Friday, August 31, 2007

Kenneth Foster Saved!!!

August 30, 2007

Movement to Save Kenneth Foster Wins Historic Victory

Family members and supporters of Kenneth Foster, Jr. are jubilant in the reaction to Texas Governor Rick Perry's today's announcement today that he would commute the death sentence of Kenneth Foster, who was convicted under the controversial "Law of Parties" for a 1996 murder in which he had no actual involvement. The Board of Pardons and Paroles had recommened clemency by a vote of 6-1. Foster's execution had been scheduled for tonight.

In a statement announcing the commutation, Perry said, "I am concerned about Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously and it is an issue I think the Legislature should examine."

Reaction among Foster's family and friends included both joy and disbelief. “We felt a bit of disbelief because Perry’s decision was so unprecedented.” said Dana Cloud of the Save Kenneth Foster campaign. “But everyone is so happy that Kenneth will be able to touch his wife and daughter and that we have a chance of seeing him free. Anything is possible when you are alive.”

Claire Dube, a close high-school friend of Kenneth’s and an active member of the Save Kenneth Foster Campaign, broke into tears when she heard the news. “We don’t even know what to say. It’s incredible.”

Keith Hampton, Foster’s attorney, also expressed relief and happiness at winning his client’s life. Hampton thanked the activists of the grassroots movement that started in Austin and spread around the world for putting the necessary pressure on the Board and the Governor to win. “Extra-legal means work,” he said.

“Governor Perry once said that there was no hue and cry against the death penalty in Texas,” commented Lily Hughes of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. “Well, here was your hue and cry.”

Foster’s family and other supporters will continue to work to free him from prison. “It seems like ten years on death row under 23-hour lockdown could amount to time served for any crime that Kenneth ever committed,” Cloud said.

Perry’s decision is historic. Not only has the Board of Pardons and Paroles rarely recommended clemency (by one count, 3 times since 1982), but Rick Perry has overseen more executions than any Governor of the State of Texas, including George Bush.

“This case demonstrated to the world just how arbitrary and capricious capital punishment is,” Cloud said. “It gives people pause when someone who killed no one could come this close to being executed.”

“Public sentiment has been turning against capital punishment,” Hughes said. “We’ve seen a lot of states stop executing people. Winning Kenneth’s life might be a real turning point in the history of the death penalty in Texas.”

For More Info Check Out The Following Sites:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Killing Begets More Killing: Stop The State Murder Of Kenneth Foster...

Kenneth Foster with his girlfriend, Nicole Johnson, and their daughter, Nydesha, during a 2001 visit to Texas death row.
(Photo courtesy of the Foster family)

HOUSTON, Aug. 29 — Kenneth Foster has a date on Thursday with the executioner’s needle. Not for killing anyone himself but for what he was doing — and may have been thinking — the night in 1996 when he was 19 and a sidekick pulled the trigger, killing a 25-year-old San Antonio law student.

Ensnared in a Texas law that makes accomplices subject to the death penalty, Mr. Foster, 30, is to become the third death row inmate this week, and the 403rd since capital punishment resumed in Texas in 1982, to give his life for a life taken.

But unlike most others condemned to death in this state, Mr. Foster, a onetime gang member, aspiring musician and prison poet from San Antonio, is not a murderer in the usual sense. He was convicted and sentenced to die for abetting a killing — 80 feet away — that he may, or may not, have had reason to anticipate.

The man who pulled the trigger is dead, executed last year. One accomplice is serving life in prison as a result of a plea bargain, and a second is serving life for a separate murder.

Now, failing a last-minute reprieve, Mr. Foster, the group’s driver in a robbery spree — who argues that he never was party to the murder — is facing lethal injection. His guilt, affirmed so far in every appeal, including five turned away by the United States Supreme Court, hinges in large part on difficult questions of awareness and intention.

Other states hold co-conspirators responsible for each other’s criminal acts in a so-called law of parties. But few of those have a death penalty. And no other state executes them on the scale of Texas.

With polls showing capital punishment still enjoying majority support in Texas and around the country, but by dwindling margins, the Foster case has spurred vigils and protests from abroad to the death house in Huntsville, as well as a backlash by victim’s rights advocates who still mourn the slain law student, Michael LaHood Jr.

It has also smudged concepts of guilt and innocence. If Mr. Foster is not legally guilty of murder, as his lawyer, Keith S. Hampton, and supporters contend, many find it hard to pronounce him blameless.

“I’d hate to use the word innocent,” said his father, Kenneth Foster Sr., a former heroin addict who told a church audience in Houston Saturday that he used to take his baby son with him on drug runs and petty crimes. He said his son “should be punished to some degree, but not put to death.”

At the heart of the case is Texas’s law of parties under which those conspiring to commit one felony such as a robbery can all be held responsible for an ensuing crime, like murder, if it “should have been anticipated.”

In 1982, in Edmund v. Florida, the United States Supreme Court found that the Constitution barred the death penalty for co-conspirators who do not themselves kill. But five years later in Tison v Arizona, the justices carved out an exception, ruling that the Eighth Amendment did not forbid execution of a defendant “whose participation in a felony that results in murder is major and whose mental state is one of reckless indifference.”

