Black History: The Murder Of Emmett Till

Throughout America’s sordid history, there have been many children murdered but the Murder in Money, Mississippi is the most infamous. It was this incident, the murder of a black child, fourteen year old Emmett Till that sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement. On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago supposedly whistled at a white woman in a grocery store.

The crime sounded clarion calls for a nation to wake up – just look at the photo. Till’s mutilated corpse circulated around the country mainly because of John Johnson, who published the gruesome photographs in Jet magazine, a predominately African American publication. The photo drew intense public reaction.

Till didn’t understand or knew that he had broken an unwritten law of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. That night the door to his grandfather’s house was thrown open, and Emmett was forced into a truck and driven away never again to be seen alive again. Till’s body was found swollen and disfigured in the Tallahatchie river three days after his abduction and only identified by his ring.

Till’s body was sent back to Chicago, where his mother insisted on leaving the casket open for the funeral and having people take photographs because she wanted people to see how badly Till’s body had been disfigured. This courageous mother was famously quoted as saying, “I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby” and over 50,000 people came to view the body.

On the day he was buried, two men — the husband of the woman who had been whistled at and his half brother — were indicted of his murder, but the all white male jury from Money (some of whom actually participated in Till’s torture and execution) took only an hour to return ‘not guilty’ verdict. The verdict would have been quicker, remarked the grinning foreman, if the jury hadn’t taken a break for a soft drink on the way to the deliberation room. To add insult to injury, knowing that they would not be retrial, the two accused men sold their stories to LOOK Magazine and gleefully admitted to everything.

Elsewhere in Mississippi at the time things weren’t going terribly well for blacks either. Just before Till was murdered, two activists Rev. George Lee and Lamar Smith were shot dead for trying to exercise their rights to vote, and in shocking testimony to the lack of law and order, no one came forward to testify although both murders were committed in broad daylight.

1aThe next year, a former army sergeant, Clyde Kennard, tried to enroll at Mississippi South College in Hattiesburg and was sent away, but came back to ask again. For this ‘audacity’, university officials — not students, or mere citizens, but university officials — planted stolen liquor and a bag of stolen chicken feed in his car and had him arrested. Kennard died halfway into his seven year sentence.

But times were slowly a-changing: Brown vs. Board of Education was decided in 1954. Three months after the Till murder Rosa Parks would refuse to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Sit-ins and marches would follow, and soon the civil rights movement itself would be in full-swing. It’s been over sixty-years since the events of that fateful night, and I simply cannot find the words to describe this heinous crime that has yet to receive justice.

I’ll end by sharing these words by Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Black History: Bass Reeves, The Real Lone Ranger

220px-Bass_Reeves

History and the authors of His-Story have differed dramatically throughout time to anything close to reality or truth. In other words, His-Story is nothing more than pure fabrications and downright lies. Let me be blunt and call it what it is; Damn Lies!

Particularly, when it comes to movies “they” say tell as truth about anything that involves black life or black people. I need not remind you but there are more than a few false images that are so obvious that anyone can see there is little truth contained in the story; for example, Cleopatra, Moses, the Ten Commandments and for that matter the story of Jesus, etc. Of course, they have an answer; they call those lies – literary privilege – I call it white privilege.

One such story involves the tale of the “Lone Ranger”! As it turns out, he was a black man named Bass Reeves, who the legend of a white man roaming the west on a white horse fighting crime was based on; yes – a black man. Perhaps not surprisingly, many aspects of Bass’ life were written out of the story, most notably his ethnicity. The basics remained the same: a lawman hunting bad guys, accompanied by a Native American, riding on a white horse, and with a silver trademark.

Reeves was born into slavery in 1838 in Arkansas and named Bass Reeves by his owner an Arkansas state legislator named William Steele Reeves. When Bass Reeves was about eight William Reeves moved to Texas near Sherman in what was known as the Peters Colony. Some accounts say he may have also served Colonel George Reeves, the son of William Reeves, as a slave as well. It was during the Civil War when Bass parted company with George Reeves.

