Archive for the Politics Category

Media Should Treat Marion Barry Like it Treats Bill Clinton

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , , on December 2, 2014 by Gary Johnson

MarionBarry

By Raynard Jackson

Last week, civil rights leader and political icon Marion Barry died and barely after he had taken his last breath, the media was besmirching his reputation.

Barry was a “true” civil rights icon, not one “appointed” by the media.  A “true” icon or leader should be like a candle; the more light he gives the less he becomes.  The more light a candle gives out to lighten the darkness, the less it becomes; that is the essence of true leadership and Barry had plenty of that.

Barry was born in Itta Bena, Miss. but was reared in Memphis, Tenn.  As a high school teen, Barry had a paper route and was promised a free trip to New Orleans if he obtained 15 new customers.  Barry and several other Black teens achieved the 15 new customers goal, but was denied the trip to New Orleans because the city was segregated.

So Barry organized all the other Blacks with paper routes and they refused to work their routes until the newspaper delivered on their promised trip to New Orleans.  They ended up receiving a free trip to St. Louis, my hometown because it was not a segregated city. This was the beginning of his fight against discrimination.

Barry graduated from LeMoyne College, now Lemoyne-Owen College, a historically Black college, in 1958 with a degree in chemistry.  He went on to receive his M.S. in organic chemistry from Fisk University, another historically Black college.  He was only a few credits away from receiving his Ph.D in chemistry from the University of Tennessee before dropping out to devote his attention full time to fight for civil rights for Blacks.

He eventually moved to Washington, D.C. where he served on the school board, four terms as mayor and three terms on the city council.  His two signature accomplishments, by far, are his summer youth jobs program and mandating strict minority participation in all DC procurement opportunities.

His youth job program began in the summer of 1979 and was eventually expanded to be a year-round program.  Under Barry, government contracting went from 3 percent to 47 percent of all procurement.  He also hired professional Blacks to run various government agencies under his control.  These actions were unprecedented in D.C. and have never been duplicated since, though every D.C. mayor has been Black.

So, by the time Barry was set up in a sting operation by the FBI smoking crack cocaine in 1990, he had established himself as a political powerhouse in D.C.; he had 20 years of being an advocate for good before he had his first negative blip as an elected official.

This is why I found the media’s behavior so offensive when, upon Barry’s death, they immediately began mentioning his arrest for smoking crack.  Is it a legitimate part of Barry’s life’s narrative?  Of course, but not in the immediate aftermath of his death.  Could the media not allow his body to grow cold before they talked about his personal flaws?

Whenever the media interviewed or discussed Barry, they somehow seemed to always find a way to interject his crack arrest into the story. But somehow this same media never mentions former president Bill Clinton’s many dalliances with women when they interview him or discuss his legacy; they hardly mention his admitted sexual affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinski.

How many of you are aware of 60 Minutes correspondent and CBS News chief foreign affairs reporter Lara Logan admitted to having sexual affairs with two American men simultaneously in Iraq that led to the two men getting into a fist fight over her (I guess she took her CBS News title literally).  U.S. State Department contractor Joe Burkett and CNN correspondent Michael Ware fought a battle royale over Logan in a Baghdad safe house which put innocent people’s lives in jeopardy.

How many of you are aware that NBA broadcaster and TNT announcer Marv Albert was accused of raping at least two women and agreed to plead to lesser charges.  He was suspended for two years, but his personal issues are rarely, if ever, mentioned.

I would just simply say, pull up a picture of each of these people and make your own conclusions.

Barry, without question, has created more Black millionaires in this area than all other people combined. Without Barry, there would be no Bob and Sheila Johnson, co-founders of BET, America’s first Black billionaires.

Without Barry, there would be no R. Donahue Peebles, head of Peebles Corporation, the largest Black-owned real-estate development company in America.  At the age of 23, Barry appointed him to the Board of Equalization and Review, the real estate tax appeals board; at the age of 24, he was made chairman of the board, one of the most powerful boards in D.C.

