Remember Mr. Excitement: Jackie Wilson

462_160The amazing Jackie Wilson was known to his many fans as “Mr. Excitement”! He was one of the most inspirational and pioneering artists of the 1950s when Black music was called “Race Music.” He was one of the most underrated performers of all times.

What is not known by many is that Berry Gordy wrote some of his biggest hits. In fact, it was because of him that we have a Motown Records Company. For the record, when you look at Elvis Presley what you see is a carbon copy or at least an attempt to be Mr. Jackie Wilson. This man was an innovator, and one of the early initiators of what became to be known as Soul Music.

In his early years, the pretty boy was a prize fighter and had a reputation for being rather quick-tempered. In spite of his phenomenal success, his personal life was full of tragedy. In 1960, in New Orleans, Wilson was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer when fans tried to climb onstage with Wilson. He shoved a policeman who had shoved one of the fans.

On February 15, 1961, in Manhattan, Wilson was injured in a shooting. It is said, the real story behind this incident was that one of his girlfriends, Juanita Jones, shot and wounded him in a jealous rage; when he returned to his Manhattan apartment with another woman, fashion model Harlean Harris, an ex-girlfriend of the late Sam Cook. Supposedly, his management concocted a story to protect Wilson’s reputation that Jones was an obsessed fan, who had threatened to shoot herself and that Wilson’s intervention resulted in his being shot.

Wilson was shot in the stomach: The bullet would result in the loss of a kidney, and lodged too close to his spine to be operated and removed. However, in early 1975, in an interview with author Arnold Shaw, Wilson maintained it actually was a zealous fan who he didn’t know that shot him. “We also had some trouble in 1961. That was when some crazy chick took a shot at me and nearly put me away for good….” Nonetheless, the story of the zealous fan was accepted, and no charges were brought against Jones. A month and a half after the shooting incident, Jackie was discharged from the hospital and apart from a limp and discomfort for a while; he was quickly on the mend.

At the time, Jackie had declared annual earnings of $263,000, while the average salary a man earned at the time was just $5,000 a year, but he discovered that, despite being at the peak of success, he was broke. Around this time, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seized Jackie’s Detroit family home. Tarnopol and his accountants were supposed to take care of such matters. Fortunately, Jackie made arrangements with the IRS to make restitution on the unpaid taxes and to re-purchase the family home at auction.

As far as money troubles went, this was not even the beginning for Wilson. Nat Tarnopol had taken advantage of Jackie, mismanaging Wilson’s money ever since he took the role of Wilson’s manager. He even had power-of-attorney over Wilson’s finances, giving him complete control over Jackie’s money. Shortly before Wilson suffered a heart attack in 1975, Tarnopol, and 18 other Brunswick executives were indicted on charges of mail fraud and tax evasion stemming from bribery and payola scandals. Also in the indictment was the charge that Tarnopol owed at least $1 million in royalties to Wilson.

In 1976, Tarnopol and the others were found guilty; an appeals court overturned their conviction 18 months later. Although the conviction was overturned, judges went into detail, outlining that Tarnopol and Brunswick Records did defraud their artists of royalties and that there was sufficient evidence for Wilson to file a lawsuit. However, a trial to sue Tarnopol for royalties never took place, as Wilson lay in a nursing home comatose. Sadly, Wilson died riddled with debt to the IRS and Brunswick Records.

Freda Hood, Wilson’s first wife, with whom he had four children, divorced him in 1965 after 14 years of marriage, frustrated with his notorious womanizing. Although the divorce was amicable, Freda would regret her decision. Freda never stopped loving him, and Jackie treated her as though she were still his wife.

His 16-year-old son, Jackie Jr., was shot and killed on a neighbor’s porch in 1970, and two of Wilson’s daughters also died at a young age. His daughter Sandra died in 1977 at the age of 24 of an apparent heart attack. Jacqueline Wilson was killed in 1988 in a drug-related incident in Highland Park, Michigan. The death of Jackie Jr. devastated Wilson. He sank into a period of depression, and for the next couple of years he remained a recluse mostly, drinking and using drugs.

