Sunday, January 31, 2016

Marvin X comments on Town Hall Meeting on Gun Violence, hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Oakland Town Hall Meeting on Gun Violence
Hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee
January 30, 2016, 1PM
Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church
1188 12th Street
West Oakland CA

Fifty years later, it is almost impossible for me to attend rallies against the police for murdering our young men and women. I applaud  people like Oakland's Cat Brooks, Chepus Johnson and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Thank God they have the energy. After fifty years, I'm emotionally and mentally drained, especially after losing my own son to suicide. Imagine, on psycho drugs, he walked into a train, a brilliant young man who graduated from UC Berkeley, attended Harvard and studied in Syria at the University of Damascus. Dr. Nathan Hare says suicide and homicide are but different sides of the same coin, often situational disorders caused oppression. Often homicides are suicides because the person didn't have the nerve to kill himself so he made someone else do the job. Franz Fanon said the only way the oppressed can regain their mental health is by engaging in revolution to end oppression. Revolution is seizing power. Ras Baraka has demonstrated this in Newark, NJ. And he was blessed with revolutionary parents, so he is well trained for his mission to transform Newark, NJ, a city much like Oakland.
--from Part two: My life in the Global Village by Marvin X

They advise you when you are faced with a terrorist that you should hide, run or fight, but when your babies are dying,  it's time to start fighting!--Dr. Ayodele Nzinga 

Barbara Lee: We’re not getting enough HUD help 
US Congresswoman Barbara Lee

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
photo Walter Riley, Esq.

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!"

 Angela Davis, Marvin X, Sonia Sanchez
 Marvin X and Danny Glover, both were in the BSU at San Francisco State University; later Danny performed in Black Arts West Theatre, San Francisco, 1966, co-founded by Marvin X and playwright Ed Bullins.
photo Kenny Johnson

BAM co-founders Amiri Baraka (RIP) and Marvin X
After a 47 year friendship, this was their last picture together 
cerca 2014

Because Paul Cobb wanted me to connect with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, especially since she gave the Black Arts Movement a commendation on last year's 50th anniversary and sent a representative from her office to ask what I needed for the celebration at Laney College, I returned to the church about one thirty, just in time to hear a video of President Obama discussing gun violence. As I listened to him, my mind said America is the number one arms merchant of the world so why does she not expect  "blow back" for the mass murder of men, women and children around the world, mostly poor people in mud huts without electricity, clean water and bathrooms, full of ignorance, disease and reactionary religiosity? How can you, Mr. President, have a weekly check off list of people to kill around the world, including American citizens, yet not expect blow back? The universe doesn't work like this. As James Baldwin said, "The murder of my child will not make your child safe!"

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.

After the video of President Obama, the Town Hall meeting began with a panel discussion moderated by Lateefah Simon. She introduced the panelists that included youth and politicians Barbara Lee and Lynette McElhaney, President of the City Council. Thus began the session dealing with the trauma and grief I had vowed to avoid after fifty years of the same. But it was inescapable because I was trapped in the room, sitting next to Paul Cobb, my friend of nearly 65 years. People began to testify, from youth to adults, including Lynette McElhaney, President of the City Council, who's just buried her grandson due to violence. We heard from high school students who'd suffered the lost of twenty friends in the last year. Unbelievable! One student said she'd lost eight of her friends. Then a mother spoke who said she'd lost both her sons and was now childless. She said the killers walk around the community without fear, are often arrested for gun related charges but released. The distraught mother said no gun laws would prevent such killers from their mayhem. Tears began to swell in my eyes.

FYI, in 1979 I was teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno part time and working full time as a planner for a Community Services Agency, living a good life. But I used to read the San Francisco Chronicle to keep abreast  events in the Bay Area until I got tired of reading about the Oakland police killing one Black man per month. One morning I read the Chronicle to see the OPD had killed another Black man so I read no further, throwing the paper down in disgust, but picking it up later only to turn to the back page to discover the youth the OPD had killed that day was my best friend's 15 year old brother, Melvin Black. There was a picture of my friend Rahim and his sister Charla Black protesting outside Oakland City Hall. I was horrified, then numb but soon received a call from my comrades in Oakland who told me to get the hell out of Reno and come help the family and community in their grief.

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.

Aside from teaching at UNR, Nevada Community College and CSA, I received two conference planning grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities via the Nevada Humanities Committee.

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.

I finally decided to depart Reno and return to the battleground of Oakland to helpe organize a rally at the Oakland Auditorium in which five thousand Blacks gathered from 12 noon til midnight without incident, as reported in the San Francisco Sun Reporter by Edith Austin, Godmother of Bay Area Black politics (RIP).

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.

Today, I sat listening to the testimonies of those suffering grief and trauma from America's 400 year war against North American Africans, victims of the American Slave System as Ed Howard informed us.

Oakland Post Editor Chanucey Bailey
assassinated in broad daylight, downtown
Oakland, 14th and Alice, now the BAMB

Suddenly a man came up to Paul Cobb threatening his life over an article that was published in The Oakland Post. (Paul's Editor, Chauncey Bailey, was assassinated in broad daylight at 14th and Alice, over an article that was never published and the material was public information!) The man continued threatening Paul, claiming the article put him and his family's life in jeopardy and if anything happened to any member of his family, Paul was going to pay.  An undercover OPD officer heard the conversation and ushered the man out the church.

Now I was truly traumatized and full of grief, ready to depart to my space to recover, which means I was ready to go write about today's dramatic events. I stayed on to greet and take a picture with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and converse with others present, including Comedian Donald Lacey who is pushing a sign saying LOVE LIFE as people enter Oakland on the freeway. Donald's daughter was murdered while sitting in a car across the street from McClymonds High School, once and still Oakland's School of Champions.

We stayed with Paul until the OPD officers arrived and he filed a complaint.

Can you believe this incident with Paul happened at a church event to curb gun violence? We know violence in our community is so pervasive it occurs at funerals of violence victims. There is no end to this madness! In a 1968 interview with James Baldwin at his New York apartment, he said to me, "It's a wonder we all haven't gone stark raving mad!"
--Marvin X
Part Two: My life in the Global Village: Notes of an Artistic Freedom Fighter

From Part Two: My life in the Global Village
Notes of an Artistic Freedom Fighter

I have called for the Red, Black and Green flag to fly up and down the Black Arts Movement Business District along the 14th Street corridor, downtown Oakland. Saluting the flag should help us regain our mental equilibrium and make others, including police, recognize we are a nation of people and must be respected as such. I often give the example of the gay/lesbian flag that flies down Market Street in San Francisco as one goes toward the gay/lesbian community. By the time one gets to the  community, one gets the feeling that we must have respect for this community and not engage in homophobic language and behavior. It should and must be the same in the BAM Business District. This must be a sacred space that we must respect. And this vibration must spread throughout our community. I suggest the Red, Black and Green fly throughout our community to let ourselves and the world know we are a people with cultural consciousness, who originated from the womb of civilization. It will help us understand when we kill our brothers and sisters, we kill ourselves. When others kill us, they kill themselves as well. James Baldwin said, "The murder of my child will not make your child safe!"
--Marvin X

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