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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is Doctor Oba Saint Stanley Tookie Williams Still An Oba? 

You'll recall that I linked to What's the Rumpus, which reported on a Los Angeles Times photo caption:

The death row inmate [Oba Saint Stanley Tookie Williams] was named king of the 29th Annual Kwanzaa Gwaride and Festival, to occur in L.A. on December 26.

Most people, however, picked up the news from KFI. Well, at least those who heard about it, such as Carol Platt Libeau, who said:

The glorification of a criminal (albeit possibly a reformed one) has been breathtakingly appalling. KFI Radio reports that Williams has even been named LA's "King of Kwanzaa." If I were an African American who celebrated Kwanzaa, I'd be having a fit. Are the people who named Tookie "King of Kwanzaa" actually implying that they could find no more fitting "role model" for the honor? In a country that has black stars like Oprah, Condoleezza Rice, Bob Parsons and, yes, Barack Obama -- just to name a few African Americans of good character and tremendous accomplishment? What horribly, destructively misplaced priorities. What a terrible message to send to America's youth . . . black and white. What a joke.

She said this on December 4, back when "Tookie King of Kwanzaa" was a huge deal in the blogosphere. Yet, after Tookie starting pining for the fjords, the 29th Annual Kwanzaa Gwaride and Festival has hardly been mentioned since. Ironically, this blog has become the major promoter of the festival (_sn't _t _r_n_c, d_n't y__ th_nk?).

I can understand why Mike Farrell's group isn't mentioning this - it's not really germane to his death penalty campaign. Yet savetookie.org isn't mentioning it either, although the memorial program from Oba Saint Stanley Tookie Williams' service is now available. The program includes the order of service, a biographical sketch, and an essay entitled "Redemption." I'm not sure how Reverend Jesse Jackson, a Christian pastor, or Louis Farrakhan, a Muslim minister, can endorse a theological statement such as this:

I view spirituality in two parts. The "spirit" being the soul, the pneuma or the id, the "uality" part being the act, performance, or deed.

He also says a very non-Lutheran thing:

[R]edemption...is of earthly accessibility through human initiative.

Uh, you can't save yourself....

And, I have been in error in referring to him as Oba Saint Stanley Tookie Williams. I should be referring to him as Doctor Oba Saint Stanley Tookie Williams. You see, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from St. Moses the Black Theological Seminary in West Monroe, Louisiana on July 18, 2005. Williams did not attend the ceremony.

And the program also contains his USA Freedom Corps Call to Service Award. But the award didn't mention Doctor, Oba, Saint, or even Tookie.

Yet nowhere in the program was there any reference to the Oba of Kwanzaa Gwaride designation. Either the Los Angeles Times and/or KFI made it up, or the designation was rescinded, or it's just not important.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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