It was the Second Annual Activism Right There event to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Third World Liberation Front (twLF). It takes a bit of history to understand all of the names and organizations involved in this event, but all of it is part of a tangible legacy that exists today at Cal.
The third world Liberation Front strikes occurred in 1969, organized and initiated by students demanding a new framework that could work with historically marginalized peoples. This included developing the Ethnic Studies department and creating more diversity within the campus demographics. After protests, hunger strikes, violence and police brutality, the student coalition succeeded in achieving their goal of establishing the Ethnic Studies program in hopes of battling racism and furthering cultural understanding throughout the campus and community.
Forty years later, these "radical" students are recognized for their achievements and exercise their right to protest. The Activism Right There event highlighted the relationship between art and activism. The night started with an intergenerational panel of activists from student movements from the 1960s through today, including two current Cal students.
One of those students was the lovely Dionne Jirachaikitti (left), the current CalSERVE External Affairs Vice President of the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC).
Panelists from past and ongoing movements spoke about the struggles they faced, and offered advice to the younger generations. Different styles of art like hip hop, poetry, and graphic design surfaced multiple times as tools for social change. Marcelo Garzo and Dionne Jirachaikitti, both currently in their fourth year at Cal, spoke about issues that currently face students on campus and advocated action.
Following the panel, some of the best Bay Area slam poets (like Matt Blesse, Terry Tapplehead and Dinna Omar just to name a few) performed pieces that spoke of contemporary affairs that seek redress. DJ K-Salaam spun and hostess Jennifer Johns continued to introduce the six hip hop groups set to perform. Local groups 40Love and Brwn Bflo were the first to hit the stage.
Los Rakas (sans Rico) attracted their local fan base to the event and delivered their unique sound that blends Panamanian sounds with hip hop. DunDun was supporting a local boutique, Filthy Dripped, that was featured in the current issue of BARE (i4)!
Bambu and DJ Phatrick of Los Angeles captured the head nodding and hand waving crowd with the beats Phatrick was laying down and the lyrics and delivery style of Bambu (of Native Guns). Phatrick also DJed last year's first Activism Right There event last year.
Bambu repping the City of Angels! I last saw him perform in LA.
Invincible, who traveled from Detroit to perform, is highly involved in progressive social change and her rap style has attracted hip hop attention worldwide. Not only did she freestyle using words from the crowd, she got even more involved with our students by hosting a workshop on Wednesday in Heller Lounge. Invincible can't stay underground for long, her album "Shapeshifters" is available for everyone.
Zion I hit the stage last, and all of Zellerbach was moving. Zion I has been a favorite of mine, and paired with other musicians and vocalist Codany Holiday- the performance was unreal. They exhibited their new album "The Takeover" with amazing songs such as Antenna, Coastin', and the dance tune DJ DJ. Zumbi "took it back old school" when he played Hit 'Em, and as all of us were screaming for Don't Lose Ya Head, he calmed us by saying, "Hold on! We have to get full before we get to dessert!" This performance from Zion I was one of the best I've seen, it was the music, the energy, and the 40th anniversary of the third world Liberation Front! We also can't forget the break dancers that performed alongside most of the hip hop groups.
Tuesday night was overrun with activism and swag in the best of ways...through ART!
Events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the twLF will continue into Saturday night. Step into the Multi Cultural Center (Heller Lounge) to look for more information.
Here's to progress, not just 40 years worth, but hundreds looking back and forward.