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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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    Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog

    Tuesday 10 February 2015
    Tuesday 10 February 2015

    Black History Month

    reading list


    The Portable Malcolm X Reader offers insight into the world of the complex civil rights leader as the 50th anniversary of his assassination approaches. Photograph: Truman Moore/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

    The Portable Malcolm X Reader offers insight into the world of the complex civil rights leader as the 50th anniversary of his assassination approaches. Photograph: Truman Moore/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

    The Portable Malcolm X Reader

    (edited by Manning Marable and Garrett Felber)

    As the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination approaches (21 February), this collection of essays, FBI files, newspaper articles and speeches offers a chance to see the controversial civil rights leader and black nationalism advocate in a different light. Marable and Felber dig deep into his past with police reports that detail the time his family home was firebombed in Michigan in 1929 and also provide the Muslim leader’s own rap sheet; ranging from stealing a fur coat to carrying an illegal firearm. 
    On their own, the details would add up to little more than curios of a complex and often overlooked figure from America’s recent past, but coupled with the various newspaper articles that chart his rise through the ranks of the Nation of Islam (and into an American media personality) and essays by the likes of James Baldwin, the editors begin to paint a picture of a man who was always evolving, constantly learning and forever capable of moulding and revising his own philosophy. There’s insight into how he was interpreted after his death too, with Baldwin writing about the nixed biopic planned in the late 60s (“It was simply a subject Hollywood could not manage”) and a letter from publishers to Alex Haley apologising for not being able to publish his now famous autobiography. LB

    The Price of the Ticket

    (by James Baldwin)

    It’s rather extraordinary, if slightly grim and unsettling, how relevant this seminal collection of James Baldwin’s essays are today. First published in 1985, the book includes 50 of Baldwin’s best works that span the course of several decades. It serves as an intellectual primer on race in America, but it is also a tour de force of magnificent writing. His commentary on race, black identity, white delusion and the state of humanity was not only fearless, but achingly poignant and exacting. The essay that I always return to is A Talk to Teachers, originally published in The Saturday Review in December 1963. Baldwin plainly lays out the purpose of the American education system (“A process that occurs within a social framework and is designed to perpetuate the aims of the society”) and then proceeds to lower the boom on the paradox in how it affects Black children in America (“… any Negro who is born in this country and undergoes the American educational system runs the risk of becoming schizophrenic”). Baldwin, never one to let a society sanctioned process dictate his self-worth, flips the script and turns the essay into a beautifully righteous statement on individualism and self-invention. RC

    March: Book Two. Photograph: Top Shelf
    March: Book Two. Photograph: Top Shelf

    March: Book Two

    (by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell)

    The Selma to Montgomery marches are the historical event that this year’s Black History Month is focusing on. Ava DuVernay’s film Selma has been the focal point for most of the attention but this graphic novel (as told by civil rights activist congressman John Lewis and co-writer Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell) helps paint a picture of the events leading up to the historic marches. It’s part of a trilogy released by Top Shelf that – much like the oral history of the civil rights movement My Soul Rested by Howell Raines – charts the rise and often violent reaction to non-violent protests.
    Activists are beaten as they try to buy a cinema ticket in the segregated south, a restaurant owner lets off a potentially deadly fumigation capsule after locking protesters in, mobs attack those taking part in civil disobedience on what seems like every other page. Unlike Selma, Martin Luther King isn’t in every scene, and in fact more attention is given to peripheral figures who Lewis remembers such as A Philip Randolph and Malcolm X. Martin Luther King does appear though and when he does Lewis remembers how at the time everyone, from the bigoted Alabama police commissioner Bull Connor to liberal white leaders, criticised the demonstrations and action. The most poignant passage is when he recalls the rewriting and infighting over the content of Lewis’s speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. LB

    Time On Two Crosses:

    The Collected Writings

    of Bayard Rustin

    (edited by Devon W Carbado and Donald Weise)

    Bayard Rustin was one of the great, if unfortunately little-known, American political thinkers of the 20th century. The openly gay Rustin was a close advisor to Martin Luther King and a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Born a Quaker, he went to prison as a pacifist conscientious objector during the second world war and was convicted of homosexual acts in 1953, before being the chief organizer of the March on Washington in 1963. Time on Two Crosses, just revised and reissued with a new forward by Barack Obama (who posthumously awarded Rustin the President Medal of Freedom in 2013) and afterward by gay former congressman Barney Frank, is a stunning collection of Rustin’s writings. It includes his seminal 1986 speeches The New Niggers are Gays and From Montgomery to Stonewall, along with meditations on MLK, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan and Joseph Beam. ST

    Death of a King:

    The Real Story of

    Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s

    Final Year

    (by Tavis Smiley)

    In this painstaking account of the last year of Dr King’s life, journalist and talkshow host Tavis Smiley seeks to remind us of the humanity, values, and challenges that characterised the civil rights leader, but that have been largely “sanitised and oversimplified” by history. Starting with 4 April 1967, Smiley shows how King’s attempts to unite the civil rights and anti-war movements alienated him from President Lyndon Johnson, members of the NAACP, and the black middle class, groups that had once been his largest supporters. The book also features the insight of The Rev Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, and others close to Dr King, who provide a sense of his inner turmoil. As with the film Selma, Death of a King brings to life the complex individual who came to represent the hopes of an entire people. KM

    Who We Be:

    The Colorization

    of America

    (by Jeff Chang)

    As America transitions towards becoming a majority non white society in 2043, Jeff Chang’s beautiful magnum opus is a must read in order to understand the role of race in who we are and where we’re going. Chang – who sometimes writes for the Guardian – paints a racial portrait of a nation which exists beyond a black/white binary as he critiques “whiteness,” “multiculturalism” and “identity”. Riffing on Shepard Fairey’s “HOPE”, Arcade Fire’s lyrics, and the artwork of Hank Willis Thomas and Glenn Ligon, Who We Be calls on America to stop pretending it is post-racial when what is so desperately needs to be is post-racist. Visually driven for the internet age, Who We Be has the intellectual depth of an academic book, while mercifully lacking that form’s oft poor writing and out-of-touch feel. ST

    Issa Rae acts out a scene for her web series called The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Issa Rae acts out a scene for her web series called The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.
    Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

    The Misadventures of

    Awkward Black Girl

    (by Issa Rae)

    There are so many things right with this book, I don’t even know where to begin. I’m sure many reviewers will talk about it in the context of Issa Rae’s charismatic, offbeat sense of humour that has earned her an enormous following through her same-titled web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and they would be right. She is funny as hell, but what I find so striking about Rae and her work as a writer, director and actor, is the stone-cold honesty of her self-representation and individuality. Her integrity is in the tenor of her voice on every page of the entire book. It’s in the happily strange descriptions of her life growing up in various locations, including Senegal, Maryland and Los Angeles, and the pitch-perfect personal disclosures that bear not a whiff of self-pity. In an essay about her relationship with food and her fluctuating weight, she notes: “I’ve resolved many times to force myself to get a grip, exercise, and eat right. … As of late, I can last for six days maximum before I wild the fuck out.” Rae is black, and she is awkward, and she is a girl, but she is also a beacon of success through self-awareness in an era when Kim Kardashian’s ass breaking the internet is the bar. RC


    (by Asali Solomon)

    Asali Solomon’s debut novel, Disgruntled, centres around Kenya, an eight-year-old girl growing up during the 80s in west Philadelphia. In this nuanced, funny and gorgeously written coming of age tale, Solomon crafts an intimate narrative that explores a broad scope of Black life – from Kenya’s Afrocentric black-nationalist parents, who institute Kwanzaa over Christmas, and are members of The Seven Days (a nod to Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon), to being the only black student at an all-white private school, double dutch, activism, incarceration and domestic abuse. 
    What makes the novel a standout is Kenya’s relationship to, and perhaps not with, her father, Johnbrown Curtis, a haunted race man, both buoyed and burdened by the cause. Or, as Kenya’s mother Sheila tells her daughter: “He’s so stuck on this business about being black … like he’s the first person to have that problem.” Sheila is the breadwinner of the family, while Johnbrown works obsessively on a secret project called the Key that may or may not change the quality for black people, but is nevertheless a high-brow intellectual work-in-progress to be revered. Moreover, for Kenya’s purposes, it might ultimately provide insight or resolution to “the shame of being alive … a phrase Kenya would hear in her father’s voice,” and grows deep in Kenya’s consciousness and which she struggles to understand as she comes into young adulthood. RC

    Jam on the Vine

    (by LaShonda Katrice Barnett)

    Editor and music scholar LaShonda Katrice Barnett goes big for her first novel, Jam on the Vine (out 10 February from Grove Press). It’s the multi-generational, many-voiced story of the vibrant, aspiring journalist Ivoe Williams, and her family, living, but struggling in a poor and racially segregated town early 20th century Texas. When her family moves to Kansas City, Ivoe is finally able to jumpstart her career as a journalist, co-founding the city’s first black female-run newspaper Jam! On the Vine. But in the midst of bitter violence toward blacks, her challenges surpass writing and publication to the moral obligation she faces to acknowledge the unjust. Barnett brings the musicality at the center of her critical work to the language and style of this, her big, bold bildungsroman of a debut. KM

    Boy in the Black Suit. Photograph: Simon & Schuster
    Boy in the Black Suit. Photograph: Simon & Schuster

    The Boy in the

    Black Suit

    (by Jason Reynolds)

    Poet and young adult novelist Jason Reynolds made a critical splash when his first book, When I Was the Greatest, was published by Simon & Schuster last year. Now, after being heralded as the heir to the black YA throne by the late Walter Dean Myers himself, he’s back with a new book, The Boy in the Black Suit. Matt Miller is a 17-year-old boy dealing with the sudden loss of his mother. On top of that, he’s got a dad who can’t cope (but can drink), a job at a funeral home, plus, his senior year of high school to finish – challenges that seem insurmountable until he meets Lovey, a girl who’s been through much worse yet seems to be in better shape. If Reynolds’ recent Coretta Scott King New Talent Author Award is any indication, the kingdom of black young adult literature is safe. KM

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    Somethin' Proper, the Autobiography of Marvin X, from the introduction by Dr. Nathan Hare

    Marvin X
    photo Kamau Amen Ra

    Somethin' Proper, the Autobiography of Marvin X, Black Bird Press, 1998

    from the Introduction by Dr. Nathan Hare, the Black Think Tank

    In SOMETHIN' PROPER, we quickly see that we are inside the pages not only of Marvin's private political papers, comprising a lyrical diary shaped to be read and enjoyed like a novel by the masterful hands of an internationally noted black poet, but we are being escorted to the cutting edge of a fascinating postmodern black literary genre in the making, the notes of an undying black warrior who refuses to give up, give out or give in!
    Somethin' Proper: The Life and Times of a North American African Poet  
    Although easy to read by almost anybody wishing to do so, SOMETHIN' PROPER (apparently a phrase from the drug subculture, i.e., BREAK ME OFF SOMETHIN' PROPER), presents us at once with an opportunity for a deeper understanding of a panorama of participants in the often poignant but sometimes hilarious inner workings of the black male psyche, from the middle class bourgeois pretenders such as "tenured Negroes" on the academic plantation and their "negrocity," to "coconuts" in the corporations, and across the spectrum to brothers in the hood, particularly the way in which utility and haughty demeanor conceal and mask the panoramic and pervasive depression of the black male.

    Before his death at the early age of 36, Frantz Fanon, the black psychiatrist who lived and wrote about the relations between the oppressor and oppressed in the battle of Algiers (Wretched of the Earth; Black Skin, White Masks, and A Dying Colonialism), presented us with clear psychiatric paradigms for the struggles Marvin deftly captures for us.

    Marvin is able to give us insights into himself and his affiliates (Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Little Bobby Hutton, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis,, that are original but reminiscent of Fanon, because Marvin is bearing the covers on his life and the life of others.

    Of all the many disorders and distortions that plague the black male, each and every day, perhaps the ones that take the heaviest tool on his ravished brain are those that—if not contained by armed resistance—revolve around the painful difficulty of gaining control over his individual and collective destiny, around what is known in mental health circles as "the locus of control," the dilemma of resistance to the enemy from without and the enemy from within (including the self, if we consider that there can be no master without those who, for whatever reason, are willing to be a slave). Might makes right but not for long.

    If we honor the likes of Patrick Henry for saying "give me liberty or give me death," it is no matter that when the Negro says give him liberty or death the white man tries to give him death! The so-called Negro is confronted with a choice Patrick Henry had not reckoned with, something Fanon called "reactional disorders" or "psychosomatic pathology" that is the direct product of oppression.

    But out of a last ditch desperation in self-medication and the management of his pulverized and thwarted emotions, in a mindless effort to soothe his psychological and social wounds, the black male is introduced unwarily if discreetly to the vicious cycle of self-mutilation and induced addiction, which takes hold and spreads like an epidemic virus as part of the psycho-technology, historically, of the white man's oppression of the North American African and others around the world.

    In his powerlessness and victimization, with nothing left to lean on, the black man is likely to mount the seesaw, if not the roller coaster of racial psycho-social dependency and messianic religiosity (becoming the mad-dog religious fanatic, believing in a savior other than himself) on the one hand and the individual chemical dependent on the other, i.e. the dope fiend.

    Marvin decontructs both. In the bottomless caverns of addiction in any form, there seems no amount of religiosity, coke, crack, alcohol or sex sufficient to sedate the social angst and shattered cultural strivings.

    The more the black man tempts to medicate his anxiety and to mask his depression and self doubts with pretense and hostility, the more he finds himself in trouble with the persons he must love and be loved by than with the alien representatives of the society that would control and castrate his manhood.

    Novelist Richard Wright, addressing these paradoxes and dilemmas in his own autobiography BLACK BOY, explained that, "Because I had no power to make things happen outside of me in the objective world, I made things happen within. Because my environment was bare and bleak, I endowed it with unlimited potentialities, redeemed it for the sake of my own hungry and cloudy yearning."

    The catch is in the way these things turn out after the boy has been taken through the meat grinder of growing up within the machinery of white social control. In response, the strategy or road most taken by both Marvin X and Richard Wright, to put it simply, is FLIGHT (what Wright as a matter of fact names the middle passage of his novel, Native Son, book 2 of 3).

    As surely as the individual who accepts oppression is constantly in flight from his racial identity, the black man who rejects it is constantly on the run from the agency of white supremacy that must control him and wishes to annihilate him outright. And here is where Marvin's story is most valuable to us , helping us to grasp the meaning of the tradition of escape within our race, literature and history, stretching back to the slave trade and slave ships of the middle passage, down to the demanding requirements of escape from coercion, incarceration and surveillance in the modern era: he takes us through a childhood of continual efforts to avoid juvenile hall, to the flights of his father (despite punishing ambiguities, Marvin X dedicates his book to both his parents in memorial), calling upon pure personal honesty and the deepest levels of understanding to appreciate the parental struggles of his own and the resulting psycho-sexual and social conflicts.

    Without professing to do so, Marvin X speaks here most effectively of all black men, exposing their triumphs and follies, telling all he knows about everybody, including himself, always seeming to exact the hardest toll of all on himself, inviting us openly and unashamedly into the intricacies of his youthful endeavors to love too many women, including more than one try at the practice of polygamy (at one point he had four wives, in the Islamic tradition), until he realizes that if monogamy is the love and marriage of one woman, polygamy is the love or marriage of one woman too many!

    I predict that SOMETHIN' PROPER (the life and times of a North American African Poet) will readily emerge as an underground classic as well as a classic of the black consciousness movement and the world of the troubled inner city, a manual of value to any brother who has lost his way and the sister who would help him to understand or know how to find it, to find it within himself, in the intriguing story of Marvin X, who has been there and the women and political fellow-travelers in the black movement who were there with him in his often daring escapades, his secret flights and open confrontations with white supremacy.

    In the end, is he bitter? Or is he happy as a negro eating watermelon on massa's plantation? Well, in the beginning white people are devils—but by the end, all people are devils—in Marvin's world. After all, this is his story. Nevertheless, by the end we are convinced Marvin has regained faith in himself, his God and his people.

