Archive for Harold Bell

America’s Police Brutality = Code of Silence and Blue Wall!

Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Racism with tags , , , , on December 7, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Barkley Poster

By Harold Bell

The names Jack Johnson, Jesse Owens, Paul Roberson and the list goes on and on when it comes to athletes and politics. Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight Champion of the world. He won the title in 1908 and he was free in every sense of the word. He openly dated white women. Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens won four Gold Medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in spite of the cry of white supremacy by Adolph Hitler. He single handedly crushed the myth in Berlin, Germany with Hitler watching in a private box.  Paul Roberson is considered one of the greatest all-around athletes in American history. He starred in football at Rutgers University. He was also a star in both stage and film versions of the Emperor Jones and Show Boat, and established himself as a popular screen and singing superstar. Paul spoke out against racism and became a world activist and was blacklisted during the paranoia of McCarthyism created by Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s.

The uproar caused by the five NFL St. Louis players supporting Michael Brown in Ferguson was nothing new when it comes to the black athlete. They were not re-inventing the wheel. In the late 50s NFL legendary running back Jim Brown founded the Black Economic Union to encourage black athletes to give back to the black community and establish their own businesses. He was the leading force of the black athlete’s involvement in support of Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War!

In the 1968 Olympic Games sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos won the Gold and Bronze medals respectively. But their actions during the award ceremonies made the world take notice. They both raised their hands with Black Gloves opposing racism in America.  Dr. Harry Edwards of San Jose State. Dr. Edwards is the author of The Revolt of the Black Athlete and was the architect of the 1968 Olympic Project for Human Rights. Smith and Carlos were student/athletes at San Jose State.

Harry Edwards

Dr. Edwards was once an outstanding athlete on the San Jose State track and field team. He has been a contributor to The Original Inside Sports for over four decades.

When former NBA great and ESPN analyst Charles Barkley’s interview on CNN went viral as it related to his opinion on black men in America/Michael Brown and Ferguson. I contacted Dr. Edwards to make sense of the uproar. I also spoke to Michael Wilbon of ESPN to get his take on his friend Barkley’s views on racism and black men in America. Wilbon has agreed that we can disagree!

He has written two books on Charles Barkley. He said “Harold I didn’t hear the interview but I will see Charles tomorrow and I will get a response!” I turned to ESPN’s PTI to watch Wilbon and his partner Tony Kornheiser, but during that segment of the show there was no mention of Kenny Smith’s Open Letter to Barkley so I moved on.

This was Dr. Harry Edwards’ take on Barkley and Wilbon:  “I love Charles Barkley– as long as he is sitting on the sports desk at TNT trying to explain why the Clippers will never win a championship as long as their toughest, most consistently competitive player is a 6’1″ point guard.  But when he begins to offer jaw-droppingly ignorant and uninformed opinions on issues from Obama’s Syria/ISIS policy to the “criminal” predispositions and proclivities of the Black community, I find something more productive to do like taking out the garbage or cleaning up my lawn. And the saddest part of it all is that he apparently doesn’t realize that the networks and interviewers are just flat out CLOWNING HIM!!!  It’s a “What crazy crap can we prompt Barkley to say. And all the better if it is an attack on Black people!”

The “guess what Charles Barkley said on CNN?” factor is incentive enough for the networks to persist in presenting and promoting this clown show– long past the time when it is either funny or even remotely engaging. Now both Barkley and the interviewers look like clowns– and justifiably so.”

Forget Michael Wilbon – he is as sick and confused as Barkley. He is the guy who while sitting on a major cable network anchor desk said ” I call my Black friends “Nigger” all the time – and there is nothing wrong with that.” This is a sentiment that Barkley agrees with– until the White boy sitting next to them calls somebody “Nigger” and then they want him fired! So don’t hold your breath for Wilbon to exercise either the balls or the intellectual integrity to challenge Barkley on his bull shit.

Dr. Harry Edwards

Summary:
Jeff Roorda business manager of a white St. Louis Police Association called for disciplinary action against the five NFL St. Louis players whose “Hands Up” gesture was an expression of their Freedom of Speech as they ran on to the field of play. He demanded that the players be punished and that the team issue an “public apology.” Roorda has a history of corruption as a St. Louis police officer.

In the meantime, the black Ethical Society of Police (220 members strong) said, “We completely supports the actions of the St. Louis Rams football players in which they showed support for the family of Michael Brown by entering the stadium with their hands up.”

I had the opportunity to listen to the videotaped debate between Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA held on Thursday night. The topic, Kenny’s Open Letter to Barkley as it related to Michael Brown and Ferguson.  I was further confused by Barkley’s response to Smith for adding the word “Slavery” to the dialogue in his Open Letter, but he found nothing wrong with his friend Michael Wilbon using the word ‘Nigger’ as his word of choice while addressing his everyday buddies? What ever happen to common sense?

My opinion, Kenny had every right to bring slavery into the conversation. There is an old saying “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it.” It is evident to me that Barkley does not know his black history. Shaq O’Neal made a valid observation when he said, “I don’t believe all the evidence is in the Ferguson case” but he was smart enough to leave the debate in the hands of Smith and Barkley. Shaq is a big supporter of law enforcement.

Any objective person no matter the color of one’s skin could easily see that black folks in the town of Ferguson were set-up to fail—they were in a no win situation. Still burning and looting should not have been an option.
First, it does not take a Grand Jury 100 days to reach a decision on whether Officer Darren Wilson should be send to trial. Second, why would the Governor of the state of Missouri put 400 National Guardsmen on standby before the decision is handed down and why is the decision read at 9:00 pm? Why would a responsible leader put the town in danger by giving the looters an opportunity to seek and destroy under a cover of darkness? Where were the 400 National Guardsmen that the Governor put on alert once the burning and looting started—nowhere to be found? Why were there no arrest made on the first night of the looting and burning? Smells like a set-up to me. The same set-up I was an eye/witness to in DC in 1968 when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, TN.

