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R.I.P. Honorable Dick Gregory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books

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

The GOP Right-Wing Drumbeat

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The drumbeat of the Republican Party’s dogma looms large in this political season as the GOP desperately try to find someone to take “their” country back. The last group that ran for the GOP Republican nomination in 2012 were called clowns but this time – WOW; they have a marching band. We will witness endless debates with the kind of political rhetoric unlike any that I’ve ever seen. Wait a minute; this is going to be the greatest show on earth. At which time America, because of the Republicans, face a greater divide that could approach Armageddon.

When Obama was elected, they were predicting terrorist attacks in the first month of his administration and they would do anything to defeat his agenda’s. Of course, it didn’t happen—but the rhetoric sounds good. One the Republican’s has already said, on the first day, if he is elected, he will take military action against Iran. Stands to reason, if any of these guys were to be president, anyone one of the eighteen clowns running are only interested in war. It seems they want to improve on the disaster that was G.W. Bush.

Mud-throwing is a professional sport in politics. We can see from Trump that he will take that premise to a whole new level. The real question is, how far to the right are the Republicans willing to go? For sure, we can expect their rhetoric of refusing to compliment Obama, on anything, is the only platform on their agenda.

Under Nixon, Reagan and both Bush’s, the nation did what it was asked to do for the national good, which, in fact, was not good for anyone but the rich. The opposite party was asked to tone down the rhetoric for the good of the nation’s morale. But not this time, the KKK and the Tea Party rhetoric, and obstructionism that make no sense will be on center stage.

This time the difference in this election season is that the last crop of pretenders projects their bigotry vaguely in subliminal coded language. This “pool of fools” has no shame in their game. One of these pretenders owned a lodge named “N-Word Head” and he is under indictment. Another had a newsletter that espoused racial hatred so vile that one would think he was the Grand Wizard of the Imperial Knights. Some believe black people were better off during slavery.

Wait there’s more! One of them has publically talked about succession. Another said, get off welfare and get a check. Further, one of these guys actually said; he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act. I can’t leave out the guy who said there is a crisis of culture in urban communities with black men. Who are they talking too or speaking for? I seriously doubt these people would say that about an enemy captured in a time of war.

This language takes me back to a time I thought had long past. This kind of thinking conjures up images of Bull Connor and Strom Thurmond. Let’s face it’s it is possible that the next Commander in Chief might be another Bush, and the thought of this is cause to ask God to bless America. It appears to me from the rhetoric that is being hurled with such distinction that these folks have come from under the hood and taken off the sheets.

Whichever candidate might emerge as the GOP nominee we can be sure they will try to “take back their country”. They WILL DO damage under a cloak of cover and not worry about the law coming for them because they will be the law. So, we are back to the question: How far to the right will the Republicans willing to go?

Moreover, what will they do to for Black people, if elected! I expect a vote to reinstitute slavery. Not one of these clowns has yet to say anything about black issues. And that’s my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE…


Danger To Democracy

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This Court is so far “right leaning” that its legacy will be one that has sustained the American philosophy of divide and conquer pitting every groups interest against what is fair and just with regard to the American people. They have sided with the rich and powerful in every instance working against the principles of democracy. This court believes corporations are persons and their rights are more pronounced than that of actual human citizens.

The Roberts court has decimated voting rights protections and this week overturned the early voting challenge in Ohio, as they seek to intervene in other cases to work against protecting the voting rights of American citizen. I am not sure what planet these five conservative justices live on because they seem to think racism is a thing of the past. The outcome of their future intervention will be interesting because they have decided to accept a housing discrimination case. It appears that this court’s mission is to disenfranchise the American people in every area of protection and human rights.

This court has always sided with the interests of a few, namely business and the one percent. The fact is 90% of business fall into a similar category as this company. So you can see how dangerous this gang is as they continue to determine the course of policy in America. This gang has gone so far as to say a corporation is a “person” and appears to have more rights than people. The court allows big money to buy politicians to assure the interest of the rich – while denying its people the right to vote.

