Archive for August, 2014

Larry Graham Is Still Funky After All These Years

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Music with tags , , , , on August 28, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Larry Graham

By Gary A. Johnson,
Publisher, Black Men In America.com

The last time I saw Larry Graham and Graham Central Station I was in High School.  I saw him at the Capital Center in Landover, MD, just outside of Washington, D.C.  I went to the show tonight expecting Mr. Graham to be FUNKY, but not this FUNKY.  After all, he’s been around for over 40 years.  I figured he may have lost a step, or developed a hitch in his “funk-get-along.”

Talk about being wrong.  After last night’s show, 68-year old Larry Graham catapulted himself into my All Time Top 5 List of live performers.  Before seeing Larry Graham last night my top 5 best live performers were:

  1. James Brown
  2. Prince
  3. Earth, Wind & Fire
  4. The Jackson 5/Michael Jackson
  5. Brian Culbertson

After the Larry Graham experience last night, Brian Culbertson has been voted out of the Top 5 to the #6 slot with Larry Graham and Graham Central Station comfortably occupying the #5 slot.

Larry Graham

Last night the show started with the band coming on stage from the right wing.  The crowd was looking toward the stage chanting “Larry! Larry! Larry!”  The crowd erupted in applause as Larry Graham came from the rear of the building walking through the audience playing his bass guitar as he made his way to the stage.  Dressed in his signature all-white suit and a white hat topped off by a huge aqua blue feather, Graham also wore a floor length “Elvis-like” jacket.  By now everyone was on their feet (including me and I hate standing at concerts).  Graham walked by our table playing that bass guitar like the Pied Piper of Funk.

His band, Graham Central Station (GCS) has gone through a number of changes in membership.  The current GSC band are all young folks who grew up idolizing Graham.  The band also featured female vocalist Ashling Cole, who goes by the nickname “Biscuit.”  Ms. Cole has the daunting task of taking over the vocals made famous by original GCS member, Patrice “Chocolate” Banks.  I had my doubts if the young girl named “Biscuit” was up to the task.  She quickly sold me and the audience when she belted out the song, “I Can’t Stand the Rain.”  Biscuit, who says her musical influences were Teena Marie and Chaka Khan, also sang a Chaka Khan song to prove that she could do the “heavy lifting” vocally when asked.

After about an hour into the show Graham told the crowd:  “You better call the babysitter and tell them you will be home late.” Dude played for 3 hours!  Graham had 5 encores! (I guess he forgot that some of us had things to do the next morning).

Throughout the night Larry Graham and the band performed their 1975 anthem “The Jam” before taking fans back in time with “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again), and “Dance To The Music” from Graham’s Sly & The Family Stone days.  At one point the band exited the stage leaving Graham playing the thumb funk box, alone with the drummer.  In addition, the band played a medley of musical influences that included music by George Duke, Prince, Chaka Khan, Miles Davis, James Brown, The Originals and The Ohio Players.  If that wasn’t enough, Larry Graham allowed people from the audience to come on stage and showcase their talent by jamming with the band.  Can you imagine going on stage and saying: “I play bass,” and Larry Graham takes his bass off and gives it to you to play?

Everyone who came on stage had an opportunity to play their instrument of choice or sing and the band members stepped aside, gave up their instrument for you and let you jam with the band.  I almost ran on stage to sing Sly’s “If You Want Me To Stay.”  I would have turned The Birchmere out!

After the show, Graham, the band, and his wife Tina of 40 years, came out and signed autographs, took pictures and mingled with the crowd until well after midnight.  If you have a chance to re-live your youth, go see Larry Graham.  I was exhausted after the show.  I think I pulled a hamstring bouncing up and down to “1999” during the Prince medley of the show. It was that song or James Brown’s “I Got The Feeling.”

To learn more about Larry Graham visit his official website Larry Graham.comCheck out this classic video of Larry Graham with his buddy Prince.

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

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Johnathan Gentry’s Rant Against Al Sharpton and the Ferguson, Missouri Rioters and Looters

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Johnathan.Gentry

Shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Johnathan Gentry became an Internet sensation when he went on a rant against the black community and civil rights leaders following the riots in Ferguson.  Gentry was also on the FOX News Network calling out everyone from President Obama to the NAACP and Al Sharpton.  If you have not seen or heard of Mr. Gentry, you can check him out here.

