Thursday, January 31, 2013
I want you to take a look at yourself and free your mind. Look into a mirror and ask yourself: “Who am I?” This is important because you might, if honest, see a person that is the representative of your life. Let me explain, you say that you love a God who you have never seen; yet you do not love the man or woman before you who you can see. You will say that you love God; ask yourself do you.
You know you have prejudices that you were either taught or came to know they exist base upon your experiences. White people in most cases are prejudice against blacks and everyone else. Blacks are prejudice against whites, and blacks. Moreover, every nation on the face of the earth had a prejudice against someone mainly because they are different in some form. I am going to suggest that religion often time my well be a reason.
The Bible says, “There will be wars and rumors of wars”. This is very interesting because this speaks to the interest of those who have a vested interest in this brutality. I am going to be more specific and relate this to Pharaoh in the sense he was the entity that was in control of man; then came Mosses with a mission to set his people free with the pledge of leading them to the promise land.
If you think about this and understand that your enemies have invested in your soul, which is a tried and true principle of divide and conquer. I say this specifically to address the issues that exist between the African American male and female. God created us (man and woman) to join in a union to live and to recreate in order to continue the species. Now, how is it that we have lost this simple understanding designed by our creator? The war against us is against all of us, both black men and women.
Our hope rests within us – not in what is inserted into us by an enemy. So black women, you’ve been had, hoodwinked, when you distance yourself for the black man. There is a biblical passage that says “you will reap what you sow”. You have a convent with the black man by virtue of your birth - your children need him and so do you.
Black men, you too must be that man you were created to be. The children you create - need you; that mother needs you. Being black means nothing to those of the other hue – I say it’s time to mean something to each other. I will not judge - just saying! While I will remind you that scripture says, “Judge not lest you be in danger of being judged”. The ghosts of the greats who sacrificed their lives for you are watching!
It is time for you/me/us to think differently and make a change – and the time is now! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective on this day of resurrection…
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
I have written a series of articles specifically designed to be a potent source of empowering knowledge for the enhancement and pride for Black History to empower the minds of mankind. During Black History Month I will share articles speaking to the phenomenal history and difficult struggles of the African American experience. You will come to realize that our story is the “Greatest Story Ever Told!!!
The legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of those with a diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of African Americans based on an ideology of supremacy. These stolen souls that exist today are people who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man. Hence, from the beginning, people of African descent were intended to be a nation of people living within a nation without a nationality.
I will call these writings “The Unspoken Truth”. They are intended to empower by educating people through knowledge concerning issues that many blacks continue to face today from the untreated wounds of America’s forefathers. This series is a knowledge-based examination of the African American Diaspora. As you travel with me though the through Black History Month my purpose is to simply offer explanations causing people to look at and understand the root cause of the asymptomatic behaviors.
It is my sincere desire to help people understand that there is a conditioning in “certain” communities – this is not an excuse, rather an explanation as to why these behaviors were never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, and an African American, which were the polite terms assigned to make known that people of African Descent were not American citizens.
The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. To overcome these indignities we must realize that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize the forces that breed poverty and despair. Regardless of how much we are held down, it is our responsibility to find a way to get up, even if the system is designed to protect the system.
As you follow what I am calling the Unspoken Truth and embark upon this journey; know that learning without thought is a labor lost; thought without learning is intellectual death; and courage is knowing what’s needed and doing it. As tenacious beings, we must understand that there is no such thing as an inferior mind. So I say it’s time for an awakening, if for no other reason than to honor those who sacrificed so much in order that we could live life in abundance.
As you experience Black History Month remember this: You only have a minute. Sixty seconds in it. Didn't chose it, can't refuse it, it’s up to you to use it. It's just a tiny little minute but an eternity in it. You can change the world but first you must change your mind. And that is my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE!
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
There are so many atrocious things that were inflicted upon people of African descent from the beginning of our journey in this place the slaves called “merica”. I am here to report that the horrible murder of four little girls in Birmingham on September 15th, 1963 was without question the worst. It was a Sunday morning while these baby's were attending Sunday school when a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church .
Today we are talking about the heinous murders that recently occurred at Sandy Hooks Elementary School that shocked America. What happened when the ground floor of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church collapsed from a terrorist attack by members of the KKK killing for innocent little black girls, while they were attending a Sunday school session, was equally, if not, far more shocking to the world. These four children were in the church basement preparing for the morning service.
All four girls died – Denise McNair, aged 11, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carol Robertson, all aged 14. Many others were injured. Despite the many racial crimes committed in the South, this one was greeted with abject horror. Despite the deaths of four young girls, and the many that were injured, no-one was initially arrested for this crime even though the authorities suspected four men within days of the outrage. Frankly, the authorities placed little value on the lives of Colored People which was one of the reasons to not investigate or apprehend the suspects.
If I can take you back to the era; Birmingham was ground zero for the civil rights movement and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was an organizational centre for much of the movement’s activities. In particular, youths used the church to help plan strategies to get more black high school children involved in the civil rights cause. In the Spring of 1963, stores in downtown Birmingham had been desegregated and just days before the bombing, schools in Birmingham had been ordered by a federal court to integrate – nearly ten years after the Brown v Board of Education ruling. Of course, the Klan and many racists would not accept this decision nor the successes the civil rights movement.
The chief of police in the city, Bull Connor, was very anti-civil rights and had ordered that police dogs and fire hoses used on civil rights demonstrators in May 1963. Birmingham was well known as a stronghold of the KKK. The influence of the KKK was such that children’s books that showed black and white rabbits together were banned from sale in book shops in the city. Segregation was the norm in the city. Violence against the black community in Birmingham was not unusual but the deliberate bombing of a church took that violence to a new level.
In 1965, J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, stated that any chance of prosecution was “remote” and in 1968, the FBI pulled out of the investigation. Initially, no-one was arrested for the outrage. Eventually, a known member of the KKK was arrested in 1977 – Robert Chambliss. He was sent to prison and died there in 1985. However, many believed that he was not the only one involved.
In 1980, a US Department of Justice report stated that Hoover had blocked evidence that could have been used in the pursuit of suspects. This led to the Alabama district attorney reopening the case. However, while the case was reopened no new charges were filed.
In October 1988, Gary A Tucker admitted that he had helped set up the bomb. Dying of cancer, no charge was laid against him but federal and state prosecutors reopened their investigations. In May 2000, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry surrendered to the authorities after they were indicted on four counts of first-degree murder and “universal malice”. One year later, Blanton, aged 62, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty on four counts of murder.
Blandon said after the verdict was announced "I guess the good Lord will settle it on Judgment Day". Bobby Frank Cherry was initially deemed to be mentally unfit to stand trial. However, this was overturned and he was found guilty after members of his family gave evidence against him.
The role of the FBI has been criticized by some with regards to this case, particularly the role played by J Edgar Hoover. It was only after 14 years that the FBI released 9,000 files relevant to the case – including the so-called ‘Kitchen Tapes’ in which Thomas Blandon was heard telling his wife about building the bomb and planning to use it.
This case which went unsolved for so long speaks to the depth of racial hatred in America not all that long ago. It was more shocking to our community that the powers that be knew who the culprits were and failed to act. Or was the system of injustice so pervasive that their actions were the result of institutional approval. There is a movement today for these four little girls to receive the Medal of Honor. I, for one, think they are deserving of this high honor because their lives were innocently sacrificed for a cause they never really understood.
I pray that the souls of Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carol Robertson Rest In Peace for all eternity. God Bless each of you!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Monday, January 28, 2013
I came across this POWERFUL MESSAGE - listen and take heed. Spread the word - free your mind and you azz will follow! Teach the children. And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Saturday, January 26, 2013
I was thinking about the times in which we’ve lived with thoughts of our history. I always think about the ghosts of the greats who paved a might trail for us to walk. Black History Month is soon approaching and with that, I think, comes some responsibility. I was blessed to have had the good privilege to live during the civil rights era to witness groups and individuals fight to end racial segregation and the unequal treatment of African-Americans.
It would be my hope that all of us take this opportunity during Black History Month to reach one – teach one. Share the stories of our struggle with your children. I have added a few of the many significant events and some of the brave and courageous solders in the army that changed America or dare I say the world.
Events in the Civil Rights Movement
- Civil Rights Movement
- Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
- Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955)
- Integration of Central High School (1957)
- Greensboro Sit-In and the Sit-In Movement (1960)
- Freedom Rides (1961)
- Integration of Ole Miss (1962)
- March on Washington (1963)
- Birmingham Church Bombing (1963)
- Freedom Summer (1964)
- Civil Rights Act (1964)
- Selma to Montgomery March (1965)
- Voting Rights Act (1965)
- Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)
Solders of the Civil Rights Movement
- Martin Luther King Jr.
- Rosa Parks
- Malcolm X
- Stokely Carmichael
- Thurgood Marshall
- Medgar Evars
- Jesse Jackson
- Fannie Lou Hamer
- Emmett Till
- Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
- Studen Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
I am reminded of Malcolm X who used to say “Make It Plain” which meant in essence to bring forth the knowledge. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Friday, January 25, 2013
My friends tell me that I have been here before which maybe why I see things from a different perspective. If, by chance they are correct, in one of my past lives I can assure you that I was a man of African American descent and honored the great history we achieved. This would give me authority to compare and contrast a nation of people living in a nation without nationality. With that said, I most certainly would have read the most profound novel ever written on the African American Diaspora - “The Mis-Education of the Negro”.
This novel contained powerful messages revealed within its pages. Especially when you consider this great work was originally published in 1933 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who is known as and considered the father of Black History Month. This book should be mandatory reading for all African Americans – young and old – without question.
Today, I am struck by the fact that we have not understood the potent message left for us. The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that Negroes of his day were being culturally indoctrinated rather than taught in American schools; actually, not even given the advantage of education. This conditioning, he claims, causes African Americans to become dependent, seeking out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. This assertion is clearly evident – nearly eighty years later.
He challenged his readers to become empowered by doing for themselves, regardless of what they were taught: “History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning.”
Today with all the advantages concerning educational opportunities, business exposure, social networking, and a president who looks like us; we are in the best position to succeed than at any time in our history. So the obvious question is “why are we not?” Every other ethnic community takes advantage of their options to strengthen and empower their communities while, sadly, robbing our communities in the process. We will let anybody set up shop in our communities and take our money.
My point is: We must learn to do business with each other in order to gain wealth by keeping our money in our communities. Some say we spend trillions annually and nearly all of it leaves our community within 15 minutes. Let me remind you that the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things and expect different results. We can change the world, but first we must change ourselves.
Here is a quote from the “The Mis-Education of the Negro”:
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit.”
It is time to build upon what was left for us or more importantly “know where you came from to know where you’re going, if we are ever going to get there.”
And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective!
Thursday, January 24, 2013
With all that talk about the Second Amendment I wonder if you knew the real reason for the Second Amendment. Did you know why it says "State" instead of "Country"? Well, much like most early laws it was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. What was called militias initially; it was a reference to "slave patrols” regulated by the states.
Laws were passed in Georgia, for example, that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search 'all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition' and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.
Let me add that this was not germane to Georgia alone but most southern slave holding states!
Before and up to the signing of the Constitution hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered whites in many areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. The fact is that slavery could only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.
Think about it, if slaves had guns then they could be emancipated, which would collapse the institution of slavery, and the southern economic and social systems.
I am not going to expound upon this debate further because when black people, i.e., the Black Panthers, tried to exercise their right under the Second Amendment am going to agree with the profound actor Danny Glover who made this comment on the Second Amendment something called CONITEL was developed and the California Governor sign a bill to deny that right.
The fact is that the Second Amendment was conceived largely to preserve the institution of slavery and to suppress Native Americans. Actor and Activist Danny Glover said this recently: “I don’t know if you know the genesis of the right to bear arms,” Glover said. “The Second Amendment comes from the right to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from uprisings by Native Americans. So, a revolt from people who were stolen from their land, or revolt from people whose land was stolen from, that’s what the genesis of the Second Amendment is.”
Anyone who has read the Constitution knows that it says nothing about the rights of people of color or women. Therefore to think that the Second Amendment had anything to do with the rights of all people are simply wrong.
I am a veteran, served this country, and love it but something there is a huge void between fact and fiction. I would suggest that all of us be careful when those on the right and others connect the word of a Dr. Martin Luther King to this debate, as again it is fiction far from fact. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Are you a thief? If you are in debt and have no savings or retirement you are a thief and are stealing from yourself. According to a new report by the Consumer Federation of America and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, 38% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. One out of every 7 Americans has 10 credit cards. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, more Americans owe money on student loans than on credit cards.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) estimates that 30 million Americans have debt with collection agencies. 43% of Americans spend more than they earn. According to a new University of Michigan report 1 out of 5 families owes more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other unsecured debt than they have in savings.
Many Americans have no emergency fund and little or no retirement savings. According to EBRI's 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey 60% of employees state that the value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000. Due to the recession and its after-effects many Americans were unemployed for long periods of time and exhausted their savings and retirement accounts and racked up mounds of debt.
Each time you swipe your credit card interest is accruing on the credit card balance. If you don’t pay the balance off at the end of the month your credit card balance will continue to grow. Paying for an item with a credit card on average costs 110% more than the original cost of the item. Owing credit card debt makes the credit card companies rich and makes you poor.
Many Americans are so focused on paying down debt they forget about saving money. No matter how much debt you owe you should also contribute to a savings account. Invest in yourself by contributing to a savings account. You should have enough in an emergency savings account that covers your total monthly expenses and bills for 9-12 months. You should put yourself first and follow the “Pay Yourself First” principle by putting money aside towards a savings account even if it is $1 a week then pay everyone else.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck find a way to reduce your spending such as bring your lunch to work, skip the Starbucks and bring your own coffee from home, shop at discount grocery stores and discount stores such as Aldi’s, Save-a-Lot, Wal-Mart, Target, Bottom Dollar Food, Grocery Outlet and buy store brands, use coupons. You may prefer to buy meat, dairy products and fruits and vegetables at a local farmers market or a regular grocery store.
Buying items you cannot afford it simply stealing from yourself. Buying a car that costs more than your annual salary, owning a home that is upside down, owing student loans with a balance of $50,000 or more is not practical and causes extreme financial hardship. If you make sacrifices earlier in life and do research to find the best offer for a loan or credit card, contribute regularly to a savings account and educate yourself about interest rates, credit card and personal finance you will be in a better financial position. You will have to make hard sacrifices to get yourself out of debt. Here are 13 ways to stop stealing from your yourself.
- Pay in full. Pay balance in full each month to avoid paying finance charges.
- Pay bi-monthly. Pay half of the balance with 1st paycheck of the month then pay the remaining balance with 2nd paycheck of the month.
- Pay weekly. Pay the minimum monthly payment the 1st week after you get the bill, and then each week pay as much as you can toward the monthly balance. Repeat this every month.
- Pay extra. Pay as much as you can when you get the bill, and then pay more towards the bill when you get extra money.
- Automate. Set up automatic payments from your checking account the day you receive your paycheck or the day after you receive your paycheck to pay down debt.
- Use unexpected income. Use your income tax refund, economic stimulus check, bonus check or sell new or used items on eBay.
- Negotiate. Negotiate for a lower interest rate, get fees waived or request a settlement to help reduce the balance owed to make it easier to pay down debt.
- Create a budget. Balance your checkbook and create a budget to identify what you owe, what you earn and what you spend to find areas where you can reduce spending. Pay no more than 35% of your total monthly income towards housing, pay no more than 15% towards transportation, pay no more than 10% towards debt excluding mortgage, pay 10% towards savings and pay no more than 25% towards remaining expenses to create a balanced budget.
- Live Below Your Means. Buy needs vs. wants; buy only the things you need, delay the things you want until you have the money to purchase the item.
- Pay with cash. Use credit cards for emergencies only and purchase items with cash.
- Purchases. Avoid making bad decisions such as buying rent-to-own furniture or buying a big screen television and other items that have no value.
- Pay on time. Avoid paying late fees whenever possible. If you know you will pay a bill late contact the company to setup payment arrangements.
- Keep balances low. Keep credit card balances at 20% or less of the credit limit.
By Harrine Freeman, Speaker, Financial Trainer
One of Black Enterprises' TOP 12 FINANCIAL MINDS (2010)
Winner of the 2011 New York Book FestivalAuthor How to Get Out of Debt: Get an "A" Credit Rating for Free
One of Black Enterprises' TOP 12 FINANCIAL MINDS (2010)
Winner of the 2011 New York Book FestivalAuthor How to Get Out of Debt: Get an "A" Credit Rating for Free
Monday, January 21, 2013
Today is a great day that will never be surpassed by the passage of time; rather it will be permanently etched in the pages of history forever more. What we are witnessing today is something that was beyond the imagination of anyone living or dead. From that day in the summer of 1619 when the first slave was dragged onto the shores of this place called “merica” to begin a journey of degradation and suffering as chattel. The wretchedness and evil placed upon a people of African descent in the name of God to remain the least of thee.
To this day: God Bless POTUS and Family
Let us march ahead and never turn back! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few chosen.
From this day: Happy King Day
To this day: God Bless POTUS and Family
Let us march ahead and never turn back! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Sunday, January 20, 2013
There was a time that seemed long-long ago when we were called Negro which came with good and bad. The bad; it was a distinction that by law made us second class citizens and we were a people subjected to the wretchedness of unequal treatment. The good; in most cases our communities were united and we respected each other in ways that have disappeared today. Others have identified us as Colored, Negro, Afro-Americans, Black, and now almost universally today African American - instead of human.
This term Negro which is a Spanish term that means Black but no Spanish culture uses it to describe people of color. The term lost its distinction during the 1960s when the terms to describe those of African descent evolved to one of the aforementioned. Now, the word “Negro” (publications used a lower case “n”) has almost become pejorative. I began to reflect upon this time where some of the other hue wants us to return. You have heard the “dog Whittles”, i.e., “I want to take my country back”. It’s really kinda funny because I can imagine the Native America people making this kind of remark but I digress!
That got me to thinking. When we were Negroes in the 1950s, “only 9 percent of black families with children were headed by a single parent,” according to “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies” by Kay Hymowitz. “Black children had a 52 percent chance of living with both their biological parents until age 17. In 1959, “only 2 percent of black children were reared in households in which the mother never married.” When we were Negroes our culture was the envy of all other race with respect to statistics such as this.
By contrast today, now that we’re African-Americans, according to Hymowitz, those odds of living with both parents had “dwindled to a mere 6 percent” by the mid-1980s. More shocking there are statistics that reflect more than 70 percent of the births in the African-American community are to single mothers. Not to mention the infant mortality rates that are in the top percentile of all other races as well as being at the top of every category that is harmful to our survival.
Let me make a few points here; when we were Negroes, we had names like Joshua, Aaron, Paul, Esther, Melba, Cynthia and Ida. Now that we are African Americans, our names are bastardized versions of alcohol from Chivas to Tequila to C(S)hardonney. When we were Negroes and still fighting in many parts of the country for the right to vote, we couldn’t wait for the polls to open. We knew friends, family and acquaintances had died getting us the right to vote. Dogs and fire hoses were used to keep us away and still we came. By contrast most African-Americans didn’t show up to vote until the election of 2008.
During the days when we were Negroes, according to the Trust For America’s Health’s “F as in Fat,” report, “only four states had diabetes rates above 6 percent. … The hypertension rates in 37 states about 20 years ago were more than 20 percent.” Now that we’re African-Americans, that report shows, “every state has a hypertension rate of more than 20 percent, with nine more than 30 percent. Forty-three states have diabetes rates of more than 7 percent, and 32 have rates above 8 percent. Adult obesity rates for blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states and 30 percent in 42 states and Washington, DC.
Let me point out a few more obvious things that are distinctly different. When we were Negroes, the one-room church was the community center that everyone used. Now that we’re African-Americans, our churches are lavish Maga-Churches with pastors, in many cases, who are more concerned about the “greedy than the needy”. They need planes, bodyguards, and have ATM machines at the entrance. Many of today’s sanctuaries, compared to back-in-the-day churches, usually sit empty because the last thing the new church wants to do is invite the community in.
In the days when we were Negroes, we didn’t have to be convinced that education was the key that opened the lock of success, but now that we’re African-Americans, more than 50 percent of our children fail to graduate high school. To add to this, some say, there are more African Americans in prison than there are in institutions of higher learning. True or not, surely there are more African Americans in prison in comparison to the population ratio.
More disturbing is the manner, for the most part, how we represent ourselves. When we were Negroes, the last thing a young woman wanted to look like was a harlot and a young man a thug, but now that we’re African Americans, many of our young girls dress like hootchie manas and our young boys imitate penitentiary custom and wear their pants below the butt line. In prison culture this suggests that these men are available for sex with other men.
We live in the best time of our existence in the place the slaves called “merica”. We have a man who looks like use in the highest office in the land and the most powerful man in the world. This feat is something unmatched since the Resurrection of our Lord because no one living or dead could have ever imagined that a Black Man would become president of these United States. I shudder to think what Dr. King and the ghost of the greats whose shoulders we stand would think if they could see us now!!!
So it begs the question – what happened and why? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Friday, January 18, 2013
I've been blessed to have lived during a time when the music of our culture reached center stage and changed the world. I have heard the voices of many great singers but none have ever been greater the David Eli Ruffin. I know the Temptation story and not just from the movie.
To tell you the truth I've blessed to have had my life enhanced by their music sung by Mr. Ruffin. I have also been blessed to have met several of the group’s members over the years and one of its lead singers was a good friend who I admired and miss dearly but I hear his voice almost daily in song. I wish that friend was Mr. Ruffin but I am too young to have had that good fortune.
I simply want to pay homage to this man whose music was a huge influence upon my life, particularly my young life, to which I am grateful. I once watched a documentary where his son was interviewed and something he said struck in a profound way. He said, “My daddy wanted love but he got fame”. We know from the many talented artists who have left us of late that there is a line between triumph and tragedy. That line is often thin and frequently ends sadly.
David Ruffin walked that line with tragic consequences. Ruffin will always be remembered as the mightiest of all the Temptations lead singers. He was one of "the voices" that made the Temptations a legacy and will live on in the depths of our souls. We will always remember that sexy, gritty voice, those trademark glasses, and that stage charisma that sums up the one and only David Ruffin, and even that little crack in his voice was ok, well it wasn't ok, but that was David Ruffin.
His songs were like windows into his soul, exposing his greatest fears as a lover and a man. Even "happy" songs like "My Girl" brought out vulnerability in his voice. His relationship with the Temptations was a stormy one, but the marriage produced defining moments in 1960's soul music explosion. His voice inspired just about every singer who sung to include the likes of Rod Stewart, George Michael, Daryl Hall, and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few - his influence is everlasting. We'll never know how good he might have been, but we can rejoice in what he left behind.
Born Davis Eli Ruffin, on January 18, 1941 in Whynot, Mississippi. A sickly child, inflicted with both rheumatic fever and asthma. His mother died in childbirth, and he was raised by his father, a Baptist Minister. He was a complex man and master vocalist with a gospel trained voice that would gain him the affection of several generations of listeners, but Ruffin had more than a voice - he had a persona.
In the best of his music, there was a dark, terrible, tragic, and a personal beauty. A good example would be in his self-penned composition "Statue of a Fool", written when he was just 18 years old, in which he sees himself as a "man who lets love slip through his hands."
My favorite line in that tune was "On his face, a gold tear should be placed to honor every tear he shed. And I think it would show, and everyone would know, concealed inside is a broken heart." This was a powerful statement that spoke to the depth of his soul. However, as history would record he would share his most private pain in the Temptations’ biggest hits. Songs like "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" and "Since I Lost My Baby", and the chilling "I Wish It Would Rain.
All of these songs were rooted in gospel where David first began singing in The Ruffin Family and The Spiritual Trying Four with his father, his sister Rita Mae, older brothers Jimmy and Quincy. David left home at 13 following his father’s footsteps to practice the ministry, but was sidetracked, singing in Memphis talent shows where he met a young Elvis Presley. He later sang with the gospel group The Dixie Nightingales out of Memphis, Tennessee, and toured with likes of The Womack Brothers, The Swan Silvertones, The Staple Singers, and the Dixie Hummingbirds.
It was with these gospel groups that Ruffin would develop his stage personality, dropping to his knees and doing splits, just like the late Jackie Wilson before him, and David’s show stopping performances within the group would be enough to get him noticed on the secular side.
Then in 1964, when problems arose between the Temptations and group member Elbridge Bryant, David would be invited to join the group. Shortly after David’s arrival, the group would record "The Way You Do The Things You Do", a Smokey Robinson number with Eddie Kendricks on lead. Gone for a three-week gig in Saginaw, Michigan, the group would return home to find themselves with their first hit. It is said that when David saw the chart standings, he sat down on the long chaise lounge in the Motown lobby, took off his glasses, and cried like a baby.
Ruffin would turn out be an electrifying and dynamic force, when soon after he would bring them their first universal #1 hit, "My Girl", recorded just before Christmas in 1964, a tune that would turn the group into a household word and legends. The group began turning out one hit after another, and when David took such up-tempo hits as "(I know), I’m Losing You", to the stage, he became a magnetic field of charisma. His greatness would then shine and his permanent mark on the pages of history was sealed.
It is reported that Pop Star Michael Jackson paid for his funeral, and numerous celebrities were in attendance at his home going service, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, members of the Temptations, the Four Tops, and the Miracles. At the service Stevie Wonder told the audience: "We’re confronted with a problem that touches every one of us. We’re confronted with the most devastating slave owner of all times." Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, who spoke told the mournful audience, "In David there is a lesson. We should not clap our hands and mourn, for he is out of trouble now. You are still in it."
It is not my intent to rewrite history or to re-tell a story that we all know. Rather to simply say, thank you Mr. Ruffin and to say Happy Birthday, which reminds us that you are gone - but not forgotten? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
DAVID RUFFIN GETS PERSONAL
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Muhammad Ali, known as the greatest boxer of all times and viewed by most as the “Champ,” retired as the first three-time Heavyweight Champion of the World. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., the elder of two boys in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who was named for the 19th century abolitionist and politician, the owner of Clay’s ancestors. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964.
Clay was directed toward boxing by a white Louisville police officer whom he encountered as a 12-year-old fuming over the theft of his bicycle. After an extremely successful amateur boxing career, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant.
Not only was the Champ a fighter in the ring, he had the courage to fight the U.S. Government in 1967 when he refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was successful.
Nicknamed "The Greatest," Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among them were three against rival Joe Frazier and one with George Forman, whom he beat by knockout to win the world heavyweight title for the second time. He suffered only five losses with no draws in his career, while amassing 56 wins, 37 knockouts and 19 decisions. Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, which he described as "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," you can’t hit what you can’t see.
These personality quips and idioms, along with an unorthodox fighting technique, made him a cultural icon. Ali built a reputation by correctly predicting, with stunning accuracy, the round in which he would "finish" an opponent. Often referred to as "the man you loved to hate," George could incite the crowd with a few heated remarks, which Ali used to his advantage.
As Clay he met his famous longtime trainer Angelo Dundee at a light heavyweight fight in Louisville shortly after becoming the top contender to fight Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston. Despite his impressive record, he was not widely expected to defeat Liston who was considered a more sinister champion than Iron Mike Tyson. In fact, nobody gave him a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the fight against such a dominant champion. He won and shook up the world!
What is significant about Clay winning the bout is this: he said, “I am pretty, I can’t be beat” as he yelled into the cameras for the world to see. In the early sixties this was not the language Negro’s were using to describe themselves. Those words and that brash act was the catalyst for the black is beautiful movement, Afro-American, and black power. So from that perspective, yes, he shook up the world.
After winning the championship Clay revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. It was the movement’s leader Elijah Muhammad who gave Clay the name Cassius X, discarding his surname as a symbol of his ancestors' enslavement, as had been done by other Nation members. On Friday, March 6, 1964, Malcolm X took Clay on a tour of the United Nations building where he announced that Clay would be granted his "X." That same night, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement over the phone to be played over the radio that Clay would be renamed Muhammad – one who is worthy of praise, and Ali – rightly guided.
Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam made him a lightning rod for controversy, turning the outspoken but popular champion into one of that era's most recognizable and controversial figures. Appearing at rallies with Elijah Muhammad and declaring his allegiance to him at a time when mainstream America viewed Black Muslims with suspicion and outright hostility made Ali a target of outrage, as well as suspicion. Ali seemed at times to provoke such reactions with viewpoints that wavered from support for civil rights to outright support of separatism.
In early 1966, Ali was reclassified to be eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army during a time when the United States was involved in the Vietnam War. When notified of this status, he declared that he would refuse to serve in the Army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector. Ali believed "War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I'm not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don't take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers."
Ali also famously said, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong ... They never called me Nigger." It was rare for a heavyweight boxing champion in those days, or now, to speak at Howard University where he gave his popular "Black Is Best" speech in 1996. Ali was invited to speak by Howard’s sociology professor Nathan Hare on behalf of the Black Power Committee, a student protest group. The event of 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals was surely another step toward his iconic stature.
Appearing shortly thereafter for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967 in Houston, he refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested and on the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title as did other boxing commissions, for being unpatriotic.
At Ali’s trial, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Ali guilty; the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction; the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. During this time, the public began turning against the war and support for Ali began to grow. Ali supported himself by speaking at colleges and universities across the country, where opposition to the war was especially strong.
On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court reversed by unanimous decision his conviction for refusing induction. The decision was not based on, nor did it address the merits of Clay's/Ali's claims per se; rather, the government's failure to specify which claims were rejected and which were sustained constituted the grounds upon which the Court reversed the conviction.
The legacy of the “Greatest” is the stuff movies are made of. Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in his era, which has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. Ali was named "Fighter of the Year" by Ring Magazine more times than any other fighter, and was involved in more Ring Magazine "Fight of the Year" bouts than any other fighter. He is an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and holds wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees.
He is also one of only three boxers to be named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as one of the most recognized athletes, out of over 800 dead or alive athletes, in America. I have met Muhammad and was so impressed I named my only son after him, hoping his example of courage and fortitude would be shared. He is my hero and I say: thank you for your example and sacrifice. You are the Greatest of All Times.
Happy Birthday Champ! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective...
"Just a Season"
Legacy – A New Season