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Common and Tye Tribbett to Perform at UOP Black History Month Celebration

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The University of Pacific (UOP) is featuring a series of events next month in honor of Black History Month, including “An Evening with Common” on Saturday, Feb. 8, a free poetry reading and Gospelfest 2014 featuring gospel artist Tye Tribbett on Friday, Feb. 28.

Organized by UOP staff and students, the annual celebration honors the history and heritage of African Americans and the African Diaspora.

“An Evening with Common” will present a lecture and performance by the Grammy Award-winning artist on Feb. 8, 7 p.m., at the Bob Hope Theatre, 242 E. Main St. in Stockton.

Common is known for his conscious lyrics ,having released 10 albums including Resurrection (1994), Universal Mind Control (2008) and The Dreamer, The Believer (2011). His new album, Nobody Smiling, is expected to be released this year.

The poet and activist has performed at the White House and is the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to youth empowerment and leadership.

Also an actor, Common is currently featured on the AMC television series “Hell on Wheels.” His film credits include “Smokin’ Aces Wanted,” “Just Wright,” “Happy Feet Two,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Date Night.” He released his memoir, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” in 2011.

A free poetry reading and discussion with Claudia Rankine, author of “Plot” and other books of poetry, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. She is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College and was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets last year. This event is open to the public and will be held at the Wendell Phillips Center, 1000-1070 W. Stadium Drive at the University of Pacific.

UOP is presenting the Gospelfest 2014 in collaboration with San Joaquin Delta College, featuring gospel artist Tye Tribbett, whose latest album “Greater Than” debuted at number one on the Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums Chart.

Tribbett is known to give a lively performance with his choir Greater Anointing. Some of his most popular gospel hits include “No Way” and his latest single “If He Did It Before…Same God.”

Gospelfest 2014 will be held Feb. 28, 7 p.m. at the Warren Atherton Auditorium, 5151 Pacific Ave. at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

For ticket information and student pricing, visit www.pacific.edu or call (209) 946-7707.

Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

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Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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Books

Marcus Books at 60, the Oldest Black Bookstore in the U.S.

You can check out the titles they have in stock by visiting https://www.marcusbooks.com/ The store is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00-4:00 p.m.

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Image provided from Marcus Book Store Facebook page

Marcus Books is a Black-owned bookstore located at 3900 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA 94609. Named for United Negro Improvement leader and author Marcus Garvey, the store was founded by Tuskegee College graduates Julian and Rae Richardson in 1960. In the ensuing decades they have sold books produced by Black, independent publishers, authors, poets, and artists and hosted talks by a who’s who of Black writers ranging from the late Toni Morrison, to Michael Eric Dyson and Sistah Soldier. There is a substantial collection of books for children as well. Online shopping is also available. You can check out the titles they have in stock by visiting https://www.marcusbooks.com/ The store is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00-4:00 p.m.

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Art

In Colorizing the Characters in ‘Hamilton,’ Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda Whitewashes History

But he should also make sure we all know Hamilton was no hip-hop hero, just another founding slave holder. Miranda’s color change doesn’t change history, nor make it less distasteful.

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Photo of Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton courtesy of cinemablend

Is there any doubt that Ishmael Reed is Oakland’s writer of conscience and consequence?

He was my teacher in graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. From him I learned a number of truisms about writing. Like, for me, when in doubt, put in the Filipinos. Don’t take them out!  Another one was career advice. The more money you make, the less you get to say. Conversely, the less you make, the more you get to say. And that brings me to the topic of this column.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “In the Heights,” opened the movie version of the musical last week. It’s a gushing hydrant of diversity. It should make a lot of money. But when I talked to him a few weeks back I wanted to talk about his other monster hit, “Hamilton,” where Miranda applied what I call a little affirmative action. He put the Black and the Brown actors in the white parts.

The Founding Fathers got “Hamiltoned.” Revolutionary?

“Well, it’s interesting,” he said. “The idea when I picked up the book was it’s an R&B hip-hop musical so, of course, Black and Brown actors would play those roles. As I’m reading the book the first time, I’m picturing which of my favorite hip-hop artists should play Hercules Mulligan or George Washington. They were always people of color, and the music reflects that…I was sort of more surprised that everyone was surprised when we finally came out.”

“I think it kicks open the door,” he added. “Why are we so literal when it comes to this stuff? And you know, I see Shakespeare with people of every ethnicity playing the roles. Why can’t that be the case with our founders? We know what they look like – they’re on our f***ing money. So, like, let’s move forward here. But I think once you see a show that has had the diversity that we have on stage, it’s very hard to go back to sort of these all-white productions because you’ve got to ask why, what stories aren’t we getting when you see that?”

You still have to ask what you’re getting. Miranda got comfortable enough to cuss and didn’t like the term “affirmative action.” But was he rehabbing Hamilton, making him and the others better than they were by applying the hip-hop beat?

It was the perfect opening to ask a question about Reed, the MacArthur ‘genius’ award-winning novelist, satirist, and playwright who last year wrote  “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda,” a play that takes Miranda to task for the failure to highlight the real history of Hamilton.

Hamilton and his in-laws, the Schuyler family, were slave owners.

Miranda may have given the actors some tone, but the historical soul remains the same. Just obscured. Reed sees Miranda as duped by the Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow, which Miranda used as the main source for his skin-deep musical that glosses over our racist founders.

“I think seducing thousands of children and even the inaugural poet Amanda Gorman into believing that Hamilton and the Schuyler girls were ‘ardent abolitionists,’ must rank as a cultural crime,” Reed said to me.

As I asked Miranda my question about Reed, the PR rep cuts in: “We are actually out of time.”

Then Miranda says, “I got a long schedule, sorry. Thank you.”

It would have been interesting to hear his answer, with “Hamilton” beginning a new tour in August.

But this is megabuck showbiz, and the PR juggernaut must go on.

So, Miranda wiggled his way out. He could have answered. I gave him a shot.

Then again, Miranda’s got this new property to sell that’s a lot more cleansing and joyful. “In the Heights” is the feel-good movie of the post-pandemic, you know. All the fire hydrants are gushing.

But he should also make sure we all know Hamilton was no hip-hop hero, just another founding slave holder. Miranda’s color change doesn’t change history, nor make it less distasteful.

In fact, the 2021 tour for “Hamilton” is coming to San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose for multiple-week runs in August through October.

Will he come clean by then? Or come up with a new song? In the meantime, you should read Reed’s “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda.”  There’s no music to wash away the truth.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran Bay Area journalist and commentator. He vlogs at www.amok.com Twitter @emilamok

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