>> Wednesday, August 10, 2011
"I am, somebody! I won't be stopped by nobody! I got my fist in the air, and the movement in my feet, I got love for my people, but it starts with me.
This is one of my favorite Oakland Freedom School chants. It was one of a few done at the Oakland Freedom School graduation on August 5. It was held at Dwayne Wiggin's "House of Music" in Oakland. It's a beautiful venue.
Oakland Freedom School, known as OFS, is a five-week summer literacy program for African youth that encourages health and fitness, reading, active parent/family/community involvement, and cultural pride. I didn't teach at OFS again this year, but I still remember many of the kids. And many remember me (that makes you feel sooo good). Let me tell you: OFS is transformational and inspirational.
After beginning the program with libations, each class did a presentation and introduced themselves. Presentations included formations, chants, and even dance. The two most inspiring parts of the graduation were the Black Panther class, and the "Anansi Players" class.
The Black Panther class, led by brother Daniel Muhammad and Thorton White, III (Sirius El) was on point. Not only did they do great formations, but they educated the crowd at the graduation. Taking on the personas of Huey P. Newton, Elaine Brown, Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, Assata Shakur and Fred Hampton, the class–made up of children 8-10 year olds, by the way–explained the conditions that led them to organize the people.
The Anansi Players, led by Tiara Phalon, did a dramatic interpretation of a tale about Anansi the Spider. Wearing Zorro masks, capes and green custom designs on their white tees, they were transformed into the characters of the West African folktale. These children, 5-7 years old, are the ones most inspired by OFS. And their inspiration inspires me to read more.
Over the past few years, I've taken hundreds of photos at Oakland Freedom School events. Visit the OFS Facebook page to see more images of our future.