Tag Archives: Black Men

The Greatest Pitcher Never Known

I was listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show and I must say it is a great source of empowerment for our community – thank you Mr. Joyner and the crew. He has a thing once a week called the Little Known Black History Fact. This particular fact got my attention because I am a huge fan of the players who have been virtually erased from the book of history or at least His-Story.

Sure we know Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige but that is about the extent of our knowledge of a game African Americans championed. We this story was about the man referred to as “The Greatest Pitcher Never Known” and his name was Will “Cannonball” Jackman. Jackman joined the Boston Colored Giants in the 1924-1925 season and played ball until he was well into his sixties. He won more than half of the 1,200 games he pitched over 20 years, with nearly 800 strikeouts and more than 40 shutouts. His record was 52 and 2.

Sometimes nicknamed the “Satchel Paige of New England,” it was reported that Will Jackman earned $175 a game and $10 per strikeout. But later in his career, he reportedly received $500-$800 for playing against white semi-pro teams in the exhibition games. This was only a portion of what the white players received, but on the high end for most black players. Jackman’s worth, however, was said to be more than the combination of several white players; New York Giants coach John McGraw was recorded saying he would “pay $50,000 to the man who could make Jackman white.”

The actual date of his birth was stated between 1897 or 1899 in Carta, Texas. He may have found his love of baseball while watching the nearby spring training camp of the New York Giants in San Antonio. Jackman started playing with the Houston Black Buffalos, drifting to Maryland and New York before actually joining the Boston Colored Giants in 1925.

Although he was payed for his crowd-appealing pitches, Will Jackman took a side job as a chaffuer to send money to his family, keeping his job during the off seasons and well into retirement.

The Negro League pitcher left a trail of strikeouts while playing with teams in Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. Throughout his career, Will Jackman went on to play for the Philadelphia Giants, the Philadelphia Tigers, the Brooklyn Eagles, the Newark Eagles, and the Boston Royal Giants. In the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier’s player-voted poll of the “all-time great Negro League players,” Will Jackman was voted number one.

When the Boston Red Sox were scouting for African-American players to finally join their roster in the 1950’s, they looked to Will “Cannonball” Jackman for guidance and recruiting.

Will “Cannonball” Jackman died on September 8, 1972 surrounded by friends and family. In his honor, the Cannonball Foundation, an organization that promotes baseball play among youth in low-income urban communities, was formed.

This was, I thought, an amazing story of one of the greatest to ever play the game and because he received no acclaim I want to say I honor you, and thank you. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Source: The Little Known Black History Fact
TJMS

http://johntwills.com


The Aftermath Of Integration

1I recently had a conversation with a group of young people, none of which lived during the age of government segregation. Each had strongly convoluted opinions about the era that were not based in fact. This made me think about how much the current world view has changed the reality of black life, as it relates to a historical perspective.

First, white folk never wanted it and chatted go back to Africa at the time. It was never intended to be fair or equal! I am not suggesting that integration should not have happened, but it did have a negative impact on black life and the future of African Americans in many ways. Two prominent ways were in the areas of family and black business.

One thing that happened, for sure was that the black community stopped supporting the businesses in their own communities. After segregation, African Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses. Even though the number of black firms has grown 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, they only make up 7 percent of all U.S firms and less than .005 percent of all U.S business receipts.

I took the opportunity to educate these young people that in 1865, just after Emancipation, 476,748 free blacks – 1.5 percent of U.S. population– owned .005 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Today, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, 44.5 million African Americans – 14.2 percent of the population — possess a meager 1 percent of the national wealth.

If we look at relationships from 1890 to 1950, black women married at higher rates than white women, despite a consistent shortage of black males due to their higher mortality rate. According to a report released by the Washington DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, the state of the African American family is worse today than it was in the 1960s, four years before President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.

In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the black community are at an astonishing 72 percent. Researchers Heather Ross and Isabel Sawhill argue that the marital stability is directly related to the husband’s relative socio-economic standing and the size of the earnings difference between men and women.

