Tag Archives: black music

The House Of Soul

There was once a time and not too long ago when black music was rarely heard by the masses. The great music that African American performers created was not allowed to be played on the radio. It was called “race music”, however, the white performers stole this music. So many of those African American performers never made much money, if any at all as a result, and I am stopping short of calling this a crime, which is what it was.

Then came a man named Berry Gordy, who changed the face of music.  I would like to take this opportunity pay homage and say THANK YOU Mr. Gordy for Motown for your contribution to the world, our pride – as well as having the vision to know it was possible.

Most people do not know or remember that before Motown Records few black performers enjoyed anything close to crossover success. Black music was, then, called “race music” and was segregated in the same manner as the rest of America before 1959, when Motown was founded. Let me also remind you that rarely could the face of a black person be seen on an album cover before Motown’s founding. By the way, an album is what was used for music before CDs.

Motown was a company that primarily featured African American artists and its soul-based subsidiaries became the most successful proponents of what came to be known as “The Motown Sound”. This was a style of soul music with a distinct influence on all who heard it. From its Hitsville U.S.A Building on 2648 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan that served as Motown’s headquarters. The label produced the most universally recognized stable of songwriters and performers of our time or any time.

From this tiny little basement studio, the world was introduced to Michael Jackson, the Supremes, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, the Miracles, Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Four Tops, the Commodores, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Rick James, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Teena Marie, DeBarge, the Jackson Five, Martha and the Vandellas, the Marvelettes and Motown’s Funk Brothers studio band just to name a few of the artists that graced our souls and touched our hearts making us proud.

Many of Motown’s best-known hits were written by Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield and the songwriting trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who became major forces in the music industry. For example, it’s a known fact in the music industry that to get a number one hit song someone would have to write more than thirty songs. Holland-Dozier-Holland had a string of more than fifty hits in a row with some becoming number one with several different artists, like the hit “I heard it through the Grapevine”. This is profound and will never happen again. No songwriter will ever achieve this feat – guaranteed.

Mr. Gordy did sell Motown, and it’s now in the hands of others. However, its legacy resides in a very special place in my heart, and I’m sure millions around the world. So again I say, thank you Motown for the music, the love, the magic, and the many great memories.

Lastly, to the legends that are no long able to perform for us today – thank you for your contribution – Rest in Peace. I know walking around heaven all day listening to the harmony of your souls must make heaven more glorious and wonderful than I could ever imagine. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


What Would Jesus Say?

It is safe to say that most people believe Jesus is coming back and/or think he is the savior of mankind. Whether you are a believer or not, as a result of the conditions of man might be the reason he has not returned. I’ll tell you that if I were him and see the sad state of affairs man has created, I would seek out a Noah and start all over again!

When I look at the senseless murders due to wars, be it in the streets or against nations or this divided nation whose views on feeding the homeless, the lack of healthcare, poverty, the murders and other acts against religious thinking proves civilization is in despair. Hippocrates use as justification their support of such evil by adding scripture in God’s name. My sense they believe their view is the natural order of things or maybe God’s plan for life. I cannot and will not speak for God, but I do not believe this is what God planned.

When it comes to the wretchedness of government and its leaders, it shameful to see the actions and hateful diatribes about race, the least of thee, and religion. As you know, all of these issues are commonly used by the right-wing nuts to vilify the poor. Admittedly, and shamefully, race is and has always been a stain on the soul of America. As I began to ponder just what kind of country we would have without a government that mandates laws for civilization to exist. What would Jesus or you higher power think!

More disturbing is that religion, God, and Jesus have become little more than instruments of the wicked. For example, on any given Sundays between the hours of 9 AM – 1 PM is the most-segregated hours in the country. I can’t speak to what is in the mind of others except for what they say, and some of the vitriol gives a good indication as to what’s in their hearts. I, in good conscience, rail against the racially charged political environment, and for sure the teabaggers designed declaration of “taking back their country.”

Finally, on the issue of justice and racial justice in particular; maybe understanding that Jesus came from that region of the world where his hue had to be of color could more likely be one of the reasons why he had to be crucified! Just as was the case with the murder of Jesus; there are people who are killing the messenger of truth now.

What I think Jesus would say, as his mission was for the salvation of the least of thee, I think he would say – “Thou shalt not Kill.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.


Stand Your Ground Against Injustice

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History has proven there is only one way to get the attention of unmovable ideologies to achieve change. Matching and protests are strategies, which is nothing more than a good show for the cameras. For example, the March on Washington and the Million Man March produced little in terms of measurable results. On the other hand, BOYCOTT’s work – the Birmingham Bus Boycott and the Martin Luther King Holiday Boycott on the state of Arizona – WORKED! It is time to stop BS-ing and BOYCOTT INJUSTICE and the system that supports connected to it. We will then get change. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering Juneteeth

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We must never forget Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that those enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Many attempts to explain the two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years.

The story often told is of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another story is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. Then there is yet another story that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version, could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Regardless, the conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom.

North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants.

The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in the tradition today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in, and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, who wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.

Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.

The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed brightens our future – and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth. So lest not forget!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Stranger Than Fiction

2I’ve lived for more than a minute, and have seen and heard many things. I repeatedly say that we should be leery of the messenger and most media in general. Oh hell, I will be blunt – some of these nuts that appear on Fox and Fools who they try present as responsible are more in the relm of lunacy. I don’t have enough paper to name the long list of them, but we have seen how they promote and give airtime to people who are just “bat shit crazy”!

I was surfing the net the other day and came across an article, which contained  some of the most outlandish remarks I think I have every read from a so-called Christian!!! If you read my writings via this medium, you know I have spoken out against religion. It is not that I don’t believe in someone greater than I; rather it is to say that organized religion has become such a sham and some of the stuff the faithful say “In Jesus Name” is really going to have a problem on judgment day when they meet him. He is NOT going to be happy.

According to the Daily Currant, who reported and if you watch Fox you may have seen it. My favorite fool, Caribou Barbie, the onetime half governor and failed Vice Presidential candidate made the most ridiculous statement about the death penalty known to man. Palin claimed that Jesus Christ advocated for the death penalty his entire life until his final day on Earth. This was so outlandish that it even shocked Fox and Friends hosts when she said that her position is inspired by Jesus’ own stance in biblical times.

She repeated it again saying, “I know the liberals hate it when you start mentioning the Bible, but the truth is Jesus fought for the death penalty until the day he died. He was a tireless advocate of being tough on crime and making sure the criminals can’t be out there raping and murdering people… Unfortunately, Jesus’ ideas were never implemented and the Roman Empire fell as result. But here in America we’ve always followed Jesus’ advice on the death penalty, and that’s why we have the lowest crime rate in the world.”

Ok Boo-Boo, first there was no such thing as Christianity while Jesus lived and remember the Roman’s threw them to the lions for a few hundred years after the faith was born. Of course, facts appeared lost on Palin, however, who somehow did not see the irony in her assertion that history’s most famous capital punishment casualty was an advocate for the practice. One of the shows hosts, corrected her “Jesus never directly addressed capital punishment in the Bible…  and I have to say, since he himself was executed, I doubt he is really that big a fan of the death penalty.” Caribou Barbie replied, “What do you mean Jesus was executed I thought he was crucified?” I think this requires a Lord Jesus!!!

This is not the first time she has said insane remarks. Everyone knows Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after he was crucified by the Romans in the 1st century A.D. It is the most important holiday for Eastern and Orthodox Christians. When she said, Jesus celebrated Easter, again is outlandish because the holiday is celebrate because he died and rose from the grave.

According to Palin’s view, “Jesus would gather all the townspeople around and would listen to their stories about the meaning of Easter in their lives. Then he would teach them how to love one another, how to protest Roman abortion clinics and how to properly convert homosexuals. You can’t even do things like that these days without getting called out by some wacko left-wing human rights group. Christians had more freedom under Roman rule than we do now in our own country! We need to return Easter back to the way it was when Jesus was alive.”

She has also said, “If I were President waterboarding is how we’d Baptize Terrorists”. Palin took to her Facebook page to defend her comments. “Darn right I’d do whatever it takes to foil [terrorists’] murderous jihadist plots – including waterboarding,” she wrote. I can recall the first slave ship named the “Good Ship Jesus” beginning hundreds of years of misery, which fools like this claimed it was what Jesus wanted. Further, they also used the Bible and Christianity to sanction the most brutal and amoral crime the world has known.

Let me close by saying believe half of what you see and none of what you hear, as fools come in all manner of so-called Christian folk. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


“Damned Dirty Ape!” Politico Blasts Black MSNBC News Anchor Via Twitter

And you say racism is dead…


8th Annual Northwest Regional Fair Housing and Civil Rights Commission 2014

6On April 10 – 11 I had the good fortune of attending the 8th Annual Northwest Regional Fair Housing and Civil Rights Commission 2014 at the Springfield Marriott in Springfield, MA.

Featured speakers included Jacqueline A. Berrian, Chair, U.S. Equal Employment opportunity Commission, Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School Jesse Clemenko Professor of Law, Carmen M. Ortiz, U.S. Attorney District of Massachusetts, Dick Gregory Author, Civil Rights Activist and Comedian, Ridney G. Hood, M.D. Managing Partner, Care View Medical Group and Lawrence Watson Historian and Artist, Berklee School of Music and Save Our Should production.

Jamie Williamson, Chair, MCAD introduced the speakers, John Fisher (HAP Housing), Meris Bergquist (MFHC) and the Springfield Mayor, Dominic Sarno and mentioned the advances in policy regarding a “Unifying Theme” and the need for “No new ideas but more solutions as Civil Rights went into various silos.”

The Conference included (25) workshops on an array of critical topics: Fair Housing, Civil Rights, Prison to Pipeline, Understanding Disability Discrimination, Lenders and Cultural Competence and many more.

We learned that Normal Rockwell had received death threats for his painting of Ruby Bridges titled, The Problem We Live With from Charles Walker, former Chairman MCAD and proceeded to examine some of the defining moments in the development of the Civil Rights Movement, re-discovering that the doors did not “magically swing open” to remember that Blacks could not eat anywhere or work anywhere and we must continually “expect and demand the arc of mindfulness from one another” as we work toward an even greater movement toward racial equality.

Racism is based upon dehumanization and our efforts to develop a strategic enforcement plan regarding social and racial justice is an absolute necessity as a speaker has stated we,

“Bend the Arc Toward Justice.”

Charles Ogltree spoke of Black Cultural Expression/Trans African, 1913 when the Civil Rights struggle was still in its infancy. Dick Gregory, who had run for President in 1968, shared his experiences within the movement and asked that we examine people in the entertainment industry and in sports, to see if their interest in racial justice matches our interest in them! Each panelist agreed that voter registration should be accompanied by voter education.

U.S. District Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz had created a Civil Rights Enforcement Team in criminal civil cases adding that MS gives harsher discipline/consequences to black students than white and there are disproportionate sentences, ie: 20 % larger Black male population serving longer time sin prison than white people who committed the same crime” adding that it is “disgraceful “asking us to, “Take stock of your challenges and move forward.”

For two days the attendees were deeply moved by the presenters and the workshops combined. The information, testimonials and conversations about the work that is taking place right in these times was reassuring. The renewed commitment to the work we were returning to in our communities was stirring. One could not help but believe that while the struggle continues we are indeed able to develop a unifying theme to do what must be done to reduce the unacceptable racial disparities, knowing that poverty has a racial caste to it.

I left the conference with a fresh sense of camaraderie, a reminder of my respect for all activists, an appreciation for the sense of community that remained a part of the conference from beginning to end, and, a clearer vision of the work I was returning to.

~ Kaolin, author Talking About Race: A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives and Member of NOW National Task Force to Combat Racism and co-author with Mr. Henry White of Protocol: Welcome To Paradise, Watch Your Step to be launched in the Fall ’14.


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