Black History Month in San José


To be Black in San José is to be a minority amongst minorities. As our numbers have declined, spaces where we can see ourselves and each other have also become scarce. That is why I was excited to perform at the 4th annual Black History Month Spoken Word Festival with my RIGHTSTARTER co-conspirator PC Muñoz.

We always say that RIGHTSTARTER aims to present a guttural artistic response to the current political moment. The historic First AME Zion church in downtown San José, its walls clad with African-American historical artifacts, provided the perfect backdrop for presenting some of our newest work. Our set included the spoken word piece “Physical Science” which deals with the enduring legacy of segregationist ideas, and “Betrayed”, an edgy screed in the style of our musical forbearers Public Enemy. In a synthesis of past, present, and future my son Ellis Marcel sat in with us and played bass for a couple of tunes.

We closed the evening with a jam session featuring all of the incredible poets and musicians who performed that night: breakbeat poet McTate Stroman, the vocalist duo Consonance, and performance poet Venus Jones. Props to Venus Jones, Al Farley, the African American Heritage House, and First AME Zion church for providing such a welcoming platform for Black artistic expression.  



w/DEM ONE, Venus Jones, Consonance, and McTate Stroman


Starting it Right

RIGHTSTARTER w/Ellis Marcel and Venus Jones


The son

Ellis Marcel guesting on bass


4th Annual African-American Spoken Word Festival, 2019

RIGHTSTARTER, Venus Jones, Al Farley, Consonance, McTate Stroman.

Photo courtesy Venus Jones