Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection Day Message

Easter is the most important day Christian observe the world over because it is a celebration of deliverance, with Easter Week providing powerful imagery of faith. I have always been moved by this presentation of Jesus from a Catholic Eucharistic prayer: “To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation, to prisoners, freedom, and to those in sorrow, joy.”

Holy Thursday and the Last Supper have an ominous feel because they are in preparation of Good Friday and the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Yet two days later, the tale ends in triumph and resurrection. Whatever questions Christians may have about the meaning of that empty tomb, most of us have experienced a sense of joy when the words “He is risen!” The basis of Christianity is inextricably linked too and rooted in the idea of liberation.

I have long seen the Exodus and Easter as twin narratives involving a release from oppression and the victory of freedom. These promises have left a permanent mark on the culture outside the traditions from which they sprang. Yet even in the Easter season, it’s hard not to notice that most people of faith, like it has been with Christmas, have lost much of its message. What I mean is that it has been hijacked by man in the commercial sense and Christianity’s, many, do not project the true meaning of this day or present their faith in the best light.

For example, with the assassination of Trayvon Martin, and other criminal acts, mankind seems to have lost the understanding of the symbolic subordination of a rich tradition of social justice. What is more concerning is that popular Christianity often seems to denigrate rather than celebrate intellectual life or critical inquiry into injustices within our society.

What I would like to suggest, as with the civil rights movement, is that the church or at least Christians must not be disengaged from politics. In fact, the early Christian movement was born in politics. If you can recall, Jesus died in opposition of injustice for the least of Thee.

I know there is great debate over how to understand the relationship between Jesus’ spirituality and his approach to politics, but his preaching clearly challenged the powers-that-be. He was, after all, crucified. Now, if we truly claim the life of Jesus Christ is true, then we should be among the most active, most serious and most-open minded advocates for justice. So if Easter is about liberation, this liberation must include intellectual freedom and the right to fair and equal justice.

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspectives!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

John Legend - The House I Live In

jlJohn Legend's powerful rendition of the sad face of America in song!!! Sometimes music can enlighten our soul to empower us to recall and never forget that we are experiencing modern slavery. I have said many times that our story is the greatest story ever told and the story continues.

You must see and appreciate. And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective... 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Huey P. Newton A Revolutionary

Huey P. Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana, on February 17, 1942. You may find this surprising but he was named after former Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long. Brother Huey’s legacy began in 1966 with co-founder Bobby Seale when they founded the left-wing Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

The organization was central to the Black Power movement, making headlines with its inflammatory rhetoric and militaristic style, becoming a leading figure in the black power movement of the 1960s in Oakland, California.

The Black Panthers wanted to improve life in black communities and established social programs to help those in need. They also fought against police brutality in black neighborhoods by mostly white cops. Members of the group would go to arrests in progress and watch for abuse. Newton himself was arrested in 1967 for allegedly killing an Oakland police officer during a traffic stop.

The case was eventually dismissed after two retrials ended with hung juries. He was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison. But public pressure - "Free Huey" became a popular slogan of the day - helped Newton’s cause.

Despite his legal run-ins, Newton began to take his education seriously. Although he graduated high school in 1959, Newton barely knew how to read. He became his own teacher, learning to read by himself. In the mid-1960s Newton decided to pursue his education at Merritt College where he met Bobby Seale. The two were briefly involved with political groups at the school before they set out to create one of their own.

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was founded in 1966. Unlike many of the other social and political organizers of the time, they took a militant stance, advocating the ownership of guns by African Americans, and were often seen brandishing weapons. A famous photograph shows Newton - the group’s Minister of Defense - holding a gun in one hand and a spear in the other.

The group believed that violence - or the threat of violence - might be needed to bring about social change. They set forth their political goals in a document called the Ten-Point Program, which included better housing, jobs, and education for African Americans.

It also called for an end to economic exploitation of black communities. Still the organization itself was not afraid to punctuate its message with a show of force. For example, to protest a gun bill in 1967, Newton and other members of the Panthers entered the California Legislature fully armed. The action was a shocking one that made news across the country.

The Panthers became in disarray mainly because of efforts by the FBI and their initiatives like COINTELPRO. Most don’t know that what we now know as Head Start was developed by the party. FBI Director Hoover said, “The biggest internal threat to the countries internal security was the Panthers program to feed the children of the black community”.

