Plato’s Students

By Marvin X

In 1972, his, partner, student and co-worker from Black Arts West Theatre and the Black House, Hurriyah Asar (Ethna X. Wyatt), introduced him to Victor Willis, a young singer, who starred in Marvin’s myth-ritual drama Resurrection of the Dead, then went on to become the lyricist and lead singer of the Village People. He wrote and sang such songs as YMCA, Macho Man and I’m In the Navy. Victor said it was the energy from Resurrection that gave him the ability to tackle New York. A dancer from Resurrection, Jamilah Hunter, went on to dance with Shirley MacLaine and Alvin Ailey. Another dancer in the production and his student from UC Berkeley, Nisa Ra, is mother of his daughter, Muhammida.

Muhammida, in the do-for-self manner of her dad and mom , operates her own event planning company, Sun In Leo Productions. She arranged her father’s East coast book tour last year which took him from Boston to South Carolina. She graduated in Microbiology from Howard University, but decided to become a filmmaker, after studying under Haile Germaine, director of Sankofa. The young lady traveled to Japan, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa and Europe to produce a documentary film on hip hop culture entitled, “Hip Hop: The New World Order.” She is as well known on the streets of Paris and London as she is in Harlem and Brooklyn where she resides and recently opened a coffee house.

His daughters Nefertiti and Amira, are from a marriage to his Fresno State University student, Barbara Hall, who accompanied him during his exile to Mexico City and Belize as a resister to the Vietnam War. He eventually served time in Federal Prison for his resistance. Nerfertiti, who recently earned a masters degree in Africana studies from New York State University, Albany, assists her father with his various projects such as the Kings and Queens of Black Consciousness concert at San Francisco State University, 2001, and the Black Radical Black Radical Book Fair at his Recovery Theatre, San Francisco, 2004. Amira is an attorney who graduated from Yale and Stanford Law School. Of course his children study their father’s words, deeds and actions. They are keenly aware of his contradictions, and they let him know when he is being his positive self, and of course they learn from the good, bad and the ugly things about him, even if they never let him know. Often they tell him, “Dad, didn’t you say….”

Nadar Ali (Bobby Jones) of Fresno, was recruited by Marvin for the Nation of Islam. Nadar became director of the University of Islam and later director of imports for the NOI, administering the Whiting fish project. He traveled the world for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. He said he was on the balcony of his hotel in Chile when democratically elected president Allende was overthrown by the US imperialists.

Ayodele Nzinga, his student since he taught drama at Laney College, 1981, is presently working on her PhD, and yes, her thesis is on her teacher, with whom she has seen go through a myriad changes. Ayo directed his play In the Name of Love at Laney and performed and co-directed the 1998 production of ONE DAY IN THE LIFE, the longest running African American drama in Northern California. It is a docudrama of Marvin’s addiction to drugs and recovery. Ayo stole the show with her performance as the Crack Ho. Ayo is director of the Lower Bottom Players in West Oakland.

Fahizah Alim, recently retired writer at the Sacramento Bee. He mentored and inspired her to enter journalism. She is one of the most powerful women in Sacramento politics because as a journalist the Blacks utilized her pen to lobby for their causes in the state capital. She is presently chief of staff and communications aide to a state senator.

Most recently, Plato mentored novelist Dana Rondel of Hartford, Conn. During his East coast book tour last year, Dana assisted and performed with him in Hartford, Harlem, Brooklyn, Newark, Philly and Washington, DC. Her novel was in tune with the spiritual theme of his book Beyond Religion, toward Spirituality.

Perhaps Plato’s most outstanding student is the young scholar from Richmond via San Francisco State University, Ptah Allah El (Tracy Mitchell), who wrote the afterword to Dr. M’s latest book HOW TO RECOVER FROM THE ADDICTION TO WHITE SUPREMACY. Ptah is the first graduate of Dr. M’s University of Poetry, a school without walls. Ptah received his degree after delivering a lecture on teaching teachers how to read, based on the Egyptian hieroglyphs. His thesis is a collection of original writings entitled Ghetto Folktales. Ptah helps facilitate Dr. M’s Pan African Mental Health Peer Group sessions. It was Ptah’s suggestion that sections on detox and discovery (step 13) be added to Dr. M’s book on recovery from the addiction to white supremacy/lunacy. As often happens, the teacher learns from his students.

Although he prefers teaching on the street, Plato often speaks at colleges and universities throughout America, most recently at UC Berkeley, Berkeley Community College, San Francisco State University, University of Arkansas, University of Virginia, Howard University, Spellman College, Morehouse, Medgar Evers College, University of Massachusetts, University of Penn, and elsewhere. For speaking and reading engagements, call him at 510-355-6339. Visit his blog: Email him at His books can be ordered from Black Bird Press, POB 1317, Paradise CA 95967, $19.95 each.