Tag Archives: NBC

Remembering: NASCAR’s First Black Driver And Hall Of Famer

There are millions of NASCAR fans all over the world but do you know that the first NASCAR driver was Wendell Oliver Scott from Danville, Virginia. History has recorded Scott as the only black driver to win a race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. He could be compared to Jackie Robinson in the sense that he broke the color barrier in Southern stock car racing. The memorable day occurred on May 23, 1952, at the Danville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Scott gained experience and winning some local races at various Virginia tracks before becoming the first African-American to obtain a NASCAR racing license. It is unclear when the license was issued in 1953, although NASCAR does not have the exact date. As you can imagine, Scott’s career was repeatedly affected by racial prejudice and problems with top-level NASCAR officials. However, his determined struggle as an underdog won him thousands of white fans and many friends and admirers among his fellow racers.

It is said from the day was born he wanted to be his own boss. In Danville, two industries dominated the local economy: cotton mills and tobacco-processing plants. Scott vowed to avoid that sort of boss-dominated life. He once said, “The mill’s looked too much like a prison. You go in and they lock a gate behind you and you can’t get out until you’ve done your time”. From boyhood, Scott raced bicycles against white boys. In his neighborhood, he said, “I was the only black boy that had a bicycle.” He became a daredevil on roller skates, speeding down Danville’s steep hills on one skate.

He ran an auto-repair shop. As a sideline and for fun, he took up the dangerous, illegal pursuit of running moonshine whiskey. This trade gave quite a few early stock car racers their education in building fast cars and outrunning the police. The police caught Scott only once, in 1949. Sentenced to three years probation, he continued making his late-night whiskey runs. On weekends, he would go to the stock car races in Danville, sitting in the blacks-only section of the bleachers, and he would wish that he too could be racing on the speedway.

Scott was thirty years old at the approximate times when he was sitting in the bleachers of local speedways, watching white men race. Up to then, he had lived his whole life under the rigid rules of segregation. He could neither use a white bathroom or a white drinking fountain nor eat at a white restaurant. Nothing in his past had prepared him for the unusual, life-changing experience that was about to take place.

The Danville races were run by the Dixie Circuit, one of several regional racing organizations that competed with NASCAR during that era. Danville’s events always made less money than the Dixie Circuit’s races at other tracks. “We were a tobacco and textile town — people didn’t have the money to spend,” said Aubrey Ferrell, one of the organizers. The officials decided they would try an unusual, and unprecedented, promotional gimmick: They would recruit a Negro driver to compete against the “good ol’ boys.”

To their credit, they wanted a fast black driver, not just a fall guy to look foolish. They asked the Danville police who was the best Negro driver in town. The police recommended the moonshine runner whom they had chased many times and caught only once. Scott brought one of his whiskey-running cars to the next race, and Southern stock car racing gained its first black driver.

Some spectators booed him, and his car broke down during the race. But Scott realized immediately that he wanted a career as a driver. The next day, however, brought the first of many episodes of discrimination that would plague his racing career. Scott repaired his car and towed it to a NASCAR-sanctioned race in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But the NASCAR officials refused to let him compete. Black drivers were not allowed, they said. As he drove home, Scott recalled, “I had tears in my eyes.”

A few days later he went to another NASCAR event in High Point, North Carolina. Again, Scott said, the officials “just flat told me I couldn’t race. They told me I could let a white boy drive my car. I told ’em weren’t no damn white boy going to drive my car.” Scott decided to avoid NASCAR for the time being and race with the Dixie Circuit and at other non-NASCAR speedways. He won his first race at Lynchburg, Virginia, only twelve days into his racing career. It was just a short heat race in the amateur class, but for Scott, the victory was like a barb on a hook. He knew that he had found his calling.

He ran as many as five events a week, mostly at Virginia tracks. Some spectators would shout racial slurs, but many others began rooting for him. Some prejudiced drivers would wreck him deliberately. They “just hammered on Wendell,” former chief NASCAR photographer T. Taylor Warren said. “They figured he wasn’t going to retaliate.” And they were right–Scott felt that because of the racial atmosphere, he could not risk becoming involved in the fist-fights and dirty-driving paybacks that frequently took place among the white drivers.

