NEA Honoree Leads Panel on Black Cultural Traditions


National Endowment for the Arts honoree Marion Coleman will be among four standard bearers of Black cultural tradition at a panel discussion Aug. 11 at Laurel Bookstore in downtown Oakland.


Coleman, a longtime Castro Valley resident and social worker from Texas, is a textile artist renowned for public projects that draw on history, social justice, aging and women. She was named a Heritage Fellow by the NEA in July. Most recently she curated and obtained funding for a place-making project, “Neighborhoods Coming Together” that focused on various aspects of life in Oakland.


She will be joined on the panel by Dr. Gail Myers, a cultural anthropologist who will talk about Black farming techniques and traditional Black/African produce like collard greens, watermelon, sweet potatoes and black-eyed peas and the history of those cultural foods. She is the founder of Farms to Grow, Inc., and the Freedom Farmers Market, a partnership of farmers, business owners, makers and community vendors. It opened on July 28 at its new location at 3615 Market St. and will be there Saturdays through November.


Wanda Blake

Post contributor Wanda Blake of Wanda’s Cooking buys the produce for her signature pop-up meals from the Freedom Farmers Market whenever she can, especially Will Scott’s fresh-picked black-eyed peas from his Fresno farm.  Blake, whose father owned a San Francisco barbecue restaurant, has loved cooking from an early age and travels from her Oakland home across the country to learn from Black chefs in New York, New Orleans, Austin, Texas, and Arkansas.


Oakland vocalist Shavon Moore rounds out the panel as the youngest member, upholding the tradition of straight-ahead jazz. The East Oakland native who attended Oakland School for the Arts and studied at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley has shared the stage with such luminaries as Faye Carol, David Murray, Howard Wiley, Kahil El’ Zabar, John Santos, Kev Choice, Norma Miller and Chris Martin.


Moore has recorded four albums from 2013-17 and is the owner of Bright Future’s Music providing accessible and affordable music education to East Oakland youth.
The panel discussion is the brainchild of Laurel bookstore owner Luan Stauss and BEPF Assistant Director Paula Parker as Stauss recognized the importance of cultural events to the vitality of Oakland.


“Black Cultural Traditions” panel discussion will be held on Sat. Aug. 11, 2018, from 4-6 p.m. at Laurel Bookstore, 1423 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612.  Cost: $5. For more information, call the store at (510) 452-9232.


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