During the Party’s existence, members of the group clashed with police several times. The party’s treasurer, Bobby Hutton, was even killed during of these conflicts in 1968. In the 1970s, the Black Panthers began to fall apart. Key members left, and Newton faced more criminal charges. To avoid prosecution, he fled to Cuba in 1971, but he returned three years later.

Despite his legal run-ins, Newton began to take his education seriously. He returned to school, earning a Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1980. In his final years, however, it is believed that he suffered from a drug problem. The once popular revolutionary died on August 22, 1989, in Oakland, California, after being shot on the street.

Huey Newton was a man of profound stature and in my opinion had the courage or made the selfless sacrifice to the benefit of a people at a time when the community needed it most. He once said, “You can jail a Revolutionary, but you can't jail the Revolution. If you stop struggling, then you stop life. Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny.”
And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Cause and Effects of Discrimination

Hate is one of the most powerful emotions a person can experience or express. Those who have prejudices, simply live life in fear. They are afraid of what they do not know and this fear presents as hate. For people who have experienced this loathing nature, it can be devastating or surreal. Human beings cannot choose their ethnic backgrounds, sex, or physical features.

A person has no control over his or her DNA. Nevertheless, when stigmatisms arise about a person’s race, this fact is blatantly overlooked. Multiculturalism, gender differences, and sexual preferences are factual parts of the world and counteracting these facts is the theory of hate.

When people choose to hate, the effects of this lifestyle choice can be detrimental on numerous levels. Racists and those with extreme bias in regards to ethnicities, socially segregate themselves, resulting in severe developmental issues. This segregation occurs due to acceptance, anger, experience, fear, ignorance and/or social pressure. Choosing to be a racist is a decision to be limited to the unique experiences offered by gaining knowledge of other cultural or ethnic groups.

Frederick Jermaine Carter died by hanging from a tree in a predominantly white neighborhood, with the reputation of not being welcome to African Americans, in Greenwood, Mississippi, on December 3, 2010. In 1955, the murder of Emmett Till occurred in a town 10 miles from Greenwood, and this crime was similar to the Carter situation. The more recent death of Frederick Carter has rehashed the details of Emmett Till’s tragic death and the similarities in both cases.

Emmett allegedly whistled at a married Caucasian woman and for this assumed action, her husband and an accomplice executed him at the age of 15. The trial of the Till lynching was recorded by over seventy reporters and this sparked an international awareness of Southern racism. This awareness has fueled the desire for justice in the present Carter case and demands for change in the state of Mississippi and beyond.

Having hatred for those who differ from a self-preferred group, spans far past race. On October 3, 2010, in the state of New York, one man and two teenage boys were beaten and sodomized for hours by nine attackers for being homosexuals. Occurrences like this crime are unfortunately frequent and influence movements such as anti-gay hate crimes. Unfortunately, those who are multicultural and gay experience the double whammy of being a potential target for an active hater. A positive effect of these situations is the gained awareness of impending dangers.

Sexism applies to discriminations or prejudices in regards to either sex as a whole or male or female chauvinism. The term sexism arose in the mid-20th century and this induction resulted in movements such as Feminism, Masculism, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) and Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT). Chauvinism can affect people in a major way. If a person feels discriminated against because of his or her gender, the effects are long term emotional and possibly mental issues.

No matter status or location, everyone has experienced hate personally or indirectly. It is a revolting, continuous fact. Detestation is a vicious cycle that is hard to bring to an end. However, for those who choose to make positive impacts in anti-hate movements and lifestyles, learn that past atrocities prove to be effective incentives to make change.

Legacy – A New Season 
Just a Season

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Justice Finally

th (5)Can you imagine being accused of rape? Ok, maybe you can because it still happens. Race, Gender, and Lies are usually at the foundation of such accusation but if you are a white woman the result is guilty. There have been countless cases but none more infamous than the case of the Alabama teens that came to be known as the Scottsboro Boys.

The Scottsboro case crystallized black support in the 1930s, more than any other event, in spite of the countless lynchings of black men for amusement. This is what happened; nine black teens were accused of raping two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, on a freight train near Paint Rock, Alabama basically because they said so, which was a lie.

