Reclaiming The Radical Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the last years of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rejected duopoly politics and challenged the roots of the crises we face, what he called the triple evils of racism, capitalism and militarism. As many people active in the Civil Rights Movement moved into the Democratic Party, Dr. King taught that the movement must be independent of political parties and be “the conscience” of them. For this, Dr. King was shunned and hated. In this interview from MLK Day in 2015, Kevin Zeese and I spoke with Kymone Freeman, co-founder of We Act Radio in Washington,DC, JasiriX, an activist and artist out of Pittsburgh, PA, and Cat Brooks, an activist in Oakland, CA about the revival of the radical Dr. King and how they are continuing his work in their communities.
Papi Kymone Freeman (guerrilla artist) is the director of the National Black LUV Festival recognized as a Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Art Award Finalist for Excellence in Service to the Arts in 2006 and received a Mayoral Proclamation in 2007. est. 1997 NBLF has since become the largest annual AIDS mobilization in WDC. Freeman has appeared along side Mark Twain and Harriet Tubman in newspapers and subway cars throughout WDC metro area as a Clinical AIDS Vaccine Trial Participant and NIH “Everyday Heroes” Ad Campaign Model to bring attention to this pandemic. Freeman is a founding board member for Words Beats & Life, a Hip Hop Non-Profit and co-founder of Bum Rush the Boards the largest annual youth chess competition in WDC. He is the subject of one chapter of the book Beat of A Different Drum: The Untold Stories of African Americans Forging Their Own Paths in Work and Life (Hyperion). He has authored a collection of poetry entitled Blood.Sweat.Tears.
His dedication to art and activism lead him to accept the position of NYC spokesperson and official poet of the anti-war independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader during his campaign in ’04. A scholarship received from American Friends Service Committee to spend the summer in Nairobi, Kenya for an international leadership conference resulted in him returning to the states as a playwright. He received the 22nd Annual Larry Neal Award for Drama for the successful play Prison Poetry that has appeared at the Historic Lincoln Theatre and Source Theatre during the Hip Hop Theatre Festival, THEARC Theatre, Oak Hill Juvenile Detention Facility and several college campuses where his work has been included in the Black History curriculum of Maryland’s Easternshore. He has conducted production workshops at the National Black Theatre Festival and Institute of Policy Studies.
His second stageplay was commissioned by Jive Recording Artist Raheem DeVaughn entitled the Love Experience. He has studied under the legendary independent filmmakers Haile Gerima, Raoul Peck and Sam Greenlee. Freeman’s second screenplay Nineveh: a conflict over water a futuristic drama that paints a post-oil depleted world has been produced as a short film and is pursuing a feature length release.
He is currently Program Director of We ACT Radio 1480 AM DC’s new progressive radio station.
Jasiri X: Emcee and community activist Jasiri X is the creative force and artist behind the ground breaking internet news series, This Week with Jasiri X, which has garnered critical acclaim, thousands of subscribers, and millions of internet views. From the controversial viral video What if the Tea Party was Black?, to the hard hitting hilarity of Republican Woman…stay away from me, Jasiri X cleverly uses Hip-Hop to provide social commentary on a variety of issues. His videos have been featured on websites as diverse as Allhiphop.com and The Huffington Post and Jasiri has been a guest on BET Rap City, The Michael Baisden Show, Free Speech TV, Left of Black, and Russia Today.
Jasiri X first burst on the National and International Hip-Hop scene with the powerful hit song Free The Jena 6 which was played on more than 100 radio stations and was named Hip-hop Political Song of the Year. His debut album, American History X, was named Album of the Year at the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards. A six time Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Award winner, Jasiri recently became the first Hip-Hop artist to received the coveted August Wilson Center for African American Culture Fellowship. A founding member of the anti-violence group One Hood, Jasiri started the 1Hood Media Academy to teach young African-American boys how to analyze and create media for themselves.
Jasiri has performed from New York City to Berlin, Germany and various cities in between, including recently in front of 30,000 at the Our Communities Our Jobs Rally in Los Angeles. He has toured colleges and universities across the country presenting his innovative workshop, How to Succeed in Hip-Hop Without Selling Your Soul, and is working on a book of the same name. He also blogs for Jack and Jill Politics, Daveyd.com, and The Black Youth Project. Jasiri X signed a record deal with Wandering Worx Entertainment and has recently released his album, Ascension with acclaimed producer Rel!g!on.
Cat Brooks is an organizer with the ONYX Organizing Committee. With other groups, they are launching “96 hours of action as part of national call to ‘Reclaim King’s Legacy.’” They are based in Oakland and San Francisco.
Similar protests are planned in other cities. See from The Real News: “Baltimore Activists Participate in National Day of Action Against Police Brutality.”
The group states: “We will join thousands around the country responding to a call from Ferguson Action to reclaim Dr. King’s legacy of militant direct action in opposition to economic violence as well as police violence and discrimination. This weekend’s events culminate in a Jobs and Economy March for the People on Monday, Jan. 19, beginning at 11 a.m. at Oscar Grant Plaza.
“Monday, we will connect the dots between police violence and economic violence with a march at 11 a.m. from Fruitvale Station, where Oscar Grant III was murdered by BART police, in solidarity with Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, Sanford, Salt Lake City, and countless others who too have lost young black men to police terror. …
“The upcoming 96 hours of direct action across the Bay Area will highlight the unjust economic and political structures that King fought fiercely to defeat. Thousands will unify, regardless of skin color, religion, or creed, as we reclaim King’s legacy and act, in tandem, against police and economic violence; two primary tools of white supremacy. Actions will take place throughout the city, at BART stations, community meetings and street corners and come in the form of shut downs, guerrilla theater, teach-ins and concerts. Monday, we march through the neighborhoods where systematic and state sanctioned murder of black, brown, and poor people occur most.”