May. 2, 2020

The Poor People’s Campaign Begins May 2, 1968

52 years ago today the final dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. begin at the site of his murder in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King’s most promising dream was the coalescing of the races to battle the evil of poverty that was stifling dreams and oppressing poor people across this nation. It was the dream that killed the dreamer because this nation’s institutional racist leaders had no intentions of allowing a mass redistribution of wealth that was fundamental objective that Dr. King sought. Dr. King wasn’t just looking at the black poor but he was looking at the Native American poor caught in the cycle of abject poverty. Dr. King wasn’t just looking at the African American caught in this web of vicious poverty but he was looking at the millions of white poor Americans also facing the brutal effects of economic deprivation. Dr. King was concerned about the millions of migrant Mexican farm workers living from hand to mouth in this nation of supposed prosperity. Dr. King saw the Hispanic population and the Puerto Rican population facing the same demoralizing effects of poverty and each and everyone of these groups needed to be bonded together. It was Dr. King’s vision that the Poor People’s Campaign would be that linkage that bought about the change he sought. However, a bullet silenced the dreamer on April 4, 1968 and even though the Poor People’s Campaign started its trip to the Nation’s Capital with a range of races and participants on May 2, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. The reality was that the ultimate dreamer’s final dream never really had a chance after the moral leader was murdered. What could’ve been the start of a new political party that would dynamically change the nation’s aims from military intervention in foreign lands to economic intervention in this land was doomed because the dreamer’s dream had been crushed. So today on my blog I remember the possibility of real change crushed to earth because of a single bullet and an uncaring society. So fixated on wealth inequity that any hint of wealth redistribution was never going to happen. Let’s remember the possibility and not the end result of a muddy mess in Washington DC and still a confused nation unable to grasp the concept of economic equity amongst all Americans.

Apr. 30, 2020

Joseph Shelton Hall Jr.

"I had some time to digest my son’s passing this morning. It hurts no doubt but the beauty of life’s journey is that my son new journey place is going to be far greater than his time on this earthly realm. It’s no doubt that Joe had unconditional love from anyone who met him.

I can thank God that Joe had a fantastic mother who persevered through all of his struggles. I thank God that Joe’s maternal grandmother was there when Joe’s mom couldn’t be there. I thank God that Joe had a brother who loved his brother in a way that only love itself can define. I ask God to forgive me for not being all the father Joe deserved but I loved Joe from the very time I saw his face on that summer August day in 1979 to that last time I saw that face this morning. In between 40 years passed and I prayed everyday for Joe to secure a medical miracle that never came. He was all that I needed when I felt that he deserved some much more from this life then I was capable of giving him.

I know now Joe’s spirit is frolicking now that it is no longer imprisoned by a body that wouldn’t allow that joyous expression to happen. In my mind Joe graduated from Morgan State University, pledged Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, and married his college sweetheart, he took ownership of his grandfather’s trucking business because Joe loved trucks. He actually drove trucks before he rode a bicycle. Joe would’ve owned two Akita dogs because he loved those dogs. Even though I was scared of them because they were massive dogs. Joe would’ve raised a son and daughter and he would’ve been a great father because he knew only love in his life never experienced hate. He would’ve been the great husband loving his college sweetheart for a lifetime. In my mind Joe lived a long life and buried both of his parents. Joe, his brother Jermaine and sister Skyler were lifelong friends and I lived long enough to see Joe’s kids graduate from college. That is the world I imagined for Joe but my imagination slipped away and the reality of Joe’s illness crept back and I woke up hoping that now is spirit is free."

Apr. 28, 2020

Parren J. Mitchell April 29, 1922

Being from Baltimore I learned about the Mitchell family legacy as a young boy. Why? Because every Tuesday and Friday the Baltimore Afro American Newspaper was delivered to my home. I always enjoyed reading and I gobbled up each section of the Afro and more times than not there was an article concerning the work of the Mitchell’s working to tear down the barriers of segregation and racial oppression in Maryland, and across the nation. I knew these names before I ever had a chance to meet this individuals in real life, Clarence Mitchell Sr., Parren Mitchell and Juanita Jackson Mitchell.