    And it is gratifying in an era of the sellout, the faint hearted and the fallen, to see that Marvin X was one black man who met the white man in the center of the ring and walked with him to the corners of psycho-social inequity, grappling with him through the bowels of the earth, yet remained one black man the white man couldn't get.

    I'm glad I stopped that day on Market Street and bought a pair of Marvin's sunglasses, but I wish I knew where to find those sunglasses now, because I could feel so proud to wear them, or, better yet, I could lend them to some other brother who was trying to find his way to SOMETHIN' PROPER while moving in the direction of the sun.
    --Dr. Nathan Hare

    The Public Career of Marvin X

    30 Years of Teaching and Writing: The Public Career of Marvin X

    James G. Spady

    Copyright James G. Spady, 1997,
    Philadelphia New Observer

    Marvin X has been teaching for a long time. He has established his tenacity. As one of the founders of the Black Arts Movement (BAM), he became a teacher in an emerging field called Black Studies. Like Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Larry Neal, Askia Toure and others, Marvin X both contributed to and later taught those pivotal courses that constituted a new discipline.

    For the last thirty years, this gifted poet, journalist, dramatist, oral historian (he appears to be the only participant in the Black Arts Movement that conducted intensive and extensive oral interviews with the key participants, as well as international political, cultural and educational leaders)and teacher, has established an unusual record. Marvin X has taught at the University of California at San Diego, Mills College, San Francisco State University, Fresno State University,
    Laney and Merritt Colleges in Oakland, University of Nevada,Reno, and the University of California at Berkeley.

    His peers were among the first to recognize his ability. The well-known African American man of the Arts and Letters, Amiri Baraka, refers to Marvin X as "one of the outstanding African writers and teachers in America. He has always been in the forefront of Pan African writing. Indeed, he is one of the founders and innovators of the new revolutionary school of African writing."

    One of the best known playwrights in America is Ed Bullins. He refers to X as "one of the founders of the modern day Black theatre movement. He is a Black artist par excellence." The editor of Black Scholar magazine, Robert Chrisman, spoke of Marvin as "an extraordinary distinguished poet who has a powerful sense of meaningful drama"....

    After high school (1962), Marvin enrolled in Oakland City College, aka Merritt College. There he met Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, who went on to found the Black Panther Party. It was at OCC that Marvin began to undergo a vital change. He listened intently as speaker after speaker addressed the ever-growing members of the cognoscente at Oakland City College. They, like many area colleges, benefited from the organizing and conscious-raising activities of the Afro American Association under the leadership of a young black lawyer, Donald Warden (now Khalid Abdullah Al Mansour). Marvin's early writings appeared in the Merritt College literary magazine.

    Upon receiving the A.A. degree, Marvin went on to San Francisco State University, 1964. Marvin wrote a play for one of his English classes. The professor, legendary novelist John Gardner, was sufficiently impressed to carry it over to the theatre department. In the Spring of 1965, Marvin X's one-act play "Flowers for the Trashman" was produced at San Francisco State, a novel experience for an African American. It is even more exceptional in that it was his first play. (Published initially in Black Dialogue, Winter, 1966 and later in Black Fire, edited by Larry Neal and LeRoi Jones).

    Marvin X soon met Philly playwright Ed Bullins, introduced to him by Art Sheridan, founding editor of Black Dialogue magazine. Ed and Marvin founded Black Arts West Thetre in the Fillmore. Black Arts West was certainly influenced by the Black Arts Movement in the East, mainly New York and Philadelphia.

    The role of Amiri Baraka in shaping national Black consciousness can not be overemphasized. However, Marvin X, Hillary X, Ethna X, Duncan X (as they would become in a few months after joining the Nation of Islam, circa 1967), along with Ed Bullins and Farouk (Carl Bossiere, rip)were part of an indigenous Black Arts Movement....

    Part Two: 30 Years of Teaching and Writing: The Public Career of Marvin X
    by James G. Spady, Philadelphia New Observer,1997 

    copyright (c) 1997 by James G. Spady

    ...The poetry of Marvin X is deeply rooted in the cosmological convictions of his ancestors and his community. His individual identity is inextricably linked to his communal identity. That is why it functions as a source of power and inspiration. Because he is open to the magico-realist perception or reality and has the authentic experiences of the streets, Marvin's works strike a chord. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in a recent collection, Love and War, 1995.

    "Read Love and War for Ramadan!"--Dr. Mohja Kahf, University of Arkansas, Department of English and Islamic Literature 

    cover art by Emory Douglas,
     Black Panther Minister of Culture

    He introduces the work with these words, "Love and War is my poetic story of rediscovering self love and the internal war (Jihad) to reconquer my soul from the devil who whispers into the hearts of men, Al Qur'an. But I am also mindful of socio political conditions of my people. And this reality fills me with compassion and love, forcing me once again (now that I am clean and sober) to put on the armor of God and return to the battlefield. This collection is a signal of my return to the struggle of African American liberation after an absence of nearly a decade, caused by disillusionment and drug abuse. I return with the spirit of my friend, Huey P. Newton, rip, shaking my bones. He and I were often in the same drug territory and but for the grace of God, I chould have easily suffered a fate similar to his. I came close many times. Praise be to Allah."

    "Marvin X was my teacher, many of our comrades came through his black theatre: Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Emory Douglas, George Murray and Sam Napier."
    Dr. Huey P. Newton,co-founder of the Black Panther Party

    ...Craft is essential to Marvin X's poetry and drama. He knows the possibilities and constraints of the form. And he also knows how to expand. He credits Sun Ra with having helped him to realize the full possibilities of theatre. Marvin read his poetry in San Ra's grand musical energy field and he closely observed Sonny's skillful exploration of our Omniverse and all of its real possibilities. Was int not Sun Ra who told Marvin X that he would be teaching at U.C. Berkeley before it happened?

    Marvin X and Sun Ra, both Gemini. Sun Ra was Marvin's mentor and artistic associate.
    They performed together from coast to coast. This  pic is outside Marvin's Black Educational Theatre in San Francisco's Fillmore, 1972. Sun Ra wrote the music
    for Marvin's play Take Care of Business,
    the musical version of Flowers for the Trashman.

    ...Nearly 30 years ago, Marvin sought to teach the relationship of Islam and Black Art. In his published conversation with Amiri Baraka, he attempted to reconcile and provide voices and faces for the different expressions of Islam in the West.

    As a skilled interviewer, he allows Askia Toure and Baraka's divergent views of Islam to be placed into the record. In the afterword he states, "I believe the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is at least ten years ahead of any Black group working for freedom, justice and equality in the hells of North America. The Islamic ideology, discipline and organizational structure permits the masses of our people to fully develop their self-identity, self defense and self-government."

    Again, X is out front. He recognized the tremendous influence Islam had on the Black Arts Movement. He is a case study in that type of influence....

    Elijah and Malcolm, major influences on Marvin XHe honors both men.

    ....Marvin X is credited with convincing Eldridge Cleaver to use his advance against royalties from the popular book Soul on Ice, to help set up Black House. The building became "the mecca of political, cultural activity in The Bay Area. Among artists featured were: Sonia Sanchez,Vonetta McGee, Amiri and Amina Baraka, Chicago Art Ensemble,
    Avoctja, Emory Douglas, Sarah Webster Fabio, et al. Playwright Ed Bullins joined Marvin and Eldrdige at the Black House, along with Marvin's partner, Ethna X (Hurriyah Asar), and singer Willie Dale, Cleaver's buddy from San Quentin.

    Eldridge Cleaver, see Marvin X's memoir, Eldridge Cleaver, My friend the Devil, 2009 Upon his release from Soledad prison, Marvin X was the first person he hooked up with. Later Marvin introduced him to Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.

    ....Marvin X is a teacher of primeval knowledge, a knower of both street poetry and book poetry. In fact, he combines the two in a powerful way. Each verse is a teach act, each stanza--a class. His use of alliteration, rhymes, assonance, dissonance and free rhymes indicates he has absorbed the teachings of the academy. Yet, the street consciousness lying in the cut of its content links him directly to the poets of the new idiom called Rap.

    Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale who attended Oakland's Merritt College along with Huey Newton and Marvin X. Bobby performed in Marvin's second play Come Next Summer before founding the Black
    Panther Party.

    His experimental verses are wholistic, historical and yet dialogical. The dynamic complexities of the situation creates in the reader an urgent need to know more. Can we expect anything elswe from a good teacher?
    James G. Spady is one of our greatest literary critics. We will soon post his review of Marvin X's autobiography, Somethin Proper, entitled "Making an Inventory and Constructing Self Prior to the year 2000." His review is not dated by time.

    In the Crazy House Called America        Introduction, Video & ReviewsSource: ChickenBones: A Journal for Literary & Artis...l

    Review: Junious Ricardo Stanton on In the Crazy House Called America, essays by Marvin X

    Marvin X Offers A Healing Peek Into His Psyche
    Review of In the Crazy House Called America


    Marvin X Offers A Healing Peek Into His Psyche

    By  Junious Ricardo Stanton

    Rarely is a brother secure and honest enough with himself to reveal his innermost thoughts, emotions or his most hellacious life experiences. For most men it would be a monumental feat just to share/bare his soul with his closest friends but to do so to perfect strangers would be unthinkable, unless he had gone through the fires of life and emerged free of the dross that tarnishes his soul. Marvin X, poet, playwright, author and essayist does just that in a self-published book entitled In the Crazy House Called America

    This latest piece from Marvin X offers a peek into his soul and his psyche. He lets the reader know he is hip to the rabid oppression the West heaps upon people of color especially North American Africans while at the same time revealing the knowledge gleaned from his days as a student radical,  black nationalist revolutionary forger of the Black Arts Movement, husband, father lover, a dogger of women did not spare him the degradation and agony of descending into the abyss of crack addiction, abusive and toxic relationships and family tragedy.  

    Perhaps because of the knowledge gained as a member of the Nation of Islam, and his experiences as one of the prime movers of the cultural revolution of the '60, the insights he shares In the Crazy House Called America are all the keener. Marvin writes candidly of his pain, bewilderment and depression of losing his son to suicide. He shares in a very powerful way, his own out of body helplessness as he wallowed in the dregs of an addiction that threatened to destroy his soul and the mess his addictions made of his life and relationships with those he loved. 

    But he is not preachy and this is not an autobiography. He has already been there and done that. In sharing his story and the wisdom he has gleaned from his life experiences and looking at the world through the eyes of an artist/healer, Marvin X serves as a modern day shaman/juju man who in order to heal himself and his people ventures into the spirit realm to confront the soul devouring demons and mind pulverizing dragons; he is temporarily possessed by them, heroically struggles to rebuke their power before they destroy him; which enables him to return to this realm, tell us what it is like, prove redemption is possible, thereby empowering himself/ us and helping to heal us. He touches on a myriad of topics as he raps and writes about himself and current events. 

    Reading this book  you know he knows what it is like to come face to face with and do battle with the insanity and death this society has in store for all Africans.   Marvin X talks about his sexual relations/dysfunction, drugs, media and free speech, sports, black political power or the lack thereof, the war on drugs and the current War on Terrorism, nothing is off limits. He includes reviews of music, theater as well as film, but not as some smarter/ holier than thou, elitist observer. 

    Marvin X writes as one actively engaged in life, including its pain and suffering. He lets us know he was a willing and active participant in his addiction, how it impacted his decision making, his role as a parent, his male-female "relationships", his ability to be creative within a movement to liberate African people and the world from the corruption of Caucasian hegemony. 

    Marvin X is in recovery and it has not been easy for him. As a writer/healer he still has the voice of a revolutionary poet/playwright, it is a voice we need to listen and pay attention to. He has survived his own purgatory and emerged stronger and more committed to life and saving his people.  As North American Africans (his term to differentiate us from our continental and Diaspora brethren) he sees the toll the insanity of this culture takes on us. His culturally induced self-destructive lifestyle choices and the death of his son is a testament to how life threatening and lethal this society can be. 

    But Marvin X also talks about spiritual redemption, the ability to transcend even the most horrific experiences with resiliency and determination so that one gets a glimpse of  one's own  divine potential. This book is an easy read which makes it all the more profound. In The Crazy House Called America is for brothers especially. It is a book all black men should grab hold of and digest, if for no other reason than to experience just how redemptively healing and liberating being honest can be.
    *  *  *  *  *

    Eldridge Cleaver: My friend the Devil, A Memoir by Marvin X

    March 21, 2009


    Marvin X‘s newest book, “Eldridge Cleaver: My Friend, The Devil” is an important Expose!, notonly of whom his good friend really was… (I confess I thought something like that, in less metaphysical terms, from the day we met, at San Francisco State, 1967) But also of whom Marvin was/is. Now, Marvin has confessed to being Yacub, whom Elijah Muhammad taught us was the “evil big head scientist” who created the devil. (Marvin’s head is very large for his age.)
    What is good about this book is Marvin’s telling us something about who Eldridge became as the Black Panther years receded in the rear view mirror. I remember during this period, when I learned that Marvin was hanging around Cleaver even after he’d made his televised switch from anti-capitalist revolutionary to Christian minister, denouncing the 3rd World revolutionaries and the little Marxism he thought he knew, while openly acknowledging beating his wife as a God given male prerogative, I said to Marvin, “I thought you was a Muslim” . His retort, “Jesus pay more money than Allah, Bro”, should be a classic statement of vituperative recidivism.

    But this is one of the charms of this memoir. It makes the bizarre fathomable. Especially the tales of fraternization with arguably the most racist & whitest of the Xtian born agains with Marvin as agent, road manager, co-conspirator-confessor, for the post-Panther – very shot- out Cleaver. It also partially explains some of Cleaver’s moves to get back in this country, he had onetime denounced, and what he did after the big cop out. Plus, some of the time, these goings on seem straight out hilarious. Though frequently, that mirth is laced with a sting of regret. Likewise, I want everyone to know that I am writing this against my will, as a favor to Yacub.—Amiri Baraka. Newark, 5/13/09

    Chapter 1

    It all began at Soledad Prison, sometime during 1966. Black Dialogue magazine was approached by attorney Beverly Axelrod about making a visit to the Soledad Prison Black Culture Club. The editors agreed to make the visit, including myself as fiction editor. The other editors included Art Sheridan, Gerald, Aubrey and Peter LaBrie, Sadaat Ahmed, Joe Goncalves, Duke Williams, et al. We made our way down the coast to Soledad. I was both excited and sad because my brother Ollie was probably an inmate at the time, though I can't remember.

    Our staff was taken to the hosting officer's apartment and briefed on what to do and not to do. No contact with inmates, no passing or taking of literature. We agreed but it didn't mean a thing. Soon as we got inside the meeting room we knew what we were going to do. At first we got inside and saw the brothers seated, with the meeting in progress. Eldridge was chair and his lieutenant was Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter. Bunchy was a very handsome black man, so handsome it belied his leadership qualities as head of the Los Angeles Slauson gang.

    But chairman Cleaver was a giant of a man, tell, light skinned and articulate. But more than the words said, I was immediately impressed with the organizational structure with brothers on post with military style discipline. It was probably the first time I'd seen black men so organized. We know now according to brother Kumasi that this was the beginning of the prison movement in California and the nation, this black culture club of mostly young black men confined to the dungeon as so many are today, causing havoc in black family and community life.

    In this Soledad dungeon would come a prison movement on par with the black student movement, black arts, and black studies. As I listened to Chairman Eldridge speak, I said to myself this is a dangerous Negro if allowed to depart these walls. Clearly, he was well read after a total of eighteen years of confinement in the California Gulags. I would learn later he was soaked in Marxist Leninism and literature in general. And when Black Dialogue obtained his writings for publication, especially “My, Queen, I Greet You,” we suspected this was a man with the passion and writing skills of Baldwin. And of course he must have sensed this comparison and thus his need to denounce Baldwin to take a shot at the black literary crown, although he did it by a homophobic denunciation which led one to suspect his own sexual improprieties, especially after so long in prison.

    But at that first meeting, we were humbled to be with the brothers, to share with them by reading our writings from Black Dialogue. At the end of the meeting we all embraced and exchanged materials in violation of the officer's request. We gave them copies of Dialogue and they gave us manuscripts of their writings which were later published in Dialogue and Journal of Black Poetry. As I said, we published “My Queen, I Greet You,” in Dialogue and Joe Goncalves published the poetry of Bunchy and others in JBP. We left Soledad and headed back up the coast to San Francisco. Thus was established a connection between the prison movement and black students, the black arts movement and eventually the Black Panther Party when I introduced Elbridge to Bobby Seale soon after his release from prison.

    Chapter II

    Several months passed before I met Eldridge again. Somebody called me to come over Sister Mary Anna's house. Maryanna Waddy was the daughter of painter Ruth Waddy, but more importantly, she was the student, though somewhat older at the time, who aggressively pushed for the name change from Negro Students Association to the Black Students Union. Maryanna was a strong black woman who took no jive, maybe the result of black consciousness taught by her mother. But when I entered her house, Eldridge was there trying to introduce his plans to the community.

    There seemed to be some tension between him and Maryanna, a black man/black woman power battle. Maybe Maryanna knew about Eldridge's white woman lawyer, Beverley Axelrod, who had smuggled his manuscript Soul on Ice out of Soledad. We would learn that Eldridge had promised to marry her, so his blackness was suspect from the beginning—but we would handle that matter a few months down the road. Maryanna and most of those present, maybe members of the BSU, including those of us from Black Dialogue. If I recall correctly, Eldridge gave me a ride home and we agreed to meet again soon.

    Things were going bad for us at Black Arts West Theatre on Fillmore Street, across the street from Tree's pool hall and around the corner from the Sun Reporter newspaper, published by the millionaire Communist Dr. Carlton Goodlett. BAW was breaking up because of egos and other psychopathic behavior in our crew which included Ed Bullins, Duncan Barber, Hillary Broadous, Carl Bossiere, and Ethna Wyatt. All of us wanted to make BAW happen but our egos got in the way, along with deeper mental problems. In spite of these problems, we did my plays and the plays of Ed Bullins. We had jazz concerts with the Bay Area's best, including Raphael Garrett, Monte Waters, Dewey Redman, Oliver Jackson, B.J., and others. 

    Only thing with the musicians, many had white women which we would not allow in the theatre, since we were black nationalists on the road to becoming members of the Nation of Islam. A long time criminal Muslim came to our theatre to recruit us, Alonzo Harris Batin, who became the guru and mentor of BAW. Batin was a criminal with a heart of gold. He wanted us to join the Nation even though most of the time he was not in good standing and considered a hypocrite. Soon we were indoctrinated by Batin and eventually most of us joined the Nation except Ed Bullins. Bullins was into his art and living or at least staying in the Beatnik area of North Beach.

    For awhile, Ethna was the glue that held BAW together. She fed us when we were low on money to buy food. She would cook something that would be enough for the crew and she would try to stop us from killing each other as we ego-tripped. Ethna had come from Chicago, maybe during or around the time of that Summer of Love. It seemed many beautiful women fled Chicago to the West coast. Ethna's friend had come, Sandra Williams, helping out at BAW. Danny Glover acted in BAW, performing in Dorothy Ahmed's play Papa's Daughter, about incest. Actress and SFSU student Vonetta McGee performed in Bullins' play It Has No Choice and another play by Bullins that I can't remember the name.

    And then one day the crew called me to the lobby of the theatre to meet a man they said spoke seven languages. After they called me several times to come to the lobby, I came from the theatre to meet a tall, jet black brother with straight hair, Ali Sharif Bey, who indeed did speak several languages, including English, Persian, Spanish, French, Arabic and Urdu. He became our on-site Islamic scholar and teacher, teaching us Arabic and his vast knowledge of Islam based on the Ahmediah sect, the great evangelists of Islam to the West. Ali Sharif Bey would surface later as the runner for the SLA when they kidnapped Patty Hearst. He is the source for my master thesis docudrama How I Met Isa.

    But in spite of all this community support—none from the Black bourgeoisie until later at the Black House which Eldridge convinced me to help organize since I told him I was tired of the bs at BAW and was ready to do something different. We discussed setting up what eventually became Black House, a political/cultural center on Broderick Street off Divisadero in the Fillmore. Ed Bullins soon joined Eldridge, Ethna and myself. For a few months Black House became the cultural center of the Bay with thousands of conscious hungry black flocking there for culture. Black House participants included Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Toure, Chicago Art Ensemble, Sarah Webster Fabio, Reginald Lockett, Emory Douglas, Samuel Napier and Little Bobby Hutton. On the political side, Eldridge brought in a Communist party leader, Rosco Proctor.

    Eldridge had no time for the culture, even though he couldn't help but be influenced by it since it was at the house he financed with his advance from Soul On Ice. He and Baraka had little to say to each other even though Baraka's Communication Project at San Francisco State College/now University, had its off campus base at Black House. Years later these two men would switch ideologies with Baraka turning Communist and Eldridge finding religion. Eldridge would eventually go from Communist to Christian, to Mormon to Moonie to Religious Science.

    But at Black House he was strictly Communist and he pushed hard to get us to follow his path, though we resisted until Black House fell apart from ideological differences. Before it fell we had gone to Beverly Axelrod's house to literally remove Cleaver since we found it a contradiction for the chairman of Black House to be sleeping at the White House. One afternoon brother Batin and I made Eldridge move his things from the White House while Miss Ann cried. Among his belongings was that wicker chair, spear and rug made famous in that photo of Huey Newton.

    Marvin X, also known as Marvin Jackmon and El Muhajirwas born May 29, 1944 in Fowler, California, near Fresno. Marvin X is well known for his work as a poet, playwright and essayist of the BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT or BAM. He attended Merritt College along with Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. He received his BA and MA in English from San Francisco State University.
     Marvin X is most well known for his work with Ed Bullins in the founding of Black House and The Black Arts/West Theatre in San Francisco. Black House served briefly as the headquarters for the Black Panther Party and as a center for performance, theatre, poetry and music. 
    Marvin X is a playwright in the true spirit of the BAM. His most well-known BAM play, entitled Flowers for the Trashman, deals with generational difficulties and the crisis of the Black intellectual as he deals with education in a white-controlled culture. Marvin X's other works include, The Black Bird, The Trial, Resurrection of the Dead and In the Name of Love.
    He currently has the longest running African American drama in the San Francisco Bay area and Northern California, ONE DAY IN THE LIFE, a tragi-comedy of addiction and recovery. He is the founder and director of RECOVERY THEATRE.
    Marvin X
    Marvin X has continued to work as a lecturer, teacher and producer. He has taught at Fresno State University; San Francisco State University; University of California - Berkeley and San Diego; University of Nevada, Reno; Mills College, Laney and Merritt Colleges in Oakland. He has received writing fellowships from Columbia University and the National Endowment for the Arts and planning grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
    Read: Marvin X Unplugged An Interview by Lee Hubbard
    Marvin X is available for lectures/readings/performance.  Contact him at

    The Wisdom of Plato Negro: Parables/Fables

    In “Wisdom of Plato Negro,” Marvin teaches by stories, ancient devices of instruction that appeal to a non-literate as well as a semi-literate people. (Fables differ from parables only by their use of animal characters.) The oldest existing genre of storytelling used long before the parables of Jesus or the fables of Aesop, they are excellent tools, in the hands of a skilled artist like Marvin X, in that he modifies the genre for a rebellious hip hop generation who drops out or are pushed out of repressive state sponsored public schools at a 50% clip. Marvin X is a master of these short short stories. Bibliographies, extended footnotes, indexes, formal argumentation, he knows, are of no use to the audience he seeks, that 95 percent that lives from paycheck to paycheck.

    These moral oral forms (parables and fables), developed before the invention of writing, taught by indirection how to think and behave respecting the integrity of others. Marvin explained to his College of Arts audience, “This form [the parable] seems perfect for people with short attention span, the video generation… The parable fits my moral or ethical prerogative, allowing my didacticism to run full range” (“Parable of a Day in the Life of Plato Negro,” 147). But we live in a more “hostile environment” than ancient people. Our non-urban ancestors were more in harmony with Nature than our global racialized, exploitive, militarized northern elite societies.
    —Rudolph Lewis is the Founding Editor of, A Journal. (Click here to read the full review).

    Click to order via Amazon
    Paperback: 281 pages
    Publisher: Black Bird Press (2007)
    Language: English

    Marvin X has done extraordinary mind and soul work in bringing our attention to the importance of spirituality, as opposed to religion, in our daily living. Someone'maybe Kierkegaard or maybe it was George Fox who'said that there was no such thing as "Christianity." There can only be Christians. It is not institutions but rather individuals who make the meaningful differences in our world. It is not Islam but Muslims. Not Buddhism but Buddhists. Marvin X has made a courageous difference. In this book he shares the wondrous vision of his spiritual explorations. His eloquent language and rhetoric are varied'sophisticated but also earthy, sometimes both at once.

    Highly informed he speaks to many societal levels and to both genders'to the intellectual as well as to the man/woman on the street or the unfortunate in prison'to the mind as well as the heart. His topics range from global politics and economics to those between men and women in their household. Common sense dominates his thought. He shuns political correctness for the truth of life. He is a Master Teacher in many fields of thought'religion and psychology, sociology and anthropology, history and politics, literature and the humanities. He is a needed Counselor, for he knows himself, on the deepest of personal levels and he reveals that self to us, that we might be his beneficiaries.

    All of which are represented in his Radical Spirituality'a balm for those who anguish in these troubling times of disinformation. As a shaman himself, he calls too for a Radical Mythology to override the traditional mythologies of racial supremacy that foster war and injustice. If you want to reshape (clean up, raise) your consciousness, this is a book to savor, to read again, and again'to pass onto a friend or lover.
    —Rudolph Lewis, Editor, ChickenBones: A Journal

    Love and War: PoemsL

    Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    Islam and the Black Arts Movement: Marvin X's Love and War poems, 1995

    Marvin X was a prime shaper of the Black Arts Movement (1964-1970s) which is, among other things, the birthplace of modern Muslim American literature, and it begins with him. Well, Malik Shabazz and him....

    Declaring Muslim American literature as a field of study is valuable because recontextualizing it will add another layer of attention to his incredibly rich body of work.He deserves to be WAY better known than he is among Muslim Americans and generally, in the world of writing and the world at large. By we who are younger Muslim American poets, in particular, Marvin should be honored as our elder, one who is still kickin, still true to the word!--Dr. Mohja Kahf
     Cover art by Emory Douglas, Black Panther Party Minister of Culture

     Fly to Allah, 1969,  is the beginning of Muslim American literature, according to Dr. Mohja Kahf. 

    Marvin X, 1972. His Black Educational Theatre performed Resurrection of the Dead, a myth-ritual dance drama, 1972. His actors were students from his drama class at University of California, Berkeley.

     Syrian poet-professor-activist, Dr. Mohja Kahf
    Dr. Mohja Kahf and Marvin X. She invited Marvin X to read at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she teaches English and Islamic literature.

    Love and War


    by Marvin X

    review by Mohja Kahf

    Have spent the last few days (when not mourning with friends and family the passing of my family friend and mentor in Muslim feminism and Islamic work, Sharifa AlKhateeb, (may she dwell in Rahma), immersed in the work of Marvin X and amazed at his brilliance. This poet has been prolific since his first book of poems, Fly to Allah, (1969), right up to his most recent Love and War Poems (1995) and Land of My Daughters, 2005, not to mention his plays, which were produced (without royalties) in Black community theatres from the 1960s to the present, and essay collections such as In the Crazy House Called America, 2002, and Wish I Could Tell You The Truth, 2005.

    Marvin X was a prime shaper of the Black Arts Movement (1964-1970s) which is, among other things, the birthplace of modern Muslim American literature, and it begins with him. Well, Malik Shabazz and him. But while the Autobiography of Malcolm X is a touchstone of Muslim American culture, Marvin X and other Muslims in BAM were the emergence of a cultural expression of Black Power and Muslim thought inspired by Malcolm, who was, of course, ignited by the teachings and writings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. And that, taken all together, is what I see as the starting point of Muslim American literature. Then there are others, immigrant Muslims and white American Muslims and so forth, that follow. There are also antecedents, such as the letters of Africans enslaved in America. Maybe there is writing by Muslims in the Spanish and Portuguese era or earlier, but that requires archival research of a sort I am not going to be able to do. My interest is contemporary literature, and by literature I am more interested in poetry and fiction than memoir and non-fiction, although that is a flexible thing. I argue that it is time to call Muslim American literature a field, even though many of these writings can be and have been classified in other ways--studied under African American literature or to take the writings of immigrant Muslims, studied under South Asian ethnic literature or Arab American literature. 
    With respect to Marvin X, I wonder why I am just now hearing about him-I read Malcolm when I was 12, I read Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez and others from the BAM in college and graduate school-why is attention not given to his work in the same places I encountered these other authors? 

    Declaring Muslim American literature as a field of study is valuable because recontextualizing it will add another layer of attention to his incredibly rich body of work.He deserves to be WAY better known than he is among Muslim Americans and generally, in the world of writing and the world at large. By we who are younger Muslim American poets, in particular, Marvin should be honored as our elder, one who is still kickin, still true to the word!

    Love and War Poems is wrenching and powerful, combining a powerful critique of America ("America downsizes like a cripple whore/won't retire/too greedy to sleep/too fat to rest") but also a critique of deadbeat dads and drug addicts (not sparing himself) and men who hate. "For the Men" is so Quranic poem it gave me chills with verses such as:

    for the men who honor wives and the men who abuse them

    for the men who win and the men who sin

    for the men who love God and the men who hate

    for the men who are brothers and the men who are beasts....

    "O Men, listen to the wise," the poet pleads: there is no escape for the men of this world or the men of the next.

    He is sexist as all get out, in the way that is common for men of his generation and his radicalism, but he is refreshingly aware of that and working on it. It's just that the work isn't done and if that offends you to see a man in process and still using the 'b' word, look out. Speaking of the easily offended, he warns in his introduction that "life is often profane and obscene, such as the present condition of African American people." If you want pure and holy, he says, read the Quran and the Bible, because Marvin is talking about "the low down dirty truth." For all that, the poetry of Marvin X is like prayer, beauty-full of reverence and honor for Truth. "It is. it is. it is."

    A poem to his daughter Muhammida is a sweet mix of parental love and pride and fatherly freak-out at her sexuality and independence, ending humbly with: peace Mu it's on you yo world sister-girl.

    Other people don't get off so easy, including a certain "black joint chief of staff ass nigguh (kill 200,000 Muslims in Iraq)" in the sharply aimed poem "Free Me from My Freedom." (Mmm hmm, the 'n' word is all over the place in Marvin too.) Nature poem, wedding poem, depression poem, wake-up call poems, it's all here. Haiti, Rwanda, the Million Man March, Betsy Ross's maid, OJ, Rabin, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and other topics make it into this prophetically voiced collection of dissent poetry, so Islamic and so African American in its language and its themes, a book that will stand in its beauty long after the people mentioned in it pass. READ MARVIN X for RAMADAN!

    Mohja Kahf
    Associate Professor
    Dept. of English & Middle East & Islamic Studies
    Love and War: Poems
    Click to order via Amazon
    by Marvin X. Preface by Lorenzo Thomas
    Format: Paperback, 140pp.
    ISBN: 0964967200
    Publisher: Black Bird Press
    Book of poetry by Black Arts activist, preface by Lorenzo Thomas. "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 experience in a lyrical way." James G. Spady, Philadelphia New Observer.

    Wish I Could Tell You the Truth, EssaysWish I Could Tell You the Truth, Essays
    Click to order via Amazon
    Paperback: 215 pages
    Publisher: Black Bird Press (2005)
    Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
    Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

    Somethin' Proper: The Life and Times of a North American African Poet Somethin' Proper: The Life and Times of a North American African Poet
    Click to order via Amazon
    Paperback: 278 pages
    Publisher: Black Bird Pr (June 1999)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0964967219
    ISBN-13: 978-0964967212
    Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches

    Marvin X Performing

    Land of my daughtersLand of My Daughters: Poem's 1995-2005

    Paperback: 116 pages
    Publisher: BlackBird Press (2005)
    Language: English
    Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches

    Pull Yo Pants Up Fada Black Prez and Yo Self!: Essays on Obama Drama
    Click to order via Amazon
    Publisher: Black Bird Press (2010)

    Click to order via Amazon
    Publisher: Black Bird Press (2009)

    Related Links
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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."

    Read: Marvin X Unplugged An Interview by Lee Hubbard

    Marvin X Articles on Include
    Nigguh Please! by Marvin X

    The black culture police are at it again, lead running dog is Rev. Jesse Jackson, perhaps the most hypocritical culture policeman on the scene--especially after leading president Clinton in prayer over Monica while himself engaged in extramarital shenanigans. I can't take Jesse Jackson with his twisted mouth ( from lying) pontificating on moral issues while he is the most immoral of men, even pimping the blood of MLK, Jr.
    Movie Reviews by Marvin X on include:
    Baby Boy:

    Black Bird Press
    1222 Dwight Way
    Berkeley CA 94702

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    flyer-obhmr-potp-2016-700-full size

     Marvin X
    photo Harrison Chastang

    Black Arts Movement poet and BAMBD planner Marvin X will speak and exhibit his Black Arts Movement archives.

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    Will Oakland Lose Its Artistic Soul? 

    Members of The Town's vibrant arts community say they're at risk of displacement because of skyrocketing rents, and that Oakland isn't moving fast enough to protect its cultural identity.

    Anyka Barber, founder and director of Betti Ono Gallery, is worried that the gallery might have to close  because of a steep rent increase.

    Anyka Barber, founder and director of Betti Ono Gallery, is worried that the gallery might have to close because of a steep rent increase.

    On the first Friday of February, during Oakland's monthly street fair, patrons packed into Betti Ono Gallery in the heart of downtown. The gallery's walls featured photos by Brittani Sensabaugh, depicting Black, disenfranchised communities across the country — including the deep East Oakland one where the artist grew up. With her mother by her side, Sensabaugh spoke about what she aims to achieve through her work: uplifting struggling communities by representing them authentically, rather than relying on harmful stereotypes. Afterward, a patron asked a question that seemed to have been on the minds of many: "What are your thoughts on gentrification?" 
    "I've got a lot of thoughts about that, but let me just keep it to a bare minimum," Sensabaugh responded. "It's not even the fact that they are coming in, it's the fact that the people coming into the neighborhoods are not embracing the culture that is already there."

    At Betti Ono, conversations about art and politics are always entangled. Physically, the gallery itself offers a metaphor for that deliberate intersection. Tucked into the Broadway-facing edge of Frank Ogawa Plaza, the space occupies the same plot as City Hall, with its door mere yards from the city council chambers. There, it's uniquely poised to bring the concerns of artists and culture makers to a place where they can't be ignored by those in power — to amplify unheard voices on a stage at the center of the city.

    But Betti Ono's own voice is in danger of being silenced. Recently, the gallery's founder and director, Anyka Barber, received notice from her landlord — the City of Oakland — that her rent was going up by 60 percent. That works out to $22,000 more a year, and the gallery can't afford it. According to Barber, when she moved into the space five years ago, representatives from the city's real estate department told her she would eventually be able to secure a long-term lease, and that the city would provide support for improvements on the space to accommodate her programming. But instead, the city has hiked the gallery's rent every year.

    Although Barber has been requesting a long-term lease from the start, the city has only offered her one-year leases, she said. And since the gallery's last lease ended in December, she has been operating on a month-to-month basis — a situation that has greatly inhibited her ability to plan for future programming and apply for outside funding or loans, she said. The space is currently in limbo, she added, because representatives of the city's real estate department have asked her to hang on until they decide whether they can offer her a lower rate. Meanwhile, she's had to turn down artists and cultural organizations interested in collaborating. Soon, she'll be launching an online fundraising campaign in hopes of keeping the gallery open.

    "We don't have a lease, which means we don't have a home," Barber said in a recent interview. "That's a really, really hard thing to say about a space that has been intentional about creating space for people of color in Oakland, especially Black people, to feel like they belong and that they have just as much access to downtown and can celebrate themselves in public and be seen and be accepted and be protected just like any other group in the city should be able to do."

    The challenges facing Betti Ono Gallery are not unique. Although Oakland's art and culture scene has blossomed during the past decade and gained widespread recognition for its vibrancy, a growing number of arts and cultural spaces are currently at risk of displacement. In fact, many have already shuttered, and artists and gallery owners are increasingly worried that Oakland may eventually lose its artistic soul.

    For the past eight months, Barber has been working to stem the tide of displacement of Oakland's artists and cultural spaces as one of the core leaders of Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition (OCNC). Barber co-founded the group in June with Katherin Canton, a network coordinator with Emerging Arts Professionals San Francisco Bay Area, in hopes of organizing around rising concerns over Oakland's arts community being priced out of the city. (Canton has since stepped away from her leadership role in the coalition due to time restraints, but well-known Oakland arts advocate Eric Arnold, a former Express staffer, has taken on a prominent role, among others.)

    OCNC, which now has hundreds of members, initially came together in an attempt to draw city officials' attention to the need for Oakland to hire more staffers in its cultural arts department before the 2015-2017 city budget was finalized in June of last year. The city has been without an arts commission since it disbanded in 2011.

    The city's cultural affairs department used to be robust: From 2001 until 2003, it had thirteen employees working specifically on arts-related matters. But since then, the department's staffing has gotten consistently smaller. It also took a major cut during the recession. Today, it only has three full-time employees and one part-timer, with only two of those positions dealing directly with art and artists.

    Pamela Mays McDonald, an OCNC member and External Affairs chair for Oakland Art Murmur, a nonprofit organization that supports and represents Oakland galleries, addressed the issue in a recent email: "The fact that the Cultural Arts Department has been kneecapped by having no commission of responsible citizens for advocacy and oversight, combined with being grossly underfunded and understaffed, leaves culture workers here defenseless against the onslaught of gentrification," she wrote. "There is no institutional understanding that the arts are an economic engine for the area; they are not just a cynical lure to make a neighborhood pretty to attract outside investors."

    Nonetheless, during last year's budget talks, the city council declined to increase the size of the department or reestablish the arts commission. Since then, OCNC has been working to narrow down a list of the arts community's top priorities and concerns. So far, those have mostly focused on the need for more affordable housing, rent security for studios and creative spaces, and legislation that would immunize pre-existing cultural communities from noise complaints by new residents.

    Another core concern for the coalition has been rallying artists to provide input for the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan. The city's extensive planning process has been engaging with community members to produce a detailed vision for what downtown is going to look like if developers continue to invest in Oakland — how tall buildings will be, what kinds of occupants they will have, and how much affordable housing will be built. OCNC aims to ensure that the arts community is prominently positioned in that vision, so that the scene thrives in Oakland over many more decades.

    Those involved with OCNC, and many groups of artists organizing alongside it, agree that now is a critical moment for Oakland's creative contingent to make demands of the city, and for the city to be responsive to those demands — before Oakland loses its cultural identity.

    "To be a world class city, to have all this cultural vibrancy and 'diversity' and all this specialness that everybody talks about, there needs to be a clear strategy to protect that and to grow that," said Barber. "I think our city leadership could really set the stage for some really powerful new policies that could inform cities across the country and across the world."

    In the early Aughts, following the first dot-com crash, Oakland's Uptown district was riddled with storefront vacancies, and rents were extremely cheap. So artists began to move in: DIY spaces Mama Buzz and Rock Paper Scissors Collective (RPSC) were some of the first to open up. Others soon followed, and during the next decade, the neighborhood transformed from a rarely walked, crime-ridden district to one with the densest aggregation of galleries in Oakland.

    During the mid- to late Aughts, the migration of artists from San Francisco to Oakland started to hasten, as more artists were attracted by the East Bay's affordable rents, its high prevalence of studio spaces, and DIY art culture. And in recent years, during the latest tech boom, San Franciscans have been moving across the bay in hordes, thereby driving up rents even further and making Oakland's economic climate less accommodating to the low incomes of artists.

    As rent prices have soared, even landlords who had been sympathetic to cultural spaces in the past are finding they can't afford not to rent at market rate. And the depletion of affordable housing and workspaces is creating a strong sense of insecurity for artists and cultural professionals.
    Last year, San Francisco's arts commission conducted a survey of artists that work in the city and found that 72 percent of nearly six hundred respondents said they had either been displaced or were facing imminent displacement from their workspace, home, or both.

    Last November, a taskforce appointed by Mayor Libby Schaaf to research artist housing and workspaces conducted a similar survey in Oakland and received more than nine hundred responses. The complete survey results have yet to be published, but a memorandum that the task force submitted to the mayor in late December outlined the main takeaways: While 70 percent of respondents said that they do not fear imminent displacement in their workspaces or homes, the majority felt that workspace and housing costs are the biggest challenge to being an artist in Oakland. In addition, half of the respondents said they are paying month-to-month for housing and workspace, rendering them particularly vulnerable, especially for those in commercial spaces because they have no rent control or rent protections.
    Students and other activists marched last week to protest the destruction of the Alice Street Mural.

    Kelley Kahn, who works on special projects for the mayor's office and manages the task force, said in a recent interview that the results show that we're currently in the midst of a critical window of time during which the city has an opportunity to prevent the same kind of creative exodus that San Francisco experienced. "The time is now to start intervening," said Kahn. "And our interventions may actually have an impact because the artists have not left yet."

    But even before the survey was conducted, it was clear that Oakland's artists were starting to face a crisis. For many, that realization came in July when Rock Paper Scissors Collective, a gallery and nonprofit community space that specializes in arts programming for low-income youth, announced that it could no longer afford the space it had occupied on the corner of 24th Street and Telegraph for eleven years. The landlord, who had long worked with the collective's members to keep the rent affordable, finally decided to raise the rent to market-rate — more than triple what the collective had been paying. RPSC had been the last founding member of the First Friday art walk and Art Murmur — its organizing body of galleries — to still exist in the area.

    "This space has become attractive to wealthier tenants because of the years of hard work we have put into building a community of engaged artists, musicians, and performers, and as a reward we are being kicked out to make way for a wealthier class of renters," read the July 10 announcement from RPSC. "Will they share RPSC's dedication to making art accessible for everyone? Will they be as community-focused? Will they stand in solidarity with the people of Oakland, as we have?"

    The physical closure of RPSC (the collective is still doing programming out of other arts spaces) was followed by a series of similarly unsettling events. Also in July, the city declared that Humanist Hall, a community space on 27th Street, between Broadway and Telegraph Avenue, was a public nuisance due to noise complaints from neighbors. The city imposed a $3,500 fine and threatened daily $500 penalties if the complaints should persist. Not long after, a longtime West Oakland gospel church, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, received similar threats of fines for noise complaints about its choir. And in September, as covered widely in the local press (including in the Express), a white Lake Merritt neighborhood resident called the police on a group of Samba Funk African drummers playing at the lake, resulting in a clash between drummers and Oakland police.

    The issues collided at the fourth OCNC meeting in October, which was held at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. In the crowd of about one hundred attendees was Oakland Museum of California director Lori Fogarty; Pleasant Grove Baptist Church pastor Thomas A. Harris III; Samba Funk African drummers; and curators, dancers, and visual artists of all stripes — all airing grievances about Oakland's apparent cultural shift. At one point, Pastor Harris took the floor to passionately demand that the church community be included in the coalition's campaign. In the moment of tension, Barber made it clear that she felt every issue that had been brought to the table was part of one complex struggle to fight displacement and cultural erasure in Oakland. "The issues that are impacting the churches are the same issues that are impacting the arts and culture community," she asserted. "It's not separate."

    Marvin X Jackmon, a West Oakland native, co-founder of the Black Arts Movement, and seminal writer on Black radical politics, can often be found across the street from Betti Ono Gallery, at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street, where for years he has set up his "academy on da corner." There, Jackmon works to preserve Oakland's legacy of Black radicalism — for which the 14th Street corridor has historically served as an anchor — while urging pedestrians to wake up to the reality of the Black struggle in America.

    Marvin X Jackmon was a crucial proponent of the Black Arts Movement and Business District.

    For the past year, Jackmon has also been an essential advocate for a resolution — sponsored by city council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney — to create a Black Arts Movement and Business District along 14th Street, from Oak Street to Frontage Road. The stretch includes Betti Ono, Geoffrey's Inner Circle, the Niles Club, Joyce Gordon Gallery, Club Vinyl, The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, and a number of other longtime Black-owned businesses.

    The Oakland City Council unanimously passed the resolution on January 19. As is, the official designation only entails signage for the district — Jackmon envisions Pan-African flags flying above the street. But proponents hope the council will also enact legislation that will ensure community members have a powerful voice in how the district develops and are protected from displacement. In a recent interview, Jackmon said that his ultimate goal is to build a trust fund that would allow for community members to acquire the buildings that their businesses inhabit. "The main point is how do we maintain the longevity of this district after what we went through in West Oakland, in the Fillmore, and what Harlem is going through right now?" said Jackmon. "It's the same thing, so even if you build it, will it stand? And how long will it stand?"

    At the January 19 council meeting, when the resolution was passed, a number of prominent community members urged councilmembers to not let the designation prove to be an empty gesture. "This is the first step, and I appreciate it, but there's so much more that we need to do to ensure that we don't become a relic and this Black Arts District is not just superficial, but we actually have Black bodies that are living in the city that can continue this legacy of artistic engagement and Black businesses," said Carroll Fife of Oakland Alliance, a coalition for racial, social, and economic justice. "Folks at the Malonga Casquelourd Center ... will they be able to impact the decisions that could displace them? Like the condo that is going up in front of the mural across the street from [the Malonga Center], what kind of say will these individuals who are part of this district, and who are business owners, have in the development of the city moving forward?"

    Fife was referring to a 126-unit condominium project that's planned for a parking lot across from the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, a historic home to some of Oakland's most vital dance communities, such as Bantaba Dance Ensemble; Dance-A-Vision Entertainment; Diamano Coura West African Dance Company; Dimensions Dance Theater; and AXIS Dance Company, a company that works with disabled dancers. Members of the Malonga community have opposed the development in part because it would cover a large cultural mural that was the product of a three-year effort by the mural arts organization Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP). The mural project cost $80,000 — and nearly half of the money came from Oakland's cultural funding program.

    In a recent interview, CRP director Desi Mundo said that the city had initially recommended the wall as a location for the mural because it was blighted. To create the mural, CRP muralists interviewed Malonga's artistic residents and Chinatown cultural leaders in order to create art that would depict the cultural legacy of the area and its resilience in the face of ongoing threats of gentrification. But only three months after the mural's completion, Mundo learned about the development plans.
    Desi Mundo is the director of the Community Rejuvenation Project. 
    At a planning commission meeting earlier this month, developer Maria Poncel said her company, Bay Development, plans to help "kickstart" a replacement mural project on the Laney College campus to make up for CRP's loss. But during public comment, Mundo urged the commissioners to delay the project's approval until Poncel offers the CRP a memorandum of understanding concerning the funding.

    "The idea that we're just gonna be capable of re-raising all that money and that the developer won't be responsible for it, even though they said that they would, feels very disingenuous to us," Mundo later told me.

    The planning commission, however, green-lighted the condo project without requiring a firm commitment from the developer, thereby seemingly not taking the community's concerns into account.

    Since the project's approval, Mundo and others have filed an appeal of the decision and are waiting to be notified of when it will appear in front of the city council. They ask not that the project be denied, but that the developer include community benefits in the project, including funding 100 percent of the mural replacement costs. Supporters also marched on City Hall on February 11 to draw attention to their concerns.

    On the evening of January 13, a group of Uptown artists and curators convened at the 25th Street Collective, pulling up about twenty mismatched chairs around a snack table. They were nervous that the city doesn't care about preserving their neighborhood.

