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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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     Marvin X and Empress Diamond show their love for Queen Mother Jerri Lange

    I want to be like Jerri
    live to 90
    proud strong
    dancing at my b day party
    champagne glass in hand
    with my children around me
    showing much love and respect
    I want to be like Jerri
    healthy and wealthy with love
    speaking my mind straight no chaser
    We love you Jerri
    wise woman in our midst.
    --Marvin X

    Long before Oprah, Jerri Lange was the first African American to host a nationally syndicated talk show, broadcast to 148 markets throughout the country. Today she celebrated her 90th birthday with son Michael, actor, writer and producer to my right who turns 66. Seated with his wife Mary, is Ted Lange Jerri's other son who played Isaac the bartender in the long running series "The Love Boat."

    Marvin X and Empress Diamond, BAM Wellness Director, attended the 90th Birthday Celebration of Bay Area Media Diva, Jerri Lange, mother of Love Boat's Ted Lange, actor/director Michael Lange and James Lange.
    photo Johnnie Burrell

     photographer Johnnie Burrell with Media Diva Jerri Lange

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    Marvin X
    photo Kamau Amen Ra

    If you are willing to donate any amount, please call Marvin X, 510-200-4164. BAM must be a community supported project. The original Black Arts Repertory Theatre failed in Harlem when grant funds were cut off. BAM must be independent although we will accept funds but will not compromise our revolutionary values and goals, the freedom of our people.

    Here’s an update for you from the ‘Black Arts Movement 27 City National Tour’ team:

    If you are willing to donate any amount, please call Marvin X, 510-200-4164. BAM must be a community supported project. The original Black Arts Repertory Theatre failed in Harlem when grant funds were cut off. We need funds for food at the Laney College gala; we need money for artists, sound equipment, transportation,book give away,  costumes, speaker fees. Thanking you in advance for your support.
    Marvin X, Project Director
    BAM 27 City Tour
    Comment on or view this announcement here.
    Respond directly to the campaign owner here.
    Help spread the word about the campaign!
    Note: To stop receiving updates from Black Arts Movement 27 City National Tour, click here.
    You can also unsubscribe from all recurring Indiegogo emails in your account settings.
    The Indiegogo Team

     Black Arts Movement chief architect LeRoi Jones, aka Amiri Baraka, on the set of his play The Toilet
    Amiri and Maya, RIP
    The Black Arts Movement Arkestra and Poet's Choir will perform at Laney College, Feb. 7, 2015
    photo Adam Turner

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    Black Arts Movement Wellness Director, Empress Diamond, Oakland Mayor Libby Shaaf and BAM co-founder Marvin X, aka the Chancellor

     West Oakland Councilwoman, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Empress Diamond, Marvin X

    Empress Diamond, East Oakland Councilwoman Desley Brooks, Marvin X

    While attending the City of Oakland's Inauguration Ceremony at the elegant Paramount Theatre, Marvin X whispered to BAM Wellness Director, Empress Diamond, "As a poet, can't get too close to politicians, but since they have reached out to touch me, I can return the favor." Indeed, Oakland's new Mayor, Libby Shaaf and Councilwomen Brooks and McElhaney have endorsed the Black Arts Movement's 50th Anniversary Celebration, scheduled for Laney College, February 7, as well as the declaration of 14th Street, downtown Oakland, as the Black Arts Movement District. The BAM District is historic and puts Oakland on the map in recognizing the importance of the Black Arts Movement as the most radical artistic and literary movement in American history. Marvin X envisions the BAM District as a renaissance of West Oakland's 7th Street, Harlem of the West. "If we put certain buildings under a land trust, we can ensure a Black cultural district will have a long life, not subject to gentrification or "Negro removal," as happened in West Oakland and throughout America. Marvin attended the Lower Bottom Playaz production of August Wilson's Jitney this past weekend that dealt with urban renewal in the 1970s. Downtown Oakland has 1st Fridays, so why not Last Fridays or Black Fridays along the 14th Street corridor that will extend from 14th and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way to Alice Street. Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney will introduce legislation to make the BAM District a reality. For information about the Laney College BAM celebration, Feb. 7, email Marvin X at or call 510-200-4164.

    Sponsors: Laney College, Post News Group, Black Caucus of California Community Colleges, YMCA, HP/Bayview; Black Think Tank, Black Bird Press, KPOO Radio, Davey D and Greg Bridges of KPFA Radio, lajones associates, BWOPA/TILE, It's About Time (the Black Panther Party Archives Project).

    If you are willing to donate $100 --$500 or  any amount, please call Marvin X, 510-200-4164. BAM must be a community supported project. The original Black Arts Repertory Theatre failed in Harlem when grant funds were cut off. BAM must be independent although we will accept funds but will not compromise our revolutionary values and goals, the freedom of our people.

