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Full text of "Drum"

Larry Neal/ 1968 Blackfire 

AND SHINE SWAM ON 



. . Just then the Captain said, "Shine, Shine, save poor me 

I'll give you yrmv money than a nigger ever see. " 

Shine said to the Captain: "Mmiey is good oit laM aitd on sea, 

but the }fumey on land is the money fm- ine. ' ' 

And Shine swam on. . . 

continued on page 26 



The Drum, Spring 1981 
Volume 11, Number 1 

Editorial, Circulation and 

Advertising Offices 
Located at 427 New Africa House 
University of Massachusetts 
Amherst, Mass. 01003 
M13-545-3120 

Address all Letters, 
Poems and Contributions 
To the above address 

Copyright by Drum 
427 New Africa House 
Printing: LaVigne Press, Inc. 
Worcester, Mass. 



One of the art forms they took from us when we 
came to this strange land was the drum. Here in 
Amherst we got our DRUM back after great 
struggle 11 years ago. We are learning how to 
remember the correct rhythms and we've got it 
right now. Check us out and let us know if you 
hear us for we are constantly in danger of again 
losing our drum. 



Front Cover: Larry Neal 

Photo by C. Schultz 

Back Cover: Michael Harris 



Dear Colleague, 

We, the staff of DRUM magazine are pleased to present our 
most recent edition to the DRUM family. We hope that you will 
delight in its treasures as we have delighted in its production. As 
we enter 1981, we are organizing exciting, spiritually 
motivation photography, articles, essays, and other cultural 
literary works produced by the Black community in the Pioneer 
Valley. 

Our office, on the University of Massachusetts Amherst 
campus, serves as the stage from which we perform. We are a 
student run organization, funded by the University and by your 
contributions. With an enthusiastic relatively new staff and the 
return of professor Nelson Stevens of the W.E.B. DuBois Afro- 
American Studies Department, our goal is to strive for 
excellence which the magazine represents traditionally. 

We welcome all comments, criticisms, and contributions that 
you wish to share with us. Enjoy the issue. We await your 
response. 

In Unity, 
DRUM staff 




Photography by Jim Alexander 



velvet fruits 

like new shaved grass 

breaking forth from bare earth 

patches of baldness 

all over me/ but 

new blades burst forth 

tearing earth in their arrival 

as i become new bom 

childlike/ innocent vulnerable assured 

full with an unquenchable laughter 

an unmasked pain 

as in women birthing 

blood and life flow together/ inseparably. 

learning to trust myself 

like myself/ be myself 

despite the scratches 

that prevent my flowing smoothly 

but this is my space/ i'm claiming it 

finally 

the seeds have been planted 

i wait now 

for new crop 

new leaves to pick 

and make fresh dinner salad 

green avocados moving from hardness 

to ripe yellow smoothness/ velvet fruit 

i long to be 

cast off my thorns 

and blossom 

in the solitude that new buds claim 

velvet fruit 

i long to be like 

Billie and Dinah's sad sweet smoothness 

strange velvet fruit 

bursting forth now. 

Linda Bolton Smith 



saw an old man today 

hobbling the streets of norfolk 

bent like an aged wooden cane 

talkin to hisself and carrying brown bag bottle behind him 

feet stickin to the concrete 

in white socks and torn black shoes 

skin cracked and sagging 

beneath cheap leather and black wollen stocking cap 

he was dusty and ragged and ancient 

and the blood ran from my womb 

as i understood 

for the first time 

who birthed me. 

Linda B. Smith 



Contents 

Page 
Excerpts from Atlanta Notebooks 80/81 

Toni Cade Bambara 4 

Toll of Children in Atlanta 

by Homer L. Meade II 7 

Fiction and Truth 

Chillun by Anthony Barboza 11 

Political Struggle 

Levi Hart Case by Michael Mark 14 

Fiction and Truth 

Lady Day by Stephanie Glenn 15 

Drum Interview 

Jeff Donaldson by Carl Yates 17 

In Memory of Alex Eldridge 18 

Biography of Larry Neal 

Elizabeth Perez 20 

Larry Neal/ 1968 Blackfire Essay 26 

Artist on Art 

Pheoris West by John Kendrick 34 

Music 

Stevie Wonder: The Man and His Music 

Donna Davis 39 

Martin Luther King 

Kimberly Green 43 

DRUM Reveals "Angle" 

Augusto Martins 45 

Political Struggle 

Walter Rodney 47 

Is There a Black Political Alternative? 48 

Gentrification: Where Do We Go From Here? 50 

The Criminal Justice System and Blacks: 

McDuffie Case 52 

Short Stories 

Rebirth of a Warrior by Curtis Haynes 55 

Hard Times by Lettie E. Moses 56 

The Seasons of the Black Woman 

Japhet M. Zw^ana, Ph.D 58 

Ten Years Later 63 



by Toni Cade Bambara 

Missing: 

We are the light 
we are robbed of 
Each time one of us 
is lost 

Summer, 1980 Parents and neighbors of missing and murdered children demand ac- 
tion. Police say— no connection. Business community says— our im- 
age, our revenue 

Blood Stains Greenbacks: 

Convention dollars speak so much louder than the outcry of an invisible 
community rendered, unseen by its very lack of dollars unheard by its 
very wealth of pigment. Convention dollars can muzzle the media and 
muddle the mind and the conscience too oiling the springs of swivel 
chairs that squeak out officialese like 
the parents are not above suspicion 
the kids no doubt were engaged in criminal activities 

Fall, 1980 White Clairvoyant Imported to Mystic City Announces: 
A Black Man Did It 

They say on the block 
that any vet trained in Vietnam 
knows how to slip in, hit, get out 
without a trace or print 
reminding us who it was race wise 
that said it had to be a Blood 

They say on the block 
that Neo-Nazi types were chased 
from the neighborhood just days 
before the furnace blew the nursery up 
Anybody investigating that? 

They say on the block 

that any man or woman 

in police garb or turned-round collar 

or with dark shades and a tapping cane 

can lure a child reared as though 

we're not at war 

and everyone's a soldier on 24 hour 

red alert combat duty 

They say on the block 

That there's a link between these massacres today 

and earlier reigns of terror in the USA 

made hot by those who light the torches 

and curse the darkness too 



Bloodlet: 



The missing and murdered of Atlanta 

The snatched children of Trenton 

The butchered brothers of Buffalo 

The slashed of New York, the stabbed of San Fran, 

the joggers felled by snipers, casualties in 

Oklahoma too, a decomposed boy in Tuscaloosa, a white 

woman in helter-skelter land stabbing a boy cause 

it was her duty, the Algiers-Fisher projects under 

siege in New Orleans, that sister 5 cops emptied 

their guns into when they hit the wrong 

apartment. . . 

Death dogging our steps all across the map 



with our permission 

They still call mass murder in Jonestown mass suicide 

with our consent 

At the Corner: 

He plugs the morning kettle in 

the sun comes through the bedspread 

at the window lighting soup cans and 

the rusty tea bag that just won't do 

He dresses to go out for a bit of breakfast 

He doesn't read newspapers 

He wears them under sweaters 

that he zips his jacket over 

He clamps a cap down over thinning hair 

to guard against the wind and early morning eyes 

The children go to school in twos and threes 

He smiles and waves and jokes the way he always has 

A woman at the bus stop beats his knees 

with purse and fear and shopping bags 

And unstrung fathers rush up 

and knock him down. 

At School: The jack-o-lantem 

Snaggle tooth in the window 

Mocks her like the skull in her nightmare dreams 

Her classmates take down the hump-back cat 

Untape the witch riding on a cardboard broom 

They offer her the pumpkin head 

She screams 

After fussing with fractions 
and horsing around with the syllable lesson 
the children are hustled 2 by 2 to the lunchroom 
pinching and poking, rushing then hushed 
one of their partners is missing 

At the Y: 

My daughter calls me from the pool 

I leave the news to turn and look 

She's doing an arm spread face down float 

As if practicing being dead 

The APD flyers are silent on this score 

The school psychologists have overlooked this bit 

Do I applaud? 

In the laundromat: 

She: Mighty strange. Fishy is what I mean. Seems two calls were made by some- 
body saying exactly where a body would be dumped. They found Christopher 
Richardson there and Earl Lee Terrell too. No stake out of the place. You hear 
me? 

Her: County Medical Examiner says, it says in the paper here, that all the cops— the 
APD, the FBI, the State Crime lab people— broke the law removing evidence 
before he got there. 

She: Broke more than the law. Broke the thread. Mighty mighty fishy. 

Her: You know they're refusing to play the recording of the call on the air. 

At the Airport: 

Man In Hat: I hate to think it might be racial. This is a new day, the New South. 
Know what I mean? 

Man with Suitcase: Mmmm. 

Hat: But who would kill a little Black child and then another and then keep right on 
and on and on and on killing and killing? My God. 

Suitcase: Where I come from, we always know who kills young Black boys. They 
shoot 'm in the back for fleeing the scene of the crime though there's been no 
crime till then. But they shoot'm in order to ahh arrest'm, ya see. Or they 
shoot 'm in the chest cause they swore they saw the flash of a knife though there 




was none to see. But they shoot'm anyway in ahh self-defense. Or they shoot'm 

in the head cause after ten full grown, trained, licensed to kill men jump on the 

less than ninety pound frame to ahh ahh— 
Hat: Hold on, now. Whatchu saying? 
Suitcase: Kid gets a broken leg somehow. So they shoot'm in the head like you'd do 

a beast. Or they— 
Hat: Wait now. Where you from? You from up north. These children were not shot. 

These children were strangled. 
Suitcase: Lynched. That's where we are ain't it? Noose South? Same south, pard- 

nuh, same south. 

In the Woods: 

They follow the dogs into the woods 

Then fan out as though there were a plan 

The dogs take a cue from them and disperse the pack 

They imitate the dogs and paw the ground 

Sniffing around the fringeless willows 

Breaking the limbs of tomorrow's marrow. 

Further in, trees shove each other mercilessly 

Vying for a crack of light 

The sun is murky, drizmal, queer 

They stumble over tires, rust heaps stub the toes 

The air, sticky thick with filth 

Signifies some horror's near 

What might have happened here 
Under leaves so spare 
It's astonishing to find them there 
surviving the malignancy 

What might have happened here 

in dirt that would not 

yield a bean 

as two crouch down to retrieve 

the weathered remnants of a young boy's sleeve 

And then and then 

The tip of a boot discovers it 

Someone gasps 

not for a body of a boy 

but for a heap they've come upon 

a pile of leavings flung down in mud 

where no sun is 

They look away, anywhere, overhead 

at swollen crows flying clumsily 

the flesh and blood of a boy transformed 

A terrible end for a boy 

who might have yearned for wings at 10 

The one who gasped 

staggering now between unbudded dogwoods 

her wailing mouth an open wound 

bleeding, screaming, keening 

for us all 

for every single one of us 

is missing. 

March: Funerals, J.W. says martial arts folks are mobilizing. New York's Guardian 
Angels come to Atlanta but aren't appreciated, Bat Squads in Techwood 
tangle with APD, Mrs. Bell and Mrs. Mathis in New York, Vigils and pro- 
grams all over the country in sympathy, much talk of getting children out of 
the city for summer camps (much to think through there: security, staffing, 
content of program, monitoring less 'researchers; flood in, situation rife for 
exploitation), strange people coming into city to do 'articles' (B reports one 
of the mothers hospitably took in a visitor to church, learned 3 days later that 
her houseguest was picking family's brain for a book she's doing), every- 



where is talk of MONEY; how much the investigation is costing the city, 
what the fed dollars will be used for, who's monitoring whose hand in the till, 
how much was raised at the Davis-Sinatra Benefit (J says: Rather than have 
Sinatra sing, have him make a few calls; maybe he can get to the bottom of 
the mess. says: Behave yo mouth, gossipman. We laugh. But there's no 
juice in it.) TV reports some minister in Ohio is collecting funds but told con- 
gregation to not send money to the parents-"They got along before their 
children were killed, they can get along now." I don't believe the TV ver- 
sion. What minister could fix his or her mouth to say such a cruel thing. 

Don't he know it costs to bury a child? 

Grandma may have a jar of dimes for her burial 

But who anticipates saving for a child's? 

And it costs to stay on the police department's case 

And to caD kin long distance to assure 

that mourning hasn't stopped your heart 

Costs paper and stamps to answer folk 

Who send sympathy and solidarity greetings 

How about on the street, on the bus, in market, in bed 

when everybody's trying to interview and question you 

Costs time, costs sleep 

And you still gotta get to that job in the a.m. 

Or no job at all cause the stress 

Has wiped you out and the paycheck too 

It costs above all cost 

When the grief aggravates Aunt Myrtle's bad heart 

And worsens Grandad's never too good health 

Other people get respite, go to Jamaica, call in a shrink 

What folks do? 

Costs 

Taxis to take the kids to school in 

Cause they're so jumpy the sidewalk spooks 

Fare to get to TV, radio, papers 

When there's a chance that what you say 

Might alert a neighborhood 

Or awaken a whole country 

Gone to sleep congratulating themselves 

Now that the hostages are home from Iran 

And it's o.k. that they get gifts from companies 

All over the place sending and sending 

But don't you dare spend a dime 

For the parents with their loss and costs 

Cause you know how them people are 

They'll drink it or otherwise squander it. 

Obscene 

Got no business in a minister's mouth. 



The Toll of Children in Atlanta 



Since July 1979, in Atlanta, Georgia, 
twenty-two (22) Black children, be- 
tween the ages of seven (7) and sixteen 
(16) years, have been reported miss- 
ing. Of these twenty-two, twenty (20) 
have been found dead: murdered by 
murderers as yet uncharged with any 
crime. Atlanta city and police officials, 
as well as Fulton and DeKalb County 



by Homer L. Meade II 

officials, suggest there may be six or, 
as many as ten killers. There is evi- 
dence to suggest that at least eight of 
the murders are connected. 

In the Fall of 1979 victim Yusef 
Bell's mother pressed city officials to 
undertake a broad investigation of the 
four murders by then undercovered: 
two of the deaths by strangulation; one 



death by gun shot wounds; one death 
undetermined. In spite of Mrs. Bell's 
and other mothers' pleas, it was not 
until July 1980 that a Special Investi- 
gative Force was organized. This oc- 
curred some eight months later, only 
after four additional murder victims 
were found: two deaths by strangula- 
tion (total of four); one death by stab- 



bing; one death by head wounds. The 
Special Investigative Force included 
one (1) supervisor— rank of sergeant, 
and four (4) investigators. This Force's 
formation was subsequent to the con- 
tinued efforts of Mrs. Bell and other 
victimed mothers who organized the 
Committee to Stop Children's Mur- 
ders. 

By July 1980 disturbing similarities 
among these murders were recog- 
nized. These similarities were 1) four 
of the deaths then reported were by 
strangulation, and 2) Yusef Bell, one 
who had been strangled, and Anthony 
Carter, one who had been stabbed, 
both were found with similar types of 
fiber or lint on their bodies. The fol- 
lowing chart shows where other possi- 
ble connections among the murdered 
victims are found: 



10 

11 

12 
13 
14 
15 
16 
17 
18 
19 
20 
21 
22 



The Toll 
of Children 
in Atlanta 



Edward H. Smith, 14 (Last seen July 1979. 
Found July 1979. Gun shot wound) 
Alfred J. Evans, 13 (Last seen July 1979. 
Found July 1979. Probable stran^lation.) 
Milton Harvey, 14 (Last seen September 

1979. Found November 1979. Undetermined.) 
Yusef Bell, 9 (Last seen October 1979. Found 
November 1979. Strangulation.) 

Angel Lanier, 12 (Last seen March 1980. 

Found March 1980. Strangulation.) 

Jeffrey L. Mathis, 10 (Last seen March 

1980. Found February 1981. (Undetermined.) 
Eric Middlebrooks, 14 (Last seen May 
1980. Found May 1980. Head injury.) 

Christopher P. Richardson, 1 1 (Last 

seen June 1980. Found January 1981. Undetermined.) 
Latonya Wilson, 7 (Last seen June 1980. 
Found October 1980. Undetermined.) 
Aaron D. Wyche, 10 (Last seen June 1980 
Found June 1980. Asphyxiation.) 

Anthony Bernard Carter, 9 (Last seen 

July 1980. Found July 1980. Stabbed.) 

Earl Lee Terrell, 10 (Last seen July 1980. 

Found January 1981. Undetermined.) 

Clifford Jones, 13 (Last seen August 1980. 

Found August 1980. Strangulation.) 

Darron Glass, 10 (Last seen September 

1980. Still missing.) 

Charles Stevens, 12 (Last seen October 

1980. Found October 1980. Probable sullocation.) 

Aaron Jackson Jr., 9 (Last seen November 

1980. Found November 1980. Probable suffocation.) 

Patrick Rogers, 16 (Last seen November 

1980. Found December 1980. Head injury.) 
Lubie (Chuck) Geter, 14 (Last seen Janu- 
ary 1981. Found February 1981. Strangulation.) 
Terry L. Pue, 15 (Last seen January 1981. 
Found January 1981. Strangulation.) 

Patrick Baltazar, 1 1 (Last seen February 

1981. Found February 1981. Strangulation.) 
Curtis Walker, 1 3 (Last seen February 1 98 1 . 
Found March 1981. Suffocation.) 

Joseph E. Bell, 16 (Last seen March 1981. 
Still missing.) 



By the time this article is read the number of victims will sure- 
ly have increased. 



CHILDREN OF ATLANTA 

MARCH 1981 Part One 

Chart of Common Elements Uncovered in the Atlanta 
Children Murders 

A. Site where body found— Redwine Road 

B. Site where body found— Niskey Lake 

C. Death by asphyxiation 

D. Fiber found on body 

A. Site where body found— REDWINE ROAD, Fulton County 
Victim 

No. Name 

3 Milton Harvey 

8 Christopher Richardson 
12 Earl Terrell 

The remains of Richardson and Terrell were found next to one another and less 
than a mile from where Harvey's remains were found. 
SUGGESTION: one killer 

B. Site where body found — NISKEY LAKE, southwest Atlanta 

1 Edward Hope Smith 14 July 20, 1979 July 28, 1979 

2 ALFRED J. EVANS 13 July 25, 1979 July 28, 1979 

Though the deaths are attributed to different causes— gun shots and strangula- 
tion—the remains of Smith and Evans were within 150 feet of each other. 
SUGGESTION :deaths connected 

C. Death by asphyxiation 



\ge 


Last Seen 


Found 


14 


Sept. 4, 1979 


Nov. 5, 1979 


11 


June 9, 1980 


Jan. 9, 1981 


11 


July 30, 1980 


Jan. 9, 1981 



2 


ALFRED J. EVANS 


13 


July 25, 1979 


July 28, 1979 


4 


YUSEF BELL 


9 


Oct. 21, 1979 


Nov. 8, 1979 


5 


Angel Lanier 


12 


Mar 4, 1980 


Man 10, 1980 


10 


Aaron Wyche 


10 


June 24, 1980 


June 24, 1980 


13 


CLIFFORD JONES 


13 


Aug. 20, 1980 


Aug. 21, 1980 


15 


CHARLES STEPHENS 


12 


Oct. 9, 1980 


Oct. 10, 1980 


16 


Aaron Jackson, Jr 


9 


Nov. 1, 1980 


Nov. 2, 1980 


18 


LUBIE GETER 


14 


Jan. 1980 


Feb. 5, 1981 


19 


TERRY L. PUE 


15 


Jan. 22, 1981 


Jan. 23, 1981 


20 


PATRICK BALTAZAR 


11 


Feb. 6, 1981 


Feb. 13, 1981 


21 


CURTIS WALKER 


13 


Feb. 19, 1981 


Mar 6, 1981 



a. 



Eight of the murdered children listed above are found listed elsewhere 
within this Chart of Elements Found Common to the Victims. For exam- 
ple, BeU, Jones, Stephens, Geter, besides being strangled, also had 
"mysterious" rug fibers found on their bodies; 
The deaths of Pue, Baltazar, and Walker all seemed to be in response to 
media attention given to police, county, and civic officials' actions; 



1. 



2. 



January 9, 1981, after a "tip" police search a portion of Sigman Road, 
Rockdale County; January 22, 1981, Pue's body is found in the area 
just searched; 

February 4, 1981, Director of Public Safety, DeKalb County, Mr. 
Hand is quoted saying that he would like his office "to be the one to 
catch him— or her, for that matter, or them." February 6, 1981, 
Baltazar is missing, to he found behind a DeKalb County office park; 
February 14, 1981, Rev. Paulk of DeKalb County appeals to the killer 
to contact him. Walker is reported missing February 19, 1981, and 
his body is found partly submerged in DeKalb's South River, less than 
a mile from Rev. Paulk's church. 
SUGGESTION: the same killer 



D. Fiber found on bodies 








4 YUSEF BELL 


9 


Oct. 21, 1979 


Nov. 8, 1979 


11 Anthony B. Carter 


9 


July 6, 1980 


July 7, 1980 


13 CLIFFORD JONES 


13 


Aug. 20, 1980 


Aug. 21, 1980 


15 CHARLES STEPHENS 


12 


Oct. 9, 1980 


Oct. 10, 1980 


18 LUBIE GETER 


14 


Jan., 1981 


Feb. 5, 1981 



The question left begging is: Are the fibers evidence of a killer's method, e.g. use 
of a van w^ith carpeting, of enticing the children away? 
SUGGESTION: If there is a connection between those murdered children 
whose bodies held fiber strands, then can there be other connections, e.g. Geter 
and Walker were both reported missing within a month's period and they were 
both asphyxiated and found clad only in underwear If there is a connection be- 
tween those murdered children who were asphyxiated, then there can be other 
connections, i.e. five of the children who were asphyxiated were found with 
fiber strands on their bodies— Bell, Wyche, Jones, Stephens, Geter; Geter and 
Walker, missing within thirty days of one another, when found were clad exact- 
ly the same way; Walker's death, like Baltazar and Pue's, seemed in answer to 
outside publicity. Thus the deaths for which one killer may be responsible 
could be eight: Yusef Bell, Aaron Wyche, Clifford Jones, Charles Stephens, 
Lubie Geter, Terry Pue, Patrick Baltazar, and Curtis Walker 

However, the similarities between these eight and the three murdered chil- 
dren found off Redwine Road, Fulton County, could bring the number of mur- 
dered children, possibly killed by the same hand, to eleven. 



The assigned Special Investigative 
Force, appointed in July 1980 was ex- 
panded on August 20, 1980, to include 



four (4) supervisors and thirteen (13) 
investigators. In response to the con- 
tinued stymied investigation, Novem- 



ber 1980, President Carter assigned 
the Federal Bureau of Investigation to 
the Atlanta Children's Murder Case. 
Finally, the Special Force was reshuf- 
fled only in February 1981, in an effort 
to end jurisdictional disputes and to co- 
ordinate, without dissention, the activ- 
ities of the various agencies. Addition- 
ally, in February, another thirty-seven 
(37) investigators were assigned to the 
case. 

The tragedy of the murders of the 
twenty children of Atlanta can not be 
overstressed. However, the tragedy is 
given added urgency when we recog- 
nize that the shadow which has been 
cast over the city is a shadow that has 
fallen over the South for one-hundred 
years. 



CHILDREN OF ATLANTA 

Part Two 

. . .We rejoice that we are thrown into a revolution where the contest is not for landed 
territory, but for freedom; the weapons are not carnal, but spiritual; where struggle is 
not for blood, but for right; and where the bow is the power of God, and the arrow the 
instrument of divine justice; while the victims are the devices of reason, and the preju- 
dice of the human heart. . . 

"Declaration of Sentiment" 

Fourth Annual Convention 

The Free People of Colour 

Asbury Church, New York 

June 2-12, 1834 



Today, in the Spring of 1981, the 
agony Black people experience with 
and for the "children of Atlanta' ' is an- 
chored in a history which screams: My 
children! My children are being mur- 
dered!! Atlanta, Georgia, screamed 
this same message to us in 1903. In 
that year The Souls of Black Folk, a 
work from the Atlanta University of- 
fice of Dr W.E.B. DuBois, was pub- 
lished. In that work is found the essay 
entitled "Of the Wings of Atalanta." 
Dr DuBois, in that essay, retells the 
Greek myth of the goddess Atalanta. 
The main point of the myth is that be- 
cause of Atalanta's swiftness afoot, 
she was desirable. But she wasn't de- 
sired because of her speed only; she was 
desired because her speed was an em- 
barrassment to men. The myth also 
suggests that it was the wings on her 
feet which were responsible for her 
speed. One embarrassed man, there- 
fore, plotted to distract her thoughts 
while she raced. By doing this he 
could, perhaps, offset the advantage 
her wings provided. The man told Ata- 



lanta of the value of "golden apples." 
He would ask, "Have you ever seen or 
have you ever heard of anyone finding 
a golden apple? Golden apples are 
most rare, you know." 

Atalanta was challenged to a race. 
At the start, the man ran quickly into 
the distance and, when he could not be 
seen, he placed three golden apples 
along the way. Atalanta remembering 
that "golden apples" were objects 
rarely found, was distracted. The 
delay of stooping for a "golden apple" 
allowed such a distance to be created 
that her ivings were not enough to save 
the race. 

Atlanta, Georgia, was likened to the 
goddess Atalanta in the DiiBois inter- 
pretation of the myth. The goddess 
and the city shared several things: 1) 
they were each of rare beauty (Atlanta, 
the city, especially because of its physi- 
cal locale at the foot of the Blue Ridge 
Mountains); 2) they were each swift 
(Atlanta, the city, especially in her 
growth as an example of the "new" 
Southern city to be bom and awak- 



ened after the Reconstruction); 3) they 
were each the final decision-makers 
choosing their fates from alternatives 
of action presented before them (and 
herein lies the story of the "children of 
Atlanta"). 

DuBois states clearly that the 
"wings of Atlanta" were the colleges 
within the city's boundaries (though 
any close reading of DuBois will sug- 
gest that he was using those colleges to 
be symbolic of the centers of instruc- 
tion for Black students across the 
country). Most important of the Atlan- 
ta colleges were Atlanta University, 
Morris Brown, Morehouse, Spellman, 
and Clark College. The students of 
these institutions were the city and the 
race's wings. The students' speed in 
attaining the demanded respect due 
Black people, and the student's direc- 
tion in leading the race past the pitfalls 
which have claimed the efforts of other 
peoples of history, and the students' 
participation within the cultural, social 
and political institutions of the race, by 
these efforts would there be measured 



some advance in "human progress." 
But, if those wings, those students, 
were to be tempted by "golden 
apples," the race would be lost. 

But the race is not guaranteed today, 
for today the children of Atlanta are 
being murdered. And the children of 
Atlanta who still live may be perma- 
nently scarred if the nightmare, which 
has lasted literally every waking and 
every sleeping hour, isn't brought to an 
immediate end. If there is a lesson to 
be learned from the works of Richard 
Wright, that lesson must be that the 
most criminal act a society can perpe- 
trate upon its people is to deny"the 
right to dream" to children. This is the 
right to which DuBois, in 1903, calls 
attention. 

The children of Atlanta, in 1903, as 
the Black children across the South, 
had lived for eight years under the bur- 
dens of the Atlanta Compromise that 
offered three points which Southern- 
ers happily accepted: 

1) the Negro would refrain from de- 
manding the right to vote; 

2) the acceptance of "Jim Crow" in 
every aspect of life, so that there 
was created a distinct legal status of 
civil inferiority; 

3) the steady withdrawal of Federal, 
state, and local aid from the institu- 
tions for the higher training of the 
Negro. 

[The last point, i.e. 3), is most often 
taken to mean "vocational training" in 
its most limited sense, viz. acquiring 
manual skills which will provide com- 
petence in tasks which require manual 
labor At other times "vocational train- 
ing" is taken to mean the acquiring of 
the physical and intellectual skills to 
provide on demand for a qualified per- 
son, that qualified applicant. However 
DuBois, additionally, understood "vo- 
cational training" to be any education 
which would not allow the individual, 
i.e. the mind, the opportunity to con- 
sider any question it found of interest, 
while the skills to perform a necessary 
cultural and societal function were be- 
ing learned.] 

Did the children of Atlanta in 1903 
benefit from the sacrifices demanded 
by the Atlanta Compromise of 1895? 
In 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court hand- 
ed down the Plessy v. Ferguson deci- 
sion, thus establishing the "separate 
but equal" precedent within U.S. Su- 
preme Court proceedings: 1) according 
to conversative figures in 1895, there 
were one-hundred and twelve Blacks 



lynched in the South and in 1902 by the 
same figures eighty-five were lynched 
- one is too many to be lynched; 2) the 
per capita expenditures on teachers' 
salaries in Macon County, Alabama 
were: 
1887 1927 Student Population 
$3.22 $40.42 Caucasian 
$1.55 $ 2.60 Black 

etc., etc., etc. 
The insight to be learned from the 
events subsequent to the Atlanta Com- 
promise is that there existed, and still 
exists, a type of thought which is ex- 
pressive of racism in its most exploi- 
tive sense. For, besides the "exploi- 
tive" sense of racism there is a second 
sense of racism which DuBois called 
the First Law of Human Progress: 
". . .the history of the world is the his- 
tory not of individuals but of groups, 
not of nations, but of races,. . ." 

Exploitive racism, however, refuses 
to allow the organism, it infects, to ac- 
cept the possibility that its conceptual 
faculty is flawed. The result is that 
rather than correction and a return to 
health, the organism considers "rac- 
ism" and then does nothing about it. 
The racist mind and those who know- 
ingly, or unwittingly, give racism en- 
couragement live among us today. 
This type of racist thinking determines 
ways of hindering, harming, maiming, 
or killing any member of a supposedly 
subordinate group which is marked 
most notably by the difference of the 
skin color. DuBois presents an exam- 
ple of how perverse this type of think- 
ing can become when he says of a 
Southern leader that: 
. . .he so thoroughly had learned the 
speech and thought of triumphant 
commercialism, and the ideals of 
material prosperity, that the picture 
of a lone black boy pouring over a 
French grammar amid the weeds 
and dirt of a neglected home soon 
seemed to him the acme of absurdi- 
ties. One wonders what Socrates 
would say to this. 
The interest of this passage is not that 
DuBois was speaking of Booker T 
Washington— though he is; the inter- 
est is found in the use of the type of 
thinking, as exemplified by Washing- 
ton, to be representative of a great 
number of people both Black and Cau- 
casian. Of equal interest is the sugges- 
tion that those who best exemplified 
this type of racism were from a tradi- 
tion of thought which had made a sin- 



gularly unique contribution to the his- 
tory of the meaning of words. One of 
the products of the 17th and 18th cen- 
tury philosophical debates was the 
idea that a slave was an inferior being 
in the sense of being a "sub-" or "an- 
other" specie of homo sapien. The 
seriousness of this belief —blacks were 
meant to be slaves— is underscored 
when we note that there was a time 
prior to the Enlightenment which 
boasted of some very careful thinkers. 
Greece, during the Socratic period, is 
the point. Besides having various cen- 
ters of questioning and study, the an- 
cient Greeks were known to have 
taken slaves. But it is through Socrates 
and Plato that we know that, even in 
the intellectual circles of ancient 
Greece, it was recognized that any 
man or child possessed individual 
talents which might be developed re- 
gardless of race! What then happened 
between Socrates and the dawning of 
the Twentieth Century which allowed 
a term "slave" to be said of a thing 
which it was not, i.e. a slave was an in- 
ferior being? During the 16th and 17th 
centuries in Europe, attempts were 
made to provide a rational explanation 
which would justify the use of humans 
for inhumane work. During the 16th 
and 17th centuries in Europe, attempts 
were made to rationally argue that a 
race was justified in its forcing other 
humans to live in inhumane conditions. 
Finally, the rhetoricians of the 16th 
and 17th centuries argued that the 
profits and gains realized, as results of 
the slaves' labor, would benefit the 
master group marked to be superior 
by the color of the skin; 3)It was this 
type of thought that the Atlanta Com- 
promise allowed to live-on. 

