Monday, November 9, 2015

Wish List for Black Arts Movement Cultural and Economic Districts coast to coast

Suggested Elements of the Black Arts Movement Cultural and Economic District for downtown Oakland

The following are some of my thoughts toward the establishment of a comprehensive plan for the BAM District, downtown Oakland. Please let me know your thoughts. This project is bigger than any one person. Indeed, it must be a communal plan for the next fifty to one hundred years. 
--Marvin X, Planner, BAM District, Oakland
Marvin X

1. Property in the BAM District placed in land trust to ensure longevity of district, thus not subject to developers and gentrification. District placed under immediate rent control.

2. Special residents in the BAM District housing receive life estate, e.g., chronic homeless, mentally ill, addicts in recovery, artists, senior citizens, recently released from incarceration and others with special needs.

3. Artists, business persons, vendors, meet to agree on principles of understanding for those in the district, e.g., a positive attitude must prevail at all times. Keep negativity to a minimum.

4. All persons in BAM District must attend peer group mental health sessions to recover from the addiction to white supremacy Type I and II.

5. Saturday African Market Day, including Farmer's Market and Arts & Crafts vendors. Street vendors during the week as well, as in San Francisco, Berkeley and elsewhere to enable economic stability for BAM artists and craft persons, entrepreneurs and youth to acquire business acumen.

6. Banners up immediately after declaration of BAM District, e.g., flag, icons of BAM and political heroes/sheroes, local, national and international, i.e., Pan African champions of freedom and justice.

7. A children's village at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza.

8. Educational tour of district for all Oakland students to learn the North American African contribution to Oakland and the world.

9. Budget for planning and operating district for five to ten years.

10. Immediate pilot project between Clay and Franklin along 14th to test project virtues and flaws of business persons, vendors, artists, educators, street mental health workers, security persons.

11. Tour guides.

12. Board of Directors and bylaws for operating district.

13. Establish BAM District as tourist site.

14. Music and art display and performance along the corridor.

15. Free speech area at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza and/or Lake Merritt amphitheatre.

16. In honor of Marvin X (Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland--Ishmael Reed) establish a permanent structure for Academy of da Corner at 14th and Broadway, Legba Square. Establish endowment fund so Marvin X can continue his mission of educating, inspiring and motivating Oakland youth and adults. "Don't spend all that money going to seminars and workshops on motivation and inspiration. Just go stand at 14th and Broadway and watch Marvin X at work. He's Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland, "says Ishmael Reed.  Bob Holman says, "Marvin X is the USA's Rumi! The wisdom of Saadi, the ecstasy of Hafiz!"  Rudolph Lewis comments, "He's a Master Teacher in many fields of thought. One of America's great story tellers. I'd put him ahead of Mark Twain!"

17. Every adult member of the BAM District must mentor at least one youth so the baton can be passed to them ASAP.

18. The BAM District should acquire and maintain a fresh spirit of radical consciousness, not one steeped in reactionary and/or conservative notions from the past. For sure, the elders should dispense their wisdom freely so youth are aware of our traditions and how to expand on it as we pass the baton to them. BAM Master Sun Ra said, "The children are the elders." Indeed, at two years old, my grandson said to me as we walked to Lake Merritt from Academy of da Corner, "Grandpa, you can't save the world, but I can!" At the Laney College BAM 50th Celebration this year, my daughter's comments went viral during the panel Black Arts/Black Power Babies, an inter-generational dialogue.
"We're ready and able, so pass the baton, Dad!"

 Nefertiti, Marvin X's oldest of three daughters, jammed him at Laney College BAM 50th Celebration, "Dad, you say pass the baton but you won't pass it. We're qualified and ready, so pass the baton!"
photo Kenny Johnson

Kujichagulia said, "Yes, I brainwashed my children to prevent them from acquiring the addiction to white supremacy Type II. Her daughter Taiwo speaks on BAM/Black Power Babies panel. Mother Kujichagulia is so proud!
photo Kenny Johnson

Hello Marvin X,
You are invited to the following event:
Black Arts  Culture and Business District - Planning Session
Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Monday, November 16, 2015 from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM (PST)
City Hall
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Hearing Room 3
Oakland, CA 94612

View Map

Event registration is by invitation only. Register with your email address to attend this event.
Council President McElhaney is bringing together a group of African American artists, culture keepers and downtown business owners to help craft a vision of a downtown that honors and lifts up our unique heritage and history as a center of black arts and culture.

We hope you can make it!

Erika Broyard, Assistant to Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney


  1. These are my ideas for what I would like in the BAM district and what I could help with. I do acknowledge I am speaking as a resident artist from outside of Oakland. I have been lucky to find local storytellers who have shared resources on Oakland's black history, tradition and culture. This process, however, should not be atypical.

    Main objective:
    Make Oakland’s narrative of radical resistance and social justice available and accessible to Oakland natives, visitors, and temporal residents.


    1. Design a tour through buildings and sites in the BAM district to retell the history of Black resistance and arts. Huey P. Newton Foundation had a Legacy Tour; can it be reestablished? OMCA has a list of historical Black Panthers sites but without a context to make sense of it

    2. Write and publish a guide to the BAM district.

    3. Make historical and relevant sites easily identifiable as such. Have a phone and SMS service to tell the history of buildings and parks.

    4. Establish a Black Panthers Museum. OMCA is having a Black Panthers exhibition on Fall 2016. Can the same curators work on a permanent or a mobile exhibit?

    5. Schedule forums for living memory. Have regular storytelling events where elders retell their history, share their knowledge and wisdom, current concerns, etc. and young people share their present struggles and triumphs.