Sunday, December 30, 2007

R.I.P. To The World's Greatest Pianist...Oscar Peterson (1925-2007)

Tha Artivist Writes: Oscar Peterson was one of the most accomplished musicians of any era...He was Black, Proud And Gifted...He was a great example of where one's talent(s) can take you if you take the time to invest and develop them...He understood, even after his stroke, that his gifts were not for him, but for the world...As long as people are appreciating good and great music Oscar Peterson shall live in every note and chord change and smiling face...

We must make it our duties as the beneficiaries of Bro. Peterson's gifts to share the good news with our kids...It is so important that Black Youths in particular and youths in general have heroes and sheroes that we take the time to love and give them...We need to stop looking at other people for advice about who we should love and respect...All of those decisions are matters of the heart...A person must love the people he or she serves if they expect the people to love them back...Oscar Peterson knew this and for that we love you madly Bro. Peterson!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lucie E. Campbell A.K.A. The Mother Of Gospel Music...

Lucie E. Campbell, Gospel Music Visionary
‘Mother Of Gospel Music’ Has Deep Memphis Roots
By George E. Hardin

A street performer, Connie Rosemond, was singing a religious song outside a Beale Street store when several men passing by asked him to sing a blues song. Rosemond refused even after the men offered him money. Lucie E. Campbell witnessed the incident and asked Rosemond why he refused. He told her there was “something within” that would not allow him to sing the blues. From that incident, Campbell was inspired to write the beloved gospel tune “Something Within,” the first of the more than 100 songs she would eventually write. Campbell selected Rosemond to introduce the song in 1919 at the National Baptist Convention and it became a staple of many Black churches:

Something within me that holdeth the reins,
Something within me that banishes pain,
Something within me I cannot explain,
All that I know there is something within.

“Something Within,” and Campbell’s other songs, helped shape the worship style of many black churches. Later her songs were adopted for use in some majority white churches as well. Among her other compositions were “He Understands, He’ll Say Well Done” and “Jesus Gave Me Water,” which became a huge hit for Sam Cooke and was the first time he demonstrated the yodeling that became his trademark.

Campbell became one of the most highly acclaimed of all gospel songwriters. The 45th anniversary of Campbell’s death will be Jan. 3, 2008. Campbell was born in a caboose in Duck Hill, Miss., on April 3, 1885. Her father, Burrell Campbell, was an employee of the Mississippi Central Railroad. He was killed in a train accident shortly after Lucie was born and his wife, Isabella, moved the family to Memphis in search of better opportunities. Campbell became a schoolteacher and trained many young singers. Her work attracted national attention and in 1942, she was invited to the White House Conference on Negro Youth Education.

The best known of her students was J. Robert Bradley. Bradley met Campbell when he and other children were waiting outside Ellis Auditorium for Christmas presents from the Goodfellows, a charitable organization. Bradley joined in the singing of Christmas carols and a police officer, captivated by his voice, went inside where the National Baptist Convention was meeting and brought Campbell out to hear him. Campbell was impressed and became his mentor.

Campbell chose Bradley to introduce her newest compositions and he became the best-known interpreter of her work. With help from Campbell and Baptist leader Dr. A. M. Townsend, Bradley was sent to New York to study voice with the great Wagnerian singer, Edythe Walker. Later he studied classical music in London and performed for the king and queen of England.
Although Memphis is called the “Home of the Blues,” it should be better known for its gospel music. For it was here that Campbell first made her mark as well as the Rev. W. Herbert Brewster, another gospel songwriter, musician Thomas Shelby and singer Queen C. Anderson. Gospel music addresses the concerns and emotions central to the African American experience. The Baptist hymnal “Gospel Pearls,” first published in 1921, is one of the first times the term “gospel” was applied to this music in print. Some other music styles have been introduced, reached a high point and faded, but gospel continues in popularity.

In 1960, Campbell married the Rev. C. R. Williams, a longtime friend. In June 1962, she was scheduled to be honored by the National Baptist Convention for her long service as its music director and was preparing to attend the event when she became ill. She never recovered and died Jan. 3 the following year. Lucie E. Campbell Elementary School is named in her honor.
Bradley, who dealt with the effects of diabetes for many years, died May 3 at age 87 in Nashville.
Campbell drew from her life experiences to connect with her constituents and enlisted music in the service of faith. Gospel music is indigenous to the black struggle and a central component of the African American heritage.

Thomas Dorsey, author of “Precious Lord” and numerous other songs, is often called the “father of gospel music.” Campbell wrote “Something Within” more than a decade before “Precious Lord” was completed and she could rightly be called the “mother of gospel music.”

(George E. Hardin worked as a photographer, reporter and editor and in public relations during a long career before he retired.)

Gangster Rappers Aren't The Only Musicians Dying Violent Deaths...

Tha Artivist Wrote: Valentin Elizalde And Sergio Gomez Are The Tupac And Biggie of Mexican Musicians...As Marvin Gaye Would Say What's Going On???

Who Is Killing Mexico's Musicians?

By Ioan Grillo/Mexico City

The Charismatic And Talented Valentin Elizalde

The Late Great Sergio Gomez In His Prime
Photo: Nohemi González [Agencia Reforma]

The casket of singer Sergio Gomez is carried to the burial site at West Ridge Park Cemetery in Avon, Ind., on Dec. 12, 2007. Gomez was allegedly murdered by members of a drug gang.
Matt Detrich / The Indianapolis Star / AP

Since the 1990s, popular Mexican singers have been increasingly crooning about Kalashnikovs and cocaine alongside their traditional ballads of hard work and lost love. Take "Contraband in the Border" by Valentin Elizalde, one of the thousands of drug ballads or narco corridos that are played in cantinas and parties from the mountains of Mexico to the immigrant ghettos of Los Angeles. "There was a big shoot-out/With 14 bullet-filled bodies/And the American government,/took away the marijuana" go the lyrics, as tubas and accordions drone out the melody to the rhythm of a German polka. In November 2006, gunmen ambushed and killed Elizalde and took out his manager and driver while injuring his cousin outside a cockfighting ring in the border city of Reynosa.

Elizalde's murder is not an isolated incident. Singers have not just been chanting about the bloody drug violence ravaging their country; they have also been among its most prominent victims. At least 13 musicians have been killed — gunned down, burned or suffocated to death — since June 2006. The violence gained international attention earlier this month when three entertainers were killed in a week: a male singer was kidnapped, throttled and dumped on a road; a trumpeter was found with a bag on his head; and a female singer was shot dead in her hospital bed. (She was being treated for bullet wounds from an earlier shooting.)

The Mexican public was particularly shocked by the slaying of singer Sergio Gomez, who founded his band K Paz de la Sierra while he was an immigrant in Chicago. He had scored a recent hit with Pero Te Vas a Repentir, or "But You Will Have Regrets," a love song so catchy that half the country was humming it. Gomez was abducted after a concert in his native Michoacan state, beaten and burned and then strangled with a plastic cord.

Thousands mourned him at sprawling wakes in Michoacan, Mexico City and Chicago, where he was finally laid to rest. "Being a fan of Gomez, this news really makes me sad," Mexico City Police Chief Joel Ortega said during the wake here. "These things shouldn't happen in our country. Whatever the causes were, it is very sad. He was an extraordinary vocalist."

Investigators have yet to solve any of the 13 musician killings. Nor have they revealed any suspects, although they have said that drug gangs could be responsible. The same murkiness clouds most of the 2,500 slayings in Mexico this year that have been tallied by the leading Mexican newspapers in what they call "execution-meters." Those killings involve ambushes or abductions and appear to bear to marks of organized crime.

The federal government has held back from giving any hard numbers on drug-related murders. However, President Felipe Calderon insists he is winning the war against the trafficking cartels by making record cocaine seizures, extraditing kingpins to the United States and putting soldiers on the streets of the worst-hit towns and cities.

The slain entertainers all played related styles of music. Hailing from ranches and small towns in northern Mexico, the genre (which includes Banda, Nortena, Grupero and Durangense) combines Mexican folk melodies with the marching band ryhthms of German immigrants. The music has now evolved to include electric guitars and keyboards and is as popular in big Mexican and U.S. cities as it is in the countryside.

The musicians of these styles grew up in communities rife with drug traffickers, who often pay the entertainers to play at their parties and to write songs about them. The singers perform the drug ballads along with their love songs: the narco corridos have been among the biggest-selling records in the country.

The managers, fellow musicians and loved ones of the slain entertainers have been mum about pointing the finger at any suspects or motives. Some have said they fear for their own safety. Elijah Wald, author of a recent book on narco corridos, argues that entertainers are not being specifically targeted. They are just in the same circles as many drug traffickers and are caught up in the jealousies and arguments that afflict everyone in that world. "If you were to drop a bomb on a random party of drug traffickers you would always get a few musicians," Wald says. "Singers also attract the attention of people's wives and girlfriends, which could be enough to get them killed. The rising gangsters gain their reputation by proving how much they are cold-blooded psychos."

The real=life bloodshed has not damaged the posthumous popularity of the entertainers. Sales of Elizalde and Gomez records have rocketed since their deaths. This month, they were both nominated for 2008 Latin Grammys, which will be awarded in February.

Jena 6 Defendant’s Plea Bargain Garners Mixed Response From Supporters, Experts And Onlookers...Tha Artivist Reports...

Marcus Jones (left), father of Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell, Rev. Al Sharpton and Melissa Bell, Mychal Bell’s mother. (AP Photo)

The Jena 6 case and what it represents has become a lightning rod for activism as well as divisiveness...Rarely does such a topic or subject garners such a strong response from everyone…Whether you agree or disagree we all can agree that the Jena 6 case has revealed that it takes time for old wounds to heal and that open and honest dialogue is key if we are as a community going to get to the heart of the problem and find solutions…

For this article we approached some of the brightest, most engaging and opinionated minds around...Each person asked for their insight represents a clear demographic of our society whether it be academic, the media, religious or the community in general…Vanderbilt University Law Professor Carol Swain, Louisiana Civil Rights Activist and Marcus Jones’ Spiritual Advisor Bishop George and noted Civil Rights journalist Gary Younge each weighed in with their worthy insight…Their distinct voices and opinions represent the spectrum of Black America…As the old saying goes we can all agree to disagree but respect is key if you expect reciprocity…

Prof. Carol Swain, Vanderbilt Law School

Renowned Law Prof. Carol Swain thought that the plea bargain was probably the best deal Mychal Bell could have gotten from a legal point of view when you consider his previous juvenile record and participation in the beating of Justin Barker…”I assume that his criminal attorney had access to his juvenile records and that played a part in his plea bargain…He was guilty of being a part of the attack on the white student, maybe the plea bargain will prevent the media from probing into his juvenile record…But had he been tried and evidence come forward, he probably could have gotten a stiffer sentence and it came down to what was best for him…And usually it is better in cases where you are guilty to get a better deal by plea bargaining…”

She also recognizes that the U.S. justice system is biased towards poor people as well as people of color in particular Black Males…”I think the justice system hurts all poor people…If you can’t afford an expensive lawyer, one that’s going to work on your behalf at an hourly wage then you are at a disadvantage regardless of your race…I think it also does affect disproportionately Black men because many of them are poor…”

She also confessed sympathy for Mychal Bell and the media scrutiny that is individually upon him as well as a member of the Jena 6…”I hate to be him because everything he does he’s going to be watched and if you look at what has leaked into the press about his prior record he has not been a choir boy and he may very well end up in trouble again…”

Prof. Swain stated that that type of media attention can also bring out the best and the worst in people in the general public…”There are people that are rooting for him to get on with his life, go to college and be successful, but there are also other people waiting and biding their time to see when he gets into trouble again…I think he’s in a very awkward situation because of the high profile of the case…”

She also offered some words of advice for Mychal Bell and his parents post-plea bargain…”If Mychal Bell has an anger management problem he needs to get help for it…And if his parents can afford to relocate I think that might help them as far as to get a new start and not be constantly reminded by the past…”

However, she does feel that the boys should be punished for their actions and not let off the hook so easily by their Black supporters…”I think that at the end of the day we are all accountable for what we do…The Jena 6 boys did a gang beating on one individual and were sort of celebrated in the community…I think that we should have condemned the attack more harshly then we did because they were involved in doing something that they were not suppose to be doing and separate that from the penalty…”

Prof. Swain also felt that the Black community can show love and support for the boys while at the same time holding them accountable for what they actually did…”The charges they were charged with were severe but at the same time they had no business ganging up and beating one person in the way that they did and that should have been the first thing we as a community condemned to send a signal to other Black young people that this is unacceptable behavior…”

She also noted that there’s an alarming growing trend of violent young Black males running in gangs or packs throughout the nation…”I heard of several cases like that of these young black men traveling in packs and attacking single, lone individuals and that’s not right… There’s no respect of self or other people and we need to be the ones saying that and holding them accountable and not celebrating and defending them because they are not innocent…”

Prof. Swain thought that Mychal Bell in spite of all he’s been through did deserve to serve some time and she hopes that through his incarceration he’s gained some wisdom...”Mychal Bell deserves to serve some time…And I hope he stays out of trouble and I hope he learned his lesson…At the end of the day Mychal Bell was doing something he shouldn’t have been doing…”

Prof. Swain noted that the Jena 6 case struck an emotional chord because it hit so close to home…Her brother was a victim of an attack that was eerily similar to the one endured by Justin Barker, however he wasn’t so lucky…”I had a brother that was attacked by five boys mid afternoon, they were boys from the neighborhood and I am sure he knew them…They beat him using their fists, shoes and kicked him and he took a blow to the head…He managed to get home and fell into a coma and died that evening…”

Because of this family tragedy she does admit she has a bias against the defendants in the case…”That sorta of colors my view about whether or not a sneaker can be a deadly weapon, the youngest boy was 14 and there was five of them…All I know is that we got to do something about these conditions…It’s not morally right…”

Prof. Swain believes that Black self-help is the remedy for the moral epidemic the Black community is facing…“I come from the underclass and I have been exposed to a lot…I am very concerned about the choices a lot of my people, Black people, make and some of our problems are our own fault and I do see them as our youth and our problem because I don’t think that society won’t do anything else but put them in jail… “

Bishop George, Louisiana Justice Foundation Activist

Bishop George stated the plea bargain caught many of the grassroots Jena 6 supporters off guard…”Honestly the plea bargain was a surprise to everyone…It was something that occurred in relation to Mychal himself or anybody locked up at some point that they are going to want to be free”…