Reeves took the chaos that ensued during the Civil War to escape to freedom, after beating his “master” within an inch of his life, or according to some sources, to death. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this escape was that Reeves only beat his enslaver after the latter lost sorely at a game of cards with Reeves and attacked him. After successfully defending himself from this attack, he knew that there was no way he would be allowed to live if he stuck around. Reeves fled to the then Indian Territory of today’s Oklahoma and lived harmoniously among the Seminole and Creek Nations of Native American Indians.

After the Civil War finally concluded, he married and eventually fathered ten children, making his living as a Deputy U.S. Marshall in Arkansas and the Indian Territory. If this surprises you, and it should, as Reeves was the first African American ever to hold such a position. Burton explains that it was at this point that the Lone Ranger story comes into play. Reeves was described as a “master of disguises”. He used these disguises to track down wanted criminals, even adopting similar ways of dressing and mannerisms to meet and fit in with the fugitives, in order to identify them.

Reeves kept and gave out silver coins as a personal trademark of sorts, just like the story of the white Lone Ranger’s silver bullets. Of course, the recent Disney adaptation of the Lone Ranger devised a clever and meaningful explanation for the silver bullets in the classic tales. For the new Lone Ranger, I would say more comedic than entertaining. But in the original series, there was never an explanation given, as this was simply something originally adapted from Reeves’ personal life and trade marking of himself.

For Reeves, it had a very different meaning; he would give out the valuable coins to ingratiate himself to the people wherever he found himself working, collecting bounties. In this way, a visit from the real “Lone Ranger” meant only good fortune for the town: a criminal off the street and perhaps a lucky silver coin. Like the Lone Ranger, Reeves was also expert crack shot with a gun. According to legend, shooting competitions had an informal ban on allowing him to enter. Like the Lone Ranger, Reeves rode a white horse throughout almost his entire career, at one point riding a light gray one as well.

Like the famed white Lone Ranger legend, Reeves had his own close friend like Tonto. Reeves’ companion was a Native American posse man and tracker who he often rode with when he was out capturing bad guys. In all, there were close to 3000 of such criminals they apprehended, making them a legendary duo in many regions.

The famed judge known as the hanging judge, Isaac Parker, was appointed as a federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker appointed James Fagan as U.S. Marshal, directing him to hire 200 Deputy U.S. Marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Indian Territory and could speak several Indian languages. Fagan recruited him as one of his deputies and Reeves was the first African-American deputy west of the Mississippi River.

Reeves was initially assigned as a Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which also had responsibility for the Indian Territory. Reeves served in that district until 1893, when he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas. In 1897, he was transferred to the Muskogee Federal Court.

Reeves worked for thirty-two years as a Federal peace officer in the Indian Territory. He was one of Judge Parker’s most valued deputies and is credited with capturing some of the most dangerous criminals of the time. During his long career, ending in 1907, Reeves claimed to have arrested over 3,000 felons claiming to have shot and killed fourteen outlaws to defend his own life. He was never wounded, despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions. Once he had to arrest his own son for murder.

The final proof that the Legend of Bass Reeves directly inspired into the story of the Lone Ranger can be found in the fact that a large number of those criminals were sent to federal prison in Detroit.

The Lone Ranger radio show originated and was broadcast to the public in 1933 on WXYZ in Detroit where the legend of Reeves was famous only two years earlier. Of course, WXYZ and the later TV and movie adaption’s weren’t about to make the Lone Ranger a black man, who began his career by beating a slave-keeper to death – now you know. Spread the word and let people know the real legend of the Lone Ranger. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Black History: Siedah Garrett

siedah garrettWhile thinking about someone in the music industry to pay homage to for their tremendous contributions to Black Music and Black History. I decided upon Siedah Garrett because she does not get the recognition she so rightly deserves. Now, I have a confession to make before I go further – I got chills thinking about this amazing lady who in my view is one of the most unsung female artists of our time Siedah Garrett.

Siedah is a Grammy Award Winning, and twice Oscar-nominated songwriter and recording artist. As I began writing this article, I was astounded by her accomplishments that included writing songs and performed backing vocals for many of the legends in the music industry. Such as Michael Jackson, Dennis Edwards, Brand New Heavies, Quincy Jones, Tevin Campbell, Donna Summers, Madonna, and Jennifer Hudson to name a few of the many great artists.

