Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Message from Dr. Nathan Hare and Dr. M

Dr. M,
Things been looking up lately health-wise, so after the winter breaks and I’m thawed out and daylight savings time is back I hope to slowly begin to get back out a bit; got a birthday coming up in April, same day as Paul Robeson.
I won’t quite be finished with my book manuscript by then, but getting there, and might be able to join you guys sometimes promoting the White Supremacy Addiction peer group movement. Black people might just be scared of “White Supremacy” -- rather make love than war. The Last Poets told us “niggers are afraid of revolution” and I remember how so many n-words jumped at the idea of “black love groups” in the 1970s, though it might have been the times as much as the overtones of sex or the undercurrent of safety to their physical integrity.
I believe you said the first printing of the White Supremacy book was preliminary to its publication but don’t remember you setting an official publication date. If not it might be good to set it around Juneteenth, when we’re celebrating our “emancipation” and still not free, and it’s a time and a season when us black “ice people” could be in a better mood to think of getting ourselves together and dealing with white supremacy or/and black reconstruction -- or at least getting together.
I understand your own role is not so much a matter of holding small group meetings as promoting the idea of such groups to whatever audiences the way Julia and I did with the rites of passage in the mid-eighties (joined quickly by Jawanza Kunjufu, who revised his Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys and added the rites of passage to it and whipped up a lot of interest, along with other speakers and mentoring advocates). With the male/female relationships idea, I found it better to be the speaker for groups putting things on than putting them on myself (organizations seem better at putting on conferences and naturally able to get people out -- authenticity and each one bring one). Even individually I recall that male-female assemblies would be put on better by people like Oba Tshaka and Lige Dailey, good at setting up male/female conferences at which he and I and others spoke. Of course you are a master yourself at putting on conferences but wouldn’t be able to do it often enough, though thinking of it Lige seemed to do it fairly often on a smaller scale. I remember he was assisted in those days by Dr. Rita Bobino (both are doctors now, though neither was then). Don’t know if they have time or interest in Black Togetherness Groups. If they did it could signal an interest on the part of blacks at large.
People might ask, “Together Groups? Together for what?” “That’s why we need to get together, fool -- whether it’s for white supremacy or your mother’s uncle.” Like the song says, “Let’s get together and feel alright.” Speaking of which, did anybody ever put on Feel Good Sessions?
Talk to you later. Getting ready to say thanks over some of this turkey I’m smelling simmering in the background here. Before the white folks change the rules and start making Michael Vicks of us two-legged turkeys.


The Black Student Union and Black Studies, Forty Years Later

By Dr. M (aka Marvin X)

(Dr. M began his writing and activist career straight out of high school in 1962 at Oakland’s Merritt College. His off campus teachers or mentors—actually brothers and sisters were rapping on the steps of Merritt College on Grove Street-- were Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Richard Thorne, Donald Warden, John Thomas, Ann Williams, Ken, Donald and Carol Freeman, Ernie Allen, Maurice Dawson and Isaac Moore, who impressed him with black nationalism and introduced him to the writings of E. Franklin Frazier, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro and Dr. Franz Fanon. Dr. M’s short story Delicate Child won first prize in Merritt College’s literary magazine and later appeared in Soulbook, a publication of the Revolutionary Action Movement or RAM, headed by Robert F. Williams and Max Stanford, aka Muhammad Ahmed. Dr. M graduated from Merritt and transferred to San Francisco State University where he immediately joined the Negro Students Association, headed by revolutionary sister Marianna Waddy, daughter of painter Ruth Waddy. Marianna or Mar’yam Wadi forced the name-change from Negro Students to Black Students Union. Dr. M was soon publishing in and co-editing Black Dialogue , edited by Art Sheridan and later by Abdul Karim, and the Journal of Black Poetry, edited by Dingane or Jose Goncalves. Hired as a teaching assistant in English/Creative Writing, his first play FLOWER FOR THE TRASHMAN (published in Black Fire, recently re-released by Black Classics Press, Baltimore) was produced by the SFSU drama department, 1965. By 1966, Dr. M had joined with playwright Ed Bullins to form Black Arts West Theatre in San Francisco’s Fillmore District, and in 1967, Ed Bullins, Eldridge Cleaver and Marvin X organized Black House, a political/cultural center for radical consciousness in the Bay Area. It became the off campus headquarters for Baraka’s Communications Project and later the San Francisco Headquarters of the Black Panther Party.)

