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Marvin X has remained active as a lecturer, teacher, theatrical producer, editor,

and exponent of Spirituality. His work in advocating racial cohesion and

spiritual dedication as an antidote to the legacy of racism he saw around him

in the 1960s and 1970s made him an important voice of his generation.



Marvin X Needs Visiting Professorship‏

Poet; Playwright, Educator; Activist

Bio and Bibliography Compiled by Marvin X

Marvin X (b. 1944), poet, playwright, essayist, director, and lecturer. Marvin Ellis Jackmon was born on 29 May 1944 in Fowler, California. He attended high school in Fresno and received a BA and MA in English from San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University). The mid-1960s were formative years for Jackmon. He became involved in theater, founded his own press, published several plays and volumes of poetry, and became increasingly alienated because of racism and the Vietnam War. Under the influence of Elijah Muhammad, he became a Black Muslim and has published since then under the names El Muhajir and Marvin X. He has also used the name Nazzam al Fitnah Muhajir.
Marvin X and Ed Bullins founded the Black Arts/West Theatre in San Francisco in 1966, and several of his plays were staged during that period in San Francisco, Oakland, New York, and by local companies across the United States. His one-act play Flowers for the Trashman was staged in San Francisco in 1965 by the drama department at San Francisco State University, later at Black Arts West Theatre, and was included in the anthology Black Fire (1968); a musical version (with  Sun Ra's Arkestra), Take Care of Business, was produced in 1971.

The play presents the confrontation between two cellmates in a jail—one a young African American college student, the other a middle-aged white man. Another one-act play, The Black Bird, a Black Muslim allegory in which a young man offers lessons in life awareness to two small girls, appeared in 1969 and was included in New Plays from the Black Theatre that year. Several other plays, including The Trial, Resurrection of the Dead, and In the Name of Love, have been successfully staged, and Marvin X has remained an important advocate of African American theater.
In 1970, Marvin X was convicted, during the Vietnam War, for refusing induction and fled to Canada; eventually he was arrested in British Honduras, was returned to the United States, and was sentenced to five months in prison. In his statement on being sentenced—later reprinted in Black Scholar (1971) and also in Clyde Taylor's anthology, Vietnam and Black America (1973)—he argues that any judge, any jury, is guilty of insanity that would have the nerve to judge and convict and imprison a black man because he did not appear in a courtroom on a charge of refusing to commit crimes against humanity, crimes against his own brothers and sisters, the peace-loving people of Vietnam.
Marvin X founded El Kitab Sudan publishing house in 1967; several of his books of poetry and proverbs have been published there. Much of Marvin X's poetry is militant in its anger at American racism and injustice. For example, in “Did You Vote Nigger?” he uses rough dialect and directs his irony at African Americans who believe in the government but are actually its pawns. Many of the proverbs in The Son of Man (1969) express alienation from white America.
However, many of Marvin X's proverbs and poems express more concern with what African Americans can do positively for themselves, without being paralyzed by hatred. He insists that the answer is to concentrate on establishing a racial identity and to “understand that art is celebration of Allah.” The poems in Fly to Allah, Black Man Listen (1969), and other volumes from his El Kitab Sudan press are characterized by their intensity and their message of racial unity under a religious banner.
Marvin X has remained active as a lecturer, teacher, theatrical producer, editor, and exponent of Spirituality. His work in advocating racial cohesion and spiritual dedication as an antidote to the legacy of racism he saw around him in the 1960s and 1970s made him an important voice of his generation. One of  his current projects is Academy of da Corner, downtown Oakland at 14th and  Broadway. According the Ishmael Reed, "Marvin X is Plato teaching on the  streets of Oakland. If you want to learn about motivation and inspiration, don't spend all that money going to seminars and workshops, just go stand at  14th and Broadway and observe Marvin X at work."

* Lorenzo Thomas, “Marvin X,” in DLB, vol. 38, Afro-American Writers after 1955: Dramatists and Prose Writers, eds. Thadious Davis and Trudier Harris, 1985, pp. 177–184.