Many other drivers, however, came to respect Scott. They saw his skills as a mechanic and driver, and they liked his quiet, uncomplaining manner. They saw him as someone similar to themselves, another hard-working blue-collar guy swept up in the adrenalin rush of racing, not somebody trying to make a racial point. “He was a racer — you could look at somebody and tell whether they were a racer or not,” said driver Rodney Ligon, who was also a moonshine runner. “Didn’t nobody send him [to the track] to represent his race — he come down because he wanted to drive a damn racecar.” Some white drivers became his close friends and also occasionally acted as his bodygards.

Some Southern newspapers began writing positive stories about Scott’s performance. He began the 1953 season on the northern Virginia circuit, for example, by winning a feature race in Staunton. Then he tied the Waynesboro qualifying record. A week later he won the Waynesboro feature, after placing first in his heat race and setting a new qualifying record. The Waynesboro News Virginian reported that Scott had become “recognized as one of the most popular drivers to appear here.” The Staunton News Leader said he “has been among the top drivers in every race here.”

In 1961, he moved up to the NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) division. In the 1963 season, he finished 15th in points, and on December 1 of that year, driving a Chevy Bel Air and won a race on the one-mile dirt track at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida becoming the first and to date only top level NASCAR event won by an African-American. Scott was not announced as the winner of the race at the time, presumably due to the racist culture of the time.

Ironically, the second-place driver, was initially declared the winner, but race officials discovered two hours later that Scott had not only won, but was two laps in front of the rest of the field. NASCAR awarded Scott the win two years later, but his family never actually received the trophy he had earned till 2010–37 years after the race, and 20 years after Scott had died.

He continued to be a competitive driver despite his low-budget operation through the rest of the 1960s. In 1964, Scott finished 12th in points despite missing several races. Over the next five years, Scott consistently finished in the top ten in the point standings. He finished 11th in points in 1965, was a career-high 6th in 1966, 10th in 1967, and finished 9th in both 1968 and 1969. His top year in winnings was 1969 when he won $47,451 ($300,723.94 in today’s money).

This is not unlike much of what the ghost of the greats had to endure but their sacrifice changed the sport and the world. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

(Resource: Wikipedia)

 


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…

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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 !!!


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


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…


Black History: Chairman Fred Hampton

2On December 4th, 1969, Fred Hampton, an African American activist, deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party was murdered while sleeping in his apartment during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This activity was in concert by the infamous seditious FBI program known as COINTELPRO designed to eliminate activist deemed by its director as “subversive”.

“We expected about twenty Panthers to be in the apartment when the police raided the place. Only two of those black niggers were killed, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.” FBI Special Agent Gregg York

Chairman Fred, as he was known, was successful and revered for organizing young African Americans for the NAACP. He was quickly attracted to the Black Panthers’ approach, which was based on a ten-point program of a mix of black designed for the survival of the black community. Chairman Fred joined the Party’s nascent Illinois chapter SNCC organizer Bob Brown in late 1967. Over the next year, Hampton and his associates made a number of significant achievements in Chicago. Perhaps his most important accomplishment was his brokering of a nonaggression pact between Chicago’s most powerful street gangs.

Emphasizing that racial and ethnic conflict between gangs would only keep its members entrenched in poverty, he strove to forge a class-conscious, multi-racial alliance between the Panther Party, the Young Patriots and the National Young Lords. Soon after the pact was formed they were joined by the Students for a Democratic Society, the Blackstone Rangers, the Brown Berets, and the Red Guard. In May 1969, Hampton called a press conference to announce that a truce had been declared among this “rainbow coalition,” a phrase coined by Hampton and made popular later by Jesse Jackson, who eventually appropriated the name in forming his own unrelated coalition, Rainbow/Push.

