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Happy Birthday MJ

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What can I say about the man whose music was such a huge part of my life and growing up. Michael Jackson was no doubt the GREATEST ENTERTAINER who ever lived.

It is hard to find the words to say what he gave the world and the memories I have of the music he created still touches my heart. So I will leave you with this recorded performance to say – “I never can say goodbye”. Rest in Peace Michael Jackson.

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


A Slave’s Holiday Experience

slave xmasIt is no secret that the stolen people of Africa are arguably the most Christian people on this little rock called earth and have been since arriving in this place they called “merica.” Now that the holiday season is upon us, I wondered and maybe you have also, in spite of the wretched system of slavery; what was Christmas like for a slave. You know the chattel property of white folk. How was it celebrated for those who were viewed as nothing more than a dog or any other farm animal?

The American slaves experienced the Christmas holidays in many different ways. Joy, hope, and celebration were naturally a part of the season for many. For other slaves, this holiday conjured up visions of freedom or the opportunity to bring about that freedom. Still others saw it as yet another burden to be endured.

I suppose the enslaved black people; if there was ever any joy, it might well have been on Christmas. At least, their captures, in the spirit of Jesus’ birth allowed them to have a day free from drudgery. It may have been that “Ol Massa” relaxed discipline on that day associated with Christmas to enabled slaves to interact in ways they could not during the rest of the year.

They may well have received material goods from their masters: perhaps the slave’s yearly allotment of clothing, an edible delicacy leftover from Massa’s table, or something above and beyond what he or she needed to survive. For this reason, among others, slaves frequently married during the Christmas season – if it was allowed. More than any other time of year, Christmas provided slaves with the latitude that made a formal wedding possible.

This ironic annual inversion of power occasionally allowed slaves to acquire real power. Henry, a slave whose tragic life, and death are recounted in Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, saved “Christmas gifts in money” to buy his freedom. Some slaves saw Christmas as an opportunity to escape. They took advantage of a relaxed work schedules and the holiday travels of slaveholders, who were too far away to stop them.

While some slaveholders presumably treated the holiday as any other workday, numerous authors record a variety of holiday traditions, including the suspension of work for celebration and family visits. Because many slaves had spouses, children, and family, who were owned by different masters and lived on other properties. Slaves often requested passes to travel and visit family during this time. Some slaves used the passes to explain their presence on the road and delay the discovery of their escape through their masters’ expectation that they would soon return from their “family visit.”

Jermain Loguen plotted a Christmas escape, stockpiling supplies and waiting for travel passes, knowing the cover of the holidays was essential for success: “Lord speed the day!–freedom begins with the holidays!” These plans turned out to be wise, as Loguen and his companions were almost caught crossing a river into Ohio, but were left alone because the white men thought they were free men “who have been to Kentucky to spend the Holidays with their friends.”

It was during Christmas that Harriet Tubman helped her brothers escape. Their master intended to sell them after Christmas but was delayed by the holiday. The brothers were expected to spend the day with their elderly mother but met Tubman in secret. She helped them travel north, gaining a head start on the master who did not discover their disappearance until the end of the holidays. Likewise, William and Ellen Crafts escaped together at Christmastime. They took advantage of passes that were clearly meant for temporary use.

“This same Jesus, whom the civilized world now worship as their Lord, was once a lowly, outcast, and despised; born of the most hated people of the world . . . Laid in the manger of a stable at Bethlehem . . . This Jesus is worshiped now”. For Ann, Christmas symbolized the birth of the very hope she used to survive her captivity. Not all enslaved African Americans viewed the holidays as a time of celebration and hope. However for a slave Christmas served only to highlight their lack of freedom.

Frederick Douglass described the period of respite that was granted to slaves between Christmas and New Year’s Day as a psychological tool of the oppressor. In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey.” He took particular umbrage at the latter practice, which was often encouraged by slave owners through various tactics.

In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass concluded “the license allowed [during the holidays] appears to have no other object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it.” While there is no doubt that many enjoyed these holidays, Douglass acutely discerned that they were granted not merely in a spirit of charity or conviviality, but also to appease those who yearned for freedom, ultimately serving the ulterior motives of slave owners.