    Signature Development Group, run by Michael Ghielmetti, has been buying up properties in the area in order to build condos. And, as the Express reported, the Oakland Planning and Building Department, at a planning commission meeting last fall, attempted to sneak through a zoning change that would have benefited Signature by allowing the developer to construct taller buildings than would normally be allowed in the area (see "Special Deal Would Benefit Influential Developer," 11/4). After an uproar from gallerists, who are concerned about rising rents, construction inconveniences, and depleted natural light, the city postponed the decision.

    Members of the Uptown artists contingent are also vying for their own cultural district designation. But they hope to have artist-protection legislation folded into the designation from the get-go, possibly including a requirement that a certain percentage of each new development in the area go toward cultural use. They are also considering proposing that the city offer landlords incentives, like tax breaks, in exchange for renting to cultural arts spaces at below market-rate.

    Vessel Gallery owners Lonnie Lee and Ken Ehrhardt are currently spearheading an effort to write a resolution based on the community's input, and rallying people to ask their city councilmembers to support it. Their hope is that if it gets passed, it can serve as a template for other cultural districts to be designated throughout the city.

    Lonnie Lee spent six months renovating Vessel, her gallery in Uptown Oakland. 
    Lee and Ehrhardt moved into the neighborhood before much was there in the way of art. Like many gallerists in Oakland, they completely renovated the space, which had once been a stable for the Oakland Fire Department's horses. Now, the worn wooden floors and vaulted ceilings add a hip charm to the loft, which glows with natural light in the afternoon and often has a pleasant breeze passing through it. Such improvements, however, have also contributed to what makes the area enticing to developers and wealthier tenants.

    "[Developers] say, 'Oh, look at what the arts have done. Isn't it cool? We want to buy property here. We want to be here because of them," Lee said.

    For some, the Uptown gallerists' attempt to protect the area's art scene is already too late. The 25th Street Collective — the venue for the January 13 meeting and a shared incubating space for local makers — will soon close. The collective's rent recently shot up by nearly 40 percent, and by August, all of the resident artists will have to be out because they can no longer afford it.

    But Hiroko Kurihara, founder of 25th Street Collective as well as Oakland Makers — an organization that supports small-scale local manufacturers and artisan producers — seems more concerned with the bigger picture. She's worked at the intersection of manufacturing and social enterprise for many years, and has also been an active member of Mayor Schaaf's Artist Affordable Housing and Workspace task force, which Kurihara has represented multiple times at meetings for the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan.

    Kurihara is interested in creating a citywide cultural district that would try to reap funding benefits from the statewide California Arts Commission budget. That way, Oakland's arts community won't be divided. "There's a little pot of money, and then all these competing interests end up squabbling over scraps," said Kurihara. "We can't do that if we're gonna really try to coalesce and build a cultural arts-based community."

    But she's also concerned with how the housing crisis crucially plays into the plight of Oakland's artists. She argues that without development impact fees to pay for more affordable housing — a program that the city has yet to approve — attempts at saving art spaces will be futile, because there won't be any artists left who can afford to live in Oakland.

    "I understand that the mayor, her platform is 'Made in Oakland,' but she really needs to be able to say 'Stayed in Oakland,'" said Kurihara in a recent interview. "And I understand that right now, the city doesn't have the revenue [to build affordable housing], and there's a fear that if we don't create a transitional easing into what the impact fees are going to be that development will cease. But I think if you were to ask anybody — I mean anybody — if Oakland will remain dormant [if impact fees go into effect], it's just not gonna happen."

    Hiroko Kurihara at the latest Downtown Specific Plan community meeting.

    The city has been studying the idea of requiring market-rate developers to pay impact fees on new housing projects for more than a year. Earlier this month, a city council committee voted to move forward a plan to launch the fee program in September, but the full council is not expected to officially approve the proposal until sometime in March — at the earliest. Numerous other Bay Area cities, including both Berkeley and Emeryville, already have such fees in place to pay for affordable housing.

    Kristi Holohan of RPSC said Schaaf recently assisted her in setting up a potential deal for RPSC to move into the bottom floor of a new condo project to be built by Signature Development Group on the parking lot directly behind the building that RPSC used to be in. Holohan said it would be a relief to finally find a space after months of being turned down by landlords all over the city, but she is also concerned that if there's no affordable housing in the area, it may no longer be an appropriate place for RPSC's programming.

    "Are they going to have affordable housing?" Holohan asked, while painting a mural with youth in San Francisco. "Because we serve a demographic that is really diverse."

    At the January 22 opening of the newly expanded San Francisco Arts Commission galleries, attendees could barely move through the three exhibitions. The main gallery, which featured work by recently deceased East Bay artist Susan O'Malley, was packed so densely that you could barely hear internationally celebrated performance artist Guillermo Goméz-Peña giving a monologue in the center. Housed in the War Memorial Veterans Building, the galleries are a gorgeous new addition to the city's arts landscape, yet the support that the galleries are meant to offer to local artists has arrived a few years too late. Most of the local artists who show there will likely be commuting from the East Bay.

    Over the past few years, San Francisco has partnered with organizations like ArtSpan and The Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) to preserve what's left of its arts community. ArtSpan organizes art exhibitions in underutilized or vacant spaces in San Francisco. CAST is a nonprofit that uses foundation money to purchase buildings that are already inhabited by important cultural hubs, then leases the buildings back to them at an affordable rate with the intention of eventually selling it to them at the same price that the nonprofit originally paid.

    Joshua Simon — who is CAST's treasurer and is the executive director of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (a nonprofit community development organization) and a member of Mayor Schaaf's task force on artist housing and workspace — described the problem that CAST addresses as a "space chase." That's when buying property is just financially out of reach for arts organizations, leaving them perpetually vulnerable. CAST attempts to close that gap by buying an artspace and helping the arts organization build itself financially until it's ready to purchase the space at the same price that CAST paid for it. In the last few years, CAST has acquired buildings for San Francisco's CounterPulse and Luggage Store Gallery.

    The memorandum that Schaaf's task force submitted in December outlines the top strategies for preserving the arts in Oakland based on case studies from across the country. Most of them focus on ways for art spaces to achieve ownership and long-term affordability. One of the most promising strategies is to create an acquisition program for Oakland that's modeled like CAST. Other strategies include creating community land trusts through which artists could collectively own properties; leasing underutilized city-owned buildings to artists at affordable rates (until tenants are found); incentivizing private developers to offer affordable, long-term artists spaces by using zoning tools; and greatly increasing available technical assistance and educational resources for artists. According to Kelley Kahn of the mayor's task force, the city is currently devising programming for training artists and gallerists on topics such as how to negotiate a long-term protective lease, how to build a business plan, and how to get funding from foundations.

    "Where Oakland is and where San Francisco is, I think there's a lot more hope for Oakland," Schaaf said in a recent interview. "I think we are intervening at a much earlier stage than San Francisco did. We are absolutely looking to learn lessons from San Francisco and avoid the displacement."
    But according to Kahn and Schaaf, in order to move forward with many of these strategies, it will be crucial to reinstate the city's arts commission in order to work through complicated details. Kahn also pointed out that the last Oakland arts commission stopped meeting because they were having trouble reaching quorum. And she thinks that's because the commission had very little power to influence the city and rarely dealt with heated issues. She and Schaaf also both want the city to resurrect the Cultural Affairs manager position that was cut a few years ago, and for the council to then heed both the commission and the cultural affairs manager's recommendations.

    "We also need someone who can just be mindful of the very issues we're all talking about," said Kahn. "About what does it mean to be an artist in Oakland? What kind of support can the city give them? What can we do from a real estate perspective to improve their ability to stay in Oakland? What can we do with our own arts and cultural space that we own? There's a broader scope of work that needs to be held by this unit than they're currently capable of doing."

    Schaaf said the city received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for the purpose of creating a cultural plan to preserve Oakland's arts and to reestablish the city's arts commission, but that process hasn't started because Oakland needs a Cultural Affairs manager to lead it. Plus, the commission can't be reinstated until the cultural arts department hires more staff to support it, she said. "I don't think there's anyone who does not support having a cultural arts commission," said Schaaf. "It's just that we don't want to ask people to volunteer their time if there's no staff support to provide them the assistance." Schaaf, who has been mayor since January 2015, said she plans to bring forth legislation to the council on February 23 to reinstate the Cultural Affairs manager position.

    Meanwhile, the full results and analysis of the task force's survey will be publicly released in about a month, although it could be longer, according to Kahn. Schaaf said the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, a major funder of the arts, has agreed to partner with the city to move forward with some of the strategies presented by her task force. The Rainin Foundation recently formed its own working group to conduct a study of Oakland's art ecosystem to identify how best to support those strategies, said Schaaf. When asked for a general timeline, she offered only that "work is underway."

    At the most recent presentation for the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan, which was held at the Malonga Casquelourd Center, the plans presented were meant to reflect adjustments made based on community input. For example, in the uptown area (technically called Koreatown Northgate), planners had applied a "surgical" approach to infill development so as not to displace galleries in the area, and plans for the 14th Street corridor were titled "Black Arts Movement and Business District." The adjustments were somewhat promising, but seemed like baby steps to many.

    As he presented, the planning head, Victor Dover, projected a slide that read "Development Without Displacement" in large, bold letters. But toward the end of the lengthy presentation, an older Black woman could not wait any longer. She walked in front of the audience to exit, and voiced angry concerns about local, Black-owned establishments having already been displaced because of development.

    Soon, Betti Ono could be the next of those to go.

    "We need something implemented right now. Today," Barber told me. "We've needed it before the lease expired, and we've needed it for four or five years, so to say just hold on and at the same time we can't even do business is damaging."

    "We're being pushed out," she continued. "We're being priced out, and we need the city to act now. What are you waiting for?"
    Correction: The original version of this report erroneously referred to AXIS Dance Company as Axis Dance Group.

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  • 02/18/16--01:37: Marvin X Meets the Press

  •  Marvin X interviewed by WURD Talk Radio, Philadelphia, Black Power Babies Conversation,
    produced by Muhammida El Muhajir.

    DJ: Donald Lacy

    Marvin X interview

    Wake Up Everybody

    Saturday, 7AM-NoonMusic, news, and commentary

    KPOO Radio's Donald Lacey will conduct a long awaited
    interview with Marvin X, 3pm, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016

    If you missed Marvin X's brief appearance in Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution, you can
    catch the Wild Crazy Ride of the Marvin X Experience  this Thursday, 5PM Pacific time; 8PM East Coast Time, Harambee, interviewed by Sistah Q, a continuation of her dramatic interview with Black Arts Movement co-founder and Black Arts Movement Business District planner Marvin X, known variously as "Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland", Ishmael Reed; "The USA's Rumi, Saadi, Hafiz", Bob Holman; "Mark Twain", Rudolph Lewis.


    Brothah Marvin X. Topic: The Black Arts Movement Business District, Oakland - part 2

    Listen to Brothah Marvin X on "What The Problem Is with Sistah Q Live on Harambee Radio" Thursday 18 February 2016 from 8 to 9 pm eastern time as he discusses The Black Arts Movement Business District in Oakland, California - part 2.

    Listen online at
    or on your phone.
    Call-in number:805-309-0111
    Conference ID number:

    Sistah Q

    See also  this week's East Bay Express Newspaper feature story Arts in Oakland by Sarah Burke. 

    Amiri Baraka (RIP) and Marvin X
     They enjoyed a 47 year friendship as Black Arts Movement movers and shakers

    Angela Davis, Marvin X, Sonia Sanchez

    Film director Stanley Nelson (Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution),
    poet Marvin X and Fred Hampton, Jr.

    Marvin X is now available for interviews and speaking engagements coast to coast

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    SNCC: The Importance of its Work, the Value of its Legacy

    by Charles Cobb

    The time was 1960, the place the U.S.A.
    That February first became a history making day
    From Greensboro all across the land
    The news spread far and wide
    That quietly and bravely youth took a giant stride
    Heed the call
    Americans all
    Side by equal side
    Brothers sit in dignity
    Sisters sit in pride

    —Ballad of the Sit-Ins by Guy Carawan, Eve Merriam and Norman Curtis

    Greenwood MS, June 1966, on the Meredith March. SNCC Chairman Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) calls for "Black Power."


    You can never tell when a spark will light a fire. So, on February 1, 1960 when four Black students attending North Carolina A&T College sat down at the lunch counter in a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth Department store, ordered food, were refused service and then remained seated until the store closed, few could have predicted how rapidly similar protests would spread across the south; or the lasting impact on the south and the nation of the sudden direct action by these students.
    Over the next two months, student sit-ins spread to 80 southern cities and were involving thousands of young people, most of them attending historically black colleges and universities like A&T, although in several cities high school students launched and led sit-ins. Two and a half months after Greensboro—the weekend of April 15-17—student sit-in leaders gathered at Shaw College (now Shaw University) in Raleigh, North Carolina to meet one another, share experiences and to discuss coordinating future actions.
    Ella Baker, one of the great figures in 20th century civil rights struggle had organized this gathering. She was then executive director of Rev. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group she had been instrumental in organizing. In the 1940s she had been the NAACP’s director of southern branches, and in the early 1950s deeply involved with supporting southern Black community leaders facing economic reprisals because of their civil rights activities. As the sit-ins unfolded, she recognized that beyond energetic protests, the students were bringing something fresh and new to civil rights struggle and at the Shaw conference encouraged them to consider forming their own organization. Thus was born the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”). Her fundamental message to the students was, “Organize from the bottom up.” She emphasized her belief that, “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.”
    Ella Baker provided a corner of the SCLC office in Atlanta to SNCC. In this cramped space SNCC’s sole staff member was Jane Stembridge, a volunteer stirred by the sit-ins who was the white Georgia-born and raised daughter of a Baptist preacher. A newsletter—The Student Voice—was created and circulated to student protest groups. It mainly provided information about what the various SNCC-affiliated campus-based organizations were doing. The first check to SNCC—$100—in support of its existence and efforts, came from Eleanor Roosevelt.
    Soon, however, discussion among some of the students turned to what beside sit-ins could be done by young people, especially outside of urban centers. Within a year of SNCC’s founding, a small group dropped out of school and became the first SNCC organizers or “field secretaries.”

    These organizers, armed with the names of grassroots contacts Ella Baker had developed over many years, even decades, began digging into southern black belt communities. By the fall of 1961 SNCC had established two significant organizing projects: Southwest Mississippi and Southwest Georgia. Both regions, rural and containing majority Black populations, were characterized by violent and vicious opposition to Black voting rights with terror and reprisal encouraged and supported by state and local government in response to any civil rights activity.

    The Black Organizing Tradition and SNCC

    Community organizing is a very old tradition in Black America. Slaves, after all, were not sitting-in at the plantation manor dining room seeking a seat at the table; nor picketing the auction block in the town square. They were organizing—sometimes an escape, or sometimes a rebellion, and constantly, the ways and means of survival in a new, very strange and hostile land. Ella Baker, and the community leaders she introduced them to, brought SNCC field secretaries into this organizing tradition. And what these Black community leaders wanted help organizing was voter registration campaigns. Black people had the numbers; if they could get the vote they could begin to dismantle the system of oppression that had dominated Black life for all of the 20th century; indeed, since the abandonment of Reconstruction in 1876. Mississippi NAACP leader Amzie Moore put this on the table at SNCC’s second conference in October 1960. And SNCC’s black belt organizing efforts increasingly revolved around voter registration.
    SNCC organizers embedded themselves in rural black belt communities to work to empower some of the poorest of the poor in America. This was a relatively new, even radical approach to civil rights struggle. The ruthless white violence directed at any civil rights effort in the rural deep south black belt engendered belief that little was possible through direct organizing efforts. More traditional civil rights organizations did not concentrate much effort in this geography or among this category of people, giving priority instead to legal battles to strike down laws enforcing white supremacy and segregation. So in some respects, despite the existence of some truly heroic NAACP leaders, SNCC organizers were also entering virgin political territory. And they were embraced by local people in these communities; invisible as actors in the civil rights struggle but who had long desired change. Out of this work emerged new voices from the grassroots like Mississippi’s Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper who became a powerful national spokesperson for civil rights. She was also, at 46-years-of-age in 1962, SNCC’s oldest field secretary. This kind of close relationship with people at the grassroots would characterize SNCC during its entire existence.
    No civil rights action in history had ever swept the South the way that the sit-in movement did; certainly no action driven and led by young people. SNCC’s youthfulness was important to what it was and what it became. The number and manner in which young people began emerging as leaders in the civil rights movement in 1960, was unprecedented. As Martin Luther King put it at a Durham, North Carolina civil rights rally less than a month after sit-ins erupted in Greensboro, “What is new in your fight is the fact that it was initiated, fed, and sustained by students.” An often ignored effect of this student action was their making legitimate going to jail for a principle. And this changed the students, laying the foundation for everything they would do as SNCC organizers. Charles Sherrod from Petersburg, Virginia was the first of the sit-in students to postpone his education to work full-time with SNCC. He pioneered grassroots organizing in Southwest Georgia. But a few months before going there to begin that work, on the first anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in, he sat-in and was arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He refused bail and served a 30-day sentence of hard labor on a road gang. Upon his release, Sherrod offered a vivid articulation of how students like himself were changing: “You get ideas in jail. You talk with other young people you have never seen. Right away we recognize each other. People like yourself, getting out of the past. We’re up all night, sharing creativity, planning action. You learn the truth in prison, you learn wholeness. You find out the difference between being dead and alive.”
    And in a 1962 field report, 22-year-old Sam Block, who was the first SNCC organizer to begin working in the Mississippi Delta, demonstrates a courage and commitment that can perhaps only belong to youth: “We went up to register and it was the first time visiting the courthouse in Greenwood, Mississippi, and the sheriff came up to me and he asked me, he said, ‘Nigger where you from?’ I told him, Well I’m a native Mississippian. He said, ‘Yeh, yeh, I know that, but where you from? I don’t know where you from.’ I said, Well, around some counties. He said, ‘Well I know that, [but] I know you ain’t from here ‘cause I know every nigger and his mammy.’ I said, You know all the niggers, do you know any colored people? He got angry. He spat in my face and he walked away. So he came back and turned around and told me, ‘I don’t want to see you in town any more. The best thing you better do is pack your clothes and get out and don’t never come back no more.’ I said, Well, sheriff, if you don’t want to see me here, I think the best thing for you to do is pack your clothes and leave, get out of town, ‘cause I’m here to stay; I came here to do a job and this is my intention. I’m going to do this job.…”

    SNCC Organizing Projects

    The organizing work was both dull and dangerous, mostly involving door-to-door canvassing in an effort to persuade legitimately fearful potential Black registrants to brave the risks of going to county courthouses to register to vote knowing that the chances of actually getting registered were virtually nil. Courthouse clerks could ask anyone attempting to register questions like how many bubbles were in a bar of soap; or to interpret a complex section of the state constitution to their satisfaction as a requirement for registration. And almost always, economic or violent reprisal followed attempts by Blacks to register to vote. At a deeper level than the immediate political concern with voter registration, SNCC’s work was also about cultivating new local leadership and reinforcing existing local leadership. SNCC field secretaries did not see themselves as community leaders but as community organizers, a distinction that empowered local participants by reinforcing the idea at the heart of SNCC’s work in every project that “local people” could and should take control of their own lives. 
    Much of what SNCC organizers did was demonstrate they were willing to stay in these communities despite the violence; that they could not be run out by the violence. Conversations on front porches, in dirt yards, amidst crops in cotton, tobacco and sugar cane fields, in small church meetings and in plantation sharecropper shacks, explored citizenship and the idea of gaining control of the decision-making affecting daily life. Being able to do this on a large scale was uncertain because fear kept many doors closed, but even attempting to do this sort of work in the rural black belt south could be counted as a breakthrough, a modest but important victory of commitment over terror. And though large numbers did not publically and politically surface in response to SNCC organizing efforts, a small number of the very brave did, teaching the SNCC “organizers” how to listen as well as how to talk; how to understand the communities they were in; and to know when they were in danger and when they were not. “We were the community’s children,” wrote SNCC’s legendary Mississippi project director Bob Moses in his book Radical Equations. “And that closeness rendered moot the label of ‘outside agitator.’”
    There is not enough space here to detail every single one of SNCC organizing projects, but during the eight years of its existence SNCC had projects in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Texas. There were more SNCC field secretaries working full time in southern communities than any civil rights organization before or since. And there were two notable organizing projects that need mentioning here and are important to SNCC’s legacy:
    The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party: In Mississippi and throughout the black belt, the savage never-ending oppressive cycle that kept black people politically disenfranchised had two connected halves. 1) Blacks were deliberately and systematically kept illiterate (and the public school system was part of this) while at the same time literacy was the primary requirement for voter registration. 2) Violence and reprisal was the response to any Black effort aimed at gaining the political franchise; but because few blacks were willing to brave the virtually certain terroristic response to seeking the franchise, they were said to be “apathetic.”
    To attack this cycle in Mississippi, SNCC and other civil rights organizations in the state established in churches, small shops and other places within Black communities, voter registration facilities; safe places for voter registration. More than 80,000 people “registered to vote” under these simpler and more comfortable conditions, thus arming organizers with concrete evidence that apathy was not the problem. This “freedom registration” was followed-up with the organizing of a “freedom party”—the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). Unlike the all-white so-called “regular” state Democratic Party, the MFDP was open to all without regard to race. Carefully following all of the delegate selection rules for the 1964 Democratic Party national convention, the MFDP challenged the legitimacy of seating Mississippi’s official all-white delegation. Although the MFDP lost the challenge in a still bitterly remembered political fight which brought the weight of the White House down on them, their challenge forced changes that dramatically reshaped both the state and national Democratic Party.
    The Lowndes County Freedom Organization: When a small group of SNCC organizers, led by Stokely Carmichael, entered notorious Lowndes County Alabama shortly after the Selma-to-Montgomery march, not a single black person in this county, whose population was 80 percent Black, was registered to vote. In fact, no Black person in this county nicknamed “Bloody Lowndes” was known to have been registered to vote in the entire 20th century. Remarkably, in less than a year, despite violence that included the murder and the attempted murders of civil rights organizers, Blacks were a majority of the registered voters in Lowndes County. This success in voter registration was assisted by the August 1965 signing into law of the Voting Rights Act. But SNCC’s organizing here took root around the idea of an independent Black political party. That party, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) pioneered the development of written and visual materials clearly illustrating through words and pictures the importance of the vote, or as one organizer put it years later, “regime change.”
    The symbol of the LCFO was a black panther, making it the first black panther party in the nation. In 1966, the LCFO fielded candidates for county offices and the party’s instructions were simple: “Pull the Black Panther lever and go home.” (The symbol of Alabama’s Democratic Party was a white rooster with the words “white supremacy for the right” written above it.) Fraud by the county’s white powers denied the LCFO victory and the election was followed by the expulsion of Black sharecroppers and tenant farmers supporting the LCFO. Nonetheless, in 1970 the first Black Sherriff was elected in Lowndes County. Meanwhile, the black panther symbol had leapt across country to Oakland, California where the now much better known Black Panther Party was formed by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Here, too, in Lowndes County are the roots of Stokely Carmichael’s 1966 call for Black Power as chairman of SNCC.

    Greenwood MS, June 1966, on the Meredith March. SNCC Chairman Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) calls for "Black Power."


    In the broadest sense, SNCC’s legacy is the legacy of grassroots organizing. Within this frame, SNCC and the field organizers of CORE, SCLC and the NAACP are really an interconnected force that in just one intense decade successfully challenged and changed America for the better. But there are specific aspects of this broad legacy that belong to SNCC and justify a formal effort to both collect and create material that will help future generations understand, draw lessons from, and perhaps use the SNCC experience in continuing efforts to fashion “a more perfect union” here in the United States.
    First, by putting their lives continuously at risk through committed grassroots organizing, this relatively small group of young people broke the back of a racist and restrictive exclusionary order that was tolerated at the highest levels of government. Much of what kept white supremacy and segregation in place was the absence of direct and continuous challenge to it and the undramatic grassroots work on the back roads and in the towns and villages of the deep south for voting rights also made it impossible to ignore the will to freedom. And it needs to be said here that this work liberated Whites as well as Blacks.
    Indeed, the MFDP and that party’s 1964 challenge not only led to a two-party system in Mississippi and the south, but also forced via the 1972 “McGovern Rules” changes in political practices that have permanently expanded the participation of women and minorities. There is a straight line connecting the MFDP with the election of Barak Obama to the U.S. presidency.

    Nationwide, student struggle was also inspired by the southern movement and these movements expanded and accelerated in the decade of the 1960s. SDS’s grassroots Educational and Research Action Projects (ERAP) in the North grew out of discussions with SNCC and observation of its work. The Northern Student Movement (NSM), initially formed in 1961 to aid SNCC, became an activist organization with nearly 50 campus chapters taking on welfare reform, dysfunctional schools and other community organizing projects.
    The Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 which brought nearly 1,000 students from around the nation to Mississippi for a “freedom summer” conveyed the ideas and ideals of the southern freedom movement into a whole generation from which the future leadership of the country would be drawn. Most immediately, the free speech movement that erupted on the University of California campus at Berkeley during the 1964-65 school year, was initiated by Mississippi Freedom Summer volunteer Mario Savio.
    SNCC’s articulation of “Black Power” fostered a new black consciousness. The Black and Africana studies departments on college campuses today have roots in the Mississippi “freedom schools” of 1964, the earlier Nonviolent High School created in 1961 by SNCC in McComb, Mississippi when students were expelled for protesting, and the general idea of education for liberation that is taking the form today in the growing struggle over quality public education as a civil right.
    Other movements gained strength from the pool of ideas found in SNCC: Chicano farm workers, who were facing sheriffs and going to jail in the late 1950s, invited SNCC workers to help with their efforts in the late 1960s. Discussion of sexism and women’s rights within SNCC, as well as SNCC’s real life examples of empowered, respected women who led local movements and held key positions in the organization, encouraged and reinforced a burgeoning feminist movement.
    But more than anything else, the SNCC legacy is found in the veterans, many of who have continued to work for “a more perfect union.” Five SNCC veterans have been recipients of MacArthur Foundation Genius awards. Former SNCC communications director Julian Bond became board chair of the NAACP. Former SNCC chair John Lewis is now serving his 15th term as congressman from Atlanta’s 5th congressional district. Across the country, and especially in the south, SNCC veterans are influential leaders and activists. Once young and mentored by “elders” who had long labored in the fields of social change, SNCC veterans now continue that tradition and are now, who “they” were. Ella Baker’s words best define this legacy: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest.”


    On The Road To Freedom, A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail, by Charles E. Cobb Jr.
    Hands on the Freedom Plow, Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC, edited by Faith Holsaert, et. al.
    Deep in Our Hearts, Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement, by Joan Browning, et al.
    Many Minds, One Heart, SNCC’s Dream for a New America, by Wesley Hogan
    SNCC, the New Abolitionists, by Howard Zinn
    In Struggle, SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s by Clayborne Carson
    Ready For Revolution, the Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael, by Stokely Carmichael with Ekueme Michael Thelwell
    The Making of Black Revolutionaries, by James Forman
    The River of No Return, by Cleveland Sellers with Robert Terrell
    Walking With the Wind, by John Lewis with Michael D’orso
    Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, by Barbara Ransby
    Ella Baker, Freedom Bound, by Joanne Grant
    The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, by Bob Zellner with Constance Curry
    Freedom Song, by Mary King
    Letters From Mississippi, edited by Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez
    Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, by Hasan Kwame Jeffries
    Radical Equations, Civil Rights From Mississippi to the Algebra Project, by Robert P. Moses  and Charles Cobb

    2016 to 2018

    Black Power! These words shouted out on Mississippi highway 51 on June 17, 1966 reverberated in the collective soul of Black America, crystalizing both strength and love. The declaration came from SNCC organizer, Mukasa Willie Ricks, and SNCC chairman, Stokely Carmichael, during the Meredith March Against Fear in Mississippi. Young activists throughout the world embraced the phrase, making it their own and expanding the dynamic of struggle
       Stokely Carmichael
    The call led to new goals and redefined the measures of success, inspiring a new generation of activists who had not previously been involved in the Civil Rights Movement. It built upon the lessons learned from the southern civil rights struggle and called for a black consciousness, establishing new independent organizations and institutions that were controlled by black people. It shaped personal transformations as well as political activism and led to the creation of organizations by those who never found their place in the civil rights agenda. There is a need to look back at this often-distorted era and in doing so, to look ahead to the work that still needs to be done. As Mozambican and Angolan freedom fighters said in their fight for liberation from Portuguese colonialism: A Luta Continua.
    SNCC Legacy Project (SLP)
    The SNCC Legacy Project (SLP) is a non-profit, tax-exempt volunteer organization founded in 2010 following the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Our mission is to gather, present and interpret the stories, materials, lessons, ideas and legacy of SNCC and the Civil Rights Movement for current and future generations of social justice activists.

    Over the past five years SLP's Board of Directors, made up of SNCC veterans and younger activists, has collaborated with a variety of academic institutions including HBCUs and majority-serving research universities, community-based organizations and contemporary social justice organizations to provide a range of materials and services. These include oral histories, internet-based educational platforms, curriculum development, classroom materials, a video documentary, special events training, and technical assistance.
    Our collaborating partners in this regard have included the following: the Smithsonian Institute, particularly its National Museum of African American History and Culture; the Library of Congress; Howard University , Tougaloo College, Albany State College, Brown University , and Princeton University; The Mississippi NAACP, Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement and most recently, Duke University. (See the attached sheet for a list of programs and achievements).  
    In 2016, the SNCC Legacy Project (SLP) will embark on a multi-year collaborative series of national and international programs, events and activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the call for Black Power and the launching of the Black Power Movement. This project builds upon the SLP's five-year focus on capture and interpreting the history, impact and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement from the perspective of those organizers who worked at the grassroots in black communities.
    Our goal is to organize a comprehensive series of programs themed on the Black Power Movement that will write new history, provide a fresh look at the impact and influence of the concept on the lives and aspirations of oppressed people of color in the U.S. and throughout the African Diaspora, as well as on other social justice movements globally.  One key feature of these activities will be the bringing together of 21st-century social justice activists with veterans of the 20th century Black Power Movement.                                     
    The program will help identify questions and themes that might inform and guide the development of an inter-generational collaboration, and further facilitate an ongoing dialogue in this respect. It is anticipated that the programs will empower the contemporary social justice movement by sharing organizing ideas, strategies, practices and models; introducing veteran and contemporary activists to each other at the local level; and building alliances and trust across social justice generations. We also expect the program to generate new creative work about the Black Power era by inviting contemporary writers, artists, educators, students and scholars to take part in the activities and the discussions they will engender.
    The SLP is now building collaborations with Black Power veterans and contemporary social justice activists in 15 cities around the USA, as well as in other countries that are also part of the African diaspora. Here the focus is on those community-based institutions, organizations, events and leaders that influenced the development of the Black Power Movement in their communities, or might do so today.

    Each collaborating city or country will form a Host Committee (HC) consisting of representatives and veterans of the Black Power Movement as well as representatives from the contemporary social justice movement. Collaborating municipalities and counties include: New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Jackson (Mississippi), Newark, Detroit, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Durham and Orangeburg (North Carolina), Lowndes County and Fairfield (Alabama), and the Texas Triangle (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio).
    The global conversation will explore the history, impact and legacy of the Black Power Movement from the perspective of those who shaped the vision, built the institutions or drew inspiration from this transformational period of the U.S. struggle for civil and human rights, thereby empowering activists across Africa, in the Caribbean, and in Latin America, but also others in places as far-flung as New Zealand and India.
    .     .
    The Host Committees will bring together representatives from the following community-based or non-profit entities: HBCUs and other academic colleges and universities; social justice organizations, institutions and activists; youth empowerment organizations and activists; academic and student organizations and associations; cultural institutions, art centers and art professionals; units of local government, elected officials and public administrators; religious institutions and clergy; labor unions and professional associations; specialty museums, libraries, archives; media outlets, publishers, and journalists; and other black institutions and associations founded during or influenced by the Black Power era.
    SLP will work with local activists to define broad guidelines and a framework; help identify community leadership; and provide organizing, marketing and communications services. SLP will provide content areas as needed, and provide programming to supplement the local documentation defined by the HC.   Each HC will develop its own action plan to bring about the designated program outcomes and provide leadership for the national and global program.
    The Black Power Chronicles will illustrate that the Black Power Movement was a positive force for social and political empowerment for oppressed people, and not the destructive influence that has been so often portrayed. Most important, it will enable young activists to establish working relationships and communications with Black Power veterans, as well as educate the veterans about the contemporary social justice movement. We hope to forge new cooperation and alliances between veteran and contemporary social justice and thus strengthen the work ahead.
    This program will strive to facilitate and encourage the development of new works about the Black Power era. These may include, but are not limited to the following: articles both digital and print; educational curricula, teaching materials and online educational platforms; video and film documentaries; art and photo exhibits as well as original music, dance, theater, poetry and literature.
    Enjoy this 1966 speech by Stokely Carmichael:

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     Marvin X interviewed by WURD Talk Radio, Philadelphia, Black Power Babies Conversation,
    produced by Muhammida El Muhajir.

    DJ: Donald Lacy, KPOO Radio 89.5

    Marvin X interview

    Wake Up Everybody

    Saturday, 7AM-NoonMusic, news, and commentary

    KPOO Radio's Donald Lacey will conduct a long awaited
    interview with Marvin X, 3pm, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2016

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    Listen to Part Two of Sistah Q's interview with poet/playwright/essayist/organizer Marvin X on Harambee Radio. He discusses the Black Arts Movement Business District, downtown Oakland CA.

     Marvin X interviewed by WURD Talk Radio, Philadelphia, Black Power Babies Conversation,
    produced by Muhammida El Muhajir.

    Delivery provided by Hightail

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    The New Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man

    Featuring fifteen explosive new chapters, this expanded edition of the classic New York Times million-copy bestseller brings the story of economic hit men up to date and, chillingly, home to the United States. It also gives us hope and the tools each of us can use to change the system.
    In this astonishing tell-all book, former Economic Hit Man John Perkins shares new details about the ways he and others cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. From the U.S. military in Iraq and infrastructure development in Indonesia, to Peace Corps volunteers in Africa and jackals in Venezuela, Perkins exposes the corruption and failed policies that have fueled instability and anti-Americanism around the globe, with consequences reflected in our daily headlines and lives.
    He then reveals how the deadly Economic Hit Man cancer he helped create has spread far more widely and deeply than ever in the United States and everywhere else—to become the dominant system of business, government, and society today. Finally, he gives an insider’s view of what we each can do to change it.

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    The Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series presents
    Bobby Seale
    Founding Chairman & National Organizer, Black Panther Party (BPP)
    Saturday, February 27, 2016 7:00pm
    Location: Merritt College, Huey P. Newton & Bobby Seale Student Lounge
    12500 Campus Dr., Oakland, CA
    Co-Produced by the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center and Merritt College

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    Black Bird Press News & Review: Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale interviewed by Marvin X: Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale interviewed by Marvin X

    Marvin X and Bobby Seale discuss their days at Merritt College, how they were self educated into Black consciousness to become the Neo-Black intellectuals; how Bobby performed in Marvin's play Come Next Summer; Bobby recites his favorite Marvin X poem "Burn,Baby,Burn" about the 65' Watts rebellion; how Bobby and Huey evolved into Black Panthers. Interview reveals Bobby's excellent memory of black history down to the minute, second, microsecond. Get it from the horse's mouth rather than swallow revisionist history told by muddle headed academics and intellectuals in perpetual crisis.--Marvin X

    Bobby Seale interviewed by Marvin X 2000 [Video: 64 min]

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  • 02/20/16--20:45: Malcolm X - Ballot or Bullet

  • 0 0


    FYI, the Black Arts Movement Business District has received pledges of support from the following:

    KPOO Radio's Donald Lacy

    Donald Lacy, KPOO Radio and Love Life Foundation

    Donald told BAMBD planner Marvin X, he stands ready to do whatever is necessary to make the
    district a success.

    Angela Davis and sister, Fania Davis Jordan | blackfilm.
     Sisters Angela and Fania Davis

    Fania E. Davis, Executive Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth
    Fania says she will get the youth she works with involved in the BAMBD. Marvin
    told Fania, "Please tell Angela we need her support as well."

    Margaret Gordon
     Margaret Gordon, West Oakland Environmentalist and Social Justice Activist

    Margaret Gordon, God Mother of West Oakland, is ready to do all she can to enable
    the BAMBD project to succeed. She pointed out several spaces in West Oakland BAMBD
    can use. As per the coal train coming to West Oakland, she was critical of certain ministers
    who seem more interested in gold dust than coal dust! Margaret Gordon said the BAMBD request for a one billion dollar trust fund is on point.

    Another person said she is ready to donate $1,000.00 as soon as the BAMBD legal papers are in order. She added, "If every Black person donated $5.00, the BAMBD can get off the ground."

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              Scourge of US elections: Electoral College, hackable voting machines & obscure rules 


    Cynthia McKinney

    Cynthia McKinney
    After serving in the Georgia Legislature, in 1992, Cynthia McKinney won a seat in the US House of Representatives. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the US Congress. In 2005, McKinney was a vocal critic of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and was the first member of Congress to file articles of impeachment against George W. Bush. In 2008, Cynthia McKinney won the Green Party nomination for the US presidency.

    Published time: 15 Feb, 2016 13:10
    Republican U.S. presidential candidates Senator Ted Cruz (L) and Senator Marco Rubio (R) both gesture at businessman Donald Trump (C) during the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016 © Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
    Republican U.S. presidential candidates Senator Ted Cruz (L) and Senator Marco Rubio (R) both gesture at businessman Donald Trump (C) during the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016 © Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

    Jesus once remarked to a wealthy man that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to go to heaven.”
    Today, we could amend the words of that Biblical reference with the US presidential race underway:
    “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a voter in the US to know and understand the rules regulating the administration of all elections, including elections for President of the United States.”
    Let’s start with the phenomenon of what is called a “minority president.” No, that is not a president who identifies as an ethnic or racial minority in the US. A minority president is one who has failed to win a plurality of the votes cast in the race for president, and yet is still able to become President of the United States. This is the exact opposite of what a true democracy would require; perhaps not even a pure democracy would entertain such a position such as the 'Office of the Presidency'. But that is an entirely different matter.
    Read more
    Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrive on stage before of the start of the PBS NewsHour Democratic presidential candidates debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 11, 2016. © Jim Young  
     Super-duper-delegates: 'Undemocratic system used by Democratic Party'
    The United States has actually had several minority presidents in its history, while the 21st century began ominously enough with yet another minority President: George W. Bush, the Republican who failed to secure the most votes cast by the people [in the 2000 election, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, decided the victor of the race after moving to halt the recount process in the state of Florida].
    Both the US House and the US Senate are charged with counting the Electoral College votes, and this is a process in which I have participated. The constitutionally mandated process was circumvented by the precedent-setting Bush v. Gore Supreme Court ruling that instructed future Courts not to use the decision as a precedent!

    As this case aptly proved, it’s not the people who have the last word in US elections. It’s a non-democratic construct called the Electoral College that does, except in those rare instances when it doesn’t.

    The Electoral College was created by the framers of the US Constitution to ensure that the votes of the plebes did not supersede the interests of the landed gentry. That’s not just my opinion. For example, according to FairVote, an organization with which I have worked in the 2000 Presidential election, a whopping 78 percent of the votes cast were rendered unimportant due to the arcane rules of the Electoral College. They estimate that in 2008, the figure still topped 70 percent.
    Democratic U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L) and Bernie Sanders. © Carlo Allegri 
    Despite Bernie’s landslide victory, Hillary receives more New Hampshire delegates
    In order to be declared the winner of the presidency, 270 Electoral College votes are required. But the process is not what could be called transparent. For example, veteran Pro Se litigator Asa Gordon has demonstrated how the Black vote in the US is rendered less relevant by the arcane apportionment rules of the Electoral College. And when the Electoral College is deadlocked, which has happened before, then the matter falls to the United States House of Representatives to decide who will be allowed to serve in the White House.

    Hacking Democracy

    Add to the above debacles, the US Congress and the election authorities in the 50 states have authorized and encouraged the use of hackable electronic voting machines that are used for vote casting and vote tabulation. Bev Harris and her company, Black Box Voting, has accumulated horror stories surrounding the non-transparency of US elections. I have worked closely with Harris because the danger of these machines is self-evident to everyone except the officials who continue to purchase them for millions of dollars, putting millions of voters’ most precious political asset at risk.
    Bernie beat Hillary by 22% but she'll break even in New Hampshire because of SuperDelegates. That is not democracy. The system is rigged.
    — John Dardenne (@johndardenne) February 10, 2016
    Such a scenario is what led former President Jimmy Carter to comment he “absolutely” could not be elected today under such conditions, going so far as to characterize the United States as an oligarchy, not a democracy.

    ‘Hacking Democracy’ is only one of the many documentaries to expose the fallibility of the actual voting process in the US. Other documentaries focus on how private money has corrupted its election process.

    In addition to the insecure hardware, I am sorry to write that the voter list is kept on an electronic device and if the voter’s name fails to appear on the list, the voter has little recourse.
    In the US, votes and vote tabulation processes are done without any traceable back-up procedures. In other words, there is no paper trail - no receipt of a vote, as it were - whatsoever. In one of my Congressional elections in which the electronic voting machines “failed,” not only was I unable to obtain the election data despite a lawsuit having been filed, an expert witness for the state of Georgia testified that voters have to simply “trust” that the announced winner is the actual winner. Meanwhile, candidates have no access to the raw election data because that information is “owned” by Diebold—the company that produced the electronic voting machines and the software used by them (The documentary ‘American Blackout’ tells my own personal story with US elections). It is difficult to place trust in the US election system when we learn about the number of votes cast that go uncounted. In the 2000 Presidential election between Bush and Gore, between two million and five million Americans went to the polls and voted, yet their votes were thrown out, disqualified for any number of reasons. Half of those uncounted votes were cast by Black Americans.

    Money, money, money

    Add to these procedural vagaries, the influence of private money in US elections and even the pretense of holding transparent, free, and fair elections is stood completely on its head. As I wrote in a previous post, the rules have given rise to super-wealthy individuals who lurk in the shadows while becoming the power behind the public faces of candidates: Marco Rubio has Norman Braman as his closest and most important backer. Hillary Clinton has Haim Saban as one of her top donors; Sheldon Adelson is a “player” at the Presidential level in US politics. Billionaire Donald Trump self-finances his Presidential bid and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is rumored to be willing to spend one billion dollars in his still-to-be-announced independent presidential run.
    The situation is so dire that one wealthy individual could legally bankroll an entire Congressional campaign and a roundtable of them could do the same with the US Presidency. So-called campaign finance reform blew the existing loopholes wide open instead of closing them. The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling stood the revered Freedom of Speech First Amendment to the US Constitution on its head by allowing a few wealthy donors to have more 'free speech' than 300 million other Americans.

    The sad truth is that much of what takes place resembles a horse race, or some kind of political theater designed specifically for public consumption. Each step of the process, whether it’s the hunt for delegates in the political party primary or the hunt for Electoral College votes after nominations have taken place, the real action takes place in the darkest recesses of the system, out of view. One could go so far as to say that the real action of US “democracy” takes place in the shadows.
    So, what we are witnessing for public consumption is the hunt for delegates among the presidential contenders in the Republican Party and between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party. Until February 1, everything was basically kabuki theatre, advertising in order to lure an ample audience to enhance the profits of the major television, radio broadcasters and newspaper publishers. Donald Trump made this point repeatedly just before he decided to not participate any longer in the pre-February Republican Party Primary debates. He challenged CNN to donate some of its profits from debate ad sales to veterans’ charities—which, of course, CNN refused to do.

    On February 1, the first popular voting actually took place. The Iowa Caucuses kicked off the delegate hunt. The Democratic candidates are trying to garner 2,382 delegates to win the nomination; Republican candidates need 1,144. Across the state of Iowa, registered voters gathered to cast their vote for their preferred party primary candidate. Yet the rules for the caucuses are far from straightforward, as are the rules for counting of votes and assignment of delegates.
    Thus, several results in the Iowa Democratic caucuses were actually decided by a coin toss; one Clinton precinct captain didn’t even live in the precinct to whose caucus he had been assigned to manage. As a result of the massive confusion as to who actually won the Iowa Caucuses, the Sanders campaign has launched a quest to get the raw vote totals—as yet unavailable from the Iowa or national Democratic Party that declared Clinton the winner.
    The next vote took place in the New Hampshire primary, which is different than a caucus. And there, too, the rules change by state for which primary voters are eligible to vote.
    The next round of voting will take place on what is called ‘Super Tuesday’ when a number of states allow their voters to express their presidential preferences in primaries. But, that’s only if your preferred presidential candidate has been able to secure ballot access. Not all of the candidates are able to run in all states because each state has its own requirements for gaining ballot access. This is not a problem for either the Democratic or Republican parties, but is a huge issue for other parties. Therefore, most American voters don’t even get to see the full range of candidates and political parties on their ballots!

    All of this popular voting is to assign delegates to each candidate. Those delegates will represent their candidate at the political party’s nominating convention. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. And so, the candidate with the most delegates will win the party’s nomination, right? Well, not necessarily, due to something called “super delegates” who are not bound by the popular vote. So, theoretically, unless Bernie Sanders wins the popular vote by a commanding margin in the Democratic Party primary, Hillary Clinton could actually walk away with the party’s nomination, due to the power of superdelegates whose role is similar to that of the Electoral College—to make sure that the plebes don’t ever really think they are in control. However, if something like that were to occur, the credibility of the Party might take a beating.

    So, there you have it. When there is no challenge to the shadow players, everything rolls just fine and the flaws in the system are not clearly evident. But, for candidates who do not have shadow blessing, the election process can become a nightmare. Imagine then, America's increasingly alienated voters trying to overcome all of the information and process hurdles.

    And, by the way, not all adult citizens in the US are eligible to vote. In some states, people in the criminal justice system with felonies may forfeit their right to vote altogether. At the same time, some states require state-issued identification cards in order to vote. Even voting machines are positioned by precinct history, not by need. Thus, Blacks voting in Ohio and other places around the country waited for hours to vote while White majority precincts had no wait at all to vote.

    It is little wonder, then, that so few citizens of voting age actually participate in the process. According to one study, only approximately 55 percent of the voting age population actually voted in 2012. For citizens tying to unravel all of the rules and regulations, how a candidate moves through the process to become a nominee and then incumbent is “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

    So the next time the victor of a US presidential race system says that he or she will destabilize a foreign government or wage a war against a foreign country in order to 'fight for democracy', the entire world, led most of all by the voters of the United States, should greet the news with a hearty laugh.

    The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Obama Drama, Scene #3: Interview with Marvin X

    Marvin X Interviews President Obama

    Marvin X, Thank you Mr. President for agreeing to meet with me.
    Prez, The pleasure is all mine. I've been reading your blogs and find them quite interesting.
    MX, I hope you don't say what Minister Farrakhan said about my comments on him.
    Prez, What did he say?
    MX, He said I raked him over the coals.
    Prez, I agree with Minister Farrakhan. You can be quite hard hitting.
    MX, They call me the sledgehammer.

