Friday, November 7, 2014

Marvin X's Grand Vision for the Bay Area Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, 2015

Graphics by Kalamu Chache'

Many of the Black Arts Movement’s leading artists, including Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, Woodie King, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Touré, Marvin X and Val Gray Ward, remain artistically productive today. Its influence can also be seen in the work of later artists, from the writers Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and August Wilson to actors Avery Brooks, Danny Glover, and Samuel L. Jackson, to hip-hop artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Chuck D.

Marvin X, Producer

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peralta College District, I invite you to join me in the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, known as the Sister of the Black Power Movement. The Black Arts Movement (BAM) is without a doubt the most radical artistic and literary movement in American history. Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) is recognized as the chief architect of BAM (RIP), but here on the west coast, BAM has roots at Merritt College with students Bobby Seale
(yes, before co-founding the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale performed in Marvin X's second play Come Next Summer), Ernie Allen, Ken and Carol Freeman, and Marvin X, who won first prize for a short story  in Merritt's literary magazine. Of course we were inspired by the Afro American Association, led by Attorney Donald Warden. Bobby Seale calls us the "neo-Black intellectuals."

After graduating from Merritt, many of us transferred to San Francisco State College/now University, where we transformed the Negro Students Association into the Black Students Union that eventually led to the first Black Studies Department on a major college campus--Merritt had already established a Black Studies Department.

My first play Flowers for the Trashman was produced at SFSU by the Drama department but after the production I decided to drop out of college to establish Black Arts Theatre on Fillmore Street, co-founded by playwright Ed Bullins, Carl Bossiere, Duncan Barber, Ethna Wyatt and Hillery Broadous, 1966. BAW actors included Danny Glover and Vonetta McGee, along with musicians Rafael Donald Garrett, Oliver Jackson, Monte Waters, Dewey Redman, Earl Davis, et al.

I should mention that students from SFSU published the key critical literary magazines of the National Black Arts Movement, Black Dialogue and the Journal of Black Poetry. Students included Aubrey and Gerald LaBrie, Duke Williams, Jose Goncalves, Sadaat Ahmad, et al. Contributors included Amiri Baraka, Askia Toure, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Eldridge Cleaver, Don L. Lee,
Al Young, Art Sheridan, et al.

The staff of Black Dialogue made a historic visit to Soledad Prison's Black Culture Club, under the leadership of Eldridge Cleaver and Alprintice Bunchy Carter. This club was the beginning of the American Prison Movement, 1966.

In 1967, along with recently released from prison essayist Eldridge Cleaver, playwright Ed Bullins, Ethna Wyatt and myself, we established the political/cultural center in San Francisco known as Black House which became the center of non-establishment Black culture in the Bay Area. Black House participants included Amiri and Amina Baraka, Askia Toure, Sarah Webster Fabio, Adam David Miller, the Chicago Art Ensemble, Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, Little Bobby Hutton, Advotjha, Reginald Lockett, et al.

In summary, the Bay Area played a critical role in the national Black Arts Movement. Many BAM players, movers and shakers were bi-coastal. In 1968, we found ourselves in Harlem, invited by playwright Ed Bullins who was now at the New Lafayette Theatre. We become associate editor of Black Theatre Magazine, a publication of the New Lafayette. We joined BAM founders Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Askia Toure, Sun Ra, Barbara Ann Teer, Milford Graves, Yusef Iman, Larry Neal et al.

We invite you to help plan and produce the Bay Area celebration of the Black Arts Movement. We call upon academic and cultural institutions to make this event a reality, especially in honor of ancestor Amiri Baraka who often talked of a 27 city BAM tour. We initiated the first leg of the 27 city tour in late February/March, 2014, at the University of California, Merced, produced by Kim McMillan and myself. We are so very thankful that UC Merced made this BAM conference a great success, especially with generous funding. We know the Bay Area will help us expand on what we did in the Central Valley.

At this point, we are in partnership with the Eastside Arts Organization and the Post News Group. Please let us know if you are willing to be a funder and/or partner, participant or volunteer. Tentative date, June/July, 2015.


Marvin X, A.A., Merritt College, 1964,
B.A., M.A., San Francisco State University, 1974-75

Board of Advisors
Kim McMillon
Amina Baraka
Ras Baraka
Sonia Sanchez
Askia Toure
Paul Cobb
Greg Morozumi
Elena Serano
Castle Redmond
Denise Pate
LaNiece Jones
Walter Riley
Nathan Hare
Jerry Vernado
Terry Collins
Dr. Ayodele Nzinga
Geoffery Grier
Muhammida El Muhajir
Amira Jackmon
Nefertiti Jackmon
Aries Jordan
Davey D
Odell Johnson
Carolyn Mixon
Leon and Carolyn Teasley
Ovis and Nina Collins
Joyce Gordon
Conway Jones, Jr.

 The Grand Vision

In our grand vision for the Bay Area Celebration of the Black Arts Movement, we imagine a festival/conference over several days with  venues in various locations depending on the funding, including the following:

Merritt College, Laney Colleg, Eastside Arts, Malonga Center, Joyce Gordon Gallery, African American Museum/Library, Geoffery's Inner Circle

UC Berkeley
Black Repertory Group

Contra Costa College
Richmond Arts Center

San Francisco
San Francisco State University
African American Cultural Center
Fillmore Jazz Heritage Center

Palo Alto/East Palo Alto
Stanford University

San Jose
San Jose State University

Invited Black Arts Movement Elders
Danny Glover
Askia Toure
The Last Poets
Sonia Sanchez
Nikki Giovanni
Haki Madhubuti
Marvin X
Emory Douglas
Earl Davis
Jose Goncalves
Amina Baraka
Judy Juanita
Kalamu Ya Salaam
Abdul Sabry
Aubrey LaBrie
Duke Williams
Woody King

Performing groups
Poets Choir and Arkestra, Marvin X, Director
Lower Bottom Playaz, Dr. Ayodele Nzinga
SF Recovery Theatre, Geoffery Grier
Linda Johnson Dancers
Debra Vaughn Dimensions Dance Co
Traci Bartlow, Eastside Arts Dancers
Sun Ra Arkestra under Marshall Allen
David Murray
Afro Horn directed by Francisco Mora Catlett

BAM Dramas to be performed
Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, Drama Coordinator 

The First Militant Preacher by Ben Caldwell
The Dutchman by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka
The Toilet by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka
Flowers for the Trashman by Marvin X
Salaam, Huey Salaam by Marvin X and Ed Bullins
A Son Come Home by Ed Bullins
Sister Son/Ji by Sonia Sanchez
Papa’s Daughter by Dorothy Ahmad

BAM Babies 2.0
Marc Bamuthi, Project Coordinator
Ras Baraka
Amiri Baraka, Jr.
Muhammida El Muhajir
Nefertiti Jackmon
Oba Olatunji
Tony Medina
Francisco Catlett Mora
Joshua Redman
Greg Bridges
Refa One
Malik Seneferu
conscious rappers
spoken word artists


(Curated by Greg Morozumi, Billy Jennings, Joyce Gordon, UC Bancroft)
The Art of Elizabeth Catlett Mora
The Art of Emory Douglas
The archives of Marvin X, Dr. Nathan Hare, Amiri Baraka
The Black Arts Movement

Major Texts

The Black Arts Movement by James Smethurst
SOS—Calling all Black People: Black Arts Movement Reader
Somethin Proper, autobiography of Marvin X
Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka
Post Prison Writings by Eldridge Cleaver
Eldridge Cleaver: My friend the Devil, a memoir by Marvin X
The Black Arts Movement by Kalamu Ya Salaam
The Black Arts by Kamozi Woodard

Planning committee
Elena Serrano
Greg Morozumi
Paul Cobb
Geoffery Grier
Ayodele Nzinga
Kim McMillon
Kalamu Chache’
Dr. Mona Scott
LaNiece Jones
Joyce Gordon
Carolyn Mixon
Ben Tapscott
Michael Bennett
Marvin X

Possible funders
UC Berkeley
California Endowment
California Arts Commission
San Francisco Foundation
Peralta Community College Foundation
San Francisco State University
Laney College
Stanford University
Merritt College
SF Hotel Tax Fund
Zellerbach Family Fund
City of Oakland Arts Commission

Call for Papers on BAM Critical issues
(Send two page abstract to

Role of Women
Multi-Culturalism/Ethnic literature/Studies
Need for Black Arts Movement Union
BAM and Holistic Healing (East/West methods)
BAM and the Psycholinguistic Crisis of North American Africans
Toward Senior Housing and Care for BAM Workers, including the Life Estate
From Black Art to Hip Hop and Beyond
BAM Esthetics
BAM Mythology and Ritutualism
Religious influence in BAM: Christian, Yoruba, Islam
BAM and Muslim American literature
BAM and the revolution in American literature and academia
Black Arts West
Black Arts West Theatre
The Black House Political/Cultural Center
Amiri Baraka’s Communications Project, especially the dramatic productions
Black Arts/Black Liberation
Black Arts/Black Studies
Black Arts and Ethnic Studies
West Coast publications of BAM: Soulbook, Black Dialogue, Journal of Black Poetry
Black Panthers and Cultural Nationalism
Sun Ra and Marvin X’s Black Educational Theatre
BAM and the Prison Movement

Invited artists/scholars/activists
Dr. Angela Davis
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Tony Montiero
Dr. Maxwell Stanford
Dr. Oba T’shaka
Dr. Nathan Hare
Dr. John Bracey
Dr. James Smethurst
Woody King
Ishmael Reed
Al Young
Janice Merikitani
Ginny Lim

Media Team
Wanda Sabir
Davey D
Greg Bridges
Terry Collins
Paul Cobb

Documentation (videographers, photographers, post production editors)
Adam Turner
Kamau Amen Ra
Ken Johnson
Khalid Waajid

Budget: $100,000 est.
Tentative Date: June/July 2015

Project Director:
Marvin X. Jackmon

339 Lester Ave. Suite #10
Oakland CA 94606

Photo Essay: The Black Arts Movement

SOS—Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader

University of Massachusetts Press, paper $34.95 

A major new anthology of readings, this volume brings together a broad range of key writings from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, among the most significant cultural movements in American history. The aesthetic counterpart of the Black Power movement, it burst onto the scene in the form of artists’ circles, writers’ workshops, drama groups, dance troupes, new publishing ventures, bookstores, and cultural centers and had a presence in practically every community and college campus with an appreciable African American population. Black Arts activists extended its reach even further through magazines such as Ebony and Jet, on television shows such as Soul! and Like It Is, and on radio programs. Many of the movement’s leading artists, including Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, Woodie King, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Touré, Marvin X and Val Gray Ward, remain artistically productive today. Its influence can also be seen in the work of later artists, from the writers Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and August Wilson to actors Avery Brooks, Danny Glover, and Samuel L. Jackson, to hip-hop artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Chuck D. SOS—Calling All Black People includes works of fiction, poetry, and drama in addition to critical writings on issues of politics, aesthetics, and gender. It covers topics ranging from the legacy of Malcolm X and the impact of John Coltrane’s jazz to the tenets of the Black Panther Party and the music of Motown. The editors have provided a substantial introduction outlining the nature, history, and legacy of the Black Arts Movement as well as the principles by which the anthology was assembled.

Now Available for booking: 
Marvin X 
with the Black Arts Movement Poets Choir & Arkestra

For Booking: 510-2004164
Please send letter of invitation to 
Marvin X 

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