Last week the Bay Area was blessed when legendary poet, playwright, actress, educator, businesswoman and mother Jessica Care Moore made the trek from Detroit to historic Merit College (birthplace of the Black Panthers) to give a talk. Inside the Huey P Newton/ Bobby Seal Lounge, Moore talked for about an hour to a packed room about a number of topics ranging from her friendship with the late Amiri Baraka and why she felt her generation were connected with the Black Arts Movement which is often erased and marginalized in history. She talked about some of the projects folks are working on the preserve the memory of Baraka and bring a larger spotlight on to BAM.
We spoke about her native Detroit and the legacy of techno music and its pioneers Juan Atkins and her good friend Mad Mike Banks who opened a techno museum. We talked about how many forget techno is a black music genre and why Detroit and its gritty conditions gave birth to it in the early 80s. Jessica noted that she had recorded her album inside the techno museum and was working on a project with Mad Mike that will soon be released.
We talked with Moore about her close friendship with John Doe aka J-Dilla who actually made beats for her spoken word that have yet to be released. Yes, there are unheard Dilla beats sitting around..
We spoke about her close friendship with Detroit’s unofficial mayor the late Proof of the group D-12. We talked about the early days of his now iconic Hip Hop Shop and what it meant to the city. We talked about Eminem and his rise to fame and what its meant for Detroit. We talked about the strong women artists who come from that city.
We talked about Moore’s current project Black Women Rock which went down last weekend and why she formed it and its overall goal of showcasing and empowering talented women not just from Detroit but from around the country.
During our interview we talked about the city in general and its current financial hardships and how Detroit is changing for the better if you are rich. She noted the city is deliberately changing to exclude and oppress the poor. She talked at length about what and how people are fighting back..
Moore talked at length about the importance of institution building and why its essential for Black folks and artists to make moves in direction. She talked about Black Women Rock is an institution and we spoke about her publishing company Moore Books which has been home to a number of important spoken word artists including Saul Williams. She talked about how she learned from Third World Press publisher Haki Madhubuti who was a key member of the Black Arts Movement
We talked about the work she did with Nas and her current project she has done that features stellar figures like Roy Ayers..