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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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    Special to the Post Newspaper Group

     Post Newsgroup Publisher Paul Cobb and poet/activist/educator Marvin X are childhood friends from West Oakland. Paul says to youth, "Crack a book before you're booked for Crack!"
    photo Walter Riley, Esq.

     Necola Adams photo; Kalamu Chache's graphics

    As the Bay Area prepares for the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement (BAM), the most radical artistic and literary movement in American history, Paul Cobb gave fellow writer and festival producer Marvin X his vision for the celebration.“My interest is putting books in the hands of young men and women who attend this celebration,” Cobb said. “I said long ago, Crack a book before you’re booked for Crack, so if we focus on high risk young people, lifting their literacy and literary pursuits, I will support this BAM celebration. Otherwise, I don’t have time to sit listening to old men and women pontificate about revolution.” He added, “I will help raise money for books, not honoraria for speakers.”

    Marvin X said, “When Paul is right, I acknowledge this. I consider him part of the progressive bourgeoisie. He has been more consistent than some of my so-called revolutionary friends and comrades. He usually does what he says. In the past, he has put his ten newspapers at the disposal of my projects, such as the Tenderloin Black Radical Book Fair we produced in 2004."

    Bay Area Black artists/authors/activists celebrate the life of slain Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey. Group gathered at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, downtown Oakland, a few blocks from where Chauncey was assassinated in broad daylight.  We learned recently Chauncey was slain with guns from the Oakland version of the US government's Fast and Furious program. Government guns were "walked" into the hood, just as they were given to Mexican drug gangs. This information disputes the white supremacy Chauncey Bailey Project that refused to seriously consider Paul Cobb's editor was slain because he was investigating City Hall and OPD corruption.--Marvin X

    Through a series of articles in The Post, Cobb promoted the San Francisco Tenderloin Black Book fair and will do the same for the BAM celebration. This article is the beginning of a series on the BAM celebration. Participating artists and critics are encouraged to contribute to this series leading up to the Bay Area-wide celebration, tentatively scheduled for next year, probably around June-July, 2015.

    Marvin X says, "I agree with Paul on the books project. We think a book fair must be part of the BAM celebration. We know Dr. Nathan Hare’s Black Think Tank Books and my Black Bird Press will arrange for books to be given to youth and adults to raise their level of cultural consciousness. We call upon other authors and publishers to donate some of their books in the hood." If you would like to help plan, participate or promote the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, contact Marvin X or (510) 200-4164.

     The Black Arts Movement Poet's Choir & Arkestra at the BAM conference, University of California, Merced, produced by Kim McMillon and Marvin X, Feb-March, 2014

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    Marvin X says, "Join the Black Arts Movement cultural revolution in the Bay Area, 2015. There is something for everybody to do. I am an old man, don't make me do everything!" See the latest Oakland Post Newspaper on Publisher Paul Cobb's vision for the BAM celebration.
    photo Adam Turner, Black Bird Productions and Book Project
    Special to the Post Newspaper Group

     Post Newsgroup Publisher Paul Cobb and poet/activist/educator Marvin X are childhood friends from West Oakland. Paul says to youth, "Crack a book before you're booked for Crack!"
    photo Walter Riley, Esq.

     Necola Adams photo; Kalamu Chache's graphics

    As the Bay Area prepares for the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement (BAM), the most radical artistic and literary movement in American history, Paul Cobb gave fellow writer and festival producer Marvin X his vision for the celebration.“My interest is putting books in the hands of young men and women who attend this celebration,” Cobb said. “I said long ago, Crack a book before you’re booked for Crack, so if we focus on high risk young people, lifting their literacy and literary pursuits, I will support this BAM celebration. Otherwise, I don’t have time to sit listening to old men and women pontificate about revolution.” He added, “I will help raise money for books, not honoraria for speakers.”

    Marvin X said, “When Paul is right, I acknowledge this. I consider him part of the progressive bourgeoisie. He has been more consistent than some of my so-called revolutionary friends and comrades. He usually does what he says. In the past, he has put his ten newspapers at the disposal of my projects, such as the Tenderloin Black Radical Book Fair we produced in 2004."

    Bay Area Black artists/authors/activists celebrate the life of slain Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey. Group gathered at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, downtown Oakland, a few blocks from where Chauncey was assassinated in broad daylight.  We learned recently Chauncey was slain with guns from the Oakland version of the US government's Fast and Furious program. Government guns were "walked" into the hood, just as they were given to Mexican drug gangs. This information disputes the white supremacy Chauncey Bailey Project that refused to seriously consider Paul Cobb's editor was slain because he was investigating City Hall and OPD corruption.--Marvin X
    photo Adam Turner/Gene Hazzard, Post Newsgroup

    Through a series of articles in The Post, Cobb promoted the San Francisco Tenderloin Black Book fair and will do the same for the BAM celebration. This article is the beginning of a series on the BAM celebration. Participating artists and critics are encouraged to contribute to this series leading up to the Bay Area-wide celebration, tentatively scheduled for next year, probably around June-July, 2015.

    Marvin X says, "I agree with Paul on the books project. We think a book fair must be part of the BAM celebration. We know Dr. Nathan Hare’s Black Think Tank Books and my Black Bird Press will arrange for books to be given to youth and adults to raise their level of cultural consciousness. We call upon other authors and publishers to donate some of their books in the hood." If you would like to help plan, participate or promote the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, contact Marvin X or (510) 200-4164.

     The Black Arts Movement Poet's Choir & Arkestra at the BAM conference, University of California, Merced, produced by Kim McMillon and Marvin X, Feb-March, 2014

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    Bill Cosby came under fire after comedian Hannibal Buress drew attention to the allegations of rαpe made against him. In the pages of the Washington Post, Barbara Bowman alleged that Cosby druggedbill cosby 2 her at the age of 17 and that she rationalized the alleged abυse and continued to allow Cosby to be her mentor.
    “I told her how Cosby won my trust as a 17-year-old aspiring actress in 1985, brainwashed me into viewing him as a father figure, and then assaυlted me multiple times,” Bowman explained. “In one case, I blacked out after having dinner and one glass of wine at his New York City brownstone, where he had offered to mentor me and discuss the entertainment industry. When I came to, I was in my panties and a man’s t-shirt, and Cosby was looming over me. I’m certain now that he drugged and rαped me.”
    Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has become an unlikely defender of Cosby.
    “It looks like they’re trying to destroy Bill Cosby,” Limbaugh said, defending the comedian. “CNN has decided to adopt this story and make it the number one cause célèbre of the day.”
    “What did Bill Cosby ever do to tick off some producer at CNN? Or some reporter? Or some assignment? What happened here?” Limbaugh asked. “And then I had to stop and remember, Bill Cosby has numerous times in the recent past given public lectures in which he has said to one degree or another that black families and communities had better step up and get hold of themselves and not fall prey to the forces of destruction that rip them apart. And basically he started demanding that people start accepting responsibility. And the next thing you know he is the nation’s biggest rαpist as far as CNN is concerned.”
    “It’s not like he did it yesterday,” Limbaugh added

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    Marvin X poem: Apology to my Higher Self and Miles Davis - Time After Time (Live 1985)

    Apology to My Higher Self

    Oh, Higher Self
    I apologize to you
    Greater Self
    Holy Self
    Righteous Self
    I  seek to harm no one
    but to glorify You always and forever
    Have mercy on me
    have mercy on myself
    Oh, Higher Self
    pleae forgive me for allowing my lower self to rule
    Please have mercy on me Higher Self, Divine Self
    If I will only flow in the flow of You
    pick me up Higher Self
    when my lower self comes to call
    the whispering devil whispers into the hearts of men
    and women and children

    to take us all  down under
    to the thrashing floor
    the road where wise men fear to tread
    down in the dungeon
    rat hole
    I become the rat
    associating with the rats
    dwelling in the dungeon
    of my mind

    Lift me up Highter Power
    let me dwell with You forever

    in the Upper Room

    surely I know truth from lies
    surely I know fire from water
    yet I walk into the fire
    I am burned again again again
    easy to lead in the wrong direction
    hard to lead in the right direction,
    the Elijah lesson teach  us

    And why do we love the devil
    because he gives us nothing!
    Take me Higher Power
    into your loving hands
    save me from the fire
    whose fuel is men and stones,

    let not the weakness of my lower self
    ontrol me
    let me cast away illusions
    a donkey is not a stalion

    Oh Higher Power
    catch me if I fall
    take me forward faster
    time after time
    time after time.

    --Marvin X


    Bob Holman says Marvin X is the USA's Rumi. The humor of Pietri, politics of Baraka, the wisdom of Saadi, the ecstasy of Hafiz.....

    Ishmael Reed says Marvin X is Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland. His play One Day in the Life is the most powerful drama I've seen. 

    Dr. Nathan Hare says Marvin X is still the undisputed champion of Black Consciousness.

    On Monday, September 1, Marvin X will receive the Elders Award from the Pan African festival, at Oakland's Mosswood Park.

    On Septemer 13, he will receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Los Angeles Black Books Expo.

    Earlier this year, Feb/March, 2014, Marvin X (with Kim McMillan) produced a conference on the Black Arts Movement at the University of California, Merced. He is now planning a Bay Area Celebration of the Black Arts Movement, tentatively for February 2015. Paul Cobb, Publisher of the Post Newspaper Group is a co-planner, along with Eastside Arts and the City of Oakland. Stanford University African American Studies  and Laney College want to be sponsors also. We have the support of Dr. Ayodele Nizinga's Lower Bottom Players, Geoffery Grier's San Francisco Recovery Theatre. If you or your organization would like to participate on any level, especially as possible funders, sponsors, participants. Contact Marvin X: 510-2004154

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    photo Adam Turner, Black Bird Productions

     After an absence of many weeks, Marvin X returned to his Academy of da Corner at 14th and Broadway to encounter numerous young lesbians seeking cultural consciousness and mentoring. Like another dirty old man, Kat Williams, Marvin was overjoyed, "I agree with Kat, too hell with them gays, I love lesbians!" The young lesbians said they will assist Marvin with his latest project, the 50th anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, a Bay Area-wide  celebration planned for Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto and San Jose. Marvin asked the lesbian ladies to assist with the BAM project after conversing with them and realizing their high level of cultural and spiritual consciousness. This is not a put down of gays because the Black Arts Movement and the arts in general has a great number of same gender loving men. "In my fifty years working in theatre, I have worked with many gays and lesbians. They are some of our greatest writers, actors, directors, choreographers, dancers, etc.  The 50th celebration of BAM will need the entire community to get involved, artists, academicians, youth, teachers, preachers, intellectuals and activists. The BAM cultural/spiritual revolution is beyond gender issues. The event is planned for June/July 2015. If you would like to help with this BAM celebration, please contact MarvinX:



    Parable of Women Without Men

    There was war in the land, for centuries war in the land. The men were bred for labor, sperm donations, and death. The women were booty, the spoils of war. A classical situation, nothing unique, racist, call it the art of war. Men must be destroyed, or humiliated, effeminated, castrated, dehumanized. Where is the movie of David Walker, Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Toussaint, Bokman?

    There is no other way to exercise social control over the population of oppressed people, enslaved peoples, than to desecrate the men and their manhood. There can be no recognition of heroes or sheroes, this would be anathema to the oppressor system of domination. Where is the movie of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells.

    The man in the oppressive society is at best a stunted man, a crippled man, handicapped physically and mentally. He is a warrior but unless he dons the warrior persona, consciously or unconsciously, he cannot assume the title, thus he is a wimp, a punk bitch, a dehumanized human being, a captive in the slave society, no matter how modern the trappings of said society.

    Either the former slave exercises self determination and sovereignty, or he/she is a colonized being, a slave or in the modern era a wage slave, but a slave none the less.

    He can be afforded the trappings of freedom, the flag, national anthem that he is forced to sing, the election of a president of his own kind (how many presidents of black face do we have in Africa that are actually white men of the most profound kind in their wickedness and debauchery?)

    How many African prime ministers, kings, presidents for life do we have who have dungeons full of opposition leaders, writers, poets, journalists?

    And so out of this matrix is supposed to arise strong men and boys capable of continuing the tradition of manhood which involves the revolutionary tradition? Meanwhile the purpose of the oppressor society is to dehumanize any semblance of manhood at every turn, to project only the personality of the stunted man, the muzzled dog man, the effete man as the dominate personality.

    What woman wants such a man? The woman says, "If I wanted a woman, I do not need a fake woman, I might as well get me a real woman, a woman who knows how to treat me with gentleness, even more so than the gentle man!

    The champion of male/female relations, Sharazah Ali says to women, "Be careful when you call for men to be more sensitive, you end up with effeminate personalities that you reject." What does the woman says in T.S. Eliot's poem, "That is not what I meant, that is not what I meant at all...."

    And so let us cut to the chase, what are women to do when their men are incarcerated, victims of homicide and/or suicide, depressed, drugged out, bisexual, homosexual, unemployed, etc.?

    Nature itself rises to the occasion to answer such questions, such conundrums of life in the hood!
    The man cannot sell dope, so the woman sells dope. The man cannot pimp, so the woman pimps. The man cannot carry weapons, so the woman does. The man cannot gansta, so the woman does.
    The man cannot care for his family, so his girl's girl assumes the role, dress, gait, voice and language. The woman becomes protector of the woman, since the man is absent, a victim on the battlefield, a causality of life in the hood.

    She dons the persona of the man, including pants sagging, swagger in gait, voice, and all manner of the masculine personality. She straps on the plastic or rubber dildo to replace the natural male organ that is absent for innumerable reasons, among them the fact the man is angry, under stress, violent and lacking in tenderness, brutal, while she needs tender loving care in her stress, trying to be mother, and lover to the unlovable male, thus she moves to her sister girl for such tenderness and understanding.

    If she is the economic superior, she takes authority as a young lady said, "I leave him with the baby and I bounce. He the baby mama, I'm the baby daddy."

    Indeed, we see the men picking up children from childcare. We see the men pushing strollers downtown during work hours, suggesting the male is now the childcare provider while the women is employed. This is all by societal design, of course. Have no illusions why the woman can find employment and the man cannot. The oppressor knows well he can control the woman but he also knows the oppressed male seeks to overthrow him at the earliest possibility, to cut his throat and claim the championship title as the master.

    On the educational level matters are devastating. Prison is the institution for educating black males, white the academic prisons educate black women who earn their degrees in higher education but must seek out imprisoned brothers if they are to have a man. After all, black bourgeoisie parents do not send their sons to Harvard, Yale and Stanford to connect with a "black bitch." It was clear to my daughter when she attended Stanford Law School that she and her girls were not to be matched with black males. Black males avoided them like the bubonic plague.

    I write as a father with three daughters who graduated college, Yale, Stanford, Howard, Fresno State University, New York University, Albany, so I know the dilemma of black women seeking a husband in academia. One of my daughters said recently 75% of her friends have married or have mates out of the black manhood pool. The Washington Post noted black women have discarded the idea of marriage with anyone.

    Imagine the situation at Howard University, Washington, DC, with 14 women for every man, imagine the crisis in male/female relations, no matter how each gender claims they handle the situation. I recently spent a week lecturing on the Mythology of Dick and Pussy at Howard, but I got a clearer understanding of Howard sexuality, from the males and females, and yet what I learned only clarified the tragedy of male/female relations, with Howard as a microcosm. The stats are so outrageous that to consider a functional solution is beyond the Western paradigm.

    We now have women with MBAs, PhDs, either giving up on a husband or seeking a husband doing twenty-five to life.

    Such is the result of war in the hood. Part of the frustration, anger and rejection of our children who survive the academic world, yet, as Baraka says, "Come home from academia hating us and everything we're about, yet they don't even know what we're about," but the children suspect we have sold them a bogus bill of goods. Many were told to go to college to find a husband, yet there is none.

    Dr. Wade Nobles says no matter if our children attend Stanford or San Quentin prison, it is all the same, they are imprisoned, and thus denied their natural right to be with each other, in love and tenderness.

    The real question is what does all this forebode for the the future? What shall be the new configuration is gender relations? Surely, not more of the same old bullshit, not after women have enjoyed same gender loving relations, and are economically and psychologically independent.

    And yet, how shall they deal with the macho man or the effeminate male or bisexual rejected by the woman seeking a "real man," and yet many matrifocal households can at best produce the effeminate male, possibly the result of bio-chemistry, the petrochemical foods, including hormone produced meats, water tainted with hormones and other bio undegradable chemicals recycled from waste water. We are told the residue from plastics is causing sexual transformations. Surely this all part of the bio-chemical warfare, add in germ warfare with the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

    I only know one thing, plastic toys are a sick reasonable facsimile for the real male penis. But it is understandable in war, though the only solution to war is active engagement by males and females, not diversionary tactics that only prolong war. For the day shall surely arrive when the female's biology shall seek the real deal Hollyfield.

    The future of the black nation is at hand. Tell me how same gender loving people shall contribute to the this future. They may find themselves just as guilty as the oppressor in the destruction of the black nation. The question is are they pro-life or anti-life?
    --Marvin X

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    We urge you to enlist in the army of the Bay Area-wide Black Arts Movement cultural revolution/celebration, 2015, in honor of Amina and Amiri Baraka. Amiri Baraka was the key mover and shaker of BAM, along with a host of co-workers, including his wife Amina Baraka and Askia Toure, Larry Neal, Sun Ra, Sonia Sanchez, Marvin X, Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Woody King, Last Poets, Barbara Ann Teer, et al. Although bi-coastal, Marvin X continues to do most of his cultural work in the Bay Area.

    To join the BAM army for the cultural revolution, email your resume and pic with a one page biography to We shall do this BAM fest with or without grant funding. In fact, we should do it in the BAM tradition of DO FOR SELF, i.e., most of the BAM institutions were independent and self reliant, only the more Miller Lite BAM institutions were grant funded. We ain't traveling Miller Lite up in here!--Marvin X

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    Left to Right:  The Black Arts Movement's chief visionary Amiri Baraka, Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, Theatre Director Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, Ahi Baraka and Marvin X at X's Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway.
    photo Gene Hazzard, Post News

    The Black Arts Movement 50th anniversary planners would like to have downtown Oakland's 14th Street between Martin Luther King, Jr.  and Alice Streets declared The Black Arts Movement District. Chief planners of the Bay Area Bam Celebration, Paul Cobb and Marvin X, will present the Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf and City Council members with a proposal to proclaim this  area sacred ground of the Black Arts Movement that revolutionized the arts, literature and ethnic studies in America.

    I think what Black Arts did was inspire a whole lot of Black people to write. Moreover, there would be no multiculturalism movement without Black Arts. Latinos, Asian Americans, and others all say they began writing as a result of the example of the 1960s. Blacks gave the example that you don't have to assimilate. You could do your own thing, get into your own background, your own history, your own tradition and your own culture. I think the challenge is for cultural sovereignty and Black Arts struck a blow for that.--Ishmael Reed

    According to Professor Mike Sell, "...The formation of Black Studies programs, changes in curricula and the affirmative hiring of African-American faculty in humanities departments across the US during the late 1970s and 1980s were due, in significant part, to the militance of Black Arts artists, writers, performers, critics and the conceptual power of the "Black Aesthetic."

    Planners say the BAM district begins at the African American Museum/Library at 14th and Martin Luther King, Jr. As one heads up 14th, we pass the C. L. Dellums apartments, in honor of the Pullman Porters Union, the first Black union in America. At 14th and Clay, we pass the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and the Elihu Harris State Building, in honor of two Oakland mayors. In recognition of Asian American City Councilman Frank Ogawa, we visit the plaza at City Hall. As Ishmael Reed noted, BAM inspired Asian Americans and other ethnic groups. Poet Janice Mirikitani, wife of Rev. Cecil Williams and President of the Glide Foundation, declared, "Through the poetry of Marvin X I became conscious of my own ethnicity."

    Youth reading at Academy of da Corner 
    photo Gene Hazzard, Oakland Post

    At 14th and Broadway, we enter the classroom of Marvin X, the most dangerous classroom in the world. The Oscar Grant rebellion occurred in his classroom. Occupy Oakland was literally in his classroom. His classroom is a literacy center, grief counseling site and microloan bank. Readings and dramatic performances happen there. He mentors youth at his Academy of da Corner. Ishmael Reed says, "Marvin X is Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland."

    Geoffery's Inner Circle and the Joyce Gordon Art Gallery along with the Oakland Post Newspaper office are located at 14th and Franklin. The proposed Black Arts Movement District will end at the Malonga Arts Center, 14th and Alice, also the corner were Post Newspaper Editor Chauncey Bailey was assassinated. Chauncey wrote many stories about the above art venues and Bay Area Black artists. For more information on the Bay Area 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, please contact Marvin X at 510-200-4164

    Bay Area Black Artists/activists celebrate the life of Chauncey Bailey at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin
    photo Adam Turner, Oakland Post

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    The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
        because the Lord has anointed me
        to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
        to proclaim freedom for the captives
        and release from darkness for the prisoners....
    --Isaiah 61

    A little black bird tells us Laney College will kick off the Bay Area Black Arts Movement 50th anniversary celebration. The Laney College Art Gallery was the first institution to respond to our call for support.  The Laney Gallery contacted us after reading Paul Cobb's vision for a BAM celebration in the Oakland Post, of which he is the publisher. As one of the chief planners of the BAM 50th anniversary, when he learned from co-planner Marvin X that the Laney Art Gallery was interested in exhibiting BAM art work, Paul suggested an exhibit of prison art. FYI, BAM West began with a 1966 visit to the Soledad Prison Black Culture Club, chaired by author Eldridge Cleaver and Alprintis Bunchy Carter. Against the prison rules explained to us by the officer in charge, The Black Dialogue staff gave out copies of Black Dialogue and the prisoners gave us copies of their writings. We published Eldridge Cleaver's essay My Queen, I Greet You in Black Dialogue before it appeared in Soul on Ice. We published the poetry of Bunchy Carter as well, along with the work of other inmates.

    In 1966, the staff of Black Dialogue Magazine visited the Soledad Prison Black Culture Club, chaired by Eldridge Cleaver and Alprintis Bunchy Carter. Left to Right, former staff and contributors to Black Dialogue Magazine, a critical organ of BAM nationwide: Aubrey LaBrie, Marvin X, Abdul Sabry, Al Young, Arthur Sheridan, Duke Williams. Most were in the BSU at San Francisco State University.

    Before joining the Black Panthers, Eldridge Cleaver and Marvin X founded Black House, a political/cultural center in San Francisco, 1967. Bunchy, a poet as well as activist, visited Black House.  After the fall of Black Arts West Theatre, Black House became the center on non-establishment Black culture in the Bay Area.

    Prison author/activist George Jackson was in Soledad Prison when BAM came to visit the Black Culture Club that became the genesis of the American prison movement. We didn't see Comrade George who wrote Soledad Brother and has become the messiah of the Prison Movement. Prison Griot Kumasi says, "While you guys made revolution outside, we made revolution inside the walls."

    The BAM celebration will continue our connection with the incarcerated brothers and sisters. BAM will work with the Post Newspaper to promote the art and writings of prisoners. As Paul Cobb said in his BAM vision, we want to put books into the hands of inmates, maybe a book a month. We will set up a fund for this purpose. We are collecting the names of inmates. If you have names, please send them to me at or Paul Cobb at goodnewspc@

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    Parable of Oakland's Day of Absence

    Brother Gregory Fields told Plato Negro about Oakland's Day of Absence, the day when the verdict in the Oscar Grant murder trial was to be announced. Gregory said he was in a meeting with Mayor Ron Dellums when the Mayor received a telephone call about 3pm, informing him the verdict had been reached and would be announced at 4:30pm. The Mayor excused himself from the meeting. Gregory departed to 14th and Broadway. He said it was about 3:05 when he arrived.

    What he observed reminded him of the movie Independence Day. Maybe the spirit of Oscar Grant was about to ascend to new heights as the people gathered to protest the expected Miller Lite verdict. The rally was scheduled for 6pm, meanwhile the mostly white workers and a few pet ti bourgeoisie black co-workers were scrambling out of their offices to avoid the coming black horde.

    Gregory said the entire downtown area was in evacuation mode. People were fleeing for their lives before the black plague consumed them. City Hall was evacuated, the Ron Dellums Federal Building, the Elihu Harris State Building, Clorox, Zerox and the rest.

    Persons terrified of the masses coming to protest the cold blooded killing of 22 year old Oscar Grant fled down into the BART train station, yes, to board the very train upon which Oscar was murdered on New Year's Day, 2009. Oscar could not flee for his life, but lay on his stomach, then had a bullet pumped in his back by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle.

    Baldwin told us, "The murder of my child will not make your child safe." So the workers fled in fear and terror, strangely, the same fear and terror their police subject black people to every day of their lives, walking while black, driving while black, loving while black, singing while black, sleeping while black, eating while black.

    No, the whites and "the other white people", those pet ti bourgeoisie blacks who are one paycheck away from the street people, one house payment away, did not want to get caught in the chaos that might upset their world of make believe, their lifestyle of conspicuous consumption, pseudo peace and tranquility, a state of utter denial and delusion.

    They fled to BART, the bus, their cars. Gregory said every street in the downtown area was jam packed with cars heading out of town. On Broadway, a line of cars headed to the freeway, joining the traffic jam from San Francisco where workers were also told to leave work early. They too feared Black Power!

    Before the verdict was announced, BART trains were more crowded than a New York subway on a hot summer day. Vehicle traffic to the Alameda tunnel was bumper to bumper from 20th and Webster to the entrance at 7th and Webster.

    Fear of Black Power was real. Just the thought of black people rioting was causing the evacuation of downtown Oakland and San Francisco as well. Just the thought. See how much power we have without throwing a brick, shooting a gun, burning a building and looting. Just the thought!We have power, just use it and we will be free overnight.

    The devils will be terrified of God's people when they stand without fear, then suddenly we see they are the fearful ones, in spite of all their police, army, navy, CIA, FBI, they shall run like roaches in the light--and we are the light if we only stop walking in darkness.

    Don't the black hordes know the white man's justice is for the white man? The BART police who killed Oscar Grant was one of our own. He must be protected. Give him two years and let him go. Hell, we gave that nigger football player Michael Vick two years for killing his dogs. Two years is enough for killing a nigger. It was an accident anyway. He confused his taser with his gun. He wrote a letter from jail apologizing. What do you niggers want? Give us a break! We're trying to get home safely. All we want is peace and tranquility. Why do you think the Supreme Court approved our right to own guns? It's to protect us from you niggers.

    Let us hurry. We don't want to get trapped downtown and not get home to our precious wives, husbands and children. Let us go, hurry. Hail a taxi. Hey, taxi, taxi, taxi!

    It was 4pm when the verdict was announced. Guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

    Hurry, get on the freeway, BART, bus, taxi, car, bike, shoes, run for your life. The black horde is coming.

    By 4:45 they were gone. Downtown was a ghost, except for the beasts in blue uniforms gathering on the back streets, and the horde coming one by one, two by two, not frantic like the whites and the other white people, but angry, hurt, full of pain and trauma, trauma from long ago, way back in time of strange fruit lynchings, of the police in Richmond killing Denzil Dowell, springing the Black Panthers into motion. One of the horde was so sick after hearing the verdict he wanted to throw up, throw up the pain, shame, disbelief and disgust.
    --Marvin X

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    Alice Walker (b. 1944)

    Alice Walker is an African American novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist, and activist. Her most famous novel, The Color Purple, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1983. Walker's creative vision is rooted in the economic hardship, racial terror, and folk wisdom of African American life and culture, particularly in the rural South. Her writing explores multidimensional kinships among women and embraces the redemptive power of social and political revolution.
    Walker began publishing her fiction and poetry during the latter years of the Black Arts movement in the 1960s. Her work, along with that of such writers as Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor, however, is commonly associated with the post-1970s surge in African American women's literature.

    Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary planner, Marvin X, says, "Alice Walker is cordially invited to participate in the Bay Area BAM celebration. We would be honored to have her on board."

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    Chokwe Lumumba, radical mayor of Jackson, Miss., dies at 66. Jackson, Miss., Mayor Chokwe Lumumba delivers his inaugural address on July 1, 2013. The death of Chokwe Lumumba, the mayor of Jackson, Miss., interrupts one of America's most promising civic experiments still in its fragile beginning.

    People's Assembly’s Overview: The Jackson People’s Assembly Model
    Written by Kali Akuno for the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
    We must practice revolutionary democracy in every aspect of our Party life. Every responsible member must have the courage of his responsibilities, exacting from others a proper respect for his work and properly respecting the work of others. Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories….” – Amilcar Cabral 

    Brief Synopsis

    People denied their agency and power and subjected to external authority need vehicles to exercise their self-determination and exert their power. A People’s Assembly is a vehicle of democratic social organization that, when properly organized, allows people to exercise their agency, exert their power, and practice democracy – meaning “the rule of the people, for the people, by the people” - in its broadest terms, which entails making direct decisions about the economic, social and cultural operations of a community or society and not just the contractual (“civil”) or electoral and legislative (the limited realm of what is generally deemed to be “political”) aspects of the social order.

    What the People’s Assembly Is

    A People’s Assembly first and foremost is a mass gathering of people organized and assembled to address essential social issues and/or questions pertinent to a community.

    “Mass” can be and is defined in numerous ways depending on one’s views and position, but per the experience of the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) in Jackson, Mississippi, we define it as a body that engages at least 1/5th of the total population in a defined geographic area (neighborhood, ward or district, city, state, etc.). We have arrived at this 1/5th formula based on our experience of what it takes to have sufficient numbers, social force, and capacity to effectively implement the decisions made by the assembly and ensure that these actions achieve their desired outcomes.

    “Addressing essential social issues”, means developing solutions, strategies, action plans, and timelines to change various socio-economic conditions in a desired manner, not just hearing and/or giving voice to the people assembled.

    Secondly, another defining characteristic of a truly democratic Assembly is that it calls for and is based upon “one person, one vote”. Agency is vested directly in individuals, regardless of if the Assembly makes decisions by some type of voting process or some form of consensus. This aspect of direct engagement, direct democracy, and individual empowerment is what separates a People’s Assembly from other types of mass gatherings and formations, such as Alliances or United Fronts, where are multitude of social forces are engaged.

    However, given these two basic defining characteristics, it should be noted that there are still different types of People’s Assembly’s. Within NAPO/MXGM we break Assemblies down into 3 essential types.

    1.     United Front or Alliance based Assembly

    This type of Assembly is typically a democratic forum that is populated and driven by formally organized entities (i.e. political parties, unions, church’s, civic organizations, etc.) that mobilize their members to participate in broad open decision making sessions with members from other organizations and/or formations. What makes this different then a typical alliance or coalition is that the organizations and their leaders do not make the decisions on behalf of their members in these spaces; members make decisions as individuals within the general body. The main limitation with this type of Assembly formation is that they tend to remain “top heavy”. The various organizational leaders often to do not disseminate adequate information about meetings, or inform their members about decisions and activities of the Assembly. And there is the problem is that many organizations do not have consolidated members or a base that they can turn out, instead they are legitimated by their history, social position, or the charisma of their leadership. 

    2.     Constituent Assembly

    This type of Assembly is a representative body, not a direct democratic body of the people in their totality. This type of Assembly is dependent on mass outreach, but is structured, intentionally or unintentionally, to accommodate the material (having to work, deal with childcare, etc.) and social limitations (interest, access to information, political and ideological differences, etc.) of the people. The challenge with this type of Assembly is that if it doesn’t continue to work to bring in new people (particularly youth) and struggle and strive politically to be mass in its character, then it tends to become overly bureaucratic and stagnant over time. 

    3.     Mass Assembly. The Mass Assembly is the broadest example of people’s democracy. It normally emerges during times of acute crisis, when there are profound ruptures in society. These types of Assemblies are typically all-consuming, short-lived entities. Their greatest weakness is that they typically demand those engaged to give all of their time and energy to the engagement of the crisis, which over time is not sustainable, as people eventually have to tend to their daily needs in order to sustain themselves, their families, and communities. 

    The Jackson Assembly Model 

    At present, the Jackson People’s Assembly operates in a space in-between a Constituent and Mass Assembly. In the main, it operates as a Constituent Assembly, engaging in a number of strategic campaigns (such as defending the 1% Sales Tax which was voted in by the residents of Jackson in January 2014) and initiatives (such as support for Cooperation Jackson, see for more details) to address the material needs of our social base and to extend its power. This is based primarily on the material limitations imposed on the base and the members of the People’s Task Force (see below for more details on the Task Force) by the daily grinds of the capitalist social order (i.e. tending to work, child care, health, and transportation challenges, etc.). There have also been some political challenges it has confronted over the past year adjusting both to the Mayoral ship of Chokwe Lumumba and how to relate to it, and how to address the sudden loss of Mayor Lumumba and the counter-reaction to the people’s movement that facilitated the election of Mayor Tony Yarber in April 2014. However, during times of crisis the Assembly tends to take on more of a mass character, such as during the immediate passing of Mayor Lumumba in late February 2014 to defend the People’s Platform (devised by the Assembly) and many of the initiatives the Lumumba administration was pursuing to fulfill it. It should be noted however, that even though the current practice in Jackson tends towards the Constituent model, the aim is to grow into a permanent Mass Assembly. 

    The basic outlines of the Jackson People’s Assembly model can be found in the Jackson-Kush Plan (see for the full document). A synopsis of the model, taken from the Plan outlines it as thus:

    The People’s Assemblies that MXGM and NAPO are working to build in Jackson and throughout the state of Mississippi, particularly its eastern Black belt portions, are designed to be vehicles of Black self-determination and the autonomous political authority of the oppressed peoples’ and exploited classes contained within the state. The Assemblies are organized as expressions of participatory or direct democracy, wherein there is guided facilitation and agenda setting provided by the committees that compose the People’s Task Force, but no preordained hierarchy. The People’s Task Force is the working or executing body of the Assembly. The Task Force is composed of committees that are organized around proposals emerging from the Assembly to carry out various tasks and initiatives, such as organizing campaigns (like Take Back the Land) and long-term institution building and development work (like land trusts and cooperative housing).

    The People’s Assemblies model advanced by MXGM and NAPO as a core component of the J – K Plan have a long, rich history in Mississippi and in the Black Liberation Movement in general. The roots of our Assembly model are drawn from the spiritual or prayer circles that were organized often clandestinely by enslaved Afrikans to express their humanity, build and sustain community, fortify their spirits and organize resistance. The vehicle gained public expression in Mississippi with the organization of “Negro Peoples Conventions” at the start of Reconstruction to develop autonomous programs of action to realize freedom, as Afrikans themselves desired it and to determine their relationship to the defeated governments of the Confederacy and the triumphant government of the Federal Republic.

    This expression of people’s power remerged time and again in the New Afrikan communities of Mississippi as a means to resist the systemic exploitation and terror of white supremacy and to exercise and exert some degree of self-determination. The last great expression of this vehicle of Black people’s self-determined power in Mississippi occurred in the early 1960’s. It was stimulated by a campaign of coordinated resistance organized by militant local leaders like Medgar Evers that drew on the national capacity and courage of organizations like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). This campaign created the democratic space necessary for New Afrikan communities in Mississippi to organize themselves to resist more effectively. Broad, participatory-based People’s Assemblies were the most common form of this self-organization. One of the most memorable outgrowths of this wave of Peoples Assemblies in Mississippi was the creation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MSFDP), which challenged the hegemonic control over the Black vote on a state and local level since the New Deal, and remains a vehicle that serves as a constant reminder for the need for genuine Black equality and self-determination to this day.

    2 Basic Functions of a People’s Assembly

    Regardless of their type, People’s Assemblies have two broad functions and means of exercising power:

    1.     They organize “autonomous”, self-organized and executed social projects. Autonomous in this context means initiatives not supported or organized by the government (state) or some variant of monopoly capital (finance or corporate industrial or mercantile capital). These types of projects range from organizing community gardens to forming people’s self-defense campaigns to housing occupations to forming workers unions to building workers cooperatives. On a basic scale these projects function typically as “serve the people” or “survival programs” that help the people to sustain themselves or acquire a degree of self-reliance. On a larger scale these projects provide enough resources and social leverage (such as flexible time to organize) to allow the people to engage in essential fight back or offensive (typically positional) initiatives. 

    2.     They apply various types of pressure on the government and the forces of economic exploitation in society. Pressure is exerted by organizing various types of campaigns against these forces, including mass action (protest) campaigns, direct action campaigns, boycotts, non-compliance campaigns, policy shift campaigns (either advocating for or against existing laws or proposed or pending legislation), and even electoral campaigns (to put someone favorable in an office or to remove someone adversarial from office).         

    How to Carry Out the Functions of the Assembly 

    In order to carry out these critical functions, an Assembly must organize its proceedings to produce clear demands, a coherent strategy, realistic action plans, and concrete timelines. It must also organize itself into units of implementation, committee’s or action groups, to carry out the various assignments dictated by the strategy and action plans.

    When considering these functions and how they are executed In Jackson, it is critical to note that our model makes clear distinctions between the Assembly as an “event”, the Assembly as a “process”, and the Assembly as an “institution”. In Jackson, the Assembly, as an event, is where we take up general questions and issues and deliberate and decide on what can, should, and will be done to address it. The process of the Assembly, where the more detailed questions of strategy, planning, and setting concrete timelines, measurable goals, and deliverables are refined is conducted through the People’s Task Force and the various committees and working groups of the Assembly. The Assembly as an institution is a product of the combined social weight of the Assembly’s events, processes, actions, and social outcomes. 

    Basic Organizing Assumptions

    There are three basic assumptions that are being made in this paper that must be surfaced for anyone thinking of organizing a People’s Assembly (following this model or any other model in our experience and study). In our experience, forces attempting to organize a People’s Assembly that don’t explicitly address these assumptions tend to struggle and/or outright fail. These assumptions are:

    1.     The social forces organizing the People’s Assembly must have the ability to mobilize and assemble a significant amount of people to participate and engage in a democratic process (review our 1/5th formula above). This typically means that the social force or forces organizing the Assembly have already built a significant base and are able to or committed to scaling up.

    2.     The social forces organizing the People’s Assembly have experience participating in, and ideally facilitating broad democratic processes (participating in democratic processes is more important than having experience facilitating a processes, as facilitation is a skill we encourage all to learn and should not be a prerequisite of participation).

    3.     The social forces organizing the People’s Assembly are willing or experienced in engaging in broad democratic processes guided by norms established, accepted, and self-enforced by the assembled body (see Key Components below). 

    Key Components of the Assembly “Event” 

    In order to make sure that the Assembly as an event is effective, we recommend that each of the following be clearly articulated and in place.

    1.     Group Norms and Codes of Conduct
    These should be co-constructed by the participants of the Assembly, and should be crafted at the start of an Assembly formation. These Norms and Codes should cover everything from how to facilitate a meeting, how to raise a question, how to raise an objection, how to keep the Assembly from being dominated by a few individuals, how check with various forms of privilege and power, and how to arrive at decisions and conclusions. The Norms and Codes should be visited and/or referenced at each Assembly event to ensure that all participants, old and new, know what they are and that they constitute the guiding operating principles of the Assembly that ensures that it is productive and truly democratic. 

    2.     Clear Agenda
    To the greatest extent possible, everyone who attends the Assembly should know the Agenda before the Agenda meeting. Even when this has been communicated, it is essential that the Agenda be reviewed at the beginning of each and every Assembly meeting so that all participants are clear on what it is and what the Assembly is seeking to accomplish. 

    3.     Clear Goals and Objectives.
     Each Assembly event should be clear on what it is focused on accomplishing. It is trying to investigate an issue, is it trying to address an issue (as in trying to solve it), or is it merely sharing information for folks to start investigating and deliberating on a question. This is critical to not waste people’s time and energy. 

    4.     Clear and Concise Questions. These are necessary for the Assembly to sufficiently address a social question, engage in clear deliberations regarding it, and make sound decisions on how to address it. Bad questions can and will lead to run on discussions and inconclusive deliberations. 

    5.     Strong, but even handed Facilitation. We recommend that each Assembly event have multiple Facilitators, playing mutually supportive roles. The Facilitators must be prepared to move the agenda, move the process(es), and intervene when and where necessary to ensure that everyone is abiding by the Assembly Norms and Codes of Conduct. 

    6.     Detailed Note Taking. It is critical that detailed notes are taken and disseminated. These are essential not only for detailing what deliberations and decisions have been made, but to hold the Assembly as an institution accountable to itself and to the community. 

    7.     Next Steps and Follow Up Procedures. At the end of each Assembly event the Facilitators should reiterated what decisions have been made and which body or group of the Assembly is responsible for carrying it out, how, and by when. The Facilitators should also move the group to ensure that each committee or working group has the capacity to fulfill the task or help it add to its capacity by recruiting more participants in the Assembly to get involved. The People’s Task Force is also tasked with making sure that each committee is clear about what its task is, that it has the resources it needs to accomplish its task, reiterate when it is expected to accomplish it, and aid it by organizing more support to the committee should it require it. 

    Key Components of the Assembly as a “Process” 

    Although the authority of the Assembly is expressed to its highest extent during the mass “events”, the real work of the Assembly, which enables it to exercise its power, is carried out through the organizing bodies and processes of the Assembly. The People’s Task Force and various Committee’s and Working Groups are the primarily organizing bodies of the Assembly. These bodies execute the “work” of the Assembly – the outreach, networking, fundraising, communications, intelligence gathering, trainings, and campaigning of the Assembly. 

    In our People’s Assembly model, the People’s Task Force serves as the Coordinating Committee of the Assembly. The Task Force is a body directly elected by the Assembly, serve at its will, and is subject to immediate recall by the Assembly (meaning that they can be replaced, with due process, at any time). The primary function of the Assembly is to facilitate the work of the Committee’s and the Working Groups. Which includes, ensuring that the Committee’s and Working Groups regularly meet, or meet as often as is deemed necessary; ensuring that each body has as a facilitator, an agenda, and note takers (if not provided by the Committee or Working Group itself); facilitating communication between Committee’s and Working Groups; ensuring that all of the actions of the Committees and Working Groups are communicated thoroughly to the Assembly; and coordinating the logistics for the Assembly gatherings. 

    Committee’s are standing, meaning regularly constituted bodies of the Assembly to deal with certain functions and/or operations of the Assembly. The basics include: Outreach and Mobilization, Media and Communications, Fundraising and Finance, and Security. Working Groups are campaign or project oriented bodies. They emerge and exist to execute a decision of the Assembly to accomplish certain time limited goals and objectives. Examples drawn from our experience include Working Groups that successfully campaigned for the release of the Scott Sisters, forced the Federal government to provide more housing aid to Internally Displaced Persons from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and successfully organized public transportation workers in alliance with the Assembly to save JTRAN (Jackson’s Public Transportation) and provide its workers with higher wages. All Committees and Working Groups operate on a volunteer principle, and for the most part, Committee and Working Group members participate on a self-selecting basis. 

    The Assembly “Institution” 

    Most People’s Assembly’s are relatively short-lived bodies, existing only for weeks or months, which does not allow or enable them to become “social” institutions. The Jackson People’s Assembly, in its present iteration (NAPO/MXGM organized a People’s Assembly in the early 1990’s that fought the Klu Klux Klan and designated human rights veteran Henry Kirksey to be first major Black candidate for Mayor), has been in continuous operation since 2005. Unlike many other models or examples of People’s Assembly’s, our model is focused on building an ongoing process and an enduring base of power. Sustainability is one thing that makes our Assembly an institution. But, it is not the only thing. What validates the Assembly as an institution more than its staying power is its social weight, which is its ability to act as a “dual power” or counterweight to the policies and actions of the government and local and regional business interests (i.e. capital). 

    It is the combination of staying power and attained social weight that makes the People’s Assembly a social institution in its own right. But, it should be noted that becoming a counterweight or a dual power was not by accident, it was by design, and required strategic thought, detailed planning, intensive education, capacity building, trust building, persistence and determination. We mention this because we want to encourage all those who are considering building a People’s Assembly to take the task of building an institutional vehicle of “dual power” seriously, as we think this is the primary reason to build this type of social movement vehicle. 

    What an Assembly Can Accomplish 

    When we look at the experiences of various people’s and social movements throughout history and throughout the world, we see that People’s Assemblies can and do wield different types of power (all contingent on factors of space, time, conditions, and balance of forces). Throughout the world today, People’s Assembly’s have been and are used to revolutionize people’s daily lives, change the balance of power in societies, and in some recent (meaning the last 5 years) instances have toppled governments and ushered in revolutionary change. Some examples include: Nepal, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, and Burkina Faso to name a few.  

    What follows is a brief breakdown of what People’s Assembles have and can accomplish, based on the aforementioned and many other historic examples. 

    a.     During periods of stability within the capitalist-imperialist nation-state system, when the markets and the government (i.e. the state) are able to project and maintain the status quo operations of the system, an Assembly can push for various “positional” reforms and low to mid-level autonomous projects. Positional reforms include things like advancing various policy reform campaigns (offensive or defensive), such as the implementation of local Citizens Review or Police Control Boards (as promoted by the Every 28 Hours Campaign see or Examples of low to mid-level autonomous projects including things like building “self-reliant” oriented cooperatives, as we are currently working on in Jackson through Cooperation Jackson and initiatives it is pursuing like the Sustainable Communities Initiative (see 

    b.     During periods of progressive or radical upsurge an Assembly can push for structural reforms and engage in mid-to scalable autonomous projects. One of the best examples of the exercise of this type of power are how the various Assembly’s in Venezuela were able to push and enable the progressive administration of President Hugo Chavez to make radical changes to the nation-states constitution between 1998 and 2010. Venezuela during this period is also a good example of what scalable autonomous projects can look like, such as the numerous cooperatives that were built, the housing developments that were constructed, and the significant land transfers that took place. Argentina during and after the crisis of 2000 – 2001 offers another critical example, of how the Assembly’s there encouraged workers to seize numerous factories and turn them into cooperatives. 

    c.     During pre-revolutionary periods an Assembly can function as a genuine “dual power” and assume many of the functions of the government (state). Perhaps the best example of this over the past 10 years comes from the revolutionary movement in Nepal, where the revolutionary forces stimulated and organized Assembly’s to act as a direct counterweight to the monarchial government and the military. Ultimately, resulting in the establishment of a constitutional democracy and a more “representative” legislative body. Another recent example comes from Chiapas, Mexico from 1994 until the mid-2000’s when the Zapatistas were able create extensive zones of “self-rule” and “autonomous production” that was governed by Assemblies. 

    d.     During revolutionary periods an Assembly can effectively become the government (state) and assume control over the basic processes and mechanisms of production. There have been few experiences or examples of Assemblies commanding this much power since the 1980’s in places like Haiti, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, and Grenada. The recent experiences that come closest are Egypt in winter 2011 and summer 2013, and Nepal during stretches between 2003 and 2006. 

    e.     During periods of retreat an Assembly must defend the people and the leadership that has emerged and developed, fight to maintain as many of the gains it won as possible, and prepare for the next upsurge. The experiences of the Lavalas movement in the early 1990’s and mid-2000’s is perhaps the best example of how Assemblies and other people’s organizations can weather the storm of counter-revolutions and defeats.

    Leadership of an Assembly should be able to make clear distinctions between these periods and understand how, why, and when to act as a counter-hegemonic force during stable and pre-revolutionary periods of the current social system, and how, why and when to act as a hegemonic force during revolutionary periods. It must also be able to make distinctions during each period between acts of positioning (i.e. building allies, assembling resources, and changing the dominant social narratives, etc.) and acts of maneuvering (i.e. engagements of open confrontation and conflict with the repressive forces of the state and capital). 

    Do note be afraid of the people and persuade the people to take part in all of the decisions which concern them – this is the basic condition of revolutionary democracy, which little by little we must achieve in accordance with the development of our struggle and our life.” – Amilcar Cabral

    “…we’re trying to get ourselves organized in such a way that we can become inseparably involved in an action program that will meet the needs, desires, likes or dislikes of everyone that’s involved. And we want you involved in it…We are attempting to make this organization one in which any serious-mined Afro-American can actively participate, and we welcome your suggestions at these membership meetings…We want your suggestions; we don’t in any way claim to have the answers to everything, but we do feel all of us combined can come up with an answer… With all of the combined suggestions and the combined talent and know-how, we do believe that we can devise a program that will shake the world." - Malcolm X


    • Frank exchanges of different views are welcomed, but shall not be done in a disrespectful and uncomradely manner.
    • Promoting male supremacy, homophobia or chauvinism against other oppressed peoples shall not be tolerated.
    • Attacks on individuals and organizations that go beyond the scope of objective and principled criticism shall not be tolerated.
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    Planners of the Black Arts Movement call for Black Fridays in the Black Arts Movement District from 14th and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to 14th and Alice, downtown Oakland. The first and last Friday of the month shall be a celebration of art, culture and economics in the BAM district, according to BAM chief planners, Paul Cobb and Marvin X. We want North American African vendors, artists, craft people, business owners along this strip to make a presence on 14th Street.
    "If there is 1st Fridays, why not Black Fridays?" says Marvin X. Paul Cobb says, "Marvin, you set the standard when you established  Academy of da Corner at 14th and Broadway." Stay turned to and the Oakland Post Newspaper for more information.

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     Marvin X and BAM Babies 3.0
    photo Ustadi

    Nisa Ra and Marvin X with their BAM Baby 2.0, Muhammida El Muhajir. Muhammida works in Ghana, West Africa.

    In conversation with Nisa Ra, one of the members of the BAM National Advisory Board, Marvin X was told to be sure to include the children in the Bay Area BAM celebration. Marvin X assured her the children will be included in the 50th Anniversary celebration which begins with a gala opening at Laney College Art Gallery on February 7, 2015, including a performance by the BAM Poets Choir & Arkestra. The BAM Isaiah 61 Project will feature the art work of prisoners at San Quentin. BAM is partnering with The Post News Group on this phase of the BAM celebration. The Isaiah 61 Project will make books available to inmates on a monthly basis and disseminate their writings in the Post Newspapers. "We know reaching our children with literature will help deter them from being  victims of the criminal justice system." Although Marvin has written material for children such as his 1968 classic fable The Black Bird, he feels we must reach the parents as well. "I was horrified when teachers at a local middle school informed me a parent told her son,'Don't bring nothin' home from dat school'." We look forward to working with, Karen Monroe,  the new superintendent of the Alameda County Schools who is aware of the Bay Area BAM celebration.

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    EMAJ Statement on the Riverside Church Cornel West/Bob Avakian “Dialogue”

    WHAT REVOLUTION LOOKS LIKE                      IN THE USA

    Perfect Mumia AngelaA Response from Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ) to the Riverside Church Dialogue between Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party-USA and Professor Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary, NYC.

    On November 15, 2014, at the Riverside Church, the White left Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Bob Avakian, entered into dialogue with Black public left, intellectual, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary, Cornel West. The theme was: “Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion.”

    This statement is a critique of the event’s singular focus on one predominating voice, of its disrespect for black radical leadership and all leaders of color, and of its failure to uphold the radical democratic values needed in revolutionary movements.

    EMAJ supported the event beforehand, and celebrates the fact that the dialogue took place. In fact one of its coordinators served on its Host Committee and brought the program’s opening greetings to an overflow audience, upwards of 1900 who came to hear both Avakian and West. Both of the EMAJ Coordinators were in attendance. We were impressed with Avakian’s organic approach to the presentation of socialist arguments and use of vivid examples to paint a picture of what’s politically possible. He was well received by the audience, often deservedly applauded. We stress this positive affirmation, in spite of the more critical point we feel compelled to make with this statement.

    The EMAJ Coordinators, along with many of its members, share a commitment to a revolutionary socialist future, as embodied in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s and Angela Y. Davis’s recent co-writing on “Alternatives to Capitalist Injustice.” They presented their view of a socialist future with the idea of “abolition democracy,” a concept used by W. E. B. Du Bois in his Black Reconstruction. Davis and Abu-Jamal define it as,

           “. . . the abolition of institutions that advance the dominance of any one group over any other. It is the democracy that is possible if we continue the legacy of the great abolition movements in American history, those that opposed slavery, lynching, and segregation.”

    Abolitionist democracy demands a comprehensive refusal of domination by any group, especially when facing the imperial and class wars of today, white racism against any of the nonwhite communities, police violence, and gender and sexual domination of anyone.

    Abolition democracy’s comprehensive refusal of domination also requires a revolutionary way of deliberating and strategizing on the ground in our emerging movements. As Abu-Jamal and Davis stress, “what we decide to do will be open to the decisions of popular, democratic groupings in the future to seek greater humanistic and socialistic expressions.” Abu-Jamal and Davis modeled this future not only by writing as co-authors, but also by drawing from Black, indigenous and other traditions.

    From this perspective, we are compelled to say that the best of revolutionary socialist futures was not on display at the Riverside dialogue. We place primary responsibility for this not on Professor West but on Chairman Avakian and program planners.

    The fact that Avakian spoke for upwards of 2 hours and 10 minutes made his speech didactic in the end. Above all, his utter usurpation of the time allotted for the presentations was disrespectful of Dr. West and his views. It also meant that neither real debate nor illuminating dialogue were finally possible. The absence of a democratic culture and conscientious ethic on that stage is a deal breaker for us –their absence will destroy our movements for a socialist future. Their absence also speaks of the sense of entitlement and lack of critical self-awareness of the American Left.

    We also sensed an opportunism in the meeting’s proceedings during which an audience that was anxious to listen to Dr. West, one of the most important black public figures on the left, was held hostage to Mr. Avakian’s interminable speech. In their totality, these actions speak to an implicit racism and disrespect for an important Christian revolutionary, and by extension of everyone in the audience. The manner in which the voice of a stalwart fighter for black folk was diminished at the event bespeaks an arrogance – even a white privilege and white supremacy – that should not reside in the American Left. In the end, West displayed grace and patience beyond words, more so than might be expected of anyone else.

    Those of us associated with EMAJ can hardly claim the “revolutionarily correct” posture. Placed as we are in US colleges and universities, we recognize that the marginalization of communities of color and the entrenchment of white elite hierarchies in higher education often subvert our own principles of abolitionist democracy. As part of our struggle, though, we know that none of us on the left dare stand forth to present what we witnessed at Riverside: one white revolutionary lecturing for more than two hours while a Black revolutionary sat on the stage. This is not what revolution looks like in the U.S.

     It is no wonder that as the 2-hour mark neared in Avakian’s lecture, segments of the audience clamored for Dr. West to speak. The people’s clamor was truth spoken, and unfortunately truth unheeded.

    We look to a future built of many voices and revolutionary collectives. We especially foreground our emergent/insurgent leaders of color, young and old, male, female, lgbtq, Black, Latino/a, Asian- and Arab-American and more, with revolutionary whites as part of a collective leadership. The legacy of class exploitation rooted in racial oppression in the US – with a history characterized by indigenous genocide, slavery and immigrant repression – means that radical collectives today cannot compromise the central role of leaders of color. This is more what revolution in the U.S. looks like. This is certainly the way to best catalyze “abolition democracy.” We must lift our lament: the Riverside event undermined that kind of future. We hope to go forward, along another path of deliberation, debate and dialogue, as part of our collective planning of the people’s socialist future.

    Drafted by:
    Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College, CUNY
    Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary

    Supported by:

    Heidi Boghosian, Law and Disorder Radio
    Peter Bohmer, Evergreen State College
    Akili Buchanan, Newark Teachers Union
    Frederica Clare, CAMPHEAL, South Africa
    James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary
    Alfred Duckett, Jackson State University
    Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University
    Joy A. James, Williams College
    Anthony Monteiro, Temple University
    David Roediger, University of Illinois/Champagne-Urbana
    Michael M. Schiffmann, University of Heidelberg
    Johnny Eric Williams, Trinity College

    All institutions listed for identification purposes only.

    (to add your name to this list, please email )

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    Black Arts Movement 27 City National Tour


    The mission of the Black Arts Movement’s 27 City Tour is to continue the cultural revolution we initiated during the 1960s. This cultural revolution is still needed for a variety of reasons.  The Black Arts Movement(BAM) was aborted due to the radical nature of our task which was the liberation of our people in harmony with the political movement. Today, the need to address the political condition is critical. But more importantly is the cultural condition, the reactionary values in hip hop and adult culture.

    Through art therapy we will address the lack of mental and physical wellness in our communities. As per physical wellness, Wellness trainer Geoffery Grier says, "The most revolutionary thing a Black man (and woman) can do is lose 30 pounds."

    In terms of mental wellness, the 50% or more drop out (and push out) rate of students in our schools is partly the result of our dire mental health condition.

    Not only is there a critical need for a positive curriculum and teachers with an undying love for our children, but the mental health condition of our children requires counselors with radical values of wellness based on a holistic approach to solving our myriad psychosocial and economic issues, especially trauma, unresolved grief and perennial joblessness, compounded with the pervasive lack of desire to do something for self. A team of artists, educators, mental and physical wellness trainers must be a part of this project so we can more effectively deal with our wellness in a holistic manner.

    Art can and must address critical issues through performance and community dialogue, including peer group sessions. It is of critical importance that the people speak and socalled leaders listen and learn!

    The BAM Isaiah 61 project will make books available monthly to the incarcerated.  This project is in partnership with The Post Newspaper Group. We especially call upon the spiritual community to make conscious books available to the incarcerated brothers and sisters.
    Since many of the Black Arts Movement workers are elders, the timeline would be at least two years to complete this project, including planning and production. Sonia Sanchez said, "The idea of a 27 city tour, makes me tired."

    While we will have a core group of participants in the 27 city tour, additionally we will involve local BAM workers who will be recruited to participate and establish a BAM center in their city, no matter if it is a 50 seat theater as Amiri Baraka suggested.

    We shall begin the BAM 27 city tour with performances in the following Bay Area cities: Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, San Francisco, Palo Alto and San Jose. The Opening gala will be at Oakland's Laney College, February 7th, 2015.  Marvin X and the BAM Poets Choir and Arkestra will perform. The BAM Isaiah 61 project will exhibit the artwork of inmates from San Quentin prison.

    From Laney college, Marvin X and the BAM Poets Choir & Askestra (with special guests) will perform at venues in Oakland's Black Arts Movement  District, from 14th and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to 14th and Alice Streets,  including the Afro-American Museum/ Library, Frank Ogawa Plaza, Academy of da Corner, Geoffrey's Inner Circle, Joyce Gordon Gallery, and the Malonga Center.
    We estimate the overall budget for this project will be 2.7 million dollars at $100,000 per city, including artist fees, promotion, advertisement, rental of venues, insurance, security, lodging, food, transportation, book purchases and documentation.

    Marvin X. Jackmon,M.A.
    Project Director, Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour

    Mayor Elect Libby Schaaf endorses The Black Arts Movement

      BAM Executive Board Member Conway Jones with Mayor Elect Libby Schaaf.
    “Oakland is lucky to have an incredibly talented and diverse art community. The African American Arts Movement is a vital, historically significant part of the Oakland Arts Community.  With its focus on justice, equality, and self-realization, the message of black artists is crucial to support.  From rage to celebration, art allows expression, and expression is essential to a community as varied as Oakland.  The recent 1% for Public Art that I authored ensures that new art will be a priority in Oakland in the future. I agree with Post Publisher Paul Cobb that BAM 50th Anniversary celebration should encompass all cultural genres: visual, literary, and performance.  Age-appropriate books for African American students about the Black Arts Movement will literally bring the lesson home for families to share and aspire to.”

    Council Woman Desley Brooks Backs the BAM 50th Celebration:

    "The depth and breadth of the contributions of African Americans to this community are enormous in the areas of music, education, politics, the arts, sports, civic engagement, social justice and so much more." 
    –Desley Brooks

      The Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra at the BAM conference, University of California, Merced, 2014.

    National Advisory Board Members

    Mrs. Amina Baraka
    Ras Baraka
    Amiri Baraka, Jr.
    Sonia Sanchez
    Danny Glover
    The Last Poets
    Askia Toure
    Haki Madhubuti
    Dr. Natan Hare
    Dr. Cornell West
    Dr. Angela Davis
    Dr. Tony Montiero
    Dr. Mohammed Ahmad
    Mae Jackson
    Nikki Giovanni
    Rudolph Lewis
    Maurice Henderson
    Emory Douglas
    Elena Seranno
    Greg Morozumi
    Woody King
    Kim McMillan
    Ayodele Nzinga
    Geoffery Grier
    Nefertiti Jackmon
    Muhammida El Muhajir
    Paul Cobb
    Walter Riley
    Conway Jones
    John Burris
    James Sweeney
    Fahizah Alim
    Nisa Ra
    Aries Jordan

    Elizabeth Catlett, “Negro Es Bello II,” 1969
    Elizabeth Catlett’s lithograph…juxtaposes two masklike faces with a grid of decals bearing the Black Panther logo and the words “Black is beautiful.” In both word and image, the work proclaims its resistance to a century and a half of white-identified popular culture designed to keep African Americans in their place by insisting that they are not beautiful.

    Marvin X with the Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra at the Malcolm X Jazz/Arts Festival, May 17, 2014, Oakland, California. Festival produced by Eastside Arts Allicance.
    photo Gene Hazzard

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    Black Bird Press News & Review: The Black Arts Movement (BAM)--the Most Radical Artistic and Literary Movement in American History:

    Seven years ago, in a Time magazine issue devoted to contemporary African-American culture, Henry Louis Gates declared the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s the shortest and least successful African-American literary renaissance. Gates's comments are unfortunate and ironic; the formation of Black Studies programs, changes in curricula, and the affirmative hiring of African-American faculty in humanities departments across the US during the late 1970s and 1980s were due, in significant part, to the militance of Black Arts artists, writers, performers, and critics and the conceptual power of the "Black Aesthetic."

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    Negro es bello/Black is beautiful by Elizabeth Catlett Mora

    Many of the Black Arts Movement’s leading artists, including Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, Woodie King, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Touré,Marvin X and Val Gray Ward, remain artistically productive today. Its influence can also be seen in the work of later artists, from the writers Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and August Wilson to actors Avery Brooks, Danny Glover, and Samuel L. Jackson, to hip-hop artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Chuck D.

    We congratulate the Peralta Community College District, Merritt College in particular, as the birth place of the Bay Area Black Cultural Revolution, including the Black Panther Party, Black Arts and Black Studies Movements. Merritt gave birth to two Black Panther groups: The Black Panther Party of Self Defense and the Black Panther Party of Northern California. Through the Afro American Association meetings at Merritt ,headed by Donald Warden, aka Khalid Abdullah Tariq Al Mansour, students gained knowledge of African consciousness. According to AAA member Ed Howard, Kwanza originated in Oakland. Maulana Ron Karenga was the Los Angeles representative of the AAA. As per the Black Arts Movement, Merritt students were key, e.g., Sarah Webster Fabio, Marvin X, Ellendar Barnes, Ernie Allen, Richard Thorne, Maurice Dawson, Kenny and Carol Freeman, Ann Williams, Isaac Moore, Adam David Miller and Marvin X. Merritt had the first Black Studies program in the nation, although San Francisco State had the first on a major college campus. Alas, many of the San Francisco State University students involved in the BSU and Student Third World Strike at SFSU were Peralta College District transfers.
    --Marvin X, A.A., Sociology, Merritt College, 1964

    Kaluma ya Salaam on the Black Arts Movement

    Both inherently and overtly political in content, the Black Arts movement was the only American literary movement to advance "social engagement" as a sine qua non of its aesthetic. The movement broke from the immediate past of protest and petition (civil rights) literature and dashed forward toward an alternative that initially seemed unthinkable and unobtainable: Black Power.
    In a 1968 essay, "The Black Arts Movement," Larry Neal proclaimed Black Arts the "aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept." As a political phrase, Black Power had earlier been used by Richard Wright to describe the mid-1950s emergence of independent African nations. The 1960s' use of the term originated in 1966 with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee civil rights workers Stokely Carmichael and Willie Ricks. Quickly adopted in the North, Black Power was associated with a militant advocacy of armed self-defense, separation from "racist American domination," and pride in and assertion of the goodness and beauty of Blackness.

     Ishmael Reed, poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, publisher, professor

    Although often criticized as sexist, homophobic, and racially exclusive (i.e., reverse racist), Black Arts was much broader than any of its limitations. Ishmael Reed, who is considered neither a movement apologist nor advocate ("I wasn't invited to participate because I was considered an integrationist"), notes in a 1995 interview,
    I think what Black Arts did was inspire a whole lot of Black people to write. Moreover, there would be no multiculturalism movement without Black Arts. Latinos, Asian Americans, and others all say they began writing as a result of the example of the 1960s. Blacks gave the example that you don't have to assimilate. You could do your own thing, get into your own background, your own history, your own tradition and your own culture. I think the challenge is for cultural sovereignty and Black Arts struck a blow for that.

     Ishmael Reed, poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, publisher, professor

    The Harlem Renaissance was inspired by the Black consciousness teachings of Marcus Garvey, likewise, The Black Arts Movement was inspired by the Nation of Islam and especially Malcolm X. BAM is considered the genesis of Muslim American literature. BAM is in the long tradition of Black radical writing, especially from the 1829 writings of David Walker. His Appeal is as relevant today as it was in 1829.

    Umar bin Hassan and Abiodun of the Last Poets

    Amiri Baraka
    art by James Gayles
    History and Context. The Black Arts movement, usually referred to as a "sixties" movement, coalesced in 1965 and broke apart around 1975/1976. In March 1965 following the 21 February assassination of Malcolm X, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) moved from Manhattan's Lower East Side (he had already moved away from Greenwich Village) uptown to Harlem, an exodus considered the symbolic birth of the Black Arts movement. Jones was a highly visible publisher (Yugen and Floating Bear magazines, Totem Press), a celebrated poet (Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note, 1961, and The Dead Lecturer, 1964), a major music critic (Blues People, 1963), and an Obie Award-winning playwright (Dutchman, 1964) who, up until that fateful split, had functioned in an integrated world. Other than James Baldwin, who at that time had been closely associated with the civil rights movement, Jones was the most respected and most widely published Black writer of his generation.
    While Jones's 1965 move uptown to found the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS) is the formal beginning (it was Jones who came up with the name "Black Arts"), Black Arts, as a literary movement, had its roots in groups such as the Umbra Workshop. Umbra (1962) was a collective of young Black writers based in Manhattan's Lower East Side; major members were writers Steve Cannon, Tom Dent, Al Haynes, David Henderson, Calvin C. Hernton, Joe Johnson, Norman Pritchard, Lenox Raphael, Ishmael Reed, Lorenzo Thomas, James Thompson, Askia M. Touré (Roland Snellings; also a visual artist), Brenda Walcott, and musician-writer Archie Shepp. Touré, a major shaper of "cultural nationalism," directly influenced Jones. Along with Umbra writer Charles Patterson and Charles's brother, William Patterson, Touré joined Jones, Steve Young, and others at BARTS.
    Umbra, which produced Umbra Magazine, was the first post-civil rights Black literary group to make an impact as radical in the sense of establishing their own voice distinct from, and sometimes at odds with, the prevailing white literary establishment. The attempt to merge a Black-oriented activist thrust with a primarily artistic orientation produced a classic split in Umbra between those who wanted to be activists and those who thought of themselves as primarily writers, though to some extent all members shared both views. Black writers have always had to face the issue of whether their work was primarily political or aesthetic. Moreover, Umbra itself had evolved out of similar circumstances: In 1960 a Black nationalist literary organization, On Guard for Freedom, had been founded on the Lower East Side by Calvin Hicks. Its members included Nannie and Walter Bowe, Harold Cruse (who was then working on Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, 1967), Tom Dent, Rosa Guy, Joe Johnson, LeRoi Jones, and Sarah Wright, among others. On Guard was active in a famous protest at the United Nations of the American-sponsored Bay of Pigs Cuban invasion and was active in support of the Congolese liberation leader Patrice Lumumba. From On Guard, Dent, Johnson, and Walcott along with Hernton, Henderson, and Touré established Umbra.

    Another formation of Black writers at that time was the Harlem Writers Guild, led by John O. Killens, which included Maya Angelou, Jean Carey Bond, Rosa Guy, and Sarah Wright among others. But the Harlem Writers Guild focused on prose, primarily fiction, which did not have the mass appeal of poetry performed in the dynamic vernacular of the time. Poems could be built around anthems, chants, and political slogans, and thereby used in organizing work, which was not generally the case with novels and short stories. Moreover, the poets could and did publish themselves, whereas greater resources were needed to publish fiction. That Umbra was primarily poetry- and performance-oriented established a significant and classic characteristic of the movement's aesthetics.
    When Umbra split up, some members, led by Askia Touré and Al Haynes, moved to Harlem in late 1964 and formed the nationalist-oriented "Uptown Writers Movement," which included poets Yusef Rahman, Keorapetse "Willie" Kgositsile from South Africa, and Larry Neal. Accompanied by young "New Music" musicians, they performed poetry all over Harlem. Members of this group joined LeRoi Jones in founding BARTS.

    Jones's move to Harlem was short-lived. In December 1965 he returned to his home, Newark (N.J.), and left BARTS in serious disarray. BARTS failed but the Black Arts center concept was irrepressible mainly because the Black Arts movement was so closely aligned with the then-burgeoning Black Power movement.
    The mid- to late 1960s was a period of intense revolutionary ferment. Beginning in 1964, rebellions in Harlem and Rochester, New York, initiated four years of long hot summers. Watts, Detroit, Newark, Cleveland, and many other cities went up in flames, culminating in nationwide explosions of resentment and anger following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s April 1968 assassination.
    In his seminal 1965 poem "Black Art," which quickly became the major poetic manifesto of the Black Arts literary movement, Jones declaimed "we want poems that kill." He was not simply speaking metaphorically. During that period armed self-defense and slogans such as "Arm yourself or harm yourself' established a social climate that promoted confrontation with the white power structure, especially the police (e.g., "Off the pigs"). Indeed, Amiri Baraka (Jones changed his name in 1967) had been arrested and convicted (later overturned on appeal) on a gun possession charge during the 1967 Newark rebellion. Additionally, armed struggle was widely viewed as not only a legitimate, but often as the only effective means of liberation. Black Arts' dynamism, impact, and effectiveness are a direct result of its partisan nature and advocacy of artistic and political freedom "by any means necessary." America had never experienced such a militant artistic movement.
    Nathan Hare, the author of The Black Anglo-Saxons (1965), was the founder of 1960s Black Studies. Expelled from Howard University, Hare moved to San Francisco State University where the battle to establish a Black Studies department was waged during a five-month strike during the 1968-1969 school year. As with the establishment of Black Arts, which included a range of forces, there was broad activity in the Bay Area around Black Studies, including efforts led by poet and professor Sarah Webster Fabio at Merrit College.

    The initial thrust of Black Arts ideological development came from the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a national organization with a strong presence in New York City. Both Touré and Neal were members of RAM. After RAM, the major ideological force shaping the Black Arts movement was the US (as opposed to "them') organization led by Maulana Karenga. Also ideologically important was Elijah Muhammad's Chicago-based Nation of Islam.
    These three formations provided both style and ideological direction for Black Arts artists, including those who were not members of these or any other political organization. Although the Black Arts movement is often considered a New York-based movement, two of its three major forces were located outside New York City.

    As the movement matured, the two major locations of Black Arts' ideological leadership, particularly for literary work, were California's Bay Area because of Black Dialogue magazine, the Journal of Black Poetry and the Black Scholar, and the Chicago-Detroit axis because of Negro Digest/Black World and Third World Press in Chicago, and Broadside Press and Naomi Long Madgett's Lotus Press in Detroit. The only major Black Arts literary publications to come out of New York were the short-lived (six issues between 1969 and 1972) Black Theatre magazine published by the New Lafayette Theatre and Black Dialogue, which had actually started in San Francisco (1964-1968) and relocated to New York (1969-1972).

    In 1967 LeRoi Jones visited Karenga in Los Angeles and became an advocate of Karenga's philosophy of Kawaida. Kawaida, which produced the "Nguzo Saba" (seven principles), Kwanzaa, and an emphasis on African names, was a multifaceted, categorized activist philosophy. Jones also met Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver and worked with a number of the founding members of the Black Panthers. Additionally, Askia Touré was a visiting professor at San Francisco State and was to become a leading (and long lasting) poet as well as, arguably, the most influential poet-professor in the Black Arts movement. Playwright Ed Bullins and poet Marvin X had established Black Arts West, and Dingane Joe Goncalves had founded the Journal of Black Poetry (1966). This grouping of Ed Bullins, Dingane Joe Goncalves, LeRoi Jones, Sonia Sanchez, Askia M. Touré, and Marvin X became a major nucleus of Black Arts leadership.


    Theory and Practice. The two hallmarks of Black Arts activity were the development of Black theater groups and Black poetry performances and journals, and both had close ties to community organizations and issues. Black theaters served as the focus of poetry, dance, and music performances in addition to formal and ritual drama. Black theaters were also venues for community meetings, lectures, study groups, and film screenings. The summer of 1968 issue of Drama Review, a special on Black theater edited by Ed Bullins, literally became a Black Arts textbook that featured essays and plays by most of the major movers: Larry Neal, Ben Caldwell, LeRoi Jones, Jimmy Garrett, John O'Neal, Sonia Sanchez, Marvin X, Ron Milner, Woodie King, Jr., Bill Gunn, Ed Bullins, and Adam David Miller. Black Arts theater proudly emphasized its activist roots and orientations in distinct, and often antagonistic, contradiction to traditional theaters, both Black and white, which were either commercial or strictly artistic in focus.

    By 1970 Black Arts theaters and cultural centers were active throughout America. The New Lafayette Theatre (Bob Macbeth, executive director, and Ed Bullins, writer in residence) and Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre led the way in New York, Baraka's Spirit House Movers held forth in Newark and traveled up and down the East Coast. The Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC) and Val Grey Ward's Kuumba Theatre Company were leading forces in Chicago, from where emerged a host of writers, artists, and musicians including the OBAC visual artist collective whose "Wall of Respect" inspired the national community-based public murals movement and led to the formation of Afri-Cobra (the African Commune of Bad, Revolutionary Artists). There was David Rambeau's Concept East and Ron Milner and Woodie King’s Black Arts Midwest, both based in Detroit. Ron Milner became the Black Arts movement's most enduring playwright and Woodie King became its leading theater impresario when he moved to New York City. In Los Angeles there was the Ebony Showcase, Inner City Repertory Company, and the Performing Arts Society of Los Angeles (PALSA) led by Vantile Whitfield. In San Francisco was the aforementioned Black Arts West and Black House.

    BLKARTSOUTH (led by Tom Dent and Kalamu ya Salaam) was an outgrowth of the Free Southern Theatre in New Orleans and was instrumental in encouraging Black theater development across the south from the Theatre of Afro Arts in Miami, Florida, to Sudan Arts Southwest in Houston, Texas, through an organization called the Southern Black Cultural Alliance. In addition to formal Black theater repertory companies in numerous other cities, there were literally hundreds of Black Arts community and campus theater groups.

    A major reason for the widespread dissemination and adoption of Black Arts was the development of nationally distributed magazines that printed manifestos and critiques in addition to offering publishing opportunities for a proliferation of young writers. Whether establishment or independent, Black or white, most literary publications rejected Black Arts writers. The movement's first literary expressions in the early 1960s came through two New York-based, nationally distributed magazines, Freedomways and Liberator.Freedomways, "a journal of the Freedom Movement," backed by leftists, was receptive to young Black writers. The more important magazine was Dan Watts's Liberator, which openly aligned itself with both domestic and international revolutionary movements. Many of the early writings of critical Black Arts voices are found in Liberator. Neither of these were primarily literary journals.


    The Black Dialogue Magazine brothers, L to R: Aubrey LaBrie, Marvin X, Abdul Sabrey, Al Young,
    Arthur Sheridan (founding editor) and Duke Williams

    The first major Black Arts literary publication was the California-based Black Dialogue (1964), edited by Arthur A. Sheridan, Abdul Karim, Edward Spriggs, Aubrey Labrie, and Marvin Jackmon (Marvin X). Black Dialogue was paralleled by Soulbook (1964), edited by Mamadou Lumumba (Kenn Freeman) and Bobb Hamilton. Oakland-based Soulbook was mainly political but included poetry in a section ironically titled "Reject Notes."

    Dingane Joe Goncalves became Black Dialogue's poetry editor and, as more and more poetry poured in, he conceived of starting the Journal of Black Poetry. Founded in San Francisco, the first issue was a small magazine with mimeographed pages and a lithographed cover. Up through the summer of 1975, the Journal published nineteen issues and grew to over one hundred pages. Publishing a broad range of more than five hundred poets, its editorial policy was eclectic. Special issues were given to guest editors who included Ahmed Alhamisi, Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti), Clarence Major, Larry Neal, Dudley Randall, Ed Spriggs, Marvin X and Askia Touré. In addition to African Americans, African, Caribbean, Asian, and other international revolutionary poets were presented.

     Dr. Nathan Hare, founding Publisher of the Black Scholar Magazine; first chair of Black Studies at San Francisco State University--considered the Father of Ethnic Studies; sociologist, clinical psychologist, publisher of Black Male/Female Relations. Widely published in BAM journals as well as Jet, Ebony, Sepia, Muhammad Speaks, Final Call.

    Founded in 1969 by Nathan Hare and Robert Chrisman, the Black Scholar, "the first journal of black studies and research in this country," was theoretically critical. Major African-disasporan and African theorists were represented in its pages. In a 1995 interview Chrisman attributed much of what exists today to the groundwork laid by the Black Arts movement:
    If we had not had a Black Arts movement in the sixties we certainly wouldn't have had national Black literary figures like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alice Walker, or Toni Morrison because much more so than the Harlem Renaissance, in which Black artists were always on the leash of white patrons and publishing houses, the Black Arts movement did it for itself. What you had was Black people going out nationally, in mass, saying that we are an independent Black people and this is what we produce.
    Godfather of the Black Arts Movement, poet, playwright, essayist, musicologist, organizer, historian
    Amiri Baraka, aka LeRoi Jones

    Marvin X and the Black Arts Movement Poets Choir & Arkestra will conduct the gala opening of the Bay Area Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary Celebration at Laney College Art Gallery, Oakland CA, February 7, 2014. There will be an exhibit of inmate art from San Quentin. The exhibit is part of the BAM Isaiah 61 Project, in partnership with the Post News Group.

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