Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10/28/2009 @ 9pm cst~W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: Black Cotton...The Harvesting Of Our Youth

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

October 2009 Theme: AND THE BEAT GOES...

Air Date: Weds. October 28, 2009

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9 PM C/10 PM E/7 PM P

Call-in Number: 646-652-4593

Listen To The Show:

Topic:Black Cotton...The Harvesting Of Our Youth
Being Proactive About Saving Future Harvests/Generations Of Black Youths From The Ruin Of The Cradle To The Penitentiary Pipeline & The Psychological Drought Of Low Expectations...An e-Town Hall Meeting

Our Featured & Honorable Guests...

1.) Bro. Vincent Lewis

About The Author:
Born in Michigan in 1969, Vincent Lewis writes and lectures about the injustice within the criminal justice system. A product of Chicago's Southside, he grew up seeing the devastating effects that drugs and crime had on his community. He has worked as an alcohol and drug counselor in Chicago's Cook County Jail, Mississippi State Penitentiary, the Arkansas State Prison system and for several nonprofit social services agencies targeting ex-offenders and substance abusers. He has now dedicated his life to living his Christian faith through action. He believes in teaching others the truth about issues of injustice and empowering them with the tools to become agents of hope and change. He also, works with churches to inspire, inform and empower God's people to become actively engaged in the economic development of their communities, while moving beyond the church walls to meet the needs of the people.


Black Cotton
The Harvesting Of Our Youth

By Vincent D Lewis

About The Book:
This book is intended to shine a bright light on the suffering of young black males involved in the criminal justice system. Because this problem has many different roots, it is impossible to simply write about crime and incarceration rates, so I discuss various issues contributing to the weakening of the black community as a whole, which results in higher incarceration rates among black males.

Buy This Book:

Join The Black Cotton Network:


2.) Dr. Leon D. Caldwell

Dr. Leon D. Caldwell said the Think Tank is “an innovative way to strategically think about how we act in our community, employing the best of our resources and all of our resources. . .” (Photo by Wiley Henry)

Dr. Leon D. Caldwell is the President and Executive Director of the Think Tank for African American Progress http://www.thinktankforprogress.org, the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth Development, lead evaluator of the JustCare Family Network, and Research Associate Professor of Psychology at Rhodes College. He can be reached at caldwelll@rhodes.edu.

See Also...
Needed: African-American Think Tank By Dr. Leon D. Caldwell:

Also Listen To...

Saving Black Boys...Raising Black Men
A W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special


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Mumia Speaks! Between ACORNs and Blackwater

Between ACORNs and Blackwater
[col. writ. 10/4/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Nothing says as much about the nature of the American media as its latest frenzy.

What seizes it is often the seemingly trivial, the symbolic and, yes, the silly; that most designed to not only tug at the heartstrings, but to cement our certainties, play to our prejudices and support the status quo.

For months, right wing shout-show hosts have been harping on ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). In their world, they were the 2009 version of the 1950's Communist Party, and as such, they were painted as enemies of the state.

It took a while, but before long the corporate media jumped into the pit, and, assisted by the amateur film set-ups by a right wing couple posing as a pimp and his mini-skirted accomplice, ACORN became the big news.

The group, which has several hundred thousand members, was harmed by the actions of perhaps half a dozen, who, rather breezily, advised the supposed 'couple' in ways to avoid taxes and still ply their trade.

Almost overnight state and federal governments cut contracts with the group, which has organized many grassroots communities around housing issues, foreclosures, labor issues and voting rights.

Politicians couldn't find a mike fast enough to distance themselves, and denounce the group.

Consider the difference between that response and the silence which greeted news of the long record of carnage and mayhem committed at the trigger-happy hands of Blackwater. The private, corporate army has lucrative contracts with the State Dept., and many government agencies.

In 2007 Blackwater hires launched a massacre in the heart of Baghdad, turning a crossroads of traffic into a bucket of blood.

The incident fueled anti- U.S. insurgency and splashed egg on the face of US puppet and Iraqi Prime Minister, Nur al-Malid, who demanded that the company be expelled from Iraq. They're still there.

Any lost contracts? Nope. Indeed, the Obama administration just announced new contracts with Blackwater (under its new corporate name, XE)

Employees of Blackwater kill and wound dozens of Iraqi with immunity (and impunity), no contracts lost.

Employees of ACORN get caught on tape trying to assist a fake pimp and prostitute. They get fired, ACORN loses a slew of government contracts.

