A great Leader is honored through words, sound and art


root - Posted on 05 August 2002

The Third Annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival is held in East Oakland

by Connie Lu/PoorNewsNetwork Media intern

Joseph Bolden, staff writer and photographer for POOR Magazine/PNN,
and I exit the Fruitvale BART station and after some aimless wandering in the multi-cultural, multi-generational neighborhoods of East Oakland we arrive at San Antonio Park, which was where the 3rd Annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival was being held.

I look up at the brilliant blue sky. There is not a
single cloud. The air is cool with a light breeze
that gently sweeps over the lush green grass where I
am sitting in front of the main stage. The stage is
decorated with a huge purple banner that says
"Malcolm X" written in yellow and outlined in green. There are several stands and booths surrounding the
outer edge of the park with bold, colorful posters and
pieces of art translating the words and images of the Great Malcolm X , a civil rights leader who was murdered in 1965.

The day starts with one of the MC's and performers from the day, Josh Jones explaining that the festival is being held in honor of Malcolm X and his great civil
rights accomplishments. The festival is also
dedicated to Yuri Kochiyama, a friend of Malcolm X and
political activist, who was involved in the civil
rights movement and became a member of Malcolm X's
Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). The theme
of this year's 3rd Annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival
was "Women's Voices Against the War" because of how
our country's current situation with war is affecting
the lives of many women and their children.

Another MC introduces the next band to
perform, the Oakland Highschool Jazz Band. The variety of
instruments being played directly reflects the rich
diversity that make up this band. There are Black,
Asian, and Latino musicians playing different
instruments together. The next
band is The Josh Jones Ensemble. The style of
this band is very mellow, yet strong. Their music has
a jazzy flavor with a hint of funk. The lead singer
has a powerful voice. Her voice echoes with a deep
passion of soul as she sings the climax of the song,
followed by the intense electric guitar solo that
keeps my head nodding to the funky beat of the
drummer.

Throughout this wonderful day there were many youth and elder poets and speakers including The Black Dot Artists Collective, Idris Ackamoor,India Cooke and many more. One of the highlights for me was Rhodessa Jones, an actress,
singer, and writer who began her presentation by reciting an excerpt from a play by
Eve Ensler called "Vagina Monologues" which was based
upon several interviews from a group of diverse women.
Jones recited the excerpt and expressed the emotions
of the vagina by saying, "My vagina's
angry". The monologue itself is dramatically
delivered with passion. At first I wasn't sure how to
interpret what I was hearing, but as Rhodessa
continued speaking I realized the monologue was
addressing the pain, anger, and power of women.

As I walk across the grass towards the sidewalk to
leave the festival, I felt enriched not only with the art, images and words of the featured artists but with the dream that my generation would definitely not forget the important legacy of the great leader Malcolm X.

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