Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Did Forbidden Love Cost First Mayor Of Memphis His Eternal Resting Place & Peace???

Government infrastructure rises on resting place of city pioneer
While researching his genealogy, Memphis City Councilman Bill Boyd discovered that his great-grandfather Marcus Winchester, Memphis' first mayor, who was supposed to be buried under Winchester Park was actually buried under the nearby city machine shop.
Photos By Jim Weber & Alan Spearman

By Michael Lollar

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

City Councilman Bill Boyd began with a genealogy quest, but unearthed a love story worthy of Rhett and Scarlett and an eventual demise worthy of Jimmy Hoffa.

Boyd, 73, knew most of the history of his great-great-grandfather, Marcus Winchester. A picture of Winchester hangs in the Hall of Mayors at City Hall. He was the city's first mayor, an aristocrat whom one historian calls "the most graceful, courtly, elegant gentleman that ever appeared upon Main Street."

Several historians have written about Winchester's colorful past. He grew up on a palatial Middle Tennessee farm near Gallatin, son of Gen. James Winchester, one of the original owners of the land now called Memphis. In fact, it was James Winchester who gave the city its name, likening it to the Egyptian city on the Nile.

When Boyd began his research in 1974, he learned James Winchester was such a history fan that he named his sons Marcus Brutus, Lucilius, Valerius Publicola and Napoleon. It was Marcus, the eldest, whom Winchester dispatched to West Tennessee in 1818 to inspect a land acquisition by the Winchesters and partners Andrew Jackson and John Overton.

Boyd says Marcus and a surveyor arrived in 1819 "to lay out a subdivision. The owners were anxious to get the town laid out so they could sell lots."

Seeing busy river traffic along the Mississippi, Marcus decided the bluff could be a good place to make a living. He moved here, and in 1819 helped draw up a plan for the town of Memphis with a public promenade, a public landing at Auction Avenue and streets named for Overton, Winchester and Jackson. With financial help from his father, he opened the town's first store.

Boyd, who would become a member of the West Tennessee Historical Society and the Descendants of the Early Settlers of Shelby County, says Winchester quickly rose to prominence.

"According to the books I've read, he was a very respected Memphian," Boyd says. "He was the first postmaster. He was also a good friend of Davy Crockett. Marcus encouraged him to run for Congress, and he won."

Marcus himself was a member of the city's first Quarterly Court and town register. When the city was incorporated in 1826, he became its first mayor. But the historical accounts indicate the seeds of his undoing were planted in 1823 when he married "a woman of color."

Attorney Lee Winchester, 85, an indirect descendant of the mayor, says that while many landowners lived with women of mixed race, it was rare, even illegal, for them to marry. Marcus threw caution to the wind. He wed Amirante "Mary" Loiselle in New Orleans, her hometown, where mixed-race marriages were legal.

"She was reputedly one of the most beautiful women ever seen in this part of the country. Her father had her educated in France, and she was brilliant. She was also one-sixteenth black. It was enough for her to be ostracized by what was then a pretty raggedy social society," says Lee Winchester.

Shelby County historian Ed Williams says the divisiveness of politics and social tensions leading up to the Civil War turned Winchester into a target. Eventually, city aldermen "passed a law that anyone of mixed race could not live within the city limits of Memphis. It made it necessary for Mrs. Winchester to live about a half-block outside the city limits."

Lee Winchester says Marcus remained with his wife.

"He was a pretty fine man, and the romance that brought him down was probably one of the most perfect romances that there was."

Mary died in 1840, and Marcus Winchester remarried two years later, but his failing business and a series of lawsuits would impoverish him.

When Boyd set out to find Marcus' grave, he first looked at Elmwood Cemetery, burial ground to much of Memphis' gentry.

Instead, he was told Win-chester was buried in the city's first cemetery -- the Winchester New Burying Ground. It is at what is now Manassas and Lane on the eastern edge of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital complex.

A historical marker says the cemetery "went to ruins" out of neglect in the yellow fever epidemics. University of Memphis historian Dr. Charles Crawford says old cemeteries have a way of being covered over by developers, with old tombstones often found in the city dump.

The marker at the Winchester site ends with a sentence that took Boyd off guard: "Winchester's grave is located under what is now a city garage on the west side of the property."

"I was very much surprised. I can't describe it," says Boyd, looking across the neatly mowed land, most of which became Winchester Park in 1931. The west end now is covered by the city garage and the city's Office of Fleet Management.

Arthur Adams, the office's director, says the garage began as a horse barn and later was converted to a garage with a thick concrete floor.

Like other employees, Adams said they have heard that graves lie beneath the complex, but he had no idea the first mayor was underfoot: "All I know is, I'll be here by myself sometimes and it's kind of creepy."

Boyd said there would be no point in trying to retrieve the remains. "I wouldn't know where to dig," he says.

For Ed Williams, the burial that some would call a desecration is a warning: "Early mayors have not been treated well. I hope that Willie Herenton has made adequate arrangements so that he won't be treated like they have."

-- Michael Lollar: 901-529-2793
Scripps Lighthouse

© 2009 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

6/6/2009~Wreath Laying Ceremony For Jimmie Lunceford @ Elmwood Cemetery

Wreath Laying Ceremony In Honor Of Jimmie Lunceford's 107th Life Affirmation Day (Birthday)

When: June 6, 2009

Where: Elmwood Cemetery (The Lord’s Chapel & Graveside)

824 S. Dudley Street. • Memphis, TN 38104

Time: 12pm-3pm Central

*Free Admission*

Refreshments Will Be Served & Special Tribute Performed

Ron Herd II/R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
Phone- 901-299-4355

Who Was Jimmie Lunceford????

