Black History Unfolding In Front of My Eyes

root - Posted on 28 July 2008

Powerful new books by African-American writers are released by POORPress this Black History Month.

by Sam Drew/PNN

I recently had the opportunity to observe a slice of Black History unfold in front of my eyes. I wasn't in an auditorium filled with graduates from a high profile college or in the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company. It happened while I was waiting for a bus at the corner of 40th and San Pablo in beautiful North Oakland on a hectic Friday evening. Black History not only takes place when talented black people rise to the top of their fields, but also when black people resist being criminalized, marginalized and de-humanized by the society at large.

At the bus stop I heard an elderly African American man screaming at the top of his lungs and banging his walking cane on the back of a 72R bus. He kept repeating the phrase "I'm not gonna' let him get away with that!!!" to anyone who would listen as he approached the front of the bus. As the old man got on the bus he began arguing violently with the bus driver over his perceived disrespect. The bus driver quickly grabbed his telephone and called the Sheriffs office to haul to old guy to jail.

But before the news media could get another piece of bad news coming from violent Oakland, a young African American male wearing a black New York Yankees baseball cap put his long sinewy arm on the old guy's shoulder and forcefully spoke "It ain't worth it O.G. It't ain't worth going to jail over. Let it go O.G. He(the bus driver) ain't worth it" The youth began pulling the old man off the bus while telling him he didn't want him to go to jail. When he got the old timer on the street the 72 bus driver closed the door and rapidly drove off in a huff. I had just witnesses refusal to be criminalized. I also witnessed a youthful African-American male defuse a potential violent situation an be a peace maker. I also viewed inter-generational dialog between young and old. With the young extending wisdom and guidance to the elder. And the elder accepting the wise words. This is just the opposite to the image put out in the media about young black males and black people in general. Black history unfolding in front of my eyes.

A revolutionary project of POOR Magazine aimed at penetrating the racist and classist publishing industry, POOR Press Publications has just released 9 new books from mamas, daddies, sons, daughters and grandmothers who have struggled with poverty and racism in Amerikka ( 6 from African American authors!) that exhibit that same spirit that refuses to be marginalized, criminalized or de-humanized .These books touch on themes that are universal but retain that unique Poor Press flavor of resistance.

Bruce Allison's The Land Under Golden Gate Park. is a fantasy about the weird world underneath Golden Gate Park and also serves as a satire on San Francisco politics or as Mr. Allison says "Just have fun reading it!"

Rico Stone Crawford's First, The Last-Featuring Visions is a book comprised of poetry written by the late Rico-Stone Crawford and co-authored by his mother Merilee Crawford. Even though Rico was told at the young age of nineteen he had two months to live, he lived an additional twenty years which gave him time to express his many talents.

Marvin Crutchfield's Paradise Ventures 3 is his 3rd book of gospel poetry. It is mainly about how to get saved by Jesus Christ, because he is the author of light. And, it tells about what will happen if you refuse him.

One Man's Journey into Institutional Abuse Ms a compilation of poetry written by Byron Gafford about institutions all over the world that were built to tear families apart and ruin lives for monetary gain.

Valerie Harvey's Love Lights the Way: A Book of Poetry About Love is a book of poetry about the different types of love, including romance, friendship, love of one's ethnicity and familial love. One of the goals of the book is for people to be more intuned about love in general.

Ruyata Akio McGlothin's (RAM) Another Broken Heart Mended is about the trauma Ruyata went through as a child which lead to his drug abuse which also lead to his recovery. According to RAM "I'm trying to get people away from negative internal dialogue."

POOR Magazine's own welfareQUEEN Vivian Hain's book of struggle, resistance and art; SuperbabyMama - in the life of one poor mama in the USA, focuses on the life of a poor family dealing with racism, poverty and criminalization in the US.

The powerful essays, articles and art of poverty and race scholar and journalist Brother Y's book are included in his first publication entitled, The San Francisco County Jail Cookbook .

And finally, Dale Ray's To Hell and Back is a story of uplifting hope. As Dale Ray puts it, "Your past does not have to dictate your future. Through will power you can overcome your obstacles just like I did!"

To purchase a copy of any of these powerful publications please call POOR Magazine at (415) 863-6306 or to buy them on-line with your credit card go on-line to and click on POOR Press. They will all be available at a table at Whose Poverty Whose Crime - a symposia on the Criminalization of Poverty held at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall on March 6th and March 7th


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