photo South Park Ken Johnson
Marvin X, thank you for stopping me that day at the jazz festival and taking me on the wild crazy ride called the marvin x experience!--Aries Jordan
photo collage by Adam Turner
On February 7th I had the pleasure and honor to be apart of “The 50th anniversary of the Black Arts Movement: Passing the Baton” hosted by Laney College. In the tradition of the Black arts movement the day was filled with movement, visual arts, intellectual debates and performances. The Day began with the wellness boot camp facilitated by Micheal Bennet's wellness team from YMCA HP/ Bayview, that got the participants blood flowing and into our bodies.
The wellness boot camp was followed with a peer group on “How to Recover from White Supremacy facilitated by Dr. Nathan Hare and MSW Suzzette Celeste. The facilitators opened up with a definition of White Supremacy from Marvin X’s book “How to Recover from White Supremacy” and asked participants for their thoughts.
The conversation among the peer group took an intellectual flow and facilitators challenged the group to move beyond intellectual conversations to one more grounded in our everyday experience. It took a while for people to drop into their hearts and remove the mask of intellect. However, the Peer group ended with folks desiring to have more sacred spaces for Blacks to Recover from White Supremacy.
The afternoon included an author’s talk and open mic with some of the Bays gifted authors and performers which included James Gayle, Judy Juanita, Menhuam Ayele and myself.
Elaine Brown, Halifu Osumare, Judy Juanita, Marvin X, Portia Anderson, Phavia Kujichagulia, Aries Jordan
photo South Park Ken Johnson
The highlight of my day was the panel discussions. I had the honor of joining Elaine Brown, Phavia Kujichagulia and Judith Juanita on the women writers panel. As the youngest panelist I had a moment of self doubt as to whether I was even qualified to be sitting at the table with women of this caliber, after all I was probably not even a born during the Black arts Movement. I quickly shook it off and discussed how the Black Arts movement has inspired my writing and challenged me to move beyond my New York hustle to create works of art that challenges the status quo, heals and inspires. My fellow panelist covered a range of topics from spirituality to Black love. I was awed and inspired by the women on the panel. The “Women Writers” panel was followed by the “Black Power Babies” panel
The" Black Power Babies" panel brought together the elders of the Black Arts movement and their offsprings. The conversation was moderated by Davey D who eloquently guided the discussion and asked powerful questions of panelist. Panelist discussed their role in Black Arts Movement and how they attempted to instill the values of the movement in their children. As their children spoke I saw their parents light up as they shared how they have advanced the BAM movement in their own way. The panel got even more interesting as the topic of passing the baton to the next generation came up. The panelist discussed the challenges for elders in passing the baton and the lack of rite of passages for elders. In a society that wants to be forever young our elders struggle to find their place; causing them to hold on to the few opportunities they have to share their wisdom. The panel also discussed elders intently grooming the younger generation to take their place.
The evening continued with a reception for exhibit of visual arts by SanQuentin Prison art and Bay area visual artist. The new Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf, Publisher Paul Cobb of Post News Group and Laney President Elñora Tena Webb presented Marvin X, Black Arts West freedom fighter with a Proclamation. The proclamation acknowledged the Black Arts Movement impact on the United Sates and the world and declared Feb 5th Black Arts movement day. The Mayor also endorsed the Black Arts Movement proposal for a Black Arts District in downtown Oakland. The full day came to a close with a dramatic performance of Marvin X’s play “Flowers for the Trashman” by the Lower Bottom Players. The Poets choir ended the night with electrifying poems that got the crowd going.
The 50th anniversary of the Black arts movement was a success and brought together people from all over the Bay area and some as far as San Diego. The celebration was holistic; feeding mind, body and soul. I was deeply moved by the entire day and left with a sense of responsibility and dedication to continue the tradition of the Black Arts movement. The celebration was inspirational and renewed my commitment to writing. As artist we have the sacred task of using colors, words, sound and movement for spiritual transformation and Black liberation. The Black Arts movement did not do art for the sake of art or applause but as a weapon to reshape the narrative, evolve language and remind us of who really are. Special thanks to organizer Marvin X and all the artist old and young that answered the call!