American Gangsta: J. Edgar Hoover
BET must be congratulated for presenting a real American gansta: the FBI’s founder J. Edgar Hoover. Those of us in the movement know too well his activities with COINTELPRO or the counter-intelligence program to disrupt, destroy and neutralize the liberation movement. We suffered their spying, lying, murder and other activities during the 60s. For the hip hop and younger generation of today, we urge them to study this video as ardently as they have the socalled black American ganstas.
Even though we now have a black president, this fact doesn’t preclude the continuation of similar activities under the Patriot Act or fighting terrorism. Amiri Baraka has warned us, “In the end, Blacks will be the terrorist.” Black people must therefore be aware of snitches, agent provocateurs, and undercover black FBI and police agents out to destroy our liberation movement in the same manner and zeal as in the days of J. Edgar Hoover.
Watching American Gansta: J. Edgar Hoover brought tears to my eyes because I am so familiar with events during this time. Any person involved in black liberation was a subject for intelligence gathering. I remember being followed home by strange negroes on the bus while I was a student at San Francisco State College (now university).
While living on San Francisco’s infamous Haight Street, a strange negro came to my apartment asking what I wanted. Did I want guns, money, what? I looked at him and told him to get out of my motherfucking house.
During the time I was on the run and in exile for refusing to fight in Vietnam, the FBI came to my mother with photos of me in various situations, begging her to reveal my whereabouts. Mom refused, but later told me they had photos of me with my girlfriend at the time, Ethna X (now Hurriyah).
After my exile in Toronto, Canada, Mexico City, living underground in Chicago, Harlem and Philly, I was finally apprehended in Belize, Central America. At the ministry of home affair, my deportation order was read aloud: “Your presence is not beneficial to the welfare of the British Colony of Honduras. Therefore you are under arrest until a plane departs at 4pm for the United States.” I was taken to police headquarters and told to have a seat. Then suddenly I was surrounded by police who begged me to teach them about black power—the very reason I was being deported. The spies had reported to the government I was teaching black power and was therefore suspected of being a Communist. This was the label given to anyone fighting for liberation throughout the Americas, and one could be killed, jailed or deported for being a revolutionary.
After five months in federal prison, I was released and returned to Fresno, California, in time for the birth of my first daughter, Nefertiti, January 29, 1971. I began organizing a black theatre company that soon gathered youth together in great numbers. Even the rehearsals were packed with young people eager to participate in theatre. But we faced opposition from people who should have been supporters, such as the NAACP and the local black newspaper. The community center suddenly wanted us out, even though we were in full production on the musical version of my play Flowers for the Trashman, not titled Take Care of Business. With the concurrence of local black officials, a worker at the center was told to get a shotgun to get us out since we were supposedly trespassing.
He was the janitor but obtained a shotgun and shot our choir director in the back, killing him. Winfrey Streets was not only our choir director, but was one of the few conscious black people in town. He had been president of the Student Body at Edison High, wore the first natural haircut in town, and most importantly, was the local leader of the Black Panther Party. The black newspaper did a full page story labeling me the cause of my friend’s murder—actually they said I killed him. I believe this was part of the FBI’s Cointelpro activities in Fresno. As we know, J. Edgar Hoover said go after any leader, any potential leader, no matter how prominent. In spite of the murder of Winfrey, the show was performed.
Soon after I was told there was a hit on me because someone had insulted a white boy across told and supposedly the assaulter was associated with me. Actually, as the bogey man of the town, brothers would use my name to scare white people, especially after I came to Fresno in 1969 to teach at Fresno State College, now University. Then Gov. Ronald Reagan told the State College Board of Trustees to get me off campus by any means necessary. But Jack Kelly, one of the first black police officers in Fresno, told me, “Marvin, when you fought to teach at Fresno State College, you made it better for all of us, not only black students. Before you came to FSU, black police were not allowed to patrol the white side of town.” FYI, this was the same year Reagan kicked Angela Davis out of UCLA. The same year Bunchy Carter and John Huggins were murdered in the BSU meeting room at UCLA—as noted in the BET video, this was a COINTEPRO action, as well as the Black Panther shootout at their Los Angeles headquarters. When I came to Los Angeles on a speaking tour during my struggle to teach at FSU, students showed me the BSU room with blood and bullet holes still evident. Lil Joe was part of a group of Los Angeles students who gave me the tour and who supported me during my struggle to teach black studies at FSU.
Although I was fearless concerning the hit, my friends encouraged me to leave Fresno for the Bay area, so I departed and organized my Black Educational Theatre (BET) in San Francisco’s Fillmore. Sun Ra and his Arkestra worked with me as he had done on the East coast. In fact, Sun Ra encountered the hit man outside my theatre. He said the hit man showed him a photo of myself. Sun Ra claimed he used his Ra power to dismiss the hit man. Truth is, after Sun Ra’s encounter, I never heard anymore about the hit. Sun Ra gave me another prophecy. He was teaching in black studies at UC Berkeley. One day he said, “Maavin, you gonna teach at UC Berkeley.” I told him he was crazy, since I had been kicked out of FSU by Gov. Reagan. But Sunny was right: a few weeks later I was invited to lecture in Black Studies with the same qualifications that were used to deny my lectureship at FSU. But in a matter of months, not only myself, but almost the entire black studies faculty was removed and replaced with a passive crew who would do the administration’s bidding, meaning an end to radical, black nationalist based ideology and instruction. This was not unique to UCB but occurred nationwide: radical instructors who had fought to expand black studies and relate it more directly with the community, were removed and replaced with house negroes. At UCB it was professor Bill Banks and his crew of sycophants. A reading of UCB documents from the chancellor’s office will reveal it was a concerted move to eliminate black radicals from the faculty, in line with Cointelpro. Forty years later, black studies is weak, passive and pitiful, although black studies faculty will attempt to defend themselves of such charges as they did recently at the 40th anniversary of the BSU/Third World Strike at San Francisco State University.
Bottom line, Cointelpro is alive and well. We were privy to a meeting between a US Marshall and Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb. The officer was there as a private security company person to discuss providing security for Paul Cobb who has been threatened since his editor Chauncey Bailey was assassinated in broad daylight downtown Oakland. The officer revealed that he was also a minister and informed us that there were many ministers who are official FBI and police agents.
And with respect to the assassination of journalist Chauncey Bailey, we call for the investigation of the investigators of the investigators! Mayor Ron Dellums has called upon California Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate the Oakland Police investigators of the Chauncey Bailey murder—the suspects being young black Muslims.
But the lead police investigator has had a personal relationship with the young Muslims and yet continues on the case, even though he refused to interrogate an eye witness at the crime scene. And as Mayor, Jerry Brown instigated the firing of Chauncey Bailey from the Oakland Tribute because “the nigger was snooping around city hall and the police department.” Jerry Brown’s internet records disappeared when he departed to become attorney general, so how can he investigate the investigators when he himself needs to be investigated?
22 November 2008