Aubrey LaBrie

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Aubrey James LaBrie is an inactive member of the California Bar and was admitted 27th June 1975. Aubrey graduated from UC Berkeley SOL Boalt Hall and is now based in Alameda.[1]

Black Dialogue

Black Dialogue, the second of the California little magazines to materialize, emerged from a rivalry its supporters had with the editors of Soulbook. In the fall of 1964, black students at San Francisco State founded their own campus organization and decided that one of its primary objectives would be the creation of a revolutionary little magazine. Many of the students disagreed with some of Bobb Hamilton's and Kenn Freeman's understandings of black journals. Wanting a periodical which could serve a wide variety of opinions, they labeled their own effort "Black Dialogue" in an attempt to provide a forum for open discussion of literary and political questions.

They secured the following staff, which released the first issue of Black Dialogue in the spring of 1965: Arthur A. Sheridan as editor; Abdul Karim (Gerald LaBrie), as managing editor; Edward S. Spriggs as New York editor; Joseph Seward as African editor; Aubrey LaBrie as political editor; Marvin X as fiction editor; and Joe Goncalves as poetry editor.

When we graduated from Oakland's Merritt College and transferred to San Francisco State College/University, 1964, Abdul was a member of the Negro Students Association that soon became the Black Student Union. The founding editor of Black Dialogue Magazine was Arthur Sheridan but he was eventually replaced by Abdul Sabry when Black Nationalism became the magazine ideology.

Abdul was part of the Black Dialogue staff that visited Soledad Prison's Black Culture Club, chaired by Eldridge Cleaver and Bunchy Carter. According to prison movement historian or griot Kumasi, the club was the beginning of the American Prison Movement.

Abdul was an early follower of Imam Warith Din Muhammad when he turned from the teachings of his father, Elijah Muhammad, and became a Sunni Muslim.[2]

African-American Association

At the start of the 1960s, however, Donald Harris’s search for “alternative approaches” would bear more fruit off campus than on, where fewer than a hundred of Berkeley’s 20,000 students were black. United by a sense of isolation and displacement, a dozen of them began to gather at the Harmon Street house of Mary Lewis, an undergraduate from Detroit. Shyamala and Donald soon joined the group; Lewis eventually became Shyamala’s “closest confidante” and Kamala’s godmother, according to “The Truths We Hold.”

“I was awed by them,” says early member Aubrey LaBrie, whom Kamala eventually came to know as “Uncle Aubrey.” (Lewis was “Aunt Mary.”) “They were intimidatingly smart. They had a determined kind of posture about them.”

Every Sunday, Lewis would host student intellectuals as they “socialized and talked politics incessantly,” writes Donna Jean Murch in “Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California.” “Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were the heroes of some of us,” Labrie recalls. “We would talk about Black Muslims, the liberation movements going on in Africa, everything.”

They would also read. As both Murch and Harris note in their books, the initial syllabus was full of “classic black history texts” such as W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Souls of Black Folk,” Carter G. Woodson’s “The Miseducation of the Negro” and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” But it was the more contentious readings — the ones Harris doesn’t mention — that proved most influential: E. David Cronon’s “Black Moses: The Story of Marcus Garvey,” which celebrated Garvey’s pioneering emphasis on racial pride and self-determination; Melville J. Herskovits’s “The Myth of the Negro Past,” which championed pan-Africanism in culture and religion; E. Franklin Frazier’s “Black Bourgeoisie,” which criticized a compliant black middle class.

As they discussed and debated these books, Murch writes, the study group gradually developed “its own antiassimilationist ideology”: “a reinvigorated, anticolonial Black nationalism,” more Malcolm X than Martin Luther King Jr. By 1963, the organization, now called the Afro-American Association, had quadrupled in size; guest speakers included Fannie Lou Hamer, LeRoi Jones and Maya Angelou. The AAA’s de facto leader, a Berkeley law student named Donald Warden, would go on to mentor Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, two young AAA members from Oakland; Newton and Seale would, in turn, co-found the Black Panther Party in 1966.

The people close to Kamala Harris’s parents were never Black Panthers. But they did embrace an embryonic version of the philosophy that later came to be known as “Black Power”: black pride, black autonomy and the creation of black political and cultural institutions. According to Labrie, Shyamala Gopalan was the original study group’s only non-black member — the exception that proved the rule. “Her inclusion had a lot to do with the fact that we were really supportive of the Third World liberation movement, so we didn’t really get into that whole debate who was ‘black’ or not,” Labrie says. “But I will admit that a white person wouldn’t have been welcome into that kind of setting. It wasn’t because there was hostility towards them. We just felt more confident and comfortable getting our own thoughts and information together as black people.”[3]

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [https://news.yahoo.com/how-kamala-harris-was-shaped-by-the-peoples-republic-of-berkeley-182310899.html Yahoo News, How Kamala Harris was shaped by 'the People's Republic of Berkeley' Andrew RomanoWest Coast Correspondent,Yahoo News•August 16, 2019\