"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. Lunceford and many others like him chose to remain at home, and with their people. [His death] should have meaning in inspiration and guidance to others. If we permit it, Lunceford's burial in Memphis can mean this."
--Legendary Memphis Educator And Syndicated Columnist Nat D. Williams

"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

On June 6, 1902, a music genius was born. Please join us on June 6, 2009, as we honor the memory of one of Memphis’ unsung heroes on his birthday: Music & Education Giant Jimmie Lunceford.

Jimmie Lunceford was the first high school band director in Memphis City Schools History. He started the first high school band at Manassas High School with no money, but with a lot of determination. Jimmie Lunceford through his pioneering efforts also started the first jazz studies program in U.S. public schools history. He eventually selected nine of his best music students and several college friends from Fisk University to form arguably the greatest jazz swing band of the 1930s and 1940s.

The Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra eventually took over as the house band at the legendary Cotton Club where they literally became household names due to live regular national broadcasts from that venue. They also became the most popular act at the world famous Apollo Theatre for 10 straight years. Jimmie Lunceford was also a movie star (orchestra performed in “Blues In The Night” and also in a 1936 film short) and his songs appeared in numerous popular cartoons as well.

He owned and flew his own airplanes at a time when African Americans were not even allowed to attend flight schools in the U.S. Jimmie Lunceford was also a philanthropist. He gave large sums of money to start music education programs throughout the country to keep kids out of trouble and in school. He was truly a man ‘of’ as well as ‘ahead’ of his times.

Unfortunately, Jimmie died under ‘mysterious circumstances’ at the peak of his career
on July 12, 1947, while signing autographs in Seaside, Oregon. He was only 45 years old. His funerals were attended by thousands in both New York and Memphis. Unfortunately, Jimmie Lunceford and his legacy it seems has laid forgotten about in historic Elmwood Cemetery in South Memphis for 60 plus years…Until now…

View the ‘Real Talk With Tha Artivist’ Memphis Comcast Cable TV Special, “And Rhythm Was His Business…Jimmie Lunceford: Memphis Music Legend” in three parts online…

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

For More Information About Jimmie Lunceford & The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival Please Visit


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special~2nd Annual Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival Radio Program:

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special~1st Annual Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival Radio Program:
Buy Jimmie Lunceford Art & Gear To Support The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival Movement...

Whitehaven Millionaires Club: Teacher Prepares Students For Scholarships

Brandon Dill/Special to The Commercial Appeal
Whitehaven High School seniors (left to right) Gene Robinson, Karlyn Washington and Victoria Young are the top scholarship recipients at WHS. With the help of calculus teacher James Ralph Sparks (far right), each of the students has earned more than $1 million in scholarships.

By Jane Roberts
Of The Memphis Commercial Appeal

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On the power of its brains and the strength of its will, the 400-some member senior class of Whitehaven High School this year blew the top off the school record for scholarships, earning a collective $13.7 million.

The school is third among Memphis City Schools in scholarship earnings, behind White Station and Ridgeway.

At the head of the WHS money heap -- graduation was Saturday at Cook Convention Center -- is Victoria Young with a cool $2.3 million, including the prestigious Gates Millennium prize, a full ride to Duke University and scholarships to 30 other schools.

No. 2 is Karlyn Washington, salutatorian, with $1.2 million; Gene Robinson, No. 3, headed to North Carolina on a full athletic scholarship, racked up $1.2 million.

Before you write them off to a random streak of brilliance, consider the power of well-intentioned math geek and calculus teacher James Ralph Sparks -- who some time ago zeroed in on the power of the ACT.

"I talk about it every day in my classroom. It pays off," says the wiry 26-year WHS veteran, who strides about the campus in athletic shoes and hair and glasses from the past.

More than 62 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunch, the federal guideline for at-risk students.

It's a point of pride for Sparks, 63, that he knows none of the details.

"At one time, we were supposed to know all that about each student. I didn't do it then either because it's not the important thing to me," he tells a visitor struggling to match his pace.

In 2002, he started the 30+ Club, an exclusive roster of students who've earned ACT scores of 30 or more. Their pictures are arranged in two big frames by the school office. College acceptance and scholarship letters for this year's class line the hall 100 yards on either side.

"Every time I get a hold of some new scholarship, I make copies. ... Anything we can get our hands on, we go after," Sparks says.

"The more math they get, the higher their ACT scores. The silver lining is, they get more money."

More than 90 percent of students in the money are his students, including Bronson Worthy, who scored 35 out of 36 on the math test, 31 in science and a 32 overall.

To make the connection between ACT scores and free rides to college, Sparks started the Fortune 500 Club two years ago. To get in, you have to have at least $100,000 in scholarships. (Sparks insists on signed letters from the colleges as proof.)

"It's actually infectious. I publish a monetary standing every week and give it to the kids. They say, 'Wait a minute, I can get higher than you.' They go crazy," Sparks said.

"We started out just trying to beat last year's class," Young said, nodding to the banner at the front of Sparks' classroom that boasts earnings of $10.8 million.

By December, with her own total approaching $1 million, she was at the top of the pack.

"Now, they will have to make a new club. I passed the $2 million mark," she said. "I wanted to set the bar high, which makes the other classes work even harder. It's only helping the people who are following us."

The competition to get in the 30+ Club is stiff. "I mean, look at the scores," she said. "They are really, really high."

Eleven seniors earned 30 or more in the English portion; five more made the mark in reading.

When new principal Vincent Hunter and Sparks began "co-conspiring" in 2005-2006 with ACT tips in the daily announcements, awards went from $4.2 million to $6.9 million in a year.

The marquee in front of the school serves as the community scoreboard.

"Every time we get a new total, we put it up there," Hunter said.