What further amazed me was that she has had huge hits singing duets but not one hit of her own. Most notably with Michael Jackson and she co-wrote Jackson’s #1 single “Man In The Mirror” as well as touring with him on his tours. She also had a number one hit with Temptations great Dennis Edwards “Don’t Look Any Further”.

She has been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Original Song and has won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media for co-writing “Love You I Do” performed by Jennifer Hudson for the 2006 musical film Dreamgirls. Garrett was involved In 1987 Michael Jackson’s Bad album, singing a duet with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”. The association with Jackson enabled her to sing on several Quincy Jones albums.

She co-wrote his hit songs “Tomorrow A Better You, Better me” on the “Back On The Block” and “The Secret Garden” albums. She forayed into the world of acting starring in a TV sitcom pilot for NBC called “Wally and the Valentines” as well as other television appearances. She hosted the show America’s Top 10. In another association with Maysa Leak’s (of the group Incognito) debut solo album as co-writer of the track “Sexy” in which she also sang backing vocals.

A few years later, she joined the Brand New Heavies, collaborating on their Shelter album. As part of the band, she co-wrote their top 5 hit “Sometimes” and enjoyed a minor hit with Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend”. Garrett worked with Madonna as a backing singer and dancer on The Re-Invention Tour in 2004.

Garrett’s professional involvement with Madonna goes back some years as she previously supplied backing vocals on some of Madonna’s earlier material including True Blue, and Who’s That Girl. She represented America in the opening ceremony of 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games singing the song “I Know I Can”, and in the opening ceremony of Expo 2010 Shanghai China, singing the song “Better City, Better Life” with Jonathan Buck, both songs which she co-wrote with Quincy Jones.

Few artists have maintained such esteemed longevity with so many of the greats as Siedah. Whether she knows she’s great or not – I for one want to give props to this very special lady who gave so much to her craft and in my eyes “amazing” and not unsung at all. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Black History: Dr. Martin Luther King

6Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the most revered leader of our time, was born January 15, 1929, and murdered on April 4, 1968. Dr. King’s most notable accomplishments were the Montgomery Bus Boycott, being the founder and first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the famed March on Washington, and being the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

His main purpose was to secure progress on civil rights for the American Negro and poor people in the United States, and for this reason, he has become a human rights icon recognized as a martyr. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, a National Holiday, and honored with a monument on the Washington Mall in DC.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. who was born “Michael King.” Few people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was originally named “Michael King, Jr.” until the family traveled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. His father soon changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther. King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.

King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama; they had four children. At the age of twenty-five, he became Pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his trajectory to greatness was launched in 1954. He skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grade and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school.

In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

Throughout his career of service, he wrote and frequently spoke, drawing on his experience as a preacher, which he understood to be his purpose. For example, in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in 1963, is a passionate statement of his crusade for justice. It was confirmed when he became the youngest recipient to receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in the United States.

In my view, his greatest accomplishment was leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On December 1, 1955, the case that they were waiting for appeared. Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The boycott lasted for 385 days crippling the city economically. The situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed, and he was arrested during this campaign. The case ultimately ended with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses and throughout the south.

In 1957, Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King led the SCLC until his death. Over his career, Dr. King narrowly escaped death as his life was in constant danger, but he remained faithful to a non-violent philosophy modeled by Gandhi’s non-violent techniques. Dr. King believed that organized non-violent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights.

It is my opinion that this was the single most powerful tool in the arsenal of the civil rights movement. This explosive media coverage, both journalistic and television footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights marchers produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion. This was in large part what convinced the majority of Americans that the civil rights movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960’s. King organized and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

History will most remember Dr. King for his famous “I have a dream speech” during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that took place on August 28, 1963. Dr. King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of this massive event. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were Roy Williams from the NAACP, Whitney Young of the Urban League, A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, John Lewis of SNCC, and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality with King’s colleague Bayard Rustin the primary logistical and strategic organizer.

Controversy ensued because the group acquiesced to presidential pressure and the event ultimately took on a far less strident tone. As a result, some civil rights activists felt it presented a sanitized representation of racial harmony. Malcolm X called it the “Farce on Washington” and members of the Nation of Islam were not permitted to attend the march. In spite of that, the march did make specific demands that were important to the movement. The demands were an end to racial segregation in public schools, meaningful civil rights legislation, a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, protection of civil rights workers from police brutality, a two dollar minimum wage for all workers, and self-government for Washington, DC, which was controlled by the Dixiecrats.

What disturbs me about the movement was the “fact” that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who was supposed to be a friend of the Negro, felt compelled to issue the written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. J. Edgar Hoover used the bureau over the next five years in attempts to force King out of the preeminent leadership position. This led Hoover to imply that King was a Communist and aggressively dog him for the rest of his life. He was concerned that allegations of Communists in the SCLC would derail the Administration’s civil rights initiatives.

Unfortunately, before the march was realized Dr. King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of black sanitary public works employees who had been on strike for higher wages and better treatment. On April 3, King addressed a rally and delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address at Mason Temple, the world headquarters of the Church of God in Christ.  King’s flight to Memphis had been delayed by a bomb threat against his plane.

The next evening at 6:01 p.m., April 4, 1968, a shot rang out as King stood on the motel’s second-floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. Abernathy heard the shot from inside the motel room and ran to the balcony to find King on the floor. After emergency chest surgery, King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m. According to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s autopsy revealed that though only thirty-nine years old, he had the heart of a sixty-year-old man, perhaps a result of the stress of thirteen years in the civil rights movement. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 cities.

They called you a communist and terrorist then but you were always our hero. Thank you Dr. King for your sacrifice! Rest in Peace. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Black History: The Lost Tribes Of Africa

6It is a fact that the human species was born on the continent of Africa; except of course when you read His-Story or listen to people like Cecil Rhodes. Therefore, it is fair to say that mankind would not have existed; if not for the creation and innovations of the original man.

I have often said, “the people stolen from Africa by the Europeans and others are a nation of people living in a land without a nationality.” Sometimes people respond negatively to that statement, in spite of being purveyors of that ideology imposed by others that we know is rooted in the concept of White Supremacy. The problem with people who don’t agree is that it is the so-called African American who does not know that he or she is lost. For most people of this distinction, most of their waking hours are spent trying to assimilate into that with those who do not want to accept you.

Upon our backs these stolen soul are laden with the stripes of punishment for what they believed was for discipline and in spite of our loyalty, diligence and tenacity – we loved America and oftentimes more than ourselves. Even when America refused to allow us to walk in the shadows, we followed, believing that someday we would come to be accepted and treated like men and women. Actually, just to be viewed as human beings. Unfortunately, that dream has yet to come and contrary to the thoughts of white folk and some black people too -“We have not overcome“!

We wanted integration and what did we get “interrogation”! Actually, what we got was more poverty because without money or the means – you are still segregated. Just look at the New York City schools, they are more segregated now than they were in Mississippi back in the day, and it has been reported that every urban school district is the same. Oh yes, but they say you can live anywhere you want! This then returns to the economics of what you are allowed to afford. On top of that, we went beyond the pale when we allowed our children to be turned over to the White America’s educational system run by the people who suppressed this nation of people. No wonder we’re lost!

It has been nearly four hundred years since that day in August when the first of millions were dragged onto the shores of this place the slaves called “merica” to be beasts of burden to build this nation. Today, we are in the same position as we were when they identified these stolen souls as colored and three-fifths human. In fact, I believe we are in as bad of a position because we have been “hoodwinked” and like fools bamboozled. I remind you that the Constitution’s language has not been changed.

We resisted the messages of trouble-making Blacks like Washington, Delaney, Garvey, Bethune, Tubman, and Truth for fighting and dying on the battlefield for us all. No, the people of this lost nation did not listen to Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Dubois, the Panthers, H. Rap Brown, Carmichael, nor Dr. King. Today all of the above mentioned would be and are ashamed of whom they fought for and died. Yet, Mr. Lynch’s message reigns supreme.

In today’s business environment, we do not support each other and just keep doing business with the larger community or in fact any other community. Some say we, as a people, were very successful after slavery ended or even as recently as 1960. But we know, what happens when you began to build your communities and do business with one another – you’re pitted against one another and destroy ourselves.

From slavery through segregation and under every Apartheid-like system this lost nation of people survived; all while we bought into the “divided and conquered” mentality and fought against our interests. The great Curtis Mayfield called us “the people who are darker than blue.” This race is maligned everywhere on the planet and viewed as less than, when in fact, the African and people of African Descent are “greater than”.

My pain comes from this nation of people subjecting its children to the same mis-education leaving them helpless and used long after we are gone. So when you speak to your children; tell them how not proud you are that they can look forward to at least another 50 years of despair. We can change that by simply understanding that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair.

Otherwise, the people stolen from Africa will remain the lost tribe of the place we were born! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Black History: “By Any Means Necessary”

Malcolm X was no doubt one of the most profoundly significant, famous, and controversial African American leaders of our time. I cannot recall any other MAN, except maybe Dr. King, whose impact was so overwhelmingly felt by so many. Minister Malcolm’s prophetic words spoken over forty-five years ago still resonate as relevant today, as the day they were spoken evoking the same emotions of truth.

February 21st marked the day of Minister Malcolm’s assassination at the Audubon Ballroom that has yet to be fully resolved in the minds of most of us. What I can say is that we lost a champion unlike any I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. Therefore, it would be blasphemy to honor him as one of the ghosts of the greats and the most articulate orator of our time.

I could go deeper into the making of this man but so many people, agencies, institutions, and organizations have covered this great man’s brief life on earth in much more detail than I can. As you know, there is a vast sea of in-depth analyzes, books, movies, and biographies on his life and philosophies. I will not try to rewrite history rather simply pay homage to the legacy of this great man, as brief as I can, honoring him for his contributions to the African American Diaspora.

There are facts (known & unknown), suspicions and of course theories surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, the impact it has had on our culture and the world. Like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X also had a dream. It began bathed in the tenets of anger and hatred, fostering economic independence on the shoulders of retaliatory separatism. However, in the end it was the swelling acceptance of a unified brotherhood and the replacement of hatred with peace and with the nagging thirst for international equality for all mankind.

As the story goes, early in Malcolm’s life a white teacher asked him what he would like to be, and his answer was “a lawyer”. The teacher, who had encouraged his white students on their career choices, told Malcolm, “That’s no realistic goal for a nigger”. This statement discouraged a bright student to not seek his full potential leading to a life of crime. After being caught and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon he was sentenced to prison. While serving more than six years, he began educating himself, converted to the Islamic faith and became a Black Muslim in the Nation of Islam (NOI).

After his release in 1952, Malcolm Little, now known as Malcolm X, went to Detroit and began to preach actively to the frustrated African American population about what Islam had to offer. It made no difference where he conducted his sermons and teachings, whether on the streets or in a temple. He spread the word to anyone who would listen.

It was not long before Malcolm became a favorite of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He was made a minister and began to travel from city to city, preaching the message, founding new temples and converting thousands of people to the faith. Two years later, Malcolm X became minister of the famed Temple Number Seven in Harlem, New York.

In April of 1964, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca which led to his second conversion. He met brothers of the faith who were from many nations and of many races, black, brown, white, and all the sons of Allah. The reality dawned on him that advocating racial cooperation and brotherhood would help resolve the racial problems in America and, hopefully, lead to a peaceful coexistence throughout the world. Malcolm X’s transformed ideas and dreams reached full fruition and were ready for implementation. He changed his name, this time to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and found himself going against the system.

It did not take long for the reactionaries to strike out at Malcolm X. Members of the NOI resented what they thought were his attempts to supplant Elijah Muhammad. Government entities feared his involving the NOI in international issues, as well as his starting to lean too far to the left, while law enforcement officials looked upon him and his actions as radical, criminal and detrimental to society.

Early on the morning of February 14, 1965, Malcolm, and his family were peacefully asleep in their home in Elmhurst, New York. They were suddenly awakened by the sounds of shattering glass and explosions. Several Molotov cocktails had been thrown through their living room window, engulfing the house in roaring flames. Malcolm and his wife, Betty, quickly gathered their children and rushed out of the burning house. Once safe, they stood outside in the cold air, watching as their home and possessions burned. It was never determined who had tried to kill them though Malcolm did tell authorities he thought it may have been the NOI.

Just one week later at a scheduled appearance at the Audubon Ballroom, which was almost full on a cold February day with over 400 followers of Islam anxiously awaiting Brother Malcolm X. No uniformed police were visible inside the Audubon, but two were stationed outside the entrance although it was common knowledge that an attempt on Malcolm’s life was a real possibility. Inside the Audubon Ballroom, several dark-suited NOI guards were positioned near the stage and towards the rear of the room. As soldiers of the NOI, the militancy of the neatly dressed men was evident in their demeanor, as they surveyed the room, quietly watching the seating of late arrivals.

Malcolm X, his pregnant wife and their four children waited as a tense and nervous Malcolm X ordered two of his guards to take his family out into the hall to their seats in a box near the front of the stage. Seemingly irritated and exhausted, Malcolm X mentioned to his aides that he had reservations about speaking. Malcolm’s misgivings were reflected in his taut features as his restless eyes darted around the room as he listened to Brother Benjamin Goodman making his opening speech.

At approximately 3:08 pm, Brother Benjamin ended his speech and introduced Malcolm X, who walked out onto the stage to a lengthy ovation. Malcolm stepped up to a wooden podium and looked out at the audience. When the applause finally settled down, he offered the audience the Muslim greeting and smiled when they responded in-kind. Just as he began to speak again, a commotion broke out near the rear of the ballroom.

Two men jumped up, knocking wooden folding chairs to the floor, as one of the men yelled, “Get your hand out of my pocket!” As Malcolm responded with cool it their brothers, a loud explosion suddenly erupted in the back of the room, which began to fill with smoke.

Malcolm’s bodyguards and aides hardly had time to react as the well coordinated ruses effectively diverted their attention from him, allowing unopposed gunmen to begin their attack. A man rose from the front row and pulled out a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun from under his coat and fired twice at Malcolm. Simultaneously, as Malcolm was falling backward and clutching his bloody chest, two more men jumped up and fired pistols at him as they rushed the stage. Although Malcolm was down, the two men repeatedly fired bullets into his body before turning and running to flee the premises. More shots were fired as they ran.

Upon learning of the assassination of Malcolm X, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked; “One has to conquer the fear of death if he is going to do anything constructive in life and take a stand against evil”. We may never know all of the facts about who was behind the assassination or who ordered his death. But we do know that these assassins denied him the chance to act upon his newly formed convictions.

Today, the man and the name, Malcolm X, are known in America and throughout the world. He was a celebrated freedom fighter and motivating force to those whose future he had the vision to see, the will to stand up and fight for. Postage stamps and posters now bear his image out of recognition and honor for his final crusade.

The eulogy that actor Ossie Davis delivered at his funeral profoundly impresses upon us that, “However we may have differed with him, or with each other about him and his value as a man, let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man but a seed which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is a Prince, our own black shining Prince! Who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”

Malcolm X was a man who fulfilled his place in history and stayed true to his words: “It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood.” And That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

A collection of Malcolm X Speeches

“Just a Season”

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In Memoriam: Maurice White

4

Master Of The Universe

There are a lot of people who make music, but there are few who create sounds that touch the souls of mankind that will last for all time. I am a diehard fan of Earth, Wind & Fire and have been from the first note that entered my ear-hole. I have every “album” and CD from their first to the last. If you follow my writing, you know I like to pay homage to my hero’s; those who have had a significant impact upon my life and the world.

Mr. Maurice White, founder and leader of the greatest band ever assembled – Earth Wind & Fire – I call the Master of the Universe because he was the divine spirit that created the musical legacy known as the elements of the universe. Although, medical concerns caused him to stop touring with Earth, Wind & Fire, he retains executive control of the band and remains active in the music business.

Reese, as he is called, is a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger and bandleader. He has won seven Grammys and has been nominated for Grammys twenty-one times in total. White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and he was individually inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.In addition, he’s worked with many famous recording artists: Deniece Williams, The Emotions, Ramsey Lewis, Barbra Streisand, and is sought after by many of the “New Jack Artists” as a producer.

3He has a pedigree unrivaled. He was a childhood friend of the one and only Booker T Jones. In his teenage years, he moved to Chicago and found work as a session drummer for Chess Records. While at Chess, he played on the records of artists such as Etta JamesRamsey LewisSonny StittMuddy WatersThe ImpressionsThe DellsBetty EverettSugar Pie DeSanto and Buddy Guy. Reese also played the drums on Fontella Bass‘s “Rescue Me” and Billy Stewart‘s “Summertime”. In 1962, along with other studio musicians at Chess, he was a member of the Jazzmen, which later became The Pharaohs.

In 1966, he joined the Ramsey Lewis Trio, replacing Isaac ‘Red’ Holt as the new drummer. Holt would go on to be a part of the Young-Holt Unlimited. As a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Maurice played on nine of the group’s albums, including Wade in the Water (1966), from which the track “Hold It Right There” won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental in 1966. Other albums by Lewis that featured White included The Movie Album (1966), Goin’ Latin (1967), Dancing in the Street (1967), Up Pops Ramsey Lewis (1967), and The Piano Player (1969). While, in the Trio, he was introduced in a Chicago drum store to the African Thumb Piano or Kalimba and on the Trio’s 1969 album Another Voyages track “Uhuru” was featured the first recording of Maurice playing the Kalimba.

In 1969, Maurice left the Trio and joined his two friends, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, to form a songwriting team and got a recording contract with Capitol Records and called themselves The Salty Peppers. He then migrated from Chicago to Los Angeles and altered the name of the band to Earth, Wind & Fire, and the band’s new name reflecting the elements in White’s astrological chart.

2With Reese as the bandleader and producer of most of the band’s albums, EWF has earned legendary status winning six Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards, and selling over 90 million albums worldwide. As a member of the band, he has been bestowed with countless awards. As an innovator, he is responsible for incorporating the sound of the Kalimba also known as the African thumb piano and adding the world famous horn section, the Phenix Horns into the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. He has appeared on stage with Earth, Wind & Fire since his retirement from the road from time to time.

In 1976, White, with the late great Mr. Charles Stepney co-produced Deniece Williams’, a former backup vocalist for Stevie Wonder, debut album, This Is Niecy, which was released on Columbia Records. The album was the first project for the newly formed production company Kalimba Productions formed by Maurice White and Charles Stepney in the same year. In a 2007 interview, Deniece says”I loved working with Maurice White” and “he taught me the business of music, and planning and executing a plan and executing a show.”

After Stax Records became embroiled in financial problems, the girl group the Emotions looked for a new contract and found one with Columbia Records on which their album Flowers was released in 1976. With Charles Stepney co-producing their album with Reese Flowers became certified gold in the US. After Charles Stepney death in 1976, Maurice took over the reins of producing the Emotions and it was with this combo that the album Rejoice was released in 1977. Rejoice peaked at number 7 and number 1 on the pop and R&B charts and spawned the singles “Best of My Love” and “Don’t Ask My Neighbors” which reached number 1 on the Pop and R&B charts and number 7 on the R&B charts respectively.

1Best of My Love won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single. “Best Of My Love” was also the third biggest pop single of 1977 and has been certified platinum. Rejoice was also the third biggest R&B album of 1977 has been certified platinum. He produced two more albums for the Emotions before they departed Columbia to record for Motown.

The list of singers and musicians White has produced or worked with is far too numerous to list in this writing. Frankly, I just don’t have enough space to list them all! Most call him “an innovator” and “someone who has had a profound impact upon the music industry as a whole” by such as Chaka Khan and Lalah Hathaway who believes that “his contribution as both a musician and a producer has been immeasurable”. He has been cited as a main influence by most artists in the last four score.

I don’t know how I rank, if at all, compared to the many great people who speak of him with such praise, but I am his most devoted fan. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without his genius. So I will just end by saying, “You’re a Shining Star” and “Keep Your Head To The Sky” and all is right with the universe. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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