The nine young black men were Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Haywood Patterson, Andy and Roy Wright, Eugene Williams, ages thirteen to twenty-one, were arrested on March 25, 1931, tried without adequate counsel, and hastily convicted on the basis of shallow evidence. All but Roy Wright were sentenced to death.

Already in the midst of a mass anti-lynching campaign begun a year earlier, the International Labor Defense (ILD) gained the confidence of the defendants and their parents, initiated a legal and political campaign for their freedom, and in the process waged a vicious battle for control over the case with the NAACP, who accused the Communists of using the young men for propaganda purposes.

The Scottsboro case was not simply an isolated instance of injustice. Rather a common manifestation of national oppression and class rule in the South. Maintaining that a fair and impartial trial was impossible, the defense, such as it was, and its auxiliaries publicized the case widely in order to apply mass pressure on the Alabama justice system. Protests erupted throughout the country and as far away as Paris, Moscow, and South Africa, and the governor of Alabama was bombarded with telegrams, postcards and letters demanding the immediate release of the "Scottsboro Boys."

More shocking, as the southern racist would cry freedom and liberty, the "Scottsboro Boys" were denied the right of counsel. Because of public pressure the teens got a new trial, which opened on March 27, 1933. In this case the ILD had retained renowned criminal lawyer Samuel Leibowitz.
More significant, a month before the trial date Ruby Bates repudiated the rape charge. Yet, despite new evidence and a brilliant defense, the all-white jury still found the Scottsboro defendants guilty; a verdict that seemed to buttress the Communists' interpretation of justice under capitalism and how it applies to the black community.

In fact, pressure from black militants and some sympathetic clergy and middle-class spokesmen compelled the virulently anticommunist NAACP secretary, Walter White, to develop a working relationship with the ILD in the spring of 1933. Several months later, however, in an unprecedented decision, Alabama circuit Judge James E. Horton overturned the March 1933 verdict and ordered a new trial.

Following a number of incredibly foolish legal and ethical mistakes, including an attempt to bribe Victoria Price, star lawyer Samuel Leibowitz separated from the ILD. With support of conservative black leaders, white liberals, and clergymen, Leibowitz founded the American Scottsboro Committee (ASC) in 1934.
In a tenuous alliance the ILD, ASC, NAACP, and ACLU, formed the Scottsboro Defense Committee, which opted for a more reformist, legally oriented campaign in lieu of mass tactics. After failing to win the defendants' release in a 1936 trial, the SDC agreed to a strange plea bargain in 1937 whereby four defendants were released and the remaining five endured lengthy prison sentences. The last defendant was not freed until 1950.

Although the ILD did not win the defendants' unconditional release, its campaign to "Free the Scottsboro Boys" had tremendous legal and political implications during the early 1930s. For example, in one of the ILD's many appeals, a 1935 U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the defendant's constitutional rights were violated because blacks were systematically excluded from the jury. Moreover, the realization that limited mass interracial action was possible challenged traditional liberalism and the politics of racial accommodation; the often scorned tactics of "mass pressure" would eventually be a precedent for civil rights activity two decades later.

Like Mississippi who 150 years after the Civil War came to terms with the reality that it was fought and won, and they lost.  A resolution labels the Scottsboro Boys as “victims of a series of gross injustice” and declares them exonerated. A companion bill gives the state parole board the power to issue posthumous pardons. Alabama is trying to exonerate them for the in justice of this famous case from the segregated South that some consider the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.

Long overdue but this is still the American South and this attempt may well be a smoke screen or justice denied. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Gathering

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Did you get your invitation from James Crow Esq. to attend the 21st Century Citizens Counsel gathering they call CPAC? No, I did not get one either but I heard all about it. I will be upfront and say that I have called the Good Ol Boys (GOP), like most, many things and coming from a time where I have seen this movie before; I think my assertion is fair. I will try to capture the essence of what the rightwing nuts and failed Republican candidates represented as they continued clinging to a version of reality unique to a world alien to sane people.

Last weekend the conservatives paraded their best spokespeople to advance their cause, and if they were trying to make a good impression on each other and observant voters, they failed miserably because it was nothing but the same. No actually it was worst. I saw racism and bigotry that went back to the days of the Civil War.

The show or disgrace hosted the usual daily recapitulation of crazy to comprehend the conservative conclave’s purpose was to put on a torrid display of groundless anti-Obama rhetoric based on the roster of speakers. One by one, their best and brightest fired up the crowds preaching that America’s salvation is steeped in religion, austerity, guns, and voiding the federal government, and the speakers each reiterated that Republicans lost the November election because the GOP failed to articulate conservative’s values and not that voters rejected conservative extremism.

Marco Rubio said, “We don’t need new ideas. The idea is called America, and it still works” and it revealed that to Republicans, extremism defines America, and voters are out of touch with America. The list of characters represented fanaticism at its finest with Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Sara Palin, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan rambling on about America’s demise stemming from voter’s rejecting conservative ideas. Many of the gang, marquee spokespersons, came out of retirement to lay the nation’s woes at the feet of President Obama.

They had the nerve to host a panel on “Trumping the Race” card, which appeared to be the highlight of the day. A man from North Carolina complained that embracing diversity in the party by reaching out to black conservatives was “at the expense of young, white, Southern males like myself, my demographic is being systematically disenfranchised.”

When the discussion leader from the Frederick Douglass Republicans shared a story about abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s letter to his former slave-owner forgiving him for holding him in servitude, the racist said, “For giving him shelter and food?” The racist’s remark evoked cheers and applause from the crowd.
After the brief exchange, the racist muttered “why can’t we just have segregation?” When the racist was asked if he supported an America where African Americans were subservient to whites, he said “I’d be fine with that,” and continued that African Americans “should be allowed to vote in Africa,” and that “all the Tea Parties” were concerned with the same racial problems that he was. When a woman confronted the man on the GOP’s racist roots, he said “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public.”

The interchange, although not part of the scheduled program, highlighted Republicans’ racism that the election of an African American as President has brought to the voters’ attention and alienated minorities in November’s election. To reinforce the point, Tea Party Patriots blamed the racist’s remarks on an African American woman reporter for asking a question they said was “disruptive and coercive;” she asked, “How many Black women were there?”

The Black reporter also took exception to the contention that Democrats are to blame for the existence of the Ku Klux Klan, that enraged the crowd who shouted the woman down with cries of “We don’t want your question,” and “we don’t want to hear it.” One teabagger regaled in tri-corner hat, waistcoat and breeches typical of a Revolutionary War soldier shouted incessantly at the Black reporter and finally stormed out of the room.

CPAC was an extremists’ dream, and they brought out the cream of the conservative crop to parrot extremist rhetoric. The was a time in recent memory where we saw the extreme lynch, murder though the use of terror, African Americans could not drink from the same water fountain, trampled and beaten by people of this ilk. In fact, Rand Paul is on record say if he were a Senator he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act.

If I could make a comparison to this gathering it was more like a Star Wars bar scene gone wrong. People 2014 is not far away. I counted five black people and one Latino - Be afraid, Be very afraid! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Monday, March 18, 2013

Black Women And Faith

black woman faithI am one who likes to think I have faith. Maybe more spiritual than religious because I understand that religion is a business and being spiritual is of the soul. There has been any number of articles suggesting, with statistics, that African American women are the most fervently religious people in the country. Now, having know a few black women in my time this was not that much of a surprise because I have found that most will out Pope the Pope!

There was a woman quoted in one such survey as saying: “Finding that verse at that moment was no coincidence… God had spoken. Instantly, a sense of calm and confidence enveloped her. In times like these, when she feels anxious, afraid or unsure… relies on her faith.” Just so you know faith is that what you believe to be true that cannot be seen. Keep reading I have some thoughts on this too! But first let me talk about the survey.

A Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation nationwide survey about six months ago found that nine in 10 African American women reveals that as a group, black women are among the most religious people in the nation. The survey found that 74 percent of black women said that “living a religious life” is very important. On that same question, the number falls to 57 percent of white women and 43 percent of white men.

I understand during times of turmoil, which is living in America. Black women endure much more than any other group causing them to turn to their faith to get through. Black women, across education and income levels, say living a religious life is a greater priority than being married or having children, and this call to faith either surpasses or pulls even with having a career as a life goal, the survey shows.

Stacey Floyd-Thomas, an associate professor of ethics and society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, says “Black women have been the most mistreated and scandalized group in U.S. society and culture as they wrestle both individually and collectively with the triple jeopardy of racism, sexism and classism.” To this I agree!

Looking back on her childhood, Hutchinson wonders: “Why would children be compelled to profess belief, especially when they look around them and see that the world is overpopulated with adult believers flaunting their immorality?” Hutchinson contends that perhaps there aren’t more black women grappling with that answer because there is little in their community that supports a different perspective.

The article went on to say “for most African American women, absolute trust in a higher power has been a truism for centuries. The women said their focus is on one thing: their personal relationship with God.” Even more important than relationships, money, and family to which I find shocking. God created man for you, to give you children, which is family. I cannot believe it is his will to forsake that which he has provided for you.


Ok, here is where I am sure to upset some. First, we were brought to America as slaves and there were two choices; take the Bible or die - by way of the rope or gun. Let me remind you there was no word G-O-D in any African language before the coming of Europeans. In addition, the first registered slave ship was named the “Good Ship Jesus”. The WORD, supposedly given by God, that most so fervently believe was rewritten twenty-eight times with the last revision ordered by the diabolical King James of England, who stood to benefit from his rendition. My point here is that maybe we should not take the WORD literally.

I want to make two more points; the image of the deity that hangs on most church walls is that of a blonde haired blue eyed European who could not possibly have come from that region of the world. The other point is this: there is a church in most communities on every corner, so I say if that was the answer why isn’t working.

“I believe in something greater than I and I chose to call it God”. This in the practical sense should be adapted to mean “Good Orderly Direction”. I would respectfully suggest that we, and black women in particular, look to what is within to find strength because there you will find heaven. Lastly it might be a good idea to not be so devoted and blindly follow con artist, or maybe I should say, pimps in the pulpit and you know who they are.

Let me close by asking “how can you love God, who you cannot see. Yet, you fail to love yourself or your man, who you can see. Let’s get back to family, which is strength! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Thought Provoking Perspective

41475_1273248444_3897_nA 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 and life as we know is a journey. It could also be called history. Once this thing called time moves beyond the present, it is simply a memory.

The prolific French writer historian, and philosopher Voltaire said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead”. Ask yourself, if someone were to tell the story of your life – is that the way you want your history remembered by others.

Dr. John Henrik Clarke says “History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be. The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child.”

I recall from time to time that in a past life I’ve been a teacher, professor, instructor, and father. What I learned from these experiences is that a good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson. I think of myself as a simple man, who believes education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can save the world but first we must change ourselves.

With that said, a follower of Thought Provoking Perspectives sent me a message asking; what are you trying to accomplish though your words. My first thought was she did not realize that I want my words to be a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base with those who share my passion for the written word. I view myself as a history fanatic because if you don’t know where you’ve come from – you will never get to where you’re going.

The great Dr. Clarke made this powerful statement that each of us must understand. He said, “I think every person that calls themselves a leader, a preacher, a policy maker of any kind should ask and answer the question in his own life time, how will my people stay on this earth?  How will they be educated? How will they be schooled?  How will they be housed?  And how will they be defended? The answer to these questions will create the concept of enduring nationhood because it creates the concept of enduring responsibility. I am saying whatever the solution is, either we are in charge of our own destiny or we are not in charge.  On that point we got to be clear, you either free or you a slave.”

As an African American man who lived in the Jim Crow Era. I learned very early that powerful people cannot afford to educate the people they oppress, because once you are truly educated, you will not ask for power. You will take it. Educate and empower your children, build your family, and live life to the fullest. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Facade of the American Dream

This video is a true depiction of the African American Diaspora explaining how America removed Africans from their country of origin. Working them to death as slaves to build a nation through brainwashing and terror to make believe they are inferior in every aspect. Moreover, this video will cause you to, hopefully, see our world through our eyes.

You can take my life but you cannot take my soul. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bluesman Robert Johnson

It is a great joy to share with my readers the glorious past of the ghost of the greats who's shoulders we stand that are dear to my heart. I am proud to share this article because I love the story of the crossroads. It is a story about the great Delta Blues-man Robert Johnson. The history of music is littered with tragic figures and none was more tragic than Robert Johnson’s story.

This amazing, ultimate star-crossed musical genius laid the early framework of rock and roll decades before that term was even imagined. Robert Leroy Johnson is among the most famous of all the Delta Blues musicians whose landmark recordings from 1936-37 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and tremendous songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson’s shadowy, poorly documented life and violent death at age 27 have given rise to much legend.

He is considered by some to be the “Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll,” his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style influenced a range of musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and Warren Zevon. Eric Clapton called Johnson “the most important blues musician who ever lived.

Johnson was conceived in an extramarital affair and born in Hazelhurst, Miss., in 1911. Most of his biographical details have been lost to history, but what's known is that he learned guitar in his teens, got married, and had a girl who died in childbirth. The death led Johnson to throw himself even deeper into his music. He fled to Robinsonville, Miss., where he was influenced by early blues legends Son House and Willie Brown.

By 1933, Johnson remarried and began playing the guitar professionally. He once related the tale of selling his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for his talent. Johnson tells the story in his song "Crossroads Blues." Playing for tips up and down the Delta, Johnson gained in popularity. But as he grew in fame, he became a noted philanderer. He would also walk off in the middle of performances and not be seen or heard from for weeks at a time.

In 1936, he was put in contact with Columbia Records talent scout Ernie Oertle, who took him to San Antonio, Tex., where Johnson recorded classics including "Sweet Home Chicago," "There's A Hell Hound On My Trail," and his signature "Terraplane Blues."

Johnson began to tour nationally and became known for his unique voice and halting guitar rifts. But in 1938, as the legend goes, the devil caught up with him. While playing at a juke joint, he flirted with a woman whose husband became jealous and the man laced Johnson's whiskey with strychnine. Although he became violently ill, Johnson played until he collapsed. He died four days later at age 27, although conflicting stories say he survived the poisoning and died later of pneumonia.

There are at least two Mississippi grave-sites that bear his name leaving questions about his passing and burial. "The reason that it's so powerful a story is because it is the outline of the tragic side of the music that followed," said music journalist Alan Light. "Some knew him as a musician, others by legend, but his shadow touches everyone who came out of that time and place."

Black History is American History

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dennis Edwards Soul Survivor

th (3)I was listening to my favorite group of all-times strolling down memory lane. As I embraced the sweetness of harmony that realized when we think of the Temptations we usually think of the five members of the classic lineup.

Then it hit me that David Ruffin was only a member for about four or five years, and in that time he became a legend, and that classic lineup became virtually immortal. As the CD moved from David to Dennis Edwards, who replace David, how underrated he is for his work taking the group in a different direction and to another level. We could say that it was the Dennis Edwards era of greatness.

Imagine, if you can, replacing a living legend. Dennis Edwards came to Motown in search of a solo career. Motown signed him on a retainer, in order to keep him from signing with another label, and he was eventually slotted into the rough and rowdy Contours. Meanwhile, Otis Williams and Eddie Kendricks, having seen him as he dominated a Contours performance, figured he would be a perfect replacement for David Ruffin, whose showboating had gotten on the final nerve of the group.

With the addition of Dennis came a whole new sound, thanks to the genius of Norman Whitfield. "Cloud Nine" would give Motown and the Tempts their first Grammy. For the next six years Dennis' soulful shout would be heard on hit after hit, including "I Can't Get Next To You", "Don't Let The Jonses Get You Down", "Ball Of Confusion", and of course, Grammy winner "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone".

By 1975, the group became tired of the social conscious "message" songs, and wanted to return to the love songs they so enjoyed. They left Motown for Atlantic and Jeffrey Bowen took over production, and as a result, A Song For You, would turn out to be one of the group's most satisfying albums, as well as proving the versatility of Edwards.

Longevity is something that is rare in the music business. The Detroit-raised Edwards, who moved to St. Louis in the ‘70s to be close to his mother remarked in a recent interview that “I never imagined I’d be one of the last ones standing, me and Otis… We really got caught up in the times, and how the heck did I make it? ... I had a mother who prayed for me, and prayer changes everything.”

Dennis, always wanting a solo career left the group and cut a solo album for Motown. The album never materialized and after a short and humbling stint as a construction worker, Dennis rejoined the group, who had returned to Motown, for the triumphant release of Power, a Berry Gordy produced album.

During all this, Dennis finally did release his first solo album, Don't Look Any Further, in 1984. It was a great album, the title song with Siedah Garrett being one of the great duets of the decade, but Dennis began having problems with drugs, and a second album, Coolin' Out, was released the next year, but proved to be far inferior to the first. The title track was a moving and autobiographical piece on which Dennis sings about trying to put his life back together.

In 1987, Dennis would again return to Motown for the appropriately titled, Together Again. But in 1988, embattled by personal crisis, he left the group for good. In 1989, after talking with friends and former group mates Ruffin and Kendricks at the Temptations R&R Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, united with the pair, and the trio set off on a historical US tour. A couple of years later, the unexpected deaths of his good friends, Ruffin and Kendrick, left Dennis alone.

After those tragic events he formed several groups, attempting to use varying forms of the name "Temptations” that he had to battle in and out of court for use of some form of the name. Now, seventy years old, he continues to perform as Dennis Edwards and the Temptations Review pleasing audiences all over the world. No matter what the result, Dennis Edwards is a true "Soul Survivor", and one of the most gifted singers of our time. He still has his sensuous and soulful voice, and no one can take that away.

By the merciful grace of God, he is the only one of the classic Temptations lead singers alive to continue the legacy, and we are so blessed. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Twitter @ John T. Wills

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Message For Black Women

523230_526854160663910_602543379_nI have been known to post Thought Provoking Perspectives that evoke controversy as well as thoughts based in sound reasoning. This post I’m sure will do one or the other. It is not my intent to cast blame or fault. However, there is blame and fault to be extended to a large part of our female population.

I can remember a time when Big Mama would not dare allow the ladies of her day to be the women we see today. Sadly, as much as most proclaim the rightfulness of womanhood, this is not exactly true. From a black man’s perspective many of our women have fallen into the cultural digression of a strange reality. I will not dare speak to your womanhood mainly because I am not qualified to do so. But the attached video speaks to what appears to me as reality.

Yesterday was Mothers Day, so let me suggest that mothers teach your young black girls the need to understand this for the betterment of their lives and for black men. This is one black woman who gets it. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

The Sister has something to say and for the sake of our survival – PLEASE LISTEN!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Satchel Paige: Simply The Best

It happens every spring the great game of baseball prepares us for the summer sports season. I am one who loves history and this game. In today’ Major League world I see a vastly different star and frankly no hero’s for us to look up to.

In my youth there were Murray Wills, Willie Mays, Josh Gibson, and many who played in the Negro League, which had the best baseball players of all-time. Of course there is always a caveat and in this case it is the greatest man to ever play the game – the incomparable Satchel Paige.

Satchel Paige was born around July 7, 1906, I say around because no one really knows for sure, in Mobile, Alabama, at a time of extreme racial unrest. Paige honed his pitching talents in reform school and made his professional baseball debut in 1926, moving up through various teams in the Negro Southern League, amassing a reputation as an ace pitcher. He made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in July 1948, at the age of 42, and he continued playing for nearly another 20 years.

A run-in with the law, a petty theft and truancy, got Satchel "enrolled" in reform school at age 12. But the Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama, may have been a blessing in disguise. His baseball talent, coupled with big hands and feet on his long, lanky frame were recognized by the coach there, Edward Byrd, as assets that could be developed.

Byrd taught Paige to pull back, then kick his foot high in the air and as he came down, bring his arm from way behind and thrust his hand forward as he released the ball giving the ball maximum power as it hurtled forward. Satchel later said, "You might say I traded five years of freedom to learn how to pitch."

He played for teams all over the country, from California to Maryland to North Dakota and even outside the country—in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico. In between contracts, he had quite a following through barnstorming tours, sort of orchestrated pick-up exhibition games that included a wide array of talent. In one such game, against white ball players he pitched to Joe DiMaggio, who called him "the best and fastest pitcher I've ever faced."

Because Negro League records were sketchy Paige insisted that he kept his own records and reported pitching in more than 2,500 games and winning 2,000 or so, played for 250 teams and thrown 250 shutouts – staggering statistics, and Paige was prone to some flamboyance, but experts believe much of it can be borne out. In July 1948, on his 42nd birthday, after 22 years in the Negro leagues, Paige became the oldest man ever to debut in the major leagues.

He even pitched part of an inning when they went to the World Series that year with the Cleveland Indians. Paige was the first Negro pitcher in the American League and the seventh Negro big leaguer overall. Paige pitched for two other major league teams, the St. Louis Browns and the Kansas City Athletics, with whom he ended his career on September 25, 1965, at the age of 59. Although all during that time, he continued exhibition games and even did a baseball "skit" with the legendary basketball team, the Harlem Globetrotters.

Paige died of a heart attack in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 8, 1982—less than a month before his 75th birthday.

Paige was famous for his hard fast balls, and he also developed his signature "hesitation" pitch, but he could do anything with the ball that he wanted. He held a number of firsts, most notably the first black pitcher to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, which he was fortunate to be able to see. He was also the oldest rookie and working player in the game.

I find it interesting that Paige rarely addressed the issue of his age, often quoting Mark Twain: "Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." Maybe that’s why he was the great pitcher to ever play the game and lives in the heart of a kid who thought of him as his hero. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Magic of #42

There are moments in time where time itself demands change. There was such a moment in the Spring of 1947 when an African American baseball player named Jackie Robinson stepped up to the plate and changed the face of the game. It is an honor for me to pay homage to Mr. Robinson whose character, stature, and integrity was beyond reproach.

Born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in the so-called major leagues in more than fifty years. Throughout his decade-long career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he made advancements in the cause of civil rights for black athletes. In 1955, he helped the Dodgers win the World Series. He retired in 1957, with a career batting average of .311.

Now, as is often the case with His-Story much of what we know about history is a myth. Let me use a quote that I often use by the prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire who said, “History is a pack of trick we play upon the dead”. What I mean by that is this dynamic historical event actually was a simple as a black man being allowed to play a game with white people as a result of the rigid “Jim Crow” laws mandated by the law of the land – America.

At the time, the sport as well as America was segregated. African-Americans and whites played in separate leagues with Robinson who played in the famed Negro Leagues, but was chosen by Branch Rickey, a vice president with the Brooklyn Dodgers, to help integrate major league baseball. He joined the all-white Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1945. He moved to Florida in 1946 to begin spring training with the Royals, and played his first game on March 17 of that same year.

Now, we have been told that Branch Rickey did this out of good conscience and for the cause of civil rights. Well that is not exactly true. Rickey saw an opportunity to make money. The Negro league was prospering and the white league was barely surviving. He knew if he could convince one Negro player, and Robinson was not the best player in the Negro league, Rickey knew others would follow, and they did. Hence, the Negro league ceased to exist. Let me add that Mr. Robinson, an average player, was better than all of the white players playing in the white league at the time.

It is not my intention to neither demean nor take away from the significance of the huge step toward equality. Despite the racial abuse, particularly at away games, Robinson character prevailed as he endured the most brutal harassment, threats, and derogatory language hurled at him on and off the field. It is because of his superb character that we should celebrate this great man.

Jackie Robinson succeeded in putting the prejudice and racial strife aside, and showed everyone what a talented player he was. In his first year, he hit 12 home runs and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant. That year, Robinson led the National League in stolen bases and was selected as Rookie of the Year. He continued to wow fans and critics alike with impressive feats, such as an outstanding .342 batting average during the 1949 season. He led in stolen bases that year and earned the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.

Robinson also became a vocal champion for African-American athletes, civil rights, and other social and political causes. In July 1949, he testified on discrimination before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1952, he publicly called out the Yankees as a racist organization for not having broken the color barrier five years after he began playing with the Dodgers.

In his decade-long career with the Dodgers, Robinson and his team won the National League pennant several times. Finally, in 1955, he helped them achieve the ultimate victory: the World Series. After failing before in four other series match-ups, the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees. He helped the team win one more National League pennant the following season, and was then traded to the New York Giants. Jackie Robinson retired shortly after the trade, on January 5, 1957, with an impressive career batting average of .311.

Let me close with what really happen that day – number 42 was just a number until Mr. Jack Robinson wore it! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.