Tag Archives: intellectual fervor

The Godfather Of Rock and Roll

It is a great joy to share with you the glorious past of the ghost of the greats whose shoulders we stand that are dear to my heart. I am proud to share this article because I love the story of the crossroads. It is a story about the great Delta Blues-man Robert Johnson. The history of music is littered with tragic figures, and none was more tragic than Robert Johnson’s story.

This amazing, ultimate star-crossed musical genius laid the early framework of rock and roll decades before that term was even imagined. Robert Leroy Johnson is among the most famous of all the Delta Blues musicians whose landmark recordings from 1936-37 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and tremendous songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson’s shadowy, poorly documented life, and violent death at age 27 have given rise to much speculation adding to his legend.

He is considered by some to be the “Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll,” his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style influenced a range of musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and Warren Zevon. Eric Clapton called Johnson “the most important blues musician who ever lived.

Johnson was conceived in an extramarital affair and born in Hazelhurst, Miss., in 1911. Most of his biographical details have been lost to history, but what’s known is that he learned guitar in his teens, got married, and had a girl who died in childbirth. The death led Johnson to throw himself even deeper into his music. He fled to Robinsonville, Miss., where he was influenced by early blues legends Son House and Willie Brown.

By 1933, Johnson remarried and began playing the guitar professionally. He once related the tale of selling his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for his talent. Johnson tells the story in his song “Crossroads Blues.” Playing for tips up and down the Delta, Johnson gained in popularity. But as he grew in fame, he became a noted philanderer. He would also walk off in the middle of performances and not be seen or heard from for weeks at a time.

In 1936, he was put in contact with Columbia Records talent scout Ernie Oertle, who took him to San Antonio, Tex., where Johnson recorded classics including “Sweet Home Chicago,” “There’s A Hell Hound On My Trail,” and his signature “Terraplane Blues.”

Johnson began to tour nationally and became known for his unique voice and halting guitar rifts. But in 1938, as the legend goes, the devil caught up with him. While playing at a juke joint, he flirted with a woman whose husband became jealous, and the man laced Johnson’s whiskey with strychnine. Although he became violently ill, Johnson played until he collapsed. He died four days later at age 27, although conflicting stories say he survived the poisoning and died later of pneumonia.

There are at least two Mississippi gravesites that bear his name leaving questions about his passing and burial. “The reason that it’s so powerful a story is because it is the outline of the tragic side of the music that followed,” said music journalist Alan Light. “Some knew him as a musician, others by legend, but his shadow touches everyone who came out of that time and place.” I will say that Robert Johnson is truly a legend whose legacy will last forever. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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Standoff In The Desert

2I am always amazed when people speak of freedom and their reaction to it. Recently in Nevada, a group of white right-wing American’s faced down the Federal government – armed! Now let me be clear, these so called patriots not only showed up in support of a man named Bundy who is a rancher that does not believe the government has any authority over him nor his enterprise.

So group(s) came from all over the country in support of his cause – I did say armed and trained their weapons on government agents in tactical positions. In the days leading up to the government’s withdrawal, the movement had reportedly grown to 600 men, women and children, although conflicting counts emerged from the two sides. Demonstrators rallied together, bonding by campfires at night, while local protest leaders warned people not to wear camouflage and to keep their weapons inside their vehicles.

Bundy’s long standing problem with the government is that he owes reportedly a million dollars to the government for using federal land and refusing to pay the grazing fee as require. Wait, he has owed these fee’s that accumulated for about twenty years, all while continuing to make money for himself from the results of the beef he sold. Both Bundy and his co-conspirators call this freedom, and they came to Bundy’s aid in support of “liberty”. This is the abbreviated version of the back story.

I have had the government come after me for unpaid parking tickets. The law, meaning the police, often times come with guns drawn when they pull black people over for a traffic ticket. Every day in this country the government comes down heavy handed on the least of thee and when they come; the police always come with guns. In addition, most people are not afforded the luxury of not paying a government debt for twenty-years.

What if the Bundy’s were black and the ranch was owned by a black rancher? I’ll answer that; they would have been called terrorist and shot down like dogs and everything they own would have been confiscated. In fact, there are hundreds of cases where the cops will fire on black people based on the perception of their being armed.

I saw a congresswoman being interviewed, and she asked, when has the government ever come armed to arrest an American citizen? How about everyday and all the time! Let me remind this excuse for a leader that there was a black group in Philadelphia – MOVE – who saw things differently that the government and had guns. Guess what? The government stormed the group held-up in a row house and in the attack they dropped a bombed the building that killed all, but one or two of its occupants to include five children.