I was working in the U Street corridor when the orders were send down to the police to only moderate the looting and burning on the first day. The next day there were wholesale arrest, much too late for many businesses and residents of the inner-city—they had lost everything! A piece of Black History Charles Barkley knows absolutely nothing about because of his hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil mentality.
Charles Barkley claims without the police many black communities would be like “The Wild, Wild West!” And his most ridiculous observation ‘I don’t think the death of Eric Garner was a homicide.”

Garner was the black man choked to death on a New York street corner while selling loose cigarettes. He died while six white cops wrestled him to the ground, one had an illegal choke hold barred by the NYPD. He said several times to his attackers, “I can’t breathe.” But no one was listening. The Grand Jury freed the white cop.
But there are still claims that body cameras are the solution to police brutality but when the crime was caught on camera the guilty cop still gets a free pass. Something is wrong with this picture!

I have spent 50 years working in the schools, streets, playgrounds and courts here in the DMV.  I have seen the Good, Bad and the Ugly in law enforcement. There are some goods cops but they are outnumbered by the bad and ugly. The bad and ugly are usually the cowards who hide behind their guns and badges. In today’s world it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish the thugs from the cops. Some people say, “They are one of the same.”

For some reason beyond me the Powers-To-Be can’t see the Big Picture when it comes to police brutality in this country. No amount of body cameras are going to solve the Ebola like disease of racism embedded in police departments throughout this country. “The Code of Silence and The Blue Wall” established to protect crooked and corrupt cops are the real problems. Plus, the criminal justice system is overrun with judges who go along to get along with the corrupt cops. Until we can find a way to change the plantation mentality thinking of Charles Barkley and the “Us against Them” attitudes of cops around the country, we are going to continue going in circles while the Al Sharptons and the Jesse Jacksons are allowed to keep hustling the black community pretending to keep hope alive while our children and black men die in the streets.

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.

Up Close And Personal: Muhammad Ali with Harold Bell

Posted in Black Men, Sports News with tags , , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Ali-Harold

Harold K. Bell is a pioneer who embarked upon sports talk radio – a relatively new medium for black broadcasters in the 1970s. Bell’s first five (5) minutes of radio stardom was at the helm of two-time Emmy award winner, Petey Greene in 1967. In 1971, Bell founded the original “Inside Sports.” The radio show would air, first, on WOOK-AM. Its span included WYCB-AM, WUST-AM, WPFW FM and WKYS-FM. In 1975, Bell became the first Afro-American to host and produce a television sports prime time special on WRC-TV 4, an NBC affiliate in DC. His special guest was The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Bell has the copyrights to an interview collection that reads like a “Who’s Who” in sports.

Bell’s commentaries spotlight the trials and tribulations of the black athlete and have become a trilogy of classic proportions. Prior to Bell’s introduction, media roundtables and message music were unheard of in sports talk formats. He challenged athletes for hard truths regardless of their stature. Muhammad Ali, Red Auerbach, Don King, Jim Brown or his partner in crime, the late boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar.

In 2007, Bell was referred to as “a little known Black History fact” by syndicated talk show host, Tom Joyner. Sportswriters, Jim Beathea and Dick Heller of the Washington Star; Donald Huff, of the Washington Post; Dave McKenna of the City Paper; in addition, radio and television critic, William Taaffe of Sports Illustrated Magazine have all cited Bell for his pioneering contributions to sports talk radio and television. Heller called Bell “The Godfather” of sports talk in Washington, DC. Earl Lloyd, the first black to play in the NBA, was a guest on ESPN 980 radio with former Georgetown Coach, John Thompson. He was quoted as saying, “Harold Bell may be controversial, but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.”

Harold has actively advocated for the rights of children in DC, Maryland and Virginia. In 1965 after spending two years chasing his NFL dreams without any success he returned home to Washington, DC. The United Planning Organization (UPO) hired three Neighborhood Workers for its self-held program, Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown and Harold Bell. The three would each leave their mark on the black community.

In 1980, Washingtonian Magazine named Bell “Washingtonian of the Year” for being a one-man community action program. His wife, Hattie, is the daughter of the late Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr., a modern day civil rights leader of the pre-Martin Luther King epoch of the early 50’s. He founded and started Voter Registration in the state of South Carolina. He was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 1968, Harold and his wife Hattie founded the non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc.  They have been honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon, cited in the Congressional Record by Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for their work with at-risk children. Today, Harold K. Bell is a contributor on the Maggie Linton Show, heard on Sirius XM Radio-Channel 110 and the DC Historian for the world famous Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant.

“We consider Harold’s pioneering contributions prominent. His legendary interviews are the portrait of history Harold interprets in real time. He not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk.” – Kamal Ben Ali, CEO and Owner, Ben’s Chili Bowl, For additional content, visit http://bmia.wordpress/harold-bell and http://www.theoriginalinsidesports.com.

For requests to interview Harold Bell, contact Salim Edwards at 202 427-9247.

  • “Black Men In America” – is a popular online magazine which examines the truth, the tragedy and the triumph of ordinary black men, living extraordinary lives in America (www.blackmeninamerica.com).
  • Brian McIntyre – (http://www.nba.com) – Senior Communications Advisory to NBA Commissioner David Stern.
  • The Tom Joyner Morning Show – (http://www.tjms.com) is heard in 132 markets across America.
  • The Maggie Linton Show features positive lessons and successful stories to inspire listeners within their own journeys; heard on Sirius XM Urban View channel110.

About the Ali/Harold Bell Project
October 30, 2014 is the 40th Anniversary of one the most profound fights in boxing history – Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. The fight was called the “Rumble in the Jungle,” On October 30, 1974, Muhammad Ali did the unthinkable and against all odds when he defeated Big George Foreman. However, what took place days following that great fight is just as historic and it’s a story that has never been told — until now.

In early November 1974 a sports talk show host by the name of Harold K. Bell and his camera crew, (Rodney Brown and Wilfred Williams) were able to get an exclusive one-on-one interview with Muhammad Ali. This event was just as historic as the fight, as Bell was the first person from the media granted access to Ali immediately after the fight.