"Every time a student graduates from college, the same thing, up it goes," he said, rifling through test data for the goods on this year's sophomore class.

"Look at those scores," he says with awe. "They've got great showing on the TCAP, great attendance; these all are projections of what this class might be."

Sparks has already told the class it will be his last.

Hunter's hoping for a real sendoff. "Wouldn't it be nice for him to go out on $20 million?"

Top scholarship-winning city high schools

-- White Station: $25.8 million

-- Ridgeway: $14 million

-- Whitehaven: $13.7 million

-- Cordova: $12.8 million

-- Central: $11 million

-- Jane Roberts: 901-529-2512

© 2009 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

Remembering Malcolm: On The Utility Of Black Nationalism...

By Dr. Ron Daniels
El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Malcolm X, was one of the most fierce and foremost leaders in the history of Africans in America. In the era of the 60s, there is no question but that Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, two religious leaders from different faiths and political persuasions, were the towering figures of the time. King was a Christian Minister from the integrationist and radical democratic political lineage of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. Malcolm was a Muslim from the Black Nationalist lineage of Martin R. Delaney, Bishop Henry McNeil Turner, Marcus Garvey, Queen Mother Moore and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Though both lineages have contributed substantially to the Black Freedom Struggle, Black Nationalism is often relegated to the margins as a fringe ideology. However, it is worth noting that “Garvey and Garveyism” produced the largest mass movement among Blacks in the history of this nation. It is also noteworthy that the largest demonstration in the history of the U.S., the Million Man March in 1995, was organized by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. While public intellectuals like Dr. Cornel West have frequently disparaged nationalism as counter-productive, I would argue that Black Nationalism has been and remains an essential/indispensable element in the formula for the survival and development of Africans in America.

At its most basic level, nationalism is simply a call for group unity/solidarity. Nations or groups who are oppressed, disunited or in decline may recall the glories of their history and culture as a means of creating the consciousness and solidarity necessary to revive, resurrect, restore or rebuild the nation or group. Hence, Garibaldi harkened back to the glory days of ancient Rome as he sought to unite disparate ethnic groups in his quest to create an Italian nation. Garibaldi was an Italian Nationalist. Overcoming the devastating effects of the holocaust of enslavement and the British-American system of Chattel slavery required a healthy dose of Black Nationalism to begin the process of creating a new African community from the disparate African ethnic groups kidnapped and brought to America. As Malcolm put it, “we didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.”

Malcolm also said: “of all the crimes committed by Europeans against Africans, the greatest crime was to take our names.” This is a profound insight because it addresses the devastating impact of cultural aggression on enslaved Africans. Black people from different/distinct African ethnic groups/nations were captured by Europeans, forbidden to practice our native religions, speak our languages, play African musical instruments and taught that our color was a mark of degradation and inferiority. The slave masters attempted to de-Africanize and dehumanize enslaved Africans as part of a process of pacification and control. The goal was to produce a “docile Negro” who would never unite to resist or rebel against enslavement.

Little wonder that the few Blacks who were freed from slavery searched the Bible and the pages of history to discover the legacy of their forebears prior to the holocaust of enslavement. The glory of ancient Egypt, Ethiopia and the great Sudanic Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay gave the likes of Richard Allen, Absolom Jones, David Walker, Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell, Martin R. Delaney and countless other early community-builders the sense that Africans had a heritage/legacy that made them somebody! Armed with the inspiration of these insights, quasi-free Blacks began the awesome task of demanding the abolition of slavery and building and sustaining Black institutions as part of a new African community in the U.S. In the face of the damage done by cultural aggression, an appeal to racial pride and solidarity was essential to the community-building process.

Historically, however, there has always been a tension between those leaders/constituents who preferred to utilize racial solidarity to pursue incorporation/integration into the American body politic as equal citizens as the primary goal of the Black Freedom Struggle versus those who saw the latter option as one possibility in the quest for self-determination. Black Nationalists have always advocated racial solidarity and the maintenance of Black institutions as integral to achieving the goal of self-determination whether that translates into a solidified Black community with full rights inside America, an independent Black nation or repatriation to Africa. Skeptical that the oppressor will ever come to respect and treat the formerly oppressed as equals, Black Nationalists have generally had an oppositional posture towards the American government. Self determination has been the primary goal.

Without question Malcolm X was the most influential apostle of Black Nationalism in the latter half of the 20th century. His ideas had great impact on the architects and advocates of the Black Consciousness, Black Power and Pan Africanist movements which eclipsed the integrationist tendency within the Black Freedom struggle in the 70s and 80s. In his classic 1964 speech Ballots or Bullets, Malcolm articulates three basic tenets of Black Nationalism: “The political philosophy of black nationalism means that the black man should control the politics and politicians in his own community…. The economic philosophy of black nationalism…only means that we should control the economy of our community….The social philosophy of black nationalism only means that we have to get together and remove the evils, vices, alcoholism, drug addiction, and other evils that are destroying the moral fabric of our community.”

In Malcolm’s view the purpose of racial solidarity was to build internal capacity/power for self-development -- to enhance the social, economic and political well being of Black people. As to our relation to the government, Black people must identify and pursue their own interests and amass the power to compel America to do the right thing. Failing that, Black people were not duty bound to hold allegiance to or remain second-class citizens in a racist nation. The goal was/is “freedom by any means necessary.”

As a manifestation of Black Nationalism, the call to Black Power generated a renewed interest in reconnecting with our African roots and working for Pan Africanism, the global solidarity of African people everywhere. It was the call to Black Power that led to the formation of Black caucuses in virtually every predominantly White institution in America or the creation of parallel organizations, e.g., the Congressional Black Caucus, National Conference of Black State Legislators, African Heritage Studies Association, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, National Association of Black Psychologists, National Association of Black Social Workers and Black caucuses within virtually every major religious denomination. Today we take these Black formations for granted without recognizing their Black Nationalist roots.