Guess which group is tied to wealth and right wing groups around the world?

Guess which group supports efforts of the urban poor to navigate their lives amidst economic chaos?

Guess which group gets its contracts cut?

--(c) -09 maj

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

URGENT Need for Petition Signatures at: http://www.iacenter.org/mumiapetition/

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at: http://www.prisonradio.org

Mumia's got a podcast! Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays - Subscribe at the website or on iTunes and get Mumia's radio commentaries online.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's new book -- JAILHOUSE LAWYERS: PRISONERS DEFENDING PRISONERS V. THE USA, featuring an introduction by Angela Y. Davis -- has been released! It is available from City Lights Books: http://www.citylights.com/book/?GCOI=87286100448090

If you are planning to organize an event or would like to order in bulk, you can also receive a 45% discount on any bulk orders of 20 copies or more. The book retails for $16.95, for orders of 20 copies or more the discounted price would be $9.32 per book, plus shipping and handling. Prepayment would be required and books are nonreturnable. If you or your organization would like to place a bulk order, please contact Stacey Lewis at 415.362.1901 or stacey@citylights.com

Let's use the opportunity of the publication of this brilliant, moving, vintage Mumia book to build the momentum for his case, to raise the money we desperately need in these challenging economic times, to get the word out – to produce literature, flyers, posters, videos, DVD's; to send organizers out to help build new chapters and strengthen old ones, TO GET THE PEOPLE OUT IN THE STREETS … all the work that we must do in order to FREE MUMIA as he faces LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE OR EXECUTION!
Please make a contribution to help free Mumia. Donations to the grassroots work will go to both INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL and the FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL COALITION (NYC).

Please mail donations/ checks to:
NY 10030
215 476-8812
Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Legendary & Trail Blazing Mississippi Athlete & Brother Of Boss Toliver Finally Gets His Due...

Frank Dowsing

Tupelo's Dowsing Will Join Mississippi Sports Hall Of Fame
by Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
10.22.09 - 06:33 am

JACKSON – The adult agitators knew where the black guy’s motel room was located.

Their goal: To make his night miserable.

Frank Dowsing, one of Tupelo High School’s sprinters and the object of the group’s racial ridicule, remained patient that cool spring evening in 1968.

The following day, at the North Big Eight Conference track and field meet in Greenwood, Dowsing raced to victory in the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes, and anchored wins in two relays. It was his way of saying, “Take that ... and that!”

Tupelo attorney “Bill Beasley was a teammate of Frank’s in track,” said Jack Reed, Jr., Tupelo’s mayor and Dowsing’s high school football teammate. “He told me the group was throwing things at Frank’s motel door and shouting, ‘You better not show up at the track!’

“Frank goes out the next day and wins everything he’s in. That was Frank.”

For his effort in breaking down racial barriers at Tupelo High School and in the SEC with his athletic prowess, academic achievement and exemplary citizenship in the face of adversity, Dowsing, who died after a lengthy illness in 1994, was one of six persons named Wednesday for induction into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

The induction ceremonies for the Class of 2010 will be held July 30 in Jackson.

“Frank Dowsing was a great athlete, one of the greatest in Mississippi sports history,” said Reed, who spoke on behalf of the Dowsing family at the MSHOF news conference. “He was an even greater person. He contributed more than any single human being, black or white, to the peaceful, successful integration of the Tupelo public schools.”

Joining Dowsing, the former THS and Mississippi State football, basketball and track standout, in the 2010 class are:

- Henry Armstrong, Columbus, pro boxer (posthumous).

- Allen Brown, Natchez, former Ole Miss and Green Bay football standout.

- Bob Coleman, Jackson , co-founder of the Mississippi Track Club (posthumous).

- Ken Toler, Sr., Greenville, state, regional and national tennis champion.

- Lake Speed, Jackson, the state’s most prominent NASCAR driver.

“I’m so excited for his induction,” said Dowsing’s niece, Wilmetta Toliver-Diallo, from her home in St. Louis. “I hope my children realize the magnitude of his legacy as an athlete, a scholar and a human being.”

Dowsing’s mother, Jessie, lives just outside of Tupelo, and his sister, Virginia Dowsing Toliver, lives in St. Louis. His father, the late Frank Sr., was a teacher in the Tupelo school system.

Frank Dowsing was one of the first black students to attend THS under the “Freedom of Choice” desegregation plan.

