Sep. 19, 2019

A Founders Salute "12 Strong Black Brothers" joesmoke6A1974

The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project
Reflects On The 12 Founders
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.

56 years ago at 5:55 PM on an early fall evening history was made in this nation. As 12 black men met to start a movement that would eventually encircle the globe with the magnificent colors of gilded gold and audacious brown and a shield that measured a man's content far beyond simply the color of that man's skin. These 12 men centered their remarkable consciousness on five principles that became binding stars of fellowship and strength, brotherhood, citizenship, scholarship, fidelity, and leadership.

Today, we brothers of this marvelous fraternity that each of us esteems as unique in format and most powerful in collective visions, celebrate our 56th anniversary. Collectively brothers from all over the globe will remember those 12 dynamic young black men who were seeking to bind together everlasting relationships on the campus of Morgan State College in 1963. While 7 of those founders has passed on to the final chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Alpha Iota Omega Chapter, we are celebrating the fact that 5 of those founders are still alive Michael Williams, Louis Hudnell, Charles Brown, Frank Coakley and of course 1A1963, Lonnie Spruill.

So, when 5:55 PM comes around today we ask that all brothers take a few moments to reflect on how far Iota Phi Theta Fraternity has come and far Iota Phi Theta Fraternity has to go before it reaches the pinnacle point and shines as brightly as the Polaris Star in every region of the globe. ​

Sep. 18, 2019

Hard To Fathom Kenneth Ravenell Indicted By The Feds

What in the hell is going on in Baltimore City, noted black legal eagle, Kenneth Ravenell was just indicted by a federal grand jury for major counts of drug conspiracy, money laundering, and federal racketeering.

“Ravenell instructed members of the conspiracy to utilize certain drug couriers, to utilize specific modes of transportation, and to transport shipments of drugs and money at particular times of day, all for the purpose of evading law enforcement,”

The charges against Kenneth Ravenell reach as far back as 2009. Mr. Ravenell was the attorney for the son of Korryn Gaines, Ms. Gaines was murdered by a Baltimore County officer in her apartment while she was holding her son. Mr. Ravenell won a multi-million dollar settlement that was recently thrown out of court. Mr. Ravenell is a high profile attorney in Baltimore City. He doesn't or didn't shy away from the most difficult of cases in his career. He was a former law partner in the firm of Judge William "Billy" Murphy before he branched off on his own. In an article published in 2012, this quote appeared from noted law professor Larry Gibson.

“His numerical track record is phenomenal, he’s tried a couple of hundred serious criminal cases, jury trials, and the majority of his cases have led to acquittals, many of them in federal court.”

Kenneth Ravenell’s acquittal rate in federal court actually lies somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 percent, dwarfing the average in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which, in 2010, was 8 percent, according to Judge "Billy" Murphy. How does he do it? “No one works harder on behalf of his clients than he does,” says Gregg Bernstein, the state’s attorney for Baltimore city. “He outworks his opponents in every case that he has.”

In that same article, it discusses the early days in the life of Kenneth Ravenell. Mr. Ravenell was the seventh of 11 children born to Francis and Daisy Ravenell in a tiny town of Cross, S.C., 50 miles east of Charleston. They kept a portion of the cash crops, such as cotton and cucumbers, grown in their fields and a portion was sharecropped for others. Each weekday, Ken would come home from school in the early afternoon and go out to work the fields until it was dark. Weekends he would begin picking with the sun.

Family needs may have required the children to work, but that didn’t mean they could skip out on school. “My parents really believed in education,” Ravenell says. “My mother made us believe that she knew everything. We could always turn to her [with questions] and as we grew she would send us to an older sibling. We had a saying in our family: Each one teach one. You know, it takes a village to raise a family.”

Ravenell’s older siblings attended all-black schools, but South Carolina finally dropped “separate but equal” by 1959 when Ravenell was in fifth grade. “Thurgood Marshall was at the forefront and I was amazed at what he had done,” Ravenell remembers. “I thought, ‘I want to do what that man is doing. I want to be a lawyer.’ That was it. That was the spark. I was in fifth grade and I had never even met a lawyer, but I knew I would become one.”

He was his high school valedictorian, then went on to South Carolina State University, where he majored in political science, working hard and acing his classes. All along, he focused on becoming a lawyer—no matter the hardship. “I took the LSAT and it was homecoming day,” he says. “Everybody was out with the floats and celebrating. I remember the band playing and I’m sitting there trying to take the LSAT.” He sighs and shakes his head. “Can you believe it? Saturday morning. They scheduled it on homecoming!”

After earning his J.D. at the University of Maryland School of Law in 1984, he began his career working for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. “My first three years I was in the prosecutor’s office,” he says. “That was important. I always knew I was going to go out into private practice and be a criminal defense trial lawyer … but I wanted to see how the other side worked.”

With that type of foundation and background, you have to wonder what exactly is going on with these indictments? Are they truly crimes committed by Mr. Ravenell or is this some type of prosecutorial aggressive tactics to demean the character of this prominent defense attorney. In this country, you simply cannot accept any indictment against a lawyer with Kenneth Ravenell's track record of getting not guilty verdicts in federal courtrooms without some sense of questioning. Let's see how this plays out because at 60 years of age I find it hard to believe that Kenneth Ravenell went completely off the tracks to this extend. However, indictments from a federal grand jury are indeed worrisome. I hope that we don't have the feds going to the videotapes?

Sep. 18, 2019

The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project Presents The Atlanta Compromise

September 18, 1895
The Cotton States Exposition
Atlanta, Georgia
The Atlanta Compromise
Booker T. Washington

Thirty years after the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, Booker T. Washington came before the Cotton States Exposition to speak about the future of blacks in the southern states. This speech took place
124 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia at the Cotton States Exposition.

Booker T. Washingon spoke to an audience consisting primarily of southern white men. He spoke not of civil nor social rights Booker T. Washington spoke of economic rights. Today, I celebrate that speech by bringing those historic words to life again in my voice. The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project presents The Atlanta Exposition Speech by Booker T. Washington.

This was quite a controversial speech that was met with opposition from noted blacks such as John Hope, Monroe Trotter, and WEB Dubois. It was not a speech that endeared Washington to blacks in the intellectual world but it did endear Washington to both southern and northern philanthropists. It moved Booker T. Washington to the level that he was the most powerful black leader in the south.

Booker T. Washington became known as the Wizard of Tuskegee, whose life's strategies became a model for many of our ancestors across this nation.​

Sep. 15, 2019

Love Can Defeat And Eviscerate Hate

Eulogy For The Young Victims 
of The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing

by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
September 18, 1963, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

Three days after the bombing that murdered four little girls on that fateful Sunday, September 15, 1963, at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Dr. Martin Luther King stood at the pulpit speaking these passionate words not only to those at the church and the literally thousands who stood outside the church. Dr. King spoke directly to the nation about how these murders were not acceptable to in any way, shape, or form. Dr. King indicted the silence that seemingly accepted the violence perpetrated against innocent blacks simply seeking what was rightfully theirs to have, equality.

Today, 56 years later the memories of those 4 martyred little girls still resonate in this nation. A nation still split along the racial faultline of hatred and inequality. Please listen to The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project read Dr. Martin Luther King's memorable eulogy given on that Wednesday following this most heinous of racial crimes against humanity. We should never allow the life sacrifices of Addie, Denise, Cynthia, and Carole to ever be forgotten. It was their murders that motivating this nation to look deeply into the eyes of bigotry and hatred with the hopes of blinding those eyes eternally.​

[Delivered at funeral service for three of the children -
Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley - killed in the bombing.
 A separate service was held for the fourth victim, Carole Robertson.]

Sep. 14, 2019

The Day Before Remembering Addie, Denise, Carole, And Cynthia

Tomorrow is the 56th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in this nation's history. It is a day that should always be remembered and never forgotten. It is a day when racist haters thought that they could strike terror and fear into the minds of black people across this nation. These white racist felt that dynamiting a church was a solution to maintaining white supremacist power. These men felt that killing Addie, Carol, Cynthia, and Denise would halt the progress of the move towards civil rights not only in the City of Birmingham, Alabama but across the entire region of southern states where black legal and civil rights were being dishonored on a daily basis. The only thing that these vile men didn't understand was the love of humanity is so much stronger than the hate that flows in the blood of those who seek to undermine racial progress and racial understanding. So when that bomb exploded at 11:00 am at the Sixteenth Baptist Church rather than killing the movement it energized our black communities not to allow these four little girls murders to be in vain. So our communities aligned with justice and decided enough was indeed enough. They marshaled the forces of justice and forced this nation to look directly at itself. By forcing this self-analysis America had to recognize the path of hatred was destructive, not constructive. Within a year the 1964 Civil Rights Bill was pass and signed into law and within two years the 1965 Voting Rights Bill was passed into law. Rights and votes were the voice of change that was the direct result of the murderous action that occurred September 15, 1963. The lives of Addie, Denise, Cynthia, and Carol were certainly tragic in every sense of the word. However, the sacrifice of these four innocent girls mushroomed a power more impactful than an atomic bomb. It changed the societal direction of America from a blinded nation without a cause to a more humane nation leading the cause of freedom for the downtrodden, freedom for disadvantaged, freedom for the neglected, and freedom for every one of our peoples who strived for something better in this nation. So, tomorrow say a prayer in memory of Addie, Cynthia, Carol, and Denise knowing that each one of their lives helped fulfill a dream for 45 million of us today. That is why we cannot neglect the ballot boxes in 2020. Because we owe our votes to the full sacrifice that these four little girls in a church in a city stricken with the virus of hatred help overcome. May God Bless In Eternity And In Everlasting Peace the restful spirits of Addie, Carol, Cynthia, and Denise as we look back and look ahead. Our votes in 2020 can turn the direction of this nation away from hatred and separation to a nation of unification and love. We owe it to those four little girls.