According to evidence in the case, on the afternoon of Aug. 14, 1996, Mr. Foster had borrowed his grandfather’s rented white Chevy Cavalier and was driving three companions — Julius Steen, Dewayne Dillard, and Mauriceo Brown — on a robbery spree through San Antonio. Mr. Steen and Mr. Brown, with Mr. Dillard’s gun, held up four people.

After midnight, they trailed two cars to a street where Mr. LaHood had just driven home, followed by a companion, Mary Patrick. She and Mr. Steen exchanged some remarks. Mr. Brown took the gun, chased Mr. LaHood and shot him dead. Ms. Patrick later characterized it as a robbery.

Mr. Foster and his companions fled but were soon stopped by the police. Mr. Foster denied participating in the earlier robberies or the shooting, claiming the group had been out looking for clients for his music business.

He was tried together with Mr. Brown, who was also convicted and was executed in July 2006. Mr. Steen and Mr. Dillard, facing charges in other cases, were not tried. But Mr. Steen testified he did not believe that Mr. Foster knew that Mr. LaHood would be robbed, although Mr. Steen said, “I would say I kind of thought it.”

Later Mr. Dillard testified in Mr. Foster’s appeals, claiming that before they reached the LaHood house, Mr. Foster sought to end the night’s spree so he could return the car to his grandfather. Therefore, Mr. Fuller’s lawyer, Mr. Hampton, argued, his client lacked the mindset to be legally culpable for the killing that followed.

Mr. Hampton also contended that Mr. Steen and Mr. Dillard were improperly withheld as crucial witnesses, and that mitigating testimony about Mr. Foster’s upbringing was not presented to the jury.

“I was in jail at the time he got arrested,” said Kenneth Foster Sr., saying that a strategy of portraying his son as churchgoing and well-raised had backfired.

“One of the jurors said he should have known better,” the elder Mr. Foster said. “They never called me. If the mitigating evidence had been put on, he never would be on death row.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Go To For Continuing Updates On This Case...

Katrina Blues...

Two Years Post-Katrina:
Racism and Criminal Justice in New Orleans

By Jordan Flaherty
August 29, 2007

Two years after the devastation of New Orleans highlighted racism and inequality in the US, the disaster continues. New Orleans' health care and education systems are still in crisis. Thousands of units of public housing sit empty. Nearly half the city's population remains displaced. A report released this week by the Institute for Southern Studies reveals that, out of $116 billion in federal Katrina funds allocated, less than 30% has gone towards long-term rebuilding—and half of that 30% remains unspent.

The city's criminal justice system, already rated among the worst in the nation by human rights organizations pre-Katrina, continues to be in crisis. After the storm, thousands of prisoners were abandoned in Orleans Parish Prison as the water was rising. In the days after Katrina, mainstream media depicted the people of New Orleans as looters and criminals, and a makeshift jail in a bus station was the first city function to re-open, just days after the storm.

For Robert Goodman, an activist for criminal justice reform who was born and raised in the schools and prisons of Louisiana, this demonizing and criminalization of the survivors was no surprise. He tells me that the primary crisis of New Orleans is a discriminatory and corrupt criminal justice system, adding that, "every time a black child is born in Louisiana, there's already a bed waiting for him at Angola State Prison.".

On May 9, 2006, Robert Goodman's brother was killed in an encounter with the New Orleans police. This was another death in a long list of civilian deaths at police hands, a list that also includes three deaths in Orleans Parish Prison this year. Advocates say these deaths have not received proper investigation, and point to larger, systemic problems.

A Broken System

For poor Black kids growing up in New Orleans, the education system functions as a school to prison pipeline. In New Orleans, 95% of the detained youth in 1999 were Black. In 2004, Louisiana spent $96,713 to incarcerate each child in detention, and $4,724 to educate a child in the public schools. "When I went to prison, I was illiterate," Goodman tells me. "I didn't even know anything about slavery, about our history."

New Orleans' public defense system is in such poor shape that Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter recently complained that, "indigent defense in New Orleans is unbelievable, unconstitutional, totally lacking the basic professional standards of legal representation, and a mockery of what a criminal justice system should be in a Western civilized nation."

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate of any state in the US – if Louisiana were a country, it would have the highest incarceration rate in the world. Orleans Parish Prison, the city jail, was - pre-Katrina - the eighth largest jail in the US. Advocates complain that there is no forum for oversight over the jail or Marlin Gusman, the criminal Sheriff who oversees it. "We've suffered under a policy where the city builds a huge jail that is then required to be filled with human beings, or else it's a waste of money," states civil rights attorney Mary Howell.

Robert Goodman is fighting to change the system that took away his brother, as part of a grassroots organization called Safe Streets Strong Communities. Safe Streets is struggling not just to reform the entire system, from policing and public defense to prison, but also to reframe the debate around these issues.

Safe Streets began as a coalition of grassroots activists and organizers from a number of organizations who came together post-Katrina to respond to the immediate crisis. "Our first priority was to help those individuals who had been in Orleans Parish Prison prior to Katrina, many of whom were being held illegally for minor, non-violent offenses," explains co-director Norris Henderson. "In the early days, right after the storm, Safe Streets was basically performing triage for a broken system."

