Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Lena Horne


Today would have been the birthday of Lena Horne known to her peers as "The Horne". The electrifying beauty and uncompromising performer who shattered racial boundaries by changing the way Hollywood presented black women for six-decades through a singing career on stage, television and in films was the model of black womanhood.

She is best described in her own words saying “my identity was clear because I no longer have to be a 'credit,' I don't have to be a 'symbol' to anybody. I don't have to be a 'first' to anybody. I don't have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I'd become. I'm me, and I'm like nobody else.”

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her father was a civil servant and gambler who largely abandoned the family, although Ms. Horne reconnected with him in the late 1930’s. Her mother, an actress, was largely absent from Ms. Horne's early life because of work on the black theater circuit. Shifted at first among friends and relatives, Ms. Horne was raised mostly by her maternal grandmother, a stern social worker and suffragette in Bedford-Stuyvesant, then a middle-class Brooklyn neighborhood. Ms. Horne said she was influenced by her grandmother's "polite ferocity."

In 1933, when she was 16, Ms. Horne was reunited with her mother and new stepfather, a white Cuban. It was the peak of the Depression, and they lived on relief in Harlem. Ms. Horne was pushed into a job at the Cotton Club by her mother, who knew the Harlem nightclub's choreographer. The segregated club attracted white clientele who liked to watch the top black entertainers of the day, such as Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, surrounded by what was promoted as a "tall, tan and terrific" chorus of girls.

The Horne, as she was endearing called because of her striking beauty and voice, was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world came to the attention of Hollywood in 1942. She was the first black woman to sign a meaningful long-term contract with a major studio, a contract that said she would never have to play a maid. This single act transformed the image of the African American woman in Hollywood. As film historian Donald Bogle said, "Movies are a powerful medium and always depicted African American women before Lena Horne as hefty, mammy-like maids who were ditzy and giggling… Lena Horne becomes the first one the studios begin to look at differently... Really just by being there, being composed and onscreen with her dignity intact paved the way for a new day" for black actresses.

In Hollywood, Ms. Horne received previously unheard-of star treatment for a black actor. Her reputation in Hollywood rested on a handful of classic musical films. Among the best were two all-black musicals from 1943: "Cabin in the Sky," as a small-town temptress who pursues Eddie "Rochester" Anderson; and "Stormy Weather," in which she played a career-obsessed singer opposite Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. She shared billing with hugely famous white entertainers such as Gene Kelly, Lucille Ball, Mickey Rooney and Red Skelton but was segregated onscreen so producers could clip out her singing when the movies ran in the South. "Mississippi wanted its movies without me," she once told the New York.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios featured Ms. Horne in movies and advertisements as glamorously as white beauties including Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable. James Gavin, who has written a biography of Ms. Horne, said: "Given the horrible restrictions of the time, MGM bent over backward to do everything they could. After MGM, she was an international star, and that made her later career possible, made her a superstar." 

Ms. Horne appeared on television and at major concerts halls in New York, London and Paris. She starred on Broadway twice, and her 1981 revue, "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music," set the standard for the one-person musical show, reviewers said. The performance also netted her a special Tony Award and two Grammy Awards. She was formidable and the first black cabaret star for white society.

As a songstress her repertoire consisted of sophisticated ballads of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser and Billy Strayhorn. She loved the music but also said she liked surprising the white audience who expected black entertainers to sing hot jazz or blues and dance wildly. In her singing, Ms. Horne showed great range and could convincingly shift between jazz, blues and cabaret ballads. New Yorker jazz writer Whitney Balliett praised her "sense of dynamics that allowed her to whisper and wheedle and shout."

She told the New York Times in 1981, "I thought, 'How can I sing about a penthouse in the sky, when with the housing restrictions the way they are, I wouldn't be allowed to rent the place?" In the late 1940’s and 1950’s, she chose to focus on quietly defying segregation policies at upscale hotels in Miami Beach and Las Vegas where she performed. At the time, it was customary for black entertainers to stay in black neighborhoods, but Ms. Horne successfully insisted that she and her musicians be allowed to stay wherever she entertained. One Las Vegas establishment reportedly had its chambermaids burn Ms. Horne's sheets.

In 1963, Ms. Horne appeared at the civil rights March on Washington with Harry Belafonte and Dick Gregory and was part of a group, which included authors James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry that met with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to urge a more active approach to desegregation. Ms. Horne also used her celebrity to rally front-line civil rights activists in the South and was a fundraiser for civil right groups including the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women.

Working closely with NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White, Ms. Horne said she wanted to "try to establish a different kind of image for Negro women." They successfully challenged the casting system that had long marginalized black performers onscreen by having them portray servants, minstrels or jungle natives. To Ms. Horne's surprise, her efforts to overcome servile screen parts was resented by many black actors who viewed her as a threat more than a pioneer. She said she was perceived as a danger to the system of informal "captains" in the black acting community who worked as liaisons with film producers when they needed "natives" for the latest Tarzan picture.

After the triumph of her 1981 Broadway show, she led an increasingly isolated life in her Manhattan apartment. Over my lifetime I have seen and known giants who have illuminated the world. None shined brighter then “The Horne”. A life rich in wonder that now belong to the ages. Rest In Peace Ms. Horne as you take your rest among the ghost of the great.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Best Reason To Reelect Obama


Sanity prevailed today as the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) let stand what is known as Obama-care. This is a great day for us all. Now, the more important question in my mind is the age of SCOTUS. I guess I should qualify the phrase United States by saying the States are not all that united considering the state of our political divide.

I read an interesting article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times who quoted Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known for delivering laugh lines, recalled how Justice Elena Kagan, 52, had suggested during an oral argument before the Supreme Court that people born before 1948 were old. Justice Ginsburg said, “Next year I will turn 80, God willing… I’m not all that old”.

