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In recognition of the forty year anniversary of his fight to teach at FSU,

Marvin X is willing to address the FSU student body and the citizens of

Fresno on this historical event. It is doubtful many black or white students

have knowledge of what happened during those turbulent months of 1969.



Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America / Woman: Man's Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

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Marvin X and Fresno State University

Forty Years Later

By Marvin X


In 1969 Marvin X. Jackmon came home to lecture in black studies at Fresno State College, now University. He had been living underground in New York’s Harlem—actually he lived in the Bronx but worked in Harlem at the New Lafayette Theatre as associate editor of Black Theatre magazine. He had come to Harlem via Chicago after living in Toronto, Canada in self-imposed exile as a Vietnam War resister. In Canada he published his first collection of poetry, Sudan Rajuli Samia, 1967. Sudan Rajuli Samia, Fly to Allah, poems, 1969, Son of Man, proverbs, 1969, Flowers for the Trashman, play, 1965, and the Parable of the Black Bird, 1968 are now recognized as seminal works of Muslim American literature. Marvin X is considered the father of this new genre of American literature.

While a student at San Francisco State College, now University, the drama department produced his first play, Flowers for the Trashman, 1965.

He was hired as a teaching assistant by novelist Leo Litwak in the English/Creative writing department. It was another novelist, John Gardner, who took his play to the drama department.

In 1966, Marvin X. Jackmon, bored with academia, dropped out of college and founded his own theatre in San Francisco’s Fillmore district. His co-founder was playwright Ed Bullins. Their actors included Danny Glover and Vonetta McGee. Later Marvin would leave the theatre, Black Arts West, and establish the political/cultural center known as Black House, along with Ed Bullins, Ethna Wyatt and Eldridge Cleaver.

Marvin introduced Eldridge Cleaver to his friends from Oakland’s Merritt College, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, co-founders of the Black Panther Party. See his play Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam, recently performed in New York at the New Federal Theatre.

When Marvin dropped out of college, he lost his college deferment and was drafted but refused to serve, saying no Viet Cong called him a nigguh. (See his court speech, Black Scholar magazine, circa 1970.) Muhammad Ali made the same assertion and went to prison. Not only did Marvin resist the draft but resisted arrest by going to Canada, in the tradition of his ancestors who fled there to escape slavery. After six months he returned underground to the United States, 1967.

Although wanted by the FBI, in Chicago and Harlem, he associated with artists who were establishing the Black Arts Movement (BAM), the most radical literary and artistic movement in American history. Its esthetics was grounded in Black Nationalism and Islam, especially the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X.

Chicago associates included Gwen Brooks, Hoyt Fuller, Carolyn Rogers and Don L. Lee. When he left Chicago after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his Harlem comrades were Askia Touré, Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, The Last Poets, Sonia Sanchez and Sun Ra. (See The Black Arts Movement by James Smethurst, University of North Carolina Press. Also Somethin’ Proper, the autobiography of Marvin X. Jackmon, Black Bird Press, Castro Valley CA, 1998.)

Upon returning to New York from a weekend in Montreal, Canada, Marvin X was arrested at the border for resisting the draft. His lawyer was famed civil rights attorney, Conrad Lynn. Conrad got him out of jail pending trial in San Francisco.

It was during this time he received an invitation to teach from the Black Studies Department at Fresno State University. He was hired to lecture three classes: literature, journalism and drama. Seventy students enrolled. And then it was discovered he was on trial for draft evasion. Governor Ronald Reagan got involved as president of the state college board of trustees. Entering a board of trustees meeting, Gov. Reagan said, “Get him off campus by any means necessary. . . .”

The poet was removed by court order and banned from entering the campus. He continued teaching across the street at the Christian Center. His students received A’s except an uncle tom. The court ruled he was never hired. Students protested, including a group from Los Angeles called the United Black Students of California who issued a statement saying, “We want Marvin X not in Vietnam, not in jail, but on campus. . . .”  The Los Angeles students not only came to Fresno but attended his draft trial in San Francisco as well. FSU students burned down the computer center in protest. One student was found guilty and sentenced to the California Youth Authority.

The Federal Court found Marvin X guilty of draft evasion, but rather than show up for sentencing, the poet fled into exile a second time. This time he arrived in Mexico City at the home of the revolutionary artist Elizabeth Cattlett Mora. 

In Mexico City he married one of his FSU students, Barbara Hall, who dropped out to join him in exile. Barbara is mother of his daughters, Nefertiti and Amira. The couple soon left Mexico City for Belize, Central America, against the wisdom of revolutionary artist Elizabeth Catlett Mora, who warned him Belize was still a colony of Great Britain. After teaching black power to the natives, he was eventually arrested for being a “Communist” and deported back to America. The deportation order read, “Your presence is not beneficial to the welfare of the British Colony of Honduras.” He was taken to the police station and told to sit down. Soon he was surrounded by police begging him to teach them black power.

Recalling his controversial tenure at FSU, retired police officer and founder of the African American Museum, Jack Kelly, told Marvin, “When you were fighting to teach at FSU, you made things better for everyone, not just students. Before you came black officers could not patrol the white side of town.”