Here is Mr. Gentry’s appearance on FOX:

ERIC HOLDER GUARANTEES FAIRNESS IN FERGUSON WHERE NOBODY PLAYS FAIR

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Racism with tags , , on August 23, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.  Associated Press

By Harold Bell

I experienced the 1968 riots in Washington, DC up close and personal as a Roving Leader for the DC Recreation Department’s Youth Gang Task Force.  The riots in Ferguson, Missouri brought back bad memories. On the mean streets in the U Street NW corridor during the riots my co-worker and former Green Bay Packer great Willie Wood and I teamed up with the late U. S. Marshall in Charge, Luke C. Moore. Luke was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.  He was the first black in modern day history to head the U. S. Marshall Service in America.

The three of us walked arm and arm through the tear gas streets of NW DC trying to maintain peace. Luke would go on to become a DC Superior judge and Willie Wood would be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989.

When President Lyndon Johnson ordered all businesses to shut down during the riots it was Luke Moore who called the White House and asked the President to reconsider and allow Ben’s Chili Bowl to remain open for first responders. Request granted—when the dust, tear gas and military personnel had cleared the streets, Lee’s Flower Shop, Industrial Bank, and Ben’s Chili Bowl were the only black businesses still standing.

BENs-CHILI-BOWL

Luke Moore’s contributions to Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports can never be measured in time or money. He helped me get the Bolling Boys Base for juvenile delinquents off the ground on Bolling Air Force Base in SE DC. He went directly to DC Mayor Walter Washington and Department of Human Resources Director, Joe Yeldell and said “Let’s do it!” The longevity of the Kids In Trouble Christmas Toy Party (1968-2013) can be directly attributed to him.

Luke encouraged other judges to get involved in the community including, Chief Judge Harold Greene with the opening of Bolling Boys Base. The athletes, politicians, radio and television personalities would all follow his lead when it came to community involvement. We had a great crew of judges from the DC Superior Court where the perquisite was fairness for all. They included “the one of a kind” Harry T. Alexander, Chief Judge Greene, Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton, Chief Judge Ted Newman, and Henry Kennedy Jr. The community and children were really first and they led by example.

The riots in Ferguson made me remember that there was once equal justice for all in the DC Superior in the Nation’s Capital. A white cop would dare not show up in Judge Harry Alexander’s courtroom and not properly address a black defendant as Mr. or Ms. Judge Moore demanded the same type of respect for minorities from lawyers and cops with attitudes. Somewhere along the way I lost Federal Judge Alex Williams when he received his Federal Judgeship for the state of Maryland.

In a recent interview the Chief of the Prince George’s County Police Department said, “Ferguson would never happen in Prince George’s County!” Are you kidding me? When it comes to police brutality in America Prince George’s County is second only to the LAPD in California (remember Rodney King).  The PG County Police Department was monitored by the FBI for over 2 decades as it relates to police brutality.

Have we forgotten that a young Afro-American man was recently found hung by his neck in a jail cell in Upper Marlboro, MD? He was waiting to be tried on the hit and run death of a white PG County police officer. He was the victim of police vigilante justice, here and now in the 21st century. The renegade cops were never brought to trial. A black correctional officer was paid off and took the fall for the renegade white cops who are still in uniform patrolling our streets.

A black Federal Judge Alex Williams had an opportunity to say “Enough is enough” but instead of sending a message he sentence the correctional officer to 1 to 3 years. The sentence condones the department’s outrageous behavior. If this would have been the former black Prince Georges County Judge William Missouri, I would have said “Business as usual.” Missouri was known as “The Hanging Judge” when came to sentencing black folks, this made him a hero in “The Plantation” style halls of the Prince Georges County Court House.
Thanks to Alex Williams and Bill Missouri the KKK is still alive and well in the PG County Police Department.

Let’s not forget there was the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin walking through a white neighborhood shot to death, or the black teenager Jordan Davis shot to death in a Florida parking lot for playing his music too loud, a black man strangled to death on a NY Street in broad daylight for selling loose cigarettes, a black female college professor is dragged across street by her hair for jay walking, a white California State Trooper caught on video sitting on top of a black woman beating on her like a punching bag.

And now an 18 year old unarmed Michael Brown is shot 6 times and killed in broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri for reasons still unknown. The common denominator, all the acts were committed at the hands of white men who want to take America back? Brings back memories of Emmitt Till!  Chicago, New York, St. Louis, LA, Baltimore, Detroit, DC, Maryland and now Ferguson, a suburb in Missouri have become breeding grounds for brutal and corrupt cops who in the final analyst are nothing but cowards with a badge and gun. They hide behind a Code of Silence!

