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The One And Only

On October 1, 1945, the world was gifted with a singer/songwriter/keyboardist best known for his duets with Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway. Donny fused R&B, gospel, jazz, classical, and rock strains in a modestly successful solo career. He was raised in St. Louis by his grandmother, Martha Pitts, a professional gospel singer. From the age of three, Hathaway accompanied her on tours, billed as the Nation’s Youngest Gospel Singer. He attended Howard University in Washington, DC on a fine-arts scholarship.

He worked as a producer and arranger for artists such as Aretha Franklin and the Staple Singers. After serving as the band director the Impressions, he recorded the single “I Thank You” for Curtis Mayfield’s label and sang backup with the Mayfield Singers. His first single “The Ghetto, Part 1” reached #23 on the charts. After recording several more singles and an album, Donny recorded “You’ve Got a Friend” with Roberta Flack. Their single “Where Is the Love?” reached #5 on the charts & earned them a Grammy Award.

He sang the theme song for the television program “Maude” and was hired by Quincy Jones to score the soundtrack for the 1972 film “Come Back Charleston Blue.” In 1973, reportedly suffering from periods of depression, his partnership with Flack deteriorated and Hathaway faded into relative obscurity. Five years later, he recorded “The Closer I Get to You” with Flack. This was their biggest hit & reached #2 on the charts as well as earned them another Grammy nomination.

Gone too soon, but he left a profound footprint upon the souls of mankind. We loved you Brother Donny and miss the gift you shared with the world but you will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace!

Listen to the music I’ve added; trust and believe it will warm you heart. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Put Your Hand In The Hand

Young, Gifted, And Black

What’s Goin On

“Just a Season”

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Legacy – A New Season


Mr. David Ruffin

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I’ve been blessed to have lived during a time when the music of our culture reached center stage and changed the world. I have heard the voices of many great singers, but none has ever been greater the David Eli Ruffin. I know the Temptation story and not just from the movie.

To tell you the truth I’ve blessed to have had my life enhanced by their music sung by Mr. Ruffin. I have also been blessed to have met several of the group’s members over the years, and one of its lead singers was a good friend, whom I admired and miss dearly. I hear his voice almost daily in song. I wish that friend was Mr. Ruffin, but I am too young to have had that good fortune.

I simply want to pay homage to this man whose music was a huge influence upon my life, particularly my young life, to which I am grateful. I once watched a documentary where his son was interviewed and something he said struck in a profound way. He said, “My daddy wanted love, but he got fame”. We know from the many talented artists who have left 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 a legacy and will live on in the depths of our souls. We will always 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.

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 1960’s soul music explosion. His voice inspired just about every singer who sung to include the likes of Rod Stewart, George Michael, Daryl Hall, and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few – 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 a 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. Songs like “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 first began singing in The Ruffin Family and The Spiritual Trying Four with his father, his sister Rita Mae, 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 likes of The Womack Brothers, The Swan Silvertones, The Staple Singers, and the Dixie Hummingbirds.

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, and 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 that 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, when soon after he would bring them 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.

It is reported that Pop Star Michael Jackson paid for his funeral, and numerous celebrities were in attendance at his home going service, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, members of the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Miracles. At the service, Stevie Wonder told the audience: “We’re confronted with a problem that touches every one 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 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 say, thank you Mr. Ruffin and to say you are gone – but not forgotten? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

 DAVID RUFFIN GETS PERSONAL


                                           

“Just a Season”

http://johntwills.com


Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the Kennedy Assassination

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Some say America lost its innocence that fateful day in November 1963 in Dallas, Texas when the shocking news of the assassination of President Kennedy. One thing for sure there has been no shortage of conspiracies, theories, or doubt as to what actually happened on that fateful afternoon. Sherry merges modern CSI knowledge to examine the JFK Assassination in her new book – Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the Kennedy Assassination.

The Kennedy assassination is a particularly timely topic since November 2013 will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the shooting death of the 35th President of the United States. While the most studied murder investigation of the 21st century, it remains plagued by questions and a variety of theories. However, applying modern forensic investigative techniques to this high profile homicide can reveal new information—some of which is startling.

Sherry Fiester has applied current forensic disciplines to eight different aspects of the assassination providing scientific answers to some of the Kennedy assassination’s most puzzling questions. Fiester details how today’s trajectory techniques used to reconstruct shootings when applied to the assassination prove the shooters location for the fatal head shot eliminates both the sixth floor sniper’s lair and the Grassy Knoll. Fiester also addresses the abbreviated forward movement of Kennedy’s head followed by the familiar “back and to the left” movement observed in the Zapruder film, debunking the idea of two almost simultaneous gun shots to the head.

Fiester is a court certified expert in Louisiana State Federal Court and 30 Judicial Districts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida in Crime Scene Investigation, Crime Scene Reconstruction and Blood Spatter Analysis and Reconstruction. She is published and recognized as an instructor at state and national levels. In 1995, Fiester began to apply her expertise to the Kennedy assassination. Later that year she spoke at the 1995 Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) Conference in Washington, DC. Fiester was the featured speaker at the Dealey Plaza Echo Kennedy Assassination Conference in the United Kingdom in 1996.

A regular presenter at JFK Lancer November in Dallas Conferences since 1996, she is a recipient of the prestigious JFK Lancer-Mary Ferrell New Pioneer Award given in recognition of her contribution of new evidence and advancing the study of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Now retired from police work, Fiester is utilizing various forensic fields to promote a better understanding of the Kennedy assassination. The results have been a variety of speaking presentations and more recently, completion of the book, “Enemy of Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the JFK Assassination.”

Image3Why I wrote the book: I believe the historical narrative of our country concerning the Kennedy assassination is distorted with biased and unverified information. Many people still believe in a single shooter, regardless of the scientific facts that prove otherwise. Sadly, the majority of the conclusions and purported facts concerning the death of President Kennedy are anecdotal, unrealistic, and incorrect statements kept alive by those who would prefer fabrications that promote sensationalism as opposed to the quiet reality of fact. I want to fight the unsubstantiated allegations that continue to rear their head, summoning the naive to join forces in a “truth is stranger than fiction” campaign.

Although imaginative and sometimes thought provoking, these theories rely upon the suspension of common sense and fly in the face of forensic research. I want to correct those misconceptions. Polls have consistently shown that the American public’s confidence in their government has steadily declined since the Warren Report was issued in 1964, and now over 80% of the people refuse to believe Kennedy was killed by a lone, deranged gunman.

The American people are convinced they have never been told the truth about the tragedy of November 22, 1963 and many will not stop in their search for the truth concerning his death and the subsequent cover-up. This book is part of my fight to bring the truth to light and restore accuracy to our history.

Sherry Fiester Interview

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Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving.

Legacy – A New Season 

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Just a Season


The King of Kings

th (12)For two-thousand years the story of a life and death has altered the world’s perception of life and death. The story of a Jewish carpenter from an ancient city, betrayed by a friend, and executed by the state for being the King of Kings. The man, Jesus the Christ, whose story is the most compelling and well-known story ever told. In fact, it has come to be known as the “Greatest Story Ever Told” by so many and not one word written by the man himself.

I have a few questions for the faithful. How is it that you can or claim to love God who you cannot see? yet you cannot love the man who you can see. Many of you do not transfer the teachings of Christ to the living human being. Why are so many wars fought in the name of God, when it is surely not his design to kill, maim, and visit devastation upon the souls of man?

It is said, “We walk by faith, not by sight” and that “faith is believing true that which is unseen”. We believe in spite of the many versions rewritten by conquers and false images created to depict the Holy deity as a white European man painted by Michael Angelo. When history tells us there was no word GOD in any African language before the coming of Europeans!

I will tell you that there were only two peoples living in that region of the world during the time of Christ. One would have been Roman and the other would have been African in a place known as Palestine, not Israel. In fact that was the first lie of Christianity that Jesus was not black and the second was that the foundation of the story was recorded thousands of years before this man’s birth.

It is believed that he raised the dead, walked on water, fed the poor, and healed the sick. All of which was written by others after his death much in the same way man created this place called “Hell”. This brings me back to religion that resembles nothing like what Jesus taught while he walked among us. Many tend to wrap themselves in the clichés of the “Word” and take every word literally while they give to the greedy and not the needy.

Let’s be clear religion is a business used as a mental tool of man. Jesus said he will return and if he were to visit your church – you would not let him in? If I offend anyone – sorry – but being a Christian is more than posting cute religious pictures with bible verses on your Facebook wall and Instagram!

My Grandfather told me, when I asked as a young boy – what would happen when we get to heaven. He told me Christians will get three surprises when they reach heaven. (1) They will be surprised who they see when they get there. (2) They will be surprised who they don’t see when they get there and (3) they will be surprised if the make it there themselves.

All Jesus asked of us was to “Give Each Other LOVE!” And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Oscar Grant Murder

If memory serves me correctly Moses came off of Mount Sinai with two tablets given to him by God that said, “Thou shall not kill”, which means murdering a human being is a capital sin. I wonder if there was a subtext on the tablet that says unless you are the police or vigilante. We see repeated cases where the judicial system places the people who seem to think they are above the law. Oh, they are because justice says its OK, particularly if the victim is a black man.

The case of Oscar Grant involved an “incident” where a former BART Officer, Johannes Mehserle, on the morning of Jan. 1, 2009, fired a fatal shot into the back of Oscar Grant III while he was on the ground being restrained by several Officers. Mehserle is white, Grant was black. The Officers excuse to justify his action was that he was “reaching for his taser”, which by the way happened to be on the opposite side of his body. So the jury was required to second-guess whether the transit-system cop intended to reach for his gun or his Taser.

In this case like many others, i.e., Rodney King that was among the most racially polarizing cases in California where four Los Angeles officers were acquitted, was captured on videotape. In fact, there were at least five videotapes by different bystanders of this shooting incident. Now, in the mind of a reasonable person and what I saw, it looked like murder. Yet, the verdict that was rendered by the jury was clearly different to that opinion. The jury said, felt, believed, and viewed this crime from what they saw “through evidence” as a case that showed an act of involuntary manslaughter and an unintentional accident due to criminal negligence.

Apparently the jurors didn’t believe Mehserle acted without regard for Grant’s life nor did they believe he was provoked and acted in the heat of passion. Instead, they found that he acted negligently, but without malice resulting in a guilty verdict of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a 2 – 4 year jail term or less depending upon “time served”.

It was a quick verdict. The case was given to the jury on Friday. Monday was a holiday. A juror was sick Tuesday. And then on Wednesday, one juror was replaced because of a previously scheduled vacation, forcing the jury to restart deliberations with a new member. Talks that day were cut short because of another juror’s medical appointment. So Thursday was the first time jurors had the opportunity to deliberate for a full day. But by mid-afternoon, they had reached a verdict.

It was reported that this was never a clear-cut case in spite of the overwhelming video evidence we saw “with our lying eyes” over and over again. These same voices said there’s an important point to remember here: Reasonable minds could have looked at the evidence from the three-week trial and come to different conclusions. Therefore, with respect for the legal process and respecting the jurors’ verdict that might not be perfect in the minds of many, it was a rational outcome concerning a reasoned process. In other words the word ‘guilty’ is not expected to be heard involving cops.

The jury’s conviction on a lesser charge than murder raised concerns of a repeat of the unrest in Oakland that followed in the initial days after the shooting. There were scattered incidents of violence reported Thursday night and unfortunately those fears have been realized. Police arrested at least 83 people in Oakland Thursday night for failing to disperse, resisting arrest, burglary, vandalism and assaulting a police officer. Protesters defiled several downtown smashing windows, sporadic looting, busted doorways and some newly scrawled walls with graffiti.

Let me be clear, laws are necessary as it relates to maintaining civilization and it is required to have law enforcement to insure order or as they say protect and serve. However, every police shooting, particularly those of this nature, is not justified and deaths like Grant’s must not be forgotten or tolerated because if history is any indication there are sure to be more in the future.

Let’s not resign ourselves to accept that there is an unwritten code of unfairness and wrong that is ingrained within the system of justice that cannot be addressed and corrected. Maybe the comedic genius Richard Pryor was right when he famously said; as it relates to JUSTICE what we get is JUST-US. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

SEE FOR YOURSELF!!!


Political Theater

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Politics has been so ridicule lately that I have not found it worth the words to render a perspective. For example, congress wastes its time voting to repeal what they call Obamacare – again. Yesterday was the thirty-eighth attempt, as if this time would be the charm. Then there are the concocted scandals with talk of impeaching the president. The conservatives will take ever opportunity to attack the president, whether he has anything to do with it or not.

I read Ruth Marcus’ column this morning and this is what she calls the trifecta of scandals:

Benghazi. With the e-mail chain released, the chief takeaway should be this administration’s remarkable capacity to be its own worst enemy. It has managed to look as if it were executing a cover-up without having anything to cover up. The real scandal of Benghazi remains what previous inquiries concluded — that “systemic failures” of leadership resulted in “grossly inadequate” security.

Internal Revenue Service. With the Treasury Department inspector general’s report released, the chief takeaway should be the bureaucracy’s remarkable capacity for incompetence and stupidity. “My question is who’s going to jail over this scandal?” House Speaker John Boehner thundered Wednesday. Mr. Speaker, I hate to disappoint you, but no one. Unless we’ve criminalized idiocy, in which case, better start building more prisons.

Associated Press leak probe. This one hits close to home, and while the Justice Department insists that it subpoenaed the phone records only after exhausting other avenues of investigation, the net it cast — records from more than 20 phone lines used by about 100 journalists — remains incomprehensibly, chillingly broad. How nice for the president to now renew his call for a reporter’s shield law, having previously worked to water down the proposal. Talk about the horse and the barn.

She when on to say, “bad things happen in second-term presidencies, often in clumps. This is no coincidence; first-term chickens come home to roost in a second term. The inevitable arrogance bred by winning reelection never helps. But this bad run demands perspective.

I agree that after this some perspective is required. There have been real scandals by past presidents like Katrina, Monica Lewinsky, Iran-contra, or Water Gate. I might go further and say what Kennedy did not do while southern justice attacked African Americans for protesting peacefully. It is amazing when there is a GOP scandal they circle the wagon and call it the growing pains of democracy. No big deal when it’s them. For example, the selling of drugs connected to Iran-contra. No big deal.

More recently, the last administration lied to take us to war and wrecked the economy. Not to mention that this congress is the most ineffective congress ever, which they lead. Yet, they waist time with these matters instead of, say, closing GITMO, bring the troops home, filling presidential appointments, passing a jobs bill and I could go on and on.

The issue with Benghazi is that four Americans died, and my sympathy’s go to those families, but can the thousands who died in the wars that I say caused greater damage resulting from their lies in both cost and death. The last president was able to pass legislation with sweeping intrusions upon our freedom via the Patriot Act but when this president looks into AP leaks to protect the nation, he is chided.

Has President Obama done a good job – YES! He has faced opposition from the right at every turn unlike the last administration. They never mention how bad the republicans screwed up the country prior to him taking the office. Yet, they cry “the American people” at every opportunity. Maybe these folk should realize that their job is not to administer the politics of shame. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


Affirm Section 5 Of The Voting Rights Act

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The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was enacted to ensure that African Americans had a right that has almost always been denied since they arrived here in chains. The opposing parties are asking the Court to end a requirement forcing Alabama and other southern states to get Department of Justice approval to change its voting procedures and electoral maps.

The Voting Rights Act already allows governments that have changed their ways to get out from under this humbling need to get permission through a “bailout provision.” Nearly 250 counties and local jurisdictions have done so; thousands more could be eligible based on the absence of recent discriminatory efforts in voting. My question and it should be of every African American is why Section 5 should be removed?

History tells us that after the Civil War when slavery ended, wink, there were very clever measures designed to deny African Americans the supposed most sacred right to vote. There were Amendments to the Constitution that should have been sufficient. However, those Anti-Americans who preached liberty and justice for all found ways to circumvent the law. They used such things as Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, and when all else failed Terror.

Then there came an era called Reconstruction which resulted in what they called “Separate but Equal” which was nothing more than American Apartheid. Of course that worked out well for the racial extremist. It took one hundred years for America to pass a law that was meaningful to work to some degree, the Voting Rights Act, and now was to dismantle.

Let’s take a look at some very recent history, like last year and last month, to see why this provision should not be removed. In the last election, Republican went to many extremes to suppress minority votes through a myriad of state laws making it a mission to deny their right to vote.  The consequences of those desperate maneuvers, along with the accompanying vitriolic rhetoric, restrictive voter ID laws, encouraged Electoral College gimmickry and professed themselves unconcerned about long wait times at polling places tells us why this act is needed.

The viability of the bailout option could play an outsized role in the Supreme Court’s consideration of the voting rights law’s prior approval provision, although four years ago, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas said the prospect of bailing out had been “no more than a mirage.”

I can vividly remember “Bloody Sunday,” nearly 50 years ago, when 600 peaceful, nonviolent protesters attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery to dramatize the need for voting rights protection in Alabama. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state troopers under orders from the Governor attacked with tear-gassed, clubbed, whipped, and trampled them with horses. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized that day.

In response, President Lyndon Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act and later signed it into law. It is very clear that America has come a great distance since then, in large part thanks to the act, but efforts to undermine the voting power of minorities did not end after 1965. They still persist today. Just because a man of color is the president does not mean the battle is won.

John Lewis, a Democrat, represents Georgia’s 5th District in the U.S. Housel

Voting rights is still and danger. So let’s not tamper with one of the few laws that have been a beacon to this thing called Democracy. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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