To my dismay, even Black-oriented –but not Black owned – media outlets, including The Root (owned by the Washington Post) and The Grio (owned by NBC) have been no better than the White media’s portrayal of Barry.

To White folks who seemed to be confused by the love affair average Blacks had with Marion Barry and are always asking me why Blacks seem to almost worship him; to those with that question, I say for the same reason average Whites seem to almost worship Ronald Reagan.

For all of Barry’s personal demons, like a candle, he used himself up to lighten the path for others. That is why people called him “Mayor for Life.

Raynard Jackson 2013 Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site,  www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @raynard1223.

– See more at: http://www.blackpressusa.com/2014/12/media-should-treat-marion-barry-like-it-treats-bill-clinton/#sthash.JcKBevxh.u29lxVL8.dpuf

 

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MARION BARRY: THE MAN WHO COULD HAVE BEEN KING!

Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , on November 24, 2014 by Gary Johnson

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By Harold Bell

I remember when Marion Barry blew into Washington, DC like one of those Midwestern hurricanes in 1965. He came in as the first Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He came with the credentials of being involved with the Black Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee, first as an organizer in the Nashville Student Sit-ins.

When he arrived in Washington in 1965 I had just returned to my hometown after spending two years chasing my dreams of playing in the NFL without success. I was home looking for a job when my friend Petey Green alerted me that the United Planning Organization (UPO), a self-help community oriented organization was hiring. Petey knew the Director, Jim Banks and told me to meet him at the 11th & U Street NW office the next morning.

UPO hired three Neighborhood Workers for the Shaw/Cardozo community. Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown and me. The rest is community and media history. That same year the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee decided to make Washington, DC its home base—enter Marion Barry.

The late Petey Greene would make his mark as a legendary community and radio/television personality and H. Rap Brown would follow in the footsteps of Marion Barry as Chairman of SNCC. Brown is now serving a life sentence in Georgia for the shooting death of a State Trooper and Marion died on Sunday November 23, 2014.

I am “The Last Man Standing!”

Marion would parlay his civil rights and community involvement activities into a political power base base that will never be seen again in the Nation’s Capital. He was the first civil rights activist to become mayor of a major American city. In 1967, his path to political power was enhanced when he and his future wife, Mary Treadwell, co-founded Pride, Inc., a Department of Labor-funded program to provide job training to unemployed black men. Marion used Pride, Inc., as a springboard to a seat on the DC School Board, City Council and Mayor for Life!

Pride was the brainchild of a NE street dude by the name of Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield. Mayfield’s childhood friend Clarence Booker was shot and killed by a white police officer. His crime, he had stolen a pack of cookies on the wrong side of the tracks. In a brief chase and confrontation with the police officer, his life ended.

Booker was unarmed (Ferguson/Michael Brown). Mayfield and Booker were both from my old neighborhood, a NE housing project called Parkside. Thanks to a grant given to the DC Recreation Department by UPO to hire additional Roving Leaders, I was hired by the department to work on the staff of the Youth Gang Task Force.

I was assigned to the scene of the crime to help quell the violence that might result from this senseless shooting of a black teenager. There was an outcry of racism because of the recent brutality directed by the DC Police Department against the black community. The federal government intervened and made a deal with Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield to provide job training for unemployed black youth. Pride, Inc. was born and the organization hired hundreds of teenagers to clean littered streets in DC. Mayfield was not a learned individual and brought Marion to the table for some direction—before he knew it he was on the outside looking in and Marion Barry never looked back.

Petey Greene and I were very territorial when it came to our hometown. H. Rap Brown won us over with his down to earth personality but when we encountered Marion it was like ships passing in the night.

Marion went on to become a three term City Councilman. While serving in March 1977 he was shot as a group of Hanifi Muslims took over the District Building. He lived to tell about it. Against all odds, Barry went on to become a two term mayor in the Nation’s Capital. In 1984 Barry gave the presidential nomination speech for civil rights leader Jesse Jackson at the Democratic National Convention.

There are people in the media who are often heard saying, “You either loved Marion or you hated him, there was no middle ground.” I beg to differ, I didn’t love Marion but I did not hate him either. He was a bright individual with a hard head that would not listen to sound advice. The media people who thought they knew Marion didn’t have a clue. He used them and beat them like a drum. He had them thinking that they had the inside story or scoop over one of their colleagues by remembering their first names.

Marion knew that local DC reporters such as Karen Gray Houston, Tom Sherwood, Pat Collins, Joe Madison, Maureen Bunyan, Courtland Milloy and Bruce Johnson had no clue about the black community. He knew these media types only became experts on the black community after they became columnist and television/radio personalities. Marion had the upper hand because all of them followed him into DC.

In 1990, Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room in NW DC. This later became known as “The Bitch Set Me Up” heard around the world. The media “know-it-alls” had no clue of the upcoming sting.

The irony is that he was forewarned by yours truly. In the summer of 1989 I ran into the only guy in his entourage that I think knew the definition of integrity and loyalty. Officer William Stays was his Driver/Security Guard and a class act. He had the Mayor’s back.

Officer Stays was sitting in the car in the Faces Restaurant parking lot on that summer evening when I approached him. Faces was where the so-called “in-crowd” hung out during the week and weekends to escape the rigors of the business world and politics. You could always find Marion there with members of his inner-circle. I asked Officer Stays to go and tell Marion I needed to see him in the parking lot right away. Stays never asked, “What was so important” He just when in and brought Marion back out with him.

I told Marion that there was a FBI sting being organized to catch him in a compromising position and I thought it was best for him to step back for a moment.

The next words out of his mouth, 25 years later still have me shaking my head.

He said, “Harold I appreciate your concern but I got my bases covered.” As he walked back into the restaurant I went over to Officer Stays who was standing outside of the car. It was then I told him about my concerns and Marion’s response, he just shook his head and said, ‘Harold what else can you do?’ We shook hands and said “Good night” and six months later “The Bitch Set Him Up.”

My “Deep Throat” source was an undercover FBI agent out of Newark, New Jersey. We met on the U Street corridor during the riots and we became close friends. He would later leave the city and become an FBI Director in one of our urban cities (retired).

Marion Barry avoided coming on my radio show “Inside Sports.” I knew his hangouts and the dubious characters he hung out with. Even though we were like passing ships Marion and I shared a lot of moments away from the media spotlight.

He loved sports but he could not play dead. I could beat him with my left hand and the other hand tied behind my back. His tennis instructor was my college roommate and teammate at Winston-Salem State University, the late Dr. Arnold McKnight. He would let me know where he and Marion would be hitting balls and I would show up and beat them both. Marion and I would run into each other at the Hillcrest Heights tennis courts located near his home on Suitland, Road, SE.

Dr. McKnight was also the DC Boxing Commissioner and as you know Marion was a part of the Riddick Bowe championship years. One day Marion and I were at the Hillcrest Tennis Courts hitting some balls just before the second Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield fight. He started talking about how Bowe was going to take out Holyfield in their rematch. I took the bait because everyone knew he was talking at me.

Riddick Bowe could have easily gone down in boxing history as one of the all time great champions. But he had too many distractions around him (Rock Newman, Marion and Cora Masters, Dick Gregory, Willie Wilson, etc). He had one of the all time great boxing trainers in his corner in Eddie Futch. Riddick Bowe would not train and would not listen. He was overweight. Marion was not aware that I knew all the confusion surrounding Bowe. There was one thing you could count on with Evander Holyfield–he was going to be in boxing shape.

I finally said to Marion, “What do you want to bet man?” His response, “Make it easy on yourself.” I knew Marion loved to gamble, so my response, “Lets bet $1,000.” He said, “Oh no.” I then countered with $500 and again he said “No.” He finally said, “$100” and I said, “Bet.” We shook hands on the deal. To make a long story short, Holyfield beat Bowe and it took me two months to collect my $100 from Marion. But one day I walked into Faces for lunch and there he was. Before I could get over to him he had reached in his pocket and torn off a money order for $100. His parting words to me were “How did you know?” I said, “Inside Sports.” Marion was not a bad guy and I really liked him but his head was always between his legs.

The Washington, DC drug culture is a very small community and Marion’s substance abuse was well known along with members of his inner-circle.

Kids In Trouble, Inc. had Santa’s Helpers with names like, Slippery Jackson, Bob Wayne, Philadelphia Jake, Dog Turner, Zack, Happy, Nook, Cornell. These guys had a laundry list of entertainers, politicians and media personalities with drug abuse problems.

I was not surprised when Marion called WRC TV 4 News Anchor Jim Vance for assistance and advice. Jim had been a main stay when it came to my community endeavors and my tennis partner, but it all came crashing down in 1978. One of my street contacts brought a check to me written by Vance for the drugs. Again, I was not surprised because the word had already filtered down to me. It was not a problem, because none of my guys had ever tried to involve me in their substance abuse activities so I became like the 3 Little Monkeys, “I saw no evil, I spoke no evil and I heard no evil.” My street contact really liked Vance but he said to me and I understood exactly where he was coming from, “Man I cannot tell this brother to step back because I am in business, but I think it would be better coming from you.”

That night I took the check up to TV 4 and waited for my friend to finish the 11:00 news. When he came out of the station I called him over to my car and gave him the check explaining he needed to re-group. He took the check and stopped speaking to me. He didn’t speak to me again until 3 years ago (1978-2010) during a tribute to sportscaster Glenn Harris at Howard University.

It was while he was paying tribute to Glenn that I discovered where his head really was. He thanked Glenn for sticking by him during his trial and tribulations with drugs and had not left him blowing in the wind as some other friend! I could not believe my ears; it finally hit me he was talking about me. His words reminded me of vocalist Nancy Wilson’s classic “Guess Who I Saw Today—I Saw You!” That was the way it hit me!

My thinking at the time was to take the check for the drugs up to the station; I thought I was trying to save the life and career of a dear friend. The death of Marion Barry and his reaching out to Jim Vance has allowed me to get this heavy load off of my shoulders and off of my chest.

As I continue to reflect back, I recall Marion, on the Saturday before he was to start serving his 6 month jail sentence made “Inside Sports” his last media stop. I owe the thanks to my roommate, Dr. Arnold McKnight. McKnight had called me on Friday evening and said, “Marion wants to be on your show tomorrow.” My response, “Bring him on!” I never thought he would show up, but he did.

I started the show the way I did every Saturday. I gave the sports quiz and then turned around to see McKnight and Marion coming into the station. Marion had this big smile on his face and said as he entered the studio “You thought I was not coming didn’t you?” I took a commercial break and thanked him for coming.

When I came out of commercial break and introduced him, the first thing out of his mouth was “There is one thing you can count on when it comes to Harold Bell and that is you are going to get the truth.” When he said that I decided I was not going to chastise him.

When the show ended I wished him and reminded to stay strong and I would keep him in prayer. His last words were, “I wish now that I had listened to you!”

Marion could have been the greatest black politician in the history of Black America, but he would not listen. But in the end—he did it his way.

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.

Remembering Marion Barry

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

Marion Barry Headshot

By Gary A. Johnson

Over the next few days, weeks, months and years, a lot will be written about the life and times of Marion Barry, Jr., who passed away this morning in Washington, DC at the age of 78.  As a native Washingtonian who grew up in the city and lived in the city as an adult, I am familiar with the politics in this town.

Many people will write and tell stories about Marion Barry.  I met Marion Barry a couple of times at public functions.  I did not know him, but I feel comfortable saying that Marion Barry was arguably the most powerful local politician of his generation.  He arrived in this town in 1965 and made an immediate connection with the community.  He was a community activist, he served on the School Board and later in life, he became a household name as the mayor of the most powerful city in the world.  Barry had a high-profile personal life and his drug arrest which was captured on video showing him smoking crack cocaine gave him international notoriety.

