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A journal dedicated to truth, freedom of speech and radical spiritual consciousness. Our mission is the liberation of men and women from oppression, violence and abuse of any kind, interpersonal, political, religious, economic, psychosexual. We believe as Fidel Castro said, "The weapon of today is not guns but consciousness."

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    DR. Flint owned a fine residence in town, several farms, and about fifty slaves, besides hiring a number by the year. Hiring-day at the south takes place on the 1st of January. On the 2d, the slaves are expected to go to their new masters. On a farm, they work until the corn and cotton are laid. They then have two holidays. Some masters give them a good dinner under the trees. This over, they work until Christmas eve.
    If no heavy charges are meantime brought against them, they are given four or five holidays, whichever the master or overseer may think proper. Then comes New Year's eve; and they gather together their little alls, or more properly speaking, their little nothings, and wait anxiously for the dawning of day. At the appointed hour the grounds are thronged with men, women, and children, waiting, like criminals, to hear their doom pronounced. The slave is sure to know who is the most humane, or cruel master, within forty miles of him. It is easy to find out, on that day, who clothes and feeds his slaves well; for he is surrounded by a crowd, begging, "Please, massa, hire me this year. I will work very hard, massa." If a slave is unwilling to go with his new master, he is whipped, or locked up in jail, until he consents to go, and promises not to run away during the year. Should he chance to change his mind, thinking it justifiable to violate an extorted promise, woe unto him if he is caught!

    The whip is used till the blood flows at his feet; and his stiffened limbs are put in chains, to be dragged in the field for days and days! If he lives until the next year, perhaps the same man will hire him again, without even giving him an opportunity of going to the hiring-ground. After those for hire are disposed of, those for sale are called up. O, you happy free women, contrast your New Year's day with that of the poor bond-woman! With you it is a pleasant season, and the light of the day is blessed. Friendly wishes meet you every where, and gifts are showered upon you. Even hearts that have been estranged from you soften at this season, and lips that have been silent echo back, "I wish you a happy New Year."
    Children bring their little offerings, and raise their rosy lips for a caress. They are your own, and no hand but that of death can take them from you. But to the slave mother New Year's day comes laden with peculiar sorrows. She sits on her cold cabin floor, watching the children who may all be torn from her the next morning; and often does she wish that she and they might die before the day dawns. She may be an ignorant creature, degraded by the system that has brutalized her from childhood; but she has a mother's instincts, and is capable of feeling a mother's agonies. On one of these sale days, I saw a mother lead seven children to the auction-block. She knew that some of them would be taken from her; but they took all.
    The children were sold to a slave-trader, and their mother was bought by a man in her own town. Before night her children were all far away. She begged the trader to tell her where he intended to take them; this he refused to do. How could he, when he knew he would sell them, one by one, wherever he could command the highest price? I met that mother in the street, and her wild, haggard face lives to-day in my mind. She wrung her hands in anguish, and exclaimed, "Gone! all gone! Why don't God kill me?" I had no words wherewith to comfort her. Instances of this kind are of daily, yea, of hourly occurrence. Slaveholders have a method, peculiar to their institution, of getting rid of old slaves, whose lives have been worn out in their service. I knew an old woman, who for seventy years faithfully served her master. She had become almost helpless, from hard labor and disease. Her owners moved to Alabama, and the old black woman was left to be sold to any body who would give twenty dollars for her.

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    Tentative Agenda for community meeting, Sunday, Jan 3, 3pm at Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin

    We will only have time to deal with priority items on this list. Come with ideas. Think for the next fifty to one hundred years! We will deal with agenda items in future meetings.

    Musical interlude
    Prayer Libation
    *Overview of BAM District Plan
    *Name: Black Arts Movement Cultural and Economic District
    Establish the BAM District Development Corporation
    ***Mental Health Peer Group meetings (required)
    *Planning team
    *Business Plan
    *Budget for BAM District planners
    Self Sufficiency or Do for Self
    Land trust
    Life estate for housing
    Art space
    Housing for artists, workers, homeless, persons with mental and physical disabilities
    District tour
    David Blackwell Institute of Art, Math, Science and Technology
    BAM Union of Artists
    Elder Council
    Men's Council
    Women's Council
    Young Adult Council
    Children's Council
    Acquiring properties along corridor
    Silicon Valley grants for STEM education, e.g., Blackwell Institute, and to offset gentrification and secure space for North American Africans as part of Oakland Downtown Plan

    Next Meeting: Monday, January 4, 2:30pm, Oakland City Hall

    We propose the BAM District include the Dr. David Blackwell Institute of Art, Math, Science and Technology

    David Blackwell

    Born: April 24, 1919; place: Centralia, Illinois
    AB (1938) University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign; AM (1939) University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
    Ph.D. (1941) Statistics, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign thesis: Some Properties of Mark off Chains; Advisor: Joseph L. Doob


    Professor Emeritas of Statistics, University of California at Berkeley

    Research Interests: Mathematics
    university URL:; email: none

    David Blackwell is, to mathematicians, the most famous, perhaps greatest, African Amercan Mathematician. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics in 1938, Master of Arts in Mathematics in 1939, and his Ph.D. in 1941 (at the age of 22), all from the University of Illinois.
    He is the seventh African American to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics. He is the first and only African American to be any one of: a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a President of the American Statistical Society, and a Vice President of the America Mathematics Society.

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    Paul Robeson, the Artist as Activist and Social Thinker
    By John Henrik Clarke

    Paul Robeson was indeed more than an artist, activist and freedom fighter. The dimensions of his talent made him our Renaissance man. He was the first American artist, Black or White, to realize that the role of the artist extends far beyond the stage and the concert hall. Early in his life he became conscious of the plight of his people, stubbornly surviving in a racist society. This was his window on the world. From this vantage point he saw how the plight of his people related to the rest of humanity. He realized that the artist had the power, and the responsibility, to change the society in which he lived. He learned that art and culture are weapons in a people's struggle to exist with dignity, and in peace. Life offered him many options and he never chose the easiest one. For most of his life he was a man walking against the wind. An understanding of his beginning and how he developed artistically and politically, will reveal the nature of his mission and the importance of the legacy of participation in struggle that we have inherited from him.
    He was born, April 9, 1898, at a time of great crisis for his people. When he died, January 23, 1976, his people were still in a crisis, partly of a different nature, and partly the same crisis that they faced in the closing years of the nineteenth century, when Paul Robeson was born. He was born three years after Booker T. Washington made his famous Atlanta Exposition address, 1895, and two years after the Supreme Court announced a decision in the Plessy versus Ferguson Case, in which the concept of "Separate but Equal" facilities for Black Americans became law. Of course the separateness never produced any equalness. The time and the decision did produce some of the problems that Paul Robeson would address himself to in later years.
     His early years were strengthened by binding family ties. They were not easy years. He recalled those years and reflected on their meaning in the introductory issue of the newspaper Freedom, November 1950.

    "My father was of slave origin," he said. "He reached as honorable a position as a Negro could under these circumstances, but soon after I was born he lost his church and poverty was my beginning. Relatives from my father's North Carolina family took me in, a motherless orphan, while my father went to new fields to begin again in a corner grocery store. I slept four in a bed, ate the nourishing greens and cornbread.
    Many times I stood on the very soil on which my father was a slave, where some of my cousins were sharecroppers and unemployed tobacco workers. I reflected upon the wealth bled from my near relatives alone, and of the very basic wealth of all this America beaten out of millions of Negro people, enslaved, freed, newly enslaved until this very day."
    He grew to early manhood during the Booker T. Washington era. He made his professional debut at the Harlem YMCA in 1920, in a play, "Simon, the Cyrenian," by Redgely Torrence. The play was about an Ethiopian who steps out of a crowd to help a tired and haggard Jesus Christ carry his cross up Calvary Hill to be crucified. His role in this play was symbolic of his commitment to just causes and to oppressed people, the world over, the rest of his life. This dimension of his life is the main focus of this paper. He was not persecuted, denied a passport and attacked at Peekskill because he was a world famous concert singer and activist.
    Many of his persecutors admired him in these capacities. He was persecuted, denied a passport and attacked at Peekskill because he was an artist and activist who used his art and his personality to call for change in the society in which he lived. This was not a late development in his life. He grew to manhood observing the need for change.
    Paul Robeson attended elementary and high school in Westfield and Somerville, New Jersey. He won a four-year scholarship to Rutgers College and entered in the fall of 1915. Only two other Black students had attended the school since its founding in 1776. Robeson's achievements in both scholarship and athletics at Rutgers were extraordinary. He won Phi Beta Kappa honors in his junior year, was valedictorian of his graduation class, and was the debating champion in all of his four years.
    Although he was initially brutalized by his own team-mates when he tried out for the football team, he survived to become one of the greatest football players of all time. Walter Camp selected Robeson as his first-team All-America end for two years—1977 and 1918, and he was named on all important "consensus" All-America teams for both those years. Robeson was also a great all-round athlete, winning a total of 15 varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball and track.
    In May of 1918 Reverend Robeson died, Paul's relatives and his football coach, Foster Sanford, were especially helpful to him during the trying time immediately after his father's death. Following his graduation in 1919, Paul went to live in Harlem and entered Columbia Law School, from which he graduated in 1923. To pay his way through law school, Paul played professional football on weekends, first with Fritz Pollard on the Akron, Ohio team in 1920 and 1921, and then with Milwaukee in 1922. In 1921, he met and married Eslanda Cardozo Goode, a brilliant young woman who was the first Black analytical chemist at Columbia Medical Center. Their marriage lasted forty-four years until Eslanda's death in 1965.
     In the early 1920's Paul Robeson joined the Provincetown Players in Greenwich Village. This brought him to the attention of the American Playwright, Eugene O'Neil who selected him for the lead in his play, "All God's Children Got Wings." His performance in this play established his importance in the American Theatre. In 1924, he was in another Eugene O'Neil play, "The Emperor Jones." By 1925, he was known both in England and in the United States as an actor and as a concert singer. Lawrence Brown, who accompanied him during his first concert in 1925, remained with him for twenty-five years.
    In these years following the First World War, Black Americans were discovering themselves, their culture and their history. Thousands of Black soldiers had returned from the war in Europe to face unemployment, bad housing and lynchings. The Universal Negro Improvement Association led by Marcus Garvey, and the intellectual movement called The Harlem Literary Renaissance reached their respective highs during this period. The years of the nineteen-twenties were proving grounds for Paul Robeson's development as an artist and a responsible person.
    Many of the roles that Paul Robeson played in America were repeated in the theatres of London. It has been reported his political ideas took shape after George Bernard Shaw introduced him to the concept of socialism in 1928. This may be partly true about his political ideas in a formal sense, though his social awareness started before this time. His first visit to the Soviet Union in 1934 had a more profound influence on the shaping of his political ideas and understanding. Later, he publicly expressed his belief in the principles of scientific socialism. It was his convictions that a socialist society represents an advance to a higher stage of life for all mankind. The rest of his life was a commitment to this conviction.
    He spoke out against oppression where ever he saw it, and not just the oppression of his own people. He went to Spain during the Civil War in that country and sang for the Republican troops and for the members of the International Brigades. This was part of a gathering of anti-Fascist forces who were in battle with the army of General Franco who was backed by Hitler and Mussolini. When Paul Robeson returned to the United States be expressed the belief that the war in Spain represented dangers for the world far beyond that country's borders.
    "I saw the connection between the problems of all oppressed people and the necessity of the artist to participate fully," he said.
    He opposed every form of racism in his own country; he was the first American artist to refuse to sing before a segregated audience. He spoke out against lynching, segregated theatres and eating places a generation before the beginning of what is referred to as the Black Revolution. He supported all organizations that he thought were working genuinely to improve the lot of his people and mankind.
    In his book, Robeson: Labor's Forgotten Champion, (Balamp Publishing Co., Detroit, Mich., 1975), Dr. Charles H. Wright states that:

    "Robeson saw the struggle of the working classes of Spain in the same terms that he saw the struggles of the black man in the United States. He made this clear after he left Spain and embarked on a series of public appearances on behalf of the Republicans, both on the continent and in England. It was from the continent, probably the Spanish Embassy in Paris that he issued what became known as his Manifesto against Fascism." The Manifesto reads, as follows:

    "Every artist, every scientist must decide, now, where he stands. He has no alternative. There are no impartial observers.
    Through the destruction, in certain countries, of man's literary heritage, through the propagation of false ideas of national and racial superiority, the artist, the scientist, the writer is challenged. This struggle invades the former cloistered halls of our universities and all her seats of learning.
    The battlefront is everywhere. There is no sheltered rear. The artist elects to fight for freedom or slavery.
    I have made my choice! I had no alternative!
    The history of the era is characterized by the degradation of my people. Despoiled of their lands, their culture destroyed, they are denied equal opportunity of the law and deprived of their rightful place in the respect of their fellows.
    Not through blind faith or through coercion, but conscious of my course, I take my place with you. I stand with you in unalterable support of the lawful government of Spain, duly and regularly chosen by its sons and daughters."
    In January 1938 he visited Spain with his wife, Eslanda. Plans had already been made for him to sing to the troops in the International Abraham Lincoln Brigades.
    This was not his introduction to the international aspects of the fight against Fascism. The Spanish Civil War started in June 1936, the Italian-Ethiopian War had started the year before. On December 20, 1937, Robeson had participated in a meeting on the Spanish Civil War at Albert Hall in London. This and other anti-fascist activity disenchanted the United States Department of State. This was probably the formal beginning of his harassment by that agency. This harassment would continue for another twenty years. In his writings and speeches, for most of the years of his active career, Paul Robeson was very explicit in explaining the motive and antecedents of his fight against every form of racism and oppression. At a Welcome Home Rally in Harlem, June19, 1949, he restated his position and the nature of his commitment.

    "I have traveled many lands and I have sung and talked to many peoples. Wherever I appeared, whether in professional concert, at peace meetings, in the factories, at trade union gatherings, at the mining pits, at assemblies of representative colonial students from all over the world, always the greeting came: "Take back our affection, our love, our strength to the Negro people and to the members of the progressive movement of America."
    I was then, through my athletics and my university record, trying to hold up the prestige of my people; trying in the only way I knew to ease the path for future Negro boys and girls. And I am still in there slugging, yes, at another level, and you can bet your life that I shall battle every step of the way until conditions around these corners change and conditions change for the Negro people all up and down this land.
    The road has been long. The road has been hard. It began about as tough as I ever had it in Princeton, New Jersey, a college town of Southern aristocrats, who from Revolutionary time transferred Georgia to New Jersey. My brothers couldn't go to high school in Princeton. They had to go to Trenton, ten miles away. That's right—Trenton, of the "Trenton Six." My brother or I could have been one of the "Trenton Six."
    Almost every Negro in Princeton lived off the college and accepted the social status that went with it. We lived for all intents and purposes on a Southern plantation. And with no more dignity than that suggests all the bowing and scraping to the drunken rich, all the vile names, all the Uncle Tomming to earn enough to lead miserable lives."
    He could not see himself accepting any form of Jim-Crow Americanism. He said in many ways he hated what American was, but he lived what it promised to be. He defended the stated higher ideals and potential of the United States while calling attention to the fact that the nation's promise to all people had not been kept.

    "And I defied," he said, "and I defy any part of this insolent, dominating America, however powerful; to challenge my Americanism; because by word and deed I challenge this vicious system to the death." Paul Robeson would not let his public acceptance as an actor and singer, make him relax in comfort and forget the struggle for basic dignity still being waged by the rest of his people. On this point he said:

    "I refuse to let my personal success, as part of a fraction of one percent of the Negro people, to explain away the injustices to fourteen million of my people; because with all the energy at my command, I fight for the right of the Negro people and other oppressed labor-driven Americans to have decent homes, decent jobs, and the dignity that belongs to every human being!
    Somewhere in my childhood these feelings were planted. Perhaps when I resented being pushed off the sidewalk, when I saw my women being insulted, and especially when I saw my elder brother answer each insult with blows that sent would-be slave masters crashing to the stone sidewalks, even though jail was his constant reward. He never said it, but he told me day after day: "Listen to me, kid." (He loved me dearly.) "Don't you ever take it, as long as you live."
    In my opinion, the artistic and political growth of Paul Robeson has its greatest stimulant during the nineteen-thirties. Paul was always discovering something new in the human situation, and new dimensions in old things he already knew. He was, concurrently, both a student and a scholar, in pursuit of knowledge about the world's people and the conditions of their lives. Africa, its people and cultures were of special interest to him. In a note, dated 1936, included in his "Selected Writings," published by the Paul Robeson Archives, 1976, he makes this comment:

    "I am a singer and an actor. I am primarily an artist. Had I been born in Africa, I would have belonged, I hope, to that family which sings and chants the glories and legends of the tribe. I would have liked in my mature years to have been a wise elder, for I worship wisdom and knowledge of the ways of men." His artistic strength was in his love for the history, songs, and for culture of his people. In this way he learned to respect the cultures of all people.
    I an article published in the Royal Screen Pictorial, London, April 1935 he said:

    I am a Negro. The origin of the Negro is African. It would, therefore, seem an easy matter for me to assume African nationality… At present the younger generation of Negroes in America looks towards Africa and asks, "What is there to interest me? What of value has Africa to offer that the Western world cannot give me? … Their acknowledgement of their common origin, species, interest and attitudes binds Jew to Jew; a similar acknowledgement will bind Negro to Negro. I realize that this will not be accomplished by viewing from afar the dark rites of the witch doctor. It may be accomplished, or at least furthered, by patient inquiry. To this end I am learning Swahili, Twi, and other African dialects which come easily to me because their rhythm is the same as that employed by the American Negro in speaking English; and when the time is ripe, I propose to investigate on the spot the possibilities of such a regeneration as I have outlined. Meanwhile, in my music, my plays, my films. I want to carry always this central idea—to be African. Multitudes of men have died for less worthy ideals; it is more eminently worth living for. This interest in Africa, started during his "London years" continued throughout the rest of his life; and very logically led to his participation in the development and leadership of organizations like the Council on African Affairs (1937–1955) and the National Negro Congress. In an article in his "Selected Writings," that was first published in Fighting Talk, April 1955, Paul Robeson speaks of his discovery of Africa in this way:

    I "discovered" Africa in London. That discovery—back in the twenties—profoundly influenced my life. Like most of Africa's children in America, I had known little about the land of our fathers. Both in England, where my career as an actor and singer took me, I came to know many Africans. Some of their names are now known to the world—Azikiwe, and Nkruma, and Kenyatta, who has just been jailed for his leadership of the liberation struggles in Kenya.
    Many of these Africans were students, and I spent many hours talking with them and taking part in their activities at the West African Students Union building. Somehow they came to think of me as one of them; they took pride in my successes; and they made Mrs. Robeson and me honorary members of the Union.
    Besides these students, who were mostly of princely origin, I also came to know another class of African—the seamen in the ports of London, Liverpool and Cardiff. They too had their organizations, and much to teach me of their lives and their various peoples.
    As an artist it was most natural that my first interest in Africa was cultural. Culture? The foreign rulers of that continent insisted there was no culture worthy of the name in Africa. But already musicians and sculptors in Europe were astir with their discovery of African art. And as I plunged, with excited interest, into my studies of Africa at the London University and elsewhere, I came to see that African culture was indeed a treasure-store for the world.
    Those who scorned the African languages as so many "barbarous dialects" could never know, of course, of the richness of those languages, and of the great philosophy and epics of poetry that have come down through the ages in these ancient tongues. I studied these languages—as I do this day: Yoruba, Efik, Benin, Ashanti and the others.
    I now felt as one with my African friends and became filled with a great, glowing pride in these riches, new found for me. I learned that along with the towering achievements of the cultures in ancient Greece and China there stood the culture of Africa, unseen and denied by the imperialist looters of Africa's material wealth.
    I came to see the root sources of my own people's culture, especially in our music which is still the richest and most healthy in America. Scholars had traced the influence of African music to Europe—to Spain with the Moors, to Persia and India and China, and westward to the Americas. And I came to learn of the remarkable kinship between African and Chinese culture (of which I intend to write at length some day).
    My pride in Africa, that grew with the learning, impelled me to speak out against the scorners. I wrote articles for the New Statesman and Nation and elsewhere championing the real but unknown glories of African culture.
    I argued and discussed the subject with men like H. G. Wells, and Laski, and Nehru; with students and savants.
    He now saw the logic in this culture struggle and realized, as never before, that culture was an instrument in a people's liberation, and the suppression of it was an instrument that was used in their enslavement. This point was brought forcefully home to him when the British Intelligence cautioned him about the political meaning of his activities. He knew now that the British claim that it would take one thousand years to prepare Africans for self-rule was a lie. The experience led him to conclude that:

    Yes, culture and politics were actually inseparable here as always. And it was an African who directed my interest in Africa to something he had noted in the Soviet Union. On a visit to that country he had traveled east and had seen the Yakuts, a people who had been classed as a "backward Race" by the Czars. He had been struck by the resemblance between the tribal life of the Yakuts and his own people of East Africa.
    What would happen to a people like the Yakuts now that they were freed from colonial oppression and were a part of the construction of the new socialist society?
    I saw for myself when I visited the Soviet Union how the Yakuts and the Uzbeks and all the other formerly oppressed nations were leaping ahead from tribalism to modern industrial economy, from illiteracy to the heights of knowledge. Their ancient culture blossoming in new and greater splendor. Their young men and women mastering the sciences and arts. A thousand years? No, less than 30!
    During his London years, Paul Robeson was also involved with a number of Caribbean people and organizations. These were the years of the Italian-Ethiopian War, the self-imposed exile of Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey, and the proliferation of African and Caribbean organizations, with London headquarters, demanding the improvements in their colonial status that eventually led to the independence explosion. In an article in the National Guardian, Paul Robeson spoke of his impressions of the Caribbean people, after returning from a concert tour in Jamaica and Trinidad. He said:

    I feel now as if I had drawn my first great of fresh air in many years. Once before I felt like that. When I first entered the Soviet Union I said to myself, "I am a human being. I don't have to worry about my color."
    In the West Indies I felt all that and something new besides. I felt that for the first time I could see what it will be like when Negroes are free in their own land. I felt something like what a Jew must feel when first he goes to Israel, what a Chinese must feel on entering areas of his country that now are free.
    Certainly my people in the islands are poor. They are desperately poor. In Kingston, Jamaica, I saw many families living in shells of old automobiles, hollowed out and turned upside down. Many are unemployed. They are economically subjected to landholders, British, American and native.
    But the people are on the road to freedom. I saw Negro professionals: artists, writers, scientists, scholars. And above all I saw Negro workers walking erect and proud.
    Once I was driving in Jamaica. My road passed a school and as we came abreast of the building a great crowd of school children came running out to wave at me. I stopped, got out of my car to talk with them and sing to them. Those kids were wonderful. I have stopped at similar farms in our own deep South and I have talked to Negro children everywhere in our country. Here for the first time I could talk to children who did not have to look over their shoulders to see if a white man was watching them talk to me.
    They crowded around my car. For hours they waited to see me. Some might be embarrassed or afraid of such crowds of people pressing all around. I am not embarrassed or afraid in the presence of people.
    I was not received as an opera singer is received by his people in Italy. I was not received as Joe Louis is received by our own people. These people saw in me not a singer, or not just a singer. They called to me: "Hello, Paul. We know you've been fighting for us."
    In many ways his concert tours were educational tours. He had a similar experience, in New Orleans, on October 19, 1942 when he sang before a capacity audience of black and white men and women, seated without segregation, in the Booker T. Washington School auditorium. On this occasion he said:

    I had never put a correct evaluation on the dignity and courage of my people of the deep South until I began to come south myself. I had read, of course, and folks had told me of strides made…but always I had discounted much if it, charged much of it to what some people would have us believe. Deep down, I think, I had imagined Negroes of the South beaten, subservient, cowed.
    But I see them now courageous and possessors of a profound and instinctive dignity, a race that has come through its trials unbroken, a race of such magnificence of spirit that there exists no power on earth that could crush them. They will bend, but they will never break.
    I find that I must come south again and again, again and yet again. It is only here that I achieve absolute and utter identity with my people. There is no question here of where I stand, no need to make a decision. The redcap in the station, the president of your college, the man in the street—they are all one with me, part of me. And I am proud of it, utterly proud of my people.
    He reaffirmed his commitment to the Black struggle in the South by adding:

    We must come south to understand in their starkest presentation the common problems that beset us everywhere. We must breathe the smoke of battle. We must taste the bitterness, see the ugliness…we must expose ourselves unremittingly to the source of strength that makes the black South strong! In spite of the years he and his family spent abroad, he was never estranged from his own people. In his book, Here I Stand, he explained this in essence when he said:

    "I am a Negro. The house I live in is in Harlem—this city within a city, Negro Metropolis of America. And now as I write of things that are urgent in my mind and heart, I feel the press of all that is around me here where I live, at home among my people."
    The 1940's the war years, was a turning point in his career. His rendition of "Ballad For Americans," made a lot of Americans, Black and white, rethink the nature of their commitment, or lack of it, in the making of genuine democracy in this country. The song stated a certainty that "Our Marching Song to a land of freedom and equality will come again." Mr. Robeson sang: "For I have always believed it and I believe it now." In this song, and his life he was asking that America keep its promise to all of its people.
    On October 19, 1943, he became the first Black actor to play the role of Othello with a White supporting cast, on an American stage. He had played this role years before in London.
    In 1944, Paul Robeson was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Soon afterwards he took the lead in a course of actions more direct and radical than the NAACP. He led a delegation that demanded the end to racial bars in professional baseball. He called on President Truman to extend the civil rights of Blacks in the South. He became a founder and chairman of the Progressive Party which nominated former Vice President Henry A. Wallace in the 1948 presidential campaign.
    In the years immediately following the Second World War, Paul Robeson called attention to the unfinished fight for the basic dignity of all people. The following excerpt was extracted from a speech he made in Detroit, Michigan on the Tenth Anniversary of the National Negro Congress:

    "These are times of peril in the history of the Negro people and of the American nation.
    Fresh from victorious battles, in which we soundly defeated the military forces of German, Italian and Japanese fascism, driving to oppress and enslave the peoples of the world, we are now faced with an even more sinister threat to the peace and security and freedom of all our peoples. This time the danger lies in the resurgent imperialist and pro-fascist forces of our own country, powerfully organized gentlemen of great wealth, who are determined now, to attempt what Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo tried to do and failed. AND The ELECTED POLITICAL LEADERSHIP OF THE UNITED STATES IS SERVING AS THE SPEARHEAD OF THIS NEW DRIVE TOWARD IMPERIALIST WAR IN THE WORLD AND THE RUTHLESS DESTRUCTION OF OUR FREEDOM AND SECURITY HERE AT HOME.
    I understand full well the meaning of these times for my country and my people. The triumph of imperialist reaction in America now, would bring death and mass destruction to our own and all other countries of the world. It would engulf our hard won democratic liberties in the onrush of native fascism. And it would push the Negro people backward into a modern and highly scientific form of oppression, far worse than our slave forefathers ever knew.
    I also understand full well the important role which my people can and must play in helping to save America and the peoples of all the world, from annihilation and enslavement. Precisely as Negro patriots helped turn back the red-coats at Bunker Hill, just as the struggles of over 200,000 Negro soldiers and four million slaves turned the tide of victory for the Union forces in the Civil War, just as the Negro people have thrown their power on the side of progress in every other great crisis in the history of our country—so now, we must mobilize our full strength, in firm unity with all the other progressive forces of our country and the world, to set American imperialist reaction back on its heels.
    On this occasion he further stated:

    "I have been a member of the National Negro Congress since its inception. I have taken great pride in its struggles to unite the progressive forces of the Negro people and of organized labor in common struggle. And I know that I now talk to an assemble of approximately one thousand delegates, the overwhelming majority of whom are the elected representatives of millions of trade unionists throughout our country.
    Here is the concrete expression of one of the most salutary developments in the political history of America—the unity of the Negro people and the progressive forces of labor of which they are an increasingly active part."
    The trouble of the post war years, mainly the lack of civil rights for his people, made him step up his political activity. At the World Peace Congress in Paris in 1940, he stated that:

    "It is unthinkable that American Negroes will go to war on behalf of those who have oppressed us for generations against a country (the Soviet Union) which in one generation has raised our people to the full dignity of mankind." His words, often exaggerated out of context, turned every right wing extremist organization in America against him. Their anger reached a sad and destructive climax during two of his concerts in Peekskill, New York in the summer of 1949.
    His interest in Africa, that had started early in his life continued through his affiliations with "The Council on African Affairs" and the column that he wrote regularly for the newspaper Freedom.
    His association with organized labor was almost as long and consistent as his association with the concert stage. In a speech, "Forge Negro-Labor Unity for Peace and Jobs," delivered in Chicago, before nine hundred delegates to the National Labor Conference for Negro Rights, June 1950, his association and commitment to the laboring class was restated in the following manner:

    "No meeting held in America at the mid-century turning point in world history holds more significant promise for the bright future toward which humanity strives than this National Labor Conference for Negro Rights. For here are gathered together the basic forces—the Negro sons and daughters of labor and their white brothers and sisters—whose increasingly active intervention in national and world affairs is an essential requirement if we are to have a peaceful and democratic solution of the burning issues of our times.
    Again we must recall the state of the world in which we live, and especially the America in which we live. Our history as Americans, Black and white, has been a long battle, so often unsuccessful. For the most basic rights of citizenship, for the most basic rights of citizenship, for the most simple standards of living, the avoidance of starvation—for survival.
    I have been up and down the land time and again, thanks in the main to you trade unionists gathered here tonight. You helped to arouse American communities to give answer to Peekskill, to protect the right of freedom of speech and assembly. And I have seen and daily see the unemployment, the poverty, the plight of our children, our youth, the backbreaking labor of our women—and too long, too long have my people wept and mourned. We're tired of this denial of a decent existence. We demand some approximation of the American democracy we have helped to build."
    He ended his speech with this reminder:

    "As the Black worker takes his place upon the stage of history—not for a bit part, but to play his full role with dignity in the very center of the action—a new day dawns in human affairs. The determination of the Negro workers, supported by the whole Negro people, and joined with the mass of progressive white working men and women, can save the labor movement. … This alliance can beat back the attacks against the living standards and the very lives of the Negro people. It can stop the drive toward fascism. It can halt the chariot of war in its tracks.
    And it can help to bring to pass in America and in the world the dream our father dreamed—of a land that's free, of a people growing in friendship, in love, in cooperation and peace.
    This is history's challenge to you. I know you will not fail."
    In 1950 Paul Robeson's passport was revoked by the State Department, though he was not charged with any crime. President Truman had signed an executive order forbidding Paul Robeson to set foot outside the continental limits of the United States. "Committees To Restore Paul Robeson's Passport" were organized in the United States and in other countries around the world. The fight to restore his passport lasted eight years.
    For Paul Robeson these were not lost or inactive years; and they were not years when he was forgotten or without appreciation, though, in some circles, his supporters "dwindled down to a precious few." He was fully involved, during these years, with the Council on African Affairs, Freedom Magazine, The American Labor Movement, The Peace Movement, and The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship.
    From its inception in November 1950 to the last issue, July-August 1955, Paul Robeson wrote a regular column for the newspaper Freedom. After his passport was restored in 1958, he went to Europe for an extended concert tour. In 1963 he returned to the United States, with his wife Eslanda, who died two years later. After her death he gave up his home in Harlem and moved to Philadelphia to spend his last years with his sister Mrs. Marion Forsythe.
    Next to W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson was the best example of an intellect who was active in his peoples freedom struggle. Through this struggle both men committed themselves to the struggle to improve the lot of all mankind. Paul Robeson's thoughts in this matter is summed up in the following quote from his book, Here I Stand.

