and made excuses. Of course, Black History Month events should be coordinated months in advance, but we could’ve created a decent program. Later that semester, the African American Studies professor and one of our BSU advisers came to the BSU and later the student government with a proposal


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for a “Spring Showcase.” The event would feature music from two Black faculty and some other cultural activity. While I was at Alameda, I never knew the professor to organize anything. In fact, I’d asked her if she would help organize an event, but I recall she never called me back. I later learned she’d organized the events on campus for decades. The faculty were motivated by a new source of funds on campus: the Student Life Fund. When they made the presentation to the student government, they stated, “We need to hold this event because there was nothing during Black History Month!” Nothing? I came to you all with a proposal months ago. I was livid. They punked out, I recall thinking. Yet, to present a “united front,” I held my tongue then. I felt silenced. Twice. First, when faculty passively refused to help organize Black History Month activities. Second, their maneuvering to access student funding. Back then, I personalized the failure of the BSU and Black History Month. Today I realize young people have a unique role in the movement and are needed to provide the energy and enthusiasm that elders often lack. We can benefit from their wisdom. I learned over the years that Alze was connected to many former Black Panthers. She’d introduced me to David Hilliard and other rank-and-file members. My political education came through many of these experiences and the people I interacted with during


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this time. The need for unity, or at least a unified front, is one of the most important lessons I learned. When I first appointed our BSU VP, I raised a few eyebrows. DeBorah was colorful by most standards. She was an outspoken, older student with an appearance as memorable as her spirit. She wore bright colorful braids and long colored nails. Like me, she wore a gap between her front teeth. She was a critical thinking and dedicated student. Her physical presence taught me not to judge people solely on appearance. I’ve met plenty of people with (dread)locks who did not have the interests of Black people in mind. She complimented my diplomatic approaches, even though during our second term a divide emerged between us. I don’t remember why, but we stopped getting along. There was also a sort of faction growing in the BSU between younger members and the older ones. I still remember when our personal conflict came to a head that spring. I was in the quad gathering signatures for a petition to run for student body president. Before I could ask her, she approached me and asked me to sign her petition so she could run for president. I responded, “Oh, I planned to run.” I was surprised. She was too. Then she responded, “May the best man win.” I didn’t consult her. I should have. She’d served as an ASCOA senator our first term.


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That year, she was the VP of BSU and of our student government. I assumed she was transferring. In reality, had we been in communication and planning together, we could have planned a takeover of student government. Instead of working together, we ended up running against each other! The leaders of the Black Student UNION could not unite! Our friendship deteriorated during the election, even though neither of us ran a negative campaign. We were competitors. She beat me by less than 20 votes. Ironically, I’d been focused on organizing two BSU-related events. She used the time to campaign. I remember one of the people who helped her campaign approached me one day saying, “I hoped you won. I would’ve helped you campaign. Why didn’t you ask me?” I was off campus and in the community organizing. I learned then the importance of humility and asking others for help. You can’t do it all yourself. Especially if you’re in a group called a “Union.” Me and D mended our friendship some time later. She recalled our division and said, “It was like Biggie and Tupac.” Indeed, if men and women can work together, and elders and youth can mend their differences, there is so much we can do for our people. Young people can bring a lot of enthusiasm while elders can provide wisdom and guidance. I hate the disdain Black youth and


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elders sometimes show for one another, especially since I’ve seen positive examples of intergenerational unity. That spring, I gained a great experience of working with a group like that. I’d joined Laney College’s Club Knowledge and helped plan the third annual Malcolm X COnscinousness Conference on April 30 2005. Since we’d organized two fashion shows at the College of Alameda – “Assorted Chocolates” part 1 and part 2”–I was asked to organize a :Pan-African Fashion Show” at Laney. Despite the conflict with DeBorah, her husband Willis supported my efforts with advice on making a good show. We worked together to organize the first show. He was an artist and photographer. I recruited models and fashion designers on Craigslist. The combination of beautiful African-styled and African-inspired clothing on beautiful miles also increased my interest in African culture. But the conference was hardly a Culture Nationalist affair. The Malcolm X Conference’s speakers included Public Enemy’s Chuck D, an activist and son of a former Chicago Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton, Jr., and BET correspondent and Hip Hop critic Jeff Johnson. We also featured radical Hip Hop and poetry by artists like The Coup, Hairdoo, Ise Lyfe, and Amir Sulaman. The purpose of the conference, according to a press release:


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Simply said, the purpose is to unify African and Black student organizations in California under a common agenda, one that Club Knowledge seeks to “fight back” against the common enemy. “The only way we can win is to fight together in a unified front against oppression and our oppressors,” said the organization.15 The most memorable moment of the conference was the moment when Club Knowledge’s founder, Emil DuPoint, tells me 10 minutes into the fashion show, “I need 15 minutes. It’s for the Africas.” The show was already 30 minutes behind because another program started late. Now Emil wants me to give up part of the Alameda BSU program for some Africans? Who the hell is Ramona Africa anyway, I recall thinking? I’m glad I found out. Although she spoke for 40 minutes instead of 10, I learned about the Black radical politics of Philadelphia’s MOVE organization. I’d known about Mumia Abu Jamal, but Sister Ramona reminded me I had more to learn. Sometimes you have to trust the moment and have faith in the brothers and sisters you work with. Fashion is important. But that revolutionary message was more important. Although the objectives of the conference aligned with my 15 “Third Annual Malcolm X Consciousness Conference at Laney College” Peralta News. Spring 2005.