Now we know what it was like for those poor souls captured and held in bondage! So as you recount your blessing of this holiday; think about those whose shoulders you stand and imagine if you will, what it was like to endure what was nothing more than psychological warfare. And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Only Love Can Conquer Hate

I am of the opinion that “everyday above ground is a good day” and I am thankful for each. Knowing that we only get 1440 minutes mean you only have a minute, didn’t chose it, it’s up to you to use it. It’s just a minute but an eternity in it. So today I want to share something musical and this blast from the past is as relevant as the day Marvin Gaye penned it. The condition of the world today is not unique because there is nothing new under the Sun – like in the time of Marvin and before – only love can conquer hate! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Tis’ The Season

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I have re-posted this piece every year for the past ten years to share my pain for the loss of my son. I know we are born to die but as each Christmas comes and goes I miss his presence. During this season, we rejoice with great celebration for Christmas is the day Christ our savior was born. Rarely do I share much of my personal being but in this post I want to pour my heart out because this is neither my favorite season nor one that I look forward to anymore. It is not due to a lack of faith or my strong conviction and belief in someone greater than I; whom I call chose to call God. Rather, it is due to this event that will forever pain my heart.

Every year as the holiday season comes upon us I have to relive a dreadful horror. So I ask that you please forgive any tears that may stain the pages as I write. If you have experienced the greatest love of all and lost it. I know you feel my pain. Therefore, I will use this writing to express my feelings and pay homage to my late son – who I miss very much. I am blessed in that he left me a wonderful grandson who I cherish more than life itself.

It’s been some time since God called my only son home to be with him, and the pain of his absence does not go away. No parent should have to bury a child, let alone the only child they’ve been blessed to have. It just doesn’t seem right for a child to go before a parent, but this is not something that is unique to me. I know from scripture that others have endured such pain since time began. Able died before Adam and Eve and John the Baptist died preceding his parents. We also know for certain that Jesus died before Mary because she witnessed his crucifixion, and how painful that must have been.

It was a dreadful dreary cold day about ten years ago, early in the morning, when I lost my Rashad due to a tragic automobile accident. It was without question the worst thing imaginable and most certainly my darkest hour. This pain never seems to subside, and I will tell you during each Christmas season it is still painful. Adding to the sadness of this situation his death occurred on New Year’s Eve and on the morning of his son’s first birthday as we were preparing a birthday party for my grandson.

This brings to mind words from scripture. Actually, it is a question I was asked a long time ago. “Why Jesus wept?” As the story goes, Jesus was so moved as he witnessed the pain of Mary and Martha weeping for the loss of his dear friend, Lazarus, that he also wept. Today, I understand that emotion because I have felt such pain. I wrote a few books which might very well explain why I was chosen as the vehicle to share such a powerful story within those pages that will surely live far beyond the season I’ve been given.

From this nightmare, I have come to understand that adversity can either destroy or develop you. Unless and until you have suffered enough pain, then and only then, will you reach deep inside and feel the breath that God has breathed into your soul coming eye to eye with your destiny. Now, having said that, my salvation was to take this lemon (for lack of a better word) and make lemonade. What I have learned from this tragedy is that there is a definition of service that is not written in Webster’s Dictionary that says “I can heal by giving of myself to the benefit of others.”

In spite of this never before known pain that resides permanently within my soul I am very grateful God saw fit to bless me with a wonderful grandson whose name is Elijah. So as each year passes and Elijah resembles my son more and more the pain eases and the season becomes more bearable. I pray that my son is rejoicing in the bosom of our Lord knowing that I am here for his son in his stead. I am looking forward to the day when I see him again so we can walk around haven all day reveling in wonders of God’s kingdom.

The tears are flowing uncontrollably now. So I will close by saying to anyone experiencing adversity whether it is from health, financial issues or the pain of missing a loved one. I offer my deepest sympathy to you, particularly those who have joined this unwelcomed fraternity of losing a child. The Christmas holiday season and welcoming the New Year will never be the same.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever… believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…

 R.I.P.

“RASHAD ALI WILLS”

Make these books the gift that keeps on giving.

Legacy – A New Season 

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Just a Season


My Reflection November 22, 1963

5It was around 1960, when I began to hear the family talk about this guy Kennedy the newly elected President of the United States. What I thought significant about the man was that he spoke of the Negro situation in terms of positive support, which naturally made him the choice for most Negroes at the time.

What was interesting and different about the time was this thing called television, although not new, it was becoming widely accepted as a source of news and information. We did not have one but I can recall what seemed to be an urgency to get one for obvious reasons.

News by its very nature wasn’t always positive. It is designed to distribute the negative, which is a nice way of saying bad things. Most often we would get the news brought by others about dreadful atrocities, particularly issues involving race relations. It was horrifying to actually see the dogs attacking peaceful Negroes serenely marching on southern streets. Not to mention seeing police spitefully spraying fire hoses or on horseback trampling peaceful protesters, who were marching for the most basic of human rights. The visual impact of this was powerful, driving the point home that we were always in grave danger as a people.

I can remember a particular day in late November 1963 that I will never forget. Our class had just returned from what we called a recess period. My teacher Mrs. Marshall, a beautiful old lady about seventy or so, was called out of the classroom into the hallway. I noticed all of the teachers started crying and screaming. We had no idea what was happening at first. It seemed as if they were trying to find a way to tell us something. When Mrs. Marshall returned to the classroom, she said, “Class, something bad has happened. The president was killed.” This was very bad news because I knew enough to know what she said meant: assassination.

Mrs. Marshall was a tough old battle-ax who was hard as nails, but as she gave us the bad news she showed a never before seen compassion that communicated the magnitude of this horrible incident. I could not believe she was crying and visibly upset because of what had happened. She went on to say that nothing this bad had happened to Negroes since Lincoln was killed. Ironically, this president was killed because he took a stand in support of our cause as well. It was not until that day that I understood there was a system in place designed to protect the system – in other words to keep us down.

Mrs. Marshall so eloquently explained to us that America had a long-standing system in place to ensure there will always be a permanent underclass. She went on to say that we were it. She gave us the sense that our last hope for justice had died.  This was something I never forgot.

She was telling us that anyone who fought for our rights would be destroyed. It appeared to be true because this was the second time in a year that I would know that word – assassination. Not to mention all of the other indignities our people endured continuously adding credence to her remarks.

The next several days were like there had been a death in our family. Everyone was affected by this tragedy. I think we were more affected emotionally because of all the hopes residing in this man. My family was devastated and watched everything about the tragic event for a week. And of course, we were made to watch also as this sad commentary unfolded right in front of our eyes.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a few days later we were shocked as we watched the person accused of killing the president killed on live television. This was something no one could believe, and inside a police station no less.

We would be witness to the funeral of a murdered president. Albeit via television, something few living people had witnessed and the world stopped for it. The most powerful and emotional moment occurred when the president’s little boy, who was about three years old, was standing along the funeral procession route as his father’s casket passed the family. I imagined this little boy had no idea what had happened to his father, but he stood at attention and saluted his fallen dad. And the horse with no rider who wouldn’t follow the marching soldier trying to lead him – these two incidents made this somber event even more emotional.

I remember hearing my Granddaddy say this was a setup – from day one. Kennedy’s body was not cold before the new president was sworn in. The guy arrested for shooting him was killed before Kennedy’s body was in the ground. To put this in Granddaddy’s words, from the shooting to the new president’s get-away to silencing the culprit, “This dog just don’t hunt.”  I knew even then that this day would affect the entire world and all of our lives in a big way.

Follow the series “The Day Innocence Died” each day this month because the most profound sin is a tragedy unremembered. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

This film was not seen for ten-years after the fact. Could the shot have come from the rear?


Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the Kennedy Assassination

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Some say America lost its innocence that fateful day in November 1963 in Dallas, Texas when the shocking news of the assassination of President Kennedy. One thing for sure there has been no shortage of conspiracies, theories, or doubt as to what actually happened on that fateful afternoon. Sherry merges modern CSI knowledge to examine the JFK Assassination in her new book – Enemy of the Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the Kennedy Assassination.

The Kennedy assassination is a particularly timely topic since November 2013 will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the shooting death of the 35th President of the United States. While the most studied murder investigation of the 21st century, it remains plagued by questions and a variety of theories. However, applying modern forensic investigative techniques to this high profile homicide can reveal new information—some of which is startling.

Sherry Fiester has applied current forensic disciplines to eight different aspects of the assassination providing scientific answers to some of the Kennedy assassination’s most puzzling questions. Fiester details how today’s trajectory techniques used to reconstruct shootings when applied to the assassination prove the shooters location for the fatal head shot eliminates both the sixth floor sniper’s lair and the Grassy Knoll. Fiester also addresses the abbreviated forward movement of Kennedy’s head followed by the familiar “back and to the left” movement observed in the Zapruder film, debunking the idea of two almost simultaneous gun shots to the head.

Fiester is a court certified expert in Louisiana State Federal Court and 30 Judicial Districts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida in Crime Scene Investigation, Crime Scene Reconstruction and Blood Spatter Analysis and Reconstruction. She is published and recognized as an instructor at state and national levels. In 1995, Fiester began to apply her expertise to the Kennedy assassination. Later that year she spoke at the 1995 Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) Conference in Washington, DC. Fiester was the featured speaker at the Dealey Plaza Echo Kennedy Assassination Conference in the United Kingdom in 1996.

A regular presenter at JFK Lancer November in Dallas Conferences since 1996, she is a recipient of the prestigious JFK Lancer-Mary Ferrell New Pioneer Award given in recognition of her contribution of new evidence and advancing the study of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Now retired from police work, Fiester is utilizing various forensic fields to promote a better understanding of the Kennedy assassination. The results have been a variety of speaking presentations and more recently, completion of the book, “Enemy of Truth: Myths, Forensics, and the JFK Assassination.”

Image3Why I wrote the book: I believe the historical narrative of our country concerning the Kennedy assassination is distorted with biased and unverified information. Many people still believe in a single shooter, regardless of the scientific facts that prove otherwise. Sadly, the majority of the conclusions and purported facts concerning the death of President Kennedy are anecdotal, unrealistic, and incorrect statements kept alive by those who would prefer fabrications that promote sensationalism as opposed to the quiet reality of fact. I want to fight the unsubstantiated allegations that continue to rear their head, summoning the naive to join forces in a “truth is stranger than fiction” campaign.

Although imaginative and sometimes thought provoking, these theories rely upon the suspension of common sense and fly in the face of forensic research. I want to correct those misconceptions. Polls have consistently shown that the American public’s confidence in their government has steadily declined since the Warren Report was issued in 1964, and now over 80% of the people refuse to believe Kennedy was killed by a lone, deranged gunman.

The American people are convinced they have never been told the truth about the tragedy of November 22, 1963 and many will not stop in their search for the truth concerning his death and the subsequent cover-up. This book is part of my fight to bring the truth to light and restore accuracy to our history.

Sherry Fiester Interview

Buy It At AMAZON.COM

Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving.

Legacy – A New Season 

AMAZON

Just a Season


The Redskins Have Done It Again

rg iiiThis is one of the few times I’ve delved into the sports arena via this blog, but as you know I might share a Thought Provoking Perspective on any topic, particularly if it relates to an African American issue. I must admit, I normally reserve my comments for those subjects that are more meaningful to life’s empowerment. Nonetheless, as I watched this year’s Washington Redskins I had a flashback with respect to the organization history of mistreating African American players.

I am going to talk about Mr. RG III, who like Jason Campbell and Doug Williams, follow a long list of players abused by this group. I realized as sure as something’s change they remain the same. Many Washingtonians, as well as fan in many other places, are endeared to the Redskins football team, which is their personal choice. Unfortunately, I am not of them, and not just because of the team’s name, which in my view it is akin to calling African Americans the “N-Word”. Surely that must be the view of Native American’s, if not, it is disrespectful at best.

Back to RG III, seeing what appeared to be humiliation on his face caused the hair on the back of my neck to rise, because of the teams sorted past and the teams long history that support this position. The NFL’s color barrier was broken in 1946; it inexplicably took George Preston Marshall, the team’s owner, 16 more years amid legal threats and community pressure to bring Bobby Mitchell, their first black player, to the Redskins. Former quarterback Eddie LeBaron, who knew Marshall, said he never believed he was a racist. However, they were the last team in the NFL to sign a black player and were forced to do so.

In more recent memory, do you remember Quarterback Doug Williams? He was sent packing a season after he made history winning the Super Bowl. Now, let’s look at what happened to Jason Campbell when no one in management stuck up for him while he’s getting killed behind his offensive line and also sent packing. I won’t even mention Big Albert or any of the career ending situations involving the running backs over the years. Oh, let’s not forget about Donovan McNabb?

What they did to this already injured play, meaning III, by putting him in as a starter for this playoff game when the doctor has claimed he did not clear him to play was tantamount to treason if this was a war. I have no skin in the game I will admit; unless you consider the fact that I am a Cowboys fan, and yes I know they have not been much for a decade. But it is not about the rivalry, rather the mistreatment of or, I dare say, destroying the careers of quality African American players.

I’ll say Wrong-way (coach) erred in his judgment as it appears and repeatedly. I have to raise the question; is there an elephant in the room – RACE? Surely this is noticed and reverberates in the minds of those who know and remember the history of this organization, which is significantly rooted in questionable decisions concerning black players. Looking back at this history, what happens is you start to wonder.

In 1965, his father, James Blackstone Sr., wrote a letter to the acting president of the Redskins, Edward Bennett Williams. Like most African American fans at the time, Blackstone was offended by the Confederate flags in the stands and the band’s playing of “Dixie” during games. Less than a month later, Williams wrote back to Blackstone, saying he agreed. After 1965, the Redskins band did not play “Dixie” at another game.

They were the last team to integrate with Bobby Mitchell. Then Bobby was never given a shot to be the general manager. You throw in Doug Williams dismissed after he was the Super Bowl MVP, Art Monk and Brian Mitchell unceremoniously going to Philadelphia, and the list goes on.

There always seems to be an undertone, at the very least disrespect, with this organization that is not easily dismissed. Now, the beat the Cowboys twice and won the NFC East – great! Let’s look at it this way; they played a Dallas team that is not very good nor was any other team in the East!

The issues I raise is the very reason why there are so many Cowboy fans in Washington, because many black fans refused to support a team that would not employ an African American player for so many years. So they became fans of the team’s arch rival. They have kids and they became Cowboy fans – and so on and so on – and most of them have never even been to Dallas. I agree totally because that is why I am a Dallas Cowboys fan.

A prominent syndicated radio host Tom Joyner of the popular Morning Show thinks Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan is a modern day slave owner. During Joyner’s broadcast on Monday morning, Joyner expressed displeasure at Shanahan for keeping Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in Sunday’s playoff game against the Seahawks even though the star player seemed hobbled by an injured knee. Joyner compared Shanahan to the Mississippi plantation owner Calvin Candie, who Leonardo DiCaprio plays in the movie Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino.

“He’s as bad as the mean white man in Django,” declared Joyner. Mr. Candie is a cold-hearted slave owner with a lust for Mandingo fighting, where slaves were forced to fight to the death like dogs or roosters used in animal fighting. “If you saw the movie, just like DiCaprio had the Mandingos fighting in the room. That’s what he did. That’s what he did to RGIII,” said Joyner.

I am not willing to go that far in this instance. However, I will say that today’s athletes are more like “Million Dollar Slaves”. Nonetheless, today III underwent surgery to repair the damage done to his LCL. God Speed III. Some say he will be out all next season. I’ll say this with certainty that he will never be the same! The history of why African Americans are so sensitive is not made up or unfounded, particularly in light of segregation, Jim Crow, and slavery.

The prevailing thought, in my mind, is leadership and this team seems to have issues with the complexion of the leader. Or dare I say chattel!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


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