Archive for June, 2009

Student Mentors Teach Game Design

Posted in Black Interests with tags , , , on June 27, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Tech Bus

In the “Be The Game” program, high school students mentor peers and use game design as a tool for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and the program’s high tech bus travels to locations where tech facilities are not available.

Click on the link to see the video made by the George Lucas Educational Foundation Edutopia which shows a dramatic alternative to traditional education.

Tech Bus 2

Wii Sports on the Technology Motorcoach

For more information about the “Be The Game” Motorcoach contact Gary Johnson, Program Manager at

Michael Jackson Dead At 50

Posted in Black America, Black Interests with tags on June 25, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson is dead.  The sensationally gifted singer and dancer who emerged from childhood stardom to become the entertainment world’s most influential singer and dancer was 50 years old.

The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.  According to media reports Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2009.

In addition to his talent and fame, Jackson had enormous legal and financial troubles.

As the tributes pour I clearly understand Jackson’s iconic status in American popular culture.  He was more than just a singer.  He made monumental business moves that catapulted him to the star the likes of which we will probably never see again in our lifetime.  Michael Jackson was a mega star on numerous fronts.  I get all of that.  What I don’t get are some of the people being shown on television who are not able to function since the news of his death.  People who apparently cannot function and go to work, people camping out all night at the hospital, Neverland Ranch, the Apollo Theater and Michael’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  What does that say about those people?  What does that say about me?  What does that say about Michael Jackson?

On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on Friday, June 26, 2009, the House of Representatives held a moment of silence for Jackson.  Many people seem to be temporarily paralyzed by Jackson’s death.  It appears that almost every corner of the world has been affected by Jackson’s death.  I guess that speaks to his “reach” and his ability to connect with people.

I am the same age as Michael Jackson. I saw him perform several times as the lead singer of The Jackson 5 and as a solo artist.  He was magic when he performed on stage.  Much will be made of Michael Jackson’s death for years and years to come.  For now people are choosing to pay tribute to a troubled man who grew larger than life.  His controversies have been placed on the back burner as people choose to remember the show-stopping entertainer.  I guess that’s the way it should be (at least for now).

What are your memories of Michael Jackson?  How would you characterize the life of Michael Jackson?

This article was written by G. A. Johnson.

Clarence Thomas Casts Lone Vote Against Voting Rights Act

Posted in Black Interests with tags , on June 23, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

“The extensive pattern of discrimination that led the court to previously uphold Section 5 as enforcing the 15th Amendment [right to vote] no longer exists. Covered jurisdictions are not now engaged in a systematic campaign to deny Black citizens access to the ballot through intimidation and violence.”  So says Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  If you translate or breakdown Justice Thomas’ quote, he is saying that Black voters no longer need voting protections.

Oh really! Hmmm.

The Supreme Court could have gutted the Voting Rights Act by overturning a provision that is used for enforcement.  However, the remaining justices disagreed with Thomas and  voted to preserve that provision.  The act allows states to apply to a court for an end to Justice Department oversight of the state’s voting rules. The justices said that bailout option must also be available to smaller jurisdictions.

Author and political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson has a commentary worth reading with our friends at The Daily Voice.comClick here to check out Mr. Hutchinson’s commentary.

So what do you think?  Is Clarence Thomas trying to establish himself as an independent voter?  Do you think he believes there is no need to protect black voters from intimidation?

No doubt that conditions for black people have improved dramatically over the past 5 decades.  However, it wasn’t that long ago when Jena, Louisiana black students wanted to hang out in the Whites Only section of the school playground and were greeted with nooses hanging from the tree.  Where I come from that’s called INTIMIDATION.

What do you think about Clarence Thomas’ position on the Voting Rights Act

The History of Father’s Day

Posted in Black Men, Gary A. Johnson with tags , , on June 20, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Sam Johnson

Samuel H. Johnson (1932-2009)

Tomorrow is Father’s Day 2009.  This will be my first Father’s Day without my father, who passed away earlier this year in February.  For some reason I wanted to know about the history of Father’s Day.  I grew up believing that Father’s Day was invented by the greeting card companies.  I conducted some research and learned that the first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, WA, when Mrs. John B. Dodd first proposed the idea of a “Father’s Day” a year earlier.  At that time there were no Father’s Day cards.

Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd’s mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself.  It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she reflected and appreciated how strong and giving her father was when it came to raising his children as a single parent.

At about the same time in various towns and cities across American other people were beginning to celebrate a “Father’s Day.”  In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father’s Day.  In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

Over the decades Father’s Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure including stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends.

If you were fortunate like me to have a good relationship with your father or any man that positively influenced your life, celebrate them and their memory.  Find a way that is meaningful and personal for you.

My father, Samuel H. Johnson, lived a full life.  Despite his unbelievably tragic upbringing and not having a father in his life, he managed to be a wonderful father.  As a young adult, he had men in his life who taught him how to be respectful and trusting of others, when he lived in a world where very few people could be trusted.

Somehow my Dad managed to make his children feel safe and loved in a world that did not provide those things to him.  He had a lot of help from my mother, but my focus is on Dad today.  Toward the end of his life, I have some very powerful and treasured memories of my father.  We spent a lot of quality time together during the last year of his life.  We laughed and shared a few heart-felt moments that help me put life in perspective.

If your father is living and you have a relationship with him, don’t take it lightly.  In your own special way, try to make every day “Father’s Day.”  Respecting, loving, forgiving and appreciating you father is no easy task, but it is worth it in the end.

I miss my Dad.  A few days before he passed away, my Dad told me there would be aspects of my life that would change when he passed.  In short, he warned that I would have some difficult days in front of me.  My life was pretty good.  I didn’t understand what he was talking about then, but here I am four months after his death and I’m beginning to understand what he was trying to tell me, which makes me appreciate him more.

Watching my Dad’s health decline to a point where he depended upon others to do for him was tough.  In helping to care for him, I believe I was setting the best example for his prize possessions—his two grandsons.  My sons had a front row seat for what it takes to care for a loved one in who can’t care for themselves.  You must be patient, caring and have a heart-felt desire to give the patient the best quality of life.

My father was a good man who overcame obstacles in life that would have ruined most people.  I promised my father that I would follow in his footsteps and be a father to my sons that he was to me.

So on this day, and every day, I remember my Dad.  To all the men who have stepped up to the plate and handled their business and other people’s business when it comes to fatherhood–Happy Father’s Day!

Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book“25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

5 Minutes, 5 Questions With… Gary A. Johnson, Author of “25 Things That Really Matter In Life”

Posted in Black Interests, Motivational Moments with tags , , , , , on June 14, 2009 by Gary Johnson

GJ-Joey P.

By Joey Pinkney

25 Things That Really Matter In Life will help you identify your natural gifts and how to use them to feel better about yourself. Gary Johnson uses worksheets to outline the principles of Life Mastery to cleanse your mind of all the dysfunctional thoughts that have accumulated over the years.

Practicing Life Mastery will allow you to develop yourself to be the best “you” that you can be for yourself, family and friends. Control the quality of your life by making 25 Things That Really Matter In Life a part of your daily living. This book was written for people who have some sense of needing to make changes in their life but do not know how to do it.

Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write 25 Things That Really Matter in Life?

Gary Johnson: I wrote this book at one of the lowest points in my life. My businesses were heavily in debt . Although I continued to function every day, there were times when I did not feel good about myself. Through it all, I continued to try to affect the lives of others through my training seminars and speeches.

I also went out of my way to make sure I was an active dad for my sons. On a Friday night, in September 2006, I decided to write down the things that really mattered to me. I stopped the list at twenty-five and shelved the project for another year.

Putting pen to paper was a measure of accountability. Thirteen months later I was ready to be accountable and make a change in my life. Writing my thoughts on paper was therapeutic and gave me a sense of relief. This process was a “freeing” experience that helped me to feel good again.

JP: What sets 25 Things That Really Matter in Life apart from other motivational books?

GJ: This book is universal in that it is easy to read and understand and appeals to men and women of all races and culture. The book has worksheets that help examine your life in a way that perhaps you haven’t done before.

Looking at your life and the choices you’ve made in an open and honest way can be an emotional and gut-wrenching experience. As you rewind your mental tapes, you are likely to see a pattern of decision-making that is self-defeating or sabotaging. This book wastes no time helping you to help yourself.

Click here to read the rest of Joey’s exclusive interview with Gary Johnson.

Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney is a passionate book reviewer whose goal is to give authors extra exposure.  He is the founder of a web site about books and authors.  Joey’s “5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…” author interview series features self-published authors and best-selling authors.  The popular interview series gives readers an often rare glimpse into the author’s mind as he/she shares insights about their book.


Posted in Black Men with tags , , on June 5, 2009 by Gary Johnson

By Harold Bell

Butch McAdams

Coach Butch McAdams

Butch McAdams is a native Washingtonian.  He lived and grew up at the corner of 14th and T Streets NW right in the middle of the historical U and 14th Street corridors.  He was raised in the Catholic faith and educated at St. Augustine and Mackin High Schools in NW Washington, DC.

Priest and Co-Pastors of St. Augustine were Fathers Raymond Kemp and Andre Bouchard.  In 1967 I was working as a Roving Leader for the DC Department of Recreation and one of my assigned work sites was Harrison Playground.  The Rectory was located at 14th and V Streets, NW and the playground was one block away.  My travels often brought me to the front doorsteps of the Rectory of St. Paul and Augustine Church.  Fathers Kemp and Bouchard were icons in the community and I usually stopped by and kissed their rings when I was in the neighborhood (smile).

