Thursday, August 30, 2012

Monologue from One Day in the Life by Marvin X, a docudrama of his addiction and recovery from Crack

This is the most powerful drama I've seen!--playwright, poet, essayist, novelist Ishmael Reed

What upset me about this play is the selfishness of the addict, in spite of all the people and family who love him.--Viola Plummer, Sista's Place, Brooklyn New York

I could never bear the truth of my life as Marvin has done.--Rudi Wongozi

Monologue by Marvin X from his play One Day in the Life, a docudrama of his addiction and recovery from Crack

In the Name of Love, a play by Marvin X, Laney College Theatre, 1981

This scene is from Marvin X's 1981 classic In the Name of Love, a Laney College
production. Marvin X taught at Laney in the drama department at this time.

Marvin dealt with male/females relations in a White Supremacy culture, while the
descendants from the Slave System try to transend the box of patriarchal white supremacy culture, no matter that it also appears in African mythology and ritual as practiced by North American Africans.

Several of his students from his theatre class have gone on to greater things.
Ayodele Nzinga co-directed his 1997 production One Day in the Life, as well as co-directing this production at Laney. Ayodele has established her own Lower Bottom Playaz at the Thea Bowman Theatre in West Oakland at the Prescott Joseph Center, 10th and Peralta. Presently she is directing and
producing the works of August Wilson--the Piano Lesson is coming soon.

Marvin X says Ayo is his brightest student. "Ayo is so smart she simply observed my creative activities
and took what she could use and ran with it has been successful. A teacher doesn't want his students to hang around the nest but take the knowledge from him and go for self! Oyo is a prime example.

Please don't make me list my other outstanding students. This is not some ego trip but we want our students to continue the tradition of their teaching, don't corrupt his teachings or water them down with Miller Lite interpretations.

Recently, Ayo revived my first play Flowers for the Trashman, produced by the Drama Department at San Francisco State University while I was an undergrad, circa 1965. The script was written for Professor John Gardner, a novelist teaching in the English/Creative Writing Dept.

Marvin was flunking Professor Gardner's class, so the professor asked him to do what he liked as an assignment. Marvin wrote Flowers and the professor thought is should be produced by the drama department. Terrence Tyrell directed the production.

Another student, J. Vern Cromartie is a sociologist at Contra Costa College. See his research paper on Marvin X teaching at UC Berkeley. FYI, the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley has acquired the Marvin X archives.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Muhammad Speaks Reviews The Wisdom of Plato Negro by Marvin X

Marvin X has provided a reflective  work that explains the condition of Black people in America today. He not only explains how we have arrived at this wretched juncture in our history, but offers wisdom as to how we may regain the love of self and family that was decimated through the drug and cultural wars that were aimed at our people.

It is sad to note that a people who were coming of age and promise in the 1960’s and 1970’s were nearly destroyed by the ‘deliberate’ crack epidemic which robbed us of ourselves, and robbed our children of their parents.
Marvin X candidly admits that his addiction to crack robbed his children of their father and his wife of a husband. 

The reader is indeed lucky that he survived his addiction, and that his talent for writing and storytelling survived so that his work may live as a testament and instruction to future generations.

He rightly describes the current economic crisis Black America sees itself in as our being the ‘donkey’ of the world that every other people ride to economic prosperity.  Black people live with this reality daily, as we patronize others who come to this country sell us food, liquor, do our nails, sell us hair, and the list goes on.  We witness them take our money, and deliberately not live in our community.  We know that they would never think of patronizing us.  Yet, we are willing participants in our own exploitation.

Why do we continue this path to economic destruction? Are we like the parable of the elephant as described by Marvin X? The circus elephant   tied by a simple rope and did as his trainer instructed, until one day, he decided to break free, wreaking havoc on everything in his path?

Are we Samson, who brought the pillars down on the temple and destroyed himself along with his tormentors?

The Wisdom of the Plato Negro is a must read for it explains the contemporary condition of our people. What path we will take to correct this condition is in our hands.

Raushana Karriem
Editor-in-Chief Muhammad Speaks Newspaper, Atlanta GA

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Parable of the Poor Righteous Teacher

for Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee)

Sooner or later, they always come for the teacher. After all, the more popular, the more dangerous. The more serious and sincere, the more a threat to the bourgeoisie whose philosophy is do nothing, say nothing, know nothing. Thus, the serious teacher has no seat at the table. Yes, he is tolerated for a time, maybe a long time, but the plot was hatched the first day he arrived to teach, when the contract was signed, his doom was sealed.

No matter what chairs he established, no matter how many institutions he created in the name of God. The bourgeoisie care nothing for God, only as a cover for their filthy behavior in the dark, their winking and blinking at the water hole.