The most organized gangs in America are not “The Crips & Bloods” it is your local police departments.

USA Today: Two black men are shot and killed by police every week in America!

Eric Holder’s track record during his tenure as U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia was not encouraging when came to addressing police violence against the black community. As the U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1993 to 1997, Holder was in charge of policing the local police. When police violence spiraled out of control, he did little to protect Washington residents from rampaging lawmen. The number of killings by Washington police doubled between 1988 to 1995, the year 16 civilians died due to police gunfire. Washington police shot and killed people at a higher rate than any other major city police department, as a Washington Post investigation revealed in late 1998. The Post reported that “Holder said he did not detect a pattern of problematic police shootings and could not recall the specifics of cases he personally reviewed.” Holder declared: I can’t honestly say I saw anything that was excessive.”

But in 2009 as U. S. Attorney for United States of America in President Barak Obama’s administration I heard and saw a different Eric Holder. In a speech during Black History Month at the Justice Department he declared, “Americans wrongly consider the United States a melting pot. In things racial, we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” It took a whole lot of balls to make that statement as a black man and politician, but it was the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

His stance reminded me of the best seller “The Spook That Sit by the Door.” I said to myself, “finally, a black man who is not scare of the truth.” The sad part of this charade in Ferguson, the right hand does not have a clue to what the left hand is doing and don’t seem to care. The so-called experts, the talking heads and the writing hands in media are just as clueless, but as boxing promoter Don King once said, “They are a necessary evil. They bring light to Justice & Just-Us!”

The country is based on a racist court system of Justice & Just-Us. A court system where a white man caught stealing millions of dollars can have a new law written into the books on his behalf and it is called “White Collar Crime?”

How can people who call themselves human beings allow an 18 year old to lie in the streets dead for over 4 hours with his parents present and no one in authority is sensitive enough to try comfort them?

One of my favorite television shows to watch on the weekends is “Animal Planet” and it is times like this I am left wondering, who are the Real Animals?

It is easy to understand why politicians like Harry Reid are also clueless. He recently said, “I cannot believe that the scenes unfolding in Ferguson are taking place in an American city in the year of 2914.” My question, ‘Harry where you been?’

The problem, he and his Republican counterparts across the aisle have is they never have been black and have never spend any significant time in the war zones of our inner-cities and therefore have become a part of the problem.

Police shootings and hanging of black men and black on black murder have become the norm in America replacing Apple Pie.

USA Today: Two black men are shot and killed by police every week in America!

Why is it that the media and others with hidden agendas want to make a point that “Outsiders” are responsible for the violence in Ferguson?

They evidently think that American citizens don’t have a stake in this charade? Have they forgotten Selma and the march on Washington where outsiders could be seen as far as the eye could see and made a difference—where is the beef?

There was a Kodak Moment in Ferguson when a white reporter put his microphone in the face of a young black man who was involved in the protest. The reporter was inquiring about “Outside Agitators” from Chicago, California and the violence they had brought to the city. The young brother took a deep breath and said ‘There are no outsiders we are all in this together.”

Where and when will this madness end? I once thought in my life time—I now have serious doubts!

USA Today: Two black men are shot and killed by police every week in America!

“Hands up Black Men in America”—Fairness not on my watch.

“The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, it is dangerous because of those who do and say nothing.” — Albert Einstein

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 The Original Inside Sports.com.

Wilmer Cooksey, Jr.: The Man Behind The Corvette

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , , on August 19, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Wil Cooksey - Corvette

Many of you were introduced to Wilmer “Wil” Cooksey, Jr., through our exclusive interview with him in 2003.  Mr. Cooksey was named manager of the world’s only Corvette plant in February of 1993.  As a lifelong fan of the car, it was a dream job come true.  Last year, Wilmer Cooksey, Jr. was inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Mr. Cooksey received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee State University in 1965. He earned a Master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Toledo in 1972 and completed post graduate work in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University.

A Distinguished Graduate of the Officer’s Training School, Cooksey served as an executive officer in the U.S. Army Artillery, 1st Lieutenant. His last assignment was a year in Vietnam. For his efforts while in Vietnam, he was awarded the bronze medal.

Mr. Cooksey’s General Motors career is the epitome of achievement beginning with his first job as an assistant professor in industrial engineering at GMI in Flint, Michigan to his current position.

