Friday, April 10, 2009

Part 32: My Friend the Devil--Eldridge Cleaver

Marvin X

After the Black Men's Conference fizzled, I returned to the classroom, teaching theatre at Oakland's Laney College. Odell Johnson, President of the college, my homeboy from Fresno, hired me. But many of my theatre students couldn't read the script. Nevertheless, I put together a musical drama entitled In the Name of Love, a poetic drama that Eldridge Cleaver showed up to see several times. He loved it because he said it returned drama to the Shakespearean tradition of poetic theatre.

There were quite a few people who came to view it more than once. At first I couldn't figure out why they were returning, but soon it hit me that maybe the topic touched their lives as good drama should. My major topic was polygamy or plural marriage. This explains why Dr. Yusef Bey of Your Black Muslim Bakery came with his entourage on several occasions. Betty King, known as the Mother Theresa of Oakland, came more than once. I found out that Betty had been in a relationship with a married man for several years so she was trying to understand some things that were going on in her life.

All during the production I was having problems with the technical staff as well as the theatre director, both of whom were Jews and had literally kept blacks from using one of the best theatres in the Bay. The Jews acted as if the theatre was their sacred turf and blacks should keep out. Well, as per usual, I came in kicking and screaming that their reign was over and we had every right to the space. The tech man warned me I might not have lights during the production, they might mysteriously cut off in the middle of a scene. I replied that I might put his lights out as well. And then one day he took items from my archives on display in the lobby and put them in his office. When I saw him in the hall I took a swing at his head but missed.
He called the dean of our department, Melvin Newton, yes, Huey Newton's brother, who had me arrested by campus police. I was later released and told to not return for a few days, but I ignored Melvin's order and returned a day or two later. He called the campus police again but I told them to call the President who overrode Melvin's order. If he ever did, Melvin has not liked me since. Actually, Melvin didn't like anyone associated with his brother, since he was nothing, certainly not the historic figure like his brother. During this time revolutionary sister Dessie X Woods (Rashida Muhammad, may she rest in peace--she has a street named in her honor downtown Oakland) came on campus to support me. She said of Melvin, "He and Huey didn't come from the same womb. Melvin came from a baboon's asshole."

I also taught a class at Merritt College called Manhood Training. I taught brother Rickey Clay (Bakari of Uhuru House) one on one. He had performed the role of Revolutionary Man in In the Name of Love at Laney. After my class he actually joined the revolutionary Uhuru House and has been there ever since. He is currently in charge of the local Uhuru Movement.

During this time the brothers from the Black Men's Conference wanted to support Dr. Nathan Hare for superintendent of Oakland Public Schools. We held a rally at Oakland High School, but when we discovered some negative background issues about Dr. Hare, we withdrew his name. But during that rally at Oakland High I met an English teacher named Marsha Satterfield who had studied my writings while a student at Southern University in Louisiana. She was highly intelligent and a dedicated teacher and soon we were living together. She became part of my polygamous family. She put up with my madness for quite some time, allowing me to subject her and my other women to much stress and abuse, verbal and physical. At a cast party, she and Hurriyah fought over whose time it was to be with me. The fight started when Marsha called Hurriyah a bitch, something Hurriyah didn't play, being a Chicago woman.

As director and writer, I took full advantage of the women, causing one dancer to tell me, "I'm not givin you no pussy, Marvin, you got enough already!"

One day I got a call from Dessie X to come rescue her from an abusive situation with a Muslim minister in San Francisco. I let her stay at my house and introduced her to Mustafa Abul Rahim, whose family had won the million dollars. Mustafa proceeded to abuse her as well, even though Dessie X had killed a white man in the South who tried to rape her and won release from prison after the Uhuru Movement came to her defense and spread propaganda about her cause. So I had to take her from Mustafa and put her under my care. When I got a temporary teaching job near Fresno, I took her with me until she started seeing ghosts while I was at work. Eldridge told me to be patient with her because she had only recently gotten out of prison and was still traumatized. I took his advice but Dessie made the mistake of calling my mother and telling her she was one of my wives. Mom told her she didn't want to hear anything about Marvin and his wives, please don't call her again.

I soon returned Dessie to the Bay Area and dropped her off at the Black Muslim Bakery where she hooked up with a brother and was married to him until she made her transition (may she rest in peace).

I was soon joined in Fresno by Eldridge Cleaver. This time he was not making dick pants but dick pots. He designed stone planters with a giant phallus at one end. When he brought People's magazine to my house for a story about his planters, I told him it was time to go and we parted again.

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