Bishop George also felt that everything began to feel orchestrated and suspect as if this was preplanned conspiracy…“The plea bargain caused a lot of things to begin to happen such as a suit being filed by the Barker family against Mychal Bell and his parents…The other family members and members of the Jena 6 have been served suits for damages concerning the incident…It was as if everyone was waiting for one of the boys to plead guilty…”

He also noted that the Jena 6 case and the Mychal Bell plea bargain is nothing but a microcosm of what’s going on in the rest of the United States…”This is a process that’s going on all over the United States where young people plea bargain and their plea bargaining their lives away…There seems to be a trend all of a sudden where plea deals are coming up and my experience is when there is a plea somebody gets free and that didn’t happen and hasn’t happen as of yet with Mychal Bell…”

Echoing the sentiments of Marcus Jones, Bishop George also felt that Mychal Bell and his parents were mislead by the conditions of the plea bargain…”His mother is upset because it was the understanding that he was going to be moved from a secured facility to a atmosphere that wasn’t jail like…From what I understand things were misconstrued in Mychal’s mind about what was going to happen and what was not going to happen…”

Bishop George also noted the absurdity of the actual plea bargain as well…”There’s a lot of things concerning the plea that has taken place, even the parents having to pay child support to the state until the young man is 18, this is a first… I asked some people about it in the system they say this has never been done before…This is ludicrous and with the adult trial being thrown out the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, he is being held illegally…”

Bishop George stated the reason why the Jena 6 case occurred in the first place was because of inequities in the LaSalle Parish judicial system when it comes to crime and punishment…"The issue is still about unequal justice… If Mychal Bell is going to receive 18 months for battery then the White perpetrators of the battery committed upon Robert Bailey Jr. need to also receive 18 months…Justin Barker had a weapon on the school campus after those incidents that occurred at the school leading up to the fight…There are a whole lot of discrepancies that are still left out there that are going have to be dealt with…”

He also feels that the La Salle Parish Court System has no respect for the actual law when it chooses to not follow the direct command of a higher court…”I consider it chicanery when the Louisiana State Supreme Court has an ad hoc judge come in and rule that the documents concerning Mychal Bell had to be opened and Judge Maffrey goes right ahead and seal those same records…And now Mychal has to go before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.. Now that let anyone with common sense know that the court system in LaSalle Parish have a lot to hide because they are insistent on keeping those records shut down…”

Bishop George expressed sympathy for Mychal Bell’s parents…”The poor parents were left with court costs...Marcus Jones’ job, a job he had in Jena, he lost months ago and so the income that would be coming towards to pay for those things in the court will be coming from Melissa and whatever Marcus can come up with…There’s been some mis-information in the media…People are mistaken in alot of ways about the way things are going…”

However, he also expressed optimism about the outcome of the case…”The ball is where it is, but the ball is not dropped, there are going to be a pursuit of issues that are still outstanding…There are a lot of things that are still on the burner being dealt with concerning the case of Mychal Bell…”

Bishop George felt that the plea bargain was not a win/win for Mychal Bell…”I don’t think that there was anything that could be gained or garnered by Mychal admitting that he had a part in what occurred with Justin Barker… “

He also felt like Marcus Jones that the court of public opinion was in Mychal Bell’s favor and that the plea came as a shock and let down to many passionate supporters…”When you have upwards of 70,000 people come to a town to stand for justice and fight against unequal justice and get down to the wire and things are looking the way they are looking and you find a plea is made...That is something that everybody is trying to get their heads wrapped around…”

Bishop George also noted a coalition of the willing, a collection of civil rights organizations who made themselves the designated spearheads of the Jena 6 movement getting together just two weeks before the plea bargain to discuss the nuts and bolts of the Mychal Bell case...”There were some groups that entered into the Jena 6 case, Southern Poverty Law Center; Color of Change and Friends of Justice...These groups from the onset had been looking at trying to find some way to diffuse the entire situation”…The meeting took place in Alexandria, La...

He also noted key players in the Jena 6 case were present including Attorney Darrell Hickman (Bryant Ray Purvis’ attorney) and Mychal Bell’s Attorney Lewis Scott and the parents of the Jena 6 defendants…

The purpose of the meeting was to try to come up with some type of agreement among all the attorneys on how to help Mychal Bell’s parents with the money situation...As a court order they have to pay the monthly incarceration fees of their son…”This thing about a plea has been on the table for a period of time and they were trying to get all the parents to agree...The only two parents that weren’t in agreement were Marcus and Melissa…And some point the lawyers were persuaded that this was the appropriate way to go…”

According to Bishop George the plea bargain deal had unforeseen repercussions “and now what has happened with the suit lingering around, you are not going to get any of the young men to say yeah we had a part in that because that is an automatic payout if the suit is won by the Barkers...”

Bishop George feels that for the Jena 6 to get true justice and exoneration that the U.S. Federal Court must step in…“It’s a precarious situation that‘s going to have be settled in Federal Court…It’s can’t be settled in state court…Somebody’s going to have to have the unction and the junction to file something in the federal system and that’s going to change the whole parameters of this thing…Because there’s malfeasance that has occurred so it has to be dealt with in this manner…”

Gary Younge, Civil Rights Journalist of The Guardian and The Nation

Award winning journalist Gary Younge also feels sympathy for Mychal Bell and his legal woes…”Well I can understand why he did it, my guess is that his counsel thought that was the best deal he was going to get… In a way I hope for Mychal Bell and the others that they get out of the criminal justice system as soon as they possibly can… If this was the quickest way they can do it then so be it…”

Younge also expressed genuine concern for the individual well being of Mychal Bell and his co-defendants and that this human element of the story shouldn’t be lost in the hustle and bustle sensationalism of the historic civil rights case…”I feel like you don’t want to grandstand with a young person’s future…It would be great if we could move on to other stuff while keeping an eye on the actual individuals involved...The fate of the individuals involved is important…”

He also feels that the Jena 6 case only further illustrates the institutional racism that is prevalent throughout the U.S….He also reasoned that the public must become vigilante in searching for the inequities in the U.S. judicial system and beyond…”What I also think needs to happen now is to take the light which is dimmed significantly but it was shown on Jena 6 and shine it elsewhere on the country where it’s happening all the time…”

He also said that 21st Century racism is more sophisticated and stealth or invisible and that nooses from the Jena 6 story was a throwback to a different era…”If it wasn’t for the nooses no one would have noticed Jena…It took some medieval Jim Crow acting out for people to sit up and listen…White people now don’t have to act out with nooses, crosses and stuff in order to be racist, but in order to catch the media’s attention they have to…”

He offered two examples of how racism has “evolved” and how the media has played a part in that evolution…”If someone came up to your house called you a nigger and burned a cross on the lawn that would make the news but if you worked in a big company and they say we’re firing three hundred people and two hundred are black then that won’t make the news…Somehow it has to be these dramatic and undeniable expressions of racism that makes the grade and that is not how racism works…”

“You have to be a very stupid white person to run around with nooses and crosses because you don’t have to do that to get what you want or to keep the stuff that you stole…”

Gary Younge also warned that if we don’t pay attention to the details that we may miss the big picture on the significance of the Jena 6 saga…“Jena was a symbol of a bigger problem and unless it’s regarded as a bigger problem then the general lesson has been lost…”

Special Jena 6 Post-Plea Bargain Show On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio
To listen to the entire Prof. Carol Swain interview as well as others on this case please visit the following link on-line:

To Hear The Entire Bishop George Interview Please Click On The Following Link:

(Ron Herd II also known as R2C2H2 Tha Artivist hosts the internet radio show “Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio” at . His Website is He is also the author of James Reese Europe: Jazz Lieutenant

More Jena 6 On W.E. A.L.L. B.E.:


Jena 6 Plea Bargain Deal Not A Win-Win...Tha Artivist Reports...

