Tag Archives: PASTORS

Picture In Black

2I don’t want to confuse anyone because I tell our story, which is very different from His-Story and, by the way, is the greatest story ever told! I am often accused of not letting the horrors of our past go. The problem with that position is people of African descent cannot because it is ever present. They want us to believe that this white man died to save our sins and every white me we see are acting in sin against us.

It is not that people of African descent were and are the only people who were cruelly treated or enslaved, but we are the people held in bondage the longest. Therefore, my position is just as sure as, they say, things change they remain the same! Take note that black people are the only people whose history was erased and stolen. No other race of people does this happen too and told to not respect their history or denies their heritage. White folk regardless of where they come from are taught to be proud of theirs. So should black folk!

Picture a black man of nearly thirty. Who seems twice as old with clothes torn and dirty because he has no job. How can he survive? They say, get a job but how when you won’t give him one. So you allow him to have a job that only pays $7.25 cleaning toilets with bus station crews or in a fast food joint, and they say be thankful. He’s got children with nothing to eat, who then have to scavenge for food to live on a ghetto street. What about his family? Tie an old rag around his wife’s head pregnant and lying in a bed stuffed in an urban dwelling. Then they say pray for a better day!

This is the situation of millions hidden from the consciousness of our minds. Tomorrow is Easter the day Jesus died for the sins of man and they say, “he rose from the grave. Well, I say he died in vain because the sins of man are more prevalent today than ever before. We know most of you good Christians will out Pope the Pope. Let me suggest since you are such a great believer and God fearing. Take a moment each and help your fellow man on the day, instead of on this one day, we call Easter.

Look at it this way, don’t just be Holy for this one day, as you do only on Sunday. You can feel good briefly and forget it the next day. Love your fellow man every day like each day is a special day. That is hope you can believe – Happy Easter! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 


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


All Hail The Queen

1The world renowned Diva Aretha Franklin is without question the most profound voice of our time. She is universally considered the Queen of Soul standing head and shoulders above all others. However, she is not only a giant of the soul music genre, but to pop and gospel music as well; more than any other performer, she epitomized soul derived from her gospel-charged roots. The Queen established an astonishing run of hits like “Respect,” “I Never Loved a Man,” “Chain of Fools,” “Baby I Love You,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Think,” “The House That Jack Built,” and so many more great tunes during her career that we love.

Aretha or Ree Ree, as we affectionately call her sometimes, earned the title “Lady Soul” early in her career but I think “Queen of Soul” is more appropriate, which she has worn uncontested since she recorded her first tune. As much of an international institution as she’s become, much of her work, if not all, is fitfully inspired by her gospel roots making her music a must and in some cases a necessity, for our listening pleasure.

Franklin grew up in the bosom of gospel music, one of six children, and daughter to a Baptist preacher. Moving from her birthplace of Memphis, Tenn. and finally settling with her family in Detroit. Her early years were filled with musical experiences and environments from two cities that were brimming with groundbreaking music – from gospel to soul to R & B – in the 1950s and 60s.

Franklin’s first recordings with Columbia did not receive the accolades the label thought they would receive, and it wasn’t until she began her career at Atlantic Records did she find her real place in music, eventually becoming the recipient of 18 Grammies.

Aretha’s voice has been the prize to which so many females over the last 50 years have set their eyes, striving to emulate with success her depth of feeling, her soulful cadence and the natural essence that seems to flow from within her and into her music. From girl groups to solo artists, so many women, young and old, see her more than just a role model for music, but for womanhood in general.

As a compliment to the Queen, I see her in the metaphorical sense like the guy from the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which was about a man who gets younger as he ages. She gets better with time! Aretha’s ongoing, lifelong career is bar-none one of the most profound and greatest of our time. Her music remains the foundation for so many to live by and love, and it has stood the test of time. All Hail the Queen. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Media Kit


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


Black History Month Commentary

2Since the year of our Lord 1619, when those Africans were first dragged onto American shores of this place they called “merica”; our people have been chastised, raped, punished, beaten, robbed, and murdered. These atrocities were done while the culprits enjoyed wealth and prosperity as a result of our never ending allegiance and patriotism, often blindly to the people who kidnapped and brought us.

Even today, the system of white supremacy is still white America’s number one rule even as a black man has ascended to the White House! There are those, mostly white folk, who castigate this man because he is a uniquely qualified man of African heritage. I think, after all our suffering, just having a man who looks like us as the most powerful man in the “Free World” is an honor for all people of color. We should appreciate that which is something no one living or dead ever thought would happen.