Today, I celebrate the birthday of the late great Congressman Parren Mitchell who was born 98 years ago on April 29, 1922. Parren Mitchell’s life was dedicated to the upheaval of racial injustice and bigotry. Parren Mitchell once said in a speech in 1989 the following: “If you believe in fighting racism, you make a commitment for the rest of your life.” Well, for the better part of 7 decades Parren Mitchell fought the good fight to deliver the battle plans against racism.

Parren Mitchell was a honored World War 2 veteran who came back from European War Theatre committed to ending the bigotry that existed in the nation he bled for. He along with his brother Clarence played pivotal roles in garnering support for the absolute destruction of Jim Crow policies. The Mitchell legacy in Baltimore cannot be tarnished by acts of anyone because the Mitchell legacy is a national legacy grounded in the foundation of delivering service with sacrifice. I’ve always wondered why my Alma Mater, Morgan State University never placed a statue similar to Frederick Douglass’s statue to honor one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the very first federally elected official in the state, Parren Mitchell. You see Parren Mitchell was one of Morgan’s own. He served the black communities impeccably and with honor. The media attempted various times to soil his image but those who knew Mr. Mitchell understood the aims of those negative attempts.

So today I honor Parren Mitchell and I ask Morgan State University’s President, David Wilson and the Morgan Board of Trustees to place a statue of Parren J. Mitchell on the campus facing the library. Why? Because Mr. Mitchell’s life was all about uplift and never wasting a minute in achieving it.

Apr. 28, 2020

Duke Ellington April 29, 1899

Duke Ellington born in 1899 was one of the most talented musical directors of all time. When you can identify a musical genius by one name you know that that person has a stature of greatness. On April 29, 1899, Mr Ellington was born and his contribution to music was eternally bound. I mean when you hear the one name monikers of Count, Louie, Ella, Cab, Sarah, Billie, Charlie, Dizzy, Thelonius, and Miles you know that greatness abounds. Well, the cream of that crop was the impeccable Duke Ellington. Duke Ellington was as cool as an ice cube floating on iceberg on the North Atlantic. Duke Ellington personified the word cool in his musical arrangements. When Harlem was bustling and vibrant with the sounds of black excellence Duke Ellington was leading the band. Take a ride on the A Train with a Satin Doll who’s in a Sentimental Mood because Things Ain’t What They Used To Be. Yes, Black America loved The Duke. Hell, all America should’ve loved The Duke. One problem Duke Ellington was a proud black man and that was problematic in a nation that used race to measure greatness. Thinking about Duke Ellington today as look at that Sophisticated Lady sitting in Solitude listening to That Feeling of Jazz in Limbo.

Apr. 27, 2020

Against All Odds: Vice Admiral Samuel Gravely

Can you just imagine the level of bigotry that Samuel Gravely faced while pursuing his goal of being a high ranking officer in the US Navy? Just remember this fact the US Navy was the last military branch to integrate it’s forces. The US Navy refused to recognize the fighting spirit of African Americans during the World Wars. The US Navy forced African Americans into the galleys for menial duty because of the color of their skins and no other reason. So when I recognize the anniversary of the appointment to Vice Admiral by the US Navy on April 28, 1971 of Samuel Gravely. I do so know that this man’s determination and desire to overcome the racism and bigotry must have been incredible. It took this nation how many years to recognize the leadership qualities of an African American in the United States Navy? The US Navy that refused to put sailor bars on Dorie Miller for his heroic actions during the Pearl Harbor attack. The US Navy that failed to promote any African American to the rank of Admiral during the Vietnam or Korean conflicts even though the loss of black lives was significant in both of these conflicts. The US Navy who refused to acknowledge the bigotry that existed in there ranks. Yes, I honor Vice Admiral Samuel Gravely today. Thank you sir for your service.