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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…


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…

FaceBook @ John T. Wills


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…


Women’s History Month Featured Author

 
Get in Alignment
By Adrienna Turner

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We may be looking through tinted windows and afraid to see the beauty within us to shine for all to see. Although we have recognized our talents, abilities, and/or skills and put them to work, we still may not see who we truly are. God already knows who are you and where you’re going, but we either move too fast or too slow whereas we do not allow things to happen in its timing. We have to clearly understand that everything happens in its due timing (Eccl. 3).

Yet when we hear the Word or receive a revelation, we’re trying to rush and finish the race before God is in the running with us. Or we rather not receive it, ignore it, and forget that we’ve even heard it; so we do nothing. This nothing can last for years, or way longer than God ever intended it to be. A good example is the Israelites residing in the wilderness for forty years that could have taken only days.

However, I had a talk with God about being transparent and sharing a few of my talents with the world, but then wondering why I am in the wilderness. I’ve been in the literary arena for ten years and written ten published books in seven years. After this shift, I had to put projects on hold and even wanted to stop writing altogether. Behind the scenes, I sent out a few manuscripts to publishers that I’ve studied, connected with their authors, researched the literary industry and market, and even received rejection letters.

When I was at my breaking point, I received a literary award for “The Day Begins with Christ” for female author of the year and celebrated with the special ladies of my life at the event. I knew God was aligning me in position. I told God around midnight until I was able to finally around four AM that I put my heart and soul in these literary projects with His anointing to guide the pen as I was only the instrument to complete the finished craft.

But wondered why do you only give us a glimpse of these future realities? Despite the dreams, the visions, the revelations, and celebrating others breakthroughs in their crafts, my mind lingered on a statement made on UnSung with Phyllis Hyman. The statement was addressed that she was a musical genius but didn’t have the record-breaking sales like artists of her today.

Then I thought about my literary career as an author and contributing writer where I’ve volunteered at speaking events and given books for free, not yet to see the ground-breaking sales such as being on best-seller list. Or the royalty checks that reveal such effort, sweat, and those insomnia-restless nights while working on these literary pieces. But God keeps bringing certain people, dreams, visions, confirmations, or situations where I have to keep pressing through and believing that I will see the fruits of my labor.

Through my educational efforts, after seeing the economy fall, I had already experienced unemployment, lay-offs, and financial woes too many times, whereas I know how to weather the storms. Despite the speculators’ gossip, family and friends unbelief, I plan to pursue a law degree. Therefore, we have to keep hope alive because our dreams need to be showcased for someone else to stay inspired to pursue the dreams and gifts that also live within them.

We often talk about our talents and gifts, but fail to activate them when the opportunity presents itself because we allow every excuse to stand between our blessing and us (Wilson, My Business, His Way, paraphrased). Please do not let this be your downfall when aligning yourself in position. Believe and know that we are more than capable in completing our God-given assignment. Keep the faith and speak affirmations to keep pressing towards the goal (see Phil. 4:6-7). Moreover, do not let division stop the vision.

Then, I’ve done several virtual radio programs, TV appearances as a guest host locally, actress in a small stage play production for nearly two years, and appeared on other radio programs but others wonder why do you do it if you see no profitable results from it or lack of participants/listeners. I felt led to step out of the norm, my comfort zone, and venture to new avenues. After five years, four shows, I know that it’s aligning and preparing me for something much bigger.

These things are stepping stones and soon will see the top of the mountain of opportunities and to be financially secure. Ultimately, these things are meaningless without God in it. Moreover, we have to be ready when God tells us to go. Words of encouragement while getting in alignment: You are giving birth to your dreams whereas complications seem harder to PUSH this thing forth. But the more adversity, the more God’s protection and favor is coming your way! Press through the pain…heartaches…and hard times, because the miracles in the midst are worth it all! Don’t fall!

Overall, if we knew what would have happened then things would be different. We just need to change our mindset and believe the unbelievable, and get in alignment with the plans that God has for our lives.