* Bernard L. Peterson, Jr., “Marvin X,” in Contemporary Black American Playwrights and Their Plays, 1988, pp. 332–333. “El Muhajir,” in CA, vol. 26, eds. Hal May and James G. Lesniak, 1989, pp. 132–133.

Personal Information
Born Marvin Ellis Jackmon on May 29, 1944, in Fowler, California; married; five children Education: Oakland City College (now Merritt College), AA, 1964; San Francisco State College (now University), BA, 1974, MA, 1975.
Soul Book, Encore, Black World, Black Scholar, Black Dialogue, Journal of  Black Poetry, Black Theatre, Negro Digest/Black World, Muhammad Speaks and other magazines and newspapers, contributor, 1965-; Black Dialogue, fiction editor, 1965-; Journal of Black Poetry, contributing editor,1965-; Black Arts/West Theatre, San Francisco, co-founder (with Bullins), 1966; Black House, San Francisco, co-founder (with Bullins and Eldridge Cleaver), 1967; Al Kitab Sudan Publishing Company, San Francisco, founder, 1967; California State University at Fresno, black studies teacher, 1969; Black Theatre, associate editor, 1968; Muhammad Speaks, foreign editor, 1970; Your Black Educational Theatre, Inc., San Francisco, founder and director, 1971; University of California, Berkeley, lecturer, 1972; Mills College, lecturer, 1973, San Francisco State University, 1974-5, University of California, San Diego, 1975, University of Nevada, Reno, 1979, Laney and Merritt Colleges, Oakland, 1981, Kings River College, Reedly CA, 1982.
Life's Work
Formerly known as El Muhajir, Marvin X was a key poet and playwright of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) in the 1960s and early 1970s. He wrote for many of the leading black journals of the time, including Black Scholar, Black Theater Magazine, and Muhammad Speaks. He founded Black House with Ed Bullins (1935--) and Eldridge Cleaver (1935-1998), which served for a short time as the headquarters of the Black Panther Party, the militant black nationalist group, and a community theatrical center in Oakland County, California. Always a controversial and confrontational figure, Marvin X was banned from teaching at state universities in the 1960s by the then state governor, Ronald Reagan (1911--). When asked in 2003 what had happened to the Black Arts Movement, Marvin X told Lee Hubbard: "I am still working on it . . . telling it like it is."

