Tag Archives: Legacy

Negro League Baseball

1-There is an old saying that “it happens every spring”. A reference to baseball, a game black people ruled and a game black people were not allowed to play with white people. They called it segregation, I call it a disgrace. The good thing was that black people had their own league called the Negro League. It was spectacular, the greatest game on earth.

The only vestige of Negro League baseball, today, is remembered in Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. All of us, should be proud of the honor bestowed upon the league and the legendary stars that played in the league. Such as the great Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and the great Willie Mays. Of course, we cannot forget Jackie Robinson who was credited with breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.

This is where I have a problem – “Breaking the Color Barrier”. Could it be that this is a polite or a sanitized way of disguising the wretchedness imposed upon a race of people as a result of the Plessey Supreme Court decision that made segregation the law of the land for more than fifty years? This decision was so wretched that Blacks were not allowed to drink from the same water fountain or use the same toilet facilities, let alone play a game. Let’s be clear baseball is a game, but it is also a business. This is simply what this event was about – business.

A few years after Mr. Robinson, who was not the best player in the Negro Leagues, crossed over and won the Major League’s most valuable player award, which means he was better than all the white players playing that year. To put this into perspective, the Major Leagues were losing money, and the Negro Leagues were flourishing. Therefore, the “scheme” was to take the Negro players and bring them into the Major Leagues, and as history shows by doing so; the Negro Leagues was put out of business because all the great players followed.

Again, I want to be clear, and I take nothing away from Mr. Robinson or any of the other greats because they were GREAT, which was why they were marketable from a business standpoint. To prove my point; when was the last time you saw a baseball player successfully steal home in a game, which was something that Jackie Robinson was able to do and did regularly.

Let me close by paying homage to the greatest man in Negro Leagues history, its founder Andrew “Rube” Foster, whose vision has become little more than a footnote to the Leagues history. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Remembering The Notorious B.I.G. On The 20th Anniversary Of His Passing. #RIP Biggie Smalls

“Excellence is my presence. Never tense, never hesitant.” – Biggie Smalls.

1-These were the words left to us by mere mortal like the man whose government name was Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls, also known as Notorious B.I.G. Gone too soon, but his impact will live forever. He was born May 21, 1972, in Bedford–Stuyvesant (colloquially known as Bed-Stuy) neighborhood in the north-central portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn where some say is city’s roughest borough. There he grew up to become a drug dealer and a hustler, but his legacy was that of a master lyricist.

I have known many artists in my lifetime who have recorded and sold millions of records whereas Mr. Big recorded only three that solidified his place in music history for all-time. He started experimenting with music as a teenager and, not long after, befriended Puffy Combs and with the guidance of Tupac Shakur turned ashy into classy. His 1994 debut album, Ready to Die, was a smash hit and Life After Death became a classic.

Around his neighborhood, Biggie Smalls, as he called himself then, began building a reputation as a musician. After a tape of his landed in the hands of Mister Cee, a well-known DJ, Smalls was featured in the hip-hop publication, The Source.

Almost immediately, the Notorious B.I.G., as he now called himself, appearing on the 1993 remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love,” and followed it up with a second Blige remix, “What’s the 411?” His debut as a solo artist came with the single, “Party and Bullshit,” on the soundtrack to the film, Who’s the Man?

In my view the release of his debut album, Ready to Die, which told the story of his life, from a drug dealer to rapper, was as prophetic as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” With hits like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa,” the record went platinum, and the young hip-hop artist became a full-fledged star. That same year, The Source named the rapper “Best New Artist,”Best Live Performer” and “Lyricist of the Year.”

As his star power increased, Biggie did his best to share his prestige. He backed the work of several rappers that he’d originally performed with while starting out in Brooklyn, and took to the studio in support of other artists on Sean “Puffy” Combs’s label. He also teamed up with such stars as Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. By the close of 1995, Biggie was one of music’s best-selling and most sought after performers.

Big’s success and wealth hardly brought peace to Biggie’s life where he was often quoted as saying “more money more problems.” In the immediate aftermath of Ready to Die’s popularity, the rapper found himself in constant fear. In 1994, he told The New York Times that he was disliked for having more money, which came with his fame.

It was after the murder of Tupac Shakur that amplified Biggie’s fears about his own life, and his concern was tragically validated on March 9, 1997. Biggie, who had just come out of the Soul Train Music Awards, was sitting in an SUV when another vehicle pulled up to his car, opened fire and killed him. His murder shook the music world, prompting fears that the hip-hop world might erupt into a full-fledged war, ending numerous other lives. Biggie was only 24 years old at the time.

In the wake of Big’s killing, the record Life After Death was a giant hit, selling nearly 700,000 copies in its first week. Two years later, Born Again, an album of unreleased material from Biggie, was released. The third album of extra material, Duets: The Final Chapter was released in 2005.

