Friday, March 27, 2009
The next time I see Cleaver is in Mount Morris Park, renamed Marcus Garvey Park, in Harlem. I was now a resident of Harlem, or at least a worker in Harlem, while living in the Bronx with playwright Ed Bullins, after slipping into Harlem from Chicago after the assassination of MLK, Jr. Yes, I came up out of the subway at eight avenue, that subway made so famous by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in their tune Take The A Train. I came up into a sweltering Harlem summer of heat, sweat and funk, a love funk so beautiful that I never imagined such a happening after seeing so many beautiful black people--Chicago was great and there is nothing like Chicago, especially the South side, but Harlem, the capital of Black America, the ground that Malcolm X walked upon, and Duke, Billie, Bassie, Parker, Apollo Theatre, awesome power of my people, the East coast version of what I'd experienced in Oakland on Seventh Street, Harlem of the West. Seventh Street was a small version of what was before my eyes, a sea, a wonderland of Black people from over the world, Africa. Nigeria, Lagos,Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, the Caribbean, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, all there swimming in blackness.
And I among them now, a negro from Cali swimming in the sea of my people, loving every moment, under the guidance of Askia Toure, my elder and teacher, telling me about the Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, telling me more about the Sufi teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Rumi, Ghazali and others, about the MuKhadimah of Ibn Khaldun and other Sufi and Islamic masters. And then there was Sun Ra, the master of all masters, my teacher, mentor, friend and guide, who taught me all that one ever needed to know about theatre, the master teacher of BAM, who told us about traveling the space ways, and Milford Graves, master drummer who was so powerful he was banned from downtown, too aggressive, too arrogant, too too too, Milford, my main man, and the Last Poets coming together to take us to the next level into Rap, Abiodun, Ben Hasan, Gylen Kayne, David and Filipe, Barbara Ann Teer and the New Lafayette Theatre, Ed Bullins and Robert Macbeth and crew,the Yoruba king, Baba Serjiman, who moved to Sheldon, South Carolina, Olatunji, master drummer of Nigeria, all there in the Harlem madness and joy, Amiri Baraka, gone home to Newark but slipping back into Harlem to continue his light with Larry Neal, Askia and crew, sane and insane, enjoying the madness of Harlem summer 68, Nikki, Sonia, Haki, June Jordan, Pharaoh Sanders, Archie Shepp and the Ayler brothers, and more, more, Farrakhan at Mosque #7, Akbar Muhammad and Donald Cunningham at the book store, the book store of the world at 125th and 7th Aveneue, Mr. what was his name, the master book seller? Harlem, 1969, a dream come true for a Cali Negro, swimming in the sea of his people.
Fuck Vietnam and Fuck America. And there was Cleaver in Mount Morris Park saying he would kiss the pussy of Fannie Lou Hamer as I stood and watched. And Bobby Seale was at 125th and 7th Avenue, reciting my poem Burn, Baby, Burn, and James Foreman trying to lecture to the people on Franz Fanon, and on and on and on. And Dr. Ben and John Henry Clarke rapping on history and consciousness and beyond, etc.,etc.,etc.