Tag Archives: MSNBC

R.I.P. Honorable Dick Gregory

5Today, seemed like the saddest day of my life hearing that my hero passed away! I want to applaud the great Dick Gregory for the gift of his commitment, wisdom, and his genius! Dick Gregory, whose government name is Mr. Gregory was active in the civil rights movement from the beginning. He came to Selma, Alabama and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day” (October 7, 1963). In 1964, Gregory became more involved in struggles for civil rights, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform, anti-drug issues, conspiracy theories, and others. As a part of his activism, he went on several hunger strikes.

There are few people, who dare to speak truth to power. Brother Gregory is a fearless champion of the African American people, and dare I say the world. He has been at the forefront of Civil Rights before it was known as such. His is a comedian, writer, entrepreneur, social activist and critic.

Dick Gregory began his career as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid-1950s. He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After being discharged in 1956, he returned to the university but did not receive a degree. With a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago. He said of his early career, “Blacks could sing and dance in the white night clubs but weren’t allowed to stand flat-footed and talk to white folks, which is what a comic does.”

Gregory attributes the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner, who watched him perform at Herman Roberts Show Bar. Based on that performance, Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club as a replacement for the white comedian Professor Irwin Corey. Shortly after that Gregory’s first TV appearance was on the late night The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar, which positioned him to begin appearing nationally and on television.

Gregory currently stands at number 82 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-up comics of all time and has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. There is a grassroots effort afoot to get him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, spearheaded by Radio One host Joe Madison.

Mr. Gregory was active in the civil rights movement from the beginning. He came to Selma, Alabama and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as “Freedom Day” (October 7, 1963). In 1964, Gregory became more involved in struggles for civil rights, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform, anti-drug issues, conspiracy theories, and others. As a part of his activism, he went on several hunger strikes.

Gregory began his political career by running against Richard J. Daley for the mayoralty of Chicago in 1967. Though he did not emerge victorious; this would not prove to be the end of his dalliances in electoral politics. He also unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate of the Freedom and Peace Party.

He wrote the book “Write Me In” about his presidential campaign. One interesting anecdote therein relates the story of a publicity stunt that came out of Operation Breadbasket in Chicago where the campaign had printed dollar bills with Gregory’s image on them, some of which made it into circulation, causing considerable problems, but priceless publicity. The majority of these bills were quickly seized by the federal government.

He was an early outspoken critic of the Warren Commission findings that President JFK was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. On March 6, 1975, Gregory and assassination researcher Robert Groden appeared on Geraldo Rivera’s late night ABC talk show Goodnight America. An important historical event happened that night when the famous Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination was shown to the public on TV for the first time in history. The public’s response and outrage to that showing led to the forming of the Hart-Schweiker investigation, which contributed to the Church Committee Investigation on Intelligence Activities by the United States, which resulted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation.

In 1998 Gregory spoke at the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with President Bill Clinton in attendance. Not long after, the President told Gregory’s long-time friend and P.R. Consultant, Steve Jaffe, “I love Dick Gregory; he is one of the funniest people on the planet.” They spoke of how Gregory had made a comment on Dr. King’s birthday that broke everyone into laughter when he noted that the President made Speaker Newt Gingrich ride “in the back of the plane,” on an Air Force One trip overseas.

At a Civil Rights rally marking the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Gregory criticized the United States, calling it “the most dishonest, ungodly, unspiritual nation that ever existed in the history of the planet. As we talk now, America is 5 percent of the world’s population and consumes 96 percent of the world’s hard drugs”.

Gregory announced a hunger strike on September 10, 2010, saying in a commentary published by the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal that he doubted the official U.S. report about the attacks on September 11, 2001. “One thing I know is that the official government story of those events, as well as what took place that day at the Pentagon, is just that, a story. This story is not the truth, but far from it. I was born on October 12, 1932. I am announcing today that I will be consuming only liquids beginning Sunday until my eightieth birthday in 2012 and until the real truth of what truly happened on that day emerges and is publicly known.”

His most lasting impression resulted from his 1984 founding of the Health Enterprises, Inc., a company that distributed weight loss products. With this company, Gregory made efforts to improve the life expectancy of African Americans, which he believes is being hindered by poor nutrition and drug and alcohol abuse. In 1985 Gregory introduced the “Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet,” a powdered diet mix. He launched the weight-loss powder at the Whole Life Expo in Boston under the slogan “It’s cool to be healthy.” The diet mix, drunk three times a day, was said to provide rapid weight loss. Gregory received a multimillion-dollar distribution contract to retail the diet.

As we celebrate this his born day, I want to pay homage to the Honorable Dick Gregory for his commitment and dedication to speak truth to power and for the knowledge to empower all of us. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Books

  • Nigger: An Autobiography, with Robert LipsyteE.P. Dutton, September 1964. (one account says 1963) (reprinted, Pocket Books, 1965-present)
  • Write me in!, Bantam, 1968.
  • From the Back of the Bus
  • What’s Happening?
  • The Shadow that Scares Me
  • Dick Gregory’s Bible Tales, with Commentary, a book of Bible-based humor. ISBN 0-8128-6194-9
  • Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature! ISBN 0-06-080315-0
  • (with Shelia P. Moses), Callus on My Soul: A Memoir ISBN 0-7582-0202-4
  • Up from Nigger
  • No More Lies; The Myth and the Reality of American History
  • Dick Gregory’s political primer
  • (with Mark Lane), Murder in Memphis: The FBI and the Assassination of Martin Luther King
  • (with Mel Watkins), African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today (Library of Black America)
  • Robert Lee Green, Dick Gregory, daring Black leader
  • African American Humor: The Best Black Comedy from Slavery to Today (editor) ISBN 1-55652-430-7

Never Forget: The Emmett Till Story

IMG_0637Throughout America’s sorted and often shameful history, there have been many children murdered but the Murder in Money, Mississippi is the most infamous. It was this incident, the murder of a 14-year old black child from Chicago who supposedly whistled at a white woman in a grocery store whose death sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement.

The crime sounded clarion calls for a nation to wake up – just look at the photo. Till’s mutilated corpse circulated around the country mainly because of John Johnson, who published the gruesome photographs in Jet magazine, a predominately African American publication. The photo drew intense public reaction.

Till didn’t understand or knew he had broken an unwritten law of the Jim Crow South until three days later; when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. That night the door to his grandfather’s house was thrown open, and Emmett was forced into a truck and driven away never again to be seen alive again. Till’s body was found swollen and disfigured in the Tallahatchie river three days after his abduction and only identified by his ring.

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Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterward, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was the spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River the Montgomery bus boycott began.

It’s been sixty years since the events of that fateful night, and I simply cannot find the words to describe this heinous crime that has yet to receive justice. Till was one of hundred of children murdered, then and now, at the hands of a racist system much like Trayvon Martin’s death or Michael Brown’s murder in our time. We will never know the significance of their life or contribution to the world.

I’ll end by sharing these words by Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

IMG_0637

The links below can better inform you of the facts:

The lynching of Emmett Till: a documentary narrative

By Christopher Metress
(free online book)

 

 

YOU MUST SEE THIS!!!

Purchase “Just a Season” today !!!


Commentary: We Have “Not Overcome”

200_1000theLet’s be real, the ancestors left lessons and told us what to do. We know all the horrible tales of lynchings, rapes, murders, and the pacification of white folk never end. If they care so much about black people – they would have told the truth about history instead of creating hi-story, which are lies to cover-up their dastardly deeds. I want anyone reading this to ask yourself – does it really take 400 years to end the systematic system of racism?

I’ve lived through segregation and knew the evils of the Jim Crow system first-hand and what I see today not much has changed. In fact, I don’t think the wretched system of racism is worse. Justice is still unjust and black people are still viewed as “less than” as the Constitution says and you know white folk love them some constitution! You do know it say we are 3/5ths human and the Supreme Court decision made it law that “a Negro has no right that white man is bound to respect” in the Dred Scott Decision.

Just as they always done, they hold up a few to make it appear as if we have “overcome” or achieved some measure of advancement. Malcolm would have called some of these folks who keep telling us everything is alright – “House Niggers” – I will call them covert operatives. It was Solomon that said “there is nothing new under the sun.” This is a powerful statement because very little has changed since the 1960s, even though they remind us of this mythical dream!

If you look at history, you will see that it repeats itself; the system is designed to protect the system, and that system excludes black people. They would deport black people if they could but there is nowhere to send us – remember they kidnapped us! Malcolm told us that “Anywhere south of Canada was south”, meaning wherever you are in America you were subjected to discrimination regarding the “separate but equal” laws and racism is the unwritten law of the land.

I am not just saying this to be as I have been called, a “race baiter”. It is the honest truth but white fold are in denial that racism even exists. Republicans Party in particular want to turn back the hands of time and take back their country, which they did by electing Trump who is the embodiment of all that white supremacy means. Their attempts to suppress voting rights is in no way different than the poll taxes from the days of segregation, so this is not new either – it’s just the American political structure. There have been many ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, black people have endured the brunt of these efforts.

So there continue to be “Black Codes” which are laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American people. However, the difference today is that they just use different codewords to make it politically correct. This is the reason conservatives speak of taking back their country and have a strong desire to uphold “States Rights”; because at the state level laws can be unimpeded by the federal government. You can see this clearly today by the upsurge in the police killings and corruption under the cover of law all over the country while the country rushes to save those on distant lands wasting trillions.

I wrote an article a few weeks ago titled “The Making of a Slave” to which I received a comment from a guy; I’ll call Mr. White Man. I should assume he was a white man because he vociferously defended the American way! In the article, I talked about the Willie Lynch Syndrome. This guy goes on to tell me or in his mind educate me on the subject by telling me there was never a Willie Lynch and that the supposed letter was debunked years ago. He went on to say that there was no truth to the myth. However, what he did not understand that true or not, there is a system in place to ensure black people “love and respect only” them.

He went on to say, “how sad that I write about the bad things in history; how lucky I am for all that America has done for my people, and I should leave that stuff in the past”. Normally I don’t take the time to respond to fools because my grandfather taught me a long time ago “never argue with a fool”. However, his comment proves my point that he knows the game is rigged against people of color. He also knows he benefits from a privilege decreed by the “American Way”.

Truth is those fools who sung that old Negro spiritual “did not believe “we shall overcome” either! Malcolm X once said that it is time to stop singing and start swing! Overcoming is not insight unless we fight!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Remembering Medgar Evers: The First Civil Rights Martyr

11Medgar Wiley Evers was born in Decatur, Mississippi on July 2, 1925; dying the victim of a racially motivated assassination on June 12, 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi after attending a rally. He was the third of four children of a small farm owner who also worked at a nearby sawmill. His social standing was impressed upon him every day, but Evers was determined not to cave in under such pressure. He once said his mission was evident at the age eleven or twelve when a close friend of the family was lynched.

He walked twelve miles each way to earn his high school diploma and joined the Army during the Second World War. Perhaps it was during the years of fighting in both France and Germany for his and other countries’ freedom that convinced Evers to fight on his own shores for the freedom of blacks. After serving honorably in the war, he was discharged in 1946; he began working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952. Evers traveled throughout the state of Mississippi trying to encourage voter registration and worked tirelessly to enforce federally mandated integration laws.

On 12 June 1963, hours after President John F. Kennedy gave a televised speech condemning segregation, Evers was shot in the back by a high-powered rifle while returning home. He crawled to the house and collapsed in front of his wife and three children; he died an hour later. The rifle found at the scene belonged to Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the all-white Citizens’ Council, a statewide group opposed to racial integration akin to the KKK.

Beckwith was tried twice but nearly thirty years later, thanks to the persistence of Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, the case was reopened and Beckwith was tried and convicted in 1994, and the conviction was upheld by the state supreme court in 1997. Evers-Williams published “For Us, The Living in 1967”; Beckwith’s trial was the basis for the 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi that starred Whoopi Goldberg.

Medgar Evers position in the civil rights movement was that of field secretary for the NAACP and recognized as one of the first martyrs of the civil rights movement. His death prompted President John Kennedy to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the following year.

The Mississippi in which Medgar Evers lived was a place of blatant discrimination where blacks dared not even speak of civil rights; much less actively campaign for them. Evers, a thoughtful, and committed member of the NAACP wanted to change his native state. He paid for his convictions with his life, becoming the first major civil rights leader whose death was called an assassination.

Evers was featured on a nine-man hit list in the Deep South as early as 1955. He and his family endured numerous threats and other violent acts, making them well aware of the danger surrounding his activism. Still he persisted in his efforts to integrate public facilities, schools, and restaurants. He organized voter registration drives and demonstrations. He spoke eloquently about the plight of his people and pleaded with the all-white government of Mississippi for some sort of progress in race relations. To those people who opposed such things, he was thought to be a very dangerous man.

In some ways, the death of Medgar Evers was a milestone in the hard-fought integration war that rocked America in the 1950s and 1960s. While the assassination of such a prominent black figure foreshadowed the violence to come, it also spurred other civil rights leaders, also targeted by white supremacists, to new fervor. They, in turn, were able to infuse their followers with a new and expanded sense of purpose; one that replaced apprehension with anger.

Evers must have also had a sense that his life would be cut short when what had begun as threats turned increasingly to violence. A few weeks prior to his death, someone threw a firebomb at his home. Afraid that snipers were waiting for her outside, Mrs. Evers put the fire out with a garden hose. The incident did not deter Evers from his rounds of voter registration or from his strident plea for a biracial committee to address social concerns in Jackson. His days were filled with meetings, economic boycotts, marches, prayer vigils, and picket lines and with bailing out demonstrators arrested by the all-white police force. It was not uncommon for Evers to work twenty hours a day.

The NAACP posthumously awarded its 1963 Spingarn medal to Medgar Evers. It was a fitting tribute to a man who had given so much to the organization and had given his life for its cause. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Medgar Evers’ story lies in the attitudes of his two sons and one daughter.

Though they experienced firsthand the destructive ways of bigotry and hatred. Evers’ children appear to be very well-adjusted individuals. Myrlie Evers remarked, “it has taken time to heal the wounds [from their father’s assassination, and I’m not really sure all the wounds are healed. We still hurt, but we can talk about it now and cry about it openly with each other, and the bitterness and anger have gone.”

As a fitting tribute, Evers was interred at Arlington National Military Cemetery in Washington DC. How many of you are willing to give your life for something greater than yourself? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


Did You Know: Harlem Saved A King

2There was a fateful day in September 1958 that nearly caused us to lose a King. Dr. King was an emerging activist who was hosting a book signing for his book, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” at Blumstein’s Department Store in Harlem, New York. On that day Dr. Martin Luther King was almost taken from us. Imagine what our lives and the world would be like today – if he had not survived the attack. Not many people know the name Izola Curry or that Dr. King barely escaped death that day.

While signing books, Dr. King was approached by a 42-year-old black woman, Izola Ware Curry, who asked if he was really Martin Luther King Jr. After responding yes, witnesses say Curry promptly took a letter opener out of her purse, closed her eyes and plunged it into Dr. King’s chest.

With the help of local police officers, first responders and the Harlem Hospital surgical team, Dr. King fortunately survived the stabbing, but doctors said because the opener grazed the surface of his aorta, if she had stabbed harder or if someone removed the object improperly, he probably would have drowned in his own blood.

“If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama to see the great movement there,” Dr. King famously said ten years after the incident in his last speech, ”I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

While local media reported Dr. King’s attempted assassination in the following weeks, the story did not become national news because he was not a prominent public figure at the time.

But mystery remains surrounding attacker Izola Curry. Who was she? What happened to her? And why did this woman attempt to kill one of the greatest civil rights leaders?

Two filmmakers claim that their upcoming documentary, When Harlem Saved A Kingwill answer all of these questions and also shed light into Curry’s life, who has remained, as of now, virtually unknown to the public.

“Everybody is fascinated with this story about Dr. Martin Luther King. Everything you hear about him is from history books, but this puts a different spin on Dr. Martin Luther King’s rise to fame and it’s absolutely true,” says executive producer Wayne Davis in an interview with theGrio.

While the mystery behind Curry is alluring to historians and the public alike, both the director, Al Cohen, and Davis, say their film will also pay homage to the “unsung heroes” from the Harlem community who helped save Dr. King’s life.

“Harlem was never given a badge of honor as it relates assisting in the Civil Rights Movement. This particular project that we’re doing helps bring that shade to the Harlem community. We can stand up tall and realize that we had a very major impact in the Civil Rights Movement,” said director Al Cohen in the interview.

The two Harlem natives have spent the past several years researching and tracking down firsthand sources and information to figure out what happened to Curry and community members who played a role in saving Dr. King.

“The objective of When Harlem Saved a King is to unravel mysteries, expose secrets and misconceptions; and answer unanswered questions. The pieces of this untold story will be woven into a compelling 60 minutes through the creative integration of eye-opening interviews [with firsthand witnesses],” according to the documentary’s website.

After the stabbing incident, Curry was taken into custody and was found to be incompetent to stand trial for assault charges. She was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was committed to the Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane according to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Although the media portrayed Curry as a deranged woman with no real motive to kill Dr. King, both Cohen and Davis say that they have compelling evidence that Curry may have been part of a larger conspiracy to thwart the impending Civil Rights Movement.

“I think people will find an ironic twist about [the story]. Many said she was deranged woman, but it could possibly something bigger than that, a bigger conspiracy,” says Cohen. “It’s not just a crazy woman who got in an argument against [Dr. King] and just wanted to defend herself. It was more calculated than that.”

“For a deranged woman who acted solo, why was a lot of money in the south raised for her defense?” adds Davis. “That’s all I want to say. You will find out in the documentary what happened to her.”

Additionally, there are no records indicating Curry died at the mental institution and if she is still alive, she would be 96 years old today. Cohen and Davis say that the documentary will be groundbreaking because it will reveal what happened to Curry and if they were able to locate her.

“Nobody was ever able to get to [Izola Curry]. We have no information or any interviews or any leads about this woman, [except] the things we have found,” explains Cohen. “There is nobody out there that anybody has spoken to her outside of what we have found.”

The two filmmakers promoted their documentary throughout Black History Month to shed light onto a part of African-American history that has almost been forgotten. Just last week, the two hosted a screening of the trailer at Harlem Hospital.

“If Dr. King had died, would we be here talking with you today? We don’t know!” says Davis. “Maybe [the Civil Rights Movement] wouldn’t have progressed as soon as it did. Maybe it wouldn’t have progressed at all.”

The two filmmakers say that they are currently finishing the film’s production and they hope to premiere the documentary at the end of July.

I think this is a worthwhile project and one we should support. Therefore, I am reposting the article originally posted on theGrio to lend my support of this historical documentary. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Webpage: When Harlem Saved A King


History’s Most Courageous Harriet Tubman

1Harriet Tubman, in my opinion, was the most courageous woman who ever lived, and my personal hero. Hidden in the tiny “dash” on her marker is her life’s work of being the great conductor of the Underground Railroad, a scout, spy, and nurse during the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross sometimes referred to as “Moses.” The date of her actual birth is suspect because as a slave accurate birth records were not kept. Therefore, no one can say for sure as to the actual date. She always proclaimed her birth as 1825 but most historians believe she was born around 1820 or 1821.

After escaping from the slavery into which she was born, she made thirteen missions to rescue over seventy slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She once remarked that she could have saved a lot more if they had only known they were slaves. Her courage was that of unimaginable proportion because death was the penalty for such work.

Early in her life, she was told that she was of Ashanti lineage from what is now Ghana where her grandmother was captured. Her mother, Rit, struggled to keep their family together as slavery tried to tear it apart. Edward Brodess sold three of her daughters separating them from the family forever.

Once a trader from Georgia approached Brodess about buying Rit’s youngest son Moses; she hid him for a month, aided by other slaves and free blacks in the community. At one point she even confronted her owner about the sale. Finally, Brodess and “the Georgia man” came toward the slave quarters to seize the child where Rit told them: “You are after my son, but the first man that comes into my house I will split his head open.” Brodess backed away and abandoned the sale.

Because Tubman’s mother was assigned to “the big house” and had scarce time for her own family, as a child Tubman took care of a younger brother and a baby. At the age of five or six, she was hired out to a woman named “Miss Susan” as a nursemaid. Tubman was ordered to keep watch on her baby as it slept. When it woke or cried, Tubman was whipped.

She told of a particular day when she was lashed five times before breakfast. She carried these scars for the rest of her life. Threatened later for stealing a lump of sugar, Tubman hid in a neighbor’s pig sty for five days, where she fought with the animals for scraps of food. Starving, she returned to Miss Susan’s house and received a heavy beating.

Tubman was beaten and whipped regularly by her various masters to whom she had been hired out. She learned to protect herself from such abuse by wrapping herself in layers of clothing but cried out as if she was not protected. Tubman also worked as a child for a planter where her job was to go into nearby marshes to check the muskrat traps.

Even after contracting the measles, she was sent into waist high cold water. She became very ill and was sent back to her master. Her mother nursed her back to health, whereupon she was immediately hired out again to various farms. As she grew older and stronger, she was assigned to grueling field and forest work: driving oxen, plowing, and hauling logs.

Tubman’s father Ben was released from slavery at the age of forty-five, as stipulated in a former owner’s will, though his real age was closer to fifty-five. He continued working as a timber estimator and foreman for the Thompson family, who had owned him as a slave.

Several years later, Tubman contacted a white attorney and paid him five dollars to investigate her mother’s legal status. The lawyer discovered that a former owner had issued instructions that Rit, like her husband, would be manumitted at the age of forty-five. The record showed that a similar provision would apply to Rit’s children and that any children born after she reached forty-five years of age were legally free, but her owners ignored this stipulation.

Around 1844, she married a free black man named John Tubman. Although little is known about him or their time together, the union was complicated due to her slave status. Since the mother’s status dictated that of her children, any children born to Harriet and John would be enslaved. As a result of her master’s death the likelihood that Tubman would be sold increased and the family would be broken apart as their master’s widow would sell the family’s slaves. Tubman refused to wait for her owner’s family to decide her fate, despite her husband John’s efforts to dissuade her.

She escaped to Philadelphia and returned to Maryland to find her husband. However, John had married another woman named Caroline. Tubman sent word that he should join her, but he insisted that he was happy where he was. Tubman at first prepared to storm their house and make a scene but decided he was not worth the trouble. Suppressing her anger, she found some slaves who wanted to escape and led them to Philadelphia. John and Caroline raised a family together until he was killed sixteen years later in a roadside argument with a white man.

It is said, that she freed hundreds but when asked she said I could have saved many more if they only knew they were slaves. I don’t know what it says on her final marker but it should contain a simple inscription that says – “Servant of God”. In my opinion, she was the most significant black woman in our history!  And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Just a Season

AMAZON


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


Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

1There have been so many horrors inflicted upon the least of thee, black people, at the behest of the US Government. One of the most atrocious atrocities was the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment. This was a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the US Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis on rural African American men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government. This evil plan hatched in Tuskegee was transplanted to Guatemala after the experiment was shut down in Tuskegee.

Investigators enrolled a total of 600 impoverished sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama from a pool of 399 of black men who had previously contracted syphilis before the study began. However, 201 did not have the disease. The men were given free medical care, meals, and free burial insurance, for participating in the study. But they were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the subjects were told they were being treated for “bad blood,” a local term for various illnesses that include syphilis, anemia, and fatigue.

The study was controversial for reasons related to ethical standards lasted for forty- years. The government personnel involved knowingly failed to treat patients appropriately after the 1940s validation of penicillin as an effective cure for the disease they were studying. The revelation of study failures by a whistleblower leaked led to major changes in U.S. law and regulation on the protection of participants in clinical studies.

The scientists also prevented participants from accessing syphilis treatment programs available to others in the area. The study continued, under numerous US Public Health Service supervisors, until 1972, when a leak to the press eventually resulted in the program’s termination. The victims of the study included numerous men who died of syphilis, wives who contracted the disease, and children born with congenital syphilis.

Physicians in this time were fixated on African American sexuality, and the willingness of African Americans to have sexual relations with those who were infected led them to believe that the responsibility for the acquisition of the disease was solely upon the individual. This need to place blame blinded the physicians to find ways to help the innocent infants born with the disease through no fault of their own.

In 1974, Congress passed the national Research Act creating a commission to study and write regulations governing studies involving human participants. On May 16, 1997, President Bill Clinton formally apologized and held a ceremony for the Tuskegee study participants: “What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry … To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist.”

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study significantly damaged the trust of the black community toward public health efforts in the United States. The study may also have contributed to the reluctance of many poor black people to seek routine preventive care. Distrust of the government because of the study contributed to persistent rumors in the black community that the government was responsible for the HIV/AIDS crisis by introducing the virus to the black community.

An interview in February on ABC’s Prime Time Live between ABC’s Jay Schadler and Dr. Sidney Olansky, Public Health Services director of the study from 1950 to 1957, further showed why the Tuskegee study had damaged the trust between medical personnel and much of the African American community. When asked about the lies that were told to the study subjects, Olansky replied with “The fact that they were illiterate was helpful, too, because they couldn’t read the newspapers. If they were not, as things moved on they might have been reading newspapers and seen what was going on.”

John Heller, Director of the Public Health Service’s Division of Venereal Diseases, said, “For the most part, doctors and civil servants simply did their jobs. Some merely followed orders; others worked for the glory of science.” My question is how many of these so-called civil servants are just doing their jobs today. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Black History: The Temptations

11(2)Some tunes stand the test of time, like “My Girl” and the same can be said about some groups. When you hear the melodies and incomparable classic of the Temptations today you immediately think of the greatest group of voices that ever sang a song.

The Grammy-Winning Temptations achieved their legendary fame as one of the most successful acts to record for Motown Records. It’s rare for someone to change the course of time but this group changed the face of music. Often imitated but rarely duplicated!

The original group included second tenor/baritone Otis Williams, first tenor Elbridge “Al” Bryant, bass Melvin Franklin, first tenor/falsetto Eddie Kendricks and second tenor/baritone Paul Williams (no relation to Otis). Among the most notable future Temptations were lead singers David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards both of whom became successful Motown solo artists after leaving the group. Other members included Richard Street, Damon Harris, Ron Tyson, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples, G.C. Cameron and about fifty members total over time.

The history of the Temptations started in Detroit the home of Motown Records around 1961 as the Elgins. Overtime, as members came and went the new members carried the torch with finesse for decades. I would say this was accomplished because of the group’s mantra was “no one member is bigger than the group” and although the lineup frequently changed their impeccable sound did not.

A Motown-centric biography on the Temptations would start pretty glumly. Success eluded the group at first. Working at Motown was a “Dream Come True,” but even that song didn’t bring lasting fame. In 1963, a violent scuffle between Elbridge Bryant and Paul Williams preceded “Al’s” exit. Enter David Ruffin whose weathered tenor injected intriguing angst into the sweetest songs.

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The Temptations with David Ruffin and new tunes by Smokey Robinson was the injection of magic and the just kept coming. The Kendricks led song, “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” broke pop’s Top 20 and “My Girl,” 1964 became their signature. Meanwhile, Ruffin switched off with Kendricks at lead was like nothing that has come before or since.

Norman Whitfield, a rival producer, offered brawnier hits than Robinson’s, like “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” By the late ’60s, his collaborations with Eddie Holland, and Barrett Strong, had earned him exclusive control over the music of the Temptations.

The group developed its own recognizable style. The Temptations wardrobe ran the fashion gamut: tuxedos, capes, leather, linen, blues, limes, you name it. But the Tempts always looked sharp and fun in their costumes. Eddie Kendricks held some sway over this easy sophistication.

Under the direction of Broadway hoofer Cholly Atkins, the Temptations became renowned dancers, as well. Daily two-hour rehearsals ensured their movements were precise and spectacular enough to rivet fans from bare stages. Paul Williams’ choreography, including the Temptation Walk, oozed sheer erotic energy.

Onstage, group harmony ruled. Offstage, conflicts abounded, particularly between Ruffin and the others. Too much ego and flakiness cost him his membership in 1968. Though he released his own smash, “My Whole World Ended,” solo super-stardom was not meant to be.

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Enter, ex-Contour Dennis Edwards’ convincing vocals, new songs by the Temptations re-emphasized the ensemble. Whitfield’s ambitious “psychedelic soul” phase fused denser grooves with sociopolitical observations, helping fans dance and think at once. Commercially, the Tempts stayed put on “Cloud Nine.”

In 1971 brought both returns and departures after “Just My Imagination,” a throwback to their tender ballads. Exit Eddie Kendricks for a solo career and the disco-esque hits, “Keep on Truckin'” and “Boogie Down.” Exit Paul Williams died as a result of suicide. Two new tenors, Richard Street and Damon Harris gamely met the challenge and held their own against the older classics.

In 1975 things shifted from Harris to Glenn Leonard. Then from Dennis Edwards to Louis Price to Dennis Edwards (who’d leave and come back several times). Then from Motown to Atlantic in 1977, then back to Motown in the early ’80s. Just in time for a reunion tour with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks!

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Enter the great Ali Ollie Woodson who played an integral part in keeping the Temptations from becoming just a nostalgia act. I would refer to him as the Temptations Temptation. I mean this in the sense that by the early 1980s, the Temptations were no longer posting hit after hit as they had in the 1960s and ’70s with songs like “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “My Girl,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” They soared once again with Ali!

In 1989, in flesh and in spirit, the six classic members shared the stage once more at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Smooth spokesman Otis Williams, beloved Batman fanatic Melvin Franklin, ethereally elegant Eddie Kendricks, dynamic David Ruffin, and hard-hitting Dennis Edwards all accepted the award post harmoniously for the late Paul Williams.

All I can say is thanks for the spirit of these great men for their contribution to the world. The Temptations will live for all times. Thank you fellas! And that’s my thought Provoking Perspective…

 


Stokely Carmichael AKA Kwame Ture

11The man, Stokely Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture, is credited with the term “Black Power” being a rallying cry for the movement. He was a Trinidadian born black activist, civil rights leader, and the fourth Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and a notable activist during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. He was preceded as Chairman of SNCC by John Lewis and followed H. Rap Brown as leader of the group. Ture later became an Honorary Minister of the Black Panther Party. The noted scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Carmichael as one of his 100 Greatest African Americans.

Carmichael was a well-educated man attending the elite, selective Bronx High School of Science in New York and graduated from Howard University with a degree in philosophy. His professors included Sterling Brown, Nathan Hare, and Toni Morrison, a writer who later won the Nobel Prize. While at Howard, Carmichael joined the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), the Howard campus affiliate of the SNCC, where he was introduced to Bayard Rustin who became an influential adviser to SNCC. Inspired by the sit-ins in the South, Carmichael became more active in the Civil Rights Movement. He once remarked that he was arrested many times for his activism that he lost count; sometimes estimating at least 29 or 32.

In 1964 Carmichael, then one of the leaders of the SNCC and became Chairman of SNCC in 1966, taking over from John Lewis, who later became a US Congressman. A few weeks after Carmichael took office James Meredith was shot and wounded by a shotgun during his solitary “March Against Fear”. Carmichael became involved joined Dr. Marin Luther King, Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers and others to continue Meredith’s march.

He was arrested during the march where upon his release; he gave his first “Black Power” speech, using the phrase to urge black pride and socio-economic independence. He is largely credited as the person who coined the phrase “Black Power”. He said during that speech “It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.”

While Black Power was not a new concept, Carmichael’s speech brought it into the spotlight and it became a rallying cry for young African Americans across the country. According to Carmichael: “Black Power meant black people coming together to form a political force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs rather than relying on established parties”.

He was strongly influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon’s landmark book Wretched of the Earth, along with others such as Malcolm X. Under Carmichael’s leadership SNCC gradually became more radical and focused on Black Power as its core goal and ideology. Reportedly he wanted to encourage whites to organize poor white southern communities, while SNCC focused on promoting African-American self-reliance through Black Power.

Carmichael saw nonviolence as a tactic as opposed to a principle, which separated him from moderate civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Carmichael became critical of civil rights leaders who called for the integration of African Americans into existing institutions of the middle-call mainstream.

During this period, Carmichael was personally targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s Cointelpro counter-intelligence program, which specialized in isolating and slandering black militants. Carmichael accepted the position of Honorary Prime Minister in the Black Panther Party, but also remained on the staff of SNCC, and attempted to forge a merger between the two organizations.

In July 1968, Hoover stepped up his efforts to divide the black power movement. Declassified documents show a plan was launched to smear Carmichael as a CIA agent, as well as to undermine the SNCC-Panther merger. Both efforts were largely successful. Carmichael was formally expelled from SNCC that year, and rival Panthers began to denounce him.

Carmichael was present in D.C. the night after King’s assassination and led a group through the streets, demanding that businesses close out of respect. Although he tried to prevent violence, the situation escalated beyond his control. Due to Carmichael’s reputation as a provocateur, the news media blamed him for the ensuing violence as mobs rioted along U Street and other areas of black development.

Carmichael held a press conference the next day, at which he predicted mass racial violence in the streets. Now, living in Washington, Carmichael had been under nearly constant surveillance by the FBI. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the FBI director instructed a team of agents to find evidence connecting Carmichael to the rioting.

A 1968 memo from Hoover suggests his fears that Carmichael would become a Black Nationalist “messiah”. He was also subjected to COINTELPRO bad-jacketing techniques which led to Huey P. Newton suggesting that Carmichael was a CIA agent. Carmichael soon began to distance himself from the Panthers. He disagreed with them about whether white activists should be allowed to help them. The Panthers believed that white activists could help the movement, while Carmichael had come to agree with Malcolm X, and said that the white activists should organize their own communities first.

Carmichael changed his name to Kwame Ture, to honor the African leaders Nkrumah and Touré, who had become his patrons. Amongst the turmoil of the time, Ture moved to Guinea to live in a self-imposed exile. At the end of his life, friends still referred to him interchangeably by both names, “and he doesn’t seem to mind.” I don’t think this man, as well as many others, have not received enough credit for the contributions made to the struggle and to the civil rights movement. May you rest in peace. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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