Wilson’s second marriage was to model Harlean Harris in 1967 with whom he had three children, but they separated soon after. Wilson later met and lived with Lynn Crochet. He was with Crochet until his heart attack in 1975. However, as he and Harris never officially divorced, Harris took the role of Wilson’s caregiver for the singers remaining nine years.

On September 29, 1975, Wilson was one of the featured acts in Dick Clark’s Good Ol’ Rock and Roll Revue, hosted by the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Where he was in the middle of singing “Lonely Teardrops” when he suffered a heart attack, during the middle of the line “My heart is crying.”

When he collapsed on stage, audience members initially thought it was part of the act. Clark then ordered the musicians to stop the music. Cornell Gunter of The Coasters, who was backstage, noticed Wilson was not breathing. Gunter was able to resuscitate him, and Wilson was then rushed to a nearby hospital.

Medical personnel worked nearly 30 minutes to stabilize his vitals, but the lack of oxygen to his brain caused him to slip into a coma. He briefly emerged in early 1976, and was even able to take a few wobbly steps but slipped back into a semi-comatose state. He was a resident of the Medford Leas Retirement Center in Mount Holly, New Jersey when he was admitted to Virtua Memorial Hospital due to having trouble taking nourishment.

Jackie Wilson died on January 21, 1984, at the age of 49 from complications of pneumonia. Initially, he was buried in an unmarked grave at Westlawn Cemetery near Detroit. In 1987, a fundraiser collected enough money to purchase a headstone. Maybe the song “Lonely Tear Drops” came from his soul and spoke to the singer in a way that no one understood, as it seemed to be the story of his life. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


We Now Enter The Twilight Zone

trump

 


Day After Tomorrow

14089134_1234426826650369_7063879907830030495_nThere is a saying; when a person shows you who they are – that’s probably who they are! The new guy elected to lead America did show everyone who he was clearly. He is what white folk are deep down, which is it’s only about the money. Nothing he has done is anything close to the norms or close to past presidential politics. They elected the past three presidents, which were a disaster in my view! But America’s bigoted nature elected this guy and they have to own it.

This guy has had thousands of lawsuits filed against him, in fact just paid 25 million to settle on just a few days ago, and have had or been involved in his share of bankruptcies. Now we have all be to a casino, right; how can you file for bankruptcy when you own one? All of this is mind boggling! He has appointed billionaires to head most of the agencies. Let’s not forget the man has not paid taxes in a decade. What could go wrong right?

Not to mention his disdain for the current president with his false birther claims. He has insulted the families of the fallen and every ethnic group in America. Also, his boastful claims to his sexual deviancy that most would call sexual assaults. Just a few days ago, a woman filed a sexual assault lawsuit against him. Everything he has said is fake news!

You need to look at it this way, the idea of Making America Great is simply coded language for Making America White Great Again. So far the man who claimed he was going to be the Law and Order president seems to have broken almost every law. What that means is he wants to lock up more black people and not his friends. I am not claiming an apocalypse, but I am saying America will go back in time to an age most of us never thought would return!

Most thought the past three Republican Presidents were bad. Well, we have a contender that will make those guys look like boy scouts. We can look to see the greatest robbery of all times. So hold on, we are in for a disaster! And that is my thought provoking perspective…


Happy Birthday Mr. Ruffin

B6Abw9_CQAABg5qI’ve been blessed to have lived during a time when the music of our culture reached center-stage and changed the world. Of all of the great voices, I’ve heard during my time, I can say none has been more distinctive and profound than that of David Ruffin. I’ll gladly say, I feel blessed to have had my life enhanced by his music.