This achievement marked him as a major threat in the eyes of the FBI, signaled his death. Subsequent investigations have shown that FBI chief Hoover was determined to prevent the formation of a cohesive Black movement in the United States “by any means necessary. Hoover saw the Panthers, and similar radical coalitions forged by Hampton in Chicago, as a frightening stepping stone toward the creation of just such a revolutionary body that could cause a radical change in the U.S. government.

They opened a file on Hampton in 1967 that over the next two years expanded to twelve volumes and over four thousand pages. By May of that year, Chairman Fred’s name was placed on the “Agitator Index” and he would be designated a “key militant leader for Bureau reporting purposes.

In late 1968, the Racial Matters squad of the FBI’s Chicago field office brought in an individual named William O’Neal, who had recently been arrested twice, for interstate car theft and impersonating a federal officer. In exchange for dropping the felony charges and a monthly stipend, O’Neal apparently agreed to infiltrate the Black Panther Party as a counterintelligence operative. He joined the Party and quickly rose in the organization, becoming Director of Chapter Security and Hampton’s bodyguard.

In 1969, the FBI Special Agent in San Francisco wrote Hoover that his investigation of the Black Panther Party revealed that in his city, at least, the Panthers were primarily feeding breakfast to children. Hoover fired back a memo implying the career ambitions of the agent were directly related to his supplying evidence to support Hoover’s view that the Panthers were “a violence-prone organization seeking to overthrow the Government by revolutionary means”. Hoover was willing to use false claims to attack his political enemies. In one memo, he wrote: “Purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the BPP, and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.”

By means of anonymous letters, the FBI sowed distrust and eventually instigated a split between the Panthers and the Rangers, with O’Neal himself instigating an armed clash between the two on April 2, 1969. The Panthers became effectively isolated from their power base, so the FBI went to work to undermine its ties with other radical organizations.

O’Neal was instructed to “create a rift” between the Party and Students for a Democratic Society, whose Chicago headquarters was only blocks from that of the Panthers. The Bureau released a batch of racist cartoons in the Panthers’ name, aimed at alienating white activists, and launched a disinformation program to forestall the realization of the “Rainbow Coalition.” In repeated directives, J. Edgar Hoover demanded that the COINTELPRO personnel “destroy what the Black Panther Party stands for” and “eradicate its ‘serve the people’ programs”.

In early October, Hampton and his girlfriend, Deborah Johnson, pregnant with their first child Fred Hampton, Jr., rented a four-and-a-half room apartment on 2337 West Monroe Street to be closer to Black Panther Party headquarters. O’Neal reported to his superiors that much of the Panthers’ “provocative” stockpile of arms was being stored there. None of which was true but the paid government informant played the role of Judas bringing the powers of the state to kill him.

To see how far great powers will go is shocking and a moral shame. Yet, it continues today. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Lost Tribes Of Africa

14322609_851080958325216_7970212250761441595_nLet me remind you that black people of African descent are part of the lost tribes of Africa. It is a fact that the human species was born on the continent of Africa. Now the authors of His-Story will dismiss this idea; people like Cecil Rhodes. Therefore, it is fair to say that mankind would not have existed; if not for the creation and innovations of the original man.

I have often said, “The people stolen from Africa by the Europeans and those of others are a nation created a people living in a land without a nationality.” Sometimes people respond negatively to that statement, in spite of being the greatest purveyors of that ideology we know is rooted in the concept of White Supremacy. The problem with people who don’t agree is that it is the so-called African American who does not know that he or she is lost. For most people of this distinction, most of their waking hours are spent trying to assimilate into that with those who do not want to accept you.

Upon our backs, these stolen souls are laden with the stripes of punishment for what they believed was for discipline in spite of our loyalty, diligence, and tenacity – the Negro loved America and oftentimes more than ourselves. Even when America refused to allow these people of African descent to walk in the shadows, we followed, believing that someday we would come to be accepted and be treated like men and women. Actually, just to be viewed as human beings. Unfortunately, that dream has yet to come and contrary to the thoughts of white folk and some black people too “We have not overcome”!