As we celebrate the Kuzaliwa/birthday of our “Black Shining Prince,” it is important to reaffirm the value of utilizing racial consciousness and solidarity to promote Black interests and aspirations. The persistent disparities between Blacks and Whites in employment, income, wealth, health, education and housing strongly suggest that we still lack sufficient control over the politics, economics and social life of our communities. Notwithstanding the election of the first Black President, structural racism is alive and well in America. Therefore, in the face of the myth of a post-racial and post-racist society, our nationalist impulse must be to maintain an oppositional posture to so called “race neutral” or “colorblind” policy prescriptions that fail to specifically address the crises afflicting Black people. Accordingly, we must unapologetically be “of the race and for the race” in militantly advocating that the full measure of freedom for Africans in America is not privileges for the few but equity and parity for the masses of Black working class and poor people. Indeed, our revolutionary nationalist impulse must be “freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.” As we remember Malcolm, let us be clear that Black Nationalism, racial solidarity for liberation and self-determination, is still the order of the day for Africans in America!

(Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. He is the host of An Hour with Professor Ron Daniels, Monday-Friday mornings on WWRL Radio 1600 AM in New York and Night Talk, Wednesday evenings on WBAI 99.5 FM, Pacifica, New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website and He can be reached via email at

See Also...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: The Malcolm X Life Affirmation Day Tribute!!!


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: Re-Discovering Martin & Malcolm In The Age Of Obama...A Tribute

Filmmaker Tavis Smiley Invites Memphis Teens To Take Part In Documentary...

Mike Maple/The Memphis Commercial Appeal
Cousins Daron Boyce (left), 18, and Robert Smith, 16, both of Memphis, are in the documentary "Stand," created by Tavis Smiley. The project allowed the two to spend time with a group of significant figures in African-American life, including scholars Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson.

By Zack McMillin
Of The Memphis Commercial Appeal
Saturday, May 23, 2009

Midway through Tavis Smiley's documentary, "Stand," the cameras find philosopher Cornel West commanding the stage at St. Andrew AME Church in South Memphis, explaining that his generation of black men and women had in some ways "misled" younger generations.

"We told young folk, 'Yes, we sacrificed for you, we've given so much for you, we want you to be successful,' " says West, one of the stars of the documentary airing on cable network TV One at 8 p.m Sunday. "We forgot to tell them we come from a people who always aspired to be great, not successful."

At that moment, the screen switches to the teenage faces of Robert Smith and Daron Keith Boyce, and the always-passionate West brings home his point: "Nothing wrong with success. But if you confuse financial prosperity with moral magnanimity, you wrestle with idolatry. If you're just concerned with your individual security and give up on your personal integrity, you're on the road to becoming a gangster."

Smith, 16, and Boyce, 18, are cousins who live on separate sides of Memphis -- Smith in Raleigh, Boyce in Hickory Hill -- and they became acquainted with Smiley after their aunt, Carol Walker, wrote the popular talk-show host a letter about them in 2007.

Smiley invited them and two other cousins to attend the Democratic presidential debate in June 2007 in Washington, and when he decided to film the documentary over a four-day period in Memphis and Nashville last summer, he made them a part of it.

It allowed Boyce and Smith to spend time with a group of significant figures in African-American life that Smiley dubs his "Soul Patrol." Armed with digi-cams,

Boyce and Smith had front-row seats to dialogues between towering intellectuals such as West and Georgetown scholar Michael Eric Dyson, emotional performances by the singer Bebe Winans and the humor of comedian and activist Dick Gregory.

In the documentary, Smiley explains the premise like this: "We all decided to meet in Memphis. To listen. To laugh. To love. And to learn: How did we arrive at this critical place in our history and where do we go from here?"

For the cousins, it provided a profound four-day experience.

"It was just unimaginable," says Smith, who like Boyce got his own suite at the Inn at Hunt Phelan during the filming. "To get dropped off and sit at the table and on the bus with those guys. Words can't explain it."

Adds Boyce: "Conversations would start popping up about Jesse Jackson, Mr. Sharpton, Barack Obama and all of that. You were speechless, because all you could do was look on in amazement."

Though their voices are heard only during one scene of the 90-minute documentary, Smith and Boyce are almost always "present," as Smiley put it in an interview earlier this week.

As the Fisk Jubilee Choir sings a spiritual that hearkens back to slavery and brings many of the men to tears, the camera cuts to Smith and Boyce, their faces somber.

When actor Wren T. Brown makes the point that many young African-American boys and girls no longer have the community- support system that existed before integration, Boyce and Smith are shown sitting on the bus, taking it all in.

"It is so important to us as adults to really remember to make young folks present," Smiley says. "And young people, well, you've got to want to be present. You've got to show up."

Smith and Boyce are two of the five Memphis names listed as cast on the movie's credits (Stax legends Isaac Hayes, David Porter and Sam Moore are also featured), and the editor of the movie, Stacy Goldate, is also from Memphis.

The city, itself, emerges a character, too.

"For me, it was like a love letter to Memphis," said Goldate, a 1990 graduate of St. Mary's Episcopal School who now lives in Los Angeles.

While sorting through the 40 hours of raw footage, Goldate said, she gained a new appreciation for her hometown.

"It helped me see Memphis in a different light," said Goldate, a 1994 Vanderbilt graduate. "I went to a private school and lived this sheltered life, and I really didn't understand the history of where I lived."

Part of Goldate's job was to make sure the young Memphians, Smith and Boyce, became essential characters in the documentary -- representing in many ways an entire generation of black men about to become adults.

Their biggest scene comes aboard the bus that shuttled the group between Memphis and Nashville, when Boyce and Smith asked about finding role models in current popular music.

"We don't choose to sag our pants. We don't choose to get tattoos. We don't choose to go around busting people upside the head," Boyce says. "We like the music but it's not a lot of role models out there we have to look up to."

At which point West and Dyson, two of America's foremost intellectuals, go through a litany of rap artists worthy of admiration -- and not just Jay-Z and Lil Wayne for their entrepreneurial abilities: Common, Lupe Fiasco, Nas, dead prez, Talib Kweli.

"It's hard sometimes when you are in the parade to see what's on the float," Dyson tells them.

One theme coursing through the documentary is the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man Smiley believes is "the greatest American we have yet produced."

"My partners and I are always searching for Dr. King's perspective," Smiley says.

In one of the movie's most powerful scenes, it is Gregory who sheds his comedian's demeanor. At Mason Temple, where King delivered his final sermon, Gregory makes a powerful argument for the significant role played by the black church in lifting up its people.

Goldate recalled how her own parents received the documentary when Smiley and West came to town last month for a private screening at the Malco Majestic.

"My mom cried," Goldate said. "She was really moved. For her, the tears really started in the Mason Temple scene."

Smith and Boyce were surrounded by their large extended family, including their 72-year-old grandfather, Readus Smith. He raised 12 children in North Memphis, where he still lives, and beamed over the role his grandsons came to play in Smiley's documentary.

"He's just beside himself," says Walker, the boys' aunt. "He surely is."

Zack McMillin: 529-2564


What: A documentary by talk-show host Tavis Smiley, set in Memphis during the summer of 2008

Features: Smiley's "Soul Patrol" including philosopher Cornel West, Georgetown scholar Michael Eric Dyson, singer Bebe Winans, actor Wren T. Brown, comedian/activist Dick Gregory. They wrestle with a variety of issues, and, as Smiley explains, "reflect on black men who 'stood' for something in the past and what it means as black men continue to 'stand' for something now."

Memphis connections: Teenagers Robert Smith (Craigmont High) and Daron Keith Boyce (Kirby High) were invited to participate and are present in almost every scene. The project's editor, Stacy Goldate, is a 1990 graduate of St. Mary's Episcopal School who first encountered West while a student at Vanderbilt. Stax legends David Porter, Isaac Hayes and Sam Moore also make significant appearances.

When: 8 p.m. Sunday on TV One (Ch. 238 on DirecTV, Ch. 67 on Comcast).

DVD: Goes on sale Monday. Check out for more information.
Scripps Lighthouse

© 2009 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sun. 5/24/2009 @ 4pm C/ 5pm E/ 2pm P~W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: Malcolm X Life Affirmation Day Tribute...

Celebrating 2 Full Years In The Biz: Ain't No Stopping Us Now!!!

May 2009 Theme: Paying Tribute...
Air Date: Sun. May 24, 2009
Time: 4 PM C/5 PM E/2 PM P

Listen Live Online:
“The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

"I am for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man's problem just to avoid violence."

"I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won't let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion."

"I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color."

"I don't even call it violence when it's in self defense; I call it intelligence."

"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against."
~Malcolm X

On May 19, 1925, a true soldier, statesman and patriot for Black pride and human dignity was born into the whirlwind…It truly goes without saying that Malcolm X was a prophet of our Modern Age & Rage…The plethora of images and audio available of and from him in cyberspace attests to the fact that he knew the power of the media in terms of words and perception way before the folks in the media ever understood him...His scathing critique of the hypocrisy of American society and need for societal redress sounds as relevant and urgent today as when they were first spoken some 40 plus years ago…Malcolm was a master savvy marketer selling a sincere message of hope and empowerment for his people… He intrinsically “overstood” what it meant to be a public servant or servant of the people as well as a martyr for a worthy cause greater than oneself…This husband and father of 6 sacrificed himself and his family to become a fatherly figure of a movement that appears dormant at the moment, but is about to be reawaken with a zest, spirit and verve that would truly make Malcolm beam with satisfaction…He was a true soldier in this never ending battle for human rights and liberation and for that he will be memorialize this weekend as we remember the brave and the fallen this Memorial Day Weekend…

Join us at W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio As We Pay Tribute To Bro. Malcolm In Observance Of His Life Affirmation Day!!!

Our featured guests and topics…

Hour One
Malcolm X…Making It Plain
Rare audio footage highlighting what Malcolm did best: Fighting The Power Using The Art Of Conversation & His Exceptional Gift For Gab…


Hour Two
W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Throwback Remix Classic: The Dr. Manning Marable Interview
Dr. Manning Marable, arguably the world’s foremost Malcolm X scholar, shares with us the impact of Malcolm X’s legacy as well as enlightens us about the controversy/conspiracy surrounding the three missing chapters of Malcolm X’s classic autobiography and Alex Haley’s role as FBI informant…You don’t want to miss this…The second time around!!!

Featured Music...


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: Re-Discovering Martin & Malcolm In The Age Of Obama...A Tribute


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

To Honor Franklin, Read His Books...


Dr. John Hope Franklin died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday at the age of 94.

BET marked his passing with a criminally brief obituary on its website, There followed a posting on the message board from someone called ''fefe'' who asked: ``Was this guy related to Areatha Franklin?''

For the record, no. ''This guy'' was not known to be related to Aretha Franklin. Nor, for that matter, to Melvin Franklin, Bonnie Franklin, Benjamin Franklin or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. John Hope Franklin, born in 1915 when Woodrow Wilson was president and America was still two years from entering World War I, was one of the deans of American history and the preeminent chronicler of the African-American story. Indeed, his 1947 book, From Slavery to Freedom, now in its eighth edition, is regarded as the seminal text in African-American studies.

