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Marvin X interview
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If you missed Marvin X's brief appearance in Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution, you can
catch the Wild Crazy Ride of the Marvin X Experience this Thursday, 5PM Pacific time; 8PM East Coast Time, Harambee Radio.com, interviewed by Sistah Q, a continuation of her dramatic interview with Black Arts Movement co-founder and Black Arts Movement Business District planner Marvin X, known variously as "Plato teaching on the streets of Oakland", Ishmael Reed; "The USA's Rumi, Saadi, Hafiz", Bob Holman; "Mark Twain", Rudolph Lewis.
See also this week's East Bay Express Newspaper feature story Arts in Oakland by Sarah Burke:
Marvin X Jackmon, a West Oakland native, co-founder of the Black Arts Movement, and seminal writer on Black radical politics, can often be found across the street from Betti Ono Gallery, at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street, where for years he has set up his "academy on da corner." There, Jackmon works to preserve Oakland's legacy of Black radicalism — for which the 14th Street corridor has historically served as an anchor — while urging pedestrians to wake up to the reality of the Black struggle in America.
For the past year, Jackmon has also been an essential advocate for a resolution — sponsored by city council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney — to create a Black Arts Movement and Business District along 14th Street, from Oak Street to Frontage Road. The stretch includes Betti Ono, Geoffrey's Inner Circle, the Niles Club, Joyce Gordon Gallery, Club Vinyl, The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, and a number of other longtime Black-owned businesses.
The Oakland City Council unanimously passed the resolution on January 19. As is, the official designation only entails signage for the district — Jackmon envisions Pan-African flags flying above the street. But proponents hope the council will also enact legislation that will ensure community members have a powerful voice in how the district develops and are protected from displacement. In a recent interview, Jackmon said that his ultimate goal is to build a trust fund that would allow for community members to acquire the buildings that their businesses inhabit. "The main point is how do we maintain the longevity of this district after what we went through in West Oakland, in the Fillmore, and what Harlem is going through right now?" said Jackmon. "It's the same thing, so even if you build it, will it stand? And how long will it stand?"
At the January 19 council meeting, when the resolution was passed, a number of prominent community members urged councilmembers to not let the designation prove to be an empty gesture. "This is the first step, and I appreciate it, but there's so much more that we need to do to ensure that we don't become a relic and this Black Arts District is not just superficial, but we actually have Black bodies that are living in the city that can continue this legacy of artistic engagement and Black businesses," said Carroll Fife of Oakland Alliance, a coalition for racial, social, and economic justice. "Folks at the Malonga Casquelourd Center ... will they be able to impact the decisions that could displace them? Like the condo that is going up in front of the mural across the street from [the Malonga Center], what kind of say will these individuals who are part of this district, and who are business owners, have in the development of the city moving forward?"
See Sarah Burke's feature story on this blog, Eastbay Express headline.
Amiri Baraka (RIP) and Marvin X
They enjoyed a 47 year friendship as Black Arts Movement movers and shakers