Friday, March 28, 2014
During this passage through time there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter. I would be hard press to think of a family with more adversity than the King Family.
Most people know the amazing stories about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They know about his most famous speech, his legendary marches and the principals by which he lived his life. What most people do not know is what happened to his family. There are stories about the numerous tragedies endured by the Kennedy family, but after reading this, you might know that the King family could give them a run for their money as it relates to heartbreak.
Alberta King, Dr. King’s mother, was shot and killed in 1974 while playing the organ at her church. The shooting was allegedly done by a 23-year old black man by the name of Marcus Wayne Chenault. Chenault didn’t give any reason for the shooting, except to say that “all Christians are my enemies.” Martin’s father, who was his greatest inspiration long before he learned from the teachings of Gandhi, lived a long life, dying at the age of 84.
Shortly after Dr. King’s death in 1968, Martin’s brother Alfred became co-pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his father and brother preached. In July of 1969, just a few days before his 39th birthday, Alfred was found dead in a swimming pool. The case was ruled as an accidental drowning, but many speculate something more sinister might have happened. According to his father, he was a good swimmer.
The sacrifice of the King family is indicative of the tremendous sacrifice made by those who have fought for the freedom of African Americans over the last 400 years. From the first runaway slave to today, the battle continues and it usually has a price.
Teach this lesson to your children. Tell them in the oral tradition of our ancestors and our march to freedom because our struggle is without question the greatest story ever told. Remind them that they stand on the shoulders of giants and they have a responsibility to continue the difficult journey as was done for them. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Sunday, March 23, 2014
This month dedicated to women is nearing an end. What an honor it is that someone thought to have a month to salute “Women” to say thank you for the gift of being the givers of life. It is during this month of celebrating women that I want to show reverence to all of the beautiful Black women – all Queens.
History tells us, and His-story agrees, that the oldest known human remains discovered is that of a black woman, whose name was “Lucy”, found in African over 4 million years ago. It is also a fact that Africa is the cradle of civilization, which means a black woman gave birth to mankind in a place called Pangaea.
These gorgeous creatures walk with the distinction of creating and continuing the species that first walked the earth and still they carry the world on her shoulders as being God’s greatest creation. Therefore, during this month that is dedicated to the “Celebration of Women” - I LOVE YOU. This post is not meant to exclude women, who are also of distinction, from other ethnicities or hues because I love you too. Rather to express my profound appreciation for the wonders and wonderful Black Woman.
Some may say that today’s black woman, particularly young women, have lost their way. This is a subjective statement, which may be true to a degree but each of you ladies have the power to change that perception by guiding these young girls into womanhood. You are the nurturer because you are the woman who understands her strength and uses her power positively as a gift to mankind. Forget the mantra, so often used, “Strong Black Woman”. We know you are but consider that it is misguided because your strength is in unity, and I will leave that there as my prospective.
We can all remember; I hope, Big Mama, who was the backbone of the family,. She is the woman that I dedicate this article, and pay homage to those like her, for being the family’s greatest gift; a proud woman with wisdom, pride, and dedication with one purpose “family”. For all of those who use the mantra “Strong Black Woman” in a misguided way. Let me suggest that you use the First Lady, Michelle Obama our crowned queen, as an example for which to follow. As she portrays for the world to see what a black woman is - proud, graceful, supporting, dignified and charming. This is your strength.
Personally, my greatest heroine was Harriet Tubman because of her bravery and courage. It has been about 100 years since her death, and I continue to be haunted by a powerful statement she made shortly before that fateful day. She was asked by a reporter if she knew how many slave she saved while conducting the Underground Railroad? She said, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves?” POWERFUL!!! I respect and honor her because she risked her life for the benefit of others traveling back to rescue many captive souls, 13 or more times, after she had escaped herself during a time that we cannot imagine today.
