Wanda Sabir reports on the Bay Area memorial

Thanks to Wanda Sabir for her report on the November 7 memorial for Marilyn, reprinted from WandasPicks.com.

At the celebration of Marilyn Buck, December 13, 1947-August 3, 2010, on Sunday in Oakland, black women spoke of this wonderful woman who loved black people, a white woman who loved black people enough to help a fellow revolutionary escape, Assata Shakur, and then not hold any remorse for the consequences—cumulatively sentenced to 80 years, serving 33. That is true revolutionary love. However, as one of the many speakers said, Marilyn chose this fight against imperialism and injustice, whereas for black women faced with circumstances woven into the fabric of American society, western society, black women didn’t have a choice. They either acquiesced or fought back.

It was a roll call Sunday afternoon at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, except for a sadness regarding Marilyn’s sudden departure—the gathering was a celebration, the party Marilyn said she wanted to have upon her release for all of her friends and supporters.

All of Us or None were present in full multigenerational and multicultural regalia. As an organizing body  they represent the breath of the injustice heaped on youth like Oscar Grant and others like Alicia Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican Political Prisoner and Prisoner of War who spoke of her last years of incarceration with Marilyn and how when her sentence was commuted and she and others were granted freedom, Marilyn walked her to the gates of the prison even as she knew she would not be able to follow.

Alicia spoke movingly of her feet stuck in cement, immobile, her tears as Marilyn walked her to freedom for all the women she was leaving behind, all those whose freedom was also unfairly taken away just because they fought for justice and their democratic human rights for self and others.

In a video of Marilyn, filmed in 1989 by Lisa Rudman, edited by Freedom Archives, Marilyn speaks of her political education and how she learned to give others the right to their culture and contributions and to not assume that because she was also dedicated to social justice this gave her permission or assess to property whether tangible or intangible without asking. Nothing was to be taken for granted and one always had to ask.

This reminds me of the voyeurism that often takes place in cinematography when the object lives and breaths, yet has no say in the commoditization of its life or circumstance. Artists often are guilty of such theft—theft of ideas and images they have no right to because they did not ask permission. Ben Hazzard painted a series on the homeless and paid his models for the photographs used as a basis for his paintings. Marilyn said she gave the film to the person who told her she didn’t have permission to shoot such at the gathering she was attending. I think about this often when I see people and images I’d like to shoot but don’t. I thought about this arbitrary capturing of images like the capture of souls or the imprisonment of spirit, photographs represent culturally to many people. I also thought about how imagery has been used to exploit the powerless and how now law enforcement is filming and shooting those who are exercising their first amendment rights, so photography is now the newer way to identify the opposition. All those who were marching Friday, November 5, 2010, are on camera and by now identified, faces matched with names and filed.

It is a post-COINTELPRO state. 101 now has a lab requirement.

At Marilyn Buck Presente! Yuri Kochiyama’s words likening Marilyn’s life and work to the wild red poppies she wrote about, her symbol of freedom, was perhaps the most articulate and astute, just because of the breadth of Yuri’s historic knowledge of the United States government’s systematic move to silence and eliminate all questioning opposition to its policies which deny its citizens their human and democratic rights.

Graciela Trevisan’s statement from Cristina Peri Rossi, whose collection of poetry, State of Exile in Spanish was translated by Marilyn and received a nomination for best translation at the Northern California Book Reviewers Association Awards Ceremony 2008. Linda Evans, Marilyn’s co-defendant and fellow Austinian and Miranda Bergman, artist, whose friendship with Marilyn goes back to a San Francisco commune in Haight Asbury Days. Marilyn’s teachers and advisors from New College of California on her master’s thesis were present: David Meltzer and others not on the program. Marilyn’s poetry teacher, Maria Poblet, spoke, and Assata Shakur’s voice left a message for Marilyn before her death which was played for those assembled.

Hank of the SF8 spoke of Marilyn and why she lived in their hearts, while Soffiyah Elijah, Marilyn’s attorney and friend, spoke of how Marilyn was her lesson in the American judicial system at work and subsequently frames her practices to this day. Sharing several personal stories, many untold, as time wouldn’t allow, she spoke of her friends journey from captivity to freedom, her last days in Brooklyn at the brownstone both called home and her final day and moments. Marilyn’s family was also present: the three cousins representing their mothers, Marilyn’s aunts, fighter warrior women who they liked to say fueled Marilyn’s resistance and spirit: women who supported their niece with correspondence, visits and money.

Marilyn didn’t just appear on the horizon, she was the product of a long line of revolutionaries like John Brown, who Hank mentioned, and I am thinking about Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein’s mother, “Mary Wollstonecraft, a pioneer in feminist thinking and writing, (who) gave birth to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in 1797.” If one remembers this seminal work of fiction which characterizes the march of the Industrial Nation, reason over compassion and what happens when one doesn’t consider the consequences of invention. I don’t think the inventor of nuclear weapons considered the consequences of such weapons of mass destruction.

In Her Spirit: A commemorative solidarity booklet to benefit the six political prisoners in New York State: Herman Bell, David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes, Abdul Majid, Jalil Muntaqim, Sekou Odinga, is like an update on the classical political prisoner, prisoner of war primer, Can’t Jail the Spirit.

The evening ended with music: Las Bomberas de la Bahia—Afro Puerto Rican Bomba danced us into the dining hall where tables decorated with Marilyn’s ceramic work and collections of poetry: Rescue the Word and Wild Poppies: A poetry jam across prison walls.

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Wanda’s Picks Special: Honoring Marilyn Buck

Wanda Sabir devoted a special edition of her blogtalk radio show to commemorating Marilyn. Originally broadcast November 4, it is available at www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2010/11/04/wandas-picks-special-honoring-marilyn-buck. Wanda’s guests include Linda Evans, J. Soffiyah Elijah, Yuri Kochiyama, Miranda Bergman, and Hafsa Al-Amin.  Music includes Mahalia Jackson singing “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About” and Somi’s “Inspiration.”

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NYC memorial Saturday November 13

A memorial will be held for Marilyn Buck on Saturday November 13, 4:30–7:00 p.m. at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Center, 3940 Broadway, Manhattan, followed by dinner and a Freedom Dance for political prisoners.  Click here for info (including past gatherings).

New York memorial for Marilyn Buck

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Yuri Kochiyama remembers Marilyn

Yuri Kochiyama and Linda Evans shared their memories of Marilyn and called on us to carry on her work

Yuri’s comments at the Bay Area memorial:
My friendship with Marilyn began over 30 years ago. After she went to prison I heard the stories of her bravery and her commitment to the struggle. She took strong principled stands against imperialism and racism. I began writing her letters and later visiting her in prison.

Even with all that she endured Marilyn didn’t turn bitter, she remained positive. She supported fellow political prisoners. She managed to stay informed and in touch with the fight for just justice all over the world. No bars could restrain her heart.

Marilyn loved red poppies. To Marilyn red poppies were a sign of life; a blaze of color, which Marilyn explained made death and honor one. Delicate, vulnerable, bringing smiles to faces. Marilyn lived for others.

She began her life of activism in Texas, and then moved around without stopping to fight racism, injustices and brutality. She became a leader, but was also a follower and a team player. Marilyn was a fighter. She was courageous. She was humble. She inspired. She never seemed to tire. She was a poppy that would not wilt.

Marilyn managed to provide arms to the Black Panthers. But she also wrote poems, lovely and powerful. She loved humanity. She loved life. She loved peace and quiet. She was a teacher when needed, but also a student. And most of all, she was a sister to all of us.

Today as we celebrate her life we carry her in our hearts. And as we leave here today, let us treat each other with kindness, and compassion. Let us be courageous as we stand against racism and injustice. And let us never give up.

Like Marilyn, let us be humble and powerful and beautiful, so that the seeds of this wild red poppy continue to bloom.

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Marilyn remembered, mourned, and celebrated in Oakland

The memorial for Marilyn held last night (Nov 7) was deeply moving, bringing together over 400 of her friends, family, and comrades, young and old, artists and activists from Florida, New York, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Northern and Southern California and beyond. Here are some of the first photos, thanks to Scott Braley Photography.

Marilyn's attorney and long-time friend Soffiyah Elijah gave the eulogy

Prison activist Ida McCray and grandson both spoke

Six of the San Francisco 8 remembered Marilyn as "the most bad-ass activist I've ever known," "I'd cross any street with her any time any where."

Mourners and celebrants filled the church. Melanie DeMore brought us all to tears with Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

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Poetry Contest Announced

The Austin Poetry Society (www.austinpoetrysociety.org) has announced its annual awards contests for 2011. Among 28 contests, to be judged by distinguished poets who are not members of APS, is the “Resistance and Repression Award”, offered in loving memory of Marilyn Buck. Small cash prizes are offered for each annual contest, and several contests might be of interest to radical poets. Membership in APS is required, and full details are available on the APS website. All entries must be received by March 31, 2011.

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Oakland Memorial Held Nov 7

In response to mgwizard‘s wish: “greetings to all who are attending the Memorial for Marilyn today in Oakland — we look forward to hearing about this gathering, seeing photos, and hearing the poems said and songs sung — please share with Marilyn’s many other friends around the world” here is the first photo of Mama Ayanna of Oakland opening the gathering with a libation to the ancestors and the earth. More to be posted soon.

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Freedom’s Warrior: The Life and Times of Marilyn Buck

The KPFA Women’s Magazine broadcast an hour-long profile of Marilyn yesterday, November 1, with contributions from a wide range of her friends and comrades. You can listen to it any time on their blog at kpfawomensmag.blogspot.com/2010/11/monday-november-1-freedoms-warrior-life.html

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The poetry of your life

We hail your courage,
embrace your love, love the
poetry of your life

David Gilbert, 10/6/10

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Altar by Miranda Bergman and Jane Norling

See a photo of the altar created by Miranda Bergman and Jane Norling for the exhibition “Honoring Revolution with Visions of Healing: Dia de los Muertos 2010” at SOMArts in San Francisco. The exhibition remains up through November 6. (Photo on Flickr by Rio Yañez).

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