photo Doug Harris
Marvin X in Harlem, NY., 1968. One of the founders of the Black Arts Movement coast to coast, along with Amiri Baraka, Askia Toure, Nikki Giovanni, the Last Poets, Sonia Sanchez, Sun Ra,
According to Black Panther co-founder Dr. Huey P. Newton, "Marvin X was my teacher. Many of our comrades came through his Black Arts Theatre: Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Samuel Napier!"
After an absence of 45 years, Harlem got to hear poet Marvin X, master of the short short story. Last night at the Schomburg Library, a full house heard Marvin X give a short but inspiring tribute to his revolutionary comrade, painter Elizabeth Catlett Mora, who gave him refuge in Mexico City when he refused to fight in Vietnam, 1970. The packed audience got a taste of the man called the USA's Rumi, Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland and Mark Twain. Marvin was backed by Afro Horn, the band formed by Betty Mora's son, Francisco Mora Catlett. Francisco and Marvin both worked with the legendary Sun Ra, so their coming together was a double honor to Mrs. Catlett Mora and Sun Ra.
Afro Horn included special guest, acclaimed bassist Rufus Reid, Sam Newsome, soprano sax, Aruan Ortiz, piano, Roman Diaz, percussion, Francisco Mora Catlett, drums, and Marvin X, spoken word. For sure, Harlem has not heard the last of Marvin X and Francisco's Afro Horn. Mrs. Catlett's other son, David, flew in from Germany. David, in the tradition of his mother and father (Poncho Mora) is an artist and sculptor. Marvin X had not seen David since 1970. Below is art work for Afro Horn by David Catlett:
The audience saw a powerful performance by Harlem poet George Tait, the New York African Chorus Ensemble and Oyu Oro, the brainchild of Francisco's Afro-Cuban wife, Danys "La Mora" Perez, an international Afro-Cuban folklore performer. Presenters included Dr. Rosalind Jeffries, Dr. Carolyn Mailand, Dr. Rashidah Ismaili, Dr. Lorenzo Pace, Ademola Olugebefola. Ademola, one of Harlem's greatest painters, had not seen Marvin X since 1968 when the Black Arts Movement exploded with such artists as Amiri Baraka, the Last Poets, Barbara Ann Teer, Mae Jackson, Nikki Giovanni, Ed Bullins, Sun Ra and Sonia Sanchez. Marvin X ended his tribute (Afro Horn in background) noting he had not seen Betty Mora since 1970 until a few years ago at Amiri Baraka's house in Newark, NJ, when she walked in with Sonia Sanchez to attend Marvin's book party. Long live the revolutionary spirit of Elizabeth Catlett Mora!
Marvin X returns to the east coast on March 16. He will participate in the Black Love Lives Conference at the University of Pennsylvania, an event produced by Nisa Ra and Muhammida El Muhajir. Call 718-496-2305 for more information. Meanwhile, the poet is assembling the archives of Dr. Nathan Hare and Dr. Julia Hare, with the assistance of students from Oakland's Laney College and the advice of Itibari Zulu, former UCLA librarian and editor of the Journal of Pan African Studies, and Dr. J. Vern Cromartie, co-chair of the Sociology Department at Contra Costa College in Richmond. Institutions interested in the Hare archives should contact The Community Archives Project, Senior Agent, Attorney Amira Jackmon, 510-813-3025.
--Marvin X, Brooklyn, NY, 2/23/13