Sunday, December 27, 2015

Marvin X: My life in the global village--notes of an artistic freedom fighter

My Life in the Global Village—Notes of an Artistic Freedom Fighter

Marvin X (El Muhajir, the Migrant) 

What a superb slice of history and analysis this is, Brother Marvin!!! Long may you think and write in this vein.--John Woodford, former editor of Muhammad Speaks and Michigan Today, professor emeritus University of Michigan  

Marvin X at his Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland.
Photo Adam Turner

Elder, Esteemed author, editor, publisher, UC Berkeley emeritus professor Ishmael
Reed and Marvin X. Marvin X also taught at UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, San Francisco State
University, Fresno State University, University of Nevada, Reno, Mills College, Laney College,
Merritt College and Kings River Community College.
photo Wanda Sabir

"If you want to learn about motivation and inspiration, don't spend all that money going to workshops and seminars. Just go stand at 14th and Broadway and watch Marvin X at work. He's Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland.... His play One Day in the Life is the most powerful drama I've seen."--Ishmael Reed, author, editor, publisher, MacArthur Genius Award Winner

98284807.jpg - Getty Images
 Dr. Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Oakland CA

"Don't beat yaself, Jackmon, enjoy yaself. One day at a time, one day at a time.... Marvin X was my teacher; many of our comrades came through his Black Arts Theatre, e.g., Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Samuel Napier, et al."--Dr. Huey P. Newton, co-founder Black Panther Party (quoted in Marvin X's docudrama One Day in the Life, the longest running North American African play in Northern California (1996 through 2002, Recovery Theatre production, San Francisco; also produced in New York at Sista's Place, Brooklyn, NY; Brecht Forum, Manhattan, New York; Kimako's Blues Theatre, Newark, New Jersey, produced by Amiri Baraka). 

"Marvin X is the most free Black man in non-free America.... Courageous and outrageous, he walked through the muck and mire of hell and came out clean as white fish and black as coal."
--James Sweeney

“There are more people who love you than hate you, just know that, Marvin X!—A Black Woman

Every day is a holy day to me, yes, a holiday. Every day is a party and a prayer. I don't pray five times a day in the traditional Islamic manner--I can't do anything traditional or orthodox, orthodoxy is not my style. Fa salli li rabbika! (So pray to your Lord!).

Because of my spiritual practice,  and there are those who say I am not a Muslim. For sure, I am not Sunni, if anything, I am Nation of Islam, thus closer to the Shiites and Sufis, especially the Suffis in the West African revolutionary tradition of those who fought the colonialists and neocolonialists. Put me in the camp with the Senegalese Sufi BAMBA, the Sufi Saint whose holy city, Touba, is more sacred than Mecca to many West African Muslims.

Many Super Sunni Black Muslims (more Arab than the Arabs) have never heard of Bamba or any other West African Muslims, going back to Ghana, Mali and Shanghai, the Islamic empires of West Africa. Yes, those Muslims who traveled to America before Columbus; those Africans who created the University of Timbuktu, while the Europeans were in the Dark Ages, especially until the African and Arab Muslims conquered Spain in 711 when Tariq crossed the straights of Gibraltar  (Gebal Tariq, mount of Tariq) and spent a thousand years in Moorish Spain, and would have conquered Europe until stopped by Charles Martel in the battle of Tours, France.

Story of the Moors in Spain (T (Paperback) | Eso Won Books

We learn painfully that history repeats itself. Often we never learn from history, thus we repeat it to the pain of our children who suffer from our mistakes. Not long ago, Black Arts Movement co-founder, Askia Toure,  lectured at University of California, Merced. He prefaced his remarks with an apology to the students for the condition they are in due to us elders not finishing the work so they would not need to reinvent the wheel to liberation. After his remarks, I took the mike and told the students while we did not finish our liberation, it was due to the overwhelming power of the US Government that came at us with military force, disinformation campaigns, agent provocateurs, snitches and opportunists. In short, the Black Liberation Movement was sugar coated with agents who did every thing in their power to abort our liberation movement, including the Civil Rights Movement.
Alas, the FBI began with the Marcus Garvey Movement around 1914 or a year or two later. It continued through the era of the Civil Rights Movement, including the time of Martin Luther King, Jr. Brother Jones who was MLK, Jr.'s lawyer and works at Stanford University on the MLK, Jr., papers said, "It was not hard for me to write about MLK, Jr., all I had to do was transcribe the FBI tapes! They had every word!"

