Archive for July, 2010

Is The Obama White House Too White?

Posted in Barack Obama, Black Interests with tags , , , , on July 25, 2010 by Gary Johnson

Maureen Dowd

That’s what NY Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Maureen Dowd opines.  In her July 25, 2010 article entitled, “You’ll Never Believe What This White House Is Missing,” Ms. Dowd writes:

“The Obama White House is too white.

It has Barack Obama, raised in the Hawaiian hood and Indonesia, and Valerie Jarrett, who spent her early years in Iran.

But unlike Bill Clinton, who never needed help fathoming Southern black culture, Obama lacks advisers who are descended from the central African-American experience, ones who understand “the slave thing,” as a top black Democrat dryly puts it.

The first black president should expand beyond his campaign security blanket, the smug cordon of overprotective white guys surrounding him — a long political tradition underscored by Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 when she complained about the “smart-ass white boys” from Walter Mondale’s campaign who tried to boss her around.”

Click here to read the entire article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/opinion/25dowd.html?ref=maureendowd.

Photo credit:  Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

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Judge Harry T. Alexander: A Superstar In The Game Called Life

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags , on July 24, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Harold K. Bell

Judge Harry T. Alexander

“Here Comes the Judge” was a familiar cry in my community programs in the Nation’s Capitol.  My work with at-risk children made me a frequent visitor to the DC Superior Court.

Most people in the community and the media remember my program Kids In Trouble, Inc. as being associated with professional athletes (NFL, NBA & MLB) and rightfully so.

NBA Hall of Fame player and native Washingtonian and now Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing was the first to join the Kids In Trouble team in 1967.  NFL Hall of Fame player and native Washingtonian Willie Wood would join the team in 1968.

Many have forgotten that the backbone of the program were the judges of the DC Superior Court led by Luke C. Moore, Harry T. Alexander and Ted Newman.  Judges, Henry Kennedy, Jr., Eugene Hamilton, Alex Williams and Paul Webber would follow their lead later.  Pro athletes and sitting judges working together to empower the community was unheard in the 70s and 80s.

The “Dream Team” community involvement of DC Superior Court Judges gave hundreds of “at risk” children an opportunity to grow up to be healthy, wealthy and wise.

Judge Harry T. Alexander retired Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia and one of those team players died on July 8, 2010.  He died in his adopted hometown of Washington, DC.  He was 85 years old.

Make no mistake Harry T set the bar when it came to making sure attorneys and police officers respected everyone in his courtroom.  All defendants were to be addressed as Mr., Mrs. , Ms., or Miss.  It did not matter your station in life!

H. R. Crawford was a friend and former Assistant Director of Housing at HUD and long time DC City Councilman.  He recalls a case being thrown out of the judge’s court.

He says, “The arresting police officer kept referring to the black defendants as boys and girls.  He refused to address the defendants as Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss as instructed.  Judge Alexander dismissed the case because of mistaken identity.  He told the police officer, I don’t see any girls or boys in my courtroom.”

Judges Moore and Newman followed Judge Alexander’s lead but without the flamboyance or fanfare.  Judge Alexander had an air about him that the insecure found difficult to deal with.  He walked with a swagger, his head up and back un-bended.

Judge Alexander was born and raised in New Orleans and he never forgot who he was and where he came from or the taught lessons of racism before and after his military service.

From 1943 to 1946 he served his country during World War ll in the United States Navy.  As an honor graduate of the U. S. Navy Hospital Corps School, Judge Alexander was assigned to the Fleet Marine Force where he treated wounded soldiers on Red Beach during the battle of Iwo Jima.

He saved the life of a fellow serviceman who had both legs severed below the knees.

His life saving efforts would carry over to the Brooklyn Navy Hospital where he provided medical care to sailors who were victims of first and second degree burns on the USS Missouri during an explosion at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Although Judge Alexander’s first professional interest was medicine, he ultimately turned to the law.  In 1949 he enrolled at the Georgetown Law School.  The only black man in his class, the judge earned a position on the Law Journal Staff and the Book Review Editorial Board through academic achievement.

