Dr. Cornel West and Marvin X Electrify at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle

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Cornel West ( black suit) with Marvin X (red shirt) with the O’Town Passions at Geoffreys Inner Circle in downtown Oakland. A fireside chat between West and Marvin X discussed the state of Black America. Photo by Carla Thomas.

As I walked to Geoffrey’s Inner Circle last Saturday night, downtown Oakland looked a little different.

Oakland’s own literary genius, Marvin X, was hosting one of the most iconic voices of the 21st century: Dr. Cornel West. For a minute, Oakland seemed different.

As a pastor in Oakland, I mostly do church. But this was different. In the air that night was a display of intellectual genius undisturbed.

The event was well-attended with the usual Oakland diversity in the room.

From people like Darryl Bartlow, a retired probation officer and member of Berkeley High School class of 1965, to Shahid Buttar, a civil rights attorney who is running for Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s seat, the room was ablaze with personality and plain old Oakland swagger.

From Young G’s like James Rhodes, grandson of Marvin X, who took a class taught by West on the Historical Philosophy of W.E.B. DuBois at Dartmouth College, to Old G’s such as Will Ussery, the 91-year-old Bay Area civil rights activist and entrepreneur, the atmosphere in Oakland was electric.

The meeting was moderated by Cat Brooks, former Oakland mayoral hopeful, who was a captivating moderator. She talked about policing being born out of the slave trade. And she brought awareness to the 42 percent of the Oakland budget that is spent on the Oakland Police Department.

When asked about electoral politics, West steered the conversation towards “predatory capitalism,” which means that we have gangsters at the top. “We have too much poverty and not enough self-love, and that means we have a spiritual problem. Loving yourself and everybody else is a spiritual connection,” West said. He cautioned that we must not sell our souls. “Bourgeois, at its worse, is selling your soul for a cup of pottage.”

The room rocked with ovation after ovation for Marvin X as he delivered his Oakland-only, beast mode literary genius. On that lovely night, we get the type of stories that fall from the pen of an exceptional storyteller with truth and transparency. Yes, Oakland was not Berkeley, it was not San Francisco, but it was Oakland, and it was beautiful.

By Curtis O.

Robinson, Sr.

As I walked to Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, downtown Oakland looked a little different last Saturday night. Oakland’s own literary genius, Marvin X, was hosting one of the most iconic voices of the 21st century: Dr. Cornel West. For a minute, Oakland seemed different. As a pastor in Oakland, I mostly do church. But this was different. In the air that night was a display of intellectual genius undisturbed.

The event was well-attended with the usual Oakland diversity in the room.

From people like Darryl Bartlow, a retired probation officer and member of Berkeley High School class of 1965, to Shahid Buttar, a civil rights attorney who is running for Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s seat, the room was ablaze with personality and plain old Oakland swagger.

From Young G’s like James Rhodes, grandson of Marvin X, who took a class taught by West on the Historical Philosophy of W.E.B. DuBois at Dartmouth College, to Old G’s such as Will Ussery, the 91-year-old Bay Area civil rights activist and entrepreneur, the atmosphere in Oakland was electric.

The meeting was moderated by Cat Brooks, former Oakland mayoral hopeful, who was a captivating moderator. She talked about policing being born out of the slave trade. And she brought awareness to the 42% of the Oakland budget that is spent on the Oakland Police Department.

When asked about electoral politics, West steered the conversation towards “predatory capitalism,” which means that we have gangsters at the top. “We have too much poverty and not enough self-love, and that means we have a spiritual problem. Loving yourself and everybody else is a spiritual connection,” West said. He cautioned that we must not sell our souls.  “Bourgeois, at its worse, is selling your soul for a cup of pottage.”

The room rocked with ovation after ovation for Marvin X as he delivered his Oakland-only, beast mode literary genius. On that lovely night, we get the type of stories that fall from the pen of an exceptional storyteller with truth and transparency. Yes, Oakland was not Berkeley, it was not San Francisco, but it was Oakland, and it was beautiful.

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