The angel of patience and caution that perches on my right shoulder tells me I should not make too much of the callow question ''fefe'' poses. For all I know, this person is 12 years old or not from this country. And even if he or she is 47 and born in Dallas, it's not as if even a celebrated historian will ever be a household name. Besides, it's unfair to extrapolate from one individual's ignorance some sweeping comment upon the nation as a whole.

To which the devil of fed-up-to-here that perches on my left shoulder responds: well, that's just too darn bad.

And I'm sorry, but this time, I'm listening to the devil.

Because ''fefe's'' question suggests to me not simply ignorance of a historian, but ignorance of history, evidence of the blithe dismissiveness with which a profoundly unserious nation treats its story in general and the African-American component of that story in particular. But see, history is context. You cannot understand the world as it is unless you understand the world as it was.

Take it from me. I have too often had the sobering experience, while debating some aspect of modern African-American life, of using basic history to provide context, to explain how this happened, which led to that, which impacted the other thing -- only to realize the person had not the faintest clue what I was talking about. At which point, of course, the conversation becomes pointless, like trying to discuss anti-Semitism with someone who cannot define Kristallnacht.

It is always frustrating when you encounter that ignorance of African America's story, but never more so than when you find it among African American people, as on a website for a company whose first name is ``Black.''

I was debating what I should say today to honor Dr. Franklin. I was going to talk about his chairmanship of President Bill Clinton's commission on race, his winning the presidential medal of freedom, the time I got to interview him, years ago. It occurs to me, though, that perhaps the most fitting thing I can do to honor Dr. Franklin is implore you to read and understand the story to which he dedicated his life.

You should read From Slavery to Freedom, of course. And his 2005 autobiography, Mirror to America. But don't stop there. Read Lerone Bennett's lyrical, elegiac BeforeThe Mayflower, the other greatest book on African-American history. Read Douglas Blackmon's revelatory Slavery by Another Name and Jervis Anderson's gossipy recounting of the renaissance years, This Was Harlem. Read Leon F. Litwack's Been in theStorm So Long and his heart-breaking Trouble in Mind.

Read this story. Or else, sit back and watch the story die, then scratch your head and have not a blessed clue how the world got this way.

A story needs two things to live: mouths to tell it and ears to hear.

For longer than most of us have been alive, John Hope Franklin kept his part of that bargain. The best way to honor him would be if we, at last, kept ours.

© 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

See Also...
*W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special*
Dr. John Hope Franklin: Master Griot...A Tribute

Heeding Dr. John Hope Franklin's Education Warning...

It gnawed on John Hope Franklin that racial segregation was replaced by class stratification in underfunded public schools. (Derrick Z. Jackson/Globe Staff)
By Derrick Z. Jackson,
Globe Columnist | March 28, 2009

JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN left us with a warning. The most important was on education. In a 2000 telephone interview, I felt his then-85 years seethe over the line from his home in Durham, N.C. To him, the use of standardized tests in our public schools to measure academic ability had gone way too far. He said it reminded him of 1935, when he walked from his historically African-American Fisk University, to white Vanderbilt University to take a test for a graduate studies program at Harvard.

"The professor at Vanderbilt literally threw the SAT at me," said Franklin, the historian who died this week at 94. "He was such a poor, crude critter. When I walked out of the building, I passed a black janitor who told me that I was the first black person he ever saw even being allowed to sit in that building."

Franklin made it to Harvard, earning a master's in 1936 and a doctorate in 1941. He lent his historical perspective to Thurgood Marshall's legal team to help persuade the Supreme Court to outlaw segregated schools in 1954. But it gnawed on him that racial segregation was replaced by class stratification in underfunded public schools. The crude way out for policy makers is to throw tests at the children.

"Yes, you want to know if a student can add or subtract or read in a certain way," Franklin said. ". . . What is much more important to know than a test score is a student's family life, personal life, their socialization, and so forth to help you determine what their abilities are and might be. I think the tests are stacked against any group that has disadvantages. The tests come out of laboratories where people have had certain kinds of experiences, say at prep schools and elite colleges, and have had various kinds of activities and social groups that are not part of an underprivileged student's experience."

In 2005, Franklin elaborated on the lack of willingness to equalize education to the Trotter Group of African-American newspaper columnists. "It's amazing," he said. "I sat at a table with three of our university presidents not too long ago. I thought they might discuss scholarship and the future of academic life in this country or something like that. But they were talking about how to make it into Class A athletics. . . . I'm not opposed to that, but these three great talents, or talented three people in position of leadership, are concerned with these matters and not with certain other matters . . . to assist us in moving to the next level. As long as we are concerned, not with those matters, but with other matters which it seems to me are inconsequential, I despair for the country."

Franklin's despair was lessened with the election of the nation's first African-American president. The day after Franklin died, President Obama told a town hall that in No Child Left Behind a test "doesn't even measure progress." He said teacher accountability "doesn't mean just a single, high-stakes standardized test. It also means that we're working with teachers to . . . maintain discipline in a classroom, what's the best way to get kids excited about science. Giving them the time and the resources to improve."

On curriculum, Obama added, "Instead of it being designed around sparking people's creativity and their interest in science, it ends up just being, 'Here's the test, here's what you have to learn,' which, you know the average kid is already squirming enough in their seat. Now they're thinking, 'Well, this is completely dull. This is completely uninteresting.' And they get turned off from science or math or all these wonderful subjects that potentially they could be passionate about. So what we want to do is not completely eliminate standardized tests. . . . We just don't want it to be the only thing."

Somewhere, Franklin is smiling. He went from being the first black person to sit in a Vanderbilt office to seeing the first black person run the Oval Office. There is no standardized test to measure how the nation went from there to that.