This speaks to the current state of the Court. Justice Ginsburg is the eldest member of a court that includes four justices in their 70s, making it among the oldest courts since the New Deal era. Its decisions during this historic “flood season,” as Justice Ginsburg described the end-of-term rush, are likely to make the panel — and the tenure of some of the justices — a significant issue in the presidential campaign. This is the most significant reason to reelect President Obama because “If she dies or leaves soon and Romney wins, the Supreme Court will be the most conservative in history.”

Today, the court is announced its decision on President Obama’s health care law, one of the most consequential cases in decades, with an overwhelming affirmation – it stands. As good as this decision is for the president and the American people – it is not over yet. There is another major case looming this fall, the court will take on an affirmative action case that could end preferential treatment at public universities, and it might hear a case involving same-sex marriage.

The winner of the race for president will inherit a group of justices who frequently split 5 to 4 along ideological lines. That suggests that the next president could have a powerful impact if he gets to replace a justice of the opposing side.

It is, of course, impossible to predict when a vacancy will occur. (Justice John Paul Stevens spent 35 years on the court and retired at 90, while Justice Robert H. Jackson, who served in the 1940s and 1950s, died of a heart attack at 62.) A 2006 study in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy found that the average retirement age for justices was 78.7.

Justice Ginsburg, a stalwart of the court’s liberal bloc, has been treated for pancreatic cancer. Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s most visible conservative, is 76. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, frequently the swing vote, is 75. And Justice Stephen G. Breyer, like Justice Ginsburg a Democratic appointee, is about to turn 74.

The New York Times provocative article mentioned an interview with Professor Kennedy who said the suggestion that a justice should retire for purely political reasons was “viewed as somewhat unseemly” by many of his colleagues. Those close to Justice Ginsburg say that while she may appear frail, she is in fact in good health.

Of course, Justices leave for a variety of reasons. Sandra Day O’Connor, for instance, left the court at 75 to take care of her husband. Professor Kennedy insists it was “not accidental” that, having been appointed by Ronald Reagan, a Republican, she resigned while George W. Bush was president.

What I want to leave you with is that the next president will have the opportunity to appoint at least two, maybe three, Justices. Only Obama will appoint sanity or dare I say Justices who will have the American people at heart. So this is the best reason to vote, and for the president. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


An Unsung Voice of Our Times

John Henrik Clarke was one of the most brilliant, profound, and empowering educators of our time. He was born January 1, 1915 in Union Springs, Alabama and died July 16, 1998 in New York City.

His mother was a washerwoman who did laundry for $3 a week and his father was a sharecropper. As a youngster Clark caddied for Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley "long before they became Generals or President," Clarke would later recount in describing his upbringing in rural Alabama.

Ms. Harris his third grade teacher convinced him that one day I would be a writer but before he became a writer he became a voracious reader inspired by Richard Wright's Black Boy.a vertern who enlisted in the army and earned the rank of Master Sergeant. After mustering out, Clarke moved to Harlem and committed himself to a lifelong pursuit of factual knowledge about the history of his people and creative application of that knowledge. Over the years, Clarke became both a major historian and a man of letters.

His literary accomplishments were very significant but he was best known as a historian. He wrote over two hundred short stories with "The Boy Who Painted Christ Black" is his best known. Clarke edited numerous literary and historical anthologies including American Negro Short Stories (1966), an anthology which included nineteenth century writing from writers such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Charles Waddell Chestnut, and continued up through the early sixties with writers such as LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and William Melvin Kelley. This is one of the classic collections of Black fiction.

Reflective of his commitment to his adopted home, Clarke also edited Harlem, A Community in Transition and Harlem, U.S.A. Never one to shy away from the difficult or the controversial, Clarke edited anthologies on Malcolm X and a major collection of essays decrying William Styron's "portrait" of Nat Turner as a conflicted individual who had a love/hate platonic and sexually-fantasized relationship with Whites. In both cases, Clarke's work was in defense of the dignity and pride of his beloved Black community rather than an attack on Whites.

What is significant is that Clarke did the necessary and tedious organizing work to bring these volumes into existence and thereby offer an alternative outlook from the dominant mainstream views on Malcolm X and Nat Turner, both of whom were often characterized as militant hate mongers. Clarke understood the necessity for us to affirm our belief in and respect for radical leaders such as Malcolm X and Nat Turner. It is interesting to note that Clarke's work was never simply focused on investigating history as the past, he also was proactively involved with history in the making.

As a historian Clarke also edited a book on Marcus Garvey and edited Africa, Lost and Found (with Richard Moore and Keith Baird) and African People at the Crossroads, two seminal historical works widely used in History and African American Studies disciplines on college and university campuses. Through the United Nations he published monographs on Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. As an activist-historian he produced the monograph Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust. His most recently published book was Who Betrayed the African Revolution?

In the form of edited books, monographs, major essays and book introductions, John Henrik Clarke produced well over forty major historical and literary documents. Rarely, if ever, has one man delivered so much quality and inspiring literature. Moreover, John Henrik Clarke was also an inquisitive student who became a master teacher.

During his early years in Harlem, Clarke made the most of the rare opportunities to be mentored by many of the great 20th century Black historians and bibliophile. Clarke studied under and learned from men such as Arthur Schomburg, William Leo Hansberry, John G. Jackson, Paul Robeson, Willis Huggins and Charles Seiffert, all of whom, sometimes quietly behind the scenes and other times publicly in the national and international spotlight, were significant movers and shakers, theoreticians and shapers of Black intellectual and social life in the 20th century.

From the sixties on, John Henrik Clarke stepped up and delivered the full weight of his own intellectual brilliance and social commitment to the ongoing struggle for Black liberation and development. Clarke became a stalwart member and hard worker in (and sometimes co-founder of) organizations such as The Harlem Writers Guild, Presence Africaine, African Heritage Studies Association, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the National Council of Black Studies and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.