In 1903 DuBois called to the children 
of Atlanta and told them not to be 
tempted by "golden apples." Today a 
Nation, much to its disgrace, does not 
scream out to the children of Atlanta, 
"Beware of the one who offers golden 
apples!" This cry is heard only from 
small pockets of concerned people 
here and there across the country. But 
this nation for fourteen months did all 
that was necessary to gain the return 
of the fifty-two hostages held on 
foreign soil. Should American citizens 
expect any less when the children of 
Atlanta are not only being held 
hostage, but, are being murdered? 
March 5, 1981, was too late for 
America to buy a clear conscience. 
Assistance should have been offered at 
continued on page 12 



10 



"Hey, man. Where'd you learn that 
step?" "Some kids from Atlanta 
taught me. They call it. . . 

. . /ChiUun' 

"The ball hit the line, I tell you. You're 
out — no question about it." 

"Yup, he's right. I saw it, too." 

"See? I told you. They all saw it. Ask 
anybody." 

"C'mon, you're holding up the 
game. He's right so — " 

"No he ain't. . .Shit, I'm leaving. 
Gimme my ball." 

He took it and threw it toward the 
sun. It climbed, seemed to suspend in 
the air — to hang there, blocking sun- 
light. Everything went black then, and 
no one could see anyone else. 

"What the heck's goin on? I can't see 
a thing. Man, what you go and do? The 
stars don't even shine. Am I blind? Tell 
me this ain't happening. I know we got 
some time. The game ain't over yet, is 
it?" 

"Sure ain't. Not yet. We just gotta 
get the ball. 'Cept, where'd it go?" 

"Must be stuck on the rim." 

"Sure, man, sure. We believe you. 
Let's go, guys. It's his ball, anyway. Let 
him deal with it." 

"See you later, bro. We leavin." 

An hour passed, and the sun's posi- 
tion changed. Along with it two shad- 
ows moved on the sidewalk. 

"Look here. This playground sure is 
empty." 

"Yeah. I tell you, Quindle, things 
don't look too good." 

"I know exactly what you mean," re- 
turned Quindle's deep voice. "And I 
thought I saw a black child smilin. Now 
I know I musta been dreamin. Ain't a 
soul around here. Kids just up and van- 
ished into thin air." 

"Can't be true," said Booker. "Just 
can't. Always some around. Besides, 
the other day I saw some kid in the yard 
two blocks down. Funny, though. Kids 
sure is different now. Remember how 
we used to carry on. Well, this one just 
stood still. In one spot. Like he was one 
of those black jockies people stick on 
their lawns." 

There was a long silence as they 
walked for blocks. They looked every- 
where, searching for signs of children. 
None were seen, and as their shadows 
stretched they kept searching, until they 
approached a corner where they heard 
the crack of a baseball bat and, "You're 
out, you're out!" A ball rolled in front 



of them. As Quindle leaned to pick it 
up, Booker shouted: 

"Look! You see what I see, 
Quindle?" 

A child came running after the ball. 
He didn't see the car, and as he crossed 
the street, it hit him. His body bounced 
like a rubber ball, stopping on the edge 
of a lawn. The car kept going. 

"Man, I tell you, bro, something's 
wrong," said Quindle. "I get the feeling 
somebody's trying to tell us some- 
thing." 

"Yeah." 

A bird with a worm hanging from its 
bill flew up from the lawn as Booker 
answered. The boy, a few feet away, 
squirmed for the last time. 

"Man. He's dead. It's just like he 
never was in the first place," said 
Booker. 

Then suddenly the leaves rustled with 
a gush of wind. You knew a change was 
in store. 

For a long time, walking block after 
block, neither one said anything. Their 
thoughts were lost within their sorrows, 
and each one knew that the other felt 
the same. Booker finally broke the si- 
lence. "Man, the solution, Quindle, is 
to have some kids. That's all. Just have 
some kids of our own." 

"Doctor says I can't, man. My wife 
can't bear me any. But he says to keep 
trying. Even gave us some pills. No pos- 
itive results yet, though." 

"Are you sure, man. This just can't 
be a coincidence. My doctor gave us 
pills, too. And nothing worked, either," 
said Booker 

"I just don't know what to think," 
Quindle said, shaking his head. 
"Things are getting a little too confus- 
ing. You know, it seems like just yester- 
day. It really does. I mean, I swear it 
was only yesterday." 

"What you talking about? Man, 
Quindle, what you crying for? Niggers, 
huh. They so tight-lipped sometimes. 
What's wrong with you, man? Tell me, 
bro." 

"I was just thinking about when me 
and my sister was all dressed up one 
Easter. Boy, we was looking real good. 
Especially her. She was so pretty I was 
wishing she wasn't my sister The sun 
was so bright it made her dress glow like 
an angel. That's right, Booker She 
looked like an angel. All the niggers was 
eyeing her Man, was I proud. Then it 
happened. It was like she was in a field 
picking flowers and singing and dancing 
in a world of her own. And without a 



11 



warning this bear came up and crushed 
her." 

"What you mean?" 

"Well, this big truck came out of no- 
where and hit her and just kept moving. 
She was gone! Just no more. I was so 
shook all I could do was bend down and 
fix her dress neatly. My teeth bit my lip 
so hard, blood came out and stained her 
dress." 

There was silence once more as both 
continued walking. Then as the day 
drew to a close the sun seemed to wink 
at them. It played out a silhouette of a 
man. He loomed larger and larger. He 
was huge and carried a gun. When they 
finally reached him, he turned and the 
sun once more winked at them. Or was 
it the man's eyes? Booker and Quindle 
froze. Suddenly, from the man's jaw, 
came a roar: 

"I thought I told you kids not to play 
around here." 

"What you mean, mister? We ain't 
kids." 



"Of course you're kids. Just cause 
you're all dressed up don't mean you're 
men. If I say you're kids, you're kids. 
Anyway, it's too late. I warned you 
once before." 

"But sir—" 

"But nothing. What you smiling for 
anyhow?" 

"You see, sir," cried Booker, "we 
was playing grown ups cause there was 
no kids around to play with. We got 
carried away and really thought we was 
grown ups. So I was smiling cause now 
we're kids and that means that whatever 
you do to us is the same thing you done 
to the other kids. So maybe we'll all be 
together and we can play games like all 
kids do." 

"The other kids are dead. Dead kids 
don't play." 

"Mister, that ain't true. See cause 
kids always play together in heaven. 
That's the truth, mister, cause Moiji 
says all God's chillun sings, laughs and 
plays together everyday. Ain't that so. 



Quindle?" 

"Sure is. My mom told me that, 
too." 

"Listen, Quindle. You hear what I 
hear?" 

"Hear what? I don't hear nothing. 
You niggers sure is crazy. I tell you, I 
don't hear a thing. What you two hear- 
ing?" 

"We hears the music. And it sounds 
so pretty, don't it, Quindle?" 

"Sure does. I'll bet I could dance all 
day to that. Sometimes it feels so good I 
can't stop." 

"Well, one thing's for sure. If we did 
we sure wouldn't be around too long." 

"Hey, bro. There's the ball. It must 
have been stuck on the rim." 

"Well, he's still out. He touched the 
line." 

"No he didn't, man. He was just 
dancing near the edge." 

— Anthony Barboza 



Children of Atlanta 

continued from page 10 

the first indication that the murderer 
or murderers were skilled enough to 
remain hidden against the efforts put 
forth by the Atlanta City Police, 
Georgia State Police, the FBI and the 
homicide experts who had travelled 
from major cities across this land. 
March fifth was too late because the 
monetary assistance could have been 
offered on March first, or February 
twenty-third. The assistance was too 
late if any mother, no matter her color, 
but especially Black mothers, experi- 
enced even one extra day of worry of 
not knowing whether there was to be 
an honest search and an end to the 
nightmare. On March 13, 1981, it is 
not enough for the Reagan Adminis- 
tration to promise ' 'another' ' one and a 
half million dollars to help with the in- 
vestigation. To end this nightmare, it 
must be assured that after Atlanta 
never again will there be another such 
horror. The Reagan Administration 



has an obligation (to all of its citizens, 
especially to its Black citizens) to an- 
notmce that it demands information 
which will lead to the arrest and/or 
capture of the murderer or murderers 
of the children of Atlanta and that this 
information will be gotten at ANY 
cost. 

America bartered with its adver- 
saries and friends for the release of the 
hostages held for fourteen months in a 
foreign country. America can not, 
however, barter when citizens attack 
citizens. The long awaited reaction to 
those deaths in Atlanta must be swift 
and decisive. Those who are responsi- 
ble—all of those who have been com- 
plicit in the activities of hiding or pro- 
tecting the murderer or murderers 
must be found. The events of the last 
twenty months must be examined. All 
agents who are responsible for the con- 
ditions wherein a child of nine, know- 
ing full and well that thirteen children 



of Atlanta had been murdered, would 
go off with his murderer without any 
disturbance to be noticed, aU agents 
who are responsible for such an atmos- 
phere must be questioned. Those con- 
nected to the murders must be pun- 
ished for they are criminals. This is a 
family affair, not a business matter. 
Money must be no object. The mur- 
derer or murderers of the children of 
Atlanta must be captured at all costs. 
If the murderer escapes, then though 
in Atlanta there are mothers weary 
from worry over the safety of their 
children; though the killer has only at- 
tacked Black children; and, though it 
would seem that it is the Black com- 
munity that is threatened; these 
crimes threaten every mother, for this 
anguish can be visited upon any and 
every mother who knows the worry of 
guarding for the safety of her child. 



12 



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■<-:'x*^- 









r.^^. 



WATER OF YOUR BATH 

by Unknown 

I wish I could be 

~ the water of your bath. 
I could surround you 
with mellow warmth, liquid love. 

Like a frolicking, childish wave 
on the sandy shore, ' 

I could dash and break upon the 
firmness of your body. 

Engulf and moisten the place I •'-'*•' 
dream of. 

If I were the water of your bath 

I would memorize each and every muscle. 
And being liquid, I would take your shape 

mold myself to your every curve, your 
indentation. 
I would roll on, over, and off your satin 

skin. 

If I were the water of your bath 
I would send part of me, to gather 

in the recess of your navel. 
There my temperature would rise 

to match yours. 

And like the plants of the sea 

I would move your body hairs, 
in and out with the tide created 

by your movements. 

Playfully, I would slash against your thighs, 
and become very intimate with your nature. 

If I were the water of your body 

I would cleanse you as my ancestors 
The Nile and Congo, cleansed your ancestors. 

But even more, 

when you leave me and pull the plug 
I would defy the natural order of things, 

and stay, and wait, for your naked return. 



r ' -v ->. . . 









-■_•■%- 






!Vi-X^;^>^^''?^V' 



IW'^- ...J^v 



LEVI HART CASE 

BY MICHAEL MARK 



Who is Levi Hart and what are the 
circumstances surrounding his death? 
These are the two major questions this 
article will attempt to answer. It is left 
up to the reader to evaluate the facts 
surrounding the case. 

Levi Hart "was" a fourteen year old 
black youth, who was fatally shot to 
death by a white Boston police officer. 
On July 16, 1980, at about 3:45 a.m. 
Hart was alleged to have run from a 
stolen car that he occupied with two 
other teenagers. Hart's companions are 
alive but he is dead from a bullet, that 
discharged from the service revolver of 
patrolman Richard Bourque during a 
brief struggle in Kenmore Square, Bos- 
ton. 

The death of Hart was widely report- 
ed, as was the controversy that sur- 
rounded the inquest which was con- 
ducted in Roxbury District Court by 
Judge Richard Banks (a black man). 
Judge Banks became the target for the 
anger and confusion, that both black 
and white residents displayed when they 
learned that the inquest was to be con- 
ducted behind closed doors. Members 
of the Black Legislative Caucus praised 
the selection of Judge Banks, but they 
also called for the selection of a civilian 
panel to conduct its own investigation. 
The action of the Caucus indicated a 
suspicion that the whole situation might 
be swept under the rug; from the out- 
come of the Grand Jury verdict it seems 
that this suspicion was justified. Judge 
Banks' final report of the inquest, 
speaks of "confused, fragmentary and 
flatly contradictory" eyewitness testi- 
mony, but the Judge's conclusion, 
based largely on medical evidence, was 
firm. The report stated that, there was 
ample cause to believe that Hart's 
death, resulted from an unlawful act or 
acts by officer Bourque. 

The following is a summary of the 
testimony of: Officer Bourque, officers 
Clairborne and Thompson (two other 
officers who were at the scene): Darius 
Williams (one of Hart's companions in 
the stolen automobile), Harcourt Lewis 
(a white male in the area). Dr. George 
Katsus, Suffolk County medical exam- 
iner, and Dr. Luke Tedeschi, the chief of 
Pathology at the Framingham Union 
Hospital. 



Bourque testified that he pursued 
Hart on foot after the youth ran from 
the stolen automobile. The officer said, 
he caught up with Hart. When Hart 
turned to face him and began making 
lateral dodging movements to get past 
he said, he grasped the suspect by the 
shoulders with each hand, and that the 
suspect closed in on him. He then stated 
that the suspect had in his right hand, 
the revolver which Bourque kept bol- 
stered on his left hip. He also testified 
that he closed both hands over the sus- 
pect's hand and the revolver. He said 
that he attempted to point away from 
himself and the suspect and to turn it 
upwards. He continued his testimony 
saying, that the suspect's other hand 
came into play as they struggled for the 
weapon, and that, that was when the re- 
volver discharged. Bourque said he 
grasped the weapon by the barrel as 
Hart fell to the ground. Bourque denied 
drawing the weapon himself and said 
that he was unaware that it was out of 
his holster until he saw it in Hart's 
hand. 

Officers Clairborne and Thompson 
testified that they arrived at the scene in 
a marked cruiser and maneuvered to cut 
Hart off, causing him to reverse direc- 
tion towards Bourque. Then they 
joined Bourque in the foot pursuit, with 
Clairborne in the lead. They both testi- 
fied to the dodging confrontation de- 
scribed by Bourque. Clairborne said 
that he was about 10 feet away from 
Bourque and Hart when the shot was 
fired. Officer Thompson was about 10 
to 15 feet behind Clairborne, therefore 
his view was partially obscured. Each 
officer testified, that during the con- 
frontation they saw neither Bourque, 
nor Hart reach towards Bourque' s 
waist. 

What they did testify to, was hand 
and upper body contact between the 
pair just before the revolver was fired. 
Clairborne in particular, testified that 
just before the shot was fired both 
Bourque and Hart had their hands 
raised in unison — as though they were 
reaching for the same object. 

Darius Williams testified that he was 
in the back of the automobile during the 
chase and that he remained in or near 
the car when Hart fled. He testified that 



Bourque walked after the running Hart; 
Hart paused and as Bourque ap- 
proached within three feet of young 
Hart, he drew his revolver and fired. 

Harcourt Lewis testified that he was 
walking in the area when he saw two in- 
dividuals chasing an individual. He saw 
one officer catch up with the individual; 
grab the individual's left arm with his 
right; and then deliver a "crunching" 
blow to the head with something in his 
left hand. "This was followed almost 
immediately by a gun shot," he said. 

While eyewitness testimonies during 
the inquest were contradictory, the 
medical testimony was quite clear. Au- 
topsies were done by both Dr. Luke 
Tedeschi and Dr. George Katsus. In all 
important matters the doctors were in 
complete agreement. Each found that 
the cause of death was a bullet, entering 
the head just below the right ear lobe, 
and proceeding slightly downward, to 
exit just below the left ear lobe while 
penetrating the brain in the process. 
Each also testified, that the bullet was 
fired at a distance of a very few inches 
from Hart's body. 

A very important part of their testi- 
mony was that they also found that 
there was a massive blow sufficient to 
fracture the skull which had been deliv- 
ered with considerable force to the right 
parietal area of Hart's head, just behind 
the hairline. 

The injury was said to be consistent 
with that of striking with a blunt object, 
and a pistol barrel was specifically in- 
cluded among the objects which could 
have caused the injury. In an interview 
Dr. Tedeschi said, that Hart "sustained 
a massive blow to the head consistent 
with a left-handed person." Officer 
Bourque is left-handed. The doctor also 
stated that the blow was enough to leave 
Hart comatose. Both doctors also ruled 
out the possibility that the fractured 
skull could have been obtained in 
Hart's fall to the ground after the bullet 
wound. 

Equally important was the discovery 
by the Boston Police Department's 
Laboratory, of pieces of hair on the 
crane (or hinge) of officer Bourque's 
gun. "A Federal Bureau's investigation 
analysis of the hair found it to be not in- 
consistent with samples of hairs taken 



14 



from the body of Hart." — Officer 
Bourque had no explanation to offer as 
to the presence of the hair on his gun. 
Also equally important, was the testing 
of Hart's hands, for the presence of ni- 
trates, that might have been found had 
he fired the weapon. The Boston Police 
Laboratory found no such evidence. 

It is standard Police procedure to 
"relieve an officer involved in a fatal 
shooting, of his service revolver pending 
a check by the department's Ballistics 



unit." Officer Bourque was not asked 
for his revolver at the scene of the Hart 
shooting. Bourque was driven away 
from the scene, to a station in a police 
vehicle, by an Officer Lawrence Sulli- 
van. Upon arrival at the station, he was 
asked to hand over his revolver to a Lt. 
Al Sweeney. When Officer Bourque's 
weapon was checked for prints, either 
his or those of hart, experts found only 
one set of prints, those of Lt. Sweeney. 
Despite the heavy physical evidence 



and Judge Banks' conclusion, a Grand 
Jury failed to bring an indictment 
against officer Bourque. Henry Owens, 
the attorney for the Hart family, called 
for a special prosecutor to present the 
case to the Grand Jury, rather than the 
District Attorney's office. He was quot- 
ed as saying, "just using the medical 
testimony alone, there was evidence of a 
crime." 



LADY DAY 

by Stephanie Glenn 

''Before anybody could compare me with other singers, 
they were comparing other singers with me. '* 

Billie Holiday 



Billie Holiday was born in Baltimore, 
Maryland on April 7, 1915. At birth she 
was named Eleanora Pagan. She was 
the daughter of Sadie Pagan, who was 
thirteen years old at the time, and of 
Clarence Holiday, who was fifteen 
years old at the time. Clarence was a 
musician and later became a guitarist in 
Pletcher Henderson's band. The Duch- 
ess, as Sadie Pagan was later called, 
worked as a maid in order to support 
herself and Billie. 

Billie got as far as the fifth grade in 
Baltimore's segregated schools. Then 
she went to New York where her mother 
worked as a maid. In the depths of the 
depression in Harlem, there were two 
ways for many black women to eat. 
They could become maids or call girls. 
Billie tried both with disastrous results. 
When the Duchess became ill Billie can- 
vassed Harlem speakeasies looking for 
a job as a "hoofer." Disappointed with 
her dancing, a piano player at "Pod" 
and Jerry's Log Cabin asked; "Girl can 
you sing?" "Sure." Billie replied. Billie 
had enjoyed singing for years, however, 
she never thought of it as a means of 
earning money. When Billie sang jazz 
vocalism was changed forever. 

Billie began singing at Harlem night- 
clubs such as "Pod", Jerry's Log 
Cabin", "Monette Moore's speak- 
easy", "Yeah Man" and "Hotcha." 
From the beginning Billie' s singing 
revealed an understanding of life's com- 



plexities as a Black woman. Holiday 
relived her experiences through her 
songs and allowed her listening au- 
dience to do the same. Billie's straight 
forward manner of singing was the 
recreation of herself and of her experi- 
ences into a unique form which her true 
admirers appreciated. 

It was some time before there was 
any real acceptance by the music in- 
dustry of Billie's revolutionary concept 
and creative approach to lyrics. Most 
producers and music directors in 
America during the 1930's were not 
receptive to Billie's innovative style of 
singing. They had never heard such an 
exquisite style of jazz singing before. 

In 1936 Lady Day (as Lester Young 
the famous saxophonist named her) was 
able to explore her style of singing with 
the expertise of Count Basie. The 
Count's orchestra was under contract to 
Decca records in New York and Billie 
was the featured soloist, along with 
black jazz musicians such as Lester 
Young and Buck Clayton. Bilhe worked 
with Count Basie for approximately 
eight rewarding months. She also sang 
with Artie Shaw, as well as under the 
auspices of Ted Wilson. 

When Billie Holiday began making 
records under her own name she totally 
emersed herself into her singing. In her 
recording sessions. Lady Day illustrated 
her unique style as in her records, leav- 
ing space in-between for instrumental 



solos by her sidesmen. Billie refers to 
Bernie Hanigen, the songwriter and 
musical director at Columbia Records 
stating: He was the cause of me making 
my first records under my own name — 
not as anybody's damn vocahst, but as 
Billie Holiday, period and then the list 
of musicians backing me. 

Miles Davis, a jazz musician, said 
that what Billie did was "...take a 
limited canvas and paint exquisitely 
upon it. She had no tricks, no vocal 
gymnastics . . . her way was to sing it 
almost straight but with a special accent 
on articulation, phrasing and rhythm. 
Phrased as phrased, the words mean 
something." 

Billie Holiday has been and is de- 
picted solely as a blues singer. Although 
indicadons of the blues are in some of 
her songs. Lady Day was a jazz vocalist. 
Referring to her own style, Billie said; 
"I got my manner honey from Bessie 
Smith and Louis Armstrong, I wanted 
her feeling and Louis' style." 

By whatever means Billie acquired 
her style, her ability to sing songs such 
as Strange Fruit demonstrated her 
strength and her awareness of racism. 
Strange Fruit is the saddest and most 
violent of Billie's works. 
Strange Fruit 

Southern trees bear a Strange Fruit 

Blood on the leaves and blood at the 
root 
Black body swingin in the southern 
continued on page 54 

15 



THE PHANTOM POSTMAN 

While resting on the wing of solitude yesterday 
The Phantom Postman came my way 
He handed me something I considered most rare, 
a letter from you that was not quite there. 
With eager haste at my command, I snatched it 

from his empty hand 
I fumbled, and it soon revealed 

that this letter wasn't even sealed 
it wasn't in an envelope in fact, it wasn't even wrote 
I opened the letter up real wide 

and saw still something less inside 
the penmanship was so keen that it couldn't be seen. 
The scent was sweet as I recall. So sweet there was no 

smell at all 
So I continued to read far into the night 
All the lovely PHRASES that you didn't write 
I had to laugh aloud in glee, at all the heartful things 

you didn 't say to me 
but one certain thought it did convey 

in certain vulgar words Td rather not say. . . 

(FOR EVER WAITING) 
Ernest Clay Montgomery 



I AM A BOOK 

I AM THE PAGES IN A BOOK 

I AM THE BLACK WRITING ON THOSE PAGES 

I AM NOT THE MAN WHO GETS CREDIT 

I AM NOT A PICTURE 

I AM AN AMERICAN 

I AM IN AMERICAS PAST 

I AM IN AMERICAS FUTURE 

I AM STILL THE BLACK WRITING ON THOSE PAGES 

I AM AN ANCESTOR OF AMERICA 

I AM A DESCENDANT OF AMERICA 

I AM ABUSED BY AMERICAN GOVERNMENT 

I AM NOT LESS A HUMAN 

I AM MORE HUMAN 

I AM NOT THE MAN WHO GETS CREDIT 

I AM NOT A PICTURE 

I AM NOT A STATUE 

I AM STILL THE BLACK WRITING ON THOSE PAGES 

MERRITTA. CRAWFORD JR. 
12/29/80 



16 



JEFF DONALDSON 

INTERVIEWED BY 
CARL YATES 



/n the late 60's a group of visual artists 
came together in Chicago to discuss 
Black art. They met to consider the 
idea of Black art having characteristics 
particular of that group of people. 
Once the artists had verbally conclud- 
ed this to be true the next task was to 
prove it visually. At a subsequent 
meeting artwork was brought in and 
analyzed. From these meetings the 
group identified concepts and prin- 
ciples that were to be the roots of a 
program called AFRICOBRA. 

AFRICOBRA'S search was for a 
philosophy of a functional art, an art 
to, for and about Black people; their 
conditions and unique experiences. 
Through working on these and other 
discussions the group arrived at the 
concepts and principles they were 
searching for 

In 1979 AFRICOBRA continued to 
grow. The group added to its name the 
word Farafindugu and is now known 
as AFRICOBRA-Farafindugu. There 
was also added to the original aesthetic 
principles several other concepts. Re- 
cently DRUM was privileged with an 
interview of Jeff Donaldson, founder 
of AFRICOBRA, who spoke on these 
and other issues concerning Black art. 
Here is the interview: 

DRUM: What were your motiva- 
tions for founding AFRICOBRA? 

Donaldson: We were functioning in 
the tradition of art. All art down 
through the centuries in all cultures 
have been group efforts. Groups of ar- 
tists have worked together and so do- 
ing they sharpen each others percep- 
tions and heighten each others skills. 
And of course there was a political. 

DRUM: How were the artists per- 
ceptions sharpened? 

Donaldson: Through discussions, 
comparisons of work. The artist talks 
about what he's doing what he's trying 
to do, people react to it, talk about how 
they feel it can be intensified and im- 
proved. People share technical skills as 
well. 

DRUM: After looking through the 
1973 and 1979 catalogs I noticed a 



name change. In 1979 the word 
Farafindugu was added to AFRI- 
COBRA's name. What does this word 
mean and how does it fit into the 
AFRICOBRA philosophy? 

Donaldson: AFRICOBRA stands 
for African Commune of Bad Relevant 
Artists, Farafindugu is a word that 
roughly translates in many ways... ba- 
sically it relates to the land that black 
people occupy wherever they are and 
the concept of Brotherhood and 
sisterhood. That is a part of that whole 
idea of people belonging to a land they 
occupy and a land indeed, belonging to 
them. Farafin means Black world, 
ndugu means Brother 

DRUM: Could you be more specific 
about the concept of Faradindugu? 

Donaldson: It deals with the idea of 
the international aspects of Black strug- 
gle, that we are one with all Black peo- 
ple who are struggling for the kinds of 
things we are struggling for 

DRUM: What are the major prob- 
lems AFRICOBRA faces? 

Donaldson: The basic problem is as 
far as our group is concerned is being 
able to function purely as an artist on a 
part-time basis, having to make a living 
otherwise. 

There are very few people who make 
a living off art in our culture. 

DRUM: What would you like to hap- 
pen with AFRICOBRA? 

Donaldson: I'd like to see it function 
along the lines it has functioned in. That 
is being involved in political struggle of 
African peoples every place. The artists 
themselves I would like to see each and 
everyone of them develop to the 
greatest potential that they have. As far 
as the movement is concerned I would 
like to see that recognized by people. 
Particularly the people the art is aimed 
at as a very important and significant 
mode of visual expression. 

DRUM: How much recognition or 
support are African-american artists re- 
ceiving? 

Donaldson: Much too little I would 
say. But I don't think it's up-to the peo- 



ple to support the artist, sounds like 
some kind of welfare system. I think 
the artist must make things that people 
have to have. In that sense it's not a 
question of support its supplying need. 
To the extent that people are doing this 
they are having success with their art. 
There's too much support of the ar- 
tists from other sources; from grants 
and foundations, things of that nature. 
There's been a great deal of increase of 
support in that arena. 

DRUM: Are you saying that support 
can be harmful? 

Donaldson: Official acceptance has a 
way of watering anj^hing down. Of- 
ficial in the sense that I mean Govern- 
ment acceptance. But at the same time 
government acceptance can be prefer- 
able to private acceptance. Private ac- 
ceptance has more strings attached to 
it. 

DRUM: What do you mean? 

Donaldson: I mean it is very dan- 
gerous for art to be accepted or sup- 
ported by an alien audience, an au- 
dience for which it is not intended, an 
audience for which it is not about. The 
danger is that the art maker will begin 
to cater to the taste of his patron as op- 
posed to the dictates of his own con- 
science or the context in which he 
creates his work. 

DRUM: In 1968 AFRICOBRA estab- 
lished several aesthetic principles, how 
were these arrived at? 

Donaldson: The first principles were 
established on the basis of an ideal. 
What we do now is what we see as a de- 
velopment of that idealism. Growth and 
development of it, growth and maturity 
of it. 

DRUM: In 1979 other aesthetic prin- 
ciples were added. Does this mean that 
the principles that were first arrived at 
invalid implications about black art? 
What does this addition represent? 

Donaldson: No! Oh, no! It means 
growth man. If you don't change any- 
thing in ten years either what ynu are 
doing is of no use or you are not addres- 
sing the time. No! it's growth and de- 



17 



velopment. There's been no change of 
anything, there has been intensification 
of everything. 

DRUM: How many members does 
AFRICOBRA have? 

Donaldson: 15 counting affiliates and 
associates, there are 10 full members. 

DRUM: Why would someone join 
AFRICOBRA? 

Donaldson: Most people come into it 



because they believe in the philosophy, 
first of all and that they can make a con- 
tribution to and it can make a contribu- 
tion to them and their work. But that is 
really decided by the membership. . . I 
mean people have to be voted in. . . then 
they usually go through a period of... 
we are taking people in now mostly as 
associates. . .first of all as affiliates then 
as associates then as full members. 

DRUM: Whose work and what ma- 



terials would you advise a young Black 
visual artist to study? 

Donaldson: Everything! Anything 
and everything! I mean that literally. I 
think it very important for any African 
to be involved in African history first 
and foremost, whether that's in art or 
music or anything else. 

