Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Amiri Baraka: Let’s roll

By awoodall
Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 at 7:33 am in Uncategorized.

Oakland loves former bohemian-black nationalist-Third World Marxist-retired professors — like radical playwright, activist and wordsmith Amiri Baraka.  And Oakland is where Baraka was Friday night — dressed in an orange shirt, red scarf and tweed jacket — reading new work and discussing his upcoming jazz opera, “The Sisyphus Syndrome.”  


The play, to be fully unveiled in Oakland at the Eastside Cultural Center next year, is supposed to delve into the Greek myth of the crafty, greedy, deceptive king best known for the saying a “Sisyphusian task” because he had to roll a huge rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down again.  That’s the story of African Americans, Baraka told the crowd (decked out in fedoras, Raiders’ caps, Afros, Girbaud jeans and you name it) of the mythical king.

“Many have suffered such as us. But none of them was real estate,” Baraka said, invoking “this burning fact that DuBois was wise enough to state.”  Slavery: the rock rolls down. Reconstruction: push it up the hill again. The birth of the Klan: rolls back down again. Harlem Renaissance: back up it goes. Fascism/Klan/Lynching: down again. “It rolled back down on our heads,” Baraka chanted.  Then came Malcolm X, SNCC, Congress of African People. Up, up, up went the rock. “But now it’s back down again. So we have to roll it back up again,” Baraka said. 

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One Response to “Amiri Baraka: Let’s roll”

  1. The royal pair: King Sisyphus and Queenie Pie - The Night Owl - Prowling for Oakland after-hour events with Angela Woodall Says:

    […] coming to town — SOON. The first, “The Sisyphus Syndrome”  is by Black power poet-playwright Amiri Baraka and sax-man David Murray. The show begins 8 p.m. Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Eastside […]

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