    Here’s an update for you from the ‘Black Arts Movement 27 City National Tour’ team:

    If you are willing to donate any amount, please call Marvin X, 510-200-4164. BAM must be a community supported project. The original Black Arts Repertory Theatre failed in Harlem when grant funds were cut off. We need funds for food at the Laney College gala; we need money for artists and speakers, sound equipment, transportation,book give away,  costumes, speaker fees. Thanking you in advance for your support.
    Marvin X, Project Director
    BAM 27 City Tour
    Comment on or view this announcement here.
    Respond directly to the campaign owner here.
    Help spread the word about the campaign!
    Note: To stop receiving updates from Black Arts Movement 27 City National Tour, click here.
    You can also unsubscribe from all recurring Indiegogo emails in your account settings.
    The Indiegogo Team

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  • 01/06/15--17:28: Parable of the A Students
  • Muhammida El Muhajir and Samantha Akwei in Ghana, West Africa. Muhammida is the daughter of Nisa Ra and Marvin X. Samantha met Marvin X at his Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland. She works in Oakland but when she told Marvin X, aka, the Chancellor, she would be visiting relatives in Ghana for the holidays, the Chancellor told her to connect with Muhammida. Muhammida is a graduate of Howard University working in Ghana ; Samantha is a Spelman graduate.

    Parable of the A Students

    Parable of the A Students

    There was a group of students who were good in school. They did everything their teacher told them, attended classed without fail, did homework to the T, went on field trips to the various hot spots in town, even stayed out late to make sure they learn all the subject matter at the spot.
    When the teacher told them to do bad things, they followed instructions to a T. They especially liked to do the opposite when the teacher told them good things. He told them this was called reverse psychology, so they loved to practice reverse psychology. If he told them to love, they hated. If he told them to appreciate life, they tried all in their power to self-destruct. If he told them to strive to be successful, they prayed to fail, or shoot themselves in the foot.
    They truly enjoyed turning positive into negative, and they mastered the game of failure rather than success. The teacher couldn't pay them to succeed. If he told them to practice safe sex or even to restrain from sex for awhile, they did the opposite. They would have sex without a condom and would get infected with various STDs, including HIV/AIDS. And some of the girls who did the opposite of what the teacher said got pregnant.

    Again, the teacher was using reverse psychology because he intended for them to fail. He had his plans for them to be failures. He was only following instructions from his boss so the youth would end up destroyed, and especially the boys who were programmed for the department of corrections so they could help the guards and other prison industry workers live the good life, buy nice homes, cars, boats, go on ship cruises, put their children through college. The teachers and other workers prayed together at church that the children would be A students in doing the opposite of what they taught them, and the children were true to the game played on them. Yes, they were A students. They failed at school, failed to discover their life mission, failed at having positive relationships with their boyfriends and girlfriends, and later their marriage partners, failed at raising their children. Yes, this group of students were a failure, and yet they carried the teacher's program out to a T. They got A's on their report cards.

    --Marvin X

    from The Wisdom of Plato Negro, parables/fables by Marvin X, Black Bird Press, Berkeley.

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     Muhammida El Muhajir, producer of Black Arts/Black Power Babies Discussion; filmmaker: Hip Hop--the New World Order

    From producing major events in both the US and internationally, filming a world-wide hip-hop documentary, and working on marketing for major brands, Muhammida has a vast and diverse portfolio of work.  Her ability to juggle it all along with motherhood makes it all the more inspiring. Always looking forward to the next project and her ability to remain ahead of the tide in her projects, is what makes her a hip, modern, and motivated individual.

     Mother Nisa Ra, Muhammida, father Marvin X (El Muhajir)

    Muhammida’s parents were entrepreneurs so she innately had a business mind, since about 5 or 6 years of age.  Although she attended Howard University to study Microbiology, with the intent on going to medical school, she always had an interest in entertainment, even minoring in Radio, TV and Film.  After taking a year off before the MCAT’s, she worked on some film projects and found herself in NYC.  Her first real industry job was at the William Morris Agency, which was a great opportunity to learn about the business of entertainment- learning names, faces, and how to deal with celebrities.  Meeting great contacts and learning the importance of creating a network and being consistent with staying in contact, whether it’s through a note or a short phone call, is something else that would hold true through the rest of her career.  Later going on to have her own music video casting company, and doing talent management representing models and actors all happened because of the networks previously created.

     An international event planner, Muhammida produced Keyshia Cole Day in Oakland. She hired her father to open with a poem for Keyshia.

    Using a notebook to jot down ideas that sometimes seemed far-fetched ended up manifesting into Muhammida producing a documentary about hip hop all over the world.  Just a girl with a vision, Muhammida ended up travelling to Japan, London, Paris, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Johannesburg, and Rio de Janeiro, using her network of sometimes one person to tap into the who’s who of the underground rap world in these cities.  This goes to show that everything you do really plays a role and paves a path for your future.  One of the funnier stories that El Muhajir recounts while travelling is her “fashionista filmmaker story”.  Being so exhausted from carrying a heavy suitcase full of shoes on the Euro rail, she only had enough energy to make a visit to the Gucci store in Milan and not do any interviews, so there is no Italian section in the film.  The things we women do for fashion!

