Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Angela Davis then and now Part 3

By awoodall
Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 12:00 pm in Uncategorized.

 Part 3 about the weekend of Aug. 1, which I wrote about in the following blog entry because I was covering a Night Owl event that was intensely political and thought provoking. The entry turned out way too long for one post so I am breaking it into sections.
Aug 2: Culture plays a vital role in politics, said Mark Tribe, creator of the Port Huron Project, responsible for staging the Angela Davis speech.  Culture creates conditions for emancipation, autonomy and democracy, was the way he put it.
Tribe said the political climate – or lack thereof — at Brown University in 2005 when he began teaching led to the project. People seemed to feel resistance was futile.
I asked a woman at the Angela Davis speech recreation at DeFremery Park if she thought people were disillusioned and less active than the 1960s and 70s. “There is not as much opposition because you don’t see body bags,” said Annette Santos, a former Black Panther in the New York and Oakland branches. She was talking about the opposition to the Vietnam War, which spurred a generation to intense protest. In contrast, the Bush Administration has blocked images of U.S. soldiers’ caskets being shipped back to the United States from Iraq. No one was dying at the start of the war in Iraq, Santos said. “Wen they did, we didn’t hear about it.”
Media have been banned from covering the arrival of remains at Dover, according to a USA Today article“The air base houses the military’s largest mortuary, where bodies are prepared for burial before they are sent to the families’ hometowns. In March, before the Iraq war began, the Pentagon clamped down on similar coverage from military installations around the world…”
People will go out to protest given a reason, Santos continued. But they need a reason.
Do we have fewer reasons today than 1969 when Davis said the anti-Vietnam protest should be connected with domestic oppression, particularly in the forms of poverty and racism?
Not much, said a man at DeFremery after the speech who called himself Shadidi. “All you have to do is replace Vietnam with Iraq.”  Shadidi said people think twice before speaking out because the powers that be punished people in the past, leaving movements leaderless by design. “The atmosphere created keeps people from being revolutionary in mind and thought. Social conditions keep people in survival mode,” he said. Shadidi refused to give his surname. “I guess it’s that fear we were talking about,” he said.

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