This document is in the National Museum of African American History and Culture,
Smithsonian, Wash. D.C.
Multi-cultural students perform his BAM classic Flowers the Trashman at UC Merced.
One cannot begin to comprehend the role psycho-linguistics played in the Black Arts Movement, sister of the Black Power Movement (Larry Neal), mother of the Black Power Movement (Marvin X), until one understand's the power of language that was critical in the mental liberation of brothers and sisters during the 60s and 70s. Language usage in the plays and poetry nullified any notion of obscenity and profanity. Instead, audiences were euphoric to hear such terms as motherfucker, bitch, nigguh, honky, devil and other words that ignited audiences and finally liberated them from the puritan speech of the petit-bourgeoisie. The BAM poets and playwrights took Black language to a new level of freedom. Amiri Baraka, aka LeRoi Jones set the tone with his play The Dutchman. Marvin X's poem Burn, Baby, Burn on the Watts Riot, 1965, was recited by Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale from Oakland to Harlem. Even before the BPP was born, a choice line from Marvin's poem said, "Motherfuck the police/and Parker's (Chief of the LAPD) sister too!" Because of the language in Marvin's play Flowers for the Trashman and Ed Bullin's It Has No Choice, their Black Arts West Theatre was invaded by the San Francisco Police Dept. When Flowers for the Trashman was performed at Oakland's Laney College, the OPD threatened to arrest the entire cast. Meanwhile, the UC Berkeley Free Speech Movement was in full swing but had no connection with the BAM.
Merritt College student Bobby Seale performed the lead role in Marvin's second play Come Next Summer, 1965, about a young black man finding himself then joining the revolution and recited his poem Burn, Baby Burn from Oakland to Harlem. Marvin X has never told Bobby he was in the audience in Harlem outside the Theresa Hotel at 7th Ave. and 125th, in 1968, when Bobby recited his poem.
Sick an' tired
Tired of being
sick an' tired.
Lost in the wilderness
of white america
are the masses asses?
said the master to the slave,
"No problem, don't rob an' steal,
I'll be your drivin wheel."
And he wheeled us into 350 years
of black madness
to hog guts, conked hair, qovadis
bleaching cream and uncle thomas
To the streets.
To the kill.
Boommm...2 honkeys gone.
Motherfuck the police
Parker's sista too.
sick an' tired.
tired of being
sick an' tired.
Burn, baby burn...
Don't leave dem boss rags
C'mon, child, don't mind da tags.
Git all dat motherfuckin pluck,
Git dem guns too, we 'on't give a fuck!
Burn baby burn
Cook outta sight
burn, baby, burn
In 1966, Flowers for the Trashman was performed at Oakland's Merritt College, invited by the Soul Students Advisory Council, aka BSU, Bobby Seale says, "After Marvin's play was performed, the student movement at Merritt College took off giving birth the Black Panther Party." It was the language that liberated students and inspired them to join the revolution. People realized they were indeed free to say anything and no longer proscribed by black bourgeoisie linguistics. The bourgeoisie was horrified but the black masses were liberated psycho-linguistically by the BAM languange.
As per the psycho-linguistics of Marvin X, Master Black literary critic James G. Spady says, "When you listen to Tupac Shakur, E-40, Too Short, Master P or any other rappers out of the Bay Area of Cali, think of Marvin X. He laid the foundation and gave us the language to express Black male urban experiences in a lyrical way."
Of course let us not fail to mention the female poet/playwrights such as Sonia Sanchez with her choice line, "What a white woman got cept her white pussy...."
Ancestor Amiri Baraka and Marvin X enjoyed a 47 year friendship. He literally grew up as part of the Baraka family. Amina says when Marvin X came to stay with us, we knew we were going laugh and be happy!
Mrs. Amina Baraka. Marvin X has read her poetry and says it is similar to the vibration of Winnie Mandela and Nelson. You don't really want to hear what Amina got to say,but you shall! Amina is one of the greatest revolutionary women in my life. If I could tell her story, I would, but let women tell it. You don't want to hear my version! As Sun Ra taught, you don't want to hear the low down dirty truth!
Artist Emory Douglas came into the Black House as a poet reciting his poem Revolutionary Things.
Marvin X welcomed Emory along with Samuel Napier and others who became members of the BPP.
Marvin took Eldridge Cleaver to Bobby Seale's house in North Oakland, after which Eldridge joined the BPP as Minister of Information.
The counter part of the BAM linguistic revolution was Cleaver's use of similar speech in the Black Liberation Movement, although we must understand the BAM and BLM were one fist in the devil's eye!
Marvin X is one of the few still true to the BAM linguistic tradition. Riding home from NYC to Newark with Amiri and Amina Baraka, Marvin recited a poem in the car until Amiri told him to shut up in the presence of Amina. Marvin was shocked to be censored by the man who helped teach him how to say motherfucker, although he did learn how to say motherfucker growing up on the streets of West Oakland. Listen to a line from a Baraka poem, "Back against the wall, motherfucker, this is a stick up...." In Dutchman, he said, "Up your ass, feeble-minded ofay! Up your ass...."
Marvin's chapbook Fly to Allah established him as the father of the literary genre known as Muslim America literature, according to Dr. Mohja Kahf, Professor of English and Islamic Literature at the University Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Poet/novelist/professor Dr. Mohja Kahf
Fly to Allah was written during his days in Harlem, 1968-69, while under the influence of the Nation of Islam and contained no "bad words," i.e., profanity. Sonia Sanchez cleaned up her mouth while she was in the Nation of Islam.
On a few occasions, Marvin X tried to accommodate the Muslim puritans, revolutionary puritans and the black bourgeoisie. In TDR, The Drama Review, Marvin X published a B version of Flowers for the Trashman called Take Care of Business, later made into a musical arranged by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. In his puritan Muslim madness, Marvin took out a sex scene in TCB. When Sun Ra learned of this, he scolded Marvin for taking out the best scene in the play. "Marvin, you want to be so right you're wrong! The people don't want the truth, they want the low down dirty truth!"
Marvin X and Sun Ra, two of the most advanced minds of the Black Arts Movement. They lived on the other side of time, Sun Ra would say. Gemini twins: Sun Ra, May 22, Marvin X, May 29.
In his recovery classic One Day in the Life, critic Wanda Sabir said the language was so strong it would knock the socks off old ladies!' FYI, hearing of Wanda's comment, some "old ladies" said they wanted their socks knocked off! The play became a cult classic in the Bay Area recovery community. Well, the language and situations were so raw, some recovering addicts cried like they were at their mama's funeral. When Marvin confronted the lady in the lobby of San Francisco's Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, she told him she was crying because she saw her life on stage and it was overwhelming.
But the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre director's Stanley Williams and Quentin Easter, told Marvin the Black bourgeoisie wanted to support his recovery drama but the language was too strong for them. Indeed, after hearing his language, there were wives who marched their husbands out of the theatre. Again, Marvin wrote a B script to accommodate the bourgeoisie negroes, but they still did not support his drama seen by recovering addicts of every stripe, including gays, lesbians, prostitutes, Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, et al. Alas, when the recovering audience came again to see One Day in the Life, they were horrified to learn he had accommodated the bourgeoisie with a Miller Lite version and consequently walked out in disgust. For sure, Marvin X found the recovery audience the most down to earth audience of all and they knew the script and refused to accept his B version to satisfy the linguistic proclivities of the bourgeoisie negroes.
Umar ben Hasan and Abiodun of the Last Poets, comrades of Marvin X since their Harlem days, 1968-69. The Last Poets extended the psycho-linguistic revolution into Rap although the rappers made the BAM language reactionary at the behest of record producers representing the oppressors in their attempt to crush Black Liberation. First, crush the psyche, flip the language into non-sense and the ass will follow! In the pic below, Marvin and Felipe Luciano of The Last Poets. At the NYU memorial for Amiri Baraka and Jayne Cortez, Felipe told the audience, "Marvin X is a motherfucker!"