There was a commercial a long time ago that said, “You’ve come a long way baby” or look at this way “from the outhouse to the White House”. These are just a few exceptional women that I am particularly proud of because of their integrity, pride, dignity, and fortitude, but there are so many more. So for those who came before you or those who walk amongst us; like Phyllis Wheatley, May Jemison, Mya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Madam CJ Walker, Sojourner Truth, the Queen of Sheba, Nefertiti, Big Mama, my Mom, you, and not to be left out the millions of heroines that the world have been blessed to share – you are loved. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Have you asked yourself “What is Racism?” Webster says it is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities, and racial differences that produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. This does not adequately explain or represent the reality of what we’re witnessing in today’s political and social environments.
I believe racism is a misunderstood psychology and yes there is a psychology to racism, which is where the confusion exists. Therefore, it appears that racial prejudice or discrimination, which is a prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment is somehow believed to be directed toward the people of the dominate race.
The legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of its diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of African Americans based on an ideology of supremacy. We are the descendants of the stolen souls 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.
~ “Law and Order” theme music plays ~
I read an article sometime ago, “When Racists Speak Their Unspoken Truths” by Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., who made a statement that speaks loudly to this issue.
“It’s what racists claimed for 235 years that American society is about rights (mainly theirs, everybody else’s can be stepped on) and not about race. It’s why racists wore hoods and sheets in public, and why their powerful societies that controlled political and economic affairs were always secret. The less you know about what they think, the less you can respond to how they think, even though the social, political and economic outcomes will tell you what they think.” It seems that those who claim racism are active participants in the continuance of this ideology and (in their minds) think they are now subjected to it.
I think we should understand the sub-text of what we are seeing today, at least from a power and political perspective. It is a strategic effort to contain and marginalize a black President, which is consistent with the Republican Party’s objective of marginalizing minorities and women. Now just like back in the days of segregation, its staunchest supporters were Southerners, Mid-Westerners and poor whites, and people now of that mindset remain.
This intolerance or behavior was 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, African American, and worst. All were polite terms assigned to make known that people who of color were not American citizens. Remember the statement etched in the country’s blueprint that says clearly people of color are “3/5 a man” and did not mention women at all.
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. This is to include the age old practice that has been very effective, “divide and conquer” because this form of thinking has one purpose. Therefore, when you look at what we have experienced and what they imply relating to this new phenomenon is as far apart as the vastness of the universe. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
I don’t need to retell the story of what happened to us, we know that since 1619 Black people have been in this land they called “merica” for centuries as indentured servants, slaves, property, 2nd class "citizens", the list goes on.
During slavery, we were taught through examples of violence to downplay our children's accomplishments for fear of calling attention to them and thus making them a target for racial discrimination. For example knowing how to read was shrouded in secrecy, which had validity to some degree and a dramatic effect on self-confidence that we are still paying the price for today.
We have created a form of mental slavery whereby reason is of the abstract. We know slavery was horrible, but we are taught and perpetuate every day in subtle and not so subtle ways the same conditioning. They say segregation has ended, which means the horrors of Black Wall Street, American before Brown v Board of Education, Rosewood and frankly all of our American history never existed because of integration. We seem to have forgotten what Malcolm said, “Anywhere south of Canada was south” and by extension caused a separation of unity within the black community.
Let me be clear, integration was necessary to short circuit the INSTITUTIONALIZED system of “separate but equal” but it diluted the focus on economic independence in our communities. Therefore, the unintended consequence of this was to further separate our people. Cognitive dissonance is the root of all of this, in my opinion. This conflict in reality coupled with what we are taught has caused far-reaching mental and emotional issues that we do not face or deal with as a people. We fight, blame and mistrust each other because of this and do not focus on the true issues.
At the end of the day, regardless of how we choose to identify ourselves, we are not afforded all of the privileges to which we are entitled in this country simply because of our complexion, which is used as the power to divide and compartmentalize people. Therefore, action is required by the person you see in the mirror and understand that it requires responsibility and unity to do what our forefathers did, which was to continue the species.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are one of the lost souls. Listen to the words delivered in this short video. It is an old speech but the words and message resonates as clearly as the day they were first spoken. “We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.” And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Last year I wrote this article but for the benefit of Women’s History Month I share it with you again – just for the ladies! I came from a time when there was a woman named “Big Mama” and not the clown character in the Martin Lawrence movie. She was the matriarch of the black family.
I won’t try to teach or tell anyone how to be a woman but I do have a perspective from a man’s point of view. Just like a woman cannot make a boy a man – I won’t try to tell you how to be a woman. However, I am suggesting for the sake of your daughters that you try to recall the lessons taught by Big Mama. For those who read my writing, you know, I like to use examples in order to make a point.
I once gave a speech and took out a $20.00 bill and to the audience I asked, "Who would like to have this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. Nearly everyone! Then I said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this." I crumpled up the $20 dollar bill and asked, "Who still wants it now...?" Still nearly all hands were raised. Ok, great! "What if I do this?" I dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with the bottom of my shoe. Then I picked it up the now crumpled dirty bill. "Who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.
No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions you make with regard to how you appear. The moral of this exercise was a very valuable lesson. The way you appear causes people (men) to want “IT”, but like the money it does not mean they want “You”. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who you are and that comes from your presentation.
I have another profound message Muhammad Ali's once gave to his daughters. An incident transpired when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at his home wearing clothes that were quite revealing.
Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:
Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:
“When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.
My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.
Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell.
Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.”I was thinking about what to say in my first blog post of the new year and this was just. It is not my intent to offend anyone, but you see what I see and if you knew Big Mama – you know better. I believe, if Black America is to redeem it greater glory – ladies it starts with you. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”
Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Did you get your invitation from James Crow Esq. to attend the 21st Century Citizens Counsel gathering the Good Ol’ Boys call CPAC? No, I didn’t get one either, but I heard it was a “Yee Ha” kinda weekend!
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 the frightening 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 worse! I saw racism and bigotry that went back to the days of segregation, if not the Civil War.
The show or ignominy 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 so-called best and brightest fired up the crowds preaching that America’s salvation is steeped in religion, austerity, guns, and voiding the federal government. The speakers each reiterated that Republicans lose elections because the GOP failed to articulate conservative’s values and not that voters rejected conservative extremism.
In essence, what they said was “We don’t need new ideas. The idea is called America, and it still works” and it revealed to Republicans, extremism defines America, and voters are out of touch with America. The list of characters represented fanaticism at its finest with the same cast of character; Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Sara Palin, Chris Christie, 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 to lay the nation’s woes at the feet of President Obama.
It seemed to me that these so-called patriots favored the Russia President of the American President. Another highlight of the event was “Obama-Care”. Only this time, they did not accuse president Obama of killing grandma but did not hold back on anything else. I would be remised if I did not mention the only Negro in the room – the doctor. It is amazing that every year the find “one” and let me just say for the record black people did not clear him!
The only thing I did not hear from this group that I heard in the past years was – how grateful we should be to have been dragged onto the shores of this great land and given food and shelter to cheers and applause from the crowd.
CPAC was an extremists’ dream, and they brought out the cream of the conservative crop to parrot extremist rhetoric. I still say, because I have a memory of history where we saw the extreme lynch, murder through 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. This sounds to me a lot like what this mean when they say they “want their country back”.
The most memorable, however, was Caribou Barbie’s rendition of a twisted fairytale rendition of a Dr. Seuss like story. If I could make a comparison to this the 2014 gathering, it was more like a Star Wars bar scene gone wrong. People the 2014 elections are not far away and dare I say - Be afraid, Be very afraid. If any of these people are elected God Bless America! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Monday, March 10, 2014
As I thought about a woman to give great praise and highlight during this month dedicated to great women and their achievements. I realized really only one choice Patricia Edwards better known to the world as Patti LaBelle or to those who love her as “Miss Patti”. She is renowned as a Grammy Award winning recording artist, author, and actress with over 50 years in the music industry. Miss Patti spent 16 years as lead singer of Patti Labelle and the Bluebells a group that changed their name to “Labelle” in the early 1970s and released the iconic song "Lady Marmalade".
She started a solo career shortly after the group disbanded in 1977 becoming an established crossover success with "On My Own", "If You Asked Me To", "Stir It Up", and the hit “New Attitude”. She has also recorded huge R&B ballads; "You Are My Friend”, "If Only You Knew”, and "Love, Need and Want You”.