The historical landmarks in Butch’s community were all in walking distance of his home.  The landmarks were the Bohemian Caverns, 12TH Street YMCA and the Dunbar Hotel.  The Lincoln and Republic theatres were the community’s main movie outlets.  The live entertainment seen at the Howard Theatre and Turners Arena was off the charts.  Black Washington dined and hung out at the Florida Ave Grill, Keys, Hollywood, Faces and Cecilia’s Restaurants and last but not least, Ben’s Chilli Bowl.

There are some landmarks still standing and others are long gone.  The neighborhood has changed and so have the people, for better or worst is all in the eye of the beholder.  There were other landmarks like Cardozo High School, Harrison Playground, Harrison Elementary and the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program.  They helped shape Butch McAdam’s life and connected the two of us.

Harrison playground was where most of the neighborhood playground basketball legends gathered in the evenings after work and on the weekends.  Harrison was the home playground of the Scott family.  Rip and Bo Scott were basketball legends.  Butch was one of the many young spectators who watched and learned from the legends of Harrison Playground.

I have spent the last decade writing and talking about the benefactors of Kids In Trouble, Inc., and Inside Sports who have forgotten.  I had completely overlooked the ONE who had not.  This is one of the best examples; “Not being able to see the forest for the trees.”

On Friday June 5, 2009, Maret High School will host a retirement party for Butch.  He is retiring after thirty-one years as a teacher of Physical Education and the school’s Head Basketball Coach.

Growing up in the U and 14th Street corridors helped prepare him as a coach and teacher.  He has touched thousands of young people in his thirty-one years at Maret.  His most important lesson had nothing to do with sports.  He taught his students the most important game being played in the world today:  “The Game Called Life.”

My experiences as a Roving Leader and the founder of Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program caused me many “Excedrin” headaches.  Butch was never a headache or Kid In Trouble.  Thanks to his parents and St. Paul & Augustine he was always a little gentleman.  He understood early it was okay to be seen and not heard.

In 1992, he became a one of a kind radio sports talk show personality at WOL Radio.  Unlike others in the media who became experts on the black community after getting their own talk shows or newspaper columns, Butch brought community credentials with him (U Street, Harrison Playground, Hillcrest Children Center Saturday Program, Kids In Trouble, Inc. etc).  He used his radio talk show to broaden his community base to help make children First.

The lessons learned at St. Paul & Augustine, Harrison and Hillcrest were helpful when he became an all in one teacher, coach and radio talk show host.  Butch understood the importance of role models. First they came from the home.  He never forgot hearing NBA Legend Spencer Haywood say “If you have got to look beyond your dinner table for your heroes and role models you are in trouble.”

Butch never gave it a second thought when sporting personalities visited the Saturday Program like Spencer, Larry Brown, Roy Jefferson, Harold McLinton, Ted Vactor, Dave Bing, Jim Brown, Red Auerbach, Earl Monroe, Fatty Taylor, John Thompson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Chuck Hinton, Fred Valentine, Willie Wood, Petey Greene, Bill Raspberry and a host of others.

I remember Butch asking me after he became a well known radio personality, “Harold where and how did you come up with the saying ‘Every black face you see is not your brother and every white face you see is not your enemy?’ This was a popular phrase I used to close my sports talk show ‘Inside Sports.’ I had to take him back to the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday program.  I reminded him of the 1968 riots and when I first opened the doors to the Saturday Program.  I tried to recruit black students at Howard University to volunteer and take a 10 minute walk from the campus to Hillcrest to tutor elementary school students.  There were none to be found.

The Director of Hillcrest Children’s Center Dr. Nicholas Long introduced me to the Principal of the Seven Day Adventist School in Takoma Park, Maryland.  The rest is community history.  On Saturdays a group of white teenagers were bussed into the inner-city to tutor black children (joining Redskins Larry Brown, Roy Jefferson, Harold McLinton and Ted Vactor).  Today all over America college students are given credits for volunteering.  I also reminded him of my unique relationship with NBA Legendary coach Red Auerbach and the benefactors of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports all who were black.  They all forgot who they were and where they came from.  They inspired the phrase, “Every black face I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy.”

Butch would often close his show with my phrase and remind everyone that I coined it.  This is unheard of in this business where everyone takes someone else’s idea and uses it as if it were theirs (Inside Sports).  It reminds me of the story of Christopher Columbus discovering America with Native Indians already occupying the land.

Butch is very unique.  There were times when I would question his response and observations as it related to his sports talk show.  He never took it personal.  A very unique quality not often found in Black Men in America.  We take everything personal and when we do take a stand it is usually for all the wrong reasons.  Butch McAdams, you are a unique COACH in “The Game Called Life.”

More @, and

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