As we are about to celebrate Black History Month, I want to pay homage to this man whose music was a huge influence on my life, particularly my young life, to which I am grateful. In an interview after Temptation movie, something his son said struck me as profound. He said, “My daddy wanted love, but he got fame.” We know from the many talented artists to leave us of late that there is a line between triumph and tragedy. That line is often thin and frequently ends sadly. David Ruffin walked that line with tragic consequences.

Ruffin will always be remembered as the mightiest of all the Temptations’ lead singers. He was one of “the voices” that made the Temptations, and his legacy will live on in the depths of our souls as long as there is time. We will remember that sexy, gritty voice, those trademark glasses, and that stage charisma that sums up the one and only David Ruffin, and even that little crack in his voice was ok, well it wasn’t ok, but that was David Ruffin. To put his legacy into context; he achieved legendary status after only being with the Temptations for about four years.

His songs were like windows into his soul, exposing his greatest fears as a lover and a man. Even “happy” songs like “My Girl” brought out vulnerability in his voice. His relationship with the Temptations was a stormy one, but the marriage produced defining moments in 1960s soul, and his voice inspired just about every male vocalist – his influence is everlasting. We’ll never know how good he might have been, but we can rejoice in what he left behind.

Born Davis Eli Ruffin, on January 18, 1941, in Whynot, Mississippi. A sickly child inflicted with both rheumatic fever and asthma. His mother died in childbirth, and he was raised by his father, a Baptist Minister. He was a complex man and master vocalist with a gospel-trained voice that would gain him the affection of several generations of listeners, but Ruffin had more than a voice – he had a persona.

In the best of his music, there was a dark, terrible, tragic, and personal beauty. A good example would be in his self-penned composition “Statue of a Fool,” written when he was just 18 years old, in which he sees himself as a “man who lets love slip through his hands.”

My favorite line in that tune was “On his face, a gold tear should be placed to honor every tear he shed. And I think it would show, and everyone would know, concealed inside is a broken heart.” This was a powerful statement that spoke to the depth of his soul. However, as history would record he would share his most private pain in the Temptations’ biggest hits; “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Since I Lost My Baby”, and the chilling “I Wish It Would Rain.

All of these songs were rooted in gospel where David began, singing in The Ruffin Family and The Spiritual Trying Four with his father, his sister Rita Mae and older brothers Jimmy and Quincy. David left home at 13 following his father’s footsteps to practice the ministry but was sidetracked, singing in Memphis talent shows where he met a young Elvis Presley. He later sang with the gospel group; The Dixie Nightingales out of Memphis, Tennessee, and toured with The Womack Brothers, The Swan Silvertones, and The Staple Singers.

It was with these gospel groups that Ruffin would develop his stage personality, dropping to his knees and doing splits just like the late Jackie Wilson before him. David’s show-stopping performances within the group would be enough to get him noticed on the secular side.

Then, in 1964, when problems arose between the Temptations and group member Elbridge Bryant, David would be invited to join the group. Shortly after David’s arrival, the group would record “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” a Smokey Robinson number with Eddie Kendricks on lead. Gone for a three-week gig in Saginaw, Michigan, the group would return home to find themselves with their first hit. It is said, when David saw the chart standings, he sat down on the long chaise lounge in the Motown lobby, took off his glasses, and cried like a baby.

Ruffin would turn out be an electrifying and dynamic force and set a course for stardom with their first universal #1 hit, “My Girl,” recorded just before Christmas in 1964, a tune that would turn the group into a household word and legends. The group began turning out one hit after another, and when David took such up-tempo hits as “(I know), I’m Losing You,” to the stage, he became a magnetic field of charisma. His greatness would then shine, and his permanent mark on the pages of history was sealed.