Today, Biggie is still one of the music industry’s most admired hip-hop artists. Several musicians have paid tribute to Biggie by mentioning him in their songs, and his musical style has been emulated by countless up-and-coming artists. There is little doubt that Biggie’s talent, as a writer and rapper, propelled him from a place where so many have been lost and will continue to be acknowledged for decades to come.

If Biggie were alive today, it is safe to say there would be many so-called rapper starving and unknown. Knowing it or not, maybe call it destiny, the Notorious B.I.G. proved there is “Life After Death” and it’s called eternity. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


A Message For Black Women

1-I have been known to post Thought Provoking Perspectives that evoke controversy, as well as thoughts based on sound reasoning. This post I’m sure will do one or the other. It is not my intent to cast blame or fault; just a thought on a day without women. However, there is blame and fault to be extended to a large part of the black female population. Yesterday there was a huge celebration for women and I saw many black women participating. This was staged and for white women not to address the issues of black woman. I can remember the feminist movement that hoodwinked you; this so-called celebration was akin to that – it has nothing to do with you!

I cannot recall any movement that was organized by white folk that was designed to uplift or benefit you by those folk. I am not sure what would make you think any white women give a damn about you or your condition. If that was the case black people would not be in the condition you are in today. I can remember a time when Big Mama taught lessons to her daughters concerning the profound responsibly a black woman has to the survival of black life, which is to produce and maintain the life she bore. See it is you who nurtures and feeds the family to produce a long life and a decent quality of life for the children you birth.

Most blacks still fall into that deranged thinking that if a white person does it that so should it is good for you! From my perspective, many of our women have fallen into the cultural digression of that strange reality of thinking you should assist with the white woman’s problem. I will not dare speak to your womanhood mainly because I am not qualified to do so. But what I will say that their problems as a whole have nothing to do with you and nor are they interested in solving the issues that plague your life.

If they did we would see them rally around causes like the brutal and senseless police shootings of your black sons and stand up to your current state of affairs. Sadly they don’t! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Aftermath Of Integration

1I recently had a conversation with a group of young people, none of which lived during the age of government segregation. Each had strongly convoluted opinions about the era that were not based in fact. This made me think about how much the current world view has changed the reality of black life, as it relates to a historical perspective.

First, white folk never wanted it and chatted go back to Africa at the time. It was never intended to be fair or equal! I am not suggesting that integration should not have happened, but it did have a negative impact on black life and the future of African Americans in many ways. Two prominent ways were in the areas of family and black business.

One thing that happened, for sure was that the black community stopped supporting the businesses in their own communities. After segregation, African Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses. Even though the number of black firms has grown 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, they only make up 7 percent of all U.S firms and less than .005 percent of all U.S business receipts.

I took the opportunity to educate these young people that in 1865, just after Emancipation, 476,748 free blacks – 1.5 percent of U.S. population– owned .005 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Today, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, 44.5 million African Americans – 14.2 percent of the population — possess a meager 1 percent of the national wealth.

If we look at relationships from 1890 to 1950, black women married at higher rates than white women, despite a consistent shortage of black males due to their higher mortality rate. According to a report released by the Washington DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, the state of the African American family is worse today than it was in the 1960s, four years before President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.

In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the black community are at an astonishing 72 percent. Researchers Heather Ross and Isabel Sawhill argue that the marital stability is directly related to the husband’s relative socio-economic standing and the size of the earnings difference between men and women.

Instead of focusing on maintaining black male employment to allow them to provide for their families, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with full affirmative action for women. The act benefited mostly white women and created a welfare system that encouraged the removal of the black male from the home. Many black men were also dislodged from their families and pushed into the rapidly expanding prison industrial complex that developed in the wake of rising unemployment.

Since integration, the unemployment rate of black men has been spiraling out of control. In 1954, white men had a zero percent unemployment rate, while African-American men experienced a 4 percent rate. By 2010, it was at 16.7 percent for Black men compared to 7.7 percent for white men. The workforce in 1954 was 79 percent African American. By 2011, that number had decreased to 57 percent. The number of employed black women, however, has increased. In 1954, 43 percent of African American women had jobs. By 2011, 54 percent of black women are job holders.

The Civil Rights Movement pushed for laws that would create a colorblind society, where people would not be restricted from access to education, jobs, voting, travel, public accommodations, or housing because of race. However, the legislation did nothing to eradicate white privilege. Michael K. Brown, professor of politics at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-author of“Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society” says in the U.S., “The color of one’s skin still determines success or failure, poverty or affluence, illness or health, prison or college.”