This article was written by Adrienna Turner the award-winning author for female author of the year: The Day Begins with Christ, nonfiction. She is a graduate of a Masters Degree in Library Information Science with honors as magna cum laude and Bachelors Degree in Information Resources from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Websites: 

www.adriennaturner.webs.com
www.dream4more.org
http://dreamyourreality.webs.com


The Hollywood Illusion

22Everybody is talking about this year’s groundbreaking Oscar winning black artists, as if Oscar just realized black people were in the movies. Let me give prop’s to the winners first, and I suppose we should be proud, but in about one hundred years, so few African America’s have walked away with the prize, maybe we should not be over jubilant. In the case of the Best Supporting Actress, there have only been seven black women and in this case the role was a slave.

There was a time, believe it or not, when the only roles African Americans could get in Hollywood were the second class citizen’s rolls; you know the maids, servants, and the all too common Step-in Fetch-it kind of roles. Few blacks were on the screen, and fewer worked behind the screen. Then something interesting happened during the 1960s that was like a revolution. I don’t want to date anyone, but if you did not witness this cinematic transformation, I am going to try to capture the essence of the era.

Hollywood has never, from its conception, view or considered black people as a commodity. They expected all people to watch whatever movies they made and like it, as a result of the government mandated policy of segregation. African American’s in particular simply had no choice but to accept it. It was so extreme that in most cases black people, if they were allowed, had to sit in the balcony and had a separate entrance into the theater where the movie was shown. Hence, all of the hero’s we knew looked like whom they wanted us to emulate.

Now, as a result of the turbulent 1960s, the reflection or the realization of, the country changed. This was not due to Hollywood’s interpretation, rather as far as cinema was concerned, it actually began with a low budget independent film called “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” in 1971, written, produced, scored, directed by, and starred Melvin Van Peebles. It tells the picaresque story of a poor African American man’s flight from the white authority. Van Peebles began to develop the film after being offered a three-picture contract for Columbia Pictures.

No studio would finance the film, so Van Peebles funded the film himself, shooting it independently over a period of 19 days, performing all of his own stunts and appearing in several unsimulated sex scenes. He received a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby to complete the project. The film’s fast-paced montages and jump-cuts were unique features in American cinema at the time. The picture was censored in some markets and received mixed critical reviews.

Then came “Shaft” produced and directed by the Gordon Parks starring Richard Roundtree and was critically acclaimed. The film produced both the Grammy Award and Academy Award winning soundtrack recorded by Isaac Hayes. These were two huge steps in the evolution of black representation on the big screen. After the success of these two films, Hollywood saw that there was a spending black audience wanting to see people who looked like them on the screen, and they began to exploit the new genre even calling it – Blaxploitation.

This brings me to the third movie that I thought never got its just due, although it is a cult classic today. This movie was Super Fly! It was about a cocaine dealer who begins to realize that his life will soon end with either prison or his death. He decides to build an escape from the life by making his biggest deal yet, converting the coke to cash and running off to start a new life. The problem was that the Mob does not have a retirement plan and will give him a choice of staying and selling for them or dying if they find out his intentions.

The star was the late Ron O’Neal a Tall, lean, handsome veteran stage and classically trained actor, whose role as Priest – the long haired, stylishly dressed cocaine dealer in the seminal 1972 crime drama. The co-stars Sheila Frasier, Carl Lee, Julius Harris, and of course we all know Freddie – Charles McGregor; all producing stellar performances. I would be remised if I did not mention the great Curtis Mayfield, who wrote the hit score. I did a little research and found the back story that speaks to the tremendous efforts of the producers and all involved.

Most surprising was that the script was only 45 pages long, which explains why there are so many shots of people walking, driving, etc. The reason I wanted to share this story is because I recently rented the movie and got an entirely different impression of the film than I did thirty years ago.

The moral of the story; when the success of the aforementioned Blaxploitation films proved that money could be made off of blacks the movie market was flooded with an explosion of this genre. My guess is that as a result of 12 Years A Slave, which was done once before, we’re are about to see more slave movies than there were slaves. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Mr. David Ruffin

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

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

I simply want to pay homage to this man whose music was a huge influence upon my life, particularly my young life, to which I am grateful. I once watched a documentary where his son was interviewed and something he said struck in a profound way. He said, “My daddy wanted love, but he got fame”. We know from the many talented artists who have left us of late that there is a line between triumph and tragedy. That line is often thin and frequently ends sadly.

