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Remember Juneteenth: A Day Of Celebration

Celebrate Juneteeth and Father’s DayJuneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This celebration dates back to 1865 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 became 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. Later attempts to explain this 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 that is 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 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.

Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition’s roots. During slavery, there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former ‘masters’.

Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom textbooks proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, as the date signaling the ending of slavery – and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

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, whom 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.

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. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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Remembering: Fannie Lou Hamer

1Fannie Lou Hamer was one of the most courageous civil rights activist who was famous for saying she was sick and tired of the condition of black people, stood up and took a stand. She used a passionate depiction of her own suffering in a racist society helped focus attention on the plight of African Americans throughout the South. While working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1964; Hamer helped organize the 1964 Freedom Summer African American voter registration drive in her native Mississippi.

Born Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi the daughter of sharecroppers, Hamer began working the fields at an early age. Her family struggled financially, and often went hungry. In the summer of 1962, she made a life-changing decision to attend a protest meeting. She met civil rights activists there who were there to encourage African Americans to register to vote.

Hamer became active in helping with the voter registration efforts, which few in Mississippi were brave enough to do. Hamer dedicated her life to the fight for civil rights, working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) after going involved with the struggle. This organization was comprised mostly of African American students who engaged in acts of civil disobedience to fight racial segregation and injustice in the South. These acts often were met with violent responses by angry whites.

At the Democratic National Convention later that year, she was part of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, an integrated group of activists who openly challenged the legality of Mississippi’s all-white, segregated delegation. For her devotion and commitment she paid a heavy price. She was beaten within an inch of her life. So brutally that it took months for her to recover but she never gave up the fight.

During the course of her activist career, Hamer was threatened, arrested, beaten, and shot at but none of these things deterred her from her work. In 1964, Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was established in opposition to the state’s all-white delegation to that year’s Democratic convention. She brought the civil rights struggle in Mississippi to the attention of the entire nation during a televised session at the convention.

The next year, Hamer ran for Congress in Mississippi but was unsuccessful in her bid. Along with her political activism, Hamer worked to help the poor and families in need in her Mississippi community. She also set up organizations to increase business opportunities for minorities and to provide childcare and other family services.

Hamer died of cancer on March 14, 1977 from cancer. The encryption on her tombstone denotes her famous quote, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I’ll ask, when will this statement impact your life, whereas you will affect change. Mrs. Hamer put her life on the line for freedom. The next time you look in the mirror, ask yourself – WOULD YOU? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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The Mother Of Mankind

2His-Story would have you believe, and you are taught that the earth and all that’s in it was decreed to one race of people. This version has wrongly led us to believe all that we know originated from European people and culture; disregarding the FACT that all that those folks obtained came out of Africa. This is why it’s no coincidence that Africa, the cradle of all creation, is called “the Motherland.” It is a fact, and even His-Story tells us that the oldest remains of modern humans (homo sapien – translated black man) were found in Africa.

In the beginning, this place was called Pangaea where the first black man was born and walk the earth. Pangaea, if you don’t know, was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, forming approximately 300 million years ago. It began to break apart around 100 million years after it formed. The single global ocean which surrounded Pangaea was accordingly named Panthalassa. Forget what the many versions of the Bible tell you. The beginning of life and mankind was formed in this place on the planet.

The first thing that ever existed came from a single thought. Therefore, that first thought came from the mind of the original man and the foundation of everything that ever was. This is where the consciousness of life was formed, and the system of survival began. These people developed and practiced medicine, brain surgery, astronomy, and who knows what they did not tell us about. More significantly was that these Africans built one of the world’s most profound structure – the pyramid – that man cannot duplicate such a feat today.

These people created the earliest known colleges and institutions of learning established on the planet before the European’s wore a shoe or had a window. Places like Kemet, Timbuktu, Mali, Goa, and I could go on and on. These people were scientists, priests, and warriors. The continent of Africa was the richest continent on earth prior to the coming of European’s and still is today. Through the media and religion, we have been convinced that people of the Motherland were absent of color, meaning of another hue! They have gone further to make us believe that Egypt is not in Africa. The Nile Valley was the most fertile land on the planet.

On this Mother’s Day, my thought is for all of mankind is that you learn your history and not his-story because the evidence of what you and I have been told is not true. Earth is the mother of all things. For example, if I have witnessed in my lifetime events that I know to be true is later changed to something than what I know to be true. I cannot believe anything “they” have ever told. I can say it this way: “there is a lot of water in the ocean, but a boat can only sink if the water gets inside!”

Happy Mother’s Day to all but particularly to all black women and if you missed the point, you are the mother and creators of life! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering The Terrorist Attack Of Bloody Sunday

007_1000They asked us not to forget the 911 attacks! I would ask them not to forget Tulsa, Oklahoma or the brutal terrorist acts on peaceful black people marching for the promised right to vote and the simple right to exist. One such attack was the Bloody Sunday rampage, and the atrocity at the hands of white bigots might be more appropriate. I’ll add that this act of terror and brutality was under orders of the government issued to the police. If it sounds familiar, we saw the same thing in Ferguson, MO. and Baltimore. So we have not moved very much in terms of racism, particularly when you read the DOJ report and see other racial events around the nation. White Supremacy is still evident, and racism is not dead.

What is lost in the Selma story is that, in large part, it all began as a result of the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Another significant fact is that the bridge is named Edmund Pettus, an enthusiastic champion of the Confederate cause and slavery. Pettus was a delegate to the secession convention in Mississippi and a Grand Wizard of the KKK. Ironic that a staunchly racist and bigoted so-called patriots name is connected with being the spark to give unheard of civil rights to the people he hated.

This was in no way the most horrific crime by the wretched system of racism in America. There was Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma where planes were used to bomb a black community. There were also, by most accounts, nearly five-thousand lynching’s during the first half of the last century with many for the entertainment for the white community. There was also the horrific murder of children like Emmitt Till and the bombing that killed four innocent little girls in a Birmingham church. Appalling and despicable acts of terror perpetrated by America’s homegrown terrorist like the KKK and others the so-called law.

Back to the March, between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led voting registration campaigns in Selma, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county’s law enforcement officials and political leadership, meaning the Klan. Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern.

SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute. During January and February 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper. In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7. Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery.

Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State Troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot tear gas and waded into the crowd on foot and horseback beating the nonviolent protesters with billy-clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people. What was significant about this was that all of the television networks interrupted programming to televise this horrific terror attack that became known as “Bloody Sunday”. The images were of this day of terror were beamed around the world.

Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection. King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9, but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the successful final march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had wanted. Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act. It highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. In that sense, it was a successful strategy!

In closing, let me bring you back to the present, 50 years later, with this point having seen racism rear its ugly head since the election of the first black president. We’ve seen brutal acts of aggression on black people though laws and its agents, the police. To include stripping the voting rights act and in Ferguson, which is the Selma of today. We see the same issues today as they marched for then. The Republicans are no different than the Citizens Council of Selma’s day.

I get a lot of disparaging racist comment concerning what I write and post about black history. To those people, and I use that loosely; you want me to believe and love the Constitution that says I am 3/5th human and not to forget the holocaust or 911. I say, I will never forget what your ancestors did to my ancestors or believe the whitewashed version of what was done, which continue today. Truth be told, the sins of your fathers are acts of terror that I will never forget! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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 FERGUSON 2015


Happy Birthday Luther Vandross

2It is with great pride and pleasure I take in resurrecting the ghost of the greats that enriched my life, and dare I say made the world a better place.  I’ve highlighted and spotlighted many enormous champions of the African American experience, along with many who, regardless of their station, changed the world and made tremendous contributions. This was to also include the monumental musical giants of our time. In fact, I would be remissed if I did not acknowledge the spirits of those artists and entertainers whose presence will live within us for eternity.

I am rarely at a loss for words, but the voice of Luther Ronzoni Vandross was so passionate and powerful that I have no words; other than to say the day Luther Vandross transitioned to the great beyond was a mighty loss. We will never hear a voice of such quality, sweetness, or grace every again. So on this day I want to put you in a mellow mood with these attached videos of the legacy Luther left for use to enjoy. Rest In Peace. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remebering: Donny Hathaway

1xI am one who believes anyone can be taught how to do anything, but few are naturally given the rare gift of a unique and special talent like the great Donny Hathaway. This great musician man was one of a kind, in fact, Donny Edward Hathaway was the best natural jazz, blues, soul, R&B, and gospel vocalist and musician the world has known. Also, his collaborations with Roberta Flack are legendary as the scored high on the charts. The huge hit “where is the Love” won him a Grammy Award.

At the height of his career, Hathaway was diagnosed with a mental disorder and was known not to take his prescribed medication regularly enough to properly control his symptoms. On January 13, 1979, Hathaway’s body was found outside the luxury hotel Essex House in New York City that was ruled a suicide.

Donny Hathaway worked as songwriter, session musician and producer. Working first at Chicago’s Twinight Records, he later did the arrangements for hits by The Unifics on the song “Court of Love” and “The Beginning Of My End”. He also took part in projects by The Staple Singers, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin, The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield. He became a “house producer” for Mayfield’s label, Curtom Records recording there as a member of The Mayfield Singers. Donny recorded his first single under his own name in 1969 on a duet with singer June Conquest called “I Thank You Baby”.

It was not until he signed with Atco Records after being spotted for the label by producer/musician King Curtis at a trade convention that his prominence became evident. He released his first groundbreaking single The Ghetto, Pt. 1″, which he co-wrote with former Howard roommate Leroy Hutson, who became a performer, writer, and producer with Curtom. The track appeared the following year on his critically acclaimed debut LP, “Everything is Everything”, which he co-produced with Ric Powell while also arranging all the cuts.

Donny’s star really shined when he released his second LP titled “Donny Hathaway” that consisted mostly of covers of contemporary pop, soul, and gospel songs. His third album “Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway was an album of duets with former Howard University classmate and label mate Roberta Flack that established him, especially on the pop charts. The album was both a critical and commercial success that included the Ralph MacDonald track “Where is the Love”, which proved to be not only an R&B success but also scored Top Five on the pop Hot 100.

