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The History Of Thanksgiving

2The Holiday Season is upon us, and Thanksgiving is a special day to enjoy with family and friends. It welcomes the transition from Fall to Winter and the marvels it brings. A time of joy and hope! I have said many times “nothing is as it seems,” as the truth or true history is never told or taught with regard to what really happen or how it is that we celebrate most holidays. Therefore, as we enjoy the graciously prepared food on this day; think about the real history of Thanksgiving.

Let’s go back in time. It was in September 1620 when a tiny ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers of an assorted cast of religious separatists or as we might call them today – religious zealots. They set out seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith with individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World.

The journey across the Atlantic was treacherous and an uncomfortable crossing that lasted sixty-six days before they dropped anchor near Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. After about a month, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth. They saw that there were no fences, so the thought the land was theirs for the taking, and they did just that – took it.

The first winter was brutal causing most of the colonists to remain on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy, and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first spring in the so-called new world. It wasn’t until spring that the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian, who greeted them in English. Shortly after that, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe.  Squanto had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition.

Squanto was the person who taught the Pilgrims, who were starving and sick, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. This is the beginning of what is now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”; although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term, at the time, history reports that the festival lasted three days.

As you can imagine, there is no record of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.

What most people don’t know it that after that Thanksgiving was not celebrated each year, rather it was a celebration had after a major victory resulting from a battle in a war. It was not until the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln did the holiday become a national holiday celebrated each year. Today as with all holidays, it has become an economic extension of capitalism. In spite of its history, I wish you and yours a safe and blessed day. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Charm City: Upton The Jewel of the Chesapeake

There have been many segregated cities created by white folk thanks to the system of white supremacy. I’ve told the story of “Black Wall Street”, Black Bottom, Harlem and, in fact, the many other such places all over America. But did you know there was a place called Upton in Baltimore, Maryland that hosted one of the most affluent African American neighborhoods in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. For the “Colored folk”, it was known as the “Jewel of the Chesapeake”.

Today, B-more is called “Charm City” which should have been the name given to this splendid community back in the day. Rather, today Baltimore is known for its despair and of course the murder of Freddie Gray who the system say killed himself while in police custody and the unrest that ensued.

In Upton, Pennsylvania Avenue was the main drag connecting all African American life in the city and beyond. To the south and west of Upton lay the poor and working class African American neighborhoods of “The Bottom”; to its east were the German American and Jewish American neighborhoods. Upton is about a fifteen minute walk from Downtown Baltimore, but blacks of that era had no need to go downtown, for obvious reasons. Because of segregation they were not allowed to patronize or enter through the front door of the white establishments unless they were working.

Baltimore is best known for crabs, crab cakes, delicious seafood, and, of course, a good time, but let’s never forget its rich history. Upton was home to the most educated African Americans, property owners, and professionals to include doctors, lawyers, retailers who served the middle class and upscale clientele. On the Avenue, as it was called, was home to a premiere shopping strip for black Baltimoreans, inspiring comparisons to Lenox Avenue in Harlem. Upton had it all jazz clubs, dance halls, theaters, as well as other public and private institutions for the black community.

Upton was also the staging ground for much of the local and national civil rights initiatives. It was a crossroad for many great African Americans who fought for equality and improving conditions for communities suffering from the ridged “separate but equal laws” and cruel amoral agendas. People like the great Frederick Douglass, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey all visited Upton and organized in its local churches. The Baltimore chapter of the NAACP was based in Upton as well as the New Negro Alliance, who rallied for justice from this proud community.

In the mid-20th century, Upton’s population swelled due to the popularity of the neighborhood and the pressures of segregation that kept African Americans confined to certain areas. Single family homes were subdivided into small apartments, and Pennsylvania Avenue’s sidewalks were crowded on Saturday nights, as loud music and heavy drinking became popular vices on the strip. There were several notable venues hosting great entertainment like the New Albert Hall, the Savoy and the Strands that drew many performers and partygoers.

But it was the Douglass Theater, renamed The Royal Theater, at Pennsylvania and Lafayette, that became famous and a mainstay on the Chitlin Circuit on par with the legendary Apollo Theater. Cab Calloway grew up in Upton and Eubie Blake performed his debut in a club on Pennsylvania Avenue. Stars such as Ethel Water, Pearl Bailey, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and the Temptations all performed at the Royal. It was like the Apollo in the sense that you had to play the Royal to get your chops.

