In the last month I have lost three friends. The latest was Karega Hart, a long time activist who resided in Oakland. He lost his battle with MS and additional medical complications.
There is something very overwhelming about losing three friends in the course of one month. It is not even like being on an emotional roller coaster. Rather, it is more like being in emotional free fall.
Karega was a wonderful human being. A very smart, low-keyed activist and educator, he truly believed in the struggle for social justice. He was someone who always had a smile on his face (if he liked you!) and rarely complained, including about his deteriorating physical condition.
I met Karega more than twenty years ago on a visit to the Bay Area. He invited me to his home to discuss politics. We became close over the years and worked together on various projects, including but not limited to the Black Radical Congress. There were several things that always struck me about Karega. He would call things as he saw them. He would think before he spoke, and, as a result, when he spoke, he always had something to say. And he followed through on what he committed to do. He was no slacker.
It was difficult watching his condition worsen, albeit over a fairly long period of time. Upon news of his death i wrote to some friends that there was a way in which i realized that i had been engaged in magical thinking. I knew that he was ill and i knew that it was worsening. But there was something about Karega and his fighting spirit that fooled me into believing that the brother could continue the good fight indefinitely.
Karega needed to rest. He had fought the good fight and made us all proud. He was a great friend and a dedicated father. It is not just that he will be missed; it is the awareness that many of us have that he had a soul that was irreplaceable.
11 thoughts on “Karega Hart”
Am deeply sorry for your loss.
Very much appreciated, my brother. A loss in so many ways.
It is difficult to continue to write obits about one’s friends. But i have been reminded that we are very much at that age where we have to expect this. I also have had the honor and pleasure of having friends that spanned the years, so it is very different than when you have a ‘cohort’ that you have grown up with and which remains relatively in tact until your late 50s. That was the case with my parents, who started losing friends when they were in their 60s and early 70s. When you have had the opportunity to have known people of various ages, these things happen. But it is NEVER easy.
Thanks for your comment.
My sincere condolences! Karega Hart’s memory and contribution lives on through those he has influenced who learned from him and educated all of us.
I fully agree, I took his labor history and organizing class at Laney College when he taught at night. Immediately I knew I was been taught by a truly organic intellectual, a true working class hero. and I have been forever changed as a result. Brother Karega Presente!
This is so true. Thanks for the comment.
Bill, thank you for the loving portrait of Karega. About six months ago, Karega and I went for an outing. He was already using a wheelchair and his strength had ebbed. But he has his heart set on trying chicken wings at Wingstop, so off we went to East Oakland. He savored them quietly and pronounced, “Pretty good.” He never complained about his hardships,but that was his way: low-key and humble. I remember his working in the Unity office, steadily writing his articles deep in thought but with a ready smile.
As some of you know, Karega wrote poetry. I urged him to publish his poems but he always demurred saying that it was “for fun” and his personal joy. And they were good poems, earnest and powerful. Just like the man. I’m proud that we were once comrades. Peace, brother.
I could not put it better. Well said.
“He would call things as he saw them. He would think before he spoke, and, as a result, when he spoke, he always had something to say.” Thanx Bill for your moving narrative about Karega. Your statement stands true in 1985 when I worked with Karega on the campaign for Justice for Rudy Balfour, who was a black woman school teacher mugged by four white male mechanics at Grey’s Auto on High Street for making a complaint about their shoddy work on her car and overcharging her $450. The police came, beat Rudy, and handcuffed her in front of her 11 year old son Hervin. It was part of the anti-police brutality work that we did in Oakland. Meetings were always held in Karega’s home and I began to understand the difficult conditions of living in the black community and trying to organize in it. Karega and his family had no choice and his two sons were around the same age as Rudy Balfour’s son Hervin. Karega was a quiet warrior and leader and I was honored to be able to work with him.
I wanna send my condolences to Karega and his family.I went to Jr high school with Karega and Alameda college. Man dude was real good in basketball very quick with handles.I just found out Karega passed away but now he’s in a better place.I haven’t seen Karega since I left college but I will say he was a cool dude rest in peace man from your ole school homie.
Thanks so much for this.
I want to apologize for making an inaccurate statement.This is not the Karega Hart that I went to school with.I still want to send my condolences to Karega’s family and may he rest in peace and be remembered for all the good he brought to the world