The teacher must know absolutely if he is on his job he won't have a job, for no matter how many years he gives of his soul, his mental genius, he is not wanted. No matter how many students he is able to raise from the box, his services are not wanted.

The bourgeoisie do not want Jack out of the box, this must be understood. They prefer Jack and Jackie stay confined and proscribed in the box of ignorance. They are mere pawns in the game of chance the bourgeoisie play until they are removed from power, after they steal all they can, when the coffers are empty, the institution bankrupt and they are under indictment.

Now they will never put down their butcher knives, never turn into Buddha heads. This is why one must practice eternal vigilance with them. They are planning and plotting the demise of the poor righteous teachers at every turn.

So the teacher must teach his students about power, but when he does, his exit papers are signed. He may not know this. He may believe he has friends on the board of trustees, but he is only fooling himself. He is a starry eyed idealist, a dreamer, who shall be awakened from his dream one day for sure. And on that day he shall find his office door locked. His classroom door secured by a guard. His students transferred to other colleagues he thought were with him. But they will only say to him, "Sorry, brother."
--Marvin X

Catch his reading and book signing on Saturday, Sept. 1, 3-6pm at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th Street, downtown Oakland. Call 510-200-4164 for more information. 

Bio of Marvin X

Above: Eldridge Cleaver and Marvin X, circa 1978

Bio of Marvin X

Marvin X was born May 29, 1944, Fowler CA, nine miles south of Fresno in the central valley of California. In Fresno his parents published the Fresno Voice, a black newspaper.

Marvin attended Oakland’s Merritt College where he encountered fellow students how became Black Panther Party co-founders Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. They taught him black nationalism.  Marvin’s first play Flowers for the Trashman was produced by the Drama department at San Francisco State University, 1965.  Marvin X dropped out to established his own Black Arts West Theatre in the Fillmore, 1966, along with playwright Ed Bullins. Months later Marvin would co-found Black House with Eldridge Cleaver, 1967.

Marvin introduced  Eldridge Cleaver to Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.  Eldridge immediately joined the Black Panther Party.  Huey Newton said, “Marvin X was my teacher, many of our comrades came from his Black Arts Theatre: Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver,  Emory Douglas and Samuel Napier.”

One of the movers and shakers of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) Marvin X has published 30 books, including essays, poetry, and his autobiography Somethin’ Proper. Important books include Fly to Allah, poems, Beyond Religion, toward Spirituality, essays on consciousness, and How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, a manual based on the 12 step Recovery model.

Marvin received his MA in English/Creative writing from San Francisco State University, 1975. He has taught at San Francisco State University, Fresno State University, UC Berkeley and San Diego, Mills College, Merritt and Laney Colleges in Oakland, University of Nevada, Reno.  He lectures coast to coast at such colleges and universities as University of Arkansas, University of Houston, Morehouse and Spelman, Atlanta, University of Virginia, Howard University, Univ. of Penn, Temple Univ., Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, UMASS, Boston.

His latest book is the Wisdom of Plato Negro, parables/fables, Black Bird Press, Berkeley. He currently teaches at his Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland. Ishmael Reed says, “Marvin X is Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland."

For speaking, readings and performance, contact Marvin X @,

Morris Brown College Files Chapt. 11 Bankruptcy

Morris Brown College seeks federal protection, hopes to prevent auction of campus
By Ernie Suggs

August 26, 2012
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Morris Brown College officials have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a last ditch effort to prevent the 131-year-old school from being foreclosed on and sold at auction, and to give them time to regroup.

Morris Brown, which is more than $30 million in debt, was facing foreclosure next month after investors called $13 million worth of bonds tied to the college. The bonds were issued by the Fulton County Development Authority in 1996. As security for the bonds, Morris Brown pledged several pieces of property, including the school's administration building. An auction of assets had been scheduled for Sept. 4.

"The trustees are taking several deliberate actions to insure that we not only survive, but thrive," board Chairman Preston W. Williams said Saturday. "Our commitment is to focus on restructuring and making it possible for us to survive another day."

Chapter 11 is part of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization and gives federal protection to businesses unable to pay their debts.

Renardo Hicks, an attorney for Morris Brown, said the emergency filing automatically delays the foreclosure until a judge decides otherwise.

"Our expectation is that the sheriff's sale will not happen," Hicks said.

Morris Brown President Stanley Pritchett said the filing will give the school breathing room to find a steady stream of capital to keep it afloat.

"We are making a statement that Morris Brown College is not going anywhere," Pritchett said. "We are not going to allow this latest challenge to get in the way of what we are trying to do."