    Prez, Indeed you are.
    MX, Call it tough love.
    Prez, OK.
    MX, Furthermore, I supported you wholeheartedly from the beginning. You obviously haven't seen my book Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black Prez and Yoself.
    Prez, No I haven't.
    MX, But I must agree with our mutual friend Dr. Cornell West. I'm sure you are aware that he said we must protect you, respect you, but check you.
    Prez, Yes, I heard his remarks. And you know what I said, "You brothers need to cut me some slack."
    MX, Prez, you don't need slack. You need us riding your back like Roy Rogers on Trigger.
    Prez, Don't you think I have enough pressure on me?
    MX, Well, I once forced the resignation of the president of Fresno State University. Well, actually he said he was pressured from above (Gov. Ronald Reagan) and below (student protests after the college refused to hire me). So we see you are the type of guy who must be pressured from above and below, from the right and the left.
    Prez, How much pressure you think a person in my position can take?
    MX, You got Mechelle to chill you out!

    Prez, You're right about that.
    MX, But I wrote about her putting a foot in your ass when you get weak.
    Prez, I don't think that's necessary
    MX, Well, you seem to capitulate at every turn. You call it the nature of politics, of course.
    Prez, Well, I certainly don't call it capitulation. That's a bit harsh. I try to negotiate and compromise with my opposition.

    MX, Prez, It seems to me you give in too quickly, sometimes when it ain't even necessary.
    Prez, Marvin, it's the nature of the beast I'm dealing with.
    MX, Ever heard of playing hardball? I mean I was happy you got the health insurance plan through but at what price, selling out to the insurance lobby?
    Prez, I don't call it selling out, it was compromise, the best we could do under the circumstances.
    MX, Prez, why have you not created a jobs program? You bailed out the banks and corporations but not the people, why?
    Prez, Marv, you know I have a most difficult job and we tried a stimulus package, and it worked to some extent.

    MX, But, Prez, there are still millions of unemployed. Yet at the same time you are promising terrorist jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan if they lay down their arms. Should the American unemployed take up arms to get your attention?
    Prez, Marv, please, what are you suggesting, revolution?

    MX, If that's what it takes to get you to consider the consent of the governed. Is not the first priority of this nation the people, not corporations and banks?
    Prez, Well, corporations are people now.
    MX, Prez, you know what I mean.
    Prez, Of course.

    MX, How can you provide funds for educating, housing and employing terrorists abroad but not at home? It just doesn't make sense, Mr. Prez.
    Prez, You're right, Marv.

    MX, Now you're getting ready to raise one billion dollars to keep your job, but you can't find a few billion for the millions of unemployed

    Prez, You're right, Marv. I can do better. Let me regroup with my advisers and think about it.

    MX, Yeah, Prez, I want to support you reelection but I find it most difficult. And the brothers on the street as well. They were happy when you won, they said it was great to know they could look up to someone besides a rapper. But lately they are saying fuck you, Mr. Prez.

    Prez, I'm sorry to hear that

    MX, You should know this is what they're saying, Fuck you!

    Prez, I often wonder about the mood in the hood.

    MX, You should wonder before something terrible happens to your country because of your neglect and misplaced priorities. Can I ask you something personal?
    Prez, Go for it!

    MX, Do you feel like a white man or black man?
    Prez, Well, when I'm with Mechelle, I feel black. When I'm with my Secretary of State, Hilliary, I feel white.

    MX, I thought Hillary was black, along with her husband, Dirty Bill.

    Prez, Marv, let's not name call, please.
    MX, OK. On a more serious matter, how long did you know Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan?
    Prez, We had him under surveillance for some time.

    MX, Years, months?

    Prez, a long time.

    MX, Should I congratulate you for slaying the dragon?

    Prez, That's up to you.

    MX, Well, you probably deserve a feather in your cap. A couple of Brownie points.

    Prez, Marv, thanks.

    MX, But, Prez, where's the body?

    Prez, We threw it in the ocean.

    MX, C'mon, Prez, do I look like Willie Foofoo?

    Prez, Marv, we did, trust me.

    MX, Prez, I'm an ex-dope fiend. I know how people lie.

    Prez, Marv, are you calling me a liar?

    MX, I didn't say that, Prez, but my elder, Dr. Nathan Hare, taught the fictive theory. Everything the white man (and black man or white/black man) says is fiction until proven to be a fact. Where are the facts, Prez?

    Prez, Marv, trust me. We thought it best to dispose of the body in the ocean.

    MX, But who's going for this, Prez, it sounds shaky.

    Prez, We concluded that was the best way to end the matter of a man who murdered three thousand Americans.
    MX, Prez, how many Muslims have you murdered since you became President?

    Prez, I can't answer that.

    MX, Between Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, how many, especially with the collateral damage?

    Prez, Can't answer that. It was all in defense of America.

    MX, Is a few ignorant men living in mountain caves really a threat to America?

    Prez, They can be.

    MX, C'mon, Prez. Let's change the channel. What happened with the closing of Gitmo?

    Prez, We tried but couldn't pull it off.

    MX, What about the secret prisons in America?

    Prez, I'm not aware of them.

    MX, Maybe you should check with homeland security?

    Prez, Our priority is the safety of Americans.

    MX, Does this include murdering American citizens rather than bringing them to trial?

    Prez, Not necessarily.
    MX, What about the man in Yemen you are trying to kill who is an American citizen?

    Prez, He's a special case.

    MX, But he's an American.

    Prez, Marv, don't press the issue.

    MX, That's exactly what I'm doing.

    Prez, Don't press it, Marv.

    MX, Let's discuss the Middle East for a moment. I've written about your speech in Cairo and Indonesia. I've imagined what you will say about Muslims tomorrow, May 19. You know as long as you occupy one inch of Muslim land there shall be Muslims who view you as a Crusader and they will vow to fight you to the death.

    Prez, Marv, I'm aware how Muslims feel about us occupying their lands. And we plan to vacate all Muslim lands at the earliest possible date.

    MX, Does this include having your friends in Israel do the same?

    Prez, Well, that's a matter for the Israelis, not us.

    MX, But you are their very best friend. You support them right or wrong, true?

    Prez, I wouldn't say that. But we have an enduring relationship.

    MX, Don't you see the day is rapidly arriving when they cannot claim to be the only democracy in the area, that they will bow down to the God of Justice, not peace but justice?

    Prez, Events are rapidly changing in North Africa and the Middle East. Therefore we must all make a paradigm shift in our thinking and behavior, including Israel.

    MX, What about your friends in Saudi Arabia?

    Prez, They will need to make substantial changes as well.

    MX, And Bahrain?

    Prez, It's a special case. We have strategic interests there.

    MX, You seem to be saying America practices selective suffering. You now support the Egyptian revolution, the Tunisian, Yemen, but not in Saudi Arabia or Israel, Jordan, Bahrain.

    Prez, Marv, we have our interests that must be secured first.

    MX, What if and when these nations explode in your face, overnight, as is happening as we speak. Seems like you'll be running after the football or playing catchup?

    Prez, We'll do what we must when we must.

    MX, Thank you, Mr. Prez.

    --Marvin X

    Marvin X Writes Obama's Speech to Muslims
    I, Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States of America, come before you tonight in the name of Almighty God Allah. We, the America people, are pleased to see the people of North Africa and the Middle East rising up against our long time friends in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere.
    Of course we instituted a no fly zone over Libya but it is most difficult to do the same in Gaza. The recent unity of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is nice but simply not in the interests of our dear friends in Israel, nor is it in the long term strategic interests of America and her friends throughout the region, especially our brothers in the House of Saud.
    While we endorse the cries for freedom in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, we cannot support the people in Bahrain. We suspect they are simply agents for Iran and therefore we cannot support their cries for freedom. We have no plans of moving our Fifth Fleet from Bahrain, especially since it is a counterweight to Iranian provocations. We therefore endorse the sending of Saudi troops to crush the Shia uprisings in Bahrain.
    As per Saudi Arabia, we love democracy but it is simply not in our interests to have the Saudi regime destabilized because of a few unhappy citizens, again, many of them are agents of Iran, especially those Saudi women who want to drive cars.
    As per Iran, we call for democracy in that nation, even though we accept full responsibility for overthrowing the democratically elected leader, Mossedeq, and installing the Shah who oppressed his people for many years.

    We know you share our joy with the elimination of the hated terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Even though we created him and supported him, the time came for his removal, even though we were aware he was living in a mansion with his three wives in Pakistan. He served us well, but the time came for his disposal. You know how we handle those who outlive our usefulness, e.g., Saddam Hussein.

    We promised a total troop removal from Iraq, but circumstances may prevent this unless it is expedient for my upcoming election. We hope the people of Iraq understand, especially that guy Sadr and his army of the poor in Sadr City who fought with us to no avail.

    Our regional partners, namely the Sunni neighbors of Iraq, have warned us not to leave Iraq under a Shia regime, again this will only benefit Iran, the enemy of world peace. Not Israel and certainly not America who is the champion of world peace as you all know throughout the Muslim world, not matter that we are now occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and making inroads into Libya. You may be surprised to learn that it is not the oil we want in Libya but the water. Yes, water will be a precious commodity in the coming days. We pray to Allah you can understand why we do what we do.
    As per Afghanistan, we have promised the Taliban if they lay down their arms, we will give them schooling, housing and employment. We wish we could offer the same to our boys and girls in the hoods of America who are terrorizing their communities with drugs and guns, but our budget crisis will not allow education, housing and jobs for the boys and girls in the hood, although we can do this for the Taliban. As you know we did this in Iraq and this was the real cause of the decrease in violence, not the socalled surge of Baghdad under General Betrayus.
    As you know, General Betrayus will be taking over the Central Intelligence Agency. We appreciate his role in prolonging the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We feel he has been successful in routing the 100 to 500 Al Quida in Afghanistan, especially after we sent him thirty thousand additional troops.

    Finally, our friends in Pakistan may have some misgivings about the unilateral move we made to eliminate Osama bin Laden, but we want them to get over it and not make any silly moves like seeking revenge with their nuclear option.

    I close in the name of peace, As-Salaam-Alaikum.
    President Barack Hussein Obama

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    Marvin X speaks at Oakland City Hall Black History Month Reception

    flyer-obhmr-potp-2016-700-full size
     Marvin X at Berkeley Juneteenth Festival, 2015
    photo Harrison Chastang
    Black Arts Movement poet and BAMBD planner Marvin X will speak and exhibit his Black Arts Movement archives. His archives were acquired by the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    The Black Arts Movement Poet's Choir and Arkestra at the University of California, Merced
    50th Anniversary celebration of the Black Arts Movement, 2014, produced by Kim McMillan
    and Marvin X.
     BAM poet Marvin X with his Poet's Choir and Arkestra, featuring David Murray and Earle Davis, all three were associated with San Ra. This performance is from Oakland's Malcolm X Jazz/Art Festival, 2014
    photo Adam Turner
    Adam Turner photography and collage, special to the Oakland Post News ...
    BAM Poet's Choir and Arkestra at Malcolm X Jazz Festival, 2014
    Adam Turner photo collage

    photo Don J. Usner

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    Black Bird Press News & Review: Black History is World History by Marvin X, the USA's Rumi, Plato, Saadi, Hafiz:

    Black History Is World History


    Marvin X

    Before the Earth was

    I was

    Before time was

    I was

    you found me not long ago

    and called me Lucy

    I was four million years old

    I had my tools beside me

    I am the first man

    call me Adam

    I walked the Nile from Congo to Delta

    a 4,000 mile jog


    I lived in the land of Canaan

    before Abraham, before Hebrew was born

    I am Canaan, son of Ham

    I laugh at Arabs and Jews

    fighting over my land

    I lived in Saba, Southern Arabia

    I played in the Red Sea

    dwelled on the Persian Gulf

    I left my mark from Babylon to Timbuktu

    When Babylon acted a fool, that was me

    I was the fool

    When Babylon fell, that was me

    I fell

    to continue reading, go to link above

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    Screening of New Doc Shows Panther Power Still Alive in Oakland

    Youth Speak's Black Sheroes (Photo: Alain McLaughlin)
    It was Tuesday evening, two days after Beyoncé’s dramatic halftime Superbowl Sunday performance, when the Oakland community gathered at Grand Lake Theater to watch a screening of PBS’s upcoming documentary, Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.
    There was a palpable electric buzz (and debate) about what Beyoncé did in front of nearly 112 million viewers: declaring her love of being a black woman while dancing with afro’ed backup dancers clad in Black Panther gear. Beyoncé had managed to create a perfect pop culture segue for the dialogue slated for this evening, asserting not only the historical relevance of Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, but also why the themes that drove the movement then are still so painfully relevant to our discussions of race relations and gender today.

    The night opened with a powerful musical performance by Antique Naked Soul, and remarks from Susie Hernandez (KQED, Director of Programming), Noland Walker (ITVS, Senior Content Director), Maira Benjamin (Pandora, Director of Engineering) and Lynette Gibson McElhaney (Oakland City Councilwoman, District 3). Hernandez and Walker both touched on how public media provides both an opportunity and a platform for communities to tell and share their own stories in an authentic way. Benjamin reminded audiences that the theme of the evening was “revolution” and highlighted her role as a woman of color in technology. Her message, “Bring revolution to all the spaces you represent,” was met with cheers and applause from the crowd. McElhaney was hopeful about how elections and civic engagement can trigger change and she encouraged people to stay informed and embrace the possibilities.

    Next, eight young black women walked in a line to the front of the theater, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words “The Black Woman is God.” Members of San Francisco-based Youth Speaks, the Black Sheroes delivered the most rousing performance of the night. The crowds whooped and hollered and shot their fists into the air. Older generations, including former Black Panther Party members, nodded and bobbed their heads as the women made it plain: our people are still in pain, and injustice is still alive. The performance, a mixture of spoken word and singing, started with a rendition of “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” and ended as the women roared out their love of being black women in the face of police brutality, intolerance and racism.
    Left to right: Cat Brooks, Ashara Ekundayo, Ericka Huggins
    Left to right: Cat Brooks, Ashara Ekundayo, Ericka Huggins (Photo: Alain McLaughlin)
    Just before the film screening, Ashara Ekundayo (Impact Hub, Chief Content Officer) moderated a dialogue with Ericka Huggins, a former political prisoner and Black Panther Party leader, and Cat Brooks, #BlackLivesMatter Bay Area member and founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project. Ekundayo opened with a brief moment of silence to honored activists who died after giving their lives to revolutionary causes.

    Asked by Ekundayo to describe the Black Panther Party in three words, Huggins replied: “Commitment. Love. People.” She recalled being a young girl, attending the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, one of the largest political rallies in American history. It was a life-changing moment that defined her activism.

    “A vow arose in my heart,” Huggins recalled, “that I will serve people for the rest of my life.”
    In describing her own personal commitment over the years, as a leader in the Party and an educator in Oakland, she gave a shout-out to a special audience member that she had met earlier that evening: 7-year-old Vivian, the precocious daughter of KQED’s Hernandez. “When I meet young girls like Vivian, I realize: I don’t have the right to be tired.”

    Brooks chose her three words carefully: “Power. Passion. Beauty,” adding, “Black people are damaged, tired, and traumatized.” Her hope lies in the current wave of activism. For the first time, thanks largely to the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been “Lots of talk about self-care in activism.” There is a long journey ahead, Brooks asserted, and “We’re figuring it out as we stumble along,” adding that progress can be sustained if activists take time to take to practice self-care as they fight for their communities.

    The unspoken theme of the night, judging by those who were doing the speaking, was the role of women in activism. Brooks proudly declared that there was a feminine current running through today’s movements in the black community. Huggins attributed this to the “legacy of feminine principles” in the Black Panther Party. As she spoke, Tarika Lewis, the first woman to join the Party, stood up in the crowd with her fist raised.

    “The FBI destroyed the men in the Black Panther Party – Newton, Seale, and many others – but they forgot something: us women,” declared Huggins. She noted the bond shared by the women in the Party, who ran the revolution from beginning to end, saying, “We were connected by love and service.”

    Before the lights dimmed and the screening of Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution began, the audience was left with some parting wisdom: Be with one another. Practice non-judging awareness. Work in coalition and communion. Think globally. For this community, the evening captured not only the Party’s legacy but also the demands for justice that are still painfully relevant today. From a small film screening to the largest stage in a football stadium, it is evident that 50 years later the revolutionary spirit of the Black Panther Party continues to live on in the impassioned communities and people they inspired.

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    WATCH by Felipe Luciano

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