The Black Student Union Revolution

1968 was the beginning of the longest campus strike in the nation's history. In November, the California State University Board of Regents ordered President Smith to suspend controversial teaching assistant George Murray, a founding member of the BSU who had also gained Black Consciousness when he worked with Amiri Baraka’s Communications Project, performing the role of the minister in Ben Caldwell’s play The First Militant Preacher, along with BSU chair Benny Stewart. After being jailed for his role in the strike, Murray, who was not only an English teacher but the Black Panther Minister of Education, returned to his father’s church where he ministers today.

In protest of Murray’s suspension and jailing, several ethnic groups struck and presented a set of 15 "non-negotiable" demands, which included the expansion of the College's new Black Studies Department (the nation's first), the creation of a School of Ethnic Studies, and increased recruiting and admissions of minority students. After a week of confrontations between students and police, the college was closed.

In November 1968, President Smith resigned, and S.I. Hayakawa, a famed linguist and semantics author and professor—dubbed an oriental with an occidental mind by community master teacher/linguist Aaron Ali—Hayakawa, the political opposite of radical linguist Norm Chomsky, was named acting president. Hayakawa reopened the campus within a week, and when striking students positioned a sound truck at the corner of 19th and Holloway, he climbed up and gained international attention by disconnecting the speaker wires to make his own speech.

Friday, November 16, 2007, was a historic reunion of the Black Student Union members who fought for black power in 1968 at San Francisco State College, now University. It was an intergenerational gathering since BSU students were present and officially received the baton from their elders who included Dr. Ramona Castro, the first person arrested, Condi (aka Sharon Jones), Nancy Mims, Danny Glover, Benny Stewart, Terry Collins, Jerry Venardo, Jimmy Garrett, Bernard Stringer, Ron Bentley, Nesbit Crutchfield, Reginald Major (who got so excited he suffered a mild heart attack at the reunion). Also present were legendary BSU poets Reginald Lockett, Judy Juanita and Marvin X. Ok, let’s be modest, Marvin X stole the show. In the words of Bernard Stringer, Marvin brought out the spirit of SF State’s Gallery Lounge poetry events that became legendary for ushering in the West Coast Black Arts Movement with radical poetry. BSU leaders not present included Mar’yam Wadi, JoAnn Mitchell-Stringer and Cheryl Treskenoff.

In the audience were members of the Black Studies staff and faculty, including Dr. Wade Nobles, Dr. Kenneth Monteiro, chair of Ethnic Studies, Dr Dorothy Tsurutra, chair of Black Studies, and Christine Harris, Ethnic Studies Relations Officer, et al. It was a healing event because the relationship between the Black Studies faculty and the original BSU has been strained since Dr. Nathan Hare was removed as the first chair and replaced by a more pliant regime. The founders of the BSU are writing their history of the struggle for student rights and black studies since the story has suffered revisionism through the years and original BSU members feel their narrative has never been told.

The audience was treated to a film on the strike that lead to the creation of Black Studies. It was a bloody struggle of Third World and white students for social justice in academia. Many students were injured by fascist police called out by president S.I. Hayakawa, some went to jail and prison. On Friday they were honored for their tenacity and sincerity. Their goal now is to pass the values of struggle to the present generation so they need not reinvent the wheel as they fight for their fair share in academia and the general society which is still on the white supremacy agenda.

It was good to see actor Danny Glover still committed to the struggle for justice. And Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale was present as well, along with former Merritt College BSU president Leo Bazille, also students from the BSU at Berkeley City College.

As I noted in my remarks to the esteemed gathering of peoples, along with the history there should be a how-to book for BSU students to study the process of dealing with racist administrators and reactionary faculty.