DRUM: Thank you Brother Don- 
aldson. 




IN MEMORY OF 
ALEX ELDRIDGE 



Those of us who had the oppor- 
tunity to know Alex, will remember 
events and experiences and wonder 
what it was that made him so spe- 
cial. 

We could certainly admire him 
for his physical appearance, but this 
wasn't the quality that we responded 
to most. A stranger in passing may 
have seen Alex, once in his or her 
lifetime, yet receive his gift. I think 
back to the times we shared and the 
conversations we had , yet one thing 
I remember most was his smile. Aex 
could snap you out of a down mood 
giving you a sense of initiative and 
inspiring you to take that right step 
toward a more positive attitude. 
That very special smile offered a 
genuine love for all of his friends 
and companions. 

On the basketball court, Alex, 
nicknamed "Boob", was the main 
attraction in the cage. Always in 



complete control of the most op- 
pressive situations. To describe in 
detail all of Boobs' achievements on 
the court would take volumes of 
memories. In my opinion, Boob was 
one of the best guards ever to play 
basketball. It seems that he always 
came up with the play, when needed 
in those close games. 

I would like to suggest to the 
many fortunate people who were 
also touched by him, that we honor 
his memory by sharing the love he 
reflected. 

We should pause for a moment 
and say to ourselves, "This smile is 
Alex, take it and share it". This 
growing sincerity will continue for- 
ever. It may also diminish our feel- 
ings of loss, knowing that we are 
keeping his spirit alive. 

By Marc Roberts 



18 



.^ 



m 












« 




BIOGRAPHY OF 
LARRY NEAL 

by 
Elizabeth Perez 



"Hey, s'cuse me blood. Don't you re- 
member a light shining from that 
house? Where is it?" 

12 Jumel Terrace, New York, will 
never be the same. 

Explosive, proud, intelligent, 

radical. 
Precise, honest, serious critic 

and writer. 
Dedicated, cosmopolitive, 

energetic advisor. 
Leader, believer, lover of 

Black Beauty. 

The man is Larry Neal, writer, p^et, 
critic and most importantly, lover of 
Black Art. At the age of 43, just when 
he was preparing to work with iVIax 
Roach on the great drummer's autobi- 
ography, as well as planning panels, de- 
veloping screen plays, theatre, fiction 
and essays, a "massive congenital heart 
attack" mercilessly took his life. A truly 
positive force in the contemporary 
sphere of Black artisans, he appreciated 
and loved the arts. As Art Editor of 
Liberator magazine and as editor of 
The Criket and Journal of Black Poetry 
he welcomed and encouraged ideas 
from new writers. He believed that the 
literary group of today could form a 
new more elevated, Black aesthetics, be- 
cause they are not alienated from their 
own tradition. Literary works produced 
by previous writers did not relate experi- 
ences to the past slave culture. RoUand 
Snelling, Carol Freeman, Yusef Rah- 
man, to mention a few, could enrich 
contemporary criticism poetry, fiction 
and theatre. Stanley Crouch, a friend 
and associate of Neal for fifteen years, 
remembers him as a "scholar ready to 
research a topic, and who knew quite 
well the social and cultural intricacies of 



Harlem. Larry was one of those guys 
who had such an epic social awareness 
and so many friends and contacts that 
he seemed to quite literally know every- 
body. In his company you would meet 
the highs, the lows and the middles as 
you moved from pent houses to after- 
hours hustling joints. Each of those 
places was given a brief but thorough 
history of habits, characters and dress 
of people who lived in or frequented 
them." His pursuit for a new image and 
direction for African Americans during 
the 60's, a new aesthetics, did not end 
with the era. It continued to remain a 
large part of his life. His devotion and 
time spent analyzing, advising and re- 
juvenating Black artists never ceased. 
Larry Neal proved to be a great asset 
and positive force behind the Black Art 
Movement. The movement itself, uses 
the principle meaning of Black power, 
which is self definition and self determi- 
nation for true liberation and nation- 
hood, to define the world of art and cul- 
ture in its own term. It searches for a 
linkage between art and politics that will 
lead to the liberation of Black people, 
not just African Americans, but people 
of Africa, Asia and Latin America who 
are all struggling for human dignity. 
New values, new ways of living and a 
new system of moral and philosphical, 
spiritual and cultural liberation of man. 
The Black Arts Movement attempts to 
give a total vision of ourselves, not a 
split vision which Dubois called "Dou- 
ble Consciousness" the sense of always 
measuring oneself through the eyes of a 
white world filled with contempt and pi- 
ty. It strives to attain an intimacy with 
people by way of fundamental experi- 
ences of the Nation. In order the 
achieve liberation, nationhood, and a 
new aesthetics Larry Neal felt it urgent 
continued on page 22 



Dear Evelyn: 

"The Rockin Pneumonia and 
' the Boogie Woggie Flu, " a 1957 
opus of Huey "Piano" Smith, 
provided an excellent expression 
of a man whose limitless energy 
was frustrated by the confines of 
life: "I want to holler, but the 
town's too small. " Philadelphia 
was too small; New York was too 
small for Larry. He was big 
enough to jump across a conti- 
nent and holler at my conscience 
as recently as tomorrow. Heaven 
will not hold him either. He'll be 
out on every street, waiting impa- 
tiently to run into us, to tell us 
how to set the sights on our intel- 
lectual arms, how to load them of 
pointless ambition, and how to 
load them with principles, and to 
remind us of the dog tags of our 
enemies. Before we can claim to 
be unworthy of this war, he'll 
jump up and holler for us to leave 
to tell some other ears what sol- 
diers we already are, and we'll be 
left to march and rock and watch 
the town grow small. Please be 
proud. 



f^v... 



Matt Robinson 



Biography of Larry Neal 

continued from page 20 

that Black people induce radical 
changes. But first for these changes to 
come about one must abolish the tradi- 
tional, expected ways of the past. 
"Concepts of what art is, of what it is 
supposed to "do" will have to be 
altered. The dead forms taught most 
writers in the white man's schools will 
have to be destroyed or radically al- 
tered. The West is dead we are what's 
happening." Political change is not lit- 
erally meant, for literature which pro- 
tests directs its attention to a white audi- 
ence, explains the concepts of Black 
people and attempting to gain their un- 
derstanding. In a sense asking the white 
man for our human dignity. Protest lit- 
erature assumes that those who we are 
addressing do not understand their con- 
dition. Black people are aware and do 
understand their plight. But rather it 
calls for a radical change through art 
which talks to Black folks about reali- 
ties. The actions needed to arrive at the 
goals of the movement are not easily ac- 
quired and a conscientious effort by ar- 
tists plays a key role. Nonetheless, as 
Larry Neal said, 

We must liberate ourselves, 
destroy the double conscious- 
ness. We must integrate our- 
selves, understand that the 
West is dying and offers little 
promise of rebirth. We must 
address ourselves to the reality 
of the dying West. We must 
take our work where our peo- 
ple are Harlem, Watts, Phila- 



delphia, Chicago, and rural 
South. We must make litera- 
ture move people to a deeper 
understanding of what this 
thing is all about, be a kind of 
priest, a black magician work- 
ing ju ju with the word on the 
world. The Black artist must 
link his work to the struggle 
for his liberation of his broth- 
ers and sisters. 

Black Journal, 1969 

For a Black writer to explore the Black 
experience, he has to know where he 
came from and accept the realities and 
power of the African culture which pro- 
duced him. Our history and music are 
the best paradigms of Black Aesthetics. 
Mr. Neal felt music is the key; the per- 
fect beginning of aesthetics. Blues, jazz, 
be-bop, and spirituals are the most ob- 
vious examples. The blues reaches an 
individuals' true feelings and private 
pain. It communicates the collective ex- 
perience to all peoples, in all cities, in all 
jobs. "The blues tell it like it is; they 
don't jive. Have you ever heard a Black 
poet scream like James Brown?" The 
electric energy apparent on stage when 
James Brown shouts "say it loud" is an 
energy needed to shake and open us to 
unrealized possibilities. The movement 
is rooted in a spiritual ethic because art 
is religious and ritualistic. Ritual moves 
to liberate Man making him stronger 
physically and abling him to create a 
world that is an extension of his spiritu- 
ality — his positive humanity. In essence 



the Black Arts Movement seeks to make 
communication and liberation more 
possible through artistic techniques and 
a Black aesthetic. 

Along with his deep appreciation of 
art, he was also fascinated by language. 
For a large part of his artistic life he 
searched for a language that would al- 
low flexibility of words found in folk 
tales, slang and street chants. His recent 
play "The Glorious Monster in the Bell 
of the Horn," and the poems in his ear- 
ly works Black Boogaloo and Hoodoo 
Hollerin BeBop Ghosts illustrate the di- 
rection and complexity of his develop- 
ment. Other works which he produced 
include Trippin A Need For A Change; 
Analytic Study of Afro American Cul- 
ture; and Black Fire: An Anthology of 
Afro-American Writing. The last novel 
coproduced with Imari Barakas (Leroi 
Jones) contains a fiction story entitled 
"Sinner Man Where You Gonna Run 
To?" The story is clearly reflective of 
his concern and interest in the Black Art 
Movement. Literature should touch the 
Black communities' beauty, wonder 
and pain. Black writers "carry the past 
and future memory of the race, of the 
Nation." As Stanley Crouch recollects 
"Larry Neal embodied the depth of 
soul and sense we ask of our most re- 
sponsible people and with his passing, 
Manhattan is much less soulful and 
makes much less sense." 

"Man, I said where is the light that 
shines from that house? 

It must have died out, it must have 
moved on." 



ISOLATION 

SCARED, CRYING, AND CALLING FOR MOMMA 

NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE 
THEY JUST ALL SIT THERE IN THEIR DIRTY LITTLE CELLS, WITH 

BLACK WALLS, DIM LIGHTS AND DRASTIC SMELLS OF MUSK. 
THE MAN CALLS FOR MEALTIME FOOD FIT FOR ANIMALS, DO THEY 

REALLY THINK WE ARE ANIMALS? 
BELL RINGS BACK TO THE DIRTY LITTLE CELLS, HEARING THE SOUND 

OF CLINK, CLANK AS EACH CELL LOCKS. 
BACK TO THE SAME THING, LOOKING AT SAD FACES ALL CRYING OUT 

FOR MOMMA BUT WHO THE HELL CARES! ! 

JENNIFER HARDY 



22 



if i write 

let me write to paint truth 

re-name the world 

in primordial ink tones 

earth streaked rainbows 

spanning 

wide african desert and murky Chicago sky 

paint this life mine 

color it woman: sable shades of pain and joy 

anguish agony suffering and humanity 

if i write 

let my words posit freedom postures 

absent from the tarnish of conformity 

and brimming 

in possibility 

new land 

where earth beneath tanned feet 

is ours /not stolen rented wrested or offered in false charity 

paid in the blood of our mothers and fathers 

if i write 

let my words puncture 

this culture of silence 

swallowing us up whole 

shaping us fragment people /coloring my babies 

drugged drunk desperate desolate demons 

whose screams i cannot still 

let my words come /as spears piercing the night 

tearing to shreads 

the shroud of silence cloaking us 

if i write 

let me be as soothsayer 

with eyes that stab Cimmerian chaos 

and promise light 

seer soothsayer sorcerer witch 

reading the oracles 

in ebon etched faces /hardened hands and blistered feet 

of my people 

if i write 

let my words 

be the line 

pulling us 

towards 

full undiluted freedom-loving 

people-hood. 

Linda B. Smith 



A POEM FOR A SPECIAL PERSON 

If there's a place in the world, I'll find it. 

If there's a place, I'll find it. 

If there's a place to think and read, I'll find it. 

If there's a place to sleep and eat, I'll find it. 

If there's a place to think out my sad & good thoughts, 

I'll find it. 

But just remember there's always a place in my heart for you. 

I've already found it and there is. 

By Danny Dodge 



Even now. . . 

when I can analyze the wrong 

and run it down in three-part harmony; 
I do sit back and reminisce 
my mind recalling times like this 
when you were/ 

still a special part of me. 

Even now. . . 

when I have hated you for what you'd done 

I stood right here and watched you run 

and pain came to my side to take your place- 
I still have found 

in daydream's cloud 
your silken laughter 

warm and loud,- 
the tears you cried, the love that framed 
your face. 

Even now. . . 

when things have come so far to me- 
that it can't hurt (nor can it be) 
I wonder /if love ever crossed your mind 
and then my body turns a smile 

as I see/ for a little while 
you lost- 

the deepest love you'll ever find. 

-Ijs 
(I. sinckler) 



Long Live Zimbabwe 

for Lee and Maoni 

Long Live Zimbabwe, 
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, 
Long Live Zimbabwe, 
May you always be free. 

Long Live Zimbabwe, 
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, 
Long Live Zimbabwe, 
May all your people be free. 

Long Live Zimbabwe, 
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, 
Long Live Zimbabwe, 
May you always be free 

As the wind, 
As the dirt. 
As the flame, 
As the sea: 

As love. 

Long Live Zimbabwe. 

Charles Francis Carroll '83 



23 



Photograph by Roy Lewis 




THOU ART NOT DEAD. 

BUT FLOWN AFAR, 

UP HILLS OF ENDLESS LIGHT 

THROUGH BLAZING CORRIDORS OF SUNS 

WHERE WORLDS DO SWING 

OF GOOD AND GENTLE MEN, 

OF WOMEN STRONG & FREE. 



Larry and Avatar Neal 





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Festival by Wadsworth A. Jarrell 



Larry Neal/ 1968 Blackfire Essay 

continued from cover 

Then the Captain 's lily white daughter came up an deck, 

She had her hands on her pussy and her dress around her neck. 

She say "Shine, Shine, save pom' me, 

I'll give you more pussy tlmn a nigger ever see. ' ' 

Shine, he say, "There's pussy on land and pussy on sea, 

but the pussy on land is the pussy for me " 

And Shine swam on. . . 



The quote is taken from an urban 
"toast" called the Titanic. It is part of 
the private mythology of Black America. 
Its symbolism is direct and profound. 
Shine is US. We have been below-deck 
stoking the ship's furnaces. Now the 
ship is sinking, but where will we swim? 
This is the question that the "New 
Breed" which James Brown sings 
about, asks. 

We don't have all of the answers, but 
have attempted, through the artistic and 
political work presented here, to con- 
front our problems from what must be 
called a radical perspective. Therefore, 
most of the book can be read as if it were 
a critical re-examination of Western po- 
litical, social and artistic values. It can be 
read also as a rejection of anything that 
we feel is detrimental to our people. And 
it is almost axiomatic that most of what 
the West considers important endangers 
the more humane world we feel ours 
should be. 

We have been, for the most part, talk- 
ing about contemporary realities. We 
have not been talking about a return to 
some glorious African past. But we rec- 
ognize the past— the total past. Many of 
us refuse to accept a truncated Negro 
history which cuts us off completely 
from our African ancestry. To do so is to 
accept the very racist assumptions 
which we abhor. Rather, we want to 
comprehend history totally, and under- 
stand the manifold ways in which con- 
temporary problems are affected by it. 

There is a tension within Black 
America. And it has its roots in the 
general history of the race. The man- 
ner in which we see this history deter- 
mines how we act. How should we see 
this history? What should we feel 
about it? This is important to know, be- 
cause the sense of how that history 
should be felt is what either unites or 
separates us. 

For, how the thing is felt helps to de- 
termine how it is played. For example, 
the 1966 uprising in Watts is a case of 
feeling one's history in a particular 
way, and then acting it out in the most 
immediate manner possible. The emo- 



tions of the crowd have always played 
an integral role in the making of his- 
tory. 

Again, what separates a Malcolm X 
from a Roy Wilkins is a profound dif- 
ference in what each believes the his- 
tory of America to be. Finally, the suc- 
cess of one leader over another de- 
pends upon which one best under- 
stands and expresses the emotional 
realities of a given historical epoch. 
Hence, we feel a Malcolm in a way that 
a Roy Wilkins, a King, and a Whitney 
Young can never be felt. Because a 
Malcolm, finally, interprets the emo- 
tional history of his people better than 
the others. 

There is a tension throughout our 
communities. The ghosts of that ten- 
sion are Nat Turner, Martin Delaney, 
Booker T. Washington, Frederick 
Douglass, Malcolm X, Garvey, Mon- 
roe Trottier, DuBois, Fanon, and a 
whole panoply of mythical heroes from 
Br'er Rabbit to Shine. These ghosts 
have left us with some very heavy 
questions about the realities of life for 
black people in America. 

The movement is now faced with a 
serious crisis. It has postulated a 
theory of Black Power; and that is 
good. But it has failed to evolve a 
workable ideology. That is, a workable 
concept— perhaps Black Power is it— 
which can encompass many of the di- 
verse ideological tendencies existent in 
the black community. This concept 
would have to allow for separatists and 
revolutionaries; and it would have to 
take into consideration the realities of 
contemporary American power, both 
here and abroad. The militant wing of 
the movement has begun to deny the 
patriotic assumptions of the white and 
Negro establishment, but it has not 
supported that denial with a consistent 
theory of social change, one that must 
be rooted in the history of African- 
Americans. 

Currently, there is a general lack of 
clarity about how to proceed. This lack 
of clarity is historical and is involved 
with what DuBois called the "double- 



consciousness": 

. . . this sense of always looking at one's self 
through the eyes of others, of measuring 
one's soul by the tape of a world that looks 
on in amused contempt and pity. One ever 
feels his two-ness— an American, a Negro- 
two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled 
strivings; two warring ideals in one dark 
body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it 
from being torn asunder 

The history of the American Negro is the 
history of this strife— this longing to attain 
self-conscious manhood, to merge his dou- 
ble-self into a better and truer self . . . 

This statement is from The Souls of 
Black Folk, which was published in 
1897. The double-consciousness still 
exists, and was even in existence prior 
to 1897. 

Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, and 
Gabriel Prosser attempted to destroy 
this double-consciousness in bloody re- 
volt. 

In 1852, a black physician named 
Martin Delaney published a book en- 
titled, The Destiny of the Colored 
Peoples. Delaney advocated repatria- 
tion—return to the Motherland (Afri- 
ca). He believed that the United States 
would never fully grant black people 
freedom; and never would there be 
anything like "equal status with the 
white man." 

Frederick Douglass, and many of 
the abolitionists, strongly believed in 
the "promise of America." But the 
double-consciousness and its resulting 
tension still exist. How else can we ex- 
plain the existence of these same ideas 
in contemporary America? Why was 
Garvey so popular? Why is it that, in a 
community like Harlem, one finds a 
distinctly nationalistic element which 
is growing yearly, according to a re- 
cent article in The New York Times? 
And it is a contemporary nationalism, 
existing in varying degrees of sophisti- 
cation; but all of its tendencies, from 
the Revolutionary Action Movement 
to the African Nationalist Pioneer 
Movement, are focused on questions 
not fully resolved by the established 
Negro leadership— questions which 
that leadership, at this stage of its de- 
velopment, is incapable of answering. 

Therefore, the rebirth of the concept 
of Black Power opens old wounds. For 
the conflict between Booker T. Wash- 
ington and W.E.B. DuBois was essen- 
tially over the question of power, over 
the relationship of that power to the 
status of Black America. The focus of 
the conflict between Washington and 
DuBois was education: What was the 



26 



best means of educating black people? 
Should it be primarily university edu- 
cation, as advocated by DuBois; or one 
rooted in Washington called "craft 
skills"? Since education functions in a 
society to enforce certain values, both 
men found it impossible to confine dis- 
cussion simply to the nature of black 
education. It became a political ques- 
tion. It is a political question. There- 
fore, what was essentially being debat- 
ed was the political status of over ten 
million people of African descent who, 
against their wills, were being forced 
to eke out an existence in the United 
States. 

Queen Mother Moore once pointed 
out to me that black people were never 
collectively given a chance to decide 
whether they wanted to be American 
citizens or not. After the Civil War, for 
example, there was no plebiscite put- 
ting the question of American citizen- 
ship to a vote. Therefore, implicit in 
the turn-of-the-century controversy 
between Washington and DuBois is 
the idea that black people are a nation 
—a separate nation apart from white 
America. Around 1897, the idea was 
more a part of Washington's thinking 
than DuBois'; but it was to haunt Du- 
Bois until the day he died (in Ghana). 

The educational ideas of both Wash- 
ington and DuBois were doomed to 
failure. Both ideas, within the context 
of American values, were merely the 
extension of another kind of oppres- 
sion. Only, now it was an oppression of 
the spirit. Within the context of a rac- 
ist America, both were advocating a 
"colonialized" education; that is, an 
education equivalent to the kind the 
native receives, in Africa and Asia, 
under the imperialists. The fxmdamen- 
tal role of education in a racist society 
would have to be to "keep the niggers 
in their place." 

All of the Negro colleges in this 
country were, and, are even now, con- 
trolled by white money— white power. 
DuBois recognized this after he was 
dismissed from Atlanta University. In 
1934, he further proceeded to advo- 
cate the establishment of independent 
"segregated" institutions and the de- 
velopment of the black community as 
a separate entity. The advocacy of 
such ideas led to a break with the 
NAACP, which was committed to a 
policy of total integration into Ameri- 
can society. Here then, is the tension, 
the ambiguity between integration and 
segregation, occurring in the highest 
ranks of a well-established middle- 



class organization. Hence, in 1934, 
DuBois had not really advanced, at 
least not in terms of the ideas postulat- 
ed above, but was merely picking up 
the threads of arguments put forth by 
Washington and Marcus Garvey. And 
the double-consciousness dominated 
his entire professional life. 

He had been everything that was de- 
manded of him: scholar, poet, politi- 
cian, nationalist, integrationist, and 
finally in old age, a Communist. His 
had been a life full of controversy. He 
knew much about human nature, espe- 
cially that of his people, but he did not 
understand Garvey— Garvey— who 
was merely his own double-conscious- 
ness theory personified in a very dy- 
namic and forceful manner. Garvey 
was, in fact, attempting the destruc- 
tion of that very tension which had 
plagued all of DuBois' professional 
careen 

It involved knowing and deciding 
who and what we are. Had Garvey an 
organizational apparatus equivalent to 
the NAACP' s, the entire history of the 
world might have been different. For 
Garvey was more emotionally cohe- 
sive than DuBois, and not as intellectu- 
ally fragmented. DuBois, for all of his 
commitment, was a somewhat stuffy 
intellectual with middle-class hangups, 
for which Garvey constantly attacked 
him. The people to whom Garvey ap- 
pealed could never have understood 
DuBois. But Garvey understood them, 
and the life-force within him was very 
fundamental to them. The NAACP 
has never had the kind of fervent ap- 
peal that the Garvey Movement had. It 
has rarely understood the tension 
within the black masses. To them, 
Garvey was a fanatic. But are these the 
words of a fanatic, or of a lover? 

The N.A.A.C.P. wants us all to become 
white by amalgamation, but they are not 
honest enough to come out with the truth. 
To be a Negro is no disgrace, but an honor, 
and we of the U.N.I.A. do not want to be- 
come white. . . . We are proud and honor- 
able. We love our race and respect and 
adore our mothers. 

And, in a letter to his followers from 
prison: 

My months of forcible removal from among 
you, being imprisoned as a punishment for 
advocating the cause of our real emancipa- 
tion [emphasis mine], have not left me hope- 
less or despondent; but to the contrary, I 
see a great ray of light and the bursting of a 
mighty political cloud which wUl bring you 
complete freedom. . . . 
We have gradually won our way back in- 



to the confidence of the God of Africa, and 
He shall speak with a voice of thunder, that 
shall shake the pillars of a corrupt and un- 
just world, and once more restore Ethiopia 
to her ancient glory. . . . 

Hold fast to the Faith. Desert not the 
ranks, but as brave soldiers march on to vic- 
tory. I am happy, and shall remain so, as 
long as you keep the flag flying. 

So in 1940, Garvey died. He died in 
London, an exile. He was a proud man 
whose real fault was not lack of intense 
feeling and conviction, but an inabihty 
to tailor his nationalism to the realities 
of the American context. And also he 
was a threat to Europe's colonial de- 
signs in Africa, a much greater threat 
than the Pan- African conferences Du- 
Bois used to organize. Garvey wanted 
a nation for his people. That would 
have meant the destruction of British, 
French and Portuguese imperialism in 
Africa. And since it was a movement 
directed by blacks here in this country, 
it would also have internally chal- 
lenged American imperialism as it ex- 
isted at that time. 

But Garvey was no Theodor Herzl 
or Chaim Weinzmann, * with their kind 
of skills and resources behind him. 
Had he been, he might have brought a 
nation into existence. But neither he 
nor his people had those kinds of re- 
sources, and, worse, the black bour- 
geoisie of the period did not under- 
stand him with the same intensity as 
the masses. 

In 1940, the year Garvey died, Mal- 
colm Little was fifteen years old. He 
caught a bus from Lansing, Michigan, 
and went to Boston to live with his sis- 
ter Ella Collins, who is now head of the 
organization Malcolm started when he 
broke with the Nation of Islam. It is 
probably the most important bus ride 
in history. 

Malcohn X, whose father had been a 
Garveyite, was destined to confront 
the double-consciousness of Black 
America. But his confrontation would 
be a modem one, rooted in the teach- 
ings of the Nation of Islam and in the 
realities of contemporary politics. 
That is to say, his ideas would be a syn- 
thesis of black nationalism's essential 
truths as derived from Martin De- 
laney, DuBois, Garvey, the honorable 
Elijah Muhammed, Fanon, and Rich- 

*N0TE: Herzi (1860-1904) and Weizmann (1874-1952) are 
two important thinkers in the history of Jewish Zionism. Dur- 
ing the 19th century, Jewish inteUectuals began to describe 
analytically the problem of the Jews since what is called the 
Diaspora— the dispersion of the Jews among the Gentiles after 
the Exile. The efforts of these two men and many others cul- 
minated in the erection of Israel. Because Garvey also advo- 
cated a "return, ■■ some writers have called his movement 
"Black Zionism." 



27 







Freedom Now by Nelson Stevens 



^^^■" 




• Ti^y ,.'.. 



ard Wright. And his speech would be 
marked by a particular cadence, a kind 
of "hip" understanding of the world. It 
was the truth as only the oppressed, 
and those whose lives have somehow 
been "outside of history," could know 
it. 

Civil rights and brotherhood were in 
vogue when Malcolm started "blow- 
ing"— started telling the truth in a 
manner only a deaf man would ignore. 
And many of us were deaf, or if not, in a 
deep sleep. He shot holes through the 
civil rights movement that was the 
new "in" for the white liberals. James 
Baldwin was also "in," pleading for a 
new morality to people who saw him 
as another form of entertainment. And 
there were sit-ins, pray-ins, sleep-ins, 
non-violence, and the March on Wash- 
ington. And the voice of Malcolm cut 
through it all, stripping away the sham 
and the lies. He was the conscience of 
Black America, setting out, like a war- 
rior, to destroy the double-conscious- 
ness, he did not eschew dialogue. He 
attempted, instead, to make it more 
meaningful by infusing some truth into 
it. For this reason, it was both painful 
and beautiful to listen to him. 

Malcolm covered everything— na- 
tionhood, manhood, the family, broth- 
erhood, history, and the Third World 
Revolution. Yet it always seemed to 
me that he was talking about a revolu- 
tion of the psyche, about how we 
should see ourselves in the world. 

But, just as suddenly as he was 
thrust among us— he was gone. Gone, 
just as Black America was starting to 
understand what he was talking about. 
And those who killed him, did so for 
just that reason. For Malcolm wanted 
to make real the internationalism of 
Garvey and DuBois. Our problem had 
ceased to be one of civil rights, he 
argued, but is, instead, one of human 
rights. As such— he extended the argu- 
ment—it belongs in an international 
context. Like Garvey and DuBois 
before him, he linked the general op- 
pression of Black America to that of 
the Third World. Further, he strongly 
advocated unity with that world, 
something few civil rights leaders have 
dared to do. 

Hence, what has come to be known 
as Black Power must be seen in terms 
of the ideas and persons which preced- 
ed it. Black Power is, in fact, a synthe- 
sis of all of the nationalistic ideas em- 
bedded within the double-conscious- 
ness of Black America. But it has no 



one specific meaning. It is rather a kind 
of feeling— a kind of emotional re- 
sponse to one's history. The theoreti- 
cians among us can break down its 
components. However, that will not be 
enough, for like all good theories, it 
can ultimately be defined only in action 
—in movement. Essentially, this is 
what the "New Breed" is doing— de- 
fining itself through actions, be they 
artistic or political. 

We have attempted through these 
historical judgments to examine the 
idea of nationhood, the idea, real or 
fanciful, that black people comprise a 
separate national entity within the 
dominant white culture. This sense of 
being separate, especially within a 
racist society with so-called democrat- 
ic ideas, has created a particular ten- 
sion within the psychology of Black 
America. We are saying, further, that 
this sense of the "separate" moves 
through much of today's black litera- 
ture. 

There is also a concomitant sense of 
being at ' 'war. ' ' Max Stanford explains 
that this sense began the minute the 
first slaves were snatched from their 
lands. These two tensions, "separa- 
tion" and "war," are pressing histori- 
cal realities; both are leading to a liter- 
ature of Armageddon. 

We must face these ideas in all of 
their dimensions. In some cases, the 
literature speaks to the tension within, 
say, the family; or it deals with the 
nature of black manhood. At other 
times, especially in something like 
Jimmy Garrett's play We Own The 
Night, the "war" seems directed 
against an unseen white enemy; it is, in 
fact, an attack on the Uncle Tomism of 
the older generation. 

The tension, or double-conscious- 
ness, is most often resolved in vio- 
lence, simply because the nature of our 
existence in America has been one of 
violence. In some cases, the tension 
resolves in recognizing the beauty and 
love within Black America itself. No, 
not a new "Negritude, ' ' but a profound 
sense of a unique and beautiful culture; 
and a sense that there are many spirit- 
ual areas to explore within this culture. 
This is a kind of separation but there is 
no tension about it. There is a kind of 
peace in the separation. This peace 
may be threatened by the realities of 
the beast-world, but yet, it is lived as 
fully as life can be lived. This sense of a 
haven in blackness is found most often 
in the poetry selections. 



But history weighs down on all of 
this literature. Every black writer in 
America has had to react to this his- 
tory, either to make peace with it, or 
make war with it. It cannot be ignored. 
Every black writer has chosen a partic- 
ular stance towards it. He or she may 
tell you that, for them, it was never a 
problem. But they will be liars. 