At his home-going service, Stevie Wonder told the audience: “We’re confronted with a problem that touches everyone of us. We’re confronted with the most devastating slave owner of all times.” Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, who spoke at his funeral told the mournful audience, “In David there is a lesson. We should not clap our hands and mourn, for he is out of trouble now. You are still in it.” It is not my intent to rewrite history or to re-tell a story that we all know. Rather to simply to remind us that he is gone – but not forgotten. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Rest In Peace

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“Just a Season”

Remembering: Muhammad Ali

The Greatest of All Times

thMuhammad Ali, known as the greatest boxer of all times and viewed by most as the “Champ,” retired as the first three-time Heavyweight Champion of the World. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., the elder of two boys in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who was named after the 19th-century abolitionist and politician, the owner of Clay’s ancestors. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964.

Clay was directed toward boxing by a white Louisville police officer whom he encountered as a 12-year-old fuming over the theft of his bicycle. After an extremely successful amateur boxing career, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant.

Not only was the Champ a fighter in the ring, but he also had the courage to fight the U.S. Government in 1967 when he refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was successful.

Standing tall at 6 feet, 3 inches, Clay had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight boxer. Rather than the normal style of carrying the hands high to defend the face, he instead relied on foot speed and quickness to avoid punches and carried his hands low. He coined a new technique called the rope-a-dope where he rested on the ring ropes and let the dope, his opponent, punch himself out. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would “trash talk” opponents on television and in person before the match and often with rhymes.

These personality quips and idioms, along with an unorthodox fighting technique, made him a cultural icon. Ali built a reputation by correctly predicting, with stunning accuracy, the round in which he would “finish” an opponent. While still Cassius Clay, he adopted the latter practice from “Gorgeous” George Wagner, a popular professional wrestling champion who drew thousands of fans. Often referred to as “the man you loved to hate,” George could incite the crowd with a few heated remarks, which Ali used to his advantage.

As Clay, he met his famous longtime trainer Angelo Dundee during a light heavyweight fight in Louisville shortly after becoming the top contender to fight Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston. Despite his impressive record, he was not widely expected to defeat Liston, who was considered a more sinister champion than Iron Mike Tyson. In fact, nobody gave him a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the fight against such a dominant champion.

The fight was scheduled for February 25, 1964, in Miami, Florida, but it almost never happened because the promoter heard that Clay had been seen around Miami and in other cities with the controversial Muslim Leader, Malcolm X. The promoters perceived this association as a potential gate killer to the fight where Liston was overwhelmingly favored to win. However, it was Clay’s colorful persona and nonstop braggadocio that gave the fight its sole appeal.

The ever-boastful Clay frequently taunted Liston during the buildup to the bout by dubbing him “the big ugly bear” among other things. During the weigh-in on the day before the bout, acting like a wild crazy man, Clay declared for the first time that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” He summarized his strategy for avoiding Liston’s assaults this way: “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”

By the third round, Clay was ahead on points and had opened a cut under Liston’s eye. Liston regained some ground in the fourth, as Clay was blinded by a substance in his eyes. It is unconfirmed whether this was something used to close Liston’s cuts or deliberately applied to Liston’s gloves. What is clear, boxing historians and insiders have recalled, is that in at least two other Liston fights a similar situation occurred, suggesting the possibility that the Liston corner deliberately attempted to cheat.

By the sixth, Clay dominated Liston and was looking for a finish. Then Liston shocked the boxing world when he failed to answer the bell for the seventh round, claiming his shoulder was injured. At the end of the fight, Clay boasted to the press that doubted him before the match, proclaiming, “I shook up the world!” When Clay beat Liston at age 22, he became the youngest boxer ever to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion, a mark that stood until the Mike Tyson’s reign began.

What is significant about Clay winning the bout is this: he said, “I am pretty, I can’t be beat” as he yelled into the cameras for the world to see. In the early sixties, this was not the language Negro’s were using to describe themselves. Those words and that brash act was the catalyst for the black is beautiful movement, Afro-American, and black power. So from that perspective, yes, he shook up the world.

