Archive for December, 2011

The Christmas Bells’ Story and Beyond

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , , on December 5, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Harold and Hattie Bell just recently celebrated 43 years of marriage and are coordinating their 43rdAnnual Christmas Toy Party for needy children.  Their party is the longest on-going community based toy party drive in America.

The party gave birth to Kids In Trouble in December 1968 shortly after the riots in DC and other inner-cities in America.  There have never been grants or loans to sustain the project.  The two have truly walked by faith and not by sight.

For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts about this unique and one of a kind community involvement of the Bells.  Their lives are rich because of their love for children and society’s underdog regardless of race, creed, color or religion.

I think the “battle of the balance” between Harold’s good works and intentions vs. the controversy that often surrounds him are what make their relationship work.

Hattie is a former DC teacher and her father Dr. Charles H. Thomas Jr. is a legendary Civil Rights advocate who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King. The family hails from Orangeburg, South Carolina.

In the late 50s Dr. Thomas and his wife Elease had their children marching on the picket lines and on many occasions were marched off to jail as a result of their strong belief in equal rights for all.  Hattie was among the jailbirds!

Dr. Thomas was a professor on the campus of South Carolina State University and President of the local chapter of the NAACP.  He founded and started voter registration in the state of South Carolina.  He was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.  Hattie is just a bump off the log when it comes to fighting for the civil rights of others.

Their stories and life experiences range from heartwarming, to jaw dropping to “know he didn’t…”  Harold is a 6th generation Washingtonian.  He has lived through and can recall historic moments in sports, DC politics, Black American and in US History.  His association with sports figures, politicians, entertainers and every day people are unique.  As a community advocate and personality he has been cited in the Congressional Record on three different occasions.  He was the first sports media personality named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian Magazine.

Harold has stood heads and shoulders above everyone else in the community and media.  The reason, he was an athletic and community personality long before he became a media personality!  He didn’t wait to become an expert on the black community after he became a pioneering radio personality.  He had already been there and done that.

He was an all-around athlete at Spingarn High School in NE DC where he stayed in hot water with his teammates and coaches.  The reason, he wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line.  This was seen as selfish by his teammates.  His mentor and savior Coach Dave Brown saw it an endearing quality and made sure he had the ball, but those same qualities got him kicked off the baseball and basketball teams.

Those are the same selfish qualities that have helped make him a success in the Game Called life when it comes to children.  He has a no cut-card and no patient with politicians, community personalities and Pimps in the Pulpit who claim “Children First” and steal in the name of the lord and our children!

He caddied for President Richard M. Nixon and has broken bread with Congressman Lou Stokes, Senators Bob Dole and Strom Thurmond and some of the greatest athletes of our time including, Muhammad Ali, Red Auerbach, Jim Brown and Hank Aaron.

Ali’s business partner Gene Kilroy once said to him, “Harold you would be a millionaire if you were white.” 

He took it as a compliment but it has never been about “Show me the money but more like show me someone in need!”    

His feuds are legendary.  There is no shortage of people willing to criticize and take pot shots at him behind his back.  Why so many?  Who starts them?  Who fuels them?  Are they true?  Why have they lasted so long?  The names are legendary.  Don King (he returned a $10,000 check to King based on principles and he was dead broke), Jim Brown, Larry Brown, James Brown, Jim Vance, John Thompson, Dave Bing, Sugar Ray Leonard.  The list goes on and on.

He says,  “When you have been to the mountain top with Muhammad Ali, had Red Auerbach co-host a sports talk show with you and helped get the great Jim Brown out of jail, where do you think they rate on my measuring stick?

Why do folks fall out with him?  Is there something about Harold Bell that causes these blow ups?  If so, what is it?  Inquiring minds want to know.  People want to know!

Earl Lloyd the first black to play in the NBA summed it up best, he was heard on the John Thompson ESPN radio show saying, “Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.”  That statement speaks volumes.

His honesty and adherence to his principles are unparalleled in media and a political oriented Washington, DC where almost everyone goes along to get along.

He has his share of “Haters” because he speaks the TRUTH as he sees it.

Harold Bell grew up in a single parent home and housing project in the northeast section of Washington, DC.  The lessons he learned where mental illness was present helped shaped how he viewed the world.  His late mother was his hero and continues to be a HUGE influence in his life along with his late grandmother Amy Tyler Bell.

He watched his mother battle her demons and that continues to shape how he views portions of the world today.  He is dedicated to his brother Earl a former DC cop who now resides in a nursing home is another example.  For all the toughness that people see in Harold Bell, many disengage early and don’t get to see the other side him and he could careless.

They miss his huge heart, his love for children his willingness to help anyone who needs help.  He is a tough guy in regard to his principles, but he is a “softie” for children and those who need help.

Harold and Hattie are role models for relationships.  People don’t stay together like them for over four decades.  Their love is a Ossie Davis-Ruby Dee kind of love.

Then there are the battles of balance.  Harold Bell has walked the tear gas mean streets of DC trying to keep the peace during the 1968 riots.  He has quietly walked into homes in Potomac Gardens and Barry Farms at Christmas bearing gifts.

