ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
when I was asked to oversee the poetry section, I immediately went into my address book and invited everyone I knew (including yourself and other West Coast People I know about; several of the ones I contacted were also in two other anthologies I had previously edited, Bum Rush The Page (with Tony Medina) and The Bandana Republic (with Bruce George).
Books by Amiri Baraka
* * * * *
Let Loose on the WorldCelebrating Amiri Baraka at 75
Edited by Karen D. Taylor and Louis Reyes Rivera
intro by Mumia Abu Jamal
Review by Marvin X
This is a massive anthology of 475 pages containing a love offering by writers, poets, artists, and photographers honoring and praising our greatest living poet, essayist, activist, scholar, mystic. We wanted to give him flowers while he lived. And so it is, this fantastic dream of Ted Wilson, Sam Anderson and a host of others who labored in secrecy (from Baraka) for months leading up to his birthday on October 7, 2009. It reminds one of that classic 60s anthology Black Fire, edited by Larry Neal and Amiri Baraka, circa 1968. In this sense it may be considered a continuation of the cultural revolution, letting loose on the world that same energy and consciousness as we conclude the first decade of the new millennium.
It is an expression of our love for the man who advanced the notion of The Black Arts Movement that Larry Neal (RIP) called the sister of the Black Liberation Movement, although I say BAM was the mother who gave birth to the cultural consciousness that allowed the politicos to go forward. For example, out on the West coast, many who joined the Black Panther Party were initiated in the Black Arts first, including Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Samuel Napier and George Murray. Bobby was in my theatre; Eldridge, Emory, Samuel were at Black House. George Murray was in Baraka’s Communications Project at San Francisco State College/University, along with other brothers and sisters who performed plays, then joined the real revolution with guns and violence, jail, exile and state terror in their eyes and on their asses.
But Baraka was the key mover and shaker, along with Askia Touré , Sonia Sanchez, Ed Bullins, Woody King, Ron Milner, Sun Ra, Larry Neal, Nikki Giovanni, the Last Poets, Barbara Ann Teer, June Jordan, myself and a national gathering of artists/ activists. So think of these people and the numerous ones included and excluded from this anthology. Am I the only one from the West coast included? You “Negroes” need to stop that East coast provincialism. We love Baraka out here as well! The world does not begin and end in New York and the East coast, I want you to know. LOL
But thank you Ted, Sam, Karen and Louis for having the common sense to publish this anthology that is our expression of love for Amiri Baraka who continues to spearhead the cultural revolution. It was great being in Newark during that weeklong celebration his homies gave, and of course the event in Harlem at the Schomburg was the climax. And we had to equal the East coast with celebrations in Oakland and San Francisco. Long live Amiri Baraka! And thank you Mumia Abu Jamal for that introductionlive from death row!
* * * * *
I do appreciate the promotional blurb you sent out regarding Let Loose on the World, but, quiet as it’s kept, it wasn’t much of a review; a good promo, yes . . .
Inside of the blurb was a short slap on the back of Ted’s head (and maybe mine, for that matter) which I would appreciate being turned into a full fledged dialogue. To wit, the following statement from your promo:
[and I quote]
“So think of these people and the numerous ones included and excluded from this anthology. Am I the only one from the West coast included? You “Negroes” need to stop that East coast provincialism. We love Baraka out here as well!” [end of quote].
I thought that was an unfair remark and one that fosters the very provincialism you take issue with . . . You forget or obviate the following concrete conditions:
(a) we were doing all of this in a virtual ad hoc manner; what the others on the committee did to reach out I cannot say. I can testify to this much: when I was asked to oversee the poetry section, I immediately went into my address book and invited everyone I knew (including yourself and other West Coast People I know about; several of the ones I contacted were also in two other anthologies I had previously edited, Bum Rush The Page (with Tony Medina) and The Bandana Republic (with Bruce George).
(b) like it or not, I don’t know everyone on the planet, nor do I have everyone’s email addresses, but folks like yourself and Quincy Troupe (who was also invited) do know others AND TO WHOM you could have easily relayed the invitation. To come back later and accuse folks of provincialism is itself quite provincial and reminiscent of (1) the East/West conflict within the Panther Party that, though clearly fostered by surreptitious agents, helped to speed up its eventual demise, courtesy of the Panther hierarchy itself; and, (2) the Crip/Blood foolishness of bleeding one another while the authorities that engender such conflicts remain unscathed.
In short, your comment testifies to the fact that we haven’t learned much from either the 1960s (NOI/Chicago vs. New York and Panthers vs. US) or the 1980s (Crips vs. Bloods vs. Latin Kings, et al) in spite of the fact that we all know about COINTELPRO, standard anti-Garveyism and, of all things, Washington vs. Du Bois.
I ask you this: how about a full fledged blog discussing the exact and particular histor(ies) of all these instances in which our own short sighted views and levels of ignorance feed into disunity. What is it that we ignore or don’t know about that helps to foster a wall of indifference between all of us? What lessons can we learn from the particulars that would help our youth understand what they’re truly up against? Isn’t it true that we bear an old saying among us regarding our common enemy (i.e., while we sleepin’, he’s schemin’)?
Like, we got damn near 520 years of clearly recorded game playing against us, with every trick in the book pulled on us, yet, instead of sharing that, we take potshots at one another (literally and figuratively). I say it’s time for new law (against pot shooting) and a clearer basis for understanding how to secure against the new games still awaiting us. A public dialogue that takes up key historical questions would go a long way towards pulling our youngsters coattails to which books they should be reading and programs they should be implementing and policies they should be formulating. And we can begin with that question: is there really an East/West Coast contention or is that hyped by media and our own ignorance of each other? What’s the history behind it? How much of it is manipulated by “others”? What should be our objective in light of our different locations? How should we approach one another before drawing conclusions about each other? What really happened between Oakland and New York, back in that day? And who was behind the splits?
In terms of the anthology you plugged, had you asked any of the editors about a West Coast reach-out, would you have gotten a cold shoulder or a warm reception towards the fullest inclusion? Had you gotten the cold shoulder, you’d be on solid ground with the slap behind the back of the head. But had you bothered to ask me, I’d have shared my contacts with you and I would have definitely encouraged you to spread that word.
I can’t speak for anyone else. All I know are two things: (1) I don’t play exclusion or region or province; and, (2) I sent out an e-blast to over 300 writers across the country. It was on them to help spread the word and to contribute to the booksong. How many of your contacts did you reach out to? Were they rejected? By whom?
Let’s blog a consensus of our past instead of reaching back to grab hold of its pitfalls, even if that means reassessing how we’ve been taught or conditioned to view our heroes and sheroes. We need our own wikipedia of struggle and fault lines. And we can begin with the list of folks you sent this to (by the way, this one wouldn’t go thru: Elbow2@aol.com).
Later, Louis Reyes Rivera
* * * * *
first of all, the Left has no sense of humorI must listen to right wing bigots like Russ Limbaugh to laugh at their sick, insane white supremacy bullshit. Stop being so damn uptight. Relax, we been on this road a long time, what did you say, 500 years. And as per East coast/West coast, 3,000 miles is a long distance, almost as long as the distance between lower Egypt and the source of the Nile, 4000 miles away up the Nile Valley in Congo. So the West coast is clearly not in the mind of East coast people, nor is East coast in the mind of West coast people. We know the arrogance of East coast, the ego tripping. And we know West coast people live in La la land, yet both areas have made contributions to our national advancement, whether it is the Black Arts or the Black Liberation Movement, which are the same. I am sure you will agree on this. There has been much cross fertilization. Black Arts East came West and Black Arts West came East. And the Black Panther Party developed in both places, with differences in attitude, consciousness, and political perspective.
Much of what you’ve said in your email was discussed at the recent memorial service of Mamadou Lumumba last Saturday. The two Black Panther parties were represented. The first Panther party was the Black Panther Party of Northern California, represented by Mamadou, Isaac Moore, Ernie Allen and others, an outgrowth of RAM. The second was the Black Panther Party of Self Defense, represented by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. The memorial for Mamadou morphed into a discussion of this history, especially after Bobby Seale made his remarksand they were done in a dignified and diplomatic mannersince people still have strong feelings about the conflict between the two parties. But this was good dialogue and it was encouraged by Baba Lumumba, Mamadou’s brother.
As the discussion ended, I asked the young brothers present to stand and give us their thoughts on the discussion. What they loved most was learning of the sacrifice our generation made on behalf our freedom. So yes, Louis, this dialogue must continue in the coming days. The youth need it and demand it. They called upon us to establish the Revolutionary Elders Council, and so we must, coast to coast, so we can pass the baton to them properlyso they can hear and understand both sides of the story as they heard at Mamadou’s memorial. They heard both sides of events in the Bay area’s black liberation historyand so we need a East Coast/West Coast dialogue to get beyond “the East Coast was Eldridge Cleaver’s/the West Coast Huey’sand some of this anguish and tension still remains to this day, yet unresolvedyet we want hip hop youth to resolve their differenceswhy don’t we show by example.
I can go on and on, but as per your anthology, we could have made a conscious attempt to make it a national anthology. Sometimes in our rush to do a project we are blind to the grand vision.
It was probably only in hindsight that we realized the Black Arts Movement was a national movement, not just East Coast/West Coast. Or that the Liberation movement had all types, Marxists, Muslims, NOI, Sunnis, Sufis, Yorubas, Buddhists, Socialists, Christians. And what if we have all tried to do what Malcolm X taught, unify. Why didn’t/couldn’t the two Panther parties come together at some point, or Malcolm and Martin, for that matter. We know the Devil enters at this people and is still at work as we write. But we can overcome the Devil if we put in check the little white man running around inside of us.
My “review” was just something off the top of my head to help promote the book. With all the writers involved, surely every one of them can write a review or promotional piece. I take your remarks in the spirit of dialogue and unity because we are in unity whether we want to be or not. Ask the white man when he comes for our asses if there is a distinction between you and me, East Coast/West Coast. Let’s keep talking. Peace, Marvin X
* * * * *
As publisher and chair of the committee I echo every thing stated by Louis. To this I add Baraka is not pass 75. There are writers and artists in other disciplines on the east coast as well as west coast who, for one reason or another, did not make this book.
Consider this. It is entirely possible to collect and publish a Volume II and it would not be based on east/west; U.S./ International: english/multi-lingual. It can be an organizing force for us all over the world. It is a matter of putting in the work and raising the money.
We can do whatever we want. The struggle continues. Let this project unite us and not be a dividing force. Call me 973.420.9923 any reasonable hour. Peace. Brother Ted
* * * * *
Let Loose on the World Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75 This 500-page tribute anthology is now available at http://www.barakabook.org/
Amiri Baraka– now 75 years young -has been for more than a half century a powerful cultural and political influence not just upon Black America, but also North America and the World!
To pay tribute to this literary-activist, a team of his comrades initiated an anthology that reflects his wide range of influence in the worlds of the arts, literature and revolutionary political. As a result, in a matter of a few months in 2009 some 150 contributors gladly gave of their talent to give props to our Brother, Amiri Baraka in a 500 page book filled with some of the world’s most powerful art and literature.
We are also privileged to have our Brother-On-Death-Row, Mumia Abu Jamal, write a moving introduction for the anthology.
This First edition of the anthology can be yours for a mere $29 ($25 plus $4 for shipping and handling).
Let Loose on the World: Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75
This 500-page tribute anthology is now available at
It includes a moving introduction by political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal and is packed with some 150 contributors ranging from Toni Morrison to Haki Madhabuti, Maya Angelou to young Autum Ashante and the late poets/playwrights Sekou Sundiata and Larry Neal . . . Art work from Elizabeth Catlett, Ben Jones and the late revolutionary painters Vincent Smith and William White + others . . .
To purchase the book for $25 + $4 Shipping, go to
Photographers include Adger Cowans, Danny Dawson, Shawn Walker and more . . .
Let Loose on the World stands as a visual tribute to a key tenet in Amiri Baraka‘s activism and creativity: the centrality of UJIMA: Collective work and Responsibility.
To purchase the book for $25 + $4 Shipping, go to
posted 19 December 2009
* * * * *
House of Nehesi Publishers
* * * * *
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
* * * * *
By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest.
Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.
* * * * *
By John Lewis
The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change. Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is the author of his autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of a Movement, and is the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions, including the Lincoln Medal; the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Lifetime Achievement Award (the only one of its kind ever awarded); the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, among many others.
* * * * *
By Roy Wilkins and Tom Mathews
History will remember Roy Wilkins (19011981) as one of the great leaders of the twentieth century for his contributions to the advancement of civil rights in America. For nearly half a centuryfirst as assistant secretary, also succeeding W. E. B. Dubois as editor of The Crisis, and finally succeeding Walter White as executive directorRoy Wilkins served and led the NAACP in their fight for justice for African Americans. Wilkins was a relentless pragmatist who advocated progressive change through legal action.
He participated or led in the achievement of every major civil rights advance, working for the integration of the army, helping to plan and organize the historic march on Washington, and pushing every president from Franklin Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter to implement civil rights legislation. This is a dramatic story of one man’s struggle for his people’s rights, as well as a vivid recollection of the events and the people that have shaped modern black history.Da Capo Press
* * * * *
By Komozi Woodard
Woodard examines the role of poet Amiri Baraka’s “cultural politics” on Black Power and black nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s. After a brief overview of the evolution of black nationalism since slavery, he focuses on activities in Northeastern urban centers (Baraka’s milieus were Newark, N.J., and, to a lesser extent, New York City). Taking issue with scholars who see cultural nationalism as self-destructive, Woodard finds it “fundamental to the endurance of the Black Revolt from the 1960s into the 1970s.” The 1965 assassination of Malcolm X catalyzed LeRoi Jones’s metamorphosis into Amiri Baraka and his later “ideological enchantment” with Castro’s revolution. After attracting national attention following the 1966 Detroit Black Arts Convention, Baraka shifted his emphasis to electoral politics. He galvanized black support for Kenneth Gibson, who was elected mayor of Newark in 1970. Woodard pays scant attention, however, to the fact that “Baraka’s models for political organization had nothing revolutionary to contribute in terms of women’s leadership” or the roots of “Baraka’s insistence on psychological separation” from whites.
Woodard’s conclusion descends into rhetoric as he urges support for a school system to “develop oppressed groups into self-conscious agents of their own liberation,” while offering no specific, practical suggestions. Woodard’s need to be both scholar and prophet are in conflict, and the prophet’s voice undermines the scholar’s.Publishers Weekly
* * * * *
From The World and Africa, 1965
* * * * *
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
online through PayPal
* * * * *
Browse all issues
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
update 24 June 2012