In my view, his most influential recording is his 1972 album – “Live”, which has been termed “one of the best live albums ever recorded” by Daryl Easlea of the BBC. However, the song that cemented Donny’s legacy was “This Christmas”. To this very day, it does not seem like Christmas until you hear this song. The song, released in 1970, has become a holiday staple and is often used in movies, television, and advertising. “This Christmas” has been covered by numerous artists across diverse musical genres, including The Whispers, Dianna Ross, , Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Christina Aguilera, Chicago, Harry Connick, Jr., Dru Hill, NSYNC, Gloria Estefan, Boney James, The Cheetah Girls, Chris Brown, and Patti LaBelle.

On January 13, 1979, Brother Donny transitioned this life to be with the ancestors! I want to bring his name into remembrance as he continues to rest in our hearts. Therefore, I would be remissed if I did not pay homage to the musical mastery of Mr. Donny Hathaway for his spirit lives in the souls of all of us because his music uplifted, empowered, and made us proud! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Happy Birthday Teddy Bear

3Music is as much a part of black history as any part of our history. Therefore, today I want to salute Black History Month by paying homage to the ghost of the greats who made a huge impact on the world and the lives of us who lived it. Today, artists have one or two hits and they are called legends. I find this laughable because, frankly, there is no body of work, in most cases, to support the label or prove worthy of attention. Black artists and icons have mastered their craft and created genres that will last forever.

NO ONE did it better than the man we affectionately call “Teddy” – Theodore Pendergrass – one of the greatest R&B singer and songwriter of our time. Teddy rose to fame as lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes in the early 1970s prior to his hugely successful solo career at the end of the decade. In a horrible twist of fate, in 1982, Teddy was severely injured in an auto accident resulting in his being paralyzed from the chest down. After his injury, he founded the Teddy Pendergrass Alliance, a foundation that helps those with spinal cord injuries.

Teddy was not unlike most R&B singers he sang often at church and dreamed of being a pastor being ordained as a minster at the age of 10. In his early career, he sang with the Edison Mastersingers and dropped out of school in the eleventh grade to pursue the music business, recording his first song “Angel With Muddy Feet.” The recording, however, was not a commercial success.

It was the result of a chance encounter with the Blue Notes’ founder, Harold Melvin, who convinced Pendergrass to play drums in the group. Then fate stepped in and during a performance Teddy began singing along, and Melvin, impressed by his vocals, made him the lead singer. Before Pendergrass joined the group, the Blue Notes had struggled to find success. That all changed when they landed a recording deal with Philadelphia International Records in 1971, thus beginning Teddy’s successful collaboration with label founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. From this point there was no turning back.

I will briefly list a few of Teddy’s most memorable hits that took him high in the stratosphere starting with his self-titled album, which went platinum on the strength of the disco hit, “I Don’t Love You Anymore.” Its follow-up single, “The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me,” became a top 20 R&B hit. It was quickly followed by Life Is a Song Worth Singing. That album was even more successful with its singles including “Only You” and “Close the Door.”

2The disco single, “Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose” was popular in dance clubs and after that came two more successes, Teddy and the live release, Live Coast to Coast. Hits off Teddy included “Come and Go With Me” and “Turn Off The Lights.” This was followed by the album, “TP” that included his signature song, “Love TKO” and “Is It Still Good to You.” Between 1977 and 19981, Teddy landed five consecutive platinum albums, which was a then-record setting number for a rhythm and blues artist.

Teddy’s popularity became so massive at the end of 1977 with sold-out audiences packing his shows; his manager soon noticed that a huge number of his audience consisted of women of all races. They devised a plan for his next tour to play to just female audiences, starting a trend that continues today called “women’s only concerts.”

With five platinum albums and two gold albums, Teddy was on his way to be what the media was calling him, “the black Elvis” not only in terms of his crossover popularity but also due to him buying a mansion akin to Elvis’ Graceland, located just outside of his hometown of Philadelphia. By early 1982, Pendergrass was the leading R&B male artist of his day usurping competition including closest rivals Marvin Gaye and Barry White.

2Then tragedy struck on the night of March 18, 1982, in the East Falls section of Philadelphia on Lincoln Drive near Rittenhouse Street, Teddy was involved in an automobile accident. He lost control of his Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit – the car hit a guard rail, crossed into the opposite traffic lane, and hit two trees and was trapped in the wreckage for 45 minutes; leaving him a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down.

He kept recording through the 1990s in spite of being wheelchair bond and give the world his final hit in 1994, which was a hip-hop leaning “Believe in Love”. His most lasting memory for the world was “Wake Up Everybody” a tune that has been covered by a diverse range of acts from Simply Red, Patti LaBelle, Babyface, Little Brother, Kanye West, Cam’ron, Twista, Tyrese Gibson, DMX, 9th Wonder, and DJ Green Lantern.

Sadly, on January 13, 2010, the man we knew as “Teddy” left us to sing with the angels. I’ll tell you, and if you knew Teddy, the world will never be the same without his uniquely profound soulful voice. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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