Hundreds of supporters and alumni of the school gathered on campus Saturday for a prayer vigil and campus prayer tour.

At times, the vigil, which started in the John H. Lewis Gymnasium, was more like church. The air conditioning wasn't on so large fans were placed at the doors to circulate the air. Everyone used their programs to fan them selves as members of the Morris Brown Choir sang hymns.

Beneath banners touting the school's athletic dominance of the 1940s and 1950s --- including one that read "Black College National Champions 1951" --- several ministers offered prayers and hymns.

Then they walked across campus, stopping at each major facility to pray --- from the multi-million-dollar football stadium that Olympic money built, which now sits choked with weeds, to Fountain Hall, the historic building where W.E.B. Du Bois once had an office, now boarded up and abandoned.

Eugenia McDowell stood at the top of the steps overlooking the football field, waiting for a group to gather for prayer. To her right was Furber Cottage, now boarded up. To her left was Gaines Hall, which was the honors dorm when she was a student there in 1997 --- also boarded up.

Directly behind her was the Sarah Allen Quads, gutted by a recent fire.

"It is sad that we might lose all of this," McDowell said. "I would love to come back to this campus one day and see it revitalized. That is why we are praying today."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Black Love Lives, Part II: Nisa Ra interviews Drs. Nathan and Julia Hare

Filmmaker Nisa Ra scored big brownie points for her project Black Love Lives when she was able to interview Dr. Nathan Hare. And near the end of her talk with Dr. Nathan Hare, his wife, Dr. Julia Hare, of 55 years returned from a walk and at the urging of her psychologist/sociologist husband, sat down at the piano and began playing and simultaneously joking and poking at her husband. Videographer Gregory Fields captured her performance and acid wit, so well known to those who caught her at Tavis Smiley's Black Forum some years ago (see Youtube).

For Dr. Nathan Hare
The Black Think Tank
Phone: (415) 474-1707

L to R: Marvin X, daughter Muhammida El Muhajir, Dr. Julia Hare, Nisa Ra, former wife
and mother of Muhammida, and Dr. Nathan Hare. Nisa Ra interviewed the Hares for her
film project Black Love Lives. photo Gregory Fields

Why "Runaway Slave"?

Miles Davis - The Last Performance - Jazz à Vienne 1991 (Official)

Miles Davis - Time After Time (Live 1985)

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things 1965

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things 1965

John Coltrane and Miles Davis :So What

John Coltrane and Miles Davis :So What

Miles Davis & John Coltrane - Kind of blue


Sarah Vaughan - 'Round Midnight (1963)

Miles Davis Quintet - 'Round Midnight

Amiri Baraka on Democracy Now! About Marable's Biography, Malcolm X: A L...

Nisa Ra's Black Love Lives rocks Oakland

Photo: Black Love Lives in the Bay! Sunday 8/26,  7-9pm Screening + post screening discussion with filmmaker Nisa Ra and panel on black love.
Nisa RaNisa Ra
Nisa Ra's short film Black Love Lives, rocked the small crowd at Oakland's Uptown Apartments Screening Room Sunday evening. This documentary about black loving couples was a positive approach to the trauma of black relationships. More than half black marriages end in divorce, but Nisa's film attempts to increase the longevity of black relationships by depicting couples telling how to do it right, no selfishness, no thyself first. One husband probably said the most profound line in the film, "How can you have a soul mate when you haven't discovered your soul?"

This film, shot in Philadelphia, shows there is hope for black relationships if people know themselves, thus they are capable of knowing their partner. There were young couples and those not so young, one husband was 90 years old and his wife 92. They'd been married fifty years.

Black Love Lives is a powerful tool in repairing our traumatized and abusive relationships. It is not about trauma or abuse, but the positive things we must do to make relationships successful.

Marvin X, Nisa Ra's former husband and father of their daughter Muhammida el Muhajir, said even when couples separate and divorce, they must learn to be civil and not spread any negativity on the children, i.e. Black Love must Live even when the couples separate. The parents must show love so the  children can know love.

A conference based on the film will take place at the University of Penn. Before leaving the Bay Area, Nisa Ra will interview Dr. Nathan Hare and Dr. Julia Hare, a couple that long championed the notion Black Love Lives!
--Marvin X

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marvin X Speaks on KPOO, Tuesday, 10:00pm

Marvin X Speaks on the Terry Collins show, KPOO radio, Tuesday night, 10:00pm.
FYI, Terry Collins is the son of Ella Collins, Malcolm X's sister. Terry is one of the founders of the BSU at SF State University and one of the Third World strike leaders  for black studies and ethnic studies.

Marvin X interviewed by Terry Collins, KPOO radio, Thursday, 10:00pm

Al Freeman, Jr. Long Live the Black Arts Movement

Among other parts, Al Freeman performed in Amiri Baraka's Dutchman and portrayed the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Spike Lee's Malcolm X. He taught in the drama department at Howard University.

Howard University
Department of Music
202 806 7082

Elbert "Big Man" Howard on Richard Aoki

by Elbert “Big Man” Howard
Their revolutionary spirit as strong as when they met 42 years earlier – despite life-threatening maladies – proud Black Panthers Richard Aoki and Elbert “Big Man” Howard enjoy coming together for the Oakland premiere of the award-winning documentary, “Merritt College Home of the Black Panthers,” in October 2008. - Photo: Carole Hyams
At almost 75 years of age, there are very few things in life that surprise me anymore. However, I can say I was not only surprised by the allegations made against my comrade Richard Aoki, I was sickened. I should not have been surprised because I know that this government still has unfinished business with us, we Panthers, and being dead doesn’t free us from their need to persecute us and create chaos and mistrust among those of us who remain.
The San Francisco Chronicle, like most mainstream press, loves this shit. It was not so long ago when this administration found a way to try to destroy my comrades, the San Francisco 8, decades after several of them had been tortured and the case had been thrown out. The brothers were amazingly strong and eventually most of them have been able to go on with their lives, but at a great cost to all of them.
My comrade John Bowman’s death was most definitely hastened by the persecution (not prosecution, persecution). The SF Chronicle, at a very sensitive time in the case, produced a huge front page spread by a writer who tried to link the murder of a young woman, a totally unrelated occurrence, to this case. So the fact that the SF Chronicle was so eager to publish and sensationalize the garbage put out by this so-called author, Rosenfeld, with his “30 years of research,” is not a surprise to me.
Black Panthers John Bowman and Minister of Culture Emory Douglas talk outside the Party’s San Francisco office.
Because I have been around for a long time, I have seen that a number of people with books to peddle are capable of resorting to the most heinous acts of sensationalism in order to promote themselves and will do so with total shamelessness and disregard for others. The sickening part is that these scandalous accusations are targeting my dead comrade, Richard Aoki – Richard, who is no longer around to defend himself, Richard, a revolutionary to the end of his days, the littlest man with the largest stature I ever knew. Not one of his comrades, not one, mind you, has ever had anything but the highest respect and love for Richard Aoki.
My wife and I have read and emailed back and forth anything and everything we can get our hands on about the sources involved and listened as learned people shared their knowledge with us and have investigated, as much as we can, these scandalous, unsubstantiated charges leveled at our dead comrade, Richard.
Persecuted by the SF Chronicle the way the paper is now crucifying the character of Richard Aoki are the San Francisco 8, former Black Panthers charged with killing a cop more than 40 years after he died using evidence obtained by torture: Harold Taylor, Francisco Torres, Richard Brown, attorney Soffiyah Elijah, Richard O'Neal, Hank Jones, Supervisor Eric Mar and Ray Boudreaux. Here, they are celebrating the dropping of the charges against most of them, a victory won by the power of the people. The other two SF 8 defendants, Jalil Muntaqim and Herman Bell, remain political prisoners. – Photo: Scott Braley
Being nearly 75 years of age, and having been in the Black Panther Party from 1966 to 1974, I know a lot about this government. I know that the mission to spread disorder and mistrust amongst those of us who remain is alive and well and that now, as in the past, fools can be used as tools and pawns by them to foment chaos.
Why do you think there are political prisoners still locked up decades later? Elderly men and women now, still threats to the power structure. The best of us, so many, still locked away in dungeons or in exile, thousands of miles away from their people.
We may now be lawyers, businessmen, physicians, state representatives or businessmen. We may be old and ravaged by the sands of time; it matters not. We may be living relatively innocuous lives, or we may be community activists, or we may be dead. It does not matter – they must make examples of us. They must show the people we were under their thumbs and not serving the people, as we claimed.
Panthers Big Man and Terry Cotton display a banner honoring Richard Aoki at Richard’s funeral in March 2009. – Photo: Carole Hyams
It was only this past Monday and yet it seems like such a long time ago thatSeth Rosenfeld’s “exposé” appeared in the SF Chronicle. My wife and I have been so busy since then that the days are gone before we know it!
The events now occurring around the feeble, incredible fiction Rosenfeld has put out there to promote his book (yeah, we know, 30 years in the making) at the expense of Richard Aoki’s name bring me back to years ago when I was one of several young Party members and we started publishing our newspaper. We found a way to do this because we realized that with the mainstream newspapers and media lying to the people, we needed to create an instrument of our own to tell our own stories in our own way – to tell the truth about ourselves and our communities and about the lying, racist, corporate criminals who controlled the media and were oppressing the people. To create a revolutionary tool which would wake up and shake up the world. And we did that.
Two close friends of Richard Aoki at his funeral in March 2009 are Yuri Kochiyama and Big Man. Like Richard, Yuri, a lifelong freedom fighter, built Black-Asian solidarity. Decades earlier, she had worked closely in Harlem with Malcolm X. On the stage with him when he was assassinated, she rushed to his side and comforted him as he breathed his last. – Photo: Carole Hyams
The Black Panther Party Newspaper became a paper with worldwide circulation and I was the editor for a while. We published articles which were based on our struggles and the day to day struggles of our comrades and the people we served in our communities. Stories where we talked about our fallen comrades and their killers. Where we talked about the war-mongering, racist, oppressive government of this US of A. Where we talked about ways in which we served our communities, educating people and each other. Young lives were ripped from us.
But we had a great newspaper; I have always thought so. We used that paper to communicate with each other and people all over the world. Now there’s email and Facebook. But nothing comes close to that beautiful, revolutionary paper. I still miss that paper to this very day.
But I digress. Being almost 75 years of age, I allow myself that privilege. And so, … Richard.
I have spoken of how I got to know Richard in the early years of the Party, how I learned of his internment, a young victim of America’s concentration camps for the Japanese, how he and his family were stripped of everything they had, but how he survived that and how he grew up on the mean streets of Oakland, how he learned to defend himself and how the Black Panther Party seemed to him the logical place for him to be.
Like me, he had been in the service. He knew about weapons, sure. He also saw that through education he could fight for equal rights, educate and organize his community. He never, ever stopped doing that. Never stopped fiercely loving the people. Never stopped speaking his mind. Never compromised his views. Never cared about saving his own skin. He was always out there, a fierce warrior for human rights, to the day he died.