In the transition from the crisis of Katrina to the long-term catastrophe that the city is still in, Safe Streets focused their energy on building their base, ensuring that people in communities most affected were shaping the priorities and making the decisions of the organization.

The organization has been a vital leader in the struggle for a just recovery for New Orleans. Shortly after Safe Streets began pressuring on the issue, the city's indigent defense board was completely reconstituted and now includes people that actually care about poor people receiving a fair trial. After they turned their focus to issues around policing, the city approved and funded an office of the independent monitor to oversee the police. In addition, the city council has begun looking at downsizing Orleans Parish Prison, as well as reducing the sheriff's budget, and tying it to reform and greater accountability – also a part of Safe Street's strategy.

More importantly, they affected the debate around criminal justice in the city. Within a few months after the storm, instead of talk of more prisons, journalists and politicians were looking at the system, and the roots of the problems. Evidence of widespread police misconduct and people locked up for months without charges began to be reported.

For those that have been victimized by law enforcement violence, organizing and talking about what they have faced has already been transformative. "I can't imagine where my family would be if it weren't for Safe Streets," Goodman tells me. "We would have been pushed to the side. This organizing inspired my mother to live another day."

Jordan Flaherty is an editor of Left Turn Magazine, a journal of grassroots resistance. His previous articles from New Orleans are online at To contact Jordan, email: On myspace: .

A version of this story originally appeared in the July/August issue of ColorLines Magazine. See a special online collection of Katrina-related reporting at
For more information on some of the organizations and resources mentioned in this article:

Safe Streets Strong Communities:
Institute For Southern Studies Report:

Other Resources for information and action:
People's Institute for Survival and Beyond -
INCITE Women of Color Against Violence -
A Fighting Chance -
People's Organizing Committee:
Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund -
Justice for New Orleans -
Common Ground -
Black Commentator -

Letter From New Orleans Grassroots:

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special~Never Forget: Hurricane Katrina Three Years Later...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Happy Life Affirmation Day Bird!!!

If you are a W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Subscriber please click on the following link to view videos:

"Humpty Dumpty Bird" By r2c2h2 (copyrighted)

Charlie Yard Bird Parker (1920-1955) is one of the world's greatest musical geniuses...Considered by many to be one of the most influential jazz improvisers and composers in the history of Jazz music, Charlie Parker like the great Louis Armstrong before him changed the vocabulary and the way jazz in particular and American music in general was played forever...Charlie Parker like Louis Armstrong came from a musically vibrant hometown...He was born on August 29, 1920 in Kansas City, Kansas and grew up in the jazz crazy town of Kansas City, Missouri...His father was a pullman porter, tap dancer and veteran Chitlin' Circuit (Black entertainment) performer from Memphis,Tn via Clarksdale,Ms....

Kansas City in those days was not only a jazz crazy town but also a wet town where alcohol flowed freely during a time when the rest of the country was under a dry spell (Prohibition)...It was also ran by gangsters and corrupt city officials...At the time Kansas City did not have a mayor but city managers...Tom "Boss" Pendergast one of the most powerful political bosses in U.S. history ran the town with an all seeing eye and iron fist...Pendergast was also the powerful sponsor behind the future U.S. President Harry S. Truman's budding political career...Starting at an early age Charlie Parker would sneak out of his house (his mom had a night job) to go to the legendary street intersection known as 18th and Vine to famous music venues like the Reno Club to hear jazz greats such as Bennie Moten, Count Basie, his idol the eccentrically great Lester Young, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Joe Turner,Pete Johnson, Jimmy Rushing, Buster Smith and so on...It was also during this time that Charlie Parker started to use the drugs and alcohol which will eventual lead to his demise...

Although Charlie Parker would not be considered what's called a traditional music prodigy, his friends and peers recalled him as being unusually bright with a photographic memory...He was also spoiled by his mother (his father abandoned the family)...To her credit his mother, Ms. Addie Parker, supported her son's enthusiasm for music and brought him a used saxophone...Where Charlie Parker lacked in technique he made up for it in heart, drive and passion...He would sometimes practice for 8 hours at a time while learning how to play and memorized all of Lester Young's solos on record...

When Bird (his nickname because of his fondness for eating chicken) finally was done woodshedding (a term musicians use when they are obsessively practicing on their music skills) he left the midwest and went to New York where he finally hooked up with his musical soul mate the trumpeter and composer Dizzy Gillespie and other like minded and talented musicians such as drummer Kenny Clarke, the guitarist Charlie Christian and the pianist Thelonious Monk at the famous Harlem nightclub known as Minton's Playhouse to start the BeBop music revolution...Bebop was jazz played at breakneck speeds which was played in small groups or combos rather than in large jazz orchestra settings (although attempts were made to expand the Bebop music into large jazz orchestras by Dizzy Gillespie, Billy 'Mr. B' Eckstine, Earl 'Fatha' Hines,Stan Kenton among others with mixed results)...Bebop focused alot on restructuring the harmonic structure of popular songs...The musicians changed the sounds from the original songs so much so through their creativity that new songs were born from the old...For example, Charlie Parker took the song "Cherokee" made popular by Jimmy Dorsey (one of his favorite musicians) and turned it into his famous original composition known as "Ko Ko"...In alot of ways Bebop foreshadowed the Hip Hop music's sampling craze decades later...

