photo Johnnie Burrell
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Angela Davis and Sonia Sanchez, A revolutionary conversation at Oakland Merriott
On Saturday, May 24, 2014, a rare conversation took place at Oakland's Merriott Hotel between two revolutionary divas, Sonia Sanchez and Angela Davis, hosted by Sara Lomax-Reese, owner of WURD, a Philadelphia Black talk radio station. The conversation was entitled Embracing Our Culture Coast-to-Coast. Angela is an Oakland resident, Sonia lives in Philadelphia, but the three thousand miles difference in space and time, was not a factor in the conversation as the veteran revolutionary fighters shared their past in the struggle for Black liberation. Both ladies are from Birmingham, Alabama, both suffered the wretched conditions of the dirty south, their parents were among those North American Africans who were attracted by the Communist party. Angela said it was members of the Communist party who help lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement. Sonia said her father allowed the Black Communists to meet at his speakeasy. But when her family moved to New York, her dad tried to keep her from being involved in the Black Thang. Sonia became a member of CORE or the Congress of Racial Equality, essentially, she became an integrationist until she heard Malcolm X speak. He told her one day she would change her views. And she did, after which CORE members didn't want to her anything she had to say since it was prefaced with, "Brother Malcolm X said...."
Two revolutionary Black women who have helped change our world:
Sonia Sanchez and Angela Davis
Sonia, Angela and Kim McMillan, producer (with Marvin X) of the UC Merced conference on the Black Arts Movement, 2014
Sonia, Lakiba Pittman, Kim McMillan, Marvin X
Long-time revolutionary comrades: Angela Davis, Marvin X and Sonia Sanchez
Angela left Birmingham, attended school in New York, then went to study in Europe. When she heard about the birth of the Black Panthers in Oakland, she wanted to be there. Eventually she came back to the US but landed in southern California where she attempted to teach at UCLA, 1969, but was removed on orders of Gov. Ronald Reagan, who also had Marvin X removed from lecturing at Fresno State University. Recently, Angela returned to teach at UCLA and Sonia returned to a NYC university that had removed her. Marvin X wonders if he will come full circle and return to lecture at Fresno State University. He's getting close, during February, he was invited to speak at Fresno City College.
The ladies spoke on there role in the liberation struggle. Angela told of getting strength from knowing the struggle wasn't about her but her community, than her individuality. No, she said, I was not prepared to be on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. How could I prepare for this?
While teaching in Black Studies at San Francisco State College/now University, Sonia had a visit from the FBI for teaching such authors as W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, and other "banned" authors, black listed or "white listed" by the US Government. She repeatedly asked the FBI agent who could she possibly teach Black Studies and not mention the banned Black authors? Her poetry became more political after Amiri Baraka, aka LeRoi Jones, sent a letter to all Black artists urging them to establish the Black Arts Movement. Sonia wrote the proposal to fund Baraka's Black Arts Repertory Theatre in Harlem until the women artists were forced out of the theatre at gunpoint by two psychopathic brothers who couldn't stand "smart Black B's," she said. In spite of funds cut off, the Black Arts Movement became nationwide, working in tandem with the political movement. On the West Coast, it was Marvin X's Black Arts West Theatre, cofounded with playwright Ed Bullins. Sonia participated at the Black House, a political/cultural center established by Marvin X, Ed Bullins, Eldridge Cleaver and Ethna Wyatt.
Host Sara Lomax-Reese asked the women how do they view our present condition. Sonia said we are in worse condition than fifty years ago with the high incarceration rate, school drop out rate and the persistent dire economic condition. And she was happy to see a Black President, even if he is a puppet for capitalism and slavery around the world. Angela agreed. She was happy too when Obama was elected but the struggle continues. He has shown us what is possible but we must continue to press him on our agenda items.
Marvin X and WURL owner Sara Lomax-Reese
photo Johnnie Burrell
The event ended with a book signing and reception. Marvin X spoke with host Sara Lomax-Reese about sponsoring the 27 city tour of the Black Arts Movement. Sara told Marvin X don't think about coming to Philadelphia with the BAM tour without WURL being a sponsor!
photo Johnnie Burrell
Ta'ala nasrob bismillahi! (Come let's drink in the name of Allah)
The staff of WURL was shocked to see Marvin X since rumors were spread of his demise in February.
A local brother informed WURL staffers that he sees Marvin X at the gym every morning, so he is still very much alive. The staffers and Marvin X had to toast that he is still alive. Marvin said I have been pronounced dead three times this year, in February condolences were sent to my family. It April, rumors spread that I was killed in a car accident in east Oakland. Facebook said I was killed in west Oakland in a car accident. A friend suggested Marvin X has indeed transcended from Marvin X to Plato Negro El Muhajir. Are not his multiple and simultaneous deaths an example of quantum physics!
Marvin X told Sister Lomax-Reese he liked her idea of bringing people from Philly to Oakland. We can use this model for the 27 city tour. We can do as you have done and rather than go to each city, we can invite people to attend our BAM concerts and workshops in Oakland. He again thanked Sister Lomax-Reese for producing his daughter's discussion of Black Power Babies in Philly and the conversation between Angela and Sonia in Oakland.