Derrick Z. Jackson can be reached at
© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

See Also...
*W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special*
Dr. John Hope Franklin: Master Griot...A Tribute

Keep Freedom Fighter Sis. Cynthia McKinney In Your Thoughts & Prayers...

Note: Actual Correspondence With The Honorable Sis. Cynthia McKinney...

Tha Artivist:
Praying For Your Safe Returns & Arrivals. When we can learn how to agree to disagree nonviolently what a wonderful world this would be. Sis. McKinney keep your eyes on the prize and everything else will take its proper place.
Sent at 2:27 PM on Thursday

Sis. Cynthia McKinney:
thanks Ronald.
Sent at 2:41 PM on Thursday

From The Honorable Sis. Cynthia McKinney: I Thought You Should Know...

I do not like to burden people with the crosses that I bear because of the political choices I have made. However, I do feel that this is important enough to share with all of you, and particularly those of you who live in Canada.

For those of you who have seen the documentary, American Blackout, I would like for you to recall one of the scenes in which I discuss my closed blinds and covered windows. I do live with the fact of surveillance. I have for a long time because of my father's activities in the civil rights movement. He was named in the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission's list of individuals to watch, he was in Selma at the first march, he was in Forsyth County, Georgia at the first march; with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, he successfully sued one Georgia offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan, and when I was a little girl, I remember that upon concluding a telephone conversation, my mother hung up the phone. Then picked it up again to make another call and heard the contents of her previous conversation being played back.

It seems that my actions have followed my father's in extraordinary interest, because I was recently named in a Texas Fusion Center document and alerted to its existence by a leader on this issue at the ACLU. Later this month, the stalking case featured in American Blackout comes before a jury in Georgia.

This morning, my father received a phone call. I am forwarding this information so you all will know, so that my suporters in Canada, in particular, may know of this latest episode in what has been a continuing, lifelong saga:

To: Congressman Hank Johnson
From: Cynthia McKinney
Date: May 21, 2009
Re: Congressional Office Receipt of Threatening Phone Call
Current Time: 10:00 am Pacific Daylight Savings Time

At approximately 9:00 this morning (noon Eastern Time), Mr. James McKinney was contacted at his home by “Dori” in the Johnson Congressional Office indicating that a call had been received by that office from one Zevon Siqueira (415-259-7906) relating to the staff person that “the life of someone in Canada that Cynthia McKinney was traveling with might be in danger.”

If a Congressional Office receives a threat upon someone’s life, or a message that causes alarm that someone’s life might be in danger, it is incumbent upon that Congressional Office to contact the relevant authorities and report that threat.

I request that the Congressional Office of Hank Johnson perform its duty and immediately contact all appropriate authorities relative to the perceived threat that was received by its staff member and do all within its jurisdiction to ensure that no one’s life is, indeed, in danger.

Cynthia McKinney


The Honorable Cynthia McKinney

Green Party of the United States

Mayme Johnson The Widow Of Bumpy Johnson A.K.A. The Harlem Godfather Dead @ 94...


Contact: Karen E. Quinones Miller


Mayme Hatcher Johnson, author, and widow of Harlem gangster Bumpy Johnson, dead at 94

Mayme Hatcher Johnson, a native of North Carolina who spent most of her life in Harlem, died in Philadelphia on Friday, May 1, 2009 of respiratory failure.

Mrs. Johnson was born in 1914 in NC, and moved to New York City in 1938, where she found work as a waitress in a club owned by singer/actress Ethel Waters. In 1948 she met and married Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, the legendary Harlem gangster who was depicted in the movies The Cotton Club, Hoodlum, and American Gangster.

In her book, Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson, she told of meeting Bumpy for the first time in a Harlem restaurant.

Before long I was known as Bumpy’s girl. It was a good title to possess. It meant I could get in anywhere I wanted to go, I was treated as queen wherever I went, and I was showered with gifts and jewelry on a steady basis. It also meant that I was constantly accosted by other women who were in love with Bumpy and wanted me out of the way. At first I was upset, but then I pretty much learned to ignore them. Like Bumpy said, they wouldn’t even be stepping to me if they didn’t realize that I was the one real woman in his life. And hell if I was going to let them back me away from a man who treated me as good as Bumpy treated me. . .

Bumpy and I met in April 1948. In October that year we were driving past 116th and St. Nicholas Avenue in his Cadillac when he suddenly turned to me and said, “Mayme, I think you and I should go ahead and get married.”

I was stunned, but I kept my composure. I said simply, “Is that right?”

He said, “Yes, that’s right,” and kept on driving.

We were married in a civil ceremony just two weeks later.

She remained married to Bumpy until his death of a heart attack in 1968, though he was incarcerated at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary for ten years of their marriage.

Mrs. Johnson was a long-time member of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Harlem, and was known for her charitable and volunteer activities.

“Mayme was a class act, and had a big heart,” said Henry “Perk” Perkins, a Harlem restaurateur who was a close friend of both Bumpy and Mrs. Johnson. “She was the sweetest woman in the world, but she didn’t take any nonsense. She carried herself like a real lady and expected to be treated as such.”

In 2004, Mrs. Johnson moved to Philadelphia, and three years later decided to finally write a biography about her husband, so that “people could know the truth about him rather than all the myths.” Harlem Godfather was published in February 2008. More than 200 people attended the book launch party held in Harlem.

“Yeah, she was tickled pink to tell people she was an author at age 93,” Perkins said with a laugh. “Boy, it really made her proud to finally get that book done.”

Mrs. Johnson was notified two days before her death that a film production company was negotiating to purchase a book option for Harlem Godfather.

Mrs. Johnson is survived by a granddaughter Margaret Johnson of New York City; a grandson Anthony Johnson of London, England; a sister Lily Andrews of North Carolina; a brother Melvin Hatcher of North Carolina; and two goddaughters Karen E. Quinones Miller and Camille R. Quinones Miller of Philadelphia. A daughter, Ruthie Johnson and stepdaughter, Elease Johnson both died in 2006.

Final arrangements are private at the family’s request. Choice Funeral Home, Philadelphia

Please contact Karen E. Quinones Miller at (215) 381-0600 for more information

Pictures of Mayme and Bumpy Johnson are available.


See also...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: American Gangster 2.0...The Missing Chapters.

'Good Times' Painter Ernie Barnes Dead @ 70...

The official artist of the 1984 Olympics in L.A. created powerful portraits of agility, strength and the emotional costs of fierce competition. He also depicted black culture and daily life.

By Elaine Woo
April 30, 2009

Ernie Barnes, a former professional football player who became a successful figurative painter, known for depictions of athletes and ordinary people whose muscled, elongated forms express physical and spiritual struggles, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 70.

His death was caused by complications of a rare blood disorder, according to his longtime assistant, Luz Rodriguez.

Barnes was a child of the segregated South who transcended racial barriers to play for the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers before pursuing his real dream: to be an artist. He became the official artist of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, whose insights from his trials on the gridiron resulted in powerful, sometimes haunting portraits of agility, strength and the emotional costs of fierce competition

His style, which critics have described as neo-Mannerist, became familiar to a prime-time television audience in the mid-1970s when producer Norman Lear hired Barnes to "ghost" the paintings by the Jimmie Walker character "J.J." in the groundbreaking African American sitcom "Good Times."

As the backdrop for the show's closing credits, Lear used Barnes' 1971 painting "Sugar Shack," his most famous work. Singer Marvin Gaye later adapted the painting as the cover art for his 1976 album, "I Want You."

"Sugar Shack" shows a Brueghel-like mass of bodies, writhing and jumping to the rhythms in a black jazz club. There is joy, tension and despair in the canvas, which Barnes once said was inspired by a memory of being barred from attending a dance when he was a child. As in nearly all of his paintings, the subjects' eyes are closed, a reflection of the artist's oft-stated belief that "we are blind to each other's humanity."

Singer-songwriter Bill Withers, who was close to Barnes during the last decade of his life, said the artist often spoke of wanting to educate people through his art.

"He meant getting people to look past the superficial into the real vulnerable parts of themselves," said Withers, for whom Barnes completed his last major commission, a painting inspired by Withers' 1971 hit "Grandma's Hands." "He wanted to help people peel away that layer of protection that we all wear to ward off any intrusion into our real private thoughts. He didn't mind people looking deeper into him. I found that fascinating."

Barnes was born into a working-class family in Durham, N.C., on July 15, 1938. His father was a shipping clerk for a large tobacco company, and his mother was a domestic for a wealthy attorney. She brought home books and records that her employer no longer wanted and used them to broaden the cultural horizons of her three sons. She encouraged them to draw pictures from their imaginations instead of using coloring books. The shy and overweight Ernie began drawing to escape from the taunts of his schoolmates.

He was still chubbier than most kids when he reached high school, but a teacher there helped him turn his size into advantage. He started lifting weights, lost his extra pounds and began excelling on the playing field. He became captain of the football team and by graduation had scholarship offers from 26 colleges.

He chose North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University), a historically black institution in Durham, where he played football and majored in art. He left before graduating in 1960 to turn pro. A 6-foot-3, 250-pound offensive guard, he played for a succession of American Football League teams, including the Chargers and the Broncos, for the next five years.

He had kept up with his art when he was playing football, sketching fellow players, who nicknamed him "Big Rembrandt." With little money and a family to support when he left the game, he took a gamble and flew to Los Angeles with several of his canvases and carried them on foot several miles to the office of Chargers co-owner Barron Hilton, who paid him $1,000 for a painting.

After a brief stint as the AFL's official artist, he met with New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin, who offered to pay him $15,500 -- $1,000 more than Barnes had earned in his last season in football -- to develop his skills as a painter for a year. Werblin was so impressed with Barnes' work that he arranged a showing for critics at a New York gallery.

Some critics compared him to George Bellows, the American painter known for his masterful depictions of boxers in the ring.

Soon Barnes was winning commissions from entertainers such as Harry Belafonte, Flip Wilson and Charlton Heston. His works from this period were often commentaries on the brutality of professional football, depicting players with fangs and other grotesque features. "I was reaching for the absurdity of what men can be turned into with football as an excuse," he told Sports Illustrated in 1984.

Other paintings captured the powerful grace of youths playing pickup basketball and the exhaustion of a runner after a race. His series of Olympics posters were "the finest, most effective and moving tribute to the Olympics since the Greeks stopped painting their athletes . . . on black or red grounds," critic Frank Getlein wrote in a 1989 essay.

Barnes began to expand his subject matter in the early 1970s when he moved to the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.

Observing the tight-knit Jewish neighborhood provoked in him a new awareness of black culture and everyday life, reflected in "Sugar Shack" and a traveling exhibition called "The Beauty of the Ghetto." One of the stops on the tour was the North Carolina Museum of Art, where years earlier a museum docent had told Barnes "that black people didn't express themselves as artists."

A longtime resident of Studio City, Barnes, who was married three times, is survived by his wife of 25 years, Bernie; five children, Sean, Deidre, Erin and Paige, all of Los Angeles, and Michael of Virginia Beach, Va.; and a brother, James, of Durham.

A private memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be sent to Hillsides Home for Children, 940 Avenue 64, Pasadena, CA 91105.