ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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The people who stop at the open air classroom include a cross section of Oakland's humanity,

including whites, blacks, youth and elders. David Glover, director of OCCUR, s

topped through to advise Marvin to be a part of the cultural committee



Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America / Woman: Man's Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

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Marvin X as Plato

By Marvin X


After stopping by  Marvin X's outdoor classroom at 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland, Ishmael Reed told the students gathered around Marvin X, "He's the modern day Plato, teaching his students on the street." Marvin told the people gathered in front on DeLauer's bookstore, "Ishmael Reed is my elder. He's always been supportive of my projects and I deeply appreciate him for this."

Ishmael had come to the bookstore /24/7 new stand to get a copy of the Sunday Los Angeles Times which carried a review of his latest book. He said the review cut him up as usual. He said people cut him up for his views on Alice Walker and other feminists, but according to Ishmael the most critical review of Walker's Color Purple was by Toni Morrison.

The people who stop at the open air classroom include a cross section of Oakland's humanity, including whites, blacks, youth and elders. David Glover, director of OCCUR, stopped through to advise Marvin to be a part of the cultural committee for the Ron Dellums administration soon to take the reins of Oakland.

A young sister stopped to say she was in pain because her friends are being killed on the streets for no reason. She has vowed not to be a victim but she is traumatized at the loss of some many friends. She is 19.

The police officer who works the beat that includes 14th and Broadway, comes through picking up litter. Seems a waste of time for the officer to pick up litter when there are so many unsolved homicides. The officer is known to post up at 12 o'clock to listen to Plato talk with his variety of students.

A brother came by to challenge Plato, telling him he didn't know anything, especially since he wasn't from the south, New Orleans in particular. Plato told him New Orleans was as much a killing floor as Oakland, look at the recent deployment of National Guard to stop the murders.

Another brother came through and invited Marvin to speak with youth at a West Oakland school. He agreed, telling the brother, "I recently spoke with children at the Black Repertory Group's summer camp. I was deeply impressed with their intelligence. They asked serious questions, as serious as any I've received from college and university students across the country."

On Sunday, July 30, Plato was given a book party in Richmond, another Bay Area killing floor. But the party, hosted by Sister Shukuru, was probably the most powerful gathering of black consciousness people in Richmond history. The party was attended by movement elders and organizers, including Alona Cliffton, Phil Hutchins of SNCC,

Margo Dashiel, Dr. James Garrett, Dr. J. Vern Cromartie, Jim Lacey, Ann Lynch, Suzzette Celeste, Richmond poet President Davis representing conscious hip hop.

Poet Opal Palmer Adisa gave a reading of her work that was as spicy and hot as a two dollar pistol in South Philly.

The audience was enraptured by the musical accompaniment of Elliott Bey Savoy, who backed Marvin's reading and the audience discussion. A brother showed a video of himself reading Marvin X's poem The Origin of Blackness in Venezuela. He read in Spanish, then English. The poem was originally written in English/Arabic. Marvin then read an updated version on the theme of the poem, Black History is World History. Much thanks to Sister Shukuru, a great organizer, formerly with Brooklyn's East.

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Plato's Students

Plato stood at the subway entrance on Broadway in front of DeLauer's news store that serves as his outdoor classroom. Three young girls come out of the SUB sandwich shop. Seeing Plato's books on display, they ask if he wrote them.


"You live in Oakland?"


"You grow up in Oakland?"



"Seventh and Campbell."

The girls laugh and giggle with shame, "He grew up in Campbell Village," they say to each other.

"He from the bottom."

"I don't know what ya talkin bout the bottom. I don't use that term. I grew up on Seventh and Campbell. That ain't Campbell Village."

"Yes it is," they insisted, "He from the projects. You wrote them books, huh?"

"Yeah. And what if I am from the projects, so damn what?"

"Don't get mad," one said.

"I ain't mad."

"Why don't you write a book for young people?"

"What do you want me to write about young people?"

"Write about how bad boys treat us."

"I might do that."

"What's your grandson name?"


"Your grandson, what's his name?"

"He don't live in West Oakland."

"Oh, well, we go tell our mamas to come buy yo books." They ran down Broadway toward home.

Plato stood thinking about what they'd said. So what if he grew up in the projects.

Maybe he should write something for young people. And how did they know he had grandsons? Plato scratched his beard.

posted 3 August 2006 /

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies. As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 3 February 2012




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