After winning the championship, Clay revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. It was the movement’s leader Elijah Muhammad who gave Clay the name Cassius X, discarding his surname as a symbol of his ancestors’ enslavement, as had been done by other Nation members. On Friday, March 6, 1964, Malcolm X took Clay on a tour of the United Nations building where he announced that Clay would be granted his “X.” That same night, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement over the phone to be played over the radio that Clay would be renamed Muhammad – one who is worthy of praise, and Ali – rightly guided.

The rematch with Liston was held in May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine. Ali, who had changed his name by this time, won by knockout in the first round as a result of what came to be called the “phantom punch.” Many believe that Liston, possibly as a result of threats from Nation of Islam extremists or in an attempt to “throw” the fight to pay off debts, waited to be counted out. However, most historians discount both scenarios and insist that it was a quick, chopping punch to the side of the head that legitimately fell Liston. Ali would later call the punch an “anchor punch” used by the Great Jack Johnson.

Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam made him a lightning rod for controversy, turning the outspoken but popular champion into one of that era’s most recognizable and controversial figures. Appearing at rallies with Elijah Muhammad and declaring his allegiance to him at a time when mainstream America viewed Black Muslims with suspicion and outright hostility made Ali a target of outrage, as well as suspicion. Ali seemed at times to provoke such reactions with viewpoints that wavered from support for civil rights to outright support of separatism.

For example, Ali once made this comment in relation to integration: “We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.” Or this remark about inter-racial marriage: “No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.” It was clear that his religious beliefs at the time included the notion that the white man was “the devil” and that white people were not “righteous.” Ali would also make claims that white people hated black people.

In early 1966, Ali was reclassified to be eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army during a time when the United States was involved in the Vietnam War. When notified of this status, he declared that he would refuse to serve in the Army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector. Ali believed “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.”

Ali also famously said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them, Viet Cong … They never called me Nigger.” It was rare for a heavyweight boxing champion in those days, or now, to speak at Howard University where he gave his popular “Black Is Best” speech in 1996. Ali was invited to speak by Howard’s sociology professor Nathan Hare on behalf of the Black Power Committee, a student protest group. The event of 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals was surely another step toward his iconic stature.

Appearing shortly thereafter for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967, in Houston, he refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested and on the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title as did other boxing commissions, for being unpatriotic.

At Ali’s trial, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Ali guilty; the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction; the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. During this time, the public began turning against the war and support for Ali began to grow. Ali supported himself by speaking at colleges and universities across the country, where opposition to the war was especially strong. On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court reversed by unanimous decision his conviction for refusing induction. The decision was not based on, nor did it address the merits of Clay’s/Ali’s claims per se; rather, the government’s failure to specify which claims were rejected and which were sustained constituted the grounds upon which the Court reversed the conviction.

The legacy of the “Greatest” is the stuff movies are made of – Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in his era, which has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. Ali was named “Fighter of the Year” by Ring Magazine more times than any other fighter and was involved in more Ring Magazine “Fight of the Year” bouts than any other fighter. He is an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and holds wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees.

He is also one of only three boxers to be named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as one of the most recognized athletes, out of over 800 dead or alive athletes, in America.

I have met Muhammad and was so impressed I named my only son after him, hoping his example of courage and fortitude would be shared. He is my hero, and I say: thank you for your example and sacrifice. You are the Greatest of All Times. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Black History is American History


Remembering The “King”

200x200Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the most revered leader of our time, was born January 15, 1929, and murdered on April 4, 1968. Dr. King’s most notable accomplishments were the Montgomery Bus Boycott, being the founder and first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the famed March on Washington, and being the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

The life of Dr. King was to secure progress for the American Negro and to obtain civil rights for the American Negro and poor people in the America. He made great strides in accomplishing that goal, and for this reason, he has become a human rights icon recognized and a martyr. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, a National Holiday, and honored with a monument on the Washington Mall in DC.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. but his name given at birth was “Michael King.” Few people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was named “Michael King, Jr.” at birth. But when his family traveled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany his father changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther. King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.