This is just one example, and there are many, yet I have not mentioned the assaults of the civil rights movement. This speaks to privilege and the actions of the militia are nothing more than terrorism. If the script were reversed and the group(s) where of people of color, the history of race in America demands that hostile actions would certainly be present during the actions of law enforcement.

You may believe the opposite or lie to yourself – if you will – but the fact remains, this would never have ended this way if the people pointing guns at the cops would be alive today. Let’s put it this way, Bundy is simply a modern version of George Wallace standing in the doorway of the schoolhouse. Except these folks are armed and dangerous. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


A Rerun Of An Old “B” Movie

main_midrightThe Republicans are always talking about a mandate. Well, the first thing I want to say is…”Mandate my ass!” I say that because we have been somehow convinced that that 26% of the registered voters form a mandate. They have not won a presidential election in over twenty years, at least fairly anyway!

What we can expect in the next presidential election is someone far more extreme than Ronald the Reagan who acted like a liberal. Acted like General Franco when he acted like governor of California, then he acted like a republican. Then he acted like somebody was going to vote for him for president. So whichever clown that runs for president will go back to the old Reagan and the Nixon play book to bring in a gang of thugs like George W. did.

What has happened is that in the last 20 years, America has changed from a producer to a consumer. And all consumers know that when the producer names the tune…the consumer has got to dance. That’s the way it is. America used to be a producer? Very inflexible at that, and now we are consumers and, finding it difficult to understand. Natural resources and minerals have changed your world.

The Arabs used to be in the 3rd World. They have bought the 2nd World and put a firm down payment on the 1st one. Controlling your resources will control your world. This country has been surprised by the way the world looks now turning more black and brown every day. They don’t know if they want to be Matt Dillon or Bob Dylan. They don’t know if they want to be diplomats or continue the same policy – of nuclear nightmare diplomacy. From the days of John Foster Dulles his name is nothing but an airport now.

The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can and the next republican may want to go as far back as slavery. As they say, they want their country back! Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse – or the man who always came to save America at the last moment! Someone always came to save America at the last moment – especially in “B” movies.

Now that white America finds itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne is dead and so is Reagan whatever will they do? This situation has placed us in a situation that we can only look at like a rerun of an old “B” movie. Well America spends billions each day in its space programs searching for a new place to go while the rest of use starve here on earth. They they’re going to leave us ya’ll.

let’s revisit those inglorious days when heroes weren’t zeros; before fair was square. When the cavalry came straight away and all-American men were like Hemingway to the days of the wondrous “B” movie. The producer underwritten by all the billionaire Koch Brothers with no more animated choice is available. The president will be Ted Cruz, running around frantically declaring himself in control and in charge while his VP Scott Walker pushes the slavery issue. This is the ultimate realization of the inmates taking over at the asylum.

The screenplay will be adapted by Paul Ryan from the old book called “Voodoo Economics”. Music by the very military “Macho Man”, John McCain, whose theme song for saber-rallying and selling wars door-to-door Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. Cliches like, “itchy trigger finger” and “tall in the saddle” and “riding off or on into the sunset.” Remember, we’re looking for the closest thing we can find to John Wayne who was suppose to be Marine tough. Clichés abound like kangaroos courts courtesy of some spaced out Supreme Court. Clichés like “Get off of my planet by sundown!” Bogart tough the man is. Cagney tough the man is. Hollywood tough the man is. Cheap steak tough. And Bonzo’s substantial. The ultimate in synthetic selling: A Wall Street masterpiece, miracle, a cotton-candy politician…Presto! Macho!

Put your orders in America for your hero. Just as quick as Kodak your new leaders duplicate with the accent being on the dupe – cause all of a sudden we have fallen prey to selective amnesia – remembering what they want to remember and forgetting what they choose to forget. And yes, the return of slavery is on the agenda! All of a sudden, the man who called for a blood bath in the streets and on our college campuses is supposed to be Dudley “God-damn” Do-Right?

“You go give them liberal’s hell for Obamacare.” That was the mandate to the new “Captain Bly” on the new ship of fools. It will doubtlessly be based on his chameleon performance that will be called compassion from he who might well be the Anti-Christ.  When other celluloid saviors were cringing in terror from the McCarthy like Issa. It may go way back to the Hollywood hillbilly libelous Mr. Paul or from “Bonzo” to Birch idol…born again. Civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights…it’s all wrong. Call in the cavalry to disrupt this perception of freedom gone wild. God damn it…first one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom.

Nostalgia, that’s what the Tea Party want…the good ol’ days…when we gave’em hell. When the buck stopped somewhere and you could still buy something with it. To a time when movies were in black and white and so was everything else. Even if we go back to the campaign trail, before the clown car took off and developed hoof-in-mouth. Before the free press went down before full-court press and were reluctant to review the menu because they knew the only thing available was war.

As Wall Street goes, so goes the nation and we saw it come close in 2008 when Bush and company got the check. And here’s a look at the closing numbers; racism’s up, human rights is down, peace is shaky, war items are hot – the House claims all ties. Jobs are down, money is scarce and common sense is at an all-time low with heavy trading. Movies were looking better than ever and now no one is looking because, we’re starring in a “B” movie. And they would rather have John Wayne but the Duke has ridden off into the sunset…

This ain’t really your life, its going to be a “B’ Movie Rerun and Ain’t really nothing but a rerun of a “B” Movie. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

This post was inspired by the late Gil Scott Heron’s hit “B’ Movie and the use of his projection from the 70’s.


Princeton Scientific Study: America is No Longer a Democracy; It’s Now an Oligarchy

2I came across this article that was worth sharing. It was written by Eric L. Wattree taken from The Wattree Chronicles. His blog did not allow me to reblog but it is surely a good read.

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scientific study done at Princeton University indicates that the United States is no longer a Democracy. The country has now morphed into an Oligarchy. That means that the nation is no longer controlled by the people. It is now controlled by a handful of wealthy and powerful puppet masters. It also means that we are no longer in a race war; we are now in a class war. Thus, the poor and middle class, of EVERY race, are now the new niggas. So wake up, America, while you still have a chance of fighting back.

One of the biggest problems that we have in this country is that we’ve allowed malevolent factions to throw us a bone and then use our votes against us to undermine our interests. The reason we’ve allowed this to happen is because we’re so gullible that we tend to believe that any faction that supports any issue that we’re passionate about is our friend, and that tendency has repeatedly been used against us. Over the years that has repeatedly caused the American people to forge alliances with the very people who want to cut their throats.

So it behooves poor and middle-class Black, and White people, to wake up, put our petty differences aside, and come together as a viable political force that’s ready to pitch a tooth-and-nail battle for the future of this country. If we don’t, the Tea party, the Klan, the Black Guerilla Army, and the Mexican Mafia are all going to find themselves shoulder-to-shoulder picking virtual cotton on the very same plantation.

Ironically, many White people already recognize this fact – that’s why Barack Obama is President today. But due to our unique historic background, lack of formal education, the proliferation of urban legends disseminated by poverty pimps, and lingering suspicions and bitterness, many Black people are resistant to this reality. Some demagogues work for the enemy by purposely keeping the poor and middle-class divided:

“When you’re trying to talk about issues that affect the people, name calling get’s in the way. Name calling is nothing but another weapon of mass distraction.” – Cornel West. Hmmmmm. Think about his words, and then his behavior.

But while it is undeniable that some White people are dogs (just like some Black people), we now also have undeniable evidence that MOST of them are good people who simply want to live and let live just like the majority of Black people. White bigots are a small minority of the White community, but they are a vicious and very loud minority (see Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Pat Robertson, etc.), and they’re being amplified by the power and wealth of corporate feudalists in order to keep us divided, so their noise and power far exceed their numbers. If that were not the case, Obama wouldn’t have been elected president – twice. No, Obama’s election doesn’t mean that this is a post-racist society, but what it does say is, racism and bigotry are being maintained and perpetuated by a minority of the White community.

Consider this – even if all Black people had been allowed to stay at home, and the vote of every Black man, woman, and child in America had been automatically posted for Obama, there still wouldn’t have been enough of us to elect him President of the United States. Black people are only 13.6 percent of the population. So if only one hundred votes were being cast to determine the presidency, and every group was given the number of votes that corresponded to their percentage of the population, Black people would only be given 14 votes.

But in order for Obama to become president, he needed 51 votes. Where did those other 37 votes come from? I’ll tell you where they came from – many of them came from White people. Obama could never have been elected president without them. So that’s in direct conflict with the message that the majority of White people are racist bigots. Numbers don’t lie, so while it may satisfy the anger of those who allege that to be the case, the numbers simply don’t validate their claim.

White folks are being fed the same kind of nonsense on the other side of the fence. That’s how we’re being kept divided, and how the rich are taking over. The current battle being fought is over class, not race, and both poor and middle-class Blacks, and Whites, had better wake up and recognize that fact, or we’re ALL going to be enslaved.

Many White people need to understand than when the GOP is targeting Social Security, they’re not just targeting the Social Security of Black people, they’re targeting EVERYBODY’S Social Security.  And when the corporate feudalist and their GOP cronies sent our jobs overseas, they didn’t just send Black jobs overseas, they sent the jobs of the White middle class out of the country as well. So again, America needs to wake up. Our true enemy is multiracial, and has very deep pockets and influence (Black folks, see Clarence Thomas).

Pages 22 and 23 of the Princeton study says the following:

“What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our Politics findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

The study goes on to say,

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”

That’s something that every poor and middle-class American needs to think about, regardless to what color they are. Whether Black and White racists like it or not, we’re on this plantation together – and the GOP is the primary overseer.


Last Days In Time

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I came across this thought provoking video, thank to a FaceBook page, and was compelled to share the message. America as great as it is faces a multitude of concerns that are imperative to the nation’s survival. Many of which, but not limited to, the most serious concerns are structural and coming from within.

If compared to America’s relation to time, about two and a half centuries, this system of government is relatively new and a very young experiment in democracy. The rise and fall of nations is a common as the change of seasons. With greed and division among the people; does the Universal God need to intervene and correct the situations but our so-called leaders cannot. 

The government is neglecting its citizens in every area that pertains to living and has forgotten that we are first human. Second, we are the engine of this system that makes up the American society. We the people fund the government that benefits the plutocrats and oligarchs. We have become a nation of “haves and have not’s”!

Could we be living in the “Last Days In Time”. We get caught up in a multitude of issues that really have nothing to do with critical issues facing the citizenry. Listen to the speaker who voices a compelling assessment and in his view there is a real possibility that THE END IS NEAR!

What do you think?

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The Gathering

2Did you get your invitation from James Crow Esq. to attend the 21st Century Citizens Counsel gathering the Good Ol’ Boys call CPAC? No, I didn’t get one either, but I heard it was a “Yee Ha” kinda weekend!

I will be upfront and say that I have called the Good Ol Boys (GOP), like most, many things and coming from a time where I have seen this movie before; I think my assertion is fair. I will try to capture the essence of what the rightwing nuts and the frightening Republican candidates represented as they continued clinging to a version of reality unique to a world alien to sane people.

Last weekend the conservatives paraded their best spokespeople to advance their cause, and if they were trying to make a good impression on each other and observant voters, they failed miserably because it was nothing but the same. No, actually it was worse! I saw racism and bigotry that went back to the days of segregation, if not the Civil War.

The show or ignominy hosted the usual daily recapitulation of crazy to comprehend the conservative conclave’s purpose was to put on a torrid display of groundless anti-Obama rhetoric based on the roster of speakers. One by one, their so-called best and brightest fired up the crowds preaching that America’s salvation is steeped in religion, austerity, guns, and voiding the federal government. The speakers each reiterated that Republicans lose elections because the GOP failed to articulate conservative’s values and not that voters rejected conservative extremism.

22In essence, what they said was “We don’t need new ideas. The idea is called America, and it still works” and it revealed to Republicans, extremism defines America, and voters are out of touch with America. The list of characters represented fanaticism at its finest with the same cast of character; Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Sara Palin, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan rambling on about America’s demise stemming from voter’s rejecting conservative ideas. Many of the gang, marquee spokespersons, came to lay the nation’s woes at the feet of President Obama.

It seemed to me that these so-called patriots favored the Russia President of the American President. Another highlight of the event was “Obama-Care”. Only this time, they did not accuse president Obama of killing grandma but did not hold back on anything else. I would be remised if I did not mention the only Negro in the room – the doctor. It is amazing that every year the find “one” and let me just say for the record black people did not clear him!

The only thing I did not hear from this group that I heard in the past years was – how grateful we should be to have been dragged onto the shores of this great land and given food and shelter to cheers and applause from the crowd.

CPAC was an extremists’ dream, and they brought out the cream of the conservative crop to parrot extremist rhetoric. I still say, because I have a memory of history where we saw the extreme lynch, murder through the use of terror, African Americans could not drink from the same water fountain, trampled and beaten by people of this ilk. In fact, Rand Paul is on record say if he were a Senator he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act. This sounds to me a lot like what this mean when they say they “want their country back”.

The most memorable, however, was Caribou Barbie’s rendition of a twisted fairytale rendition of a Dr. Seuss like story.  If I could make a comparison to this the 2014 gathering, it was more like a Star Wars bar scene gone wrong. People the 2014 elections are not far away and dare I say – Be afraid, Be very afraid. If any of these people are elected God Bless America! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Justice Finally

th (5)Can you imagine being accused of rape? Ok, maybe you can because it still happens. Race, Gender, and Lies are usually at the foundation of such accusation but if you are a white woman the result is guilty. There have been countless cases but none more infamous than the case of the Alabama teens that came to be known as the Scottsboro Boys.

The Scottsboro case crystallized black support in the 1930s, more than any other event, in spite of the countless lynchings of black men for amusement. This is what happened; nine black teens were accused of raping two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, on a freight train near Paint Rock, Alabama basically because they said so, which was a lie.

The nine young black men were Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Haywood Patterson, Andy and Roy Wright, Eugene Williams, ages thirteen to twenty-one, were arrested on March 25, 1931, tried without adequate counsel, and hastily convicted on the basis of shallow evidence. All but Roy Wright were sentenced to death.

Already in the midst of a mass anti-lynching campaign begun a year earlier, the International Labor Defense (ILD) gained the confidence of the defendants and their parents, initiated a legal and political campaign for their freedom, and in the process waged a vicious battle for control over the case with the NAACP, who accused the Communists of using the young men for propaganda purposes.

The Scottsboro case was not simply an isolated instance of injustice. Rather a common manifestation of national oppression and class rule in the South. Maintaining that a fair and impartial trial was impossible, the defense, such as it was, and its auxiliaries publicized the case widely in order to apply mass pressure on the Alabama justice system. Protests erupted throughout the country and as far away as Paris, Moscow, and South Africa, and the governor of Alabama was bombarded with telegrams, postcards and letters demanding the immediate release of the “Scottsboro Boys.”

More shocking, as the southern racist would cry freedom and liberty, the “Scottsboro Boys” were denied the right of counsel. Because of public pressure the teens got a new trial, which opened on March 27, 1933. In this case the ILD had retained renowned criminal lawyer Samuel Leibowitz.

More significant, a month before the trial date Ruby Bates repudiated the rape charge. Yet, despite new evidence and a brilliant defense, the all-white jury still found the Scottsboro defendants guilty; a verdict that seemed to buttress the Communists’ interpretation of justice under capitalism and how it applies to the black community.

In fact, pressure from black militants and some sympathetic clergy and middle-class spokesmen compelled the virulently anticommunist NAACP secretary, Walter White, to develop a working relationship with the ILD in the spring of 1933. Several months later, however, in an unprecedented decision, Alabama circuit Judge James E. Horton overturned the March 1933 verdict and ordered a new trial.

Following a number of incredibly foolish legal and ethical mistakes, including an attempt to bribe Victoria Price, star lawyer Samuel Leibowitz separated from the ILD. With support of conservative black leaders, white liberals, and clergymen, Leibowitz founded the American Scottsboro Committee (ASC) in 1934.

In a tenuous alliance the ILD, ASC, NAACP, and ACLU, formed the Scottsboro Defense Committee, which opted for a more reformist, legally oriented campaign in lieu of mass tactics. After failing to win the defendants’ release in a 1936 trial, the SDC agreed to a strange plea bargain in 1937 whereby four defendants were released and the remaining five endured lengthy prison sentences. The last defendant was not freed until 1950.

Although the ILD did not win the defendants’ unconditional release, its campaign to “Free the Scottsboro Boys” had tremendous legal and political implications during the early 1930s. For example, in one of the ILD’s many appeals, a 1935 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated because blacks were systematically excluded from the jury. Moreover, the realization that limited mass interracial action was possible challenged traditional liberalism and the politics of racial accommodation; the often scorned tactics of “mass pressure” would eventually be a precedent for civil rights activity two decades later.

Like Mississippi who 150 years after the Civil War came to terms with the reality that it was fought and won, and they lost.  A resolution labels the Scottsboro Boys as “victims of a series of gross injustice” and declares them exonerated. A companion bill gives the state parole board the power to issue posthumous pardons. Alabama is trying to exonerate them for the in justice of this famous case from the segregated South that some consider the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.

Long overdue but this is still the American South and this attempt may well be a smoke screen or justice denied. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


A Must Read Novel

I am very fortunate or maybe I should say blessed to have been chosen to channel the story within the pages of the epic novel “Just a Season”.  It chronicles what has been called a contemporary “Roots” with the emotion of “The Color Purple” that will cause you to see the world through new eyes. Another reviewer said, “This is the stuff movies are made of… I have not read anything that so succinctly chronicles an African American story.” I was very pleased and honored to have receive that kind of acclaim.

Just a Season is the predecessor to Legacy – A New Season that will be released very soon. It’s been several years since Just a Season, and it’s time to move on. Generations have come and gone, life is bearable after all, and hope lives in a little boy and in a man who almost lost all hope.

It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told but there are some you cannot forget. “Legacy” – A New Seasonis the perfect compliment to that statement and the continuation of Just a Season.  It is a stand-alone story rich in history on a subject rarely explained to children of this generation – the African American struggle.

This long awaited squeal to the epic novel Just a Season will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African-American Diaspora, as told by a grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever.

I want to share the being of the story which I have been told will capture you from the first page transporting you into John’s word. It 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. What follows is the prelude that I hope you will enjoy. Oh, did I tell you that Just a Season is a must read novel…

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Prelude

A season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon that some call life. One of the first things I learned in this life was that it is a journey. During this passage through time I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter. Today, I have to face a valley and it’s excruciating. It’s June 28th, a day that I once celebrated as a very special day. Now, it’s filled with sorrow. The reason this day is different from all others is because I have come to the cemetery at Friendly Church.

Normally it’s hot and humid as summer begins, but not so today. It’s a cool gray day with the sky slightly overcast. I hear the echo of birds chirping from a distance. There is also a mist or a light fog hovering very near the ground that gives the aura of a mystical setting.  This is a place where many of my family members who have passed away rest for eternity.  Some have been resting here for over a hundred years. I have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a sister, and many friends here as well. The cemetery is in the most tranquil of places secluded from the rest of the world, very peaceful and beautiful, almost like being near the gateway of heaven.

My heart aches today because I have come here on what would have been my son’s birthday. This is a very hard thing for me to do as the natural order suggests it should be the other way around. Another difficulty is that this is the first time I will see his headstone that was put in place just a few days ago. Although I know what it should look like, it’s going to be hard to actually see it. It will indicate the finality of losing the dearest of all human beings.  It’s hard to imagine what the rest of my life will be like without my precious son.

As I pass Granddaddy’s gravesite, I stop to say hello. After a brief moment, I continue in the direction of my son’s resting place. As I get closer, I begin to receive a rush of emotion to the point that my movements slow as the sight comes into view. I can now see his name clearly and I whisper “God why did you take him?” I become numb as I finally arrive at his gravesite, overwhelmed with this never before known emotion. This is something I never thought I would ever have to do, but here I am!!!

Suddenly, the sky begins to clear somewhat, as I now feel the sun’s rays from above.  At this very moment, I receive an epiphany upon reading the dates inscribed on the stone.  1981 – 2001. What does this really mean? The beginning and the end, surely, but in the final analysis it is just a tiny little dash that represents the whole life of a person. I fall to my knees realizing the profound impact of that thought causing me to look to the heavens and wonder. If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash.   What might they say?

Chapter One

The story begins in late November 1951 on a clear sunny Sunday afternoon. It was fairly cool for an autumn day and as it was the custom in the Reid family, everyone had gone to church early to give praise to the Lord. This was a special day for this family. It was a special day because of their anticipation of a new member into the family. So it was a great, great feeling of joy and excitement that filled their home. Ruth and Josie did not attend church this day, because Josie was overdue and expecting to give birth at anytime.

The Reid residence was Granddaddy’s house, where friends and family gathered after church for dinner most Sundays. Granddaddy was the anchor and his home was viewed as a welcoming sanctuary to all who came. Granddaddy and his family lived on a farm of about two hundred acres. In a time when living was tough in this very segregated rural area of Maryland, it was even harder being a sharecropper. In fact, this was really just a step above slavery and not much of a step, I might add.

This was a very small family, tightly woven together, and built on faith. The Reid family was proud, respected, and well known in this community. The family’s core was Sylvanus, affectionately called Vanus, but to me he was Granddaddy. A quiet hard working family minded man. He married Miss Gladys in the mid nineteen twenties and had lived on this place since then. Although they did not own the farm nor did they have very many material possessions, they were rich in love and strong in faith. The farm was all they knew and this family was their life.

Granddaddy was a proud man who commanded respect by his mere presence. He was strong, and had to be, because of his life’s existence. He believed the event about to take place would be the blessing for which he had long dreamed. To him this was a bright beacon of hope. He believed firmly that faith was being sure of what you hoped for and certain of what you could not see. Granddaddy conceived this understanding, maybe through a vision, that this child would be key to the future of his family. He had very high hopes that this event would bring the gift for which he had long waited.

Miss Gladys, his beloved wife, was a good Christian woman and a real fighter. She was known throughout the community as Big Momma, and Big Momma was something else. If that’s the way she saw it, that’s the way it ought ta be. She would always say, “I’m like a blue hen chicken, I cluck but I never sit.” I don’t think anyone really understood what she meant by that, but she was the boss. Well, she was the boss to everyone but Granddaddy.

Their union produced one son, Sonny, who was Ruth’s husband. They had three children. Their names were Effie, Dottie, and Buddy. Martha, their oldest daughter had one child, a son, whose name was Willie. Then there was Josie, the youngest of Granddaddy’s children. Which meant, as the baby of the family she was special. Oh yeah, there was also a child Granddaddy raised whose name was Lilly and this was pretty much the Reid family.  Also present on this day was Martha’s boyfriend Lonnie, as he was on most weekends. The gathering on this day also included a few of the good church folk who came by after the church service.

If you love history and want to know our story visit http://johntwills.com for more information and to purchase the novels. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


By Any Means Necessary

Malcolm X was no doubt one of the most profoundly significant, famous, and controversial African American leaders of our time. I cannot recall any other MAN, except maybe Dr. King, whose impact was so overwhelmingly felt by so many. The Minister Malcolm’s prophetic words spoken over forty-five years ago resonate as relevant today as the day they were spoken evoking the same emotions of truth.

February 21st is the anniversary, for lack of a better word, of Minister Malcolm X’s assassination at the Audubon Ballroom that has yet to be fully resolved in the minds of most of us. What I can say is that we lost a champion unlike anyone I have witnessed in my lifetime. Therefore, it would be blasphemy to dedicate an entire month to the ghost of the greats and not include the most articulate orator of our time.

I could go deeply into the making of this man but so many people, agencies, institutions and organizations have covered this great man’s brief life on earth in much more detail than I can. As you know, there is a vast sea of in-depth analyses, books, movies, and biographies on his life and philosophies. I will not try to rewrite history rather simply pay homage to the legacy of this great man as brief as I can, honoring him for his contributions to the African American Diaspora.

There are facts (known & unknown), suspicions and of course theories surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, the impact it has had on our culture and the world the world. Like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X also had a dream. It began bathed in the tenets of anger and hatred, fostering economic independence on the shoulders of retaliatory separatism that ended with the swelling acceptance of a unified brotherhood and the replacement of hatred with peace and with the nagging thirst for international equality for all mankind.

As the story goes, early in Malcolm’s life a white teacher asked him what he would like to be and his answer was “a lawyer”. The teacher, who had encouraged his white students on their career choices, told Malcolm, “That’s no realistic goal for a nigger”. This statement discouraged a bright student to not seek his full potential leading to a life of crime. After being caught and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon he was sentenced to prison. While serving more than six years he began educating himself, converted to the Islamic faith and became a Black Muslim in the Nation of Islam (NOI).

After his release in 1952, Malcolm Little, now known as Malcolm X, went to Detroit and began to actively preach to the frustrated African American population about what Islam had to offer. It made no difference where he conducted his sermons and teachings, whether on the streets or in a temple. He spread the word to anyone who would listen.

It was not long before Malcolm became a favorite of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He was made a minister and began to travel from city to city, preaching the message, founding new temples and converting thousands of people to the faith. Two years later, Malcolm X became minister of the famed Temple Number Seven in Harlem, New York.

In April of 1964, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca which led to his second conversion. He met brothers of the faith who were from many nations and of many races, black, brown, white, and all the sons of Allah. The reality dawned on him that advocating racial cooperation and brotherhood would help resolve the racial problems in America and, hopefully, lead to a peaceful coexistence throughout the world. Malcolm X’s transformed ideas and dreams reached full fruition and were ready for implementation. He changed his name, this time to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and found himself going against the system, but this time he would not be alone in the fight for equality and justice.

It did not take long for the reactionaries to strike out at Malcolm X. Members of the NOI resented what they thought were his attempts to supplant Elijah Muhammad. Government entities feared his involving the NOI in international issues, as well as his starting to lean too far to the left, while law enforcement officials looked upon him and his actions as radical, criminal and detrimental to society.

Early on the morning of February 14, 1965, Malcolm and his family were peacefully asleep in their home in Elmhurst, New York. They were suddenly awakened by the sounds of shattering glass and explosions. Several Molotov cocktails had been thrown through their living room window, engulfing the house in roaring flames. Malcolm and his wife, Betty, quickly gathered their children and rushed out of the burning house. Once safe, they stood outside in the cold air, watching as their home and possessions burned. It was never determined who had tried to kill them, though Malcolm did tell authorities he thought it may have been the NOI.

Just one week later at a scheduled appearance at the Audubon Ballroom, which was almost full on a cold February day with over 400 followers of Islam anxiously awaiting Brother Malcolm X. No uniformed police were visible inside the Audubon, but two were stationed outside the entrance although it was common knowledge that an attempt on Malcolm’s life was a real possibility. Inside the Audubon Ballroom, several dark-suited NOI guards were positioned near the stage and towards the rear of the room. As soldiers of the NOI, the militancy of the neatly dressed men was evident in their demeanor, as they surveyed the room, quietly watching the seating of late arrivals.

Malcolm X, his pregnant wife and their four children waited as a tense and nervous Malcolm X ordered two of his guards to take his family out into the hall to their seats in a box near the front of the stage. Seemingly irritated and exhausted, Malcolm X mentioned to his aides that he had reservations about speaking. Malcolm’s misgivings were reflected in his taut features as his restless eyes darted around the room as he listened to Brother Benjamin Goodman making his opening speech.

At approximately 3:08 pm, Brother Benjamin ended his speech and introduced Malcolm X, who walked out onto the stage to a lengthy ovation.
Malcolm stepped up to a wooden podium and looked out at the audience. When the applause finally settled down, he offered the audience the Muslim greeting and smiled when they responded in-kind. Just as he began to speak again, a commotion broke out near the rear of the ballroom. Two men jumped up, knocking wooden folding-chairs to the floor, as one of the men yelled, “Get your hand out of my pocket!” As Malcolm responded with cool it there brothers, a loud explosion suddenly erupted in the back of the room, which began to fill with smoke.

Malcolm’s bodyguards and aides hardly had time to react as the well coordinated ruses effectively diverted their attention from him, allowing unopposed gunmen to begin their attack. A man rose from the front row and pulled out a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun from under his coat and fired twice at Malcolm.

Simultaneously, as Malcolm was falling backwards and clutching his bloody chest, two more men jumped up and fired pistols at him as they rushed the stage. Although Malcolm was down, the two men repeatedly fired bullets into his body before turning and running to flee the premises. More shots were fired as they ran.

Betty Shabazz shielded her children with her body beneath a bench. As soon as the shooting ceased, she rushed toward the still body of her husband as she screamed, “They’re killing my husband! They’re killing my husband!” When she reached his side she realized he was dead, despite the frantic efforts of followers trying to stop the flow of blood from his bullet riddled body.

Upon learning of the assassination of Malcolm X, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked that “One has to conquer the fear of death if he is going to do anything constructive in life and take a stand against evil”. We may never know all of the facts about who was behind the assassination or who ordered his death. But we do know that these assassins denied him the chance to act upon his newly formed convictions.

Today, the man and the name, Malcolm X, are known in America and throughout the world. He was a celebrated freedom fighter and motivating force to those whose future he had the vision to see, the will to stand up and fight for. Postage stamps and posters now bear his image out of recognition and honor for his final crusade.

The eulogy that actor Ossie Davis delivered at his funeral profoundly impresses upon us that, “However we may have differed with him, or with each other about him and his value as a man, let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man but a seed which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is a Prince, our own black shining Prince! Who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”

Malcolm X was a man who fulfilled his place in history and stayed true to his words: “It is a time for martyr’s now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood.”

A collection of Malcolm X Speeches

And That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

Black History is American History
“Just a Season”
Legacy – A New Season the sequel is coming!


The Mis-Educated Negro

My friends tell that I have been here before which is why I see things the way I do. I think what they mean by that kind of remarks is that I see things from a Thought Provoking Perspective. If, by chance, that statement is true in one of my past lives I once taught a college course where “The Mis-Education of the Negro,” was the class text. I realized that this was the most profound novel ever written on the thinking of the African American Diaspora.

It was such an amazing experience because of powerful messages revealed within the pages. Especially when you consider this great work was originally published in 1933 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who is known as and considered the father of Black History Month; this book should be mandatory reading for all African Americans – young and old.

As the class progressed and the assigned chapters were read I was struck by the fact that we have not understood the potent message left for us. The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that Negroes of his day were being culturally indoctrinated rather than taught in American schools; actually, not even given the advantage of education. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent, seeking out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident – nearly eighty years later.

He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were 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.”

Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, social networking, and a president who looks like us; we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the obvious question is “why are we not?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage of their options to strengthen and empower their communities while, sadly, robbing our communities in the process. We will let anybody set up shop in our communities and take our money.

My point is: We must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping our money in our communities. Some say we spend trillions annually and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things and expect different results. We can change the world, but first we must change ourselves.

Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit.”

It is time to build upon what was left for us or more importantly “know where you came from to know where you’re going, if we are ever going to get there.”

And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective!

Black History Everyday because Black History is American History.

“Just a Season”

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AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season the sequel is coming!


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