(short version June 2015) by Hugh Murray
Ferdinand was talented. The first time I encountered him was before the uprising, probably during the first semester 1968-69. A poetry contest at SUNO had been arranged, and I was selected to be among the judges. There were only 4 contestants, and 3 read rather conventional poems (I think they were all original poems). Val’s was different. His “reading” was really a performance, similar to those in a poetry slam. His title, “Niggers in the Streets,” and in ghetto language it was a description of the activity that one might see in a Black urban neighborhood. Though he was not my student, I thought he deserved 1st prize, as did most of the judges. Ferdinand won the contest.