President Bill Clinton. Rucker Park. 2001. Photo by Charisse Lambert.
It seems like I waited forever for Fruitvale Station to be made. I remember hearing whispers about it nearly two years ago, and certainly, once it hit the festival circuit of Sundance, Cannes, and everywhere else—it became a thing amongst industry insiders long before it ever was released to the masses. But the hood had known its tragic details long before Hollywood ever caught wind. How could we not be? This incident’s significance in Oakland, and other urban spaces, is actually the reason this story got the green light in the first place.
My personal following of this film, this story, had little to do with mass distribution. I was much more intimately aware of the incident just by being a citizen of Oakland at the time of this real-life occurrence.
January 1, 2009 was the beginning of many ends. As the film’s premise explains, that was the date that Oscar Grant took his last breath due to a single gunshot ringing out at the hands of BART officer Johannes Mehserle on the eastbound platform of the Fruitvale BART station in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day. And, in many ways, that time marked the beginning of my last excursions through the city of Oakland.
NFL training camps are underway.
Basketball is my passion and has been the primary focus of sports coverage over the years, but the game of football is my true foundation. It’s personal, the family business. So the return of football season each year has always represented much more. And it’s that time of year again. Consider this an insider’s look. What will this upcoming season have in store? The game clock starts now.
"Preseason grind gets you ready for primetime. You gotta do the work."
The summer of 2001 was memorable because, looking back, it was the last days of innocence. In those days, I lived in New York City, working as a writer and editor in music and lifestyle magazines. Months earlier, I had received a freelance writing assignment from The Fader magazine to do a feature story on the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic. I remember rolling Uptown on a cold February afternoon to meet Greg Marius, Harlem native and founder of the EBC tournament, for the first time. New York is legendary for its summer playground basketball scene, and at the time, the action at Rucker Park ruled the streets.
I interviewed Greg for about 45 minutes, discussing the tournament’s history and highlights, while anticipating all the action that another EBC run would inevitably bring. The story was published that spring, but as it would turn out, that was just the beginning. Little did I know at the time of that initial interview that I would later flip that one story into something much greater. Everything shifted from that chance meeting in February, and within a matter of months, the world was truly about to change.
The premiere issue of EBC Magazine at Rucker Park that I launched in the summer of 2001. The story starts here..
Follow the #Uptown A Train tag to get more installments as it all unfolds.
The premise of the story starts in this box. Follow the tag #UptownATrain for future installments. Please & thank you.
It’s Monday, July 15, 2013, and somewhere, in the state of Florida, George Zimmerman is a free man. The fact that there had to be such public outcry for him to even be arrested, and ultimately tried, speaks volumes. Then came the verdict. I’m still trying to make sense of the reality of it all…We all are.
I just read an online article on the George Zimmerman case that was published from a writer in London, and what loudly resonated to me, like never before, is the global reach of this particular case.
Still, the verdict leaves the impression not just that it is acceptable for an individual in large parts of the US to take the law into his own hands, but that the life of a young black man is cheap. This incendiary case from central Florida – electorally, a swing district of a swing state – shows how far, despite Mr Obama’s election, the US still fails to practise racial equality.
That is what is being said across the pond.
Here in America, what is reiterated with this particular case is the fact that Black life has little value. Still. That is past and present tense. That is the takeaway. What do we tell our kids now? What’s their takeaway from all of this? The fact that people who look like them can be killed and nothing happens to the person responsible? How do you explain the complexities of it all?
I’m not here to argue about laws and lawyers. I’m not talking about the jury or specifics of the trial itself. This isn’t about George Zimmerman getting out of the car, or the definition of “Stand your ground.” The fact of the matter is that someone, the barely 17-year old Trayvon Benjamin Martin, died on the evening of February 26, 2012.
And, in the end, nothing happened. That says it all.