We are a unique people, a forgiving people, a steadfast people, and a brave people unlike any known to the world. It was our labor that built this country. We are responsible for the great wealth America enjoys to this very today. When you look at America’s enormous wealth and the power derived from its tremendous control of resources, think about the sacrifices our forefathers made to make all of this possible. We have looked out for this country for hundreds of years and still doing so today, which is simply amazing.

Upon our backs, laden with the stripes of punishment for what they believed was for discipline and in spite of our loyalty, diligence and tenacity – we loved America. Even when America refused to allow us to walk in the shadows – we followed. Believing that someday we would come to be accepted and be treated like men and women. Our strength in the face of adversity is vastly understated.

Our history is one of unbelievable struggle. We’ve been brave on the battlefield despite being classified as three-fifths of a man. This was and is outstanding, and frankly beyond the call of duty considering that we have lived through slavery and under an Apartheid-like system through most of our time here. To be honest, we are still considered a race of people living in a nation without a nationality. We have raised America’s children, attended to its sick, and prepared their meals while those forefathers were occupied with the trappings of the good life.

Even during the times when they found pleasure in our women and took enjoyment in seeing our men lynched, maimed and burned. We continued to watch over America’s soul. We labored in the hot sun from can’t see to can’t see to assist in realizing the dream of wealth, good fortune, and made America a great world power. We were there when it all began, and we are still here today, protecting the system from those Black people who have the temerity to speak out against America’s past transgressions.

It was us who warned about Denmark-Vessey, told them about Gabriel Prosser’s plans, called their attention to Nat Turner, Malcolm, and yes Martin too. It was us who sounded the alarm when old John Brown came calling on Harper’s Ferry, and there are still some sounding warnings today. Black Nationalism has died and, as a result our community brings 95 percent of what it earns to other businesses while keeping little for itself in spite of the fact that other people controlled at least 90 percent of all the resources and wealth of this nation.

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

Oh, let’s not forget we pray a lot hoping that when we die you will find a place where there is a mansion waiting for you with streets paved with gold somewhere in the sky. 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. Yet, most have forgotten the names and take no reverence in their sacrifice due to a lack of reciprocity and equities.

Moreover, we went beyond the pale when we allowed our children to be turned over to the American educational system. With what is being taught to them, it’s likely they will continue in a mode similar to the one we have followed for the past 45 years. Remember, Mr. Lynch when he walked the banks of the James River in 1712, he prophetically said that his plan would make African’s slave for 300 years; little did he realize the truth in his prediction because his promise has come to fruition.

Lastly, with two generations of children going through this education system – must we look forward to another 50 years of despair. We can change that if we come to understand that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. When you continue to do what you’ve always done; you will get what you always got!

Intelligence is the ability to know things and knowledge is the things you know. We have not woke up, stood up more forcefully, nor did we learned the lessons taught by our ancestors

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Black History: Murdered Angels

2There were and are so many atrocious things inflicted upon people of African descent from the beginning of our journey in this place the slaves called “merica”. My purpose, today, is to bring into remembrance the horrible murder of four little girls in Birmingham on September 15th, 1963 was without question the worst. It happened on a Sunday morning while these babies were attending Sunday school when a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church.

We are reminded each day of heinous murders and crimes that shocked America, but none had the devastating emotional impact as this senseless crime. These four children were in the church basement preparing for the morning service. The ground floor of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church collapsed from the bomb planted by members of the terrorist “KKK” killing of four innocent little black girls.

Denise McNair, aged 11, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carol Robertson, all aged 14. Many others were injured. Despite the many racial crimes committed in the South, this one was greeted with abject horror. Despite the deaths of four young girls, and the many that were injured, no-one was initially arrested for this crime, even though, the authorities suspected four men within days of the outrage. Frankly, the authorities placed little value on the lives of Colored People that was one of the reasons not to investigate or apprehend the suspects.

Let me take you back to the era; Birmingham was ground zero for the civil rights movement, and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was an organizational center for much of the movement’s activities. In particular, youths used the church to help plan strategies to get more black high school children involved in the civil rights cause.

In the spring of 1963, stores in downtown Birmingham had been desegregated, and just days before the bombing, schools in Birmingham had been ordered by a federal court to integrate – nearly ten years after the Brown v Board of Education ruling. Of course, the Klan and many racists would not accept this decision or the successes the civil rights movement.

The chief of police in the city, Bull Connor, was very anti-civil rights and had ordered that police dogs and fire hoses used on civil rights demonstrators in May 1963. Birmingham was well known as a stronghold of the KKK. The influence of the KKK was such that children’s books that showed black and white rabbits together were banned from sale in bookshops in the city. Segregation was the norm in the city. Violence against the black community in Birmingham was not unusual, but the deliberate bombing of a church took that violence to a new level.