However many of jazz's old guard such as Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway were turned off by the strange sounds and dismissed the movement by labeling it as 'chinese music'...However, there were many other older musicians who were open to the new music such as the Father of Jazz Saxophone Coleman Hawkins who was actually among the first to play with beboppers and was an early supporter of the eccentric and often misunderstood jazz genius Thelonious Monk...To his credit Charlie Parker was also a great talent scout...He gave a young and musically insecure Miles Davis his first big gig in New York City and would years later give a similar break to trumpeter Chet Baker in California...Charlie Parker's genius was so revered by fellow musicians and jazz fans that a jazz club in New York was named Birdland in his honor, being the first jazz man to ever had that honor...

Like Scott Joplin before him, Charlie Parker wanted to raise his music to the respected status of so-called classical European music...Some of his most successful records were the ones he performed with string orchestras...He also wanted to work with 20th Century European music giants such as Edgar Varese and Igor Stravinsky to further his understanding of compositional writing and western music theory...Unfortunately, this was not to be...

On March 12, 1955 Bird, after years of drug abuse and overall self-destructive lifestyle, finally succumbed to his seemingly inescapable fate...He died while watching the Dorsey Brothers' t.v. show in the living quarters of his friend the Jazz Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter at the famous Stanhope Hotel( fellow BeBop pioneer Thelonious Monk would also die in the home of the jazz enthusiast years later in New Jersey)...Bird so exhausted his body that the coroner thought he was 55 or 60 years old, but he was only 34!!! When Bird died, graffiti went up throughout the streets and subways of New York City stating 'Bird Lives'...This act of tribute was originally started by the late musician, painter and poet Ted Joans...

Bird's Influence Went Beyond Music

Unfortunately many musicians tried to practice Bird's lifestyle of using drugs such as heroin because they thought that was the reason why he was an exceptional musician...Even Bird knew that this wasn't the case and to his credit he would try to stop his fellow musicians from using heroin and other narcotics...Bird saw himself as a martyr (had a messiah complex) and told others like Bebop collaborator and drummer great Max Roach that his life was to be a sacrifice to warn others about the dangers of using drugs...Many musicians who chose not to follow his advice met his fate...Fortunately many others like Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis were able to get off of heroin and have productive and influential careers...

Many of the so-called beat poets such as the under appreciated Bob Kaufman (who performed with Bird while reciting poetry), the celebrated Amiri Baraka, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs to painters such as Jackson Pollock, Stuart Davis, William de Kooning, Bob Thompson and 1980s art phenom Jean Michel Basquiat used Bird's musical genius as a muse for their own creative endeavors...Clint Eastwood (a jazz crazy fan) made a movie in 1988 entitled "Bird" (Forrest Whitaker another under appreciated talent until recently did a great job portraying Bird) which showed an interesting perspective on Bird's professional triumphs and personal tragedies...So indeed Bird does Live!!!

Also check out what Charlie Parker's last wife, Chan Parker, had to say about him in an interview before her death in 1999:

Check out this informative website about Bird, his life and times as well as the people who lived it with him...Very interesting:

Please check out the following videos featuring Bird to see what the fuss was and is all about...

Bird and Dizzy receive jazz awards and play "Hot House":

The Bird and The Bean...Two great saxophonist legends from the Show Me State of Missouri, Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins a.k.a. Bean show what they got in this video clip:

Loverman...Although Charlie Parker hated this version (he was high and drunk at the time), many musicians, fans and so-called experts think that this is one of the best jazz recordings of all time...Like the saying goes one man's garbage is another man's treasure or one man's self destructive addiction is another man's profit and pleasure:

The Death of Charlie Parker from the Ken Burns Jazz series:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stop The State Murder Of An Innocent Man On August 30, 2007!!! Free Kenneth Foster!!!

Kenneth And His Daughter
Please Go To Http:// To Find Out How!!!
(W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Subscribers To View Video Please Go To The Following Link:

Kenneth's Wife And The Mother Of His 11 Year old Daughter, The Popular Holland Hip Hop Artist Jav'lin Did This Video To Raise Awareness About The Plight Of Her Husband Who Is Set To Die In Texas On Thursday August 30, 2007
Jav'lin videoclip "Walk with me"

Kenneth Foster’s Songs of Freedom

by Alexander Billet / August 24th, 2007

The debate over “black culture” has taken a turn for the especially
absurd in recent months. If one were to take the Don Imuses of this
country at their word, then somehow the daily horrors of the African-
American experience–the poverty, the discrimination, the brutality–
stem from the way the community views itself, from the “self-
loathing” of the ghetto to the “thug mentality” of hip-hop. It’s the
classic argument; that if only the black community would trade in its
bling for bootstraps, then they will most surely prosper in the land
of opportunity.

Tell that to Kenneth Foster.

Ten years ago, Kenneth was a young college student, a music lover,
and recent father. Born in Austin, Texas, he spent his high school
years working for several small record companies in the area. In 1995
he began his first year at St. Phillips College majoring in
sociology, and less than a year later, in May of ‘96, he started his
own label, Tribulation Records. Kenneth had a bright future ahead of
him, no doubt.

But a year later, Kenneth was convicted of murder. The previous
August, he had been driving a car with three friends in the San
Antonio area. One of those riding in the car, Mauriceo Brown, got out
in front of a party to talk to a woman, Mary Patrick. While Kenneth
and his other two friends were eighty feet away, waiting in the car,
they heard a gunshot. Brown had shot Patrick’s boyfriend, Michael

Kenneth never had a gun in his hand, never saw, let alone aimed at
LaHood, and never he pulled the trigger. Even the prosecution admits
this. And he did not know anyone was going to be shot that night.

But according to Texas’ “law of parties,” Kenneth should have
anticipated the loss of life that was to come that night because he
was in the same car as Brown. It’s a law straight out of a Franz
Kafka novel, where the accused are expected to have an almost psychic
ability to predict when a crime is going to happen.

Kenneth’s execution has been set for August 30th, 2007. He is guilty
of nothing except driving a car.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise. This is Texas, the state that
has executed the most people of any state since the reinstatement of
the death penalty. A disproportionate number of these people have
been of color. This is the former stomping ground of the Texecutioner
George Bush, and the current Governor Rick Perry has already
surpassed Dubya’s record of 156 executions. LaHood was the white son
of a prominent Houston attorney. Kenneth is a working-class black
man. It was the perfect concoction of sick ingredients to continue
the pattern of the racist American injustice system.

But Kenneth has not spent the past ten years wallowing in misery. He
is a founding member of DRIVE (Death Row Inter-Communalist Vanguard
Engagement), a radical, multi-racial organization of death row
inmates fighting for better conditions in prisons and against the
injustice of the prison system. They have staged cafeteria sit-ins,
hunger strikes, and worked with groups on the outside to publicize
their cause. Kenneth also continues to write poetry about himself,
his case, and the need for a world without racism and inequality. On
August 22nd, he and fellow prisoner John Joe Amador, scheduled to be
executed the day before Kenneth, announced they will be taking part
in a “protest of passive non-participation” against their own
executions. It is clear he is not giving up without a fight.

Because of these efforts, and because of the bald-faced racism his
case puts on display, Kenneth’s cause has gained national and
international attention. Activists in Texas and beyond have mobilized
demanding his execution be stayed.

He has also gained support, not surprisingly, from the Welfare Poets,
one of underground hip-hop’s most radical and outspoken groups. Their
music has been a staple in many-an-activist’s CD player for a decade
now. When Kenneth and other DRIVE members heard of the group in 2004,
they had a letter sent to the Welfare Poets, extending an invitation
to perform at an anti-death penalty rally in Austin. They accepted,
and began to cultivate a personal relationship with Kenneth. As Ray
Ramirez, a founding member of the Poets told me, “Learning about
Kenneth’s case and seeing the injustice is real easy, but learning
about the man has been a fascinating experience. He lives with an
undying hope, always looking to the betterment of the world. He is a
true soldier for the people and an amazing poet and writer at that.”

In 2006 the Welfare Poets contributed to a compilation called “Cruel
and Unusual Punishment,” which sampled the work of several artists
opposed to the death penalty. Another performer on that comp was
Kenneth’s wife Tasha, an MC who goes by the name Jav’lin. Her song
“Walk With Me,” and the video for it, is about Kenneth’s case, and
can be downloaded on her site ( for 99 cents,
which goes toward his defense fund.

Jav’lin described to me recently what motivated her to write such a

“I write down everything I feel, sometimes that turns into a song.
Well that’s what happened with ‘walk with me’. I wrote down how I
felt about his situation, turned it into a song and started leaking
that to people. People said it made the situation more visual, so I
decided that if I did a video along with it that would really give
people a good visual of what happened and it did. However, my initial
reason for recording the song was just to let Kenneth hear this. Hip
hop is the voice of the streets, music that appealed to Kenneth when
he was still out in the streets and I wanted him to know that ‘the
streets’ back here knew of his story and agreed that it was injustice
that was placed upon him.”

Decades ago, racism was enforced with trees and nooses. Billie
Holiday sang of this “strange fruit” in defiant protest. Today that
same racism is backed up with needles and gurneys. It is a form of
state sanctioned murder to keep people divided and scared. And
despite everything spoon-fed to us about rap’s “violence,” Kenneth
Foster’s case sheds ample light on where the real violence and
depravity is coming from.

*To learn more about Kenneth’s case, DRIVE, and to sign the petition
demanding his execution be stopped, go to

Alexander Billet is a music journalist and activist living in
Washington DC. He is a frequent contributor to Dissident Voice and
Znet, and has also appeared in Socialist Worker, CounterPunch and MR
Zine. His blog Rebel Frequencies can be viewed at, and he may be reached at: Read other articles by Alexander, or visit
Alexander's website.’s-songs-of-freedom/

The Sweet Taste Of Success...

Success Story Started With Secret Recipe

By Barrington Salmon, Special for USA TODAY

Twenty years ago, Michele Hoskins had left her husband, moved her family back home and was producing pancake syrup in her parents' basement. At first, she made just a little at a time to sell locally to markets in the African-American community in the Chicago area.

Today, she sits atop a burgeoning empire as owner of a multimillion-dollar company, Michele Foods, that produces a line of syrups and pancake mix. Michele's Honey Crème Syrup, Butter Pecan Syrup and Maple Crème Syrup and Michele's Gourmet Pancake Mix (as well as a low-carb line) can be found in 10,000 stores nationwide, including Winn-Dixie, Giant, Safeway, Kroger and Super Wal-Mart.

