Monday, February 11, 2013

Marvin X, the Human Earthquake, Rocks Harlem, NY at the Schomburg Library

Marvin X in Harlem, NY, 1968
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,
Haki Madhbuti, Carolyn Rogers, Kalaamu ya Salaam, Ed Bullins, Sun Ra, et al.

Dr. Mohja Kahf considers him the father of Muslim American literature. Bob Holman calls him the USA's Rumi. Ishmael Reed says he is Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland CA. Wanda Sabir says his language is so strong it will knock the socks off old ladies! According to Fahizah Alim, his writing is orgasmic! Rudolph Lewis considers him a master teacher in many fields of thought, and one of America's great story tellers. "I'd put him ahead of Mark Twain."

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

Ancestor Elizabeth Catlett Mora gave Marvin X refuge in Mexico City, 1970, during his second exile after he refused to fight in Vietnam and resisted arrest. He was ultimately deported from Belize, then British Honduras, back to the USA, convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five months at Terminal Island Federal Prison.

"When I arrived in Mexico City at Betty Mora's house, she was working on this piece honoring the Black Panther Party. I informed her my friends were Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and that I introduced Eldridge Cleaver to them." See Eldridge Cleaver: My friend the Devil, Marvin X, Black Bird Press, Berkeley, 2009,

The National Council of Artists
Tribute to Elizabeth Catlett Mora
cover design by David Mora Catlett

Honor, Courage & Creativity
Friday, February 22, 2013, 7–9 PM
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Langston Hughes Auditorium
515 Malcolm X Blvd., New York, NY 10037-1801
AFRO HORN Avant Jazz Band
OYU ORO Afro Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble
Special guest acclaimed bassist “Rufus Reid” will be performing with the "AFRO HORN"
Sam Newsome on Soprano Sax
Abraham Burton on Tenor Sax 
Aruán Ortiz on Piano
Roman Díaz on percussion 
Francisco Mora Catlett on drums

Marvin X, Spoken Word

Afro Horn, a mystical musical experience inspired by 
a Henry Dumas story

Afro Horn art by David Mora Catlett

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