There is often no mention of Marcus Garvey Movement's critical influence on the Harem Renaissance by spreading Black consciousness, publishing poetry in his newspaper and otherwise influencing North American art and culture during the 1920s. There is no mention that for his role in spreading Black consciousness, he was the first subject of the newly founded FBI, as though we weren't under surveillance for 400 years during slavery down to the present moment, from slave catchers to the loving police who murder us daily under the color of law.
The Honorable Marcus Garvey, "Africa for Africans, those at
home and those abroad. One God, One Aim, One Destiny!"
Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X
In the 60s, it was the Nation of Islam via the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that moved us from Negro to so-called Negro to Black to Aboriginal Asiatic Man. Most academic "tenured Negro" scholars focus on Malcolm X as the chief influence on the Black Arts Movement, relegating Elijah Muhammad to a minor role. Alas, who was Malcolm's leader and teacher? This myopia of understanding is partly due to what Harold Cruse called The Crisis of Black Intellectuals (see his book by the same name). This was much more than an intellectual crisis but a spiritual crisis very similar to the grief Shia Muslims suffer over the assassination of their imams, expressed in their ritual of suffering. In short, Black intellectuals and the Black community in general has not recovered from the death of Malcolm X and the role of the Nation of Islam in his murder, although little emphasis is put on the role of the American government in his murder. Malcolm says, "When I was not allowed to enter France, I knew my problem was bigger than the Nation of Islam. The NOI doesn't rule France."
Dr. Mohja Kahf, Syrian poet/professor whose novel the girl in the tangerine scarf mentions
Marvin X as the father of Muslim American literature. The seminal work being Fly to Allah.
As a result, in intellectual and academic circles, the Nation of Islam's influence is downplayed as per the Black Arts Movement. Sadly, it took a Near Eastern American Islamic scholar, the Syrian Dr. Mohja Kahf, to delineate the fundamental role of the Nation of Islam in the Black Arts Movement and in the genre she calls Muslim American literature. Of course Super Sunni Muslims dismiss her theory since the NOI are "not real Muslims."
So we move from the Black Arts Movement's fundamental influence by the Nation of Islam--and its progenitor, the Marcus Garvey Movement, to the Black bourgeoisie's interpretation of Black Art, usually a Miller Lite, World of Make Believe (E. Franklin Frazier's Black Bourgeoisie) version of art, devoid of artists as artistic freedom fighters, Paul Robeson term, the man driven to insanity by the American government and the Black bourgeoisie, one and the same.
In the 60s, the government, foundations and corporations, supported their version of Black Art with grants going to such commercial projects as the Negro Ensemble Company. They tolerated the New Lafayette Theatre in Harlem (of which I was a member as associate editor of Black Theatre
But ultimately the New Lafayette was defunded when it was clear it was only a step above the Black Arts Repertory Theatre founded by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka.
Of course, Black Arts Repertory Theatre was defunded when its message of Black liberation was clear. As a result of government defunding and psychopathic artists who shot BAM philosopher/poet Larry Neal, Amiri Baraka departed Harlem and returned home to Newark, NJ, and founded Spirit House, the resurrection of the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and his political movement that elected Kenneth Gibson, first Black mayor of Newark. Every Black mayor since Gibson went to jail for corruption. Baraka's son Ras in now Mayor. We pray for his success and safety, along with that of his Chief of Staff, his brother Amiri Baraka, Jr.
Meanwhile, the aesthetics of the Black Arts Movement were watered down and opportunists from the movement went commercial, including many BAM actors who moved into film and television, i.e., the Blackexploitation genre that basically persists until today, no matter films such as Malcolm X, Selma, 30 Years A Slave, the Butler, et al.
There has been no film utilizing the Muslim myth of Yacub, although Amiri Baraka adapted the myth in his drama A Black Mass.
The closest we come to a film utilizing original North American African mythology is Sun Ra's Space is the Place. Sun Ra is the Pope of the Black Arts Movement, Amiri Baraka its High Priest. Sun Ra is considered the father of the genre Afro-futurism, Octavia Butler, the mother. We are thankful members of the conscious Hip Hop recognizes Sun Ra but we doubt Hip Hop understands he is the Pope of BAM.
Although BAM provided the literature (see the anthology Black Fire, edited by Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal), for the Black Power Movement and Black Studies, BAM literature was considered too radical for academia, thus BAM literature was suppressed and those initial radical teachers in Black Studies were removed and replaced by more pliant "tenured Negroes" who remain today. Many now recognize the fundamental contribution of the Black Arts Movement to Black Studies, Gender Studies, Chicano Studies, Native American Studies, et al. "Just don't bring them Black Arts Movement nigguhs to campus. We glad most them nigguhs is dead so they can't tell the truth on our punk asses who only wanted a job with no connection to Civil Rites (Sun Ra term) or Black Liberation. See Cecil Brown's Hey, Dude, What Happened to My Black Studies?
Ironically, the schizophrenia of the Black Bourgeoisie is evidenced when one visits their homes filled with Black Arts Movement radical art, especially the art of BAM's queen Mother, Elizabeth Catlett Mora. It's truly amazing how the Black Bourgeoisie try to separate her from the Black Arts Movement. Perhaps, very similar to how the Black Bourgeoisie try to separate Gwen Brooks from BAM, although no one can speak of the Chicago BAM without noting the mentoring role of Gwen Brooks (RIP).
In the modern era, we must note the Atlanta Black Arts Festival is the prime example of the Black Bourgeoisie usurpation of BAM. Initially, the Atlanta Black Arts Festival acknowledged and included
members of BAM in the festival, but not of late, it is a full blown Black Bourgeoisie, world of make believe event.
We suspect Oakland's Black Arts Movement Business District is headed to Black Bourgeoisie heaven, i.e., the world of make believe. After many months, we yet see the Black Liberation flag flying along the 14th Street corridor. We yet see North American African vendors along the streets of the corridor as economic self-sufficiency in the Marcus Garvey/Elijah Muhammad tradition of do for self. We yet see the SRO hotels in the district transferred into land trusts for the members of the district, artists, workers and common people, many of whom live on the precipice of homelessness and dual diagnosis, i., mentally ill and suffering drug abuse as victims of pervasive global white supremacy. Let's be clear, global white supremacy is not all white, alas, it can be Asian, African, Arab, Latin, etc.
For those who suffer the low information mentally, be informed, BAM was/is a national movement of liberation and shall remain such. The Black Bourgeoisie puppets of globalists, developers and gentrfiers need to take a hike for the peoples of the world are moving into the corridor of beauty and truth. Ugliness has no place in the movement of beauty and truth.
We ask you on the 50th anniversary of the Oakland founded Black Panther Party: are you part of the problem or part of the solution?