One of the most publicized civil rights cases in recent memory has garnered more scrutiny…On Dec. 3, 2007 the defense team for Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena 6 to face jail time and trial, avoided a possible 2nd media circus filled trial by taking a plea bargain…Although Mychal will be free in only a matter of months many questioned the decision made by his legal defense team as well as the motive…Opinions varied far and wide from those connected to the case to those who were made aware of the saga through the media and the wonders of modern technology…

Mychal Bell’s father Marcus Jones and Mychal’s lead Attorney Lewis Scott are the two most distinctive voices involved in this issue…Marcus Jones felt that his son was mislead by Attorney Scott and his legal defense team while Attorney Scott felt that the plea bargain he helped to engineer served the best interest and individual needs of his client…

Both of these men are passionate about what they believe in…Below both men are given space to tell the story of the plea bargain in their own words from their individual perspectives…

The jury is now the in the court of public opinion…Regardless of how one may feel there’s no denying that the Jena 6 saga is one of the most prominent civil rights sagas of the early 21st Century…The Jena 6 legacy and the interpretations of that legacy will have long term effects…The final verdict has yet to be given…

Jena 6 Attorney Louis Scott Makes His Case

Louis Scott and associate Carol Powell-Lexing. (Courtesy photo)

Plea Bargain For Mychal Bell Was The Right Decision For His Client

Attorney Scott felt very confident that the decision his team made on behalf of his client was the right one…”The charges we entered the plea on, Mychal had been convicted of those charges in adult court…The part related to the aggravated nature was dismissed, the conspiracy was dismissed and the plea was less than what he was charged with…We could have been battling this case for a couple of years but in the meantime he wasn’t getting any education and we didn’t want him to fall by the wayside…We wanted to take time and look at his well being specifically…”

According to Attorney Scott going to trial would not have stopped the lawsuit filed by Justin Barker and his family…”The plea bargain and the filing of the lawsuit really didn’t have anything to do with each other…It really would have been filed regardless because it was prepared for months…I had already spoke with the attorneys for the Barkers and I knew that was coming down the pipe anyway…”

Attorney Scott did not feel that the plea bargain was a cop out or let the town of Jena off the hook…”For people who are interested in civil rights they should realize that there are two separate issues…If we would have gone to trial and if he was convicted of the things that he entered the plea to, they would have considered that a cop out…For people who want to straighten out the system it takes a lot more…”

“Dealing with racism in Jena or anywhere else requires more than us just preceding to trial…Going to trial was not going to deal with the fact that the other young white men who have taken part in the various activities were not prosecuted…Going to trial was not going to make the school system protect the rights of the African American students who go to school there…Going to trial was not going to deal with all the problems… Those problems if people are really serious about it are going to have to be dealt with over a period of time...”

Attorney Scott also noted the tension that existed among Mychal Bell’s family over the plea bargain…”In reality I would have fought the case as long as my client would have wanted to fight it…However, in the situation we were in we talked to Mychal himself, Melissa (Mychal’s mom) and Marcus (father)…Melissa was very much in favor to the plea bargain, Mychal was in favor to entering the plea agreement but Marcus disagreed to it…”

“My role as representative of Mychal Bell was to represent Mychal Bell and to do things that was going to be in his best interest so he can have some certainty in his life and plan his life…He felt it to be in his best interest to continue his education and put this behind him…I sympathize with his father and if Mychal would have decided to continue to fight just as his father wanted to do then that’s what we would have been doing”…

Quite frankly Attorney Scott admitted that in terms of a civil rights case taking a plea was not the best option…“From a civil rights perspective it may have been better to probably fight the case throughout…However, the decision of a lawyer has to be based upon the needs of his client…For certain reasons I hated to enter into the plea agreement because we would have had a better chance of exposing all of the problems and difficulties especially with the judge and judicial system in the area”…

Attorney Scott alluded to Mychal Bell’s football background as a running back to convince his client he made the right decision…”You still have five other people, like I told Mychal you don’t have to be ashamed of the decision you make, you ran the ball, you advanced the ball a certain distance now somebody is going to have to run the ball for awhile…You been the one who have been taking a pounding and been incarcerated…You done your part…Keep your head up and go head finish your education…”

Attorney Scott said that the lawyer’s main concern should be the individual needs of his clients and not to offer his client up as ‘a sacrificial lamb for the cause’…”If you look back over history of the people that were involved in the high profile cases the individuals didn’t always turn out okay…When you had marquee defendants like the Scottsboro 9 or Wilmington 10, just because they fought the battles for a long time doesn’t mean that the individuals turned out okay…If you look at the Little Rock 9, alot of them turned out okay because they had the support of people on a personal basis and they weren’t considered as sacrifices…They were considered as human beings who had needs themselves and they were able to progress and achieve in life…”

“A lot of people never looked at Mychal’s individual needs because they wanted a sacrifice...They didn’t consider him as a young person who is 17 years old who still needs an education, parental nurturing, somebody who can explain to him the ins and outs, somebody who can counsel him, those are needs he still has…”

Attorney Scott offered the following words for those who still wanted to continue the fight against injustice and for the rest of the Jena 6:

“There’s still five young men…There’s still injustice in Jena and those who want to deal with injustice should not let this (plea bargain) stop them…Injustice can not be dealt with through one march or going to one city on one day, it has to be dealt with day in and day out…It has to be dealt with in the courtrooms as well as in the chambers of legislature, on our jobs and in our schools…It’s something people have to organize for rather than thinking it is something that can be dealt with on the spur of the moment…”

Marcus Jones Offers His Rebuttal

Marcus Jones

Marcus Jones Questions The Motive And Timing Of Plea Bargain

Marcus Jones the father of Mychal Bell to say the least is not satisfied with the plea bargain deal at all…”When I first heard about the plea bargain quite naturally I wasn’t for it…I told my son this…The whole puzzling thing is why my son’s lawyer would accept a plea bargain from the D.A….”

Marcus Jones thought the plea was in bad taste because he felt the momentum of public opinion shifting heavily in the favor of Mychal Bell and other Jena 6 defendants…”With all the resources that has been galvanized around my son, the resources that my son had with people wanting to help from Harvard Law School; Howard University; Southern University and law students that other universities had; the National Black Caucus taking a stand; Rev. Sharpton; Michael Baisden, all these people bringing all this to the forefront, bringing this light…”

So the question remains as Marcus Jones said…

“Why would they as Black men and a Black woman (legal defense team) sell my son out like that?”