    "I learned that the essential character of a nation is determined not by the upper classes, but by the common people, and that the common people of all nations are truly brothers in the great family of mankind … And even as I grew to feel more Negro in spirit, or African as I put it then, I also came to feel a sense of oneness with the white working people whom I came to know and love.
    This belief in the oneness of humankind, about which I have often spoken in concerts and elsewhere, has existed within me side by side with my deep attachment to the cause of my own race. Some people have seen a contradiction in this duality…I do not think however, that my sentiments are contradictory … I learned that there truly is a kinship among us all, a basis for mutual respect and brotherly love."
    At the time of his death, January 23, 1976, a new generation was discovering Paul Robeson for the first time. An older generation was regretting that it had not made the best use of the strengths and hope that he had given to them. The writer, L. Clayton Jones, made this comment in the Amsterdam News, after his death.

    "One watches with restrained anger as a nation of hypocrites grudgingly acknowledges the passing of a twentieth century phenomenon, Paul Robeson, All American Athlete, Shakespearean Actor, Basso Profundo, Linguist, Scholar, Lawyer, Activist. He was all these things and more." In December 1977, an Ad Hoc Committee to End the Crimes Against Paul Robeson was formed to protest the inaccurate portrayal of Paul Robeson in a new play by Philip Hayes Dean. Their statement read, in part:

    "The essence of Paul Robeson is inseparable from his ideas—those most profoundly held artistic, philosophical and political principles which evolved from his early youth into the lifelong commitments for which he paid so dear and from which he never wavered down to his final public statement in 1975.
    In life, Paul Robeson sustained the greatest effort in the history of this nation to silence a single artist. He defied physical and psychological harassment and abuse without once retreating from his principles and the positions to which he dedicated his life. We believe that it is no less a continuation of the same crime to restore him, that he is safely dead, to the pantheon of respectability on the terms of those who sought to destroy him.
    Robeson is the archetype of the Black American who uncompromisingly insists on total liberation. His example and his fate strike to the very heart of American racism.
    For the nation to confront him honestly would mean that it confronts itself—to begin at last the process of reclamation of the national soul."

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     Marvin X accepts life-time achievement award from PEN Oakland. Left: MC, poet, novelist,
    California Poet Laureate emeritus Al Young
    photo Wanda Sabir, journalist/professor College of Alameda

     Marvin X with fellow poets Opal Palmer Adisa and Ishmael Reed

     Ishmael Reed and Marvin X. Ishmael Reed says, "Marvin X is Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland."
     Marvin X
    photo Wanda Sabir

     Marvin X, MCs Jack Foley and Al Young
    photo Wanda Sabir

    Marvin X at the mike. The mike is often snatched from him by the PC Culture Police, not this time.
    photo Wanda Sabir

    Marvin X is now available for readings/speaking engagements coast to coast. Send letter of invitation to Call 510-200 4164.

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    2016, 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland, California, the city of resistance


    Dear artists, vendors, educators, businesspersons:

    We are requesting your attendance at a community meeting to discuss plans for the renaming of the 14th Street corridor, downtown Oakland. The meeting will be held on Sunday, Jan. 3, 3-5pm, at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin, Oakland. In preparation of a planning meeting with the City of Oakland on Monday, Jan. 4, 2:30pm, we want to discuss the proposed name: Black Arts Movement Cultural and Economic District. We want to honor the Black Arts Movement, the most radical artistic and literary movement in American history. BAM was the artistic sister of the Black Power Movement. The Black Arts Movement gave rise to Black Studies, Asian Studies, La Raza Studies, Native American Studies, Gender Studies, et al. Oakland played a critical role as a group of artistic freedom fighters. We think of such persons as Ruth Beckford, Adam David Miller, Emory Douglas, Halifu Osumare, Sarah Webster Fabio, Avotcja, Marvin X, et al. See the book Black Artists in Oakland, ed. by Duane Diterville. See also The Black Arts Movement by James Smethurst, UMASS Press; also SOS: Calling all Black People, A Black Arts Movement Reader, edited by Sonia Sanchez, James Smethurst and John Bracey, UMASS Press.

    We hope to see you at the community meeting, Sunday, January 3, 3pm, and the City of Oakland planning meeting on Monday, January 4, 2:30. The City of Oakland planning meeting will be hosted by Lynette McElhaney, President of the Oakland City Council. If you can't make both meetings, come to one, if you can.

    For more information, please contact me at Call 510-200-4164.


    Marvin X, BAM Planner

    Tentative Agenda for community meeting, Sunday, Jan 3, 3pm at Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin

    We will only have time to deal with priority items on this list. Come with ideas. Think for the next fifty to one hundred years! We will deal with agenda items in future meetings.

    Musical interlude
    Prayer Libation
    *Overview of BAM District Plan
    *Name: Black Arts Movement Cultural and Economic District
    Establish the BAM District Development Corporation
    ***Mental Health Peer Group meetings (required)
    *Planning team
    *Business Plan
    *Budget for BAM District planners
    Self Sufficiency or Do for Self
    Land trust
    Life estate for housing
    Art space
    Housing for artists, workers, homeless, persons with mental and physical disabilities
    District tour
    David Blackwell Institute of Art, Math, Science and Technology
    BAM Union of Artists
    Elder Council
    Men's Council
    Women's Council
    Young Adult Council
    Children's Council
    Acquiring properties along corridor
    Silicon Valley grants for STEM education, e.g., Blackwell Institute, and to offset gentrification and secure space for North American Africans as part of Oakland Downtown Plan

    Next Meeting: Monday, January 4, 2:30pm, Oakland City Hall

    We propose the BAM District include the Dr. David Blackwell Institute of Art, Math, Science and Technology

    David Blackwell

    Born: April 24, 1919; place: Centralia, Illinois
    AB (1938) University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign; AM (1939) University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
    Ph.D. (1941) Statistics, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign thesis: Some Properties of Mark off Chains; Advisor: Joseph L. Doob


    Professor Emeritas of Statistics, University of California at Berkeley

    Research Interests: Mathematics
    university URL:; email: none

    David Blackwell is, to mathematicians, the most famous, perhaps greatest, African Amercan Mathematician. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics in 1938, Master of Arts in Mathematics in 1939, and his Ph.D. in 1941 (at the age of 22), all from the University of Illinois.
    He is the seventh African American to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics. He is the first and only African American to be any one of: a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a President of the American Statistical Society, and a Vice President of the America Mathematics Society.

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    By Davey D

    Long time entertainer/activist/ freedom fighter Harry Belafonte came to Oakland the other week
    for an event he puts on called the Gathering for Justice. It drew more than a thousand people
    from all over the world including a number of former gang members who are concerned
    about the high incarceration rates and the increasing challenges besetting our society.
    *   *   *   *   *
    Why was Belafonte’s Oakland star-studded gathering

    whited out by mainstream media?
    By Marvin X

    Billed as Harry Belafonte’s Gathering for Justice, the world renowned humanitarian called
    a national conference of youth to gather in Oakland Saturday to address their pressing
    issues and spark their consciousness to continue the work of his generation and those
    before him on the train of justice. Youth flooded into the Oakland Marriot from
    Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, Boston,
    Chicago and Detroit, as well as California.

    Youth from Oakland and the Bay Area, however, did not seem to be well represented,
    for some strange reason. [Little publicity appeared before the gathering, and the Bay
    View has been able to find no mainstream media coverage of the event. – ed.]

    Nevertheless, the multi-cultural crowd was treated to the likes of Belafonte,
    Danny Glover, Barbara Lee, Ron Dellums, Walter Mosley, Sean Penn, Santana,
    Davey D and yes, Marvin X, who was vending his books when the Hot 8 Brass Band
    called him to the stage to join them in electrifying the crowd.

     Paul Robeson, the artistic freedom fighter supreme!

    We cannot praise and honor Harry Belafonte enough for his years in our liberation struggle.
    Yes, he is in the tradition of our great ancestor Paul Robeson, who defined himself as the
    artistic freedom fighter. At 81 years old, Harry is showing us that there is no retirement
     in the battle for justice in America or the world.

    Just as the forces of white supremacy are relentless, we must be also and never give
    up until the last breath. In his keynote address delivered at 9 a.m. on Saturday
    morning, he talked about the suffering his mentor Paul Robeson experienced as
    the artistic freedom fighter, but Harry said he is inspired to see Robeson’s spirit alive in
    actor Danny Glover.

     Artistic Freedom Fighters Danny Glover and Marvin X
    at Anti- War Rally, San Francisco. Both attended San Francisco
    State University. Both helped establish the Black Arts Movement.
    Danny was an actor in Marvin X's Black Arts West Theatre, Fillmore Street,
    San Francisco, 1966.
    photo Kamau Amen Ra

    Even though he supported and marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Harry was
    hypercritical of the black church today, calling it the "kidnappers of truth," along
    with a few more choice words. DJ Davey D urged me to write a poem using
    Harry’s metaphor. Harry criticized the reactionary rappers as well, calling them
    sellouts to cultural imperialism.

    A Poem for Harry 
    (I'm Just Wild About Harry!)
    at the request of Davey D

    kidnappers of truth
    liars on the blood of Jesus
    truth will never set you free
    like JC said
    you too in bed wit Pharaoh
    selling out for a mess of pottage
    you are Pharaoh's magicians
    til Moses came with superior magic
    Moses threw down you threw down
    Most was the Master Magician
    but you are Pharaoh's running dogs
    a chicken bone will suffice
    give your congregation a chicken leg
    chitterlings with collard greens
    and you all vote for me
    I'll set ya free!
    Vipers in the name of Pharaoh
    snakes in the grass
    coming in the name of Jesus
    yet you do not free the captives
    do not heal the broken hearted
    you shame Jesus
    like Peter you a scared of the water
    Jesus must save you
    deaf dumb blind
    and you lead the people
    when the blind lead the blind
    they both fall into  the ditch together.
    --Marvin X
    Let's do the BAM Thang!