Instead of focusing on maintaining black male employment to allow them to provide for their families, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with full affirmative action for women. The act benefited mostly white women and created a welfare system that encouraged the removal of the black male from the home. Many black men were also dislodged from their families and pushed into the rapidly expanding prison industrial complex that developed in the wake of rising unemployment.

Since integration, the unemployment rate of black men has been spiraling out of control. In 1954, white men had a zero percent unemployment rate, while African-American men experienced a 4 percent rate. By 2010, it was at 16.7 percent for Black men compared to 7.7 percent for white men. The workforce in 1954 was 79 percent African American. By 2011, that number had decreased to 57 percent. The number of employed black women, however, has increased. In 1954, 43 percent of African American women had jobs. By 2011, 54 percent of black women are job holders.

The Civil Rights Movement pushed for laws that would create a colorblind society, where people would not be restricted from access to education, jobs, voting, travel, public accommodations, or housing because of race. However, the legislation did nothing to eradicate white privilege. Michael K. Brown, professor of politics at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-author of“Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society” says in the U.S., “The color of one’s skin still determines success or failure, poverty or affluence, illness or health, prison or college.”

Two percent of all working African Americans work for another African American’s within their own neighborhood. Because of this, professionally trained Black people provide very little economic benefit to the black community. Whereas, prior to integration that number was significantly higher because of segregation people in the black community supported each other to sustain their lives and families.

The Black median household income is about 64 percent that of whites, while the Black median wealth is about 16 percent that of whites. Millions of Black children are being miseducated by people who don’t care about them, and they are unable to compete academically with their peers. At the same time, the criminal justice system has declared war on young Black men with policies such as “stop and frisk” and “three strikes.”

Marcus Garvey warned about this saying:

“Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.”

Maybe this proves that once past truths are forgotten, and the myths that are lies are born with an unfounded reality detrimental to all, but those who seek to benefit. As I have often said, “I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can change the world but first, we must change ourselves.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Twitter @JohnTWills

Source: Black Atlanta Star


Black History: The Temptations

11(2)Some tunes stand the test of time, like “My Girl” and the same can be said about some groups. When you hear the melodies and incomparable classic of the Temptations today you immediately think of the greatest group of voices that ever sang a song.

The Grammy-Winning Temptations achieved their legendary fame as one of the most successful acts to record for Motown Records. It’s rare for someone to change the course of time but this group changed the face of music. Often imitated but rarely duplicated!

The original group included second tenor/baritone Otis Williams, first tenor Elbridge “Al” Bryant, bass Melvin Franklin, first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks and second tenor/baritone Paul Williams (no relation to Otis). Among the most notable future Temptations were lead singers David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards both of whom became successful Motown solo artists after leaving the group. Other members included Richard Street, Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, G.C. Cameron and about fifty members total over time.

The history of the Temptations started in Detroit the home of Motown Records around 1961 as the Elgins. Overtime, as members came and went the new members carried the torch with finesse for decades. I would say this was accomplished because of the group’s mantra was “no one member is bigger than the group” and although the lineup frequently changed their impeccable sound did not.

A Motown-centric biography on the Temptations would start pretty glumly. Success eluded the group at first. Working at Motown was a “Dream Come True,” but even that song didn’t bring lasting fame. In 1963, a violent scuffle between Elbridge Bryant and Paul Williams preceded “Al’s” exit. Enter David Ruffin whose weathered tenor injected intriguing angst into the sweetest songs.

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The Temptations with David Ruffin and new tunes by Smokey Robinson was the injection of magic and the just kept coming. The Kendricks led song, “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” broke pop’s Top 20 and “My Girl,” 1964 became their signature. Meanwhile, Ruffin switched off with Kendricks at lead was like nothing that has come before or since.

Norman Whitfield, a rival producer, offered brawnier hits than Robinson’s, like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” By the late ’60s, his collaborations with Eddie Holland, and Barrett Strong, had earned him exclusive control over the music of the Temptations.

The group developed its own recognizable style. The Temptations wardrobe ran the fashion gamut: tuxedos, capes, leather, linen, blues, limes, you name it. But the Tempts always looked sharp and fun in their costumes. Eddie Kendricks held some sway over this easy sophistication.