How many people you know do this?  This is the story of legends in our community.  You know you are a legend when folks start to write poems about you as like family friend Earl Tildon did in honor of Harold Bell in August 1993.  The poem was titled “A Grieving Mother’s Tears.”

Nationally syndicated talk show host Tom Joyner cited Harold on his morning drive show recently as a “Little known Black History Fact.” 

Like it or not, their story is credible and there are thousands of benefactors to verify it.

Let me give you a list of the Who’s Who of benefactors who came through Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports before their 15 minutes of fame and too many who have yet to look back or come back;



His one of a kind Inside Sports radio show talk format is now copied around the world.

Harold Bell sometimes suffers from self-inflicted wounds.  He also is a self-reflective man who has no problem apologizing when he is wrong or when an apology is warranted.

Hattie and Harold’s story devotes some time exploring the logic that drives Harold Bell’s behavior it will answer a lot of questions and will put his legacy in its proper perspective.

I’ll tell you another part of the story as I see it.  Harold Bell is human.  He is stubborn.  He is demanding and he will hold you accountable for what you say.  When did that become a crime?  He grew up in an era of where high expectations were required of us.  A handshake and a man’s word would once carry you to the bank those character traits are now bankrupt.  Honesty, loyalty and integrity are a lost art in our community!

The bar has been lowered for many, but not for Harold Bell.  He has never lowered his standards for himself and expects to be treated as he has treated others. That might be the source of much of his conflict with others—they have forgotten and he has not.

That’s my two cents for now on the Christmas Bells.   Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Footnote: On Saturday December 17, 2011 the 43rd annual Kids In Trouble Toy Drive for needy children will be held at the Giant Food Store located at 5500 Silver Hill Road, District Heights, Md. 20746.  You can drop off new toys, clothing or educational tools from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm for elementary school children.  You can also make a donation payable to Kids In Trouble by mailing it to 16010 Excalibur Road #C 407, Bowie, Md. 20716.

Source: Adapted from an article written by Gary A. Johnson about Harold Bell.  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.

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC.  Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities.  The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc.   To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site H. B. Sports


Why Is The Black Community Still Contracting HIV?

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , , on December 5, 2011 by Gary Johnson

In commemoration of World AIDS Day 2011, please feel free to publish this timely op-ed by Cleo Manago. It is important for the African American community to stay viligant  with regard to the issue of HIV/AIDS. Manago is available to discuss this important topic.

(Maybe because we tip around reality to avoid offending non-Black people)

By Cleo Manago, CEO and founder of the AmASSI Centers for Wellness, Education and Culture (AmASSI) and Black Men’s Xchange (BMX)

Washington, DC – As a first-hand eyewitness to the rising of America’s Black HIV/AIDS industry, starting in the mid 1980s, this topic is very poignant to me.  Almost 30 years ago, based on Black AIDS programs observed, I literally predicted that HIV would likely be in our communities for an unparalleled amount of time.  I vividly remember, while in my early 20’s, Black Brothers dying in droves.  Legions of once vital, now terrified young males were filling hospital beds, hospices, and cemeteries.  It was a virtual hell-o-cost. Many Black communities were already stressed by the challenges of the day (e.g. police brutality, high unemployment, problematic media images, a crack epidemic, being stigmatized for being Black and other social problems.)  African Americans, an identity we were just beginning to grapple with, had never in history directly dealt with issues related to same-gender-loving (SGL) or bisexual Black men.Alarmed, in my own way in 1986, I attempted to stem the HIV tide, beginning with a speech I gave at an HIV/AIDS conference held in San Francisco, California. I was invited to speak by the late Black, Puerto Rican, AIDS treatment pioneer Dr. German Maisonette. This was my first time publicly speaking on the issue. My topic was “Effectively Bringing HIV Prevention to Diverse Black Communities.”During my talk, I expressed to the audience that while it was important that gay identified people continue to get proper resources, a more dimensional approach – in terms of identity, education and outreach – was needed to attract diverse Black people to AIDS related services. I went on to mention that many Black males at HIV sexual risk did not identify with or as gay.  I strongly urged them to consider this when rolling out Black prevention and care programs, so as not to alienate people needing prevention services.  If not, many would continue to get infected, and there was a risk to Black women.I was heckled. Someone called me “homophobic” and a “race baiter.”  These remarks noticeably came from behind a banner that said “Black and White Men Together (BWMT).”  BWMT was an organization founded in San Francisco by a White man for White men with a sexual fetish for Black men.  The largely White gay male audience, with a smattering of Black men, all of whom were wrapped around White men, did not want to hear what I was saying.  They had no interest in anything that wasn’t gay identity focused, or Black focused and especially that included women.

As I left the podium, Dr. Maisonette saw the disappointment on my face. I sat next to him, and he said, “Cleo, they don’t understand Black communities.  You may have to launch your recommended approach.”  In 1989, I would establish both the Black Men’s Xchange (BMX) and the first African American AIDS prevention Institute in the State (possibly the country).  I named it the “AmASSI Wellness and Cultural Center.”  AmASSI stands for the African, American Advocacy, Support-Services and Survival Institute.

For years, despite BMX and AmASSI’s unique capacity to attract and serve diverse Black men, we were treated like pariahs.  Just like among the hecklers at that San Francisco conference, work that affirmed being Black and related struggles not solely focused on gay identity, was not valued.  In 1994, I successfully developed and piloted an HIV prevention strategy called Critical Thinking and Cultural Affirmation (CTCA).   Just recently, in 2010, it was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a “promising” Black community HIV intervention. In four more years it may be considered to fill America’s gap in efficient, culturally responsive, African-American designed, HIV prevention methodologies.

In 1986, BWMT was granted millions in federal resources by the CDC for their “National Task Force on AIDS Prevention (NTFAP).”  NFTAP was the nation’s first project funded to provide HIV prevention services to gay identified Black men in America.   However, some years later, due to the organization’s mismanagement of funds and inability to reach Black men, it was defunded and closed.  BWMT members, such as Phill Wilson, have continued nonetheless to recreate themselves to stay relevant in the HIV field, still attracting federal dollars and notoriety.  Nevertheless, HIV is now worst for Black men.

The Black community still has HIV because America has never had an efficient and Black culturally responsive, HIV prevention model, policy, campaign, leadership or agenda – in 30 years. Given that we live in a modern society, this may be difficult to believe.  Yet, we also have our first Black president.  But even Mr. Obama has had to tip around African American issues not to offend non-Black people.  The HIV/AIDS issue has suffered from a similar phenomenon among its self-selected and inefficient leadership.

Preventing HIV among African Americans, especially males (which protects women as well), requires specific and skilled focus on the mastery of risk-reducing behavior change, and guiding people toward dignity and vigilance toward valuing risky sex related impulse control to protect themselves.  This is exactly what CTCA does. Accountability, skilled leadership, and culturally affirming strategies will make HIV a thing of the past.

Cleo Manago is a behavioral health specialist, writer, public speaker, CEO and founder of the Black Men’s Xchange (BMX) and the AmASSI Centers for Wellness, Education and Culture.  Contact him at

Source:  Makeda Smith
(323) 596-1522
Edrea Davis
(818) 613-9521

Cain Drained

Posted in Black America, Black Men, Politics with tags , , on December 2, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson

Presidential candidate, Herman Cain, has had another trying week on the campaign trail.  Those who follow my columns know that I don’t usually write about issues that are salacious in nature, but, the situation with Cain has caused me to make a rare exception.

Cain’s campaign has caused America to suffer from one massive “Cain Drain.”

Cain’s candidacy has caused America and Americans to lose their minds!

What was Cain thinking when he decided to run for president without alerting his campaign team about any possible scandals in his past?

I have worked on many campaigns in my life and the first question you ask a would be candidate is, “is there anything in your past that I should know about that is embarrassing or have you had any legal issues that I should know about?”  The answers to these types of questions are part of the decision making process as to whether one should run or not.

Regardless of what you think about all the women problems Cain is having, he should never have entered the presidential race.  The mere fact that he never disclosed this information to any of his campaign team goes directly to his lack of judgment.  Judgment, after all, is what a presidential campaign is all about.  Based on a core set of values, voters are trying to determine what type of judgments will one make as a possible president of the United States.  In this regard, Cain has failed miserably!

But, Cain is not the only one to have failed miserably.  The media’s lack of judgment has been just as bad as Cain’s.  How the media can take seriously the claims of Cain’s most recent female accuser, Ginger White, is mind-blowing.  She has offered absolutely no proof of a 13 year sexual relationship she claims to have had with Cain.  The media being shown copies of her phone bill does not prove she had a sexual relationship with Cain; it only proves Cain called her!

I thought the job of a journalist was to report the facts.  So, to all my journalist friends, please tell me how you get from phone bills to proving a sexual relationship?  I have several male friends that I talk to several times a day on an almost daily basis; does that prove I am having sex with them?  And yes, sometimes I do get calls at 4:25 in the morning!

What do all of Cain’s accusers have in common?  Their allegations are all based on unsubstantiated information.  None have presented any verifiably evidence to prove their allegations as credible.  These women have done a major injustice to women who have legitimate claims of mistreatment.  Each of Cain’s accusers has been silent about their alleged involvement with Cain for a minimum of 10 years.  If they have been silent for this long, it’s kind of difficult for me to muster up any empathy for them now.

Doesn’t it seem kind of weird that now days women will save stained dresses with bodily fluids for years, phone bills and text messages, or emails?  They seem to go into relationships with the intent of securing information that can be harmful to the other person in the event that the relationship doesn’t work out.

So, what do Cain, the media, and these women all have in common?  They all have demonstrated a gross lack of judgment.

Because of his personal baggage, Cain should have made the judgment not to enter the presidential race.  The media should have made the judgment that without hard, objective evidence, they were not going to air stories about these women’s allegations.  After years of silence and no verifiable evidence, these women should have made the judgment to remain silent.

Cain, please do yourself and America a favor and just end it all now because we have been “Cain drained.”

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 (, Freedom’s Journal Magazine (, and U.S. Africa Magazine (


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