Marvin X was born Marvin Ellis Jackmon on May 29, 1944, in Fowler, California, an agricultural area near Fresno. His parents were Owendell and Marian Jackmon; his mother ran her own real estate business. Details about when and why he changed his name are scarce, but he has been known as Nazzam al Fitnah Muhajir, El Muhajir, and is now known simply as Marvin X. Marvin X attended Oakland City College (Merritt College) where he received his AA degree in 1964. He received his BA in English from San Francisco State College (San Francisco State University) in 1974 and his MA in 1975.
While at college Marvin X was involved with various theater projects and co-founded the Black Arts/West Theater with Bullins and others. Their aim was to provide a place where black writers and performers could work on drama projects, but they also had a political motive, to use theater and writing to campaign for the liberation of blacks from white oppression. Marvin X told Lee Hubbard: "The Black Arts Movement was part of the liberation movement of Black people in America. The Black Arts Movement was its artistic arm . . . [brothers] got a revolutionary consciousness through Black art, drama, poetry, music, paintings, artwork, and magazines."
By the late 1960s Marvin X was a central figure in the Black Arts Movement in San Francisco and had become part of the Nation of Islam, changing his name to El Muhajir and following Elijah Muhammad (1897-1975). Like the heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (1942--), Marvin X refused his induction to fight in Vietnam. But unlike Ali, Marvin X, along with several other members of the Nation of Islam in California, decided to evade arrest. In 1967 he escaped to Canada but was later arrested in Belize. He chastised the court for punishing him for refusing to be inducted into an army for the purpose of securing "White Power" throughout the world before he was sentenced to five months' imprisonment. His statement was published in the journal The Black Scholar in 1971.
Despite his reputation as an activist, Marvin Xwas also an intellectual, and a celebrated writer. He was most concerned with the problem of using language created by whites in order to argue for freedom from white power. Many of his plays and poems reflect this struggle to express himself as a black intellectual in a white-dominated society. His play Flowers for the Trashman (1965), for example, is the story of Joe Simmons, a jailed college student whose bitter attack on his white cellmate became a national rallying call for many in the Nation of Islam and other black nationalists. Marvin X's own poetry is heavy with Muslim ideology and propaganda, but it is supported by a sensitive poetic ear. Perhaps his greatest achievement as a poet is to merge Islamic cadences and sensibilities with scholarly American English and the language of the black ghetto.
Like his close friend Eldridge Cleaver, in the late 1980s and 1990s Marvin X went through a period of addiction to crack cocaine. His play One Day in the Life (2000) takes a tragicomic approach to the issue of addiction and recovery, dealing with his own experiences with drug addiction and the experiences of Black Panthers, Cleaver, and Huey Newton (1942-1989). The play has been presented in community theaters around the United States as both a stage play and a video presentation.
After emerging from addiction Marvin X founded Recovery Theatre and began organizing events for recovering addicts and those who work with them. His autobiography, Somethin' Proper (1998) includes reminiscences of his life fighting for black civil rights as well as an analysis of drug culture. Drug addiction and "reactionary" rap poetry are two areas of black culture that he has argued have "contributed to the desecration of black people."
In the late 1990s Marvin X became an influential figure in the campaign to have reparations paid for the treatment of blacks under slavery. He organized meetings, readings, and performances to promote black culture and civil rights. He has worked as a university teacher since the early 1970s, as well as giving readings and guest lectures in universities and theaters throughout the United States.
Marvin X has also received several awards, including a Columbia University writing grant in 1969 and a creative writing fellowship from the
National Endowment for the Arts in 1972.
Columbia University, writing grant, 1969; National Endowment for the Arts, grant, 1972; Your Black Educational Theatre, training grant, 1971-72. Recovery Theatre received grants from San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's office, Grants for the Arts, Marin County Board of Supervisors, Sacramento
Metropolitan Arts Commission.
Selected writings
* Somethin' Proper: The Life and Times of a North American African Poet,
Blackbird Press, 1998.
* In the Crazy House Called America, Blackbird Press, 2002.
* Wish I Could Tell You the Truth, essays, BBP, 2005
* How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, a manual based on the
12 Step/Pan African model
, 2006.
* Beyond Religion, toward Spirituality, BBP, 2007
* Eldridge Cleaver, My Friend the Devil, a memoir, 2009
* The Wisdom of Plato Negro, Parables/fables, 2010
* Hustler's Guide to the Game Called Life (Volume II, The Wisdom of Plato
, 2010)
* Mythology of Pussy and Dick, toward Healthy Psychosocial Sexuality
, 2010
* Pull Yo Pants Up fada Black Prez, essays on Obama Drama, 2010
* I Am Oscar Grant, essays on Oakland, 2010

* Flowers for the Trashman (one-act), first produced in San Francisco at San Francisco State College, 1965.

* Come Next Summer, first produced in San Francisco at Black Arts/West Theatre, 1966. Pre-Black Panther Bobby Seale played leading role in Come Next Summer.

* The Trial, first produced in New York City at Afro-American Studio for Acting and Speech, 1970.

* Take Care of Business, (musical version of Flowers for the Trashman) first produced in Fresno, California, at Your Black Educational Theatre, 1971.

* Resurrection of the Dead, first produced in San Francisco at Your Black Educational Theatre, 1972.

* Woman-Man's Best Friend, (musical dance drama based on author's book of same title), first produced in Oakland, California, at Mills College, 1973.

* In the Name of Love, first produced in Oakland at Laney College Theatre, 1981.

