A BBC journalist gathers black voices for posterity
How did I get involved? As a complete audio nut, I always make a point of visiting local radio stations wherever I travel in the world. Back in 2007, I was in Los Angeles, called KPFK to arrange a visit and was introduced to the Pacifica Radio Archives. Because of this work and the extensive list of people I have interviewed over the years, Brian invited me to do the interviews for the Redefining Black Power project. Through this book, we delve into the role of the activist from different perspectives; the legal system, the media, religion, the economy, green politics and emotional justice.
SFBG: Was there an interview from the book in which your subject's answers deeply surprised you?
Joanne Griffith: It was Dr Vincent Harding, the man behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" speech that surprised me the most. A true veteran of the civil rights movement, he made the point that the election of President Obama was never the goal of the movement; instead he prefers to call the work "the movement for the expansion and deepening of democracy in America." Put this way, it made me realize more than ever, that the work we do today is not in isolation, but part of a wider movement, stretching back all the way to slavery. And the work isn't over.
SFBG: Who should read this book? How should it be used?
JG: Use it as a conversation starter to discuss issues in your own community. Parents, use it as a way to engage your children in history. Students, use it as a resource for papers on race and the Obama presidency. Most importantly, everyone, share your thoughts at www.redefiningblackpower.com. This book is not the end of the project; we're only getting started.