Under the direction of Broadway hoofer Cholly Atkins, the Temptations became renowned dancers, as well. Daily two-hour rehearsals ensured their movements were precise and spectacular enough to rivet fans from bare stages. Paul Williams’ choreography, including the Temptation Walk, oozed sheer erotic energy.

Onstage, group harmony ruled. Offstage, conflicts abounded, particularly between Ruffin and the others. Too much ego and flakiness cost him his membership in 1968. Though he released his own smash, “My Whole World Ended,” solo super-stardom was not meant to be.

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Enter, ex-Contour Dennis Edwards’ convincing vocals, new songs by the Temptations re-emphasized the ensemble. Whitfield’s ambitious “psychedelic soul” phase fused denser grooves with sociopolitical observations, helping fans dance and think at once. Commercially, the Tempts stayed put on “Cloud Nine.”

In 1971 brought both returns and departures after “Just My Imagination,” a throwback to their tender ballads. Exit Eddie Kendricks for a solo career and the disco-esque hits, “Keep on Truckin'” and “Boogie Down.” Exit Paul Williams died as a result of suicide. Two new tenors, Richard Street and Damon Harris gamely met the challenge and held their own against the older classics.

In 1975 things shifted from Harris to Glenn Leonard. Then from Dennis Edwards to Louis Price to Dennis Edwards (who’d leave and come back several times). Then from Motown to Atlantic in 1977, then back to Motown in the early ’80s. Just in time for a reunion tour with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks!

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Enter the great Ali Ollie Woodson who played an integral part in keeping the Temptations from becoming just a nostalgia act. I would refer to him as the Temptations Temptation. I mean this in the sense that by the early 1980s, the Temptations were no longer posting hit after hit as they had in the 1960s and ’70s with songs like “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “My Girl,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” They soared once again with Ali!

In 1989, in flesh and in spirit, the six classic members shared the stage once more at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Smooth spokesman Otis Williams, beloved Batman fanatic Melvin Franklin, ethereally elegant Eddie Kendricks, dynamic David Ruffin, and hard-hitting Dennis Edwards all accepted the award post harmoniously for the late Paul Williams.

All I can say is thanks for the spirit of these great men for their contribution to the world. The Temptations will live for all times. Thank you fellas! And that’s my thought Provoking Perspective…

 


Black History Month Commentary

2Since the year of our Lord 1619, when those Africans were first dragged onto American shores of this place they called “merica”; our people have been chastised, raped, punished, beaten, robbed, and murdered. These atrocities were done while the culprits enjoyed wealth and prosperity as a result of our never ending allegiance and patriotism, often blindly to the people who kidnapped and brought us.

Even today, the system of white supremacy is still white America’s number one rule even as a black man has ascended to the White House! There are those, mostly white folk, who castigate this man because he is a uniquely qualified man of African heritage. I think, after all our suffering, just having a man who looks like us as the most powerful man in the “Free World” is an honor for all people of color. We should appreciate that which is something no one living or dead ever thought would happen.

We are a unique people, a forgiving people, a steadfast people, and a brave people unlike any known to the world. It was our labor that built this country. We are responsible for the great wealth America enjoys to this very today. When you look at America’s enormous wealth and the power derived from its tremendous control of resources, think about the sacrifices our forefathers made to make all of this possible. We have looked out for this country for hundreds of years and still doing so today, which is simply amazing.

Upon our backs, laden with the stripes of punishment for what they believed was for discipline and in spite of our loyalty, diligence and tenacity – we loved America. Even when America refused to allow us to walk in the shadows – we followed. Believing that someday we would come to be accepted and be treated like men and women. Our strength in the face of adversity is vastly understated.

Our history is one of unbelievable struggle. We’ve been brave on the battlefield despite being classified as three-fifths of a man. This was and is outstanding, and frankly beyond the call of duty considering that we have lived through slavery and under an Apartheid-like system through most of our time here. To be honest, we are still considered a race of people living in a nation without a nationality. We have raised America’s children, attended to its sick, and prepared their meals while those forefathers were occupied with the trappings of the good life.

Even during the times when they found pleasure in our women and took enjoyment in seeing our men lynched, maimed and burned. We continued to watch over America’s soul. We labored in the hot sun from can’t see to can’t see to assist in realizing the dream of wealth, good fortune, and made America a great world power. We were there when it all began, and we are still here today, protecting the system from those Black people who have the temerity to speak out against America’s past transgressions.

It was us who warned about Denmark-Vessey, told them about Gabriel Prosser’s plans, called their attention to Nat Turner, Malcolm, and yes Martin too. It was us who sounded the alarm when old John Brown came calling on Harper’s Ferry, and there are still some sounding warnings today. Black Nationalism has died and, as a result our community brings 95 percent of what it earns to other businesses while keeping little for itself in spite of the fact that other people controlled at least 90 percent of all the resources and wealth of this nation.

In today’s business environment, we sadly do not support each other and just keep doing business with the larger community; in fact any other community. Some say, as a people, we were very successful doing this after slavery ended and even as recently as 1960 but you know what happens when you began to build your own communities and do business with one another – you’re pitted against one another to destroy ourselves.

Oh, let’s not forget we pray a lot hoping that when we die you will find a place where there is a mansion waiting for you with streets paved with gold somewhere in the sky. We resisted the messages of trouble making Blacks like Washington, Delaney, Garvey, Bethune, Tubman, and Truth for fighting and dying on the battlefield for us. Yet, most have forgotten the names and take no reverence in their sacrifice due to a lack of reciprocity and equities.

Moreover, we went beyond the pale when we allowed our children to be turned over to the American educational system. With what is being taught to them, it’s likely they will continue in a mode similar to the one we have followed for the past 45 years. Remember, Mr. Lynch when he walked the banks of the James River in 1712, he prophetically said that his plan would make African’s slave for 300 years; little did he realize the truth in his prediction because his promise has come to fruition.

Lastly, with two generations of children going through this education system – must we look forward to another 50 years of despair. We can change that if we come to understand that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. When you continue to do what you’ve always done; you will get what you always got!

Intelligence is the ability to know things and knowledge is the things you know. We have not woke up, stood up more forcefully, nor did we learned the lessons taught by our ancestors

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Greatest Story Ever Told

462_160In thinking about the times in which we’ve lived I can say without a doubt our history ‘is the greatest story ever told’. I am always reminded of the ghosts of the greats who blazed a might trail for us to walk. Black History Month, as short as it is, should be celebrated and taught all year long! It is our responsibility. I was blessed to have had the good privilege to live during the civil rights era to witness groups and individuals fight to end racial segregation and the unequal treatment of black people, which we should never have had to fight in the first place.

Of all the things I am grateful for; is to have lived long enough to witness something ‘no one living or dead’ ever thought would happen. Which was to witness a Black Man elected to be President of these United States of America! To see him and his lovely family exhibit the style and grace representing black people in an extra exemplary way making us proud.

It would be my hope that all of us take this opportunity during Black History Month to reach one – teach one. Share the stories of our struggle with the children. I have added a few of the many significant events and some of the brave and courageous soldiers in the army that changed America or dare I say the world.

Events in the Civil Rights Movement

Solders of the Civil Rights Movement

I am reminded of Malcolm X who used to say “Make It Plain” which meant in essence to bring forth the knowledge. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


On This Day: They Assassinated Chairman Fred Hampton

11There have been countless murders of black men, since the founding of America, but the assassination of Fred Hampton speaks loudly to the abuse and corruption of the American police departments. Since the Nat Turner Incident they, white folk, will never allow a black person to rise with suburb leadership skills. History demonstrates the penalty for such a strong black man is death!

On December 4th, 1969, Fred Hampton, an African American activist, and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party was murdered. Chairman Fred was assassinated while slept in his apartment during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This activity was in concert by the infamous seditious FBI program known as COINTELPRO designed to eliminate activist deemed by its director as “subversive.”

A public statement made to the news media a day after the assassination by FBI Special Agent Gregg York, “We expected about twenty Panthers to be in the apartment when the police raided the place. Only two of those black niggers were killed, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.”

Chairman Fred, as he was known, was successful and revered for organizing young African Americans for the NAACP. He was quickly attracted to the Black Panthers’ approach, which was based on a ten-point program of a mix of black designed for the survival of the black community. Chairman Fred joined the Party’s nascent Illinois chapter SNCC’s organizer Bob Brown in late 1967.

Over the next year, Hampton and his associates made a number of significant achievements in Chicago. Perhaps his most important accomplishment was his brokering of a nonaggression pact between Chicago’s most powerful street gangs. Emphasizing that racial and ethnic conflict between gangs would only keep its members entrenched in poverty, he strove to forge a class-conscious, multi-racial alliance between the Panther Party, the Young Patriots, and the National Young Lords. Soon after the pact was formed they were joined by the Students for a Democratic Society, the Blackstone Rangers, the Brown Berets, and the Red Guard.

In May 1969, Hampton called a press conference to announce that a truce had been declared among this “rainbow coalition,” a phrase coined by Hampton and made popular later by Jesse Jackson. Jackson eventually appropriated the name in forming his own unrelated coalition – Rainbow/Push. This achievement marked him as a major threat in the eyes of the FBI, signaled his death.

Subsequent investigations have shown that FBI chief Hoover was determined to prevent the formation of a cohesive Black movement in the United States “by any means necessary. Hoover saw the Panthers, and similar radical coalitions forged by Hampton in Chicago, as a frightening stepping stone toward the creation of just such a revolutionary body that could cause a radical change in the U.S. government. They opened a file on Hampton in 1967 that over the next two years expanded to twelve volumes and over four thousand pages.

By May of that year, Chairman Fred’s name was placed on the “Agitator Index,” and he would be designated a “key militant leader for Bureau reporting purposes. In late 1968, the Racial Matters Squad of the FBI’s Chicago field office brought in an individual named William O’Neal, who had recently been arrested twice, for interstate car theft and impersonating a federal officer.

In exchange for dropping the felony charges and a monthly stipend, O’Neal apparently agreed to infiltrate the Black Panther Party as a counterintelligence operative. He joined the Party and quickly rose in the organization, becoming Director of Chapter security and Hampton’s bodyguard.

In 1969, the FBI Special Agent in San Francisco wrote Hoover that his investigation of the Black Panther Party revealed that in his city, at least, the Panthers were primarily feeding breakfast to children. Hoover fired back a memo implying the career ambitions of the agent were directly related to his supplying evidence to support Hoover’s view of the Panthers was “a violence-prone organization seeking to overthrow the Government by revolutionary means.”

Hoover was willing to use false claims to attack his political enemies. In one memo, he wrote: “Purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the BPP, and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.” Using anonymous letters, the FBI sowed distrust and eventually instigated a split between the Panthers and the Rangers, with O’Neal himself instigating an armed clash between the two on April 2, 1969. The Panthers became effectively isolated from their power base, so the FBI went to work to undermine its ties with other radical organizations.

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O’Neal was instructed to “create a rift” between the Party and Students for a Democratic Society, whose Chicago headquarters was only blocks from that of the Panthers. The Bureau released a batch of racist cartoons in the Panther’s’ name, aimed at alienating white activists, and launched a disinformation program to forestall the realization of the “Rainbow Coalition.”

In repeated directives, J. Edgar Hoover demanded that the COINTELPRO personnel “destroy what the Black Panther Party stands for” and “eradicate its “serve the people programs”. In early October, Hampton and his girlfriend, Deborah Johnson, pregnant with their first child, rented a four-and-a-half room apartment at 2337 West Monroe Street to be closer to Black Panther Party headquarters.

O’Neal reported to his superiors that much of the Panthers’ “provocative” stockpile of arms was being stored there. None of which was true but the paid government informant played the role of Judas bringing the powers of the state to kill him. To see how far great powers will go is shocking and a moral shame. Yet, it continues today with all the police killings of black people! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Do You Agree?

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