Mr. Cooksey’s accomplishments are long and historic. In 1997 Cooksey received the “Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award.” Also in 1997, Austin Peay University named him “Achiever of the Year” in their Focus Program. He also received a Presidential Citation from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in recognition of exemplary experience that honors Tennessee State University. Dollars & Sense Magazine honored Cooksey in their 1998 “Salute to America’s Best & Brightest Business and Professional Men and Women.” Cooksey is featured on the cover of African Americans on Wheels magazine as they named the Corvette the “Best Urban Car of the Year.” He has been honored as an Outstanding Graduate of Tennessee State and named a “Black Achiever in the Industry” by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Here is our original interview with Mr. Cooksey.  That interview was conducted by Gary A. Johnson in 2003.

Wilmer Cooksey, Jr.:  The Man Behind The Corvette

Wil-at-Desk_320x2441

BMIA.com:  How important of a factor was education in your accomplishments? 

Education has been critical to my success.  In the 1950’s and 60’s you couldn’t expect or dream about opportunities if you didn’t further your education.  The same holds true today.  Growing up I saw so many people who were not given the professional opportunities available because of a lack of education.  My mother taught my siblings as well as myself the importance of education.  In fact, all eight of us went to college.  An education is something no one can ever take away from you.

BMIA.com:  You’re involved in a lot of community service work.  Were you taught as a child to be a good citizen or is this something that you learned later in life in the work world? 

Growing up in a lower-income, blue-collar family in Texas, we depended on services to help us out during certain times.  Even though my mom worked full-time in a hospital, money was very tight.  There were quite a few times when services would bring food or Christmas presents to the house for us kids.

Now I am in a position to return the favor and help others.  Supporting my community through the United Way and educational institutions, like Tennessee State University (TSU), are very important to our workplace and to me.

BMIA.com:  Who influenced you the most? 

Wil Cooksey:  My mother always had her sights set on earning a college education.  However, she was burdened by taking care of our family and working full-time.  She took night courses and always kept trying.  She was absolutely delighted when I as well as my siblings earned our college degrees.  It was her focus and determination that influenced me the most growing up.

My wife, Dr. Elizabeth Cooksey, has also been a great influence in my life.  We met while we were in college at TSU.  It was with her guidance and example that I saw the importance of getting a great education as well as having a good social life.  She’s been a guiding light ever since.  This year we’ll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

BMIA.com:  What’s your position on Affirmative Action in the workplace? 

Wil Cooksey:  Affirmative Action is absolutely necessary.  I believe that organizations are aware of the importance of diversity.  However, many do not have the action steps behind it to support creating a diverse workforce.  Unfortunately, you are not going to get the right mix of people automatically.

In today’s competitive market it is very difficult to recruit the best and brightest.  It takes a good recruiting program to attract the talent and diversity that companies need to be successful.  It requires mentoring, training and hiring practices that bring in people who are going to continue to grow and challenge traditional thought.

BMIA.com:  Based on your experiences, how does someone fight racism and sexism in America? 

Wil Cooksey:  The most important way to fight racism or sexism is not to feed or perpetuate it.  You cannot win if you use racism to fight racism.  Every individual has to walk the talk and set the example of how you as an individual want to be treated.

Education is the key.  I believe that ignorance is the basis for most of the racism and sexism that we see in our society.  We will all have a greater understanding of one another if we support educational programs and opportunities for all different kinds of people.

BMIA.com:  What was your earliest or most vivid recollection of being “different?”

Wil Cooksey:  I never really realized that I was different until I started wanting to go to the movies with my friends.  Not only was I black and had to sit in the upper balcony but I was also tall.  In fact I was so tall for my age that I had to carry my birth certificate with me so the movie attendants would believe that I was 10 years old.  Otherwise, I would have had to pay more than 10 cents to see some of the greatest westerns ever made.

It is at that age that I realized the inequities between the races.  By working and being surrounded by all types of people, I quickly learned that if I was going to be successful you have to have a better understanding of all people.

BMIA.com:  What would you say has been your biggest success to date? (Personal and/or business). 

Wil Cooksey:  My entire career I have focused on becoming the plant manager of the world’s greatest sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette.  The success that the car and the plant have had – winning more than 55 industry awards – in the past 5 years and launching the brand new Cadillac XLR means a great deal to me.  It has taken the teamwork and focus of everyone at Bowling Green Assembly.

Personally, my greatest success is being happily married to my wife for forty years.  We’ve been together through degrees, moves, wars, children and careers.  I am very proud of her and her accomplishments.  Most recently she earned her doctorate in secondary education.  It is with her unending support that I am most successful.

BMIA.com:  Did you have any mentors growing up?

Wil Cooksey:  When I first hired into General Motors your mentors were people you didn’t even know.  They worked behind the scenes making sure that you were given opportunities that you would traditionally be looked over for.  I began my career as a professor at GMI, now Kettering University, and teaching statistics.  However, my goal was to get back into production management and to become a plant manager. At that time GM’s Chairman of the Board was Dick Terrell.  It was as a faculty member that I met Mr. Terrell.  The board used to come and have lunches with the faculty quite frequently.  He took an interest in my career and helped me transition to a career in manufacturing where I eventually became a plant manager.  Little did I know that he was pushing my career from behind the scenes.

Now I serve as a mentor to many students at TSU and I can proudly look at the careers of employees who have grown up through my ranks.  It is my pleasure and greatest achievement to help mentor those who have ambition, talent and a drive to succeed.

BMIA.com:  What makes the Corvette so special? 

Wil Cooksey:  There is no one thing that makes Corvettes so special.  I could talk about all the specific reasons for hours.

Corvettes have to be in your blood.  When I lived in Atlanta I decided that it would be for the best to sell my Corvettes since I had so many different interests.  It didn’t take long before a sense of loneliness and emptiness set in deep inside me.  Corvettes take a place in your life whether you are driving, washing or showing them.  Very quickly I went to Tom Juniper Chevrolet because I was having Corvette withdrawal.  He let me take a two-toned white and silver ’82 home right off the lot.  I was happy once again.  Since that day I have never been without a Corvette.

Basically Corvettes end up being members of your family.  It doesn’t matter the year or body style, they are all special.  You depend on them and they take car of you.

BMIA.com:   Under your leadership, Corvette has won a number of prestigious awards.  What did you do to re-establish the Vette and win these awards? 

Wil Cooksey:  Bowling Green Assembly has been very successful due to entire team working together to achieve one common goal.  And, that is to be the best assembly plant in the world.  Our organization had to improve its productivity, performance and quality in order to be more competitive.  It took the partnership of the local UAW to take some bold steps and training of the entire workforce. We focused on safety and quality.

We also created enthusiasm by listening closely to our customers.  We started to use customer feedback from JD Power, Corvette shows and other mechanisms to solve quality problems.  It took teams of engineers, management and UAW members working together to get our quality where it is today.  We have learned that if you develop close relationships and listen to your customers you will be successful.

BMIA.com:  How important is diversity in today’s workplace? 

Wil Cooksey:  Diversity is essential.  In fact it’s mandatory if you are going to be successful. Our customers are diverse just as the people would build our products are diverse.  Companies today will not meet the needs of their customer base if they don’t have the same diversity in the workplace.

There’s strength in diversity, which means there is more than one way to always look at something. As a leader, if you have a diverse organization there is a greater probability that you will make the best decisions for the entire workforce.

BMIA.com:   As you climbed the corporate ladder was it difficult to find a happy balance between work and family? 

Wil Cooksey:  Unfortunately, you sacrifice a little bit of your time.  However, you have to take on the challenge to support your career as well as your family.  I didn’t get to go to all of my son’s track meets or my daughter’s band activities as they were growing up, but I did go to a majority of them.

It has helped that my wife is a professor and has a demanding schedule as well.  It is important that we both remain flexible and know one another’s schedule.

BMIA.com:  You are a trailblazer.  What advise would you give to someone who wanted to make a career in corporate America?

Wil Cooksey:  Here’s the advice that I would give any young professional wanting to make a career in corporate America:

–          It is important to have an excellent education.   Excel in your studies and take educational opportunities such as internships and work programs that will give you professional experience in your field.

–          As a student, make sure that you attract company representatives that can give you good advice and take on a mentorship role.  As a student or young professional, you are going to have to help navigating your career.

–          If you are going to be successful it is imperative that you have strong people skills.  Essentially, all people want to do the right thing. When entering a new organization you need to be part of the team and not come in a threatening manner.

–          Always show initiative.  Remember, it is deeds not words that get the job done.  You have to be known for getting the job done successfully.

–          Finally, no matter what the job is remember to always do your best.  Never let anyone see your displeasure with a certain job or let them see you sweat.  Go into each job to make the most of it.  If you always do your best, no one including yourself, will ever be able to question your integrity.

BMIA.com:  What’s next for Corvette?

Wil Cooksey:  We’re very excited about the future of Corvette both with the 2004 model and the upcoming C6.  It has been a great pleasure to be involved and contribute to three generations of Corvettes. 

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The 2014 Corvette

BMIA.com:   What’s next for Wil Cooksey? 

Wil Cooksey:  It’s my goal to have a pleasant and enjoyable end of my career.  The most rewarding thing is to see the people’s lives that I’ve touched as they go on ahead and achieve great things.   There’s never a dull moment in my life.  I am always ready for the next challenge.

BMIA.com:  Is there anything you’d like to share with our readers that I didn’t ask? 

Wil Cooksey:  People are your greatest resource.  It’s amazing what you can achieve when everyone works together.  You’re greatest strength is those who surround and support you.

This interview was conducted and posted on http://www.blackmeninamerica.com in 2003 and is being re-posted by popular demand.

Business Exchange by William Reed: Africans Come To America

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Money/Economics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Obama Bites Lip

By William Reed

As he winds through his second term with high “disapproval” numbers, Blacks are the only people President Barack Obama can turn to. As we enter August, a third of America’s voters think Obama is the worst president since World War II. Except for Blacks providing an upside, the first African-American president of the United States’ image is one of inexperience and ineptness. With his domestic and foreign policy portfolios both in tatters, Obama has turned to Blacks for support. This time it’s leaders from African nations that are “in good standing” with America. As he holds history’s first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Obama is hosting 50 African heads of state and more than 100 of their ministers.

Recent domestic polls have Obama being viewed as “less competent” and “more dishonest” than George W. Bush. Obama’s approval rating among American registered voters stands at 45 percent, but among Blacks, his job approval soars to 86 percent. Almost nine out of every 10 African American would support Obama no matter what, no matter how far America sinks under his leadership, even if they have no jobs and their own lives are in shambles. Seventy percent of Africans say pretty much the same about Obama.

The three-day Summit is the largest event any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government. Those Africans coming to America for the Summit will be displaying the latest fashions, prints and styles of the continent. But, not much of substance is expected. It’s a “photo-op” to help Blacks, from here and there, feel good and in charge. Truth is, China, which devotes half of its $14.41 billion aid budget to its projects on the continent, regularly hosts individual African heads of state and has far outpaced the U.S. in trade and everything economic, in Africa. The structure of today’s trade relations between the U.S. and Africa is primarily dominated by fuel and fuel-related products.
Colonialist countries exploited Africa for centuries. As “the Black President,” Obama gets a “pass” for America’s colonial practices, but little else. These days China is the “most dominate” foreign country in Africa. The Africans are being very polite in coming to America because little else will come of the occasion other than a “Polaroid moment.” Obama has a long way to go to put America on economic par with China among Africans.

The African continent is home to more than a billion people that speak more than 2,000 languages. Only a few of Africa’s 54 leaders – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who is still the target of U.S. sanctions and the Sudanese whom the U.S. bombed and assisted in the separation of South Sudan – were not invited to the Summit.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is hosting the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial at the World Bank. Obama’s Power Africa initiative is a key Summit issue item. “Power” is one of Africa’s most pressing challenges. According to the World Bank, only a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity and 10 percent per-year capacity growth is needed to meet electricity demand.
A Summit Business Forum will be presented by the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees will host a Capitol Hill welcoming reception. The key Blacks on African issues there are U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the Ranking Member on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa and the Republican majority’s Gregory Simpkins the Subcommittee staff director, who says his main focus is: “increasing economic linkages between the U.S. and Africa.”

Summit planners say the discussions will encourage progress in areas that Africans define as critical for the continent’s future: “expanding trade and investment ties, engaging young African leaders, promoting inclusive sustainable development, expanding cooperation on peace and security, and gaining better futures for Africa’s next generation.”

“Everyone must understand that Africans aren’t looking for people to save them, but for people to partner with,” says Melvin Foote, head of the U.S.-based Constituency for Africa.

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.

ON LINE REVIEWS BY MIKE RAMEY “LEGALLY STUPiD: WHY JOHNNY DOESN’T HAVE TO READ”

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Ramey Commentaries with tags , , on August 13, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Legally Stupid Cover

By R. C. Murray

“There’s no excuse for accepting excuses. Administrators who pressure teachers to dumbed-down traditional teaching methods and expectations are only harming students and destroying our nation’s future. That sounds a lot like treason, doesn’t it?”
–R. C. Murray, Author

With the recent headlines and court fights over administrator firings, common core and teacher tenure, parents are hard-pressed to find one book that can help them sift through the ‘alphabet soup’ that has evolved into the modern, American public school. Enter R. C. Murray to the fray with: “Legally STUPiD: Why Johnny Doesn’t HAVE To Read” (312 pages, 2007, Peach-Pine Publishing). Murray, a military vet who spent time on the firing line of a high school classroom as an English teacher, eventually had to leave the classroom for health reasons. Nevertheless, the teaching profession’s loss is your gain, as you get a work that is written from an insider’s view. Murray is a Christian, an accomplished writer, and a believer in using the King James Version (KJV). This work is loaded with not only spiritual insight, but a means of pointing out where the classroom has gone wrong, from the college campus down to your local schools. Urban parents and churches will particularly enjoy Murray’s biblical and common-sense approaches to public education.

“Legally STUPiD” is a great “I told you so” book. It’s best thought of as a edu-reference book; a parental primer FOR exposing the current education system’s shortcomings as well as a firm warning to those who might be considering entering the teaching profession. The Glossary alone contains 13 pages of definitions, deciphering the mysteries of ‘edu-speak’. What Marva Collins did in ‘shaking up’ the education establishment 20 years ago, Murray continues WITH a new level of shaking in this work. Furthermore, it gives the parent the keys to rate their own child’s teachers and school as to whether or not their child is being taught–or indoctrinated.

Murray includes the charts, diagrams and examples of how classroom learning HAS been and how it has changed over the last 50 or so years. Some may consider some of his solutions ‘simplistic’. Some may not. However, for a parent who may have a bright child, and has been watching them ‘fall out of love’ with learning; or a child that may have been wrongly labeled as unable to learn, Murray offers a lot of wisdom and evidence as to how parents may be able to turn their child’s academic career around. “Legally STUPiD” is available at your favorite on line bookseller, or via rc.murray8@gmail.com.

Ramey Mike Ramey is a Minister, Reviewer and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. On Line Reviews brings current and lesser-known titles to public light in the quest to re-kindle a love for reading in a sea of modern technology.

THE HONORABLE JAMES SPENCER: HERE COMES THE JUDGE!

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Politics with tags , , , , on August 9, 2014 by Gary Johnson

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A MAN ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF GOD and JUSTICE IN RICHMOND

By Harold Bell

In the game called “Life” where every black face you see is not a Brother and every white face you see is not your Enemy—meet Brother Rev. James R. Spencer aka U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer of Richmond, Virginia. He is the sitting judge in the most political corrupt trial in the history of Virginia. Former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are facing charges that they took $165,000 from a Virginia businessman.

Judge Spencer is the first African-American to serve as a federal judge in Virginia. He recently stepped down from active status to become a senior judge on March 25, 2014.  He is now in semi-retirement from the Richmond division of the federal court system’s Eastern District of Virginia. As a senior judge he is allowed to take a smaller caseload.

“The Smaller Caseload” suddenly became a Giant when he was assigned to hear the biggest corruption case in the history of Virginia politics.
Judge Spencer was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, then 37. The appointment made him one of the youngest federal judges in the country. His background includes some accomplishments shared by few, if any, federal judges: He has a black belt in karate, he is a avid tennis player and hold a degree in divinity.

In a sermon heard at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia in the early 90s interview after he became a judge, Rev. Spencer gave credit to his parents, Hannah and Benjamin, and one teacher, Mattie Lou Perkins for his lifelong love of reading, his faith and his Southern civility.

He said, “In 1986 I felt my judgeship would be a source of pride for many older black lawyers who paved the way, such as Oliver W. Hill Sr. Being the first black to accomplish something like that did not mean that much to me. I have always … been the first black or the only black, he said at the time. That’s not a victory. I think it is too bad. I long for the day when it will be so insignificant that it will become irrelevant,”
The White House will solicit recommendations from his home-state senators, which carry great weight.

A spokesman for Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., said his office has informally discussed with newly elected Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va., the process used by Warner and then-Sen. Jim Webb to fill an earlier vacancy.

The process includes asking bar associations for a diverse list of potential nominees, said Warner spokesman Kevin Hall. “We will jointly vet those potential nominees and then schedule face-to-face interviews involving both senators.”

Rev. Spencer was raised in Florence, S.C. He is a 1971 graduate of Clark College in Atlanta and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1974.
Reagan nominated Spencer for the district court seat in September 1986. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate and was commissioned in October 1986, filling the seat of the late D. Dortch Warriner.

Rev. Spencer was the chief judge of the 11-judge district, which includes divisions in Alexandria and Hampton Roads, from 2004 to 2011.
Federal judges who reach the age of 65 with 15 years of service — or one less year of service for each additional year of age — are eligible to semi-retire at full salary.

“It’s important he’s announcing his intent early to give plenty of time for a new appointment so there will be no long vacancy,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

“This gives the President and Senate time to select a successor and get the benefit of another senior, experienced judge,” Tobias said. The division’s two other judges are Henry E. Hudson and John A. Gibney Jr.

Robert E. Payne is the other senior judge. Tobias said he believes Judge Spencer, like Payne, “will continue to be very active and continue to carry a substantial load.”

“They can stay as busy as they want, but a half load is typical,” Tobias said of a senior judge. In more than a quarter century as a judge, Judge Spencer has handled thousands of criminal and civil cases, Tobias said.

Perhaps the highest-profile case was the patent-infringement suit by a Virginia company against Research In Motion, the manufacturer of the Black-Berry. A jury ruled that RIM had infringed on the Virginia firm’s patents.

A federal appeals court sent the case back to Spencer, however, prompting negotiations that Judge Spencer steered to a $612.5 million settlement in 2006 amid long-running, national media coverage, Tobias said.

President Barack Obama will nominate a candidate to replace Judge Spencer. He will be hard to replace—he is definitely a tough act to follow. The courthouses and judges around this country lack the characteristics of a Judge James Spencer. There seems to be no sense of fair play, integrity and honesty.

My wife Hattie introduced me to the Rev. Spencer in the early 90s at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia where he was the guest speaker.

His sermon “Role Models & Heroes” was the best I have ever heard as it relates to the demise of the Black Community. Two decades later his sermon is still the most inspiring I have ever heard from the pulpit. Looking at the state of Black America today, he has become a prophet.
Rev. Spencer laid the blame directly at the feet of black politicians, preachers, hero athletes, entertainers, drug dealers, thugs running loose in the streets, shooting and killing our children and raping and robbing residents of our community.

Unlike other ministers and pastors in today’s black churches, he kicked ass and called names. He belted out familiar names like, Marion Barry, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Ben Hooks, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Pete Rose, Len Bias, etc. During his sermon anonymity was not an option.

His heroes were my heroes, his parents, Hannah and Benjamin and one outstanding teacher, Mattie Lou Perkins. He hit close to home, for me it was my mother Mattie, grandmother Amy Tyler Bell and my high school Coach Dave Brown. The entire church stood on their feet and gave him a standing ovation that seem like it lasted forever at the conclusion of his sermon.

Since that sermon Congressman Charles Rangle, Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, DC City Councilmen, Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, and Harry Thomas all have run afoul of the law.

“The Mayor for Life” now City Councilman Marion Barry continues to have encounters with law enforcement in DC. He was involved in a recent minor automobile accident while driving on the wrong side of the street. He was driving a car that was not registered and without insurance. It was later discovered he had accumulated almost $3,000 in unpaid traffic tickets. All this followed the arrest of his son Christopher in July. He was pulled over because of a faulty signal light and was arrested when drugs were found in his car.

When I spoke with Judge Spencer after the sermon he mentioned he worked as an assistant in the office of the U.S. attorney in Washington, DC and had received his Master of Divinity degree from Howard University in 1985. I told him DC Superior Judge Luke C. Moore was my “Big Brother and Mentor” he lit up like a Christmas Tree.

Spencer gave me his contact numbers in Richmond and said to make sure the next time Hattie and I were in town to call him. The next time I would be in Richmond would be 1993. This marked the last year the CIAA Tournament (The Central Inter-Collegian Athletic Association) would play in the city.” I called him and we met for a game of tennis and lunch.

During the tennis match I discovered his competitive nature. He played the game of tennis like he played The Game Called Life—he played to win. I beat him in a close match. And during lunch he kept asking me, “When are you going to be in town again.” He wanted revenge. What really impressed me with Judge Spencer was how he played the game of tennis. All close calls that were in doubt he gave to me. Honesty and integrity is something you cannot teach, especially, in this win at all cost world today.

You can bet the McDonnells will get a fair trial. The only payroll Judge Spencer is on—–is God’s.

The day we spend together I knew I had been in the company of a Super Star in the Game Called Life. He had not forgotten who he was and where he came from. I know our friend the late DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore is looking down and smiling on him for a job well done.

With the CIAA Basketball Tournament leaving Richmond and with his busy schedule there was no re-match but the final score was Love-Love-Love.

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 The Original Inside Sports.com.

 

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