Were we not under surveillance throughout slavery? No North American Africans could meet without a white person (even a child) present, especially a church meeting. And then came the Black Codes when three or more NAF could not meet or stand on the corner. And then the Slave Catchers (precursors of the police) could catch us and/or kill us if we resisted, though they had to compensate the massa for the loss of his property.

The only reason NAF kill each other today is because they are not of value, no longer chattel property, although they are more valuable incarcerated than dead. In prison they are worth between $50, 000 to $60,000 per year. At the Alameda County Jail that serves Oakland, a correctional officer (the most powerful union in California is the Correctional Officers Union--they tell the Governor what to do!) told a departing inmate, "Keep coming back! Keep coming back! I got me a yacht, now I want to get my son one!"

As a lightweight Muslim, I am against violence except in self defense. This is why I went into exile for refusing to fight in Vietnam: Toronto, Canada, Mexico City and Belize, Central America. I must tell the story of my arrest in Belize, Central America (British Honduras then) 1970. I was taken to the Minister of Home Affairs. He read my deportation order which said "Your presence is not beneficial to the welfare of the British Colony of Honduras, therefore, you shall be deported back to the USA. Your plane departs at 4pm. Until then you are under arrest." I was taken to the police station, told to sit down in the lobby, not in a cell, nor was I handcuffed. Soon I was in the center of a circle of Black police. And when the circle was full, they asked me to teach them about Black Power, the very reason I was being deported. One officer said, "Broder, you come down here to teach us so I don't know my they deporting you. White hippies come down here all the time smoking dope and they do nothing to them." When an uncle tom police officer came into the station and walked pass the circle, they pointed to him and said, "He Black mon wit white heart, Black mon wit white heart!" "Teach us Black Power, Brother," they begged.
It was surreal, but I said, "My brothers, Marcus Garvey came to Belize in 1923 and told you to get the Queen of England off your walls. It's 1970 and you still got that white bitch on your walls. Get that bitch off yo walls!" The police cracked up and said, "Broder, you all ite, you all ite!"

Time came for the ride to the airport. A little mulatto motherfucker, the same motherfucker who arrested me at the home of my radical friends, Evan X Hyde, Ishmael Shabazz, et al., arrived to take me to the airport. (See my autobiography Somethin' Proper, Black Bird Press, 1998)

They had to throw me on the plane and slam the door shut because I resisted: my wife (Barbara Hall, aka Hasani)  was pregnant on an island in the jungle, a five hour ride from  the city.  (See the film The Mosquito Coast, I rode on that same boat through that same jungle).  I didn't want to leave without her, a student I'd met at Fresno State College/now University, where I'd been invited to lecture three courses and enrolled 70 students in the Black Studies Department, until Gov. Ronald Reagan found out I was a Black Muslim who'd refused to fight in Vietnam.

Governor Ronald Reagan said, "Get Marvin X off campus by any means necessary."
At the same time, 1969, Gov. Reagan removed Angela Davis from teaching at UCLA because she was a Black Communist. Angela remembers well my case at Fresno State. She and I were in the media almost daily. According to the Fresno Bee Newspaper, Gov. Ronald Reagan entered the State College Board of Trustees meeting (as Governor he was president of the Board) to find out how he could get Marvin X off campus by "any means necessary," yes, quoting Malcolm X!).

 Angela Davis, Marvin X and Sonia Sanchez

During this time I was also attending my draft trial in San Francisco, supported by Los Angeles students who called themselves the United Black Students of California who told the media, "We want Marvin X on campus, not in Vietnam, not in Jail....

They invited me on a tour of Los Angeles colleges and universities, including LA City College, Compton College, Southwest College, LA State College and UCLA.  At UCLA they took me to the BSU meeting room where John Huggins and Alprintis Bunchy Carter were assassinated. The UCLA visit was very painful for me since I'd meet Bunchy and Eldridge Cleaver when the staff of Black Dialogue Magazine was invited to visit the Soledad Prison Black Culture Club, 1966, chaired by Eldridge Cleaver and Bunchy Carter.