Sweet Expectations: Michele Hoskins' Recipe for Success

By Michele Hoskins and Jean Williams
Adams Media, 262 pages, $19.95

In her book, Sweet Expectations: Michele Hoskins' Recipe For Success, the Chicago native introduces readers to a life sweetened with success and triumph and leavened with challenge and trouble.

What Hoskins, president and CEO, offers isn't just any pancake syrup. It comes with an astonishing story. This recipe was passed through the generations from her great-great-grandmother, America Washington, an enslaved woman who created the recipe for the family she worked for.

The syrup, in the original recipe, was made of churned butter, cream and honey.

Her ancestor stipulated that only the third daughter of each generation could get the secret recipe, something that puzzles Hoskins to this day. And it wasn't just any third daughter. The recipe had to be passed only mother-to-daughter. Her mother won the prize recipe but she had only one daughter — Michele.

Hoskins managed to persuade her mother to share the recipe with her. She said that she wanted to pass the recipe to her third daughter, Keisha. Her mother relented.

"If I wasn't doing this, I'd still be an entrepreneur," she says. "I visualize America Washington sitting on a porch wondering what to develop. I was reincarnated in America and hoped I would be self-sufficient and a self-starter."

Sweet Expectations, written with Chicago journalist Jean Williams, is a folksy primer of business tips that Hoskins honed the hard way. It is also the story of a voyage from uncertainty and poverty to success.

Along the way, Hoskins learned how to produce the syrup for mass distribution and figured out the nuts and bolts of business, accounting and other critical elements of running a company. She mowed down or side-stepped racial and gender obstacles to get her product on the market. Little of it was easy.

"The difficult part was really not knowing about this business, walking into large corporations trying to sell this product. And I was an African-American woman, not being taken seriously. The hard part was just persevering. I had to keep going because I was on a mission," she says.

"Entrepreneurs are risk takers and kind of naïve — not knowing the obstacles ahead. Passion, perseverance and patience — just endure and let the success happen."

She writes, in a compelling way, about fear of failure. At one point, she had "a legal fight with my own family for the right to use the recipe as the basis for the business." The conflict, she writes, was resolved and "made us stronger."

At another point, Hoskins had a brain tumor removed in emergency surgery.

One day, her fear of failure came down to filling out forms to get her product to Jewel stores in Chicago. She was daunted but didn't want to show it. This was her first big sale, and she was determined to look professional.

"I took the forms home with me and pored over them, trying to make sense of them," she writes. "I had come too far in this process to screw it up now."

She "swallowed her pride" and confessed to the store that she needed help — and got it.

What She Values:

•Faith. "My basis and foundation has always been God. My mom told me to turn to Him because we had to have someone to rely on other than other people."

•Helping others. She started a national mentoring program, From Recipe to Retail, to help people get great recipes such as cake and jerk chicken to market.

•Her ancestor's gift. Through it all, she carries a great deal of respect for the gift that was passed down.

"It's ironic that the legacy started by a slave woman, my ancestor, would help liberate me," she says.

"My great-great-grandmother was calling out to me. It's like she reached out from the past and said, 'I have been waiting for someone to realize that this is more than a recipe.' "

•Leaving a legacy for her three daughters and granddaughter. Hoskins took advantage of programs that encouraged and supported minority- and female-owned companies, rode the wave of expansion of these types of businesses in the late 1980s and early 1990s and gradually built a network of colleagues who assisted and supported her.

Hoskins has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show three times and has been interviewed in Essence, Black Enterprise and Fortune.

For Hoskins, becoming an entrepreneur was "the only game in town."

Tune In To Listen To Ms. Michelle Hoskins On Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Coming Soon!!!

Lunceford Is Our Business On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio..

August's Theme Was
"We Are The Renaissance..."

*Please listen to the actual interview by clicking here:

This Past Sunday August 26, 2007 on W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio proved to be a blessing and a historical one at that for faithful listeners and jazz fans...We all were treated to a fantastic helping of rich musical heritage which unfortunately has not been thoroughly explored or documented by mainstream outlets...We were able to talk to two living legends (Bro. Gerald Wilson and Sis. Kathyrn Perry Thomas) whom not only know of Jimmie Lunceford's amazing achievements and legacy, but also knew the man and his value as a jazz man, visionary, master teacher and community leader very well...They were also present for many of the most important turning points in Mr. Lunceford's life and career...

As a matter of fact the show was sort of a reunion get together for Wilson and Thomas...Wilson played with Mrs. Thomas' brother Andy who played saxophone in the high school band while they both attended Manassas High School...So they have been friends since the 1930s both still alive and strong doing the things that they love or that bring their lives definition and peace of mind everyday!!!

Also devout Memphis music fan and journalist, Bro. Preston Lauterbach, living up to the title of his profession asked very good questions and was able to help anchor such an ensemble cast of dignified characters along with Tha Artivist in a very fair and balanced matter...

Unfortunately Bro. Emerson Able wasn't able to join us on this episode, but I feel that adding that wonderful man to the mix would have made the dish too sweet for consumption...Please continue to listen and be on the look out for more Jimmie Lunceford specials as the time nears for the first annual Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival taking place 0ct. 19-21 in Memphis, Tn!!!!

Please Listen To Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Show Live Every Sunday @ 4PM CST/ 5PM EST By Accessing The Following Link:

More Info On Last Sunday's Show Below:

"Jimmie Lunceford Has The Best Of All Bands. Duke [Ellington] Is Great, [Count] Basie Is Remarkable, But Lunceford Tops Them Both."
-- Legendary Swing Band Leader Glenn Miller

"Jimmy Lunceford Was Buried Here In Memphis. The Spot He Occupies Should Have Something Of A Special Significance. ...He Took A Group Of Relatively Unsophisticated Memphis Colored Boys And Welded Them Into An Organization Which Scaled The Heights Of Musical Eminence. ... He Presented Something New In The Way Of Musical Presentations By Negro Orchestras."
--Legendary Memphis Educator And Syndicated Columnist Nat D. Williams

Hear The Great Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra For Yourself To See Why He Is Considered By Many In The Know To Be The Greatest Of Them All:

Please Join Us As We Remember Forgotten Musical Giant Jimmie Lunceford...

Learn How This Memphis City School Teacher Formed The First High School Band/ Orchestra Band With No Money...Learn How He Took A Band Made Up Of His High School Students And Former College Pals From Fisk University To The Legendary Cotton Club In Harlem , NY And Became A National Sensation, Constantly Beating Bands Like Duke Ellington's, Count Basie's, Benny Goodman's, Woody Herman's, Cab Calloway's and Glenn Miller's!!!

Learn Why The Man Who Was The True King Of Swing Lies Forgotten About In A Grave In Elmwood Cemetery In Memphis, Tn ...A Man Who Was Once Among The Most Famous Americans Of His Time Has Even Been Written Out Of The History Of The School Where He Taught As Well As The History Of Memphis In General, But Is Still Being Remembered By A Nice Size Fan Base Based In Holland...

Check Out the Jimmie Lunceford Legacy Orchestra From Holland On MySpace:

Learn About The New Efforts To Revive The Memory And Legacy Of Jimmie Lunceford In Memphis Firsthand:

The People I Interviewed Include:

A.) Jazz Great Gerald Wilson...

Joined Mr. Lunceford Orchestra At The Age Of 19 Back In 1939...He Also Went To Manassas High School For A Few Years...He Still Teaches At UCLA At Almost 90 And Won The Teacher Of The Year Award Last Year!!! He's Also A Very Well Known And Respected Jazz Legend In His Own Right...Mr. Wilson Still Leads His Own Very Successful Big Band Which Also Features Lunceford Alum Snooky Young...He Wrote The Theme Song For The Monterrey Jazz Festival...

Listen To Jazz Great, Educator And Lunceford Band Alum Gerald Wilson's Recollections Of Jimmie Lunceford In This Wonderful NPR Interview:

B.) Critically Acclaimed Classical Pianist Kathyrn Perry Thomas...

One Of The Last Three Surviving Members Of Manassas High School Class Of 1932...She Is A Classical Pianist And Was Taught By Jimmie Lunceford...At 92 Years Young She Is The Last Surviving Memphian To Have Played Music With Lunceford!!!

C.) Preston Lauterbach, Editor Of Website ...

The Journalist And Passionate Memphis Music Fan Who Wrote The Recent And Fantastic Memphis Flyer Article On Jimmie Lunceford:
*Please Read The Latest R2C2H2 Newsletter And See How You Can Become An Ad Sponsor Of W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio:

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The Official R2C2H2 Tha Artivist Website (

The Official James Reese Europe: Jazz Lieutenant Book Site(

Voting Ends Oct. 19, 2007 So Please Help A Brother Out And Spread The Word...


Check Out "The Empowerment Hour" Hosted By Bro. Kermit Eady Every Saturday @ 6 PM EST/ 5PM CST

Friday, August 24, 2007

Making Bonafide Heroes Into Bonafide Villains: The Character Martyrdom Of Judge D'Army Bailey...

Legendary American Civil Rights Activist And The Righteous Visionary/Founder of The National Civil Rights Museum
The Honorable Judge D'Army Bailey

They Already Assassinated Bro. Martin Luther King @ The Lorraine Motel Now The Powers That Be Are Trying To Assassinate The Character And Legacy Of Bro. D'Army Bailey:

Listen To Bro. D'Army Bailey's Debut On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio:

More News On The Brooding National Civil Rights Museum Controversy:

Vote For The Following R2C2H2 Websites To Win The Coveted 2008 Black Web Awards...

*Important~Please Vote For The Following 2 R2C2H2 Websites To Win The 2008 Black Web Awards...Just Follow The Links And Vote As Many Times As You Want!!!

B.) The Official James Reese Europe: Jazz Lieutenant Book Site


Voting Ends Oct. 19, 2007 So Please Help A Brother Out And Spread The Word...

And Don't Forget To Vote Early, Vote Often And Keep On Voting!!!

New Niggerati Elite Question The Authenticity Of What Is And Ain't Black Art On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio...

August's Theme Is
"We Are The Renaissance..."