We wanted integration and what did we get “interrogation”! What we got was more poverty because without money or the means – you are still segregated. Just look at the New York City schools, for example, they are more segregated now than any school in Mississippi back in the day, and it has been reported almost every urban school district is the same. Oh yes, but they say you can live anywhere you want! This then returns to the economics of what you are allowed to afford. On top of that, and more shameful, we went beyond the pale when we allowed our children to be turned over to the White America’s educational system run by the people who suppressed these people on the first place. No wonder we’re lost!

It has been nearly four hundred years since that day in August when the first of millions of stolen souls were dragged onto the shores of this place the slaves called “merica” to be beasts of burden to build this nation. Today, we are in virtually the same position as we were when they identified these stolen souls as colored and three-fifths human. In fact, I believe black people are in as bad of a position because we have been “hoodwinked” and like fools bamboozled. I remind you that the Constitution’s language has not been changed.

We resisted the messages of trouble-making Blacks like Washington, Delaney, Garvey, Bethune, Tubman, and Truth for fighting and dying on the battlefield for us all. No, the people of this lost nation did not listen to Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Dubois, the Panthers, H. Rap Brown, Carmichael, nor Dr. King. Today all of the above mentioned would be and are ashamed of whom they fought for and died. Yet, Mr. Lynch’s message and White Supremacy reigns supreme.

In today’s business environment, we do not support each other and just keep doing business with the larger dominant community or in fact any other community. Some say we, as a people, were very successful after slavery ended or even as recently as the 1960s. But we know, what happens when you began to build your communities and do business with one another – you’re pitted against one another and destroy ourselves.

From slavery through segregation and under every Apartheid-like system since this lost nation of people survived; all while we bought into the “divided and conquered” mentality and fought against our interests. The great Curtis Mayfield called us “the people who are darker than blue.” This race is maligned everywhere on the planet and viewed as less than, when in fact, the African and people of African Descent are “greater than.”

My pain comes from this nation of people subjecting its children to the same miseducation leaving them helpless and used long after we are gone. So when you speak to your children; tell them how not proud you are that they cannot look forward because it appears that at least another 50 years will be more of the same – despair.

We can change that by simply understanding that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. Otherwise, the people stolen from Africa will remain the lost tribe of the place we were born!

And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Its “911” For Black America

193_160I am sending my thoughts and prayers to those who suffered a loss as a result of the attacks of 911. Be it from the attack or the ill-fated wars that followed. Many say we should never forget that day. True! However, I take the position that the horrible terrorist attacks inflicted upon black people should never be forgotten either. Black people have suffered every form of terror one could imagine for four-hundred years, and America seems to forget all of this has happened.

History has recorded what white folk did to the Native American’s. I’ve witnessed, firsthand, the Jim Crow era and the vial behavior of its supporters. I remember, as a child, seeing George Wallace giving a speech where he said, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” Seeing this and other comments the bigots made to the opposition to the Civil Rights Movement was frightening because black people were simply fighting for the basic rights of human beings. But then, the Constitution says we are not; only 3/5ths human!

The view of most in white America was “the Negro is happy,” “what do they want,” and in places where marches were held, the people there said be “outside agitators stirring up the people.” They justified their position under the auspices of “It’s our way of life.” At this horrible time in the American past, the police and law enforcement authorities in these areas were used to maintain this, what they called, “their way of life.” Today, the same sentiment seems to be expressed as we witness authority out of control across the country. I did not witness slavery in its most brutal form, so I will speak to what I know to be true.

The access to and the broad use of media made it, then and now, difficult to argue that the police are working with honor; protecting the community or serving it. Video camera’s today, like television in the 1960s, brought the reality of truth into the living rooms and the consciousness of America and the world. If it were not for television, the modern (1960s) civil rights movement would have never succeeded. Today’s technology affords this generation with social media that brings the reality and truth to these longstanding and troubling issues.

Let’s look back in time at just a few instances; the Black Panther Party came to be because of the atrocious brutal activities of the police at the time. Fast forward to the summer of 2005 when legions of poor black people in desperate circumstances seemed to have suddenly and inexplicably materialized in New Orleans, during the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. During that event, the police murdered and abused people who were destitute and helpless. Like today, one unarmed black person is killed every twenty-eight hours by the police.

My point is, but for a free and open press; we would never have known what was taking place. Expressions of disbelief poured in from around the nation seeing what most could not believe true. Upon seeing with their own eyes, many questions were asked. : “How can this be happening?” “I had no idea conditions was that bad?” “My God, is this America?” I submit; the same questions are being asked in the minds of many, as a result of what we see in Ferguson, Baltimore, and frankly all over the country.

Yes, the media exposed a cancer that has yet to heal which is deeply rooted in racism and economic suppression. Bush said during his time in office, these issues “has roots in a history of racial discrimination that cut off generations from the opportunity of America.” If you listened to his statement, you might have thought you heard the ghost of Lyndon Johnson. However, the problem continues to affect the soul of black America profoundly.

The precipitating events that cause these periodic national spasms can vary widely; whether it’s the flooding of New Orleans, the assassination of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the beating of Rodney King, or events that have occurred from the murders of unarmed black people murdered at the hands of the law. If you don’t believe a disaster is on the way; just look at the president-elect’s appointments, particularly the AG!

But these tragedies all emerge from the same putrid source, the racism embedded in the very foundation of America and now America has elected a man who calls himself “the Law and order President” only means it will get worse! 911 means emergency; I say there is an emergency in the lives of black Americans that no one seems to see, but us. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Law and Order Theme!

Watch the video’s below, wrap your mind around what you see and think about your freedom!!!


Remembering Eddie Kendricks

2I am one of the Temptations biggest fans but most would agree that every woman who ever heard the sweet tenor voice of the man known simply as “Eddie” was in love with this man. He was a man with the sweetest and silkiest tenor voice of any man to sing a tune.

His persona was quiet and cool, with a voice that made women drool. The tall, lean and handsome tenor from Union Springs, Alabama was little more than eighteen when he arrived in Detroit, the town where he would eventually find fame as a member of the Motown super-group, The Temptations.

Eddie arrived in Detroit along with childhood friends Paul Williams and Kell Osborne. Together they formed a classic vocal group they called The Primes. Their tunes extended beyond the usual teenage Doo-wop tunes to include sophisticated material such as that of the Mills Brothers. So it was natural, or maybe fate, when Otis Williams first saw The Primes perform he couldn’t help but notice the vocal prowess of Kendricks, and the smooth moves of Paul Williams.

When the Primes disbanded, and all three members separated, Eddie came back to Detroit from Birmingham to visit Paul; he put in a phone call to Otis. The timing was perfect since Otis just happened to have two spots to fill in his group, The Distants. Paul and Eddie added a whole new dimension to his group’s sound, and the merging of the two groups became the Elgins. Now, they were ready to audition for Berry Gordy.

The audition went well, and the group was offered a contract right on the spot. It was 1961, but the group wouldn’t have their first hit for a few years. Meanwhile, the group worked hard on their singing, their moves, and their look. Eddie always dressed beautifully; he had a knack for being sharp and hip, but classy at the same time so his job in the group would be wardrobe, and he began putting together the group’s stage uniforms.

The group continued recording on a regular basis with either Paul or Eddie leading on all the early songs, but none of the 1962 singles did much, including the unique “Dream Come True”, and “Paradise”. Both tunes featured Eddie’s vocals, and they are appreciated today, but at the time they didn’t even make the pop chart.

In early 1964, David Ruffin joined the group, and coincidently things began to change. Smokey Robinson told the group he’d booked the studio for them to record a song he’d written with Bobby Rogers, one of the Miracles while driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. That night the five of them met at Eddie’s house and set out on the familiar walk over to Hitsville. The song, “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, was charming and perfect for Eddie’s voice. It was like a dream, finally; the song would peak at number 11 on the pop chart, and the group went off on their first full Motortown Review tour.