Marcus Jones first and foremost wanted his son to have a fair trial after what he felt the first trial represented which was a mockery of the judicial system, but business as usual in Jena…”If he was a good lawyer he would have said we are not taking any plea deals, we are going to take my client to trial and we are going to have our day in court…I thought he took the case to fight for my son…I never said my son didn’t participate in the fight…My whole issue from day one was that it was an unequal justice here where whites got away with committing crimes and the D.A. were forcing the laws on Blacks for lesser or similar crimes…”

Marcus also had a problem with the way they were “maliciously prosecuting and maliciously incarcerating” his son from day one…Marcus cries of abuse of his son Mychal included “locking him up as a juvenile with adults, trying him as an adult and then dropping those charges 10 months later and sending him to juvenile…”

Marcus fears and beliefs were for better or worse validated when the 3rd Circuit Court came back with their ruling…”Then 3rd circuit court came back 10 months later and overturned it saying that the D.A. and the judge misused the law…It should have been in juvenile court from day one…That was a violation of what the judge and D.A. had done in the law...It seems like to me that the DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice) should have came in and removed them by locking them up or suspending them...”

Marcus was nevertheless elated and thought that Attorney Scott and his team will act immediately upon the news with immediate and positive results…Or so he thought…

“My son’s lawyer got the word from the 3rd Circuit Court that they were wrong for incarcerating my son, holding him as an adult when he should have been in juvenile custody, they violated his civil rights…Locked him up in a facility where he could not continue his education…It’s been so many violations and civil suits that should have been filed by my son’s lawyer but he never did…But at the time I had such confidence in my son’s lawyer that I thought he was really trying to defend my son in the right way and to the end…”

Marcus feels the motive was money for Attorney Scott’s seemingly betrayal of his client…”If somebody paid me for running a race and you paid me for running the race before I even run the race, whoever gave me the money to run the race you suddenly get burned because you should have paid me after I got through running the race and that’s how I view what my son’s lawyer has done here…The confidence that I had in my son’s lawyer, I really don’t understand why he done this…”

“When my son went to court on Nov. 6 for two motion hearings, for the double jeopardy thing and for no police report being done we knew that Judge Maffrey in Jena wasn’t going to rule in our favor anyway”…The reason for the hearings was to able to advance their cause to the 3rd Circuit Court…”He (Scott) said when you get out and people ask and interview you or anything push the issue they are trying to try your son twice for the same thing…”

Marcus was surprised to learn on November 29 that the legal team never filed in the 3rd Circuit Court…Frustrated and confused Marcus asked them why didn’t they file and Attorney Scott said that Peggy one of the other lawyers on the defense team wasn’t finished writing the writ…Marcus upon hearing this stated “wait a minute that’s been a whole month, there’s something wrong with this picture…”

According to Marcus when his son asked Attorney Scott for the reason for not filing in 3rd Circuit Court, Scott told him because the plea bargain deal became available…Marcus felt that Attorney Scott told his son a lie because his intent was to do the plea bargain all along…

Marcus believes that there was an arrangement between the Barker Family and his son’s lead lawyer Louis Scott in order to help the Barker’s lawsuit and that his son was going to be the sacrificial lamb…”Somebody had to be the fall guy for this…In order for the Barker Family to make this lawsuit they filed against us good it had to be by Dec. 4…They needed somebody to take the plea in order for the lawsuit to be good…So the timing of the plea is very suspect…”

“I try to tell his mother and Mychal don’t do it, but they were making these promises to my son by being out before Christmas and his birthday and my son still sitting in jail…Something is wrong with this picture…”

Marcus believes that the plea bargain also let down the true supporters of his son and of the rest of the Jena 6…”All that’s been done to help our people come together around my son’s wrongful incarceration...People went out on the limb to send and raise money to help defend my son…They didn’t send that money for no plea bargain...”

The terms of the plea bargain according to Marcus Jones are suspect as well…Terms of the plea included not being able to go back and appeal the plea; Marcus will continue to pay child support for Mychal until he is 18 (what does this have to do with the case?); the parents have to pay a portion of Mychal’s medical bill; any motion that they, being Mychal and his parents, filed against the judge and D.A. will have to be withdrawn and the parents will have to pay the court costs…”What lawyer in their right mind would agree for their client to take a plea bargain from a D.A. under those circumstances…That’s bad law practice…”

Special Jena 6 Post-Plea Bargain Show On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio
To listen to the entire Attorney Louis Scott and Marcus Jones interviews as well as others on this case please visit the following link on-line:

(Ron Herd II also known as R2C2H2 Tha Artivist hosts the internet radio show “Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio” at . His Website is He is also the author of James Reese Europe: Jazz Lieutenant

More Jena 6 On W.E. A.L.L. B.E.:


Singing The Praises Of An Unsung Genius...Tha Artivist Reports...

Video: Larry Lee - Mastermind (Unreleased Woodstock Performance)

Video: Larry Lee - Gypsy Woman (Unreleased Woodstock Performance)

The Unsung Genius Of A Memphis Guitar Legend

Larry Lee (right) and Jimi Hendrix get in sync. Their music ties extend to their band days in Nashville.

Memphis Guitar Legend Larry Lee Was The Link Between Jimi Hendrix & Al Green.

Hendrix, Lee And Green By R2C2H2

Underappreciated genius traveled the streets of Memphis in the form of Lawrence Harold “Larry” Lee Jr. Some say he had the raw talent of a star, but chose to remain in the background with his rhythm guitar.

To say that Lee was the link between music icons Jimi Hendrix and Al Green is simply telling the truth about one of the many great “unknowns” who have called Memphis home.

Lee, 64, knew he had stomach cancer, and he died on Oct. 29 after a long bout with it.

“Larry should have a brass note on Beale Street,” said Memphis businessman Mabra Holeyfield, who once played trumpet alongside Lee.

“He was not a person who sought recognition. He helped other musicians. He was a very giving person. He was always content to stay in the background but everybody knew he was a great musician…He does deserve a lot more than he has received.”
Rev. Ronnie Williams, one of Lee’s thick-and-thin friends, is convinced that now is the right time for Lee to start getting his recognition.

“The real greatness of a man starts coming the day when he passes,” said Williams. “Larry’s greatness is now blooming.”

The years yielded many happy moments for Larry Lee and his wife, Jackie.

In The Beginning

Lee started as an ambitious and talented songwriter at Stax when he was just a teen attending Hamilton High School in South Memphis. “What Can It Be” and “A Woman Needs The Love of Man” are among the hit songs he penned for Stax’s popular vocal group, The Astors

Tennessee State University in Nashville beckoned when Lee decided to continue his education. In his senior year, Lee walked away from TSU to find his musical voice in the club venues and chitlin’ circuit of Nashville.

He formed a band that eventually drew the interest of an eccentric, skinny, Seattle, Wash., kid who joined the band as the second guitar. The kid was Hendrix, a recently discharged member of the legendary military parachute unit, the 101st Airborne a.k.a. Screaming Eagles stationed at Fort Campbell on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

Lee and Hendrix performed often at legendary Nashville venues such as The New Era Club together. When Aretha Franklin and other popular musical artists toured the Nashville area, Lee and Hendrix often performed backup.

The Woodstock Experience

The bond between Hendrix and Lee proved strong enough to withstand the challenges of longevity. Several years beyond Nashville, Hendrix, who had formed his own band, asked Lee to join him in upstate New York for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair of 1969, a four-day event that drew 450,000 people and became a cultural icon.

Lee had just returned from the Vietnam War two weeks earlier when his old Nashville music-running buddy invited him to join his Gypsy Sun and Rainbows band. Hendrix’s performance is now the stuff of legend and Lee was on rhythm guitar.

The band was short lived. Lee did record and perform on a few memorable tracks, including singing leads on the soul ballad “Mastermind,” as well as the hypnotic and melodic “Gypsy Woman” – a song originally written for The Impressions and which Hendrix and Lee had learned to perform from the soul master Curtis Mayfield when Lee and Hendrix toured with The Impressions and The Marvelettes (Motown’s first female group) in their Chitlin’ Circuit days.

Larry Lee took the stage with many groups and musicians.

A Friend’s View

Mabra Holeyfield went to Hamilton High School with Larry Lee. They met playing WDIA Baseball. Lee played for Elliston Heights; Holeyfield played for Castalia Height.

In addition to baseball, both loved music. Holeyfield, who played trumpet, recorded several times at Stax as a studio session musician when he was 15 and 16. He continued his music interests playing in the Tennessee State University band. Lee, a gifted athlete as well as talented musician, played baseball at TSU

“Larry was self taught and a very, very good musician,” recalls Holeyfield. “Larry was the lead guitarist in a band that played in the clubs of Nashville in the early sixties…This band would go on the road on the weekends to places like Clarksville,Tn., Huntsville, Ala.; Paris, Tenn. and other place. . . .

“Jimi would come down from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to play with the band from time to time. After the service he joined the band…He played behind Larry…We called him little Jimi.”

Hendrix was a good musician but Larry was the musician at the time,” said Holeyfield.

“Larry got drafted during the Vietnam War and left town. . . .Jimi decided he wanted to go to New York and be famous, that is what he told us. . . .Jimi obviously got to be very famous,” said Holeyfield

“When Larry came out of the service Jimi was very huge internationally… .Larry teamed up with Jimi at that point, toured with him and he was at Woodstock with Jimi… .For some reason Larry left the group at that point and came back home to Memphis… .Shortly after that Jimi died.”

Elmo & The Shades, including Larry Lee (right), on Beale Street

The Al Green Connection

Back in Memphis, Lee hooked up with Al Green becoming Green’s music director and personal guitarist at the Willie Mitchell-led Hi Records. The association would last for more than 30 years.

Green covered one of Lee’s original compositions “Judy” among others. With Green, Lee was able to perform all over the world and on television, including “The Johnny Carson Show.”

“We Lost A Great Soldier.”

Memphis music legend Howard Grimes said Lee kept a smile on him all the time

“He was very business about his music, playing his guitar. He was one of the finest guitar players that I had ever worked with…I loved him as a friend as well as working with him on stage because he was like no other guitar player…He had his own style.”

Grimes recalled his last visits with Lee, who told him that he no longer had enough strength or life in his fingers to pull the strings of his guitar.

“We lost a great soldier, great guitar player… I always like to remember someone by not looking at the life passed but at the life that was,” said Grimes. “And I will always remember him the way the rest of his colleagues, friends that he worked with will. It was always a joy and lots of fun. . . .

“I know he’s in the right place playing for “The Mastermind,” the angels….They can use him there because his work is done here,” said Grimes.

“He was a great man, a great human being, a great musician and that’s the way I like to leave it.”

(Ron Herd II, also known as R2C2H2 Tha Artivist, hosts the Internet radio show “Tha Artivist Presents... W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio” at His Web site is

See Also W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special...

If Memphis Could Talk Part 3~Singing The Unsung Genius Of Larry Lee: Memphis Soul Music Legend & Jimi Hendrix's Best Friend

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Life Tips From Coach V....

Coach V. Is Also A Fan Of Tha Artivist

On Saturday Dec. 9 @ The Gathering Event @ the J.E. Walker House in the heart of South Memphis, Vincent "Coach V." Williams shared with us some tips on how to live your like it's golden and with purpose...I took some notes but like Lamar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow "but don't just take my word for it":

1.) Know Who You Are Or Might Try To Be Someone Else

2.) Every Human Being Desires A Destination That Characterizes Success

3.) With Each Choice We Custom Design Our Destiny

4.) To Reach Your True Destiny You Must Define Your Own Success

5.) Don't Chase The Money Follow Your Passions

6.) Leadership Is A Role That We Play Rather Than A Life That We Lead

7.) Keep Trying Until You Get The Odds In Your Favor

8.) A Job Is Employment Created By The Success Of Somebody Else's Dreams

9.) Fear Is An Emotion Or Apprehension Creating False Images Of Failure

10.) We Inventory Our Failure, Pain And Fear

11.) Downsize To Pursue The Desires Of Your Heart

12.) Within Every Human Being Resides A Dream

13.) Love And Family Are Verbs

14.) We Like Comfort Even When It's Negative

15.) Reaching Your True Destiny Is A Balancing Cooperation Between God's Will And Your Free Will

If You Want To Know More Please Buy The New Book How Do I Reach My True Destiny? Available At Coach V.'s Official Website:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

R.I.P. Ike!!!

Ike Turner dies in San Diego at age 76

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press WriterWed Dec 12, 6:52 PM ET

Ike Turner, whose role as one of rock's critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife Tina Turner, died Wednesday at his home in suburban San Diego. He was 76.

Turner died at his San Marcos home, Scott M. Hanover of Thrill Entertainment Group, which managed Turner's career, told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate word on the cause of death, which was first reported by celebrity Web site

Turner managed to rehabilitate his image somewhat in later years, touring around the globe with his band the Kings of Rhythm and drawing critical acclaim for his work. He won a Grammy in 2007 in the traditional blues album category for "Risin' With the Blues."

But his image is forever identified as the drug-addicted, wife-abusing husband of Tina Turner. He was hauntingly portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It," based on Tina Turner's autobiography.

In a 2001 interview with The Associated Press, Turner denied his ex-wife's claims of abuse and expressed frustration that he had been demonized in the media while his historic role in rock's beginnings had been ignored.

"You can go ask Snoop Dogg or Eminem, you can ask the Rolling Stones or (Eric) Clapton, or you can ask anybody — anybody, they all know my contribution to music, but it hasn't been in print about what I've done or what I've contributed until now," he said.

Turner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is credited by many rock historians with making the first rock 'n' roll record, "Rocket 88," in 1951. Produced by the legendary Sam Phillips, it was groundbreaking for its use of distorted electric guitar.

But as would be the case for most of his career, Turner, a prolific session guitarist and piano player, was not the star on the record — it was recorded with Turner's band but credited to singer Jackie Brenston.

And it would be another singer — a young woman named Anna Mae Bullock — who would bring Turner his greatest fame, and infamy.

Turner met the 18-year-old Bullock, whom he would later marry, in 1959 and quickly made the husky-voiced woman the lead singer of his group, refashioning her into the sexy Tina Turner. Her stage persona was highlighted by short skirts and stiletto heels that made her legs her most visible asset. But despite the glamorous image, she still sang with the grit and fervor of a rock singer with a twist of soul.

The pair would have two sons. They also produced a string of hits. The first, "A Fool In Love," was a top R&B song in 1959, and others followed, including "I Idolize You" and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine."

But over the years their genre-defying sound would make them favorites on the rock 'n' roll scene, as they opened for acts like the Rolling Stones.

Their densely layered hit "River Deep, Mountain High" was one of producer Phil Spector's proudest creations. A rousing version of "Proud Mary," a cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, became their signature song and won them a Grammy for best R&B vocal performance by a group.

Still, their hits were often sporadic, and while their public life depicted a powerful, dynamic duo, Tina Turner would later charge that her husband was an overbearing wife abuser and cocaine addict.

In her 1987 autobiography, "I, Tina," she narrated a harrowing tale of abuse, including suffering a broken nose. She said that cycle ended after a vicious fight between the pair in the back seat of a car in Las Vegas, where they were scheduled to perform.

It was the only time she ever fought back against her husband, Turner said.

After the two broke up, both fell into obscurity and endured money woes for years before Tina Turner made a dramatic comeback in 1982 with the release of the album "Private Dancer," a multiplatinum success with hits such as "Let's Stay Together" and "What's Love Got To Do With It."

The movie based on her life, "What's Love Got To Do With It," was also a hit, earning Angela Bassett an Oscar nomination.

But Fishburne's glowering depiction of Ike Turner also furthered Turner's reputation as a rock villain.

Meanwhile, Turner never again had the success he enjoyed with his former wife.

After years of drug abuse, he was jailed in 1989 and served 17 months.

Turner told the AP he originally began using drugs to stay awake and handle the rigors of nonstop touring during his glory years.

"My experience, man, with drugs — I can't say that I'm proud that I did drugs, but I'm glad I'm still alive to convey how I came through," he said. "I'm a good example that you can go to the bottom. ... I used to pray, `God, if you let me get three days clean, I will never look back.' But I never did get to three days. You know why? Because I would lie to myself. And then only when I went to jail, man, did I get those three days. And man, I haven't looked back since then."

But while he would readily admit to drug abuse, Turner always denied abusing his ex-wife.

After years out of the spotlight his career finally began to revive in 2001 when he released the album "Here and Now." The recording won rave reviews and a Grammy nomination and finally helped shift some of the public's attention away from his troubled past and onto his musical legacy.

"His last chapter in life shouldn't be drug abuse and the problems he had with Tina," said Rob Johnson, the producer of "Here and Now."

Turner spent his later years making more music and touring, even while he battled emphysema.

Robbie Montgomery — one of the "Ikettes," backup singers who worked with Ike and Tina Turner — said Turner's death was "devastating" to her.

"He gave me my start. He gave a million people their start," Montgomery said.

Accolades for Turner's early and later work continued to come in as he grew older, and the once-broke musician managed to garner a comfortable income as his songs were sampled by a variety of rap acts.

In interviews toward the end of his life, Turner would acknowledge having made many mistakes, but maintained he was still able to carry himself with pride.

"I know what I am in my heart. And I know regardless of what I've done, good and bad, it took it all to make me what I am today," he once told the AP.


Associated Press Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York and Associated Press Writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this story.


On the Net:

Eddie Floyd Remembers Otis Redding...Tha Artivist Reports...

Stax Man Eddie Floyd Recalls Days With ‘Otis’

Stax legend Eddie Floyd performs worldwide and always pays tribute to Otis Redding.


Stax stalwart Eddie Floyd already had blazed musical trails of his own in Detroit with soul luminaries Wilson Pickett and “Sir” Mack Rice when he met Otis Redding in Memphis.

Floyd, a soul artist and premier songwriter, had been persuaded to come to Stax by soul great Carla Thomas in 1965. He was well aware of Redding’s songs and reputation.

“Otis was dynamic and considered the leader of Stax records in every way and everyone followed suit, followed Otis’ lead, came up with the Memphis Sound and made history,” Floyd said recently, as he looked back 40-plus years, pausing on Dec. 10, 1967, the date Redding died in a plane crash.

In reflection Floyd sees Redding “like the disciple or apostle of soul who spread the Memphis Sound to Europe and beyond.” And in this 50th anniversary year of Stax, Floyd has been busy promoting the Memphis and Stax sound all over the world.

The historic Stax first European tour in 1967 headlined by Otis Redding did much to stimulate the popularity that Stax enjoys to this day, he said.

“They will always remember when we did our first tour and Otis brought us all over,” said Floyd. “Now I am doing it in places where I thought I would never go.”

Floyd always does Redding’s signature tune “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” at his worldwide performances. The classic was released posthumously in 1968.

That ’67 tour “was like how America treated The Beatles when they first came over in 1964,” recalls Floyd.

Floyd was in London when he first heard the news of the fatal plane crash that killed Redding, the pilot and all but one member of the Bar-Kays band that was on board. He was doing his first single European tour.

The call from a local newspaper came at 6 a.m. “We woke the band up and we were all up at 7 a.m. in the morning in the lobby of the hotel. It was buzzing,” said Floyd.

“It was all that you could read, see and hear about.”

Redding was 26 with an “old soul,” said Floyd. “He’d been here forever.”

Floyd said he and others “thought we could and should really carry it on,” realizing that they had something special.

“It was destined to be, it had to be.”

Dr. King’s Death And The Lorraine Motel’s Role In Soul Music History…

“Everything in the world changed after his death, but I don’t know if it stopped the music…The attitude and things was a little different of course, nobody experienced that before, but that didn’t stop the music…All the music or 99 and a half of it probably came from the Lorraine Motel…We come into town, a little hotel downtown, and a little gentleman named Mr. Butler who owned the hotel loved entertainers to come and we sat in those little rooms and write…We sat in those rooms and write…Every time I see on t.v. the monuments of Memphis or Dr. King I am looking at the same rooms where we wrote Knock on the Wood, 634-5789 (Soulsville USA), Midnight Hour etc., I look at that as being a double history thing although many don’t realize or acknowledge that…That particular day I was recording in the studio when I heard Dr. King got killed…My mind goes back to those little rooms at the Lorraine Motel and I can see every corner…I probably stayed in every room…It’s kind of ironic that all the history of the music started there at first and the ending was Dr. King…It’s a double history thing there…”

(Please visit the official Eddie Floyd Web site

(Ron Herd II also known as R2C2H2 Tha Artivist hosts the Internet radio show “Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio” at
*BONUS: Listen To Eddie Floyd Reminisce About Otis Redding And Stax On The 2nd Hour Of The 12/09/2007 Installment Of Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio:

What Happens In Vegas...FUHGEDDABOUTIT!!!

Las Vegas Plans To Open A Mob Museum

The Godfathers Of Las Vegas: Meyer Lansky (top) and Bugsy Siegel (bottom)

By KEN RITTER, Associated Press WriterMon Dec 10, 3:45 PM ET

Las Vegas is building a museum about some of its founding fathers and most influential figures — guys with names like Bugsy, Lefty and Lansky.

The mob museum will stand as frank acknowledgment of the major role mobsters played in developing Las Vegas into the gambling capital of America and giving the city its rakish glamour during the 1940s and '50s.

"Let's be brutally honest, warts and all. This is more than legend. It's fact," said Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former defense attorney whose clients once included mobsters Meyer Lansky and Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro. "This is something that differentiates us from other cities."

The project has gained the support of the FBI and is guided by a retired FBI agent. They say they are involved because you can't tell the stories of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, his banker, Lansky, casino boss Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and others without telling the story of the lawmen who pursued them.

"This is a way to connect with the public and show the results of our work," said Dan McCarron, a spokesman for the FBI in Washington.

