Block Reportin’- JR Valrey

JR Valrey is a renown international journalist who, for years has been focused on producing media that sheds light on the social issues of the oppressed; he has recently published a book by the name of Block Reportin’.

 

The book is a compilation of over 30 interviews Valrey has conducted with individuals from all walks of life:
Paul Mooney, Cynthia McKinney, Mumia Abu Jamal, Freeway Ricky Ross, Mos Def, and Gil Scott Heron to name a few.

The book opens with an interview with one-time East Oakland drug kingpin Lil D, who is now incarcerated. The interview gives a modest peak into the life of Lil D: his past, his current state, and what he plans to do upon being released.
The first interview was just a taste for the pallet.The second interview was the hook…

Malcolm Shabazz, grandson and first male decedent of Malcolm X spoke to JR about the pressures of baring his grandfather’s name at a young age, the incident where a young Malcolm Shabazz lit a fire to a house that would burn down and take the life of his grandmother- Betty Shabazz, and the growth Malcolm Shabazz has experienced since that time.

His book, Block Reportin’ can be found at Marcus Books, Revolution Books, and a in your neighborhood as JR takes his book on tour… block to block.

I would like to publically salute JR Valrey for his work, dedication, and growth.

Much respect.

JR Valrey’s “Operation Small Axe” Documentary screens in D.C.

Bob Marley once sang, “So If  you are the Big tree, then we are the small axe “; and the environment that was Oakland, California during the filming of JR

Operation Small Axe

Valrey’s “Operation Small Axe” embodied Marley’s lyrical analogy.

JR Valrey screened his “Operation Small Axe” documentary at Sankofa cafe in Washington D.C. October 14th 2010.

The documentary highlighted incidents of police brutality, namely the Oscar Grant and the Lovelle Mixon cases. Valrey, like many others who are familiar with both Grant’s and Mixon’s cases, held them in comparison. The fact that these incidents of violence between citizens and police happened in the same city, just blocks apart; and in the same year, just months apart makes for an automatic connection.

The documentary delved much further than the surface connection between Mixon and Grant, and touched on the history of police brutality, as well as the history of community activism, and even shed light on what Oakland was doing as a community in the wake of these turbulent times.

JR then spoke about the making of the documentary, his work with the prisoners of conscious committee (POCC), as well as his job as what I would call a “trench journalist”. He is. He is in the battle fields, on the front line, and shaking things up. Maybe not in the most conventional manner, but it will take some unconventional methods to get out us out of this convenient position of fearing police that serve our neighborhoods.

While in DC, he was accompanied by Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X. After Valrey closed his speech about “Operation Small Axe”, Shabazz spoke to the crowd about his life since being released from prison for the arson of his grandmother’s house. He spoke of his current interest and actions; noting that he is sincerely dedicated to learning, and has recently returned from a trip to the Middle East.

JR Valrey and Malcolm Shabazz

The standing room only sized crowd in Sankofa’s book store portion of the quaint cafe received both Valrey and Shabazz with opened arms and and raised hands, as many people (mostly college students) were inspired to get involved after the presenters concluded.

A lingering thought in my mind was the connection between Malcolm Shabazz speaking, and JR connecting Oscar Grant and Lovelle Mixon incidents as a case of “the chickens coming home to roost”, as Malcolm X once said.

JR Valrey is continuing to travel the United States, screening his documentary, and starting up moving conversations along the way. For more information, visit his website http://blockreportradio.com/