Bell and his team scooped legendary television sportscaster Howard Cosell, 60 Minutes and the entire sports media world. The champ didn’t just focus on the fight and his historic win, but he talked about the most important game being played in the Black Community–THE GAME CALLED LIFE!  Ali, who sustained a black eye in the fight, was candid, uncensored and “uncut” in his conversation giving Harold Bell full access to all of the facets that make up Muhammad Ali.

About the Documentary Interview
40 years ago, fresh from his victory over George Foreman, Muhammad Ali sat in a New York City hotel room for an exclusive interview with his good friend Harold Bell, an independent radio sports talk show host with no connection to any major newspapers, radio or television networks. In this historic one-on-one interview Ali discusses the differences between a boxer and fighter, his boxing career and shares his perspective on women, children, violence in the black community, friendship and more.

Ali tried to get Bell to attend the fight so they could conduct the interview over there. But Bell was reluctant to flying over the ocean and was skeptical about the level of security in a jungle setting—a decision he now regrets. Despite refusing the invitation Ali promised Bell an interview once he returned to the states.

A man of his word, Ali called Bell shortly after arriving in New York City. The next morning Bell along with his camera crew arrived in the wee hours of the morning to tape the interview. Emmy award winner and legendary Actor/Producer Robert Hooks interviews Harold Bell, Roy Foreman, the younger brother of George Foreman and Wilfred Williams, one of the original cameramen who filmed the interview. Hooks, a native Washingtonian and a longtime friend of Bell, is best known for his television roles in N.Y.P.D and in major motion pictures such as Sounder, Hurry Sundown, Troubled Man, 1972 and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The interview ends with a poem titled “THANK YOU MUHAMMAD ALI” written and performed by renowned spoken-word artist Ty Gray-El.

Goals and Objectives
One of our objectives is to generate enough media and attention through this documentary to be picked up by a major television or cable network in the United States. A secondary goal is to tell the untold story of a Black American radio sports talk show host Harold K. Bell. Together, Ali and Bell are two who went often found themselves at odds with societal norms and yet comfortable with themselves because they were always guided by “the truth.” Two men, who exercised courage and acted on what they believed to be true. Perhaps, that was part of the formula that led them to be icons and pioneers in their field. The narration of the documentary was recorded on October 4, 2014 at Tony Bell’s Gym in Washington, D.C.

Additional Information
Top KICK-STARTER sponsors will be given signed autographed copies of the film, “Up Close and Personal: Muhammad Ali with Harold Bell.” There will also be access to VIP screenings to donors and sponsors of this project.  Once successfully funded, the money will be used for final editing and production costs, including camera and lighting equipment and distribution costs as determined by the Don Baker Digital Group. Once we exceed our goal we will reach out to marquee boxers, athletes and sports commentators who have shown an interest in this project to add their perspectives in the film.  If you would like to contact the filmmakers regarding production, investment opportunities or other related endeavors, e-mail Harold Bell at hkbell82@comcast.net. You can learn more about Harold Bell by visiting and subscribing to his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsjirjSZBSyzaq7M6jIpWcw and witness Bell’s interviews with some of the greatest athletes of the past century.

Harold Bell, Muhammad Ali and the Legends of Inside Sports

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Sports News with tags , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Ali-Harold

Long before George Michael’s Sports Machine, Inside Sports,  ESPN the Magazine, ESPN’s Outside the Lines, the 30 for 30 (sports documentary series), and HBO’s Real Sports there was Harold Bell and The Original Inside Sports.  Emmy Award winning actor and producer Robert Hooks will help to set the record straight in Washington, DC on Saturday October 4, 2014.

Hooks will tape and narrate a documentary on how legendary and pioneer sports talk show host Harold Bell was the front runner when it comes to today’s sports talk show formats in America.  He will tell how Harold, a native Washingtonian, scooped the entire sports media world in November 1974.

Ali&Patscan0011

The scoop came immediately after the historical “Rumble in the Jungle.”  The fight was held in Zaire, Africa between then World Heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman and challenger Muhammad Ali.  Ali was given no chance to win the fight but he shocked the entire sports world with a spectacular 8th round knockout of the champion. Ali quietly returned home to the United States via New York City.  Upon his arrival the newly crowned boxing champion Ali called his friend Harold Bell in Washington, DC.  Ali asked Harold to meet him at his hotel the following morning for the interview he had promised Bell in Chicago before leaving for Zaire.  What transpired was a one of a kind interview.  Today, an interview of that magnitude is called “Must See TV.  Ali, sporting a black eye gave Harold and exclusive one-on-one tour.  This was a “no-no” during his reign as “The Greatest,” because Ali NEVER never allowed interviews if he had marks or abrasions on his face.

ENTER FEDERALTHEATRE 4 ABA Robert Hooks who is also a native Washingtonian, will narrate this historical sports documentary.

For more information please call information call (301) 203-0765 or (202) 427–9247.

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.

MARCH MADNESS: Dr. Leo Hill–Willie Jones–Dick Heller

Posted in Sports News with tags , on March 29, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Harold Bell

By Harold Bell

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?
IN DC THERE WAS ELGIN BAYLOR and WILLIE AND EVERYONE ELSE FOLLOWED

Dr. Leo Hill, Willie Jones and Dick Heller, the common denominator, they were all DC Institutions and were Superstars in the Game Called Life. They touched hundreds of lives in the DMV and beyond. I owe each one dearly for my success in the community and in sports media. They loved me in spite of myself.

Dr. Hill’s coaching career began at Spingarn in 1952 where he taught and coached for 10 years. During this span of time Dr. Hill coached 9 championship teams: One in football in 1954, 2 in baseball in 1953 and 1957 and 6 cross country team championships from 1955 to 1960. He taught me that the most important game being played in the world today was not football, basketball or baseball, it was the game called life. It was the only game being played where being called a Super Star had real meaning. In my early years as an athlete at Spingarn High School in Washington, DC I was a mess and trying my best to go to hell in a hurry.