Endowed Chair for Dr. Nathan Hare

Apparently, in the spirit of healing and perhaps in the spirit of simply doing the right thing, the Black Studies Department announced there will be an endowed chair in honor of Dr. Nathan Hare as the first chairman of an Ethnic Studies program on a major university in the United States. FYI, Dr. Nathan Hare holds two PhDs, in sociology and psychology, and was co-founder of Black Scholar magazine, also author of the classic The Black Anglo-Saxons. Nathan is also husband of Dr. Julia Hare, one of the most dynamic public intellectuals. When we produced the Kings and Queens of Black Consciousness at SFSU, 2004, Dr. Julia Hare asked why none of those who struggled for Black Studies have been allowed to teach there, to say nothing of her husband? As per the endowed chair, Amiri Baraka taught us to accept the reward, not the award, the reward is money. We know Dr. Hare could use some scrilla.

Amiri Baraka and the Black Student Union

When Amiri Baraka was in the Bay Area recently, I took the privilege to accompany him at a few venues. At University of California’s Wheeler Hall, I read with him to a mostly white audience of poetry and literature students and professors. Even though I am one of the founders of the Black Arts Movement, the whites had never heard of me. They are under the illusion that Baraka, Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni were the sole members of the Black Arts Movement. The Black Arts Movement was a national movement with venues in every region of the United States—one need only read the correspondence section of the Journal of Black Poetry and/or Black Theatre Magazine to get a feeling of the national impact of BAM. When Asian poet Janice Mirikitani says Marvin X awakened her ethnicity, she is speaking for all ethnic groups whose consciousness was awakened by the Black Arts Movement! As a result, academia and even the secondary schools teach their mostly Miller Lite version of Native American lit, Chicano lit, Asian lit and Gender lit.

The Asian student who introduced Baraka informed me he had no knowledge there was a West Coast and especially a Bay Area BAM formed by playwright Ed Bullins, Duncan Barber, Hillery Broadus, Carl Bossiere, Ethna Wyatt (Hurriyah Asar) and myself. He thought BAM was an East Coast thing, even though BAM artist Sun Ra and I taught in the Black Studies department at UCB (1972) and the UCB Bancroft library recently acquired my archives (2006). Isn’t it strange the University has not invited me to speak or read since 1972? Is there not an attempt to silence certain people such as the movers and shakers? Yes, even at the so-called bastion of free speech, every attempt is made to sing Silent Night!

The next night Baraka read before an audience of black students at a residence hall. The Black Studies department was celebrating their Diaspora studies program, the latest genre in Black Studies, a field of study to enlighten students on the Pan African nature of our people. I have a problem with this broad focus of Black Studies because it dilutes the national mission which was to liberate North American Africans. As San Francisco State’s BSU founder Jerry Vanado notes, “My ancestors go back no further than Mississippi.” Now some call this narrow minded nationalism, but if we are more concerned with finding bones in Africa than recovering the bones of our ancestors in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, we need our heads examined.

Of course a Pan African perspective is necessary because the North American African is indeed a man of the world as Elijah Muhammad taught: “Wherever you go on the planet earth you will find the black man or evidence he was there.” And certainly the works of J. A. Rogers proved this thesis, along with DuBois’ The World and Africa, to say nothing of the work of Rashidi Ranoko, Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Ben and others. It has been said that one cannot claim a knowledge of Black Studies without studying the history of Arabia, Persia, India and China. But my concern is simply a matter of focus and I claim the central focus of Black Studies was as a tool of liberation for North American Africans, not to expand our minds to other worlds to prove our universality, although on the surface this sounds like a grand idea, but in the deep structure it takes our minds off the central theme of liberating our communities from the addiction to white supremacy.
We need only look at our present condition to see the here and now should be our central focus—as Baraka notes in his forthcoming opera on the Sisyphus myth, we are in the down cycle, yes, at the bottom of the mountain with the rock of ignorance and reaction weighing us down.

For example, isn’t it ironic that UC’s Black Studies was celebrating its Diaspora program but students are totally ignorant of the radical foundation of the Black Studies Department at UCB , ignorant of the fact that the entire radical faculty was removed in 1972 and replaced with a reactionary regime that capitulated to the Chancellor’s demands. And with the removal of the radical black nationalist faculty came the imposition of the more acceptable internationalist perspective with its focus on, in the words of Dr. Nathan Hare, “other worlds,” including searching for bones in Egypt (Kemit for the scholarly negro students) while dry bones in America sinks deeper and deeper into the graveyard of white supremacy, as evidenced by the feminization of the Black Studies faculty and students. Alas, where are the male faculty and students? Many are imprisoned, drugged out, mentally disabled, lost and turned out in the hood, rapping about it’s hard out here for a pimp or just posing cool with pants sagging, smoking blunts, but perhaps they are precisely on the money when their analysis is that it’s a “stupid” world, so why participate? Let’s get rich quick or die trying, why bother fighting white supremacy. After all, even if Obama is elected president, he will simply be a white imperialist in black face! Obama says he will invade Iran and Pakistan, so what difference is there between him and a white man or woman?

If truth be told, we know in war the men are killed or carted off and the women allowed to survive and/or raped as booty, certainly, they are not feared in any way. The irony is that women professors, instructors and teachers will tell you how badly students need male professors, instructors and teachers, but no real attempt is made to hire them.

Adding insult to injury, many Black Studies departments hired Continental and Caribbean Africans as heads. With all respect to Pan Africanism, how many North American Africans are teaching in Africa and the Caribbean, in particular, teaching African and Caribbean studies? After all, what does a so-called Negro know about African studies or Caribbean studies? Well, what do Africans and Caribbean scholars know about us? Quite simply, many of these African scholars were brought in to purposely divert and redirect our liberation struggle into neo-colonialism. The foreign scholars are more pliant and certainly less radical than those sometimes violent Negroes who were the pioneers in Black Studies, many of whom evolved from the struggle of Black Student Unions for justice and equity in academia, but few remain to spread their radicalism to the current generation who are taught, among other topics, revisionist history, with the sin of omission a prominent device—just leave certain critical moments and personalities out of the narrative. How in the hell can the Jamaican Dr. Orlando Patterson instruct us on the sociology of North American Africans while Jamaica is in squalor, in urgent need of his sociological insight, meantime he spreads reactionary intellectual poppycock about the plight of North American Africans. Can you imagine a North American African pontificating on the plight of Jamaicans? They would say, “Get that Black American out of here! What he know bout us? He black man wit white heart!”

UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University are just two examples of what happened nationwide. Cecil Brown’s essay on UC Berkeley Black Studies has been expanded into a book entitled Dude, What Happened to My Black Studies Department? I replied to Cecil in my book of essays Wish I Could Tell You The Truth, Black Bird Press, 2005. Cecil could probably use a course in statistics but his general idea was on point. The truth is that women and immigrant blacks have replaced black males as students and faculty nationwide in academia. For every one black male in college, three go to prison. The future is bleak if such statistics are correct. And if in fact the black man is an endangered species, then it is simply an act of nature that women and New Africans will replace him. He had his day, did what he could, but there is a new team in town. Get over it and move on. Even if it was an act of neo-colonialism, it is doubtful it can be reversed, unless we can radicalize women and immigrant Africans, which is doubtful. For all their progress and edumacation, these are not the women of Mom’s generation and certainly not Granny’s. Few of them have the spirit of Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Betty Shabazz, Ella Collins, Queen Mother Moore, Fannie Lou and Coretta, or even Sonia, Angela, Kathleen and Asata Shakur. Better they learn how to fry an egg and clean their houses, then ponder revolution. This has nothing to do with male chauvinism but rather female dignity. See Elijah’s lessons on MGT (Muslim Girls Training), and of course brothers have yet to grasp three words from Elijah to the FOI (Fruit of Islam), “Do For Self.” This, above all other reasons, is why we find ourselves at the present impasse or precipice, we refuse to do for self, yet we see Africans, Arabs, Asians, Latinos, setting up shop beside us in the hood and coming up while we slip down the mountain in the manner of Sisyphus. Sun Ra taught us, “The Creator got things fixed, if you don’t do the right thing, you can’t go forward or backward.” So here we are, stuck on stupid with Super Glue on our behinds. And some of the brothers are masculine feminists, standing in the corner with their dicks in their hands and hearts racing, awaiting direction from their woman, mindless monkeys trailing their woman’s dress tail. Get up and do for self Negro I will not honor you by calling you African. I will not disgrace you by calling you nigguh, since Mao taught us to, “Cure the sickness to save the patient, don’t doctor the patient to death.”

Needless to say, when Baraka addressed the UCB Black faculty and students, I was informed there was no room for me to read on the program, even though I have been a comrade and cultural worker with Baraka for forty years. Yes, for the last thirty years there has been no room on the program for many of my comrades and me, Baraka excepted, mainly because he is an old man so let him rant his meaningless Communism. I departed the Baraka reading to avoid the stress of negoitis, an inflammation of the negroid gland at the base of the brain, although after I departed, he called me up to perform, against the wishes of his host, Aya Deleon, who is supposedly carrying on the tradition established by the late poet June Jordan, a true trooper of the Black Arts Movement.

Before proceeding, I want to clarify that Africans from the Continent and Caribbean can indeed become experts on the North American African, just as there are Europeans who are experts—in fact, if it were not for the scholarship of some European American professors, the history of Black Studies, Black liberation and the Black Arts Movement would be suppressed since Black American scholars have written few books on the subject in the last forty years. The recent book The Black Arts Movement (University of North Carolina Press) is by a white scholar, James Smethurst. After forty years, young black scholars are finally becoming aware of the importance of BAM in raising the consciousness of our people and other ethnic groups, and although short-lived has had far more impact than the Harlem Renaissance.

0Since the Black Arts Movement was the body of literature that gave birth to Black Studies, we would imagine that this literature would be the foundation of Black Studies, but it is only now that BAM literature is getting long over due recognition. Was it not the BAM literature that radicalized Black students in general and in particular those at San Francisco State University that led to the creation of the first Black Studies program at a major university? Yes, it was indeed the poetry and plays of BAM writers Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Jimmy Garett, Ben Caldwell, Charles Fuller, Ron Milner,Ed Bullins, Marvin X and many others who gave consciousness to BSU students at San Francisco State University, many of whom joined the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam to continue their revolutionary activism.

After his UCB appearance, a week later, Baraka returned to the Bay to speak and read at San Francisco State University and to perform in the community with Roscoe Mitchell of the Chicago Art Ensemble. One day at noon he addressed the SFSU Black faculty and students—well, the black faculty who bothered to attend. In the tradition of black scholars who are always in a hurry ( in crisis, actually, as best described by Harold Cruse in Crisis of the Negro Intellectual) going nowhere, one faculty member stuck his head in the door to praise Baraka but claimed he had to meet his class. We wondered why the esteemed professor did not bring his class to meet Baraka, especially since accompanying the poet was the original leadership of SF State’s infamous Black Student Union, including Benny Stewart, Jerry Varnado, Terry Collins, Jimmy Garrett, Ron Bentley and Nesbitt Crutchfield. I am also one of the founding members of the BSU, having joined in 1964 when it was the Negro Students Association, but when the strike occurred in 1968, I was underground in Harlem, after refusing to fight in Vietnam. My turn on the battlefield came in 1969 at Fresno State University when Governor Ronald Reagan instructed the State College Board of Trustees to get me off campus by any means necessary. But this is another story, suffice to say my struggle with the forces of white supremacy has been suppressed and deleted from the history of Fresno—the present generation has no knowledge that I and many students put their lives on the line for justice in that rat hole called Fresno. Few people in the area have any knowledge that two of African America’s greatest writers came from Fresno, novelist/critic/poet Sherley A. Williams and myself, and that we were high school lovers as well as members of the honor society.

Of course the meeting with the BSU leadership and Baraka was a historic moment. He recalled how he was invited in 1967 to SF State by the BSU to organize a communications project which led to the creation of Black Studies. This project symbolized and actualized the mission of Black Studies as envisioned by the BSU at SFSU: to bring knowledge and consciousness to the community—emphasis on community as opposed to merely establishing an outhouse in academia. Imagine if this mission had been realized by the establishment of independent institutions of higher learning in the community—today there might be less crime, less murder, less family disintegration, less political apathy and a host of other problems with the presence of centers of enlightenment in the hood. One example was Black House, founded by Eldridge Cleaver, Ed Bullins, Ethna Wyatt (Hurriyah Asar) and myself. Black House (1967) became the off campus center of the communications project Baraka headed. Black House extended the West Coast Black Arts Movement Ed Bullins and I established with Black Arts West Theatre on Fillmore Street( 1966). Black Arts West was partly the result of the SFSU’s Drama department producing my first play Flowers for the Trashman which I appreciated but rejected their paternalistic attitude, so I decided to establish my own theatre in the hood, rather than struggle with academic white supremacy, hoping to be discovered—it was never my intention to be discovered by anyone except my own people. And even if they don’t discover me, as Langston Hughes noted, that’s all right too.

Black Studies professor Oba T’Shaka informed me he is building a 14 million dollar educational center in Oakland to train the next generation of scholars and activists. What a grand idea—we say better late than never!

But after Baraka addressed the audience, the BSU leadership told a short version of their story. I had to clarify that before the real struggle began with the forces of white supremacy, black students struggled over changing the name from Negro Student Association to Black Student Union. Yes, there were those who wanted to remain Negroes but lost out to blackness. And the struggle began properly when we realized we were not getting our proper share of funding from Associated Students. We were determined to get the funding by any means necessary. Baraka was at the meeting with the AS and told of a person with a knife who threatened the white supremacy athletes who showed up to defend the AS against those “black thugs.” Benny Stewart corrected Baraka, reminding the old man he was the one with the knife.

Eventually the AS granted funding for the Black Communications project and Baraka began his work organizing theatrical productions up and down the West coast, eventually leading to a Black Studies department. His project produced a documentary film Black Spring, which is lost unless it turns up in the SFSU film archives. The film documents events of the time, including at SFSU, Black House, Black Panther rallies and events in Los Angeles with Ron Karenga’s US organization. Of course this was before the split between cultural and political nationalists, although I suggested to the audience that making a distinction between cultural and political nationalists was false because it was impossible to make a distinction between a student, a black arts movement person, a black Panther, or a black Muslim, for many if not most of the time they were one and the same. Thus, I speak of the Black Arts Movement and the Black Liberation Movement as one: BAM/BLM. Two recent books I recommend are Wait Til The Midnight Hour and Muhammad Ahmed’s (aka Max Stanford’s) History of the Black Movement WE WILL RETURN IN THE WHIRLWIND, with John Bracy.

George Murray was in Baraka’s production of Ben Caldwell’s First Militant Preacher, also a BSU revolutionary, also Black Panther Minister of Education who served jail time for defying the authorities during the strike. Emory Douglas was a student at SF City College who came to Black House, got radicalized and joined the BPP becoming Minister of Culture. Even Eldridge Cleaver participated in the cultural activities at Black House before I took him to meet Bobby Seale, and soon after became Minister of Information. Eldridge symbolized the connection of the prison movement to black liberation. While students at SFSU, we edited Black Dialogue magazine, and our staff was invited to Soledad prison to address Cleaver’s black culture club. We later published Cleaver’s essay My Queen, I Greet You, along with the poetry of Alprentis Bunchy Carter. Thus BSU students helped radicalize the prison movement. We recently heard Brother Kumasi lecture on the birth of the prison movement and declared it began in that Black Culture club at Soledad prison.

Samuel Napier, Black Panther Minister of Distribution, came to Black House for cultural consciousness, then joined the BPP. Actor Danny Glover was a member of the BSU who later performed with Black Arts West theatre on Fillmore Street.