Richard Aoki knew about weapons, sure. He also saw that through education he could fight for equal rights, educate and organize his community. He never, ever stopped doing that. Never stopped fiercely loving the people. Never stopped speaking his mind. Never compromised his views. Never cared about saving his own skin. He was always out there, a fierce warrior for human rights, to the day he died.

In early 2006, we were reunited at the West Oakland Library at the Li’l Bobby Hutton event put on by Its About Time. We had not seen or heard from each other for decades. We were both pretty weak, him frail and walking with a cane after several strokes and kidney problems, and me just recovering from cancer surgery and several other chronic health conditions. It was so good to see him again.
At the last gathering of the Panthers before Richard Aoki’s death – the San Francisco premiere of the film “Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers” in January 2009 – are Panthers Big Man, Billy X Jennings, Richard Aoki and Ericka Huggins along with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who narrates the film. – Photo: Carole Hyams
In later years, no matter how sick he was, Richard would find a way to come to almost every event. We never ceased to find joy in seeing each other, and we would laugh at the fact that, amazingly enough, we were still around.
There are many people now fighting along with all of Richard’s comrades to educate people and repair any damage that this irresponsible assault on his character may have done. You can bet that Richard is somewhere cracking up at all of this and especially at how much work this has created for his many comrades, his students, his professional peers and members of his community – all of whom remain devoted to his memory.
Richard never had us guessing as to where he personally stood politically. He never stopped condemning the real criminals in America, not ever. And he kept us entertained with his wit and intellect until his death – suicide, some call it, but he was barely alive and very tired and did not want to be kept around by means out of his control. Richard, who we loved, admired and who made it clear how much he loved us and, in particular, all disenfranchised, oppressed people.

We will continue to fight these atrocious lies, lies without evidence, lies designed to sell a book and to create disturbances, anxiety and suspicion amongst us all.

Because I am almost 75 years of age, I can say with the certainty of one who has seen many things: I know that Richard walked the walk, not just talked the talk, and he continued to fight for human rights until his death.
That’s Big Man on the right at a July 1968 demonstration in Oakland. – Photo: Pirkle Jones
So we will continue to fight these atrocious lies, lies without evidence, lies designed to sell a book and to create disturbances, anxiety and suspicion amongst us all. Richard no longer is here to fight these ridiculous allegations himself, so we must do so. After all, we owe him, big time.
Elbert “Big Man” Howard is one of the original six founding members of the Black Panther Party; he served as the first editor of the Black Panther newspaper and as party spokesperson. He is also, more recently, a founding member of the Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline (PACH). An activist, author and lecturer, he resides in Sonoma County and can be reached at