David Ruffin walked that line with tragic consequences. Ruffin will always be remembered as the mightiest of all the Temptations lead singers. He was one of “the voices” that made the Temptations a legacy and will live on in the depths of our souls. We will always remember that sexy, gritty voice, those trademark glasses, and that stage charisma that sums up the one and only David Ruffin, and even that little crack in his voice was ok, well it wasn’t ok, but that was David Ruffin.

His songs were like windows into his soul, exposing his greatest fears as a lover and a man. Even “happy” songs like “My Girl” brought out vulnerability in his voice. His relationship with the Temptations was a stormy one, but the marriage produced defining moments in 1960’s soul music explosion. His voice inspired just about every singer who sung to include the likes of Rod Stewart, George Michael, Daryl Hall, and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few – his influence is everlasting. We’ll never know how good he might have been, but we can rejoice in what he left behind.

Born Davis Eli Ruffin, on January 18, 1941 in Whynot, Mississippi. A sickly child, inflicted with both rheumatic fever and asthma. His mother died in childbirth, and he was raised by his father, a Baptist Minister. He was a complex man and master vocalist with a gospel trained voice that would gain him the affection of several generations of listeners, but Ruffin had more than a voice – he had a persona.

In the best of his music, there was a dark, terrible, tragic, and a personal beauty. A good example would be in his self-penned composition “Statue of a Fool”, written when he was just 18 years old, in which he sees himself as a “man who lets love slip through his hands.”

My favorite line in that tune was “On his face, a gold tear should be placed to honor every tear he shed. And I think it would show, and everyone would know, concealed inside is a broken heart.” This was a powerful statement that spoke to the depth of his soul. However, as history would record he would share his most private pain in the Temptations’ biggest hits. Songs like “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Since I Lost My Baby”, and the chilling “I Wish It Would Rain.

All of these songs were rooted in gospel where David first began singing in The Ruffin Family and The Spiritual Trying Four with his father, his sister Rita Mae, older brothers Jimmy and Quincy. David left home at 13 following his father’s footsteps to practice the ministry, but was sidetracked, singing in Memphis talent shows where he met a young Elvis Presley. He later sang with the gospel group The Dixie Nightingales out of Memphis, Tennessee, and toured with likes of The Womack Brothers, The Swan Silvertones, The Staple Singers, and the Dixie Hummingbirds.

It was with these gospel groups that Ruffin would develop his stage personality, dropping to his knees and doing splits, just like the late Jackie Wilson before him, and David’s show stopping performances within the group would be enough to get him noticed on the secular side.

Then in 1964, when problems arose between the Temptations and group member Elbridge Bryant, David would be invited to join the group. Shortly after David’s arrival, the group would record “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, a Smokey Robinson number with Eddie Kendricks on lead. Gone for a three-week gig in Saginaw, Michigan, the group would return home to find themselves with their first hit. It is said that when David saw the chart standings, he sat down on the long chaise lounge in the Motown lobby, took off his glasses, and cried like a baby.

Ruffin would turn out be an electrifying and dynamic force, when soon after he would bring them their first universal #1 hit, “My Girl”, recorded just before Christmas in 1964, a tune that would turn the group into a household word and legends. The group began turning out one hit after another, and when David took such up-tempo hits as “(I know), I’m Losing You”, to the stage, he became a magnetic field of charisma. His greatness would then shine, and his permanent mark on the pages of history was sealed.

It is reported that Pop Star Michael Jackson paid for his funeral, and numerous celebrities were in attendance at his home going service, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, members of the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Miracles. At the service, Stevie Wonder told the audience: “We’re confronted with a problem that touches every one of us. We’re confronted with the most devastating slave owner of all times.” Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, who spoke told the mournful audience, “In David there is a lesson. We should not clap our hands and mourn, for he is out of trouble now. You are still in it.”

It is not my intent to rewrite history or to re-tell a story that we all know. Rather to simply say, thank you Mr. Ruffin and to say you are gone – but not forgotten? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

 DAVID RUFFIN GETS PERSONAL


                                           

“Just a Season”

http://johntwills.com


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