These five Supreme Court justices decision in the Hobby Lobby Case, for example, was based on its history and viewed by most as a further assault on the rights of women. Yet, I saw women cheering the outcome as if it was some sort of victory for them. What is interesting is that the word “Freedom” or “Liberty” is always associated with such bad decision. In this case, in particular, with respect to the Constitution – women were never mentioned. So it was presumed from the beginning women had no rights.

From my perspective, this gang has the saddest record on racial issues in a hundred years. I am sure most will agree that, not unlike Congress, this court stands alongside the worst. In fact, they have said, race is no longer an issue in America. Chief Justice, I beg to differ – race is always an issue and race matters. Affirmative Action, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights, and the list goes on. This court not only reverses the issues pertinent to African American’s, but women and anyone who isn’t wealthy.

There have always been bad decisions from the Supreme Court. Let’s look back at a few of the worst decisions in history, and let’s hope the nation’s highest court can avoid repeating and continuing these devastating blows to justice.

The Dread Scott Decision has undoubtedly been the absolute worst. Scott, an African American born in the United States, had lived as a slave in both free and slave states. When he tried to sue for his family’s freedom, and was turned down, he took his case to federal court. In one of the most infamous cases in history, the Court ruled Scott could not sue because people of African descent were not protected by the Constitution and not citizens. In one part of the opinion, Chief Justice Taney goes so far as to say blacks were never thought of as any more than possessions:

“The unhappy black race were separated from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property.”

Number two would have to be Plessey v. Ferguson, which was the landmark decision upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of “separate but equal”; in other words “Jim Crow.” “Separate but equal” remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.

These people are selected by presidents to serve for life, which means the gang of five including the Chief Justice was appointed by republicans with right-wing ideologies. So the legacy of the appointing president last generations after he is gone. In theory, Roberts could remain for another thirty – forty years and base upon what we see from this group, who seems to view minorities and women as non-existent; meaning they may cease to exist in the eyes of the court.

In fact, the Constitution has yet to be changed to include either. Don’t forget slavery was sanctioned and upheld in the name of God! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


We Will Never Forget

slave image

The history of America’s past is an ominous one that is not as nostalgic as some would have you believe, particularly for the descendants of those stolen from Africa. Those scares continue to impact people viewed as a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality. In spite of having a black president, African American’s today are still viewed as “less than” those of the other hue. In fact, all other people! It has been said that history often repeats itself. If this is true could this happen again?

In today’s world, there are conservatives and religious zealots, who in the name of patriotism or God, surely would propose the return of this amoral system. The foundation of America was built on the premise of “Manifest Destiny”, which means God himself decreed that the land and the people on it are the domain of people of European descent. There could one-day appear a man, from a religion or have an ideology, which could be president and return minorities to slave status – it could happen! When you consider the possibility of having this man with a Supreme Court on his side, possibly 7 – 2; it is a scary thought.

Slavery was supposed to have ended one-hundred fifty years ago, which was followed by Jim Crow and then segregation. So I would argue that there has been a continued effort for them to “take our country back”, as we hear so often, which simply means “back to slavery”. They want us to not forget 911 and the Holocaust – we will not forget what they did to our ancestors! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

View the video and learn, but never forget! 

http://johntwills.com


Delivered Unto Evil

FB_IMG_14149397207070508The first thing I saw on my social media page after the Mid-term election results were confirmed was “God is Good”! There must have been hundreds of like comments one after another proclaiming or maybe asking God to take care of us. I agree if there was ever a time when we need his mercy – it is now, because we have just been delivered unto evil. Tuesday’s results affirmed some of the most extreme right-wing radicals ever elected to Congress in recent memory. Make no mistake the new crop of radicals have one goal and purpose, which is to destroy the black man – President Obama!

Let’s take a look at just a few of the extremists: Glenn Grothman, who won Wisconsin’s 6th District. Grothman wants to eliminate weekends and believes “no people…care about Kwanza…” He co-sponsored a bill that equated single-parenthood with child abuse. In addition…  agrees with Joni Ernst, known as the castrator, that there should be a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Everyone knows the Tea Party’s agenda to take back their country. The question then becomes – how far they want to take it back. Yet, white America voted these people into power in most cases overwhelmingly.

Then there is the House Speaker from North Carolina elected Senator once tacked an anti-abortion provision to a motorcycle safety bill that would have closed all but one of North Carolina’s abortion clinics. He also compared welfare to reparations, claiming the United States has “redistributed” “trillions of dollars over the years” — amounting to “de facto reparations.” In addition he, Tillis has stated, “What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance.”

More frightening was the election of Mitch McConnell as the leader of the pack. This is the guy who has said on many occasions that it is his intent to “make this president a one term president” and to “repeal Obama Care”. For sure, we will see the war mongers come out and see that the rich get richer be it from harmful trade agreements and deregulation. Let’s not forget the privatization of Social Security and Medicaid. We will see investigation after investigation and yes – IMPEACHMENT of the president.

White America can take credit for this because they voted against their own interest to show their hatred for President Obama. I’m reminded of that old saying be careful what you ask for because you might get it. The history if this gang is clear. They have done nothing but obstruct and say no to everything that might benefit the American people. Now has the burden to produce!

It’s incumbent upon these far-right wing radicals to show it can accomplish something. My sense in these far-right radicals, who have said, they want their country back will take a from the time of reconstruction and we know how that worked out. Now might be a good time to ask God to Bless America because we’ve got some difficult times ahead. And that’s my thought provoking perspective.


Politics American Style

FB_IMG_14149397207070508Last Week Tonight offer this commentary about the elections. While midterm coverage is largely focused on the parts of Congress that do very little, vital (and bizarre) midterm elections are going unexamined. State legislators pass a lot of bills, and some of that efficiency is thanks to a group called ALEC that writes legislation for them. Could this be why about a third of the people who can voter – actually vote? It’s as shady as it sounds!

Malcolm X said, “give a man the vote and call him free”.


Does Race Matter?

I want to pay homage to those who read my words – thank you very much for your support – and if this is your first-time WELCOME. I am looking forward to the comments and your thoughts with regard to the question. Since the assassination of Trayvon Martin and the recent incident in Oklahoma’s death-row, it begs the question or at least consideration of thought – “Does race matter?”

Race is a conversation that most Caucasians struggle with, at least in an open or honest way, and most are scared to talk about race, and we aren’t any different. Now, African Americans see matters of race from a completely different perspective. It’s like; if you’ve felt the brunt of this wretched ideal of supremacy you know it and see it.

The stories of oppression, racism, segregation and even slavery are very real and most African Americans have experienced it in one form or another and know it is real. Of course slavery was not physically visited upon us today by law but the elevated mental state and the prison industrial complex ensures it continues.

You cannot view the history of America and not see that race has and has always been the driver of its policies and laws. Naturally, the obvious differences in neighborhoods, employment, schools, and the legal system – causes one to ask why. If you just look at the presidents treatment, the Trayvon Martin story, Rodney King situation, or even the OJ case; all differed tremendously along political and racial lines. There are countless examples dating back to the first day black people was dragged onto the shores of this place they called “merica”.

More to the point, there was a time in my life where I saw police trample peaceful protesters, marchers beaten in the streets, and fire hoses turned on American citizens called Negro’s for asking and in most cases begging for the basic human right to live, which was simply a human right. Then a few years prior to that, in the first half of the last half century, black men were lynched by the hundreds for entertainment. Yet, most of white America believed it to be proper and sanctioned by law these so-called moral actions.

Was this colorblindness that dictated these policies that allowed justice which is blind to permit the wretchedness of racism to exist in the hearts and minds of people? You may realize that whenever the conversation of race comes up; there is the usual quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “we want to judge people, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” If the issue of race was that simple – the world would be a better place, but it’s not. So let’s talk about it.

Look at it this way, there was an old man who was bent over. Someone told him to stand up. The old man had been bent over so long – he said, “I thought I was!” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


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