Ellen Knowlton, who retired in 2006 as FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas and now heads the not-for-profit museum organization, said FBI officials have offered to share photographs, transcripts of wiretaps and histories of efforts to kneecap organized crime in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

"Despite the sort of edgy theme, this museum will be historically accurate and it will tell the true story of organized crime," Knowlton said. "The plan is to give people a kind of gritty taste of what it would have been like to be not only a person involved or affiliated with organized crime, but also what it would have been like to be in law enforcement."

Officials expect to open the museum by 2010 in a brick federal building that was the centerpiece of this dusty town of 5,100 residents when it opened in 1933. In 1950, the three-story building hosted a hearing by Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver's special investigating committee on the rackets.

Goodman, who showed his own willingness to play up Las Vegas' mob past by making a cameo in the 1995 Robert De Niro-Joe Pesci movie "Casino," has pushed the idea of a mob museum from the time he was elected mayor in 1999.

He brokered a deal for the city to buy the building in 2000 for $1, with the understanding it would be turned into cultural center. Officials expect the final cost, including renovations, to reach almost $50 million.

About $15 million has been raised through grants, city funds, contributions and the sale of commemorative license plates that marked Las Vegas' centennial in 2005.

It was Siegel who pioneered the transformation of this one-time desert stopover into a glittering tourist mecca, opening the $6 million Flamingo hotel on the fledgling Las Vegas Strip in 1946 with financial backing from Lansky.

The movie-star handsome Siegel was rubbed out six months later in Beverly Hills, Calif., perhaps because he angered the mob with cost overruns on the hotel.

Spilotro and Rosenthal were associates in the 1970s, when Rosenthal ran several casinos, including the Stardust. Spilotro was killed in 1986 and buried in an Indiana cornfield.

Organized crime eventually was driven out of Las Vegas in the 1970s and '80s by the FBI, local police and prosecutors, state crackdowns and casino purchases by corporate interests.

Many of these stories have been dramatized by Hollywood in such movies as "Bugsy," "The Godfather" and "Casino." But documenting mob history isn't going to be easy.

"If anybody out there finds a memo saying: `To the boys, from Meyer. Re: Bugsy. Kill him,' We'd love to have it," said Michael Green, a College of Southern Nevada history professor who is researching exhibits for the museum. "But we doubt it's there."

"Because of that, you have to do a lot of reconstructing, inferring and implying," he said. "There's a lot of winking we're going to have to do."

Green pointed to stories about Moe Dalitz, a Cleveland businessman who rescued the Desert Inn and Stardust casinos in the 1950s and '60s and built a hospital, golf courses and shopping centers.

"Was he tied to the mob or involved with the mob? Yes," Green said. "A mobster? Harder to explain."

Dennis Barrie, who designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the popular International Spy Museum in Washington, said he will design the as-yet-unnamed Las Vegas museum to show how organized crime and the fight against it shaped modern life.

"Whether it's running the casinos in Las Vegas, or controlling cigarette sales or numbers or trash collection in any city, organized crime is part of the American culture," Barrie said. "Everybody has a mob story or a brush with the mob world. Or they at least say they do."

Organizers say paying visitors might be asked to decide as they arrive which side of the law they want to be on, and then be given a story line tracing the life of a famous lawman or mobster or a street cop or numbers runner.

"Were you a hit man? Were you a prosecutor? What choices do you have to make?" Green said. "We're telling a story of things that are multisided."

Organizers also hope to have an oral-history area where visitors "can sit down in front of a camera and say, `I knew Bugsy,' or `I saw Meyer,' or whatever," he said.

Fighting For A Dream: The Struggle Continues But Protesters Keep Their Eyes On The Prize…Tha Artivist Reports...

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

--Dr. King from his "Strength to Love" speech (1963).

On an unseasonably warm and beautiful Saturday afternoon (Dec. 9, 2007) 150 plus people gathered at the National Civil Rights Museum for a rally to make the public at large aware of the ongoing power struggle between The National Civil Rights Museum Board of Directors and The Lorraine Museum Community Oversight Committee…The rally was organized by the Judge D’Army Bailey and Attorney Laurice Smith led Lorraine Motel Community Oversight Committee…People of all races, gender and walks of life gathered for the public display of outrage concerning the current board alleged misinterpretations and application of the victories gained from the modern American Civil Rights Movement…

Currently the NCRM Board is 73% Corporate controlled with Blacks, the major players in the American Civil Rights Movement, having a very small representation...Also there are no grassroots American civil rights veterans represented on the board, something inexcusable by many considering there are many still alive and active…After all they were the ones who were on the front lines that sacrificed and even lost countless comrades to the sometimes bitter and harsh realities of the movement to ensure liberty and justice for all…Passionate and colorful rhetoric from the featured speakers which included noted civil rights veterans, a promising student leader and politicians combined with passionate response from the audience electrified the air and added to further embed the rally’s catch phase “History Not For Sale “ into the consciousness of the Memphis Community at large…
Beautiful freedom singing performed by Sis. Margaret Block and Sis. Winters got the crowd singing and swinging in harmony and unity…Part rally, part church service, part history lesson and part reunion the event served in uniting segments of a very fragmented and segregated Memphis community into an universal cry for freedom…

All Photos Are Courtesy of R2C2H2 Tha Artivist...The Following Are Some Highlights And Quotes From Some Of The Featured Speakers:

Civil Rights Labor Leader Bill Lucy

“It’s our duty to get a board that reflects this community…Here in Memphis, TN our society killed Dr. King…We want community people on board…This institution is going to reflect the struggle of 1300 sanitation workers…We’ll be back until we reach a point when the board of this foundation reflects our goal…”

Civil Rights Veteran And Politician Marion Barry
“We have a great rich history…We can’t forget…We must struggle, we must fight against injustice wherever it is…We don’t want any crumbs, we want the whole pie…Some think Corporate America runs America but they ain’t going to run this board…Take the Corporate out keep the America…Don’t give up, give out or give in…”

TN State Rep. Barbara Cooper

“We been caught asleep at the wheel…We don’t have a lot of history displayed and must keep this…We need people down here to teach non-violence…They (young people) don’t have anything to lift their self-esteem…”

Community Activist Isaac Mitchell

“If you try to sell out the museum in the backroom you got another thing coming…The fight goes on…”

Student Leader Anthony White of the University of Memphis

“This is a legacy, this is our legacy, this is the people’s legacy and we must keep it truthful for our children’s children…We must take the time and opportunity to preserve and keep this legacy…Peace and perseverance prevails…Let’s be peaceful and tactful…”

TN State Rep. G.A. Hardaway
“Beautiful faces of freedom stay involved and know like all good movements you got to have that young blood….If they knew better, they’ll do better…”

Mississippi Civil Rights Veteran Willie Blue
“Don’t let your museum be like my cap pistol…Don’t let them see, don’t let them hold it…Nobody can sell it like we can sell it…You got to be like a dirt diver…He hauls his own dirt and do his own diving…”

Civil Rights Veteran And Grassroots Community Activist Deke Pope

“This is the site of the crucifixion of Dr. King…He was our modern day Moses…Whenever there’s a crucifixion a resurrection must also take place…We ask you all to join in on this resurrection…We want this museum to be a first class museum…We can not allow people to make this sacred site a profit site…”

(Ron Herd II also known as R2C2H2 Tha Artivist hosts the internet radio show “Tha Artivist Presents...W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio” at . His website is

*Listen To Judge D'Army Bailey Discuss The NCRM In Crisis On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio:

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