So one must be cautious in making such a clear distinction between participants in the liberation struggle who were at the same time students, artists and activists.
The line was clearly defined by those who believed in armed struggle and those who did not, those who did not were called cultural nationalists, especially by the Black Panther Party until they attended the Pan African Cultural Festival in Algiers and got a healing on the importance of culture in revolutionary struggle. Probably what caused the riff between the cultural and political nationalists was the murder of Bunchy and John Huggins in the BSU meeting room on the campus of UCLA by members of Karenga’s US organization which at the time was associated with the FBI, LA police department, cointelpro and Governor Ronald Reagan’s office. We don’t know if those connections still remain, but they have been documented to have existed at the time. But there is no doubt our movement was infiltrated by police agents and snitches posing as students and professors and we know this continues, especially since 9/11, but throughout the years there has been a consciousness attempt by Black Studies departments to stay clear of radicalism especially of the strident nationalist variety.

During the question and answer time, Baraka was asked by students what to do when they encounter problems with the administration, for example, when they want to do a dramatic production and can’t get support from the department. Baraka replied with a rhetorical question, “Is it difficult?” Benny Stewart chimed in, “We didn’t ask—we took authority. We put on our plays with no money, didn’t think about money, were happy just to get something to eat.”

Baraka pointed to the BSU elders. Look at these guys, you’ve heard what they went through, beatings, jailings, I got my head busted open during the Newark rebellion, teeth knocked out. So I ask you again, is it difficult for you? A public school teacher cried about her problems with the administration in the school district. Baraka again replied, “Is it difficult?” In other words—and there were some in the audience who felt Baraka was insensitive—I think he was irritated and impatient with expressions of fear in the present generation. I told the audience we must think outside the box to solve our problems with white supremacy. Even if you are in academia, you must find solutions and attack problems from a frame of reference beyond the white supremacy paradigm. When the BSU wanted a Black Studies program, students had to transcend the old way of doing things, had to be fearless and determined to get ours by any means necessary. Fear exists in the mentality of slaves, not men and women on the road to freedom. Fearlessness is the legacy of the BSU at San Francisco State University.

Dr. Nathan Hare was appointed the first director of Black Studies at SF State, but was ultimately removed by the President of the College and Governor Ronald Reagan. But as I have indicated, this purging of radical black faculty happened nationwide and continues to this day. We understand African American Studies at Columbia University was recently closed. In the final analysis, it matters not whether Black Studies or black people are radical or reactionary—when the forces of white supremacy tire of your presence, you shall be removed. Did it matter to them whether it was the radical Malcolm X or the reformist Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Finally, the Black Student Union and Black Studies grew out of the people’s movement for freedom and justice. When the people determine the BSU and Black Studies are relevant to our liberation these institutions will receive the necessary support so they are independent and sovereign, and they shall again be an essential arm of our cultural revolution.


See his latest books: Beyond Religion, Toward Spirituality and How To Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy, foreword by Dr. Nathan Hare, afterword by Ptah Allah El, Black Bird Press, POB 1317, Paradise CA 95967, $19.95 each..
Contact him at, or

Note from Dr. Nathan Hare

Marvin, like I said just while ago, everybody is a star. I see you even got me in there, though I didn’t arrive until February 1, 1968 -- not yet forty years – but had already been bombed out at Howard for writing a letter to the Hilltop in September of 1966 suggesting Howard didn’t have to turn itself white (or polka dot for that matter -- “60 per cent white by 1970” was the administration’s announced and official plan); then writing in short time a “Black University Manifesto” calling for “the overthrow of the Negro college with white innards and to raise in its place a black university relevant to the black community and its needs.” That’s why, as I explained to you the other day, I didn’t get invited to the BSU and Black Studies, Forty Years Later bash at State. At Howard it was the Black Power Committee, but they didn’t fare as well as the BSU at State; they’re all either dead or somehow gone and nobody is here to celebrate.
I didn’t know Reagan had any notable part in my firing beyond the governor’s rubber stamp; I know it was S.I. Hayakawa who came out and fired me. I point this out because I keep seeing what looks like forces in the Third World lately trying to clean up Hayakawa, in the rash of revisionism emerging these days.
The struggle continues,


No comments: