Archive for Black History

Black History Month: The Foundation for Societal Progression

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists with tags , , , on February 10, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Carter G. Woodson

By H. Lewis Smith

What is the significance of Black history to Black/African Americans? In essence, to this race of people, to know one’s history is to truly and intimately appreciate, understand, and leverage one’s innate, unbreakable strength.  Dr. Carter G. Woodson, father of Black History Week, which later became Black History Month, understood the ramifications of Blacks remaining broken from and unknowledgeable of their history, and the apparent need for Blacks to retake control of their own destiny. Dr. Woodson understood that if Black/African Americans remained separated from and ignorant of their rich history, their roots of being, then they could have no foundation upon which to build a legacy. Plainly, no roots equal no growth, no future, only irrelevancy.

To be candid, the need for a Black History Month would be less apparent if the American halls of academe did not use systematic exploitation (past and present) to minimize exposure to Black/African-American history. The city school systems, colleges, universities and the media are by-products of Eurocentric educational philosophies. These systems were designed to retain real and/or comprehensive truths from Blacks. The system was established to teach (or force) African Americans to learn, believe, and accept European values, traditions, and habits, while at the same time neglecting and/or promoting minimal integration of Black culture and accomplishments.

Modern day manipulation of the Black/African-American mind was born out of slavery and fastly incorporated into the educational system to continually impose upon Blacks an inferior mindset that leads to lacking self-awareness. During slavery, it was forbidden for the Africans to practice their cultural traditions, honor their heritage, as well as to learn to read or write. They were basically stripped of everything that once defined them as a people and confined to learning only what slave owners permitted. Ultimately, over centuries of slavery and educational deprivation, those native ideals and traditions that African ancestors once held close within their hearts were replaced with false ideals of self of an unreal reality generation after generation. Eventually, Blacks born in America had no true and proud racial identity.

Once slavery was outlawed and Blacks were allowed to pursue education, White America devised yet another strategy to continue to push their Eurocentric ideals and veiled perception of Blacks on the Black populous. The primary channels of education for Blacks, since then, have become a perfect device for control from without. Without self-knowledge, a person has no orientation or direction; this status is akin to walking around with amnesia, or no memory of who one used to be. And with no memory of one’s past—which one’s past does often serve as a compass, a foundation to build upon and offers valuable life lessons, how can one know where they are headed? Black/African Americans must re-connect with their past and embrace it in its fullness no matter how difficult it is to accept some aspects of the ugliness that was imposed upon the people. Then and only then can Blacks progress as a race and arrive to their appointed superior position.

To be clear, historically, the Greeks traveled to Africa as students more than 2,500 years ago to discover what Africans already knew. Writing, science, medicine, and religion were already a part of the Egyptian civilization. History had already been documented thousands of years before Herodotus (the so-called `Father of History`) was even born. Herodotus, Plato, Pythagoras, Socrates, and other Greek Philosophers were all students of African priests.

Few Black/African-American college graduates are aware of this history, but yet most educated Blacks can name every European country on the map and have expert knowledge in the Greco-Roman era from a Eurocentric point of view. Interestingly enough, these same “highly-educated” people look upon Africans as being nothing more than jungle people living in huts who were blessed to be rescued from their savage lives by the white man. This perception couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As a matter of fact, during the 15th century, it was the Moors who rescued Europe from the Dark Ages. The Moors taught the Europeans maritime knowledge, which enabled whites to sail and discover Africa. Little did they know, their open sharing of knowledge precipitated the demise and eventual end of a once thriving and progressive Black civilization. Columbus would have never been able to happen upon the foreign land of America if it had not been for the education provided by the Moors.

Presently, the very existence of Greek-lettered fraternities and sororities in Black colleges and universities serves as a source of the promotion of the inferiority complex and the education of Black people against themselves. From their association and embracing of these Greek-lettered organizations comes a false worship of Greek intellect and acceptance perpetuated out of ignorance of one’s own philosophical thoughts, ideas and cognitive powers.

To put everything in proper perspective, consider the notion of how sheep dogs are trained. A sheep dog is trained by being placed in a pen as a puppy with other sheep. This puppy nurses and sucks on a sheep mother and it grows up thinking it’s a sheep.  In other words, it has the body, intelligence, endurance and strength of a dog, but it has the mind frame or thought of a sheep.

Because of this sheep dog’s mind frame, it can be trained to do things a-typical of dogs and not in its own interest; the sheep dog will have no allegiance to other dogs. For example, the sheep dog and a non-sheep dog could be born at the same time from the same mother. If that sheep dog never saw that other puppy again until later years as a full grown dog, the sheep dog would treat this dog as if they were enemies. The sheep dog would turn its back on the other dog because although it looks like and is a dog, its mind has been trained and manipulated to think otherwise. The sheep dog believes it is a sheep, and, therefore, defends that which it is not from what it actually is.

This analogy relates to the conditioning of the African American against his own kind, heritage, and culture: consider the black child who, from elementary school throughout his studies to, perhaps, eventually becoming a PhD graduate, has always exclusively read and studied another culture/race’s history. This person has been trained against his own, to think in terms of someone it is not. That lacking self-knowledge is the key to separation, confusion, and stagnation or regression.

If effects of slavery are to be mitigated, it must first be acknowledged that the systemic created some unnatural behaviors in Black/African Americans. In present day and only a FEW decades removed from state-sanctioned slavery, much of the trauma of that era still afflicts the race of people.  Blacks did not deserve for this to happen, but it did. As such, Blacks must acknowledge the truth of the matter, embrace the fact that ailing issues still exist, and understand that recognition of the affliction will only give rise to alternatives for remedy.

Many people appreciate the value of sharing black history—the good and unfavorable aspects—and strongly support the ongoing study and celebration of black history every day of the year. They understand celebrating black history stretches well beyond just learning the history of a people: history plays a significant role in establishing a healthy mentality, molding one’s self-image and, ultimately, the society.

Yet, others are perfectly content with celebrating black history only one time per year—or not at all—and limiting the extent of knowledge shared. They see no further need beyond the month of February to examine the black culture or emphasize African and Black/African-American contributions that unequivocally helped shape and redesign America’s landscape. For those opposers of Black History Month, one must beg the question of how can a black person—of any ethnic, social, or cultural up-bringing—want to eliminate and disassociate themselves with the total scheme of black history—ranging from a rich African history to African-American accounts? The whole idea is preposterous and simply befuddling.

Capture their minds, and their hearts and souls will follow is an age old game of deception and propaganda, influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes and behaviors of those being subdued.  An all-encompassing and on-going study of Black History is not optional but imperative. Blacks must become re-educated in line with Dr. Woodson’s definition of the term. He fought to have Blacks’ history brought to the world’s attention for one month per year; Blacks must take up the rest of the fight and serve to make black history a natural and daily part of everyone’s education within and without the community. Once all people accept that vast, rich and dynamic Black history, Blacks will bring light and resolve to the issues plaguing Black America, rising up to again become that solid, unified, contributing force to humanity. Ultimately, the entire society will benefit from the truth of Black history.

H. Lewis Smith H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., and author of “Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word”. Follow H. Lewis Smith on Twitter:

The Bridge: Celebrating Black History Includes Protecting The Black Image

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , on February 28, 2012 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

At the start of the film industry, Blacks were relegated to disparaging roles, including the roles of overweight, ignorant maid, such as the one portrayed by Hattie McDaniel.

To this day, many African Americans continue to celebrate the awarding of an Oscar to McDaniel as though the taking of that role was groundbreaking and opened doors for other Blacks.

If that role were so groundbreaking and door-opening, then why are confused Blacks celebrating the Academy Award of another overweight Black maid in 2012?

At some point, we need to be serious about the business of protecting our image.

But instead of pressing Hollywood to make more movies with dignified Black roles, or pressing ourselves to make and support such movies, many confused knee-grows will rage against me for even discussing this issue.

The Black image has been and still is, under assault.

Unfortunately, some of the most vicious assaults on the Black image have come from our own community.

And, when those assaults become popular, we celebrate them and defend them.

In the movie Hollywood Shuffle, film maker Robert Townsend attempted to deal with Blacks who play demeaning roles in films just to get paid.  Townsend’s character admonished the “sellouts” with the tagline: “There is always work at the post office.”

That statement is very true indeed.  The defending line for every demeaning role in the history of film, from Hattie McDaniel all the way to the new “Blaxploitation” era of today is that for many Black actors, these are the only roles available. Yet, no one has ever been forced to take a demeaning role in film, or to work for wages not to scale and in fact, there have been Blacks participating in the independent side of film for a very long time.

The difference between African Americans and nearly every other ethnic group in America is that we have done a poor job of controlling our own image. We can take control of our own image by taking control of the image that is bought and sold in modern film.

It is weak to claim that demeaning roles are all that is available, and it is particularly weak when the option of making our own films has been available for a long time.

It is nearly insane to self-denigrate our image today, when there are a plethora of us making power moves in front of and behind the camera.

For all the ranting and raving I do about Black-owned businesses and how integration hurt us in many ways, I always get confused looks and questions from the people who have no idea that we were making things happen in a real way when we had real Black communities with real Black commerce.

One such shining example was a Black man from Metropolis, Illinois named Oscar Micheaux, who in 1919, made his own full-length feature film from his novel called “The Homesteader.” He was the first African-American to do so, and served as inspiration for Townsend, as well as Spike Lee, Tim Reid and Carl Franklin, among other filmmakers.

The son of former slaves, Micheaux worked in Chicago as a shoe shine boy while pursuing his dream of being a writer, moving to South Dakota, where he penned several novels, formed his own publishing company and sold copies of his books door to door.

Please read carefully, because while this story is nearly obscure, it should serve as inspiration for every Black person in America today with a dream.

During Micheaux’s era, most of the films made were silent, and for the most part, Blacks were silent as well as invisible, save for the buck-dancing, shuffling, demeaning images of self-effacing actors such as Hattie McDaniel and Lincoln Perry, also known as Stepin’ Fetchit.

Our very relationship with film was initiated with the early “classic,” Birth Of A Nation. The “talkies” ushered in the era of Blacks as weak buffoons and idiots or manly mammies when most of the actors were dark-skinned Negroes who continuously bucked their eyes for outlandish comedic and demeaning effect.

Actor Ving Rhames, Keenan Ivory Wayans and other confused Negroes have been outspoken about calling Stepin’ Fetchit a hero, claiming that the shuffling, foolish actor from the early days of film opened doors for today’s Black actors.  What doors were opened by an embarrassment who claimed his fame by bucking his eyes out of his head in childlike fear, by poking his bottom lip out, by stooping his head, or by speaking in a slow, dull-witted cartoonish voice, designed to provide comedy relief to racists?

There were real doors opened for Blacks, but they came in the form of high quality films with Blacks as protagonists in respectable roles, written by a Black man named Oscar Micheaux.

Micheaux understood the film game and as an entrepreneur, knew that he would have to start his own film company in order to get his stories to the silver screen.  He did just that and launched a successful film business with more than forty-three movies to his credit.

Micheaux’s film business was just that–a business. He hired all of the actors, made the movies and even handled his own distribution to the seven hundred-plus Black theatres in existence in the nation at that time.  Do I have to repeat that there were more than seven hundred Black theatres in existence before integration?

Currently, Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a revolutionary for attempting to rebuild what once was, taking theatres into parts of Black America which haven’t held first-run theatres in decades.  His revolution is to build the future by revisiting the past.

In the late Eighties, Spike Lee set off a new Black Renaissance in film by regenerating interest in Black-themed films with Black actors that weren’t pandering to America’s beloved Negro stereotypes.

There are a number of actors and actresses who are doing very good work on television and in film, holding the line and refusing to denigrate our image for a paycheck and fifteen minutes of fame.

Today, generations after Oscar Micheaux’s revolution in film making, it makes no sense for anyone to say that they are taking a demeaning role because there is nothing else, or that they have to avoid their dream because it is simply unavailable.  Micheaux was not a rich man, but he was able to accomplish his dreams by relying on resources found within his own community.

In order to generate funding for his films, Micheaux began shopping the concept of an all-Black film to the Black theatres and asking for payment in advance, which he would use to make the film.

Micheaux wanted to make Black films with positive roles for Black actors.  Think about that the next time you are in front of the television when the new House Niggers make everyone laugh on television or when the latest film featuring Blacks over-exaggerating their own behavior for a punchline rolls through Hollywood for a bellylaugh at us.

If we were controlling our own images, we would not have to worry about what anyone thinks about us.  We would be the heroes as well as the villains, the lovers as well as the thieves and defining those roles ourselves.  Further, the good roles wouldn’t be relegated to a handful of shining Black princes and princesses who refuse to clown their race for a punchline and a paycheck.

If we wish to move beyond our present, we have only to revisit our past. Let’s make Black history a part of the Black future.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.”  James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles in 2011and will be running throughout 2012. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at



The Bridge: Africans in America–A Bloody Fight

Posted in African Americans, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , on November 1, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

In America, many of the most ignorant citizens pretend that African Americans came here as slaves and never contributed anything to the nation.

Even as slaves, Africans contributed by literally building the new nation.

This racist view leaves way for the lie that African descendants left slavery and became a burden on America, languishing in poverty and becoming the largest pool of welfare recipients.

But when we take a look at historical documents and historical accounts of Blacks who told the tales of their lives before passing on to the next life, we begin to understand a broader spectrum of life for African descendants in America after slavery.

From historical research, we come to realize that many Blacks did well after slavery and that there was Black commerce and even flourishing Black towns.

We come to realize that there were wealthy Blacks and that welfare was established for white citizens and that even today, whites make up the majority of welfare recipients.

Discussing the true history of African descendants in America changes the perspective of race and racism in this nation.

For example, we know that there were slave revolts organized by Africans who fought for their freedom before the Civil War and that many Blacks took up arms during that war to further fight for their freedom and the future of Africans in America.

And we know that Africans also fought to remain free and to become full participants in America’s economy.

Africans became full citizens, and as Americans, began to work, invent, pay taxes and move the nation forward.

But racism persisted viciously after slavery ended and there was a great need for Blacks to protect themselves and their right to participate in the nation as Americans.

Segregation was the order of the day following slavery, and frankly, it was working far better than integration is working today.

Africans were entrepreneurs and entire Black towns or areas were established with African descendants socializing and thriving.

Two such towns/areas of particular notoriety were The Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida.

Racist whites were jealous of the Black areas that were thriving and took violent action against the Blacks they formerly controlled.

That hatred lead to violent and bloody clashed between the races.

One of the bloodiest, and perhaps most significant race riots of this nation’s history was the Tulsa, Race Riot of 1921 in Oklahoma. Its importance stems not from its resultant death toll, but from its shroud of mystery.  Shortly after the bloody massacre, history closed its mouth and attempted to erase memory of the ugly event.

The Tulsa Race Riot was also significant because it represented white backlash against Blacks who were attempting to enjoy the promises of capitalism and democracy with their own communities and their own commerce.

In Tulsa, the Black area called the “Greenwood District” was nationally recognized as an area of high entrepreneurial activity, dubbed the “Black Wall Street of America.”

Blacks came from all over the nation, hearing of the economic opportunities available on The Black Wall Street, where the concept of recycling Black dollars was thriving in the face of segregation which gave Blacks no other option but to conduct commerce amongst themselves.

The community grew and flourished economically, but whites in the remainder of Tulsa were not only jealous, but afraid of what Black prosperity meant for their own growth potential.

In the same fashion as the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898, the Tulsa Race Riot erupted based on the assumption of Black sexual assault against a white woman named Sarah Page.

The white woman in question was actually having an affair with the Black man, named Dick Rowland.  A hotly debated incident in a local elevator lead the white citizens to believe that the white woman, who was also married, had been attacked by Rowland.

Rowland was arrested and the white mob that came to the jail looking for their own brand of justice, commonly referred to as lynching, were met by an armed group of Blacks, preparing to defend Rowland.  One of the white men tried to disarm one of the Black men and the gun discharged, setting off mass confusion and an all-out race war, complete with burning and looting.

While the Blacks were outnumbered, the majority were former soldiers and began to battle military style.  Unfortunately, they and the Tulsa police were outnumbered by the swelling mob of hatred, which chased even the firefighters away.  Before the National Guard arrived, the Greenwood District was burned to its foundation.

Official estimates placed the death count at ten whites and twenty-six Blacks, however, later reports place the total at more than three hundred dead, with property damage in the millions.

Even though the entire area was leveled, eventually, the residents returned to their community and rebuilt it from the ground up.

The Greenwood Riots have been shrouded in mystery.  Residents of Tulsa who were children during the riots, rarely, if ever, heard mention of the events in public.  The event was glossed over in history books, particularly in the Oklahoma area.

Toward the end of the twentieth century, survivors of the horrible event began to speak.

In 1997, The Tulsa Race Riot Commission was formed to investigate the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

Two years after the “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma was burned to the ground, the prospering Black community in Rosewood, Florida was also burned to the ground.

Similar in origin to Tulsa, Rosewood’s rioting was begun by murderous whites who assumed that a white woman had been sexually assaulted by a Black man.

The Rosewood Riots of 1923 are significant in that they were not only based on friction between the races and the white effort to “protect” the chastity of white womanhood from the sexual advances of the Black race, but also based on white hatred of any Black advancement.

Rosewood, like the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a very prosperous Black community.

Rosewood was a small community with a majority of Black citizens who owned their homes and their land. It was named for the red cedar that grew nearby.

That cedar was cut and shipped to New York to become pencils, which made the community prosperous. When the cedar ran out, so did the majority of the white citizens. Of the mostly Black population that remained, the men went to work at a sawmill in a nearby town and the women mostly did domestic work. Some Blacks even worked for Goins & Brothers, a Black-owned Naval store in Rosewood, whose owners also owned or leased most of the land in a section called “Goin’s Quarters.”

The town also had a general store owned by a Black family, a Black-operated sugar mill, and a private school of their own. Rosewood even had its own train station.

The difficulties between the races that led to a major race war in Rosewood, Florida had been brewing for at least three years.

In the summer of 1920, smaller incidents included the lynching of four Black men who were removed from jail after being arrested for the alleged rape of a white woman.

In November of that same year, to whites and five Blacks were killed following a dispute over voting rights. Ococee, a Black community, is destroyed, including twenty-five homes, two churches and a Masonic lodge.

In 1921 and 1922, several Black men are lynched or burned at the stake for alleged assaults or murder of white women.

In January of 1923, a white woman reports an attack by a Black man she can’t identify, but the sheriff apprehends one Black man and a posse of white vigilantes apprehend and kill another.

Descendants of Blacks in Rosewood recall that the man who assaulted the white woman was actually her white lover. They also say that the woman, who was married and having an adulterous affair, protected her reputation by creating the Black assailant.

The next day more than two hundred whites gathered and converged on Rosewood, murdering two Black men. Many of the Black citizens escape Rosewood to Gainesville by train.

Two days later, the white mob returned to Rosewood and burned every building in sight.

All told, eight people lost their lives—six Black and two white.

A grand jury was convened to investigate the riot, but claimed to find “insufficient evidence,” and did not prosecute anyone.

These two riots were significant in America because they showed that Blacks were clearly pursuing their own version of the American dream and that they were more than willing to protect it, even though white racist terrorists were invading their areas.

Next Week: From Klan to Clandestine

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.”  James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running throughout 2011. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at

Black Folks We’d Like To Remove From Black History

Posted in Black Men with tags , , on March 8, 2010 by Gary Johnson

Flava Flav                                              Omarosa

I ran across this article a few days ago on the web site “The”  After reading this article, a few other folks came to mind.  Check it out:

Would you remove anyone from Black History?  If so, who and why?


Posted in Sports News with tags , , , , on February 11, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Harold Bell

He grew up in the cotton fields of Mississippi where his mother earned two-dollars a day picking cotton.  He would leave those cotton fields for the city of Detroit and leave behind the mental and physical chains of slavery.

Spencer Haywood left those cotton fields for the playgrounds and high school basketball courts in Motown.  Instead of picking cotton he made a career out of picking rebounds off the backboards and scoring baskets at record rates.

His high school basketball performances earned him a scholarship to Trinidad College where he averaged 28 points and 22 rebounds a game for one season. He returned home to play at the University of Detroit and averaged an eye popping 32 points and 22 rebounds.

Trinidad and the University of Detroit were just warm up stops on his basketball journey.  He would be only 18 years old in 1968 when he led the United States Olympic team to the gold medal in Mexico City.  This was the same year sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos made their historical statement against racial segregation in America.  During the presentations of medals they silently raised their black fisted signature gloves in protest.  The protest was heard around the world.

George Foreman followed their act of defiance by waving the American flag in the ring after winning a Gold Medal in boxing.  Those were three unforgettable moments and one moment Spencer would later say “I would rather forget.  Tommie and John were putting their futures in jeopardy and were banished from the Olympic Village for their defiant act.  If you were black and you were not going to support them, it was best you kept it to yourself.”

Instead of returning to the University of Detroit Spencer joined the newly organized American Basketball Association (ABA). In Denver he immediately became the face of the new league when he averaged 30 points and 19 rebounds a game.  He was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.

Despite his basketball glory and bright lights and big cities, Spencer never forgot the cotton fields in his native Mississippi.  He remembered the long hours his mother labored in those fields picking cotton for pennies on a dollar.  His choice to leave college was easy, turning pro he would be able to make those cotton fields just a bad memory.

In 1970 with the support and encouragement of his mentor and high school coach Will Robinson, he decided to challenge the NBA’s volunteer slavery rule, “No college no play.”

The challenge would be a very lonely journey and sometimes it was hard to tell whether his new NBA Seattle teammates were playing with him or against him.  The one man he knew was in his corner was team owner Sam Schulman.  Schulman was the NBA’s Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavs) long before Cuban.

He marched to his own drummer; while Spencer was suing the NBA for trying to bar him, Schulman was suing the league for violating anti-trust laws.  If those were not enough headaches for Spencer, the University of Detroit and the ABA was suing him for leaving school early and breach of contract respectively.

Those were difficult times for a young man who had not yet celebrated his 21st birthday.  There were times when he was served with injunctions just before the tip-off of a game and banished from the arena.  He slept in cars and in the team bus waiting for the game to end.  The injunctions became a guessing game.  It was hard to tell where and when the next injunction would be served.

Spencer played in only 33 games in the 1970-71 NBA season, starting, stopping and starting again with each temporary injunction.

The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, ruled in his favor and he later became “Public Enemy No. 1” in the NBA.

He had to grow up early and he became a “Man Child” before his time.  There will be 24 players playing in the NBA All-Star Game in Dallas, Texas in 2010, 21 of the All-Stars came into the NBA and became instant millionaires thanks to Spencer’s kicking down the door to free agency.

He blazed the path for the likes of Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dywane Wade and Kwame Brown.  There are too many of them who don’t have a clue to who Spencer is as he relates to them and the NBA.

They don’t know, thanks to the NBA and brothers in so-called major media who refuse to take a stand and have fallen for just anything as it relates to Black History.  It looks like most of them (media) have been brainwashed by the NBA and have followed their lead in pretending Spencer Haywood is just a figment of their imagination.  For proof, do a Google search for “NBA History: African-American Influence and Breaking Down Barriers.” Spencer Haywood’s name is nowhere to be found.  The sad part of this puzzle is that no one in the media has asked the question why?

Spencer’s groundbreaking accomplishment was more important than Earl Lloyd becoming the first black to play in an NBA game or Red Auerbach playing five black players for the first time.  Free agency impacted every NBA player black and white.

Earl Lloyd was denied his rightful place in NBA History for 50 years until I asked NBA legendary coach the late Red Auerbach to join me in a campaign to get him inducted into the hall of fame.  Earl was finally inducted in 2002.  NFL Green Bay Packer legendary safety Willie Wood was also ignored for decades.  He stood by and watched as his teammates were voted into the hall of fame one by one.  He was left on the sidelines and reduced to a cheerleader.  In 1985 I started an “Induct Willie Wood” campaign on my sports talk show ‘Inside Sports,’ and he was inducted in 1988.

Boston Celtic coach and benefactor, Doc Rivers was recently quoted as saying, For the most part, Spencer has just been taken for granted by many of us.  But what he did was huge for everyone.  We should all be thanking him.”

After the court ruled in Spencer’s favor he continued to play heads and shoulders above the rim.  In 1972 and 1973, he was on the All-NBA first team and became a chartered member of the All-Star game.  During that era he was one of the five best players in the league.

I met Spencer Haywood shortly after his arrival in the “Big Apple” New York City.  I was introduced to Spencer by CBS and NBA color analyst Sonny Hill.  Spencer would later become a regular on my sports talk show ‘Inside Sports.’ Sonny Hill played an important role in my success as a talk radio personality.

The trade to the New York Knicks took Spencer over the top when it came to the fast life and drugs.  He took the Big Apple by storm and made all the rich and famous parties driving a Rolls Royce and with his wife, Iman, one of the world’s top fashion models on his arm.  Frank Sinatra once said in a song, “New York, New York if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.” Spencer Haywood had made it!

When Spencer was at the top of his game as a NBA “Power Forward” he was one of the best.  There were several other players who I thought was his equal, Gus Johnson of the Washington Bullets and George McGinnis of the Philadelphia 76ers.  They also put the POWER into the forward position.  They had the finesse of ballet dancers with a linebacker’s mentally.  When they met head to head it was pro basketball at its best.  I would take anyone of these guys and match them with any similar Power Forwards in the NBA’s 50 Greatest (Barkley, DeBusschere, Lucas).  I would bet Spencer, George and Gus would win.

Spencer’s love affair with the Knicks was over before he could say “Where is the next party?” He suffered a knee injury and that didn’t help his career.  Spencer had more time on his hands than NBA games and depression set in and the drugs were breakfast, lunch and dinner.  In 1979 the Knicks shot an air ball to the Los Angeles Lakers and traded him, it was the beginning of his end.

Evidently, the Knicks thought, with the Lakers Spencer would feel more at home.  The Lakers were known as Drug Central of the NBA.  It was said the best high in the NBA was found in the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.  He hit rock bottom at the end of the 1979-80 season when the team suspended him in the midst of the NBA Finals because of his drug use.  Spencer went to sleep on the court while stretching.

The Lakers met the Philadelphia 76ers in game six of the NBA Championship finals, and 6’9 rookie Magic Johnson started at Center in the place of the injured Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The Lakers defeated the 76ers and Magic scored 42 points, handed out 12 assist and pulled down 15 rebounds.  Spencer never got to see the game because he was high on drugs.  The Lakers released him.  His next stop was Italy, France for a year and he then returned to the NBA to play with the Washington Bullets from 1981 to 1983.

When his contract was up in 1983 I could tell that Spencer had a lot on his mind and he still had a mission to fulfill.  One of the things we talked about was him getting his ring from the Lakers for the 1980 championship season.  He was voted a share of the money but never got his ring.  He was also concerned about his daughter Zulekha now that he and his wife Iman were having their problems.  He seemed to be more concerned about reclaiming his NBA name.

Spencer had a passion for children and had no patience for politicians who used children only as a sound bite.  He was proud of being sober from alcohol and drugs and the constant battle it took to stay that way.  I took him for his word because he never did drugs or alcohol in my presence.  Spencer knew all the athletes and sporting personalities who had drug problems in DC.  The celebrity drug community in every city is a small and close knit group.  The names he gave me I already had because of my street network.  Some these same personalities are still sitting on NBA benches and hiding behind television microphones.

The great Power Forward I once enjoyed watching was now just a shadow of himself, his greatness seldom found its way on to the basketball court at Capitol Centre.  Despite his diminishing skills he was still a great human being and a joy to be around.  He always kept it real.

He cared little about material things.  I remember when he was leaving town for over a week on a road trip with the team.  He wanted to leave his Rolls Royce with me to have it serviced while he was gone.  Hattie my wife almost had a fit and refused to allow me to keep his car.  I called Spencer and told him the bad news about her being worried about me having an accident.  He then asked me to put her on the telephone.  I gave Hattie the telephone and two minutes later she was saying “Okay. I don’t know what he said, but Spencer had away with words.  She later told me he said “Hattie I have insurance and Harold has a license, what’s the problem?”

I was disappointed when I read the story by Tim Povtak senior NBA writer for the blog FANHOUSE how the NBA had pimp him and brought him to his knees while he tried to re-claim his name.

The story said that Spencer had tried to lobby the league for several years to name the NBA entry rule after him, like the Supreme Court that still bears his name, but that effort wilted.

I appreciate the writer Povtak being diplomatic and using the word “Lobby” instead of begging, because that is exactly what it sounded like to me.

According to Povtak, the rule has been altered a few times through the collective bargaining agreement with the union, yet the premise has remained the same.  Thanks to NBA Union Representative Billy Hunter if it ain’t about him you can count yourself out. The Billy Hunter that I know is not going to stand up for anyone but himself.  He sold Spencer out to the NBA.

Povtak goes on to say “It took the league years to gradually warm to Haywood after what he had done.  He has been sober now for 24 years.  He has spent the last 15 years as a league ambassador, traveling the world to promote the NBA.  He served as a board member for the NBA Retired Players Association.  He speaks often to young players about the pitfalls that once swallowed him.” It sounds like the NBA made him do community service to re-claim his name and they are now throwing him a bone during NBA All-Star weekend.

I am going to address the first sentence in the paragraph above, “It took the league years to warm up to Haywood after what he had done!”  What had he done?  I am reading between the lines that what Spencer had done was drugs and he fought the system that wanted to keep him from earning a living playing professional basketball.  Were the crimes he committed, crimes enforced across the board?

If the NBA is punishing Spencer for doing drugs and if drugs are the issue then the NBA Hall of Fame should be half empty.

I would hope the NBA is not punishing him for standing up for his civil rights against their bias rule on free agency.  If that is the case according to the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court they were the problem and not Spencer Haywood.

But there is a problem that is Spencer’s and his alone.  When I read he said “I have two daughters who play basketball, but even they don’t know who I am in regard to what I did once, there were times when I was beaten down so badly, I felt almost ashamed of what I did. That was not the Spencer Haywood the proud black man that inspired me to keep telling the truth, keep my head up and stay strong!

First, Spencer, have you heard of Home Schooling? Who can teach your children about your history better than you?  Your children are your legacy and you and only you must make sure they are armed with the real story as it relates to you.

Our history is being stolen, ignored and others have used it for their own financial gain for over 400 years, for example; “Inside Sports” was a title my wife Hattie thought of in 1973 for my new radio sports talk show.  John Walsh a writer for the Style section of the Washington Post decided in 1978 to take our title to New York City and discover Inside Sports Magazine.  He followed the same pattern of Christopher Columbus when he discovered America with native Indians already occupying the land.

This was my fault I should have trademarked the name as I was advised from the very beginning.  I made it easy for him.  Guess who owns the trade mark to Inside Sports, how about News Week Magazine and the Washington Post newspaper?  When I changed my show title to The Original Inside Sports, Walsh changed the magazine’s title to The Original Inside Sports Magazine! Walsh left a paper trail that Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder could follow (  It is too bad it was not murder he committed in America what he did is called “White Collar Crime,” people like Walsh don’t have original ideas of their own so they take from others.

Spencer, you had a front row seat as the NBA and Billy Hunter proved they could care less about your pioneering efforts.  There will be black brothers in media who will congratulate you on your pioneering efforts at NBA All-Star weekend.  The faces will look familiar so ask them “where have you been for the past 24 years?” See if Billy Hunter can look you in your eyes and say “Spencer I tried.” Keep it real!

Our history will be overlooked and made out to be a joke if we don’t take charge, for example; Mike & Mike celebrated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday recently on their morning show heard and seen on ESPN nationally.  Mike Greenberg in a discussion about Rev. King called him out of his name when he referred to him as “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Coon King, Jr.” The silence from blacks heard, seen and read at media outlets like PTI, FANHOUSE, AROUND THE HORN, WASHINGTON POST and USA TODAY was deafening.  Not a protested word was heard or read!

Boxing promoter Don King says “Racism is the biggest business in the world.” (

Spencer, if we don’t keep our own history it won’t be kept.  Most will celebrate Black History Month the same way NBC television tried to do in New York City.  The cafeteria’s black chef made up a menu of fried chicken, collar greens, potato salad, chitlings, yams and cornbread and a drink of choice (no desert, watermelon was out of season).  The menu title “Black History Month Menu All You Can Eat.”

What happen to food for thought with names on the menu like, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, William DuBoise, Paul Roberson and the list goes on and on?

In 1993, Jill Nelson penned a book titled “Volunteer Slavery” as it related to black writers and employees of the Washington Post newspaper.  According, to her book when she joined the Washington Post in 1986 she became a Volunteer Slave.  Jill and Spencer have something in common, twenty-four years later little or nothing has changed.

In all honesty and fairness we cannot continue to lay all the blame of racism at the doorstep of the NBA and the Washington Post.  We (Blacks) must take some responsible for not being able to see the forest for the trees!

Check and see who owns and calls the shots at BET, Essence Magazine, Radio One and TV One.  Ebony Magazine recently sold their archives to the Internet giant Google.  This means in the future if we want information about our history we are going to have to buy it from Warner Brothers, Comcast and Google.

In 2010, forty-two years after the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, I have to ask myself why is it we have not developed our own giants in media?  Where are our media outlets that can compare with or challenge, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN, USA Today, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, etc?

Where are the voices in black media who we can compare with or challenge Larry King, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Russ Limbaugh, Howard Stern, Diane Sawyer, Barbra Waters and Katie Couric?

The more things change the more they remain the same.  Mississippi and two-dollars a day are not as far away as we think!

If you see my friend Spencer give him this message from Smokey Robinson

To learn more about Spencer Haywood, click here to buy his book, “Spencer Haywood’s The Rise, The Fall, The Recovery.”

We Remember Dr. King

Posted in Black America, Black Interests with tags , , on January 18, 2010 by Gary Johnson

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated.  Given where we (America) were then, and where we are as a nation today, one has to wonder if we have reached the “Promised Land” that Dr. King referenced in his last public speech in Memphis on the night of April 3rd.  Are you using your personal sphere of influence and power to help make Dr. King’s dream a reality?

Learn more about Dr. King and view rare photographs and videos on our Martin Luther King, Jr. page on our main site at

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