My savior Coach Dave Brown allowed me to dress for the DC Public High School football Championship game against Cardozo High School at Griffin Stadium in 1955 (freshman) but I never left the bench. Poor grades and bad attitude were the deciding factors and two 6’5 wide receivers by the names of Dickie Wells and Charles Branch. I could barely see over the line of scrimmage but I could catch a football. Spingarn played Cardozo in the championship game and we tied 0-0.  The game was decided on a rule called Penetration. The rule states, “The team that crosses the other’s 50 yard line more frequently is the winner.” Cardozo was declared the winner.

When I finally got some decent grades I went out for the baseball team in my junior year. I made the team and earned the starting position in left field for a talented team that had promise. For some odd reason I thought I was the Willie Mays of high school baseball. Dr. Hill watched me run from under my hat and make basket catches on routine fly balls, steal bases without permission and swing at pitches that he signaled for me to take. It all came to an abrupt end in a game against Fairmont Heights High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

It was a close game with Fairmont Heights leading 4-3 in the bottom of the 7th inning. I bunted my way on to first base with 2 outs. I would steal second base successfully without the go signal from Dr. Hill. He called time out and came on to the field of play. He reminded me that our best hitter Donald “Cornbread” Malloy was at bat. Before Dr. Hill could get back to the bench I had stolen 3rd base. I dared not look his way.

Donald stepped out of the batter’s box and just stared at me. He fouled off the next 2 pitches and the next pitch I took off to steal home—I was out by a mile game over.

I remember sitting in the Spingarn locker room when Dr. Hill walked quietly up to me and asked me to turn in my uniform. He reminded me that there was only one Willie Mays and he played in New York City. Spingarn would go on to earn the right to play Wilson for the DC Public High School Championship. The game would be played at Griffin Stadium home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Senators and where the Negro League Homestead Grays played their home games. It was a stadium I dreamed of playing in one day. Donald Malloy never let me forget that Spingarn lost 5-4 to Wilson. He reminded me years later that the player who replaced me in left field made 2 errors that cost Spingarn the championship.

My junior year was a tough one. Coach Brown locked me on the school bus during half-time of a game against rival Phelps because I needed an attitude adjustment. Basketball Coach Rev. William Roundtree gave me my walking papers my senior year. It looked like I was trying to make my Middle School Principal William Stinson’s prediction come true. He told my mother, “He won’t live to get out of high school.”
It took years but I finally learned the lesson that my coaches first tried to teach me. The lesson, no one is indispensable and baseball like the game called life is a team sport. Thanks Dr. Hill.

Willie Jones was “One of a Kind” in DC basketball history. There was Elgin Baylor and Willie and everyone else followed. Elgin was like poetry in motion on the court. He could rock you to sleep. Willie was like an AK47 (mouth almighty) on the court no time to sleep—he had everyone’s attention.

If he had a basketball he would travel. He was a winner at every level, playground, middle school, high school and college. If he had been given the opportunity he would excelled at the pro level.

As a coach in DC he was second only to the legendary Red Auerbach.  There are three coaches in the District/Maryland/Virginia (DMV) area who won National NCAA basketball titles, John Thompson, Gary Williams and Willie Jones.

Thompson and Williams were never in his class when it came to the Xs and Os of coaching basketball. Willie not only played the game at an extremely high level—he coached at an even higher level. He was a great recruiter because he had been there and done that. The young players loved him. He spoke their language (with many, many bleeps).

There have been many basketball discussions in pool rooms, on street corners, playgrounds, and the sports bars in DC. The topic: What if Willie had the talent that Big John had at Georgetown—how many championships would he have won? Every discussion I have heard it is unanimous, Willie would have won at least 3 National NCAA Championships.

The bottom–line, Georgetown is building a 60 million dollar sports complex on its campus in the name of John Thompson. This is a legitimate pay-off for putting them on the sports map and bringing in millions of dollars of revenue for the school and himself by any means necessary. The million-dollar question now is—can he save his son’s job?

Willie Jones put two universities on the basketball map, American University and UDC. But there will be no statures or sports complexes built in his name—which proves crime does pay.

What I will remember most about Willie is that he was flawed like most of us human beings but he was trust worthy to the point if he gave you his word you could carry it to the bank. He also took coaching seriously, especially when it came to his players. They were always first.
If you were a friend, he would go to war with you or for you. I am reminded of his co-worker the legendary athlete and coach Bessie Stockard when the UDC Administrators targeted her for dismissal from the school, it was Willie who went against the grain and testified on her behalf in court—she won.

He was like a brother to me. I could never stay mad at him. Whatever our difference of opinion, the next time we saw each other he would be joking and smiling like it never happen. A family member said it best, “You two where Kindred Spirits.” Thanks Willie.

Sports columnist Dick Heller was a class act. He was an officer and gentleman and a man of integrity. His word meant something unheard of in media today. He was a loyal friend and mentor to me for over two decades. Thanks to him I am still in the fight for truth in media and my eyes are still on the prize—our children. Dick was there for me and anyone else I supported. Especially, homegrown talent like Willie Wood (NFL), Earl Lloyd (NBA) and LA Dodger great Maury Wills.

Willie Wood was a benefactor after the NFL had blackballed him because he would not go along to get along during his NFL coaching days. There was some drug abuse by several NFL players on the team. He spoke out against the abuse and was not asked to return the next year. He was out of pro football for several years until the Canadian Football hired him as the first Afro-American Head Coach. Willie was voted one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play in the NFL. His coach, the great Vince Lombardi said, “Willie Wood is my coach on the field.” Still the powers-to-be shut him out of the NFL Hall of Fame. I went to Dick and brought him up to date. Willie was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989 two years after some timely stories appeared in sports media outlets (radio and print) spearheaded by Dick Heller.

Earl Lloyd was the first black to play in the NBA in 1950. He was from Alexandria, Virginia and played in the CIAA (BHC). He was overlooked for his contributions in the CIAA and NBA. I turned to Red Auerbach and Dick. They took charge and suddenly there was a story on Page One of the Washington Times talking about the trials and tribulations of Earl Lloyd’s early NBA days. The photo on the page showed Earl and Red in a forum at the Smithsonian during Black History Month. In 2001, over fifty years later Earl Lloyd was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.  Thanks Red Auerbach and Dick Heller.

Dick tried his best to help our homeboy Maury Wills get his just deserts. Maury revolutionized offense in Major League Baseball. He made an art out of the stolen base. He made the fans forget about the home run in the 60s. He was master of all he surveyed in ballparks around the country but his off the field antics of drugs and domestic abuse have been hard to ignore by the voters. He is still on the outside looking in as it relates to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dick’s first love has always been baseball and he tried his best to get Maury inducted with a brilliantly written two page story in the Washington Times over a decade ago but “The Haters” have refused to budge. Dick, Maury never said thanks but I will.

Dick was not only a talented writer and editor but he was also a risk taker. He never sit on the fence to see whether it was safe to fall on one side or the other. He loved his hometown of DC and all of its sports teams but you could never mistake him for a cheerleader if the home team made a wrong move. He would take them to task. For example, in 1977 he exposed several Maryland University players for poor academic records during the watch of Charles Driesell, aka Lefty.

He gave the players and Lefty the kind of fame they could have done without. He published their names with photos and their academic records in the sports pages of the Washington Star. Talking about opening up a “Can of Worms.”

The university student newspaper, The Diamond Back followed Dick’s lead and published the player’s grade point average. Six players on the teams sued Dick, the Washington Star, and their own Diamond Back newspaper for invasion of privacy, publishing confidential university records and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The players sued for 72 million dollars in damages.  In 1979, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld a lower-court decision and ruled in the paper’s favor in the case known as Bilney vs. Evening Star.

The court ruled “The Players had achieved the status of public figures solely by virtue of their membership on the university basketball team. Therefore, their possible exclusion from the team—whether academic or any other reason was a matter of public concerned.”
The decision continued: “Having sought and basked in the limelight, by virtue of their membership on the team. Appellants (i.e., the players) will not be heard to complain when the light focused on them on their potential imminent withdrawal from the team.”
Bilney vs. Evening Star remains an important case in the first amendment law and has been cited in legal proceedings, in text books and courses taught in media law.

Tim Kurkjian ESPN broadcaster who started his media career at the Star said, “Dick was a kind of mentor to the younger guys, I cannot stress enough how helpful he was and how patient he was with us.”  Dick Heller was not only a mentor to younger guys during his long and distinguishing career in print media. He was also a mentor, friend and brother to Old Guys like me. I am a better writer today thanks to Dick Heller.

I look at the sports media sitting at press tables, media newsrooms, talk show host and analyst they are “The New Jack City Spooks That Sit by the Door” and have blocked the door extremely well. They see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil and write no evil. All they care about is show me the money and “Look at me.”

Some even claim that it is okay to use the N word as a term of endearment. You would think that it would be names like Michael, James, Jason, Stephen, etc. leading the fight to right the wrongs of a Willie Wood, Earl Lloyd, Maury Wills and Spencer Haywood, but it was names like Dick, Rick Snider (Examiner) and Dave (McKenna, City Paper) kicking down the doors for other brothers of another color.

Coach Leo Hill, Willie Jones and Dick Heller—–we never could have made it without you (RIP).

The N-Word According to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Sports News with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Mike Wilbon and Harold

By Harold Bell

STICKS and STONES MAY BREAK HIS BONES BUT THE N-WORD WILL NEVER HURT HIM?

John Feinstein a former colleague of ESPN’s Michael Wilbon at the Washington Post was on the record saying “Michael Wilbon is the biggest ass kisser in sports media.”  Those words were rather harsh and hard hitting.  In other words, Feinstein was saying, “Wilbon is sports media’s biggest cheerleader!”  This was after Wilbon’s co-host on ESPN’s PTI was suspended for making fun of co-worker Hanna Storm’s dress on national television.

Wilbon’s response to Feinstein:

I don’t need Junior (Feinstein) to get suspended. Junior caught an earful of language and heat that was both deserved and will stay private. I’ll match my credentials as a journalist with John Feinstein anytime. Junior has often mistaken his opinion with fact and with legitimacy. Thing is, my father didn’t raise me to be subservient to Junior, or anybody else. My opinions about Tiger Woods or any other issue are mine and I could give a damn about what Feinstein or anybody else thinks about them. The only thing special about Feinstein’s opinions is that they’re his. And I let him know that in very specific language that best belongs on HBO.

This isn’t the first time Wilbon has been called out for “sucking up” to athletes (he has written books with Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan). In what we think is one of the 10 best sports books we’ve ever read, Michael Leahy of the Washington Post beautifully deconstructed Jordan in “When Nothing Else Matters: Michael Jordan’s Last Comeback,” and in the process took a shot at Wilbon.

“All along, I thought that Wilbon’s treatment of Jordan highlighted the basic danger in getting too cozy with a subject,” Mr. Leahy writes. The access that Mr. Wilbon prized, Mr. Leahy argues, came at the cost of ever being able to write something critical about his celebrity subject.

Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser are immensely talented individuals and about 15 years ago, they were our sports writing idols. In their prime at the Washington Post, they were among the best sports writers in the country. What they don’t do well is take criticism from colleagues. They’ll definitely make the thin-skinned sports media member list

I missed the initial viewing of ESPN’s Outside the Lines show that aired on Sunday February 23rd.  The show hosted by Bob Levy examined the use of the N-word.  I heard from several different sources that Michael Wilbon lost a lot of credibility when he justified his use of the N-word as a term of endearment.

Since I had not seen or heard the show I held back judgment and waited until it re-aired on Sunday March 2nd.

It is rather ironic that Wilbon and I had a recent conversation about the use of the N-word.  The conversation took place in the Press Room before a Wizard’s game at the Verizon Center.  He told me ESPN wanted to have a conversation on the use of the N-word on Outside the Lines.  The show would be hosted by Bob Levy.  He said, “I am not comfortable doing the show with Levy.” Wilbon cited that he had no problem with Levy as a journalist but he had “No horse in the race” and he refused to participate.” These words out of Wilbon’s mouth got my undivided attention.

