Archive for October, 2008

People Are Talking About Patti LaBelle’s Version of the National Anthem

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Music and Video Releases with tags , on October 27, 2008 by Gary Johnson

October 27, 2008 – Philadelphia, PA

Legendary singer Patti LaBelle sang the National Anthem for game 4 of The World Series to mixed national and international reviews.  For those of you who are not baseball fans you can watch and listen to Ms. LaBelle’s rendition and evaluate her performance for yourself.

Click here to listen to Ms. Patti’s version.

Photo courtesy Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Obama Assasination Plot Disrupted by ATF

Posted in Barack Obama, Black Interests with tags , on October 27, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Washington, DC – A plot by two knucklehead Neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people in a Tennessee murder spree was foiled the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) said Monday.

Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., were charged Friday with making threats against a presidential candidate, illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and conspiracy to rob a gun store. The men, are being held without bond. Agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men when they were arrested. Authorities alleged the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more.

In court records unsealed Monday, federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.

Jim Cavanaugh, Special Agent in Charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the two men planned to shoot 88 black people and decapitate another 14. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The men also sought to go on a national killing spree, with Obama as its final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.

“They said that would be their last, final act _ that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Cavanaugh said. “They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”

An Obama spokeswoman traveling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment. The investigation is continuing, and more charges are possible, Cavanaugh said.

Irreverence: The US Penal System vs. The African American

Posted in Black America, Black Interests with tags on October 24, 2008 by Gary Johnson

By H. Lewis Smith

In 1991, Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of Mark A. MacPhail, a Savannah police officer. On Tuesday, October 14, 2008, the Supreme Court rejected appeals for the condemned Georgia Department of Corrections 40-year-old inmate. The execution date was hastily reset for October 27, 2008.

Mr. Davis’ ruling has cast outpouring support for him and raised eyebrows at the legal system’s ultimate indifference and unwillingness to move on the facts: Seven of nine witnesses who initially testified against Mr. Davis have recanted their testimonies-with two disclosing that the police coerced them into testifying against the defendant and another three revealing that another man admitted to the crime. Even more so, during the trial, prosecutors presented no physical evidence or murder weapon.

For the record, I am not an advocate of capital punishment and this case is a prime example for my position against the decree: Even in lieu of detrimental facts that would greatly alter the outcome of this particular situation-and save a human life, an innocent man will still possibly be put to death. No stone should be left unturned in pursuit of one’s innocence-regardless of the time expended on this quest or when the truth is finally discovered. The revelation has fallen upon unconcerned ears and numb spirits contented with the current judgment-no matter how wrong it may be.

America’s motto: “In God We Trust”. Obviously, the American societal remains morally conflicted; it suffers from a bipolar or selective institution of its morals based on the particular situation-or person. How can the American society, on one hand, teach that killing is wrong, but yet think nothing of sentencing an innocent man to death? When knowingly innocent people are sentenced to die by the laws of the land, is that not murder?

The same nation that has missionaries dispersed throughout the world spreading the gospel of Christianity makes a mockery of the Ten Commandments-especially The Sixth Commandment: “Thou Shall Not Kill”, “Thou Shall Not Murder”. When society reduces itself to defining “law, order, and fair and justifiable punishment” by nonchalantly taking an innocent human life, it debases itself and demeans its value system.

Since the days of emancipation, the U.S. penal system has been arguably viewed as a veiled intermediary-or an invisible net-for the captivity, oppression, and control of the poor and black disadvantaged. White America was outraged when it appeared to them that a black man-O.J. Simpson-slipped through one of the loops in their net. Yet, no protest is expressed for the tens of thousands of innocent blacks placed behind bars for crimes they did not commit; no outrage is dispelled for the legal system’s disproportionate incarceration and unjust sentencing of African Americans; no gripe is made for legal authorities’ arbitrary, brute force and mistreatment of African Americans relative to other racial groups.

As with Mr. Davis, a vast list of African Americans’ innocence has been or can be proven. For instance, after 20 years of incarceration, Rubin Hurricane Carter was finally found innocent; however, his case is far from being an aberration. Assata Shakur, currently one of the FBI’s most wanted, has fled the country even though evidence overwhelmingly supports her innocence. Other political prisoners such as Geronimo Pratt, George Jackson, Leonard Peltier, and Mumia Abu-Jamal unjustly remain victims of crimes they did not commit.

Some argue that the system has improved significantly since its inception, which may be true; however, it has not improved so greatly as to recognize the African American as an equal, a dignified “5/5”-whole-human, and treat him as such. In 2001, figures showed that blacks who killed whites were three times more likely to be sentenced to death than were whites who killed whites. In a study of almost 20,000 executions in the U.S., only 31, less than one percent, of these executions was for a white killing a black. As well, of 455 men executed for rape, 405, or 89 percent, were black; disparately, no white man has ever been executed for raping a black woman.

These startling statistics reveal one of two things: African Americans are the worst race of people on this planet; or support the fact that the age-old slave mentalities of keeping the “Negro” restricted, restrained, and reliant still prevail and flourish fruitfully within the legal system.

African Americans continue to suffer unjustifiable punishment within the confines of this system only meant to endlessly bound and control a race of people. And because African Americans are large representatives of the prison population-beyond justifiable reason, they are often given a negative persona.

Not many decades ago, the American society blatantly and unabashedly categorized a people as sub-human and 3/5 a person, or a “n**ger”. As a result it was acceptable and faddish to look upon blacks as fair hunting game and condemn them to death on a whim. Taking the life of blacks was not considered the same as taking the life of a human being, for the blacks was likened to an ox, an animal. In this 21st century, under the thinly veiled disguise of law and order, is this provincial custom still alive and well? Actions always speak louder than words.

Incredulously, in spite of the stigma and the historical background of the term n**ger, some African Americans embrace the word affectionately and endearingly-which makes them either geniuses or prodigious imbeciles. The geniuses, I believe, have mastered the art of acceptance and are using the very weapon formed against them to remove any power the idiom owns. The nincompoops just blindly use the word because everyone they know uses it. But any self-respecting, dignified African American realizes the stupidity in referring to oneself via a term meant to dehumanize their race; a term that spit fire from the lips of the speaker to burn the spirit of the receiver to disfigurement. A word drenched so heavily in the shrieking screams, sorrowful moans, and innocent blood of a people; whether genius or nitwit, no one respects a FOOL.

The danger in Blacks internalizing the n-word is that the rest of the world may, and perhaps does, take them at their word. And ironically enough, the entire world recognizes that word for what it is-blatant and ultimate disrespect, except those who have been victimized by it: the African American.

The US penal system has never, and from the likes of it, will not evolve into a fair and just system as far as the African American is concerned. As a result, African Americans must consciously remain healthy distances outside the boundaries of confinement-mentally and physically-because once caught in the net, escaping captivity is near impossible.

African Americans must stop recycling the subconscious plight of oppression and degradation throughout the African-American community, and unknowingly pushing one another into the net, by allowing old stigmas and any associations to those stereotypes to live on. Referring to themselves and others as “n**ger” is the main lifeblood of the recurring cycle of separation and subjugation throughout the African-American community: Every negative element the idiom represents is rooted deeply in the subconscious; the more the term is ignited, it penetrates and reveals its ugliness in one’s every action-if one refers to them self as a certain thing, they will embody the persona. High time has come to irreversibly bury the n-word so that the African-American community can collectively rise above and live beyond the modern-day system of enslavement.

H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., and author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word.

Powell Endorses Obama

Posted in Barack Obama, Politics with tags , , on October 19, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Commentary by Gary A. Johnson

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president on Sunday, on “Meet The Press.” criticizing his own Republican Party for what he called its narrow focus on irrelevant personal attacks over a serious approach to challenges he called unprecedented.

Is this an important endorsement? You bet it is. Powell’s endorsement makes it OK for other Republicans to vote for Obama. Colin Powell so eloquently laid out the case for not voting for John McCain and once again it boils down to a matter of leadership, judgment, temperament and the perception of America around the world.

Finally, a respected American hero and longtime Republican had the courage to chastise the Republican party their shift to the right and more important, hold John McCain accountable for his poor judgment on selecting Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential nominee and for the divisive tactics that McCain has allowed his campaign and it’s surrogates to use against Obama.

Colin Powell is probably the most well-known and respected veteran in the country. He has never held an elected office and yet I bet his favor-ability rating is over 75%. Powell “broke it down,” he “kitchen tabled” the issues–he put the “smack down” on the Republican party.

Powell, a retired Army General who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and who has served three presidents said about Sarah Palin what a lot of people have been saying for weeks–John McCain’s selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate raised questions about McCain’s judgment.

Sarah Palin is not ready to become President of the United States. I know it, you know it and I think John McCain knows it. “I don’t believe [Palin] is ready to be President of the United States,” Powell said flatly. By contrast, Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, “is ready to be president on day one.”

Click here to watch and listen to Colin Powell’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama on “Meet The Press,” courtesy of our partners at MSNBC Politics.

We Remember Levi Stubbs

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Music and Video Releases with tags , , , , on October 17, 2008 by Gary Johnson

By Gary Johnson

If you look up the word velvet or smooth in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Levi Stubbs. The Legendary Voice Is Gone. Levi Stubbs, one of Motown’s greatest voices is gone. As the longtime lead singer for the Four Tops, Stubbs was known for his distinct vocals on some of Motown Records bestselling recordings in the 1960’s and 1970’s including “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Bernadette” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”

Highland Beach (Annapolis, MD) music critic Kirk Caldwell must be sad today. Kirk had music by the Four Tops playing at his wedding over two decades ago. Levi Stubbs was one of Kirk’s favorite lead singers. According to confirmed press reports Stubbs, who has been sick since being diagnosed with cancer in 1995 died at his home in Detroit. He was 72. A stroke and other health problems led him to stop touring in 2000.

The Four Tops had more than 40 hits on the Billboard pop charts, including 24 that reached the top 40. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the group in 1990.

Of the four “Tops” who first came together in 1953, only one — Abdul “Duke” Fakir — survives. Lawrence Payton died in 1997, and Renaldo “Obie” Benson died in 2005. Fakir now leads a version of the Four Tops that includes Payton’s son, Roquel.

The original foursome “performed for over four decades together without a single change in personnel — a record of constancy that is mind-boggling in the notoriously changeable world of popular music,” the Hall of Fame says in an online profile.

Stubbs also provided the voice for the man-eating plant known as Audrey II in the movie “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986).

Stubbs is survived by his wife of 48 years, Clineice, and five children.

Check out two video performances. The first video is a 1978 performance of the Four Tops singing their hit song “Ain’t No Woman Like The One I Got.”

The second video shows The Four Tops performing an emotional version of the song “I Believe In You And Mewith Aretha Franklin on their 50th anniversary special, which aired on PBS featuring Levi Stubbs (in a wheel chair) singing.

Feel free to leave your comments about Levi Stubbs. What is your favorite Four Top song?

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