    But his main message is that we can overcome the forces of white supremacy
    by organizing and non-violently opposing evil. A mass movement of conscious
    youth can be a critical factor in moving the Movement forward out of the lethargy
     and passivity of the last few years.

    Because of its revolutionary tradition, Oakland was chosen for the first in a series
    of national meetings of the Gathering for Justice movement. Youth and adults
    in attendance included Native Americans, Latinos, Whites, Pacific Islanders, Asians
    and African Americans.

    We don’t quite understand why more Oakland people were not present,
    especially with such high profile personalities on the agenda. Did organizers
    do outreach locally, or did they purposely limit information on the event since
    Oakland is currently suffering so much violence? Of course violence is nationwide.
    Someone, maybe Harry, mentioned 16,000 persons were murdered in America last year –
    yes, far more than have died in Iraq. Maybe conference organizers feared Oaklanders
    mixing with youth from outside the city.

    The Gathering for Justice must present a long-term strategy to confront the myriad
    problems facing youth, including violence, mis-education, lack of jobs –
    in lieu of jobs we suggest entrepreneurship and micro credit.

    Since there are few Black teachers, we offer peer teaching and independent study.
    And the prison population should be reduced with a general amnesty.

    The problem of the church or faith community can be addressed by noting the
    liberation theology of Jesus and Muhammad, and perhaps moving beyond
    religion toward spirituality as the Native Americans spoke about so eloquently
    and at great length.

    If Harry Belafonte, at 81, can involve himself with the Gathering for Justice,
    surely I can do the same at 63, and so I call upon my generation to become
    a part of this movement to save our children. Remember that James Brown tune,
    “Get Involved”?

    The highlight for me at Harry’s Gathering for Justice was seeing the new
    generation of youth embracing each other and us elders. The Creator is telling
    me every little thing is going to be all ite. It was a blessing hearing and performing
    with that great group of young people from New Orleans, the Hot 8 Brass Band.
    “Get Involved!”

    See the latest book by Dr. M/ Marvin X How to Recover From the Addiction to 
    White Supremacy: A Pan African 12 Step Model for a Mental Health Peer Group,
    foreword by Dr. Nathan Hare, $19.95, Black Bird Press, Berkeley CA.

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    Nikkie talked about Nikki/Rosa
    the life she lived
    but my life wasn't bad either
    joy happiness
    world of my own
    no white people in my world
    teachers black
    loan sharks
    Mr. Freeman at the Lincoln Theatre
    black movies fleas rats too but black films
    cross the street from my house
    7th and Campbell
    Parent's Florist Shop
    growing up West Oakland
    Harlem of the West
    7th Street
    my street my life my love
    Perry's Shoe Shine
    Pear's Cafe
    Scott's Key Shop
    Pullman Porter's Union upstairs
     John Singer's Club
    Ester's Obit Room
    Slim Jenkin's Restaurant
    Josephine Baker at Slim's  for years
    parents talked about her
    Couldn't figure out why she was so important
    Saw her picture outside Slim Jenkins
    couldn't go inside
    too young
    a child really
    up and done 7th Street
    magazines and newspapers
    Race news
    went down to the Valley, Fresno hustling still
    T Shit said Jet
    The Weekly Negro Magazine

    Nigguhs called me
    Weekly Negro
    Jet Ebony Pittsburgh Courrier
    Chicago Defender
    7th Street
    my life in my world
    beautiful '
    make a junkyard bike

    Leon Teasley my 3rd Grade friend
    McFeely Elementary
    next to New Century Rec Center
    Ruth Beckford wearing natural hair
    beautiful African queen
    Ruth black and beautiful
    in cars with negroes with class
    hustling negroes
    Ruth had class
    beautiful so black
    wondered about Ruth
    wanted to be in her grove
    even in childhood
    Rec Center drama class took me to Mosswood Park
    some European king and queen shit
    sandbox white girl called me a nigger first time
    get out the sandbox nigger
    didn't know what a nigger was really
    white girl made it plain
    get out the sandbox nigger!
    drama career started at Mosswood
    First lession
    You a nigger nigger!
    Know that and you can live and be
    a bigger nigger
    don't you want to be a bigger nigger than
    a nothing ass nigger?
    --Marvin X

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    Please attend the Community Meeting on the Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District
    Sunday, January 3, 3PM, Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin, downtown Oakland. We meet with Oakland City Council President, Lynette McElhaney, Monday, January 4, 3:30PM. Make both meetings or the one you can. Be there or be square!

    Dear Lynette,
    As per the meeting at City Hall on Monday, January 4, 3:30PM, we should vote on the name and get it out of the way. I am tired of tripping about the name. We think those who oppose the name Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District may be those who are opposed to the movement of Black people in general, those who want to continue business as usual which means no business at all. Who would be against the word movement except those who want no movement. We know the last thing the so-called Negro wants is to move. Since he resists movement, he is being moved on or moved out. The Black Arts Movement was/is forward motion rather than the SOS we've experienced since the 60s. Black Arts Movement Cultural And Business District will tie Oakland into the international movement of Black people for liberation, a movement that would put Oakland on the map as a city of radical Black consciousness, art and culture, including politics. For sure we need movement beyond pure black capitalism from the Nixon era.
    The other items we would like to see on the agenda are banners and vendors along 14th Street. Please revise your agenda so voting on the name is a top priority item along with banners and street vendors on 14th Street. We would like to see banners and street vendors along 14th Street by February, Black History Month, 2016. On the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, we think the Black Panther flag should fly along side the BAM flag. As you know, the Black Arts Movement was considered the sister of the Black Power Movement that includes the Black Panther Party. Alas, many of the Black Panther leaders came through the Black Arts Movement: Black Panther co-founder Dr. Huey P. Newton said, "Marvin X was my teacher. Many of our comrades came through his Black Arts Theatre, e.g., Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Samuel Napier, et al."

    --Marvin X, BAM District

     Paul Cobb's letter to Lynette McElhaney
    President of the Oakland City Council
     Post News Group

    We elect public officials to advocate and provide leadership Witness Barbara Lee's stalwart positions on "Ban The Box"! She didn't call for every formerly incarcerated person to fly to Washington,D.C.

    We have presented many articles about jobs and workforce training and numerous residents, unemployed persons and community-based non-profits have come to the council yet you have called for more community outpouring. Is there a magic number.?

    Sometimes, like in the example of Ms. Brooks's Department of Race and Equity, a public official can lift up an issue and it will draw and/or garner community support later. Every issue doesn't firstly require poll-testing and agonizing community demand sessions as a fig leaf justifying action.

    When I was on the school board I raised issues of equity, Fairness and inclusion for minorities, whether there was a public outpouring or not. The people have put you in a leadership position "for such a time as this" when our needs are so great. To be risk adverse, by resorting to defensive explanations about the strictures of process and calling for help from the gallery, about jobs, Black Arts District, foreclosures, affordable housing and such issues means that your governing principle is predicated on bringing some noise and/or stacking the chambers to either leverage your colleagues or hide behind the masses as an excuse for action. The people you require to give you support as a condition of your vote will also show up to bless you if you take some initiative of your own on their behalf, whether your colleagues approved or not. .

    And speaking of decibel levels, you could have pre-empted the need for public demonstrations
    of discontent by quietly and adroitly providing leadership to alert the Mayor about city staff placing fines on churches. At some point we must all step out on faith and act on our beliefs. If you believe a Black Arts District, jobs,  minority equity and the first amendment rights of faith-based institutions needs your attention and concerted leadership,  then you would know that your community has your back. When one cares and loves their people one acts and even dares to stand alone for what one believes is right. Love is belief put to work.

    Leadership doesn't require crowd-sourced advocacy, sometimes like the biblical Daniel, our leaders must dare to stand alone for what is right, because if you require community-based massive outpourings of citizens demanding action as a predicate for your decision-making, then you should convene a weekly delegate assembly of all the citizens of your district to go over each item on the agenda to give you directions as to how to vote on their concerns such as Issues relating to Jobs, affordable housing, protecting faith and houses of worship, banning the box, hiring youth and the formerly incarcerated ought to be genuflectional.  That is why you are there. Leadership is serving the needs of the people.

    Your district and your people need you to act with alacrity, not timidity. To paraphrase James Baldwin's letter to his nephew in "The Fire Next Time", to act is to be committed. To be committed is to be in danger. But not to act can also put a leader in danger of being considered irrelevant.

    Do you need a crowd to come to the chamber to deliver  that message? I look forward to your remarks Saturday at the Joyful Noise celebration because many of the clergy and community residents who will be there will also be demanding your leadership on future votes regarding the Black Arts District,  jobs, housing, police/community relations as well. I will see you at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church where we can have a quiet "come to Jesus meeting".

    Thank you,

    2016, 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland, California, the city of resistance

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    By August Wilson, presented by Lower Bottom Playaz
    Through: Jan. 3
    Where: The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland
    Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes, one intermission
    Tickets: $20-$70;
    510-332-1319, www.lower

    "Most Negroes ain't done nothing right in their entire life!"--Leroy James, West Oakland

     LOWER BOTTOM PLAYAZAdimu Madyun, left, and Pierre Scott star in "Radio Golf," part of playwright August Wilson’s 10-play cycle about
    LOWER BOTTOM PLAYAZ Adimu Madyun, left, and Pierre Scott star in "Radio Golf," part of playwright August Wilson's 10-play cycle about African-American life in the 20th century. The play is being staged by Oakland's Lower Bottom Playaz. ( photo TaSin Sabir)

    Esteemed playwright August Wilson's last play in his ten play cycle ended Sunday afternoon at Oakland's Flight Deck Theatre, produced by Dr. Ayodele Nzinga's Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc. The Lower Bottom Playaz is the only theatre group in the world that has done the ten play cycle in chronological  order. Titled Radio Golf, it steps away from the gut bucket stories of most of the works in the cycle. The play deals with the Black Bourgeoisie, that class of house Negroes so well delineated in Dr. E. Franklin Frazier's 60s classic Black Bourgeoisie, Negroes who live in the "world of make believe" and are addicted to conspicuous consumption or full blown materialism. Dr. Nathan Hare also documented this group in his classic The Black Anglo-Saxons. Marvin X deals with the Pan African addiction to white supremacy in his manual How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy.