Before the year was over, the guys knew that success was not only possible, but probable, and they would get their share of good times and beautiful women, and Eddie, as it would turn out certainly had the power to attract women. Eddie was ahead of his time in picking the clothes, although the guys at first objected to some purple suits he had chosen. Otis thought the suits would make them look like pimps, but in the end they trusted his judgment and he ordered five purple suits with a white button. He was right, when the crowd saw them in those suits; they went absolutely wild.

In 1965, Smokey Robinson, who was writing mostly all of their material, turned his attention away from Eddie momentarily to hand over to David Ruffin who sung their big breakthrough hit “My Girl”. The song would hit number one and stay there for eight weeks. Over the next few years, many of the songs would be cut on David, but Eddie would not be left behind either.

In 1966, Smokey would hand Eddie the song “Get Ready”, but it didn’t do as well as the songs Norman Whitfield wrote with David in mind, such as “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.” Norman’s song did much better on the charts, and shortly thereafter, Norman Whitfield would begin writing and producing the group almost exclusively. David would get most of the leads, but Eddie would still have his chance to shine.

The guys were tight and hung out together at one another’s houses where Melvin would cook up a pot of beans and cornbread. Eddie loved cornbread so much the guys playfully nicknamed him “cornbread”. As time passed, and David Ruffin was dismissed in 1968, Eddie changed, upset with the attitudes of some of the group members, he formed an alliance with David outside the group. In the late 1960’s, times would change and so would Norman’s material. Eddie still preferred the harmonious love songs and wanted to do some of his own material separate from the group. The group said no, and Eddie became even more dissatisfied.

It was after a performance at the Copa in 1970. Eddie walked out after the first show, and it was decided, mutually, that it was time for him to leave the Temptations, and so he did, leaving them with one of their all time biggest hits. Eddie went on to have a very respectable solo career and later toured with David and Dennis until the end of his life.

Eddie’s legacy is profound and establish him as one of the greatest Temptations. On October 16, 1999, Eddie Kendrick Memorial Park was dedicated to the Birmingham native. The memorial features a bronze sculpture of Kendricks by local artist Ron McDowell, as well as sculptures of the other Temptations, set into a granite wall. Inscribed on the granite are the names of Temptation’s hit songs. Recorded music can be heard throughout the park, featuring songs by Kendricks and the Temptations.

I will say this: Eddie left the world a lot of music that others are trying to imitate and duplicate! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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Remembering Sojourner Truth

22Throughout our existence in this place, the slaves called “merica”. If you follow this blog you know I love to celebrate the ghosts of the greats, which include many dynamic heroines to which I remember one of the greatest -Sojourner Truth. A woman whose exact date of birth was not recorded. What we do know is in the year 1797, among Dutch immigrants in the region now known as Ulster County, New York, an African child was born on the estate of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh.

One of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, she was given the name Isabella Baumfree. As the story goes, this name gave her no hint of her mission and, therefore, years later she renamed herself Sojourner Truth. Her life was a testament to this mission as a truth-teller. In 1851, Sojourner Truth gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech before the Women’s Rights Convention held in Akron, Ohio. Several ministers were in attendance. Truth rose from her seat and spoke the following words before the audience:

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the White men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”

In 1864, she worked among freed slaves at a government refugee camp on an island in Virginia and was employed by the National Freedman’s Relief Association in Washington, D.C., according to Women in History: Living vignettes of notable women from U.S. history. In 1863, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s article “The Libyan Sibyl” appeared in the Atlantic Monthly; a romanticized description of Sojourner.

At the end of the Civil War, Truth worked on behalf of the Freedman’s Hospital in Washington through the Freedman’s Relief Association. In 1867, she moved to Battle Creek, Michigan. While unsuccessful in her efforts, for several years she lobbied the U.S. federal government for land in the Western states for former enslaved Africans. Illness began to reduce her speaking tours. In 1879, she spent a year in Kansas City to help to settle African migrants she called “Exodusters”. In addition to racial and gender equality issues, Truth campaigned against capital punishment and called for temperance.

On November 26, 1883, Sojourner Truth was surrounded by her family at her death bed. She was 86 years old when she died surrounded by her family in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, next to her grandson’s gravesite. More than 200 years later, her legacy as a truth-keeper continues to ignite the imagination of the new nation for which she found herself in service. Sojourner Truth lived during times of great change.

First Lady Michelle Obama said of her at the April 28, 2009 commemorative ceremony unveiling the Sojourner Truth bronze bust in the US Capitol – “I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the first lady of the United States of America. Now many young boys and girls, like my own daughters, will come to Emancipation Hall and see the face of a woman who looks like them.”

In the spirit of one of the greatest women to live, your concrete place in history is greatly appreciated. And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…


On This Day In Black History: Nat Turner’s Insurrection

nat turnerThis black hero of his time is one whose name brings fear into the hearts of white folk everywhere. His name is Nathaniel “Nat” Turner, Rebellion Leader, who was executed by hanging in Jerusalem, Virginia after initiating a rebellion of enslaved and free black people on November 11, 1831. However, it was on this day that his revolt took place.

I am keenly aware that I stand on the shoulders of the ghosts of the greats who suffered, died, and sacrificed so much for a people degraded and scorn to which some might say cursed by the wretchedness of slavery. Let me say that one of my major faults is that I understand the power of words and know that finding written words can produce truth. Taking into consideration, those words were written for the times and used to sway or justify that which one might want the truth to remain hidden.

Someone sent me an email that contained the “Confessions of Nat Turner”. I had never read it before and knew very little about the man Nat Turner other than what His-Story tells. I was so surprised because it was, in my opinion, unfathomable to believe much of what his supposed attorney wrote was true. This caused me to do my own research and see what facts were available to reinforce the only known account of the Nat Turner Rebellion. What I found was many different interpretations of the events of that rebellion. There were few facts. What we do know as fact is that there was a rebellion, he is the most hated black ever to live, and he was hung. Everything else is conjecture!

Here are the facts: Nat Turner was born into slavery October 2, 1800, on a Southampton County plantation. On August 21, 1831, he led a violent disorganized insurrection. The incident ended the emancipation movement in that region and led to even harsher laws against slaves. Benjamin Turner, his owner, allowed him to be instructed in reading, writing, and religion. Sold three times in his childhood and hired out to John Travis 1820s. He became a fiery preacher and leader of slaves claiming that he was chosen by God to lead them from bondage.

Believing in signs and hearing divine voices, Turner was convinced by an eclipse of the Sun in 1831 that the time to rise-up had come, and he enlisted the help of four other slaves in the area. An insurrection was planned, aborted, and rescheduled for August 21, 1831, when he and six other slaves killed the Travis family, managed to secure arms and horses, and enlisted about 75 other slaves in a disorganized insurrection that resulted in the murder of 51 white people.

Afterward, Turner hid nearby successfully for six weeks until his discovery, conviction, and hanging in Jerusalem, Virginia after a trial that lasted twenty-four hours, along with 16 of his followers. The incident put fear in the heart of Southerners, ended the organized emancipation movement in that region, resulted in even harsher laws against slaves, and deepened the schism between slave-holders that would culminate in the Civil War. This is all we know as fact.

Among many people, perhaps most, African-Americans in the antebellum period or even today, Turner’s legacy takes on heroic status as someone willing to make slave-owners pay for the hardships that they enacted upon the millions of children, women, and men they enslaved. He is not mentioned in the same vain as the KKK in that they murdered, under cover of law, countless men, women, and children in what was nothing more than state sponsored terrorism. Like John Brown, Turner also thought revolutionary violence would serve to awaken the attitudes of whites to the reality of the inherent brutality of slave-holding.

My research shows one thing clearly. The supposed confession taken by Attorney Gray is a myth written to produce financial gain and to induce fear. Turner was called a beast and a savage – maybe. I would argue that is what he was made to be, as he and others were sold like animals, to which his knowledge of the Old Testament told him that even God worked through acts of violence and inflicted extreme punishment upon his enemies for his people.

In the end, on that fateful day of his execution, Nat Turner’s last words, before he was hung, were “they crucified Jesus didn’t they”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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