After observing the military order of the club, it was clear to me the brothers had an army in prison. Indeed, prison Guru and Griot Kumasi says, "While you brothers and sisters had your revolution on the outside, we had our revolution inside the prison walls. Yes, George Jackson was our Messiah! It was kill or be killed. So what do you think we did?" The Black Culture Club was not only the beginning of the Black Liberation Movement inside California prisons, it was the beginning of the American prison movement, according to Griot Kumasi.
 Black Dialogue Magazine staff who visited the Soledad Prison Black Culture Club, 1966:
Aubrey LaBrie, Marvin X, Abdul Sabrey, Al Young, Arthur Sheridan, Duke Williams. Most of us were members of the Black Students Union at San Francisco State College/now University.

Eldridge Cleaver and Marvin X outside the house where Eldridge and Little Bobby Hutton
had a shootout with the Oakland police. Little Bobby was murdered in cold blood by the
pigs after he  and Cleaver surrendered. Cleaver was wounded and escaped into exile. When Cleaver returned from exile as a Born Again Christian, Marvin helped organize his Christian ministry. When Cleaver died, Marvin organized the memorial in Oakland. His former wife Kathleen and daughter Joju attended but told Marvin, "It was nice Marvin but there were just too many Muslims on the program." Cleaver's son Ahmad Eldridge Cleaver is a Sunni Muslim, lives in the Persian Gulf. Daughter Joju married Geronimo Pratt after his release from prison. They have a child. Throughout his years in prison, Geronimo and Eldridge communicated. After the death of Bunchy, Geronimo became head of the Los Angeles chapter.
photo Muhammad El Kareem

Eldridge Cleaver and Alprintis Bunchy Carter, who was assassinated in the BSU meeting room at University of California, Los Angeles, along with John Huggins

As I looked at Eldridge Cleaver chairing the Black Culture Club meeting, and as I observed his co-chair Bunchy and the military order of the meeting, to myself I noted "Boy, if that Eldridge ever gets out of prison he will be a dangerous motherfucker. I knew Bunchy had been a leader of the 7,000 member Slauson Street gang, so I knew he was bad, to say nothing of his persona as a poet. We smuggled out their writings and published them in Black Dialogue Magazine, against instructions from the guard who attended us. We published what I consider Cleaver's most positive essay on the Black woman that later appeared in his classic Soul On Ice, My Queen I Greet You. No matter his love letters to Beverly Axelrod, his lawyer/lover who smuggled his manuscript out of Soledad, My Queen I Greet You is the essay that rocked my soul because it gave all praise to the Black Woman, Queen of the Universe. While in prison, Eldridge had been a Muslim, so he knew Elijah Muhammad's teaching that the Black woman was indeed the Queen of the Universe, the Mother of Civilization. When he was released from prison, I was the first person he hooked up with (See his Post-Prison Writings). We founded a cultural center called The Black House on Broderick Street in San Francisco, 1967. He attended a SNCC student conference at Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn. While there, he met Kathleen Neal, a SNCC Secretary. They were in love and soon married.

After being deported from Belize for being a Black Power advocate and "Communist" I was delivered to Terminal Island Federal Prison. The brothers had an election in the big yard and appointed me Nation of Islam Minister. Three of us met in the big yard and Brother Narcellius 15X Bel-Lee said, "Marvin X, you the smartest, so you the minister.  Brother Smith, you the secretary and I'm the captain." Election over. There was no contesting of the election! We met the next Sunday in the chapel! (See my Court Speech, Black Scholar Magazine, April-May, 1971).

When we talk about religion and violence as Karen Armstrong has done in her latest book by the same name, we know how the Muslims called prayer on a pyramid of Christian heads in Moorish Spain. We also know the Christian Crusaders were knee deep in blood when they conquered Jerusalem. Fasalli li Rabbika! Murder is murder! Somebody hep me! (James Brown) So it is not religions who oppress and commit mass murder, it is men doing so in the name of religion and no religion is exempt. La kum dinu kum waliya din (to you your way and to me mine) says Al Qur'an.

I pray going out and coming back to my house, something I began doing during my life as a Crack addict. I soon learned coping is the most dangerous time in the life of a dope fiend, most especially during "tweeker's hours" or that time of night after twelve in the morning when one is often broke or with only enough for that last high, but a time when one is severely mind altered and can make mistakes in judgement. Once I bought a rock off the ground because it was in a plastic bag.
I got it from a person I knew but I asked him to make it right the next day. He asked what you gonna do about it, kill me? Go ahead, I've died five times already. I did nothing but a few weeks later I saw him with a brand new face someone had given him. Allah is God! Everything goes around comes around. Better ax somebody as they say in the Big H, Houston, Texas, yeah, down in the Dirty South!

So one never knew what was going to happen in the street while getting dope, e.g., one could get killed, robbed, tricked with bunk dope, any number of things. I was always happy to make it back to my space after navigating through a mind-field of wretched, scandalous Negroes as I noted in my monologue to the docudrama One Day in the Life ("The most powerful drama I've seen," said Ishmael Reed). In the TL, the dope dealers weren't always Black, often they were Vietnamese. "Yeah, ma nigguh, I got ice cream, ma nigguh, ice cream!" And Castro sent his Cuban rejects to the TL, for a while they had the best dope. Cuban unity had them soon opening shops on San Francisco's Market Street, doing legal business.

Numerous times I was indeed robbed, bum rushed, beaten, teeth knocked out, forced to remain in the dope house at gunpoint, knife point, etc, but I made it back. Sometimes my friends and/or fellow dope fiends were dumbfounded when I stopped to pray before leaving my room (most often a funky, wretched Hindu Hilton, i.e., SRO ( Single Room Occupancy hotel room). I had to explain to them I was putting the armor of God around me. Dope fiends didn’t care about me praying, long as I hurried up and made the run into the wicked TL).

So even now, I pray everyday, all day, when going in and coming back. I pray when I'm driving through the streets, especially when riding through San Francisco's Tenderloin where I spent so many years as a dope fiend, homeless, sleeping in alleys, doorways, cardboard boxes, Transbay Terminal Bus Station, shelters.

These days when I ride through the wretched streets of the TL or Tenderloin, that multi-cultural ghetto one block from the affluent Union Square shopping area of SF, I pray and pray, "Oh, Allah, why did you save me from these streets? Why did you take so many of my friends but keep me alive and allow me to escape? Thank you Almighty God Allah, thank you, thank you, thank you. Al Humdulilah!

Now and then I would see some of the people I used to know back in the day. I wondered how they were still alive, especially the dope dealers. They had to be working with the police, just like the prostitutes who turn tricks with any John and with the pigs who get information from them on whomever. How these same dope dealers still selling dope thirty years later?

Until lately, when I would ride through the TL, I used to look for my friend and actor, JB Saunders, who recently made his transition. JB was multi-talented, actor, singer, but lacked discipline, the difference between an  amateur and professional, although he got paid for acting but lacked discipline, something I had to learn from my association with Sun Ra when he worked with me at my Black Educational Theatre, San Francisco, 1972. We also taught together at UC Berkeley until they removed the entire radical faculty in Black Studies and hired what we call "tenured negroes".

Sun Ra scolded me about teaching freedom to my actors while he arranged the musical production of my play Flowers for the Trashman, renamed TCB or Take Care of Business (See The Drama Review, ed. by Ed Bullins, 1968). "Marvin, your actors don't need freedom, stop teaching them freedom. They need discipline! Not freedom, don't you see how free, wild and crazy they are? Stop teaching them that freedom, justice and equality. Teach discipline, that's what I teach my musicians!”

Marvin X and Sun Ra outside Marvin X's Black Educational Theatre, San Francisco CA, 1972. Both lectured in the Black Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley, 1971-72.

Freedom finally killed JB. Sun Ra noted, "All those people who talked about freedom are dead! Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., They all dead. I didn't come here to play Jesus, they ain't crucifying me!"

I must mention the time I invited him to my room at the Jefferson Hotel in Oakland. JB spent a minute or two but said he had to get back to San Francisco because Oakland was too quiet. So even though I had dope, JB caught the BART or subway back to SF.

Before his transition I used to drive around the seedy streets of the TL looking for my buddy and often find him on a corner near Jones and Leavenworth or Ellis and Taylor, by Glide Church which saved all us dope fiends from starvation, thanks to Rev. Cecil Williams and his wife, poet Janice Mirikitani, although a dope fiend cannot starve in San Francisco because  besides Glide Church, there is St. Anthony's, Salvation Army, St. Martin De Porres and a few churches in the Black community.

One time I ran up on JB on a corner. It was the first of the month when dope fiends used to get checks, a day of high drama, Negroes and other multi-cultural dope fiends literally running through the TL coping and rushing back to their hovels. That day JB said, "Hey, Teach, let me bless my teach today." He went into a liquor store and returned with a half pint of Hennessy, "This is for you, teach!" I said thanks, JB. He said, "Teach, I gotta go, gotta make a run." I said, JB, I can give you a ride, but he said, "Teach, I can get there quicker than your car," and he took off running like Superman flying in the friendly sky without leaving the ground. Rest in peace JB! A true trooper!

Oakland rapper Hammer said, "We got to pray to make it through the day." I am thankful and thoughtful (Sly Stone song) that I awaken each morning with the breath of life. A few years ago a friend called me singing the blues. I told him, "Be thankful nigguh, you got up this morning. Yesterday I was at the hospital signing books in the cafeteria when a group of people walked in with respirators, they can't breathe, nigguh, so be thankful you can breathe. You need to kiss the ground and give all praise to Allah your black ass got up this morning!"

If everyday ain't a holy day, what are they, unholy days, days of sin and wretchedness, sloth and slumber? So I'm thankful and thoughtful. I'm having the time of my life, having fun living and teaching at my Academy of da Corner. Of course I teach through my writing as well. But it's fun. Sometimes life is painful, like death of a loved one or death of anyone, like the global killing fields happening as I write this Xmas Eve, 2015.
Let me recall the cold December of 1968 when I interviewed ancestor James Baldwin with no heat in his New York apartment. He said, "How can they talk about the Prince of Peace while they bomb the hell out of Vietnam? Your condition proves they don't believe in Jesus Christ, just look at your condition! Ain't nothing else happened here but us, nothing. I applaud the black fathers who raise sons in this wretched land. It's a wonder we all haven't gone stark raving mad!"

Oh, Jimmy, indeed, the world has now gone mad, stark raving mad. Mass killing in America from coast to coast, in the hood, in the schools, workplaces, churches. I feel much like theologian  Karen Armstrong. After a lecture on her recent book Religion and Violence, she was asked how she felt about the world. She said, "I feel dread." And so it is a dreadful time to be alive, and yet I wouldn't have wanted to miss this time. As my ancestors said, "bottom rail top." And Sun Ra used to say, "You didn't let me enjoy your gladness so I don't want to enjoy your sadness."

But we must understand the nature of war and we have been at war since we were kidnapped and brought to these shores to work for eternity for free. Can you imagine to work for life without possibility of parole? In war there are casualties, sons, lovers, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, friends, downed on the battlefield.

At least tell your people and warn them we are in a fight with the true and living devil, in blackface and white face. Have no illusions some of these nigguhs/Africans ain't devils. Who brought us down to the ships? AB would say, who, who, who?
"The king sold the farmer to the ghost....
In the Atlantic ocean is a railroad of human bones...!"

Read Dr. Walter Rodney’s monograph on West Africa and the Atlantic slave trade and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. 

But the war and killing goes on and on, even as I write there is bleeding around the world, throughout the global village, Syria, Nigeria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan. Does it matter who the killers are and why they kill, for the net result is death. Does it matter if they are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Yoruba, Communist, Socialist, straight, gay, lesbian, transgender. They all murder. As Dr. Armstrong said, sometimes they get high killing. Sometimes they kill out of boredom. Indeed, some years ago young brothers said to me, "OG, you know what we do when we get bored? We get our bulletproof vests, UZIs and ride through the hood shootin' nigguhs."

Yes, if the pigs ain't killing us, we killing us cause we bored or over some pussy and dick shit, or jealousy, envy and other aspects of our full blown addiction to white supremacy Type I and II (Dr. Nathan Hare). Guru Bawa taught about our addiction to the one billion ten million illusions of the monkey mind!

But you ain't gonna take the J out of my joy, devil! I live in the no stress zone. Very few things in life are really important, Aristotle said. I work hard, pray hard and play hard.

I am so thankful to see my children grow into adulthood, but even more fascinating is watching my grandchildren grow up. I never imagined grandchildren. They make us know eternity. And they say the damnest things.

I gave two of my grandchildren some money for Xmas, well, I told them it was for Black Day. My eight year old grandson asked, "When is Black Day?" I replied, "Black Day is everyday. And spend it with Black people." Now we are a family of smart mouth people, so my smart mouth grandson, Jah Amiel said, "Grandfather, a Black man invented Legos! So I'm gonna get some Legos." My daughter said, "Dad, he's just joking with you." While babysitting that night, he had told me original jokes all night, most fell flat, but he got me with the Legos lie." Of course his most famous line was said to me when he was two years old, "Grandfather, you can't save the world but I can!"

Now don’t think his four year old sister, Naima Joy, doesn’t have a smart mouth too. But let’s start with their mother, Amira, a lawyer (Yale, Stanford Law School). I once asked Amira did she know John Coltrane’s tune Naima? She replied, “Oh, Dad, come on, where do you think I got her name from?"
Attorney Amira Jackmon

On the way home from attending a black version of Cinderella at San Francisco’s Fulton Street African American Cultural Center, Naima said, “Grandfather, can you come over our house and talk with me in the living room on the sofa for about thirty minutes?” You know I replied in the affirmative. How could I decline such a shocking invitation from my three year old granddaughter?

One day I was babysitting Naima and Jah at my apartment that has an absence of toys for children. She was looking for something to play with and found a plastic imitation plant with a baby polar bear on it. She said, “Grandfather let me see that.” I said, “Okay, but don’t tear it up and put it back together.” “Oh, Grandfather, I can do that easily, “ and she took it apart and put it back together systematically or easily. “Didn’t I tell you I could do it easily, Grandfather?”
Left to Right: Marvin X, grandson Jah Amiel, director Stanley Nelson, Attorney Amira Jackmon and daughter Naimah Joy at Shattuck Cinema, Berkeley showing of Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution. Marvin appears in the film. He and Stanley Nelson participated in the Q and A. Marvin's grandson said, "It was too much shooting!"

Naima Joy refused to leave arms of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf at Laney College Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary, Feb. 7, 2015. Jah Amiel is standing below his sister.
photo Kenny Johnson

Oakland's Black Arts Movement artists at Laney College BAM 50th Anniversary celebration. Naima Joy and Jah Amiel surround Mayor Schaaf. Mayor issued proclamation in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement.
photo Kenny Johnson

                     Review: Marvin X 2015

February 7, 2015, Laney College Black Arts Movement 50th Anniversary Celebration; panel on Black Women in the Black Arts Movement. Left to right: Elaine Brown, Halifu Osumare, Judy Juanita, Portia Anderson, Kujichagulia, Aries Jordan. Standing Marvin X, producer.
photo Ken Johnson

February 7, 2015

Marvin X produced the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Black Arts Movement at Laney College, Oakland. On January 4, 2016, the City of Oakland will hold a planning meeting on  renaming 14th Street, downtown Oakland, the Black Arts Movement Cultural and Economic District.
Marvin X and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf share a "poetic moment" before she issues proclamation honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, of which Marvin X is a co-founder.
photo Ken Johnson

Marvin X and daughter Nefertiti on BAM inter-generational panel, Laney College. She told her father, "Dad, you say pass the baton but you won't pass the baton! We're qualified and ready, so pass the baton!" Yes, she's a smart mouth too!

Kujichagulia and daughter Taiwo at BAM/Black Power Babies panel, Laney College. Kujichaulia said, "Yes, I brainwashed my children to keep them from addiction to white supremacy!"

April 25, 2015

The San Francisco International Film Festival screening  of Stanley Nelson's documentary film Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Marvin appears in film. Scheduled to be shown on PBS, February, 2016.

