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Philip Pettijohn 

The first half of the 70-71 academic 
year is over and I think an assessment of 
the real accomplishments of the black 
"actionary and reactionary forces" on 
the UMass. campus is in order. An as- 
sessment that should pin-point political- 
ly, economically and socially the 
position of the black community of the 
University of Massachusetts. Our posi- 
tion in relation to or compared to what? 
— reality; the reahty of it all. 

The new year brought with it the 
housing of the "big three" under the 
same roof. The W.E.B. DuBois Black 
Studies Dept., the Committee for the 
Collegiate Education of Black Students 
and the Black Cultural Center Main Of- 
fices are all now located and operating 
out of Mills House. 

The Black Studies Dept., in fact the 
whole University heartily welcomed 
Michael Thelwell back as the chairman 
of the Department. The return seemed 
to be a just reward for the suffering 
many endured during his, seemingly 
eternal, but brief absence. The expan- 
sion of and the solidifying of the Dept. 
as a university dept. is greatly appre- 
ciated and something the whole black 
community can be proud of. However, 
some of the major questions asked by 
the more politically and culturally 
orientated of us, still go unanswered. 
Where is the student entity of the de- 
partment? An explanation or definition 
of the role of the white man in the 

Black Studies Dept. is in order. The 
Black Studies Dept. is fighting a battle 
against the University in its attempt to 
admit Herbert Aptheker to the Dept. 
Many universities follow a "hands off" 
policy in regards to Aptheker because of 
his political affiliations. The people of 
the Dept. rejected a Nigerian brother's 
application because of, from what I 
understand, his concept of reality. I 
wonder how Mr. Austin looks at reality. 

Recently the Black Studies Depart- 
ment was charged with being "ideolog- 
ically passive"; I find myself in agree- 
ment with this charge. I don't know if 
it's the political strategy of the Dept. or 
the lack of communication that exists 
between the Dept. and the black stu- 
dent body, but the Dept. has yet to 
issue a statement of position on many 
of the important and relevant issues that 
have arisen so far this semester. If 
Brother Thelwell is unaware of the ex- 
tent of his influence in the black 
community, please tell him to lift his 
head up, the black community wants to 
hear what he has to say. Another charge 
was voiced along with the one stated 
above. It was that the Dept. "is not 
addressed to the desperate need of the 
Black Nation for scientists", that is the 
Dept. is not set-up to produce engineers, 
doctors, nuclear physicists, or biologists. 
The charge is real, however, if the Black 
Studies Dept. can be pinned with the 
blame, so must all the black people in 
America be so blamed. The failure of 
the Dept. to offer such courses in the 
realm of science, is due to situational 
factors rather than the ideologies 
and priorities of the Dept. The situa- 
tional factors are those which revolve 
around the fact that the white man has 
his foot in our ass and insists on keeping 
it there. 

It is my belief that the Black Studies 
Dept. has a solid and real foundation 
and a core of faculty that will develop 
the Department into one of best of its 

kind in the country. However, if the 
Dept. continues to ignore its relation- 
ship with the black community beyond 
the education level, the white commun- 
ity of the university will be the only 
group that acknowledges the relevance, 
the reality of the W.E.B. DuBois Black 
Studies Department. 

The internal structure of the Com- 
mittee for the Collegiate Education of 
Black Students has undergone radical 
change since the previous year. With the 
installation of Dr. Hodges Glenn as the 
director of the CCEBS Program, we 
have seen a transformation of the Pro- 
gram from a loosely structured, usually 
silent, somewhat inefficient entity into 
a highly structured, aggressive, and ef- 
ficient organization. It has become a 
factor of university life that a segment 
of the community feel the Program and 
Dr. Glenn sacrificed too much to obtain 
this level of bureaucracy, aggressiveness 
and efficiency. The Program because of 
the sacrifices has taken on character- 
istics similar to those of a white bureau- 
cratic institution (Whitmore). The 
countenance of the Program is some- 
what harder and colder than it was be- 
fore. Black students find this hard to 
deal with, that is a Program coming 
from a black frame of reference that 
dictates stringent rules and guidelines 
that they must function within. I find it 
a lot easier to deal with the bureaucracy 
of the CCEBS Program than with the 
aggressive personality of the Program. 
The Program and Dr. Glenn upon their 
move into the Cultural Center, during 
the summer, literally "bogarted" the 
black student's lounge on the second 
floor. Despite the objections raised from 
the students that were on the campus at 
the time Dr. Glenn had the lounge re- 
painted, removed the furniture, and 
then declared it a possession of CCEBS. 
I don't doubt the practicality of CCEBS 
using a lounge as a pseudo auditorium 
but the transition should have been 

made only after student consent. If the 
aggressiveness of the CCEBS Program 
could be directed for the black students 
instead of at them, the lethal gap that 
exists between the two entities could be 
narrowed considerably. The aggressive- 
ness could be channeled into finding 
monies for the black students on cam- 
pus who still haven't received all of their 
scholarship allocation. With the Univer- 
sity being as large as it is, this wouldn't 
take much aggression to channel. Also, 
it is my feeling and that of a large 
number of other black students that 
there are too many white folks working 
for CCEBS; too many counselors are 
white and too many tutors are white. It 
is a gross misinterpretation of priorities 
on the part of the CCEBS Program and 
Dr. Glenn if they don't see the need of 
directing some of the aggression of the 
Program into locating and training quali- 
fied black students to fill these posi- 

The importance and relevance of the 
CCEBS Program to the black commun- 
ity is immeasurable. However, the im- 
portance and relevance of the Program 
will never be illuminated to the ultimate 
degree until the people of the Program 
start viewing students in a different 
light. A light that will show the need for 
the Program to respect its students as 
much as the students must respect it. 

The completeness of the powerless 
position that black students as a whole, 
hold on the UMass campus can only be 
traced back to the two lethal diseases 
that are running rampant on the epi- 
demic level throughout the black stu- 
dent body. The diseases being apathy 
and political barbarism. Both diseases 
are highly contagious and can lead to 
mental stagnation and death. The over- 
whelming number of black students 
struck down from these cancer-like dis- 
eases is staggering. 

How any black man can allow him- 
self to become a victim of apathy; 

apathetic to the reality of the un- 
realness of his relationship, as a black 
man, to himself, his woman, his society, 
is inconceivable. Yet black student 
apathy is a reality on this campus and 
we must deal with it. Apathy basically 
stems from ignorance (total lack of 
understanding of what's going on) there- 
fore a long term antidote would be 
education, in our case a black educa- 
tion. Education is a long drawn out 
process and time seems to be the only 
thing black students don't have on their 
side. Therefore we must develop a short 
term way of dealing with it to go along 
with the long term process of education. 
We must take advantage of apathy; 
make it work for us. We must tell apa- 
thetic students what to think, what to 
say, and how to react, reaction is the 
only thing they are capable of. In- 
humane? Face reality, apathetic people 
don't think because they are afraid to, 
they don't speak because they don't 
have anything to say, and they don't act 
because they're too busy reacting. If 
black people want to walk around like 
robots (gadgets) then program them; if 
we don't the man will. 

Political barbarism or political inex- 
perience is the primary force that is 
keeping thinking brothers and sisters 
from establishing a real black student 
front on campus. The only way we can 
cure this political inexperience is by ex- 
periencing or practicing politics; true 
knowledge comes only from practice. 
Black vanity, black paranoia, and black 
distrust make it almost impossible for 
black students to practice politics. Too 
proud to make a mistake, too afraid to 
take on responsibility, not enough trust 
in oneself to trust anyone else, all these 
make it unfeasible for a black student to 
practice politics. Vanity, paranoia, and 
distrust can only be dealt with on an 
individual level, brothers and sisters, I 
suggest we start dealing with them be- 
fore they deal the final blow on us. 

Hillbillies, Harlemites 
& Peacenicks 

in Vietnam 

By Doug Ruhe 

Doug Ruhe is presently a graduate student at the 
University of iVIassachusetts School of Educa- 

Classified as a Conscientious Objector, Ruhe 
served in Vietnam as a nnedic. The following 
article, which was written while the author was 
still stationed in Southeast Asia, is excerpted 
from a larger essay in which Ruhe describes his 
experiences in Vietnam. 

Vietnam is like a great Rorschach test exploring the 
attitudes and beliefs harbored by average Americans; it 
evokes the aggregate of values and notions which they 
have absorbed from our culture and schools. 

Because the arriving GI has been offered almost no 
explanation whatever of the causes, history, peoples, 
strategies, economics and politics of war, he confronts a 
vast and confusing array of experiences that are ex- 
tremely foreign to him. The hords of small Vietnamese 
peoples who surround him when he takes time off in 
town, sing-song crazily in languages he finds completely 
unintelligible. To function and communicate with them, 
he must choose an understanding of who he is in relation 
to them and what is his mission. 

The prospect of investigation into the several cultures 
is inviting. He senses hostility and resentment in the 
people and derision in their laughter. Few, if any, Amer- 
icans that he meets have knowledge of the languages, 
while a general suspicion prevails that all the indigenous 
folk either are VC or give allegiance to the VC. The 

enemy can't be distinguished from the people; so, 
subtly, the people become the enemy. And these suspi- 
cions are nurtured by the realization that the only Viet- 
namese people who seem eager to consort with them are 
brazen hustlers, pimps, whores, and shifty-eyed thieves. 
A pageant of avarice unfolds in that segment of Vietna- 
mese society open to them. (One gets the impression 
that Vietnam has been converted into a garrish bazaar- 
bordello to accommodate the material and physical lusts 
of theGI's.) 

Admittedly this presents a formidable barrier to 
ordinary human conversation and friendship. Cash com- 
munication is hard to penetrate, but it is the rare GI who 
even makes an attempt to investigate. 

For most of the Americans I have met, the easiest and 
most natural alternative to search out is to reach into the 
fagbag of racist and chauvinistic cliches they have ac- 
quired in American society. Knowing who the Vietna- 
mese are, and one's own position, one then is reduced to 
the process of selecting appropriate formulas from the 
American Way of Life. 

Poor Asian countries, for example, populated with 
"backward". Oriental, "uneducated" people, some of 
whom are "communists", are something we (GI's) have 
heard about from our teachers in school, our families 
and friends, ever since we were young children. The 
exalted status America allegedly holds, compared with 
such nations and peoples, or any nation or people for 
that matter, is reflex knowledge. We've been told it a 
thousand times: America is the greatest nation that ever 
was; our people are the most educated, sanitary, rich, 
free, honest, etc. 

Among my fellow GI's, genocide is far and away the 
most popular solution to the Vietnamese Question. It is 
embodied in a variety of similarly inspired "plans", from 

the invasion of the North with two million troops, to 
saturated bombing of all populated areas where the 
enemy might be. The jargon has it that we should "quit 
messing around" and comfortably unleash a tech- 
nological scourge. Negotiated settlement, until very re- 
cently, was scorned by most as an abdication to the 
hippie-commie coalition in the states, or as surrender to 
the "little man", "Charlie". More dearly felt than these 
reasons is the craving for revenge. 

Thirty-five thousand Americans* have died here and 
someone should pay drastically for it. (No one I have 
questioned has any idea how many Vietnamese soldiers 
have died, since the army apparently finds these statis- 
tics lacking in significance. Presumably, the estimated 
500,000 lives lost by the VC and the NVA during the 
war, and the devastation wrought on the North by three 
years of bombing, are not sacrifice enough). 

A college-educated acquaintance told me one day at 
noon chow: 

"What we ought to do is pull our troops out of 
Vietnam and when they're on the boats in the 
South China Sea, nuke the hell out of the gooks. 
Then there'd be peace and we could all go home.' 

The person who uttered this remark is not an embittered 
eccentric hater or a paranoid mad-dog. On the contrary 
he has a gleaming smile, and is articulate and com- 
mercially handsome. The words, though said in a 
pleasant conversational manner, were expressed with 
complete seriousness as well. 

Asked about the justice of slaughtering benign civil- 
ians, many of whom may be either a-political or anti- 
communist, the speaker's voice hardens; he grimaces in 
mock pain. He is talking, he now knows, to one of those 
"unreahstic" humanitarian peacenik types. "Fuck 'em. 
This is war! " he sneers. 

The advocacy of genocide here, as a victory climax to 
the war suggests a whole complex of assumptions and 
beliefs: the base themes of our society. Indeed, the 
soldiers here are echoing a sentiment I heard in the states 
many times before leaving. There it was bad manners. 
Here, they let it all hang out. 

Racism is the word "gook", an ubiquitous epithet 
among GI's. "Gook" thinking is one, if not the primary 
factor in the genocide equation; it converts human be- 
ings to things which are strange and repellent. So perva- 
sive is this thesis, that I have continually heard the 
epithet used by Black, Puerto Rican and Mexican GI's, 
as well as their more predictable white comrades. Watch- 
ing a Black soldier swaggering among the Vietnamese, 
imperiously cursing, having his shoes shined by jostling 
urchins or buying their awe and companionship with a 
roll of military dollars, at first seems grotesque, but 
upon reflection, shouldn't be considered. 

Our culture is saturated with racist thinking and 
many ghetto dwellers, as the objects of most of it are 
tyrannized by its logic. Nonetheless it is bizarre to listen 
(as I several times have) while a Black or Mexican- 
American holds forth on the alleged attributes held to be 
proof of "gook" inferiority, poverty, stupidity, laziness, 
immorality, lack of education and cleanliness, etc. I 
always have the weird sensation that I am talking to a 
Mississippi redneck in blackface. "Probably in America 
they'd call the Vietnamese 'niggers'," is my stock retort. 
Yet, in fairness, it must be added that whites most 
frequently manifest the super-race style and that many 
GI's from the minority peoples of America, especially 
Black people, are acutely aware of the irony of an 
"anti-gook" campaign, and disturbed by the ugly cur- 
rents of racism in the military. 

My first sultry day in Vietnam was spent at the Cam 
Ranh Bay Reception station working on a detail. I was 
surprised at the large numbers of Vietnamese people in 
the compound, who could be seen everywhere doing the 
dirty-work for the Americans; dishwashing, feces burn- 
ing, sand bag filling, sweeping, laundering, shoe shining, 
etc. The older people, I reflected had probably done 
e.xactly the same tasks for the French Colonial Army 
fifteen years prior. And, I later learned, these drudges 
are to be found in large numbers on every base and 

More interesting than the Vietnamese presence itself, 
however, was the response of the GI's to them. Fellows 
just arrived on the plane with me, began addressing the 
Vietnamese in the peremptory tones of plantation over- 
seers. There was no period of adjustment. Arkansas 
hillbillies and Harlemites fell into the master role as 
easily as the middle class GI's. The office to which I was 
assigned a painting chore was duted and swept by a 
withered and watchful old lady in a beaten conical straw 
hat and black rayon britches. Everyone in the office 
(NCO's, officers, enlisted men) spoke to her playfully in 
the most vulgar and abusive manner imagineable, as 
though she were a prostitute. When she seemed uncom- 
prehending or doubtful of their humor, they resorted to 
lewd gestures. One of the men on the job with me joined 
freely in the conversation that centered on the "use" of 
"gook" women. 

The racism that dominates the GI consciousness not 
only blocks his power to witness and comprehend the 
way the Vietnamese people think and exist, it also 
corrupts his heart; he cannot feel what his brothers feel, 
does not care about the injustices done them, and can- 
not see with his own eyes. He imagines himself a mem- 
ber of the master race, product of the greatest, cleanest 
nation, and bearer of the "American Way of Life". His 
experiences seem to confirm all his stock preconceptions 
and malignant ideas, while the fear of death compounds 
the irrational process and brutalizes his entire psyche. 

{*Ed. note — the figure is now well up to over 40,000) 

Li 'I black boy 

Want to see something? 


Let's see Death. 

He is part of us. 

You only five 

Too bad, 

Death wants you to see Him 

So come on now. 

By William Smith 

There was commotion; a loud boom, then high pitched 
yells and screams. Some lady, whose name escapes my 
memory, came stumbling up to our gate. The squat, heavily 
perspiring woman yelled into our doorway, "Miss Katie! 
Dey shootin' in Thirty!" 

Things from that point happened so fast, my memory 
only recalls my standing at our gate craning my neck to see 
through the openings between the houses across the street. 
This row of irregularly spaced shack-houses formed the 
boundary of "Dirty Thirty". Thirty dilapadated houses 
wedged together on a triangular strip of land dissected by 
two rutted streets. 

People scampered back and forth through the narrow 
openings between the houses. The air was filled with cries 
of "Lo'd have mercy". "Oh God!", "Look out", and "Da 
nigga's gone crazy". I remember one distinct scream above 
the general pandamonium. It sounded more distant, but 
distinct in that it was continuous. There was what seemed a 
moment of silence. The scream came again. This time 
louder; the voice of a woman screaming damnation. 

BLAMM! "A gun!" I thought. 


I sprang quickly through our gate and across the street 
where I stood half crouched beside a fire hydrant. Ner- 
vously I glanced about, trying to see what was happening in 
"Thirty" while at the same time on the lookout for my 
Momma. She had given the firm command for me not to 
leave the front yard. Curiosity was greater than command. I 
darted from the fire hydrant to the back steps of Mrs. Willie 
Belle's house. A human knot, pushing and shoving, was 
ringed around the front of Miss Eva's house. My jumbled 
thoughts as to what was on the other side of the crowd 
were interrupted by the wail of sirens. 

The '49 Ford leaned heavily onto the narrow, gutted 
street. Its siren screeching and red lights flashing. Out 
jumped three policemen, guns drawn. 

"Alright, you'en git 'way from here", they ordered. 

A short fat "po-lece" grabbed a tall, skinny black man 
by the shirt collar and crushed a pistol against the man's 
head. The skinny man cupped his hands to his face and 
blindly pushed his way through the thinning crowd. 

And then I saw it. 

Propped against the steps of Miss Eva's porch was her 
brother, Mister Buddy. I caught only a glimpse of him but I 
vividly recall his head hanging limply to one side. There was 
blood dripping from Mister Buddy's body. The sight of the 
dark red flesh caused my stomach to quiver. I wanted my 
Momma. Frantically I scrambled from the steps and dashed 
through a hedgerow, crossed the street, and bounded up the 
steps to our house. 

I was in the house only minutes before Momma came. 
We went into the kitchen and sat at the table. For a long 
time she just sat there, her eyes fixed on nothing in partic- 
ular. Looking at the one-handed clock above the icebox, 
and then turning to me, she said in a very soft voice, "it's 
past eight o'clock, so you better git ready for bed." 

I asked her if I could leave the door to the bedroom 
open because I was afraid that Mister Buddy's body would 
come and get me. She reached for my hand and gently led 
me to the bedroom and whispered, "Child, that poor man's 
in heaven somewhere; he can't bother you. Don't bother 
yourself 'bout Mister Buddy." 

She then gave me her favorite smile and added, "Any- 
way, if you say your prayers, the Lord will send a special 
angel to watch over you." 

Cupping the back of my head in one hand and opening 
the bedroom door with the other she directed me into the 
dim room. I wanted to ask if I could leave the light on but 
knew it would be in vain. Momma had said many times 
before, "You don't need no light when you sleepin'." 

I lay in bed hoping I would go to sleep before Mister 
Buddy came in to get me. Then I remembered I had not 
said my prayers. It was too late to say them now I thought. 
If I got out of the bed Mister Buddy might be under the 
bed waiting to grab me. Then it occurred to me that if I 
didn't say my prayers, God might SEND Mister Buddy to 
get me. 

I eased the covers back, so Mister Buddy would not 
suspect that I was getting out of bed. On the count of three 
I decided, I would jump out of bed and say my prayers 
quickly and hop back in bed before Mister Buddy could 
grab me. About the time it would take me to get back in 
bed I figured God would have received the prayer and sent 
a special angel down to guard me from Mister Buddy. 

As I began to count to three for about the tenth time, I 
heard someone coming into our house. 

"Come on in Miss Willie Mae!" said Momma. 

"1 jus stopped by fo ah lil spell, Katie. I'm ah gitting ole 
now and can't sit 'n talk long like I use ta. Lordy! It sho 
wuz ah shame what happened to Buddy and Eva." 

After convincing myself that Mister Buddy could only 
get me if I got off the bed itself, I crawled to the other end, 
of the bed, hopefully to hear what happened to him in the 
first place. "How did he git dead?" I wondered. "How did 
anybody git dead?" 

"Lo'd, Katie, I knowed sumthin' wuz gonna happen. 
Buddy and Pig Meat been ah fussin' 'bout dat fence fo da 

"Yeah, well you know Buddy thought he owned that 
shack he stayed in anyway. I reckon 'cause he'd been 
staying there for nearly ten years." 

"Shit! ('Scuse me Lo'd) He jus may's well afta ten yea's 
o rentin'. But you'll nevah ketch me ah fussing ova dat 
dump I lives in 'n I been thar might neah twenty yea's." 

"You know, Miss Willie Mae, I just can't believe it. Eva 
and Buddy both dead. Lo'd, Pig Meat must've been out of 
his mind." 

"Naw, he ain't. Dat nigga got good sense. He don' it 
'cause he knowed he git 'way wit' it." 

"He ain't gonna git away with this. He'll do some time 
for killing them folks." 

"You thank so, child?" 

"Shucks! Eva and Buddy never bothered anybody. Sure, 
they are gonna send him up for some long time." 

"Ummm no 'bout dat. Look what evahbody thought 
'bout Luthar Johnson stabbin' dat Green child 'n den 
shootin' her brother dead. Shucks, dat nigga won't on the 
chain gang ah good yea' fo dey let 'im out in da street 
again. 'N what 'bout ole Charlie Croft when he killed 
Mammie Louise. Dat nigga ain't don no time to dis day. An' 
Pig Meat shot dat po Sly bo las' summah 'n dent do but 
tutty days on da chain gang." 

"Yeah, well you know as good as I do they ain't gonna 
give no time to anybody for doing anything to a nigga." 

"Kattie child, dats da sho 'nough truth! Why you see da 
ole po-lece ah bitten' Slim McNeil side da head for nuthin'? 
An' den turned rat 'round 'n grinned in dat fool, Pig Meat's 
face, talking' 'bout "Look like you n' done killed yo self ah 
coupla niggahs, huh boy?" 

"Wuzn't that something? Umph, umph, umph 

Poor Eva and Buddy, both dead." 

"Yeah, dey bof died fo dey knowed good what hit 'em." 

The Role of a Black Playwright 
in the Twentieth Century 

By Danny Scarborugh 

During my short career as a play- 
wright, I am beginning to discover that I 
am primarily concerned with creating 
some type of legitimate reaction be- 
tween a Black character and the Black 
audience. Needless to say, 1 have been 
told that a playwright should address 
himself to a "university" ... for that is 
what I am about. I try to communicate 
the language of my people. Unlike some 
modern Black playwrights who have 
been seduced into a mystical bag or hate 
whitey bag, I am interested in writing 
plays which, for the most part, stay 
within the realm of reality. This reality, 
because of the history of Black people 
in the United States, can, and on some 
ocassions, should be one that can handle 
a Black/White encounter from a Histor- 
ical or aesthetic perspective without be- 
coming obsessed with "up against the 
wall . . . honkie." To paraphrase a pas- 
sage from Ed Bullin's New Plays From 
the Black Theatre, I am not trying to 
create a higher form of white art in 
Black face. I am desparately trying to 
work towards a form of liberation 
theatre that will encompass both the 
soul and spirit of the various Black ex- 

As an elaboration on this point, I 
should mention Lonne Elder's Cere- 
monies in Dark Old Men; during Mr. 
Elder's visit to Amherst, Mass. to view 
the Black Repertory Theatre's produc- 
tion of his play, he talked with members 
of the cast, crew, and the director from 
1 1 :00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. He emphasized 
the fact that the white man had become 
so unimportant to Ceremonies in Dark 
Old Men until the characters referred to 
him as Mr. You Know Who. Yet, with- 
out exaggerating the reality of his Har- 
lem setting, without polluting the stage 

with an overabundance of mis-placed 
profanity, and without sacrificing the 
"Blackness" of his characters, Mr. Elder 
managed to capture the tragedy of the 
oppressor oppressing the oppressed. The 
audience, for the most part, knew why 
Mr. Russell Parker was engaged in a con- 
tinuing battle for his manhood, they 
could understand Adele Parker's "going 
to meet the man" from nine to five, 
they could understand Blue Haven's 
desire to use people before they used 
him, and finally, they could sympathize 
with Theopolis Parker's refusal to "go 
downtown" to push a cart. Close read- 
ing of Mr. Elder's play reveals that "up 
against the wall, honkie" could very 
well be one of the themes of the play. 
Yet, his handling of Mr. You Know Who 
is that of an ever present shadow that 
can and will be dealt with. As an artist, 
Mr. Elder does not perpetrate a social lie. 
Instead, he validates the Black aesthetic. 
In exchanging manuscripts with 
other young Black playwrights, who, 
like myself, are waiting for an oppor- 
tunity to share their ideas through the 
printed medium, I have found that some 
of us are trying to make use of the 
immediate past in an attempt to mold 
the future of the Black theatre. To para- 
phrase a speech by Raymond Watson in 
a different context. Black playwrights 
have endured the scorn of white critics 
. . . but continued to produce. They 
have been told that their plays were not 
aesthetically functional ... but con- 
tinued to produce. Now, we've got a 
good thing going . . . Black dramatists 
are addressing themselves to the people 
for the liberation of the people. If some 
white critics find the dramas of Black 
playwrights are aesthetically weak — 
that is the problem of the white critic. 

let him deal with it. We know what we 
are about. 

As a Black playwright, I am inclined 
to believe that there are those of us who 
have come into our own — those of us 
who are coming into our own — and 
those of us who have always been. As 
Gravedigger said to Coffinhead in Cot- 
ton Comes to Harlem, "That's Black 
enough for me." 

Earlier, I stated that I was concerned 
with heritage and culture of the people. 
In my play We Shall Overcome: Or 
Else, .... and if you are wondering "or 
else what" you will need to be around 
to find out ... the basic setting is that 
of a custom from my community con- 
cerning the Wake. On this ocassion, the 
body of the "loved one" is brought 
home to "lie in state." During the Wake, 
we learn how good the man was, how 
natural he looks, and how well he was 
put away. Perhaps I should note here 
that the Wake provides an opportunity 
for a cross-section of the Black com- 
munity to meet. The local wino comes 
by to pay his respects. The flower girls 
and the pall bearers will come by for 
two reasons: to sympathize with the 
family and to make sure that all of the 
pall bearers have either black or blue 
suits for the funeral and all of the 
flower girls have either white or black 
dresses. At this same Wake, we meet the 
signifier, whom I will discuss later, the 
local minister, the local Prophet, elders, 
deacons, teachers, workers from the cot- 
ton mill, farmers, just plain folk and 
... the under taker. As an example, let 
me introduce you to some of the people 
who attend the Wake in We Shall 
Overcome: Or Else. 

First of all, there is David, who in 
speaking to Bernard, says the following: 

David: You know, Bro., some of his 
words should have been immortal- 
ized. Some institute should have col- 
lected his papers. Why somebody 
should have committed his last words 
to paper. 
Bernard replies: 

Bernard: Toilet tissue, may be? 
That bit of Black culture which comes 
across in the above is known as ranking 

or signifying terms for dissecting 

a man's skin from his body without 
touching him. 

The next person to appear at the 
Wake is Wilbert, a one time rocking 
chair advocate of all out revolution who 
has reached that stage in life where he is 
tired of talking. 

Wilbert: Peace Brothers! I bring you 
greetings from the Mother Land. I 
bring you hope from Africa. 
Bernard, an advocate of streetology here 
in the United States, replies by saying: 
Bernard: Did you bring any food, Wil- 
bert? Did you bring anything to eat? 
Wilbert: Ease up, Bernie. I just thought 
I'd drop by to pay my respects to my 
man there; I hear he talked himself 
into a stupor. 

Later on in the play, we meet Larry, 
a would be militant, who during one 
scene between Bernard and himself, 
describes how he is doing all he ever 
intends to do to help the Movement by 
staying out of the way and sitting on his 
natural ass. 

Larry: Look, Bernard, Don't preach to 
me. I've served my time on the 
street. Man . . . how do some folks 
say it ... I've paid my dues. 
Bernard: . . . It's always I, Larry. Why 
don't you ever think in terms of We? 
We the people. We the United Black 

front. We the Black community . . . 

And Larry interrupts and says .... 
Larry: We some shit. I am only Black- 

assed Larry! One man, Bro. I speak 

for me. 
Wilbert: Well you're doing a piss poor 

job of that. 

Later on, the audience is given the 
opportunity to see what I refer to as the 
"Essential" Larry. 

Larry: Don't you see my side, Wilbert? 
I've got to give more to the Move- 
ment than another dead body. I'm so 
out of it, man. There are times when 
I don't know if I'm going, coming, or 
hanging on. If I could straddle this 
sick society and ride it with one foot 
in the right spur and one foot in the 
left .,. . I would. But I can't straddle 
it in these days and times. To hear 
you people talk, it's either Black or 
something else. There's nothing in 
between. Man, I marched and studied 
and just like the Bro there, I've 
talked. And when things started clos- 
ing in on me .... I prayed. Yeah me 
. . . Larry in the eagle's pit . . pray- 
ing But he never answered, 

Bernard. He never even answered. 

During the course of the play, we 
meet one really jive time Bro., 
Oleg. . . . It's Oleg's basic philosophy 
that an international sex orgy would 
solve everything. 

After meeting Nita, Charles, and Jay, 
the audience is given the chance to 
watch such historical figures as Eldridge 
Cleaver, James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, 
and W.E.B. DuBois substantiate Ber- 
nard's claim that the Brotherhood of 
other people is about as close to religion 
as a man should ever desire to be. 

During one scene from We Shall 
Overcome: Or Else, Bernard internally 
disembodies the Statue of Liberty. 
Bernard: You know, Larry, everytime I 
look at the Statue of Liberty, I have 
this inner urge to snatch it off its 
pedestal. I have this urge to put it on 
solid ground so that it can see the 
poor, hungry, and tired people of 
this world. If it would lower that 
God Damn light ... it might be able 
to see those masses of Black people 
raising hell to get some freedom. 
How Black are you now, Larry? How 
Black are you going to get? 

One of the most "cutting" moments 
in the play occurs when Wilbert tells 
Larry the following: 

Wilbert: Things aren't the way they 
used to be are they, Larry. Some of 
the gray folks are using you. The 
colored folks don't like you. You 
aren't Negro enough for the Negroes 

and (laughing) no other race 

of people will claim you. Blessed are 
those who go around in eternal cir- 
cles, for they shall be called wheels. 

Towards the end of the play, when Nita, 

a Sister who has her program pretty 

much together, tells Larry, 

Nita: Look, Larry, somebody's got to 
do something. We need Ministers of 

Larry replies .... 

Larry: Sorry, Nita. My field is not theol- 

One of the play's inspirational mo- 
ments occurs when Bernard tells Larry, 
Bernard: We're going to get it together, 
Larry. We're going to be like Pan- 
thers lurking through an infested 
jungle . . . waiting for the kill. And 

man, either we shall overcome 

or else. 

It seems as though it takes me for- 
ever to write a play. 1 am constantly 
re-writing and thinking about those 
sources which provide material. My Bap- 
tist church is one source. 1 guess the 
plot of a play centered around the 
church would — in part — involve the at- 
titude of the church towards a girl who 
is about to have an illegitimate child. 
You see — at one time — a girl who was 
about to have a child out of wedlock at 
Friendship Chapel Baptist Church 
would not only be dismissed from the 
church during a "conference meeting" 
but her name would be removed from 
the Church register. The irony of this 
particular situation is -just when the 
girl really needs the church, she receives 
a scarlet letter. The rest of the plot 
would involve the series of changes the 
congregation goes through when one of 
its members objects to the procedure. 

Another source of material is my 
home town, Wake Forest, North Carol- 
ina. The town itself is divided by a rail- 
road track. I can vividly remember the 
local movie house being integrated one 
day, and going up in smoke the next. I 
can remember the day a shot gun blast 
interrupted my family's rendition of "O 
Come All Ye Faithful." 1 can remember 
my Grandmother telling the "man" that 
she was Mrs. Hall and not Ant Ella. I 
can remember an incident between an 
Aunt and a salesman. My Aunt was try- 
ing to get my Grandfather to a hospital. 
See if you can envision the scene. The 
ambulance is parked in front of the 
house. The undertaker is wheeling my 
Grandfather out of the house. The sales- 
man — who must have been desparate 

for a client — asked my aunt if he could 
interest her in some siding for the 
house. You should have seen the expres- 
sion when she said, "Hell n' all, I don't 
want no damn siding. This man is sick 
and you talking about siding. Ain't got 
no damn side meat, . . . and you talking 
about siding for a house. Damn the 
house. Damn you, and Damn the sid- 

Those of you who are familiar with 
the late Langston Hughes, know that he 
was in direct contact with the people. 
He frequented the bars, the church, the 
night clubs, and the local hang outs. 
Langston knew where the material was 
and he employed it in his plays. Tom- 
bourines to Glory, Soul Gone Home, 
Simply Heavenly and Mulatto are ex- 

Language is an important factor in 
the drama of a Black playwright. If a 
Black experience, as depicted by a Black 
playwright, is to have any nuance of 
reality, it should concern itself with 
both the dialect and "in" sayings of that 
particular segment of the Black popu- 
lace recreated on stage. Needless to say, 
you would not expect a southern Black 
from Tippy Toes, North Carolina to talk 
like a northern Black from Brooklyn. 
Whereas the greeting may be "What's 
happening baby," in Brooklyn, it's "How 
y'ali doing" in Tippy Toes, North Carol- 

I was once asked if the training of a 
Black playwright was unique. By virtue 
of the Black playwright's background, 
the training is unique. But beyond this, 
there are some other factors to consider. 
Perhaps some of the best advice given to 
me by a prominent Black playwright 
was to read everything within my reach. 

This gives a playwright an opportunity 
to find out what works and what does 
not work. At the same time, it does not 
interfere with his desire to experiment. 
1 can conclude by saying that if there 
is to be a dramatic epic in this century, 
it will come from the Black Theatre 
.... all of the essentials for such an 
epic are to be found in the experiences 
of Black America. 



Book Review 

by Cal B. Whitworth 

The Street — Anne Retry 

Once again we are confronted with a description 
of Harlem, ou/stereotype ghetto. Countless attempts 
to describe Harlem to those who were 
nough not to be there when it was in its 
imeV IS it still is). Its tales have been recounted 
aut\ biographies. After you have read "The Street" 
find that there is still more to learn about 
'ships of life in Harlem. 

has conditioned us into believing that the only 
ing in the ghetto have been put forth by "the 
■, Ann Petry colours the obstacles which black 
nted for themselves. "The Street" is a bold, 
J which depicts the intensity of a young black 
good-looking to be decent" who is trying to hurdle 

%son was "a soul on ice in a brutal ghetto. " She 
trying to make it out of the slums. Her husband 
icouldn 't hang it. He couldn 't hang being supported by his wife, 
especially when his wife was away working for white folks. He 
know the insults she had to suffer, but he could do nothing about it. So rather than face up to it, he 
packed and left. 

Lutie took her son Bub to live with her father, but Lil (her fathers' girlfriend) proved a bad 
influence on Bub. Consequently Lutie searches for an apartment, but finds trouble instead. . An old 
super who jives her, a fast-moving musician who tries to use her, and a white man who owns the 
casino and would also like to own her. 

When Lutie rejects all three of them she literally brings the curtain down on her life. The super 
makes an all-out attempt to get even by cajoling Bub into stealing letters from mailboxes with the 
misconception that he is aiding the police. When Bub is caught by the police (with the aid of super) 
Lutie has to produce $200. dollars to pay his lawyers. 

In desperation Lutie asks the musician to loan her money. As is true to life he promises to loan 
her the money if she'll spend the night with him. Lutie turns to leave, anger surging through her, and 
as he attempts to force himself on her she defends herself with an iron candlestick on the mantlepiece. 
He was dead. 

Lutie decides to leave town. Leaving Bub behind she takes a train for Chicago. Bub will 
probably go to a reform school anyway, she thinks to herself. What possible chance could he have with 
a murderer for a mother? 

He would understand. 

He would remember that she loved him; at least she hoped. 


Will the god of war crush the flowers this year with his iron feet? 

Will two opposing forces come to a peaceful valley to meet ? 

Will a nation die from defeat? 

Will evolution be neat, and with people take a seat? 

Will the god of war eat? 

Will the god of war sleep ? 

Will the god of war keep ? 

Will the god of war heat? 

Wills, minds, bodies, souls, spirits of Pete. * 

Will the god of war burn the wheat? 

Will the god of war spoil the meat? 

Will the god of war give all humanity a treat, and destroy us all with his heavy feet? 

Will the god of war enslave the world with a fleet? 

Will the god of war leave just a little land to start over on such as Crete? 

Will the god of war march upon the earth, if he was wearing kleets on his heavy iron feet? 

Will the god of war make all mankind retreat? 

Will repeat? 

Will the god of war crush the flowers this year with his iron feet? 


by Erick Walker, 
Street Academy System of 
Springfield, Incorporated 


estrangement — 

keep the nigger down, 
downtown, uptown, 
off the streets, in the bouse 
in the closet, but keep bim . . . 


to others, to self 

make him certain of his uncertainties, 

and keep the nigger down, 

in his place . . . 


from a heritage of the past, 
from his world of the present, 
from the hope of a future 
and his estrangement will continue 
to continue . . . 

to keep the nigger down. 

John E. Davis 


Sound Review 

by Bruce Harris 

Miles Davis / Bitches Brew 


Personnel: Miles Davis, trumpet; Wayne Shorter, 

soprano sax; Lenny White, drums; 
Bennie Maupin, bass clarinet; 
Chick Corea, electric piano; Jim Riley, 
percussion; Jack Dejohnete, drums; 
Harvey Brooks, fender bass; 
Charles A lias, drums; Dave Holland, bass; 
John McLaughlin, electric guitar; 
Joe Zawinul, electric piano; Larry Young, 
electric piano. 

Songs: Pharaoh 's Dance, Bitches Brew, Spanish Key, 

John McLaughlin, Miles Runs the Voodoo Down, 

Miles ' newest album proves once again the creativ- 
ity that is Miles Davis. The group included on this 
album Is much larger than those with which Miles 
usually plays, but true to Miles, the larger group 
maintains the unity of his previous small groups, and 
the music is complex without confusion. One again is 
forced to ask himself If Miles' brain will ever run 
out of new ideas. 

The only trumpet on the album Is played by Miles, 

and he leads the album as 

always. His solos are the 
most sensitive yet, often 
played In a style of 
Intermittent, Irregular 
bursts of music (especially 
in "Spanish Key"). 
"Pharaoh 's Dance" starts off 
with the two electric pianos 
which produce an intricate 
pattern of Interwoven notes, 
plus fast drumming. Then, 
the drumming stops for a 
short moment, leaving only 
the pianos to intertwine 
their notes. Miles comes 
in smooth and strong, backed 
up by McLaughlin's excellent 
guitar. Then the song picks 
up its tempo, and Miles bursts in off and on with sound. The drum- 
ming drives the music on and on to a high intensity, becoming almost 
frantic until the soothing end. 


In "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down", after a rhythm build- 
up on the drums, Miles enters with a slow trumpet that hits even the 
highest notes without any screech, and fluctuates in volume with 

"Sanctuary" is calm as Miles starts off with a slow 
melody in which the notes are often held for a long time. Then an 
irregular drumming, starting in the background and pushing its way 
to the front, slowly builds the piece to a short, frantic climax 
after which the slow tempo takes over again. 

One would almost think that Miles will be hard put to 
beat this album. 

But we have thought that in the past, too . . . 








Faith ■■""»«"' "'7''^ 
Brings u-.« men /<" 



the sound of fury and impatience 
marked the day . . . 

The shout went up, spiralled, swirled, and reaffirmed 
that a new cadre was born. CHICANO POWER and 
BROTHER LOVE! Yale University resounded with 
Mexican-American sense of being. It was April 24th and 
25th, 1970, and the circumstances were the founding of 
a Northeast Chicano Alliance. 

A conference had been called by MECHA (Movimiento 
Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan - Chicano Student 
Movement of Aztlan). Chicanos from all over the 
Northeast came in. Everyone was embracing. "Hola, 
Carnal," we shouted to each other. "Viva la Raza," we 
responded. Talk reverberated. From boycotting grapes 
to affirming the Alliance of the Pueblos Libres of Aztlan 
(separatism and a new nation in the Southwest) to 
supporting the Panther Party as it strives to survive. 

There is a Third World! What is needed now is a party 
that is Third World; a party that can deal with the issues; 
a party that can help bring about an end to racism — for 
only those of us who have been hurt by the awesomely 
brutal horrendousness of institutional racism can know 
the burdens that we carry. White middle class ameriKa 
wants to deal only with symptoms, not gut issues. We 
must pave the way. 

Nosotros, the Chicanos in the Northeast have established 
an Alliance to exchange resources and to support our 
brothers in the struggle. We extend our embrace as 
brothers to black america, Indian america, asian america, 
puertorican america, and to oppressed america in hope 
and activism that we might all get together to create a 
new social order. Viva la Causa! Viva el mundo tercero — 
to the Third World and its Liberation! 

Ricardo Sanchez 



black brother 
you shout out soulness 
i shout out carnal ismo 
and we mean 
the same 

thing . . . 

we really aren 't 

so different 
except in our 

language patterns; 

where you now rap a neo-english, 
I rap calo/spanish 

but our eyes know 
the feelings of our beings; 
my alma latina/chicana 
flows madly and girds 

my rhytmic sense of life 
while your black soul 

beatifies your being . . . 

chingao, brothers, 
but the business of living 
is something we both do well; 

our living is based on life 

not dollars, cents, or marginal profit scales. 

let us go forth together 

in quest for a new society , . . 

Ricardo Sanchez 


may 1, 1970 

"to my daughter, newly born. . ." 

listen well, my child, 
life is not so mysterious 
(as some claim); 
it is rather a thing of carnival 
that should ring out 
the you-ness that you feel. . . 

Liber tad, named for a freedom 
that is only futuristic for our 

of la raza unida de aztlan . . . 
it is trial and tribulation being born 
into the role of the Chicano, 
but it is also a proud reckoning 
and self-acceptance 
being able to look 
the world in the eye 
and proclaim 
with one's existence 
that one is what one is 
and life is a beautiful thing. 

wear well, mid-week one born 
last Wednesday, the heritage 
that swaddles you; 
smile out Chicano beauty, 
embrace the world with Chicanismo 

as the spirit of your harmandad. 

Libertad, be free. 

Free as your name, 

free as your heritage demands, 

free as your soul must be 

that you may grow 

to reach the zany zenith 

of your enfant's expectations. . . 

gurgle out 

the joy 



reach out 
and grapple 

with la vida 
and teach us human-ness. 

Ricardo Sanchez 


It is tellingly spoken 

That a slave, in idleness 

Before his death, 

Perched the stem of a three-leaf clover. 

And in this wound placed 

A fourth. 

Had he time to name his own 

creation's symbolism, 

Might it have been, 

"Life With A Purpose?" 



We say it loud, with A froed hieads 

and claim we 're proud of blacf^ness. 
We tall^ trim, and scream revolution, 

while we shout unity with clenched fists, 
then yell power, with symbols of peace? 
But when it comes time to act 

we speak very, 



John E. Davis 



''How close Is home?" 

I saw a man, black and woolly being beaten in the street. 

But I did nothing. 
Another stabbed by bayonets, in the agony of defeat. 

And I did nothing . . 
A woman and child burned, the tormented father hanged. 

Still, I did nothing . . . 
I saw a boy, yet still young, go off to fight a war, 
and by my doing nothing, I had wanted more. 
My neighbors' house was bombed last night! 

But I did nothing! 
then my mother was beaten to death; she sighed before she died, 
"For Christ's sake son do something now!" 

And then I did / cried. 

John E. Davis 



I could but 



there would he 


blackman on the 



armed with the 




it's said 

the white 




burying five 

freedom marchers 




smile in 


Duane Jones 


Fact or Fallacy 

"Lord. " 

"I am coming to you from hell's fire . " 
"You put me here 

for killing my master who killed my baby. 
"I've been here for over 100 years." 
"Every now and then I peek at earth. " 
"Things have changed. " 
"My people drive cars ..." 
"Wear suits on Sunday ..." 
"Live in apartments. " 

"Lord. " 

"The cars they drive are for the people in the back seat. " 
"They turn and stop when directed. " 

"The suit they wear wears only on Sunday and is the only 
"The apartments host high rents, 
rats and plugged comods. " 
"Things have changed. " 
"People are the same. " 

"Lord. " 

"If you ever bring me back on earth ..." 

" . . . make me a dog, or a car, or a cow. " 

"Something with a chance. " 

"If you can 't do that . . leave me here. " 

"I'm used to the heat now. " 



Talking to a mute 

I asked her why 
she allowed this to hold her back 

I told her of the 
opportunity in this land of the free 

and I raised my hand 
to cross her face 

she showed me 
her skin and quelled my curiosity. 



The sky blackened 

Had God lain down, 


On the lucid boundary of heaven? 

Or had he gotten up? 

Does it really matter? 
It still will rain. 



those deprived 

the white man can no 
longer impose his 
tricknology on Blacl< 
people — 

ask, who is 

culturally deprived? 

Is it the Black Brother who can 

work roots; 
or the "psychologist" who tells 

you a homosexual has "abnormal" 

Who is Culturally Deprived? 

People of the Sun; 
or people who have to 
send their people to 
the moon??? 

People who have created 

spirituals, blues and jazz 


or people who have stolen, 

raped and exploited 

a religion, a culture 
and a manhood. 

Tell Me — Who are those culturally deprived? 

John E. Davis 


Black Boy Blues 

My little Black boy so sad and blue, 

Come tell your mamma tout's wrong wid you. 

It mus ' be somepin ' really bad, 

'Cuz teats like dat I nevuh had. 

Now dry dos eyes and look at me, 
'Cuz if your hurt I sho can 't see. 

Wut's dat boy I heah you say? 

Now Mamma you know jes why I's sad, 
It's cuz I ain 't got me no dad. 

Marlene R. Andrade 


Threshold of Freedom 

As I stand on the threshold of freedom, 
I pause to reflect on this path. 
Yes, it was inevitable: in this my 
faith was unshaken. A miserable 
journey, though, so much had to be 
overcome. Many years gone by full 
of misery, misery and tears, brought 
on by the condition — the condition, of 
course Black. But I'm thankfid now; 
the sojourn is over. The trek is over. 
That trek through miles of degradation, 
humiliation, servitude, filth, neglect, 
poverty, and fear. Yes fear, fear 
that the end never would come. But the 
time is now. 

So, as I stand on the threshold of freedom, 
I feel so very free, and I'm happy Lord, 
as I welcome my death. 

Marlene R. Andrade