He published four articles in two years, two on separate but equal doctrine in which he urged the Supreme Court reversal of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1952, the same year he received his Juris Doctorate Degree.

In 1953, he was hired as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Municipal Court Division and became the first Black in the Appellate Division.  He would later move into the Criminal Trial Division, where he assisted in the prosecution of Jimmy Hoffa.

In 1961, he accepted an offer from Assistant Attorney General Herbert Miller and became a Special Assistant to Robert F. Kennedy in the organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Department of Justice.

Harry T was a fierce but fair prosecutor, handling federal government cases brought against the mafia and labor unions.  In 1966, he was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as an Associate Judge in the General Sessions Court.  He was just 43 years old making him the youngest Black judge at that time.

Justice in most American courts still seems to lean in the direction of Just-Us when it comes to minorities.  Most of the good lawyers/jurist I know are dead, Thurgood Marshall, Johnnie Cochran, Luke C. Moore, Harry T. Alexander, Kenneth Munday, Warren Copeland and Charlie Schultz. Mr. Schultz drowned in a swimming accident in Florida several years ago trying to save a child.

Despite Barack Obama’s new residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue racism is alive and well in America.  The American Court system is still one of racism’s main thoroughfares.  Black men are being jailed in record numbers.

In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson commissioned a panel to study racism in America.  The panel’s conclusion, “The country was headed in the direction of  two Americas, one Black and one White.”

In 2010 the Republicans and Democrats have made that prediction a reality!

In 1970, I found the first ever half-way house established for juvenile delinquents on a military installation on Bolling Air Force Base in DC.  Chief Judge Harold Green and Judges Harry T. Alexander and Luke C. Moore were in attendance to cut the ribbon for this historical moment.

One of the most impressive things to me about the judges was that when they gave you their word you could carry it to the bank.

Judges Moore, Alexander and Newman community involvement attracted other judges to the community.

For example; U. S. Federal Court Judge Alex Williams is another benefactor of Inside Sports and Kids In Trouble, Inc.  I attended school and grew up in NE DC with Judge William Missouri the Chief Administrate Judge of the Upper Marlboro Courthouse.

The two have served as panelist for several of my conferences on youth Violence.  Judge Williams was a recipient of Kids In Trouble Life Time Achievement Award.  Williams’ mentor was Judge Moore and Missouri worked at the U. S. Post office with him but the similarities end there.

Today a Black man or woman who has to face a judge in Prince George’s County or in the DC Superior Court has the deck stacked against them.  Every deck has a joker in a Black Robe.

Black faces may be out front in the Upper Marlboro Court but there is a smell that the KKK aka “Tea Party” is still running things.

How can we forget that the person or persons who murdered Ronnie White is still working as a law enforcement officer and that murder happen on State Attorney’s Glen Ivey’s watch?

The Prince George’s County Police Chief Melvin High retired during the murder investigation and has re-surfaced as a candidate for the Prince Georges’ County Sheriff’s Office.  Something is wrong with this picture!

One of the reasons Justice has become Just-Us in America’s courtrooms is because the Black jurist sitting on the bench have forgotten who they are and where they came from.  They are so busy trying to play fair but fail to realize they are the only ones playing fair!

They have forgotten the sacrifices and great works of Judges Thurgood Marshall, Carl Moutrie, Turk Thompson, Harry T. Alexander, each man stood for something and didn’t fall for just anything.

This is a sad commentary but Black Judges like Alex Williams, Bill Missouri, Eugene Hamilton, Henry Kennedy Jr., Paul Webber and every black judge who sits on the bench at DC Superior and Prince Georges County Courts all stand on the shoulders of Judge Harry T. Alexander.

They were nowhere to be found for his home going services.  How soon they have forgotten.