Stanley Nelson's film Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Director Stanley Nelson, Marvin X and Fred Hampton, Jr. at the San Francisco International Film Festival screening of Nelson's Vanguard of the Revolution.

May, 2015

The indefatigable, peripatetic poet/playwright/activist at University of California, Merced. He lectured in Professor Kim McMillon's class on his writing and role in the Black Arts Movement.
Marvin X and students at the University of California, Merced. Professor Kim McMillon says, "My   students love Marvin X! They loved reading and performing his first play Flowers for the Trashman."
See Black Fire, ed. by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal, Black Classics Press; also SOS: Calling All Black People, edited by Sonia Sanchez, James Smethurst and John Bracey.

 In 2014, the University of California, Merced, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement, produced by Kim McMillon and Marvin X. The Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra performed for the first time.

May 21, 2015

Marvin X participated in the Sun Ra Conference on Afro-futurism at the University of Chicago. He performed in a concert with Sun Ra Arkestra musicians Marshall Allen and Danny Thompson, also David Boykin, conference planner who invited Marvin X to a recording session where he read with Chicago musicians and poet Kasembe.

Marvin X in Chicago recording studio

June, 2015

Featured Authors

Marvin X

Marvin X
photo Adam Turner

Marvin X (Jackmon) was born May 29, 1944, Fowler CA. He grew up in Fresno and Oakland, graduated from Edison High School, Fresno. Attended Merritt College where he was classmates with Black Panther co-founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Merritt was also the roots of the Bay Area Black Arts Movement. The BAM journal Soulbook was published by students at Merritt. Marvin was a contributor. He attended San Francisco State College where is first play Flowers for the Trashman was produced by the drama department while he was an undergrad. His writings appeared in the Bay Area BAM publications Black Dialogue, Journal of Black Poetry and Black Scholar. Other publications include Negro Digest/Black World, Black Theatre Magazine and Muhammad Speaks. His first collection of poetry Fly to Allah is now considered the seminal work of the genre Muslim American literature. His writings include: In the Land of My Daughters, poems, Love and War, poems, In the Crazy House Called America, essays, Beyond Religion, toward Spirituality, essays, How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, essays, The Wisdom of Plato Negro, parables/fables. Marvin is currently producer of the Black Arts Movement 27 City Tour.

He participated in Juneteenth festivals in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco:
Marvin X at Berkeley Juneteenth Festival, 2015. Left: MC James Sweeney, longtime friend and supporter. Marvin X told the Father's Day crowd, "We not only acknowledge the fathers but all the mothers who are fathers as well!" In  Oakland Marvin X received an award from the 8th Annual Oakland Juneteenth Festival, produced by Barbara Howard.
photo Harrison Chastain

December 5, 2015

Marvin X receives life-time achievement award from PEN Oakland

... States’, and ‘Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir’.wins Literary Awards

PEN 2015 Award winners and presenters: Avotcja Jiltonilro, Marvin X, Lincoln Bergman, Al Young, Peter Harris, Jack Foley, Nanette Deetz, Deborah Miranda
photo Tennessee Reed

                      His writings appear in the following works:

Marvin X is available for readings and speaking coast to coast. Send letter of invitation to Call 510-200-4164

Marvin X performing with the Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra at the Malcolm X Jazz/Arts Festival, Oakland CA 2014
photo collage Adam Turner 

Marvin X, David Murray and Earl Davis: Marvin reads "Dope" by ancestor Amiri Baraka

Harlem, New York reception for Marvin X at the home of Rashida Ismaili

Fans of Marvin X at Berkeley Flea Market, Berkeley CA

 Dr. Cornel West and Marvin X

Bay Area Black Artists gather in memory of slain journalist Chauncey Bailey. Outside Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin, downtown Oakland.

Longtime friends and comrades in the Black Arts Movement, Marvin X with actor Danny Glover. Photo: South Park, Kenny Johnson.
Poet/playwright/activist Marvin X and actor/activist Danny Glover attended San Francisco State University together, were members of the Black Student Union. Danny was an actor at Black Arts West Theatre, San Francisco, 1966, co-founded by Marvin and playwright Ed Bullins.

Marvin X is available for media interviews, reading, speaking and performance of the Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra coast to coast. Send letter of invitation to Call 510-200-4164

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