* One Day in the Life, 2000.

* Sergeant Santa, 2002.
Poetry, Proverbs, and Lyrics
* Sudan Rajuli Samia (poems), Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1967.

* Black Dialectic (proverbs), Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1967.

* As Marvin X, Fly to Allah: Poems, Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1969.

* As Marvin X, The Son of Man, Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1969.

* As Marvin X, Black Man Listen: Poems and Proverbs, Broadside Press, 1969.

* Black Bird (parable), Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1972.

* Woman-Man's Best Friend, Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1973.

* Selected Poems, Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1979.

* (as Marvin X) Confession of a Wife Beater and Other Poems, Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1981.

* Liberation Poems for North American Africans, Al Kitab Sudan Publishing, 1982.

* Love and War: Poems, Black Bird Press, 1995.

* In the Land of My Daughters, 2005.

* Sweet Tea, Dirty Rice, poems, 2010 (late)

* One Day in the Life (videodrama and soundtrack), 2002.
* The Kings and Queens of Black Consciousness (video documentary), 2002.
* Black Radical Book Fair, San Francisco, DVD, 2004
* Love and War (poetry reading published on CD), 2001.

Further Readings


* African American Review, Spring, 2001.
* Oakland Post Newspaper
* San Francisco Bay View newspaper


* ChickenBones: A Journal,  (April 13, 2004).
* "El Muhajir," Biography Resource Center,  (April
16, 2004).
* "Marvin X," Biography Resource Center,  (April 16, 2004).
* "Marvin X Calls for General Strike on Reparations,"  (April 13, 2004).

posted 7 October 2010

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Finding Aid to the Marvin X Papers, 1965-2006, bulk 1993-2006--The Marvin X Papers document the life and work of playwright, poet, essayist, and activist Marvin X during the nineties and the first decade of the 21st Century. The papers include correspondence; Marvin X's writings; materials related to the Recovery Theatre; works by his children and colleagues; and resource files. Correspondence includes letters, cards, and e-mails; correspondents include Amiri Baraka and other prominent African-American intellectuals. Marvin X's writings include notebooks, drafts, and manuscripts of poetry, novels, plays, essays, and planned anthologies. Documents from the Recovery Theatre include organizational and financial records and promotional material.

Writings by others include essays, scripts, and academic papers by his three daughters. Resource files include academic articles, e-mails, flyers, news clippings and programs that contextualize and document Marvin X's involvement as an activist, intellectual, and literary figure in the African American community in the Bay Area in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Photographs include snapshots of family, friends, colleagues, and productions at the Recovery Theatre. Online Archive of California

6 October 2010

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Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007

By Matthew Wasniewski

Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 beautifully prepared volume—is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress. Written for a general audience, this book contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan. Individual profiles are introduced by contextual essays that explain major events in congressional and U.S. history. Part I provides four chronologically organized chapters under the heading "Former Black Members of Congress." Each chapter provides a lengthy biographical sketch of the members who served during the period addressed, along with a narrative historical account of the era and tables of information about the Congress during that time. Part II provides similar information about current African-American members. There are 10 appendixes providing tabular information of a variety of sorts about the service of Black members, including such things as a summary list, service on committees and in party leadership posts, familial connections, and so forth.

The entire volume is 803 large folio pages in length and there are many illustrations. The book should be part of every library and research collection, and congressional scholars may well wish to obtain it for their personal libraries.Pictures—including rarely seen historical images—of each African American who has served in Congress—Bibliographies and references to manuscript collections for each Member—Statistical graphs and charts

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

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  Derrick Bell Law Rights Advocate  Dies at 80

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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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Home Marvin X Table

Related files: Wish I Could Tell You the Truth    Marvin X Returns to the Fillmore  Introduction to Crazy House    Healing Peek Review  Marvin X Unplugged  

Black Bourgeoisie Defend   The San Francisco Anti-War March  Farrakhan's Final Call  Marvin X Show Coming Home