Tag Archives: literature

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 Messenger Of Truth

007_1000I am a huge fan of wordsmiths and in my view the greatest unheralded voice of our time was Gilbert “Gil” Scott-Heron; a genius of a musician, song writer, and author. However, Gil was known primarily for his work as a messenger thought his the art of spoken word. His heyday was during the 1970s and 80s but his legacy is everlasting. His vocal stylings as he put it, was that of a “bluesologist”, which he is defined by others as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues.”

The music of Gil Scott Heron, most notably on Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. His recorded work received much critical acclaim, especially one of his best-known compositions “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“. His poetic style has influenced hip-hop where those artists referred to him as the Godfather. Gil’s music was a genre all to itself and worthy of recognition because he was a head of his time and courageous enough to speak truth to power on behalf of the powerless.

What we are seeing today is his prophetic prophesy. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Winter in America 
From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds
Looking for the rain
Looking for the rain
Just like the cities staggered on the coastline
Living in a nation that just can’t stand much more
Like the forest buried beneath the highway
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
 
And now it’s winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
‘Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America
 
The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain
 
And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
 
And now it’s winter
It’s winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It’s winter, Lord knows
It’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America
 
And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save

Rest In Peace my brother. Thank you for the messages. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


THE APOLOGY

2On this, the last day of black history month, and a leap year, let us not forget the horrors inflicted upon us for four-hundred years and come together with one single purpose – UNITY! The first step in this effort begins with family and for that we need black women to stand up and stand by black men to do what God intended. Celebrate Black History 365 days each year. Our story is the greatest story ever told. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

THE APOLOGY by Aisha Williams

They beat me and I called you to save me … but you couldn’t.. so I secretly resented you. They took our babies and sold them, I begged you to save us.. but you couldn’t .. so I secretly blamed you..

They raped me, and I cried out for you to protect me… but you couldn’t…..So I stopped trusting you…

You were supposed to be my man.. my provider.. my protector but when I needed you.. you couldn’t be there… so I hated you…
How could I let you tell me what to do.
When massa could protect me more than you..
How could I submit to you when you are forced to submit to massa?
So to protect myself I submitted to the one who could protect me and our children.

I stopped trusting you..
I stopped loving you..
I stopped honoring you..
I stopped valuing you and in turn I became valueless to you.

I didn’t see the frustration in your eyes when our children were sold..
I didn’t hear your silent cries when I was beaten.
I didn’t see your anger when I was being ravished..
I didn’t understand that you held your emotions to be strong for me..
I thought you didn’t care.. but you wanted to be there…you wanted to protect me.. you wanted to ….

but massa made it so you couldn’t so I would trust him more than you.
I didn’t see the hidden hands shaping our destiny..
all I saw was my pain.. and the feeling that you neglected me..

For all the times I blamed you, I’m sorry
For the resentment and distrust I’ve held against you for centuries.. I’m sorry
For the times I’ve let you down
For all the times I’ve broken your spirit with my words and my actions.
For the times I openly rejected you.. and tried to control you .. because I thought less of you.. I’m sorry..

Massa had a plan.. that he said would work for 400 years.. 400 years is over now.

My eyes are wide open… ..
I see the king in you…

Please forgive my wrongs and see your queen in me.

POETRY By KhaYah (Aisha Williams) ©

Much love and many thanks to Aisha Williams for this powerful poem. Sharing it with the world! John T. Wills


HAPPY NEW YEAR: Thank You For Your Support

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The year of our lord 2016 has arrived which comes with our new year’s resolutions. Last year was a very bad year regarding justice, civil rights, and what I would describe as a war on black people. My wish for the new year is the same prayer black people have been praying for nearly four-hundred years; STOP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE AND TREAT US FAIR.

Lately, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Happy New Year and to express, humbly, my sincerest appreciation to all of my friends and everyone who follow’s THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVES. This is also to include everyone who reads my words and to all who share my thoughts with others through social media platforms.

THANK YOU!!!

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Thought Provoking Perspectives is designed to be a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base with those who share my passion for the written word.

Let me offer a personal thought:

“I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair… You only have a minute. Sixty seconds in it. Didn’t choose it, can’t refuse it, it’s up to you to use it. It’s just a tiny little minute but an eternity in it! You can change the world but first you must change your mind.” @JohnTWills

1111thank you

A MUST READ!!! copy


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

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


Essential African American Writers

imagesThough things have steadily improved a bit over the past few decades, the literary canon is still dominated by what’s commonly criticized as “dead white men.” Because of this phenomenon, the contributions of female and minority writers, philosophers, scholars and activists fall to the wayside — sometimes completely missing opportunities to pick up prestigious awards.

Readers from all backgrounds hoping to diversify their intake of novels, poetry, essays and speeches would do well to start here when looking for African-American perspectives. Trust and believe that there are far more than these 20 fantastic writers, but the ones listed here provide an amazing start to your literary empowerment.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014): This incredible Renaissance woman served as the American Poet Laureate, won several Grammy Awards, served the Civil Rights cause under the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., taught numerous classes and enjoyed a respectable performing arts career — all while never losing sight of her elegant poetry and prose. Her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings remains one of the most essential and inspiring examples of the genre, often finding its way onto syllabi across the nation. Like every other entry on this list, she’s more than an essential African-American writer — she’s an essential component of the literary canon, period.

James Baldwin (1924-1987): Writer, activist and expatriate James Baldwin fearlessly tackled challenging, controversial sexual and racial subject matter at a time when hate crimes and abuse against the African-Americans and members of the LGBTQIA community ran riot. The impact of religion, for better or for worse, amongst the two marginalized minorities comprises one of his major themes. Go Tell it on the Mountain, Baldwin’s sublime debut novel, pulled from his own life experiences and opened readers up to the realities those forced to the fringes of society must face on a daily basis — and how they find the strength to continue in spite of adversity.

Sterling Allen Brown (1901-1989): Folklore, jazz and Southern African-American culture greatly inspired the highly influential academic and poet. In 1984, Sterling Allen Brown received the distinguished position of Poet Laureate of the District of Colombia for his considerable contributions to education, literature and literary criticism — not to mention his mentorship of such notable figures as Toni Morrison, Ossie Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many more. Along with Langston Hughes and many others during the “Harlem Renaissance” (a term Brown considered a mere media label), he showed the world why poetry written in the African-American vernacular could be just as beautiful, effective as anything else written in any other language.

William Demby (1922-): In 2006, received a Lifetime Achievement recognition from the Saturday Review’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. He has only written four novels to date, with 1950s reflection on West Virginian race relations Beetlecreek garnering the most attention. These days, he works as a contributing editor for the nonprofit, bimonthly literary journal American Book Review after having retired from academia in 1989.

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895): Today, schoolchildren across America remember Frederick Douglass as one of the most inspiring voices in the pre-Civil War Abolitionist movement. Because of his autobiographies and essays — most famously, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a Slave – readers fully understood the mortal and dehumanizing dangers found on slave plantations and farms. Following emancipation, Douglass continued working as a political activist and lecturer, traveling all over the world to discuss issues of slavery and equal rights.

Paul Laurence Dunbarr (1872-1906): Even those unfamiliar with the amazing Paul Laurence Dunbar’s writings still know of them tangentially — “I know why the caged bird sings,” the inspiration for Maya Angelou’s autobiography, comes from his poem “Sympathy.” Way before that, though, he earned a reputation as the first African-American poet to gain national renown, though his oeuvre stretched into novels, plays, librettos and more as well. Most literary critics and historians accept that the sublime 1896 piece “Ode to Ethiopia” the defining work that launched him to national acclaim, paving the way for later writers from a number of different marginalized communities to shine through.

Ralph Ellison (1914-1994): To this day, Invisible Man remains one of the most intense portraits of a marginalized community (American or not) ever printed. Writer, literary critic and academic Ralph Ellison bottled up the anger and frustration of African-Americans — specifically men — shoved to the fringes of society for no reason other than skin color, paying close attention to how they channeled such volatile emotions. Even beyond his magnum opus, he made a name for himself as an insightful scholar with a keen eye for analyzing and understanding all forms of literature, and he published numerous articles fans should definitely check out.

Bell Hooks (1952-): Gloria Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, stands at the forefront of postmodern feminism. Thanks to her impressive activism work meaning to break down racial, gender and sexual barriers, she published some of the most essential works on the subjects — including the incredibly intelligent and insightful Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Today, she continues to lecture, publish and teach classes that carry on her philosophies pushing towards a more equitable, harmonious society.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967): Regardless of whether or not one considers the Harlem Renaissance a broad media label or a legitimate literary movement (or somewhere in between), few argue that Langston Hughes emerged as one of the most essential American writers of the period. He worked in a wide range of styles, from plays to novels to essays to songs, but today’s audiences seem to know him from his poetry more than anything else. Though the short story collection The Ways of White Folks still garners plenty of attention for its sarcastic take on race relations in the early decades of the 20th Century.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960): Because Zora Neale Huston intently studied anthropology and folklore, her fictional characters crackle with nuance that becomes more apparent in subsequent readings. Her oeuvre stretches across four books, with Their Eyes Were Watching God easily the most recognized, and over 50 plays, short stories and essays — all of them considered some of the finest examples of Harlem Renaissance literature (not to mention American in general!). Interestingly enough, her conservative leanings placed her at odds with her more liberal contemporaries from the movement, most especially the heavily influential Langston Hughes.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968): The passion and backbreaking effort Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put into nonviolently protesting the state of African-Americans and other minorities needs no further introduction. His historical impact, still resonant and relevant today, came about through his eloquent, inspiring writings — largely speeches, essays and letters. “I Have a Dream” and “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” are essential readings for anyone interested in history, Civil Rights, politics, culture and even excellent persuasive nonfiction.

Toni Morrison (1931-): Among Toni Morrison’s litany of accomplishments sits two incredible awards — both the Pulitzer Prize (which she won for Beloved in 1988) and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Along with the aforementioned novel, The Bluest Eye and Song of Soloman have both received plenty of acclaim for their fearless approaches towards racial, sexual and economic divides. Today, she remains politically, educationally and creatively active, touring the world to receive some impressive, distinguished honors and promote the importance of literacy and equality.

Barack Obama (1961-): Though known more as a politician than a writer, America’s 44th president published the incredible memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance in 1995 — right at the very beginning of his political career. Such literary giants as Toni Morrison have praised Barack Obama’s writing style and very raw exploration of his biracial identity at a time when such things were not exactly embraced. Most of his writings these days center around politics, naturally, but the autobiography remains essential reading for anyone interested in American history, race relations and other similar topics.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Because of Sojourner Truth’s unyielding strength and integrity, both the abolitionist and women’s rights movements propelled forward and changed American history forever. Her writings bravely addressed some incredibly controversial subject matter, and she put her beliefs into practice with the Underground Railroad and the recruitment of Union soldiers. To this day, the haunting “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech remains her most celebrated, influential and inspiring work, encapsulating how frustrated and overlooked she felt as both an African-American and a female.

Alice Walker (1944-): The Color Purple rightfully earned Alice Walker both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 1983, and to this day it remains her most cherished and essential work. Inspired by the Civil Rights movement and professor Howard Zinn, she used the novel format to expound upon the double marginalization of African-American women, speaking frankly about tough racial and sexual issues. She wrote many other novels, short stories and essays tackling similar subject matter as her more famous book — any fans should certainly head towards her more “obscure” works for more in-depth explorations of such complex themes.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915): As with many other early African-American writers of note, impassioned activist and educator Booker T. Washington used his talents towards abolishing slavery and establishing equal rights. Though he butted heads with many other Civil Rights leaders of the time — most especially W.E.B. DuBois — his efforts certainly lay the foundation for Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and other leaders who rose to prominence in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Washington wrote 6 books in his lifetime, among many other formats, but his autobiography Up From Slavery earned him the honor of being the first African-American ever invited to the White House in 1901.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784): In spite of her unfortunate slave status, this absolutely essential writer became the first African-American woman to see her lovely poems pushed to print. So impressed was the world at large by her lyrical prowess, she received special permission to travel abroad and meet influential English politicians and delegates — though she only attained freedom following her master’s death. Most of her poems revolved around historical figures, close friends, Classical ideas and images and Christian propriety rather than the plight of the enslaved and the female.

Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900): Most historians and literary critics accept 1859’s Our Nig as the very first novel ever published by an African-American writer in the United States. Drawing from her own life story, Harriet E. Wilson used her pen to shed light on the true horrors of slavery, but unfortunately it fell from the public’s attention until Henry Louis Gates, Jr. rediscovered her talents and revealed her significance. Outside of her writing, she also garnered some degree of attention as a political activist, lecturer, trance reader and Spiritualist.

Richard Wright (1908-1960): Regardless of whether or not one picks up Richard Wright’s fiction or nonfiction, he or she will be treated with some oft-controversial observations on race relations in America prior to the Civil Rights movement. Black Boy is, by and large, probably his most popular work, regardless of format. Most of his works, like many other African-American writers of the time, revolved around promoting awareness of the marginalization they experienced because of restrictive laws and general antipathy from mainstream society.

Malcolm X (1925-1965): 1965’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X remains an incredibly essential read for anyone desiring to learn more about American history and the Civil Rights movement. Journalist Alex Haley interviewed and assisted the activist in compiling what became his only book, published with an addendum following his assassination. However, for a deeper glimpse into X’s beliefs, his relationship with the controversial Nation of Islam and his efforts to further the African-American cause, one must also pick up his published speeches as well.

READ!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”

Remembering Gil Scott-Heron

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The phenomenon of the late Gil Scott-Heron was truly a powerful voice that spoke to the world with profound essence. I’ve often heard that genius is a rare gift and those who have been given “IT” walk a fine line between that which we appreciate and that which they know themselves to be. To me, that was Gil. I will call him that because he was one of us and from the first time I heard him; it felt like he was within me. His astute stature demands respect because he spoke truth and enlightenment when others dared not do. Therefore, Mr. Heron will live forever, and his prose will be eternal.

I will say with certainty that he was real, and although troubled nearing the end of his life, I felt his pain and I admired him for living life on life’s terms. His political commentary was raw and on point, which is what really impressed me. He had the ability to rebuke bygone bogeymen such as Nixon, Reagan, and Agnew. Darts were also flung at contemporary targets, notably Barack Obama. “My president’s black / But the plan remains the same,’’ rapped Enoch 7th Prophet and who can forget the classics “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’’, “Winter in America’’, “Beginnings (First Minute of a Brand New Day)”, and “Whitey on the Moon.’’

This man was the precursor to rap with some saying he was the “Godfather of Rap” although he often bristled at the suggestion. “I don’t know if I can take the blame for it,” he said in an interview with the music Web site The Daily Swarm. He preferred to call himself a “Bluesologist,” drawing on the traditions of blues, jazz, and Harlem Renaissance poetics. For sure, he was a poet and recording artist whose syncopated spoken style, and mordant critiques of politics, racism, and mass media made him a notable voice of black protest culture in the 1970s.

He did establish much of the attitude and the stylistic vocabulary that would characterize the socially conscious work of early rap groups like Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. He also remained part of the DNA of hip-hop by being sampled by many hip hop stars. Chuck D, the leader of Public Enemy, told The New Yorker in 2010 that Gil Scott-Heron is the manifestation of the modern word… He and the Last Poets set the stage for everyone else.”

He was born in Chicago on April 1, 1949, and reared in Tennessee and later moved to New York. His mother was a librarian and an English teacher; his estranged father was a Jamaican soccer player. In his early teens, Gil wrote detective stories, and his work as a writer won him a scholarship to the Fieldston School in the Bronx. There he was only one of 5 black students in a class of 100. Following in the footsteps of Langston Hughes, he went to the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and he wrote his first novel at 19, a murder mystery called “The Vulture.” A book of verse, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” and a second novel, “The Nigger Factory,” soon followed.

He lived most of his adult life in New York, yet also spent some years in Washington, including a stint in the 1970s. He taught English at Federal City College (a predecessor of the University of the District of Columbia). Gil once described “Washington, DC as both capital and hometown: “Symbols of democracy, pinned up against the coast / Outhouse of bureaucracy, surrounded by a moat / Citizens of poverty are barely out of sight / Overlords escape in the evening with people of the night.”

After meeting and working with a college friend Brian Jackson. Gil turned to music in search of a wider audience. His first album, “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” was released in 1970 on Flying Dutchman, a small label, and included a live recitation of “Revolution” accompanied by conga and bongo drums. Another version of that piece, recorded with a full band including the jazz bassist Ron Carter, was released on Mr. Scott-Heron’s second album, “Pieces of a Man,” in 1971.

“Revolution” established Mr. Scott-Heron as a rising star of the black cultural left, and it’s cool, biting ridicule of a nation anesthetized by mass media has resonated with the socially disaffected of various stripes — campus activists, media theorists, coffeehouse poets — for four decades.

During the 1970s, Gil was seen as a prodigy with significant potential, although he never achieved more than cult popularity. He recorded 13 albums from 1970 to 1982 and was one of the first acts that music executive Clive Davis signed after starting Arista Records in 1974. In 1979, he performed at Musicians United for Safe Energy’s “No Nukes” benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden, and in 1985, he appeared on the all-star anti-apartheid album “Sun City.” But by the mid-1980s, Mr. Scott-Heron had begun to fade, and his recording output slowed to a trickle. In later years, he struggled publicly with addiction.

Some of the content for this article appeared in print on May 29, 2011, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Gil Scott-Heron, a Voice of Protest And a Music Pioneer, Dies at 62. This spoken word genius created a genre for himself and all his own. He empowered and for that brother Gil – thank you! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

THE BOTTLE

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED


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