Formally, Clarke lectured and held professorships at universities worldwide. His longer and most influential tenures were at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, and in African and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City. He received honorary degrees from numerous institutions and served as consultant and advisor to African and Caribbean heads of state. In 1997 he was the subject of a major documentary directed by the noted filmmaker Saint Claire Bourne and underwritten by the Hollywood star Westley Snipes.

John Henrik Clarke is in many ways exemplary of the American ethos of the self-made man. Indicative of this characteristic is the fact that Clarke changed his given name of John Henry Clark to reflect his aspirations. In an obituary he penned for himself shortly before his death, John Henrik Clarke noted "little black Alabama boys were not fully licensed to imagine themselves as conduits of social and political change. ...they called me 'bubba' and because I had the mind to do so, I decided to add the 'e' to the family name 'Clark' and change the spelling of 'Henry' to 'Henrik,' after the Scandinavian rebel playwright, Henrik Ibsen.

I like his spunk and the social issues he addressed in 'A Doll's House.' ...My daddy wanted me to be a farmer; feel the smoothness of Alabama clay and become one of the first blacks in my town to own land. But, I was worried about my history being caked with that southern clay and I subscribed to a different kind of teaching and learning in my bones and in my spirit."

Body and soul, John Henrik Clarke was a true champion of Black people. He bequeathed us a magnificent legacy of accomplishment and inspiration borne out of the earnest commitment of one irrepressible young man to make a difference in the daily and historical lives of his people. And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective...

Viva, John Henrik Clarke!
Resource: Black College Online

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Court Got It Right!!!


Yesterday, the Supreme Court threw out most of the anti-Latino Arizona immigration law and neutered the rest, which was frankly a surprise to me considering the make-up of this gang. To their credit in this instance they did strike a blow for fairness and this ever elusive thing called justice. Being an African American I have seen and know bigotry firsthand so I think this qualifies me to have an opinion with respect to what this law would do if allowed to stand as the law of the land.

Of course, we now wait for the biggest decision of our lifetime – the healthcare decision. I hope Chief Justice Roberts Jr., who by the way sided with the 5 to 3 majority in immigration law remains sane and takes the position of the liberal Justices on the bench when deciding the healthcare issue. The American people could use his vote when it is rendered and expected to be announced Thursday.

This was a huge victory for justice although they did not eliminate the most notorious part of the Arizona law, which was the requirement that police can check the immigration status of anyone who is detained. This is the part known as the “papers, please” that conjures images of a police-state in my mind that could easily be expanded to include other minorities like us or just us. I can recall there was a time when such laws pertained to black people – they were called Black Codes.

However, it appears that the court had this in mind as it wrote “This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect”. Which sounds like - we’ll be watching closely. Thankfully most of the less publicized but equally onerous and un-American provisions are now history.

More importantly, the court’s reinforcement of the main tenet was that the federal government has the responsibility for setting immigration policy, not the states. We do not need — and, thanks to this ruling, will not have — 50 sets of laws specifying who gets to live in this country and who doesn’t. This would open the floodgates to bigotry. Like I said, I have seen this before and not too long ago.

This law had another more ominous design, which would have, if sustained,  make it a state crime for anyone who failed to have proper immigration papers; in other words, failing to produce the right documents when asked could have subjected a person not just to deportation but to criminal penalties. The court ruled that this was preempted by federal law, which imposes no such sanctions.

The danger here is this as it relates to the so called “papers please law” it gives police broad authority to arrest anyone — without a warrant — suspected of some “public offense” that makes the person liable to deportation. The court recognized, and rightfully so, that this is a license for police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants indiscriminately, based solely on the possibility that they might be here without the proper documents. Keep in mind the “Arizona ”.

As the court noted in striking down this provision, “The result could be unnecessary harassment of some aliens (for instance, a veteran, college student, or someone assisting with a criminal investigation) whom federal officials determine should not be removed.” Need I say this is what African Americans have been saying all along – we call it “racial profiling”.

Thanks to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who wrote the majority opinion for pointing out something that many who seek to participate in the immigration debate fail to understand: “As a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.” I think he was right to say it’s not a crime for “illegal” immigrants to live and work here without the proper documents. By “here” I mean all 50 states. The United States is one country with one immigration policy, and the Supreme Court means to keep it this way.

In closing, until the healthcare verdict, let me ask you to recall not too long ago this state was the last to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday as a holiday.  Therefore I say, Arizona’s thinking – draconian! VOTE!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Never Can Say Goodbye - RIP MJ


What can I say about the man whose music was such a huge part of my life and growing up. Micheal 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 memory's 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...


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Have Hoodie Will Commit Crime



“I feel that we as Americans are all equal and held together by a common thread. Like a treasured beaded necklace of different colors held together on a string, Held together by our necessities, our circumstances, and our humanity. Every color helps to make the necklace beautiful. We can never be a separate entity! Americans of all colors are so integrated that if we hurt one, we hurt all. Just like that necklace of treasured beads, leave one out and the gap is seen, break the chain and many of us are lost.”

The hardest thing in man’s mind is to be tolerant of another or to keep an open mind. In order to tolerate someone or something we have to step out of our comfort zone. We judge without thought when something or someone is different. As long as we (Black) people have been a part of American society, you would assume we would be a value to America. Though we strive to be like our White counterparts, accepted unconditionally we are still fighting. We fight for the label of Colored, Black, Negro, and African-American.

I sometimes wonder if we engage in a losing battle because the battle is not against ‘us’ per say, but against the inner sense of shame, the shame of Slavery. Shame for an action is hard to wipe away. You can apologize but as long as the object which causes the shame is persistently in sight, the shame remains and becomes an irritant. Something you want to get rid of and eventually the irritant turns to anger and the anger causes you to lash out. We, if only seen as a ‘casing’ or a vessel cannot change, as a thinking individual we can cause enormous changes. Just look at the profiling of the unfortunate hoodie in the media lately. In place of the word, ‘Black man’ read hoodie.

The hoodie, its sleeves worn by every age, sex, religion and racial ethnicity, singled out as a troublemaker, a deviant. Even though it comes in every color, fashioned from various material, is designed, made, bought, and sold in malls as well as major outlet stores all across the world, is still profiled as the accessory to theft and considered an outfit for the degenerate. Who cares that the hoodie, seen on the backs of individuals in every profession, worn in the highest halls of education, laying across the seats of chairs in the White House, it is now a symbol for all that is bad in the world, much like the Black man.

Recently, I impatiently watched the news to view a certain pumped-up segment. The announcer, constantly harping about a thief caught on tape and our impending surprise on what the thief was wearing, had gotten my attention. It would be shocking, right? Wrong. I had hoped to see some man in a tutu dragging out a flat screen while fighting off a pit bull, but of course, it was the obvious. Wait for the shocker....it was a guy in a hoodie! What really made me think WTH, the interviewed owner in the piece says, 'I didn't want to call in and be accused of racial profiling by saying the guy wore a hoodie’. What?

So, only Black people wear this item of clothing? Anyone with one eye could see the person was Black, just say a Black guy is robbing my car and don't bring up the hoodie. What a shame. Poor hoodies cannot get a break lately. No one is trying to learn the real essence of the hoodie or the Black man. The profile, both a cancerous malignancy formed in error is set and there it stays. As with any race there are deviants and threats to society. Why pick on the Black race as a whole and label us as worthless.

The fight for racial and social equalization continues and will continue as long as man breathes. We are a selfish entity believing we are better than another is because of our perceived ‘place’ in life. Our unification should grow because of our differences and if we were honest with ourselves, we would see our differences are only skin-deep. In religion, anyone can choose which path to follow. In education, we can all go as far as we choose. In sexual orientation, again it is a preference.

In our choice of occupation, whether or not to be a parent, or who to marry, these all are options. Much of the tension in the world boils down to the color of a person’s skin. Of all the races, I believe the dark skinned are the least tolerated, especially the American Blacks. How many times have we been the scapegoat as kidnapper, murder, or thief without reason? How many times have we been judged as sell-outs or ignorant because of skin color?

In the American multi-racial history book Beads on a String-America’s Racially Intertwined Biographical History chapter three is titled Voices of Change and has a section dedicated to activism and the people who stepped out to confront the injustices directed at people of specific ethnicities. The author begins the chapter with a small bit of history pertaining to members of her family.

These members (father and cousin) fought and succeeded in the desegregation of what is now Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. How many of us cannot find a single member of our family who has participated in the formation of history? It should not matter the color of your skin or your belief system we have all voiced and accomplished a change.

Being part of a cause means more than marching and shouting to have personal wishes met. It is a chance to make a change in behavior and thought patterns in areas from equal rights in housing, education, socialization, sexual orientation and the donning of an item of clothing.

By Ey Wade

About the Author: Ey Wade considers herself to be a caged in frustrated author of thought provoking, mind bending eBooks, an occasional step-in parent, a fountain of knowledge, and ready to share. She is the author of Beads on a String-America’s Racially Intertwined Biographical History a celebration of the accomplishments and contributions of all races to America’s illustrious growth and history.

http://amzn.to/BeadsUs
http://wade-inpublishing.com
http://johntwills.com 





Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Horror of Slavery


It was in the year of our Lord 1691 on a day that will live in infamy and the day that America lost its soul.  I want to resurrect or remind you of the horrors of that often horrific journey day in black history. It is with this remembrance of these heart wrenching events of our unimaginable struggle that African Americans must teach our children and never forget. It is here that I call the scene of the crime.

The Jamestown Colony, England's first permanent settlement in North America, was a marshy wasteland, poor for agriculture, and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. HIS-Story describes this as the “starving times,” but all would change.

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo onboard 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 cap¬tain 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 disem¬barked. 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, fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Gover¬nor 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 hun¬dred, three or four would be found dead each morning. Africans from Senegal were the most prized commodity be¬cause 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 ringbolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about cer¬tain 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. Shack¬ling 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.

Legacy – A New Season is coming!
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Monday, June 18, 2012

The House Is Burning

This is a clip from "State of the Black Union" hosted by Tavis Smiley where the Honorable Lewis Farrakhan speaks about where we are today. America has become a place for the rich not a place for the the people. Forget the politics of the man and listen careful to the message.

Look to God and maybe we will overcome! And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective...

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

For Men Only

Today is a very special day, although one that I personally don’t enjoy because I only had one son who was called home far too soon. My memories are wonderful and lasting. I am honored and proud to have been chosen to be his Dad. I know he now belongs to the ages and when I see him again it will be a joyful occasion. I am looking forward to walking around heaven rejoicing in what will be eternity. REST IN PEACE SON!

TEARS… So to all the men who are dad’s – embrace the gift of life you are given. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective… 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Celebrate Juneteeth


Let us take care to not only remember Father’s Day but lest we not forget to celebrate Juneteenth the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that those enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years.

The story that is often told is of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another story is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. Then there is yet another story that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question. Regardless, the conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom.

North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants.

The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition's roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former 'masters'.

Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery - and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19th fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4th was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.

Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.

The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed, brightens our future - and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth.

So lest not forget!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two of a Kind

Let me start by give Webster’s definition of perjury. It is the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath. In other words LYING!!!

Today the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department arrested Shellie Zimmerman, wife of George Zimmerman, charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, on one count of perjury after they were advised by the office of State Attorney Angela Corey that a warrant had been issued.

The crux of the case against the assassin who murdered young Trayvon Martin rest upon creditability because Zimmerman is the only one and no one else can testify to the events of that evening. The murders supporters expect us to believe that what he says is true.

Yet, from all that I have heard and read there is no truth to nothing he has said and by revoking his bond, and now this, how can anyone believe anything the murder says. Today, Shellie was booked into John E. Polk Correctional Facility and released on $1,000 bond, officials said. I suppose this means the two of them were temporary together again.

George Zimmerman, 28, was charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin. He pleaded not guilty. Police say that he claimed on the night of the shooting that he acted in self-defense. The murder’s $150,000 bond was revoked after allegations that during an April 20 bail hearing that he and Shellie Zimmerman misled the court about their finances, neglecting to disclose they had raised at least $135,000 in a PayPal account.

The order issued Tuesday by Assistant State Attorney John Guy charged Shellie Zimmerman with knowingly making false statements during the April hearing. Also today, the court released Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester’s order revoking George Zimmerman’s bond. "There are several factors that weigh against his release ... Most importantly, though, is the fact that he has now demonstrated that he does not properly respect the law or the integrity of the judicial process."

 I can only suggest that justice be served and we as citizens lift our voices to repeal the “Stand Your Ground Laws” because, as this shows, next time it could be your child to which justice is deferred. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
VOTE!!!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Watergate: Government Exposed


I will admit that after my return from Vietnam in 1971 and living through that horrible ordeal I was disenchanted with our government. I had suffered wounds for a cause that I to this very day feel was a campaign that was unjust on so many levels.

First, the war began under false pretenses, it was a killing field for black and poor soldiers, and caused the slaughter of millions needlessly. Then something happened that caused me to believe true that “Tricky Dick” was a crook.

It happened on June 16, 1972 when a security guard named Frank Wills was working as a security guard at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The very astute security guard discovered a piece of tape on the lock of the door that led to the National Democratic Headquarters.

This foiled a break-in attempt at the Watergate Hotel resulting in the scandal that was part of a larger campaign by Nixon supporters to tarnish the reputation of Democratic candidates and the Democratic Party. Democratic candidates were harassed, subject to negative campaign ads, and on two separate occasions the National Democratic Headquarters were broken into.

As soon as the attempted break-in at Watergate Hotel became known, President Richard Nixon, AKA Trick Dick, ordered the entire affair covered up. It became clear that the Nixon presidency had been involved in serious manipulation and abuses of power for years. Millions of dollars coming from Nixon supporters were used to pay for the cover-up in an attempt to hide the truth from Congress and the American people.

The investigation would introduce the American people to such people as John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman. Ehrlichman was the President and Chief of the Domestic Council and Haldeman was the Chief of Staff. Both would be fired in a desperate attempt to save Nixon presidency. The investigation would ask two questions which would forever live in political infamy. The questions were, "What did the president know?" and "When did he know it?"

The investigation into Watergate scandal revealed that Nixon knew about the break-in from the beginning and that he was involved in the cover-up as it progressed. In the early stages of the Watergate scandal most of the media reported the break-in as a minor story with little national significance. This was until two young reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who were working for the Washington Post began to dig deeper into the mystery.

Aided by an informant identified as Deep Throat, Woodward and Bernstein uncovered one of the most significant stories of the twentieth century. They became the catalyst in forcing the first presidential resignation in American history. As the Watergate scandal investigation began testimony revealed that there was a taping system which was installed to record conversations in the Oval Office, Camp David, the Cabinet rooms, and Nixon's hideaway office.

Nixon argued that the tapes contained only private conversations between the president and his advisors. The Supreme Court did not agree. The court ordered the president to release the tapes. The Nixon tapes were released in the 1970’s and contained 18 minutes of silence that have never been explained. In mid-1974, the House of Representatives approved the articles of impeachment against President Nixon.

They were: Article I: Obstruction of justice; Article II: Abuse of power; and Article III: Defiance of committee subpoena. On August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announced to the American people that he no longer had a political base strong enough to support his remaining time in office and resigned the presidency. We will all remember Nixon’s famous words “I am not a Crook”!

In 1996, 200 new hours of tape were released in the lawsuit of historian Stanley I. Kutler. The new tapes revealed that Nixon was intimately involved both before and after Watergate in abuses of power. A taped conversation on June 23, 1972, proved that Nixon and Haldeman talked about using the CIA to thwart the FBI investigation into the Watergate scandal cover-up.

Once he resigned his Vice President Gerald Ford pardoned him and the crook never was charge or paid for his crime. Money and power is a very dangerous mixture. As you know power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, particularly when you are a crook to start with. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com 



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mega-Church Disasters


This Sunday morning I want to chime in on the latest Mega-Church pastor to fall short of the long arm of the law. To all the faithful, this time it none other than the flashy televangelist Creflo Dollar known for preaching that prosperity is good. To be fair with a name “Dollar” - I can agree with that! Nonetheless was arrested early Friday for allegedly roughing up his 15-year-old daughter at his Atlanta home. Hmmm.

Although this is not as bad as the Bishop, and I use that loosely, Eddie Long situation - somehow in my mind it begs the question – WTF? First of all, if Jesus where to come back today I am pretty sure he would do just as he did in the temple with the money changes. In my opinion, these leaders of huge flocks cannot effectively serve the community when they have the huge financial responsibility of such monstrosities. Frankly, it’s just business! Just sayin!

There is a very popular radio host who does a show from time to time called “Pimps in the Pulpit”. Let me be clear, I am not calling either of these Sheppard’s pimps but when you take from the needy to benefit the greedy. Well we have to find a word that more accurately describes the mission other than pastor. The larger question is who are the followers of these guys? Are they just sheep lead blindly?

Let’s recap! Last year there was a Mega-Church preacher from Florida who was found dead in New York (allegedly) of a drug overdose with drugs found on his person (allegedly). Both Long and Dollar were among six televangelists investigated by Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley from 2007 to 2010, following questions about personal use of church-owned airplanes, luxury homes and credit cards by mega church pastors and their families. I won’t even touch the Catholic Church and their problems.

I don’t believe these are isolated instances and I am not saying that every church falls into this kind of negative category. But I would suggest that if there tax status changed some of these issues would be remedied. I also want to say I am not just picking on African American pastors. There are just as many whites and others who are just as foul in their devotion to the all mighty dollar.

I am not going to spend too many words on the frailties of faith leaders. But with respect to the Dollar Man this was not his only brush with controversy. When former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield filed for divorce in 1999, Dollar refused to give a court-ordered statement in the case about how much money Holyfield had given to the church.

Janice Holyfield's lawyer said he had determined that Holyfield gave $403,000 to the church in 1998, and donated $3.9 million in the 60 days before the ex-champ filed for divorce in March 1999. Dollar's lawyer said he should not be required to testify because of the separation of church and state, pastor-parishioner privilege and several state and biblical laws. Really!

I am not challenging anyone’s faith – but believers we are or should be believing in the word of God and the teachings of Jesus! Not some jokers with private jets that you are paying for. I just want use a popular phrase that says “Game Knows Game” or you should. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com


Saturday, June 9, 2012

THE GODFATHER AND KING OF SOUL

I was reading the New York Times book review section where I came across a new book that got my attention titled “The One: The Life and Music of James Brown,” by RJ Smith. Since I am old enough to remember Mr. Brown’s impact on African America and dare I say the world I found myself realizing that his untimely death in 2006 has left a void in what was once called “Soul Music”.

Young people today don’t realize the relevance of Mr. Brown’s accomplishments, although I doubt if brown himself ever doubted his own significance as a historic figure and an undeniably game-changing artist. It was quoted in the Times article that “his showmanship and art altered the music world. But James didn’t bring blacks to the mainstream; instead, he brought the mainstream to blacks and made them appreciate and internalize black music and culture themselves.”

Everybody who has ever heard a song by Mr. Brown has attempted to tell his story and try to dissect his complex and multilayered life. Regardless of the opinion most have failed to fully capture the depth of value that Brown and his music played in transforming American life. The article said:

“Smith not only effortlessly highlights James’s unmatched musical career, but also provides a well-studied historical context for the basis of his artistic expression. Chronicling the legacy of resistance through music, Smith explains how James’s artistry was closely linked to the struggle for civil rights as well as the cultural expression of blacks, from Africa through slavery and the journey into the 20th century. It would after all be impossible to discuss 20th-century music and the civil rights/black power movement without putting James Brown at the top of that list. And “The One” is the first serious book to explain precisely why.”

“When you reflect on the life and legacy of James Brown, it cannot be explained without taking into account the period in which he was raised and the experiences that shaped his identity. But just as important is how he incorporated his social/political views into his music in a way that was soulful and entertaining beyond belief.”

James Brown was an enigma and I would imagine by his own design, which could very well be the price of fame. Brown who grew up in the harsh and segregated south could not have been born into the multitude of success obtained throughout his career. This was accomplished by hard work, grit, and dogged determination. His life by virtue of being in the entertainment business was made up of constant challenges and hurdles, but his perseverance and tenacity — coupled with sheer talent — provided the world with a lens on the American black experience.

The article stated that “The One” thrives in highlighting how James’s irrefutable genius and artistry transcended social blockades and eventually drew audiences from all sectors of society. The funk originator never compromised his roots and never sold out in order to be accepted; rather, he made the world revolve around him. But despite his tremendous achievements, his success was still limited.”

The ­hardest-working man in showbiz not only made us black and proud, but he also possessed a soul rooted deeply in equality and justice for his people. I will not attempt to rewrite a story that has already been well written nor have I read the book but I am suggesting that to understand the greatness in a man that so many have tried to tarnish - maybe we should read the book.

I don't believe there are any perfect men but there are men with perfect intentions. Therefore, I’m going to overlook any faults or frailties the man may have had and just say as Mr. Brown said so boldly in a recording at a time when he could have ended his career - “Say it Load I’m Black and I’m Proud”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Friday, June 8, 2012


Religious Zealot Pastor Terry Jones is at it again! You know the hypocrite who spews lies and hatred! This guy who is always up to the insane has really gone too far this time.

This is the same nut who not long ago threatened to burn Korans, which sparked several days of violence in the Middle East. In doing so, this foolish act caused the deaths of dozens across the region and placed our troops in further danger by stoking anti-American sentiment.

I read an article today where this so-called man of God decided that hanging the President of the United States in effigy, in front of a church, is necessary and appropriate. Just so you understand this in Florida, not Afghanistan or some other third-world American hating country where this sort of thing is common. I have to ask what in the hell is going on down in the state of Florida?

In addition Jones released a video to go along with his protest where he states “Obama is killing America.” He claims that Obama increased the deficit (he lowered it, actually), increased the debt more than every president before him combined (but leaves out the part where the increase is due to the budgetary disaster left behind by Bush, including two wars and massive unpaid-for tax cuts), and that he supports radical Islam (by killing more terrorists in three years than Bush did in 7, including bin Laden. If that’s “support” I’d hate to see what Obama’s version of opposition is). The mock president is holding a baby, presumably to symbolize abortion, and accompanied by a gay pride flag, an American flag and a mock Uncle Sam, Obama’s “victim.”

When addressing the reason for symbolically hanging the president, Jones veers off into the surreal:

That is why we have now chosen the hanging of Hussein Obama to represent how the American people must, in a peaceful way, stand up and reject President Obama, reject his anti-American policies. It is time for us to stand up. It is time, again, for America to become America.

As an African American this act is particularly troubling because I see a deeply racist component in depicting a black man being hung, especially in the South. Jones is surely aware of this, but like most right wing demagogues, he’s perfectly content to invoke such imagery. Hate and intolerance is the fish and loaves of the right wing religious fanatic. If Obama had been a white man, this scene would have played out much differently.

Religious extremism is almost just as much a problem in America as it is in the Middle East, and Jones is a prime example of the violence inherent among religious reactionaries. As long as we, as a nation, continue to pretend that only Muslims can be dangerous radicals, we’re ignoring the ticking time-bomb in our midst.

I have to ask – “Where is the Secret Service”. Government agencies like the NSA, NYPD and FBI spend millions of dollars conducting illegal surveillance on mosques and law abiding citizens going about their business peacefully in the name of fighting terrorism. This hasn’t yielded a single lead to any terrorist activity, yet this nut along with other right wing nuts openly threaten the life of the president as well as peace and order in general without any investigation.

The far right represents a greater terrorist threat to the US than any group in the world and is a threat that is continually ignored to which I say at America’s own peril. The government used COINTEL against other groups – yet, this danger is allowed to exist. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Excerpts from an Addictingingfo

http://johntwills.com 

This is a DISGRACE!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Democracy Bought


I have a question that you might want to ask yourself. Can yesterday happen tomorrow? After what happened in Wisconsin yesterday - could it happen again in November?Hmmmm!

We witness the worst election in our lifetime. Thanks to the highest court in the land who gave license to the right to open the flood gates to promote evil. People like Rove, the Koch Brother, various packs and the likes of the Tea Bagger rallied their base to reelect Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker outspent his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, seven to one after raising millions of dollars from right-wing donors outside the state.

It’s not right and one might say Democracy bought as Walker survived a historic recall election more than a year after launching a controversial effort to roll back the bargaining rights of the state’s public workers. People this is a preview of what is ahead and we cannot take for granted the fall presidential elections because this was a rehearsal for the nation stage.

John Nichols, a correspondent for The Nation, said, "We always like to tell ourselves that if the people get organized enough, they can offset any amount of money… "But in Wisconsin, we got a pretty powerful lesson about this new era we’re entering into with unlimited cash ... It’s something we should be taking a good look at — not merely for Wisconsin, but for the whole country."

I will criticize the People, the Democratic National Committee and yes the President for mostly staying on the sidelines as Republicans nationwide rallied around Walker. Consider this when the comparison between tens of millions of dollars and an all-in effort by the RNC and by national Republicans versus a tweet from President Obama, I think, sums it up a little bit painfully.

Frankly, it’s was a very telling event when we consider the dire consequences that lie ahead; view the video which may explain the importance of your vote. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective...


Monday, June 4, 2012

A MUST READ NOVEL

I am very fortunate or blessed to have been the man chosen to channel the story within the pages of the epic novel “Just a Season”.  It chronicles what has been called a contemporary “Roots” with the emotion of “The Color Purple” that will cause you to see the world through new eyes. I was very pleased to receive that kind of acclaim. Another reviewer said, “This is the stuff movies are made of... I have not read anything that so succinctly chronicles an African American story.”

Just a Season is the predecessor to Legacy – A New Season that will soon to be released. It’s been several years since Just a Season, and it’s time to move on. Generations have come and gone, life is bearable after all, and hope lives in a little boy and in a man who almost lost all hope.

It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told but there are some you cannot forget. “Legacy” - A New Season” is the continuation of Just a Season and a stand-alone story rich in history on a subject rarely explained to children of this generation – the African American struggle.

This long awaited squeal to the epic novel Just a Season will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African-American Diaspora, as told by a grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever.

I want to share the being of the story which I have been told will capture you from the first page transporting you into John’s word. It is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. What follows is the prelude that I hope you will enjoy. Oh, did I tell you that Just a Season is a must read novel…

Prelude

A season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon that some call life. One of the first things I learned in this life was that it is a journey. During this passage through time I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter. Today, I have to face a valley and it’s excruciating. It’s June 28th, a day that I once celebrated as a very special day. Now, it’s filled with sorrow. The reason this day is different from all others is because I have come to the cemetery at Friendly Church.

Normally it’s hot and humid as summer begins, but not so today. It’s a cool gray day with the sky slightly overcast. I hear the echo of birds chirping from a distance. There is also a mist or a light fog hovering very near the ground that gives the aura of a mystical setting.  This is a place where many of my family members who have passed away rest for eternity.  Some have been resting here for over a hundred years. I have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a sister, and many friends here as well. The cemetery is in the most tranquil of places secluded from the rest of the world, very peaceful and beautiful, almost like being near the gateway of heaven.

My heart aches today because I have come here on what would have been my son’s birthday. This is a very hard thing for me to do as the natural order suggests it should be the other way around. Another difficulty is that this is the first time I will see his headstone that was put in place just a few days ago. Although I know what it should look like, it’s going to be hard to actually see it. It will indicate the finality of losing the dearest of all human beings.  It’s hard to imagine what the rest of my life will be like without my precious son.

As I pass Granddaddy’s gravesite, I stop to say hello. After a brief moment, I continue in the direction of my son’s resting place. As I get closer, I begin to receive a rush of emotion to the point that my movements slow as the sight comes into view. I can now see his name clearly and I whisper “God why did you take him?” I become numb as I finally arrive at his gravesite, overwhelmed with this never before known emotion. This is something I never thought I would ever have to do, but here I am!!!

Suddenly, the sky begins to clear somewhat, as I now feel the sun’s rays from above.  At this very moment, I receive an epiphany upon reading the dates inscribed on the stone.  1981 – 2001. What does this really mean? The beginning and the end, surely, but in the final analysis it is just a tiny little dash that represents the whole life of a person. I fall to my knees realizing the profound impact of that thought causing me to look to the heavens and wonder. If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash.   What might they say?

Chapter One

The story begins in late November 1951 on a clear sunny Sunday afternoon. It was fairly cool for an autumn day and as it was the custom in the Reid family, everyone had gone to church early to give praise to the Lord. This was a special day for this family. It was a special day because of their anticipation of a new member into the family. So it was a great, great feeling of joy and excitement that filled their home. Ruth and Josie did not attend church this day, because Josie was overdue and expecting to give birth at anytime.

The Reid residence was Granddaddy’s house, where friends and family gathered after church for dinner most Sundays. Granddaddy was the anchor and his home was viewed as a welcoming sanctuary to all who came. Granddaddy and his family lived on a farm of about two hundred acres. In a time when living was tough in this very segregated rural area of Maryland, it was even harder being a sharecropper. In fact, this was really just a step above slavery and not much of a step, I might add.

This was a very small family, tightly woven together, and built on faith. The Reid family was proud, respected, and well known in this community. The family’s core was Sylvanus, affectionately called Vanus, but to me he was Granddaddy. A quiet hard working family minded man. He married Miss Gladys in the mid nineteen twenties and had lived on this place since then. Although they did not own the farm nor did they have very many material possessions, they were rich in love and strong in faith. The farm was all they knew and this family was their life. Granddaddy was a proud man who commanded respect by his mere presence.

He was strong, and had to be, because of his life’s existence. He believed the event about to take place would be the blessing for which he had long dreamed. To him this was a bright beacon of hope. He believed firmly that faith was being sure of what you hoped for and certain of what you could not see. Granddaddy conceived this understanding, maybe through a vision, that this child would be key to the future of his family. He had very high hopes that this event would bring the gift for which he had long waited.

Miss Gladys, his beloved wife, was a good Christian woman and a real fighter. She was known throughout the community as Big Momma, and Big Momma was something else. If that’s the way she saw it, that’s the way it ought ta be. She would always say, “I’m like a blue hen chicken, I cluck but I never sit.” I don’t think anyone really understood what she meant by that, but she was the boss. Well, she was the boss to everyone but Granddaddy.

Their union produced one son, Sonny, who was Ruth’s husband. They had three children. Their names were Effie, Dottie, and Buddy. Martha, their oldest daughter had one child, a son, whose name was Willie. Then there was Josie, the youngest of Granddaddy’s children. Which meant, as the baby of the family she was special. Oh yeah, there was also a child Granddaddy raised whose name was Lilly and this was pretty much the Reid family.  Also present on this day was Martha’s boyfriend Lonnie, as he was on most weekends. The gathering on this day also included a few of the good church folk who came by after the church service.  

If you love history and want to know our story visit http://johntwills.com for more information and to purchase the novels. And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective...


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bail Revoked!!!


So it is, justice I mean, a Florida judge did the responsible thing by revoking bond for the assassin George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ordered Zimmerman to surrender to the county sheriff within 48 hours.

Most observer in the case or I should speak for myself believed Zimmerman misrepresented himself from the very beginning, particularly how much money he had when his bond was originally set in April when he claimed to be indigent. I will go further and say about everything!

The murderer according to the prosecution cited as evidence recorded telephone conversations that Zimmerman had with his wife prior to the hearing. The conversations were recorded while Zimmerman was being held in the Seminole County Jail after being charged with second-degree murder on April 11. Now, everyone knows when you call someone from jail or receive mail the jailers are listening or will read the correspondence.

This, in my mind, gives reason to question anything that Zimmerman has said throughout this ordeal. Is charged with fatally shooting Martin, 17, on February 26 while he walked in a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood where he was staying during a visit with his father. Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer claimed he shot the teenager in self-defense.

The trial prosecutor stated accurately that "The defense, through Mrs. Zimmerman, lied to this court about the amount of money that they had… I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie." Outside the courthouse, the lawyer for the family of Martin said Friday's decision is significant. "Judge Lester's finding that George Zimmerman was dishonest is very important because his credibility is the most important thing in this entire case," said Benjamin Crump.

"Remember, this is only George Zimmerman's testimony that says Trayvon Martin attacked him. All of the evidence suggests that George Zimmerman pursued and confronted Trayvon Martin. Therefore, that's why this is such an important ruling today." In court documents, State Attorney Angela B. Corey acknowledged she was making the strongly worded assertions in describing how Zimmerman's wife represented his finances.

Zimmerman's defense team stated during an April court hearing that Zimmerman's "family members misinformed the court (the state would use a much stronger and accurate word to describe what occurred -- defendant's wife lied to the court) about defendant and his family's finances," Corey wrote in court papers.

She went on to say that Zimmerman had two passports, and the passport that he surrendered to the court at the April hearing was one that Zimmerman had reported stolen on March 8, 2004, court papers said. That passport was valid until May 2012, Corey said. Zimmerman was issued a second passport on March 26, 2004, and that one is valid until 2014, she said. The prosecutor asked the court that Zimmerman be ordered to surrender the second passport to authorities.

Prosecutors have informed federal authorities about Zimmerman's second passport in case he attempts to use it "to flee the country," Corey said. Regarding Zimmerman's finances, Corey alleged that recorded phone calls in April between Zimmerman, while he was in Seminole County Jail, and his wife showed that the couple "spoke in code to hide what they were doing" regarding more than $135,000 in a credit union account belonging to the couple.

The money was apparently donated by members of the public to Zimmerman's website that Zimmerman "fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal account to defendant and his wife's credit union accounts," Corey said in court records. "This occurred prior to the time defendant was arguing to the court that he was indigent and his wife had no money." But Corey stated in court documents Friday: "The money still belongs to defendant and he can demand it at any time."

The prosecutor said the judge "relied on false representations and statements" by Zimmerman and his wife when the court set his bond at $150,000. He was required to post only 10% of that. Corey argued that the court should revoke the bond or increase it "substantially." Lester appeared angry that the court had not been told about the money. "Does your client get to sit there like a potted palm and let you lead me down the primrose path?" he asked Zimmerman's lawyer. "That's the issue."
The facts for this writing are attributed to news reported by CNN. I wanted to make sure my readers around the world were informed and know that we stand for justice, we will not relent until justice is served. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…