Retired Judge Ted Newman (judicial warrior), DC Superior Court Judges Herbert Dixon, Erik P. Christian, and Zenora Rankin, and City Councilmen Michael Brown, Harry Thomas, Chairman and Mayoral candidate Vincent Gray, City Councilwoman Mary M. Chen and former Councilman Crawford all paid their respects.

Former Mayor Marion Barry and hopefully lame duck Mayor Adrian Fenty were no-shows.

Where were the Blacks in media, names like Jim Vance, Bruce Johnson, Maureen Bunyan, J. C. Haywood, Kojo Nami, Courtland Milloy?

I am surprised at Washingtonian Colby King who was a eye witness to the great contributions of Harry T.   We wonder why our children don’t know our history and why we are losing it.

The real media crime the black weekly community newspapers, the Afro-American and Informer failed to mention his passing.  There were death notices in both papers of actress Vonetta McGee.

There were favorite stories and memories of Judge Alexander told by friends Kenneth Brown, Al-Malik Farrakhan (Cease Fire dstb), Butch McAdams, Steve “Foots” Bolton, Keith Wade, Russell Price Jr., Michael Williams (Law Clerk), Rev. Edward l. Baldwin Jr., Jimmy Jones, Sly Barnes and Mark Downs.

DC Photographer extraordinary Don Baker tells the unforgettable story of Judge Alexander hanging out at the Foxtrappe Club one evening.

According to Don, there was this one patron trying to be a little too familiar.  He greeted the Judge with “Hey Harry T.”

The Judge not only demanded respect for others in his courtroom but he demanded that same respect for himself in public.

Who was this individual who knew him well enough to call him out of his name?

The Judge didn’t recognize the greeter and asked him, “Did we grow up together, attend the same school, are you a frat brother or have you had dinner at my house?  Sir, until we do I am Judge Harry T. Alexander to you!”

The greeter who was well over six-foot tall stood only two-feet tall when the Judge finished dressing him down.  He quietly disappeared into the crowded room.

I remember feeling his wrath for doing that exact same thing at the Shoreham Hotel.  The occasion, Kids In Trouble, Inc. was honoring the Ohio State football team who had just won the Rose Bowl.

The team had several outstanding athletes from DC who played significant roles in that Rose Bowl win.  They were QB Cornelius Green and running back Woodrow Roach.

The guest included legendary coach Woody Haynes and two time Heisman Trophy winner, running back Archie Griffin.

NBC WRC TV 4 anchorman Jim Vance and I were the Masters of Ceremony for the event.  The head table included Judge Alexander, Dave Bing (NBA), actor Robert Hooks, Congressman Walter Faultroy and the guest of honor.

Jim and I divided the introductions among the head table guest and I ended up with Coach Woody Hayes and Judge Harry T. Alexander to introduce.

I introduced Coach Woody Haynes first and talked about his legendary career and how he had made the Nation’s Capitol a recruiting bonanza for the Ohio State football program.

I next introduced Judge Harry T. Alexander and gave him his props as being a part of a unique team of DC Superior Court Judges. I pointed out the great things he was doing in our community and making a difference in his courtroom.

My mistake, I introduced the judge as “Harry T. Alexander” with the title judge as the trailer!  I had no idea he was pissed off at the oversight made by me until later.

There was an intermission break for the fashion show and the head table guest headed for the lobby.  It was here the Judge gave me the blues for introducing and addressing Coach Woody Haynes as “Coach Haynes and him as Harry T.”

We didn’t speak for about ten years and when we saw each other we were like passing ships in the night.

I remember it was one hot August day and I stopped for gas at Pennsylvania and Minnesota Avenues NE.  There was retired Judge Harry T. Alexander pumping gas he looked up and saw me and without hesitation he said “Well hello Mr. Bell.”

I was so elated I said “How are you doing your Honor” and went over and shook his hand.  I will never forget that moment it was like a piano had been lifted off of my back.  It also told me a lot about Judge Harry T. Alexander, he was a man’s man.

Respect was the benchmark every time you entered Judge Alexander’s courtroom or his space.  The respect that he brought to America’s courtrooms has become a lost art.

He was known as “The People’s Judge” for good reason, after court hours he could be found out in the community giving back.

He was a fixture at Kids In Trouble’s Christmas toy parties for elementary children, celebrity fashions shows and tennis tournaments, etc.

Shortly after hearing of the Judges’ death I encountered former Washington Redskin players, Roy Jefferson, Larry Brown, Ted Vactor, Pat Fisher and Ron McDole at the Langston Golf Course.

They had gathered there to play in a charity golf tournament for the Girls and Boys Clubs of Washington, DC.

When I told Roy of the judge’s death, he had fond memories, he said, “We were all joined at the hip back in the day when it came to the community and kids.”

I will never forget the community parades.  The ones from Martin Luther King Avenue SE to Georgia Avenue NW and “Here Come the Judge” riding his horse or driving a vintage classic automobile to the delight of the crowd.

Judge Alexander believed that physical fitness was important and therefore he stayed physically active.  He loved to ride horses and was an avid golfer.  He entered and competed in the Senior Olympics and won several medals for track and field.

He could talk sports and he did on “Inside Sports” several times during my sports talk show career.  He was a fixture at Redskin games at RFK Stadium.

He could also be the life of the party or the party.  He was without a doubt the best dressed judge at DC Superior Court and probably the best dancer.  He loved during “The Hustle” and other dance steps at his favorite hang-out, the Foxtrappe.

H. R. Crawford remembers him as the President of the NAACP and how he became inpatient because the organization was not making their presence felt.

The new NAACP CEO Ben Todd Jealous is his type of man.  Mr. Jealous is the new Sheriff in town and it looks and sounds like it won’t be business as usual.

Shakespeare once said “Kill all the lawyers” Judge Harry T. Alexander was a keeper!

Al Sharpton Criticizes Rush Limbaugh For His George Steinbrenner Comments

Posted in Black Interests with tags , , , , on July 15, 2010 by Gary Johnson

*Al Sharpton has released a statement condemning radio host Rush Limbaugh for his comments about the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

On Rush’s radio show Tuesday, the conservative host remembered Steinbrenner as the “classic capitalist” by saying: “That cracker made a lot of African-American millionaires. …And at the same time he fired a bunch of white guys.”

The watchdog group MediaMatters pounced on the comments, calling them “race-baiting.”

Sharpton said the remarks were “repugnant and offensive whether they were intended to be facetious or tongue and cheek.”

Click here to visit the Media Matters web site to listen to Rush Limbaugh’s comments.

You can read Rev. Al’s statement below:

“The statements made by Rush Limbaugh about George Steinbrenner were repugnant and offensive whether they were intended to be facetious or tongue and cheek. The fact that he could make these comments less than 24-hours after Mr. Steinbrenner’s death makes it even more offensive.

For the last 20-years I have known George Steinbrenner and we have quarreled over diversity and community programs but I always found him fair, direct, and genuinely prone to do what he felt was right. He generated a lot of money for a lot of players as well as for baseball as a whole and should not be disparaged in any matter.

In later years, in a twist of irony, his granddaughter and my daughter became close, which only brought me closer to knowing him, and we developed a mutual respect. Mr. Limbaugh and his broadcasters owe his family an apology that the first day of their mourning to have to be subjected to this type of rhetoric.

To think that just a year ago Mr. Limbaugh sought to be an owner of an NFL team and has now said this about a legendary baseball team owner. This says more about Mr. Limbaugh than it does Mr. Steinbrenner.”

Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network

The N.A.A.C.P. Has Racism Down To A Tea (Party)

Posted in Black Interests, Politics with tags , on July 15, 2010 by Gary Johnson


By Raynard Jackson

Every time the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) raises its head, somehow they seem to find a new way of embarrassing themselves (and the Black community).

They are currently having their national conference in Kansas City, MO.  And they have made a media splash this year; but for all the wrong reasons.  The NAACP is has been dubbed by the media as the nation’s premier civil rights organization.  For once, I wish someone would define “civil rights,” but that’s another column.

In recent years, the NAACP has lost its relevance, especially in regards to the younger generation like mine.  Very few of my friends are members of the NAACP and most have never even considered joining.

There is no question that the NAACP has a storied past and they should be recognized for such.  My readers know I have been very critical of the NAACP over the years.  I would love to be able to write a glowing column about them, but dammit, they have to give me something to work with.  Unfortunately, they have not given me anything to work with for today’s column.

During the planning phase of putting together a national convention, the leadership of the organization must always ask, “What is the sound bite they want the media to focus on?”  Based on the media coverage from the NAACP’s convention, it is quite obvious that they never asked this question during their planning phase.

Of all the issues and problems facing the Black community, how can they waste time passing a resolution labeling the Tea Party movement as racist?  And the NAACP wonders why they are considered irrelevant?  In the immortal words of football great, Chad Johnson (Cincinnati Bengals), “CHILD, PLEASE!”

According to the NAACP’s website:  “Today (Tuesday), NAACP delegates passed a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  They actually wasted hours and hours on this type of foolishness. I have an idea, let’s also get them to pass a resolution stating that “Hitler didn’t like Jews, Tiger Woods does not date Black Women, the sun rises in the east & sets in the west, LeBron James now plays for the Miami Heat, and HBO is spelled HBO.”

Continuing quoting from their website, “the resolution will not become official NAACP policy until approved by National Board of Directors in October.”  I am not kidding you; this is actually on their website!  So, how will they “implement” this policy?  Will they require all employees to swear under oath that they recognize the Tea Party as racist?

Juxtapose this with what’s going on in Memphis, Tennessee.  Congressman Steve Cohen is a two term member of the House running for reelection in November.  Cohen is the only white person in Congress who represents a majority Black district.  He is being challenged by former 18 year mayor, Willie Herenton (who is Black).

Herenton has made race the central theme of his campaign and has been using incendiary language, cloaked with a lot of code words.  His campaign slogan is “Just One.”  This is in reference to the fact that Tennessee has no Blacks in its Congressional delegation.

According to a report by the Associated Press (AP) last month, Herenton held up a picture and said, “This picture is totally unacceptable.”  He was holding up a photo of the state’s two U.S. senators and nine representatives.  He continued, “I’m truly urban. This is an urban district. It has some critical urban needs that you have to feel, feel within your belly.”

The AP article continues, on one occasion, Herenton drew a line when comparing blacks and whites, saying the facts show whites have had better opportunities to succeed than blacks. So, more diversity is needed in Congress to level the playing field, Herenton said.

If a white candidate had made similar statements, he would have been forced to end his campaign (and rightfully so).  So, if the NAACP is so concerned about racist elements within an organization, then they should also pass a resolution condemning Herenton.

The NAACP has made no public denunciation of Herenton and his racist statements in his congressional race.  But, yet they want Republicans and Tea Party members to denounce one of their own; even though they are not willing to live by the same moral standard.

Weak organizations take strong positions on weak issues.  This is the reason no one takes the NAACP seriously anymore.

The theme for this year’s convention is: “One Nation, One Dream.”  If we are to achieve this goal, then groups like the NAACP must speak out against racism whenever and wherever it happens to rear its ugly head—even if it emanates from one of our own.

The NAACP’s silence on Willie Herenton has me teed off!

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).

The Bridge: Of Harlots & Manwhores

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , on July 13, 2010 by Gary Johnson


By Darryl James

At 38, Ron had been with enough women to fill twelve issues of Essence.

He had loved a few, but mostly, he had either hurt them or had been hurt by them.

At this stage in his life, he wanted something more.

Ron wanted more than just the sexual conquests that most of the women had been.

And he wanted more than just the few months of happiness most of his relationships had been.

Older and wiser, he knew that in order to have something different, he had to be something different.

So, he spent time alone after the last failed relationship. Instead of seeking more sexual conquests, he sought resolution for his emotional turmoil and unrequited desires for love.

Instead of dating more women, he dated himself, taking time to process where he had been, where he was and where he wanted to go. Some of that time was spent alone, some was spent in church and some was spent on the couch of his therapist.

After two years, he felt ready to venture out into the world of dating again, with a new mission to find something better than he had before.

At 36, Leslie had allowed more than forty men inside of her. Some had been inside of her heart, some only inside of her bed, but all of them had been inside of her body.

And now that she was focused on finding someone to have and to hold for the rest of her life, she had all of the men in her life inside of her mind.

Leslie wanted something different, but the thought had not occurred to her that she should be something different.

When she was out with the girls, they all talked about how men were dogs and that since you couldn’t beat them, you needed to join them. And so, just like they imagined men were doing, Leslie and her girls were on a mission each weekend to find cute guys who could keep their beds warm for a while and take them to nice places.

Not that Leslie didn’t believe in love.

She had been in love a few times and had actually loved the last man she had spent time with. But the two of them had been unable to find a way to keep the music playing, so she simply turned it off.

And she thought she had turned everything off, but the heartache was still playing, even as she pretended that it would only take the “right” man to break through her icy exterior and warm her heart.

Ron walked into a bar one Friday night and right into the peripheral vision of Leslie, who began staring while her friends began chiding her.

“Don’t just stare at him, girl,” said Linda, who believed in being aggressive to get whatever she wanted out of life. “Go get that tall, fine man. He’s here by himself, so he is single and you are ready to mingle.”

“I ain’t chasing no man,” Leslie replied. “I’ll just wait until he notices me and he’ll come to me.”

And, Ron did notice her.

Sitting at the bar, he had a direct view of Leslie and noticed that she was looking his way, so he decided to make a move on her.

A few quick words and Ron was walking away with Leslie’s number.

The following weekend, they went out to dinner, followed by drinks and another date the next day. Their conversations were filled with what each wanted out of life and love.

Ron made it clear that he was looking for a woman to be his girl and much more.

Leslie said that she wanted to be someone’s girl and to be in love.

On the third day, Ron invited Leslie over for dinner. He cooked a gourmet meal of steamed salmon, scalloped potatoes and asparagus spears.

Leslie brought a bottle of wine that the two enjoyed before and during the meal.

Intoxicated with food, wine and the newness of dating, the two kissed and explored and touched and rubbed.

Ron had already decided that since he liked Leslie, he wasn’t going to press her to have sex with him. He wanted to take his time and really get to know her.

But Leslie had already decided that since she liked Ron, she was going to have sex with him. She wanted to get naked with this man, not even thinking about any other portion of the relationship she talked about wanting.

So, she made her move and made an announcement.

“Let’s do this,” she said. “But I want to be clear—I don’t want any strings attached to what we’re about to do. It’s just sex and it doesn’t have to be bigger than that.”

Ron was stunned. To him, Leslie sounded like the player he used to be. He had expected and wanted so much more, but he knew from her words that there was only so much to expect now.

And so they did the deed.

Two whores whoring. One reformed whore falling back into old habits and one consistent whore, claiming to want more, yet unable to shake the habits of finding less.

Neither called the other after the tryst.

Ron didn’t call because he wanted to go back to his plan to be more and find more. What he had with Leslie was more of what he no longer wanted.

Leslie didn’t call again because she actually did like Ron. But because she was afraid that he would only use her for sex, she had decided to beat him to the punch. Yet, she still hoped that someday…

Ron remained consistent and met a beautiful woman who refused to get overly physical until they had dated for a while and had a mutual understanding of what they were trying to build. They both wanted the same thing and had each worked hard to be the thing they wanted.

Leslie went out to the bar with her girls the following weekend.

They talked about how all men were dogs, but Leslie couldn’t help thinking that for all of their talk, she and her girls had been barking themselves.

Someone once said that you can’t turn a whore into a housewife, and while that may not always be true, what is true is the simple fact that the whore has to first acknowledge being a whore.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

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