    As funny as she is, El-Muhajir is serious about her commitment to service.  She has done pro bono work with the GEMS organization and spent time teaching the girls film and reading.  Additionally, Muhammida regularly mentors young people as well as does motivational/public speaking at high schools, universities, and community organizations.   She feels that doing public service is essential to success.  When you give (time energy resources), it always comes back double, if not more.
    This is great advice for women at any stage in life and all the more reason why Muhammida El Muhajir is a true hip, modern and motivated woman.

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    “We are Soldiers in the same tribe, because we carry this Flag of Musical Truth. Fantastic Negrito is a deity contained in a human capsule. When he sings, he can’t quite be contained and the only way to know I’m telling the Truth... is to see him live.”
    -Tre Hardson, Artist and Producer of The Pharcyde

    Fantastic Negrito is a man’s truth told through black roots music. Each song tells a story about this musician from Oakland who struggled to “make it,” who “got it,” and who lost it all. It’s the story of a man who experienced the highs of a million dollar record deal and the lows of a near fatal car accident that put him in a coma. It’s the story about a life after destruction, a reawakening and rebirth. Negrito’s music emphasizes rawness and space. Slide guitar, drums and piano ­all brought together to create soulful beats. Fantastic Negrito leaves the original sounds of Lead Belly and Skip James intact and builds bridges to modernity by looping and sampling his own live instruments. For anyone who ever felt like it was over yet hoped it wasn’t, this is your music; blues harnessed, forged in realness.

    Night Has Turned to Day:

    Blackball Universe
    230 Madison, 2H
    Oakland, CA  94607
    (510) 433-0933

    "We produce what we believe in and nothing else"

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    We are honored the great John Santos has agreed to participate in the 50th anniversary celebration of the Black Arts Movement. He will perform with the BAM Arkestra & Poet's Choir--Marvin X


     John Santos: Keeper of the Culture

    John Santos: Keeper of the Culture

    The Black Arts Movement Arkestra and Poet's Choir performs at 8pm in the Laney College Theatre
    photo collage Adam Turner

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    Van Serrant has performed with Marvin X for decades. We are honored to have him in the BAM Poet's Choir and Arkestra at Laney College.

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    The Black Arts Movement District may extend to the Alameda County Courthouse, site of the Huey Newton trial and the trial of those who assassinated Post Newspaper Editor Chancey Bailey.
    photo Kamau Amen Ra

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    King Leopold II: Hidden Holocaust in the Congo

    As reported by the UK Guardian, "The hidden holocaust: Was Belgium's King Leopold II a mass murderer on a par with Hitler or a greedy despot who turned a blind eye to a few excesses? A new book has ignited a furious row in a country coming to grips with its colonial legacy," Stephen Bates reports on 12 May 1999 -- As the sun sank slowly over Brussels, its fading rays glinted off the glass domes and towers of the magnificent Victorian greenhouses in the grounds of the royal palace at Laeken. Built to celebrate King Leopold II's acquisition of the Congo a century ago, the greenhouses stretch for more than half a mile and are among the most visible and grandiose remaining symbols of a once enormous African empire, 60 times the size of Belgium. The colony was the largest private estate ever acquired by a single man - and one he never saw.

    It is said that when he showed his nephew the greenhouses, the youth gasped that they were like a little Versailles. 'Little?' snorted the king.
    Leopold always did think big. But the row over the king's notorious stewardship of his African territories still has the ability to evoke raw emotions in a country trying to come to terms with a brutal colonial past.

    The question is: was the spade-bearded old reprobate a mass-murderer, the first genocidalist of modern times, responsible for the death of more Africans than the Nazis killed Jews? Was his equatorial empire, the setting for Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the terrible Kurtz with the human heads dangling round his garden, the scene of a largely forgotten holocaust? The old wounds have been re-opened by the publication of a book called King Leopold's Ghost, by the American author Adam Hochschild, which has brought howls of rage from Belgium's ageing colonials and some professional historians even as it has climbed the country's best-seller lists. 
    Alice Seeley Harris, Manacled members of a chain gang at Bauliri. A common punishment for not paying taxes, Congo Free State, c. 1904. Courtesy Anti-Slavery International / Autograph ABP

    The debate over Belgium's colonial legacy could not be more timely. In the realm beyond the palace walls where Leopold's great grandson Albert II is now king, the openly racist extreme rightwing Vlaams Blok, which blames much of the country's ills on coloured immigrants from Africa, is bidding to become one of the biggest parties in next month's elections.

    And the planes which soar over the greenhouses as they depart Brussels sometimes carry human cargo - black asylum seekers being unceremoniously deported, occasionally naked and still bleeding, back to Africa. Last September, the Belgian immigration service succeeded in suffocating one of them, a Nigerian woman called Semira Adamu, 20, on board the plane that was to take her home, by shoving her head under a pillow. The police videoed themselves chatting and laughing while they pushed her head down. It took them 20 minutes to kill her.