This Past Sunday (August 19, 2007) I Had The Pleasure Of Interviewing Some Of The Best Literary Artists Of This Generation Regardless Of Color...

We At W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Were Also Blessed With A Surprise In The Person Of Bro. Lamont Carey, A True Renaissance Man In His Own Right!!! He Shared His Jewels Of Wisdom And Insight Along With The Rest Of Our Wonderful And Gifted Guests And Fitted In Comfortably...

Please Visit Bro. Lamont Carey's Myspace Page:

Please Listen To The Actual Show Yourself And Tell Us What You Think:

As Always You Can Catch Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E,. Radio Live Every Sunday @ 4PM CST/ 5PM EST:

The Following Is A Summary Of Who Was On The Show In Addition To Bro. Lamont Carey:

A.) Award Winning And In Demand Author Bro. Mat Johnson A.K.A. Mr. Niggerati

Bro. Mat Johnson

About Hunting In Harlem
In HIH, my goal was to tell a well plotted book that could transcend the pitfalls of the concept-driven narrative. Translation: I wanted a good story that wasn’t predictable. While the surface topic is Harlem’s gentrification, for me it was really a dialogue about the dangers of belief and fanaticism, written as it was in post 9/11 NYC.

Hunting in Harlem is a satire, but hopefully with moments of tension as well. It is also an in-group discussion about the future of the black community for this first generation to come of age in a post-Civil Rights world. What do we do now that, after centuries of struggle, white people are not our biggest problem anymore?
More Books By Bro. Mat Johnson:

B.) Author Extraordinaire, Entrepreneur And Enamored With The Culture Of Hip Hop Sis. Shamontiel L. Vaughn a.k.a. Maroon Sista

About Shamontiel's New Book Round Trip
College graduation is usually the time to collect a cap and gown, pick a career, and set foot in the real world. For three graduates, their graduation days will be yet another crash course. Memo reaches out to Seleste, but his recently paroled father pulls his attention another way. Jermaine believes in no secrets in marriage, but after proposing to Cara, she may not be ready to divulge the truth, regardless of what her ex-fling Arnez decides. The wedding is in Atlanta, the graduation is in Chicago, unfinished business is in the boroughs of New York, and news that one of the crew may have AIDS is circulating. How will they cope?

Check out Sis. Shamontiel L. Vaughn's debut on W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio:

Sis. Shamontiel Vaughn's 2nd Appearance On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio With American Civil Rights Movement Veteran Sherie Lebedis:

Also, feel free to visit to find out more background information on the Sis. Shamontiel Vaughn and to purchase her books.

C.) Critically Acclaimed And Talented Wordsmith A.K.A. The Poet Laureate Of The New Niggerati Bro. Aaron Van Jordan

About M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A
Poet A. Van Jordan has written a suite of poems that imagine the life of MacNolia Cox, the first black finalist in the National Spelling Bee Competition.

In his book M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, Jordan uses a variety of forms and voices to portray Cox's life. The poems draw on blues, jazz and prose stylings to depict racism and the Depression, two elements that framed life in 1936.

Hear Bro. Aaron Van Jordan Talking ABout M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A On NPR Radio:

2002 Pen/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. 2004 Whiting Writers Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Pushcart Prize, 2006.

Recent Publications:
A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise published by Tia Chucha Press in 2001, and M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A published by WW Norton Co. in 2004. His new book, Quantum Lyrics, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton.

Poet Van Jordan wins Guggenheim Fellowship

*Please Read The Latest R2C2H2 Newsletter And See How You Can Become An Ad Sponsor Of W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio:

*Important~Please Vote For The Following 2 R2C2H2 Websites To Win The 2008 Black Web Awards...Just Follow The Links And Vote As Many Times As You Want!!!

The Official R2C2H2 Tha Artivist Website (

The Official James Reese Europe: Jazz Lieutenant Book Site(

Voting Ends Oct. 19, 2007 So Please Help A Brother Out And Spread The Word...

As Always Please Spread The Good News!!!

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Waiting For You!!!

Support The Cause And Get Your Autographed Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival Tee Shirt Today!!!

©R2C2H2 Tha Artivist/Ronald Herd II

Jazztastic Greetings To All,
In Order To Help Raise $Funds$ For The Much Anticipated Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival In Memphis, Tn (Oct. 19-21, 2007) We Are Selling Autographed Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival Tee Shirts Made By Yours Truly R2C2H2 Tha Artivist!!!

For Just $30 Each Plus $5 Shipping And Handling You Can Get You A Jimmie Lunceford Jam Fest Tee Made And Autographed By The Award Winning R2C2H2 Tha Artivist!!!

Currently The Short Sleeved Tee Shirts Come In Black And White:

Please Pay For Your Order Through Our Paypal Account...Please E-mail And /Or Call Us @ 901-299-4355 With The Specifics Of The Order Such As Color, Size Requested (Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, 2X-Large And 3X-Large)And Quantity...
(Note: Please Add $3 More To Order For 2X-Large And 3X-Large Sizes)

Your Order Will Be Shipped Out A.S.A.P. As Soon As We Receive Your Pay...We Will Notify By E-mail When You Should Expect Your Shipment...

Thanks Once Again For Supporting This Wonderful Venture And Please Spread The Word!!!

R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
Founder Of The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival