Stokely Carmichael AKA Kwame Ture

11Stokely Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture, was a Trinidadian born black activist, civil rights leader, and the fourth Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and a notable activist during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. He was preceded as Chairman of SNCC by John Lewis and followed H. Rap Brown as leader of the group. Ture later became an Honorary Minister of the Black Panther Party. The noted scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Carmichael as one of his 100 Greatest African Americans.

Carmichael was a well-educated man attending the elite, selective Bronx High School of Science in New York and graduated from Howard University with a degree in philosophy. His professors included Sterling Brown, Nathan Hare, and Toni Morrison, a writer who later won the Nobel Prize. While at Howard, Carmichael joined the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), the Howard campus affiliate of the SNCC, where he was introduced to Bayard Rustin who became an influential adviser to SNCC. Inspired by the sit-ins in the South, Carmichael became more active in the Civil Rights Movement. He once remarked that he was arrested many times for his activism that he lost count; sometimes estimating at least 29 or 32.

In 1964 Carmichael, then one of the leaders of the SNCC and became Chairman of SNCC in 1966, taking over from John Lewis, who later became a US Congressman. A few weeks after Carmichael took office James Meredith was shot and wounded by a shotgun during his solitary “March Against Fear”. Carmichael became involved joined Dr. Marin Luther King, Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers and others to continue Meredith’s march.

He was arrested during the march where upon his release; he gave his first “Black Power” speech, using the phrase to urge black pride and socio-economic independence. He is largely credited as the person who coined the phrase “Black Power”. He said during that speech “It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.”

While Black Power was not a new concept, Carmichael’s speech brought it into the spotlight and it became a rallying cry for young African Americans across the country. According to Carmichael: “Black Power meant black people coming together to form a political force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs rather than relying on established parties”.

He was strongly influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon’s landmark book Wretched of the Earth, along with others such as Malcolm X. Under Carmichael’s leadership SNCC gradually became more radical and focused on Black Power as its core goal and ideology. Reportedly he wanted to encourage whites to organize poor white southern communities, while SNCC focused on promoting African-American self-reliance through Black Power.

Carmichael saw nonviolence as a tactic as opposed to a principle, which separated him from moderate civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Carmichael became critical of civil rights leaders who called for the integration of African Americans into existing institutions of the middle-call mainstream.

During this period, Carmichael was personally targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s Cointelpro counter-intelligence program, which specialized in isolating and slandering black militants. Carmichael accepted the position of Honorary Prime Minister in the Black Panther Party, but also remained on the staff of SNCC, and attempted to forge a merger between the two organizations.

In July 1968, Hoover stepped up his efforts to divide the black power movement. Declassified documents show a plan was launched to smear Carmichael as a CIA agent, as well as to undermine the SNCC-Panther merger. Both efforts were largely successful. Carmichael was formally expelled from SNCC that year, and rival Panthers began to denounce him.

Carmichael was present in D.C. the night after King’s assassination and led a group through the streets, demanding that businesses close out of respect. Although he tried to prevent violence, the situation escalated beyond his control. Due to Carmichael’s reputation as a provocateur, the news media blamed him for the ensuing violence as mobs rioted along U Street and other areas of black development.

Carmichael held a press conference the next day, at which he predicted mass racial violence in the streets. Now, living in Washington, Carmichael had been under nearly constant surveillance by the FBI. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the FBI director instructed a team of agents to find evidence connecting Carmichael to the rioting.

A 1968 memo from Hoover suggests his fears that Carmichael would become a Black Nationalist “messiah”. He was also subjected to COINTELPRO bad-jacketing techniques which led to Huey P. Newton suggesting that Carmichael was a CIA agent. Carmichael soon began to distance himself from the Panthers. He disagreed with them about whether white activists should be allowed to help them. The Panthers believed that white activists could help the movement, while Carmichael had come to agree with Malcolm X, and said that the white activists should organize their own communities first.

Carmichael changed his name to Kwame Ture, to honor the African leaders Nkrumah and Touré, who had become his patrons. Amongst the turmoil of the time, Ture moved to Guinea to live in a self-imposed exile. At the end of his life, friends still referred to him interchangeably by both names, “and he doesn’t seem to mind.” I don’t think this man, as well as many others, have not received enough credit for the contributions made to the struggle and to the civil rights movement. May you rest in peace. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Black Music Month: The Godfather Of Go-Go

It has been a year since the man who filled Washington DC with his legendary Go-Go music passed away. As one of the thousands of “Chuckaholics” Chuck Brown will live forever. “He’s like our Elvis.” So let’s all say, “Wind Me Up, Chuck” and my you Rest in Peace.

The Nation’s Capital still mourns the passing of Washington DC’s favorite son Chuck Brown known as the “Godfather of Go-Go”. Chuck made a name for himself in the 70s with the smash hit “Bustin’ Loose” and effectively birthing a new genre in Go-Go music. Largely a native to the Washington Metro area, Go-Go music is a byproduct of funk and soul backed by African rhythms, call-and-response chants and dances tailored made for the music. Brown was infamous for his “Wind Me Up, Chuck” routine and his hefty baritone voice was both melodic and confident.

Chuck Brown was a favorite of Washingtonians, enjoying popularity in the city and abroad that continued on for decades. The Godfather is considered by many to be Washington musical royalty, and his loss leaves behind a legacy of hits and thousands of mourning fans who grew up with his music.

The 75-year-old musician’s is said to have learned music in his early years in prison where the performer, singer, guitarist and songwriter developed his commanding brand of funk in the mid-1970s to compete with the dominance of disco. Like a DJ blending records, Mr. Brown used nonstop percussion to stitch songs together and keep the crowd on the dance floor, resulting in marathon performances that went deep into the night. Mr. Brown said the style got its name because “the music just goes and goes.”

In addition to being go-go’s principal architect, Mr. Brown remained the genre’s most charismatic figure. On stage, his spirited call-and-response routines became a hallmark of the music, reinforcing a sense of community that allowed the scene to thrive. As go-go became a point of pride for black Washingtonians, Mr. Brown became one of the city’s most recognizable figures.

“No single type of music has been more identified with Washington than go-go, and no one has loomed larger within it as Chuck Brown,” former Washington Post pop music critic Richard Harrington wrote in 2001.

Mr. Brown’s creation, however, failed to have the same impact outside of the Beltway. The birth of go-go doubled as the high-water mark of Mr. Brown’s national career. With his group the Soul Searchers, his signature hit “Bustin’ Loose” not only minted the go-go sound, it spent four weeks atop the R&B singles chart in 1978.

“Bustin’ Loose” was “the one record I had so much confidence in,” Mr. Brown told The Post in 2001. “I messed with it for two years, wrote a hundred lines of lyrics and only ended up using two lines. . . . It was the only time in my career that I felt like it’s going to be a hit.”

It was Mr. Brown’s biggest single, but throughout the 1980s “We Need Some Money,” “Go-Go Swing” and “Run Joe” became local anthems, reinforced by radio support and the grueling performance schedule that put Mr. Brown on area stages six nights a week. While rap music exploded across the country, go-go dominated young black Washington, with groups including Trouble Funk, Rare Essence and Experience Unlimited (also known as E.U.) follows in Mr. Brown’s footsteps.

Family, friends, and fans of the man known as the “Godfather of Go-Go”; we still love you and thank you for your musical contribution. Brown’s legendary Go-Go music played venue all over the world – can’t you still hear the crowds shouting “Wind me up Chuck”? May your soul Rest in Peace. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Unsung Episode


The History Of Lynching In America Is Worse Than You Think, Says Study

Originally posted on The Afrikan Voice:

Kansas City Star via Getty Images

ATLANTA, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Lynchings in which mobs raided jailhouses to hang, torture and burn alive black men, sometimes leading to public executions in courthouse squares, occurred more often in the U.S. South than was previously known, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The slightest transgression could spur violence, the Equal Justice Initiative found, as it documented 3,959 victims of lynching in a dozen Southern states.

The group said it found 700 more lynchings of black people in the region than had been previously reported. The research took five years and covered 1877 to 1950, the period from the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction to the years immediately following World War Two.

The report cited a 1940 incident in which Jesse Thornton was lynched in Alabama for not saying “Mister” as he talked to a white police officer.

In 1916, men lynched Jeff Brown for accidentally bumping into…

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The Cause and Effects of Discrimination

Hate is one of the most powerful emotions a person can express. Those who have prejudices, simply live life in fear. They are afraid of what they do not know, and this fear usually comes in the form of hate. For people who have experienced this loathing nature, it can be devastating or surreal. Human beings cannot choose their ethnic backgrounds, sex, or physical features.

A person has no control over his or her DNA. Nevertheless, when stigmatisms arise about a person’s race, this fact is blatantly overlooked. Multiculturalism, gender differences, and sexual preferences are factual parts of the world and counteracting these facts is the theory of hate.

When people choose to hate, the effects of this lifestyle choice can be detrimental on numerous levels. Racists and those with extreme bias in regards to ethnicities, socially segregate themselves, resulting in severe developmental issues. This segregation occurs due to acceptance, anger, experience, fear, ignorance and/or social pressure. Choosing to be a racist is taught and a decision to be limited to the unique experiences offered by gaining knowledge of other cultural or ethnic groups.

Frederick Jermaine Carter died by hanging from a tree in a predominantly white neighborhood, with the reputation of not being welcome to African Americans, in Greenwood, Mississippi. In 1955, the murder of Emmett Till occurred in a town 10 miles from Greenwood, and this crime was similar to the Carter situation. The death of Frederick Carter has rehashed the details of Emmett Till’s tragic death and the similarities in both cases. Although, lynching was the preferred means of killing a black man in the past. Today, it is done under cover of law by those hired to protect and serve.

Emmett allegedly whistled at a married Caucasian woman and for this assumed action, her husband and an accomplice executed him at the age of 15. The trial of the Till lynching was recorded by over seventy reporters, and this sparked an international awareness of Southern racism. This awareness has fueled the desire for justice in the present Carter case and demands for change in the state of Mississippi and beyond.

Having hatred for those who differ from a self-preferred group, spans far past race. On October 3, 2010, in the state of New York, one man and two teenage boys were beaten and sodomized for hours by nine attackers for being homosexuals. Occurrences like this crime are, unfortunately, frequent and influence movements such as anti-gay hate crimes. Unfortunately, those who are multicultural and gay experience the double whammy of being a potential target for an active hater. A positive effect of these situations is the gained awareness of impending dangers.

Recently, and nearly once a week, an unarmed black man or person of color is killed by the police, always with immunity. The result is always “more training”! Some would argue, more training nor cameras are not the answer. Rather, it is an ingrained bias toward a race of people that perpetuate the acts of those who are taught to shoot first, and the brotherhood will see that they walk. Racism is rooted in the notion of white supremacy and that is based on economics and control of it.

When it comes to sexism, it applies to discriminations or prejudices in regards to either sex as a whole or male or female chauvinism. The term sexism arose in the mid-20th century, and this induction resulted in movements such as Feminism, Masculism, Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT). Chauvinism can affect people in a major way. If a person feels discriminated against because of his or her gender, the effects are long-term emotional and possibly mental issues.

No matter status or location, everyone has experienced hate personally or indirectly. It is a revolting, continuous fact. Detestation is a vicious cycle that is hard to bring to an end, particularly when it involves matters of race and racism.

However, for those who choose to make positive impacts in anti-hate movements and lifestyles hope that past atrocities should prove to be effective incentives to make change. Unfortunately, instead of the black man being on the short end of a rope, like in the past; in modern times he might find yourself facing the exist end of a gun barrel. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Black Music Month: “The Poet” Bobby Womack

007_1000I love to pay homage to the ghost of the greats and, in this case, this man is one of the greatest. In today’s music world, after two or three releases an artist is called a legend. Unfortunately, most are not wise enough to know they stand on the shoulders of giants, which is really a shame when you think about it. In my view, these modern artists probably won’t be remembered in a year let alone for decades. This artist, “Robert Dwayne Womack”, affectionately known as Bobby, the poet will be remembered for all time as a legend.

Born Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood on March 4, 1944 and became an active recording artist in the early 1960s, when he started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group the Valentinos and as a backup   guitarist, Womack’s career spanned more than 50 years, during which he played in the styles of R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, gospel, and country. Most people don’t know that he wrote and originally recorded the Rolling Stones’ first UK No. 1 hit, “It’s All Over Now” and New Birth’s “I Can Understand It” many other songs.

According to Bobby, his father caught him playing with his guitar and was shocked by his son’s talents, as well as the talents of his other sons. Soon afterward, he bought Bobby his own guitar and formed The Womack Brothers and began touring on the gospel circuit with their parents accompanying them on organ and guitar respectively. In 1954, under the moniker Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers, the group issued the Pennant single, “Buffalo Bill”. Bobby was only ten years old at the time.

It was the great Sam Cooke who discovered the group performing while he was still in the Soul Stirrers in 1956 and began mentoring the boys. Within four years, Cooke had formed SAR Records and signed the quintet to the label. Changing their name to the Valentinos, Cooke produced and arranged the group’s first hit single, “Looking for a love”, which was a pop version of a gospel song they had recorded titled “Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray”. The song became an R&B hit and helped land the group an opening spot for James Brown’s tour. The Valentinos’ career was left shaky after Sam Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel. Devastated by the news, the brothers disbanded, and SAR Records folded.

However, the sad part of Womack’s story is that shortly after the death of Sam Cooke he married his wife, and the prolific songwriter was blackballed by the music industry. During this period, he worked as a studio musician play on recording made by many top artists. After years of this work, he got a break. His work as a songwriter caught the eye of music executives after Wilson Pickett took a liking to some of the songs and insisted on recording them. Among those songs included the hits “I’m a Midnight Mover” and “I’m in Love”.

Following years of isolation, in 1968, he signed with Minit Records and recorded his first solo album, Fly Me to the Moon, where he scored his first major hit with a cover of “California Dreaming”. The door was open, and the hits started coming. During this period, nearly all of the major artist either worked with or recorded his songs.

Name the artist and they were influenced by the poet: The likes of George Benson, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart, the Momma’s and Poppa’s, Wilson Pickett, Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, Rufus, The Crusaders, Patti LaBelle, Jodeci, Mos Def, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Teena Marie, Gerald Levert, Ron Isley, Prince, and the list goes on and on.

As a singer he is most notable known for the hits “Lookin For a Love”, “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha”, “Woman’s Gotta Have It”, “Harry Hippie”, “Across 110th Street” and his 1980s hit “If you Think You’re Lonely Now”. In early 2012, Womack’s career was the subject of the documentary show Unsung on TV One.

One of my favorite songs Bobby made a powerful statement “Where Do We Go From Here”. I think it is a fitting statement! The poet made and wrote songs that are timeless! Sadly for the world, Bobby Womack left this earthly realm to write songs for the heavily choir in glory. Bless you my brother and God Bless your soul – RIP! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Live Your Purpose – To Serve

The Confederate Flag issue has drawn the battle lines on the issue of race and bigotry since the assassinations of the nine Mother Emmanuel Church parishioners. Those who hold on to, what they call heritage, know the history of that heritage that was despicable. The flag is an image that represents hate in the same way as Hitler’s swastika laden flag.

This is an important time in history where black people MUST take a stand: police brutality, the murders of black people like dogs, prison full of people of color, and the long list of indignities of the social order. History is a historical clock, if true,  tells a people the historical time. More importantly, history tells a people where they have been and where they still must go. Black people have been fed a study diet of a pack of lies played on the dead, which I call HISTORY!

The Confederate Flag lovers have told and still tell the same lie for a hundred fifty years – and it’s still a lie. It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told, but there are some that you cannot forget! It is time that you face the truth concerning the sins of your fathers and admit that slavery the covenanted was the worse crime known to man!

EVERY BLACK PERSON NEEDS TO GET INVOLVED! We MUST resurrect and remember African American history; not your version of it and observe it every day. We MUST also teach the children in order to further our existence and survival which means we MUST learn to communicate the truth with one another. Let me share this profound message from Dr. Martin Luther King that, if taken to heart, will change the world. And that’s my thought Provoking Perspective…

Please listen to the video and make that change.

 


UNSUNG: Siedah Garrett

siedah garrettI was thinking about someone to continue my effort to pay homage to the musicians who made such tremendous contributions to Black Music. Now, I have a confession to make before I go further – I got chills thinking about this amazing lady who in my view is one of the most unsung female artists of our time Siedah Garrett.

Siedah is a Grammy Award Winning and twice Oscar nominated songwriter and recording artist. As I began writing this article, I was astounded by her accomplishments that included writing songs and performed backing vocals for many of the legends in the music industry. Such as Michael Jackson, Dennis Edwards, Brand New Heavies, Quincy Jones, Tevin Campbell, Donna Summers, Madonna, and Jennifer Hudson to name a few of the many great artists.

What further amazed me was that she has had huge hits singing duets but not one hit of her own. Most notably with Michael Jackson and she co-wrote Jackson’s #1 single “Man In The Mirror” as well as touring with him on his tours. She also had a number one hit with Temptations great Dennis Edwards “Don’t Look Any Further”.

She has been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Original Song and has won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media for co-writing “Love You I Do” performed by Jennifer Hudson for the 2006 musical film Dreamgirls. Garrett was involved In 1987 Michael Jackson’s Bad album, singing a duet with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”. The association with Jackson enabled her to sing on several Quincy Jones albums.

She co-wrote his hit songs “Tomorrow A Better You, Better me” on the “Back On The Block” and “The Secret Garden” albums. She forayed into the world of acting starring in a TV sitcom pilot for NBC called “Wally and the Valentines” as well as other television appearances. She hosted the show America’s Top 10. In another association with Maysa Leak’s (of the group Incognito) solo debut album as co-writer of the track “Sexy” in which she also sang backing vocals.

A few years later, she joined the Brand New Heavies, collaborating on their Shelter album. As part of the band, she co-wrote their top 5 hit “Sometimes” and enjoyed a minor hit with Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend”. Garrett worked with Madonna as a backing singer and dancer on The Re-Invention Tour in 2004.

Garrett’s professional involvement with Madonna goes back some years as she previously supplied backing vocals on some of Madonna’s earlier material including True Blue, and Who’s That Girl. She represented America in the opening ceremony of 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games singing the song “I Know I Can”, and in the opening ceremony of Expo 2010 Shanghai China, singing the song “Better City, Better Life” with Jonathan Buck, both songs which she co-wrote with Quincy Jones.

Few artists have maintained such esteemed longevity with so many of the greats as Siedah. Whether she knows she’s great or not – I for one want to give props to this very special lady who gave so much to her craft and in my eyes “amazing” and not unsung at all. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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