Marvin X returned to his Alma Mater, San Francisco State University, for a Black History Month talk in Davey D's class on Hip Hop. Davey D asked the poet about ideological differences between the Black Arts Movement and the political liberation movement, especially between BAM at the Black Panther Party. The poet said much of the dispute centered around arm struggle, with the Panthers decrying all those who refused to pick up the gun. He said armed struggle became an issue in the founding of the BPP since Bobby Seale and Huey distinguished themselves from their intellectual friends when they picked up guns to defend the community against police occupation and abuse under the color of law.
It was only until the Panthers attended the Pan African Cultural Festival in Algeria that they gained an understanding of the necessary role of art and culture in the liberation movement.
What was ironic was that many of the Panther leaders came through Marvin X's Black Arts West Theatre, including Bobby Seale (co-founder), Eldridge Cleaver, minister of information, Emory Douglas, minister of culture, George Murray, minister of education, and Samuel Napier, minister of distribution. Bobby was in Come Next Summer, X's second play writtern prior to and performed before he established Black Arts West, 1966, with playwright Ed Bullins, Hurriyah (Ethna X), Carl Bossiere, Duncan Barber, Hillery Broadous.
This is why Marvin X disputes Larry Neal's assertion that BAM was the sister of the liberation movement. Marvin says BAM was more like the Mother, especially on the West Coast.
When Eldridge Cleaver financed the Black House with his royalties from the best seller Soul on Ice, 1967, after his release from prison, Marvin X and Ed Bullins operated the cultural component with Cleaver manning the political division, but Cleaver was exposed to a healthy dose of culture from co-founders Bullins and X, along with Amiri Baraka's Communications Project that performed at Black House. Other artists were Sarah Webster Fabio, Reginald Lockett, Avotcja and the Chicago Arts Ensemble.
Aside from armed struggle there were differences over the use of Marxism as a tool of analysis. Cleaver wanted the artists to be Marxist oriented but Islam was a greater influence than Marxist Leninism, although the writers and poets did indeed read Mao Tse Tung's Talks on Art and Literature at Yenan Forum.
But Islam dominated Black Arts West and Black House, aside from Cleaver and Ed Bullins, Black House members Marvin Jackmon (later Marvin X), Ethna Wyatt (later Ethna X), singer Willie Dale and his wife Vernastine were drifting into the Nation of Islam. While Cleaver had California Communist Party Secretary Roscoe Proctor giving seminars on Communism at Black House, Black Arts West Guru Alonzo Batin had a profound influence on those drifting toward Islam. Ahmedia Muslim language instructor, Ali Sharif Bey, infused the artists with his knowledge of Arabic and Urdu. He was Marvin's first Arabic teacher and gave him his first Arabic name, Nazzam Al Fitnah, organizer from persecution.
Bey said the poet is an organizer or systematizer, for he creates a system or mythology with the body of his work. The third Islamic influence was from Aaron Ali, a former minister in the NOI but had been set down by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Aaron Ali was a shaykh or holy man who taught linguistics to all who entered his domain. One could not enter without assuming the most humble persona. He used to debate in the hood with San Francisco semanticist SI Hayakawa, the English professor who became President of SFSU and crushed the Student Strike at SFSU, using State violence. Aaron Ali called Hayakawa an Oriental with an Occidental Mind! By suppressing the student strike, Hayakawa proved Aaron Ali was right.
The issue of arm struggle exploded after Marvin X introduced Eldridge to Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. Eldridge immediately joined the Black Panther Party and proceeded to evict the artists. Thereafter relations between the politicos and artists/intellectuals degenerated.
The original split happened when Bobby departed from the SoulBook magazine intellectuals, Ernie Allen, Mamadou Lumumba, Carol Freeman,Isaac Moore and others, claiming there were cowards for not taking up arms, even though they had founded the first Black Panther Party in the Bay Area, the Black Panther Party of Northern California. When Huey Newton and Bobby Seale connected, they demanded the intellectual Panthers take up arms or give up the Panther name.
To make their point, the BPP of Self Defense fired off rounds at a house party in San Francisco hosted by the intellectual Panthers. Thus began the bitter struggle between the political nationalists and the cultural nationalists, culminating in the assassination of Alprentis Bunchy Carter and John Huggins in the BSU meeting from at UCLA.
The assailants were members of the US organization under the leadership of Kwanza Founder Maulana Ron Karenga, the supreme cultural nationalist who guided Amiri Baraka into Karenga's Kawaida religion, a syncretized belief system concocted by Karenga.
Apprently Karenga taught Baraka the organizing skills necessary to put together an organization that enabled Ken Gibson to be elected Newark, New Jersey's first black mayor. After Karenga's men were indicted for the murder of Carter and Huggins, Baraka severed his ties with Karenga and after witnessing Gibson selling out to Newark Plantation Master Prudential Insurance before inauguration day, yes, after organizing ten thousand North American Africans at the Congress of African People, Baraka is totally disillusioned with Cultural Nationalism and elected politicians, definitely after the Gary Convention of 1972 when they openly revealed their sell out personas.
It is at this point that Baraka dons the Marxist hat he wears today, thus switching with Cleaver who saw Jesus in the moon in his Paris exile and returned home a Born Again Christian. Cleaver switched to the right when it was clear the left was not going to assist him in returning from his Paris, France exile. He had fled the US after the shootout with Oakland Police Department in which Lil Bobby Hutton was murdered in cold blood by the OPD.
The notes above are a more detailed account than what was presented in Davey D's class.
I told the students revolution only happens when all forces in society unite, whether the armed struggle people, along with the non-violent persons, artists, workers, students, elders, children, teachers, preachers, prisoners and ex-prisoners, only then are we able to make revolution.
The poet asked the class to give a shout out to the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco who are in the process of revolution. What is ironic is that they used methods used in our revolution, especially during the civil rights era with Martin Luther Kings, Jr.'s non-violence. During their 18 days of deposing Pharaoh Mubarak, the people did not fire a bullet that we know about. They used our technique to win their freedom. With their million man march, they perfected our MMM and showed what we should have done when the million black men marched: we should have remained in DC until our agenda was met, no matter what, i.e., reparations, land, self-determination, sovereignty , etc. But we got out of town before sundown. Marvin quoted Sun Ra who taught him, "The Creator got things fixed, if you don't do the right thing, you can't go forward or backward, you just stuck on stupid."
Marvin told the students, "We may need to return to DC with a million black men, a million white men, a mission Asians, a million Latinos, a million gays and lesbians.
The people of the Middle East are showing you how to lay down before tanks, if you are really serious about shaking off the slave system. He told the students it is their fault if they are being subjected to tuition hikes at every turn, program cuts, and other high fees.
He told them he had met at student on the way to class that asked what should be done about tuition and fees. Marvin had told her to do exactly what her father did when he was a student at SFSU. He was part of the student strike to demand justice in academia, including a fair share of Associated Students funds, a black studies department. How can you SFSU students have this legacy yet accept the status quo? Close this motherfucker down! Dr. X said. The administration, representing the State, will come to you on bending knees, what do you students want? Full scholarships, ok. No program cuts, ok. No hiking of student fees, ok. Now, will you students please go home! Please leave the campus! If you stand up, the oppressor stands down. Look at the Middle East. Look at the history of SFSU!
Furthermore, Marvin X said, your President had guaranteed the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan that if they will lay down their arms and pledge allegiance to the constitutions of their lands, the USA will provide them with education, employment and housing.
If your President can do this for terrorists abroad, you must demand he do the same for youth at home.
Marvin X then gave his solution to the homeless problem. I have a simple solution, the life estate. This can end homelessness immediately by giving all homeless youth and adults a life estate, that is a title to an apartment or home that they own for life. The property cannot be transferred, sold, rented, willed or any other change of ownership. A transition of the owner, the property reverts to a community trust. The will take a basic level of stress off the poor. Marvin X said he'd watched a documentary of senior citizens in China who lived in a senior village with a life estate. But to end homelessness in America, the life estate can be utilized. X said it is all about thinking outside the box.
He told students to strive for ideological clarity, to seek knowledge beyond their white supremacy education. Study events in the Middle East, study economic planning in the Americas, in Venezuela, Boliva, Nicaragua, Brazil. Study the complexities of Haiti. And whatever you do, don't whip the white man's ass like Haiti did. You see the result. He will hate you forever.
It is not much different in the American South. There are many in the south who still can't get over that they lost the Civil War. The South functions in a state of grand denial, yet every one is armed, the south is an armed camp, men and women are armed.
Brothers tell me they would never drive down those southern roads at night without their guns. The South sings the blues for the return of the Slave System. The Africans know the Whites would love to put them back in chains. The prison system is nothing but the slave system under the US Constitution that allows involuntary servitude. And then the South practices the most wretched wage slavery, forcing persons to work two and three minimum wage jobs to survive.
The poet turned to his book How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy. The book was written in South Carolina, and when he went to copy the manuscript, the black woman clerk asked the poet where he was from. He said South Carolina. She said no you ain't because we don't say that word down here, White Supremacy. Yes, the South has a way to deal with language, more polite, more subtle, more innuendo , circumlocution, an etiquette of the most profound degree since it is about survival.
Marvin noted that black people in the South tell Cali Negroes not to come down there taking that talk then leave them with the white man. They've had four hundred years dealing with The Cracker and they don't need Cali Negroes stirring up things then leaving.
Nevertheless, he told the students he envisions a Second Civil War to finish the first, since the first left us in virtual slavery or essentially still a captive of the Slave System until today.
He told them as per their college education, don't believe the State is broke, or that America is broke, rather know the wealth is being hoarded by the blood suckers of the poor. It must be seized from them and redistributed to the masses of the people, especially the workers, the poor righteous teachers and others. Let's share the wealth! We shall not long endure capitalist greed.
And don't believe the media propaganda from the Jim Crow Media that America is broke. How can America be broke when half the money owned China is due American corporations who are part owners in Chinese corporations? Dr. Nathan Hare says don't believe anything the white man says until proven to be a fact.
As per Dr. Hare, Marvin turned to his book How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, telling students Dr. Hare teaches us there are two types of White Supremacy, Type I and Type II. Type II is Black people who suffer white supremacy, who must detox, recover and discover their true mission in life.
These are just a few of the points Marvin X made during his talk at San Francisco State University tonight.