Two percent of all working African Americans work for another African American’s within their own neighborhood. Because of this, professionally trained Black people provide very little economic benefit to the black community. Whereas, prior to integration that number was significantly higher because of segregation people in the black community supported each other to sustain their lives and families.

The Black median household income is about 64 percent that of whites, while the Black median wealth is about 16 percent that of whites. Millions of Black children are being miseducated by people who don’t care about them, and they are unable to compete academically with their peers. At the same time, the criminal justice system has declared war on young Black men with policies such as “stop and frisk” and “three strikes.”

Marcus Garvey warned about this saying:

“Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.”

Maybe this proves that once past truths are forgotten, and the myths that are lies are born with an unfounded reality detrimental to all, but those who seek to benefit. As I have often said, “I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can change the world but first, we must change ourselves.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Twitter @JohnTWills

Source: Black Atlanta Star


The Greatest Story Ever Told

462_160In thinking about the times in which we’ve lived I can say without a doubt our history ‘is the greatest story ever told’. I am always reminded of the ghosts of the greats who blazed a might trail for us to walk. Black History Month, as short as it is, should be celebrated and taught all year long! It is our responsibility. I was blessed to have had the good privilege to live during the civil rights era to witness groups and individuals fight to end racial segregation and the unequal treatment of black people, which we should never have had to fight in the first place.

Of all the things I am grateful for; is to have lived long enough to witness something ‘no one living or dead’ ever thought would happen. Which was to witness a Black Man elected to be President of these United States of America! To see him and his lovely family exhibit the style and grace representing black people in an extra exemplary way making us proud.

It would be my hope that all of us take this opportunity during Black History Month to reach one – teach one. Share the stories of our struggle with the children. I have added a few of the many significant events and some of the brave and courageous soldiers in the army that changed America or dare I say the world.

Events in the Civil Rights Movement

Solders of the Civil Rights Movement

I am reminded of Malcolm X who used to say “Make It Plain” which meant in essence to bring forth the knowledge. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Black Leadership: Consistent Nothingness

2It has been said that leaders are born and not made. I want to take that cliché a step further and say that black leadership today, or “Our so-called leaders are not born, they are appointed” by those who do not have your best interest at heart (the oppressor). Think about that for a moment! Just because these people get media exposure or stand in front of a large crowd, does not make them your leader or someone who speaks for all black people.

Black people are too quick to have an emotional orgasm when it comes to these folks. The truth is, more often than not, these folks are bought, paid for, and have sold out. In other words, it’s about money, i.e., yes they sold-out! Can you remember being at a meeting where their message had your input? The debacle of last year with the NAACP is a good example of the dire state of black leadership. In this case, a white woman pretending to be black was elected to be president of that local chapter.

First, let’s understand that media is designed for one purpose, and that is to be a misinformation vehicle. Hence, by design it needs agents appointed/hired by those who control your thinking. Don’t you think “they” remember the truth and empowerment given by Brother Malcolm, which I believe was the reason, they killed him. They know history and remember Nat Turner and all will be done to make sure someone like him NEVER appears again. In other words, there is no leader today that is willing to give their life for the cause!

I am not going to call out anyone, in particular, because we know who they are; in fact, there is not one so-call black leader I would follow anywhere! For example, whenever there is a disturbance or uprising the first thing they do is prop up every preacher or anyone carrying a Bible to give the message of peace and non-violence! So the more important question is; why is it that we need a leader appointed by others? No other group or culture requires such misinformation agents or sell-outs in their mists. Is it something like a savior complex or is it the residual of slavery?

The African American culture has forever relied on a “Council of Elders” to guide and direct the lives of its people. These were people with wisdom, and let me say that wisdom is very different from education. In most cases, those who look like us that are put in front of us most often are sent with a script. Further, take notice to what they say and what topics they stay away from. These folks are called provocation agents, whose job is to make you believe what they are told to tell you to believe!

We have heard this term “Black Leadership.” Let me ask this; when did you vote for anyone of these talking heads. Our leader should be chosen by us – not appointed by others. Now, take it a step further; where are they leading us too! Compare it to the good reverend who leads you, in many cases, away from reality. Yet, like sheep, we follow blindly. We have to begin to think and not listen to false prophets!

The Freedom of Information Act has allowed us to obtain information about many of these so-called leaders, and their associates were government operatives while pretending to be on the front lines fighting for our struggles. These agents were with Malcolm and Martin and Garvey and trust me they are around today. Maybe it’s time that we become part of what’s called the “Common Sense Party” where you can see the forest for the trees! This might allow you to remove yourself from that mental bondage that makes you a slave.

I would suggest that you know who you follow and be careful of that messenger who claims to speak for you. So when you follow or believe a message of someone who calls them-self a leader, remember this; not everything that is faith can change things but nothing can be changed until you have faith. So don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep. Have faith in you! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The History Of Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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