Angela Davis speech to be restaged Saturday at DeFremery Park
Follows Friday Oakland Museum political film, talks
By Angela Woodall
Article Launched: 07/31/2008
On Nov. 12, 1969, Angela Davis, political icon and future member of
the FBI's most wanted list, stood in Bobby Hutton Memorial Park (aka
DeFremery Park), her afro like a giant F-You to the system she set
out to defy.
The woman wasn't afraid to speak her mind. But what did she say?
That's a question that is hard to answer because finding a transcript
is like finding a hidden treasure.
Davis has become more famous for her revolutionary chic than for her politics.
On Saturday, however, her words and spirit will fill DeFremery Park
for the re-enactment of her 1969 speech, which called for connecting
the anti-Vietnam War movement with protest against inequality in the
United States because they were two sides of the same coin.
Mark Tribe, who is behind the re-enactment of key "New Left" protest
speeches from the 1960s and '70s, dug up the Pacifica Radio recording
of Davis in the UC Berkeley digital library.
"We are facing a common enemy, and that enemy is Yankee Imperialism,
which is killing us both here and abroad," Davis said that November
day, the cadence of her words drawn out.
The restaging Port Huron Project 5: The Liberation of Our People
is phase two of what could be called a revolutionary politics
weekend. So pull out the leather jackets, black berets and political
At 6:30 tonight, the Oakland Museum will set the stage for the
re-enactment with a condensed version of the experimental documentary
"Chicago 10," which recounts the Chicago conspiracy trial after the
1968 Democratic National Convention. The film re-creates Black
Panther Chairman Bobby Seale being gagged and bound to his chair
during the first part of the trial, which has gone down in history as
a mockery of justice. In her speech, Davis used Seale's treatment as
an example of repression that people should unite to resist.
Then at 7:30 p.m., Tribe, Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory
Douglas and the museum's curator, Rene de Guzman, will be on hand to
discuss the performances, art and politics past and present.
There's plenty to talk about.
When Tribe, 41, began teaching in the modern culture and media
department at Brown University in 2005, he said he was struck by how
little protest existed two years into the Iraq war, especially
compared to his student days 20 years earlier when protests against
Apartheid-era South Africa and CIA recruiting on campus erupted regularly.
What he discovered from his students, who were at or around voting
age during the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, both of which
were marked by accusations of voter fraud, was resignation and a
sense of futility except for action on a local micro level. In other
words, protest seemed futile.
The streets of U.S. cities had filled with people protesting the 2000
election, then the war in Iraq. But George Bush was inaugurated, and
the lead-up to the war quickly became the war and is still the war.
And Bush was re-elected, but his poll ratings would drop even lower
than President Nixon's, even though the disgraced Nixon resigned
under threat of impeachment.
What political action, Tribe began to wonder, can be effective in the
And what would it feel like to be part of a movement that could
change history and create revolutionary change?
Tribe said it is important to understand where the United States is
today compared to 40 years ago because there are so many parallels.
(War, unpopular president. Then, Mad magazine was a reality check.
Today people turn to Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" for news.
What, me worry?)
Tribe said he chose speeches six in all by Davis, Cesar Chavez,
Howard Zinn, Coretta Scott King, Paul Potter and Stokely Carmichael
because they penetrated deep into our social, cultural and political
roots to plant the radical idea that society is responsible for all
its citizens. (Did someone just say, "Radical for whom?")
The performances by actors will be posted online
They are not meant to be the end product. They are thought-provoking
performance art. Art as resistance. Speeches, Tribe said, can
encapsulate the highest ideas and catalyze participation in history.
"It's about working on consciousness."
If you go A screening of the documentary "Chicago 10" is 6:30 p.m.
Friday at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., followed at
7:30 p.m. by a talk with Port Huron Project creator Mark Tribe, Black
Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas and museum senior curator
of art Ren de Guzman. The events are free, but admission to the
museum galleries is $8 for adults; $5 for seniors and students with
ID; free for members, city of Oakland employees, and children 5 and
under. Visit www.museumca.org for information. Port Huron Project 5:
The Liberation of Our People, a re-enactment of a landmark 1969
speech by legendary activist Angela Davis, is 6 p.m. Saturday at
DeFremery Park, 1651 Adeline St., Oakland, the original site. The
event is free and open to all. For more information on the Port Huron
Project, visit nothing.org/porthuronproject/.
Don't miss: Mark Tribe and the Port Huron Project
Thursday, July 31, 2008
It's an idea that takes a moment to sink in: historic protest
speeches re-enacted at the site of the original event. The
re-enactments are then put on the Web and are available at a number
of sites. Angela Davis' 1969 speech at deFremery Park in Oakland will
be given Saturday, with a screening of "Chicago 10" and discussion
Friday. Get reacquainted with the not-so-distant past in a powerful way.
Screening of "Chicago 10" at 6:30 p.m. Fri. at the Oakland Museum,
1000 Oak St.; (510) 238-2200; www.museumca.org. "Port Huron Project
5: The Liberation of Our People" opens at 5 p.m. Sat. at deFremery
Park, 1651 Adeline St., Oakland. www.nothing.org/porthuronproject.
- Reyhan Harmanci, email@example.com