    The history of Leopold's rule over the Congo has long been known. It was first exposed by American and British writers and campaigners at the turn of the century - publicity which eventually forced the king to hand the country which had been his private fiefdom over to Belgium.

    But Hochschild's book has hit a raw nerve for a new generation with its vividly drawn picture of a voracious king anxious to maximise his earnings from the proceeds of rubber and ivory.

    It is clear that many of Leopold's officials in the depots up the Congo river terrorised the local inhabitants, forcing them to work under the threat of having their hands and feet - or those of their children - cut off. Women were raped, men were executed and villages were burned in pursuit of profit for the king.

    But what has stuck in the gut of Belgian historians is Hochschild's claim that 10 million people may have died in a forgotten holocaust. In outrage, the now ageing Belgian officials who worked in the Congo in later years have taken to the internet with a 10-page message claiming that maybe only half a dozen people had their hands chopped off, and that even that was done by native troops.

    They argue that American and British writers have highlighted the Congo to distract attention from the contemporary massacre of the North American Indians and the Boer War.

    Under the headline 'a scandalous book', members of the Royal Belgian Union for Overseas Territories claim: 'There is nothing that could compare with the horrors of Hitler and Stalin, or the deliberate massacres of the Indian, Tasmanian and Aboriginal populations. A black legend has been created by polemicists and British and American journalists feeding off the imaginations of novelists and the re-writers of history.' Professor Jean Stengers, a leading historian of the period, says: 'Terrible things happened, but Hochschild is exaggerating. It is absurd to say so many millions died. I don't attach so much significance to his book. In two or three years' time, it will be forgotten.' Leopold's British biographer, Barbara Emerson, agrees: 'I think it is a very shoddy piece of work. Leopold did not start genocide. He was greedy for money and chose not to interest himself when things got out of control. Part of Belgian society is still very defensive. People with Congo connections say we were not so awful as that, we reformed the Congo and had a decent administration there.' Stengers acknowledges that the population of the Congo shrank dramatically in the 30 years after Leopold took over, though exact figures are hard to establish since no one knows how many inhabited the vast jungles in the 1880s.

    It is true too that some of those reporting scandals had their own knives to grind. Some were Protestant missionaries who were rivals to Belgian Catholics in the region.

    Yet Leopold certainly emerges as an unattractive figure, described as a young man by his cousin Queen Victoria as an 'unfit, idle and unpromising an heir apparent as ever was known' and by Disraeli as having 'such a nose as a young prince has in a fairy tale, who has been banned by a malignant fairy.' As king, he did not bother to deny charges in a London court that he had sex with child prostitutes. When the bishop of Ostend told him that people were saying he had a mistress, he is reputed to have replied benignly: 'People tell me the same about you, your Grace. But of course I choose not to believe them.' His wiliness in convincing the world that he had only humanitarian motives in annexing the Congo, in persuading the Belgian government essentially to pay for his purchase and in buying up journalists, including the great explorer Henry Morton Stanley, to promote his cause show both cunning and skill. 
    Henry Morton Stanley

    Emerson claims Leopold was appalled to hear about the atrocities in his domain, but dug his heels in when he was attacked in the foreign press. He did indeed apparently write to his secretary of state: 'These horrors must end or I will retire from the Congo. I will not be splattered with blood and mud: it is essential that any abuses cease.' But the man who (as Queen Victoria said) had the habit of saying 'disagreeable things to people' was also reputed to have snorted: 'Cut off hands - that's idiotic. I'd cut off all the rest of them, but not hands. That's the one thing I need in the Congo.' Although few now defend him, strange things happen even today when the Congo record is challenged. Currently circulating on the internet is an anguished claim by a student in Brussels called Joseph Mbeka alleging he his thesis marked a failure when he cited Hochschild's book: 'My director turned his back on me.' Daniel Vangroenweghe, a Belgian anthropologist who also published a critical book about the period 15 years ago, says: 'Senior people tried to get me sacked at the time. Questions were asked in parliament and my work was subjected to an official inspection.' At a large chateau outside Brussels in Tervuren is the Musee Royal de l'Afrique, which Leopold was eventually shamed into setting up to prove his philanthropic credentials. It contains the largest African ethnographic collection in the world, rooms full of stuffed animals and artefacts including shields, spears, deities, drums and masks, a 60ft-long war canoe, even Stanley's leather suitcase.

    There is one small watercolour of a native being flogged, but a visitor would be hard-pressed to spot any other reference to the dark side of Leopold's regime. Dust hangs over the place. A curator has said changes are under consideration 'but absolutely not because of the recent disreputable book by an American'.

    The real legacy of Leopold and of the Belgians who ran the country until they were bloodily booted out in 1960 has been the chaos in the region ever since and a rapacity among rulers such as Mobutu Sese Seko which outstripped even the king's. Leopold made £3m in 10 years between 1896 and 1906, Mobutu filched at least £3bn. When the Belgians left there were only three Africans in managerial positions in the Congo's administration and fewer than 30 graduates in the entire country.

    Vangroenweghe says: 'Talk of whether Leopold killed 10 million people or five million is beside the point, it was still too many.' I asked Belgium's prime minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, about the Congo legacy this week. 'The colonial past is completely past,' he said. 'There is really no strong emotional link any more. It does not move the people. It's part of the past. It's history.' (source: The UK Guardian)

    Humanitarian disaster


    Congolese children and wives whose fathers failed to meet rubber collection quotas were often punished by having their hands cut off.
    Nsala, of the district of Wala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter, Boali, who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company (A.B.I.R.) militia. Source: E. D Morel, King Leopold's rule in Africa, between pages 144 and 145
    Failure to meet the rubber collection quotas was punishable by death. Meanwhile, the Force Publique were required to provide a hand of their victims as proof when they had shot and killed someone, as it was believed that they would otherwise use the munitions (imported from Europe at considerable cost) for hunting.[13] As a consequence, the rubber quotas were in part paid off in chopped-off hands. Sometimes the hands were collected by the soldiers of the Force Publique, sometimes by the villages themselves. There were even small wars where villages attacked neighbouring villages to gather hands, since their rubber quotas were too unrealistic to fill. A Catholic priest quotes a man, Tswambe, speaking of the hated state official Léon Fiévez, who ran a district along the river three hundred miles north of Stanley Pool:
    All blacks saw this man as the devil of the Equator...From all the bodies killed in the field, you had to cut off the hands. He wanted to see the number of hands cut off by each soldier, who had to bring them in baskets...A village which refused to provide rubber would be completely swept clean. As a young man, I saw [Fiévez's] soldier Molili, then guarding the village of Boyeka, take a net, put ten arrested natives in it, attach big stones to the net, and make it tumble into the river...Rubber causes these torments; that's why we no longer want to hear its name spoken. Soldiers made young men kill or rape their own mothers and sisters.[14]
    One junior European officer described a raid to punish a village that had protested. The European officer in command 'ordered us to cut off the heads of the men and hang them on the village palisades ... and to hang the women and the children on the palisade in the form of a cross.'[15] After seeing a Congolese person killed for the first time, a Danish missionary wrote: 'The soldier said "Don't take this to heart so much. They kill us if we don't bring the rubber. The Commissioner has promised us if we have plenty of hands he will shorten our service."'[16] In Forbath's words:
    The baskets of severed hands, set down at the feet of the European post commanders, became the symbol of the Congo Free State. ... The collection of hands became an end in itself. Force Publique soldiers brought them to the stations in place of rubber; they even went out to harvest them instead of rubber... They became a sort of currency. They came to be used to make up for shortfalls in rubber quotas, to replace... the people who were demanded for the forced labour gangs; and the Force Publique soldiers were paid their bonuses on the basis of how many hands they collected.
    In theory, each right hand proved a killing. In practice, soldiers sometimes "cheated" by simply cutting off the hand and leaving the victim to live or die. More than a few survivors later said that they had lived through a massacre by acting dead, not moving even when their hands were severed, and waiting till the soldiers left before seeking help. In some instances a soldier could shorten his service term by bringing more hands than the other soldiers, which led to widespread mutilations and dismemberment.

    Death toll

    A reduction of the population of the Congo is noted by all who have compared the country at the beginning of Leopold's control with the beginning of Belgian state rule in 1908, but estimates of the deaths toll vary considerably. Estimates of contemporary observers suggest that the population decreased by half during this period and these are supported by some modern scholars such as Jan Vansina.[17] Others dispute this. Scholars at the Royal Museum for Central Africa argue that a decrease of 15% over the first forty years of colonial rule (up to the census of 1924).[citation needed]
    According to British diplomat Roger Casement, this depopulation had four main causes: "indiscriminate war", starvation, reduction of births and diseases.[18]Sleeping sickness was also a major cause of fatality at the time. Opponents of Leopold's rule stated, however, that the administration itself was to be considered responsible for the spreading of the epidemic.[19]
    In the absence of a census providing even an initial idea of the size of population of the region at the inception of the Congo Free State (the first was taken in 1924),[20] it is impossible to quantify population changes in the period. Despite this, Forbath claimed the loss was at least 5 million;[21]Adam Hochschild, and Isidore Ndaywel è Nziem, 10 million;[22][23] However no verifiable records exist. Louis and Stengers state that population figures at the start of Leopold's control are only "wild guesses", while calling E.D. Morel's attempt and others at coming to a figure for population losses as "but figments of the imagination".[24] To put these population changes in context sourced references state that in 1900, Africa as a whole had between 90 million[25] and 133 million people.[26]

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     Note: The Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary Celebration at Laney College will exhibit the work of San Quentin inmate art, February 7, 2015. The BAM celebration is from 10am to 10 pm. Call 510-200-4164 for more information. The event is free/donations accepted.

     The Cell and the Sanctuary: Art and Incarceration: November 7, 2014 – February 22, 2015

    Felix Lucero, Blind Curve, 2010; courtesy William James Association
    Felix Lucero, Blind Curve, 2010; courtesy William James Association
    3rd Floor Art Forum
    Overcrowded? Inhumane? Necessary? In a California prison, what does art look like?
    See for yourself. Explore the paintings, drawings, sculptures and writing made by incarcerated individuals from prisons around California. These will be alongside installation, audio/video and 2-D works by teachers from their impactful art-in-prisons programs.
    The incarcerated artists in this exhibition are on a unique path of self-discovery. They’re exploring arts as a means to become someone who can reconnect with the outside. Evidence suggests that arts-in-prisons programs lower recidivism (returning to prisons) by 27% and reduce disciplinary actions by 75%.  They improve relationships between people within the prison as well as with guards and supervisory staff. Inmates exposed to arts programs are more likely to adjust to life outside prison and are less likely to become repeat offenders.
    Featured in this exhibition, these teachers, artists and organizations are working together within the prison system to provide a direct link between incarcerated individuals and something larger than their dehumanizing cells. The arts become a vehicle for expression, self-identification and self-direction. If prisons are about transformation of the self, then these artists provide themselves with tools necessary to become someone new: artistic expression.
    In collaboration with Barrios Unidos and the William James Association.

    Explore the work of currently incarcerated artists as well as their teachers:
    Ned Axthelm
    Peter Bergne
    Guillermo Willie
    Stan Bey
    Khalifah Christensen
    Dennis Crookes
    Isiah Daniels
    Justus Evans
    Bruce Fowler
    Henry Frank
    Roy Gilstrap
    Ronnie Goodman
    Thomas Grider
    Gary Harrell
    Amy M. Ho
    John Hoskings
    David Johnson
    Ben Jones
    Richard Kamler
    Chung Kao
    Darryl Kennedy
    Rolf Kissman
    Felix Lucero
    Katya McCollah
    Pat Messy
    Omid Mokri
    Gerald Morgan
    Carol Newborg
    Stan Newborg
    James Norton
    Eric “Phil” Phillips
    Anthony Marco Ramirez
    Adrienne Skye Roberts
    Mark Stanley
    Fred Tinsley
    Tan Tran
    Kurt Von Staden
    Geno Washington
    Michael Williams
    Thomas Winfrey
    Noah WrightBeth Thielen

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    Prison Arts Project

    What is the Prison Arts Project?

    Sacred from Within with hands

    The major program of the William James Association is the Prison Arts Project (PAP), created through the vision and efforts of Eloise Smith. A pilot project was set up in 1977 at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville, with funding provided by the San Francisco Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

    Eloise Smith’s vision was based simply on the value of providing all individuals with the most meaningful art experience possible; in her words, “that mysterious life-enhancing process we call the arts, a realm in which patient application and vivid imagination so often produce magic.”
    The success of this initial program led to the formation of Arts-in-Corrections, an administrative office within the California Department of Corrections, which oversees the staffing of artist-facilitators at all prisons in California. Unfortunately, in January 2003, all Arts-in-Corrections artists’ contracts were terminated as the result of a budget crisis in California state government.
    Through some limited funding from private sources, the William James Association has been able to hire a few professional artists to teach at San Quentin State Prison and the women’s unit of the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco.


    Book making workshop at San Quentin
    Bringing the arts to institutionalized individuals is based in the belief that participation in the artistic process significantly affects a person’s self-esteem and general outlook on the world. Art workshops teach self-discipline, problem-solving, and concentration through absorption in a specific creative endeavor.

    The skills acquired through participation in the arts are translated to other aspects of one’s life. Art satisfies an individual’s need for creativity, self-expression, recognition, and self-respect.
    “There are general feelings of hostility and hopelessness in prisons today and it is getting worse with overcrowding. . . Art workshops and similar programs help take us out of this atmosphere and we become like any other free person expressing our talents. Being in prison is the final ride downhill unless one can resist the things around him and learn to function in a society which he no longer has any contact with. Arts programs for many of us may be the final salvation of our minds from prison insanity. It’s contact with the best of the human race. It is something that says that we, too, are still valuable.”
    - a prison inmate

    Prison hall

    Theprison system punishes negative behaviors but offers little to replace them. The capacity for personal change is great, although daunting within a repressive environment and culture of extreme power imbalance, racism, segregation and manipulation. The Prison Arts Project creates a sanctuary where inmates are treated with respect, courtesy and an openness to their unique expressions as creative human beings.

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    The Black Arts Movement has declared February 27 as the first Last Saturday along Oakland's 14th Street, downtown, between Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Alice Street. In anticipation of Mayor Libby Schaaf's official proclamation of the BAM District and the City Council President, Lynette McElhaney, introducing legislation to mark the BAM District in stone, leaders of the West Coast Black Arts Movement are preparing to celebrate the grand opening on February 27, 2015. The event will include performances by musicians, singers,poets, spoken word artists, art and craft vendors, physical, mental and spiritual wellness workers, food vendors along the BAM corridor that includes numerous historical landmarks, including the African American Library/Museum, C.L. Dellums Apartments, Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building, Elihu Harris State Building, Frank Ogawa Plaza, Marvin X's Academy of da Corner, Geoffrey's Inner Circle, Joyce Gordon Gallery, Oakland Post News Group offices, Caribbee Club and the Malonga Arts Center at 14th and Alice, also the cite where Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey was assassinated in broad daylight. It will extend to the Alameda County Courthouse where the trial of Black Panther co-founder Dr. Huey P. Newton was tried for murdering an Oakland Police Officer. Newton was found innocent. For more information, call Black Arts Movement co-founder Marvin X @ 510-200-4164 or contact the Post News Group

     Bay Area Black authors and activists celebrated the life of slain Post News Group Editor Chauncey Bailey at the Joyce Gordan Gallery, 14th and Franklin. Far right, standing is Paul Cobb, Publisher of the Post News Group; behind him is Gallery owner, Joyce Gordon

    Oscar Grant Rebellion occurred at 14th and Broadway

    The funeral of Little Malcolm Shabazz was at the Islamic Center, 14th and Jackson

    The 80th Birthday celebration for Dr. Nathan Hare was at Geoffery's Inner Circle, 14th and Franklin

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    As part of the Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary Celebration,   Marvin X is proposing An Evening with Marvin X at San Francisco State University. Marvin X graduated in English/Creative Writing at SFSU. He is one of the founding members of the Black Students Union and his first play Flowers for the Trashman was produced by the drama department while he was an undergrad. He dropped out of SFSU to co-found Black Arts West Theatre in the Fillmore, 1966, with Ed Bullins; in 1967 he co-founded The Black House in San Francisco with Eldridge Cleaver. Marvin X later taught African American literature and Radio & television Writing at SFSU. He is the author of 30 books.

    This event will be part of the BAM 27 City Tour he has undertaken with BAM icons and the BAM Arkestra and Poet's Choir. It will feature the poet reading and  in conversation with Davey D on local, national and global issues. It will include an exhibit of his archives.

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  • 01/09/15--05:31: On the death of AB

  • One year ago
    my friend departed
    my friend to the end
    a true friend
    who helped me
    like no one else
    his last words
    I gotta gig faya at NYU
    wanna do it
    Yes, but guess what
    I gotta gig fa you
    UC Merced then he was dead
    in the coldest winter ever

    complications of complications
    joyful tortured life
    Jekyll and Hyde wife said
    man of two worlds
    the black the white
    he flowed wit da flow
    lover of life
    the drink the fame
    women the driver
    politics/ art
    dining out the shout
    the cry the scream
    don't let them take yo
    um boom de boom
    you be in deep trouble
    if dey take yo um boom de boom
    take you several centuries to get out

    oh, my friend
    you taught me so much
    you taught the world
    we love you so much
    because you loved the world.
    --Marvin X

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  • 01/09/15--06:02: Black Art by Amiri Baraka
  • Black Art
    By Amiri Baraka

    Poems are bullshit unless they are
    teeth or trees or lemons piled
    on a step. Or black ladies dying
    of men leaving nickel hearts
    beating them down. Fuck poems
    and they are useful, wd they shoot
    come at you, love what you are,
    breathe like wrestlers, or shudder
    strangely after pissing. We want live
    words of the hip world live flesh &
    coursing blood. Hearts Brains
    Souls splintering fire. We want poems
    like fists beating niggers out of Jocks
    or dagger poems in the slimy bellies
    of the owner-jews. Black poems to
    smear on girdlemamma mulatto bitches
    whose brains are red jelly stuck
    between ‘lizabeth taylor’s toes. Stinking
    Whores! we want “poems that kill.”
    Assassin poems, Poems that shoot
    guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys
    and take their weapons leaving them dead
    with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland. Knockoff
    poems for dope selling wops or slick halfwhite
    politicians Airplane poems, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
    rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . .tuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuh
    . . .rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . Setting fire and death to
    whities ass. Look at the Liberal
    Spokesman for the jews clutch his throat
    & puke himself into eternity . . . rrrrrrrr
    There’s a negroleader pinned to
    a bar stool in Sardi’s eyeballs melting
    in hot flame Another negroleader
    on the steps of the white house one
    kneeling between the sheriff’s thighs
    negotiating coolly for his people.
    Aggh . . . stumbles across the room . . .
    Put it on him, poem. Strip him naked
    to the world! Another bad poem cracking
    steel knuckles in a jewlady’s mouth
    Poem scream poison gas on beasts in green berets
    Clean out the world for virtue and love,
    Let there be no love poems written
    until love can exist freely and
    cleanly. Let Black people understand
    that they are the lovers and the sons
    of warriors and sons
    of warriors Are poems & poets &
    all the loveliness here in the world
    We want a black poem. And a
    Black World.
    Let the world be a Black Poem
    And Let All Black People Speak This Poem
    or LOUD

    Source: Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1979)
    * * * * *

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    On Behalf of
    Wadiya Jamal and Mumia Abu-Jamal,
    A Contribution Request
    Wadiya Jamal, Samiya (1978-2014) and Dolly
    Samiya “Goldii” Abdullah, a daughter of Wadiya Jamal and Mumia Abu-Jamal died on December 17, 2014 after years of battle with breast cancer. Samiya would have been 37 this January 9 and is survived by two young daughters, Aiyanah and Aaiyah, affectionately known as Dolly and Puddy, ages eleven and four.
    Samiya was a remarkable woman. She was accomplished as a musician, an activist and rapper on social justice, particularly in the struggle for Mumia’s freedom. She devoured books and education. During her long, often debilitating illness, Samiya finished her Masters Degree in School and Mental Health Counseling from the University of Pennsylvania with honors. She was dedicated to her young daughters and wanted them to grow up loving each other as much as she did her brothers and sisters. And she wanted her daughters to see Mumia (called “Pop Pop” by them) walk out of prison and home with their grandmother, Wadiya.
    Samiya's active fight for Mumia's freedom, began at the young age of four. Mumia wrote about this in “The Visit” printed in Live from Death Row in 1994. This was recreated in the movie "Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary."
    Samiya’s strength, character and spirit were nurtured by Wadiya and Mumia and are being passed on to her daughters.
    On behalf of Wadiya Jamal and Mumia Abu-Jamal, this is a request for funds to assist Wadiya for care of her granddaughters, Dolly and Puddy.
    A financial contribution of any amount will be greatly appreciated.

    Please send checks or money orders, made payable to Wadiya Jamal:

    Wadiya Jamal
    P.O. Box 19404
    Kingsessing Postal Station
    Philadelphia, PA 19143-9998
    In loving memory of Samiya and in tribute to her fierce fight for life,
    Rachel Wolkenstein
    Sister, Advocate and Friend of the Extended Family
    "My father is still considered to be a dangerous individual … his mind is what they fear, there is over- whelming evidence that would exonerate him of his conviction.
    "He is an innocent man and the commonwealth has always known this, but being too Black, too smart, and too strong … The government will silence anyone that possesses the power to open the minds of the people."    
    Samiya (Goldii) Performs at Mumia's 55th
    Birthday & Book Release Party (2009)

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  • 01/09/15--10:58: Black Arts Movement Program

  • Working Program
    10:00 AM--Black Arts Movement Physical Wellness Boot Camp, facilitated by Michael Bennett's Wellness Team from the YMCA, HP/Bayview
    11:00AM-- Peer Group on Mental Wellness: How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy Group, facilitated by Dr. Nathan Hare and Suzzette Celeste, B.A., MPA, MSW
    12 Noon--Book Fair--authors speak, music, Augusta Collins

    2pm--Open Mike Poetry/Speak Out
    2pm--BAM and Black Women Writers Panel; moderated by Elaine Brown; invited panelists: Judy Juanita, Avojtcha, Aries Jordan, Phavia Kujichagulia, Portia Anderson
    4pm Black Arts Movement/Black Power Babies panel, moderated by Davey D; invited panelists: Phavia Kujichagulia and Taiwo; Dr. Ayodele Nzinga and  Stanley; Terry Collins and Renya; Walter Riley and Boots Riley; Marvin X and Amira; Jerri Lange and Michael

    6pm - RECEPTION IN THE ART GALLERY: EXHIBIT OF SAN QUENTIN PRISON ART and Bay Area Visual Artists; curated by Professor Leslee Stradford; invocation,Suzzette Celeste, Practitioner & Social Justice Activist; Welcome, Laney College President, Dr. Elnora T. Webb; proclamation of Black Arts Movement District, Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland; Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney on the Black Arts Movement District; host, Paul Cobb, Publisher, Post News Group; music by Earl Davis, Fantastic Negrito

    7pm Laney College Theatre: Marvin X's BAM classic play Flowers for the Trashman, introductory remarks by Dr. Nathan Hare, father of Black Studies, founding publisher of the Black Scholar Magazine
    8pm Black Arts Movement Poet's Choir & Arkestra with special guests John Santos, Muziki Roberson,

    Sponsors: Laney College, Post News Group, Black Caucus of California Community Colleges, YMCA, HP/Bayview; Black Think Tank, Black Bird Press, KPOO Radio, Davey D and Greg Bridges of KPFA Radio, lajones associates, BWOPA/TILE, William James Association Prison Art Project

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