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objectives as BSU President and a member of the Black Caucus, the Malcolm X Conference was held the same weekend as the CalSACC spring conference. Black Caucus elections were held at CalSACC’s spring conference, and I wanted to run for president again. A comrade from Los Angeles, Joel Francis, nominated me for President in my absence and read a letter explaining why I wasn’t present. For the second year in a row, CalSACC scheduled their conference the same weekend as Club Knowledge. I still remember being in the studio at KPFA with JR Valrey, then Minister of Information of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC) and its chairman, Fred Hampton, Jr. OCC, when I found out I was elected Black Caucus President. The experience of working with Joey and Club Knowledge helped me trust my comrades, understanding many of them shared my same loyalty to our mission. Without trust and loyalty, an organization will fail. One of my most memorable experiences as BSU President was hosting “Expressions,” a talent showcase at COA. The headliners were E-A Ski and The Frontline and Colored Ink. We also had a range of other local artists. I hosted the event. I’d began going by the moniker “Reggie General,” a title bestowed upon me by DeBorah’s husband. We’d hosted auditions at the Esperanza Community Center and we had a few youth from my program


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open up the show. There were so many memorable performances, but what I remember most was the excitement of my communities coming together: the youth from the neighborhood with my BSU family. Everyone came out. I remember wearing a black Dickie’s work shirt with a Red, Black & Green patch I’d sown on my shoulders. With my Afro boldly standing atop my shoulders, I’d created a chance for so many people to be heard and to share their ideas. The performances and songs were inspiring. Despite fears from the sheriff’s office, the event went off without a hitch. Well, Debob got a ticket. Some Black folks like to say, “Black people can’t ever have nothing.” Like anything we get, we will mess up. I don’t believe that. Not anymore. Black people can have justice, peace, and unity. We can have progress. But we must struggle. We must celebrate life! Among the performers at Expressions was Alameda’s poet laureate Mary Rudge and another poet, Mosetta Rose London. Rudge, an older white woman, once lived in housing located atop the property now occupied by the College. I’d met her friend Mosetta during the Harbor Island fight. I remember she spoke out at a City Council meeting. An older Black woman with smooth brown skin and a hat (crown), she walked around with a rolling oxygen tank. That tank ain’t slow her down a bit! She spit fire


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filled with righteousness on our behalf. She also went by the name, “Mama Rap.” And at the talent showcase, she performed a song called, “Don’t Buy the Lie,” encouraging young people not to fall for stereotypes. She was more popular with the youth that our headliners. I once bought the lie that all I was, and would ever be, was a nigga from Alameda. Mama Rap came to my graduation later that month. So did youth from my neighborhood. I graduated with Associates Degrees in Psychology and Sociology. Mama Rap contacted the Alameda Sun, a locally-owned newspaper, to encourage them to write a story about me. The writer ended the story by telling what I did after graduation: After the ceremony, James headed to work — in full cap and gown — so the kids could visualize his insight. Then, he walked past his old, now boarded up Harbor Island apartment. And instead of partying, James headed home for a nap.16 I felt it was important to show the youth of my community a positive image of a Black man. If I did it, so can you. I wanted a better life for myself and the Black Community. The writer quoted 16 Creque, Valerie, “Local Graduate Inspires Youth.” Alameda Sun. 30 June 2005:1. Also: <http://www.reginaldjames.info/2005/06/alameda-sun-local-graduate-inspires.html>


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me as saying, “Commencement for me is just the beginning.” My time with the Alameda BSU helped develop my foundation. These experiences encouraged me to study our Black Struggle and the transition from “cultural nationalism” to “revolutionary nationalism” to “Pan-Africanism.” I told the writer, “What I definitely see myself doing with my life is community building.” Rooted in a stronger understanding of myself, I plan to continue to work for the empowerment of African people around the world. My early learning experiences emerged from my struggles and challenges with brothers and sisters of the College of Alameda Black Student Union. Through our collective efforts to fulfill our mission, I learned about the history of my people, and things about myself, that continue to drive me to be the best reflection of God’s Love on this planet Earth. As Frantz Fanon once wrote, “Each generation, our of relative obscurity, must find its mission and either fulfill it or betray it.” I hope future generations will uphold the banner of the Alameda BSU and fulfill its mission: The College of Alameda Black Student Union, also known as the Alameda BSU, is a student organization representing students of African descent at the College of Alameda in Alameda. The purpose of the organization is to provide a support network for students which encourages them to excel academically


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Evolution of a Premature Revolutionary while in community college. Each year as our student leadership changes, our methods change, but not our mission. The upliftment of our students is a five-fold mission. The primary purpose of the organization is to encourage education, however that education will hinder our personal growth if it is not holistic and includes enrichment in the following areas: · Cultural awareness · Political engagement and activity · Economic aspirations · Social interation and the common thread of our being · Spiritual upliftment17

College of Alameda Black Student Union logo. Adopted 2004.

17 College of Alameda Myspace Page. 2005. <http://myspace.com/ coabsu> [November 26, 2012].


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“Collectively, we have more power than we do individually. We must unite behind a single, or well-defined group of purposes and objectives. It is said that, “an organized lie will defeat an organized truth.” We must organize and fight for ourselves, our younger siblings, and children, to make sure they have the same opportunities we enjoy (and take for granted), the things our ancestors fought, strived, lived, and died for.” – from the chapter, “Expressions of Consciouness” Reginald James now studies African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. From 2003-2005, Reginald served as the President of the College of Alameda BSU, the Black Student Union in his hometown of Alameda, California.

Evolution of a Premature Revolutionary: Reflections on the College of Alameda Black Student Union  

This memoir covers my experiences with the Alameda Black Student Union from 2002-2005. "Evolution of a Premature Revolutionary," reflects o...

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