Tag Archives: John Lennon

Happy Birthday Luther Vandross

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

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


IMAGINE

QU601ImagineJohnLennonI can recall a song written by John Lennon, who in my opinion had a depth that few men dared to explore. He caused me to “Imagine”. When you do open your mind you can realize possibilities. A wise man once told me that faith is believing what is unseen to be true. I have always imagined that people could live in peace and the world could live as one. No pain, no sorry, no racism, and above all “study war no more”.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

And that’s my message and Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Brownsville Series: The Black Mecca

This is another installment of the “Brownsville Series”, which is my way of resurrecting the memory of those areas designated for “Coloreds” during the era of segregation; you know across the tracks – the other side of town. But this place is fittingly proper as I will refer to it as the Black Mecca – Harlem USA or as some have referred to it as the “Capital of Black America”.

Harlem began as a European settlement established in July 1639 in what was then known as New Harlem. It was formalized in 1658, when the English took control of the colony changing the hamlets name to Harlem. At that time, it was merely a small agricultural town just outside of New York City. The name Harlem was a synonym for elegant living through a good part of the nineteenth century. For example, the estate of Alexander Hamilton was located in Harlem.

In 1893, the Harlem Monthly Magazine wrote, “it is evident to the most superficial observer that the centre of fashion, wealth, culture, and intelligence, must, in the near future, be found in the ancient and honorable village of Harlem.” Even then Harlem seemed ordained to be the center of cultural significance but it was not until the mass migration of blacks in 1904 that it began to flourish as a predominantly Black enclave. It was because of a real estate crash that caused worsening conditions for blacks throughout New York City. Prompting Philip Payton, owner of the Afro-American Realty Company, to almost single-handedly created the migration of blacks from their previous neighborhoods establishing Black Harlem or Uptown as it came to be known.

Then black churches began to move uptown. St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, for one, purchased a block of buildings on West 135th Street to rent to members of its congregation. Black Harlem has always been a religious community with over 400 churches of every faith becoming very influential because of their large congregations and wealth as a result of its extensive real estate holdings. However, many as do today, operated what is known as storefronts from an empty stores, building’s basements or converted brownstone townhouses.

At the same time, blacks were migrating to northern industrial cities fueled by their desire to leave behind the Jim Crow South seeking better jobs and education for their children. Jobs were abundant, and many blacks were able to obtain work because expanding industries recruited black laborers to fill new jobs as a result of the war effort. Another reason was to escape the culture of lynching and violence.

By 1920,, in a mere twenty years, Harlem became the center of a flowering black culture that became known as the Harlem Renaissance. This period witnessed the greatest collection of artistic production creating the sound and entertainment of the “Roaring Twenties”, but blacks were sometimes excluded from viewing what their peers were creating. Some jazz venues, including the famed Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington played, or Connie’s Inn were restricted to whites only, although some uptown clubs were integrated.

The most famous venue in Harlem and world renowned was the Apollo Theater that opened on 125th Street on January 26, 1934 in what was a burlesque house. Best known for its “Amateur Night at the Apollo” that continues to this very day. The Apollo was a proving ground, of sorts; if you could make it there you could make it anywhere. Every black performer or artist was ordained by its audience in one way or another. I don’t have enough space to list all of the greats that graced the Apollo stage. If they were successful, they played the Apollo Theater. Another famous spot was the Savoy Ballroom, on Lenox Avenue, was a renowned venue for swing dancing immortalized in a popular song of the era “Stompin’ at the Savoy”.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, between Lenox and Seventh Avenues in central Harlem had over 125 entertainment places operating. Such as speakeasies, cellars, lounges, cafes, taverns, supper clubs, rib joints, theaters, dance halls, and bars and grills. Throughout the twentieth century, particularly during the “Harlem Renaissance”, Harlem served as the home and key inspiration to generations of novelists, poets, musicians, and actors. It was because of the city’s pace, the blend of their backgrounds, the difficulties associated with living in Harlem and their experiences that found expression in theater, fiction, and music, among other art forms.

