Friday, May 2, 2014

Philadelphia Poets Join the Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour

 Philly Black Poetry Honors

 Philly poet, editor, publisher Lamont b. Steptoe receives award from Black Authors on Tour founder, Maurice Henderson

Cities where North American Africans are in large numbers

RankCityAfrican-American Population Size (2010 Census)[1]Percentage African-American
1New York, New York MSA3,362,61617.8
2Atlanta, Georgia MSA1,772,56933.6
3Chicago, Illinois MSA1,721,57818.2
4Washington, District of Columbia (DC-MD-VA-WV) PMSA1,438,43625.8
5Philadelphia, Pennsylvania PMSA1,241,78020.8
6Miami, Florida PMSA1,169,18521.0
7Detroit, Michigan PMSA980,45122.8
8Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas PMSA961,87115.1
9Houston, Texas PMSA935,37115.9
10Los Angeles- Long Beach, California PMSA907,6187.1
11Baltimore, Maryland PMSA778,87928.7
12Memphis, Tennessee (TN-AR-MS) MSA601,04345.7
13Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, Virginia MSA522,40931.3
14St. Louis, Missouri (MO-IL) MSA516,44618.4
15Charlotte, North Carolina PMSA421,10524.0
16Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, Ohio PMSA416,52820.1
17New Orleans, Louisiana PMSA397,09534.0
18Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia MSA375,42729.8
19San Francisco, California - Oakland - San JosePMSA363,9058.4
20Orlando, Florida MSA344,82016.2
21Boston, Massachusetts (MA-NHNECMA331,2927.3
22Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida MSA329,33411.8
23Riverside-San Bernardino, California PMSA322,4057.6
24Birmingham, Alabama MSA318,37328.2
25Jacksonville, Florida MSA292,88121.8
26Baton Rouge, Louisiana MSA285,91135.6
27Columbus, Ohio MSA273,56014.9
28Indianapolis, Indiana MSA263,37615.0
30Milwaukee-Waukesha, Wisconsin PMSA261,01016.8
29Nassau-Suffolk County, New York PMSA260 27310.88
30Jackson, Mississippi MSA257,02147.7
30Cincinnati, Ohio (OH-KY-IN) PMSA255,90512.0
31Columbia, South Carolina MSA255,10433.2
32Kansas City, Missouri (MO-KS) MSA254,50912.5
33Minneapolis-Saint Paul MSA243,4147.4
34Nashville, Tennessee MSA242,26415.2
35Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina MSA228,26820.2
36Phoenix, Arizona MSA207,7345.0
37Las Vegas, Nevada MSA204,37910.5
38Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania MSA196,7558.4
39Seattle, Washington MSA191,9675.6
40Greensboro-High Point, NC MSA184,73025.5
41San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, California PMSA158,2135.1

At the National Black Authors Tour awards ceremony last night, Philadelphia poets were honored for poetic excellence. Poet Lamont b. Steptoe was honored along with Special Guest Marvin X who invited the poets to join his Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour in honor of Amiri Baraka. In his remarks, Marvin X said, "There are enough poets here to start my vision of a 100 poet mass choir."

When Marvin told the Philly poets he may need to bring in some other poets, the poets shouted from the audience, "We can handle it, Marvin. We got it" Indeed, Marvin X enlisted National Black Authors Tour founder, Maurice Henderson to help produce the BAM tour. Greg Corbin of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Project, will coordinate the youth poets on the BAM tour, along with Muhammida El Muhajir who will arrange panel discussion with Black Arts babies and Black Power babies. She produced Black Power Baby events in Brooklyn, New York and Philadelphia.

Sonia Sanchez, Queen Mother of the revolutionary Black Arts Movement, a true trouper 
supports and will participate in Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour

Of course the Queen Mother of the Black Arts Movement, Sonia Sanchez, has given her blessing to the BAM tour, but she told Marvin the same thing his daughter Muhammida told him, "Just the idea of a 27 city tour makes me tired." Marvin assured Sonia she would not be required to make all 27 cities.

Marvin also received tentative support from the Art Sanctuary. Executive Director, Valerie V. Gay, who said it is possible we can partnership with the BAM tour. The Art Sanctuary is having a month long celebration of Black writers. Marvin X may return before the month is out to participate, although he must get back to the Bay for the Malcolm X Jazz Festival, May 17. The BAM poets choir and Arkestra will participate.

Philadelphia pianist Alfie Pollitt and Marvin have longed to work together. Alfie has agreed to serve as music director. Alfie is currently music director for George Foxx who sings from the Teddy Pendergrass songbook. Don't be surprised if George Foxx doesn't join the BAM tour now that Marvin has made the 60s classic Wake Up Everybody the BAM tour theme song.

Ancestor Amiri Baraka, a True Trouper to the end,
my brother and friend, my comrade in revolution, "It's Nation Time, " Imamu 
told us, "Nation Time!"

The Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour is ready to visit your city. For booking call: 510-200-4164.

Abstract for the Black Arts Movement 27 City


Tour of the BAM Poets Choir and Arkestra

BAM Poets Choir & Arkestra performed at the Black Arts Movement Conference, University of California, Merced,
Feb 28--March 2, 2014 (produced by Kim McMillan and Marvin X)


The mission of the Black Arts Movement’s 27 City Tour is to continue the cultural revolution we initiated during the 1960s.  This cultural revolution is still needed because for a variety of reasons the Black Arts Movement was aborted due to the radical nature of our task which was the liberation of our people in harmony with the political movement.  Today, the need to address the political condition is critical, yes, even with the election of a non-white president, though this president has done little to address non-white issues, especially the high unemployment of youth, the high incarceration rate of 2.4 million  and the deportation rate of two million so called illegal immigrants since President Obama took office.

But more than the political and economic situation is the cultural condition, the reactionary values in hip hop culture, especially unconscious rap poetry, and even the socalled conscious poetry is, in the words of my daughter, an expression of the pseudo conscious, for words are not followed by the right action. As we know, talk is cheap!

But most important is the overall lack of mental health wellness in our community nationwide, to say nothing of physical wellness. The high rate of homicide among young North American African men is symptomatic of a lack of manhood training or the infusion of traditional values that inspire and motivate people to be the best they can be, to give honor and respect to their elders and ancestors. 

The 50%  or more drop out rate of students in our schools is partly the result of our dire mental health condition. Alas, it is said not only is there a critical need for a positive curriculum and teachers with an undying love for our children, but the mental health condition of our children requires mental health counselors with radical  values of wellness  based on a holistic approach to solving our myriad psychosocial and economic issues.  We are dumbfounded to learn the USA  (Bush and Obama) promised the young men in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere (except in the USA) three items if they stop their violence and pledge allegiance to the constitution of their lands: education, jobs and housing. Why not offer education, jobs and housing for the boyz and girls ,  in the hood? The BAM tour will address some of these issues through the medium of art, i.e. poetry, drama, dance, music, graphics.

While art therapy has been used in traditional cultures, and was utilized in the Black Arts Movement, there must be a concerted effort to make use of art in the healing of our people. Throughout the years, we have seen the power of art in changing destructive personalities. We recall the production we did of Amiri Baraka’s play The Dutchman in Fresno CA. The local pimp loaned us  a wig for the female character Lula. When he viewed the play and saw her stab the young North American African male, Clay, this rocked the pimp’s world and he threw in his pimping towel, joined the Nation of Islam and eventually became an imam and made his haj or pilgrimage to Mecca. Thus we see the power of art to heal broken, self destructive and economically damaged personalities.

Many times we heard Amiri Baraka speak about the need to reach our people in the 27 major cities we inhabit—to reach out and touch them with healing Black Art that can restore our mental and physical wellness.  In honor of ancestor Amiri Baraka, we propose to conduct a 27 city tour with concerts and wellness workshops to aid in the recovery of ourselves. Our special focus shall be on young Black men, although we cannot  and will not ignore young black women, nor will we avoid adult and parental responsibility.

We estimate the overall budget for this project will be 2.7 million dollars at $100,000 per city, including  artist fees, promotion, advertisement, rental of venues, insurance, security, lodging, food and transportation. Since many of the Black Arts Movement workers are elders, the timeline would be at least three years to complete this project,  including planning and production.

BAM workers in each community will be recruited to participate and we would like to establish a BAM center in each city, no matter if it is a 50 seat theatre as Amiri Baraka suggested.  A staff of educators,  and mental and physical health workers must be a part of this project so that we more effectively deal with our wellness in a holistic manner.


Marvin X, Project Director
The Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour
Philadelphia PA

National Advisory Board Members (Drafted by Marvin X)

Mrs. Amina Baraka
Sonia Sanchez
Askia Toure
Haki Madhubuti
Mae Jackson
Rudolph Lewis
Maurice Henderson
Emory Douglas
Elena Seranno
Greg Morozumi
Woody King
Ted Wilson
Troy Johnson
Kalamu Ya Salaam
Eugene Redman
Kim McMillan
Ayodele Nzinga
Geoffery Grier
Nefertiti Jackmon
Muhammida El Muhajir
Jessica Care Moore
Paul Cobb
Conway Jones
John Burris
James Sweeney
Fahizah Alim
Nisa Ra
Aries Jordan
Sam Anderson


  1. Count me in IF it's OPEN to poets who have this CLASS STAND:

  2. You in, Nat. What about the National Writers Union as a sponsor of this BAM tour? I will pay dues soon. If the Union can be a sponsor, please send me a letter endorsing the tour. Peace, Marvin X