I have questioned Wilbon’s mindset on different topics on several occasions as I have questioned others in media.  It has never been anything personal it is a price we all pay for writing or voicing our opinions in public.

He said folks had asked him about our relationship and he said “I told them everything is cool with me and Harold Bell, we have talked.” But what Feinstein said about him sounded real personal.

I first met Wilbon when he became a sports writer for the Washington Post in the 1980s.  He and members of the sports department were often regulars on my radio sports talk show Inside Sports. Sports Editor George Solomon was a regular participant.  Since he was the leader of the staff most of the black writers followed his lead. He even allowed me to write a couple of freelancing articles for the paper.  When the paper established their own television sports show I became a regular guest.  I was up close and personal with the sports department.

Dave Kindred and Norm Chad were talented writers but you could not trust them, Kornheiser and Feintstein’s talent, they easily blended in with the landscape of the paper.  Feinstein called Wilbon the biggest ass kisser in sports media, if that is true he had great teacher in Kornheiser.  When Solomon tried to kick Kornheiser to the curve (fire him) in the 80s he was able to move to the Style section of the paper.  He carried the toilet paper around for Post owner Donald Graham.  One black female Washington Post columnist wrote a book titled “Plantation on the Potomac.”  She was describing her employer.

During his days at the Washington Post Wilbon and I bonded and became good friends.  We often discussed the politics of sports media.  He has called me a mentor.  I was proud of him taking a stand and refusing to participate in the forum on the N-word because I agreed with his logic as it related to Levy.

Wilbon has sought my advice on several important topics, but not since he has become an ESPN celebrity and I don’t take it personal.  I think my friend former NBA player/coach Al Attles said it best recently, “Some people it is not that they forget, they just move on.”

My problem with Wilbon is that he never kept his word after the Washington Post.

I thought to myself, “Why with all the blacks working on the Plantation/Set of ESPN why would they choose Bob Levy a white man to host an important forum on the N Word?”  The bottom line—no respect.  Former 60 Minutes and CBS Investigative Reporter Byron Pitts had a horse in the race but was given only a bit-part in the forum.  Remember, this is the same 60 Minutes that has yet to find a black reporter to replace Ed Bradley.

For example; if I tried to host a forum on the Holocaust with the leaders of the Jewish community—it would never happen.

Bill Rhoden a sports columnist for the New York Times wrote a book several years ago titled “Million Dollar Slaves,” as it related to black athletes in pro sports.  Rhoden could not see the forest for the trees.

When it comes to segregation, a media pressroom at “deadline” is second only to a church on Sunday morning in America.

During the reign of George Solomon as overseer of the Washington Post sports department, there were some great writers and columnist who crossed its threshold.  In the 70s, 80s and 90s, my favorites, the greatest was Shirley Povich, followed by Tom Callahan, Byron Rosen, Donald Huff, Michael Wilbon, Dave Aldridge and Dave Dupree.  The worst, were Leonard Sharpiro, Norman Chad, Dave Kindred, Tom Boswell, John Feinstein and Tony Kornheiser (aka Howdy & Doody).  The common denominator separating the best from the worst, was H&TWW (Honesty & Integrity While Writting).  Huff once told me that Solomon ran the sports department like Adoplh Hitler ran the Nazi Army.
The panel of Common (Rapper/Actor), Jason Whitlock (ESPN writer), Ryan Clark (NFL Player and ESPN Analyst) and Michael Wilbon (ESPN PTI) I found it to be rather odd and not well thought out.

There was no Dr. Harry Edwards, Hank Aaron or Jim Brown who can be a contradiction.  Jim can often be found talking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to the black athlete and community involvement.  Especially, when it comes to where the black athlete spends his money.

His rallying cry, “Show me the money.”  The common denominator is that all three black athletes have a track record of being forerunners in the Civil Rights Movement in America.  Hopefully, they were asked to participate and were of the same mindset as Wilbon not comfortable with Mr. Levy as the narrator for the forum.

There were several legit participants like Joe Lapchick a white man who has been in the war zones of the Civil Rights Movement and has the scars to show for it.

Another contradiction, the policing of the N-word by the NFL is hypocritical.  The NFL owners are members of the“Good Old Boy’s Club.”  They have shown in the last few decades that they are not interested in having blacks or other minorities as owners.

How can you police the N-word when in your own background you have one owner say to the media “No matter how offensive the word is I will never change the nickname of the Washington Redskins?  You can put that in CAPITAL LETTERS!”

NFL owners are paying Commissioner Roger Goodell $44 million dollars a year and they think the players are making too much money?  Goodell makes more than any player in the NFL and he never has to make a tackle or catch a pass.

The owners recent pay out to the players for injuries suffered on their watch was peanuts compared to the billions they make year in and year out.  I thought it was an insult as soon as I hear it.  A federal judge denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of NFL concussion claims, fearing it may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players.  U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody asked for more financial analysis from the parties, a week after players’ lawyers filed a detailed payout plan.

I mean who is zooming who?

I never thought there would be the day when I would see and hear Jason Whitlock sound like he was smarter than Wilbon.  There were two previous blogs I read by Whitlock and one said, “Georgetown Basketball Coach John Thompson had revolutionized college basketball by opening up the game for other black coaches.  The other said, “I see NFL legend Jim Brown to be a hero in the black community?”  Both observations were totally out of focus.  I was thinking that John Feinstein could add Whitlock to his list of bigger than life ass kissers in sports media.

Common and Wilbon cited the use the N-word as a term of endearment and Jason having an opposing view was both logical and smart.  The introduction by Common proves he knows the history of the Civil Rights Movement but has no respect for the sacrifices of those who prepared a way for him.  When he refused a request by his mother to cease using the word and a similar plea by poet Maya Angelo.  The brother just don’t get it—he lost me.

In my conversation with Wilbon back in January I told him I once used the N-word and the MF words as a regular part of my vocabulary.  My wife Hattie stepped in and made me re-think my position.  My work with youth and as a radio personality helped convince me that I needed to make a change and lead by example.

Common’s opening introduction was a compelling reason for all of us to stop using the N-word because it was not our word in the beginning.  It was our oppressors who use the N-word to violently destroy us by any means necessary.

The N-word can still be found in our work place and in organizations that are overrun with black folks.  Thanks to envy, jealousy and self-hate white folks no longer have to take the lead as oppressors, blacks are now their own oppressors.

There are blacks who think since they have two more dollars than their employees or neighbors they have arrived.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They are just N—–rich.

It has been 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington and 46 years since his assassination in Memphis, Tenn.  The facts: a white man still doubles the salary of a black man, black unemployment doubles that of the white community, 60% of the inmate population is black, segregated schools are returning to American neighborhoods and the list goes on and on.

Stand Your Ground Laws have given whites a license to shoot and kill blacks for no other reason then, “They looked suspicious or the music was too loud.”  Have we forgotten, how the system has use bankruptcy, redlining, white collar crime, crack cocaine laws, minimum wage and now the Stand Your Ground law?  I recently read that Stand Your Ground laws are like bleach, it works miracles for whites and ruins colors.

Use of the N-word is comparable, whites use the N-word to keep their history alive and blacks using the N-word as a term of endearment insures and measures how far we still have to go.  Someone once said, “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it.”

Sticks and stones may never hurt you Wilbon, but the N-word is slowly stunting the growth and progress of our black community.

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.

Dribbles: David Aldridge on DC Sports Legend Harold Bell

Posted in Black America, Black Men, Black Men In America, Sports News with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2014 by Gary Johnson

David Aldridge

By David Aldridge, NBA Analyst

If you want to know why Harold Bell is the way he is, start with his grandmother.

“My grandmother used to tell me, ‘A lie will change a thousand times. The truth will never change,” Bell said. “If I leave here today or tomorrow, nobody owes me anything. What I’d like to do is pay back some of the people that have helped me. They can’t say I stole from any kids, or done drugs, or anything like that.”  I was not perfect but I was taught it was best to lead by example.

For four decades, Bell has told the truth as he saw it, on the airwaves or in print in Washington, D.C.  He was the first African-American sports radio talk show host in DC.  More recently, he’s been a no-holds barred Internet columnist who regularly calls out sacred cows who forgot who they are and where they came from.  He honors those in the black community who often don’t get recognition—both sports figures and regular folks.

In February, he was the host of a forum honoring his father-in-law, the late Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr., whose family led civil rights demonstrations in Orangeburg, S.C., in the early 1950s, before Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and Rev. Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963. He’s honored both Doug Williams, the Super Bowl XXII MVP winner, and Gary Mays, a multi-sport athlete in D.C. in the 1950s who guarded Elgin Baylor.  Mays played catcher for Armstrong High School and almost made it to the majors despite having only one arm.

Bell advocated behind the scenes for the release of former University of Maryland basketball star Jo Jo Hunter from prison last year. Hunter had been convicted in 1997 of robbing two jewelry stores and was sentenced to serve up to 43 years in prison. Bell had several prominent sports stars and other Washingtonians write letters on Hunter’s behalf. He was paroled last summer.  Bernard Levi a DC basketball playground legend and NFL legend Jim Brown have also benefited.  Bell campaigned for Brown’s early release from jail after charges of spousal abuse in 2007.

“I’ve come to know Harold in the last few years,” says Brian McIntyre, who was the NBA’s longtime Vice President of Communications through 2010. “He’s a guy who’s reached back and touched an awful lot of people’s lives. He’s a fighter. He believes in what he believes dearly, and he’s not going to give an inch. You have to respect somebody who is as passionate as he is.”

For 45 years, he and his wife, Hattie, ran Kids in Trouble without grants or loans. The organization went into the D.C. neighborhoods in which Bell grew up while playing at Spingarn High. NBA Hall of Famer and Spingarn alumnus Dave Bing was the first pro athlete to reach back into the community.  In 1967 there was a shooting after a basketball game between Spingarn and McKinley Tech. A Spingarn student was shot. Bing an NBA Rookie was playing in his first All-Star Game in Baltimore. Bell working with the DC Recreation Department’s Roving Leader Program (Youth Gang Task Force) was assigned to the shooting. There was talk of revenge among the Spingarn students.  The quick thinking Bell drove to Baltimore to solicit the help of his friend Spingarn alumnus Dave Bing.  After playing in the game on national television on Sunday, on Monday morning Bing walked into a Spingarn assembly and got a standing ovation from the Spingarn student body.  His plea for peace was heard and further violence was averted.

Bell tried to improve the lives of at-risk youth by using pro athletes as a vehicle in his community programs. During the 1968 riots he and NFL Hall of Fame Green Bay Packer defensive back Willie Wood walked the 14th U Street corridor trying to quell the violence and save lives.

He was a multi-sport athlete at Spingarn, Bell has remained active in D.C.’s community as an adult.  He and his wife have raised money to send kids to summer camps and coordinated Christmas toy parties for kids that otherwise wouldn’t get any toys. The Washington Redskin’s players Roy Jefferson, Larry Brown, Harold McLinton, Ted Vactor, Dave Robinson and Doug Williams often played Santa’s Helpers. Hattie and Harold started and founded Kids In Trouble, Inc. and the Hillcrest Saturday Program for neighborhood kids and their families after the 1968 riots.  They gave away Thanksgiving turkeys and organized tutoring programs.  In 1971, he founded the only halfway house for juvenile delinquents ever established on a military installation.  It was called Bolling Boys Base at Bolling Air Force Base in the Nation’s Capital.

He opened community centers that had previously been closed on the weekends to neighborhood children. Washingtonian Magazine named him Washingtonian of the Year in 1980 and called him “A One Man Community Action Program.”  He was the first sportscaster to receive the honor from the magazine.

Bell and his wife Hattie have been honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon.  He has been cited in the Congressional Record on three different occasions by Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Bob Dole (R-Kan) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for his work with at-risk children.

“I think you’ve got to live by example.  The only reason I’m still standing strong is because my high school and college coaches, Dave Brown and Bighouse Gaines were there for me when I was going to hell in a hurry.  It’s not always financial when it comes to helping people.  I made decent money as a talk show host with The Maryland Lottery, Coca-Cola and Nike as sponsors of my radio talk shows. Plus, I moonlighted on the weekends as a wide receiver playing minor league football.  I tried to keep it real for my young people making sure they went “First Class.”  I think I’m more proud of that than anything else. When I see my former youngsters today, it’s still Mr. Bell and Mrs. Bell. They show respect because I never misled them” Bell said.

Working in the streets, Bell came in contact with Petey Greene, a local legend who hosted a highly-rated radio show (and, later, television show) on WOL-AM.  Bell had met Greene while caddying on the weekends at the prestigious Burning Tree Golf Course located in a Maryland suburb.  It would be years later when Greene would give Bell five minutes of air time on his Sunday show to talk sports.

“It was a short lived honeymoon, Petey would later tell me to get the hell off his show and get my own show.  Waiting in the wings was WOL radio personality Bobby Bennett, he picked me up.  Bennett was the No. 1 DJ in the country at the time and was known as ‘The Mighty Burner.  We talked sports on Saturday afternoons and the rest is sports media history” Bell said.

But within a few months, Bell was ready to go it alone with Bennett’s blessings.  Station WOOK-AM another black oriented station hired him for a solo host job, allowing him to express his strong opinions with no filter. The show was christened “Inside Sports,” and for much of the next 20 years, Bell held court with a Who’s Who of sports figures.  It was his relationships with Muhammad Ali and Red Auerbach that gave him instant credibility.

“Every sports talk show in this country is now formatted after the original Inside Sports,” he says. “Outside the Lines? I was Outside the Lines long before the show. I was real sports before Real Sports. I was discussing tough issues when everybody else was just giving the scores, batting averages and telling you how tall a player was.  I played message music when no one was playing message music (Wake Up Everybody, What’s Going On, Black & Proud, etc). That was unheard of and now that I’m transferring my old shows to CD, I can understand why so many people liked the Inside Sports talk show format.”

His interviews with Jim Brown, Spencer Haywood, Sonny Hill, Don King and John Chaney are classics. He did panel discussion shows with pro football players on the difficulties they faced after they retired, decades before it became a national issue. He was the first to convene a Media Roundtable with other members of the media.  He gave John Thompson and Sugar Ray Leonard their first airtime when they buy their own (and fell out with both).

I asked him if any of the high profile athletes he called out on his radio show had ever confronted him on any issues.  He said “No, because there is no defense for the truth just like my grandmother had told me.”

“My friendship with the late Red Auerbach and his wife Dotie who lived in D.C. was like family” he said.  There are others who have reached back like former NBA referee Lee Jones and Jim Clemons, who played with the ’72 Lakers championship team and went on to be an assistant coach on the Bulls’ and Lakers’ title teams of the ’90s and 2000s.  He said, “I owe them dearly.”

“Good man,” former player/coach Al Attles of the Golden State Warriors says of Bell. “Good man. He does so much trying to help others. He’s good people. We go back a long way. He’s just been outstanding. I grew up in New Jersey and went to school in North Carolina, of course, and moved out to the west coast. But I have always been partial to people who give back to the community. He did so many things. I’m a community guy and he always was. It’s not easy. As we get older, and new people come in and do things, I don’t think it’s that people don’t appreciate what you’ve done, it’s just that people move on.”

In 1975, Bell produced and hosted a half-hour sports special on WRC TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington.  His special guest was Muhammad Ali.  It was the first prime time sports program produced and hosted by an African-American.

“I met Ali on the campus of Howard University in 1967, when I was a roving leader,” Bell said. “He was there speaking to the students. He was going through all his problems with the draft and being black in America. We hit it off and walked from the campus down Georgia Avenue to 7th & T Streets together. We talked about my working with young people.  He was really [impressed. We had about 40, 50 people walking with us it was like a parade. I didn’t see him again for at least three or four years.  The late J.D. Bethea a sports writer for the Washington Times and was contemplating on writing a story on me, he and Attorney Harry Barnett invited to ride with them to see Ali fight an exhibition for a Cleveland hospital.  Barnett at the time was representing George Foreman.  And damned if Muhammad Ali didn’t recognize me during the press conference. He was like, ‘Harold Bell, what are you doing here?”

Bell hosted Inside Sports well into the 1990s at different radio stations.  He never compromised (he once gave  boxing promoter Don King a five-figure check back after he claimed King reneged on a promise).  He chastised those whom he believed didn’t give enough back to the communities from which they came. Players, media, coaches, it didn’t matter.  If you were on Bell’s bad side, there was hell to pay. “Radio is a special medium.  I enjoyed taking calls from my listening audience (Bell, however, says he never hung up on a caller, and thinks many of today’s radio gabbers are “rude” to their listeners.)

“You’ve got to be able to distinguish between constructive criticism and destructive criticism,” he says. “I knew when people were trying to help me and when they were trying to hurt me … you always have to consider the source. When When Red gave me advice, I knew he wasn’t trying to hurt me. Or when Al Attles pulled me to the side, I knew he was trying to help me, not to hurt me.”

Bell is still working. He now has his own YouTube channel, which airs his collection of star maker interviews on his radio shows with the likes of Ali, as well as Auerbach, Sam Jones, Attles, and Connie Hawkins. He sometimes can be heard on Sirius XM’s Maggie Linton Show, co-hosting a two-hour special on Sirius (Channel 110) last Friday to commemorate the end of Black History Month. He still has historic events at D.C.’s iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant. And he’s still telling the truth and calling it like he sees it.

“If you know Harold,” McIntyre said, “and if you haven’t had a difference of opinion over something, then I don’t think you know Harold Bell.”

Earl Lloyd the first black to play in the NBA described Bell best when he said on the John Thompson ESPN 98O radio sports talk show several years ago, “Harold Bell maybe controversial, but I have yet to hear anyone call him a liar.”

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.

%d bloggers like this: