Despite my declaration to myself that I would cease attending meetings on police and/or Black on Black homicide (for my mental health), this Saturday I found myself at a Town Hall meeting on Gun Violence, hosted by Oakland's beloved Congresswoman, the Honorable Barbara Lee. The meeting was moderated by the Honorable Lateefah Simon and Special Guest Lynette McElhaney, President of the Oakland City Council, with youth panelists Treyvon Godfrey and Dane'Nicole Williams.
The meeting began at 1PM but I had arrived at 10AM, confused about the time after a Friday tumultuous but insightful conversation with my childhood friend and co-worker on the Black Arts Movement District, Paul Cobb, also publisher of the Post News Group. Paul had to inform me that we are now officially recognized in the 14th Street corridor, downtown Oakland, with the monumental task of creating the Black Arts Movement Business District, not for ourselves but generations to come for the next fifty to one hundred years.
We were both blessed to have grown up together on West Oakland's 7th Street, Harlem of the West, end of the line for the Amtrak train and headquarters of the Pullman Porters Union, the first Black union in America, founded by A. Phillip Randolph and Oakland's C.L. Dellums, uncle of Oakland's radical Congressman, Ronald V. Dellusms, also a former mayor.
Paul and I often fondly recall growing up in West Oakland, a Black cultural and economic district, similar to San Francisco's Fillmore and New York's Harlem. We were blessed with parents and relatives known as RACE MEN and WOMEN, i.e., people dedicated to the upliftment of the North American African nation. Our parents were inspired by the Marcus Garvey Movement. Before moving to Oakland, my parents published a Black newspaper in Fresno The Fresno Voice. In Oakland they became florists at 7th and Campbell. Paul's relatives owned a grocery store near 7th and Pine.
Paul Cobb and Marvin X
When we learned there was talk of a Black Business and Cultural District along the 14th Street corridor, Paul said, and I agreed, well, ok, let's move from 7th to 14th Street, that's a double up!
After the City Council passed legislation establishing the Black Arts Movement Business District, Paul urged me to become more politically astute. "You got to stop writing all day and connect with people. Don't be selfish but invite others under the BAMBD tent. You have been successful, so let the community enjoy the success! You can expand on your success or shoot yourself in the foot and destroy the "movement" you have created. Let the entire community rejoice in this BAMBD project. Do the necessary things to make it legitimate so no one can say you are running a fraud or scam."
In truth, Marvin X has no desire to run a scam. He's called for a billion dollar trust fund for BAMBD, not for himself, but to lay the foundation for generations to come. "I have no need of a billion dollars. I'm beyond money. People ask me how I get things done, how I bring people together like Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Angela Davis, the Last Poets, Askia Toure, Haki Madhubuti, Dr. Cornel West, Danny Glover. I reply that I get on the telephone and tell them what I'm doing. They know I'm not running a scam! After all, we've known each other, most of us, fifty years. We are true troopers. We've gone through revolution and those of us who've survived know we are true to the game! We'll take a bullet for each other!"
photo Kenny Johnson
We appreciate you, Mr. President, but do the right thing: transfer that trillion dollar military budget into education, housing and jobs for poor and middle class Americans. Offer America's marginalized young men and women the same three things you offer insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan if they stop the violence and pledge allegiance to their constitutions: education, housing and jobs.
And stop cherry picking prison reform, give a general amnesty to the 2.4 million incarcerated brothers and sisters, 90% of whom were dual diagnosed at the time of their arrests, i.e., they suffered drug abuse and mental illness, not to mention their pervasive economic condition of dire poverty, unemployment and miss-education.
I resisted because I was living the good life, being treated royally by the Reno Mormon conservatives. You know Black nationalists get along great with racists better than we do with pseudo white liberals--see Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. FYI, Nevada is the most conservative state in the union--Gov. Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign was run from Reno, Nevada--his best friend was Reno Senator Paul Laxault, and the head of the Republican National Committee was Frank Ferankaf of Reno.
I was able to invite Eldridge Cleaver and other Bay Area folks to participate in two conferences I produced for the Nevada Black community: Dr. Harry Edwards, Nantizi Cayou, Dr. Wade Nobles, Professor Sherely A. Williams, Sacramento Bee writer Fahizah Alim, et al.
After the rally with participants Angela Davis, Paul Cobb, Oba T'Shaka, Dezzie Woods Jones, Dr. Yusef Bey, Eldridge Cleaver, Donald Warden, aka Khalid Tariq Al Mansour, and Minister Farakhan, the OPD killing of Black men stopped but Crack cocaine and drive by killings began and has continued until today. I worked with Oakland's Mother Theresa, Betty King (RIP) and her Neighborhood Pals, Inc., and with mother's who'd lost sons to drive by killings in the turf wars that followed the cessation of OPD killings under the color of law. A Police Review Board was established that was impotent and exists today with the same impotency.
assassinated in broad daylight, downtown
Oakland, 14th and Alice, now the BAMB
Part Two: My life in the Global Village: Notes of an Artistic Freedom Fighter