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From the Super Bowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends

March 10, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Four

The next stop was a restaurant called Pican on a main street. This site was more in the business/commercial district. When we arrived, the participants were already gathered around a long table. There were about the same number as the Alameda County APIA Caucus. It was exclusively African American.* A few more persons came in after the meeting started. Seated near the head of the table was the Honorable Willie Brown, the former Speaker of the Assembly and Mayor of Oakland.

The order of the meeting followed the same format as the APIA Caucus. Leah spoke, and then there was the Q&A session. They asked almost the same questions regarding the Democratic National Convention. As she was at the APIA Caucus, Leah was brilliant. She was thorough and clear as she answered the questions. Again, there were photo ops afterwards. It seemed everyone wanted to take a photo with Leah. Contentedly, I sat quietly and basked in the wonder of it all. As always, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

We, as a people, are experiencing difficult times. There’s no doubt about it. However, there are some people who question whether we have made any progress at all. Indeed, some argue we are going backward.

For those of us who are seniors, we have no doubt about the progress. In our opinion, we have made tremendous strides. To believe otherwise is to believe that all of our leaders and all of the people who fought so hard and gave their lives for nothing. While I believe we have made great progress, but I also believe we have a long way to go. Yes, we have a Black President. Putting aside his productivity, or the lack thereof, the fact that he was elected and served for eight years is a piece of reality we would have never believed a few years ago.

When I think of Leah, I remember that her grandmother – my mother – scrubbed floors. In the generation of my father and mother, relatively, a few people in our circle attended college (none from the Daughtry family). It wasn’t much better in my generation. And, here is Leah, the CEO of the Democratic National Convention, with significant influence on employment, contracts, and whether or not the next President of the United States of America would be elected. She is representative of many other people of African ancestry who are doing quite well.

Then, again, for many of our people – good, hard-working people, the American Dream is a nightmare. There are the lumpenproletariat and the masses who are completely out of the loop and know it not. There are the misfits, indigents, and the sick. There are the lawless – made so by unjust laws. There is mass incarceration where thousands are imprisoned unjustly and unnecessarily.

When all is said and done, we still have made some headway against the raging storm. I am reminded of a quote that has been attributed to one of our preachers: “We are not where we want to be, and we are not where we are going to be. But, we are not where we were.” I know we could be doing a whole lot better if we would take advantage of the opportunities we do have, if we would do all that is in our power to do, and if we would do all that we can to help those in need.

While at the meeting, we were rejoined by our party. They related their experience on the tour of Oakland. Almost exclusively, they focused on gentrification. The same thing that is going on in New York is happening in other parts of the country and others parts of the country.

The final stop of the day was shopping. We had to buy some Super Bowl souvenirs. We drove across the bridge to San Francisco. Leaving behind Oakland, my thoughts continued to dwell on personalities, organizations, and events. Particularly, I thought of Huey Newton and Bobbie Seale, and how the Black Panther Party was organized in Oakland. In addition, I thought of Oba T. Shaka, a veteran Pan-Africanist/Revolutionary. He had been the Chair of the Bay Area’s Congress on Racial Equality (CORE); and, then, the Vice Chair for Organizational and Training with the National Black United Front (NBUF).

One of the memories that made an indelible impression on my mind was our last trip to Cuba. NBUF had formed a mutually supportive relationship with Cuba. It was our custom to make at least one trip a year. They agreed to offer scholarships to medical students. The program is still in existence. In addition, they agreed to have a national holiday, honoring an African American leader. To the shock of everyone in our delegation, they chose Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mr. Shaka asked, “Why?” After all, it was assumed that the Cubans would choose Malcolm X. They replied, “Dr. King has more tendencies around him.” I interpreted that to mean Dr. King’s organizing skills brought together more different kinds of people.

There was a special National Football League store. It was crowded. There was wall-to-wall people. In fact, there was a long line to enter the store, and a long line to pay for the goods. We bought caps, shirts, jackets, and mugs. I soon grew weary. I confess that I’m not a shopper. I usually know what to buy. I buy it, and get out as soon as possible.

From the excitement, I assume that these people were real shoppers. They loved every minute of it. Eventually, we were back in the car and back across the highway to the hotel. Now, it was not only crowded in the lobby but also outside the hotel. People were everywhere with their favorite team colors. It was about 8.pm., and I decided it was bedtime.

… to be continued.

*In our last article, we had mistakenly referred to the group of African American leaders as the African American Caucus.