In recognition of the forty year anniversary of his fight to teach at FSU, Marvin X is willing to address the FSU student body and the citizens of Fresno on this historical event. It is doubtful many black or white students have knowledge of what happened during those turbulent months of 1969.

Of course, it must be seen in the context of other events on campuses throughout America. At the same time Reagan was kicking Marvin X out of FSU for his black Muslim beliefs, he was removing Angela Davis from UCLA for her Communist party connections.

San Francisco State University is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the BSU/Third World Strike to establish black and ethnic studies. FSU should honor those faculty and students who supported Marvin X’s right to teach Black studies. Marvin X should be awarded compensation from the State of California and the City of Fresno for suffering racial discrimination. If he was unqualified to teach at Fresno State, how was he qualified to teach at UC Berkeley two years later with the same qualifications?

Marvin X has published five books in the last five years: In the Crazy House Called America, essays, 2002, Wish I Could Tell You the Truth, essays, 2005, Land of My Daughters , poems, 2005, Beyond Religion toward Spirituality , essays, 2007, How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, 2007. How to Recover from White Supremacy is a textbook in the English department at Berkeley City College. The book is a manual based on the 12-step model for recovery from addiction. Peer groups meet to process trauma and unresolved grief as a result of addiction to white supremacy.

The poet/playwright recently visited New York to see the off-Broadway production of his play Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam, produced at Woody King’s New Federal Theatre, along with Amiri Baraka’s (LeRoi Jones) classic The Toilet. Salaam is one scene from X’s full length docudrama of his Crack addiction and recovery One Day in the Life, the longest running African American drama in northern California. The play was performed before recovery groups coast to coast. It was funded by the City of San Francisco, Marin County Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

He speaks at colleges and universities coast to coast, e.g., University of Arkansas, University of Penn, University of Mass, University of Virginia, Morehouse, Spellman, Howard University, Medgar Evers College, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and elsewhere. The University of California, Berkeley, Bancroft Library acquired his archives.  

For more on Marvin X at Fresno State University, check out the archives of Gov. Ronald Reagan and FSU President Frederick Ness. Google has ample entries for Marvin X. Visit his blog:  . Email him at: His books are available from Black Bird Press, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94702, $19.95 each. For speaking engagements, call 510-355-6339.

posted 21 December 2008

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Renaissance of Imagination

Review of Wisdom of Plato Negro, Parables/Fables by Marvin X

Interview w/ Marvin X20 August 2012 @35 min.

On Saturday, September 1, 2012, 3-6pm, Marvin X will read and sign The Wisdom of Plato Negro at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 14th and Franklin Streets, downtown Oakland. Donation $20.00, includes signed copy of book. For more information, please call 510-200-4164.

Sponsored by the Post Newspaper Group, Lajones Associates, OCCUR, West Oakland Renaissance Committee/Elders Council, Black Bird Press. Proceeds benefit Academy of da Corner, 14th and Broadway.

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*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction

By Kiini Ibura Salaam

Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ''Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.'' Indeed, Ms. Salaam's stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to Ancient, Ancient, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ''Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf's Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini's body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.''

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Natives of My Person

By George Lamming

Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although Natives of My Person has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.

The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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Allah, Liberty, and Love

The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom

By Irshad Manji

In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times. What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation?

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Ghosts in Our Blood

With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean

By Jan R. Carew

Carew, an activist, scholar, and journalist, met Malcolm X during his last trip abroad only a few weeks before he was killed in 1965. It made such an impression on Carew that he felt compelled to search out Malcolm's family and friends in order to flesh out the family history. He interviewed Wilfred (Malcolm's older brother) and a Grenadian friend of Malcolm's mother named Tanta Bess. Comparing his family's experiences with that of Malcolm X, he gives the most complete picture yet of Malcolm's mother. Carew also offers a tantalizing glimpse of Malcolm X's transforming himself into El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, a man less blinded by his own racial prejudices yet as committed to the betterment of his race as ever. Just before his death, Malcolm X became convinced that a U.S. agency was involved with those trying to kill him, and Carew here reveals the evidence Malcolm X gave him to support these beliefs. The mystery of Malcolm's death remains unresolved, and we are once again filled with regret that he was cut down before he could fulfill the promise of his later days. While this book will not replace The Autobiography of Malcolm X (LJ 1/1/66), it is an important supplement. All libraries that own the autobiography should also purchase this one.—Library Journal

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Karma’s Footsteps

By Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Somebody has to tell the truth sometime, whatever that truth may be. In this, her début full collection, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie offers up a body of work that bears its scars proudly, firm in the knowledge that each is evidence of a wound survived. These are songs of life in all its violent difficulty and beauty; songs of fury, songs of love. 'Karma's Footsteps' brims with things that must be said and turns the volume up, loud, giving silence its last rites. "Ekere Tallie's new work 'Karma's Footsteps' is as fierce with fight songs as it is with love songs. Searing with truths from the modern day world she is unafraid of the twelve foot waves that such honesties always manifest. A poet who "refuses to tiptoe" she enters and exits the page sometimes with short concise imagery, sometimes in the arms of delicate memoir. Her words pull the forgotten among us back into the lightning of our eyes.—Nikky Finney /  Ekere Tallie Table

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 10 August 2012




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Related files: Parable of the Man Who Left the Mountain  / Parable of Zionism and National Insanity  / Parable of Love