Miss Patti possesses the vocal range far greater than any soprano. Her musical legacy and influence, she has rewarded her with inductions into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Apollo Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. The World Music Awards presented her with the prestigious Legend Award. She has sold over 50 million records worldwide.
She released her self-titled album in 1977 to critical success, with the highlights being the dance singles "Joy To Have Your Love" and "Dan Swit Me", and the pop-R&B ballad "You are My Friend", a song she and her husband co‑wrote. Her subsequent follow-ups, however, 1978s “Tasty”, 1979s “It’s Alright with Me”, and 1980s “released”, failed to be as successful. Though well-established in some circles, LaBelle never followed her live performance success with hit records, which was often the case with the Bluebelles. In 1981, she was switched to Philadelphia International Records.
Miss Patti found success outside music, performing on Broadway, TV, and movies. Her first film role was “A Soldier’s Story” and later issued for the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop. She garnered headlines in 1985 for her show stopping performances, first at Motown Returns to the Apollo where she opened the show with Joe Cocker singing “You Are So Beautiful” in which she received high praise. In the same show, she engaged in the so-called "infamous mic toss" between her and Dianna Ross during the show's finale “I Want to Know What Love Is”. In fact, most views thought she stole the show.
A longtime resident of Philadelphia married Armstead Edwards, who had one child and tow adopted boys who were the children of their next-door neighbor, after their mother died of cancer. Following the death of her youngest sister Jackie Padgett, the couple raised Padgett's teenage children. In 2000, the couple announced their separation. Their divorce was finalized in 2003.
As lead singer of the legendary group Labelle, Patti LaBelle has been called one of the pioneers of the disco movement due to singles such as "Lady Marmalade" and "Messin' With My Mind". In turn, "Lady Marmalade" has been also called one of the first mainstream disco hits. Rolling Stones Magazine includes LaBelle in its 100 Greatest Singers List, citing her as an influencing factor to "generations of soul singers" including Luther Vandross, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige and Christina Aguilera.Other singers who have been inspired by Patti LaBelle are Ashford & Simpson, Celine Dion, Donna Summer, Jennifer Hudson, Jody Watley, Macy Gray, Mariah Carey, Martha Wash, Paula Abdul, Fantasia Barrino,Whitney Houston, and Ariana Grande as well as Oleta Adams, and Regina Belle.
I would go for days with this woman for her longevity and accomplishments, and if you have ever seen this show-stopping songstress, I am sure you will agree. As the old adage says, she is one in a million, rather I would say she is one who only appears once in a lifetime. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…
Sunday, March 9, 2014
There have been so many horrors inflicted upon the least of thee at the behest of the US Government. One of the most atrocious atrocities was the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which was a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the US Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African American men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government. This evil plan hatched in Tuskegee was transplanted to Guatemala after the experiment was shut down in Tuskegee.
In 2932, investigators enrolled a total of 600 impoverished sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama from a pool of 399 of black men who had previously contracted syphilis before the study began. However, 201did not have the disease. The men were given free medical care, meals, and free burial insurance, for participating in the study. But they were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the subjects were told they were being treated for "bad blood", a local term for various illnesses that include syphilis, anemia, and fatigue.
The study was controversial for reasons related to ethical standards lasted for forty- years. The government personnel involved knowingly failed to treat patients appropriately after the 1940s validation of penicillin as an effective cure for the disease they were studying. Revelation of study failures by a whistleblower leaked led to major changes in U.S. law and regulation on the protection of participants in clinical studies.
The scientists also prevented participants from accessing syphilis treatment programs available to others in the area. The study continued, under numerous US Public Health Service supervisors, until 1972, when a leak to the press eventually resulted in the programs termination. The victims of the study included numerous men who died of syphilis, wives who contracted the disease, and children born with congenital syphilis.
Physicians in this time were fixated on African American sexuality, and the willingness of African Americans to have sexual relations with those who were infected led them to believe that the responsibility for the acquisition of the disease was solely upon the individual. This need to place blame blinded the physicians to find ways to help the innocent infants born with the disease through no fault of their own.
In 1974, Congress passed the national Research Act creating a commission to study and write regulations governing studies involving human participants. On May 16, 1997, President Bill Clinton formally apologized and held a ceremony for the Tuskegee study participants: "What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry ... To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist."
The Tuskegee Syphilis Study significantly damaged the trust of the black community toward public health efforts in the United States. The study may also have contributed to the reluctance of many poor black people to seek routine preventive care. Distrust of the government because of the study contributed to persistent rumors in the black community that the government was responsible for the HIV/AIDS crisis by introducing the virus to the black community.
An interview in February on ABC's PrimeTime Live between ABC's Jay Schadler and Dr. Sidney Olansky, Public Health Services director of the study from 1950 to 1957, further showed why the Tuskegee study had damaged the trust between medical personnel and much of the African American community. When asked about the lies that were told to the study subjects, Olansky replied with "The fact that they were illiterate was helpful, too, because they couldn’t read the newspapers. If they were not, as things moved on they might have been reading newspapers and seen what was going on.”
John Heller, Director of the Public Health Service's Division of Venereal Diseases said, “For the most part, doctors and civil servants simply did their jobs. Some merely followed orders, others worked for the glory of science.” My question is how many of these so-called civil servants are just doing their jobs today. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Every now and then, I have something to say about politics. This political opinion is about something that caused me to want rant a little. Let me say from “jump” that I don’t know much about everything, maybe a little about some things, or not much about a lot of things, but I think I do have some common sense.
African American’s have experienced suffering and the most extreme torment of any people in this country's sorted history. Even our president has been maligned, compared to Hitler, and recently called a “sub-human Mongrel”, which tell you that, as the Constitution says, Negro’s continue to be viewed as 3/5th human or less than.
Aside from the so-called patriot’s vitriol directed at our president, over the past week or so, we have been told that America is in ‘Crisis”. Yes, and America’s approach to solving it is to send a billion dollars to help the people in Kiev, Ukraine to save the people of that nation. I am no longer dismayed when America can find any amount of money in an instant to send anywhere on earth but not places like Detroit, the Bronx, South Central, Houston, Chicago, or any other place minorities reside often called a “hood”. Maybe it’s because a hood, as the word indicate, is a place that is hidden view.
It’s sorta like that word “Recession” in the sense that as long as I can remember black people were in such a depleted state of economics. Then someone gave it a gentler sounding name when people other than us endure our kind of economic hardships. With that being said, the Republicans, in particular, want to take away all of the safety net programs designed to help the American people. Yet, there is a billion dollars laying around just waiting to help someone somewhere, but it’s just not us!
This speaks to how hypocritical the position America has taken. Frankly, it’s an Oxymoron. Kerry said the Russians are crossing the borders of a sovereign nation to invade this country. He went to say his mission was to protect the ethnic minorities of that country. What would they call African Americans and the poor who live in America?
“LAW AND ORDER THEME”!
Does anybody remember what the Bush Administration did a decade ago in the Middle East? What America did there was based on a lie, cost more than a trillion dollars, thousands of lives, and we are still in those countries. Isn't that like invading a another country. Actually, two countries! So it begs the question, why is the government involved in this situation? The next question, why are the Neo-Con’s beating the drum for another war?
A Senator said of this crisis that America is no longer feared as the most powerful military in the world. If it was so feared, it seems to me that China and Russia never thought so. If what the senator said was true about America being so feared; please tell me who the military has defeated? Let’s see, hmmm, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea; need I continue!
Let’s be clear, it has nothing to do with physical fear but everything to do with the “who, what, when, where, and how much” can be gained by a select few. The last thing I want to say, people talk about revolution. Remember that the revolution must first take place in the mind not in the man.
This is a call to consciousnesses! Right now might be a good time to stand up and say to the elected officials that they MUST take care of home! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Everybody is talking about this year’s groundbreaking Oscar winning black artists, as if Oscar just realized black people were in the movies. Let me give prop’s to the winners first, and I suppose we should be proud, but in about one hundred years, so few African America’s have walked away with the prize, maybe we should not be over jubilant. In the case of the Best Supporting Actress, there have only been seven black women and in this case the role was a slave.
There was a time, believe it or not, when the only roles African Americans could get in Hollywood were the second class citizen’s rolls; you know the maids, servants, and the all too common Step-in Fetch-it kind of roles. Few blacks were on the screen, and fewer worked behind the screen. Then something interesting happened during the 1960s that was like a revolution. I don’t want to date anyone, but if you did not witness this cinematic transformation, I am going to try to capture the essence of the era.
Hollywood has never, from its conception, view or considered black people as a commodity. They expected all people to watch whatever movies they made and like it, as a result of the government mandated policy of segregation. African American’s in particular simply had no choice but to accept it. It was so extreme that in most cases black people, if they were allowed, had to sit in the balcony and had a separate entrance into the theater where the movie was shown. Hence, all of the hero’s we knew looked like whom they wanted us to emulate.
Now, as a result of the turbulent 1960s, the reflection or the realization of, the country changed. This was not due to Hollywood’s interpretation, rather as far as cinema was concerned, it actually began with a low budget independent film called “Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song” in 1971, written, produced, scored, directed by, and starred Melvin Van Peebles. It tells the picaresque story of a poor African American man’s flight from the white authority. Van Peebles began to develop the film after being offered a three-picture contract for Columbia Pictures.
No studio would finance the film, so Van Peebles funded the film himself, shooting it independently over a period of 19 days, performing all of his own stunts and appearing in several unsimulated sex scenes. He received a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby to complete the project. The film's fast-paced montages and jump-cuts were unique features in American cinema at the time. The picture was censored in some markets and received mixed critical reviews.
Then came “Shaft” produced and directed by the Gordon Parks starring Richard Roundtree and was critically acclaimed. The film produced both the Grammy Award and Academy Award winning soundtrack recorded by Isaac Hayes. These were two huge steps in the evolution of black representation on the big screen. After the success of these two films, Hollywood saw that there was a spending black audience wanting to see people who looked like them on the screen, and they began to exploit the new genre even calling it – Blaxploitation.
This brings me to the third movie that I thought never got its just due, although it is a cult classic today. This movie was Super Fly! It was about a cocaine dealer who begins to realize that his life will soon end with either prison or his death. He decides to build an escape from the life by making his biggest deal yet, converting the coke to cash and running off to start a new life. The problem was that the Mob does not have a retirement plan and will give him a choice of staying and selling for them or dying if they find out his intentions.
The star was the late Ron O’Neal a Tall, lean, handsome veteran stage and classically trained actor, whose role as Priest - the long haired, stylishly dressed cocaine dealer in the seminal 1972 crime drama. The co-stars Sheila Frasier, Carl Lee, Julius Harris, and of course we all know Freddie – Charles McGregor; all producing stellar performances. I would be remised if I did not mention the great Curtis Mayfield, who wrote the hit score. I did a little research and found the back story that speaks to the tremendous efforts of the producers and all involved.
Most surprising was that the script was only 45 pages long, which explains why there are so many shots of people walking, driving, etc. The reason I wanted to share this story is because I recently rented the movie and got an entirely different impression of the film than I did thirty years ago.
The moral of the story; when the success of the aforementioned Blaxploitation films proved that money could be made off of blacks the movie market was flooded with an explosion of this genre. My guess is that as a result of 12 Years A Slave, which was done once before, we’re are about to see more slave movies than there were slaves. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
Saturday, March 1, 2014
I want my readers to know that just because the month of February has past Thought Provoking Perspectives will continue, along with other topics related to the African American Diaspora to write about the ghosts of the greats or rather pay homage to the greats who influenced and changed the world. None was better than the singer, songwriter and entrepreneur Sam Cooke, who was considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. Sam Cooke was commonly referred to as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and influence on the modern world of music.
Cooke’s pioneering contributions to soul music led to the rise of greats such as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and the Godfather of soul James Brown Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
On December 11, 1964, Cooke was fatally shot by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California at the age of 33. At the time, the courts ruled that Cooke was drunk and distressed and that the manager had killed Cooke in what was later ruled justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been widely questioned.
My question: “Why has there not been a bio-pic of this man’s story?” “A Change is Gonna Come”, which became a kind of anthem of the civil rights movement. Sam Cooke is the man who invented Soul; imitated but never duplicated. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…
The legendary Sam Cooke .