Some of the luminaries produced by Harlem were Paul Robeson, Claude McKay, and Langston Hughes just to name a few. Though Harlem musicians and writers are particularly well remembered, the community has also hosted numerous actors and theater companies, including the New Heritage Repertory Theater, National Black Theater, Lafayette Players, Harlem Suitcase Theater, The Negro Playwrights, American Negro Theater, and the Rose McClendon Players. Arthur Mitchell, a former dancer with the New York City Ballet, established Dance Theatre of Harlem as a school and company for classical ballet and theater training in the late 1960’s.

Harlem is also home to notable contemporary artists such as the Harlem Boys Choir, a famous touring choir and education program for young boys, most of whom are black. There is also a Girls’ Choir of Harlem and both companies have toured both nationally and internationally. Harlem is also credited with the creation of Hip-Hop and many hip-hop dances associated with this genre. It is also known for producing Rappers such as Kurtis Blow and Hip Hop Mogul P. Diddy.

After the romantic era of the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem ceased to be home to the majority of NYC’s blacks and the character of the community changed in the years after the war, as middle-class blacks left for the outer boroughs and suburbs. With the increase in a poor population, it was also a time when the neighborhood began to deteriorate, and some of the storied traditions of the Harlem Renaissance were driven by poverty, crime, or other social ills. However, as of the writing Harlem is being resurrected, and its future is brighter. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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The One And Only

lenaLena Horne, the electrifying beauty and uncompromising performer, shattered racial boundaries by changing the way Hollywood presented black women for six-decades through a singing career on stage, television and in films.

She is best described in her own words saying “my identity was clear because I no longer have to be a ‘credit,’ I don’t have to be a ‘symbol’ to anybody. I don’t have to be a ‘first’ to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her father was a civil servant and gambler who largely abandoned the family. Her mother, an actress, was largely absent from Ms. Horne’s early life because of work on the black theater circuit. Shifted at first among friends and relatives, Ms. Horne was raised mostly by her maternal grandmother, a stern social worker and suffragette in Bedford-Stuyvesant; then a middle-class Brooklyn neighborhood. Ms. Horne said she was influenced by her grandmother’s “polite ferocity.”

She was the first black woman to sign a meaningful long-term contract with a major studio, a contract that said she would never have to play a maid. This single act transformed the image of the African American woman in Hollywood. As film historian Donald Bogle said, “Movies are a powerful medium and always depicted African American women before Lena Horne as hefty, mammy-like maids who were ditzy and giggling… Lena Horne becomes the first one the studios begin to look at differently… Really just by being there, being composed and onscreen with her dignity intact paved the way for a new day” for black actresses.

Her reputation in Hollywood rested on a handful of classic musical films. Among the best were two all-black musicals from 1943: “Cabin in the Sky,” as a small-town temptress who pursues Eddie “Rochester” Anderson; and “Stormy Weather,” in which she played a career-obsessed singer opposite Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. She shared billing with hugely famous white entertainers such as Gene Kelly, Lucille Ball, Mickey Rooney and Red Skelton but was segregated onscreen so producers could clip out her singing when the movies ran in the South.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios featured Ms. Horne in movies and advertisements as glamorously as white beauties including Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable. James Gavin, who has written a biography of Ms. Horne, said: “Given the horrible restrictions of the time, MGM bent over backward to do everything they could. After MGM, she was an international star, and that made her later career possible, made her a superstar.”

Ms. Horne appeared on television and at major concerts halls in New York, London and Paris. She starred on Broadway twice, and her 1981 revue, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music,” set the standard for the one-person musical show, reviewers said. The performance also netted her a special Tony Award and two Grammy Awards. She was formidable and the first black cabaret star for white society.

As a songstress her repertoire consisted of sophisticated ballads of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser and Billy Strayhorn. She loved the music but also said she liked surprising the white audience who expected black entertainers to sing hot jazz or blues and dance wildly. In her singing, Ms. Horne showed great range and could convincingly shift between jazz, blues and cabaret ballads. New Yorker jazz writer Whitney Balliett praised her “sense of dynamics that allowed her to whisper and wheedle and shout.”

In 1963, Ms. Horne appeared at the civil rights March on Washington with Harry Belafonte and Dick Gregory and was part of a group, which included authors James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry that met with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to urge a more active approach to desegregation.

Ms. Horne also used her celebrity to rally front-line civil rights activists in the South and was a fundraiser for civil right groups including the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women. After the triumph of her 1981 Broadway show, she led an increasingly isolated life in her Manhattan apartment.

Over my lifetime I have seen and known giants who have illuminated the world. No star has shined brighter than “The Horne”. Ms. Horne as you take your rest among the ghost of the greats now belong to the ages. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Racism Is Alive

racimHave you asked yourself “What is Racism?” Webster says it is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities, and racial differences that produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. This does not adequately explain or represent the reality of what we’re witnessing in today’s political and social environments. I believe racism is a misunderstood psychology, and yes there is a psychology to racism, which causes the confusion in the minds of many.

Today we see that racial prejudice or discrimination, which is a prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment is somehow believed to be directed toward people of the dominate race that they’re calling reverse discrimination. Yet, those same people enjoy the wealth built on the backs of those who were truly discriminated against as a result of racism. Case in point, every so many years the Voting Rights Act must be reauthorized so African Americans can have the right to vote. Shouldn’t it be permanent as the founding documents claim that “All men are created equal”!

The legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of its diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of African Americans based on an ideology of supremacy. We are the descendents of stolen souls who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man. Hence, from the beginning, people of African descent were intended to be a nation of people living within a nation without a nationality.

~ “Law and Order” music plays ~

I read an article, “When Racists Speak Their Unspoken Truths” by Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., who made a statement that speaks loudly to this issue. “It’s what racists claimed for 235 years that American society is about rights (mainly theirs, everybody else’s can be stepped on) and not about race. It’s why racists wore hoods and sheets in public, and why their powerful societies that controlled political and economic affairs were always secret. The less you know about what they think, the less you can respond to how they think, even though the social, political and economic outcomes will tell you what they think.” It seems that those who claim racism, or not, are active participants in the continuance of this ideology and (in their minds) think they are now subjected to it.

I think we should understand the sub-text of what we are seeing today, at least from a power and political perspective. Let look at, for example, the strategic effort to marginalize a black President, which is consistent with the Republican Party’s objective of marginalizing the Democratic Party because of its large minority support. Now just like back in the days of segregation, its staunchest supporters were Southerners, Mid-Westerners and poor whites, and those people of that mindset didn’t vote for President Obama anyway. They are probably in a state of shock because much of the country overcame their racial insensibilities to elect a black President in the first place. We see how far and deep racism is within certain elements of society as a result.

African American’s, and other minorities, must understand that many blacks still bear the scars of a despicable history and the untreated wounds of our forefather’s bondage. As you have traveled with me though my chronicles, my purpose is to simply offer explanations causing people to look at and understand the root cause of the asymptomatic behaviors, and that this is the result of conditioning by a system that never viewed us as equal.

This intolerance or behavior was never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, African American, and worst. All were polite terms assigned to make known that people who of color were not American citizens. Remember the statement in the country’s blueprint that says clearly “3/5 a man” and did not mention women at all.

The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. To include the age old practice, that has been very effective, “divide and conquer” because this form of thinking has one purpose; the system is designed to protect the system. Therefore, when you look at the facts of what we have experienced and what they imply relating to this new phenomenon is as far apart as the vastness of the universe.

As tenacious beings, we must understand that there is no such thing as an inferior mind unless you listen to the untruth. To overcome these indignities we must realize that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize the forces that breed poverty and despair. So I say it’s time for an awakening, if for no other reason than to honor those who sacrificed so much in order that we could live life in abundance. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Christians with Pervasive Issues

book coverAbout The Book

Even as a faithful Christian, there may be times when you feel that there is no hope of escaping issues and themes in your life that ensnare and trip you up time and time again. When a certain pattern of behavior or type of suffering has been following you all your life, it’s hard to believe that you can ever escape from it. Christians with Pervasive Issues shows us that every child of God can be delivered from issues that cause them to be a victim, rather than walking in victory. In compassionate, no-nonsense language, Annie Brown demonstrates that with genuine repentance, using God’s principles, and the right counseling/support, you can overcome anything. Christians with Pervasive Issues gives you the ray of hope you need in order to heal your life, and get closer to God.

About The Author

photoAnnie Brown is the mother of four adult children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild. She is a licensed minister and social worker. As a social worker, Annie works the terminally ill, providing emotional support at the most critical time in an individual’s life. It is Annie’s desire that Christians work through their pervasive issues before the end of life, so that the transition between death and eternity can be smooth, and not cluttered with unresolved conflicts.

The Meaning of Pervasive Issues

I WAS GETTING ready for work and suddenly the words “Pervasive Issues” were dropped into my spirit. Can you imagine someone who is not normally a morning person having something so important to deal with? I could not even think of the meaning of “pervasive,” so I could not comprehend what was being said to me. I went on to work, but it did not leave me. I shared what had been dropped into my spirit with my co-worker who is an encourager. He gave me a push to pursue the message the Spirit was conveying, and to understand what God wanted me to write. I could not begin until I did some preliminary homework. I had to figure out what part of speech that “pervasive” was. “Pervasive” is an adjective, which served as a modifier to the noun (issue). Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined it as “spreading through every part.” If an issue is pervasive, it permeates the whole of something. Pervasive issues need to be dealt with within the Body of Christ.

Book Excerpt

A Remedy to Get to the Root of the Problem

WHAT IS NEEDED is that the people of God “must” clean out their secret compartments and confess that they need the Lord to deliver them. Confession is made unto salvation (deliverance). If we confess our faults, the Lord is faithful in forgiving us. You may ask, “Why do I have to confess if I was not responsible for what happened to me?”

The issue then becomes whether you have forgiven the person that caused me this harm. If there is no forgiveness, then you become a victim twice: a victim of circumstance, and a victim of bondage. This can be in some ways more dangerous than cancer. This will always be eating away at you. With cancer, at least you know what is going on in your body. Being a victim of circumstance and having an unforgiving heart bring torment. This torment becomes a part of you in such a way that it eats through your mind, destroys your inner peace, and puts your soul in jeopardy because it becomes a heart matter of sin.

Recognizing There Is a Need

EVERY INDIVIDUAL IN the Body of Christ has strengths and needs. Most times the two words strength and weakness are used to describe parts of your abilities to cope. I like the word needs instead of weakness, because weakness denotes that I just cannot help it.

However, the word need helps me to understand that I am insufficient within myself to furnish the supply. In other words, I don’t have what it takes to get this matter taken care of and I “need” help. Help, Lord! The Word of God has declared that God will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory. Denying our helplessness and unwillingness to take the need to God only prolongs getting deliverance and healing. The Lord revealed that the Body of Christ was compared to harvest time when it is gone and the people are left in dire need.

Let us look at Jeremiah 8:20, which stated, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved [delivered].”

Connect with the Author

Email Address: aclara2002@yahoo.com
Website www.outskirtspress.com/christianswithpervasiveissues
Facebook link

Order a copy

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Christians-with-Pervasive-Issues-ebook/dp/B005IAAPMK/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

Outskirts Press: http://outskirtspress.com/webpage.php?ISBN=9781432775766

Tour Schedule: Write Now Literary Virtual Book Tour http://wnlbooktours.com/annie-brown/

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The Snake

sMy Granddaddy would tell me fascinating stories designed to develop and guide me into manhood. In fact, he would specifically use the phrase: “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you may have to do but when the time comes, you do it.” I heard this that even today it brings a warm smile – “when I have to do it”. He said it so often throughout my youth that to me it was more like a commandment.

I loved Granddaddy more than life itself. I knew, even then, his teachings were an inspired declaration of his celestial will or more simply put – his vision that shaped my destiny defining my purpose. Pop’s would teach me lessons, often times, like an Aesop Fables to make me think and it was my job to figure out the moral of the story.

This is my favorite:

The way the story was told to me, Granddaddy’s friend, Mr. Bob whose job was to offer a prayer every Sunday morning at church during the service prior to the preacher’s sermon, a job he had held for years. Sunday was a special day for the community, and for him to have a position where he would have the attention of everyone was a big deal. More accurately stated it was a platform for him to perform. He would have been a great entertainer.

Mr. Bob would walk to church every Sunday morning, rain or shine, from his home. The trip was several miles up and down hills and around curves, and he would be dressed in his best suit for the morning service. During the walk he would practice his part for the service, the prayer, with the intention of making it a show complete with screams and tears. This show would sometimes last thirty minutes. There were many Sundays one would wonder how one man could have so much to ask of the Lord and maybe say, please, let somebody else get a blessing.

On his way to church this particular Sunday, Mr. Bob came across an injured snake. In what he perceived as divine intervention, God said to him, help this poor creature. He realized he did not have a prayer for that day’s service, so he thought, wow, if I help the snake I can pray for us to have the strength to help all of God’s creatures. Since the snake is the lowliest of all creatures, this would really inspire the congregation and hopefully give them the encouragement to do the same at least until next Sunday’s message. So he picked up the badly injured snake and placed him in a safe place until he could return from church.

With great energy, and now inspired, Mr. Bob went on his way. He planned and practiced his prayer as he marched on to church. After he arrived and exchanged a few greetings, the service began with a joyful noise, as they say, meaning full of song. Then it was his turn to pray. He began to pray with a powerful tone, full of emotion. He asked God to give each person within the sound of his voice the strength to reach out and help all God’s creatures, from the loving dove to the lowly snake. His message had many in the tiny church standing with shouts of Amen. He felt he had done his job as he closed, asking God to bless the church and said Amen. In his usual style this took about a half hour.

To his surprise, the pastor also chose a sermon nearly identical to his message which took about another hour and a half, talking about helping all of God’s creatures. What a great day it was, Mr. Bob thought. Normally after the service ended everyone hung around and fellowshipped as it was one of the few chances they had to socialize. Mr. Bob would not hang around on this day – he had a mission and left church in a hurry. He rushed back to the spot where his injured snake was placed hoping it would still be there. He was very excited when he arrived to find it was where he left it. He put his snake in a burlap bag he had gotten from the church and took the snake home.

Over the next several weeks Mr. Bob cared for this creature, desperately trying to save the snake and nursing it back to health. About three weeks later he thought it was time to take his snake back to where he found it, thinking it was well enough to be set free. The following Sunday, he put on his best suit and started his journey to church with snake in hand. As he arrived at the spot where he had found it, he thought, what a wonderful thing he had done. He was sure to receive God’s blessing for this act of kindness.

He rubbed the snake gently and said goodbye. However, when he reached into the bag to grab it, suddenly the snake raised his head and bit him. Then bit him again and again. Mr. Bob cried out, “Why would you bite me after all I’ve done for you? My God why?” I guess he was expecting an answer from God, but none came. He repeated his cry once more. Then the snake stuck his head out of the bag and said, “I am a snake and that’s what we do.”After hearing this story over and over again, I finally figured out what it meant. It was a lesson that would prove to be invaluable.

Be careful in your dealings with people because people, just like the snake, will hurt you – that’s what they do. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Just a Season Excerptjust a season large book cover © 2009 All Rights Reserved

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