Monday, September 30, 2013

A Mighty Soldier


Last week the world lost a mighty soldier with the passing Dr. Evelyn Lowery to which I offer my heartfelt sympathy to her husband, the great Joseph Lowery and family. Dr. Lowery fought the good fight until her last days on this earth and I thank you.

She fought hard for her people and mentored women everywhere. She was the epitome of what should be described as a strong black woman always by her husband’s side as he rose to become one of the great leaders of the civil rights movement.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution tells a story about how Mrs. Lowery only had one incident where she didn’t march beside her husband. In 1979, they were in Decatur, Alabama, protesting the conviction of Tommy Lee Hines, a disabled man who’d been accused of raping a white woman. Her husband felt that there would be danger, so he had his wife ride in a Buick behind the marchers.

The group was confronted by the KKK and shots were fired. The car was hit by two bullets and she barely got away. “I could hear them yelling ‘Kill ‘em all!’ she said. “It lasted probably about 10 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity.” The couple still keeps the Buick in their driveway as a reminder of the struggle that they fought in order to help secure the rights that black people have to this day.

“My beloved Evelyn was a special woman, whose life was committed to service, especially around the issues of empowering women,” Joseph Lowery said in a statement. “She was a wonderful mother and wife, and I thank God that she didn’t suffer any pain and that I was blessed having her as my partner, my confidant and my best friend for close to 70 years. I will miss her each and every day, but as a man of faith, I know that she is with her God.”

Evelyn and her husband were married on April 5, 1948.  So, that’s 65-years of marriage which will soon transform into an eternity. Mrs. Lowery died from a stroke this week at the age of 88. For all of you great work; I pray that your soul rest in peace. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Friday, September 27, 2013

Heartless Conservatives

Ken-BlackwellI often wonder about the souls of mankind, which in this case begs the question; where is the compassion that the Republicans and those conservatives who claim to be compassionate? They claim to be Christians or at least religious. So what would Jesus think of their actions? Moreover, what God is it that they claim to worship say?

There is a saying the Indians used while their country was being stolen, which was they “speak with forked tongue”! One conservative activist said, there’s “nothing more Christian” than the massive food stamp cuts passed last week by House Republicans”. If I can recall – this is not Jesus’ teaching. Therefore, I would suggest these people have the heart of a devil.

When I read and hear remarks by the people of this ilk I can only compare them to the past wretched history of the Klan and those people who supported and owned “slaves”. These people are as despicable as any of the old Segregationist and dare I say the bold racist of the past like Wallace, Thurman, Connors, and so many more. The actions of James Crow Junior are shockingly sad.

Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow for the Family Research Council, told the Christian Post on Saturday that welfare programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program bred dependency. Blackwell a black man is the former Ohio secretary of state and failed 2006 gubernatorial candidate said he favored empowering the poor and working poor to become self-sufficient.

Blackwell, like most of these Republicans, does not quote any specific plans for doing this. This guy went on to say “making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they, in fact, through the dignity of work … can break from the plantation of big government.” I have a thought that maybe the job creators might consider - CREATE JOBS!

Christian advocacy groups are divided over whether the 10-year, $40 billion cut to the food stamp program passed last week in the House would help America’s poor. Let me answer that for those who this issue is too complicated – NO IT WON’T!

Rev. Gary Cook, director of church relations at the anti-hunger group Bread for the World, told the Christian Post that food stamps had strong biblical support. “In the whole kind of Biblical frame, God made three provisions for hungry people… One was the tithe, which was literally a tax, because the government was the same as the religious order, and allowed widows and orphans to eat”, Cook said.

“The second provision was that there would always be Sabbath and jubilee, where every seven years and 50 years, there was land redistribution. This provision was to prevent class of people that were currently hungry.” The last, Cook said, was gleaning — where corners of the field were deliberately not harvested so poorer members of the community could gather the remainder and use it to feed themselves. “Here, hungry people have access to food as a matter of right, not as a matter of charity,” Cook told the newspaper.

But Blackwell contends that any gaps in coverage should be filled by charity, not the government. Now, this sad Negro Blackwell said “America is such a compassionate nation, nothing in history that suggests that churches and communities and our families would let people die of hunger, there is absolutely nothing”. But he/they want the government to do so.

The GOP are masters of finding some pitiful Negro to sellout and say anything for “thirty pieces of silver”. Again, what would Jesus say! I don’t think he is going to like this. And that’s my thought provoking perspectives…

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The 2013 AfricanAmerican Consumer Report

1A new report by Nielsen and NNPA reflects the enormous and growing buying power of African Americans. The report says African American buying power continues to increase and is expected to rise from its current $1 trillion level to $1.3 trillion by 2017, according to Resilient, Receptive and Relevant.

The African-American Consumer 2013 Report. The report was released last week by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, in collaboration with the NNPA during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 43rd Annual Legislative Conference.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Fifty-three percent of the 43 million Blacks in the U.S. are under the age of 35, and the Black population has grown 63 percent faster than the general market population
  • Blacks watch more television (37 percent); make more shopping trips (eight), purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products (nine times more), read more financial magazines (28 percent) and spend more than twice the time on personal hosted websites than any other group.
  • Although 81 percent of Blacks said they believed that products advertised using Black media are more relevant to them, only 3 percent or $2.24 billion of the $75 billion spent on television, magazine, Internet and radio advertising was with media focused specifically on Black audiences.
  • How companies can avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach to better connect with Black consumers
The findings were announced by Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice-president, public affairs and government relations for Nielsen, Cloves Campbell, chairman of the NNPA, a 73-year-old federation of 200 Black community newspapers; and A. Shuanise Washington, president and chief executive officer of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

“The consumer insights this year are some of the most varied yet,” said Pearson-McNeil. “From store brand loyalty, to top watched television networks, which mobile apps are most popular, a deep dive into how Blacks spend their digital time and how companies can reach 10 million Black consumers by developing a southern regional strategy – this year’s report is really a compelling read for both advertisers and marketers.”

“This year, the report goes a step further and lists the premier 50 companies, in the top five categories committed to the Black community economically,” said Campbell. “This type of information helps the NNPA continue our efforts to create conscious consumers who better understand how their economic power has a direct impact on the marketplace overall and that kind of information is invaluable.”

Beyond the business impact Blacks have on the economy, the report also provides more granular insights into its population growth, and demographic uniqueness, which was of particular interest to Washington. “The CBCFs mission is to advance the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public,” said Washington. “Nielsen’s report will prove helpful as we continue our efforts to improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans and other underserved communities.”

As thoughtful and intelligent people isn’t it time that we harness this buying power and make the one percent and the American business community respect us. Further, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we channeled this money into black businesses and the African American community to create a lasting legacy based upon a eternal economic foundation.

Click here to read the entire report.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Open Letter of Apology To Black Men

1This video was sent to me by a follower and it spoke volumes. I think everyone, both black men and especially black women, should view this message contained in this video and reflect. We must come together and stand together, if for no other reason than the furtherance of our future survival.

It is very possible that those black women who think of themselves as independent and use the misguided claim of being a strong black women are weak and in essence committing "treason" or, as the Sista explains, your power is displaced. And that is my thought provoking perspective...

Friday, September 20, 2013

The GOP's End-Game

images (2)There is a saying that “even a fool makes sense sometime” and another says “a clock is right twice a day”. But I have to tell you that the GOP and Tea Party just destroyed both of those cliché’s by ignoring the wishes of the White House, the Senate, and just about every sane person in existence. Today, the House of Representatives passed a stopgap funding bill that will shut down the government unless Democrats agree to defund President Barack Obama's marquee health care law.

Let me go on record and say the chances of the Senate passing the Bill or the president signing it is far less than “slim to none” and both slim and none are nowhere to be found. Don’t they remember what happened to Newt when his gang tried this a while back when it had dire consequences for them? The may well be a blessing in disguise for the voters and the American people because maybe now everyone will see them for who they are and be the end to this ilk.

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said with a straight face that "It simply keeps the lights on in our government." Rogers, whose committee is effectively short-circuited by the three-month stopgap bill, said almost nothing about the Affordable Care Act, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) made clear that the main point of the measure is to block the health care law.

"This resolution will also protect the working middle class from the devastating effects of Obamacare," said Cantor. "Let's defund this law now, and protect the American people from the economic calamity that we know Obamacare will create." I was wondering if Cantor realized that this vote marked the 42nd time that the House Republican conference has said yes to gutting Obamacare and that the Senate has ignored nearly everything the House has pushed for.

I am going to agree with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who slammed the bill in a floor speech ahead of the vote, saying that the measure "was designed to shut down the government. It could have no other intent. Its purpose is clear." Pelosi added that "It is a wolf in wolf's clothing."

I know and understand that politics is a dirty business but the things the GOP is doing or are trying to do is “lowdown and dirty”. Frankly, with the draconian cuts to social programs and their constant obstructions - they make the “Wicked Witch of the West” look like a princess. Moreover, this has nothing to do with the American people but everything to do with the skin color of the leader of the free world and his support of the American people. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Queen For Life

It’s really hard to believe that it has been thirty-years since Vanessa Williams, who will always be a queen, broke color barriers and made history becoming the first black Miss America. It happened on September 17th 1983 at a time when racial division was still a divisive issue in America. Just to make the point Reagan was president.

She was not the first black woman to enter or take the stage at a beauty pageant nationally but she was the first to take the crown. Just a few years early, fresh out of the turbulent 1960’s, Cheryl Brown of Iowa, won her state title and made it to the national stage as a contestant. Another beauty, Miss Arkansas Lencola Sullivan was the first black woman to make it to the top five.

Williams was quoted in People magazine that she never expected the swarm of hate mail and racist comments after being crowned. Adding, "I never imagined I'd be that depressed about being Miss America" she told People Magazine.

Williams, a stunningly amazing beauty, held the title of Miss America 1984 ultimately resigning early due to scandalous unauthorized nude photos published of her in Penthouse magazine. But the scandal didn't stop her it only empowered her.

In 1990 she told Ebony Magazine "I'm just moving on, for there is nothing I can do to change that, so I just have to deal with it and move on… If situations arose where I could get revenge, I absolutely would. But at this point, success is the best revenge."

She broke into the film and music industry creating a lasting career that's still going strong 30 years later. Today, at the age of 50, Williams is as gorgeous and beautiful as the day she was crowned. Currently, she's starring on Broadway in "The Trip To Bountiful" and has a number of movies, albums, and awards under her belt.

Vanessa, you are and will always be our queen. We thank and love you for being you - simply amazing. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ted Cruz -Dangerous

thSen. Ted Cruz made an utterly remarkable statement Wednesday that clearly aligned him with the ideology of a racist of the past. Cruz said that the country would be better off if the Senate was full of people like Jesse Helms, the late senator who was ardently opposed to all kinds of civil rights measures and even tried to block the Senate from approving a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cruz made the remarks at a Heritage Foundation event dubbed the "Jesse Helms Lecture Series,"  where Cruz told a story of Helms receiving a $5,000 political donation from actor John Wayne, who apparently later told Helms he liked him because "you're that guy saying all those crazy things" and that there needed to be 100 more of him. Adding, "It's every bit as true now as it was then," Cruz said. "We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate."

Helms, the conservative North Carolina Republican who served in the Senate for 30 years, was known for his efforts to stop progressive polices relating to gay rights, abortion and race. He voted against the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he referred to as "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress." When the Senate acted in 1983 to create a federal holiday honoring King, Helms staged a 16-day filibuster to try to block it. He ultimately caved in exchange for action on a tobacco bill.

From public statements Cruz’s ideology is derived from what sounds like his mentor or idol. He went on to say that the first political donation he ever made was to Helms -- $10 -- and praised the late senator for his outspokenness. And he wants to be president?

I am old enough to remember the racial bigotry of Helms and those like him; such as George Wallace and Strom Thurman to which I see nothing to be proud of by anyone with their views. With Cruz’s McCarthy like tactics and statements such as this remind us of a shameful time not so long ago where America should never want to return.

Moreover, because of the many who support and follow the likes of him, we should be afraid – very afraid! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Monday, September 9, 2013

He Was Who We Thought He Was…

Well Well Well! It is being reported today that the killer of Trayvon Martin has been arrested today. In the mists George's brother, Robert, tweeted after his the Z-man's detention that the public shouldn't "jump to conclusions." Wasn’t he the same guy along with his dad saying the same sort of thing leading up to the murder trial?

However, the fact is that CNN and other media outlets are reporting that George Zimmerman was taken into custody Monday after an apparent domestic altercation with his wife and her father at a home in Lake Mary, Florida. Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson said,"As of right now, (George Zimmerman) has been placed in investigative detention". I can’t recall a person of color, particularly with his history, being placed in such favorable detention.

The incident comes two months after Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was found not guilty of murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Lake May is a town near Sanford, Florida. Hudson said a gun was found in the Lake Mary home, but he added that it was not a part of the altercation. But clearly the altercation was serious enough for the wife or ex-wife to be to feel threatened by his actions.

In a 911 call released by police according to the Orlando Sentinel: Shellie Zimmerman tells a dispatcher that her husband had "his hand on his gun and he keeps saying step closer." "Step closer and what?" a dispatcher asks."And he's going to shoot us," Shellie Zimmerman replies. Shellie Zimmerman says her husband punched her father, leaving a mark on his face. 911 Dispatch Call 
Hudson said, "Anytime we have anybody suspected of doing anything, we place them in investigative detention until a complete investigation has been done.”

Let’s recap:
  1. Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce last week in Seminole County.
  2. That filing came after she pleaded guilty to perjury on August 28 for lying about the state of the couple's finances during a bond hearing in April 2012. She had claimed she and her husband were broke, when in reality they had collected about $135,000 in donations.
  3. George Zimmerman was acquittal of the charges of Second Degree Murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin on July 13.
  4. In late July, he reportedly helped a family escape from an overturned SUV. A report from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office confirmed his involvement, which later reports say was untrue.
  5. Zimmerman was given a verbal warning for a traffic violation in Texas and reportedly told officers he had a firearm in his glove compartment.
  6. Last week in Florida he was issued a $256 ticket for speeding.
  7. There are reports that he has been arrested for assaulting a law enforcement officer in the past.
  8. There are reports that a former girl friend obtained a Restraining Order for a violent act.
Although George Zimmerman was acquitted two months ago for killing Trayvon Martin, his soon to be ex-wife is getting $4,300 a month in living expenses out of the funds raised for Zimmerman’s defense.

TMZ reports that Shellie Zimmerman separated from her husband August 13 and is collecting the monthly payment from the Zimmerman Legal Defense Fund in the divorce settlement. The solicitation on PayPal states the fund is to be used “for George Zimmerman’s ongoing living expenses, legal costs, and fees for this matter.” George Zimmerman’s official legal defense website says, “Currently George and Shellie are renting a secure residence at a reasonable rate. Their day-to-day living expenses are relatively modest as they want to preserve as many funds as possible for an aggressive defense.”

So theoretically, as of now, Shellie is making a $51,600 a year just for being George Zimmerman’s ex-wife. Not a bad gig or a nice hustle. This guy just might be “who we thought he was” and with the above mentioned; it says one or two things. It speaks to “privilege” or “color”.  Either way, as the Bible says “You Reap What You Sow”. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Drum Beat Of War


th0There was a song during the Vietnam War that asked the question; War what is it good for? And the answer is "NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING"! 

It is like dancing with the dancing with the devil. We know politics is a dirty business; full of unreasonable positions that usually only benefit the people who have the most to gain. Let’s be clear about that - it is not the troops or the soldiers who do the dirty work.  

I am of the opinion that if you follow the money what you will find are people in suits out of harm’s way that are the people who start wars. War is about one thing - killing people. The money industry gets from the armaments and munitions needed to facilitate that death and destruction are the only benefactors. The problem is most American's have never actually seen war nor the blood and guts or the atrocities resulting from war.

The children of the rich and powerful don’t die - they profit. Of course and for sure, there are bad people all over the world, as well as here at home. I am not saying that in Syria the crimes are not horrendous. What I am saying is that America likewise has dire concerns that need addressing; such as Camden, Detroit, Chicago, New York, and others with many of our own people in distress.

The outcomes of the Arab Spring and the Middle East problems are daunting. Everyone would agree but we have tried to step in with huge and catastrophic costs in both blood and treasure. We spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan with many US soldiers dead and wounded with no appreciable results that has benefited the American taxpayer who foots the bill. I would argue that in those places where we have interfered there problems are worst today than when we tried to help.

I was sent and served in Vietnam forty years ago under the guise of protecting the American interest and to defeat communism. Of course, we know how that turned out. We lost, industry won, and people suffered. In my lifetime America went into Bosnia, attacked Libya and Granada; been at two wars for the last ten years, in Iraq and Afghanistan and sent troops all over the world acting like we own the world.

It seems like standard operating procedure for America to be in a conflict constantly. Every president in my lifetime with the exception of one has started or been involved in some sort military action or conflict. One could conclude that the price for being elected is to reward the industrial military complex because they are the only winners.

It is time that rational minds, those who would die and their parents, to say STUDY WAR NO MORE!!! Just imagine how much better off “We the People” would be today if we had not spent trillions on the wars of the last decade. And that’s my thought provoking perspectives…


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Divided He Stands

th0Every so often some fool of color is found that is frankly offensive and in fact a disgrace to his race. We know there have been many overtime and in this case the one that has emerged is cloaked in the guise of a Reverend. The list is long with the likes of Ward Connelly, Allen West, Allen Keys, Herman Cain, Let Elder, Clearance Thomas, and unfortunately so many more. Many of their reputations are despicable to everyone but them and, of course, those of that bigoted ilk.

I came across this man named Jesse Lee Peterson who is president and founder of The Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), which is an American religious nonprofit organization dedicated to a conservative agenda. He is a Tea Party darling, which means he is a black man who’s sold his sold to the devil or more aptly put a Black Klansman. He has hosted a cable TV program and a syndicated radio talk show.

I had not really heard of him and don’t usually pay much attention to folks of his ilk but after listening to him I was simply floored and embarrassed. Listening to him spew his venom had absolutely nothing to do with God or a ministry of any kind. But then the KKK burns crosses suggesting that their bigotry has something to do with God’s grace. It could be that his ministry is little more than a cult rather than a church. Or just his insanity! He gives credence to the term a sheep in wolves clothing.

I am going to be direct and to the point. For a black man in his middle sixties to have known segregation and racism to say he thanks "God and white people" for slavery adding if it weren't for the slave trade, blacks might have never made it to the promise land and described slave ships as akin to "being on a crowded airplane". This is beyond insanity!!!

A more recent statement that is as troubling is that he says women should not be allowed to vote:

“Women cannot handle power. It's not in them to handle power in the right way. [...] I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote. We should've never turned this over to women. [...] It was a big mistake. [...] And these women are voting in the wrong people. They're voting in people who are evil who agrees[sic] with them who're gonna take us down this pathway of destruction. And this probably was the reason they didn't allow women to vote when men were men. Because men in the good old days understood the nature of the woman. They were not afraid to deal with it. And they understood that, you let them take over, this is what would happen.”
Peterson once established an annual “National Day of Repudiation of Jesse Jackson” event that was held on a street corner outside his offices in Los Angeles, which received no public attention outside of conservative media. On September 21, 2005, Peterson penned a column for WorldNetDaily, in which he suggested the majority of the African American people stranded in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina were “welfare-pampered", "lazy" and "immoral". Peterson also criticized New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin for blaming President George W. Bush for his lack of response to the crisis, stating that "responsibility to perform legally and practically fell first on the Mayor of New Orleans.

On February 28, 2006, as a member of a student panel discussion at the UC Irvine on a Muslim cartoon controversy, Peterson described Islam as an "evil religion", and stated extremist Muslims "hate us [America] because we are a Christian nation and we support Israel”.

In January 2010, Peterson issued a statement calling for the resignation of Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, saying "Michael Steele is a weak leader and he needs to resign or be fired. We need someone who's not afraid to boldly promote strong conservative Republican ideas. The only reason Steele is still RNC Chair is because he's black and the party is terrified of the implications of firing him."

He has claimed, "Barack Obama hates white people, especially white men" and "Barack Obama is Jeremiah Wright Jr. He is the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus! He embodies the aspirations of every left-wing black group that wants to tear down this country and take power away from the "oppressive" white man. He's not an obvious race hustler like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson; but Obama is a smooth pathological liar with a wicked heart". WOW!!!

I can’t conjure any speech that would allow me to share my opinion of such a fool, and I use that loosely, because my mother taught me that if you can’t say anything good about someone - say nothing at all and saying nothing here speaks volumes. However, I won’t go as far as Brother Malcolm and call him a “House N-Word” but he does remind me of my Uncle whose name is “Tom”. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Remembering My Granddaddy

GranddaddyToday, all day, my Granddaddy’s memory weighed heavy on my spirit overwhelming me with the greatness of his manhood. He was without question the greatest man I have ever known. He taught me lifelong and lasting lessons.

I was not unlike many African Americans who have been touched by the consequences or aftermath of not having my real father in my life. My father abandoned me while in my teenage mother’s worm. I did not meet him until I was about ten years-old and have only been in his presence for maybe two hours in my entire life.

It was my Granddaddy who provided the foundation for me to navigate the troubled waters of life. This man, the most prominent male figure in my life, gave of himself for the benefit of others; raising children, empowering the community, and being a man of dignity. So I believe, it may not or does not have to be your man but there has to be a man present in the lives of these children, particularly a male child. You see you have to see a man to be a man. Through my grandfather the home was held together and the community was greater though the empowerment of the minds of young boys who would grow into manhood.

Images are and have been projected of black men falsely, most often, glorifying their role in society as thugs, gangstas, criminals, buffoons, clowns, and being worthless. When you open your newspaper or watch TV that is how we are represented. This hopelessness has permeated far too long. I profess that this assassination of character should now be removed or at least diminished.

The absence of the strong responsible black man holding it down, in the family and community, is destroying us as a people. Having said that, the purpose we live is to continue the species. I was taught a very significant lesson early in life, and reinforced every day of my life, by my Grandfather who said, “I raised you to be a man and as a man you don’t know what you might have to do but when the time comes you do it”. We don’t know what challenges are ahead of us. Therefore, my interpretation of that daily message was preparation plus opportunity equals SUCCESS and that the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he learns.

These platitudes are essential to the survival of our children and, frankly, our existence. There needs to be a man in the lives of these boys, and girls, because a father’s roll is to be an example, a role model, to guide, direct, and pass on the wisdom he’s gained. For example, how can you expect your little girl to chose a man if she has no model to base a relationship on?

Ladies please stop thinking that you can make your boy a man – you can’t. You can raise, teach and nurture him – but you cannot make him a man because you are not one. Now, if are holding it down, I applaud you, I know what that enormous job is like – my mother did it and I was no walk in the park. If it had not been for Granddaddy I would be lost – dead or in jail.

I miss you “Pop’s” and in his memory do something to make the world better. Mentor someone and by all means Black Men – Stand Up and claim your rightful place. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Monday, September 2, 2013

At The Crossroads

th00It is a great joy to share the glorious past of the ghost of the greats whose shoulders. One of which is the story of the great Delta Blues-man Robert Johnson. The history of music is littered with tragic figures and none are more tragic than Robert Johnson’s story that will live for eternity. Legend has it that he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads for his story to live for all times.

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. This amazing, ultimate star-crossed musical genius laid the early framework of rock and roll decades before that term was even imagined.

Not much is known about Johnson’s shadowy, poorly documented life and violent death at age 27, which is one of the reason that have given rise to much legend. With that being true the music and legacy he left behind is irrefutable and unparalleled.

He is considered by some to be the “Grandfather of Rock-and-Roll” for his vocal phrasing, original songs, and guitar style. His music has 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 and was known as 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 riffs. 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. The man laced Johnson's whiskey with strychnine that caused him to become violently ill playing 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 and I believe our story is the greatest story ever-told. And that's my Thought Provoking Perspective...

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