    Radio is a timely drama that hit Oakland just in time as the City suffers pervasive gentrification from developers. There is a fight over a name change just as Oakland City Council President Lynette McElhaney resists changing 14th Street to The Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District.
    A Black developer turned politician (he's running for mayor of Pittsburgh, PA) but is caught in family drama along with  a corrupt business partner that eventually sells him out or more specifically buys him out.

    The  Black Arts Movement planners were pondering a theme for the BAM District as they attempted to get the City to give the 14th Street corridor a name that reflects Oakland's radical artistic, cultural and political tradition. Planners selected the theme Let's Do it Right This Time. Alas, the central theme in the Wilson play was do the right thing. The lead character said repeatedly that chaos results when we don't do the right thing. At play's conclusion, he decided to do the right thing by not demolishing an abandoned building his development company had bought illegally in a tax sale. Although the City of Pittsburgh would receive millions in a development deal, he decided he'd rather save the old shack  and return it to the rightful owner because it was obtained without public notice.

    There was a consensus among the theatre patrons that the poignant moment in the play was when a character named Ole' Joe (sometimes Ole' Black Joe) called one of the developers a Negro as opposed to himself being a nigguh, but a least a nigguh was down to earth while the Negro was an agent of the devil and prided himself in being such. This was the most powerful scene in the play.
    It made a clear distinction between the house Negro and the field or street Negro so well described by Malcolm X in his Message to the Grassroots. August Wilson's street Nigguh tells the House Negro he ain't about nothing except being Block Man (Sun Ra term) rather than Black Man. After the Nigguh scolds the Negro, he puts war paint on his face and walks out the door. In the final scene, the lead character puts on war paint and exits.

    On Monday, January 4, 3:30PM, the planners of the Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District will meet in a planning session at Oakland City Hall  with the President of the City Council, Lynette McElhaney, who is (for some unknown reason) opposing changing 14th Street to the Black Arts Movement District. She appears stuck on the generic Black Arts Cultural and Business District, without Movement, strangely similar to the Atlanta GA National Black Arts Festival that morphed from its origins in the BAM but is now an annual depiction of mainly Negro bourgeoisie art for art sake in the European tradition. The BAM artists consider themselves artistic freedom fighters in the Paul Robeson tradition, not artists who happen to be black. BAM Queen Sonia Sanchez asks Black artists will your work free us, will your book free us?" Mrs. Amina Baraka, widow of BAM architect ancestor Amiri Baraka,  says, "Every Black artist is not part of the Black Arts Movement. Let's be clear on this. If you ain't revolutionary and don't want to be revolutionary, you ain't part of the Black Arts Movement."
     Two of the Black Arts Movement's artistic freedom fighters: Ancestor Amiri Baraka and Elder Marvin X

    On Sunday, January 3, 2016, the BAM community planning committee met at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin, downtown Oakland. Oakland Post Newspaper Publisher Paul Cobb told the meeting, "Our mission statement is about movement. I support the Black Arts Movement District name because it ties us to the past and future. There must be movement in the arts, culture and economics. It was Paul Cobb who first called for the Dr. David Blackwell Institute of Art, Math, Science and Technology. We now propose the Blackwell Institute be part of the BAM District.
    The Sunday meeting called for the immediate display of banners and vendors along the 14th Street corridor, just as there are vendors on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and Market Street in San Francisco daily. People from out of town, especially the East Coast are shocked to see no vendors selling conscious Black literature on the street as is done up and down the East Coast, from Wash. DC to Philly, Newark, NJ, Brooklyn NY, downtown Manhattan and Harlem NY. Why is Oakland so backward and retarded, yet is known as the USA City of Resistance to oppression?

    Paul Cobb said if Lynette cannot include Movement in the name, we'll go to the newly formed Commission on Racial Equity, created by East Oakland Councilwoman Desley Brooks.

    We urge you all to come support the naming of 14th Street the Black Arts Movement Cultural and Business District at Oakland City Hall, Monday, January 4, 2016, 3:30PM. Don't let the reactionaries have the day. Mao said, "The reactionaries will never put down their butcher knives, they will never turn into Buddha heads!" We must practice eternal vigilance!

    Marvin X, BAM planner

    Review: Lower Bottom Playaz make history with August Wilson Cycle

    Right now the Lower Bottom Playaz is making theatrical history. With its current production of "Radio Golf" at the Flight Deck, the Oakland troupe has become the first theater company to stage August Wilson's entire 10-play American Century Cycle (also called the Pittsburgh Cycle) in chronological order of the decades depicted, a project the Playaz began in 2010.

    Each of the plays is set in a different decade of the 20th century, and all but one of them (1984's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," set in the 1920s) take place in the Hill District, an African-American neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Starting with 1982's "Jitney" (set in the 1970s), the plays weren't written in sequential order at all, and the last two plays Wilson completed were the first and last plays in the cycle.
    LOWER BOTTOM PLAYAZAdimu Madyun, left, and Pierre Scott star in "Radio Golf," part of playwright August Wilson’s 10-play cycle about
    LOWER BOTTOM PLAYAZ Adimu Madyun, left, and Pierre Scott star in "Radio Golf," part of playwright August Wilson's 10-play cycle about African-American life in the 20th century. The play is being staged by Oakland's Lower Bottom Playaz. ( TaSin Sabir )
    The 1990s installment "Radio Golf" is the final play, both in its setting and the order in which it was written. It premiered just a few months before Wilson's death in 2005 and first hit the Bay Area in a 2008 Theatre Works production. (On Jan. 14, Marin Theatre Company is producing the 2003 play that begins the cycle in 1904, "Gem of the Ocean," which American Conservatory Theater first brought to the Bay Area in 2006.)
    "Radio Golf" is the tale of real estate developer Harmond Wilks (an effectively understated Stanley Thomas Hunt II), who's running for mayor at the same time that he's about to break ground on a major redevelopment project that he spearheaded, with high-rise apartment buildings, Whole Foods and Starbucks. The trouble is, before they can get started, they have to tear down an old house, and the guy who abandoned it years ago has suddenly resurfaced and seems to think it's still his.
    The long-absent owner, Elder Joseph Barlow (a charmingly eccentric Adimu Madyun) is a type you'll find in most August Wilson plays -- the rambling crazy mystic, the seemingly simple-minded dreamer who's secretly the wisest one of all. Oddballs keep wandering into Harmond's ramshackle office (set by Aaron Swar), including Sterling, an ex-con now trying to make a living as a wandering construction worker, played by Pierre Scott with a booming voice and an amusing default mode of blithe belligerence and blunt truth-telling.
    Despite his ambition, Harmond is depicted as a stubborn man of conscience who always does what he thinks is right, disregarding the advice of his more pragmatic partners. 
    His friend and business partner Roosevelt (a lively, animated Koran Streets) is an aspiring wheeler-dealer who always feels on the verge of hitting the big time, and Harmond's yuppie wife Mame (a sulkily glaring Venus Morris) has a Machiavellian streak, always counseling him to play it safe and stick to the plan. It's not hard to see that Harmond is going to have to choose between what's advantageous and what's right. There are some devastatingly effective observations about the pretense of social change nestled amid Wilson's trademark arialike speeches that are ultimately more resonant than the simple story.
    It's easy to tell "Radio Golf" and "Gem of the Ocean" were written back-to-back to begin and end the cycle. Harmond and Elder Joseph share the family names of characters in "Gem," and the house that's supposed to be torn down in "Radio" is the house in which "Gem" is set; it's the former home of the mystic matriarch Aunt Ester. Sterling is a carry-over from another Wilson play; he first appeared in "Two Trains Running," set in 1969.
    Despite a few lulls in director Ayodele Nzinga's low-key staging, the Lower Bottom Playaz production makes for a resonant evening of theater about issues and tensions that are all too relevant today. It's a fine conclusion to a remarkable undertaking.
    Contact Sam Hurwitt at, and follow him at

    By August Wilson, presented by Lower Bottom Playaz
    Through: Jan. 3Where: The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland
    Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes, one intermission
    Tickets: $20-$70;
    510-332-1319, www.lower

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    By F. William Engdahl

    This was definitely not supposed to happen. It seems that an Israeli military man with the rank of colonel was “caught with IS pants down.” By that I mean he was captured amid a gaggle of so-called IS – or Islamic State or ISIS or DAESH depending on your preference – terrorists, by soldiers of the Iraqi army. Under interrogation by the Iraqi intelligence he apparently said a lot regarding the role of Netanyahu’s IDF in supporting IS.

    In late October an Iranian news agency, quoting a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, reported the capture of an Israeli army colonel, named Yusi Oulen Shahak, reportedly related to the ISIS Golani Battalion operating in Iraq in the Salahuddin front. In a statement to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency a Commander of the Iraqi Army stated, “The security and popular forces have held captive an Israeli colonel.” He added that the IDF colonel “had participated in the Takfiri ISIL group’s terrorist operations.” He said the colonel was arrested together with a number of ISIL or IS terrorists, giving the details: “The Israeli colonel’s name is Yusi Oulen Shahak and is ranked colonel in Golani Brigade… with the security and military code of Re34356578765az231434.”

    Comment: The news of this capture went further:
    … that the relevant bodies are now interrogating the Israeli colonel to understand the reasons behind his fighting alongside the ISIL forces and the presence of other Zionist officers among ISIL terrorists.
    The Iraqi security forces said the captured colonel has already made shocking confessions.
    Several ISIL militants arrested in the last one year had already confessed that Israeli agents from Mossad and other Israeli espionage and intelligence bodies were present in the first wave of ISIL attacks on Iraq and capture of Mosul in Summer 2014, but no ranking Israeli agent had been arrested.
    Political and military experts told FNA that the capture of the Israeli colonel will leave a grave impact on Iraq’s war strategy, including partnership with Israeli allies.

    Why Israel?

    Ever since the beginning of Russia’s very effective IS bombing of select targets in Syria on September 30, details of the very dirty role of not only Washington, but also NATO member Turkey under President Erdogan, Qatar and other states has come into the sunlight for the first time.
    It’s becoming increasingly clear that at least a faction in the Obama Administration has played a very dirty behind-the-scenes role in supporting IS in order to advance the removal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and pave the way for what inevitably would be a Libya-style chaos and destruction which would make the present Syrian refugee crisis in Europe a mere warmup by comparison.
    The “pro-IS faction” in Washington includes the so-called neo-conservatives centered around disgraced former CIA head and executioner of the Iraqi “surge” General David Petraeus. It also includes US General John R. Allen, who since September 2014 had served as President Obama’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and, until she resigned in February 2013, it included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
    Significantly, General John Allen, an unceasing advocate of a US-led “No Fly Zone” inside Syria along the border to Turkey, something President Obama refused, was relieved of his post on 23 October, 2015. That was shortly after launch of the highly-effective Russian strikes on Syrian IS and Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front terrorist sites changed the entire situation in the geopolitical picture of Syria and the entire Middle East.

    UN Reports cites Israel

    That Netanyahu’s Likud and the Israeli military work closely with Washington’s neo-conservative war-hawks is well-established, as is the vehement opposition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Israel regards the Iranian-backed Shi’a Islamist militant group, Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, as arch foe. Hezbollah has been actively fighting alongside the Syrian Army against ISIS in Syria. General Allen’s strategy of “bombings of ISIS” since he was placed in charge of the operation in September 2014, as Russia’s Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov have repeatedly pointed out, far from destroying ISIS in Syria, had vastly expanded their territorial control of the country. Now it becomes clear that that was precisely the intent of Allen and the Washington war faction.

    Since at least 2013 Israeli military have also openly bombed what they claim were Hezbollah targets inside Syria. Investigation revealed that in fact Israel was hitting Syrian military and Hezbollah targets who are valiantly fighting against ISIS and other terrorists. De facto thereby Israel was actually helping ISIS, like General John Allen’s year-long “anti-ISIS” bombings.

    That a faction in the Pentagon has secretly worked behind-the-scenes to train, arm and finance what today is called ISIS or IS in Syria is now a matter of open record. In August 2012, a Pentagon document classified “Secret,” later declassified under pressure of the US NGO Judicial Watch, detailed precisely the emergence of what became the Islamic State or ISIS emerging from the Islamic State in Iraq, then an Al Qaeda affiliate.

    The Pentagon document stated:
    “…there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition [to Assad-w.e.] want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

    The supporting powers to the opposition in 2012 then included Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the USA and behind-the-scenes, Netanyahu’s Israel.

    Precisely this creation of a “Salafist Principality in eastern Syria,” today’s territory of ISIL or IS, was the agenda of Petraeus, General Allen and others in Washington to destroy Assad. It’s what put the Obama Administration at loggerhead with Russia, China and Iran over the bizarre US demand Assad must first go before ISIS can be destroyed. Now the game is in the open for the world to see Washington’s duplicity in backing what the Russian’s accurately call “moderate terrorists” against a duly-elected Assad. That Israel is also in the midst of this rats’ nest of opposition terrorist forces in Syria was confirmed in a recent UN report.

    What the report did not mention was why Israeli IDF military would have such a passionate interest in Syria, especially Syria’s Golan Heights.

    Why Israel wants Assad Out

    In December, 2014 the Jerusalem Post in Israel reported the findings of a largely ignored, and politically explosive report detailing UN sightings of Israeli military together with ISIS terrorist combatants. The UN peacekeeping force, UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), stationed since 1974 along the Golan Heights border between Syria and Israel, revealed that Israel had been working closely with Syrian opposition terrorists, including Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front and IS in the Golan Heights, and “kept close contact over the past 18 months.” The report was submitted to the UN Security Council. Mainstream media in the US and West buried the explosive findings.

    The UN documents showed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were maintaining regular contact with members of the so-called Islamic State since May of 2013. The IDF stated that this was only for medical care for civilians, but the deception was broken when the UNDOF observers identified direct contact between IDF forces and ISIS soldiers, including giving medical care to ISIS fighters. Observations even included the transfer of two crates from the IDF to ISIS forces, the contents of which have not been confirmed. Further the UN report identified what the Syrians label a “crossing point of forces between Israel and ISIS,” a point of concern UNDOF brought before the UN Security Council.

    The UNDOF was created by a May, 1974 UN Security Council Resolution No. 350 in the wake of tensions from the October 1973 Yom Kippur War between Syria and Israel. It established a buffer zone between Israel and Syria’s Golan Heights according to the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement, to be governed and policed by the Syrian authorities. No military forces other than UNDOF are permitted within it. Today it has 1,200 observers.

    Since 2013 and the escalation of Israeli attacks on Syria along the Golan Heights, claiming pursuit of “Hezbollah terrorists,” the UNDOF itself has been subject to massive attacks by ISIS or Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front terrorists in the Golan Heights for the first time since 1974, of kidnappings, of killings, of theft of UN weapons and ammunition, vehicles and other assets, and the looting and destruction of facilities. Someone obviously does not want UNDOF to remain policing the Golan Heights.

    Israel and Golan Heights Oil

    In his November 9 White House meeting with US President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Washington to reconsider the fact that since the 1967 Six-Days’ War between Israel and the Arab countries, Israel has illegally occupied a significant part of the Golan Heights. In their meeting, Netanyahu, apparently without success, called on Obama to back formal Israeli annexation of the illegally-occupied Golan Heights, claiming that the absence of a functioning Syrian government “allows for different thinking” concerning the future status of the strategically important area.

    Of course Netanyahu did not address in any honest way how Israeli IDF and other forces had been responsible for the absence of a functioning Syrian government by their support for ISIS and Al Nusra Front of Al Qaeda.

    In 2013, when UNDOF began to document increasing contact between Israeli military and IS and Al Qaeda along the Golan Heights, a little-known Newark, New Jersey oil company, Genie Energy, with an Israeli daughter company, Afek Oil & Gas, began also moving into Golan Heights with permission of the Netanyahu government to explore for oil. That same year Israeli military engineers overhauled the forty-five mile border fence with Syria, replacing it with a steel barricade that included barbed wire, touch sensors, motion detectors, infrared cameras, and ground radar, putting it on par with the Wall Israel has constructed in the West Bank.

    Interestingly enough, on October 8, Yuval Bartov, chief geologist from Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that his company had found a major oil reservoir on the Golan Heights: “We’ve found an oil stratum 350 meters thick in the southern Golan Heights. On average worldwide, strata are 20 to 30 meters thick, and this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities.” As I noted in an earlier article, the International Advisory Board of Genie Energy includes such notorious names as Dick Cheney, former CIA head and infamous neo-con James Woolsey, Jacob Lord Rothschild and others.

    Of course no reasonable person in their right mind would suggest there might be a link between Israeli military dealings with the ISIS and other anti-Assad terrorists in Syria, especially in the Golan Heights, and the oil find of Genie Energy in the same place, and with Netanyahu’s latest Golan Heights “rethink” appeal to Obama. That would smell too much like “conspiracy theory” and all reasonable people know conspiracies don’t exist, only coincidences. Or? In fact, to paraphrase the immortal words of Brad Pitt in the role of West Virginia First Lieutenant Aldo Raine in the final scene of Tarantino’s brilliant film, Inglorious Basterds, it seems that ‘Ol Netanyahu and his pecker-suckin pals in the IDF and Mossad just got caught with their hands in a very dirty cookie jar in Syria.
    Comment: Israel and Western powers have been creating, funding, directing, and fighting among terrorists for a long time. Its nothing new, but is a fact that rarely seems to make it into the Western media and to the awareness of most people. Or if it does, the implications are never explored. No surprise there. Perhaps that will now begin to change since these types of ‘smoking guns’ have never been better documented and more apparent.
    F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. (NEO)
    Additional comment by Israel and Western powers have been creating, funding, directing, and fighting among terrorists for a long time. Its nothing new, but is a fact that rarely seems to make it into the Western media and to the awareness of most people. Or if it does, the implications are never explored. No surprise there. Perhaps that will now begin to change since these types of ‘smoking guns’ have never been better documented and more apparent.
    Remember these British SAS guys – who were caught dressed as Arabs red-handedly inflicting violent chaos among the Iraqi population several years ago?

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  • 01/06/16--13:30: Do the BAM Thang!

  •  Front row: President of Oakland City Council, Lynette McElhaney, Marvin X, Duane Deterville.
    In background, other members of the District planning committee. Far right: Elder Paul Cobb.
    photo Brigitte Cook

    Despite our spirited discussion with President of Oakland City Council, Lynette McElhaney, and the consensus of those present at our January 4th meeting at city hall, the President appears to insist the vote on the naming at her first "secret meeting" will stand. People who support the BAM District name were mysteriously not invited: Paul Cobb, Marvin X, Duane Deterville, Aries Jordan, Janeal Peterson, Almaz, et al):

    Love the summary but it is not accurate to suggest that the BAM in the name was a point of contention.  It was under deliberation as are other components of the district's development which I have opened to suggestions and input from a various interested parties and stakeholders.  In honoring the contributions of all who are volunteering their time let's be mindful of process.  The reconsideration was brought up at the last meeting and at that meeting agendized for this first meeting in 2016.  I continue to honor the commitments and agreements reached in each of the meetings.  The fact that this was placed on the agenda for discussion is evidence that it was not in contention but rather a matter to be explored.  I hope that as we move forward you will cultivate a sense of trust for the process and not feel unheard as we seek to include other voices.

    Best, Lynette
    Marvin X summary of January 4, 2016 Meeting

    The City of Oakland's planning session moved closer to officially declaring the Black Arts Movement Business District along the 14th Street corridor. City Council President, Lynette McElhaney chaired the session with BAM District planners. She presented the group a draft resolution that will be presented to a City Council committee on Tuesday, January 12, 1:30PM. The draft resolution was expanded by the community committee. The consensus was to submit the name Black Arts Movement Business District. Marvin X said, "You want to give your baby a good name as a good name is better than gold! The Black Arts Movement District name has vitality and history." Someone mentioned that the Black Arts Movement is not dead but still moving. Paul Cobb added to the name discussion by saying it is about movement. We wouldn't be here if not for the Movement, so that word is important and necessary. We're still moving and will always be on the move."

    Paul gave a short history of the district, adding to the draft. His knowledge was shocking to those present who are ignorant of the vital role Black's have played in Oakland. Paul noted a Black woman breastfed writer Jack London at her house along the corridor, as well as the Black woman who founded the Seven Day Adventist Church, of which he is a member.

    Is the Black Arts Movement Dead?
    Don't take no wooden negroes
    wooden negroes
    have no eyes or ears....
    --Amiri Baraka, BAM founder

    Need we mention BAM actor Danny Glover is yet alive. BAM baby Ras Baraka is Mayor of Newark, NJ. BAM/Black power baby Ta Ha Nesi Coates has a best seller on the market. It was noted in the meeting BAM star student Dr. Ayodele Nzinga's Lower Bottom Playaz just completed the ten cycle plays of August Wilson at the Flight Deck Theatre, downtown Oakland. Marvin X commands Academy of da Corner at 14th and Broadway, teaching, counseling citizens suffering trauma and unresolved grief from the ravages of Oakland's domestic colonialism, in the BAM tradition.

    Alas, Hip Hop culture is a direct continuation of the Black Arts Movement, including Rap (conscious Rap evolved from such BAM poests as: Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Marvin X, Askia Toure, Sun Ra, Nikki Giovanni). We used to Rap on the steps of Oakland's Merritt College, e.g., Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, et al. Ever heard of H. Rap Brown (aka Imam Jamil Alamin)? Hip Hop and Rap historians need to search out the source of NWA's Fuck the Police! See Black Panther history and Marvin X's 1965 poem on the Watts rebellion, Burn Baby Burn: 
    ...Motherfuck the police 
    and Chief Parker's sista too!...
    Black Fire, 1968

    "When you listen to Tupac Shakur, E-40, Too Short, Master P or any other rappers out of the Bay Area of Cali, think of Marvin X. He laid the foundation and gave us the language to express Black male urban experiences in a lyrical way."
    --James G. Spady, Philadelphia New Observer Newspaper

    Black film is the Direct result of BAM Theatre. The District should have a name that inspires our movement toward liberation. We should not be afraid of our own radical identity and destiny.  The essential theme in our liberation narrative is how we survived or how we got ova'. We got ova because we Moved. It wasn't because we were Black but because we Moved!

    Well, domestic colonialism is alive and well (and its child "neo-colonialism"--colonialism in black face) as brother Muhammad Kareem of Hunters Point just reminded us in a phone conversation on the latest police killing in San Francisco. Kareem said the proposed Oakland Black District will be another colonial trick to benefit the reactionary Black Bourgeoisie. After all, what do we have to show for three regimes of Black mayors, Wilson, Harris, Dellums?

    We hope it won't but it will probably be the last vestiges of the Black nation in the colony of Oakland. "Brother Marvin, you should see all the homeless on the streets of San Francisco. While we argue about names, we are becoming refugees just like the Syrians!" Marvin X replied to the original publisher of the Bayview Newspaper, "Well, the Polish Jews argued and disputed until it was too late, Hitler came for their asses." In our City Hall meeting, Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb said, "We want the District to be the continuation of our Movement not a museum of past accomplishments. Black Arts Movement should be part of the name." Again, Ishmael Reed, "If it wasn't for the Black Arts Movement, Black culture would be extinct!"

    We urge you to attend the January 12, 2016 meeting at City Hall, 1:30PM.

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  • 01/09/16--11:48: Amiri Baraka - Dope

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                                             Syrian poet/novelist Dr. Mohja Kahf and Marvin X
    Dear friends,

    In the besieged town of Madaya, starving children are eating tree leaves, cats and insects. The Assad regime is literally starving over 40,000 people to death. It's hard to imagine the suffering of parents watching their kids die from hunger -- but we have a way to help them.

    A truce to lift the siege on Madaya and other cities was brokered in September, but civilians are still trapped inside without food and medicine. Turkey and Iran can work with their allies to ensure the siege is lifted, but won’t act on their own. If we raise a one million strong outcry calling on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to intervene and work with all sides, we could save thousands of families from starving to death in Madaya.

    Ban Ki-moon can do this -- if the siege is lifted, it could set a hopeful foundation for upcoming peace talks. And with his service to the UN ending soon, lifting the siege would be a great achievement for his legacy. With enough pressure from each one of us, we can get Ban Ki-moon to be the champion Madaya desperately needs right now.

    Add your voice to the urgent petition. Avaaz will take stories and photos from Madaya to the media, the UN, and key foreign ministries until the siege is lifted:

    After mounting media pressure, the regime just announced that it will finally allow some aid into Madaya. But then what? Aid was distributed in October as well, though most of it was expired, and it quickly ran out. To really save the people of Madaya, we need the siege to be lifted entirely.

    Already 31 people have died from starvation this month. Residents risk being blown to pieces if they try to escape because the town is encircled with landmines. On Sunday a pregnant woman and her daughter tried to escape, and accidentally triggered one. They survived, but the blast gave their location away to militants. There is no escape for the people of Madaya -- only lifting the siege can save these desperate families.

    The regime is using barbaric tactics to punish and intimidate anyone who opposes their control. Citizens from Madaya were active during the 2011 protests. Now they are paying the price for daring to speak out years ago. Many parties in this conflict are guilty of blockading towns, but the regime is responsible for the vast majority, and regularly airlifts food to its supporters, while Madaya’s residents waste away. Our call for lifting the sieges would help civilians in rebel and regime-held areas.

    We won’t be able to end the Syrian conflict by saving Madaya, but all the pieces needed to lift this siege are at our fingertips. We could help save thousands of innocent Syrians who deserve a chance at life -- we can’t give up on them now.

    The UN was made exactly for moments like this. Let’s end this nightmare in Madaya and show Ban Ki-moon that we won’t give up until all sides commit to freedom of movement for civilians, food and supplies. Sign the urgent petition and tell everyone:

    Sometimes it feels like this war is never ending, but time and again our community has come together and stood with the Syrian people. We’ve done it since day 1, and we won’t give up. Now let’s do it for the families of Madaya who need us to fight for their lives now more than ever.

    With hope,

    Rewan, Mais, Wissam, Mohammad, Alice, Emma, Ricken and the entire Avaaz team

    More information:

    'Children are eating leaves off the trees': The nightmare of the siege of Madaya, Syria (Vice News)

    Up to 40,000 civilians are starving in besieged Madaya (The Independent)

    Syrian army and rebels agree to new truce in Zabadani (Al Jazeera)

    United Nations says it mistakenly sent expired biscuits to Syrians (NY Daily News)

    Madaya: Aid to be sent to besieged Syrian village Sunday (BBC) is a 41-million-person global campaign network
    that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. ("Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz's biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

    You became a member of the Avaaz movement and started receiving these emails when you signed "UN Secretary General: Save Madaya from starvation" on 2016-01-10 02:32:37 using the email address

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    NCBS logo

    Promoting Academic Excellence and Social Responsibility


    Our sincere apologies. In our earlier email, we erroneously misspelled Professor Sonia Sanchez's name as Sonya Sanchez. We deeply regret this and would like to point out the correct spelling - Sonia Sanchez.

    NCBS is excited to announce Sonia Sanchez as keynote plenary speaker for it's 40th Conference. Sonia Sanchez is a Poet, Mother, Professor, National and International lecturer on Black Culture and Literature, Women's Liberation, Peace and Racial Justice.  Sonia Sanchez is the author of over 16 books and a contributing editor to The Black Scholar and The Journal of African Studies. She has edited an anthology, SOS-Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader, a landmark anthology of readings from the Black Arts Movement edited together with John H. Bracey Jr. and James Smethurst.


    BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez offers unprecedented access to the life, work
    and mesmerizing performances of renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez
    who describes herself as "a woman with razor blades between my teeth." A
    leading figure in the Black Arts Movement and inspiration to today's hip hop spoken
    word artists, Sanchez for over 60 years has helped to redefine American
    culture and politics as an activist in the Black, women's and peace movements.

    Maya Angelou called Sanchez "a lion in literature's forest" while spoken word
    artist Bryonn Bain credits her with paving the way for his generation, "She not
    only opened the door, she blew off the roof." Sanchez revolutionized poetry by
    incorporating street language, a unique performance style and collaborations
    with jazz musicians.

    Sanchez's contemporaries Ruby Dee, Amiri Baraka, John Bracey, Jr., Haki
    Madhubuti, Askia Toure, Marvin X and Nikki Giovanni joined by such newer
    voices as Talib Kweli, Ayana Mathis, jessica Care moore, Bryonn Bain and
    Questlove present impassioned readings of and insightful commentary on
    her fearless verse, including her raw love poems.

    Born in Birmingham, Alabama Sanchez grew up in Harlem, attended college
    in New York and studied with former US poet laureate Louise Bogan who
    introduced her to the importance of poetic form. In the early 1960s, Sanchez
    was active in the New York City chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality
    (CORE) and, inspired by Malcolm X, channeled her heightened political
    commitment into her poetry. She joined with Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka)
    in forming the Black Arts Repertory Theatre in Harlem and like many poets
    of the Black Arts Movement, wrote her work to be performed on the streets
    where it could provoke action.

    In 1965, Sanchez moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, teaching some of
    the first Black Studies courses in the nation and participated in the San Francisco
    State Strike which succeeded in establishing the country's first Ethnic Studies
    Department. She supported the programs of the Black Panther Party (BPP)
    and contributed articles to its newspaper. When she wrote a critical review of
    BPP Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice ("No man practices
    rape on Black women in order to rape white women. That's not a revolutionary,
    that's a hustler.") the piece was never published and Party representatives
    later threatened her.

    After leaving the Bay Area she joined the Nation of Islam for the stability and 
    protection it offered a single mother but soon left because of its restrictions on
    women. Meanwhile tenured faculty positions alluded her because college 
    administrations were wary of her steadfast activism. Settling at Temple University 
    in Philadelphia – eventually named that city's poet laureate - Sanchez earned a 
    reputation as an accessible and generous teacher and mentor to the young, as 
    seen in her lively engagement with her students and the broader community.

    BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, (named after her legendary early collection We a 
    BaddDDD People) will be popular with students and faculty as an accessible 
    resource for teaching English, Creative Writing, African American and Women's 
    Studies, as well as for public programming and deepening public library's video 

    Here is anindex of poems by Sonia Sanchez that she or others read in BaddDDD 
    Sonia Sanchez, the time code for when they occur and the books in which they 
    appear. A complete list of Sonia Sanchez's works can be foundhere.


    We are excited to post this audio from an historic dialogue between Birmingham 
    natives Sonia Sanchez and Angela Davis which was sponsored byPhiladelphia's 
    900-AM WURD, the only African-American owned and operated talk radio station
    in Pennsylvania, and one of few in the country. The conversation took place in May 
    2014 in Oakland and it will be available to listen to through February 29, 2016.

    Angela Davis with BAM poets Marvin X and Sonia
    Sanchez in Oakland, 2014. 

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