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I am fortunate to get invited to a variety of functions in this town.  I was present at one of Marion Barry’s last public appearances two months ago at Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant in downtown DC.  Ben’s was hosting a booking signing for Barry’s recently published book, “Mayor for Life.”  I videotaped the former mayor addressing the crowd outside of Ben’s.  Barry was frail but his voice was strong.  In recent years he suffered from a variety of health problems including diabetes, prostate cancer and kidney ailments.  In the video below Marion Barry talked about his recovery from his health challenges, his love for the city of Washington and how you should live your life while here on earth.

What are your memories of Marion Barry, Jr?

GJohnson 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.To learn more about Gary click here.

Republicans Can Make Headway with Blacks

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Politics on November 12, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson 2013

By Raynard Jackson

Last week’s midterm elections were historic. Republicans regained control of the U.S. Senate, increased their majority in the House, and expanded their majority among governors. While these gains were historic and impressive, there was a bigger story that no one is talking about.

According to early polling figures, Black participation in this year’s midterm was 12 percent,  down slightly from 13 percent in 2010.  Eighty-nine percent of Blacks voted for Democratic congressional candidates and 10 percent voted for Republicans. This year’s figures match the 2010 midterm figures for Democrats and represents a slight increase in support for Republicans, up from 9 percent in 2010 to 10 percent in 2014.

In Illinois, incoming Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner received 6 percent of the Black vote.  He actively courted the Black vote, but did it the wrong way.  For example, how many people in Illinois know that Rauner has endowed a full professor’s chair at historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta?  There was no reason why he should not have earned upwards of 25 percent of the Black vote with his history in the Black community. But, as with many White Republicans, his White consultants and staff thought they knew more about the Black community than Blacks.

– See more at: http://www.blackpressusa.com/2014/11/republicans-can-make-headway-with-blacks/#sthash.1CMNZHts.7yuusXp3.dpuf

Critics Were Right About Obama’s Incompetence

Posted in Black Interests, Politics, President Barack Obama with tags , , on October 4, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Obama Bites Lip

By Raynard Jackson

During the past six years, some Republicans and conservatives have described President Obama and his administration as totally incompetent. I have harshly criticized those who would use such incendiary language because it showed total disrespect for the office of the presidency.Though I still think this language is totally inappropriate, I have come to agree with the point they were trying to make: this administration is in way over its head. Obama and his team constantly lie to the American people (IRS, Benghazi, illegal immigration), they put the interests of others before the interests of Americans, and they are obsessed with the notion of being “liked.”

Two weeks ago, President Obama told us that he “intends to destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) without putting American boots on the ground.” Everyone who follows politics and foreign policy knew Obama was lying. This is what his former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, had to say, “There will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy… I think that by continuing to repeat that [there will be no boots on the ground], the president in effect traps himself.”

Obama refuses to admit the obvious simply because of the upcoming mid-term elections. His liberal base would defect en masse from Democratic candidates all across the country if he actually told the truth.

Then again, this is the same president who has constantly lied to those in the country illegally about giving them amnesty by executive fiat. He has now promised to do it after the elections in November. Remember, one of the main tenants of liberalism is “intent.” Obama will argue that he didn’t “intend” to put boots on the ground, but circumstances on the ground changed. He “intended” to give illegals amnesty, but if Republicans take over the senate, he can’t.

As a U.S. Senator and a candidate for president in 2008, Obama was a very harsh critic of Bush’s war in Iraq. Yet, in six years as president, he has continued the Bush doctrine in foreign policy (attempting to spread “democracy” around the world).

According to the London based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), “Since becoming president in 2009, Obama has launched over 330 drone attacks in Pakistan alone; Bush only launched 51 in four years.” When you add in Yemen and Somalia, according to this same report, the total jumps to 390 drone attacks and have killed more than 2,400 people (273 of whom were innocent civilians). http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2014/01/23/more-than-2400-dead-as-obamas-drone-campaign-marks-five-years/

Many Democrats called for Bush to be tried as a murderer and a war criminal. So what does that make Obama?

This administration thinks that everyone is “entitled” to be in the U.S., whether they entered legally or not. They are providing five-star accommodations for illegals, while American citizens are increasingly homeless, more likely to be unemployed, and less educated.

In essence, Obama and his administration actually think he was elected to be president of the world. They think they and we Americans should be willing to sacrifice our own standard of living to provide relief to those around the world who are less fortunate than us. Not even Jimmy Carter displayed this level of arrogance and disdain toward his own country and its people.

We are not responsible for the problems of the world. How do you justify allowing illegals into the country under the guise that “they are just looking for a better life in America” when Americans are looking for the same thing – in their own country?

In the 1980s, Cuba unlocked its jails and dumped the worst of their worst into the U.S., which led to the drug cartels wreaking havoc in Miami. Now we are allowing the most unskilled illegals to enter into our country from Central America and wreak havoc on the inner cities as well as the suburbs.

As president of the world, Obama really believes that we should have no borders, even if it jeopardizes our national security. Our intelligence community has already publicly and privately admitted that terrorist from the Middle East have already entered into the U.S. from Mexico.

Obama really thinks the sheer strength of his magnetic personality will get Iran to give up its nuclear program, get Putin to return U.S. traitor Edward Snowden to the U.S. and cause Bashar al-Assad to leave the presidency of Syria.

In trying so hard to be liked, world leaders don’t fear or respect him. As Niccolò Machiavelli said, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

Obama is neither.

Raynard Jackson 2013 Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, http://www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @raynard1223.

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.

 

An Open Letter to President Obama

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics, President Barack Obama, Racism with tags , , on August 5, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Nick Young

By Nicholas M. Young, Ph.D.

Re: A possible path to Reparations for African Americans? Housing grants as the unfinished path of American Democracy

“To have given each one of the million Negro free families a forty-acre freehold would have made a basis of real democracy in the United States that might easily have transformed the modern world.” W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America, p. 602.

Greetings Mr. President. I hope that you and your family are well. It has been many years since I ran into, and chatted with you at the Hyde Park Hair Salon on E. 53rd St. in Chicago. It has been much longer since my last encounter with your great wife, Michelle. Please know that while it is still a little surreal for me to see you both in The White House, I have accepted the fact that a guy that I used to play ball with at The University of Chicago (The U of C) holds the most powerful position in the world, and his wife is the brilliant, First Lady of The United States.
But, I digress.

I write this editorial to share with you, the country, and the rest of the world my thoughts on how you, The President of The United States, can bring to conclusion the case of Reparations for African Americans. A conclusion that, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates states recently in his impressive article in The Atlantic, would be just compensation for the “250 years of slavery, ninety years of Jim Crow, sixty years of separate but equal, and thirty-five years of racist housing policy” at the hands of The United States.

While there may be no widely accepted starting point for when the question of Reparations was first raised, the issue of compensating contemporary African Americans from whom originate from families whose ancestors were enslaved actors in the U.S., has never really gone away. Nor should it. To be sure, the question of Reparations became an issue of serious import for U.S. lawmakers after, if not before, the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation—the legislation that “freed” millions of enslaved “Americans” of African descent.

To be sure, while the Emancipation Proclamation (A Civil War measure that proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states that were still in rebellion with the U.S. Government) did not “free” anyone, what the legislation did do was give Lincoln and his political allies in Congress the breathing room that they needed to craft the legislation that would eventually become the following Amendments of the U.S. Constitution: 13th (Abolishing Slavery), 14th (Granted U.S. Citizenship to Blacks, former slaves, and those born or naturalized in the U.S.), and 15th (Prohibits the federal or state governments from denying a U.S. citizen the right to vote).

As Kerry T. Burch points out in his book, Democratic Transformations: Eight Conflicts In The Negotiation of American Identity, the project of compensating the newly freed “Americans” involved promising over one million people of African descent that they would be given land (Forty Acres and a Mule) to help ease their transition from enslaved actors into a self-sustainable agricultural entrepreneurial class, dependent upon only themselves to live and become capable members of society. As Dr. Burch states, “The origin of the phrase is traced to January 1865, when General William Tecumseh Sherman, having just finished the devastating ‘march to the sea,’ issued Special Field Order 15. It set aside ‘forty acres and a mule’ for the newly freed along the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia, a swath extending some 100 miles in length and 30 miles inland” (p. 56).

Unfortunately, after Lincoln’s Assassination, this “…officially stated promise…was ‘taken back’ by President Andrew Johnson when he began rescinding these federal lands in late 1865. Thus began the process of returning the federal lands (my emphasis) to the confederate aristocracy…For the newly freed, despite their eventual status as formal citizens, the consequences of enforced landlessness—economic and political dependency—crippled their ability to actually be citizens” (my emphasis; p. 56).

Thus, for the newly freed former enslaved actors, the ability to create independent and prosperous lives was taken away from many of them before they had the chance enjoy the fruits of their own labor from living in and on their own property.

However, President Johnson’s reversal of General Sherman’s action also had another effect: Johnson’s policy reversal removed from African Americans the possibility of forming a new middle class that would be built on their own labor. Unfortunately, the plantation sharecropping system put the planter class back on top of the economic arrangement, and hence, back on top of the political system, as well.
Therefore, because of the failure of Reconstruction, African Americans were forced to fend for themselves, and manage their economic and social lives without the benefit of a managed social structure to navigate them from the grips of Jim Crow policies.

Unfortunately, as many African Americans made their way to Northern cities to avoid the aggressive grip of Jim Crow, their happiness was short-lived because, as Mr. Coates states in his article, The Case for Reparations (2014): “In Chicago and across the country, whites looking to achieve the American dream could rely on a legitimate credit system backed by the government. Blacks were herded into the sights of unscrupulous lenders who took them for money and for sport.”

Thus, with this background in mind, I should like to propose the following limited remedy to the Reparations problem: awarding housing grants to needy African American families, to be used for creating new homes or improving existing residential properties.
Mr. President, the creation of these properties, built on federal lands, would provide African Americans with a legitimate chance to form a sustainable black middle class; one built on the basis of their own ethnic heritage, struggle, success, sweat, and tears.

If done correctly, this Presidential program could take the form of a new Presidential Proclamation; a policy that acknowledges the previous mistakes and failures of past Presidential administrations to compensate African Americans for what was promised to them. Further, such a program could redress the problem of land ownership for African Americans seeking to build wealth through home ownership. Such a policy could also help improve the U.S. jobless rate by hiring Americans from different social and economic groups to build and or improve these homes.

In short, I believe that you, Mr. President, represent the last chance for the United States government to fulfill the promise that it made to newly freed Americans of African descent to become property owners in this country. Sir, you are on record for saying that the United States keeps its commitments, not just abroad, but also to our fellow Americans. Therefore, your Proclamation could transform the United States into the democracy that Du Bois imagined. Please know that I, for one, hope that you will use your executive power to help grant home ownership to African Americans; American citizens, after all, whose ability to be landowners was systematically denied to them after the Civil War. I believe that such a proclamation could help establish a sustainable African American middle class. I hope that you will see the importance of creating such a program for African American families that seek this form of redress. All of them.

Take care,
Nick

Sources cited:  Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic. May 2014.
Burch, Kerry T. Democratic Transformations. New York: Continuum Books.

Nicholas Maurice Young, Ph. D., is a Sociologist, writer, screenwriter, Community Activist, and Independent Scholar. He is a former Fellow with the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University.

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