In 1965, J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, stated that any chance of prosecution was “remote” and in 1968, the FBI pulled out of the investigation. Therefore, no-one was arrested for the outrage. Eventually, a known member of the KKK, Robert Chambliss, was arrested in 1977, nearly fifteen years later. He was sent to prison and died there in 1985. However, many believed that he was not the only one involved.

In 1980, a US Department of Justice report stated that Hoover had blocked evidence that could have been used in the pursuit of suspects. This led to the Alabama district attorney reopening the case. However, while the case was reopened but no new charges were filed.

In October 1988, Gary A Tucker admitted that he had helped set up the bomb. Dying of cancer, no charges were laid against him, but federal and state prosecutors reopened their investigations. In May 2000, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry surrendered to the authorities after they were indicted on four counts of first-degree murder and “universal malice”. One year later, Blanton, aged 62, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on four counts of murder.

Blandon said after the verdict was announced “I guess the good Lord will settle it on Judgment Day.” Bobby Frank Cherry was initially deemed to be mentally unfit to stand trial. However, this was overturned, and he was found guilty after members of his family gave evidence against him.

The role of the FBI has been criticized by some with regards to this case, particularly the role of Hoover. It was only after 14 years that the FBI released 9,000 files relevant to the case; including the so-called ‘Kitchen Tapes’ in which Thomas Blandon was heard telling his wife about building the bomb and planning to use it.

The mere fact that this case went unsolved for so long speaks to the depth of racial hatred in America not all that long ago. It was more shocking to our community that the powers that be knew who the culprits were and failed to act. The system of injustice was so pervasive that their inactions were the result of institutional approval. I think they are deserving of this high honor for being martyrs because their lives were innocently sacrificed for a cause they never really understood.

Let’s pray that the souls of Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carol Robertson . Rest In Peace for all eternity and may God Bless each of you!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Did You Know The Origins Of Watch Night Had Nothing To Do With Religion

6I love history mainly because it is like a clock that tells the story of time traveled. However, history and truth are two very different things when compared to the way His-Story tells it. What we have been told is not, in most cases, true at all in any respect. For example, most people have no idea where or why we celebrate most traditions. This is to include the “greatest stories ever told” – Christmas and Easter! The construct of religion drives our thinking as it relates to the direction of our lives.

Regardless of what we are told; our faith causes us to believe. Let me just add that faith is believing true that which is unseen. I only need to remind you of the representation of the deity you probably worship because, in our heart of hearts, we know that this person represented could not have come out of that region of the world where they said he was born. Yet, our faith tells us to believe, and most do without question as to what we are told. I know that made you go hmmm!

Here is another example: This year Americans will celebrate another anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is another one of those misconceptions of America’s past. The fact is Lincoln did not free anyone with this proclamation. It was issued for and to the Negro’s held in bondage in the Confederacy and not the slaves of the Northern States under his authority. Coming out of this came what has become known as “Watch Night” on New Year’s Eve that follows an African American tradition dating back more than a hundred and fifty years.

The first Watch Night occurred on Dec. 31, 1862, as abolitionists and others waited for word via telegraph, newspaper or word of mouth that the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. “A lot of it, at least, the initial Watch Night was really celebrated in the newly freed black community. Yet for a people largely held in bondage, freedom is a powerful idea — and that’s what the Watch Night tradition embodies” says Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Most of us don’t know that part of the historical tradition. It has somehow been connected to religion and not its original origin that was the hope of freedom for people of African descent held in bondage. So at midnight, many congregations will pray the old year out and the New Year in asking for God’s blessings. The truth is Watch Night is deeply rooted in the history of blacks in America; it is especially relevant at a time when the community is still struggling with sermons that should be designed to address the progressive and regressive moves we have been through as a people.

I remind you that the proclamation did not free anyone. The document that was supposed to free the slaves was the 13th Amendment, but it did not do that either. However, Lincoln’s goal was accomplished as the proclamation did change the character of the conflict from a war to preserve the union to a war for human liberation. In reality, it was a way to obtain the manpower by using black in what to that point was a losing effort. The cultural bandits have rewritten the truth. You are the holders of the light, and the light is the truth.

It was recorded that an enslaved person had a wonderful reminiscence of the event by saying, “I was on Master Johnson’s plantation and a soldier came, and he took out a little piece of paper and suddenly said we were free”. Now I ask whose plantation are you on! So I suggest that you know what it is you believe because it is more often than not – not true. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving.


%d bloggers like this: