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Black Music Month: The Godfather Of Go-Go

It has been a year since the man who filled Washington DC with his legendary Go-Go music passed away. As one of the thousands of “Chuckaholics” Chuck Brown will live forever. “He’s like our Elvis.” So let’s all say, “Wind Me Up, Chuck” and my you Rest in Peace.

The Nation’s Capital still mourns the passing of Washington DC’s favorite son Chuck Brown known as the “Godfather of Go-Go”. Chuck made a name for himself in the 70s with the smash hit “Bustin’ Loose” and effectively birthing a new genre in Go-Go music. Largely a native to the Washington Metro area, Go-Go music is a byproduct of funk and soul backed by African rhythms, call-and-response chants and dances tailored made for the music. Brown was infamous for his “Wind Me Up, Chuck” routine and his hefty baritone voice was both melodic and confident.

Chuck Brown was a favorite of Washingtonians, enjoying popularity in the city and abroad that continued on for decades. The Godfather is considered by many to be Washington musical royalty, and his loss leaves behind a legacy of hits and thousands of mourning fans who grew up with his music.

The 75-year-old musician’s is said to have learned music in his early years in prison where the performer, singer, guitarist and songwriter developed his commanding brand of funk in the mid-1970s to compete with the dominance of disco. Like a DJ blending records, Mr. Brown used nonstop percussion to stitch songs together and keep the crowd on the dance floor, resulting in marathon performances that went deep into the night. Mr. Brown said the style got its name because “the music just goes and goes.”

In addition to being go-go’s principal architect, Mr. Brown remained the genre’s most charismatic figure. On stage, his spirited call-and-response routines became a hallmark of the music, reinforcing a sense of community that allowed the scene to thrive. As go-go became a point of pride for black Washingtonians, Mr. Brown became one of the city’s most recognizable figures.

“No single type of music has been more identified with Washington than go-go, and no one has loomed larger within it as Chuck Brown,” former Washington Post pop music critic Richard Harrington wrote in 2001.

Mr. Brown’s creation, however, failed to have the same impact outside of the Beltway. The birth of go-go doubled as the high-water mark of Mr. Brown’s national career. With his group the Soul Searchers, his signature hit “Bustin’ Loose” not only minted the go-go sound, it spent four weeks atop the R&B singles chart in 1978.

“Bustin’ Loose” was “the one record I had so much confidence in,” Mr. Brown told The Post in 2001. “I messed with it for two years, wrote a hundred lines of lyrics and only ended up using two lines. . . . It was the only time in my career that I felt like it’s going to be a hit.”

It was Mr. Brown’s biggest single, but throughout the 1980s “We Need Some Money,” “Go-Go Swing” and “Run Joe” became local anthems, reinforced by radio support and the grueling performance schedule that put Mr. Brown on area stages six nights a week. While rap music exploded across the country, go-go dominated young black Washington, with groups including Trouble Funk, Rare Essence and Experience Unlimited (also known as E.U.) follows in Mr. Brown’s footsteps.

Family, friends, and fans of the man known as the “Godfather of Go-Go”; we still love you and thank you for your musical contribution. Brown’s legendary Go-Go music played venue all over the world – can’t you still hear the crowds shouting “Wind me up Chuck”? May your soul Rest in Peace. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Unsung Episode


The Horror of Slavery

1004795_10201334073855180_857894681_nIt was in the year of our Lord 1691 on a day that will live in infamy. America lost its soul that day when they dragged this human cargo onto its shores. Now I could make a great argument that the slavers never had a soul. Nonetheless, once on the shores they handed the Africans a Bible to mark the beginning the most horrific journey that would last for centuries. It is with remembrance of these heart-wrenching events to follow an unimaginable struggle that African Americans must teach our children to never forget.

This is how it began when the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo on-board a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into the shores of Jamestown, Virginia, carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the captain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers.” Regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves at first, Fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Governor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation. In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony, through the use of the Africans, had established a successful economy based on tobacco.

Slavery was born and the slave trade became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime ever inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sanctioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified slavery. The next two-hundred years were a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through indoctrination, brutality, savagery, and terror.

I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there was nothing civil about the institution of slavery. To be clear, a slave is chattel, a human being considered property and servant for life. The business of slave trading had one purpose – profit. The process would begin with an African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, capture other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell these captives to Europeans. Now, if stealing and capturing the victims was not misery enough, what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

This horrible journey, known as the “Middle Passage”, ended with a lifetime of bondage awaiting the captives at the end of the voyage. A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal, would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the cargo ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four would be found dead each morning. Africans from Senegal were the most prized commodity because many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their high suicide rate.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb-like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles – crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ring-bolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shackling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus,” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called Jamestown? The devastating effects of bondage would have an effect on a race of people for centuries.

I will continue to pray that we will be able, one day, to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.


The Shooting Of Another Black Man: Presumed Justified

10514657_10202131902970802_7641807366571926388_nA St. Louis PD officer is the latest to shot an unarmed black teenager with what appears to be with no remorse. He is on administrative leave with pay and as it has been reported [CNN] that no city official, mayor or otherwise has visited the mother of this child. One officer was caught on video calling the angry protesters last night – “F-ing ANAMIALS”! As far back as I can remember these same types of atrocities have been inflicted upon black people and their community.

At some point, you would think the government would see there is a problem with the men in blue. The relationship between the police and the black community has always been hostile, no trust, and viewed as an occupying force. This just speaks to justice that in unfairly imposed by this hostile force. And this morning another mother, family, and community grieve.

During segregation, there was the “Ministers of Defense” created to protect black people from the Klan and racists. The unchallenged brutality from the Oakland police was the reason why the Black Panthers were formed to protect the community from the police. The result of these unchecked murders, beatings, and shootings result in riots. I hope you can remember the call of the sixties “Burn Baby Burn”!

Let me say, I am personally opposed to violence and rioting. I would prefer organizing but that is like “praying”; it feels good, but nothing results from it and black people have been praying since we were dragged on to the shores of this place the slaves called “merica.” Need I remind you that “those prayers have yet to be answered.” For four hundred years, people of African descent have been brutalized in unimaginable ways at the hands of those put in place to suppress the race. Make no mistake that is the job of the police, not much different than the slave catcher.

We have seen over and over the lack of value held by agencies from the FBI to the “community watch” folks. Just imagine what it was like before there was video. The brutality was standard operating procedure. Then came Rodney King and the world got a chance to see that it was, in fact real, and the complaints from the black community were too. What did they say to us; “you did not see what you thought you saw.” In every instance, the police use the same excuse; I was afraid for my life and the murder is found to be justified!

Some say; we should march. Marching is a strategy – not a solution! I say we have been marching since Dr. King lead us, and the problem has gotten worse. It seems that each week there is another murder of an unarmed person at the hands of the law. The life of a black person has so little value that the police simply “shot first” and their gang leaders will find away to find it “justified”. This is a crisis!

What troubles me is that as soon as something like this happens. The police grab some chicken pickin so-called lead to tamper down the unrest. This is a huge problem when they run to a house Negro to say “be peaceful and that the police are your friend”. No one in the black community believes that for one minute. They are there as an occupying force, unstable and dangerous. As evidence of the weekly deaths under cover of law that must be addressed; as we said in the late sixties – unrest will ensue!

It is not the role of the police to prosecute nor execute! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


You Should Know Dr. Ben-Jochannan

Professor Yosef Ben-Jochannan, affectionately known as “Dr. Ben” is the foremost African scholar and an Egyptologist. He is a man who proved the world wrong with fact based history of Africa which made a profound impact upon world thinking. He taught at Cornell University for over 15 years; Dr. Ben has lectured widely on both sides of the Atlantic on the theme – the ancient civilizations of Egypt. His presentations placed him in great demand by students and community groups, especially those of African descent through an unwavering theme that the ancient civilizations along the Nile were African and the foundation of the world.

Dr. Ben was formally educated in Puerto Rico. He continued his education in the Virgin Islands andBrazil. Dr. Ben earned a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, and a Master’s degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba. He received doctoral degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona Spain.

Dr. Ben was an adjunct professor at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York for over a decade (1976–1987). He has written and published over forty-nine books and papers, revealing much of the information unearthed while he was in Egypt. Two of his better known works include Black Man of the Nile and His Family and Africa: Mother of Major Western Religions. In his writings, he argues that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans, while the white Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.

In 1939, shortly after receiving his undergraduate degree, Dr. Ben’s father sent him to Egypt to study firsthand the ancient history of African People. Since 1941, Dr. Ben has been to Egypt at least twice a year. He began leading educational tours to Egypt in 1946. When asked why he began the tours, he replied “because no one knew or cared about Egypt and most believed Egypt was not in Africa.” According to Dr. Ben, Egypt is the place to go to learn the fundamentals of living. Over five decades have passed and Dr. Ben, a preeminent scholar and Egyptologist, remains focused on Nile Valley Civilization.

Dr. Ben immigrated to the United States in the early 1940s and worked as a draftsman to continue his studies. He claims that, in 1945, he was appointed chairman of the African Studies Committee at the headquarters of the newly founded UNESCO, a position from which he stepped down in 1970. In 1950, Ben-Jochannan began teaching Egyptology at Malcolm King College, then at City College in New York City.

Dr. Ben taught that Aristotle visited the Library of Alexandria. In 2002, Ben-Jochannan donated his personal library of more than 35,000 volumes, manuscripts and ancient scrolls to The Nation of Islam. Ben-Jochannan has been criticized for allegedly distorting history and promoting Black supremacy. I say since it is a fact that Africa is the birthplace of mankind the facts he revealed are truth. Read the work of Dr. Ben and get to know this great man!

The concept that Africa had no history and that its people were savages was soundly debunked in part because of Dr. Ben’s work. Further, his work proved that the Africa continent were superior historically to those from Europe before they wore a shoe or had a window. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Last Days In Time

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I came across this thought provoking video, thank to a FaceBook page, and was compelled to share the message. America as great as it is faces a multitude of concerns that are imperative to the nation’s survival. Many of which, but not limited to, the most serious concerns are structural and coming from within.

If compared to America’s relation to time, about two and a half centuries, this system of government is relatively new and a very young experiment in democracy. The rise and fall of nations is a common as the change of seasons. With greed and division among the people; does the Universal God need to intervene and correct the situations but our so-called leaders cannot. 

The government is neglecting its citizens in every area that pertains to living and has forgotten that we are first human. Second, we are the engine of this system that makes up the American society. We the people fund the government that benefits the plutocrats and oligarchs. We have become a nation of “haves and have not’s”!

Could we be living in the “Last Days In Time”. We get caught up in a multitude of issues that really have nothing to do with critical issues facing the citizenry. Listen to the speaker who voices a compelling assessment and in his view there is a real possibility that THE END IS NEAR!

What do you think?

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The Gathering

2Did you get your invitation from James Crow Esq. to attend the 21st Century Citizens Counsel gathering the Good Ol’ Boys call CPAC? No, I didn’t get one either, but I heard it was a “Yee Ha” kinda weekend!

I will be upfront and say that I have called the Good Ol Boys (GOP), like most, many things and coming from a time where I have seen this movie before; I think my assertion is fair. I will try to capture the essence of what the rightwing nuts and the frightening Republican candidates represented as they continued clinging to a version of reality unique to a world alien to sane people.

Last weekend the conservatives paraded their best spokespeople to advance their cause, and if they were trying to make a good impression on each other and observant voters, they failed miserably because it was nothing but the same. No, actually it was worse! I saw racism and bigotry that went back to the days of segregation, if not the Civil War.

The show or ignominy hosted the usual daily recapitulation of crazy to comprehend the conservative conclave’s purpose was to put on a torrid display of groundless anti-Obama rhetoric based on the roster of speakers. One by one, their so-called best and brightest fired up the crowds preaching that America’s salvation is steeped in religion, austerity, guns, and voiding the federal government. The speakers each reiterated that Republicans lose elections because the GOP failed to articulate conservative’s values and not that voters rejected conservative extremism.

22In essence, what they said was “We don’t need new ideas. The idea is called America, and it still works” and it revealed to Republicans, extremism defines America, and voters are out of touch with America. The list of characters represented fanaticism at its finest with the same cast of character; Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Sara Palin, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan rambling on about America’s demise stemming from voter’s rejecting conservative ideas. Many of the gang, marquee spokespersons, came to lay the nation’s woes at the feet of President Obama.

It seemed to me that these so-called patriots favored the Russia President of the American President. Another highlight of the event was “Obama-Care”. Only this time, they did not accuse president Obama of killing grandma but did not hold back on anything else. I would be remised if I did not mention the only Negro in the room – the doctor. It is amazing that every year the find “one” and let me just say for the record black people did not clear him!

The only thing I did not hear from this group that I heard in the past years was – how grateful we should be to have been dragged onto the shores of this great land and given food and shelter to cheers and applause from the crowd.

CPAC was an extremists’ dream, and they brought out the cream of the conservative crop to parrot extremist rhetoric. I still say, because I have a memory of history where we saw the extreme lynch, murder through the use of terror, African Americans could not drink from the same water fountain, trampled and beaten by people of this ilk. In fact, Rand Paul is on record say if he were a Senator he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act. This sounds to me a lot like what this mean when they say they “want their country back”.

The most memorable, however, was Caribou Barbie’s rendition of a twisted fairytale rendition of a Dr. Seuss like story.  If I could make a comparison to this the 2014 gathering, it was more like a Star Wars bar scene gone wrong. People the 2014 elections are not far away and dare I say – Be afraid, Be very afraid. If any of these people are elected God Bless America! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Justice Finally

th (5)Can you imagine being accused of rape? Ok, maybe you can because it still happens. Race, Gender, and Lies are usually at the foundation of such accusation but if you are a white woman the result is guilty. There have been countless cases but none more infamous than the case of the Alabama teens that came to be known as the Scottsboro Boys.

The Scottsboro case crystallized black support in the 1930s, more than any other event, in spite of the countless lynchings of black men for amusement. This is what happened; nine black teens were accused of raping two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, on a freight train near Paint Rock, Alabama basically because they said so, which was a lie.

The nine young black men were Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Haywood Patterson, Andy and Roy Wright, Eugene Williams, ages thirteen to twenty-one, were arrested on March 25, 1931, tried without adequate counsel, and hastily convicted on the basis of shallow evidence. All but Roy Wright were sentenced to death.

Already in the midst of a mass anti-lynching campaign begun a year earlier, the International Labor Defense (ILD) gained the confidence of the defendants and their parents, initiated a legal and political campaign for their freedom, and in the process waged a vicious battle for control over the case with the NAACP, who accused the Communists of using the young men for propaganda purposes.

The Scottsboro case was not simply an isolated instance of injustice. Rather a common manifestation of national oppression and class rule in the South. Maintaining that a fair and impartial trial was impossible, the defense, such as it was, and its auxiliaries publicized the case widely in order to apply mass pressure on the Alabama justice system. Protests erupted throughout the country and as far away as Paris, Moscow, and South Africa, and the governor of Alabama was bombarded with telegrams, postcards and letters demanding the immediate release of the “Scottsboro Boys.”

More shocking, as the southern racist would cry freedom and liberty, the “Scottsboro Boys” were denied the right of counsel. Because of public pressure the teens got a new trial, which opened on March 27, 1933. In this case the ILD had retained renowned criminal lawyer Samuel Leibowitz.

More significant, a month before the trial date Ruby Bates repudiated the rape charge. Yet, despite new evidence and a brilliant defense, the all-white jury still found the Scottsboro defendants guilty; a verdict that seemed to buttress the Communists’ interpretation of justice under capitalism and how it applies to the black community.

In fact, pressure from black militants and some sympathetic clergy and middle-class spokesmen compelled the virulently anticommunist NAACP secretary, Walter White, to develop a working relationship with the ILD in the spring of 1933. Several months later, however, in an unprecedented decision, Alabama circuit Judge James E. Horton overturned the March 1933 verdict and ordered a new trial.

Following a number of incredibly foolish legal and ethical mistakes, including an attempt to bribe Victoria Price, star lawyer Samuel Leibowitz separated from the ILD. With support of conservative black leaders, white liberals, and clergymen, Leibowitz founded the American Scottsboro Committee (ASC) in 1934.

In a tenuous alliance the ILD, ASC, NAACP, and ACLU, formed the Scottsboro Defense Committee, which opted for a more reformist, legally oriented campaign in lieu of mass tactics. After failing to win the defendants’ release in a 1936 trial, the SDC agreed to a strange plea bargain in 1937 whereby four defendants were released and the remaining five endured lengthy prison sentences. The last defendant was not freed until 1950.

Although the ILD did not win the defendants’ unconditional release, its campaign to “Free the Scottsboro Boys” had tremendous legal and political implications during the early 1930s. For example, in one of the ILD’s many appeals, a 1935 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated because blacks were systematically excluded from the jury. Moreover, the realization that limited mass interracial action was possible challenged traditional liberalism and the politics of racial accommodation; the often scorned tactics of “mass pressure” would eventually be a precedent for civil rights activity two decades later.

Like Mississippi who 150 years after the Civil War came to terms with the reality that it was fought and won, and they lost.  A resolution labels the Scottsboro Boys as “victims of a series of gross injustice” and declares them exonerated. A companion bill gives the state parole board the power to issue posthumous pardons. Alabama is trying to exonerate them for the in justice of this famous case from the segregated South that some consider the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.

Long overdue but this is still the American South and this attempt may well be a smoke screen or justice denied. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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