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Full text of "Drum"

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The Drum, Winter 1977-78 

Editorial. Circulation and Advertising Offices 
Located at 426 New Africa l-louse, 
University of l\/lassacliusetts 
Amfierst, Mass. 01003 
1-413-545-0768 



Address 

All Letters 

Poems, Contributions 

To Tfie Above Address. 

Copyrigtit by Drum, 426 New Africa House 
Printing: Hamilton I. Newell, Inc., Amfierst, Mass. 

Cover: All FESTAC Pictures by Nelson Stevens, Lagos, Nigeria, January 1977. 



Life 



Vincent K. Washington 



/ have lived, 

so I think. 

And when I ponder over 

the riddle, the mystery, the game 

called life, 

I can find no answers. 

But is there really any question, 

for when one asl<s 

"What is life?" 

"What is the meaning?" 

"What is it all for?" 
it is the same as saying 

"A is A". 
For it is the very nature of life 
or existence 

to be a puzzle without solution. 
Therefore the answer to life 
is not to be found in the asking, 
but in the living. 







Deryl Marrow 



Sherwin Moyston 



Kim Hill 



LaVerne D. Mitchell 





Mathew McDonald 



Ellen M. Ryner 





Catherine Adamson 







Margarita Vargas 



Sterling L. Rex Sharleen Dickinson Professor Nelson Stevens 

2 



Staff Information 



DERYL MARROW— Communication Studies— Class of 1980 
Pliotograpliy 

SHERWIN MOYSTON—C.A.S.I.A.C, Class of 1980 
Layout 

KIM HILL— Juvenile Justice Major— Class of 1978 
Marcus Garvey Poem and Article 
Richard Pry or Article 

KATHLEEN A. ROSE— Communication Disorders Major— Class of 1979 
Typist 
Interviewed Cfiester Davis on National Council for Black Studies 

LA VERNE D. MITCHELL— Cultural Antfiropology— Class of 1978 
Interviewed Dovi Afesi/Layout 

MATHEW MCDONALD- 
ELLEN M. RYNER—Mass Communication Studies Major— Class of 1980 
Interviewed LaVerne D. MitchelllDistribution Staff 

PATRICIA SMITH— Pre-Education— Class of 1980 
Stenographer 

STANLEY KELLY— Communication Studies— Class of 1980 
Circulation 

Interviewed Andrew Salkey 
Submitter of a few poems by Zakina and Starship 

ROBERT BURTON— C.A.S.I.A.C— Class of 1980 
Interview with Michael Jackson 

CATHERINE ROSE ADAMSON— Environmental Design Major— Class of 1980 
Photography/Layout 
Article on Yvonne John 
Painting of "A Poem on South Africa" 
Aspiring Artist 

MARGARITA VARGAS— Fine Arts Major— Class of 1978— Painter, Sculptor 
Articles on The Doors of CCEBS 

Interview with Johnnetta Cole and Norma Alvarez on Cuba 
On the Air— Collage 
Art Editor, Layout Staff 

STERLING L REX— Black Studies— 1978— Poetry 

SHARLEEN DICKINSON— Editor, articles, poetry. Sharleen Dickinson has done free-lance writing for Black 
World, Sunday Digest, New Letters and Renassence 11. She has also studied under Dudley Randall of Broad- 
side Press, Detroit, Michigan. Ms. Dickinson received her B.A. in Literature from Kirkland College, 1974. 

PROFESSOR NELSON STEVENS— W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies and Art Depart- 
ment-Faculty Advisor and Consultant for Drum Magazine, 1977 and 1978. 



Table of Contents 



Page 

1 Life by Vincent K. Wasttington 

2 Staff Pictures 

3 Staff Information 

4 Table of Contents 

5 Dedication 

6 Drums in Perspective by Gary Owens and Kevin Jones 

7 Dear Ratisaan by f^icfiael L Jacl(son 

8 "Entrance to Gus Jones' Bar" by Bernice Robinson/Frank Thornton 

9 Che Lumumba School by Jose Tolson 
10 Michael Jackson by Robert Burton 

13 "I Am A Black Woman" by Nelson Stevens 

16 "Icons of the Sun" by Pam Friday/Margarita Vargas 

18 In Memory of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Raw Sun Roll On by Bill Hasson 

19 Rahsaan Roland Kirk photo by Edward Cohen 

20 Andrew Salkey— Thoughts on the Third World by Stan Kelly 

25 Marcus Garvey by Kim Florence Hill 

26 Yvonne John and the West Indian Cooking Guyana by Cathy Adamson 

28 Murals of CCEBS by Margarita Vargas 

29 Mural in Shirley Graham DuBois Lounge by John Kendrick 

30 Poetry Explanation by Sharleen Dickinson 

31 The Sun is my Lover by Sharleen Dickinson 

32 "F EST AC 77 Women" by Nelson Stevens" 

33 Climatic Verse, Rising Verse by Sterling L. Rex, Jr. 

34 Party by Zakina— Illustration of Archie Shepp by Jimi Pickett 

35 Marcus Garvey by Kim Florence Hill 

36 Harbour View, Managing by Andrew Salkey 

37 Old Man and the Last Day of March by Sharleen Dickinson 

38 Drawing of The Uncle: "Reg of Hollywood" by Frieda Jones 

39 409 Edgecombe Avenue by Frieda Jones 

40 A Poem on South Africa by Bradley V. Scott 

41 "Impressions of South Africa" by Catherine Adamson 

42 Feather by Vincent K. Washington 

43 On Five Compositions of Roscoe Mitchell by Thulani 

44 "F EST AC 77" by Nelson Stevens 

45 Last Revolutionary Poem by Thulani 

46 To the Sisters and Brothers who have Supported Me 

Poster by Assata Shakur 

47 Cuba Yesterday and Today by Margarita Vargas 

48 Interview with Johnnetta Cole by Margarita Vargas 
55 Interview with Norma Alvarez by Margaritz Vargas 
57 iOiganme Grito Courage! by Margarita Vargas 

59 Collage— On the Air by Margarita Vargas 

60 "Springfield Girls Club Mural" by Nelson Stevens 

61 Africa on Acorn Street by Sharleen Dickinson 

63 The National Council for Black Studies by Kathy Rose 

65 "Fertility Pattern Mural" by Donna Jones 

68 "Hoo-Doo Bone Series" by Nelson Stevens 

69 Book Review of Nikki Giovanni by Sharleen Dickinson 

71 This Nigger's Crazy— Richard Pryor by Kim Florence Hill 

72 Marion Brown photo by Edward Cohen 




Photo by C. Adamson 



Drums, beside the human voice, is the oldest in- 
strument l<nown to man. The first drum was probably 
a hollow log drum which when beaten would invoke 
the spirits of nature.* In Africa the spirits of nature 
have been communicated with, through the drum for 
milleniums of time. The drum has evolved from an 
accident of nature to becoming a major symbol of 
life-force and rhythm in the world today. At the 
vanguard of the African cultural experience is the 
drum— in a variety of sizes, shapes, tones and 
methods of construction and playing techniques. 
The history of the drum begins with the trunks of 
trees and progresses to non-animal and plant made 
drums, and further to synthetic drums made to im- 
itate natural ones. 

In the western culture, two forces have met and 
clashed: The African concept and the European con- 
cept of rhythm. Today, in the western hemisphere, 
are numerous examples of these divergent con- 



drum is still developing its potential as a creative, ex- 
pressive instrument and not merely a time-keeper. 

The African style hand drum has many distinc- 
tions from its European relative, most formidably its 
capacity of being a constant practical force in the 
community. In many areas of Black America and 
Latin America the hand drum has an extremely high 
social purpose. This makes the drum very accessible 
to the people it sustains and that is reflected by the 
familiarity the people have of many rhythmic pat- 
terns. The real beauty in this drum comes from the 
actual performance situation. There are usually two 
or three rhythms occurring simultaneously and 
played by drums of different sizes. These 
polyrhythms make the drums speak melodically and 
rhythmically. As in the European side drum, blacks 
are currently the masters of hand drums (Mongo San- 
tamaria, Mtume, Armando Peraza, Kenneth Nash, 
etc.). The hands on the drums has a very ancient con- 



Drums In Perspective 

Gary Owens and Kevin Jones 



cepts. For example, take the African style of hand 
drum and the European style side drum on which 
these rhythms are played. 

Particularly the power of the drum is manifested in 
the Americas and the Caribbean. The European style 
side drum, from a deep military tradition, has im- 
planted itself deeply into the music consciousness 
of many cultures. (A side drum has two heads and is 
hit with wooden sticks). The snare drum, tomtom, 
bass drum, and the drum set are standard items in 
many American rhythm sections. Black Americans in 
the United States particularly excel in playing these 
types of drums. Excepting a few styles, e.g. Euro- 
pean Classical, Country-Western, etc., black drum- 
mers have a consensus of "terribly bad dudes!" 
(from Baby Dodds to William "Sonny" Greer to Ken- 
ny Clarke and Max Roach to Philly Joe Jones to Elvin 
Jones and Tony Williams). This dominance of the 
field makes it obvious that the European style side 



'The spirits of nature were phenomena that caused superstition 
and respect from the peoples they naturaliy encountered. E.g., 
sun. moon, stars, lire, thunder, etc. 



notation in Africa and the Americas. "Skin on Skin" 
has at its base a very historical reality and it is hard 
to discount the spiritual power of a hand drummer 
and his drum. Most African style hand drums have a 
variable physical link to that hollowed out tree trunk 
from the beginning. 

Hand drumming in the United States did not come 
about until the 1940's when Afro-Cuban musicians 
such as Chano Pozo began coming into the country 
working for bands on the Broadway night club cir- 
cuit. It wasn't until the 1960's when black americans 
advocated the use of hand drums. The sixties being 
a time of cultural awareness and struggle for black 
people, instituted the use of African and Neo-African 
percussive instruments (along with African dress 
and religion) as symbols of ethnic cultural identity. 

When it became socially acceptable for black 
americans to play these Afro-Latin and African 
oriented instruments they involved themselves with 
R&B, rock, disco and funk bands. Since there were 
very few accessible hand drum teachers, brothers 
began learning on their own by ear. Thus, each 
developed a style all their own. 

The drum can be heard as the heartbeat of almost 



e^jery kind of music played today. The drum serves a 
different purpose in the different types of black 
music; a disco drummer makes you dance, parade 
drummers make you want to march and sometimes 
shout and holler, a black classical ("jazz") drummer 
brings about thought, some hand drummers play for 
the sake of rituals and religion. Drums are the fun- 
damental movers of music heard all over the world. 



These percussive instruments have a certain sen- 
suality which attracts immediate response from the 
listener. It's not just the drums themselves which 
have such a magnetic attraction, but the African, 
Afro-Latin and Afro-American people who contain a 
certain force that makes the drum a symbol of life, 
vitality and spirituality. 



Dear Rahsaan, 

Yours is a legend that has not been hailed enough. Yours was an uncommon adventure. I onl\; hope we can somehow 
hue up to the ideals you preached about while using the wind to create time and space . . . 

. . . We remember how \;ou pla{;ed three saxophones at once . . . and after \;our stroke [^ou came back to blow those notes 
again . . . to platj those songs again . . . i^ou know, those songs that make \^ou feel like things are better. 

You blew, 

You chanted, 

You waved {jour arms 

and Lui/d/y ranted. 

You documented the trails 

of others . . . Trane, 

Prez, Duke, and all the rest. 

You pla\;ed the tunes for them . . . 
For Charlie Parker and Lee Morgan . . . 

. . . and Jimi Hendrix, the interstellar brother of the 'six-stringed laser', he learned to search for the notes and songs that would 
make time stand still while he parachuted in the voodoo skies. He a/ujays studied from the Book of Rahsaan 'Roll-On' Kirk. 

Your impact was much broader than you realized. The time you spent with us was . . . and the time you now have is . . . 
and the time that has passed since others made the trek before you was . . . Your spirit shall remain with us forever. We shall 
not forget. We shall not relent . . . "Blackness" and "Saltpeanuts" . . . and "Bright Moments". 

. . . The Youngblood shall be exposed . . . 
. . . The Youngblood shall be transposed . . . 
into disciples of the next world . . . 
the world that includes and never excludes. 



Michael L. Jackson 

© December 1977 




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CHE LUMUMBA SCHOOL 

. . . And always there are the children 



THIS GENERATION, ESPECIALLY OF OUR PEO- 
PLE, HAS A BURDEN, MORE SO THAN ANY OTHER 
TIME IN HISTORY. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING 
THA T WE CAN LEARN TO DO TOD A Y IS THINK FOR 
OURSELVES. 

Malcolm X 

The Che Lumumba School is located in the New 
Africa House of the University of Massachusetts. It 
is situated on the fourth floor, with five rooms. It was 
founded in 1972 by a group of students disen- 
chanted with the public schools of Amherst as well 
as with the effects of these schools on their 
children. These students had been involved in major 
political struggles in the University as well as out- 
side of it. Since all the original people were 
'teachers' our only recourse to the problem of Public 
Education, as it related to third world children, was 
the development of the Che Lumumba School. 

Public education in the valley has reached an 
amazing level of sophistication. With the use of 
teaching machines, open classrooms, audio-visual 
paraphernalia and social-psychological processes, 
the business of education races forward. However, 
as in all races, there are the winners and the losers. 
In this case, as in many others, the losers happen to 
be that great number who seem always to be in the 
minority. 

Minority. That vast pool of people who never seem 
to quite make it, who cannot hold a job and who 
everyone points to when welfare costs go up or ur- 
ban conditions go down. Those minorities. People of 
color who have no future, no present and had no 
past. Those people whose ancestors, rescued from 
their native land and were fortunate enough to sur- 
vive a leisurely cruise across the Atlantic came to a 
new world of milk, honey and cotton plantations. We 
minorities who send our children to school only to 
have them lose more and more of their identity. 

Public education races on, never looking to either 
side, into the future. Never seeing the racism, the 
sexism, the class division, genocide or any of the 
horrors which have become the backbone of this 



country's greatness. Never acknowledging the 
presence of civilization before the cross and the gun. 
An almost total loss of history, a subsequent loss of 
identity. 



The School for Truth is an independent school 
designed to effect an independent lifestyle for Third 
World people — i.e. self-determination. The School 
recognizes the objective condition of Third World 
people in the World, that being politically factional- 
ized, economically dependent, and socially victim- 
ized. Similarly, the School realizes that American 
education is part and parcel of the same system that 
oppresses Third World people. The indications of in- 
adequacy of American education are apparent in the 
textbooks, inferior facilities, poor teaching, etc., 
while the indication of failure is most evident in the 
few number of Third World people who possess the 
skills, talents and values that are needed by our com- 
munities to relieve us of our oppressed condition. 
The intent for the creation of the School for Truth is 
to focus upon an area where we can have maximum 
effectiveness in reversing this situation — Third 
World education. The School for Truth has defined 
education in terms of the learning styles of our peo- 
ple and what Third World peoples believe the aims 
and ultimate goals of education must be. It is an 
education for Third World interests designed to give 
Third World children the knowledge, skills, and 
values conducive to developing a commitment to the 
liberation of Africans, Latins and Asians everywhere. 



When the Che Lumumba School opened six years 
ago, it was with one child and an idea. The child's 

(Continued on page 1 7) 



CCEBS 



Interview with Michael JaCkSOPI by Robert Burton 



Dr. Jackson, what is your position and iv/iat are 
your duties in the CCEBS Dept? 

My official position is Executive Director of the 
Committee for the Collegiate Education of Black 
Students. My duties entail the supervising of the ad- 
ministrative functions of the program including: 
supervising a staff of about sixteen full and half time 
people and about fifty tutors and guiding these staff 
members so that they can help approximately 550 
students to achieve academic success at the Univer- 
sity. So that involves a lot of different kinds of 
things. It includes being aware of different kinds of 
programs that are established on this campus and to 
make sure that our students are aware of them and 
take advantage of them; it includes being aware of 
political situations on campus to make sure that our 
students are not unfairly treated and are able to take 
full advantage of academic resources and the dif- 
ferent professors on campus. My duties also include 
nominally supervising the Financial Aid portion of 
the program. I work with Art Jackson in the Financial 
Aid Office to make sure that our students get their 
fair share of financial aid and my duties also include 
working with Muriel Wiggins in the Admissions Of- 
fice to insure that we get a full complement of 
students each year — to make sure that we get 
students who have the potential to succeed here at 
the University. Basically, those are my duties. 



When, why and by whom was the program estab- 
lished? 

CCEBS was formally established in 1968; it had its 
initial beginning in 1966 when a group of faculty, 
staff, and students got together and decided that 
there wasn't enough minority representation on 
campus, especially since this was the largest public 
institution of higher education in the state and at 
that time it was thought that there were only about 



forty minority students on this campus, and that 
there were more at a place like the University of 
Alabama than there were here at the University. So, 
they formulated what is now commonly called 
CCEBS and decided that what they would do was 
establish a program that would be designed to 
recruit, financially support and academically support 
minority and low income students who wouldn't 
necessarily get into other institutions of higher 
education. They came together at that time under 
the leadership of Randolph Bromery and a few other 
people to design and implement a program. 



Who makes up the CCEBS staff? 

The staff is comprised of 8 full-time professionals 
and eight half-time graduate students and about 50 
tutors. The CCEBS staff used to be comprised of 
primarily half time people but it was decided over 
time and based upon experience that what the pro- 
gram really needed was as much of a full time staff 
as possible. So, since Carol Brooks and I have been 
directly involved with the program we've moved from 
having primarily part-time staff to primarily full-time 
staff. You'll find that we have people who have either 
their Bachelor's or Master's degrees in Education, 
Psychology or in another related field. The staff 
primarily consists of people who have had ex- 
perience in counseling undergraduate students who 
need academic support and who need guidance in 
making decisions about school. 



What types of students does the CCEBS program 
cater to? 

Well, the program is designed to work primarily 
with students who wouldn't necessarily get into 



10 



other institutions of iiigtier education, as I men- 
tioned before. So we fiave a number of students wfio 
fiave gone to higfi scfiooi wliere tfiey really haven't 
received the kind of attention that they really needed 
but we've brought them here because we recognize 
that they have the potential to succeed in college 
and we've set up a system for them to worl< through 
that will help them to academically achieve. We also 
have a good group of academically stronger stu- 
dents. We have some students who really don't need 
that much help but who need more exposure to, I 
think, minority concerns or the concerns of black 
and third world people; the concerns of Asian peo- 
ple. So we have students on both ends of the spec- 
trum. We have students who are academically 
prepared and we have students who are not 
necessarily academically prepared but we try to 
bring those two groups together and hope that 
they'll influence each other very positively. 



Are transfer students eligible for membership 
in the program? 

Yes. We have a number of transfer students this 
year. This year we received our largest group of in- 
coming transfer students and that's about 35. They 
come from community colleges throughout the 
Commonwealth and some from four-year institu- 
tions. We'll be getting a large number of those stu- 
dents especially with the rising costs of tuition 
around the state and with the lowering of the number 
of credits needed to apply. I think that a lot of these 
students are finding that they can get more for their 
money here at the University than they can at a lot of 
other private institutions in the state. 



What criteria is used in deciding the first year 
student's acceptance into the CCEBS program? 

Well, we look at some basic kinds of things; we 
look at the student's high school grades and how 
well the student does on the scholastic aptitude test 
(the SAT), we look at recommendations from their 
counselors, from their teachers or possibly from 
civic leaders who may be their reverend or their 
pastor or someone that they've worked with at a 
special program like Education Opportunity Pro- 
grams or Upward Bound— that kind of thing; and we 
look at whether a student has been involved in extra- 
curricular activities like the publication of a 
newspaper or the publication of a year book or in- 
volved in the various clubs that you find at high 
schools. What we're looking for is students who 




Michael Jackson 



have tried to have some rather well-rounded ex- 
periences while they're in high school. We also look 
at whether or not they've had part time jobs. I think 
that you'll find that a lot of our students, because of 
the financial background of their families, had to 
work while they were in school and that has probably 
prevented them from being able to give all the time 
necessary to doing a really good job in high school. 
So we, in essence, take all these ingredients and we 
try to come up with the composite picture of what 
the student will be able to do once he/she comes to 
the University. In some cases we interview the stu- 
dent. Sometimes we get student profiles that we're 
not really sure of after we review them on paper so 
we invite the candidate to visit and talk with us so 
that we can get a better feel for what they might be 
able to do. We look at all of those things and try to 
come up with a guideline or an indication of suc- 
cess. We're looking for people who want to be suc- 
cessful and that's really the major thing. 



11 



In what way would the Supreme Court decision 
in favor of Baifke affect programs like CCEBS all 
over the country? 

That's a hard question to answer. I would say— I 
can only answer in terms of the situation here at the 
University and it's somewhat different than it would 
be at a lot of other campuses because of the fact 
that we do have a large number of minority students 
on campus. If you look at the percentages and how 
we fare in terms of the larger population on campus, 
we're still small in number but, if you look at the 
minority and some majority faculty and ad- 
ministrators on campus and the kind of commitment 
that they have demonstrated over the last few years I 
doubt if a negative decision in the Bakke case will 
have a totally detrimental effect on the CCEBS pro- 
gram. I think there is commitment on this campus to 
have a program like CCEBS that can bring realistic 
numbers of black, hi span ic, asian, native americans 
and low-income students on this campus. I think you 
will find that we are committed to that and if you real- 
ly analyze the Bakke case you'll find that when the 
majority of the California Supreme Court initially 
decided the case they said that they were in agree- 
ment with programs like CCEBS. They felt that it was 
fine to have programs like CCEBS as long as they 
didn't "reverse discriminate" against other groups, 
and I think that if you just take that as a face value 
statement, you'll find that CCEBS doesn't do that. 
We have white students in our program who are full- 
fledged members and who take advantage of our 
resources. But, no matter what happens, we will 
carry on and we will be very forceful in making sure 
that our students get served on this campus and that 
they are able to take advantage of its resources 
because this is something that's very necessary and 
very vital. 



What academic services are provided to the 
students? 

CCEBS is designed to provide academic services 
in several areas. They basically include academic ad- 
vising where we sit down with students and we help 
them design their courses of study, select their ma- 
jors, and figure out what teachers are the best 
teachers for them to work with based upon how they 
best learn. That is, some students are better in small 
classes as opposed to large classes and we try to 
help them figure that out. We provide tutorial sup- 
port for students in any classes that they feel 
necessary — unlimited tutorial support. We have 



academic advisers who will sit down with the 
students and help them work through any kinds of 
problems that they're having in their classes. They 
help them figure out a calendar of how their time 
should be spent on campus. That's something that's 
very important and something that we're very con- 
cerned about. How do students monitor their time, 
how can you be able to take advantage of the social 
aspects of this campus as well as the academic 
aspects. That's something the academic advisors 
are very involved in. We also provide a study hall 
which is housed in the Shirley Graham DuBois Study 
Lounge and that's basically designed to give the 
students a quiet place for study. We have a library 
that we purchased books for; basically these are 
books that are used in the primary courses, we have 
books for core courses and some supplemental 
courses. What we're trying to do there is give 
students the opportunity to stretch their dollars for 
buying books. They can buy some books and they 
can come and use the books in our library and that 
gives them the opportunity to be in New Africa 
House a little bit more. This also gives them the op- 
portunity to come and use the library and then be 
able to walk into their advisor's office and ask ques- 
tions on a more informal basis. They can also meet 
with their tutors there. There's a lot of different 
things that the academic service component pro- 
vides. We work with CASIAC, we work with the 
Registrar's Office to make sure that the students' 
records are kept up-to-date. Briefly, that's it. We also 
provide personal counseling and graduate school 
and career development advising. 



What is the general attitude of these students 
towards the CCEBS Program? 

You'll find student attitudes on several different 
spectrums. I think you'll find some students who are 
positive about the program who take advantage of it. 
I think you'll find some students who aren't totally 
aware of the services that the program provides and 
there are various reasons for that. Students have to 
get busy quickly; that would certainly be the case for 
some of the transfer students or some of the first 
year students who haven't had as much involvement 
with us as those students who have been on campus 
for a number of semesters. I think there are a number 
of students who are somewhat negative about the 
program and there are various reasons why. I think 
(maybe I'm biased because I'm Director of the pro- 
gram) but I think a lot of it has to do with either misin- 
formation or lack of information. I think some 



12 



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students aren't really sure about what they want to 
do with themselves so they don't really know how to 
take advantage of services that the program offers. 
I'm not trying to make excuses for them, but I think 
that there are some students who, if they do have 
some negative feelings about the program, it might 
be because they haven't come to challenge us and 
say, "Look I need some help, can you help me?" I 
think that if you interviewed the students who we 
have helped, you'll find that they are pretty positive 
about us. I think those students who we really 
haven't had a chance to get our hands on so that we 
can ask what is it that they need, and what is it that 
we can help them do, might be negative about the 
program. There are some students who are in 
academic jeopardy and they tend to be the ones who 
we are in the closest contact with and some of them 
are positive about it and negative at the same time. I 
think they feel that they're growing up now and they 
don't want to have a surrogate family here on cam- 
pus but that's what we tend to try to want to do with 
students. So I think the viewpoint the students have 
about us is very broad. It can be negative, positive, in 
between, it depends upon how well they're doing 
sometimes, that kind of thing. 



but the University of l\/lassachusetts has treated 
them fairly well or has been able to, at least, provide 
them with enough resources to take advantage of 
and feel pretty prepared when they get out. I think 
that there are a number of other students who have 
come through CCEBS who haven't necessarily gone 
on to law school or to different graduate schools or 
to high paying jobs but I think that they've found that 
their experience here has opened their eyes to the 
point that they now realize how prepared they have 
to be to be able to get out of life what they want to 
get out of it. I would think that CCEBS is doing a 
pretty good job of motivating students. But I also 
know that we have much farther to go. I think that by 
having more full time staff (this is the first year that 
we will have had so many full time staff members) 
we will be able to motivate students much more suc- 
cessfully because we'll be working with them in a 
more in-depth way than they've been worked with in 
the past when we were relying on graduate students 
and half-time people who were concerned with the 
program but at the same time they were concerned 
with getting their own business straight. I think 
we've been pretty successful in the past and we'll be 
pretty successful in the future. 



According to the CCEBS students (past and 
present academic achievement) how successful 
has the program been in inspiring and motivating 
them? 

That's a good question. CCEBS has been very suc- 
cessful. If you look at its record over the past ten 
years, you'll find that we've graduated over 600 
students, we're graduating students at a per cent 
rate that is a little bit better than the University rate. 
We've had students who have gone into different 
kinds of professional fields. We've had students who 
have gone into Engineering, Medicine, Law . . . 
students who have gone on to earn toasters and 
Ph.D.'s; students who have gone directly to profes- 
sional business and other professional fields, like 
dentistry; students who have gone into journalism, 
that kind of thing. We have students who are now 
principals of schools. I think you'll find that CCEBS, 
by in large, has done very well. We, just a couple of 
years ago, had to do a survey for the Provost's Of- 
fice. In it we found that CCEBS, as I said before, is 
the oldest academic support program for minority 
students in New England and was the largest, the 
most stable, in terms of staff, budget and financial 
aid. So I think, if you talk to some of the alumni who 
are off doing things, you'll find that not only CCEBS 



What kinds of services are provided by CCEBS in 
assisting the student's social adjustment in a pri- 
marily white educational institution? 

Well, that's something that CCEBS isn't totally 
responsible for but something that we work on. 
We're primarily an academic support service but you 
cannot totally divorce that from the social aspects of 
this campus. If students don't feel comfortable 
socially and they can't relax, then they have a hard 
time concentrating on their studies. We tend to work 
hand-in-hand with the Afro-American Studies Depart- 
ment, the Black Cultural Center, the (Malcolm X 
Center, the Third World Affairs Office, and the 
various programs our students have designed 
themselves: the Black Scientist Society, Afro-Am 
Society, Black l\/lass Communications Project, 
Ahora, Asian Students Association, that kind of 
thing. What we try to do is work with them to 
sometimes co-sponsor events. We try to do in-depth 
counseling with students to try to determine if they 
are having problems adjusting to campus life. That's 
a very important problem but that's something that's 
very difficult to do. You don't want to totally engulf 
the student with CCEBS. We want the students to be 
independent of us and yet work with us at the same 
time because we want them to get prepared for what 



14 



is ahead of them four years from now. That's kind of 
tough, but like I said, it's something that we're not 
totally responsible for but we primarily work with the 
other groups that foster this. 

What services does the CCEBS program provide 
for its graduates in terms of graduate studies and 
placement? 

Well, we have a new component which is called 
the Career Development Component and that com- 
ponent is designed to not only provide information 
on graduate schools and professional schools for 
our undergraduate students but it also is there to 
serve our alumni who come back, who are looking for 
jobs, who are looking for information about different 
kinds of opportunities that are available. Initially, 
what we've found is that most of our alumni are able 
to situate themselves. That is, they've been able to 
go out and find their own jobs; they've been able to 
make their applications on their own or they've been 
able to make applications to professional schools in 
conjunction with our academic advisors. This com- 
ponent does keep information on all the graduate 
schools in the country and all the different kinds of 
organizations that are established to work with 
minority and low-income students. We keep informa- 
tion on financial aid, on fellowship opportunities 
that are available for graduate school. This compo- 
nent does a pretty good job of that but it's only been 
in operation for a year and a half now. We'll see 
where it goes from here. I think that its primary con- 
cern will be to give exposure to our undergraduate 
students and to help them develop and concep- 
tualize what life is about after four years of 
undergraduate school. So, it's really a career and life 
development component for the students who are on 
campus now and to help those students who come 
back for help. 



What are the CCEBS financial aid services pros- 
pects for the future? 

In terms of financial aid, our students can look for- 
ward to getting their financial aid to maximum of 
what their financial aid statement indicates. Primari- 
ly, that includes the need expressed on the parent 
confidential statement or your student financial aid 
statement. Financial Aid has been able to provide a 
combination of work/study, grants and low-interest 
loans to our students so that they're able to meet 
their minimum needs on campus. It looks very 
positive in the future and I don't see any slackening 
of support there as long as students get their forms 
in on time and academically achieve. 



What outside criticism has the CCEBS program 
been the recipient of? 

Well, I would say that initially CCEBS probably 
received (I've only been here for the past couple of 
years so I can only speak in terms of that and what 
I've heard about the past) the kind of criticism that 
would indicate that the program did not follow 
through with students, sometimes there would not 
be enough opportunity for students to get a chance 
to know the staff and to learn about them so that 
they can feel more comfortable with them. I think 
we've been criticized for being too academically 
oriented in the past and I think that's been because 
people didn't really know that our mandate and our 
function was— and still is— to help foster academic 
achievement on campus. I think that CCEBS re- 
ceived some criticism about its ability to motivate 
students, but then again, I think that's also a func- 
tion of the fact that CCEBS has really been inventing 
the wheel on this campus in terms of how do you go 
about providing academic support for students who 
are in real need of academic support. It's pretty easy 
to provide academic support for students who you 
know are very well prepared, who have the ability to 
be able to negotiate a system like the University of 
Massachusetts by themselves. But, CCEBS has 
been developing as well as operating the program at 
the same time. That's been kind of hard and that's 
really been because in the past the program has had 
to go out and search for funds to run itself each year; 
has had to operate the program with a half time staff; 
and I think those criticisms were justified but I think 
that now CCEBS has improved a great deal and has 
made a lot of strides so that you don't find a lot of 
those criticisms any more; given the fact that we do 
have professional people who are interested in work- 
ing with the students on a full time basis. So I think 
you find a lot of those criticisms have pretty much 
subsided, but that's not to say that we can't improve. 
I think that we can. 



As the Director of CCEBS, what (in your opinion) 
is the future of the program? Where would you like 
to see the program go and do? 

I think the future is very bright. I think that we have 
proven over the past few years, that you can make a 
program like this very successful. I think our 
students have proven that they can come here and 
with a little extra help achieve as well as any other 
student on this campus. I think that what I would like 
to see CCEBS do is become an academy within the 



15 




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University. By this I mean ttiat i would like our 
students to come through here and get very rigorous 
training and get exposed to professors who can im- 
part knowledge and really help them learn. I want 
them to work with professors who can really stretch 
them, and by stretch I mean really push them to try 
to learn something they've never learned before and 
to take risks academically. I think that I would like to 
see CCEBS expand and be able to get more 
students. Right now we have about 550 and I would 
like to see us have about 650 to 700 students. I would 
like to see CCEBS become more involved in helping 
other institutions around New England tighten up 
their programs and figure out strategies for them to 
become more institutionalized. So I think that if you 
look at CCEBS, if you look at the different people 
that are supporting us, our Board of Directors with 
Dean Darity, Fred Tillis, Fred Preston, Dovi Afesi, 
Bob Suzuki, Julia Fata, Chester Davis, to name just a 
few, I think you'll find that we have a good mix of 
people behind the program as well as out front. We 
have a lot of people behind us who are on the line 
really trying to make the program reflect our motto of 
"Excellence Through Involvement". You've got peo- 
ple in Financial Aid; you've got Arthur Jackson, Ber- 
nadine Edwards; you've got Muriel Wiggins in Ad- 
missions; and Bob Daniels and Janice Wertz in the 
Dean of Students' office; Jimm Simmons over in the 
Student Development Center. There are a number of 
people around campus that we work with that really 
make this program what it is and they're going to be 
here, hopefully, for a while. We've got a good group 
of young students; they help to give us a very good 
reputation, so we've got a good foundation to build 
on. I think that the program will be very successful in 
the future as long as we work at it and don't get com- 
placent about what we've done in the past. We must 
remain concerned about the future. If we do this, 
we'll be okay. 



Do you foresee a time when the CCEBS program 
will not be needed? 

Based upon the past history of this campus— no. I 
think we'll always need a program like CCEBS to 
keep people honest. You need a program like CCEBS 
to give the kind of student that we're looking for the 
kind of attention that they need. If we're committed 
to getting students who wouldn't necessarily get in- 
to other schools, but at the same time we feel that 
we can bring them here and work with them, then I 
think we will need a program like CCEBS here at the 
University. 



(Continued from page 9) 

name was John, the idea was to preserve and 
enhance his identity as a Third World child. As more 
parents and children came into the school we 
developed a philosophy of education which is the 
foundation of the school today. 

With our opening, many problems beset the Che 
Lumumba school. Certification, space and funding 
became priorities. As one obstacle was overcome, 
another arose. The first year saw many long hours 
with few rewards, but the dedication to our original 
idea became the impetus which helped us to survive. 

In the following years we expanded our staff and 
enrollment as well as conceptualizing our idea of 
theory and practice. Our curriculum also reflected 
our ideas on education by incorporating the political 
community, locally and nationally, into the 
children's studies. It was our feeling then, as it is 
now, that in order to survive we had to work with and 
in the community around us. Thus developed a non- 
sectarian relationship with political organizations in 
Western tvlassachusetts, as well as other parts of the 
country. Further, local and national radical leaders 
have visited the children of Che Lumumba. 

Political prisoner h/lartin Sostre, Big Black from At- 
tica, Puerto Rican historian Loida Figueroa, and 
Native American Yvonne Wanrow to name a few. 

The identity of a race of people can be traced 
through its culture; music, dance and poetry, all the 
arts play a part in who we are and where we come 
from. We feel that the children should be able to 
relate to and identify with other cultures. It is for this 
reason that the school places such emphasis on 
sponsoring cultural activities. Not for the school 
alone but for the greater community as well since 
oppressive reality must be overcome with a new 
reality of personal depth and international solidarity. 

So we speak of identity and culture, but what does 
this mean? First, these are not theoretical concepts 
with no base in reality, nor are they words which we 
speak of in idle talk. The search for identity occupied 
an entire generation of people who had all of the 
benefits that this country could offer The identity 
crisis of the 60's is still fresh in our minds. 

The Che Lumumba School is in existence so that 
our children will know their history and live their 
lives with a sense of that history, of pride, of 
strength and of power 

Jose Tolson 

Che Lumumba School 

New Africa House 

UMass 

Amherst, Mass. 01003 



17 



IN MEMORY OF RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK 

RAW SUN ROLL ON 

Prelude/Birth 
Split glint miss stick in an unhollowed voice 
Waiting for a date with time 
He blew dust into soul sources 
He was primitive paint 
Leaf dye 
A foot print 
Bark mold 
Dried blood 
A holla 
Holla bones 
Be up front 
Being all un-before notes 

Chorus 

The hawk is snow tears of strength 

In an inverted triangle of thought 

Chanting a date with festival, mystery and delight 

He was chemist 

Masl< maker 

Galactic linguist 

Family architect 

Foetus struggler 

Papyrus paddler 

Reed guide 

Homager 

Coda 
A voice unhollowed in time hollers 
At the glint of a blown date in time 

Resolve 

Kirk, Kirklo, Kirkemble, Kirkette, Kirkestra 

In a borderless island chain 

Intoning celestial dreams, and the rest is dreams 

He was terminal funk 

Nebula crust 

Monongehela healer 

Infinite kin 

Kindling finity 

Ethno-nasalogist 

Arch naturicitist 

Blues guerilla 

Space villager 

Flash juba stomp swing strut cuss 

And glide through creation 

Bill Hasson 
1977 

18 



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Rahsaan Roland Kirk by Edward Cohen 

19 



ANDREW SALKEY: 

THOUGHTS 
ON THE THIRD WORLD 



by Stanley Kelley 



Biographical Note 

Professor Andrew Sa//cey was born of Jamaican 
parents in Colon, Panama, in 1928. He was educated 
at St. George's College and Munro College in 
Jamaica, and at London University in England, where 
he lived for twenty-four years. 

He started teaching poetry and fiction at Hamp- 
shire College in September 1976. Professor Salkey 
takes a great interest in creative writing, generally, 
and gives poetry readings and talks throughout the 
Five College Area. He is a friend to all his students 
whether they are white, black or Third World. He is 
very close to Third World people in the Valley and at 
Hampshire College where he actively participates in 
the events of their campus association. 

He enjoys teaching very much at Hampshire, and 
says that he is picking up a lot of new learning ex- 
periences from the students there whom he finds af- 
fectionate and supportive. 

Andrew's writing is addressed to all Third World 
people. He writes clearly and sincerely because of 
the example of their struggles. He takes writing 
seriously and everything else he does, both educa- 
tionally and politically, and considers these ac- 
tivities in-puts into the continuing struggles of Third 
World people. He has affirmed that he could never 
be anywhere as near an anchored poet and novelist 
as he tries to be, if he were not linked into Third 
World concerns. He stresses the fact that a profound 
anchorage of some sort is usually essential to the 
serious pursuit of most human activity. He strongly 
believes that it's up to all of us to search for and find 
the anchorage that best suits our personality, ex- 
perience and work. 

Andrew has written five novels, eight children's 
books, two volumes of poetry, one short story collec- 
tion, and two non-fiction works. He has also edited 
seven anthologies of Caribbean writing. His most re- 
cent publications are Writing in Cuba since the 



Revolution, an anthology of poetry, short stories 
and essays, and Come Home, Malcolm Heartland, a 

novel, which depicts life among the black revolu- 
tionaries and intellectuals in London. 



SK: Where is your original home? 
AS: I was born in Colon, Panama, in 1928, but 
Jamaica is home. Both my parents were Jamaican, 
but, yes, I was born in Panama, near the end of the 
boom-town years. 

SK: I have heard of your deep interest in folklore. 
What is the folklore like in Jamaica? 
AS: Well, for one thing Jamaica has a very 
vigorous folklore tradition, and practice. There is an 
African, a West African basis to our culture. A strong 
one, in fact. It's there in the way we speak English; in 
the way we look at the world; in our songs, in our folk 
stories. Our great folk story is the tale of A nancy, 
half man, half spider. I seriously consider the Anancy 
story to be Jamaica's first piece of literature, 
Jamaica's primary oral literature. The whole idea of 
the folk for me is the strength of our culture in 
Jamaica and throughout our Caribbean. Some 
misguided people rather like claiming that the 
cultural vanguard in Jamaica is the middle class. I 
claim no such thing. That's nonsense. Our folk, 
which is peasant class, working class, is really our 
people; I mean that that's the bulk of Jamaica, 
Jamaica's true strength. 

SK: What's your attitude to the political struggle 
in Jamaica? 

AS: In the 1930's, during the colonial struggle, 
there was a definitive struggle against the British, an 
anti-colonial struggle, clearly so. Today, we have a 
very hard-edged confrontation against imperialism, 
right across the spectrum of imperialism and its 
myriad manifestations, against the way it sucks your 
economy, your creativity as a people, your life's 



20 




SK: What's your attitude to the struggle in South 
Africa? 

AS: I can tell you that I am overjoyed, even though 
I might be considered a cautious optimist about 
nearly all the struggles throughout the Third World. I, 
like a lot of my own contemporaries, always felt very, 
very depressed about black liberation in South 
Africa. When will it break through? Will it ever break 
through? I am passionately interested in the lessons 
that black South African politics and the liberation 
movement can teach and guide us by, almost day by 
day. My attitude is very positive, yes. I would use the 
word happy; I really feel happy about the 
breakthrough on the part of our black people in 
South Africa. The most remarkable thing about that 
breakthrough, and I haven't heard many people, 
either in Britain or the United States, talk about this, 
is the fact that it was the very young, really young 
people, who broke through, at home in South Africa, 



Andrew Salkey 



blood, your wealth, and the way it leaves you dry and 
hopelessly dependent as a client state. Today, there 
is a government that is struggling, attempting to be a 
socialist government and facing overwhelming, fear- 
ful odds, at home and abroad; in fact, it's an experi- 
ment in democratic socialism, unsure of itself, and 
up against powerful opposition; it is still half-and- 
half. It isn't socialism, just yet. It's a government that 
is blocked in by terrible contradictions, a govern- 
ment that is still a custodian of foreign and local 
oligarchic capital, and yet it is a government that is 
trying desperately to protect the larger interests of 
the bulk of the nation. I am deeply interested in 
what's going on back home; I am also interested, 
very, very deeply interested, indeed, in the fact that 
the working class is taking a greater interest in 
government than it has ever taken before; and that, 
to me, is extremely heartening, and also threatening 
to the status quo. I like that! 



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21 



at home, mind you, all elementary and secondary 
school children, not college students or intellec- 
tuals, or even the working class; it was the school 
kids who broke this overwhelming silence; it was 
and is their revolt and their power of revolution, en- 
tirely theirs. I am so overjoyed about this, I tingle 
with great expectations every time I think about it. I 
am excited, and I think we will win. I am sure we will 
win. 

SK: When did you start teaching at Hampshire 
College, and how do you feel about it, now? 
AS: I started teaching, if teaching is the right 
word, poetry and fiction, at Hampshire College, in 
September 1976. At first, I really thought I would 
have had a few Third World people in my classes. 
Nobody told me this, but I just sort of hoped that that 
would be so. Well, it turned out not to be so, largely 
because our own Third World people are very busy in 
other spheres, in other academic Schools, at Hamp- 
shire. What I have managed to do, though, is to be a 
friend of virtually all Third World and black students, 
here, on campus, and off campus. I frankly think that 
that's far better than merely being their class 
teacher. By the way, I'm strongly inclined as an anti- 
teacher teacher. I really can't stand teachers who are 
willful teachers and teachers only. I'm sure that my 
anti-teacher position makes it easy for me to keep on 
learning and keep on keeping on in the world of my 
students. Of course, I miss the Third World represen- 
tation in my two Workshops. Mind you, they show 
me their work, even though it's not within a course or 
within a class. I like that. I see the poetry of a very 
small number of black students, here. I am very 
close to them, without intruding, and I belong to 
their campus association which is also mine, actual- 
ly. How do I like teaching, now, after a year in the 
job? The short answer to that is: I'm learning a great 
deal. This isn't a fancy way of a middle-aged person 
saying that he's learning from the young. I really 
mean to be sincere. I'm picking up a lot of things that 
I didn't know before, about human relations, about 
the pain and disillusionment of the young, about 
cracked dreams at that level of development, about a 
very small part of life in the United States. This coun- 
try is brand new to me. I like the unconscious use of 
the word "brand", there. Yes, you must remember 
that I'm a Jamaican who has spent twenty-four to 
twenty-five years away from home, and twenty-four 
of them in England. So, culturally, I am at a distance 
from the United States, but I'm not at a distance 
culturally from a man such as yourself, because 
you're black and we do share a common pain in be- 
ing black. I couldn't be removed from you; I'm a part 
of your whole thing, your world. With regard to the 



population of this College, I am a bit of a stranger to 
some of the wealthy, white students and their 
cultural overview within the United States and 
capitalism, and that takes a little bit of getting used 
to, you know. There's a pushy exterior and a pie crust 
of impoliteness and even arrogance that one meets 
almost daily. I no longer meet it, though; some peo- 
ple have heard that I won't put up with that kind of 
nonsense. But I am learning a great deal; I am learn- 
ing about, for instance, the reliance most American 
students have on teachers. I didn't realize how 
dependent most of you were, in that respect. Very 
teacher and course dependent! Not much self- 
reliance about! Not much, at all! There's something 
in the United States, some sort of atavistic edict or 
other, that seems to say that you need teachers for 
every damn thing. Where I think you should be stan- 
ding on your own two feet, I catch you leaning hard 
on a teacher who must entertain you, at all cost. 
Where I come from, in Jamaica, we had excellent 
teachers, if I may say so, but we also believed in 
fishing for ourselves in deep waters; we taught 
ourselves by taking in massive doses of reading, 
listening and exploring on our own. We had to find 
out lots of things for ourselves. Some of us were very 
independent intellectually at a very early age, and we 
learned every difficult thing the hard way, and many 
times without bothering to consult the teacher. But 
over here, if a poem is to be written, the average 
student-writer wants to chat about "the process" 
before he or she writes the poem, and after the poem 
is written, the poet wants feedback, almost im- 
mediately, as though the life of the poem depended 
on that, exclusively. I find that very bothersome and 
tedious. At least, I found it so, at first, simply 
because I myself as a kind of writer had and still have 
no real recourse to that sort of thing, nor do I think it 
wholly desirable for my own sense of initiative and 
self-reliance. I was a little more independent than 
some of my Hampshire writers and friends in the 
Valley, I suspect. I really loved finding out things 
behind my teacher's back; I loved finding out things 
on my own, meaning that I would read and read and 
read a lot of books. I notice that many of my students 
are not much for reading, or self-improvement 
through reading on their own. They're not good long- 
distance readers and not good long-distance 
information-gatherers. f[/lost of my students come to 
me with fairly empty high school bags, which, I know 
I have to top up, however best I can, and all in one 
short unreal semester. I suppose I'm trying to give 
them what little I picked up along the way, at home 
and in England. I'm giving back to my writers in the 
Workshops all the bits and pieces I picked up along 



22 



the way, in my time, as a poet, novelist and so on, 
and as a student myself. I picked up a great deal 
from sources other than the teacher and the 
classroom. A tough way, but a very rewarding one, 
the business of helping yourself! Now, this is bound 
to sound startlingly eccentric, but instead of 
students leaning so pathetically on teachers for 
feed-back, self-regard props and other spurious aids, 
I would like them to start making teachers run after 
them for their inventiveness and self-reliance 
genius, especially at a place like Hampshire. It can 
be done. But quite large numbers of bright students 
deny their native intelligence, inventiveness and 
self-reliance genius by chasing after teachers as 
feed-back props. At times, I wonder if it isn't an exer- 
cise in vanity and bucking egotism on the part of one 
or two students. Just a thought, yes! But, you see, 
students, on the whole, insist on making doubtful 
gurus of their teachers. I don't like that. I fight it, 
nearly every day. Indeed, teachers hold quite an in- 
tellectual and creative hegemony over some of their 
students, which I deplore. I mean, just as a person, 
myself, I deplore that state of affairs; really and truly 
I do. Yet, are those teachers wholly to be blamed, 
d'you think? I certainly think not. I fancy, though, 
that not a few of the High School teachers should 
take the heavier part of the blame, and also those 
families who by favourable and fortunate cir- 
cumstances are blameworthy. 
SK: What is the relationship between poets and 
the political struggle in Jamaica? 
AS: In the 1930's, all of us saw quite clearly that 
the poet was not an outsider to the political struggle, 
simply because he or she was a citizen, first of all. 
We have a marvellous gift of beautiful poetry from 
those poets in the Thirties. They gave us back quite 
clear and profound images of what our struggle 
against the British was like. In fact, there was a very 
vigorous kind of political and artistic fusion surroun- 
ding the poets and painters in Jamaica, at that time. 
They wrote and painted as they lived, socially and 
politically. I consider politics a human activity in the 
same way I consider writing a poem a human activi- 
ty. The artist is not a stranger to political struggle, 
especially if the artist also happens to be poor and 
living in a society up for grabs by large economic 
forces. That speaks directly to the artist, I think, and 
it is bound to find its way into his or her creative 
work, somehow, however implicit, however fully 
stated. Wherever there's exercise or show of power, 
for good or for ill, the truly creative artist is sensitive 
to it, as citizen and as artist. And power and relation- 
ships of power are always outside one's front door, 
somehow. 



SK: What are the differences between contem- 
porary modern African poets and traditional African 
poets, and how has the poetic tradition changed? 
AS: My reading and my London conversations 
with many African writers, people like Chinua 
Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Cyprian Ekwensi, have led 
me to believe that the traditional African poet saw 
himself or herself as part of the spiritual and total 
civilizational basis of African culture. You see, the 
first African poets were not speakers of words. 
Sometimes they were remarkable drummers and 
their drumming was their poetry and the drum-skin 
the source-words of their poems; and sometimes a 
singer and a dancer made their poems out of the 
movement of their limbs. I would guess that routine, 
rhythm and ritual were, for a very long time, the tradi- 
tional African poet's materials. The gods were never 
up in the sky somewhere but down on and in the 
ground, aiding and abetting the production of poetry, 
from time to time; and, by the way, African gods are 
always at man-level, woman-level, not supremely 
removed, faraway in the sky. In short, the traditional 
poets always saw themselves as a part of the prac- 
tice of religion in African society. Contemporary 
modern African poets have going for them the 
printed word. They also have the microphone and the 
radio. They have lecture halls and auditoriums, 
where they stand and read their poems. Now, I have a 
very funny view of this, especially about the printed 
word; I believe that modern African poets might not 
be so very popular as the traditional poets, because 
the modern poets have moved slightly away from a 
mass audience. First of all, in order to get to the 
poem on the page, to Chinua' s, Wole's, mine, on the 
page, you have to know how to read, so automatical- 
ly that bars the so-called "illiterate" African lover of 
poetry; whereas the song or the drum or the 
religious-poetic festival didn't, in the sound-shape of 
poetry. Then, of course, quite a lot of modern African 
poets are writing in English; and that's another has- 
sle for the poetry-lover who hasn't got English. Yes, 
the printed page has been a bit of a bastard. It bars 
the transmission someone like Chinua cherishes. 
The drum music didn't, in the shape and sound of 
the drums. You could pick this up; you didn't need to 
be educated and literate, according to some other 
set of rules. I have no doubt that as soon as you put 
your poems in book form, you put a distance bet- 
ween yourself as a poet and the rest of your non- 
reading people. There are very, very many of us who 
are disadvantaged, because we have been on the im- 
mediate receiving-end of imperialist policies, 
because we have been ruthlessly exploited for cen- 
turies; I would like you to read "Letter from a Con- 



23 



tract Worker", a political love poem by Antonio 
Jacinto, an excoriating indictment of Portuguese im- 
perial rule in Africa, which tells us about African il- 
literacy and its seed-bed, imperialism. You see, com- 
ing back to your question, just a small elite can cope 
with the books, pamphlets, broadsides and so on. 
So, I imagine that the modern poets aren't getting 
their poems as far and wide as say the traditional 
poets, who were able to get their work right across 
the country. Of course, because it's now in book 
form and in English and in translation, too, a great 
number of outsiders and a lot of students and 
teachers and critics are picking up on African poetry, 
where they didn't before. When the poet was ex- 
clusively a religious person, a drummer, a dancer, 
poetry was rather locked inside Africa, then. But 
there's a sad irony about it all. It is very curious that 
as soon as poetry hit the books, it hit the outside 
world. Now, very many people know the work of 
African poets, yet it is very interesting that the book 
has taken the poetry far outside Africa and not nearly 
far enough inside Africa. I am looking to African 
education to put that right. 

SK: How are your poems, novels, non-fiction and 
your anthologies associated with the liberation of 
black people and Third World people? 
AS: If there weren't a struggle, struggles for 
liberation, I don't think I could begin to be the sort of 
poet I want to be, to tell you the truth. I'd be some 
other kind of poet whom I might not want to be. So, 
what I'm saying in a sort of back-handed way is that I 
am attempting to write in a certain way because 
there is this struggle, this widespread struggle in our 
time. I have the chance of becoming a poet of a cer- 
tain kind of seriousness because there is this enor- 
mously serious struggle going on in our world. Yes, I 
consider everything I do as an in-put into the strug- 
gle. I take writing seriously, and it is an intensely 
painful process for me, incidentally; I find it extreme- 
ly difficult to do, and often I just give up and wait and 
wait and wait for the right words to come with the 
right dream hovering over them. When I tell some of 
my Hampshire College writers how difficult I find 
writing, they smile as if to say, "Ah, he's putting us 
on!" If only they knew! At times, I dislike the whole 
business of writing, and want to chuck it for good. 
So, it's true to say that I'm attempting to take writing 
seriously: I believe it is a part of the struggle, and not 
only In our Caribbean or in our Africa, including Afro- 
America, but throughout the Third World. It anchors 
me nicely. Moreover, I would not want to be that 
other kind of poet: the rather private, personal, 
hermetic, introverted, aimless, pretty wordsmithing 
poet. The struggle does give you anchorage. You 



know you've got to make up your mind; you've got to 
extend one commitment two ways: your love of 
poetry and its demands, which are struggle enough, I 
can tell you, and your sheer humanity to liberation 
struggle; and then you've got to say to yourself, "I 
want to write as clearly and sincerely and poetically 
as I possibly can, because of the struggle. " Please, I 
want you to know that I'm only hitting and missing in 
my own work, at the moment. I'm nowhere near 
where I'd like to be. I'm doing it my way, and it's 
tough. I live with a mountain of failed poems. 
SK: If there are a hundred men and women like 
you with your commitment, what changes would you 
foresee? 

AS: Let's say that we could humanly estimate the 
energy that has gone into the momentous social and 
political changes in my own lifetime; just one of 
those changes would call for the energy of millions 
of people. The changes in my life have been pretty 
large, yes. Now, there are things I no longer want. 
There are things I no longer dream about. There are 
certain things no longer necessary for me, no longer 
necessary to make me function as a man and as a 
writer, no longer necessary to make me hold on and 
see the night through to morning. Other things have 
become very essential, crucially essential, like the 
meaning of my writing, for instance. The view I now 
have of my writing is not the same view I had of it 
when I first started out, years ago. I now think, quite 
honestly, that my writing belongs to others and that 
what I write is the patrimony of others to come, the 
possession by right of others. I can't imagine a 
substantial change, coming back to your question, 
with only a hundred people doing it my way. We 
would need more than just a hundred; we would 
need a vast number. Let's forget me. I know I'm not 
really ready in any significant way, in any way to be a 
model or anything like that. Let's, instead, talk about 
all of us as models. Well, we would have to get 
turned on by an educational system that would try to 
turn out new men and women in the hundreds of 
thousands, and then in the millions. And you know 
what we're talking about when we say that? Right! 
We need a great agent of change, a massive social 
change from the roots over, an up-ending that would 
really convert that hundred into millions. I think what 
we feed ourselves with educationally, politically, will 
determine who we are, later on. Education is 
seepage. The same for the politics of change. We 
will need millions of new men and women, much bet- 
ter prepared than me, differently educated, different- 
ly turned on, differently disposed in ego and dream 
and intention, to make the revolution and to secure it 
meaningfully. 



24 



MARCUS GARVEY 



By Kim Hill 



Marcus Garvey's day of Triumph was imposed by 
an intolerable reality. Right before the startled eyes 
of thousands of spectators, a mighty new black na- 
tion was unfolding itself marching down Lenox 
Avenue in Harlem. The line of the march seemed 
endless and meant the emerging of a new world 
spirit. 

Who was behind it? Marcus Garvey the leader, the 
creator. He was not a man to hide his light under a 
bushel. Never one to give an advantage, or let the at- 
tention of his audience wander. Garvey followed up 
this master stroke with a series of dazzling moves 
that changed the tone and texture of race relations in 
America. Garveyism meant black militancy and was 
only calling for the liberation of Africa and the migra- 
tion of some African-Americans. 

Marcus Garvey was a man of great determination. 
He wanted to know where the Black man's govern- 
ment is? Where is his king and his kingdom? Where 
is his President, his ambassador? Without wasting 
any time, his brain was afire with the possibility of 
writing all the Black peoples of the world into one 
great body to establish a country and a government 
absolutely their own. 

He formed and organized the Universal Negro Im- 
provement Association (UNIA), an organization 
designed to establish a Universal confraternity 
among the race. Racial tension had reached the 
crisis point in Black America and Harlem. A lot of 
people were migrating to the North from the South 
and the West Indies. These migrants brought new 



hopes and new fears, and they were threatened by 
new forces. 

The first great war to make the world safe for 
democracy had disillusioned and radicalized black 
soldiers and large segments of the black population. 
There was, at the same time, a sharp white backlash 
in the white community, which was demoralized by 
the war and terrified by the new forces unleashed by 
the war One result of all this was a nationwide 
resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Another was the 
development of a national mood of nativism and 
racism. From the time of Garvey's arrival to his 
movement of triumph, America was wracked by a ris- 
ing tide of lynching, racial confrontations and riots. 
This gave more energy to Garvey's goal. 

Garvey told his story wherever he could find a 
listener He preached a new doctrine of black 
regeneration and black renaissance to anyone who 
could listen. Garvey was contemptuous of tradi- 
tional black organization. He insisted that other 
blacks accept their skin color and their destiny. He 
believed that "Black" was not only beautiful but 
redemptive. Believing so, he gave a positive value to 
everything black and tried to give his listeners a new 
sense of their potentialities. 

As a result, the organization he formed was more 
than an organization. It was a revival, a way of life. It 
had life in it and thus, it united the black race, there 
was a flag, red (for the blood shed by the race), black 
(for the color of the race), and green (for the land of 
the race). 



25 



YVONNE JOHN 

and the WEST INDIAN COOKING 

OF GUYANA 



by Catherine Adamson 



As a part of Guyanan culture, children are taught 
to cook at about age five. By the time a child reaches 
eight or nine years old, cooking is like second 
nature. So it was with Yvonne John. She has very 
much liked to cook since the age of eight. At age 
twelve, she helped her father with the business he 
owned, and by the time she reached fifteen she 
could manage it. 

After finishing high school she took Home 
Economics courses and began exploring and writing 
recipes. After marriage, she and her husband catered 
together, Yvonne doing all the cooking. Folks en- 
joyed the food which is mainly fresh vegetables, 
chicken and fish. Because her philosophy on food is 
"the fresher, the healthier," she uses no canned 
foods (beef and pork are also generally eliminated). 

She attended a technical college in Los Angeles, 
while catering in Santa Maria Boulevard as well as in 



Beverly Hills. She then came to the Pioneer Valley. 
Her first jobs were in the Campus Center. She went 
on to set up a non-profit organization in New Africa 
House at U. Mass. She became well known in the 
area. Because people liked the West Indian food so 
much more than the American food, she cooks only 
in the West Indian style. 

Shortly thereafter, some (white) wonan in the 
Valley heard that she was a "famous cook" and of- 
fered her two dollars a recipe for two hundred 
recipes. After having talked this over with a number 
of friends, she realized how potentially exploitative 
this offer was. This incident was one of the major 
motivating factors in Yvonne's decision to write a 
cook book of her own. Also, since her graduation 
from high school, she has collected numerous 
recipes and kept them on file, having the desire to 
expose American black people to Guyanan food. 




Yvonne John by Edward Cohen 
26 



One of the book's goals would be to display the 
economical and exotic elements of Guyanan cook- 
ing. 

Next we talked about the educational system in 
Guyana. She prefers the Guyanan over the U.S. 
system. One difference is that in Guyana children 
start school once they are able to talk, whereas in 
the United States a child must wait until he or she is 
at least five years old. As a result, one may graduate 
from high school as young as fourteen. Yvonne 
believes there is too much emphasis on sports in 
education here, whereas in Guyana, the concentra- 
tion is on the education and sports are on the side. 

Yvonne asserts that there is no real racial tension 
in Guyana, although a few years back. Prime Minister 
Chedy Chagan agitated racial tensions between the 
East Indians (i.e., Portuguese, Chinese, Aborigine) 
and the Blacks. The Indians were led to believe that 
they were better than the Blacks. At present, with 
Prime Minister Burnham, there is peace and unity. 



Everyone has their own culture, but all denomina- 
tions participate equally. 

She noted that people in Guyana are in general 
much friendlier than those in the United States. 
Much to her discouragement, while visiting in 
Springfield, she encountered a few exemplary in- 
cidents. Passing another black woman on the street 
she asked, "Excuse me, sister, can you tell me 
where the Office of Discrimination is?" The woman 
turned and caustically replied, "I ain't your g..d... 
sister; you have an accent!" 

For a while she was hurt and disappointed with 
American black people and could not relate to their 
separatism. But while going to school at the Univer- 
sity of Massachusetts, Amherst, she discovered a 
different and better attitude. The people seem more 
receptive and open to her, "although there are a few 
bad ones in between," she says. So for now the 
Pioneer Valley is blessed with having Yvonne John 
and her fine West Indian cooking. 




Photo by Edward Cohen 
27 



THE MURALS OF CCEBS 



By Margarita Vargas 



During the summer of 1977, three student artists 
were commissioned by CCEBS to express their ar- 
tistic views on walls and doors of the New Africa 
House at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. 
Nelson Stevens, professor of Art and Afro-American 
studies at the University directed the students' 
labor 

CCEBS is the Committee for the Collegiate Educa- 
tion of Black Students. CCEBS offices and student 
facilities are located on the second floor of the New 
Africa House. 

There, at the New Africa House, Puerto Rican stu- 
dent Margarita Vargus painted murals on seven of- 
fice doors including those of the career library and 
the Upward Bound project. These door paintings 
vary in content, style and use of color. The colors 
brighten up the halls and atmosphere of this working 
office area. 

For the benefit of all, CCEBS also has a large room 
which is a comfortable study lounge, library, and a 
place where small meetings are held. In this room, 
two 8' by 10' murals were painted each by John 
Kendrick and Frank Thornton. Both artists are 
graduate students graduating in 1978. John is from 
New York and Frank, from Washington, D.C. 

Frank Thornton's mural is an underwater scene. A 
symbol of life. The amoeba is centered among 
various schools of fish, swimming about the depths 
of the sea. The combination of tropical warm colors, 
cool colors and overlapping shapes give an at- 
mosphere of both tranquility and gaiety. 

John Kendrick's painting expresses the "spiritual 
development and aspirations of man and woman." 



The figures sway in rhythmic motion across the sur- 
face of the wall. The colors used are basically cool 
purples, blues and greyed tonations. Both murals are 
done in an overlapping technique. This adds more in- 
terest and depth to the walls. 

With these murals, the lounge and the hall attract 
the students and others to feel more comfortable in 
the New Africa House. 

The CCEBS program funded the project, paid the 
students on an hourly wage during six weeks, and 
bought the materials. Its director, Michael Jackson, 
was interested in refurbishing the building through 
use of cultural works of art related to the students' 
cultural heritage. He was successful and very 
pleased with the results. 

Margarita Vargas was again employed to paint 
three more office doors during the fall semester 
Some other artists also received three credits as an 
independent study through the University's Art 
Department. 

During the past three summers professor Nelson 
Stevens directed Mural Programs in Springfield, 
Massachusetts. A total of 29 murals have been 
painted by various student artists of U.Mass. and 
Nelson Stevens, himself. These murals are gifts for 
the people and stand as monuments of part of the 
progressive mural movement of the 70's. 

As student artists, we are looking forward to the 
organization and approval of federal funds for the 
Summer Mural Program of 1978. This will enable us 
to continue to educate our people through cultural 
gifts, by means of our artistic expressions, and serve 
as an incentive for the communities. 



28 






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POETRY EXPLANATION 



by Sharleen Dickinson 



To bring truth where there are half 
truths. To make peace where there is 
turmoil. To give beauty where there is 
nothirig but ugliness. 

As a writer, each individual has the 
opportunity as well as the obligation 
to look at life the way he or she 
wishes to see it. 

A journalist is dominated by some 
restrictions. The journalist tells the 
news. He or she delivers facts and 
through the development of their own 
expertise, the journalist may be able 
to slip in his or her personal state- 
ment. But their primary job is to relate 
the event as it is. 

The creative writer, specifically the 
poet, is obligated to follow the 
demands of self expression. The poet 
takes his or her feelings about a 
situation and expresses them on 
paper to suit themselves. In the pro- 
cess of this written self expression, 
those of us who read the finished 
work may be able to relate to the feel- 
ings expressed but the factor that 
keeps the writer apart from the reader 
is that he or she has interpreted their 
feelings in a way that is truly their 



own and then, had nerve enough to 
put those feelings on paper. 

The factor that makes the poet uni- 
que is that he or she tells the com- 
plete story with a minimum amount 
of words. He or she presents a mental 
picture and leaves much of the inter- 
pretation to the reader or the listener. 
The poet's message is in two parts: 
his or her message comes in what is 
said and the rest comes in what is not 
said, just, perhaps, implied. 

Poetry is comparable to looking at 
a photograph in the negative and see- 
ing just as much or more as when you 
look at the same picture in the 
positive. 

Poetry is the laughter down the 
hall. Poetry is a scream of despera- 
tion. Poetry is the secret you hide 
reluctantly from the rest of us. Poetry 
is the self contentment when you 
have no secrets to hide. 

Finally, poetry is what is written by 
a poet. And a poet is a man, woman or 
child. A poetess is similar to the 
unicorn: a part of some one's im- 
agination, but nothing you or I will 
ever get to meet. 



30 




THE SUN IS MY LOVER 

Silentl\;, with amber touch 

He rouses me from sleep. 

The very warmth of his nearness 

gently eases me awake. 

Anxiously, I throw back the sheets 

and beckon Him to share with me 

the last of the fleeing night. 

Sensuously, He stretches himself 

before me, 

and smiles that dazzling smile. 

Such a restless and demanding partner. 

How the growing morning brilliance 

becomes Him. 

Luxuriating in the glowing radiance, 

I am sure His hue will last. 

by Sharleen Dickinson 



31 




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RISING VERSE 

i 

an egg 

hatching from 

a sinner's womb 

learning to function 

educational tasks 

in a pressurized time span 

to delay me from questioning < 

the need to die in man's world of words 

without ever seeking GOD's universe . . 




Graduates by Edward Cohen 



CLIMATIC VERSE 

yes 

I said i loved you 

i said we would be as one 

but time made us like oil and water 

close but always separate 

so did i love you? 

no 

by Sterling Rex 



33 



PARTY 

Surrounded by cool black breezes 

thru silent playgrounds 

But yet contained within artificial 

dim light and air hot and heavy 

Heavy tho not still 

1 hear-steady hum and babble of voices 

I see many colors; yellow, tan, beige, 

brown, and black 

But yet all one color, one people 

It seems the place will burst 

flinging laughter and loud music 

into the cool black breeze. 

Fire, Life, Blood, Heritage all contained 

Feel of excitement, of elegance, of friends 

A feel of innerjoy, I belong 

Feel of sadness over all my people 

Feel of indignation angry energy 

Feel of weariness for all the struggle 

one color, one people all contained. 

by Zakina 




"Archie Shepp" by jimi pickett 



MARCUS GARVEY 

Harlem was used to spectacles 

Harlem was used to dreams and dreamers. 

Harlem had seen everything, and heard 

everything. 

What was the meaning of this? 
Who was behind it? 
Who was this man? 

Marcus Garvey — 

One of the dreamers. 

One of the shooting stars that streak across 

the Harlem sky from tune to time. 

Marcus Garvey — 

The one never to give up an advantage 

and courage. 

It meant black pride, black power and black 

self-reliance. 

To some men then, and to some men today, 

it meant ''Back to Africa. " 

Talk was cheap, 

Substance and shadow were so inextricably 

intertwined. 

Marcus Garvey 

A man with a destiny to the Promised Land, 
Left behind a legacy of exploded hopes and 
mammoth accomplishments. 

by Kim Hill 




Marc Fairfax Stevens by Edward Cohen 



35 



MANAGING 

A woman with manacles on her hands! 
Turned away, like an untouchable, 
in the market, wrenched wide for profit, 
humiliated, where it burned, like despair, 
nightmare loss after nightmare loss, 
she counted the knots in the ribbon 
of the years of happiness she had had, 
when her dreams were young and hers 
and spread out round her on the ground, 
clusters of hand-cupped roses in her care. 

And then, she walked out, alone, 
into the blaze of the backyard sun, 
pretending, as she stumbled along, 
that, in fact, she had left the dark room 
and all the skewering hurt behind: 
her small daily triumph, her ritual 
of get-up-and-leave-regret-to-history, 
for yet another night, yet another year; 
her own lonely way of lasting out, 
her only way into the sun, her way. 

Light and shadow, surely rituals change? 
Shadows don't persist. They, too, disperse. 
Rituals change. They usually do. They will. 



by Andrew Salkey 



HARBOUR VIEW 

If he kills himself, suddenly, tomorrow, 
by hanging her land on the north claw, 
she and her children will be left alone, 
pincering deep into the wise, open sea. 

If he kicks over the philosophy of waste, 
and opens all the broad harbour windows, 
she and her children will look at the land 
and the sea, clearly, as their patrimony. 

If he does neither but merely waits around 
and stares into salt space philosophically, 
then nothing at all will be done either way, 
and living and dying will become an evasion. 

If that's the case, she'll certainly know 
he's not to be trusted, and then, finally, 
she'll mould her children into closed petals, 
and break through the serrated pain herself. 



36 



OLD MAN AND THE LAST DAY OF MARCH 

People walking quickly past the grey 
air and cool winded afternoon, 
going to and coming from where 
they have been and got to go. 

One old man in dark brown skin 

and light brown threadbare staggers by, 

cane extended 

from hand to ground. 

Moving slowly through the middle 

of swift people, all 

looking busy and important and 

almostoutoftime. 

The old man stands in 

front of me and 

tap, tap, taps, his cane 

wringing up his face 

to a frightening black and 

pink, putty mass of indignation. 

I'm not the unfaithful wife 

who left you and the rice 

to burn as she swayed 

down the road to where the men 

were working. 

The old man still stands 
tapping and looking more 
evil and making me feel 
sweat under my arms. 

Move on old man. 

On down the street, 

into your own world, 

your own time. 

Tap your cane to the beat 

of your own pulse. 

Give me back my public privacy 

and let your business 

be your own. u ou i ^^• i ■ 

by Sharieen Dickmson 

37 






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39 



A POEM ON SOUTH AFRICA 

THEY SHALL LONG FOR THE ICY COMFORT OF DEATH 
AS THEY CRINGE FROM THE PLACE OF 
OUR HATE-PATH'S DESTRUCTION 

GOD FROM HEAVEN SHALL SEND FIRE TO THE SKY 
THAT SHALL SHED NO WARMTH AND NO LIGHT 
UPON THE FRIGID, STINGING EMBERS THAT SHALL 
RELENTLESSLY, RELENTLESSLY, RELENTLESSLY, 
RIP, AND RAPE, AND TEAR AT THEIR SOULS 

THE EARTH SHALL OPEN AND SEIZE THEM AS HER PRISONER 

FOREVER— 

AS HELL, AND ALL THOSE WHO PAY HOMAGE TO ITS 

GOLDEN, AUTOMATED IDOLS MOCK THEM 

AS I DESTROY THEM 

AS WE DESTROY THEM 

SENSUOUSLY SAVORING THE COOLING WARMTH OF THEIR 

EBBING LIFE'S BLOOD 

REJOICING AS OUR ANCESTORS RETURN TO LIFE THROUGH 

OUR DESCENDANTS 

WHO SHALL KNOW THE SUN AS IT RISES AGAIN. 

Copyright 1976 



by Bradley V. Scott 



40 




"Impressions of South Africa" by Catfierine Adamson 



p 



FEATHER 

I am as a feather. 

The louder you speak to me 

the further removed I 

become. 

Approach me calmly and 

carefullly and I may 

light upon your hand. 

by Vincent K. ^ 

Washington 



'# 



Diana Ramos by Edward Cohei 



on 5 compositions of Roscoe l\/litcliell 



they always play it different in new yorklfast city 

nothin clean about the place 

no such thing as one hand clappin 

or like the purity of only one horn & the hall 

you can hear it talkin 

like hard times & bent slugs 

fast city in ya music 

hear it cry fast moanful cries 

violins step in I i hear ya fast city 

music of the way back/ way out ahead 

of the knife-fendered traffic 

of the lowceing 5 flights blues 

in peeling browns & rust-edged dangers 

i hear ya fast city 

burstin all through the pure 

with the lost gone gangster tones 

blast me back through the scag & jump of it 

the rob & steal of it 

to the stomp joy and sweet completion of it 

in remembrance of the brightness 

the sound of one sound slappin snappin & grabbing 

the round of it/ the lost the found/ the hollow of it 

i hear ya fast city 

long gone bipblap kick rumble 

kicks & rumbles back again 

loose hairs of discontent 

fall like lint upon the players coats 

one eats oranges and shoots the seeds down the slide 

one leans big boy falls against the chest 

he lets his feet fly and march 

one says he has true dreads 

plays stripper funk in the spaces 

sweet intensity/ i hear ya/ fast city 

pluggin on the deaf insistence of blind horsemen 

stompin dumas' clouds 

out from under/ in sky/ stomping 

the music/ splattered with spit & sweat 

the gone ones' blood 

2/8/76 — studio rivbea, nyc. — players: roscoe mitchell; Julius hemphill; phillip wilson; Joseph bowie; muhal 
richard abrams; leroy Jenkins; george lewis. 

Part I: tahquemenon; tecumseh; olobo; eckter five. Part II: nonaah 

by Thulani 



43 




4 



"FESTAC 77" by Nelson Stevens 



last revolutionary poem 

those of us who are left 

are ganging for one last fight 

ganging arms & fears 

almost paralyzed in hope 

anxious wait 

stashing our last poems 

our last bloody epitaphs 

eulogies & dying scenes 

for one last fight 

those of us who are left 

are choking on the desertions 

the bliss of riches run to 

by dancers from depression's discos 

until the day I until the day 

when we sit together 

on the edge of our chairs/ 

our seats in carriers 

our knees aimed to the ground 

our prayers pouring hushed 

from the store chests of our long slept hearts 

our jujus clustered on our necks 

our logics sworn 

a token slit is made on wrists for the blood/shed 

the blood shed with fear 

shed with the final chains/the diamond fetters 

& rust broken cells as we are our own 

it will be the last time we say the last of the past. 



© copyright 1977, Thulani 



by Thulani 



45 



TO THE SISTERS AND BROTHERS 
WHO HAVE SUPPORTED ME 




I first wanted to thank you for all the support that 
you have given me and secondly to say right on to 
the stand that you have taken against the govern- 
ment's persecution program against Black revolu- 
tionaries. By supporting me and other revolu- 
tionaries you have taken a stand against racism, 
against sexism, against oppression, against 
capitalism, against imperialism and against the 
genocidal war being waged against Third World peo- 
ple. By supporting me you are supporting Black 
people's right to national self-determination and the 
struggle to acquire that right. 

From the beginning, we knew that it was highly 
unlikely, if not impossible for me to get a fair trial in 
Middlesex County, N.J. 

One— because of the constant co-optation by rul- 
ing classes of the masses of working peoples, cou- 
pled with their complete control of technology and 
information, makes the so-called democratic pro- 
cess null and void and thus created the hysterical, 
slanderous and racist press coverage that surroun- 
ded this case. 

Two — because of the press coverage, over 70 per- 
cent of the people in racist Middlesex County were 
already convinced of my guilt. 

Three — because the judge was racist and blatant- 
ly prejudiced in favor of the prosecution. 



Fourthly — and most importantly, because there is 
no such thing as justice in amerika, especially for 
Black and poor people. History clearly shows that in 
the course of the development of modern western 
society, the code of law is the code of the dominant 
and most powerful class, made into laws for 
everyone. Law is never impartial, never divorced 
from the economical relationships that brought it 
about. 

So, this is not the time to feel depressed or 
defeated. This is not the time to forget about struggl- 
ing, or to forget about all the Sisters and Brothers 
who have been railroaded into these dungeons. 
Rather, it is the time to feel outraged, to feel deter- 
mined, to fight against this government tooth and 
nail, not for what it is doing to me, but for what it is 
doing to us all. 

This railroading and legal lynching of me is but 
one drop of blood in the ocean of blood and suffer- 
ing that the amerikan government is responsible for. 
As i am writing this now someone else is being 
railroaded or shot in the back. We, the people, have 
lost this battle, but we will and we must win the war; 
the war for liberation, for justice and for freedom. 
The war for our children and for the future of the 
world. I have no faith, nor have i ever had faith in this 
government or in this system of injustice. Black peo- 
ple must learn to no longer have a psychological 
dependence on racist "legalities". It is the people 
who will set us free. 

In struggle, 

Assata 

(Joanne Chesimard) 

To visit Assata Shakur write: 
Martha Pitts 
20 Ave. A 20 
New York City, N.Y. 212-674-0949 

You can write Assata Shakur to: 
Jo Anne Chesinnard 
600-77-402 
1515 Hazen Street 
E. Elmhurst, N.Y. 11370 

For further information, contributions, etc.: Contact 
Assata Defense West, P.O. Box 40614— Station C, 
San Francisco, CA 94110 



46 



CUBA 

YESTERDAY & TODAY 



Cuba is a long and narrow Island, 780 miles in 
length from east to west, and some 25 to 125 miles in 
width, with an area about the same as that of Ohio. It 
is 50 miles west of Haiti, 85 miles north of Jamaica, 
and 92 miles south of Florida U.S.A. 

Although Cuba is the largest Island in the West In- 
dies with a total area of 44,218 square miles, it is still 
a small country, yet its history has a significance out 
of proportion to its size. 

It is impossible to understand the Cuban revolu- 
tion and the revolutionary regime which came to 
power on January 1, 1959, without understanding the 
historical development which long preceded it. The 
revolution in Cuba today has its roots deep in the 
past. The story of Cuba's struggle for liberation from 
four hundred years of Spanish domination is one of 
the great epics in history. The story of its struggle for 
over a half century to change its status from a 
theoretically, independent state, dominated by 
American imperialism, into a truly independent 
country is equally inspiring. 

The histories of Cuba and the U.S. had been inter- 
twined almost from the inception of American in- 
dependence in 1783. Early American solicitude for 
Cuba stressed strategic factors. Cuba must remain 
in friendly hands. While a weak Spain posed no 
threat, French or British control endangered 
American interests. 

Because Cuban insurgents refused to accept 
Spanish rule the bloody ten years' war, the first of the 
struggle against the mother country, Spain, erupted 
in 1868. The rebels sought aid abroad, especially in 
the U.S. Americans smuggled arms to Cuba for the 
insurgents, congress men and President Grant 
voiced their support. American involvement in the 
Island's affairs continued. 

The conflict ended in 1878. Spain emancipated the 
slaves but little was done to quiet local demands for 
self-government, and the bickering between Spain 
and the U.S. dragged on until fighting broke out 
again in 1898. 

No single motive explains the participation of the 
U.S. in the Spanish American War. Popular sympathy 
for the rebels, Spanish "atrocities," Americans' 



by Margarita Vargas 

dreams of world prominence, the need to protect the 
projected canal across Central America, American 
interest in Cuba, and the sinking of the battle ship 
Maine — all encouraged American intervention. Of 
the wars waged by the U.S. the Spanish American 
proved least costly in lives. In return for an empire 
that embraced the Philippines, mid-Pacific Islands, 
Puerto Rico, and Cuba. 

With Cuba free from Spain, the Americans turned 
their attention to the job of formulating diplomatic 
ties with the Island and preparing the Cubans for self 
government. The U.S. and Cuba were not ready for 
this task. 

At no time was the intensity of Cuban resentment 
of American diplomacy exhibited more fully than 
during the Constitutional Convention of 1901, which 
debated whether to include the Piatt Amendment in 
the national charter. Cubans ratified the Piatt 
Amendment to their constitution because no alter- 
native existed. 

No Cuban nationalist has ever forgotten that 
humiliation. On the eve of independence, the Cuban 
nationalist attitudes toward the U.S. evolved. This 
amendment imposed on Cuba in 1902 permitted 
Washington to intervene in local affairs, curtailing 
the Island's political and economic independence. 

The Cubans had to live with the Piatt Amendment 
for three decades. The debate over the Piatt Amend- 
ment plagued politics until 1933, for all political par- 
ties took a stand on the doctrine. 

Whether by accident or design, during the Piatt 
era Cuba fell into the hands of politicans friendly to 
America. For example Estrada Palma, the first presi- 
dent of Cuba and a long time resident of the U.S., ac- 
quiesced to Americans demands for naval and coali- 
tion stations thus granting the U.S. what is known as 
Guantanamo base (1934). That base alone, never- 
theless, kept alive friction between the two coun- 
tries. 

In the three decades of American political domina- 
tion of Cuba, businessmen and capital from the U.S. 
won virtual control of the Cuban economy. Spain had 
supplied the basic ingredient, but Americans 
mechanized the sugar economy and transformed the 



47 



Island into the "sugar plantation of the world. "A fun- 
damental incompatibility existed between the col- 
onial sugar industry and the dream of independence. 
The patrons of nationalism had frowned on the 
"parasitical industry." The evil of the sugar industry 
together with the social, economic and political 
forces of the development of Cuba made the revolu- 
tion of 1959 inevitable. Nationalism offered Castro 
the means by which to win popular backing, en- 
dorsement of his drastic reforms, and support in his 
battle against the allies of the U.S. on the Island. 
Anti-American nationalism thrived especially among 
intellectuals who were convinced that to achieve 
true freedom— an increasingly popular aspira- 
tion—Cuba must drastically modify or sever its tradi- 
tional relations with the U.S. 

Finally in Castro the Cubans discovered an ex- 
traordinarily gifted political prophet and leader who, 
with his bold challenge to Batista, not only captured 
the imagination and loyalty of the young but in the 
process managed to clothe himself with the mantle 
of Jose Marti first of the great Cuban revolutionary 
figures. Undoubtedly the political and economic 
conditions in Cuba paved the way for Castro's sur- 
prising success. 

Does not the fact that Cuba had a one-crop 
economy, dependent upon and completely subor- 
dinated to the economy of the U.S. help to explain 
the revolution? Or that the political policy of the U.S. 
in Cuba for 60 years was to support any government, 
however tyrannical and reactionary which gave nor- 
mal protection to the U.S. interests? Or that Cuba's 
average yearly per capita income for the period 
1950-1957 was around $213, as compared with $829 
for Mississippi, the poorest state in the U.S.? Or that 



before the Revolution, the Cuban unemployment 
rate normally stood at 25%? Or that Cuban land 
ownership was concentrated in so few hands that 
8% of Cuban farms accounted for 71% of the total 
arable land? In other words Cuba's economic 
domination by American big business resulted in the 
imploitation of the Cuban people. 

As a result of the Cuban revolution, socialism is 
being established in one of the smallest countries of 
the world. Efforts by the U.S. to destroy it— the 
unilateral ending by the Cubans sugar-quota system, 
the severing of diplomatic relations with the Cuban 
government, the sponsoring of the C.I.A.-organized 
invasion of Cuba, etc.— have failed. Today in the year 
1977 the U.S. has a new approach towards Cuba. It is 
trying to renew diplomatic relations. Hopefully, the 
results will be positive for both countries, but ex- 
treme precaution will prevail at all times. 

A result of the Cuban experience, millions of 
Latin-American common people have been impelled 
to examine the basis of contemporary society. A 
growing number of them are beginning to find, as did 
the Cuban people, that their lives cannot yield them 
an adequate degree either of physical or mental 
satisfaction as long as their countries remain depen- 
dent upon and completely subordinated to the 
economy and politics of the U.S. 

Source of information: 

A History of Cuba and Its Relations with the United 

States by Philip S. Foner 
Cuba The Making of a Revolution by Ramon Edwar- 

do Ruiz 
Revolution and Reaction in Cuba 1933-1960 by 

Samuel Farber 



CUBA 



Interview with 



JOHNNETTA COLE 



by Margarita Vargas 



Vargas— Have you been to Cuba? 
Cole— My first trip was in 1972 and since then I 
have been to Cuba 8 times. 
Vargas— Why did you go to Cuba? 
Cole— I would say there were 2 things that at- 
tracted me to Cuba and those 2 things keep my in- 
terest in Cuba. One is academic and the other is 
political. As an anthropologist I am particularly in- 
terested in what some people call the Pan African 
world. Better put, in all the cultures in the Western 



Hemisphere that have a close relationship culturally 
and historically with Africa. But I am also interested 
in how all these countries, P.R., Haiti, the U.S., Brazil 
and Cuba, all of these countries are tied to Africa not 
only by culture and by history but because they 
share the same kind of experiences particularly the 
experience of exploitation, that is, it's a Western 
Hemisphere country who has a definite tie to Africa. 
But I have also developed an interest in Cuba 
because of what Cuba stands for. Because my opin- 



48 




Johnnetta Cole 



ion, in a very genuine sense Cuba has developed a 
very different way of life tfiat in fact represents a free 
territory in the Americas. 

Vargas — Why did you become interested in the 
Cuban issue? 

Cole— It could fall into three categories. I've been 
to Cuba on delegations for example for an MP LA 
conference, that is MPLA of Angola. The second 
kind of category would be going to Cuba in connec- 
tion with the Venceremos Brigade. Every spring we 
send a group of northamericans to Cuba to work, to 
live, and to see the Revolution for themselves. I've 
had other kinds of trips to Cuba which are oriented 
towards my ongoing research on that whole ques- 
tion of racism in Cuba. 

Vargas — Did you have a free choice to go to other 
parts of the island? 

Cole— Certainly there are places where you can not 
go. For example, I have never attempted to go to the 
middle of a military installation, I have never gone to 
the door of a prison and knocked and said let me in; 
but I wouldn't do that in this country either With 
those exceptions I've been where I wanted to go, and 
obviously as my Spanish has gotten better that has 
meant that I can talk with lots of people. So I have 
the feeling that in eight trips to Cuba I've been able 
to get a real sense of what that Revolution is. 
Vargas— How were the means of transportation for 
yourself and the Cubans? 

Cole — / think your question is really about fun- 
damental social services and whether they are 
available to the Cuban people. The answer is yes. 
Early in the morning and in the evening are of course 
the times of heavy traffic and all those times taking a 
bus is an experience in Cuba, unlike rush hour in a 



big U.S. city, but what one pays to get on that bus is 
equivalent maybe to 5 cents in this country. For 
many Cuban workers transportation is free. It's free 
in the sense that a bus comes and picks up workers 
going to a construction. Compare that 5 to 50 to get 
on a New York City subway. What is more important 
than the cost is what the conditions are. Nobody is 
going to attack you in a bus in Cuba, you are not go- 
ing to fear that your pocketbook is going to be 
stolen. A woman is not going to fear that if she takes 
a bus at 3 a.m. she'll be sexually assaulted. In that 
sense transportation really represents not only the 
providing of a social service at a cost that people can 
easily afford, but it symbolizes what the quality of 
life is in Cuba. 

Vargas — How did people respond to you being an 
Afro American interested in their lives? 
Cole— Cubans that I've been in contact with have a 
real sense of what the struggle of third world people 
is in this country; it's on that basis of struggle, not 
on the basis of skin color or language but on the 
basis of the correctness of our struggle. People in 
Cuba want to know what's happening, for example 
on the Charlotte three case; what is the latest situa- 
tion on the Wilmington ten; what is unemployment 
like in the barrios and ghetto; what's happening in 
Congress with the Black Caucus? There is this 
tremendous interest and association and identifica- 
tion with our struggle as third world people. 
Vargas— How do the people of Cuba get all this in- 
formation? 

Cole— I have had some really shocking experiences 
in Cuba that relate to this. I mean for example walk- 
ing down the street and having a little kid, I mean a 
muchacho, come up to me and asked me the most 



49 



detailed question about some political happening in 
the U.S. My experience is that Cubans and I am 
generalizing now but I mean from the little kid all the 
way up are incredibly well informed and you don't 
just breathe it out of the air, you get it first of all by a 
free newspaper called the Gramma which has as 
much news internationally as it has national news. 
This is why Cubans who work in construction, 
Cubans who are young people in schools, old people 
would be able to tell you what is SWA PC, they will be 
able to tell you what's going on. They can run down 
to you the current legislative bills that are important 
in the U.S. Congress, they can tell you these things 
because of that source. Secondly Cubans are in- 
volved in mass organizations and through these 
mass organizations there engage in study circles. 
For example through the Federation of Cuban 
Women engaged in political discussions, through 
the committees for the defense for the Revolution 
where 80 somewhat percent of all Cuban adults are 
members, there are study circles in every organiza- 
tion, not just the Communist Party, and the Union of 
Young Communists, but every mass organization is 
billed with that kind of information. Plus the very 
nature of Cuban internationalism is such that there 
is a constant focus on what's happening in the 
world. I mean not a week passes without some 
leader of liberation movement, a head of state, being 
in Cuba and Cubans prepare for that. They don't just 
go out and wave a flag and say We Welcome Seku 
Toure from Guinea, or We Welcome Juan Marl Bras, 
No! you are informed on why you should welcome 
this person. So I must say that the difficult thing 
would be for a Cubano to escape information. 
Vargas— Were the communities organized? 
Cole— Let me share with you the sense in which 
Cuban communities are organized but provide the 
flexibility for individual expression. The reason I feel 
the need to explain this is really because of my own 
stereotypes, some of the ideas I had before going to 
Cuba where I had read and theoretically understood 
socialism. But you know the press in this country 
can do a heavy trip on you, so I am thinking okay 
Cuba is going to be great. A place where everybody 
has enough to eat and free health care, but it's gonna 
be a drag, it's gona be boring because it's gonna be 
so regimented and there will be no individual expres- 
sion. On the contrary, I think there is the best form of 
individual expression because it's that individual ex- 
pression which allows one's own ability, creativities 
to come out, but never at the expense of the collec- 
tive. So yes, Cuban communities are organized. A 
typical expression is a young woman who is a 
member of the Young Communists because a 



member of the Federation of Cuban Women, a 
member of a Committee for the Defense of the 
Revolution, her neighborhood organization, perhaps 
association with a trade union in her workplace, go- 
ing to school and therefore perhaps a member of the 
Federation of University Students. I've just named 6 
major mass organizations and in that sense a per- 
son's life is expressed in a series of collective situa- 
tions and yet that woman will certainly express 
herself individually. I mean maybe she likes ballet, 
so she goes off to see Alicia Alonso. But maybe she 
doesn't dig the ballet and so therefore she would 
rather go listen to Los Rapines a percussionist 
group. I mean she's going to wear whatever she 
wants to wear. She is going to fix her hair the way 
she wants to fix her hair. She will study what she 
wants to study but she will understand that although 
she will study what she wants to study the collective 
whole, the good of that whole society may suggest 
in fact that she study that out of interest but that she 
work in another field. 

Vargas— Did you notice any distinction of social 
classes? 

Cole — At the same time I would say that there is no 
such thing as a social class In Cuba. We should think 
that communism has arrived in Cuba. The Cubans 
would be the first to say that it is not yet there. A 
revolution is a process as Fidel said on the first of 
January of 1959: Cubans won on that day the right to 
make the Revolution. Cuba has certainly trans- 
formed itself. It's no longer a society of a small 
group of people with a whole lot and the rest of the 
people with nothing. There is no longer a class of 
people in Cuba who owns things, huge mansions, 
great big sections of beaches, large sugar cane plan- 
tations. That does not exist any longer. But one can- 
not say that there is absolute equality in Cuba. In the 
sense for example that everyone gets the same in- 
come. That everyone at this point in time has exactly 
the same material resources, but Cuba is moving in 
that direction. For example there are differences in 
income levels but there is nothing in Cuba that 
would represent discrepancy that you can see in this 
country. Let me be concrete. In Cuba the income 
would range 100 and 450 pesos. First of all we have 
to know that that is not much of a range. There are 
here in the U.S. who are rich and there are who can 
barely stay alive in terms of what their income is. But 
what is more significant to know is that in Cuba an 
individual with 100 to 450 pesos a month is not pay- 
ing to see a doctor, not paying to get his teeth fixed, 
not paying even if they have to see a psychiatrist, go- 
ing to school totally free including tuition and books, 
living in housing, which by law can not cost more 



50 



than 10% of his income. Actually for some Cubans 
it's almost a problem of what to do with money. Okay 
I'll go to the movies, but the movies cost so little. 
Okay I'll go to Lenin Park and I'll take my kids, but my 
kids can ride all day for 35 cents. I am not saying that 
Cubans do not know what to do with their money but 
I am saying that there is not the problem that we face 
of how are we going to get enough. The problem in 
Cuba is on the contrary especially given the dif- 
ficulties of underdevelopment. Given the blockade 
and therefore given the scarcity of certain luxury 
goods. What am I going to spend my money on? I 
need to add one more thing to that in terms of the no- 
tion of differences among people. I am saying that, 
yes, there are differences in income. But I'm also 
saying that there has been an overall leveling in 
Cuba. I mean that this after all is what Che meant 
when he talked about the new man and the new 
woman, the new society. It meant that all of those 
old differences, for example between people who 
will work with their hands and people who will work 
with their heads would no longer exist. University 
professors get up and go to the cane fields if they 
have any political consciousness. They too have to 
cut cane as Fidel cuts cane. So that even if you work 
with your head you must also work with your hands. 
People who are fundamentally manual laborers must 
also study and therefore work with their heads. 
Before the Revolution there were tremendous dif- 
ference between the city and the country so that the 
campesinos never saw a movie, didn't know what a 
museum was. The Revolution made a conscious 
decision not to continue to build up Havana but in 
fact to make sure that the country side was built up. 
The difference between men and women which I 
think is the way in which Cubans will struggle on the 
longest nevertheless shows progress. Differences 
between blacks and whites no longer exist in the in- 
stitutional ways. So I think once you begin to do 
those things you can't in any genuine sense talk 
about social classes. You can only talk about 
workers who do this, some who do that, but they are 
workers. 

Vargas — How do schools respond to the island's 
government interests? 

Cole— I can say that I think that the overall interest 
of the government and the people of Cuba are the 
same. The government should be different. These 
should be the vanguard workers, those with the 
highest political consciousness, those people who 
through the process of emulation have set the pace. 
They should not have an interest which makes a 
"cheque" with the people. Therefore I would say that 
what happens in the schools is not in conflict with 



what the government wants but that there are certain 
points where in fact what an individual wants must 
be secondary to the needs of the Cuban people. 
Fidel talked about this in the speech of 1976 about 
the fact that the Cubans have exploded over educa- 
tion. There are very very few people in Cuba who are 
not involved in some sort of education. People want 
to study. But everybody can't be an engineer, or a 
doctor. I mean what kind of society would exist with 
only doctors and engineers. And in that sense the 
government has the responsibility to indicate to the 
schools what Cubans need. You cannot force 
somebody into something she might not have the 
ability simply because she has had the training. You 
must make known to the schools what it is that the 
government, that is the governing of the people, 
needs. 

Vargas— Besides Spanish, what other languages 
are taught in schools? 

Cole — One of the best ways to answer that is to 
share with you something I was reading the other 
day in an old Gramma. Michael Manley, the Prime 
Minister of Jamaica, was in Cuba last year. He said 
to Fidel, speaking with great warmth and obvious af- 
fection, but to Fidel as representative of the Cuban 
people. You know one of the things that the im- 
perialists have done to divide us and to continue and 
to encourage the differences in language. But I want 
you to know that throughout the island of Jamaica a 
great effort is being made to teach the Spanish 
language. Fidel in responding to Michael Manley 
said. We must make a greater effort with English 
because not only is there an English speaking 
government 90 miles to the north of us, a govern- 
ment which is hostile to us but also 90 miles away 
from us Jamaica, an English speaking people who 
are our friends so we must make a greater effort with 
English. Of course languages are taught in schools 
but because of their emphasis on Internationalism 
Cubans also put an emphasis on language. I 
remember for example on my first trip to Cuba with 
the Black Organization Seminar we went to a place 
called Ospaal, Organization in Solidarity with the 
People of Asia, Africa and Latin America. There we 
were a group of northamerican blacks attempting to 
speak with a companero N. Vietnam. How are we go- 
ing to talk to him? So the Companero of N. Vietnam 
speaks, that is then translated into Spanish, and the 
Spanish is then translated into English. We asked 
question, the question is in English, it is translated 
into Spanish and the Spanish into Vietnamese. 
Cubans go through that all the time. 
Vargas— What students are entitled to a college 
level education? 



57 



Cole — Since the Revolution all education in Cuba 
is free and incredibly provided for. I think whenever 
we talk about Cuba's accomplishments we must 
also talk about its problems. It is a country that only 
has had 18 years of making the Revolution. A country 
that inherited tremendous underdevelopment. An 
economy dependent on U.S. imperialism. There is a 
problem in Cuba in the area of education simply to 
have enough books but the answer to your question 
directly is that every Cuban has the right to a Univer- 
sity education. And that education is totally free in- 
cluding books and tuition. There is however in Cuba 
what is called simply education but we call it 
workstudy. A number of years ago Fidel spoke of an 
idea of the need to practice an idea of Jose Marti, the 
great apostle of the Americans. The idea in fact if 
one is going to really create that new kind of women 
and men that education must simultaneously be 
about study in the strict sense, and work in the real 
sense. And so beginning in what are the schools in 
the countryside, the junior high school level Cubans 
work for part of the day and study for part of the day. 
It's that which makes them understand that there is 
nothing superior to be an intellectual. It is also what 
makes them understand that if that country is ever to 
get out of underdevelopment it's going to take the 
effort of everybody. 

Vargas— Speaking of the development change, 
which activities struck you the most? 
Cole — What really struck me the most in Cuba was 
the sense of equality. First of all when you've lived in 
this country for this number of years you should 
almost begin to think, even if you know better, that 
there really is a gene for racism. That it is inevitable, 
that white folks got this special gene that makes 
them racist. I had never in my life lived in someplace 
for a few weeks, or a few months without being con- 
stantly conscious of racism. I mean that is what im- 
presses me a lot about Cuba. In addition to that 
sense of equality there is a sense of vibrancy, of 
warmth. I mean Cuba is incredibly Latino, it's in- 
credibly African in the sense that people get down, 
people party, people enjoy life, they work hard but 
they party hard. So those two things, the sense of 
equality and the sense of the quality and the vibran- 
cy of the life. 

Vargas — To what kind of economical level could 
you compare it to? Use the American standard. 
Cole— Comparing it with the U.S. one would have to 
say that clearly in all senses Cuba has less, it is a 
poor underdeveloped country of 9,000,000 people. 
The U.S. is the richest, most technologically 
developed country in the world. It's on the second 
level of comparison, which I think is the crucial level, 



that is how are goods and services distributed, that 
the superiority of Cuba is clear. Cuba has less but 
distributed equally. What one sees in Cuba is a level- 
ing off in the sense of a healthy population, 
everybody is healthy. Sure you can find healthy peo- 
ple in this country. I am positive that the 
Rockefellers are not in poor health. I can go right 
now not just to N.Y. but within Amherst, l^ass., and 
talk about people in a state of poor health, who are 
not eating well, who are not receiving medical atten- 
tion as they should so that the sense that you get in 
Cuba is the sense of an absence of all the material 
things that are necessary, but you also have the 
sense that what there is is being shared in such a 
way that the level of development of the human be- 
ing is incredibly high. We must not paint a picture of 
a paradise— no! There are still incredible problems 
in Cuba. For example, housing. There are still people 
in Cuba today living in huts, what are called 
"bohios". But before the Revolution 80% of the peo- 
ple lived in bohios and l\/lr. Dupont lived in a house 
with 125 servants, three months of a year I visited 
that house that no longer exists in Cuba. First of all 
t\/lr. Dupont had to leave. And the Batistas and his 
type had to leave. But you cannot in 18 years wipe 
away that kind of a problem. Cuba is working at it by 
microbrigades, where people leave their jobs. Those 
who remain have to catch the slack. They form these 
little construction brigades to build housing. It will 
be into the 1980's before Cuba can say that the entire 
population is adequately housed. 
Vargas— How would you compare it to the standard 
of a Latin American country? 
Cole— If you put Cuba within the context of Latin 
America I cannot think of any index on which Cuba 
will look badly. If it's on infant mortality, if it is in 
terms of the illiteracy rate, if it is in terms of percen- 
tage of students involved in school, if it is in terms of 
unemployment there is none in Cuba, if it is in terms 
of percent of women who are checked every year for 
uterine cancer: Cuba is going to look good. We also 
have to put that within the context that Cuba may not 
have been as badly off, at the time of the triumph of 
the Revolution, as many Latin American and Carib- 
bean countries. What can you say when there is a 
country where there is no unemployment, where 
there are free health services and education. 
Vargas— Why do you think it is at that level? 
Cole— It's at that level because there was a 
socialist Revolution. It is not clear to me how you 
can do what Cuba has done short of a Revolution. 
That one can make certain reforms, that one can 
make certain improvements in the quality of life for 
some people, yes; but to totally transform a society 



52 



and bring about a quality of iife for an entire popula- 
tion I :hink it is impossible sfiort of changing ttie fun- 
damental economy and political system. 
Vargas— What has been the effect of the American 
and the Latin American embargo? 
Cole— It has hurt. It has been a severe experience 
on Cuba. When you think about the early 1960's 
when Cuba could not get a single nail from the U.S., 
a bolt or a screw; and almost every machine was a 
U.S. machine, when Cuba had no paper, after all 
there were no trees because the imperialist cut 
down all the trees to plant sugar cane. What was 
Cuba to know? Those were severe times. What hap- 
pened of course was that the Soviet Union in par- 
ticular and other countries practiced their interna- 
tionalism. Without that Cuba would not have sur- 
vived. Yes there is a kind of contradiction there 
because if that embargo had not taken place it may 
well be that Cuba would not have reached the point it 
has reached, because it required the kind of 
discipline, and extra work and creativity to keep that 
machine going even though you didn't have the 
parts. I'm not saying blockades are great for coun- 
tries and every country should have a blockade, of 
course not. No people should ever have to suffer the 
way the Cubans suffered because of the U.S. em- 
bargo. I am saying that the U.S. imposed blockade 
against Cuba brought out the real strength; the real 
stuff of the Cuban people. Obviously 18 years later 
we're able to say that despite that suffering the 
original attempt of that embargo, that is to crush the 
Cuban Revolution, did not succeed. That Revolution 
is now more consolidated than it has ever been. 
Vargas — Between the U.S. and Cuba, who wanted 
to renew diplomatic relations and for what reasons? 
Cole— That's really complex because it seems to 
me that on certain levels it is in the interest of both 
Cuba and the U.S. to renew relations, diplomatic 
relations, economic relations, the real question is 
the nature of that interest. What are the necessary 
conditions for improved relations? Cuba has been 
very clear: genuine relations with the U.S. will not 
take place until the U.S. unilaterally lifts the same 
blockade that the U.S. unilaterally imposed on Cuba. 
Cuba has been concerned about the presence of an 
entire U.S. military installation on Cuban soil, Guan- 
tanamo. The U.S. says that it is concerned about all 
the money that is owed to the N. American com- 
panies, that Cuba nationalized. Cuba says nationaliz- 
ed! Those people were robbing us. So there are 
definite differences. The U.S. says Cuba has to stop 
all this business about independence for Puerto 
Rico and calling international congresses and bring- 
ing up resolutions in the U.N. and that Cuba must 



stop supporting Angola as when Cuba responded to 
the request of the MPLA by sending troops to help 
Angola crush the S. African racists. Cuba says: "Our 
principles, our revolution will not be negotiated". 
There are some severe differences. I think there will 
be years before we see total relations reestablished 
between the U.S. and Cuba. Why it is in Cuba's in- 
terest to do that. One, because as we have said the 
blockade has hurt Cuba. There are many things that 
would be easier for Cuba to get from the U.S. than 
going thousands of miles around to the Soviet 
Union. Secondly, because relations with the U.S. 
might decrease some of the more obvious expres- 
sions of aggression that the U.S. has had against 
Cuba. All the way from attempts to assassinate 
Fidel, to invading that island at the Bay of Pigs. Why 
does the U.S. want those relations? I think first of all 
because the policy of no relation has backfired. It's 
not Cuba that is isolated it's the U.S. that is isolated. 
This will host at the 11th world festival of youth and 
students 15,000 young people from all over the 
world. Cuba is the next site of the conference of non- 
aligned nations. Cuba is involved in economical con- 
ferences and relations with the Caribbean, with the 
nations of Asia, with the Soviet Union and socialist 
countries. Cuba is not isolated, it's the U.S. im- 
perialists that are increasingly isolated from world 
respect, so it has not worked. Now what do you do if 
you are Jimmy Carter? Now what do you do? I think 
he'll say: Well actually we can get us some good 
business deals. There is a strong business interest 
in Cuba, Coca-Cola, General Motors, General Foods, 
are just lickin' their chops thinking about the profit 
that they are going to get. They better rethink it 
because they are not going to go back to Cuba under 
terms they were once there. I think the Carter ad- 
ministration assumes that if relations are more nor- 
mal Cuba will no longer be such a cause "celebre, " it 
will no longer be such an obviously outdated ques- 
tion within U.S. foreign policy. At the same time 
there must be incredible fear. The greatest fear be- 
ing: What happens when the people in this country 
really come face to face with a country that has no 
unemployment. What happens when people of this 
country see that racism is not inevitable. What hap- 
pens when the U.S. people see that sports is the 
right of the people, it's not a privilege. My feeling is 
that at the same time the Carter administration 
begins to make these overtures towards Cuba, lifting 
the travel ban for example, that we are going to see a 
severe ideological campaign against Cuba. The anti- 
Cuba propaganda will be severe. We can see it 
already. Why? Because the ultimate thing that the 
Carter administration wants to trade with Cuba and 



53 



have some relations with Cuba but the U.S. 
"Democracy" beats Cuban socialism any day. On 
the other hand we'll see Carter with one hand ex- 
tended to the Cubans, pacifying the liberals and the 
progressives in this country. But is steady stroking 
with the other hand soothing the conservatives, tell- 
ing them not to worry, people in the U.S. won't go for 
Cuba because they have political prisoners and no 
human rights and the people are standing in ration 
lines. 

Vargas— If Americans can travel to Cuba how do 
you think this could affect the Cubans' social 
philosophy? 

Cole — That is a serious question because Cubans 
more than myself must know what it's like to have 
your island invaded by the U.S. cultural as well as 
economic imperialism. Cubans after all went 
through a number of years where the only good thing 
was the in quotes "American thing," whether it was 
a car or your clothes or your food. That a whole 
revolutionary process was necessary to get rid of 
that idea. Now what would it mean if N. Americans in 
large numbers start coming back to Cuba. Are they 
going to bring back prostitution, are they going to 
bring back gambling? There must always be that 
concern, but the difference is not only has there 
been a Revolution, but the Revolution continues. It's 
the Cubans who grant visas. You don't just walk into 
Cuba. It's a sovereign state. Despite the U.S. ban on 
travel to Cuba thousands of U.S. citizens visited the 
island. For example, through the Venceremos 
Brigade over 2,500 N.Americans have traveled to 
Cuba since 1969. But as of March 18th last year 
Carter lifted the travel ban. I think we soon have 
direct airflights from the U.S. to Cuba. In terms of 
Cuban exiles, people in Cuba have very strong con- 
cern about these folks. All you have to do is turn the 
television and catch Little Havana in f^iami to know 
why the Cuban community in this country, certain 
sectors of it, has been incredibly terroristic. It has 
been violent not only against Cubans in Cuba but 
against themselves, Cuban exiles or terrorists kill 
each other. All you have to do is pick up any Miami 
newspaper on any day to get that evidence. In addi- 
tion there is their political goals which are to kill 
Fidel Castro and to take Cuba back. Would you 
welcome folk like that to your house? You would be 
a fool. On the other hand there are in this country 
Cubanos who do not have those attitudes. In any 
case they had no choice but to leave Cuba after the 
Revolution. They were young kids who knew nothing 
other than that they would rather be with mommy 
and daddy than anywhere else in the world. For ex- 
ample for those Cubanos it is very difficult. I per- 



sonally know a few Cubanos who are not in this 
country who have returned to Cuba, they do no con- 
stitute large numbers. 

Vargas — How can I get information to be able to 
travel to Cuba? 

Cole — There are three obvious means. Right here in 
Amherst you could check with the Amherst regional 
of the Venceremos Brigade. The second would be to 
call a travel agent in N.Y. City, for example Anniver- 
sary Tours publicly, openly and legally advertises ar- 
ranging tours to Cuba. And third of course would be 
to make a more direct contact for example through 
the Cuban interest section in Washington, D.C. 
Vargas — Being an Anthropologist professor how 
do you evaluate the general process of the Cuban 
people and their government? 
Cole— It is very very clear from all I've said so far 
that I am impressed by both the progress of the 
Cuban revolution and aware that problems still exist. 
What strikes me very deeply is that Cubans are in the 
process of creating what I would call a Revolutionary 
culture. What I see as an Anthropologist, is a radical- 
ly different way of life. That is what I mean by a 
revolutionary culture. Much of what is happening in 
Cuba is predictable because we know certain 
elements, we know the African base, we know the 
Spanish input, we know the whole historical process 
of domination by the U.S. and we know what 
socialism means in terms of how a society is 
oriented and organized economically and politically. 
But I also maintain that we can not predict it all and 
that's a tremendous amount of the excitement of 
Cuba. In fact we had never before seen in the 
Western Hemisphere, in the Americas, in a Carib- 
bean island, a revolutionary society. I am incredibly 
excited to see what it means. What does it mean to 
have a government which is explicitly anti-racist? 
What does it mean, in every day terms, that Cuba 
defines herself as a Latino-African People? What 
does this socialist revolution mean in terms of how 
men and women relate to each other? What does it 
do when you have a men both work than they must 
share the house hold tasks equally? What are kids 
going to be like when they see that their fathers and 
their mothers working equally in the household? 
What does it mean to produce a generation of 
children whose sense of geography is far beyond 
Cuba? What does it mean in terms of how people 
relate to each other when kids are familiar with 
Angola? When kids know that there are issues at 
stake in Puerto Rico. And I am excited by it in 
political terms, but the best sense of the word, in 
academic terms. What does it mean to be part of a 
revolutionary culture? 



54 



CUBA 



Interview with NORMA A L VA HEZ. by IVIargarita Vargas 
Place: Union City, New Jersey Translation by Haydee Feliciano 




Norma Alvarez 



Vargas: What is your name? 

Alvarez: My name is Norma Alvarez. 

Vargas: Where were you born? 

Alvarez: In the Province of Las Villas Cienfuegos. 

Vargas: How old are you? 

Alvarez: I am 31 years old. 

Vargas: What year did you arrive in the U.S.A.? 

Alvarez: I arrived on October 8, 1970 to Miami Air- 
port. There I lived for two years. Then I moved to 



Elizabeth, New Jersey and since then I remained in 
the area of a Cuban Hispanic Community. 
Vargas: Where do you work? 
Alvarez: I work at Vernon Royal, a factory in 
Elizabeth, N.J. It is a printing company where I 
operate a machine that binds notebooks and school 
books. 

Vargas: What was the main reason that made you 
come to the U.S.? 

Alvarez: Well, until 1969 I never had the desire to 
come to this country. Because I felt happy in Cuba. 
The reason that motivated me to come here was that 
the communist government did not allow me to con- 
tinue studying at the Students Center simply 
because I was not an advocate to their regime. 
Vargas: At that time what grade level had you ac- 
complished? 

Alvarez: I was in my third year of business school 
studying to be an accountant. 
Vargas: What was the reason why the government 
discontinued your studies? 

Alvarez: The reason why this happened was 
because I was a Catholic and would go to church. I 
taught Catholicism and the government would keep 
track of all this since I was not integrated to the ac- 
tivities of the "Union of Young Communists." They 
used this excuse to "purarme" meaning to exclude 
me from the Students Centers. 
Vargas: What were their means to have knowledge 
of your daily activities? 

Alvarez: Very simple, the Union of Young Com- 
munists, the Committee for the Defense of the 
Revolution (CDR) follow up people's activities. They 
do this by investigating or calling your neighbors. 
The CDR is in every block of your neighborhood. 
Vargas: What did you do when the government 
denied you a diploma? 

Alvarez: My dreams had been to finish my career as 
an accountant and be able to work as one among my 



55 



people. Not having this opportunity I found myself in 
the position to file papers to leave Cuba. 
Vargas: How long did you have to wait before leav- 
ing Cuba? 

Alvarez: A little less than two years. 
Vargas: What did you do in the meantime? 
Alvarez: In Cuba as soon as you express your desire 
to leave the country, if you are within the age of 
1 7-53, you must work in the agricultural fields, before 
leaving Cuba you are required to complete laboral 
time in the fields. The waiting time is unlimited. 
Vargas: What type of work did you do in the fields? 
Alvarez: I worked doing various things. I planted the 
sugar cane. Fertilized the fields and all kinds of 
agricultural labor. This was done manually and it was 
strenuous work. 

Vargas: During that time did you study? 
Alvarez: No, from the moment I did not accept to re- 
nounce my religious belief my opportunities to 
study, a career in Cuba ceased. 
Vargas: What was your daily working schedule? 
Alvarez: We would leave Cienfuegos at 7 A.M. from 
sunrise to sunset. 

Vargas: What were the means of transportation? 
Alvarez: By trucks. These trucks were used to 
transport cattle to the slaughter house and was the 
only means of transportation. For us sometimes they 
had been cleaned of the cattle excretion and we had 
to ride on it. 

Vargas: What other kinds of brigade existed? 
Alvarez: There is the brigade of the farmers, the 
brigade of the federalist women (las federadas), the 
brigade of the communist youth and the brigade of 
the farmers workers would do volunteer work on 
Saturdays and Sundays. 

Vargas: How many people were in your group? 
Alvarez: First of all our group was called immigra- 
tion brigade, composed exclusively of those leaving 
Cuba. We were approximately 95 to 112 women from 
ages 18-55 years of age. 

Vargas: What was the difference in treatment 
within the various brigades? 

Alvarez: The difference existed towards our im- 
migration brigade, the reason being that we were 
leaving Cuba. When working at the fields we would 
be the last to be fed, depending on whatever food 
there was left. The trucks in which Las Federadas 
traveled were trucks with roof and benches. We had 
to travel standing one next to another holding on to 
whatever pole you could reach. 
Vargas: What kind of food were you fed? 
Alvarez: Well, whatever they gave us, many times 
corn meal with sugar, other times we had a woman in 
charge of the brigade who recognized our hard labor 



in the fields. So we were given good food, but most 
of the time we ate what there was. I remember once 
we had rice with mashed potatoes. This must have 
been quite an experience for you Norma? Yes. 
Vargas: Did you have freedom to go to any part of 
the Island? 

Alvarez: Yes only if you had received permission 
from the superior brigade because I could not be ab- 
sent from work. 

Vargas: What do you know about the "Venceremos 
Brigade"? 

Alvarez: To my knowledge the Venceremos Brigade 
are visiting Americans who sympathized with the 
Cuban Government and go to Cuba to identify 
themselves with the revolution. This Brigade is very 
fortunate. By this I mean that they have all the 
privileges that native Cubans would not have. For ex- 
ample, transportation on air conditioned Leilan 
buses made in England. Excellent housing accom- 
modations and they are also served very good food. 
All this is prepared in advance by the Cuban govern- 
ment, therefore these people would not lack what 
they normally have in the U.S.A. 
Vargas: Would the Venceremos Brigade relate to 
the Cuban people? 
Alvarez: No. 

Vargas: Does the V.B. have the liberty to purchase 
goods anywhere? 

Alvarez: The V.B. foreign tourist, and specifically 
technicians have special stores to purchase 
souvenirs only. There is no need to buy food 
because the Cuban government supplies it to them. 
In the hotel Havana Libre they sell articles of high 
quality only to the tourist as contrast to if a native 
Cuban needs a pair of working shoes he would have 
to wait for his ration allotment. 
Vargas: Who do you refer when you say techni- 
cians? 

Alvarez: I am referring to Russian technicians who 
go to Cuba to instruct the Cubans of how to work 
agricultural and factory equipment. Also British who 
have brought plans Cubans have bought from them. 
Vargas: Is there freedom of the press? 
Alvarez: No, there is only one newspaper called the 
Gramma, the official paper of the government, and 
Castro himself in his famous interview with Barbara 
Walters stated he would not allow anyone to speak 
freely against him or the government. 
Vargas: Norma, are there different social classes? 
Alvarez: Yes, it exists between the people and the 
government. There are the government workers who 
are given the best houses and if you are in the 
military service you are entitled to 15 days at the 
beach in a good hotel with expenses paid. Mean- 



56 



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while a factory worker who does not partake in the 
miiitary service does not have these privileges. 
Vargas: IHow do the schools respond to the interest 
of the government? 

Alvarez: First of all, the schools belong to the 
government, there are no private schools. Therefore, 
education is free once a university level is achieved, 
you can choose whatever career you have in mind. 
But, once you achieve that goal if the government 
needs in another area you have to do as you are told. 
For example, if you have studied Cardiology and the 
Revolution needs you as a pediatrician, then you 
would have no choice but to study pediatrics, if not 
you lose privileges of continuing your studies. 
Vargas: What students are entitled to a college 
education? 

Alvarez: The privilege of a college education does 
not always depend upon one's grade but mostly on 
how politically active you've been. 
Vargas: What progress has there been in the sugar 
industry and other products? 
Alvarez: In comparison to the era prior to Castro's 
regime the production of sugar has decreased great- 
ly. Before the revolution the farmers were the ones 
working the sugar cane fields but today is complete- 
ly different. People of all occupations work in the 
sugar cane plantations. So what happens is that 
these people do not have any experience in farming, 
therefore many of the agricultural procedures are 
mishandled and much is wasted. For example, in the 
year 1969 Fidel set the goal of 10 million tons of 
sugar to be produced for that year. When the harvest 
ended not even 7 million tons of sugar was pro- 
duced. On Jan. 1 when Fidel Castro speaks to the 
people he said that the goal of ten million tons had 
not been reached, stating that the reasons were 
because of the environmental conditions but the 
underlying reason be that of the unexperienced 
workers. 

Vargas: How does the government motivate the 
sugar plantation workers? 

Alvarez: if the plantation workers have a gross pro- 
duction of sugar cane are awarded with 15 days at a 
Varadero beach resort with paid expenses. Plus the 
opportunities to purchase any electrical appliance 
with their own earnings. These appliances are 
scarce and expensive, so usually workers can't af- 
ford to buy them. 

Vargas: What is your opinion on Demographic 
Growth in Cuba? 

Alvarez: Birth control pills are sold but Cuban 
women would rather have kids. It is convenient for 
them because for each child born the ration quota is 
increased. Also since the health care is free, they do 



not have to worry about pregnancy fees, etc. This 
will gradually create a problem because the 
availability of basic every day needs and food supply 
decreases with the increasing of population. 
Vargas: How does Castro control the crime level 
and delinquency acts? 

Alvarez: There is a low crime rate. The penalty 
would be severe. For example, if you are caught 
stealing or in a delinquent act you could easily be ex- 
ecuted or work in farms doing forced labor without 
any family visiting privileges. 
Vargas: In the American society many crimes and 
sexual assaults we attribute to mental disorders. 
How does Cuba deal with this? 
Alvarez: In Cuba this would never happen. I believe 
if there are 5 cases throughout the island this would 
be far too many. If you assume thai claiming to be 
mentally incapable can get away with murder, rape 
or any social disorder in Cuba they would deal with 
your madness by putting a bullet right between your 
eyes. In this case I admire Castro's effective pro- 
cedures so in this sense the Cubans feel at peace. 
Vargas: Between Cuba and the U.S.A. who would 
benefit best from the renewal of diplomatic rela- 
tions? 

Alvarez: Because of the blockade Cuba would be 
benefiting the most. Cuba has to trade with the Euro- 
peans since the Cuban currency has no value. Cuba 
is forced to trade with its agricultural products. With 
these it obtains whatever machinery, weapons, 
prime materials and other basic necessities that nor- 
mally would not be available. For example, in Spain 
you can find many Cuban products labeled "surplus 
of the Agrarian Reform." This is misleading because 
while you find an abundance of these Cuban pro- 
ducts in many European countries, in Cuba there is 
rationing of these products. 

Vargas: What would be U.S.S.R. reactions towards 
the renewed relations between the U.S. and Cuba? 
Alvarez: I think they would be very pleased. It would 
be a relief on the U.S.S.R. since Fidel will not change 
his political philosophy, Russia will not have to 
worry about spending millions of dollars to support 
Cuba in its basic needs. 

Vargas: If Americans can travel to Cuba, how will 
this affect the Cubans? 

Alvarez: The Cuban people would be delighted to 
have relations with the U.S.A. because they feel this 
could be the only solution to free themselves of their 
misery. Castro's vain promises to eliminate the ra- 
tion cards has made the people fear American Im- 
perialism. But, on the other hand, he tours them 
about the island and Cubans would not be shocked if 
Cuba renews relations. 



58 




Photos by Ana Andrew 



59 



Collage by Margarita Vargas 



AFRICA ON ACORN STREET 



SPRINGFIELD GIRLS CLUB 



by Sharleen Dickinson 



Children run back and forth, to the store, to "my 
house," to "your house" and stopping at the Club. 
Young men lean on parked cars as the day sways in- 
to night. 

"Hey boy, you better look out before you cross 

that street next time." 

"No, the battery's gone or the starter's messed 

up, one." 

"Yeah, I'm looking for some herb ..." 
"Damn, later for this car!" 

All the while, up above, the past watches the pre- 
sent become the past. Africa in acrylics. Time held 
tight to a brick wall, looking down on mornings and 
nights. 

Acorn Street cried out and wanted to be heard. So 
in 1975, Ray Horner, Clyde San tana and Nelson 
Stevens gave her a trumpet and taught her to sing. In 
1976, Carl Yates joined the brothers to add his 
talents to the song. 

The mural is composed of a variety of images, col- 
ors and moods reflecting the attitudes of the artists 
as well as Africa's Acorn Street. The first section, by 
Ray Horner, reveals a brother watching Black folks 
boogie-ing above young brown babies, sitting quietly 
and always waiting, always watching. 

Pictures flow into pictures as time turns into time, 
but all speak of life, as in the Ahnk—the Egyptian 
symbol of eternal life. The corner turns and Horner 
shows the brother as an Egyptian, the face of a 
Pharoh, watching young Egypt dance between 
pyramids, and again there is life as the Ahnk stands 
out in green against the brown, black, orange and 
blue. 

The next section, by Carl Yates, presents West 
Africa in gradations in brown of large profiles, and 
green Ghanain symbols of unity. The border is 
another design from Ghana, but the most dominant 



feature in this section is a green and brown mask 
figure. 

The fourth section, by Nelson Stevens, is larger 
and very commanding with a variety of symbols and 
images. Three faces come at you; a woman, a man 
and a child. These faces are multicolored and are 
surrounded with explosions of images, upon colors, 
upon images. To the right of these faces is the pro- 
file of a woman and what appears to be a picture of 
her mind. Her face has an attitude of determination. 
Her mind presents the mystery of a chess game. The 
pieces are red, white and blue against the red, black 
and green and the brothers and sisters are winning 
this game. Again, Ghanain symbols, profiles, free 
forms as well as the map of Africa complete this sec- 
tion. 

The fifth section is the same as the third, but this 
time Carl Yates uses gradations in night colors of in- 
digo, brown and black. 

The last two sections of the mural, by Clyde San- 
tana, project us into the technology of new Africa 
with sharp angles and objects in reds, purples, pinks 
and blues. The sections are outlined in black, pro- 
ducing a kind of stained glass effect. 

Children and adults are quiet now on Acorn Street. 
Lighted windows reveal that most activity is going 
on inside. t\Aeanwhile, Africa smiles down on Africa 
from the view of an exciting mural on top of a Girls 
Club on Acorn Street in Springfield. 



ARTISTS: 

1975 Ray Horner — Graduate Student 
Clyde Santana— Graduate Student 
Nelson Stevens — Professor 

1976 Carl Yates — Freshman Year 



67 




62 



THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR 
BLACK STUDIES 



by Kathy Rose 



In the 1960's the Black revolution emerged to con- 
front the status quo in America. Part of this revolu- 
tion was the Black student movement, which directly 
challenged the American educational system and 
the racial attitudes and practices it fostered. Out of 
this confrontation emerged contemporary Black 
Studies programs. This revolution was broad and 
deep. Black students and educators demanded an 
education that was relevant, Black oriented and 
Black controlled. 

The period 1969-1972 was a high point for Black 
Studies. Almost 500 programs were established and 
at least 1,300 colleges and universities offered a 
minimum of one course on the Black experience. 
The rapid expansion was short-lived. By 1972, the 
outline of the counterattack emerged. The earliest 
attacks were in the form of financial cutbacks. This 
first affected programs that were started with "soft" 
funding or insufficient support. By 1975, there were 
only 200 Black Studies programs. Where some pro- 
gams failed, others succeeded, and many grew and 
became permanent parts of universities. Never- 
theless, this attack has put Black Studies into a 
period of reassessment. The most direct attack 
forced reductions in program budgets, reduced stu- 
dent aid, and reduced faculty size. These cutbacks 
were justified by those who claimed that Black 
Studies was too politicized, that academic standards 
were low, and that "reverse racism" was being prac- 
ticed. 

On March 18-21, 1975, a Black Studies National 
Conference was held at and sponsored by the 
University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The Con- 
ference attempted to stimulate thought on four 
basic questions concerning Black Studies: Where? 
Who? Why? and How? Participating were Federal Ci- 
ty College, University of Pittsburgh, University of 
Massachusetts, New York University and others. 

On July 16-18, 1975, a meeting was held at Educa- 
tional Testing Service, Princeton, NJ. The Princeton 
Conference was the follow-up action initiated by Dr. 



William Harris. The format of the Princeton Con- 
ference was of an informal structure due to the small 
group of participants. Joe Williams of ETS brought 
greetings to the group and gave a brief overview of 
ETS's role as host. The informal sessions were 
facilitated by Bertha L Maxwell. Concepts were ex- 
pressed in terms of needs, goals, objectives, and ac- 
tivities to meet such needs. This meeting provided 
an opportunity to structure the concepts as they 
would relate to a national organization whose priori- 
ty would be voluntary cooperative coordinated effort 
with national organizations and institutions who 
might offer support for Black Studies programs. 

Dr. William King, Vice Chairperson and Assistant 
Professor of Black Studies and Dr. William Pitts, 
Director of Black Education Programs at the Univer- 
sity of Colorado, convened a Black Studies con- 
ference on November 13-15 at the University of Col- 
orado, Boulder, Colorado, in order to facilitate 
Regional interest in the National Council of Black 
Studies. 

Participants in the Conference were primarily from 
such areas as California, Oregon, Washington, Tex- 
as, Arizona, Indiana, Montana, and Michigan. 

Dr. Herman Hudson, Vice Chancellor of Afro- 
American Affairs at Indiana University also attended 
this meeting. Dr. Hudson offered the facilities of In- 
diana University for NCBS' national office and 
agreed to host a constitutional convention to draft 
some guidelines for the functioning of the organiza- 
tion. 

Another planning conference meeting was held on 
April 11-13, 1976 at the University of Indiana. The se- 
cond annual planning conference for the Executive 
Board of NCBS was again held in Princeton, New 
Jersey on July 7-9, 1976. It was hosted by the Educa- 
tional Testing Service. The focus of this meeting was 
the revision of the NCBS constitution drafted during 
the conference at Indiana University and to plan for 
the first annual convention to be hosted by Dr. 
William Nelson of Ohio State University in February 



63 




Chester Davis 

1977. After two and a half days of debate and discus- 
sion a Constitution for NCBS was approved by the 
Board, an eleven region structure was established, 
and a convention format was adopted— Black 
Studies, Mobilization for Survival: Development, 
Substantiation, Standardization, Accreditation, 
Evaluation, and Careers. At last NCBS was more 
than the dream that had begun in Charlotte less than 
two years before. The National Council for Black 
Studies had become a reality! 

The first annual meeting was held and sponsored 
by Ohio State University on February 16, 1977 and 
over 500 people attended. The theme of the Ohio 
State conference was Mobilization for Survival. This 
conference was attempting to find solutions to the 
problems that are now confronting Black Studies. 
These problems include the fiscal crisis, the ques- 
tion of standards and legitimacy, the roles of tenure 
and publications in Black Studies, the need for 
evaluation and accreditation, the development of a 
student constituency and Black Studies careers. 
Most important, scholars from across the country 
came together in Columbus, Ohio to mobilize a na- 
tional effort to build sufficient support for Black 
Studies to guarantee its perpetuation for genera- 
tions to come. 

On June 16-17, 1977, The National Council for 
Black Studies Representatives, Dr. Bertha Maxwell, 
Chairperson, Dr. Beverly Ford, Secretary, Dr. Joseph 
J. Russell, Executive Director, and Dr. William 



Nelson and Ms. Yolanda Robinson, 1977 Convention 
Chairperson met with Professor Chester Davis, Na- 
tional Council for Black Studies Regional I 
Representative to plan for the 1978 second annual 
convention. 

The meeting was convened at New Africa House 
at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and an 
all day discussion on budget and other topics com- 
prised the agenda. UMass participants were L. Van 
Jackson, Director, Black Cultural Center, Bill Owens, 
Massachusetts State Senator, John Bracey Jr., 
Chairperson W.E.B. Dubois Department of Afro- 
American Studies, Dr. Mere Chappell representing 
Dr. Paul Puryear, Vice Chancellor for Academic Af- 
fairs and Provost. 

On June 17th, the National Council for Black 
Studies group, along with Senator Owens met with 
Dr. Ernest Lyton, Vice President for Academic Af- 
fairs, representing Dr. Robert Wood, President of 
UMass, to discuss sources of funding for the Con- 
vention and particularly support from UMass. 

The second annual meeting will be held April 
15-18, 1978 at University of Massachusetts/Amherst. 
It is expected that the participation will be around 
700 people and a lot more student participation. The 
date of April will also contribute to a greater registra- 
tion concerning weather conditions and also the 
location being on the eastern seaboard. 

The theme for the UMass conference will be 
beyond survival: Where do we go from here to make 




Kathy Rose 



64 



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Black Studies a national force with the American 
academic community? There is a desire for the 
students to become involved and to stress their con- 
cern or provide some input. The students have an en- 
tire day to run their own work shops, organized and 
run by students, with help from professors by stu- 
dent request. 

The basic format has not been worked out as yet. 
The conference will last three and a half days. The 



first day will be registration and organization of three 
workshops running concurrently. The last day will be 
on wrap up and conclusion. There will also be a ban- 
quet and entertainment. The ultimate objective is to 
address itself to concerns to develop Black Studies 
as a national force in higher education utilizing 
lessons learned over 10 years of Black Studies. 
Significant progress was made toward planning for 
an exciting, productive convention for 1978. 



66 




Photo by Edward Cohen 



67 




'Hoo-Doo Bone Series" by Nelson Stevens 



BOOK REVIEW 

THE WOMEN AND THE MEN 
by NIKKI GIOVANNI 

William Morrow & Co., N.Y., 1957 



We Black people have a habit of crowning the 
Kings and Queens of our culture and then push them 
to the back of our minds because some one new has 
caught our attention. But our royal brothers and 
sisters are still here, producing more masterpieces 
for education and entertainment. This is the case 
with Nikki. 

Her latest book is a collection of poetry she wrote 
from 1970 to 1975. The forty-two poems in this 
volume are grouped into three sections: "The 
Women, The Men And Some Places." 

Nikki's style is basically the same; small case let- 
ters and lines running into lines, freeing punctua- 
tions so that the reader may make their own choice 
as they read. 

But the difference is in Nikki's tone. Over the five 
year span of this book, the reader will find that her 
tone is subdued and somewhat reflective. Her poetry 
speaks of loneliness, and the need to be alone. She 
talks about youth and the self-contentment of grow- 
ing old. But her genius is most vividly displayed 
when she writes about places. These places in- 
cluded not only Swaziland, Alabama and a park, but 
the places in Nikki's mind and yours. Places like the 
night, the solitude of writing poetry, and the future of 
our children. 

The Women and The Men is a book that many of 
us will pass by but won't buy now, but most of us will 



find it later. Later, when we've found the "other 
things" we're looking for now. Nikki's found those 
"other Things" as she demonstrates in her poem 
from this volume, 

"Revolutionary Dreams" 

i used to dream militant 

dreams of taking 

over america to show 

these white folks how it should be 

done 

i used to dream radical dreams 

of blowing everyone away with my 
perceptive powers 

of correct analysis 

i even used to think I'd be the one 

to stop the riot and negotiate the 
peace 

then i awoke and dug 

that if i dreamed natural 

dreams of being a natural 

woman doing what a woman 

does when she's natural 

i would have a revolution 
Nikki Giovanni was born in Tennessee and raised 
in Ohio. She lives in New York City with her son Tom- 
my. Among her previous books are Black Feeling, 
Black Talk/Black Judgement; Gemini and My 
House. 



Sharleen Dickinson 



69 




Photo by Edward Cohen 



70 



THIS NIGGER'S CRAZY 

RICHARD PRYOR 



by Kim Hill 



Richard Pryor, a scintillating black man bom and 
raised an urbane man is today industry's top come- 
dian. Pryor is known for his mockspastic movements 
as well as performing a one man free-form theatre. 
Armed chiefly with his wit, he talks about racism in a 
way that he pokes fun at whites and blacks alike. 
Pryor mirrors the black condition without exploiting 
it. He transcends the stereotypical situations in 
which blacks are labeled and he becomes the pro- 
totype with which all black people are familiar. Wat- 
ching and listening to Pryor is like watching 
yourself. He marks all victims of society on stage, it 
can be hilarious or it can be painful. 

In the sixties Pryor experienced his first national 
exposure. As his success mounted Pryor had 
restraints imposed on his unique style of comedy. 
The white show-business establishment admon- 
ished Pryor to stay within the framework of what 
white America's ethics would stand for. After being 
told what and what was not appropriate for Pryor's 
television debut, as well as having and experiencing 
personal problems, Pryor had a downfall, he had a 
nervous breakdown right on stage in Las Vegas. He 
then withdrew himself from the national scene. Dur- 
ing this period of depression he became heavily in- 
volved in drugs (cocaine). 

By the early seventies Pryor got his shit back 



together. Once again he drew national attention for 
his role as pianoman in the hit movie Lady Sings the 
Blues. Also he coscripted Blazing Saddles with fJlei 
Brooks, and received an American Academy of 
Humor Award. Some of his LP's were Gold and 
Platinum sellers and he also received a Grammy. 

More important is the fact that Pryor re-emerged 
from his state of depression. He once again told 
jokes about "the people that society would rather 
forget." His black militants, junkies, winos, whores, 
and hustlers still were a part of his scripts. He re- 
belled against the white showbusiness establish- 
ment. 

Donald Bagle of Ebony magazine seems to feel 
that "Pryor's comedy was used to uncover shared 
hidden terrors, to let us know not only what others 
thought of these downtrodden characters, but what 
they thought of themselves." Other people feel that 
Richard Pryor's criticism and jokes about his people 
go too far. These people are the ones who are embar- 
rassed by Pryor. They feel the need to make the 
public realize that there are other positive images in 
the black community. I used to feel the same way as 
these people, but as you can see now I realize what 
Pryor has gone through and tried to do for his people 
and now I appreciate him and his talent more than 
ever before. 



71 



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