Freedom of Speech and Black Liberation
I declined to speak at a college recently because the subject had to do with freedom of speech in an indirect way because I was asked to talk about the Black House, the political/cultural center I co-founded with Eldridge Cleaver, Ed Bullins and Ethna X. Wyatt (Hurriyah) in San Francisco, 1967. The Black Arts Movement and the Black Liberation Movement were about freedom, including freedom of speech. BAM people went to jail or were threatened with jail if we went ahead with our productions at Black Arts/West Theatre and elsewhere, so how could I discuss the Black House which was a center for freedom, in a lecture where I would be censored. To me, this is a contradiction. Don't ask me to discuss freedom while in shackles.
Yes, students need to know the history because there are far too many revisionist versions floating around in PhD theses and other works, but we bled to write and speak the truth, in the language we saw fit. I am and shall remain out of the box. I am not concered about political correctness and sensitivity, but, as Sun Ra taught me, the low down dirty truth, yeah, the funky truth. As James Brown sang, "Ain't it funky now." And Dr. Cornel West says, "Every body wants to hide the funk, tame the funk, disguise the funk, but we are only authentic and original when the funk comes through. And that's why we love Fannie Lou Hamer, Elijah Muhammad and Martin Luther King, Jr., they kept the funk in place...."