Exactly forty years ago today, August 15th 1969, Mike "DREAM" Francisco was born. But instead of what should have been a landmark birthday celebration today, this August 15th is just another sad reminder to those loved ones and friends and fans of the late, great Bay Area graffiti artist of how Mike "DREAM" Francisco's life was prematurely, senselessly halted nine years ago. On February 17th, 2000 on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, DREAM was gunned down and killed, the victim of a random street robbery.
Not only was DREAM (or "King Dream," as he is referred to by many) a gifted and prolific artist, with a passion for hip-hop -- having collaborated with countless hip-hoppers, including Hobo Junction over the years -- but he was also a most outspoken individual, one concerned about his community, and one never afraid to speak out against the ills of society.
Had DREAM been allowed to live today, you can bet he would have been at the front of the protests against the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police earlier this year. In fact, in 1993 he was one of the featured artists in the anti police brutality show No Justice, No Peace at downtown Oakland's Pro Arts Gallery. Above is a rare interview with DREAM at the opening of that show by A Debonair Affair's Melinda Bell which, despite the poor audio quality, gives you a great insight into the kind of person DREAM was: down-to-earth, fun, & witty, but also most passionate about his beliefs. I first met DREAM around 1990 and was instantly struck by what a genuinely good spirited and generous person he was, always upbeat and interested in what others had to say. But what is perhaps most profound about the DREAM interview above is how he defines what "reality" means to some people, like himself, as "to brothers like us reality is watching people die on the streets everyday!"