Most contemporary black writing of 
the last few years, the literature of the 
young, has been aimed at the destruc- 
tion of the double-consciousness. It has 
been aimed at consolidating the Afri- 
can-American personality. And it has 
not been essentially a literature of pro- 
test. It has, instead, turned its atten- 
tion inward to the internal problems of 
the group. The problem of living in a 
racist society, therefore, is something 
that lurks on the immediate horizon, 
but which can not be dealt with until 
certain political, social and spiritual 
truths are understood by the op- 
pressed themselves— inwardly under- 
stood. 

It is a literature primarily directed at 
the consciences of black people. And, 
in that sense, it is a literature that is 
somewhat more mature than that 
which preceded it. The white world— 
the West— is seen now as a dying crea- 
ture, totally bereft of spirituality. This 
being the case, the only hope is some 
kind of psychic withdrawal from its 
values and assumptions. Not just 
America, but most of the non-colored 
world has been in the process of des- 
troying the spiritual roots of mankind, 
while not substituting anything mean- 
ingful for this destruction. 

Therefore, many see the enslave- 
ment of the Third World as an enslave- 
ment of the Spirit. Marxists carefully 
analyze the material reasons for this 
kind of oppression, but it takes a Fan- 
on to illustrate the spiritual malaise in 
back of this enslavement. I tend to feel 
that the answer hes outside of histori- 
cal materialism. It is rooted in how 
man sees himself in the spiritual sense, 
in what he construes existence to mean. 
Most Western philosophical orienta- 
tions have taken the force of meaning 
out of existence. 

Why this has happened is not really 
known, at least not in any sense that is 
final. We do know that the Western 
mind construes reality differently from 
the rest of the world. Or should I say, 
feels reality differently? Western myth- 
ological configurations are even vastly 
different from other configurations. 



30 



Such configurations lead to the postu- 
lation of certain ideas of what art is, of 
what life is (see Jimmy Stewart's essay 
in this book). 

Let us take, for example, the disori- 
entation one experiences when one 
sees a piece of African sculpture in a 
Madison Avenue art gallery. Ask your- 
self: What is it doing there? In Africa, 
the piece had ritual significance. It was 
a spiritual affirmation of the connec- 
tion between man and his ancestors, 
and it implied a particular kind of on- 
tology—a particular sense of being. 
However, when you see it in that gal- 
lery, you must recognize that no Afri- 
can artist desired that it be placed 
there. Rather, it was stolen by force 
and placed there. And the mind that 
stole it was of a different nature from 
the mind that made it. 

In the gallery or the salon, it is mere- 
ly an objet d 'art, but for your ancestors, 
it was a bridge between them and the 
spirit, a bridge between you and your 
soul in the progression of a spiritual 
lineage. It was art, merely incidentally, 
for it was essentially functional in its 
natural setting. The same goes for 
music, song, dance, the folk tale and 
dress. All of these things were coa- 
lesced, with form and function unified. 
All of these were an evocation of the 
spirit which included an affirmation of 
daily life, and the necessity of living 
life with honor. 

The degree to which the artists 
among us understand some of these 
things is the degree to which we shall 
fashion a total art form that speaks pri- 
marily to the needs of our people. The 
temptation offered by Western society 
is to turn from these essential truths 
and merge with the oppressor for sol- 
ace. This temptation demands, not 
merely integration of the flesh, but 
also integration of the spirit. And there 
are few of us for whom this would not 
have dire consequences. Further, the 
tension, the double-consciousness of 
which we have already spoken, cannot 
be resolved in so easy a manner, espe- 
cially when, within the context of the 
racist society, the merger has little 
chance of being a healthy one. 

In an essay entitled, "Blue Print for 
Negro Writing," Richard Wright at- 
tempted to define all aspects of the 
writer's role— especially as it is related 
to his status as an oppressed individu- 
al. Wright saw the problem in the fol- 
lowing manner: The black writer had 
turned to writing in an attempt to dem- 



onstrate to the white world that there 
were "Negroes who were civilized." I 
suppose, here, he meant people like 
Charles Chestnutt and William Braith- 
waite. The writing, Wright attempted 
to prove, had become the voice of the 
educated Negro pleading with white 
America for justice. But it was "ex- 
ternal to the lives of educated Negroes 
themselves." Further, much of this 
writing was rarely addressed to black 
people, to their needs, sufferings and 
aspirations. 

It is precisely here that almost all of 
our literature had failed. It had suc- 
cumbed merely to providing exotic en- 
tertainment for white America. As 
Wright suggests, we had yet to create 
a dynamic body of literature addressed 
to the needs of our people. And there 
are a myriad of socio-economic rea- 
sons underlying this failure. The so- 
called Harlem Renaissance was, for 
the most part, a fantasy-era for most 
black writers and their white friends. 
For the people of the community, it 
never even existed. It was a thing 
apart. And when the money stopped, 
in 1929, to quote Langston Hughes: " 
... we were no longer in vogue, any- 
way, we Negroes. Sophisticated New 
Yorkers turned to Noel Coward. Col- 
ored actors began to go hungry, pub- 
lishers politely rejected new manu- 
scripts, and patrons found other uses 
for their money. The cycle that had 
charlestoned into being on the dancing 
heels of Shuffle Along now ended in 
Green Pastures with De Lawd. . . . The 
generous 19^0's were over" For most 
of us, they had never begun. It was all 
an illusion, a kind of surrealistic 
euphoria. 

Wright insisted on an approach to 
literature that would reconcile the 
black man's "nationalism" and his 
"revolutionary aspirations." The best 
way for the writer to do this, he wrote 
in "Blue Print," was the utilization of 
his own tradition and culture— a cul- 
ture that had developed out of the 
black church, and the folklore of the 
people: 

Blues, spirituals, and folk tales recounted 
from mouth to mouth; the whispered words 
of a black mother to her black daughter on 
the ways of men; the confidential wisdom of 
a black father to his black son; the swap- 
ping of sex experiences on the street cor- 
ners from boy to boy in the deepest vernac- 
ular; work songs sung under blazing suns— 
aU these formed the channels through 
which the racial wisdom flowed. 



And what of the nationalism about 
which we spoke earlier? Here again, 
the tension arises. The question of na- 
tionalism occurs repeatedly in the 
works of Wright. Like DuBois and 
other intellectuals, Wright found that 
he could not ignore it. Within Wright 
himself, there was being waged a great 
conflict over the validity of national- 
ism. In the essay under discussion, he 
forces the question out into the open, 
asserting the necessity of understand- 
ing the function of nationalism in the 
lives of the people: 

Let those who shy at the nationalistic impli- 
cations of Negro life look at the body of folk- 
lore, living and powerful, which rose out of 
a common fate. Here are those vital begin- 
nings of a recognition of a value in life as it is 
lived, a recognition that makes the emer- 
gence of a new culture in the shell of the old. 
[emphasis mine] And at the moment that 
this process starts, at the moment when 
people begin to realize a meaning in their 
suffering, the civilization that engenders 
that suffering is doomed. . . . 

A further reading of this essay re- 
veals that Wright was not trying to 
construct a black ideology, but was, in- 
stead, attempting a kind of reconcilia- 
tion between nationalism and Com- 
munism. The essay was written in 
1937. By then, the Communists had 
discarded the "nation within a nation" 
concept and were working to discour- 
age black nationalism among the Ne- 
gro members of the Party. Wright was 
trying to re-link nationalism and Com- 
munism, but the two were incompat- 
ible. The Communists discouraged the 
construction of a black theoretical 
frame of reference, but did not substi- 
tute a theory that was more viable than 
the one some of its black Party mem- 
bers proposed. Hence, the double-con- 
sciousness was not resolved. Wright 
ended up splitting with the Party to 
preserve his own identity. 

Even though he had failed, Richard 
Wright was headed in the right direc- 
tion. But the conditions under which 
he labored did not allow success. The 
Party, for example, had never really 
understood the "Negro question" in 
any manner that was meaningful to 
black people. Further, the nationalistic 
models which Wright and a contempo- 
rary of his, Ralph Ellison, saw around 
them were too "brutal" and "coarse" 
for their sensibilities (Ras, in Ellison's 
novel). Ultimately, the tension within 
Wright forced him to leave America, 
to become a voluntary exile. 



31 



The last years of his life were spent 
explaining the psychology of the op- 
pressed throughout the Third World. 
In White Man Listen!, he attempted to 
analyze, much like Fanon, the malaise 
accompanying the relationship be- 
tween the oppressed and the oppres- 
sors. And the double-consciousness 
never left him. White Man Listen! 
Black Power, and The Color Line are 
Wright's attempt to understand his 
own racial dilemma by placing it in an 
international context, thus linking it to 
the general affects of colonialism on 
the psychology of the oppressed. 
Therefore, these works, historically, 
link Wright with Garvey and DuBois, 
as well as foreshadow the ideas of Fan- 
on and Brother Malcolm. To be more 
germane to our subject, these latter 
works are certainly more pertinent to 
the ideas of the "New Breed" youth, 
than say. Native Son. 

They are especially more pertinent 
than Ralph Ellison's novel. Invisible 
Man, which is a profound piece of writ- 
ing but the kind of novel which, none- 
theless, has little bearing on the world 
as the "New Breed" sees it. The 
things that concerned Ellison are inter- 
esting to read, but contemporary black 
youth feels another force in the world 
today. We know who we are, and we 
are not invisible, at least not to each 
other. We are not Kafkaesque crea- 
tures stumbling through a white light 
of confusion and absurdity. The light is 
black (now, get that!) as are most of the 
meaningful tendencies in the world. 

. . . Let us waste no time in sterile litanies 
and nauseating mimicry. Leave this Europe 
where they are never done talking of Man, 
yet murder men everywhere they find 
them, at the comer of every one of their 
own streets, in all comers of the globe. For 
centuries they have stifled almost the whole 
of humanity in the name of a so-called spirit- 
ual experience. Look at them today sway- 
ing between atomic and spiritual disintegra- 
tion. 

Frantz Fanon— 
The Wretched of the Earth 

Our literature, our art and our music 
are moving closer to the forces moti- 
vating Black America. You can hear it 
everywhere, especially in the music, a 
surging new sound. Be it the Su- 
premes, James Brovra, the Tempta- 
tions, John Coltrane, or Albert Ayler, 
there is a vital newTiess in this energy. 
There is love, tension and spiritual to- 
getherness in it. We are beautiful— but 
there is more work to do, and just be- 



ing beautiful is not enough. 

We must take this sound, and make 
this energy meaningful to our people. 
Otherwise, it will have meant nothing, 
will have affected nothing. The force 
of what we have to say can only be 
realized in action. Black literature 
must become an integral part of the 
community's life style. And I believe 
that it must also be integral to the 
myths and experiences underlying the 
total history of black people. 

New constructs will have to be de- 
veloped. We will have to alter our con- 
cepts of what art is, of what it is sup- 
posed to "do." The dead forms taught 
most writers in the white man's 
schools will have to be destroyed, or at 
best, radically altered. We can learn 
more about what poetry is by listening 
to the cadences in Malcolm's 
speeches, than from most of Western 
poetics. Listen to James Brown 
scream. Ask yourself, then; Have you 
ever heard a Negro poet sing like that? 
Of course not, because we have been 
tied to the texts, like most white poets. 
The text should be destroyed and no 
one would be hurt in the least by it. 
The key is in the music. Our music has 
always been far ahead of our litera- 
ture. Actually, until recently, it was our 
only literature, except for, perhaps, the 
folktale. 

Therefore, what we are asking for is 
a new synthesis; a new sense of litera- 
ture as a living reality. But first, we 
must liberate ourselves, destroy the 
double-consciousness. We must inte- 
grate with ourselves, tmderstand that 
we have within us a great vision, revo- 
lutionary and spiritual in nature, un- 
derstand that the West is dying, and 
offers little promise of rebirth. 

All of her prophets have told her so: 
Sartre, Brecht, Camus, Albee, Bur- 
roughs and Fellini, have foretold her 
doom. Can we do anything less? It is 
merely what we have always secretly 
known— what Garvey, DuBois, Fanon 
and Malcohn knew: The West is dy- 
ing, as it must, as it should. However, 
the approach of this death merely 
makes the power-mad Magog's of the 
West more vicious, more dangerous- 
like McNamara with his computing 
machines, scientifically figuring out 
how to kill more people. We must ad- 
dress ourselves to this reality in the 
sharpest terms possible. Primarily, it is 
an address to black people. And that is 
not protest, as such. You don't have to 
protest to a hungry man about his hun- 



ger You have either to feed him, or 
help him to eliminate the root causes of 
that hunger 

What of craft— the writer's craft? 
Well, under terms of a new definition 
concerning the function of literature, a 
new concept of what craft is will also 
evolve. For example, do I not find the 
craft of Stevie Wonder more suitable 
than that of Jascha Heifetz? Are not 
the sensibilities which produced the 
former closer to me than the latter? 
And does not the one indicate a way in- 
to things absent from the other? 

To reiterate, the key to where the 
black people have to go is in the music. 
Our music has always been the most 
dominant manifestation of what we 
are and feel, literature was just an af- 
terthought, the step taken by the Ne- 
gro bourgeoisie who desired accept- 
ance on the white man's terms. And 
that is precisely why the literature has 
failed. It was the case of one elite ad- 
dressing another elite. 

But our music is something else. 
The best of it has always operated at 
the core of our lives, forcing itself upon 
us as in a ritual. It has always, some- 
how, represented the collective psy- 
che. Black literature must attempt to 
achieve that same sense of the collec- 
tive ritual, but ritual directed at the 
destruction of useless, dead ideas. Fur- 
ther, it can be a ritual that affirms our 
highest possibilities, but is yet honest 
with us. 

Some of these tendencies already 
exist in the literature. It is readily per- 
ceivable in LeRoi Jones's Black Mass, 
and in a recent recording of his with 
the Jihad Singers. Also, we have the 
work of Yusuf Rahman, who is the po- 
etic equivalent of Charlie Parker Simi- 
lar tendencies are found in Sun-Ra's 
music and poetry; Ronald Fair's novel. 
Many Thousand Gone; the short 
stories of Henry Dumas (represented 
in this anthology); the poetry of K. 
Kgositsile, Welton Smith, Ed Spriggs, 
and RoUand Snellings; the dramatic 
choreography of Eleo Pomare; Calvin 
Hemton's very explosive poems; Ish- 
mael Reed's poetry and prose works 
which are notable for a startling dis- 
play of imagery; David Henderson's 
work, particularly "Keep On Push- 
in'," where he gets a chance to sing. 
There are many, many others. 

What this has all been leading us to 

say is that the poet must become the 

performer, the way James Brown is a 

performer— loud, gaudy and racy. He 

continued on page 54 



32 






KiV 




After Removing Her Street Disguises by Nelson Stevens 



INTERVIEW WITH 

PHEORIS WEST ON THE 

AESTHETIC FOLK CONTINUUM 

IN AFRO-AMERICAN ART 

by John A. Kendrick 



INTRODUCTION 
From a closer knowledge and 
proper appreciation of the African 
Arts must come increased efforts 
to develop our artistic talents. . . 
and there may also come to some 
creative technique to be taken as 
the basis of the characteristic ex- 
pression in the plastic pictorial 
arts.' 

This statement was made by Dr. Alain 
Locke in 1925 during the period known 
as the Negro Renaissance. Dr. Locke was 
implying that the black artist with his ex- 
perience in America coupled with an ac- 
quiring knowledge of the ancient art of 
Africa could create a visual art form that 
was black in character, that was a con- 
tinuation of the classical art tradition of 
Africa and that was uniquely American 
in expression. Dr. Locke was foreseeing 
an art that would preserve visually a cul- 
tural tradition that reflected an aesthetic 
synthesis of African and American 
forms. Among the many modern Afro- 
American artists, Pheoris West is one of 
the few who continues to explore the 
black aesthetic and exploit, creatively, 
the synthesis of African and American 
forms. This article will seek to find out 
through interview conversation with 
Pheoris West, about some aspects of his 
aesthetic, the synthesis of African and 
American forms, folklore, color and 
symbolism in his art. 

In order to adequately understand the 
aesthetic folk continuum in Afro- Ameri- 
can Art in all its multifaceted dimen- 
sions, there has to be some inquiry into 
the lives of individual artists, to see what 
their aesthetic is. Then a comparison can 
be made to see if those aesthetics stem 
from a common source. 

When I speak of the aesthetic, I am 
referring to a way in which things are 
seen, done, and modeled by Afro- Amer- 
ican artists within the American context. 



Larry Neal, a poet, essayist and play- 
wright, puts it this way: 

There is a Black Aesthetic; we 
were trying to bring awareness of 
that from a theoretical point of 
view, so that scholars would study 
that phenomenon and how it 
works in Afro- American art. . . . 
Those things most associated 
with African peoples in this coun- 
try. . .thewaysofcreatingoutofa 
cultural ethos or matrix. When we 
were talking about a vocabu- 
lary. . .a perception of things.^ 

In the Art of Pheoris West we are 
confronted with a vocabulary and a pe- 
ception that personifies the psyche of 
the Afro-American within the urban 
centers of America. The visual vo- 
cabulary that Pheoris presents is by no 
means new, just different. It is an entire- 
ly different arrangement of visual 
things. Like language vocabulary, 
Pheoris' visual vocabulary is an ecclec- 
tic or synthesis of textures, forms, color, 
historical, and cultural experiences, 
both African and American in represen- 
tation. Taken a step further, one is pre- 
sented with visual images that are 
American, but because of the vocabu- 
lary, these images are able to cross 
several cultural borders, thus giving 
them the transcendental power of a 
universal language, while at the same 
time, being steeped in an aesthetic vo- 
cabulary which is Afro-American. 

What I am trying to do here is con- 
struct a flexible model in which to view 
the black aesthetic. I say flexible model 
because the aesthetic concerns of the 
Afro-American artist is forever chang- 
ing and growing; its branches are ever 
evolving and expanding to fit the tem- 
perament of the Afro- American at each 
age in history. During the latter half of 



the sixties, a period of intense social and 
political unrest in America, A Chicago 
base art group called Africobra de- 
veloped aesthetic concepts that were 
characteristic of the Afro- American 
psyche. They collectively dealt with 
"shine," giving their image as a rich 
lustre; "Mimesis," images that were 
abstract and real at once; and "color," 
color that shines, defines, identifies, 
and directs.' These are some of the con- 
cepts that Africobra developed as a 
means to properly direct their images of 
man in a world that sometimes distorts 
that image. 

Another art group, Wieusi based in 
New York City at the same time as the 
Africobra group was being formed in 
Chicago, dealt with similar aesthetic 
concerns. However, Wieusi was highly 
African form oriented in their works 
and sought to eclipse the rays of a total 
western influence in the minds of Afro- 
Americans. Both Africobra and Wieusi 
were formed at a point in history when 
Afro-Americans needed strong images 
that were representative of their aes- 
thetic states of mind; images that reflect 
historical and cultural experience of 
their past and present in a positive way; 
thus, creating a synthesis that gives 
some direction for a further continuum 
of the Black aesthetic. 

Taken on an individual basis, the 
Black aesthetic continuum is extremely 
evident in the art of Pheoris West. If 
one is aware of the art of Romare 
Bearden, William H. Johnson, and 
even Jacob Lawrence, it would be clear 
that the art of Pheoris West runs along 
the same line, and even intensifies that 
line with his knowledge and use of 
African influences and Afro-American 
historical and folklore images in 
modern form; thus a way of life or an 
aesthetic is being kept alive in visual 
form to serve as a book mark in the 
pages of history for future generations 
to expound and continue. 

My original intention was to present a 
work that gave several views of the 
aesthetic folk continuum in Afro- 
American art and try to come up with 
an inference that brought them alto- 
gether under one roof. However, be- 
cause of the large quantity of informa- 
tion that I receive from the interviews I 
did with several artists, I decided it best 
to present, in transcript form, the in- 
terview of one artist, Pheoris West. I 
felt that this approach would give a 
greater and clearer insight into what one 
artist is trying to do in a much shorter 



space, than with a larger group of ar- 
tists. 

INTERVIEW PROCEDURE 
The interview was conducted in Col- 
umbus, Ohio in the home of Pheoris 
West. I was a guest of Pheoris' while I 
was in Columbus to do a lecture and an 
art exhibition at Ohio State. I first met 
Pheoris at his one-man exhibition at the 
Studio Museum in Harlem, back in 
August, 1974. Since then we have kept 
in touch by mail and telephone, and 
have had many conversations concern- 
ing art, aesthetics and folklore in the 
African and Afro-American tradition. 
The present interview represents one of 
the many conversations we had and 
gave insight into Pheoris' honesty and 
concern for his art and his people. 

To get as much depth and detail as 
possible in the interview I began by ask- 
ing Pheoris about his background in 
art, events that led up to his involve- 
ment with painting. What influences 
were directly and indirectly related to 
his art. I also wanted to get him to talk 
about the influences of African Art on 
what he was doing with his work be- 
cause it seems to me that there is a syn- 
thesis taking place in his work that Dr. 
Alain Locke had suggested would be 
"characteristic of the expression in 
Afro- American plastic pictorial arts." 
John Kendrick: Pheoris, when did you 
begin to paint and what were some of 
the images you first began to work 
with? 

Pheoris West: It was a very gradual 
process from doing a lot of drawing. I 
spent a lot of time drawing because the 
pencil was the medium most accessible 
to me. I took art classes in high school, 
which I always enjoyed. I didn't get my 
first set of oil paints until I got out of 
high school. 

Some of the first images I began to 
paint were a combination of portraits 
and city scenes where I was putting 
together collages and painting from 
them. I found that to be the most 
representative manner of coming up 
with an organization and a composi- 
tion that I liked. It's really strange to 
think back on some of those paintings, 
because today after so much influence 
from someone like Romare Bearden 
and not being aware of Bearden's work 
at that time. I never bothered to keep 
any of the collages after I finished the 
paintings. The painting remained, but I 
got rid of the collages. 
JK: Your work has changed a lot since 



then. What might be some of the fac- 
tors that influenced such a change? 
PW: When I first started working on 
my painting it coincided with some of 
the political activities that I was in- 
volved with at the time, so that my 
painting was very much concerned with 
the development, in some sort of way, 
of a method for liberation for black 
people. And... that's what I really 
started thinking I would be able to do. 
So as I kept looking for things, I had a 
direction to look for when ever I was 
involved in any kind of research, 
because I knew what I wanted to do 
with it. And as I kept researching, I 
kept coming up with more kinds of 
discoveries for myself, and . . . that was 
teUing me about a continuity rather 
than a revolution. I was more involved 
with the continuity and what happened 
with the aesthetic concerns of the peo- 
ple whose original home was in Africa, 
and I became more and more aware of 
what the total involvement of being a 
creative individual demanded. I started 
to change from an individual who 
wanted a career as an artist into some- 
one who was beginning to more and 
more accept the lifestyle of being a 
creative person .... in the continuity of 
the African aesthetic. 

My first research was concerned with 
what Afro-Americans were doing in re- 
lationship to their history in Africa. 
Then I began becoming more involved 
in the Afro- Americans. African back- 
ground plus the combination of the 
European experience. Then it started to 
become an involvement with peoples 
color, the works of the Caribbean, of 
South America, and some of the orien- 
tal art. The more I researched and the 
further back in time I went, it became 
more of an anthropology study. I was 
really looking for roots and it led back 
to a beginning of mankind in Africa 
and how things extended from there. 
Then I had to try and understand what 
it was that kept the force going and 
what about that culture we know today 
as being positive in terms of maintain- 
ing the Ufe of mankind; and what be- 
came negative of maintaining the Ufe of 
mankind. And to a certain extent, that 
starts to become my own basis for the 
aesthetic. The life maintenance things, 
that are coming all the way back from 
those roots as much as I can stay on that 
track. The things that have been more 
harmful to the existence of mankind, I 
try to keep a conscious awareness of 
what those things are, and then steer 



35 



away from them. 

JK: I remember back in 1971 or possi- 
bly 1972, seeing about three of your 
paintings at the Studio Museum in 
Harlem; I believe it was a group show 
with several artists from Philadelphia. I 
didn't really look at what you were do- 
ing at the time because I was so en- 
grossed in the fact that there was a mu- 
seum in Harlem and there were paint- 
ings by artists who I didn't know. In any 
case, I do recall that you had done a 
series of three paintings on the gang 
warfare that was so prevalent in Phila- 
delphia at the time. The subject matter 
was very clear as to the violence that was 
taking place among the gangs in North 
Philly. I recall that these compositions 
had a particular African flavor which 
accented the environment of Urban 
North America. Some of the facial fea- 
tures were characteristically close to the 
Dan (Ge) Mask or the Benin or Ife 
heads. How did this utilization of Afri- 
can Mask and forms come about? 
PW: Well, when I first came to Phila- 
delphia, I moved into North Philly and 
at the time that area was very much in- 
volved in gang warfare. It was a very 
black environment in terms of the shops 
and the street life. And when you have a 
situation like that the rhythms are very 
clear to see, because there is less of a 
disguise in terms of the way blacks act. 
So it was very easy to pick up on pat- 
terns and things, if you were open to 
them. At the same time I had been read- 
ing and going to museums studying 
African art. I was at the point of devel- 
opment at the time when I knew that the 
African work was a stylization of the 
Black persons form; and I felt free as an 
artist to also stylize form. The thing that 
I was doing at the time was looking di- 
rectly at certain African pieces to see 
what kind of faces and forms they were 
a stylization of. So it was like putting 
some of those things in reverse almost, 
and trying to figure out how one would 
be different from another, what it was 
that made the features what they were. 
So I was getting some idea for what the 
structure of those forms and faces were 
like. In my paintings I was able to start 
stylizing some of the faces of some of 
the people that I was meeting in North 
Philly. So that was the beginning of the 
stylization with stripes and things com- 
ing through peoples faces. People 
would ask me if it was blood; it wasn't 
directly blood or anything, but it repre- 
sented the scarifications that were so 
prevalent on gang members faces and 



arms and on people who used to be in 
gangs. Just about everyone had a scar. I 
began to stylize the gang scars as a kind 
of war paint because it also represented 
a kind of violence that their life was go- 
ing through. The scars also represented 
a standard of beauty beyond the com- 
mon. Anyone who didn't have a scar 
wasn't like everyone else. It might mean 
that they weren't from there. . . 
JK: So the scar was a means of iden- 
tification? 

PW: Right . . . it's a means of identifica- 
tion, the fact that you were involved in 
this activity at that time; to a certain ex- 
tent it might represent your man- 
hood.... If you went through that 
whole period of time without any marks 
on you there were only two reasons for 
it. One was that you were a sports star 
and, two that you were a homosexual; 
otherwise you were involved in the 
gangs . . . and . . . you would get cut . . . 
eventually. 

JK: Now we know that scarification 
used in the African context is very dif- 
ferent from what we know scarification 
to be here. How would you compare 
and contrast the symbolic nature of the 
scars made by the gangs in Philly to 
those made by the Africans? The dif- 
ferences or similarities. 
PW: The differences would be to the in- 
tention, because there are different 
kinds of scarification made in gang war- 
fare and Afro- American life that are in- 
tentional. The scarifications aren't 
made to kill. They are made to mark 
your victim. Cutting was or is extremely 
important; cutting represented one 
thing, stabbing represented another. 
They are two distinctive things. Stab- 
bing represented ending a life more so 
than cutting. I can see the cutting being 
very close to that African heritage, be- 
cause even then you never cut yourself 
for scarification, someone else did. In 
fact, the scarification was done for 
making a mark describing territory or 
someone's power over you. So I can see 
a lot of similarities. Another difference 
is the aesthetics involved in the situa- 
tion. I see African scarification as being 
more of really making markings that 
are consciously design oriented. There is 
a reason for them. There is an order for 
them, and there is a language involved. 
Whereas in Afro-American scarifica- 
tion I would say that it is not deliberate 
in terms of what it will eventually look 
like. 

JK: I'd like to talk to you about your 
night life series. In that series you did a 



lot of synthesizing of forms. Did you 
mean these works to be decorative or 
rituals in nature, or both? 
PW: Right ... at the time I was doing 
the night life series I was very much in- 
volved with what you just said, ritual. I 
was trying to think of black rituals that 
were very predominant. One of those 
ritual areas, where I almost see it as be- 
ing a shrine, is in the area of the black 
night life, where there are all the roles 
that you can describe in a situation 
ritual whether it involves a priesthood 
or an idol concept, meaning that there is 
a particular thing that you focus on and 
follow. The music ... in other words the 
sound, visual coordination, all of that 
... is present in places like bars. 

I feel that the connections that we 
have to our African ancestry are 
more. . .subconscious connections that 
they are conscious connections and that 
was about the point when I was looking 
for those subconscious connections that 
made these events, because these events 
were so important at that period of time 
in our history, when we were in Africa, 
that the event itself would have to con- 
tinue because of the effect of it. I hadn't 
visited Africa at this time, but from 
what I understood of the experi- 
ence. . .there had to be something that 
impacting, and that had to be the reason 
why historically going through the 
African experience since our arrival to 
this country that party experience was 
so important. When I finally went to 
Africa in 1975 I got a better under- 
standing of it. This event was a thing 
that incorporated drinking, love and 
hugging. . .and it was a total involve- 
ment ... the figures there with many 
wives and all kinds of things ... I saw so 
many connections once I got there; but 
at the time I was projecting these con- 
nections hoping that I would stumble 
upon some of the things that were a part 
of that, that experience that continued 
from our African heritage to here. I 
knew that I would get flack on the 
paintings from people who would look 
at them and saw only a group of party- 
ing black people. . .and that was really 
all that they saw... or things like 
dresses being lifted up. . . . 
JK:I remember that painting. The 
women had on a pink dress and high 
heels. I can't remember the title though. 
PW: Well, the painting was a pretty 
direct statement of how things really 
were. Everything that was going on in 
the painting I was relating to phrases 
that black people used, as part of their 



36 










Night Scenes by Pheoris West 



a^**;-- >■■■•,;•,-;-;■_■;;■-; 






^%«!X\«Si4S:#ilWAL*»-A-V^Ab^?#?T 






experience. 

JK: I think the painting was "Loose 
Booty" . . . was that the title? 
PW: Yes... with someone behind 
showing. . . and people go out there and 
show their behinds. . .so that's a state- 
ment that refers to the way that some 
black folks refer to each other. It is a 
means of showing off. . . and getting on 
out there, it is a show place. 
JK: How important is it to you that 
your work creates a kind of cultural 
memory? 

