Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Civil War Facts Might Change - Beware!!!

The prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead”. This statement could not be more profound, but I like to call it His-Story.

If you are not aware, we are about to enter into five years of untruths, unreal assessments, and in some cases out and out lies, as 2011 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This was a critical point in time because a divided nation faced a crisis. It started in the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries fired upon federal troops occupying Fort Sumter. Union forces surrendered the next day after 34 hours of shelling; the bloodiest war in the nation’s history had begun.

There is no question this major event in the country’s history is significant. However, we should be candid about its causes and not allow the distortions of contemporary politics or long-standing myths to cloud our understanding of why the nation fell apart. There will be a lot of misinformation that will surely come, as both sides of the debate relive this chapter of American history. So be prepared for the revisionists to create many illusions pertaining to the facts as they relate to the realities of Civil War history.

It’s already begun with a surge of activity, especially among conservatives, to adjust the story to reflect contemporary political positions. One prominent recent effort occurred in Texas last May. The state school board revised social studies standards to increase study of Confederate leaders and reduce emphasis on the Founding Fathers’ commitment to separation of church and state. Some wanted to stop referring to the slave trade and substitute a euphemistic phrase, the "Atlantic triangular trade." Thankfully, after opposition, that idea was dropped.

More recently, the Virginia Department of Education conceded its error in allowing a misleading textbook to be used in classrooms. But, they will allow the history book to continue to be used and the offending passage will remain. Even after admitting that the inaccurate passage was "outside of accepted Civil War scholarship." The disputed passage was a gross falsehood that says two battalions of African American soldiers fought for the Confederacy under famed Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The department would go on to say that it anticipates teachers "will have no difficulty working around one objectionable sentence".

Also in Virginia, the new Governor signed a proclamation honoring the Civil War and made no mention of slavery, which again after considerable controversy he revised the proclamation. Let me add that Richmond, Virginia was the home of the Confederate capital. These are just a few examples detected within the last six months. Sure the First Amendment protects the Confederate sympathizers' right to write this nonsense but it is up to us to do our due diligence to understand, although we were never taught the truth, that it is untrue.

Before I go any further, let’s be clear, the war was NOT fought to free the slaves. That narrative came much later when the north was not winning and needed a reason to allow colored solders to fight. Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, although not a proponent of slavery, had no desire to end slavery at the onset of the war. He was for the free-labor ideology of equal opportunity and upward mobility. The issue of slavery, as he stated, “was the morality and future of the slaves and of slavery”. He believed if the nation remained divided on the issue of slavery, the nation would not last. If you recall he borrowed a statement made by Jesus to support this position; “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Actually, Honest Abe was considering the option of sending the slaves back to Africa or somewhere outside of America to solve the problem. IN FACT, as an experiment, he sent thousands to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This experiment was not successful because many became ill and died causing him to reevaluate the decision. He also had another plan, which was to acquire land in South America to host this unwanted population to include other locations as well.

On the other side, the south, secessionist, saw it this way. Their leader Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a major slaveholder, justified secession in 1861 as an act of self-defense against the incoming Lincoln administration. Abraham Lincoln's policy of excluding slavery from the territories, Davis said, would make "property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless . . . thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars."

The Confederate vice president, Alexander Stephens said, "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea… Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth." These guys were very straightforward in their belief that the proper status of the Negro in America’s form of civilization, if free, would be the immediate cause of the rupture.

Views such as this continue today, from various quarters, because there remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race, slavery, or more specific states' rights. The historian Douglas Egerton says, "The South split the Democratic Party and later the country not in the name of states' rights but because it sought federal government guarantees that slavery would prevail… routinely shifted their ideological ground in the name of protecting unfree labor." I believe it was all about states’ rights similar to today’s conservative perspective.

Let’s understand slavery was about one thing – economics. The institution and the economics derived from it built America and that wealth made America a powerful force in the world as a result. Therefore, those who try to rewrite or obscure the reality of this evil do so wishing the greatest crime ever inflected upon a people never ended or that it would return. I suggest that you listen carefully to those who use the code word “States Rights” and hear what they are not saying.

The Confederacy broken up the United States and launched a war that killed 620,000 Americans in a vain attempt to keep 4 million people in slavery does not confer honor upon their lost cause. It’s been 150 years of folks, like back then and now, trying to change the narrative to justify why the war was fought. Some say slavery. Some say tariffs. Others say the Constitution. I found this quote where one captured Confederate soldier, as he was being marched off to prison, was asked, "Why are you fighting?" He is said to have grunted, "Because you're here."


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVES: Tis’ the Season: "This is the season we rejoice with great celebration for Christmas is the day Christ was born. Rarely do I share much of my personal being, ..."

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Washington Deadskins – Shame on you!!!

This is the first time 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 issues. Nonetheless, as I watched the Dallas Cowboys/Washington Redskins game yesterday I had a flashback with respect to the Redskins organization, which has a long history of mistreating African American player.

As I watched Donavan McNabb on the sidelines during the game 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. In my view it is akin to calling African Americans the “N-Word”, which surely must be the view of Native American’s; disrespectful at best.

Back to McNabb, 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 there 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 last year when no one in management stuck up for him while he's getting killed behind his offensive line. I won’t even mention Big Albert’s treatment this year.

In the latest episode, Donovan McNabb suddenly is bad at understanding the playbook. This is a seasoned professional, who’s a six time Pro Bowler and a player sure to reach the Hall of Fame, who by the way has played football since he was 10 years old. The team’s management has disrespected him in every way imaginable from claiming he was out of shape to not being able to understand the offense to benching him for a quarterback far less capable, culminating with benching him for the rest of the season. Was this due diligence on the part of wrong-way Mike or something more ominous?

I’ll say Wrong-way’s benching of McNabb in the final two minutes in Detroit permeates my point, so let's get right to the point. 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.

Kevin Blackistone an AOL Fanhouse columnist and Washington native remarked, whether Shanahan had any understanding of the organization’s history, the city’s composition, or the feelings that linger; he should be sensitive enough to understand that "this ain't Colorado." In 1965, his father, James Sr., wrote a letter to the acting president of the Redskins, Edward Bennett Williams. Like most African American fans at the time, James Blackistone 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 Blackistone, saying he agreed. After 1965, the Redskins band did not play "Dixie" at another game.

When Wrong-way questions the intelligence of McNabb, black fans should ask themselves, what is he really saying? I want to be very clear that I'm not saying it was his intention to make McNabb sound dumb, incompetent or lazy. But it was and is shameful and disrespectful the way he has handled it, like the Big Albert’s situation, he insults the player. When it keeps happening, there is a fine line between coaching and hegemony.

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 they may have issues with the complexion of the leader. Hmmm.

How many great African American players have come out of this organization? 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, they limped into Big D, lost, and the pundits proclaimed Rex the future. Let’s look at it this way; they played a Dallas team that is not very good – ok. Then they put forth a game plan to justify the decision. For example, Rex threw all day and if you do that you will get stat’s both good and bad, which he did. There were no running plays to speak of – 55 yards accumulated the entire game.

Former team player Doc Walker said a few weeks ago, “Whenever anything happens involving a player of color in Washington, the bottom line is the old wounds are opened… The last two minutes of that game brought back 30 years or more of undertones. You don't necessarily say, 'That's what it is,' but you do pause and think about it… Given what's happened here, it's only natural.”

This 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.

My last point, keep an eye on the NFL MVP to be awarded. Let’s see if the rightful recipient Michael Vick receives the much deserved award or….

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Holiday Season

I am one who believes - we are our bothers keeper. Therefore, I offer this Thought Provoking Perspective with all due respect for the coming holiday season with the wish that each of us to consider our follow man during these times of distress. As we approach and celebrate the blessed day dedicated to the birth of Jesus, it would be appropriate, I think, if we practiced his most basic principle, which is to “do unto thee as you would do unto me”. I am sure you know someone in distress, maybe you; therefore I would ask that all of us reach into our hearts and share some of the goodness contained within it to help another soul, or as Jesus said “the least of thee”.

The world in which we live is a place full of turmoil and strife, and it’s more than likely been that way since the days Jesus walked the earth. I’ve often wondered; if Jesus were alive today what would he do? Maybe he would do as he did in the temple with the money changers or he might bring a few loafs of bread and a couple of fish to feed the hungry. He might also calm the turbulent seas as the world is filled with war and violence. Nonetheless, if I had one wish, it would be that all men were free.

We have all bought into the story, or at least lied to our children, about the myth of Santa Claus. We also know that the Christmas story is said to be the greatest story ever told; considering it was written generations after the birth of Christ that would be a fair statement. To be honest, no one really knows for sure because there are differing accounts of the event within the holy text. Further, the story of the Immaculate Conception was taken from African folklore told, and historically evident, ten thousand years before the coming of Jesus. Do not misunderstand my words because I believe in a higher power, who I chose to call God, and I believe he is the creator of all things.

I also know that there was no such word G-O-D in ANY African language before the coming of Europeans. While I’m on that point, it is true that the visual representation of Jesus is that of a blonde haired blue eyed man obviously of European decent. We know this is not factual because no one had a camera or painted his picture during the time in which he lived. The picture embedded in our consciousness was paint by Michael Angelo in the 1600’s; centuries after the fact. Now, if you think differently, history tells us that there were three peoples in the region during that period. 1) Romans, 2) Greeks, 3) Others (African). Therefore, if Jesus was NOT a Roman or Greek, he was other which means African.

It is not my intent to dissect the story. It is just to say that we believe it because someone said it was true. My point is; as it says in Corinthians “we walk by Faith not by sight”. Faith is that which is unseen and we know it to be true. In other words, having a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. It is the adherence to your religious duty, belief in the tradition, sincerity of intentions, and loyalty to God without question that is the reason we believe.

If that is our belief and conviction, it is incumbent upon us as human beings and people of Faith to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We should not get caught up in the commercial aspects or fallacies that man has created and give of yourself to the benefit of others. This is the true meaning and spirit of the holiday season, and why we celebrate this glorious day.

I simply suggest that we forget the past, pray for the future, and appreciate today for it is a present which is why it is a gift; it is the day the Lord made for us and it must be cherished. I pray that during this season of giving that you will share, give love, and care.

Have blessed and wonderful holiday. God Bless you one and all.


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is Where it Began

On that December evening, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus leading to her arrested for a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code. In spite of the fact that she was not even technically seated in the white-only designated section on the bus; she was in a colored section. Regardless, fate dictated it to be the day that changed American and to a larger extent – the world forever.

Mrs. Parks would later recall asking the officer who arrested her, "Why do you push us around?" The officer's response was "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest." This woman of great dignity thought, as she was being arrested, that this will be the very last time that she would ever ride in humiliation of this kind again.

Later that evening E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail and that very night Nixon and members of the Women’s Political Council stayed up all night mimeographing over 35,000 handbills announcing a bus boycott. The Women's Political Council was the first group to officially endorse the boycott.

On Sunday morning, December 4, 1955, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced at all black churches in the area and in a front-page article in The Montgomery Advertiser. By the end of the day, a church rally was held and those attending agreed unanimously to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy they expected, until black drivers were hired, and until seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first-come basis.

Four days later, Parks was tried and convicted for disorderly conduct as well as violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes and she was fined $10, plus $4 in court costs. Parks appealed her conviction and formally challenged the legality of racial segregation. Mrs. Parks would later say:

I did not want to be mistreated; I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

On Monday, December 5, 1955, after the success of the one-day boycott, a group of 16 to 18 people gathered at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church to discuss boycott strategies. The group agreed that a new organization was needed to lead the boycott effort if it were to continue. It was Rev. Ralph Abernathy who suggested the name Montgomery Improvement Association. The name was adopted, the MIA was formed, and march to justice was on. Its members elected as their president a relative newcomer to Montgomery, a young and mostly unknown minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fifty leaders from the African American community gathered that Monday night to discuss the proper actions to be taken in response to Parks' arrest. E.D. Nixon said, "My God, look what segregation has put in my hands!" Parks was the ideal plaintiff for a test case against city and state segregation laws. Plans for such a protest had been underway for some time. Claudette Colvin a 15-year-old, unwed and pregnant, was one of the first to be considered for such a case but she was deemed unacceptable to be the center of a civil rights mobilization.

Mrs. Parks was regarded one of the finest citizens of Montgomery, not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens of Montgomery. Parks was securely married and employed, possessed a quiet and dignified demeanor, and was politically savvy, which was a huge plus for the cause.

On the day of Parks' trial, which was Monday, December 5, 1955, the WPC distributed the 35,000 leaflets. The handbill read, "We are...asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial ... You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday."

It rained that day, but the black community persevered in their boycott. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black-operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus, 10 cents. Most of the remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked, some as far as 20 miles (30 km). In the end, the boycott lasted for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months, severely damaging the bus transit company's finances, until the law requiring segregation on public buses was lifted.

Some segregationists retaliated with terrorism. Black churches were burned or dynamited. Martin Luther King's home was bombed in the early morning hours of January 30, 1956, and E.D. Nixon's home was also attacked. However, the black community's bus boycott marked one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation. It sparked many other protests, and it catapulted King to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

To sum up the actions of the time Dr. King wrote in his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom that Parks' arrest was the precipitating factor, rather than the cause, of the protest: "The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices….  Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.'"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The John T Wills Chronicles presents Iyanla Vanzant with Kathleen Wells

I have been fortunate enough during my life’s journey to have been blessed many times over. I am honored to announce that on Wednesday (December 8th at 8:30 PM) I will be blessed, as will you, once again, as I welcome a very special guest; the phenomenally gifted Motivational Speaker and Master Teacher Iyanla Vanzant. She has a new book, “Peace from Broken Pieces” that is an emotionally gut wrenching story of her personal triumph from the personal to the brutally honest recounting of life experiences that is a testament to her resilience.

“Peace from Broken Pieces,” is emotionally compelling, empowering and inspirational. Ms. Vanzant paints vivid imagery as the beautiful phoenix rises from the ashes of broken pieces to convince us all that challenges and tragedies can be overcome, when you draw from your internal power. The book is intertwined with teachings of universal laws and principles that Ms. Vanzant was able to show how cultural pathological patterns could show up in our lives as physical manifestations. In addition to empowering us as to how we can become aware of these repetitive cycles to overcome the disease of this damaging pathology.

This powerful story is masterfully composed, compassionate, heart-wrenching, hilarious, compelling, transformative, healing . . . the list of adjectives could go on and on, yet all would be inadequate to capture the gift of this treasure. “Peace from Broken Pieces,” is a mind altering eloquently written masterpiece that is spiritually impactful, and one which every woman, mother, aunt, grandmother and man should read. Ms. Vanzant demonstrates a divine ability to write from the being of her soul which pours out over each life stage, milestone, and crisis. She is brutally honest – holding back nothing.

Her presence is so strongly felt throughout the book that it will force you to acknowledge the consequences of cultural pathologies, family legacies, and misogyny that she strives to draw serious attention too. Frankly, Ms. Vanzant has done what many mental health professionals, family counseling professionals, scholars, and academics have failed to do: leaving out politics, ideology, and hidden agendas clearly and articulately describes how the demise of families especially black family (and in particular the destruction of black women) transpires. Readers will understand from a firsthand account how difficult overcoming structural racism, sexism, psychological abuse, skin shade racism, and premature parenthood truly are.

One of her viewers said, “the best parts of this book was her explanation of the thought process and the physical process of standing up to a television executive who thought he had the right to man handle her by using his size, voice, and status with the network. That was a powerful moment that in my opinion led to other powerful moments.”

Her encouragement to act as a Queen that manages her life with DIVINE power, authority, and victory are a call to overcome cultural pathologies, and misogyny that are viewed as disadvantages. Her life is a testimony that it CAN be done and that it ***MUST*** be done in order to leave the future generation with a legacy of compassion, grace, and depth. Arise and live up to your nobility. Iyanla does it again! This woman takes you on a journey that has been described as a healing trip, an eye-opener and a page turner! Nothing but blessings and love flow from my mouth about this book and Ms. Vanzant.
Please – Please join me and my co-host Kathleen Wells on the John T. Wills Book Tree Radio Show Wednesday (12/8) at 8:30 PM (est) for a wonderful conversation with Ms. Iyanla Vanzant.

“Love is not a thing you can find, Love is who you are! The degree of self-awareness, self Love and self actualization that you experience in your life will determine your love and loving experiences.” Iyanla Vanzant

Call-in Number: (347) 989-1049

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