King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama; they had four children. At the age of twenty-five, he became Pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his trajectory to greatness was launched in 1954. He skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grade and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school.

In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity’s claims. Most striking perhaps was his denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school at the age of thirteen. From this point, he stated, “doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly.” However, throughout his career of service, he wrote and frequently spoke, drawing on his experience as a preacher, which he understood to be his purpose.

For example, in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in 1963, is a passionate statement of his crusade for justice. It was confirmed when he became the youngest recipient to receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in the United States.

We have been taught to believe that Mrs. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat that day was an anomaly. Many Blacks refused, at one time or another, to give up their seats in the white only section usually resulting in being run out of town. There was a committee silently waiting for an instance where they could take it through the legal system to put an end to this unholy system.

On December 1, 1955, the case that they were waiting for appeared. Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott planned by E. D. Nixon and led by King emerged. The boycott lasted for 385 days crippling the city economically. The situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed, and he was arrested during this campaign. The case ultimately ended with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses and throughout the south.

In 1957, Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King led the SCLC until his death.

Over his career, Dr. King narrowly escaped death as his life was in constant danger, but he remained faithful to a non-violent philosophy modeled by Gandhi’s non-violent techniques. Dr. King believed that organized non-violent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights.

It is my opinion that this was the single most powerful tool in the arsenal of the civil rights movement. This explosive media coverage, both journalistic and television footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights marchers produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion. This was in large part what convinced the majority of Americans that the civil rights movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960’s.

King organized and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Largely as a result of his leadership, which unfortunately has been unmatched since his murder. Therefore, I urge everyone to take a moment to pay homage to this great man on his day, the first of its kind for a black man, and proudly honor his memory and life. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Dream

10455671_10203771484181096_2260820563230053916_nI often think about the King Holiday as a wonderful thing, a day of service and pride. The truth is white folk never wanted a King Holiday, particularly since he was the most hated man in America during his lifetime! Nonetheless, America today commemorates what would have been the 88th birthday of the civil-rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. They have hijacked, and they made the world believe his legacy was nothing more than an eloquent dream.

I am he knew he would go down in the history books but probably not to the extent it has; every city has a street or building named after him. Nor did he ever likely expect that even his children would live to see an African-American president nor did he expect them to see black men and women sitting in the halls of power, from Congress to universities to executive board rooms. All he was hoping for was to elevate the poor and the right to vote.

Race, in other words, is no longer the automatic barrier it once was, even if we still have not fully reached the point where people are judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” For that progress, we have Dr. King to thank. He turned the tide of history in just 13 short years, from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Poor People’s Campaign, before being cut down by an assassin at just 39.

Dr. King did so not through coercion, but persuasion by nonviolently asserting a moral authority that forced America to confront both its past and its present. It’s become commonplace to suggest what King would say about today’s political scene. In fact, his views were shaped by his times, and times keep changing always reverting but to the country’s racial and bigoted ways.

The most profound speech was when he denounced the United States as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and opposed the Vietnam War, urging his country to “get on the right side of the world revolution.” Of course, we know those were the words that got him killed! But it’s fair to say that the leader who fought for equality in the schoolroom would be dismayed by the continuing failure of too many children of color to receive a quality education and not because of Jim Crow, but because public-school systems today are failing their students.

I am sure he would be equally dismayed that many leaders of the today’s civil rights movement are now actively opposing efforts to remedy this through innovations like charter schools, which have proved that poor and minority students can succeed in the classroom, which it does not. I am sure he would not approve of the so-called idea of political correctness and discussions about race is nearly impossible for honest dialogue.

We should honor or him today because he never lost faith in the gospel of nonviolence or that he died believing that the full equality and dignity for all could, and would be realized in America. Although, he did not live to see it and nor will we! Wherever you are May God Bless your soul – we needed you then the dream and legacy now. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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