Churches were also a huge part of this community providing safe havens for its people. Since the 18th Century, African American churches have nurtured their souls, feed the hungry, clothed and housed the poor but their role was far more important. The church community was a launch pad for activism and served as a communication networks, which was the backbone of the community. The church community fought for civil rights, supported business initiatives, and job placement. From the beginning, going back beyond the Underground Railroad, Baltimore’s churches were a place of empowerment through worship and served as incubators for organizing and planning regardless of denomination or faith.

Baltimore produced prominent businessmen such as Raymond Haysbert, who was the owner and founder of the famed Parks Sausage Company that became the first black-owned company to go public in 1969. The Parks Sausage Company was a legend in Baltimore, and you could hear its slogan “more Parks Sausages mom” everywhere. After the company, experienced financial difficulties two former National Football League Hall of Famers Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris partnered to come to its rescue maintaining the company’s black-owned legacy. James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul”, was also a prominent businessman in the city owning WEBB, a local radio station, and several other businesses.

Upton also produced its share of colorful characters known as “hustlers” who were legendary. One of the most famous was “Little Willie” Adams. Mr. Adams or “Little Willie”, as he was known, opened a shoeshine stand on the Avenue when he was 18. Sources say he was an ambitious young hustler with dreams of being his own man. One day a flamboyant numbers man got in his chair; he popped his rag like a firecracker while talking jive making him laugh.

He convinced the numbers man that he too was a businessman, solid and dependable, and he wanted in on the numbers game. The hustlers slapped palms, and Little Willie started at the bottom the next day as a runner. By age 34, the young dapper Adams was already a living legend and the King of B-more. Little Willie was known to say, after he became the numbers czar, “This was our thing started by slaves”. I’m told he would say “prayer is good but when you get up off your knees. You’ve got to hustle”.

Then there was the late Melvin Williams, who was the inspiration for the enormously popular HBO series “The Wire.” Known as “Little Melvin”, also featured the documentary “American Gangster” where he told his story, his way. Before he was old enough to shave, Little Melvin possessed a genius I.Q. of 160 but he says it’s closer to 200. Despite being a high school dropout, he can talk tax codes, interstate commerce, calculus, and physics with the best of them. Little Melvin, a legend at age 15 years old had made a few hundred grand in the gambling haunts and alleyways along glittering Pennsylvania Avenue. For three decades, Melvin ruled as the uncrowned king.

Pennsylvania Avenue is now lined with sneaker shops, dollar stores, other low-rent commercial uses, and many abandoned storefronts. The Avenue Market sells produce and holds occasional events such as jazz shows. According to the city, 60% of Upton families with children under 5 are living in poverty. The median home sale price in Upton in 2004 (not including Marble Hill) was $28,054. Many of the row houses in the neighborhood are vacant either abandoned by their property owners or owned by the city.

Yes, the ghost of what was our creation has been stained, and the Jewel of the Chesapeake has lost its luster. Unfortunately, the city of Baltimore, known as Charm City, forgot that Upton was responsible for a large part of its charm but African Americans know it lure looms large, and its legacy will never die. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Media Kit


The Unheralded Donald Goines: AKA “Al C. Clark”

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In the long history of black people in America, there have been many who were successful at certain crafts. Most often, many have been robbed of their achievements, unheralded, or die before their time. One such person that fits this description was Donald Goines. He grew up in what was considered, at the time, an affluent family in Detroit and found himself crippled with addiction, shot and killed mysteriously to end his short life.

Donald Goines became a prolific African American writer who wrote sixteen novels under his own name and his pseudonym “Al C. Clark” in his brief literary career. During his three years of service in US Air Force, he became a heroin addict while stationed in Korea and Japan, a monkey on his back that clung to him when he rejoined civilian life in 1955. Eventually, the monkey was demanding a c-note’s (one-hundred dollars) worth of junk a day.

Unable to get straight, it was hard to fly right with such a burden, even for an ex-air man. Like many addicts, Goines turned to crime to support his “jones”. In addition to theft and armed robbery, he also engaged in bootlegging, numbers running and pimping. In and out of jail, he was incarcerated for a total of six and one-half of the first 15 years after leaving the service. He wrote his first two novels during that time.

While wearing prison stripes, he tried his hand at writing Westerns, but he was uninspired by the genre. However, he found his muse when he discovered the writings of the ultra-cool Iceberg Slim, the legendary pimp, and raconteur. Iceberg Slim’s works such as his seminal “Pimp” inspired Goines to write the semi-autobiographical “Whoreson,” a novel about a Mack born to his trade as the son of a street-walker. “Whoreson” was released in 1972 by Slim’s publisher, Holloway House, which specialized in African American works. It was his second published novel, after 1971s “Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie.”

Goines was released from the jail in 1970. At which time, he began writing at a frantic pace for the next four years allotted to him in this vale of tears; publishing 16 paperback originals with Holloway House. Still addicted to junk, Goines was disciplined enough to keep to a strict schedule, writing in the morning before giving over the rest of his day to letting his habits quick-silvery hands control his being.

Writing at a furious pace, he could turn out a novel in as little as a month. His style is unpolished, his syntax rough, and his words literally depended on the language of the streets shot through with black dialect (Ebonics). His novels are about people he knew; pimps, ho’s, thieves, hitters and dope fiends, struggling to survive in a ghetto jungle beset with merciless predators. The books were written for an audience to whom violence was or had been a part of life; not something wholly fictional.

The novels he published under his own name are about the “lumpenproletariat,” the criminal underclass. Under the name “Al C. Clark,” Goines wrote five novels about a revolutionary black cat called Kenyatta. Unlike Goines’ gangstas, Kenyatta, named after the great African freedom fighter Jomo Kenyatta, takes an active stance against exploitation and the depredations of inner-city life. He opposes the Establishment and was a sworn enemy of white cops. The head of a black militant organization dedicated to the Herculean task of douching out the ghettos of drugs and prostitution, Kenyatta is killed in a shootout in the last book of the series, “Kenyatta’s Last Hit” (1975).

Between five and ten million of Goines books have been sold, though his work did not receive much critical attention until the hip hop generation, which he influenced, became a cultural phenomenon. Goines’ books have inspired gangsta rappers from Tupac Shakur to Noreaga as a new generation of rap-influenced African Americans adopted the long-gone writer as part of their cultural heritage. Goines’ works reflect the anger and frustration of African Americans as a people. The hip-hop generation was sympathetic and accepted of Goines’ rejection of the values of white society.

While hip-hop as an art form cannot be considered a direct descendant of writers like Goines or Iceberg Slim, they did have a major influence on gangsta rappers. Nas and Royce Da 5′ 9″ both have songs called, “Black Girl Lost,” which is the title of a Goines book.

The ultimate tragedy of Goines life was when he and his wife were shot to death on October 21, 1974, under circumstances that remain a mystery. Some people believe they were killed in a drug deal that went wrong. Their grandson, Donald Goines III, who himself was murdered in 1992, blames part of the destruction of young African American lives that had not abated. Since long before the founding of the Republic, a country whose Constitution deemed African Americans as 3/5ths of a person for the purpose of establishing the apportionment of Congressional representation but did not give them any legal or social rights.

Thirty years after his death, Donald Goines’s novels are as relevant as they were in the early 70s, offering a picture of a lifestyle immersed in violence, sex, and drugs. It’s a life – often sacrificed to the exigencies of the street – that has since become glamorized and more appealing for a new generation of African Americans and white “wiggah” wannabes due to the mainstream commercialization of gangsta rap by urban media moguls more concerned with “Big Buck$” than social justice. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

12-Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie, 1971
-Whoreson: The Story of a Ghetto Pimp, 1972
-Black Gangster, 1972
-Black Girl Lost, 1973
-Street Player, 1973
-White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief, 1973
-Daddy Cool, 1974
-Crime Partners, 1974
-Eldorado Red, 1974
-Never Die Alone, 1974
-Swamp Man, 1974
-Cry Revenge!, 1974 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Death List, 1974 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Kenyatta’s Escape, 1974 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Kenyatta’s Last Hit, 1975 (as Al C. Clark, Kenyatta series)
-Inner City Hoodlum, 1975


Bumpy Johnson Harlem’s Godfather

1000The rich history of Harlem could never be told in few words; that is if one intends to come close to capturing the essence of Harlem’s grandeur. Aside from Harlem’s artistic achievements, what was most romanced was the role of its underworld, which was a huge part of the nightlife and social scene.

In the 1920’s, the Jewish and Italian Mafia played major roles in running the whites-only nightclubs and the speakeasies that catered to white audiences. While the famous mobster, Dutch Schultz, controlled all liquor production and distribution in Harlem during prohibition in the 1920’s.

There were infamous black gangsters that operated with impunity. Rather than compete with the established mobs, black gangsters concentrated on the “policy racket,” also known as the “Numbers Game”. This was a gambling scheme similar to today’s lottery that could be played, illegally, from countless locations around Harlem. By the early 1950s, the total money at play amounted to billions of dollars, and bribes from numbers bosses thoroughly corrupted the police force.

When you talk about Harlem gangsters, particularly of that era, two names come to mind immediately. One of the most powerful early numbers bosses was a woman, Madame Stephanie St. Clair, a black French woman from Martinique known as Queenie or Madame Queen. She was said to be a tall, abrasive and tough woman, with a seldom seen gentle side who ran the famous New York extortion gang known as The Forty Thieves.

The Forty Thieves had a reputation for being so tough that even the white gangsters would not interfere with their illegal operations or attempt to take over their turf. She utilized her experience and talents to set up operations as a policy banker and recruited some of Harlem’s most noteworthy gangsters to support her and her growing numbers business. Within a year, she was worth more than $500,000 with more than 40 runners and ten comptrollers in her charge.

Then there was the legendary Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson known as the Godfather of Harlem. You may recall Lawrence Fishburn played Bumpy Johnson in the movie Hoodlum. Bumpy was one of Madame Queen’s main recruits. He was a colorful character from Charleston, S.C. He had moved to Harlem with his parents when he was a small boy and was given the nickname, Bumpy, because of a large bump on the back of his head. He was a dapper gangster who always made it a point to wear the latest and best clothes while flashing wads of cash wherever he went. Bumpy was a pimp, burglar and stickup man who possessed a recalcitrant attitude. He always carried a knife and gun, which he would not hesitant to use.

Bumpy feared nobody and did not shy from confrontations. He was known for barroom clashes over the slightest issue, having a short fuse and for his arrogance. He never learned to curb his temper or to bow his head to any man. It was because of his negative demeanor that he spent almost half of his life in prisons before he even reached age 30. During his interments, he became an avid reader and began writing poetry. Bumpy also proved to be an incorrigible prisoner and spent one-third of a 10-year sentence in solitary confinement. Because of his attitude, he was shuttled from prison to prison until his release in 1932.

Despite his tough-guy reputation, Bumpy Johnson had a soft side. It was common knowledge among Harlemites that he often helped many of Harlem’s poor with secret cash donations and gifts. Madame Queen liked what she saw in Bumpy and offered him a position as a henchman in her numbers racket. He accepted and quickly gained her trust. One of his first tasks was to confront the Bub Hewlett gang. It erupted into one of Harlem’s most violent and bloody gang wars. Eventually, Bumpy gained the edge and defeated Hewlett, temporarily saving the numbers game from the Mobs first takeover attempt.

The relationship between Madame Queen and Bumpy was strange and tenuous at best. Some said they had an ongoing affair while others claimed the odd-couple were only business partners. Bumpy never abandoned his pimping and robbery professions both of which irritated Madame Queen but both knew what would make the numbers game a success, so they successfully coexisted. These bosses became financial powerhouses, providing capital for loans for those who could not qualify for them from traditional financial institutions – loan sharking. They invested in legitimate businesses and real estate as a way to legitimize their profits.

The Godfather of Harlem lived until 1968, dying from a heart attack as oppose to dying by the gun in the manner most did in his business. As a testament to his success, he maintained control of the underworld for nearly forty years with some saying that nothing illegal took place in Harlem without his permission. After Bumpy’s death, the underworld became loosely organized and overcome by the drug trade with its many factions.

Illegal activities have always been away for the disenfranchised to survive in this country, and the old school gangsters understood the organization and managed the illicit affairs far different than the hustlers of today’s urban environments. I wonder another legend like Mr. Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson again. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

The Widow of Bumpy Johnson talks about her husband!!!

An Excerpt from the Novel “Just a Season


JUST US!

jail

My message for today comes from a powerful video that you should be sure to WATCH. Every single thing the speaker is saying can be proven without a shadow of a doubt. Just look at the power of the prison lobby and the massive increase in prison population since the 1980’s.

America has MORE prisoners in jail than China or any other country on the planet. How is it possible that we have a higher prison population than China who is extremely oppressive and has four times our total population? The overwhelming proportion of the population are people of color. How can this be when we represent such a small portion of the overall population?

I’m sharing this message with hopes that it is food for thought. Stop dancing to the tomb!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Resurrection

African American remains a nation of people living in a notion without a nationality. Some will say, America has a black president – how could that be? Well, this speaks to the institutions within the context of society that dictates the continuation of the system that exists within the country. It is because of this system, which has been in existence from the founding of America that has caused the demise of people of color.

Let me speak to the concept of leadership according to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who wrote the powerful novel “The Mis-Education of the Negro” in 1933, or there about, challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves.

He said: “Regardless of what we are taught history shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.” This speaks volumes.

I believe, if you can control a man is thinking you never have to worry about what he thinks. I will speak for me, no matter how messed up the world is and the minds of man; I am glad God made me! We must take responsibility for ourselves because life demands the survival of the fittest, just like in all other parts of the animal kingdom. As a people, African Americans have waited far too long and become much too dependent on those who are in charge of the system.

Therefore, I say it is time to remove the shackles of bondage that mentally remain in many communities and in the minds of man. Malcolm X once said, “We spend too much time singing and not enough time swinging”. Let me be clear, I did not repeat this statement to advocate violence. Rather to suggest that we have spent centuries believing, following, and listening to the messages communicated to us by those who control our destiny – making us believe that there is a better place for us when we are dead. I say we have a right to live NOW!

I want to propose an idea that could be the answer to our salvation. There is about 38 – 40 million African Americans living in America. If each person contributed one dollar per week; it would add up to forty million dollars. Multiply that time’s fifty-two weeks; that’s over two-trillion dollars annually. We have people who run some of the world’s largest corporations who could manage that money – invest it and make more money and as such many of the problems we face would go away.

Overtime we’ve won many civil rights battles, which should never have had to be fought as human beings. Yet, we still don’t have the necessities we need to survive. So I say, as tenacious beings, it is time for survival and the time is now – if for no other reason than for our children. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Have you worn your hoodie lately?

http://johntwills.com

Legacy – A New Season 

AMAZON

Just a Season


The Day Innocence Died – A Legacy Of Hope

41 horsemenJohn F. Kennedy was a forward thinking leader, who believed in a simple principle that government’s purpose was to do things for the greater good of its people. He was a man of vision who once said, “We chose to go to the moon and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”. Kennedy was eloquent and charming, yet ruthless and determined, which may have been his demise. It is my view on November 22, 1963, fifty years ago, America’s best hope died and it was “The Day Innocence Died” .

Kennedy had the courage stand up to the mighty powers to save the world, bringing it back from the brink of destruction during the Cuban missile crisis. He was trying to pull the troops out of Vietnam, which had it happened, fifty-six thousand Americans troops killed and the many more wounded, would not have happened. Nor the suffering and devastation caused to the families of those Americans.

Kennedy had to deal with issues of the cold war and fight the hawks who wanted it to remain under the guise of communism. He was about to break up the CIA and remove Hoover as FBI Director; more significantly he planned to remove Johnson from the 1964 ticket. This man stood up to the powerful forces within the government with such extreme right wing thinking that was like characters of a horror movie.

Then there was the issue of race and Jim Crow that was more prevalent than at anytime since the Civil War.  He took it on with proposing aggressive legislative moves to address equality for those American citizens designated to second class citizenship within the most powerful nation in the world. Not to mention, his struggles with the backward and segregationist called Dixie-crates of the south, who were so ingrained in opposition to integration that you would have thought they were Klan members and many were cardholders.

In the interest of fairness, I must say with regard to race; he had no choice because of television. Actually, the race problem in America at the time was worse than the apartheid system in South Africa. Television brought the horrific coverage of Bull Connor putting dogs on peaceful protester down south on American streets into living rooms across the country nightly on the evening news, which was also broadcast around the world. This was a tumultuous year!

There was the March on Washington for jobs and freedom. There were also the actions of segregationists like George Wallace who stood in the doorway of an Alabama university to deny blacks, or colors as they were called then, access to higher education. Let’s not forget segregation at all levels of education and housing discrimination.

This was the year that Medar Evers was assassinated and on the very night of a speech given by Kennedy on the topic of race. In Birmingham, Alabama four innocent little black girl were killed in a church by a bomb planted by a racist. Dr. King was arrest and locked up in a Birmingham jail for his work in trying to achieve equality. There was Bloody Sunday a day where peaceful marchers were stampeded as they tried to cross a bridge into Selma, Alabama. These are just a few issues but at the time segregation was the law of the land.

President Kennedy embodied a vision of hope for America that spoke loudly to the heart of a man, as evidence by this remark “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” Translation; “leaders are not made they are born”. The point here is each of us is born with a purpose, and that is to die. However, a more significant purpose is what it is that do while we live. Could it be that he was born to die so that we could see? As horrible as Nixon was as president, resigning in disgrace ten years later, the world would have surely been much worse if he was elected in 1960.

It weighed heavily on my heart to write this commemorative piece to pay homage to the light that shined bright at a time when America was so dark, from my perspective as an African American. As I wrote this series of articles, I learned so much about the evils within the American body. Having lived through segregation, I witnessed how dangerous these evils were to everyone, particularly to African Americans, and the world.

Those evils remain today; we have the George Zimmerman’s and those who made him a hero. More troubling is the state of political discourse within our government, namely the Republicans and the Tea Party ilk that is not that much different from the Citizens Councils of old.

One thing that really surprised me as I researched the three week series “The Day Innocence Died”; there were countless people that died or were killed who knew too much about the murder of Kennedy. There were also many who benefited significantly that were presumed to be related in some way with or to the cover-up. Did you know that there were four presidents elected after the assassination that were mentioned by some researchers and experts as being connected or possibly involve in the death of Kennedy; Johnson, Ford, Nixon, and Bush that may well be the bigger sin [if true].

I can only imagine if President Kennedy could speak to us today. I believe, he would say:

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future… Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable… Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies… The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” Actual words spoken by John F. Kennedy

It is my hope that you gained more knowledge about “The Day Innocence Died”; America Died! What we learned is that the most profound sin is a tragedy unremembered and the absence of truth. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


A Must Read Novel 

Just a Season

Just a Season is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. It is a must read novel that will cause you to see the world through new eyes.

This fictional narrative begins with a grief-stricken father visiting the grave-site if his beloved son who was killed in a tragic accident; a moment that he and no other loving parent should ever have to face. As he sadly gazes at his son’s headstone and reads what is inscribed there, the dates 1981 – 2001 brings about an illuminating discovery.

The tiny dash that separates the years of one’s birth and death represents the whole of a person’s life. So if this tiny dash were to tell his life’s story, what would it say? In Just a Season, the dash of this man’s life is revealed and what emerges from the pages of this book is a legacy of true benevolence and grace. This is not a story you will read, it is a story that you will live as you travel in time through one man’s extraordinary eyes as he vibrantly relives his family legacy. It’s the journey of a lifetime.

AMAZON

Purchase the novel today!!! 

 

Praise for Just a Season

Just a Season is a thought provoking novel by author, John T. Wills. …focusing on various topics such as pain, suffering, love and life. The characters and the plot are captured very well. It is very well written from beginning to end. This is one of those books, where you cannot judge the book based on its title and cover.” Congratulations well done! Afrika Asha Abney

Thank you for your example of tenderness and discipline in what I know is a story of love, delicately shared with readers in a way that says, this life, though brief, is significant. So hold it in highest regard for “the dash” is our legacy to love ones, indeed to the world, which we are blessed to share, albeit, for Just a Season.” Excellent! Sistah Joy, Poet, Cable TV Host

“Author John T. Wills has a remarkable gift for writing, a unique talent for story creation. In his book, “Just a Season”, John carries us wonderfully through the life of a boy who becomes a man with the special guidance of a loving and wise grandfather. His writing grasps us emotionally in the first few pages, and keeps us there as he reflects on and reveals this close, heartwarming relationship between grandson and grandfather. The story takes us into the “growing pains” of a boy-child, the diverse and difficult heartbreaking moments this main character experiences, as well as the many humorous antics of a boy seemingly born to be wild.

However, always hearing his grandfather’s voice pressing into his conscience, whether near or far, he learns valuable, stem and stabilizing lessons that remain with him throughout his life. I see a special “wit”, along with an insightful style as he tells the story in real-time, artfully integrated with history’s most monumental events. You feel as if you somehow become an invisible character in the unfolding of this epic narration. “Just a Season” is enjoyable to say the least, enriching and exciting at its best, and definitely a must-read. Silver Rae Fox, Actress, Model, Radio Personality

“This is the stuff movies are made of… not since “Roots” have I read a story that so succinctly chronicles an African American story! Amazing! Cheryl, Avid Reader

“Wills pulls you in from the very first page… Just a Season is a heart-wrenching story about growing up and believing in yourself. I highly recommend this book to young men in high school, trying to find themselves and feeling like they have nowhere to turn.” Cheryl Hayes, APOOO Book Club

“Not since The Color Purple have I read a book that evoked such emotions. John T. Wills possesses the ability to transport the reader directly into the life and struggles of his main characters story. I was educated in a way that did not afford me the benefit of truly understanding the significance of the historical events taught from a stand alone perspective. This book actually touched my heart and inspired me to increase the equity in my “dash”! Excellent! Tonja Covington

“John T. Wills captures male bonding between generations and lets the reader passively watch as family love and closeness unfold on the pages . . .” Outstanding — A great read! Cheryl Robinson, Host and Executive Producer of Just About Books Talk Show

“JUST A SEASON is laced with thought-provoking commentary on the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the 1960s, the migration of crack cocaine into inner-city neighborhoods, and a myriad of other ills that have rocked America. This is a very good piece intertwined with several history lessons spanning many decades.” Dawn Reeves, RAWSISTAZ Book Club

“John T. Wills particulars each notion so eloquently that you feel that you’re actually right there with him… this is an inflicting history lesson that I believe all African American males should experience.” JUST A SEASON is a pivotal read.” Carmen, OOSA ONLINE BOOK CLUB

“From the first page you are transported into John’s world as if you are there and are experiencing it with him. I am amazed at how John is able to use the events of the time to let you know where you are in time. I felt as if I was teleported… his ability to describe what was going on during that time makes me extremely proud of my heritage. You will come away with a feeling of, now I know why that is. I thoroughly enjoyed “Just a Season”. Mia L. Haynes

“Just a Season is a work of love, respect and honor… A book filled with the wonder of life, and the pain and growth encountered in living it.” Outstanding! Ron Watson, Editor, New Book Reviews.Org

“in the final analysis the tiny little dash represents the whole of a person’s life . If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash. What might they say? A thought provoking and powerful read that will forever resonate within my soul. Speechless! Carron

http://johntwills.com

Legacy – A New Season 

AMAZON

Just a Season


How NOT To Keep Repeating History

 
“REALTALK “
Guest Blogger – Erica Edwards

11Getting to know someone is very hard and time consuming. In the beginning, everyone is tempted to judge a person by their own past experiences…this goes for both men and women. We all have past experiences we use to predict events in our daily lives. We know if we leave toast in the toaster too long it will burn and if we don’t take a jacket with us we may be cold later at night. We can prepare for these things by timing the toast right and being prepared for the weather but you can’t use your past experiences to determine how someone else should behave or react to situations.

I have met some pretty crummy guys but I have met many more who were caring and ended up being great friends. The thing I have learned from them is that they too have had terrible experiences with women. Some have been cheated on multiple times by their ex-wives, have been abused physically and emotionally, have been taken for granted, and have been used to the point of even raising a child that was not theirs.

Sometimes men will treat you badly because their ex was horrible to them or because they don’t know how to properly treat a woman. Maybe they didn’t have a father at home, their mother didn’t demand respect from their father or her boyfriends, or their father didn’t treat their mother properly.

Let me tell you a story. I dated a guy a little over ten years ago. He was very attractive and we got along pretty well. We were both in our twenties and a little hot headed but, for the most part we were compatible. We both had children when we were young and we grew up in the same area. Our families even knew one another. We spent a lot of time together but as time went on I noticed it was difficult to reach him and I was suspicious that he was seeing someone else. I soon learned he was seeing other people although he assured me he was not. Of course, I was furious.

I cried, vowed to be single, and I even decided that I wouldn’t date any more black men! But, my reaction was totally wrong. Why? Because what he was doing wasn’t about me. It wasn’t because I was lacking something, it wasn’t because he was black, and it wasn’t because he wanted to hurt and/or destroy me. He was doing it because it was what he knew. While we were dating his father died. His parents were in their 60’s and had been married for nearly 40 years.  His father had several children by several different women outside of the marriage, I believe

there were three. They ALL were welcomed to his home and they all called his wife “mom”.  His mother never left his father and she endured the hurt quietly. After his father passing and his mother grieving for a while, she began to voice how unhappy she was and how poorly his father treated her. He had NEVER heard his mother speak ill of his father before. To him, this was what I woman should be able to endure because his mother could and did.

I know another woman whose husband had children outside of her marriage as well. Even as an elderly woman she told her children and even her grandchildren that they should always have someone else on the side. As their parent her children believed this until they were old enough to realize she was just masking her hurt. They had ruined some relationships early on because they believe this was the correct way to behave.

My point is (yes, there is actually a point) everyone has a past that influences how they react to their present situations. If you always make things about you, how you’ve failed, how you aren’t enough, and feel self-pity…you will never experience happiness. Being enough by yourself, remaining calm, discussing family with your date will give you some insight and help you understand some of their behavior.

By no means am I saying that you should tolerate lying or cheating. However, I am saying dragging their family issues with you on to your next prospect isn’t productive. To say all men cheat, all men are no good etc. because of someone else’s upbringing is counterproductive. Let them keep those issues within their families and move on to creating more positive experiences and relationships.


The Insecure Black Woman

Guest Blogger – Erica Edwards

11Being single for the past several years, by choice I might add, I have had to withstand  the backlash of many relationships gone wrong. I know every break up story has two sides, but I am going to speak from the one I see. Many men have experiences with women who try to pressure them into marriage and children.

There are women who actually talk about these things early in a relationship, before they know if they are compatible. Some meet women who don’t respect them and cheat on them because they are fearful of the possibility of being hurt. A lot of men talk about the strong black woman they meet who is mean and tries to dominate the relationship, making him feel less than a man.

I really don’t get it, or maybe I do.

Our society is one that is completely selfish, where many feel entitled just because they were born. I want to know what makes one feel as though they are entitled to another person’s life, their time, and the things they have worked hard for just because they want it. If you are not enhancing a person’s quality of life, you have no business being part of it. If you are causing drama, arguing, and constantly making demands, those are not attractive qualities and you should seek to make yourself a better person before engaging in a relationship with another. You by yourself should be enough. Being alone does not equal being lonely.

I know Steve Harvey wrote a book for women on how to deal with men. I have seen some of its points and I am not in total agreement with all of them.  My philosophy on life is more of an Eastern/Buddhist philosophy where I try to consider the needs and wants of others before my own. I find that I have more peace of mind this way. I try to practice selflessness: the art of putting the feelings of others before yours. In addition to selflessness, there is unconditional love. Unconditional love is when you love others regardless of their situation, what they have done, or what they may have done to you.

The only person you can control in this life is you. There are always going to be situations that arise which are challenging, that is life and that is uncontrollable. People are people, and they will do things that may cause you hurt and pain because of their own life experiences. You have to accept them for who they are and decide if they have a place in your life or not–you cannot change someone who does not want to change.

If you consider how you are making another person feel and also how that other person may be feeling before you act or react, you will find that life becomes easier for you. When someone snaps at you, instead of snapping back and asking what you did to deserve that behavior and using expletives, simply ask “What’s wrong?” Many times other people’s behavior is not about you, so it is wrong to take it personal and allow it to upset you.

Before you enter into any long-term relationship, you have to be happy and love yourself. You have to know what you do and don’t want, be happy with the direction in which your life is headed, and be able to be happy even when your significant other isn’t around. If that means having friends and family to do things with, having hobbies that interest you, or performing some sort of community services then do that. Wanting a man to be around all the time is way too much pressure. Basically, get a life.

Let’s go back to my beginning points. The marriage and children talk. Men are providers. Talking to a man about providing for you and a child, which is what you do when you talk about marriage and children, will be scary to any man within the first few dates. It’s ok to ask a man if he sees being married or having children in his future if that’s what you want but nothing more. As women, we have a tendency to fantasize about what our life will look like when we meet a man. Women have to keep in mind that this is indeed just a fantasy!

You love the idea of him but not him, because you don’t know him yet. He is most likely just trying to have a good time and get to know you. Honestly, I think a lot of black men are waiting to see if you are going to act crazy or not.  Try to relax and enjoy the moment.  Enjoy your dinner dates and your talks. It may work out and it may not. If not, chances are you will learn something about yourself, your business, or life itself. Chalk it up to experience.

If a man doesn’t want you, let him go. There are plenty of men out there and one who will love you in return. Don’t spend too much time sulking. There is no need to change who you are, especially if you are happy with yourself, to keep a man. Let him find his match and wish him well. Love him so much that you want him to be happy even if it isn’t with you.

A girlfriend of mine actually told me how to get over a broken heart quickly. What she advised was that I write down all the things that made the relationship not a good one and focus on those.  We have a tendency to focus on all the good when people are gone. You will remember the good in time but for the sake of sparing others from your moping I recommend the list, it works!  Don’t call him, text him, stalk him, or throw a tantrum. It may hurt but as the old adage goes: time heals all wounds.

Let a man be a man. If you make more money than he does, or you own a home and he doesn’t…so what! Those things are material. Don’t remind him of it every time you have an argument. If he is a productive citizen, loves his job, and can take care of basic needs that’s all that should matter. In many areas, especially in the city, it will take both people working to run a household. If you live together, support him however you can. When he is around you he should feel like a king and any worries he has should be left outside. A man that you disrespect and belittle won’t be yours for long. There are plenty of women out there who will make him feel like a man and your relationship will be short-lived.

Don’t cheat; it does nothing for your character. If you’re afraid of commitment just admit it but don’t waste other people’s time and emotions. Giving your all shows people who you really are. If you can’t do that, you aren’t ready for a commitment. If you are cheating because you don’t trust him, and you don’t trust any men…get a therapist. You aren’t ready for a commitment.

http://blackrelationshiptalk.blogspot.com


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