PW: The concept of memory is a very 
important part of what I am doing in 
my paintings because I think that they 
are very much like the thought process 
itself. So there is memory and forget- 
fulness, both being issues. There is 
memory in terms of the history that we 
are aware of. That may be we don't 
always make connections with, so I'll 
make those connections. There's a kind 
memory that goes beyond what we ac- 
tually see in ourselves. In those little 
genes that go from one generation to the 
next gives a physical presence that's 
similar to the generation before; that 
there is something else that remains with 
that... it's amazing that those little 
spots turn out to be people. And if it is 
possible to have all the things possible to 
have this person look a particular way, 
then I am sure that in the mind there are 
things placed, too. So I try to use things 
that are about different points in time 
but most of the people who look at my 
painting will never recognize, but they'll 
feel them because I feel that I am trying 
to be really particular in terms of which 
am really pulling back on. I have to 
make these difficult decisions that ver- 
bally it's very hard for someone to take 
credit for. . .they are really difficult de- 
cisions because someone can ask, well 
how do you know that's such and such, 
and how do you know that's the kind 
... but it is something that I have to act 
on intuitively and intellectually and 
really try to come up with what kind of 
markings and what kind of images, 
forms and color choices will actually 
bring back this kind or response; and 
that's why I think it's important to hear 
from other people in terms of how they 
respond to the painting that I did. . . 
because then I can start to monitor their 
responses, when I go around lecturing 
and exhibiting to see how much on 
target I was with my images. 
JK: Are you using music as a resource 
to your work? 
PW: In the home that I grew up in there 



was always music. I had two brothers 
who were learning piano and it wasn't 
long before both of them had their own 
bands. So there was music going on all 
the time, not only from them working 
on their own instruments but from the 
radio and stereo as well . . . and there 
was singing and dancing, and the house 
was very active. Anyway, the house I 
grew up in in Albany, New York, the 
door was never closed. Night-time, day- 
time, it really didn't make any dif- 
ference, somebody was always up. So 
the music was always playing when any- 
body was up. That was what was hap- 
pening when I grew up. As I got more 
deeply involved in painting I discovered 
that a lot of the things going on, as I 
started to develop a visual language, 
were very much related to the kind of 
sounds that I was hearing. After I 
realized that I had been doing this un- 
consciously I started to try to get more 
of an understanding of what those rela- 
tionships were, which particular sounds 
were starting to recur. As I got deeper 
involved in that, I was becoming more 
and more acquainted with musicians. 
My references kept changing. They 
were going from rhythm and blues to 
gospel, to just blues for a while. . .to 
African music and then coming back 
this way to jazz. . . like Ahmad Jhamal, 
then John Coltrane and through the 
music of the Caribbean and then the 
creative music Uke that of Sun Ra, 
Oliver Lake, and the Art Ensemble of 
Chicago. At each point I tried to keep 
an awareness of the other music and 
what they meant. If I am going to make 
these statements with my paints, with 
textures and colors, then I had to 
understand what those textures and col- 
ors in the music really were. When I was 
doing the night life series I was trying to 
make connections with gospel, with the 
call and responses, the repetition of cer- 
tain sounds, ruffages, foot stomping 
and a kind of coolness that a lot of it 
was about. 

JK: You mentioned coolness, I suppose 
color is important to what you are doing 
with your musical influences. Going 
back to your night life series the colors 
were a lot different from the palette that 
you're using now. Then it was cool, now 
it is loud and shocking in contrast. It 
would seem that the colors in the night 
life series were cool and breezy with a 
Duke Ellington feeling, accented by 
forms which were remininscent of Col- 
trane; that is, you were playing off ab- 
stract form, which had an African 



structure, with forms which were more 
natural. 

PW: Well, the paintings had so much 
form activity in them I felt that they 
should really be committed to a par- 
ticular mood. The forms were starting 
to imply other kinds of moods, too. 
There were so many different forms 
that I found it much easier to determine 
which color mood they were going to 
have. I was coming directly out of a 
primary color application in my paint- 
ings where I was doing everything in 
red, yellow, and blue. I came directly 
out of that into doing those paintings. I 
just decided to work with blues. 

This was the point when I was start- 
ing to relate with what was happening in 
jazz. Prior to that I was deaUng with the 
rhythm and blues sounds, younger peo- 
ple and it was a whole different thing. I 
was a younger person, twenty years old, 
just coming out of my teens. Gang war- 
fare and all that stuff was really impor- 
tant to me because that was all that I 
was around when I was in Philly. I used 
to let the gangsters come over to my 
house because they liked looking at the 
paintings. I thought that was good, be- 
cause it kept them off the streets. 
JK: That also kept you out of 
trouble. . . 

PW: Oh yea... it kept my property 
good shape because I was new around 
there. Like I was approached on the 
street and I told them I wasn't from 
there that I was from New York and I 
came there to go to school. And they 
asked what I was studying in school. 
Am studying art, I told them. Art, you 
paint man! Hey I paint too. And that's 
something that was really frequent, a lot 
of Black folk paint or do sculpture or 
something. I found that a lot of them 
really wanted to check art out and it was 
really highly respected by grassroots 
people more so than the bourgeois. 
JK: So far you have talked about your 
concept of the aesthetic which is derived 
from your interaction with modern day 
Black folk activity and your research in- 
to African art and culture. Could you 
talk about other types of folklore ex- 
periences that relate to your most recent 
works? 

PW: The paintings that I am working 
on now and the painting that I've been 
working on the last couple of years, I've 
been emphasizing some aspects of folk- 
lore and the African experience that I 
feel are symbols that take on a universal 
Black world view some of those sym- 
bols include working with boats, boat 
continued on page 46 



38 



STEVIE WONDER: 

THE MAN AND HIS MUSIC 

By Donna Davis 






vv; 







Steveland Judkins Morris, known to 
millions as Stevie Wonder, is one of the 
most exciting musicians of the twentieth 
century. Few entertainers can create as 
much energy as he does when perform- 
ing a concert or recording his latest al- 
bum. His ability to write, create and 
produce is astounding and his incredible 
versatility amazes all. Stevie Wonder's 
evolution through music is enough to 
give others the courage to release crea- 
tive potential that might otherwise re- 
main hidden. 

As a boy Stevie listened to the radio 
and was soon able to identify and dif- 
ferentiate the instruments that he heard. 
Sound became an important part of his 
life as it is with all blind people, but he 
never felt handicapped in any way. In- 
stead, he felt that his blindness was a 
gift from God and proceeded to use that 
gift to its fullest potential. As a sightless 
person, Wonder symbolizes genius be- 
cause he never let the absence of sight 
discourage him. As a musician, he is a 
genius because he has the magical talent 
of transforming emotions into music. 
Hunger, happiness, poverty, passion 
and love can be heard in his songs. 

At the age of nine Stevie was singing 
and playing the harmonica for neigh- 
bors on their porches. He became a liv- 
ing legend to the people in his commu- 
nity. One of his porch-singing partners 
introduced him to Ronnie White, a 
member of the Miracles. Subsequently, 
he earned an audition with Motown and 
started his career. 

His debut album was entitled "Trib- 
ute to Uncle Ray." Although it didn't 
sell a million copies it is probably a col- 
lector's item today. Two albums later, at 
the age of twelve. Wonder recorded the 
nationwide bestseller "Fingertips". 
Throughout the country you could hear 
him encouraging people to "clap your 
hands just a little bit louder". 

Wonder recorded hit after million 
selling hit. "Fingertips", "Uptight" 
and "Signed, Sealed Delivered" are 
characteristic of his earlier style. They 
exemplify the rhythm and blues sound 
that became Motown's trademark. 
However, Stevie Wonder did not adhere 
to one particular style. He also recorded 
softer and more romantic ballads such 



as "My Cherie Amour" and "Yester 
Me, Yester-You, Yesterday". 

Wonder's other earlier recordings; 
"For Once in My Life", "Never My 
Love", "We can Work it Out" repre- 
sent styles that were not being tried by 
other Black artists. His listeners realized 
that the boy genius could make them 
clap their hands ecstatically or cool out 
and listen to what he had to say. 

Wonder has been very prolific 
throughout his career. Between the ages 
of twelve and twenty-one he recorded 
sixteen albums including a volume con- 
taining his greatest hits. Wonder 
encompassed all moods with his music. 
One can listen to him and find him ten- 
der and passionate and then be sur- 
prised to find him aggressive and force- 
ful. His music is also very spiritual. 
Wonder makes you feel the God-given 
talent within him and makes you believe 
that you can reach out and touch it. 
Like a spirit his creativity is an intangi- 
ble force that leaves you in awe of him. 
No matter how much one listens to his 
songs, one could never aptly describe 
him or his music. 

His sixteenth album, "Where I'm 
Coming From", is a blend of rhythm 
and blues and rock. Wonder is capable 
of implementing his own sound from 
start to finish. Even the most learned 
psychiatrist cannot describe or attempt 
to come to grips with this creative pro- 
cess. Stevie Wonder is so mind boggling 
and complex that only a very general 
outline can be attained. When creating 
a new song. Wonder writes the melody 
first, then the lyrics. He writes a rhythm 
track consisting of piano or clavinet and 
then adds horns and strings. As he is 
constructing the melody he is simultane- 
ously thinking of words, which he adds 
at the very end. According to the musi- 
cal genius, each instrument has its own 
color. Therefore the creation of a new 
album is like piecing together a harmo- 
nious rainbow. 

Stevie Wonder was born into a world 
without light but does not feel that it is 
missing. He is constantly reaching out, 
touching, tasting and feeling life. He 
has come to grips with all of its cold 
crushing realities. By using music to 
communicate he found an outlet for 

39 



I 

ti 

I 




Eighth Wonder by Nelson Stevens 



pent-up emotions. At times he had to 
retrace steps and begin again, but things 
were usually better the second time 
around. Through this process he be- 
came increasingly aware of life, society 
and people. 

Wonder's music is always very posi- 
tive. His recordings include those that 
speak of love and loving but he is still 
able to deal with contemporary social 
issues. His eighteenth album, "Music of 
My Mind," has a song that should be 
dedicated to all the women in this coun- 
try fighting for equal rights. The cut is 
entitled "Superwoman" because that is 
exactly what a woman has to be to deal 
with a multitude of responsibilities 
without losing her sanity. The song co- 
incides with the women's hberation 
movement of the seventies and their cry 
for equality. However, by demanding 
job equality they have in fact added a 
greater burden to themselves. They 
might occupy positions that were form- 
erly reserved for men but in the final 
analysis they must still deal with child- 
care, housekeeping and soothing their 
men's egos at the end of a long day on 
the job. 

In the 1970's technology began to 
play an important part in the music 
business. Naturally Stevie was abreast 
of these innovations and experimented 
with synthesizers that could reproduce 
virtually any sound. His mastery of the 
Arp, the Moog and the clavinet marks 
the beginning of the new Wonder 
sound. Able to construct any mood that 
suits him, Stevie Wonder releases a tor- 
rent of talent that is overwhelming. 

"Talking Book" is a blend of his old- 
er sounds along with innovative sounds 
by synthesizers. The clavinet, an electric 
piano wired to a synthesizer, gives birth 
to the sharp wap wap sound heard in 
"Superstition". Along with entertain- 
ment he also gives valuable advice with 
these memorable lines: 

When you believe in things 

that you don't understand, you suffer 

Superstition ain't the way 

Wonder is telling people to stop believ- 
ing in all kinds of hexes and badluck. If 
you really think that evil is headed your 
way it will catch up to you. You must 
have faith in yourself and reinforce the 
positive. He is a living example of some- 
one who practices what he preaches. He 
never lets the facts that he was born 
Black, poor and blind deter him from 
his mission. 

In "Talking Book," as in his other al- 



bums. Wonder exhibits his capacity to 
switch from one mood to another. ' 'You 
Are The Sunshine Of My Life" is com- 
pletely opposite from Superstition in 
terms of melody and disposition. It is a 
Wonder classic that sings about love in 
its most ultimate form. By describing 
someone as the sunshine of your life, 
you give the ultimate compliment. 
Wonder is saying, simply, without you I 
am left in the dark, physically as well as 
spiritually. 

"Innervisions," his nineteenth al- 
bum, earned him a grammy for best 
producer. Wonder becomes more con- 
scious of the problems affecting society 
and vocalizes his consciousness. "Liv- 
ing for the City" is a prime example of 
his socio-realization. The words of the 
song aptly describe what is necessary for 
a poor Black family to make it in urban 
America. All members of the family 
must work extremely hard in order to 
remain virtually in the very same social, 
political and economic position. Won- 
der says that they (along with many of 
us) are "living just enough for the city". 
Just enough to be too tired to slow 
down the system that keeps them re- 
volving in dehumanizing circles, but not 
enough to break away from the cycle. 

Stevie Wonder sings about social dis- 
eases such as war, crime and racism. He 
lets us know that they do exist and living 
behind rose-colored glasses will not 
make them disappear. You must face up 
to facts even though the overall picture 
might be bleak. You must keep on going 
and believe that you can reach that 
"higher ground". 

Needless to say Wonder's success has 
earned him star status in many cate- 
gories including production, rhythm 
and blues vocals and pop vocals. Be- 
cause he is so versatile it is very difficult 
to place him in a specific niche. As soon 
as he is categorized he branches out un- 
til he covers an entire spectrum. "Full- 
fillingness's First Finale" earned him a 
grammy for best producer and a cut 
from the album earned him best pop 
vocal performer. 

"Songs in the Key of Life" took two 
years to complete but the final product 
was more than worth the wait. It con- 
sists of two long playing albums and a 
forty-five. The album is somewhat au- 
tobiographical but Wonder's story can 
be shared by everyone. It is a personal 
favorite because it encompassed all 
stages of the human experience. It in- 
cludes the birth of a child, growing up 
poor and losing someone's love. It also 



deals with situations that can only be ex- 
perienced by Black people. "Village 
Ghetto Land" and "Black Man" are 
two such songs. 

"Black Man" is an expose of the 
various contributions of non-white 
peoples that have been historically ig- 
nored. Set in a classroom-like forum, 
"students" are given an oral history 
quiz by a "teacher". Throughout the 
exam the listener learns of the accom- 
plishments of an oppressed people and 
finds that many important items in his- 
tory have been left out and discarded. 
The final message is that the time has 
come for Black, Red and Yellow people 
to standup and take credit that is long 
overdue. 

Stevie Wonder then gets to the heart 
of the Black experience with "Village 
Ghetto Land". Many Blacks have had 
to grow up in a ghetto where "the peo- 
ple lock their doors while robbers laugh 
and steal". On an everyday basis they 
have had to deal with unemployment, 
disease, dashed hopes and everpresent 
fears. The melody is somewhat relaxing 
and does not prepare the listener for the 
horrid images of life in an urban ghetto. 
After expounding the cruel facts of ex- 
istence Wonder asks plaintively: "Tell 
me would you be happy in Village Ghet- 
to Land". The answer is of course a re- 
sounding NO! 

Three years after "Songs in the Key 
of Life,'" Wonder recorded an album 
that remains to be completely under- 
stood by the average listener; "Journey 
through the Secret Life of Plants" was 
not a commercial success and conse- 
quently lost money. However this 
recording is important because it dem- 
onstrates his mastery of all technolo- 
gical achievements relating to music. 
The history of Wonder's successes has 
given him creative license to put forth 
whatever lies within his heart. 

It may be cold outside but his latest 
album, "Hotter than July," will get 
everyone through the winter. This 
release will undoubtedly earn him more 
awards and recognition. As expected. 
Wonder has again written songs that 
penetrate the spirit. The music, which is 
always entertaining has been matched 
with words that are stubbornly realistic 
and cling to our conscious. 

"Master Blaster" is a tribute to Bob 
Marley. It is about rejoicing and cele- 
brating. It has the rhythm of a reggae 
tune, but the lyrics encompass every- 
one. 

His tribute to Martin Luther King, 



41 



"Happy Birthday", is a wonderful 
summation of King's contribution to 
mankind and a plea to recognize his 
birthday as a national holiday. 

I just never understand 
How a man who died for good 
Could not have a day that would 
Be set aside for his recognition 
Because it should never be 
Just because some could never 

see 
The dream as clear as he 
That they should make it 

become an illusion 

Martin Luther King fought for the right 
to be treated equally and humanely. His 
was not a struggle just for Blacks, it was 
a hard fought battle for all racial 
groups. His dream of seeing all races 
living harmoniously has not been real- 
ized to this day, but there is no reason 
for people to stop hoping that this 
dream will come true. 

Stevie Wonders' music and lyrics in- 
dicate that he is very much in tune with 
reality. He is also very concerned with 
the fate of Black people in this country. 
Wonder knows that no matter how 
much money one earns or how many 
degrees one attains from prestigious in- 
stitutions, racial discrimination will still 
be present. The bottomline is "you 
might have the cash but you cannot 
cash in your face." 

People must begin to realize that we 
are living for the same purpose, instead 
of competing against one another. 
When competition takes the place of 
love, artificial barriers such as racism 
and sexism are built to keep people di- 
vided. Wonder is still trying to tell us 
that love and unity must take the place 
of hatred and greed. 



Stevie Wonder will continue to deliv- 
er his message of peace and love 
throughout the 1980's. His next album 
will undoubtedly give hope and inspira- 
tion to all people. At the same time he 
will constantly remind us of the difficul- 
ties that we face. Stevie Wonder can be 



aptly described as a musical prophet. 
His prolific career has already earned 
him various titles: Master musician, so- 
cial activist, and leader in the Black 
community are a few. Wonder is the di- 
vine synthesis of the positive elements in 
the universe and we love him. 



STEVIE WONDER DISCOGRAPHY 




ALBUMS 


DATES 


RECORDED LIVE— 12-YEAR OLD GENIUS 


5/31/63 


THE JAZZ SOUL OF LITTLE STEVIE 


7/16/63 


TRIBUTE TO UNCLE RAY 


7/16/63 


WITH A SONG IN MY HEART 


12/28/63 


STEVIE AT THE BEACH 


6/23/64 


UPTIGHT 


5/4/66 


DOWN TO EARTH 


12/9/66 


I WAS MADE TO LOVE HER 


8/28/67 


SOMEDAY AT CHRISTMAS 


11/27/67 


GREATEST HITS 


6/25/68 


FOR ONCE IN MY LIhE 


11/1/68 


ALItE (AS EIVETS REDNOW) 


11/20/68 


MY CHERIE AMOUR 


8/29/69 


LIVE 


3/6/70 


SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED 


8/7/70 


WHERE I'M COMING FROM 


4/12/71 


GREATEST HITS VOL. 2 


10/21/71 


MUSIC OF MY MIND 


11/1/72 


TALKING BOOK 


3/3/73 


INNERVISIONS 


8/3/73 


FULFILLINGNESS' FIRST FINALE 


7/22/74 


SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE 


9/28/76 


JOURNEY THROUGH THE SECRET LIFE 




OF PLANTS 


10/30/79 


HOITER THAN JULY 


9/30/80 


JENNIFER HARDY & TERRI DUARTE 



COULD IT BE LONELINESS 

Loneliness is like four corners and there's no way to 

get out. 

Or is it like being blind wdth nothing to see or do. 

There's nowhere to escape the loneliness getting to me 

or keeping me from getting free. 

Or could it be darkness that keeps me from seeing what 

lies there. 

Why did he have to go? 

It' like as if there's no light anymore. 

If there was a magic key, I would get out. 

Wherever you're at, I hope you lie in peace. 

Loneliness keep away. 

By Danny Dodge 



42 



January 15 

By Kimberly Green 



■ '^ '■'■'•':■- 



'- ,■ ■■-.'•' ■■ r. 



^^' 



Martin Luther King peacefully con- 
tributed to the goodwill of all people 
in this country. He believed in the 
Gandhian philosophy which employs 
the following theory: 

"Nonviolence is infinitely su- 
perior to violence, forgiveness 
is more manly than punish- 
ment... Nonviolence is the law 
of our species as violence is the 
law of the brute. The spirit lies 
dormant in the brute, and he 
knows no law but that of physi- 
cal might. The dignity of man 
requires obedience to a higher 
law and to the strength of the 
spirit." 

"The Doctrine of the Sword," 

by Mahatma Gandhi 

(Negro History Bulletin, 

December, 1974 

Mohandras Karamchand, called 
Mahatma Gandhi, was a Hindu politi- 
cal leader and philosopher who de- 
ployed upon the world his philosophy 
of nonviolence. This concept was 
based on, SATYAGRAHA (firm 
grasp of the truth) and ATMBAL 
(soul force and spiritual leadership). 

Impressed by this pacifist philoso- 
phy, Dr. King converted to Gandhism. 
He soon devised ways to project this 
concept into the minds and hearts of all 
Americans. 

Dr. King's wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott 
King, was well aware of her husband' s 
feelings about the oppressed position 
that black Americans and the poor 
were confronted with. She also no- 
ticed that the Gandhian philosophy 
had a positive effect on the mind of 
the civil rights leader. 

"Gandhi's message had an immedi- 
ate and profound impact upon King 
and it was in reading works of Gandhi 
that he lost skepticism of the power of 
love and began to appraise the useful- 
ness and potency in the area of social 
reform," she said. 

"The Gandhian technique of love 
and nonviolence," she continued, 
"gave him a potent instrument for so- 
cial and collective transformation 
which Blacks could be taught to use in 
their struggle against oppression and 



injustice." 

Martin Luther King is just as much a 
part of our history and our dream as we 
were his, because the legacy of M.L.K. 
has given shape to the "Black Odys- 
sey". 

The "Black Odyssey" is the journey, 
which through time, black America has 
traveled. Slavery, oppression, the civil 
rights movement and voting rights are 
all obstacles which hindered progress, 
but with the help of our martyrs and 
leaders for black progression, we have 
been able to conquer the unconquer- 
able. 

W.E.B. Dubois asks, "What is the 
meaning of the black odyssey in this 
land?, Why are we here instead of 
there?. Has our suffering and our hu- 
miliation and our joy served some great 
though hidden purpose?. Or did the 
slaves and the sharecroppers and the 
martyrs and victims bleed and dream 
and die in vain?" 

Now I ask, what does our trials, trib- 
ulations and triumphs mean? In short, 
what meaning does history create for 
you? 

' 'The meaning of our history, like the 
meaning of all history, is in process, and 
that it is up to us to create the meaning 
that we already are, by deepening the 
furrows of a meaning that has been giv- 
en to us." 

(Ebony magazine, February, 1981) 

Assessing and digesting these words 
makes clear the fact that, the mission of 
Blacks has not yet been completed. The 
history of black America sustains the 
race, and must be supported. The black 
experience must remain fresh in the 
minds of all America, so that it may be 
used as a criteria for the future. 

Dr. King produced a model for free- 
dom of oppression called, "Montgome- 
ry". Although the proposal was named 
Montgomery, it was not devised solely 
for this place. Montgomery, a small 
southern city in Alabama, posed a 
problem for black Americans because 
they were frequently denied their civil 
rights, so the name became symbolic of 
national oppression and racism. 
The King Plan for Freedom 

1 ) Resist the evil of segregation in a pas- 
sive, non-violent spirit. 

2) Use the weapon of love in our every- 
day relations. 

3) Mobilize for an all-out fight for first- 



43 



class citizenship. 

4) Get out the vote, "One of the chief 
weapons of the Negro is the ballot." 

5) Continue a legal and legislative fight. 
"Legislation changes man's external 
relations. . .education changes men 
internally." 

6) Awaken the church to it's social re- 
sponsibility. "Religion is our chief 
avenue to the minds and souls of the 
masses. . .There is something great in 
a people who can do this." 

7) Close the gap between the classes and 
masses. "We must awaken the pro- 
fessional people. . .somehow we 
have forgotten this is a common 
fight. . .we are all in this together: 
ministers, professional people and 
the masses." 

8) Be prepared: "We must skillfully 
and intellectually prepare ourselves 
to live in an integrated society. What- 
ever you choose as your life work, do 
it well. Don't be content with sheer 
mediocrity." 

Stevie Wonder, a legend in his time 
seems to support the ideology behind 
the King Plan. Wonder transmits his 
messages not through speeches, but 
through his music and voice. He often 
sings about many social, economic, and 
political aspects of life experienced by 
the black man. Wonder does not believe 
in greed and racism, artificial barriers 
which keep people down. He does not 
let anything keep him down, nor get 
him down as exemplified by his partici- 
pation in the rally held in Washington to 
commemorate Dr. King's birthday as a 
holiday. 

On January 15, 1981, Stevie Wonder 
and 100,000 others marched to rekindle 
Martin Luther King's dream of equality 
for all people and to seek a national hol- 
iday to honor the civil rights leader. 

"We ought to have a way to honor 
Dr. King and reaffirm the ideals he lived 
and died for. To honor him through a 
national holiday would also, of course, 
bestow a great honor on black America 
by implicitly recognizing him as a sym- 
bol of the tremendous contributions 
black people have made to this coun- 
try's historical development," he said. 

Also present at the march was Martin 
Luther King III, who made a speech us- 
ing his father's words. "My daddy had 
a speech where he asked 'How long 
Lord,?' and the answer would be, 'Not 
long'. Now I'm asking, how long. Lord 
will it be before we get a holiday? Not 
long. No lie can live forever." 

More than 300 chartered buses were 
filled with marchers from Chicago, 



Georgia, Philadelphia and Oregon. All 
ages and backgrounds were among the 
mass of people, carrying hand-lettered 
banners and signs. Black celebrities 
were also enthusiastic about the celebra- 
tion and supportive of the cause. 
Among our most talented individuals 
was. Rev. Jesse Jackson, social activist 
Dick Gregory, U.S. Rep. John Con- 
yers, Dizzy Gillespie, and D.C. Mayor 
Marion Barry. 

Stevie Wonder says, "the story of 
King has to be the most incredible of all, 
because in most stories the good guy 
wins, but in King's story the good guy 
gets killed." 

Wonder, as one of the organizers of 
the rally said his purpose is to "commu- 
nicate messages that improve the life of 
all of us." 

"Public holidays in the United States 
should be, and normally are reserved 
for celebrating great traditions in the 
nation's history and our highest ideals 
and leaders who have shaped our com- 
mon destiny. Dr. King lived and died for 
this nation's ideals of justice, honor, 
dignity and freedom." 

Floating freely throughout the crowd 
were petitions backing the holiday. One 
supplication from Memphis listed 
62,000 signatures, not a bad start for 
the national goal of one million. We 
must labor to keep this history alive, it 
was a long hard journey. 

"Listen, listen to the bones of Martin 
and Malcom and the anonymous mil- 
lions who lie unmourned and unhon- 
ored in their unmarked graves," says 
W.E.B. Dubois. We must not let our 
leaders and others who have put their 
lives on the line go unhonored, we must 
try to do what's right. 

Stevie Wonder is ahead of us on this 
one, maybe that's why they call him 
Wonder. He wrote a song entitled Hap- 
py Birthday to honor Martin Luther 
King. This song along with We Shall 
Overcome was led by Wonder at the 
march. 

"I just never understood 
How a man who died for good 
Could not have a day that would 
Be set aside for his recognition 
Because it should never be 
Just because some cannot see 
The dream as clear as he 
That they should make it become an 
illusion 

And we all know everything 
that he stood for, time will bring 
For in peace our hearts will sing 
Thanks to Martin Luther King. . . 



The key to unity of all people 
is the dream we have of long ago 
It lives in the hearts of all people 
I don 't believe it either 
We'll make the dream become a reality 
I know we will cause our hearts tell 
us so. " 
Martin Luther King had a dream, not 

only for Blacks, but for all oppressed 

people. 

Mountains would be made low, 
rough places straight and all 
God's children, black men and 
white men, Jews and Gentiles, 
Protestants and Catholics will 
join hands and sing in the words 
of the old Negro spiritual, "Free 
at last, free at last! , thank God al- 
mighty we are free at last!" 

(Negro History Bulletin, 
December, 1974) 

Events taking place during Dr. King's 
life as a civil rights leader demonstrates 
his dedication to "the people" and hu- 
manity. 

1 955 Martin Luther King Jr. , led a bus 
boycott in Montgomery, Ala- 
bama, December 5. 

1957 King became president of the 
Southern Christian Leadership 
Conference in New Orleans. 

1958 King was stabbed by a woman in 
Harlem, in a department store, 
Sept. 20. 

1963 King began an anti-segregation 
campaign in Birmingham, Ala- 
bama, April 3. 

1964 Dr. King was awarded the Nobel 
Peace Prize in Oslo, December 
10. He was the youngest person 
and the third black to be cited by 
the Nobel committee. 

1967 King announced opposition to 
the Vietnam War on April 15. 

1968 King was assassinated in Mem- 
phis, Tennessee, April 4. The as- 
sassination triggered a national 
crisis and rioting in more than 
100 cities. 

President Johnson declared Sun- 
day April 7, a "National day of 
mourning," and ordered all U.S. 
flags on government buildings to 
fly at half mast. 

James Earl Ray was arrested at 
London airport, June 8. He was 
later sentenced to 99 years in 
prison for the King assassination. 
It's been a long, hard journey! 



44 



DRUM 



i';t ..' -■'• 









i/^'--a 



^5- ; 



Augusto Martins 

I can remember the first time I 
heard the voice of Angela Bofill. I was 
a senior in high school and was listen- 
ing to the Black Experience from 
Emerson College in Boston, WERS. A 
young woman by the name of Ellen 
Williams was the host then. 

Back then the Black Experience was 
my escape from doing algebra home- 
work or watching Police Story. This 
station was responsible for transmit- 
ting to thousands, much of the contem- 
porary stuff that is happening today, is 
similar to our own Black Mass. Proj- 
ect, but more polished. 

The first piece I was exposed to 
from the album was "Under the Moon 
and Over the Sky.". The song had a 
kind of gripping effect about it, the 
combination of subtlety and power, 
both crisp and innovative, had more 
than just a mediocre impact to many. 
It led the way in making her debut 
album entitled "Angle" - a huge suc- 
cess. 

To assume Angle an overnight suc- 
cess story straight from the city streets 
of New York would be largely unfair 
Although she is quite young at age 
twenty-six, she has paid her dues. To 
what extent and at what price I don't 
know. But what is known is that Angle 
started singing at age four, writing at 
age twelve, has led her own bands in 
the Latin circuit of New York City, and 
has been largely encouraged by her 
father. More recently, she has perform- 
ed with Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball 
Adderley, and Al Jarreau. She made 
her first appearances at the famed 
Newport Jazz Festival and Madison 
Square Gardens with the first of the 
three men that was mentioned. 

When she made her Amherst debut 
in February at Bowker Auditorium, 
she was met with an audience of about 
eight hundred people. It was these 
same people whose happiness set the 
tone for an enjoyable evening of sound 
and song. 

On stage she gives of herself gen- 
erously, arousing men and capturing 
all with her tender ways. Incessantly, 
she walks, talks, sings, kids, and paces 
up and down the platform which is 



hers, because she is the attraction. 

Backstage her mannerisms were 
much the same as they were onstage. 
While the dressing room was cluttered 
with people, Miss Bofill maintained a 
playful, cheery attitude reminiscent of 
one on their graduation day. Sitting 
comfortably on a couch talking to sev- 
eral people at once, including manager 
Vincent Romeo, it wasn't difficult to 
get a first impression. 

While fame and fortune changes 
some. Angle seems to have been unaf- 
fected by her success. She answers 
questions in a modest, straightforward 
way, a couple of times leaving the in- 
terviewer in search of more. And while 
her answers are brief, they reveal an 
open, honest feeling that in effect is 
quite similar to that of the average per- 
son. 

When she was told that I was in- 
terested in having a few words with 
her, she asked, "What do you want to 
know, my life story or something?' ' 

Although this is not the life story of 
Angela Bofill, here are a few answers 
to some questions that were asked of 
her after the performance, backstage 
at Bowker Auditorium. 
Drum: Miss Bofill, your music has 
been described as a combination of Jazz 
with Latin influence, Pop, Soul and 
other styles. How do you define the mu- 
sic of Angela Bofill? 
A. B. - "real music, it's real." 
Drum: Have you been inspired by 
anyone particular? 

A. B. - Everyone, I like Earth, Wind & 
Fire, Stevie Wonder, Carmen McCrae, 
Dionne Warwick, and everything that 
was happening in the sixties. I grew up 
in the sixties. 

Drum: What do you think of the com- 
parison between you and Lady Day? 
A. B. - Well, you know she was a great 
singer and I hope I'm kind of tran- 
scending the Kharma of what a Blues 
singer is suppose to be like. It's kind of 
sad you know, because when she was 
performing there was a whole lot of out 
and out racism, now it's not so bad. She 
was a star on stage and then after the 
show she was treated like dirt. If 
there's one thing that I do remember 



45 



about her is that she said to stay away 
from drugs, especially heroin, because 
it's no good. 

Drum: Do you encounter any of these 
types of problems on the road? 
A. B. - Not really, a lot of young people 
listen to me now and that's great be- 
cause I consider myself a young person. 
Drum: Where do you see the direction 
of your music headed towards in the 
future, do you see any major changes? 
A. B. -Agh, pause, ... I don't know. I 
never thought about it. Well I don't see 
any super major changes. I do have the 
same voice, you can't be too too dif- 
ferent. I'd like to have some more mes- 
sage music out there. 
Drum: Would you be interested in do- 
ing a duet album with a leading male 
force such as Al Jarreau, Stevie Won- 
der, or George Benson? 



A. B. - Al Jarreau she repeated in a 
provocative French accent, what 
woman could refuse Al Jarreau? He's 
such a hunk, he's real cute, a tremen- 
dous performer. I guess I've been real 
fortunate meeting all the people I ad- 
mire. Yeah I wouldn't mind doing an 
album with him. I wouldn't mind doing 
one with Stevie Wonder either I don't 
think I'd like to do an album with 
George Benson. 

Drum: What inspired you to write the 
song "Under the Moon and Over the 
Sky"? 

A. B. - Well you see what inspired me 
to write that song was that I took this 
theory class in music school and they 
taught a lesson, 5/4, 7/4 time. Basically 
that's what it was, a compositional ex- 
ercise using 5/4, 7/4 time. Then when I 
started writing the song, everything 



else just fit into place and started com- 
ing together. 

To this day everything has remained 
together With two super gold albums 
to her credit, concert engagements 
from coast to coast, critical praise, and a 
very devoted following. It appears that 
indeed, everything has fit into place. 

Angle has won the hearts of millions 
with her extraordinary talent and beau- 
ty. Last February she won the heart of 
this student-journalist here at UMASS 
by her earthiness. What separates An- 
gle from most of us is obvious, she is 
musically gifted. But if you put that 
aside there are hardly any differences at 
all, Angela Bofill, is "real people". 



Interview with Pheoris West 



continued from page 38 

shapes, where I don't actually recreate a 
shape of a slave ship, but just the notion 
of a boat, and the connotation that you 
get with a boat having to exist on water. 
Then your start to get associations with 
a boat on water and therefore move- 
ment, because you know that water is 
constantly moving. And I am trying to 
keep people associated with very very 
important aspects of our experience. 
Another thing that I use is something 
like birds, crosses, shells, and different 
kinds of numbers; numerology has a lot 
to do with the Black experience, 
whether in the urban North or in the 
deep south like New Orleans or whether 
in the Caribbean and in the African ex- 
perience, numbers were extremely im- 
portant... I've been looking at 
numbers and meanings of different 
numbers and the placement of those 
numbers to use them as different kinds 
of symbols . . . like sometimes I used 
three markings or I will actually write it 



out in English script. I use different 
numbers to represent different things at 
different times.... The thing about 
numbers are . . . numbers have every- 
thing to do with whatever the situation 
is ... so that they can actually describe 
something. If you have a bird and the 
bird is made out of a two, it means 
something different than a bird made 
out of a five. ... I find that's something 
that everyone can relate to automatical- 
ly. Some people may look at the number 
and not even see the bird, and some will 
see it directly, but they automatically see 
the number because it's so much a part 
of our heritage. They see the birds and 
they see the numbers and they see some 
of the textures that I use. Some textures 
that I use in my paintings are taken 
directly from weaving, or things coming 
from quilts. 

I'll even stitch, I'll do brush strokes 
that are about stitching. . . and at times 
I'll even sew things onto the canvas. . . . 



So there are connections that I want to 
make, associations that I wanted to 
make. . . so that it stays apart of the 
continuum of experience. I don't want 
to be new and different; if I express 
things the way that I want to say them, 
they will come out as new as a quote. So 
I am not looking for something new, I 
just want to make the statements. The 
uniqueness will come from the com- 
bination of things I want to say. 
JK: Thank you. 

REFERENCES 

1. The New Negro, by Dr. Alain 
Locke. Studies in American Negro 
Life, New York: Atheneum, 1925, 
p. 256. 

2. Aesthetics and Culture: A View by 
Larry Neal. Drum Magazine. 
Spring 1978, Vol. 9 (2), pp. 10-14. 

3. Africobra 11. Exhibition catalogue 
Studio Museum in Harlem, 1 97 1. 



46 



Walter Rodney 



by Lorraine Bamaby 

Walter Rodney, the brilliant 
Huyanese historian, visited the 
Valley several times between 
1974 and 1978. The foUowing in- 
terview given by Prof. Bill 
Strickland of the Afro- Am. dept. 
to a Drum reporter, is an account 
of Rodney's life and signifi- 
cance. 

Dr. Walter Rodney was bom on 
March 23, 1942 in what was then the 
colony of British Guiana on the north- 
eastern coast of South America. After 
attending primary school in George- 
town, the capital, he won a scholarship 
to Queens College, as the prestigious 
preparatory school modeled on the 
British educational system, was called. 
After a brilliant academic and athletic 
career, Walter Rodney won another 
scholarship to attend the University 
College of the West Indies in Jamaica. 
In 1963, after graduating with First 
Class Honours in History, Rodney won 
still another scholarship to pursue his 
graduate studies at the University of 
London, where he enrolled in the 
School of Oriental and African Stud- 
ies. In 1966, at the age of 24, he was 
awarded the Ph.D. degree with honors 
for his dissertation on African history. 

After graduation from the Universi- 
ty of London, Rodney went to Dar es 
Salaam, Tanzania to accept his first 
teaching appointment at the Universi- 
ty there. In January, 1968, he returned 
to the University of the West Indies 
(U.W.I.) in Jamaica to teach History. 
(It was a decisive commentary on col- 
onial education that no course on Af- 
rican history was then being taught at 
the University. Rodney initiated such a 
course and began lecturing on African, 
Caribbean, and black history not only 
in the classroom, but on the campus 
and then in the city of Kingston, and 
eventually in the countryside.) His lec- 
tures aroused such tremendous popu- 
lar support that in October, the govern- 
ment of the Jamaican Labour Party un- 
der Prime Minister, Hugh Shearer, 
banned Rodney from re-entering the 




country while he was away in Mon- 
treal attending a Black Writers Con- 
ference. The government's several 
days duration, which is now a land- 
mark event in modem Jamaican and 
Caribbean history. 

Out of those 1968 lectures came 
Rodney's famous pamphlet, Ground- 
ings with my Brothers, published by 
Bogle-L'Ouverture, a press created by 
a Pan-Caribbean group of Walter's 
friends in London for the express pur- 
pose of publicizing the views which the 
Jamaican government had found so 
fearful. 

Excluded from Jamaica, Walter 
visited Cuba for a short while and re- 
turned to the University of Dar es 
Salaam where he was based for the 
next six years. During that period, in 
addition to his teaching, he visited and 
supported the liberation movements of 
Southern Africa, revised his disserta- 
tion which was published by Oxford 
University Press in 1970 as a HIS- 
TORY OF UPPER GUINEA 
COAST, 1545-1800, and wrote his 
classic work HOW EUROPE UN- 
DERDEVELOPED AFRICA, which 
was published simultaneously in 1972 
by Bolge-LOuverture and the Tan- 
zania Publishing House. 

During this time, Walter also made 
several visits to the United States. He 
was Visiting Professor at the Universi- 
ty of Michigan in 1972, and at Cornell 
in 1973. In 1974, he decided to return 
home where he had been offered the 
Chair of the History Dept. at the 
University of Guyana, however, he dis- 
covered that the offer had been with- 
drawn because of pressure from the 
Guyanese government of Forbes 
Bumham. Indeed not only was Walter 
prevented from working; subsequent- 
ly, his wife, Pat, a trained nurse, was 
likewise shut out of the Guyanese 
economy. Nevertheless Walter deter- 
mined to stay in Guyana strove, for the 
next six years, to help organize the 
working masses of the country and 
unite the various opposition move- 
ments into a united front against the 
continued on page 49 

47 



. ■-''^' "tj* .•Tt'^ft J1 



Is There a Black Political Alternative? 



By Terri A. Simms 

The two party system of politics in 
the United States has meant different 
things at different times to Blacks in 
America. In the days of Lincoln, the 
northern Republican party seemed to 
address the first and foremost Black 
concern, "Freedom". The Emancipa- 
tion Proclamation, which freed Black 
slaves elicited strong sentiments of 
Black loyalty or dedication to the Re- 
publican party, by those Blacks able to 
participate in the electoral process. This 
loyalty is seen in Black politicians such 
as Frederick Douglas, George Down- 
ing, and Peter H. Clark. These men, 
among others, felt that the Republican 
party owed more of its' efforts, re- 
sources, and energies to assisting Afro- 
Americans. Often disillusioned with the 
party's response to Black concerns, 
Frederick Douglas described himself as 
"an uneasy republican". He later urged 
Blacks to follow no party blindly. He 
stated once "If the Republican party 
cannot stand a demand for justice and 
fair play it ought to go down". He and 
other disillusioned republicans soon 
joined liberal northern democrats, who 
enticed Black support through their 
policy of appointments for Blacks in 
federal positions. However, Black 
masses were, for the most part, loyal to 
the Republican party. 

These sentiments decreased largely 
for many reasons as time went on. 
Black social, political, and economic 
concerns were often slighted or even 
disregarded in some cases. Increased 
violence against Blacks in the form of 
lynchings and mob riots occurred with- 
out adequate interference from state or 
federal government. Jim Crow laws in 
the south such as poll taxes, unequitable 
literacy requirements, and unfair prop- 
erty requirements were exercised with 
state governmental approval. This se- 
verely limited Black political participa- 
tion. The functioning patronage system 
used by political parties was simply not 
capable of assisting Black economic de- 
velopment, nor was it earnestly con- 
cerned with black social advancement 
or Black political equality. 



After the Great Depression in 1929, 
the social economic state of the country 
was such that America needed a strong 
leader committed to economic reform 
in order to get America back on its feet. 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt a Democrat, 
appeared to the majority of the loyal 
Black Republican electorate to be that 
leader in 1932 presidential election. This 
resettled in a shift of the black vote to 
the Democratic party, the party of the 
people. Many of FDR's New Deal plans 
assisted blacks in employment. This at- 
tention to development in America 
evoked a patriotic sense amongst all 
americans and marked the beginning of 
the Black-Democratic party alferation. 

The American Political system has 
evolved from its ideals of insuring free- 
dom to its practice of protecting and en- 
riching capital. ' Blacks find themselves 
confronted with token progress and se- 
vere exploitation in all fact of daily in- 
tercourse. Today the majority of Blacks 
live in Urban areas. As James Boggs 
stated in an article, "The city is a minor 
reflection of a troubled society in 
America." Does either party, Republi- 
can or Democratic address the concerns 
of Blacks adequately? One look at the 
illusion of Black economic development 
and the illusion of inclusion in the 
American political economy power 
structure, would surely lead to the con- 
clusion that the existing political system 
as it is, does not address these concerns 
with significant effort and commit- 
ment. The so-called Black economic 
progress attained in the 1970's was in 
actuality, the maintenance of the gains 
achieved in the 1960's.' The American 
Political system's manipulation of sym- 
bolic power and real power within and 
outside the Black community promul- 
gates the distortion of the true status of 
Blacks in America today. 

Is there an alternative? The recently 
established National Black Independent 
Political Party offers alternative politi- 
cal action in relation to the American 
party political structure. The National 
Black Independent Political Party 
(NBIPP) funding convention was held 



November 21-23, 1980 in Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania at Benjamin Franklin 
High School. 

The convention was held in Philadel- 
phia for historically political reasons. In 
1830, the first National Black political 
Convention was convened there by 
Richard Allen, the founder of the Afri- 
can Methodist Episcopal Church. Also 
in 1968, the second Black power Con- 
ference met there.' The purpose of the 
convention was to meet and discuss the 
charter of the organization, the compo- 
sition of which should reach Black 
America." NBIPP is a mass based inde- 
pendent Black political party dedicated 
to Black America. The convention in- 
volved Blacks from all professions, oc- 
cupations, and locations. Speakers such 
as Ron Daniels, chairperson of the Na- 
tional Black Political Assembly; Haiki 
Madhabuti, Ron Walters, political 
scientists; Barbara Sizimore, Soharah 
Simmons, Manning Marable, Thad 
Mathis, James Turner, Rev. Douglas 
Moore, Atty. Clayton Jones, Deborah 
Lewis, and Reverend Ben Chavis, were 
also on hand to support the cause and 
assist the development of NBIPP. The 
dialogue generated pertained mostly to 
the NBIPP charter, financial founda- 
tion, strategy implementations, and 



communication. NBIPP's basic objec- 
tives are to strive to create a unified 
Black Political voice incessantly attuned 
to evolution of the social change. The 
strategy most often related toward this 
endeavor is the concept of the "Black 
Block Vote." This idea is based upon 
the theory suggested by Henry Lee 
Moon in his thesis The Balance of 
Power; The Negro Vote. Moon's thesis 
promotes that when the white vote is 
approximately evenly divided, the Black 
vote could contribute profoundly to the 
outcome of the election.' Chuck Stone 
further explicated this theory by stating 
in fact the non-black vote was split 
about even between the two parties, a 
Black Block Vote could actually decide 
the outcome." In order for this theory to 
work there must be a substantial 
amount of Black people expressing their 
right to vote for the candidate of 
NBIPP choice. NBIPP may secure 
more federal resources, and social re- 
sources for party constituents through 
swinging the vote to the candidate most 
dedicated to addressing the Black agen- 
da adequately. There is an effort by 
both Republican and Democratic 
candidates to try to appeal to what is 
commonly called the "center". The 
center is the American Electorate which 



is predominantly "un-poor, un-young, 
and un-black".' 

NBIPP can play an essential role in 
securing stronger commitments from 
the federal government to the cities in- 
stead of to the suburbs. Education, em- 
ployment and health services must be 
preserved and increased. The Black 
agenda must demand some magnitude 
of impact on the community as a whole. 
Symbolic gains of power, such as few 
Black appointments within the govern- 
mental power structure have proven 
themselves to be insufficient. The Na- 
tional Black Independent Political Party 
has potential to assist Black officials as 
well as Black candidates by means of 
advice, support and counsel. NBIPP is 
currently funded through small contri- 
butions. In the future it may seek other 
financial assistance from labor unions, 
corporations, fund drives, organiza- 
tions, etc. 

NBIPP is the Black alternative to the 
present inadequate unchallenged two 
party American political system. The 
idea is new to many. There is sure to be 
approval and dissension on the part of 
many individuals who may believe or 
disbelieve in the electoral political pro- 

continued on page 53 



Walter Rodney 

continued from page 47 

Bumham government. He also contin- 
ued his profession, writing two books, 
GUYANESE PLANTATIONS IN 
THE LATE NINETEENTH CEN- 
TURY (published in February, 1980), 
and the first volume of an intended 
three volume study of the Guyanese 
working class, A HISTORY OF THE 
GUYANESE WORKING PEOPLE, 
1881-1905, to be published by John 
Hopkins Press this fall. 

On June 13th, 1980, at the age of 
thirty-eight, Walter Rodney was killed 
by an assassin's bomb. Although the 
Guyanese authorities denied culpabili- 
ty, all credible evidence, including the 
State Department's "Report on Hu- 
man Rights Practices" (February 2, 
1981) has implicated the Bumham 
government in the murder. (The bomb 
was given to Walter, disguised as a 
walkie-talkie, by a supposedly dis- 
gruntled member of the Guyanese De- 
fense Force, Sergeant Gregory Smith, 



who was secretly flown out of the 
country, and is still at large). 

Fearing that Walter's funeral might 
precipitate a reaction, they could not 
control, the government of Guyana, 
spitefully refused for more than ten 
days - to give Walter's body to his 
family and his political co-workers of 
the Working Peoples Alliance. Never- 
theless the people of Guyana, refusing 
to be denied the opportunity to express 
their love for their fallen native son, 
gathered together to hold a Memorial 
March and protest. Thirty-five thou- 
sand Guyanese of all ages, races, and 
classes, marched twelve miles in the 
rain, on June 23rd to affirm their sup- 
port of Walter and their opposition to 
Bumham. (This was an extraordinary 
outpouring in a small country of 
800,000 persons comparable to a 
march of more than ten million people 
in this country.) 

Nor was Walter mourned only in 



Guyana. In Europe, Africa, Canada, 
North America, and the Caribbean, 
protests and memorials were held. 
Prime Minister Robert Mugabe of 
Zimbabwe sent a personal message of 
condolence; the Peoples Revolution- 
ary Govemment of Grenada declared a 
day of national mourning, and the 
Jamaican Prime Minister, Micheal 
Manley, like countless others, rejected 
the govemments allegations against 
Walter and condemned the foul mur- 
der 

The untimely death of this commit- 
ted revolutionary-scholar/scholar 
revolutionary should remind all of us 
of the profound vulnerability of all 
those in the Third World, and else- 
where who seek to make their scholar- 
ship and their politics relevant to the 
authentic emancipation of their peo- 
ple. His life should also remind us that 
there is no more meaningful purpose 
than service to the people. 



49 



Gentrification: 
Where Do We Go From Here? 



BY: Stephanie Glenn 
REVISED: Laurie Sinckler 

Gentrification is the modern term 
used to define the resettlement of 
young, predominantly white, middle 
and upper class people into neighbor- 
hoods previously or presently occupied 
by lower income and working class 
Blacks and Latins. The word gentrifica- 
tion is taken from the British vocabu- 
lary and it refers to the process by which 
lower income and working class neigh- 
borhoods are being invaded and finan- 
cially overtaken by middle and upper 
class whites who are the supposed ' 'gen- 
try". 

In the 1930's middle and upper class 
white families lived in communities 
such as Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, Queen 
Village in Philadelphia and Georgetown 
in D.C. These neighborhoods were near 
to jobs, schools and recreational facili- 
ties (i.e. theatres, restaurants and 
stores). 

During the 1950's America experi- 
enced the "white flight" to the suburbs 
by the middle and upper classes. In 
comparison to urban areas, the suburbs 
provided better schools, open space for 
children and an essentially unpolluted 
and tranquil atmosphere. The suburbs 
allowed white middle-class families to 
live comfortably and remain financially 
stable. 

Lower income and working-class 
Blacks as well as a small percentage of 
Latin Americans settled into the urban 
areas which the middle class had fled. 
The migration of these people to the city 
was followed by a deterioration in ser- 
vices such as sanitation, police protec- 
tion and postal services. Unemploy- 
ment, insufficient and inadequate hous- 
ing and recreational facilities, as well as 
declining services caused the gradual 
decay of such neighborhoods. 

In the 1950's, local and federal gov- 
ernments attempted to eliminate urban 
decay. However, federally and locally 
funded redevelopment projects focused 
on Central Business Districts (CBD's). 
This again resulted in the exploitation 
of the poor and the profit of the rich. 
Mandatory relocation caused the physi- 



cal and mental destruction of innumer- 
able Black communities. According to 
Dennis R. Judd, redevelopment "re- 
moved unsightly economic blight, thus 
making the city's downtown more at- 
tractive to prospective investors and 
suburban shoppers, removed Black 
slum neighborhoods and forced Black 
tenants into other parts of the city, usu- 
ally into other slums".' 

The federal government in an at- 
tempt to "aid" displaced persons intro- 
duced Title III of the 1949 Housing Act 
which gave priority to the displaced in 
public housing projects. By the end of 
1961, urban renewal had eliminated 
126,000 housing units. The 28,000 new 
units which replaced them were in no 
way sufficient to house the 113,000 
families and 36,000 individuals who 
were displaced. Public housing fell far 
short of making up the whole differ- 
ence, particularly since public housing 
accounted for only 6% of the construc- 
tion started and only / % of additional 
construction planned in urban renewal 
areas of April 1, 1961. Whites who were 
eligible for public housing or who had 
been victims of urban development re- 
tained housing options in the private 
market that were unavailable to Blacks. 
Blacks therefore, became the primary 
recipients of public low rent housing in 
the cities by way of default and dis- 
crimination. The tragic lesson here is 
that self-determination comes through 
the ability of power to protect "one's 
own". Even in the case of displace- 
ment, the capitalist class provides an 
outlet for lower class whites. 

Urban renewal failed to provide a so- 
lution to the social problem of slum liv- 
ing. Not only were the poor displaced, 
but they were forced to pay higher rents 
when the supply of low-rent housing 
units dwindled. Blacks have been his- 
torically forced to pay the debts of an 
economically slack white society; we are 
made to pay twice the price for one- 
quarter the value. It is the age-old syn- 
drome of the rich becoming richer as the 
poor continue to plunge deeper into op- 



pression. 

Dennis E. Gale, assistant professor 
of Urban and Regional Planning at 
George Washington University, states 
the following: 

Renovation often is responsible for dislocat- 
ing subtantial numbers of low and moderate 
income families. Many minority households 
and elderly families on fixed incomes find it 
difficult to compete with the purchasing 
power of middle and upper income singles 
and couples without children. Both home- 
owners and renters are susceptible to the 
economic pressures of speculation and re- 
habilitation, although renters are usually 
more vulnerable.' 

Conrad Weiler, associate professor of 
political science at Temple University 
and president of the Queen Village 
Neighbors Association, maintains that 
people in the 'war-baby' generation 
"now find their childhood suburban 
homes too expensive, too dull or too in- 
convenient.'" 

In well publicized programs, Balti- 
more and Chicago have employed their 
local borrowing powers to provide low- 
interest mortgages for attractive moder- 
ate-type housing for middle-income res- 
idents. New York City, along with the 
state, was a pioneer in this process with 
the Mitchell-Lama program that pro- 
vided government borrowed funds for 
developers of middle-income housing 
complexes. The city now has several 
programs directed toward a similar pur- 
pose. The program under section 421 of 
the Real Property Tax Law provides 
sliding-scale tax relief on construction 
of 35,000 units of middle-income hous- 
ing since it went into effect in 1971. 

According to a study prepared for the 
City Housing and Planning Council, 
another program J-5 1 , provides tax re- 
lief for up to twenty years on recon- 
struction of hotel and loft properties 
and has attracted a significant number 
of middle-income people from outside 
the New York City area. The amount of 
reconstruction and major renovation in 
1978 was estimated to "double or 
triple" in five years as a result of a third 
tax incentive housing program for the 
middle-class. 

Gentrification creates economic 
prosperity for those involved in the re- 
vitalization process and it establishes af- 
fluent, white neighborhoods. Accord- 
ing to Chester Hartman, an urban plan- 
ner, gentrification is based on the idea 
of profit maximization — putting prop- 
erty to what planners and economists 
term "higher and better use." 

Conrad Weiler makes the following 



assessment of this situation: 

Tenants often evicted for upper-middle in- 
come rentals or reconversion to single-family 
housing, receive no compensation and may 
be forced into public housing or nearby 
slums. Homeowners on moderate or fixed in- 
comes, squeezed out by rocketing real-estate 
tax assessments, may sell too cheaply and 
find good housing elsewhere quite expensive. 
Blue collar jobs disappear as factories and 
warehouses are converted to apartments. 
Supporting social and economic institutions 
such as corner stores, ethnic clubs, storefront 
churches and workingmen's bars are convert- 
ed to antique stores or office crowd pubs. For 
the displaced elderly, a successful readjust- 
ment is often impossible." 

Chester Hartman makes the follow- 
ing statement concerning the difficulty 
displaced persons have in their attempt 
to relocate. " The processes that cause 
displacement also reduce the supply of 
housing available to those displaced. 
The market effect, plus the special cir- 
cumstances that often produce sub- 
market rents in an old neighborhood 
(landlord's greater reluctance to raise 
rents for an existing tenant than upon 
change of tenancy, special personal ties 
between landlord and tenant in older 
neighborhoods, etc.) virtually guaran- 
tees hefty rent increases for the majority 
of persons upon forced displacement.'" 

In Austin, Texas, Pete Martinez ob- 
served group after group of developers 
plan to revitalize his neighborhood and 
he realized that displacement would 
most likely occur, leaving many lower 
and working class people without 
homes. He has seen it all before; he and 
his neighbors on Rainey Street have 
been uprooted three times as one public 
building after another has pushed them 
down a one-mile strip of land along 
East 1st Street. In the last two years Mr. 
Martinez and his homeowning neigh- 
bors on Rainey Street along with the te- 
nant communities of the East Austin 
barrio have stopped every major specu- 
lation effort in the area, helped to scut- 
tle a $500 million dollar downtown re- 
vitalization plan and have forced city 
leaders to reconsider the expansion of 
public parks in the neighborhood. 

Martinez and his neighborhood asso- 
ciation have challenged the efforts of 
speculators, city planners and private 
businesses. By refusing to become "ur- 
ban nomads", Pete Martinez and his 
neighbors are terminating gentrifica- 
tion, displacement and relocation in 
their community. 

In the Rainey Community, a ninety- 
two year old woman was offered 
$40,000 for her home. The elderly 



woman's son told the developer it 
would cost his mother too much to 
move. A speculator responded: "But 
she will get $40,000 from urban renewal 
for the land. What will it cost her?" "it 
will cost her her life", her son respond- 
ed. 

The psycho-social effects of forced 
uprooting and relocation may be quite 
severe, particularly for older people, 
who are most likely to be long-term resi- 
dents and have close ties to the area's in- 
stitutions and people. The most exhaus- 
tive study of these effects, supported by 
the National Institute of Mental Health, 
produced considerable documentation 
of the phenomenon characterized in 
one of the publications as 'grieving for a 
lost home'. Displacement frequently 
means moving from a supportive, long- 
term environment to an alien area 
where substantially higher costs are in- 
volved for a more crowded, inferior 
dwelling. Furthermore, displacement 
characterizes the physical transition of 
humanity into portable, disposable rub- 
bish. 

Another case which has occurred in 
the Adams-Morgan section of Wash- 
ington, D.C. involves Beatrice Point- 
dexter, a cashier and Robert Corcoran, 
architect and urban planner. Beatrice 
Pointdexter is being evicted from her 
$84.50 a month apartment. She has a 
four-year old daughter, Michelle and is 
a single parent. A real estate developer 
wants to convert the row of buildings on 
her street into 'townhouses' to sell for 
over $70,000 and Ms. Pointdexter 
doesn't know how to go about relocat- 
ing. 

Robert Corcoran recently bought 
and occupied a dilapidated house on a 
street predominantly inhabited by 
Blacks and is in the process of restoring 
it. Corcoran and a friend, Gayle Monk- 
konen, who lives with him and is a 
graphic designer, are "urban pioneers" 
according to contemporary economic 
terminology. This term refers to those 
who move into oppressed communities 
and rehabilitate for huge profit. 

The reference to these displacement 
specialists as urban pioneers illustrates 
the "Adam" complex with which the 
oppressors suffer viciously, i.e. the no- 
tion that anything comes into existence 
when and only when the white man 
takes note of it. A pioneer is one who 
travels uncharted (unexplored) terrain. 
By this token, the urban cities which 
these oppressors are said to "pioneer" 
did not exist when they were occupied 
continued on page 62 



51 



The Criminal Justice System and Blacks: 

McDuf fie Case 



•»".:>) JV3;: 



By June Anderson 

The Arthur McDuffie case proves that 
racial bias and prejudice still exist in the 
criminal justice system . As a result of this 
incident we had what is known as "the 
Miami riots." 

On December 16, 1979, Arthur Mc- 
Duffie, a Black Miami insurance sales- 
man, borrowed his cousin's Kawasaki 
motorcycle. Early in the morning of the 
17th, it was reported that Arthur 
McDuffie was involved in a motorcycle 
accident after being chased by Dade 
County police officers. In addition to 
sustaining injuries from the accident, the 
police reported that McDuffie incurred 
injuries because he resisted arrest and 
had to be forcibly subdued. However, as 
the case unfolded huge discrepancies be- 
came apparent in the police officer's in- 
itial report. There were questions as to 
why McDuffie would speed one hundred 
miles per hour. Could it be because his 
driver's license was suspended and he 
was afraid of being artested; or could it 
be that lawmen started to shoot at him 
and in an effort to avoid their bullets, he 
increased his driving speed to a phe- 
nomenal rate? Furthermore, the medical 
report showed that McDuffie sustained 
severe blows to the head. McDuffie 
could not have such massive blows from 
a motorcycle accident. As the McDuffie 
story progresses, this becomes another 
case of institutional racism in America 
and the resulting discriminatory prac- 
tices of the law enforcement and the 
criminal justice systems, which offer lit- 
tle justice for Black Americans. 

The discrepancies in the four white 
police officers reports became apparent 
as witnesses presented different versions 
of what occurted. One witness stated 
that the police officers "looked like 
animals fighting for meat." Other wit- 
nesses said that officer Alex Marrero re- 
peatedly smashed McDuffie in the head. 
Witnesses further stated the police 
bashed the controls of his motorcycle, 
and that one officer drove a squad car 
over it. It was also reported that after dis- 
cussing how a man's legs could be 
broken, officer Alex Marrero allegedly 
hit McDuffie in the shins with a high 



stick. Later, witnesses said, Metro of- 
ficers met to fabricate their cover-up. In 
addition, the medical examiners findings 
also demonstrated differences in what 
the police officers reported. The medical 
examiner found several blows to Mc- 
Duffie's head, blows which could not 
possibly have occurted from just his 
head falling against the pavement after 
the supposed motorcycle accident. 

The police officials soon became 
suspicious of these inconsistencies in the 
officer's reports and started an intensive 
investigation. The evidence gathered 
from the investigation indicated that the 
"police report" had been fabricated. As 
a result of the findings, police officers 
Ira Digg, 3 1 ; Alex Marrero, 26; Michael 
Watts, 30; and William Hanton were 
charged with manslaughter and fab- 
ricating evidence in the case. If con- 
victed of these charges they could spend 
at least thirty-five years in prison. Ser- 
geant Herbert Evans Jr., 33, was also 
accused of tampering with the evidence 
to cover-up what had actually taken 
place. What was Sergeant Evans' rea- 
son for covering up the McDuffie inci- 
dent? Was it because he was afraid of 
being prosecuted or because he felt an 
obligation to his fellow police officers 
and as a consequence, did not wish to 
jeopardize their lives. If the latter is 
true, questions can be raised as to how 
Black Americans expect law enforce- 
ment officers to do their duty since they 
will not uphold the law themselves! 
Looking at the records of the policemen 
involved in the case, this notion is 
substantiated. In all, the five men have 
been cited in forty-seven citizen com- 
plaints and thirteen internal review 
probes, in the past seven years; not one 
ever received severe disciplinary meas- 
ures, although Diggs and Evans were 
relieved of street patrol for a short peri- 
od. On the other hand, McDuffie did 
not even have a record! In essence, it 
could be said that the police officers 
have been exempt from criminal prose- 
cution and given a license to obstruct 
justice, and the option of killing. This is 
only one example of the inherent dis- 



criminatory practices of the law en- 
forcement, and justice systems in 
America. 

As the case became more publicized 
and accusations of racial injustice 
became more vocal in the McDuffie in- 
cident, it was decided to move the trial 
of the four officers to Tampa. (Herbert 
Evans Jr. was acquitted before the trial 
began, on a direct verdict). If it was 
necessary to move the trail, why Tam- 
pa? Tampa is a shipping, university and 
military center, influenced by its old 
Latin cigar-making population and 
proud of its new reputation as the home 
of professional sports teams. But to 
Tampa blacks, the city has another side, 
one which some think made it an 
unlikely place to hold so sensitive a trial. 
Eight days before Arthur McDuffie was 
ordered off his motorcycle and killed in 
Miami, a Black man named Alexander 
Johnson was stopped for speeding on 
his motorcycle in Tampa. A policeman, 
John Hundley, shot Mr. Johnson in the 
head claiming that he had attempted to 
escape and had made a threatening 
movement. Though officer Hundley 
was charged with culpable negligent 
manslaughter he was not suspended un- 
til three days later. Officer Hundley was 
acquitted by a jury and separated from 
the police force. So people were still dis- 
turbed when the Miami policemen came 
to trial. It was almost as if the state was 
assuring the four white police officers 
of acquittals. Why else, it could be 
asked, given the remarkable similarities 
of the case and the proximity of the oc- 
currence, would the trial be moved to 
Tampa? The selection of the jury 
members underscored the feelings of 
racial injustice. 

From the moment jury selection be- 



gan, it seemed obvious that the defense 
would do everything in its power to 
keep Blacks off the jury, and the fact 
that they succeeded should be of little 
surprise to Black Americans. When 
selection for the jury members started, 
ten blacks were on the panel as pros- 
pective jurors. However, the defense 
team used its peremptory challenges to 
keep Blacks off the jury. Defense lawyer 
Phi Carton argued that "he could not 
believe a Black man could have ignored 
the repercussion if he had voted for ac- 
quittal. If the trial had been held in 
Miami that man's life would be worth 
nothing and a Black man has to return 
to the community where he lives." On 
the other hand, one could easily argue 
that a white jury member would be 
afraid to convict the four white men for 
fear of retaliation from his neighbors; 
thus demonstrating the one sidedness of 
the argument. According to another 
defense lawyer, Edward Carhart, who 
represented Evans, "some regarded the 
jurors who were chosen as "rednecks," 
but he said they were just "conser- 
vative, middle-class American type of 
people. . .hard nosed businessmen." 
Knowing that the defense was pushing 
for an all white jury, why didn't the 
state attorneys stop them or did they 
want to? However it happened, the 
defense succeeded in selecting an all- 
white jury, successfully accomplishing 
their initial goal. 

As the trial proceeded, count after 
count of incriminating evidence was 
brought against the four policemen. 
Metro officer Meier asked for immuni- 
ty in return for his testimony. Meier sug- 
gested that he heard McDuffie shout, 
"I give up," before anyone touched 
him. He said he had drawn his service 



revolver on McDuffie and told him to 
"freeze," Metro officer William F. 
Hanlon also testified that Sergeant 
Herb Evans told him to drive his squad 
car over the motorcycle. More signi- 
ficantly, Alex Marrero testified that "he 
felt bad that a man is dead." He said he 
struck Mr. McDuffie three to six times 
with his nightstick because he feared for 
his own life." This is remarkable, con- 
sidering McDuffie was already down. 
Within two hours and forty minutes 
after the termination of trial pro- 
ceedings, the all-white jury found the 
four white policemen not guilty; a ver- 
dict which should not have been surpris- 
ing, considering the events that took 
place before and during the trial. 

In Miami that night, an explosion of 
violence erupted, as news of the verdict 
was known. It was Miami's worst race 
riot: 16 died (both Black and White), 
300 injured, and one hundred million 
dollars in damages. Why this sudden 
rash of violence? One witness said that 
it resulted because of "the Cubans com- 
ing in here, to get jobs and services 
Blacks can't get." According to Garth 
Reeves, editor of the Black-owned Mi- 
ami Times newspaper, "it was the crimi- 
nal justice system or the lack of it. Trace 
the history of criminal justice in the 
South and you will not find a white cop 
serving time for killing a Black — not a 
goddamn one!" 

The McDuffie case is another exam- 
ple of the police being given a license to 
kill Blacks, with the justice system ac- 
ting as their supporters. The question 
should be asked, how long can Blacks 
continue to let law enforcement officials 
kill other Black Americans and still ex- 
pect the same enforcement officials to 
protect them? 



Black Political Alternative 



continued from page 49 

cess, however, it is a beginning. The par- 
ty realizes the concerns of its constituen- 
cy. Black America as well as those con- 
cerns of the American governmental 
white power structure within which it 
must work. The challenge has been 
made. It is now the responsibility of 
Black America to understand that the 
traditional two party system of Amer- 
ican politics has not and more impor- 
tantly will not eliminate nor alleviate the 
results of discrimination towards Black 
America. 



1 . William Strickland, Whatever hap- 
pened to the Politics of Black 
Liberation, Black Scholar Oct. 75 

2. William A. Darity Jr. , Black Politi- 
cal Econ. Reviews. Vol 10 No. 2 
Winter 1980 

3. Ron Daniels, Press Statement. 
Sept. 4 1980 

4. Daniels 

5. Henry Lee Moon, The Balance of 
Power: The Negro Vote, Double 
Day, NY 1948, 1965 



6. Chuck Stone, Black Political 
Power in America, Dell, New York 
1970 pp 42-57 

7. Richard Scarmmon Ben Watten- 
burg. The Real Majority, Conrad 
and McLann and Geoghegan Inc., 
NY, 1971 pg. 57 



53 



Larry Neal/ 1968 Blackfire Essay 



continued from page 32 

must take his work where his people 
are: Harlem, Watts, Chicago and the 
rural South. He must learn to embel- 
lish the context in which the work is 
executed; and, where possible, link the 
work to all usable aspects of the music. 
For the context of the work is as im- 
portant as the work itself. Poets must 
learn to sing, dance and chant their 
works, tearing into the substance of 
their individual and collective experi- 
ences. We must make literature move 
people -to a deeper understanding of 



what this thing is all about, be a kind of 
priest, a black magician, working juju 
with the word on the world. 

Finally, the black artist must link his 
work to the struggle for his liberation 
and the liberation of his brothers and 
sisters. But, he will have executed an 
essential aspect of his role if he makes 
even a small gesture in the manner 
outlined. He will be furthering the psy- 
chological liberation of his people, 
without which, no change is even pos- 
sible. 



The artist and the political activist 
are one. They are both shapers of the 
future reality. Both understand and 
manipulate the collective myths of the 
race. Both are warriors, priests, lovers 
and destroyers. For the first violence 
will be internal— the destruction of a 
weak spiritual self for a more perfect 
self. But it will be a necessary violence. 
It is the only thing that will destroy the 
double-consciousness— the tension 
that is in the souls of the black folk. 



Lady Day 

continued from page 15 

breeze 
Strange Fruit hanging from the 
Pastoral scene of the gallant south; 
the bulging eyes and the twisted 
mouth 
Scent of magnolia, sweet and fresh, 
then the sudden smell of burning 
flesh. 
Here's a fruit for the crows to pluck, 
for the rain to gather, 
for the wind to suck, 
for the sun to rot, 
for the tree to drop 
Here's a strange and bitter cry. 
Strange Fruit is a song which tells the 
story of the lynching of black people in 
the United States. Exemplified by Clar- 
ence and Billie Holiday's deaths which 
resulted from Jim Crow. 

Clarence Holiday had caught pneu- 
monia and sought treatment for it. As 
Billie explains: it wasn't the pneumonia 
that killed him, it was Dallas, Texas. 
That's where he was and where he 
walked around, going from hospital to 
hospital trying to get help. But none of 
them would even so much as take his 
temperature or take him in. That's the 



way it was . . . Pop finally found a vet- 
eran' s hospital, and because he had 
been in the Army, had ruined his lungs 
and had records to prove it, they finally 
let him in the Jim Crow ward down 
there. 

By the time Clarence Holiday was ad- 
mitted in the hospital he had a hemor- 
rhage and died soon after. 

Strange Fruit, on another level, is a 
picture of what happened to Billie as she 
became a nationally as well as interna- 
tionally renowned jazz singer. The 
lyrics, "Blood on the leaves and blood 
at the root" emphasize that exploitation 
and oppression are deeply rooted in the 
music industry. 

Billie compares the "scent of mag- 
nolia, sweet and fresh," to the "sudden 
smell of burning flesh." Lady realized 
that she was being lynched, as her father 
had been by Jim Crow. This song exem- 
plifies the hatred which pervaded the 
south and the north, which was sup- 
posed to be the "promised land." 

The phrase, "bulging eyes and twist- 
ed mouth" illustrate the horrible or- 
deals both Clarence and Billie Holiday 



experienced. They were treated as "fruit 
for the crows to pluck, for the rain to 
gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun 
to rot and for the tree to drop. ' ' The last 
line of the song - "Here's a strange and 
bitter cry" - expresses Billie's refusal to 
be destroyed. 

Billie Holiday lived in a racist society 
which attempted to destroy her, yet she 
survived as a child of God. She was ex- 
ploited, rejected and lynched by hate- 
filled people - managers who pressured 
her, employees of hotels and restau- 
rants who refused to house and serve 
her and by the policemen who arrested 
her on her death bed. 

In June of 1959, at the age of forty- 
four, Billie Holiday was arrested on her 
death bed at Metropolitan Hospital. 
She spent her last days autographing 
copies of her book and records for hos- 
pital personnel and members of the 
New York City Police Department who 
were stationed there to prevent her from 
"escaping". Billie escaped. By dying 
she reached her ultimate existence. She 
lives always in our hearts. 



54 



REBIRTH OF A WARRIOR 



By Curtis Haynes 

Johnathan left his house in confu- 
sion. His mind stumbling over the 
truths which affected his world. It is all 
wrong, he thought. . . . 

Until now, Johnathan had been able 
to deal with it, the long hours and small 
pay, breaking his ass for a man he did 
not even know except for the silver 
Mercedes with black tinted windows 
that left the factory compound every 
now and then. He was able to handle 
nights drowning his pains and sorrows 
in a bottle of whiskey. But now his con- 
fusion engulfed his very soul, and he 
saw no escape. "Why?" he asked 
himself, "why must it be like this?" He 
broke out into a run as if trying to rid 
himself of a heavy burden. A burden 
which had built up during his natural 
life. The icy wind cut through his thin 
jacket and bit at the flesh on his face. 
He ran through the jungle, a jungle of 
asphalt and concrete. All around him, 
the roads, the lights, the buildings, the 
cars, all seemed to be gross disfigure- 
ments of his reality. He continued to 
run, his eyes taking in a world which 
seemed to have only one purpose; to 
distort the reason for his very being. 
Johnathan ran, confused, like a rat in 
fear of his life. His shadow fluttered in 
the glow of the street lights, still keep- 
ing in time with each of his body mo- 
tions. The pain and the hurt tore at the 
very roots of his soul, as he twisted 
through the maze of streets. 

Before Johnathan had even realized, 
he had reached his destination, a des- 
tination planned for him centuries ago, 
when the world was as one. Time 
seemed to have stopped as he stood 
there at the edge of two worlds. One, 
made by man, the other, new and com- 
pletely unknown, or so he thought. . . 
He remained motionless, unable to ad- 
vance because of his fears, yet unable 
to return from where he had come be- 
cause of his confusion. 

As he stood there in indecision the 
sky grew darker. Confusion, anger, 
pain and fear distored his senses. 
"Help me!" he cried, his long arms 
jestering in futile desperation to a for- 



bidden sky. "Show me the way! Show 
me the way!", he begged. What am I 
in this world? Less than a man? Am I 
ignorant? A slave? What am I to be- 
lieve? Questions and thoughts came 
flying at him as he reflected on life. An 
urgency swelled up within him and in a 
spasm of emotion he plunged, body 
and soul over the threshold into a new 
situation. He ran until hundreds of 
sharp sensations tore at his lower 
body. His eyes opened fully, as he came 
to an unexpected halt. His heart still 
racing, unable to adjust to the sudden 
loss of motion. Looking down he saw 
that he had stumbled into a large thorn 
bush. He flayed back and forth, like a 
savage animal, caught in a trap. He 
tore and pulled, until his blood glis- 
tened and dripped from the jagged 
pieces of cloth torn from his pants. Still 
each motion that he made entangled 
him more. 

But now his blood had been shed. 

Slowly, his eyes began to adjust to 
the surroundings. His vision no longer 
blurred. He was able to pick out im- 
ages of trees and bushes. He surveyed 
the area with one quick and deliberate 
turn of his head. He found that he was 
in a vast wilderness. As the beat of his 
heart slowed, he was able to hear the 
leaves dancing in a rhythmic motion 
caused by the blowing of the wind. 
Together they sang out to him in a 
tongue that he had never heard, yet 
was able to understand. "Yes, it is all 
wrong and your time has come, your 
time has come". Not knowing the 
meaning of what was happening, John- 
athan tried to orientate himself to the 
environment around him. As he stood 
listening, he again surveyed the area, 
this time more slowly. The small 
bushes swayed calmly as the wind 
whispered through their fragile limbs. 
"Chaka...Chaka" they whispered. 
The trees, like soldiers, held them- 
selves firmly, daring any force to move 
them. Patches of tall grass grew every- 
where. Their heads floating to a beat 
which he only began to sense. It was 
the beat of a warriors drum. 



55 



Although he still did not know what 
was happening the confusion and ten- 
sion began to ease. His blind dashed 
behind him. He stood trying to under- 
stand this new feeling. His heart now 
beats at a slow rate. Once more he 
looked over the area. He saw the 
shapes of the bushes and the trees 
silhouetted in the light. The light? He 
looked to the sky; the clouds had lifted 
and the darkness was replaced with a 
brilliant shining of hundreds, thou- 
sands, and millions of stars. A warmth 
began to grow in him, a feeling which 
reminded him of the past. He tried to 
place in time this feelings. He was 
unable to. 

His attention then returned to the 
original pain that had stopped his prog- 
ress only a few minutes before. He 



watched in amazement as the sharp 
thorns of the bush, which had become 
his captor, released their hold on him. 
He was FREE. He moved cautiously 
into this world, so new, yet, vaguely fa- 
miliar. With each careful step he took 
into the wilderness an awareness 
which had seemingly been lost hun- 
dreds of years returned to his being. 
What had once been fear and confu- 
sion was now fluid, and his mind alert, 
prepared to give a command of action, 
to challenge any situation that would 
confront him. He was now fully aware 
of the life and spirits around him. 
"Chaka, your time has come", spoke 
the spirits to the beat of the warrior's 
drum. Now he understood: the bush, 
the voices, the stars, the drums, the 
harmony. His time had surely come, as 



the spirits re-lit a flame in his soul, a 
flame which had been smothered, and 
finally lost the very first time his an- 
cestors were kidnapped from their 
home; a flame which had whithered 
and disappeared when the harmony of 
his people had been disrupted by those 
who would put material goods over the 
lives of people. 

Now his soul was on fire, as he real- 
ized that the confusion and fear which 
he had once felt were not his, but that 
of an oppressor which had so long kept 
the souls of his ancestors hidden and in 
bondage in an unjust society. Yes, it 
was all wrong, and now the time had 
come to set it straight. He was no 
longer Jonathan, now he was Chaka, 
the warrior 

a FREE man.,!! 



Ester, along with every other kid 
who had been at the play ground, came 
running into the project house, "Maa- 
ma!", she screamed. "Lord, what in 
the devil is goin on now!, these kids 
keep somethin goin all the time. . . 
what is it?!", Marie replied as she 
came rushing down the stairs. By then 
Ester was crying, Ma, I cut my hand!" 
"Ohh good god, let me see it. . .come 
here and put your hand under some 
cold water. . .she'll be out later, would 
you kids please go outside and play?' ' 
"Yes maam, see you later Ester, come 
on ya'U" "This thang is gon have ta 
have stitches, oh god. . .", she signed, 
"Augusta call uh cab". 

She wrapped the hand carefully with 
a piece of an old, torn white sheet. 
"Bonnie, look in the refrigerator an git 
that pot uh black eyed peas en warm 
'em so ya'll can eat 'em." "Shoot, I 
don want no black eyed peas en warm 
ther, we had 'em last nite", Augusta, 
the younger of the two, added. 

Marie stared at her two eldest 
daughters, she didn't want them to 
have to eat those black eyed peas any 
more than they did, "don't dey under- 
stand if it was up ta me dey could eat 
anything dey wanted to?" "Bring me 
my pockybook" 

Augusta dashed eagerly up the 



HARD TIMES 

by Lettie E. Moses 

stairs and back. "You take this money 
and go to thu stow and git some ham- 
burger and a big can uh grean beans, 
and please be very careful wit thu 
change. . .and—" 

Just then a car horn blew impatient- 
ly in front of their house, "—make sure 
'ya lock these doors, and don have no 
chillin runnin in and out of this house 
. . .C'mon Ester, I'll be back as soon as 
I can." 

Once inside the cab. Ester leaned 
her head over and laid it on her 
mother's lap. "Mama my hand hurts" 
"Ita be alright baby" She rubbed her 
gently on the head as they rode to the 
hospital. 

They sat in the waiting room for a 
little over an hour. Growing impatient. 
Ester picked up a newspaper that had 
been laying on a seat nearby. "Ma, 
where is Alabama?" "That's down 
south, in thu country' ' "They got a bus 
boy-c-c, how you say b-o-y-c-o-t-t-?" 
"Boycott" "They havin uh boycott" 
"Yeah, I know. Ahheard them white 
people sayin somethin about it on thu 
bus this momin", she spoke with a bit 
of sarcasm and resentment in her 
voice. "Said somethin "bout dem nig- 
gers don know dey place". . . . huh, 
dey got jus much right ta ride that bus 
as anybody else. . . jus like that ole 



woman thu other day, I was waiting at 
the counter an this 'ole white woman 
walked up. The cashier came ovu 
there, she knew I wus there first, but 
she waited on that other woman" 
"What you do?" "I jus waited on 'till 
she got finish with her" "why didn't 
you say somethin? "I didn't even wan- 
na fool wit dat 'ole woman" "Humm" 
If dat woulda been daddy, she thought, 
he woulda tole her to go somewhere. 

It was true, if it had been her father, 
Marie's ex-husband by separation, he 
would have raised hell, to put it lightly: 
but it was Marie, the publicly soft- 
spoken, cherubic faced woman, raised 
in the southern half of "RED NECK" 
Virginia. Shed rather let a thang like 
that go by than "Ta start uh whole 
bunch-uh-mess". 

Finally, after the long wait. Ester 
was in and out of the emergency room. 
Marie called another cab, and they 
went home. 

After making sure the kids were in 
bed, and preparing her clothes for the 
next day, Marie knelt down at the foot 
of her bed. With cloudy eyes and pain 
in her voice, she whispered a prayer, 
"Dear lord, please take care uh my 
chillun, dey need so much, and I know 
you blessed us lord, but lord I gits 
tired, I'm spouse ta pay thu phone bill 



56 



and thu insurance man tumarah. . . 
they don' sent me letters 'bout dat 
phone bill and I reckon we can do 
without it, but lord we gotta have in- 
surance. I gotta pay that man this 
month or we's gone lose the whole 
thang. . help me lord, please, help me. . 
our Father who art in heaven. . . " 

The following afternoon, Marie was 
not surprised when she heard the 
knock on her old, ragged screen door. 
She had seen him, as he'd gotten out of 
his car, from her living room window. 
"Good afternoon Marie" "Hullo Mr. 
Johnson, come in. . Well I know my bill 
is behind two months but I jus ain't got 
thu money. But I really don wanna lose 
thu policy, .well you know I gott five 
chillun and I'm trying ta make ends 
meet, well day just cut my phone off 
taday 'cause I gotta pay that bill. . . I 
know I promised I'd pay you this time 
and I was gonna but my baby daughter 
she cut her hand out there playin yes- 
taday, and I ended up spending part of 
the money 'cause a had ta take her to 
the hospital plus I had ta buy some 
food. . and I wus jus wondering if you 
could jes take part of thu money and 
let me pay you thu rest next week", 
"well Marie, thu policy clearly states 
that if you fall two months behind then 
you lose thu insurance, you know 
that" "Yeah", she said softly. "I 
know." 

He looked at her sad, worn eyes as 
she spoke. He could not understand 
how she did it. How could you subsist 
so meagerly, and with five children. He 
looked around the room, at the ragged 
sofa and worn tattered rug. Then he 
thought of his own children. "Well, I 
guess if you don't have all the money 
then we'll just have to wait until next 
week" "Thank you Mr Johnson I real- 
ly do 'predate it, I really do" "Thank 
God", she said outloud as he left. 

"Momin" "G'Momin Betty", she 
answered with a nod while taking a 
seat on the bus. She was wearing her 
usual: white shoes and a plain cotton 
dress. Her shoes, though they weren' 
very old, looked quite worn. Their ap- 
pearance was not due to tha fact that 
they were inexpensive, having been 
purchased at a five and dime store, as 



much as it was due to the reality that 
they had traveled far and been through 
many days of cleaning, scrubbing, 
washing, wearing, walking and even 
more important, struggling. 

From where she sat, the bus driver 
and everyone else on the bus could be 
seen. As on the other days when she 
boarded lately, the bus driver watched 
with a stem face while she put her 
coins in the meter. She had been silent, 
heading towards the rear, she either 
looked straight ahead or down at her 
feet to avoid noticing when the other 
passengers stared at her as though she 
didn't belong or turned their heads as 
she walked by. "Look like is gon be uh 
nice day" "Yeah, weatherman say is 
gon be up "round the sebnies" "uhm 
hum" 

The bus started to empty as it slowly 
left the downtown area and made its 
way to the quiet, less congested, 
suburb. Turning comers occasionally, 
the bus moved very slowly, making its 
way through the clean, well gardened 
residential district of Arlington, Vir- 
ginia. 

By now, only a few passengers re- 
mained on the bus. A couple of old 
ladies going to do their shopping, the 
bus driver, and the two regulars, Betty 
and Marie, were the only people left 
riding. "Oh yeah, my Angle's birthday 
is tumarah, she will be 10 years ole. . . . 
yes in deed June tenf nineteen fitty- 
two. I tell ya, seem like jus yesterday. . 
. mmm uhm. So hi your chidrun doin 
Marie?" "Oh deys alright, I reckon. 
Lord knows I tries ta do for 'em. . deys 
growin so fast seem like Bonnie was 
jus a liddle thang, here she be 
graduating eight grade. . . I gotta go 
outta here now ta see 'bout gettin her 
uh white dress and some shoes. . . . 
guess I'mmo have ta borrow some mo 
money from Minister Roberts, cause 
lord, I ain't got no money" And this 
here eighteen dollars I'mmo get today 
I gotta try ta get some food wit, she 
thought to herself. 

"Lord jus gimme the stremf ta make 
it", she said as she thought back to 
earlier that morning. "Bonnie look in 
thu refrigerator and see what ya'll can 
eat for dinner this evenin" "Ain't 



nothing in here ta eat". She walked 
over to the refrigerator, "Now it's got- 
ta be something in there ya'll can eat. 
She looked inside. But for the tidbits of 
leftovers, half of a loaf of bread, and 
some mayonnaise, it was empty. "Well 
ya'll jus wait 'till I getchere, I'll try ta 
get home early" 

The bus was slowly approaching 
Willowby and Montague streets when 
Marie pulled the buzzar. "Wella guess 
I betta sit on, I know this woman got 
plenty for me ta do. Yoy have a nice 
day now Betty, I'll se ya" "Awlright 
Marie, you too' ' 

The bus came to halt, Marie looked 
back and smiled at Betty before step- 
ping down the steps to the back door. 

The bus had one of those doors with 
a light over the top of it to indicate 
when it was open. While the light 
served to inform the passengers when 
the door was unlocked so they could 
know when to depart, it also tells the 
driver that the door is open so that he 
would know not to move until the pas- 
senger has fully gotten through it. The 
light came on, Marie pushed the doors 
and stepped down onto the ground 
with one foot. As she bought forward 
her other foot, the driver proceeded to 
step on the gas when an exasperating 
cry of pain tore through the air. Look- 
ing into the rearview mirror, the driver 
could see Marie laying alongside the 
curve. She had been dragged a few 
feet before her leg had slipped out of 
the door Looking into the mirror on 
the inside of the bus, he could see Bet- 
ty who sat staring at him with a 
straight and tension-filled face. 
Through her mind raced the fear, hor- 
ror and shock like that of a young child 
who had been raped, not knowing 
whether to run to someone with the 
truth, hide, scream, or just pretend it 
never happened. 

The bus slowly tumed the corner 
Marie slowly stood up and began 
bmshing herself off. Looking in the di- 
rection in which the bus had gone, 
Marie decided that like herself, Betty 
probably "jus didn't want to start uh 
whole bunch-uh-mess." 



57 



THE SEASONS OF THE BLACK WOMAN 



by Japhet M. Zwana, Ph.D. 

(Dedicated to the Black Women of the State University of New York at Albany, 
October 3 1 -November 7, 1980) 



Around the year 1619, twenty Afri- 
cans were purchased from a Dutch 
man-of-war by the White Virginia 
planters. Records are not conclusive as 
to how many of these were women but, 
at least one woman was among them 
because according to Frazier (The 
Negro in the United States), "there is a 
record of the baptism of a child of one 
of the couple among the original twenty 
Negroes." 

The Black woman has ever since oc- 
cupied a peculiar position in American 
society. She was directly instrumental in 
the ability of the Black race to survive 
the heavy weight of slavery. Many a 
time, she has been called upon to take 
over the responsibilities of mother and 
father all rolled together. For this rea- 
son, white society has stigmatized her as 
aggressive or matriarchal. Some Black 
men regard her as emasculating. This 
has led to her feeling of rejection by 
white society with which she comes into 
physical contact largely in her occupa- 
tional capacity. Her relationship with 
her mate shows some strain. 

During the era of the civil rights 
movement, she donated her time and 
talents towards the struggle. She went 
out in the streets to protest and dem- 
onstrate with the men and yet at the 
same time she had to see to the smooth 
running of the home and the welfare of 
the children and her husband. Many 
women feel that the advent of the Black 
Power movement and the positions 
taken by several Black cultural na- 
tionalists within it have weakened her 
position considerably. Normally, under 
such circumstances human nature calls 
for seeking other alternatives. For the 
Black woman, such an alternative 
seemed to present itself at her doorstep. 
At about the same time, the women's 
liberation movement seemed to suggest 
an answer for the wondering and long- 
ing spirit of the Black woman. It is quite 
obvious though, that, she has over- 
whelmingly rejected its tantalizing phi- 
losophy. A great number of Black 
women view the movement with 
staunch suspicion and a lot of misgiv- 
ings. Its programs, interest areas and 
the composition of its membership have 



been a source of concern for the Black 
woman. The leadership is white-top 
heavy and, true to American sociologi- 
cal gospel. Black members are expected 
to take a back seat and simply follow 
orders. 

For one thing, the language and gen- 
eral tone of the organization, if it's one, 
do not represent her expression of the 
Black situation nor that of the world as 
a whole. She has constantly remarked 
that she does not need liberation from 
her man, for she has never been en- 
slaved by him. Rather, she thinks it is 
her man who needs to be liberated from 
the white system. Moreover, she is 
aware that the white woman has played 
an eminent role in putting the shackles 
on the Black man's ankles. The promi- 
nent presence of lesbians is a disturbing 
element. Nathan Hare and Julia Hare 
have stated, "Many Black women ex- 
press the same notions of the women's 
liberation movement as are common in 
the population at large. The movement, 
in this view, is flooded with lesbians, 
and we have heard black women boast 
of offers from white lesbians to 'take 
me out of the ghetto if I would be her 
lover'". At the same time however, one 
often hears a kind of scornful under- 
standing of what white women's libera- 
tion people are doing. White women are 
said to be sexually inhibited and rel- 
atively more chained to girdles and cor- 
sets and artificiality and Emily Post and 
less free even in the way they serve their 
meals. It is thought to be understand- 
able that they, white women, should 
rebel, and there is some wonder as to 
why they did not do so sooner, why in 
the South, for instance, they knowingly 
kept silent on the extramarital affairs 
their husbands were having with black 
mistresses who then gave birth to mulat- 
to children 'looking more like their hus- 
bands in some instances than their 
own.' (Black Experience: SOUL, 1973). 
This resounding resentment towards the 
white woman's sexual deviancy has 
caused the Black woman to feel that she 
is being like, what Hare and Hare refer 
to as a "mammy object." In the same 
article (Black Women Rainwater, 
1970), they relate a story told them by 



one Black woman: 

They (white women) expect sup- 
port and a great deal of under- 
standing of their sexual problems. 
I roomed with a white girl once 
for four months when I first got 
out of college. It turned out that I 
was a social cover so she could 
have Black men coming to see her. 
She was bizarre. White men did 
not seem interested in hen I 
moved out, and it became clear to 
everybody that she was seeing 
Black men. Suddenly, white men, 
even the janitor, began to hit on 
her A Black psychiatrist pointed 
out that the homosexual motiva- 
tion of these white men who 
found her a desirable vehicle for 
indirectly sharing a bed with 
Black men. 
Thus, the internal identity turbulence 
for the Black woman is compounded. 
Not only does the white man stalk her 
for sexual exploitation through perver- 
sion, not only is the white woman after 
her man, but the white man is also after 
her man. 

Historically, the Black woman has 
been accused of being in collusion with 
the white man to turn the capital system 
against her own man. Very often, under 
the system, the Black man has not been 
able to find a job of any kind regardless 
of his level of education or training. The 
misunderstanding that the Black 
woman was favored over her man stems 
from the fact that she often found work 
in the white man's kitchen and thus 
sometimes assumed the role of sole 
family bread earner. Unfortunately, it is 
a fact that some Black men and women 
have not been adequately prepared to 
deal with the forces working upon 
them. As Frances Beale points out, 
"Many Black women tended to accept 
the capitalistic evaluation of manhood 
and womanhood and believed, in fact, 
that Black men were shiftless and lazy, 
otherwise they would get a job and sup- 
port their families as they ought to. Per- 
sonal relationships between Black men 
and women were thus torn asunder and 
one result has been the separation of 
man from wife, mother from child. 



58 



etc." (The Black Family: Essays and 
Studies, Staples, 1978). What "society" 
has succeeded to do is to frustrate both 
these individuals to the point that they 
perceive one as the convenient enemy of 
the other. All in all, the myth that the 
Black woman is the white man's pet, 
like the gross one that she is a ma- 
triarch, is nullified by the fact that she 
has elected to stay and fight it out with 
her man towards a possible resolution 
of the problems not exactly of their own 
making. That she is willing to stay 
closer to her man, rather than the other 
one, is demonstrated by the fact that 
eight times out of ten, the man is the one 
that leaves the home. The case of furtive 
relationships between Black unmarried 
women and white men is of no propor- 
tional significance. The American 
political and economic system has done 
such an excellent job in reducing the 
Black man to such thorough oppression 
that the Black woman has had no pro- 
tection. Consequently, she has been and 
is still being used in numerous ways, as 
the scapegoat on behalf of the evils and 
atrocities this nefarious system has in- 
vented for Black men. The severity of 
her plight is rather passionately and elo- 
quently stated by Beale, "Her physical 
image has been maliciously maligned; 
she has been sexually molested and 
abused by the white colonizer; she has 
suffered the worse kind of economic ex- 
ploitation, having been forced to serve 
as the white woman's maid and wet 
nurse for white offspring while her own 
children were more often than not 
starving and neglected. It is the depth of 
degradation to be socially manipulated, 
physically raped, used to undermine 
your own household, and to be power- 
less to reverse this syndrome." 

In the eyes of the slavocratic machin- 
ery, Black men and women were equal. 
At the end of the 'Dark Days,' male- 
dominated households did not spring 
up. It is equally true that female domi- 
nancy was not the modus vivendi at this 
time. As, to be expected, the male and 
female roles were perceived differently; 
neither was dominant. The role of the 
man was that of stabilizer which meant 
that it was his responsibility to see to it 
that the family had a liveable home, 
food and protection. The woman was 
expected to be organizer by running the 
household. The success of the man's 
part was dependent on circumstances 
largely beyond his control such as main- 
taining a steady and satisfactory job. 
This simply did not take place. The role 



of the woman, however, tied her more 
closely to the household with which she 
had been entrusted. Consequently, 
while she also helped the man to supple- 
ment his role, this has led to the rather 
spurious and erroneous conclusion that 
the Black family is female dominated or 
matriarchal in nature. 

The track record of Black women's 
employment illustrates a high degree of 
persistence, indomitability and re- 
silience. History shows that around the 
turn of the century (1890-1900) the oc- 
cupational position of Black women in 
terms of power and privilege was at the 
lowest end of the totem pole as 96 per- 
cent of them were either farmhands or 
domestic servants, a continuation of the 
slave syndrome. Between 1900 and the 
1960's the great northward and west- 
ward migration occurred. This brought 
about a significant change from farm 
labor to industry. The placement of 
women at the lower rungs of the occu- 
pation ladder had not shifted by 1940. 
The following figures tell the rest of the 
story: 

1940 - 6% Black women in White 
Collar Jobs 

1940- 72% Black women in Blue 
Collar Jobs 

1950 - 12% Black women in White 
Collar Jobs 

1950- 15% Black women in Semi- 
skilled Jobs 

1950 - 63% Black women in Un- 
skilled Jobs 

1960 - 18% Black women in White 
Collar Jobs 

(Black Women in The 
American Work Force 
-Feagin, 1970). 

In the same study, Feagin 
notes that the employment 
data for 1966 showed the 
following trends for Black 
women 18 years or older: 
White Collar - 23% 
Unskilled - 60% 

The indication here is that the white col- 
lar job picture has improved somewhat 
and that the blue collar job ranks have 
not been reduced significantly. This has 
apparently raised the antenna of the 
hopes about the future employment 
scene of Black women. This position 
has been stated by several writers in a 
rather misleading manner as evidenced 
by Patrick Moynihan's premature ex- 
citement, "More importantly, it is clear 
that the Negro females have established 
a strong position for themselves in white 



collar and professional employment, 
precisely the areas of the economy 
which are growing most rapidly, and to 
which the highest prestige is accorded" 
(The Moynihan Report and Politics of 
Controversy - Rainwater and Yancey, 
1978). There is reason to review such 
conclusions with utmost caution and 
skepticism. First of all, the job cate- 
gories where women hold a high pro- 
portion of white collar jobs have not 
changed. Traditionally, they have been 
teaching, clerical work, counter sales, 
social work, nursing, and secretarial 
work. 

Second of all, the findings of the 
President's Committee on Equal Em- 
ployment Opportunity in 1964, based 
on reports on employment record of 
16,000 companies with nearly 5 million 
employees, revealed this pattern: 
WHITE COLLAR JOBS 

• Black men-Black women ratio 
4: 1 (Total workforce) 

• Black males = 1.2% of all males 

• Black females = 3. 1 % of all 
females 

• Black males =1.1% of all male 
professionals 

• Black females = 6% of all female 
professionals 

• Black males = 2.1% of all male 
technicians 

• Black females = 10% of all female 
technicians 

(Moynihan 1965) 
There is a great chance of missing the 
correct interpretation of Moynihan's 
above data if the following factors are 
not considered: 

1. By 1965, approximately one 
quarter of the black families were 
without a male. This is a high rate; 
almost three times that obtaining in 
the white community according to 
the U.S. Department of Labor. The 
immediate impact of this situation 
is that a large number of husband- 
less mothers will pack employment 
halls in search of jobs. A good 
number of them will already be 
equipped for skilled employment 
by training or education. 

2. Black women have never enjoyed 
equal status with either white 
women or white men on the same 
job level. They have been constant 
victims of both racial and sex dis- 
crimination. 

3. Black women have been relegated 
to the lower-grade ranges of the so- 
called white collar occupational 
categories. In 1960, nearly one- 



59 



fourth of all white women em- 
ployees in the census "clerical" 
category held jobs with the title of 
"secretary." Only one-tenth of the 
Black clerical workers were identi- 
fied as such. Several studies have 
confirmed that Black women are 
about twice or thrice as likely as 
whites to be in the lower status 
position of "typist." a great num- 
ber of these jobs such as key-punch 
operator seem to be in danger of 
being extinct in the not-too-distant 
future as a result of the advent of 
automation. 

4. The data are likely to be utilized to 
prognose future trends. The danger 
here is posed by the fact that com- 
pared to their counterparts, Black 
women have a long road to travel 
towards parity, if ever. Based on the 
Bureau of Labor Statistics Offi- 
cials, increases in U.S. unemploy- 
ment rate reflect an ever increasing 
rate of Black women who are job- 
less. As far back as 1954, unem- 
ployment rate for non-white 
women has doubled compared to 
that of white women. During 1966, 
for instance, non-white women un- 
employment rate was 6.6 percent 
and that of white women was 3.3 
percent. It was 4.9 percent for non- 
white men and 2.2 percent for 
white men. 

The point should not be overlooked 
here that the Black woman in America 
has made a tremendous contribution in 
the labor force throughout the existence 
of the country but, for reasons cited 
above, it would be grossly unfair to con- 
clude that occupationally, at least, 
Black women have "got it made" while 
their men have not. 

Indeed, contemporary Black sociolo- 
gists such as Joyce Ladner, Robert 
Staples, Andrew Billingsley and Jac- 
queline Jackson have produced liter- 
ature that purports to reinforce the per- 
spective of the resources and strengths 
of the Black woman in family life.They 
and Robert Hill have succeeded in dis- 
lodging the traditional White "advan- 
taged" and "matriarchal" approach. 
They question this proposal in light of 
the evidence of the triple oppression 
against the Black woman in the Ameri- 
can society. Numerous data have 
proved conclusively that she is discrim- 
inated against on account of her sex role 
affiliation, her racial identity and her 
location in the working class ranks of 



this country dominated by the middle 
class. 

In the context of the liberation strug- 
gle of the Black people, the Black 
woman has held her own through thick 
and thin. Her role was deftly articulated 
by Mumininas, of the Committee for 
Unified New Ark. She wrote in 1971 
that, "Black women should support 
their men in whatever they do in Na- 
tionalism rather than holding back the 
progress of all Black people." There is 
no doubt that they have done just that. 
Black women in North America sup- 
plied tremendous resources and pro- 
found strengths for the family. They 
maintained and promoted heterosexual 
styles of adaptation. During slavery, 
men were separated from women to 
whom they were united and tied by links 
of procreation and by various types of 
marital arrangements. Under those cir- 
cumstances, the bond between the 
mother and her children continued to 
resist the rather destabilizing effects of 
the economic schemes that were detri- 
mental to the welfare of slaves. The 
Black mother remained the main foun- 
tain of life and the important figure in 
the family. Contrary to expectations, 
the slave mothers' love for their chil- 
dren did not diminish but rather grew 
stronger. This often caused them to defy 
their masters and to undergo suffering 
in order to keep custody of their young 
ones through periods of stress and 
strain. 

In spite of a significant dosage of self 
interest and self exploitation evident 
within Black communities, it is agreed 
that both Black men and women should 
complement each other in their roles. 
Their separate capabilities should be 
utilized to unite their gains. They are 
both aware of their responsibilities 
towards protecting their children from 
the white man's barbarism. 

Black women, the majority of the en- 
lightened ones, approach the Black 
struggle with a sense of indispensability. 
This sense is summarized in a statement 
uttered by Maya Angelou, author of the 
best selling novels: 'I Know Why The 
Caged Bird Sings' and 'Gather Together 
In My Name. "In a reply to a question 
in the January-February, 1977 Black 
Scholar issue, she said, ". . .you see, 
there is one major difference between 
white American women and Black 
American women. And, it is this. White 
men have been able to say to white 
women and have said, T don't need 
you. I can keep my factories running at 



top speed, I can send trains down silver 
tracks, and ships out to rolling seas. I 
can keep my institutes of higher educa- 
tion going without you; I can run wars 
without you, I can go the moon without 
you. I need you in the bedroom, the 
kitchen and the nursery.' Now, Black 
men have never been able to say that to 
our women. There is a qualitative dif- 
ference in our approach to our men and 
our approach to life and our approach 
to our children and our approach to 
ourselves. A total difference, because 
although white men and women may 
say that to me in effect by the way they 
treat me, my own fathers and brothers 
and uncles do not say that. But for a 
white woman to have her own brother, 
father, nephews and uncles say that to 

her has got to boggle the mind." 

The difference referred to by the 
author is partly the reason Black 
women, as a whole, have not been im- 
pressed by and drawn towards the 
Women's Liberation movement of the 
seventies and eighties. In fact, they view 
the movement with great suspicion and 
apprehension that it has achieved the 
stature of a formidable rival of the 
Black Power movement. 

Of late, there is a semblance of the 
emergence of the new Black women- 
leaders who have been thrust into prom- 
inence by their former husbands. There 
is a sense in which Black women, tradi- 
tionally, were expected to make it on 
their own because their men were ex- 
periencing sundry problems. Since edu- 
cation has always been regarded as the 
ante-chamber to the castle of success, 
on proportion, more Black women go 
to college than Black men. Hence, part- 
ly their leadership role. 

The one figure that exemplifies this 
new breed of Black women is Correta 
Scott King. She is definitely the lone ex- 
ample, recently of a Black widow who 
has developed and directed her talents 
and experience towards the continua- 
tion and furtherance of the Black strug- 
gle. The character and strength of this 
giant Black female are contained in 
Correta by Octavia Vivian. The author 
reveals in the preface that, "the idea of 
a book about Mrs. Martin Luther King, 
Jr., was first conceived as a tribute to a 
powerful woman behind a great men." 
Undoubtedly, Mrs. King has been, "a 
symbol of the new image of Black 
womanhood for the Black race since the 
days of the Montgomery bus boycott, 
which had its beginnings on December 
1, 1955." 



60 



According to the author of the book, 
the ingredients towards the develop- 
ment of Mrs. King's personality can be 
traced in her home life, school days and 
her marriage to the dynamic Civil 
Rights leader. It is the post-King Cor- 
reta, however, which the world is watch- 
ing closely. 

At this point, she has managed, with 
tremendous success, to step in and not 
only promote her husband's philosophy 
but also to explain it. As tradition has it, 
this is a task that should have fallen 
upon the shoulders of one of Dr. King's 
lieutenants. Some Black and white lead- 
ers believe it is because of the aggressive 
role played by Mrs. King that no heir 
apparent has succeeded Martin Luther 
King, Jr. in the Civil Rights movement. 
Some even hint that she might be the 
successor. 

In the eyes of her admirers, Mrs. 
King has succeeded in focussing her 
eyes upon the heights where the Black 
struggle is being waged in spite of her 
personal and racial tragedy. There are a 
few pointers to the significance of this 
line of thinking. Two days after the 
death of her beloved husband and com- 
panion, on April 6, Correta left her 
home for a painful press conference at 
the Ebenezer Baptist Church which had 
housed Dn King's pulpit for eight years 
as its co-pastor. On this occasion, Mrs. 
King faced the American public for the 
first time since the sad day. This was a 
time of anger, frustration and impa- 
tience on the part, especially of the 
Black youth who had witnessed their 
leaders put away unceremoniously. The 
name of King was being added to those 
of Medgar Evers and Malcom X, to 
mention only two. White violence was 
on the sharp rise and, frankly, everyone 
was aware that time for cool tempers 
was running out. Yet, in a Queenly, de- 
fiant and stoic manner, Mrs. King in- 
toned, "My husband told the children 
that if a man had nothing worth dying 
for, then he was not fit to live. He also 
said that it is not how long you live but 
how well you live. My husband's work 
transcends his death. We knew that at 



any moment his physical life could be 
cut short, and we faced this possibility 
squarely and honestly. My husband 
faced the possibility of death with no 
bitterness or hatred. He knew that this 
was a sick society, totally infested with 
racism and violence, that questioned his 
integrity, maligned his motives, and 
distorted his views, which would ul- 
timately lead to his death, and he strug- 
gled with every ounce of his energy to 
save that society from itself." With a 
renewed determination and commit- 
ment to the liberation struggle and using 
the royal "we," she declared, "And 
those of you who believed in what Mar- 
tin Luther King Jr. stood for, I would 
challenge you today to see that this 
spirit never dies and that we will go for- 
ward from this experience, which to me 
represents the crucifixion on toward the 
resurrection and redemptive spirit. We 
must carry on because this is the way he 
would have wanted it to have been. We 
are not going to get bogged down, I 
hope, and from this moment on, we are 
going to go forward. We are going to 
continue his work to make all people 
free and to make every person feel that 
he's a human being." 

Her forward looking and courageous 
attitude was demonstrated when, on 
April 8, she led a poor peoples' march 
in Memphis and actually gave a speech. 
As a further gesture that she wanted to 
assert herself as the perpetuator of her 
legend-husband, Correta chose to keep 
his speaking engagement schedule. 

As the overseer of the Martin Luther 
King Memorial Center in Atlanta, Mrs. 
King has aptly utilized this monument 
to excellency to broaden and firm her 
national and, indeed, international base 
within the matrix of the universal Black 
struggle. 

It is the feeling of this writer that 
Black women, more of them will con- 
tinue to be heard from. Clearly, Correta 
Scott King is the wave of the 1980's. 



REFERENCES 

1. Baughman, Earl E: Black Americans (Aca- 
demic Press, 1971). 

2. Black Scholar, Vol. 8 Number 4 (January- 
February, 1977). 

3. Chase, William M. and Collier, Peter: 
Justice Denied, (Harcourt, Brace and 
World Inc., 1970). 

4. Dixon, Vernon J. and Foster, Badi: Beyond 
Black and White (Little, Brown and Com- 
pany, 1971). 

5. Fager, Charles E: While Reflections on 
Black Power (William B. Eerdmans Pub- 
lishing Company, 1967). 

6. Ladner, Joyce H: Tomorrow's Tomorrow 
(Anchor Books, 1972). 

7. Martin, Elmer P. and Martin, Mitchele Jo- 
anne: The Black Extended Family (Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press, 1978). 

8. Moss, James A: The Blackman in America 
(Dell Pubhshing Company, 1971). 

9. Mumininas: Mwanamke-Mwananchi 
(Jihad Productions, 1971). 

10. Octavian, Vivian: CORETTA (Fortress 
Press, 1970). 

11. Pinkney, Alphonso: Black Americans (Dial 
Press Inc., 1963). 

12. Rainwater, Lee and Yancey, William L: The 
Moyhihan Report and the Politics of Con- 
troversy (M.I.T. Press, 1967). 

13. Reid, InezS: The Black Prism (City Univer- 
sity Faculty Press, 1969). 

14. Staples, Robert: The Black Family: Essays 
and Studies (Wadsworth Publishing Com- 
pany, 1978). 

15. Thomas, George B: Young Black Adults: 
Liberation and Family Attitudes (Friend- 
ship Press, 1974). 

16. Thomas, Tony A: A Strategy for Black Lib- 
eration (Pathfinder Press, 1975). 

17. Willie, Charles V: The Family Life of Black 
People (Charles E. Merrill, 1970). 

The Author: Japhet Zwana was an 
exiled citizen of Zimbabwe. He is 
professor of African/Afro-American 
Studies at the State University of New 
York in Albany. He is author of 
several magazine and newspaper arti- 
cles on contemporary issues in Africa 
and the diaspora. 

His Ph.D. dissertation: The Ad- 
ministrative Role in The Introduction 
of African Languages As Primary 
Media Of Instruction In African 
Schools — An Exploratory Study, has 
been printed as a book by the Univer- 
sity of Michigan. 



61 



Gentrification 

continued from page 51 

by Black and Hispanic peoples. Any 
geographic significance these places will 
receive - will come when they have been 
thoroughly refurbished by the oppress- 
ing class and fumigated of all vestiges of 
color. 

This process has been thorough and 
has brought with it a change in the 
social and cultural aspects of this com- 
munity. The Ontario Theater in the 
Adams-Morgan Community has re- 
cently stopped showing Spanish-Lan- 
guage films. 

Beatrice Pointdexter must vacate her 
apartment within thirty days and when 
she leaves, her rehabilitated home will 
be sold for $80,000. In the same area, a 
developing company, Kichko Invest- 
ments recently bought a row of 13 de- 
teriorated houses * occupied by 26 Black 
families. Eviction notices went out and 
most of the families have left. Work- 
men are installing dishwashers and sky- 
lights and an armed security guard 
watches over things.' 

The Adams-Morgan Organization 
sued the group of developers who had 
purchased almost an entire block of 
rental homes in one of the city's most 
active renovation neighborhoods. The 
developers had sent the tenants 30-day 
eviction notices and planned to improve 
each unit for private sale. The AMO 
won its suit in D.C. superior court, thus 
upholding the tenant-purchase provi- 
sion of the city's rent control law. 

As a result, AMO and the developers 
negotiated an agreement whereby the 
home were offered first to the tenants 
for an average of $17,000 each. Inter- 



estingly, the developers claimed to have 
paid an average of $13,500 apiece for 
them. The few units that were renovat- 
ed and sold to nontenants before the 
court decision ranged from $56,000 to 
$70,000. AMO and the tenants have re- 
ceived commitments from the city and a 
local bank to supplement their personal 
resources to purchase the homes. What 
should certainly be noted in this ar- 
rangement is the fact that those who 
were most directly affected by this ac- 
tion, the residents, had absolutely no 
say as to the destiny of the buildings. 

One program that seems to be in the 
genuine interest of the tenants is the 
Savannah, Georgia landmark rehabili- 
tation project. It is a non-profit organ- 
ization which purchases and rehabili- 
tates Victorian style dwellings in an area 
close to the city's historic district. 
Tenants are temporarily located in va- 
cant buildings while their homes are 
renovated and then they are given the 
opportunity to return at rents compar- 
able to the pre-rehab level. 

The rehabilitation process would not 
be as detrimental to the low income and 
working classes provided that tenants 
were guaranteed the right to return to 
their homes or apartments once they 
had been rehabilitated; and that grants 
and low interest loans were made readi- 
ly available for tenants to purchase their 
homes or to start cooperatives and 
finally, that the tenants and original 
homeowners could be protected from 
displacement because of increased costs 
such as taxes. 

Gentrification in its real light is a 



modern-day tragedy. Rather than some 
social phenomenon to be discussed for 
the sake of conversation in sociology 
classes or at cocktail parties, displace- 
ment for the victim is a harsh reality. 
The experience of having an arbitrary 
party contact you and grant you a gen- 
erous thirty days to relocate must be a 
mentally devastating one indeed. For 
Blacks, the feelings of powerlessness 
and vulnerability pervade our existence 
in employment, in academia and in gen- 
eral growth; but when capitalist oppres- 
sion poses a threat to our home, the on- 
ly hiding place and corner of the sky for 
most of us— Something has got to give. 

FOOTNOTES 

1. Dennis R. Judd, The Politics of 
American Cities: Private, Power and 
Public Policy (Boston: Little, Brown 
& Co., 1979), p. 73 

2. Dennis E. Gale, "Dislocation of 
Residents Endangers Neighborhood 
Conservation Efforts; What Solu- 
tions Are Possible?" Journal of 
Housing 

3. Conrad Weiler, " Old Neighbor- 
hoods, Newcomers," New York 
Times, 25 June, 1978, p.9 

4. Ibid; p. 9 

5. Chester Hartman, "Displacement: 
A Not So New Problem," Social 
Policy, December 1978, p. 12 

6. Robert Reinhold, ' 'Middle-Class Re- 
turn Displaces Some Urban Poor", 
New York Times, 5 June 1977, p. 2 



62 



TEN YEARS LATER 



In 1968 the first 125 CCEBS students 
enrolled at the University of Massachu- 
setts at Amherst. Four years later, ap- 
proximately 50 young men and women 
were awarded baccalaureate degrees. 
This commencement was a memorable 
occasion because at that time those grad- 
uates represented the largest number of 
African American students to earn de- 
grees in the 109-year history of the Uni- 
versity — a public land-grant institution 
of the Commonwealth. 

To date more than 500 students have 
completed their undergraduate studies 
under the aegis of CCEBS at UMass. 
Many of these young people represent 
the first generation of college graduates 
in their families. For others, graduating 
from this institution was the initial step 
toward the fulfillment of further profes- 
sional and career goals which were en- 



hanced by either advanced or graduate 
study. 

On Saturday, May 30, 1981, nearly 
fifty-five young men and women will 
complete their undergraduate studies. 
This date also represents the tenth anni- 
versary of the CCEBS Program. 

One of the major principles of 
CCEBS is that academic excellence can 
be achieved only through the acquisition 
of skills and a commitment to develop 
the discipline to do "whatever it takes" 
to attain them. We also recognize that 
you possess the perseverance required to 
continue the tradition established by 
your predecessors and the challenge re- 
mains for you to continue to believe in 
yourself as you commence your respec- 
tive careers. Belief in yourself is the only 
true indicator of success. 

The CCEBS Board of Directors, staff 



and I are pleased to add your name to the 
CCEBS roster. However, remember the 
following: 

GOD'S MINUTE 

I have only just a minute, 
Only sixty seconds in it, 
Forced upon me - can't refuse it 
Didn't seek it, didnt choose it, 
But its up to me to use it. 
I must suffer if I lose it. 
Give account if I abuse it. 
Just a tiny little minute 
But eternity is in it! 

— Anonymous* 

•from the desk of WendeU Phillips Whalum, Ph.D. 



ROSALYN ALI 


KATHLEEN JUNG 


CRYSTAL L. BANKS 


NADINE E. KFE 


NANCEY E. BROOKS 


DANNY C. K. LEE 


KELLY L. BUTLER 


IVY F. LEE 


MIRIAM J. CARTER 


SANDRA ANN LOGAN 


SHU H. CHAN 


TAKKIN LOW 


EE K. CHO 


MARION H. MATHIS 


COTHENIA D. COOPER 


MARK S. MCGINNIS 


ANITA DAVIS 


CHARLES G. MCKINNEY 


BARON T. DENNISTON 


RICHARD MEI 


ANDRE DIAZ 


PATRICIA A. MORIARTY 


MICHELLE DOZIER 


HENRI NSANJMA 


MARLENE E. DUNCAN 


JOCELYN A. PAYNE 


WALTER T FINDLEY 


DIANE E. RANDOLPH 


KIMBERLEY C. GREEN 


FREDERIC D. ROLLINS 


GAIL A. HART 


JOSEPHINE RUDOLPH 


STACI R. HARTWELL 


JENNIFER A. SEGRE 


CURTIS HAYNES JR. 


BARRY E. SIMMONS 


JOHN C. HILL JR. 


ELIZABETH A. SKELTON 


CAROL JANE HORNE 


CAROL A. SMITH 


DONALD L. HOUSTON 


JESSE STEWART 


DIAN P. JOHN 


SAMUEL TAVERAS 


LOIDA D. JOHN 


EUNICE TORRES 


CYNTHIA L. JONES 


ALBERT N. WALKER 



63 



TWO SIDES OF SILENCE 



THE LAST DAYS OF APARTHEID. 



SIDE 1 

To us, 

who were of necessary birth 

for the earth's hard and thankless toil, 

silence has no meaning. 

There is never a feeling of tranquility 

or mere quietness, 

never a moment of soundless calm 

from within or without our troubled selves. 

How can the clamor of sounds be stilled? 
There is no void where noise can collect 
and be made mute 
before the ring escapes. 

How indeed can there be a silence 
when our hearts beat out a sonorous beat 
meeting the beating drums of an African past; 
when our eyes shed solid tears of iron blood 
that falls on CONCRETE GROUND? 

Inside our ears are the many wailing cries 

of misery. 

Inside our bodies, the internal bleeding 

of stifled volcanoes. 

Inside our heads, erupting thoughts of rebellion. 

How can there be calm when the storm is yet to come? 

SIDE 2 

This unending silence, 
taut, impervious, 
unbending, 
not lending an ear 
to the most delicate of sounds 
awaits the blast of bombs 
which man will explode 
to break this silent bound 
to determine their fate 
to be used to create 
hills of soft obedience 
where sweet clothed sounds 
can rebound round 
and their echoes glide 
like a carefree bird 
in rhythmic calm 
through a mellow, 
purer, silent space. 

From Dread Beat & Blood 

by 

Linton Kwesi Johnson 



said the ancients of Afirika in days of yore: 

"what ends not is an ill-omen" 

how true, indeed, this old-time adage. 

who e'er dreamnt we'd one day reach this milestone — 

the beginning of the end of apartheid? 

generations and centuries of bitter oppression! 

ev'rything we now behold and harken to 

luminously signals apartheid's last days; 

jubilantly hails apartheid's impending demise. 

these are apartheid's last days: 

like it or not, the abomination's doomed for death! 

good times ahead for us, and evil ones for you 

betimes, one hears of black kids' uprisings, 
which history has no precedent for; 
labor upheavals and strikes are rife; 
and students' rebellions are a daily menu; 
e'en granite-hearted boer nationahst bigots 
daily bubble that change's inevitable, 
although theirs's but deceptive make-believe, 
whites on Johannesburg's streets nightly sigh: 

"we've had it too good, too long 

"certainly, change's destined to come soon." 

meanwhile, NELSON MANDELA's exiles on foreign strands 

are crawling and edging back towards apartheid's borders, 

ready to re-enter their traditional habitat. 

and, within soweto, desmond tutu and nthato motlana 

vie for roles to rekindle their down-trodden folks 

in an unbridled bid to "Bring back AfirikaV 

"mayibuye i-Afirikal may Afirika return (to us)." 

and worldly-wise whites begin to invest abroad; 

and their progeny study in great britain, 

the united states of america and canada. 

but mozambique, angola, zambia, lesotho, 

Swaziland, botswana and nyerere's tanzania 

are hedged in screscent around apartheid's laager. 

they're here to liberate their kith-and-kin within, 

from the grinding ignominy of heinous apartheid; 

they're here, shoulder to shoulder, 

determinedly unfaltering, resolutely unyielding; 

they're here, backed by all of Afirika, 

as well as the entire community of world nations! 

armored tanks, jet bombers and meteoric spitfires, 

armed to the hilt, armed to the teeth; 

and burgeoning economy backed by foreign investments, — 

all, all won't stem the swelling tidal wave 

of this Aflrikan nationalism's militancy 

these are brutal apartheid's last days, 

long prognosticated by harold macmillan 

in the heyday of the assassinated hendrik verwoerd 

Daniel P.P. Marolen 
New York City 



I 



Drum Staff 

Volume 11 No. 1 DEC 2 1961 

May 1981 

Editors 

Lettie Moses 
Terri-Ann Simms 
Nancy Brooks 
Julie Keith 

Business Manager 

Marlene Duncan 

Photography 

Robet Daris 
Barron Roland 
Vera Olave 
Zulma Nazario 

Layout 

June Anderson 
Jennifer Hardy 
Donna Daris 
Dannette Day 
Cothenia Cooper 
Linda Mackall 
Kimberly Green 

Attributing Staff 

Loraine Barnaby 
Michael Mark 
Morden Ambrose 
Augusto Marfins 
Phyllis Pruitt 
Karen Thomas 
Carl Yates 

Contemporary Black Imagemaking 

Afro Am 217 
Professor Nelson Stevens 




For All Black Daddies by Michael Harris