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Jesse James was born Jesse Anderson, October 6,1928.  He grew up in Harlem, New York City.



"I think that it's important, you know, 

This bit about identity. This is the 

question I used to ask myself all the time, 

It doesn't bother me anymore, you know, 

I used to constantly ask myself, "Who am I?"

Where did you go?

Where did you come from?

Where did you go,

And did your mother know?


Where did you come from?

Where did you go?

Where did you come from,

And did your mother know?


Did the stork drop you off

And hide you among the weeds–

Just a wading in a pool of toys?


The cell, the stars, the suit, the scars

You left behind,

You never left the house without a hat on.


Just a baby in a pool of noise


Where did you go?

Where did you come from

when you came back?

Where did you go,

And did your mother know?


Brace Memorial Farm,

Elmira Reformatory,

Warwick State Training School for Boys.


You heard the name the devil came with,

Called it yours.

And ev’ry hat you ever wore remembers …


Warwick State Training School for Boys,

Attica, Sing Sing.

Portions taken from the notebooks of Rev. Jesse James



At that time, my name was Alauddin al-Assad.  I was a Muslim, belonged to the Ahmadiyyah movement out of the East. I used to make my salat devoutly, five times a day – in Arabic”*

Where did you come from,

And where have you been,

Brother Alauddin?


Where are you going,

And where will you be,

Reverend Jesse?

*From "Rapping", 1968 film (link)


Just a little bit of wine, that's all we need

To get our mellow shade of groovy lit.

Just a little bit of heaven, that's all we need right now,

Take us out of this hardly real.

We'll make our buzz and you can make 

 dollar or two on the deal

“Say man,

How about going into the store and copping us

Some booze?”

I felt quite a bit of remorse …

I could see two youths; both of them

Seventeen years old, um,

Going no place fast.


I searched my mind and my

Heart for the words, you know,

To approach them and decline their offer,

And yet not leave them hanging…


I pointed out to them that the average adult

Who would do something like this

(who would go and cop some booze for a kid)

Is probably one

Who destroyed his life,

Nothing really to live for.

And as we know,    

Misery loves



But, on the other hand,

I felt that an adult should be around to offer

Something constructive,

And in order to offer something constructive,

one would first have to find out

Just what the youth wanted,

Or needed, or felt like he or she needed

And so I asked them what they wanted, what they needed,

And they began to talk about

Jobs and respect,

A better image, you know,

Improved education,   

And this type of thing.              

Adapted from interview with Rev. Jesse James – KPFA, Nov. 18, 1966 (link)

Additional lyrics by David James

To you people who represent labor, I’m asking you …


To you people who represent labor,

I’m asking you


To release the freeze-out,

To melt it,

To open up doors,

Adequate avenues,

That these youth may

Have an opportunity

Adapted from Mission Rebels press conference, Nov. 30, 1966 (link)

Mission Rebels’ Jackpot


Mission Rebels’ Jackpot:

Two hundred ninety-six thousand,

seven hundred sixty dollars.

From San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 4, 1968 (link) 

Music by David James

“Mission Rebels Jackpot” music by David James/Beth Custer

Mission Rebel No. 1 (a suite), a work-in-progress, was developed with the support of, and sponsored through a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

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