He was named all-conference and all-state in football, helped lead the Golden Wave basketball team to a Grand Slam championship and set a state record of 9.5 seconds in the 100-yard dash at the Big Eight track and field meet.

He accomplished all that and more carrying the burden of being the first African American to participate in previous all-white domains.

“We were playing one of the teams in the Delta and one of my players came out of the game and said, ‘You won’t believe what they’re saying and doing to Frank out there,’” said Tom Cheney, Dowsing’s football coach at Tupelo, in an earlier interview with the Daily Journal. “Frank played on and never said a word.”

‘A Great Athlete’

Dowsing played football and ran track for Mississippi State, but his former football teammate, Emile Petro, said there wasn’t much Frank couldn’t do.

“He was the star of his intramural basketball team that went undefeated,” said Petro, a Tupelo businessman. “Frank played cornerback and returned punts, but he could have played offense. They used him as a tailback when he was a freshman. I always thought they should have played him there. The guy was a great athlete.”

Dowsing was an All-SEC and All-American selection on the field and in the classroom.

His career punt return average of 15.2 yards remains MSU’s best. His 88-yard punt return for a TD against Alabama in 1971 is the second longest in program history.

He was named to the league’s all-academic team three consecutive seasons. His senior year, he was named a National Football Foundation and a College Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete.

“Frank Dowsing was the Jackie Robinson of Mississippi,” Reed said. “... The recognition that accompanies this achievement will ensure that men and women and young people who love Mississippi sports will forever hear the Frank Dowsing story.”
© nems360.com 2009

See Also...
She Loves It When They Call Her Big Momma...Boss Toliver Is In The House!!!

Needed: African-American Think Tank

by Dr. Leon D. Caldwell

Our children are suffering because of our disorganization. Black economic power and potential are waning. Chronic diseases, risky health behaviors, and systems required health issues are shortening our lives. We are generally unprepared to participate in technological advances and opportunities. The disparities in education between our children and that of the world are becoming increasingly apparent.

This community like so many others around the country has gotten skillful at demonizing children, scapegoating schools, and excusing content-less policymakers. The reality is, as Minister (Louis) Farrakhan suggested in his address during the World Day of Atonement, that we have offered up our children in the pursuit of prosperity prophecy. Our failure to think through a plan to insure them a future better than our present should be considered the greatest act of national sui-genocide.

Several will argue that the city’s history of racism, economic exploitation, and cultural oppression are responsible for the condition of black communities in Memphis. While we cannot fully dismiss these explanations, we must move beyond them and develop strategies to address these challenges. I dare suggest that there is benefit to a privileged few, regardless of the ethnic hue, in “suffering as usual” practices of this county.

While many will shout amen or nod in agreement, not many are willing to engage in the collective work. This work is a process that requires coalition-building, thinking together, collective planning, and mobilizing for the future of our children and this city. Our paralysis based in sectarian self interests, greed, turfism, individualism, and insecurity must end. Blood, wasted lives, and untapped potential of thousands of young people has happened on our shift. Without investing in a “serious” comprehensive strategic plan developed by the community we will continue to sacrifice our most precious resource for the future – our children.

Here is my solution by way of an invitation: join the Think Tank for African American Progress. This is not a new organization but a collection of the organizations that are already doing great individual work but want to change the paradigm for working together. The Think Tank is a national convening of community activists, practitioners, policy makers, researchers, and scholars dedicated to developing solutions and strategic plans to implement them to address specific issues on education/youth development, health, economic and community development, and technology.

“What is the future for Black Boys?” was this year’s theme. The Think Tank works to develop solutions and strategies for the issues facing black communities. Over the next months, we will be holding community meetings intended to help us end the organizational silos. We invite you to participate in the solutions. In January 2010, we will release the 2009 Think Tank for African American Progress Solutions Briefs outlining specific programmatic and policy solutions for many of the issues challenging young black boys in Memphis. Simultaneously, we are planning and fundraising for the “What is the Future for Black Girls?” – which will be held in October 2010. Our goal is to provide the policymakers and activists with an inclusive strategic plan generated by the black community.

A community serious about its children must plan for their future. The Think Tank is the process for the community planning and mobilizing beyond organizational silos. Our intention is to move beyond the rhetoric and restatements of problems toward community level strategic planning and action. We invite those organizations that want to participate in a new collective and inclusive strategy to improving the life outcomes of children in this community to join us. Memphis and Shelby County will reap what it sows.

Will we work the ground until it is fertile or continue to harvest from its soils polluted with inaction.

Dr. Leon D. Caldwell said the Think Tank is “an innovative way to strategically think about how we act in our community, employing the best of our resources and all of our resources. . .” (Photo by Wiley Henry)

(Dr. Leon D. Caldwell is the President and Executive Director of the Think Tank for African American Progress http://www.thinktankforprogress.org, the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth Development, lead evaluator of the JustCare Family Network, and Research Associate Professor of Psychology at Rhodes College. He can be reached at caldwelll@rhodes.edu.)

See Also...

Saving Black Boys...Raising Black Men

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


Husband's Death Turns Evers-Williams Into Champion Of Social Justice.

United Press International files
Medgar Evers' daughter Reena Denise (left), brother Charles Evers and wife Myrlie Evers mourn the slain civil rights hero in 1963. Myrlie Evers-Williams will receive the National Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum on Tuesday.

Husband's Death Turns Evers-Williams Into Champion Of Social Justice
Originally Appeared @ The Following Link:

By Michael Lollar
The Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Seedling In A Forest Of Giant Sequoias:
The Great Myrlie Evers-Williams (Widow Of The Great Medgar Evers) And Legendary Businessman & Founder Of Black Enterprise Magazine Earl Graves Are Fans Of The Art Of R2C2H2 Tha Artivist

Myrlie Beasley, a freshman from Vicksburg, was leaning against a light post at the old Alcorn A&M College in Mississippi when a football player walked up and told her, "I suggest you not lean on that pole. You may get shocked."

Beasley was majoring in education with a focus on music. She played piano, and her grandmother and an aunt who raised her had dreams of her debut at Carnegie Hall. They warned her about older boys, especially worldly war veterans.

Beasley was wary, but also vulnerable. Her admirer, Medgar Evers, was persistent.

"He would stand outside when I took piano practice. He professed to love classical music. He didn't," she says.

He was president of the junior class, yearbook editor, a football player and an Army veteran eight years older than her.

"He was cool," she says.

And, soon enough, she was shocked. The prim young girl who had grown up in a family of teachers was about to marry a man who would challenge everything about the social order in Mississippi. It was her introduction in 1951 to a world of civil rights activism that eventually would lead Myrlie Beasley to a National Freedom Award as Myrlie Evers-Williams, former national chairwoman of the NAACP.

Evers-Williams will receive the award Tuesday from the National Civil Rights Museum at Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ. In the same ceremony, basketball superstar Julius "Dr. J." Erving will receive the museum's annual Legacy Award for his humanitarian, business and philanthropic works.

Museum chairman Benjamin L. Hooks, former executive director of the NAACP, says Evers-Williams, a board member, was persuaded to run for chairwoman although there was no financial compensation.

"She did it all and did it well. She's an amazing person," he says.

Her successor, Julian Bond, describes her as "a gracious lady with nerves of steel. She literally saved the NAACP when it was at one of its lowest ebbs."

Evers-Williams, 76, was "absolutely not" an activist when she met her first husband. Her family did not believe in "rocking the boat. We were told ... we had to do better than anyone else because it was difficult for us as a race to move into good-paying jobs."

Medgar Evers was organizing people to vote and demonstrate for equal rights. He told young Myrlie Beasley: "You're going to be the mother of my children."

As Myrlie Evers, she would leave school before graduating to move to Mound Bayou, Miss. There, Medgar Evers worked as an insurance agent and Myrlie Evers was an IBM punch-card operator for the same insurance agency.

He sold policies to plantation sharecroppers, "and he secretly talked to them about the need to register and vote," she says.

"I began ... to have an open mind," she says. "But that open mind was all but filled up with fear. You were not born and reared in Mississippi and challenging the system without knowing you were putting your life on the line."

When her husband was offered the job of NAACP field secretary for the state, it meant moving to Jackson.

"I was glad he took it because I wanted to get out of that hot, dusty Delta. I was a city girl. I went along as his secretary. I was his wife. I was the greeter at the airport. I was the good wife," she says.

They were married for 111/2 years and had three children. He often told her she was stronger than she thought. It took all of her strength when their home was firebombed in 1962 after Medgar organized a boycott of white merchants.

A year later, President John F. Kennedy angered segregationists by proposing new civil rights laws. Myrlie and the children stayed up to listen to Kennedy's speech while Medgar worked late.

They were awake at 12:30 a.m.

"The children were on the floor. I was stretched across the bed. The car pulled into the driveway. A shot exploded," she recalls.

The children grabbed their baby brother and did as their father had told them. They ran to the bathroom and got into the tub.

"I made a dash to the front door, unlocked the door and turned on the light," says Evers-Williams.

The bullet from a deer rifle had struck Medgar in the back, knocking him forward more than a car length. He crawled a few inches toward the door.

"I screamed and the kids came running," she says. "I remember hearing them say, 'Daddy, get up. Daddy, get up.'"

The killer left a gun with fingerprints on the rifle scope. Charged with murder, segregationist fertilizer salesman Byron De La Beckwith was freed twice when all-white juries deadlocked.

Evers-Williams had never wanted to be anything "but a wife and mother," she says. But at a rally the night after the murder, people began to chant, "No more fear." For them and for her, she says, "it was a turning point."

Evers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

"I began to tour the country on behalf of the NAACP and raise money for the organization," she says.

Evers-Williams enrolled at Pomona College in California, studying sociology while working weekends for the NAACP. She co-wrote a book, "For Us, the Living," and in 1975 married longshoreman Walter Williams, a civil rights activist who filed a lawsuit to end discriminatory hiring among West Coast shippers.

Evers-Williams would be appointed to the five-member Board of Public Works in Los Angeles. She worked as a contributing editor for Ladies Home Journal, director of planning and development for Clarement College, vice president of a spa and cosmetics company and director of consumer affairs for Atlantic Richfield Co.

In 1995, she ran for chairwoman of the NAACP, which was in debt more than $4 million and had developed a reputation as, what she calls, "financially and morally corrupt." She won and approached the NAACP like a business, raising $3 million by holding a chairman inauguration ceremony. She held a TV-radio campaign to solicit funds and relied heavily on local NAACP chapters to raise money.

"Those three years almost killed me," she says. "I never worked so hard in my life."

Williams died just after she had taken office, but it was during her tenure that she celebrated one of her biggest victories. Evers-Williams had promised Medgar Evers that if he were ever murdered she would "see to it that justice prevailed. I never gave up."

She finally convinced the state to retry De La Beckwith based on evidence he had tampered with the juries that deadlocked on his previous trials.

"I was told that Beckwith was an old man by then and that he should be let alone and that God would take care of it," she says.

She persisted. He was convicted in 1994 at age 73 and died in prison in 2001.

"This is the one thing that I claim for myself -- my own victory," she says. "It ended up being not just a victory for myself, but for a lot of people. When that verdict was read, for the first time in my life I felt free."

Freedom Awards

What: National Civil Rights Museum's 2009 Freedom Awards

Where: Public forum, Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ; Freedom Award banquet, main ballroom Memphis Cook Convention Center

When: Public forum at 10 a.m. Tuesday; Award ceremony and banquet follows at 6:30 p.m.

Admission: Public forum is free. Ticket sales for the banquet closed Friday, but tickets costing $35 per person may be bought at the ticket office of the museum through 5 p.m. today for a postawards performance by Eddie Levert, lead singer of the O'Jays.

More information: Call 901-526-1813 or visit civilrightsmuseum.org

-- Michael Lollar: 901-529-2793

Contact An American Civil Rights Veteran Today:

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Farrakhan Came To Memphis Town...

Originally Appeared @ This Link:

Farrakhan Urges Self-Reliance
Beware Obama, Reach Within To Boost Community, He Says

Photo by Jim Weber
Farrakhan urges the faithful to pray for President Barack Obama -- but not expect him to solve the problems of the black community: ''He is the American president, not the black president.''

By Juanita Cousins
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Originally published 08:49 p.m., October 18, 2009
Updated 11:23 p.m., October 18, 2009

The black community has become toxic and must cleanse and restore peace from within, said Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.

The 76-year-old leader gave his keynote address Sunday at the Cook Convention Center to observe the Nation of Islam’s Holy Day of Atonement, which commemorates the 14th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington.

“It’s like what we saw 14 years ago, but there is no time to march,” Farrakhan said. “We are at the same crossroads again. When people see our young black men they recoil. They are afraid.”

This toxicity is filled with self-hatred that results in destructive behavior toward one another, he said, and will ultimately lead to the black community’s destruction.

“What you saw in Gaza and Lebanon you will soon see in the inner cities of America. You have become toxic waste and the people at the top are planning our destruction as I speak.”

The solution, he said, is to model the government after the human body, which he said is created in God’s image.

“If we study this magnificent body … we can relate all these 10 systems to 10 ministries with subgroups and tasks forces that will allow us the privilege of building our own communities.”

Farrakhan spoke about his 1985 vision, the journey that motivated him to restore the image and confidence of black men in America through the Million Man March on Oct. 16, 1995.

He warned listeners to not become satisfied with President Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president.

“This can pacify you and lull you to sleep in a dangerous time, making you think that we live in a post-racial America when the opposite is true,” Farrakhan said.

Instead, Farrakhan urged his followers to pray for Obama and not expect him to solve the problems of the black community.

“You have to understand that he was voted in to take on the affairs of a nation, not yours and mine. He is the American president, not the black president. We’ve got to marshal our energy and talent to do for ourselves.”

During his near three-hour speech, Farrakhan discussed his views on an array of subjects including American foreign policy, war, conception and diseases.

He said the U.S. government invited the Taliban to Washington in July 2001 to ask the extremist Islamic group’s permission to build a pipeline through the Middle East to get oil to the Persian Gulf.

“You either accept a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs,” he said American leaders told Taliban leaders, but the Taliban would not approve.

President George W. Bush’s administration then used the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a reason to invade Afghanistan, Farrakhan said.

“It has nothing to do with anything but oil,” he said, and the American government used Osama bin Laden as a “patsy” to make Americans hate Islam.

Farrakhan voiced his distrust in the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, saying “many wise people won’t take it.”

“The Earth can’t take this 6.5 billion people. We just can’t feed that many. So what are you going to do? Kill as many as you can. We have to develop a science that kills them and makes it look as though they died from some disease.”

Before Farrakhan’s message, several Nation of Islam leaders and Memphis officials spoke highly of him.

“His message is one that we all need to hear, heed and follow because it’s a message of self-reliance,” said Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery.

Former mayor Willie Herenton also greeted Farrakhan, a man he said “represents truth and wisdom.”

“We are honored to have him in the great city of Memphis,” Herenton said.

— Juanita Cousins: 901-529-2594


Minister Louis Farrakhan: ‘I Am Exactly What I Am’
Originally Appeared @ The Following Link:

Louis Farrakhan
Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan says the African-American community should study the human body and organize itself in a similar fashion. (Photos by Earl Stanback)

State Rep. Joe Towns Jr. noticed it at the Leadership Forum. Minister (Louis) Farrakhan, he said, you are looking well.

Two days later, Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, delivered a keynote address to several thousand attending the World Day of Atonement observing the 14th anniversary of the historic Million Man March. Moments afterwards, his personal assistant, Minister Ishmael Muhummad, gave the crowd a chance to reflect on the energy and vigor of Farrakhan who he reminded them is 76 years old.

The crowd – heavy with Nation of Islam followers and others drawn by the appeal of Farrakhan – clapped and voiced its agreement that Farrakhan delivered plenty of fire. This from a man who a couple of years ago was in a prostate cancer struggle severe enough to stir rumblings about who would replace him.

During his three-day stay in Memphis, Farrakhan was on the go making public appearances, including a leadership forum on Friday, a health care summit on Saturday and the culminating event Sunday at the Cook Convention Center. With his health no longer a front-burner issue, Farrakhan is free to hone his message, which is bolstered by his assertion that “I am exactly what I am.”

He asserts that he is anointed by God, taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and guided by an intelligence that is in this world, not of this world and generally not recognized as present. With that background and that guiding intelligence he says he crafted the Million Man March of 1995 and today has information that world leaders and everyday people need to know.

For example, he says while Barack Obama inherited wars, the president owns them now. And if Obama decides to stay and ratchet up the war in Afghanistan, Farrakhan said it will not come out well for America and its children will be slaughtered.

Farrakhan is a self-described teacher. And while in Memphis, his subject lessons included: the history of the Taliban and how the war got started; how men and women should view and treat themselves and each other; what can be done to help children; and how the definition of terrorism should include those in Washington who vote their self interest even when their position is not in the best interest of America.

President Obama, he said, is “a good human being” who has raised America’s level in the world and who realizes that American foreign policy has injured third world peoples.

“Some say Barack has (done) nothing for us,” Farrakhan told the leadership conference on Friday. “He is not the person to advocate for us. He is an advocate for that in the best interest of the whole….You thought he was going to stand up and talk about black issues. Are you crazy? He has to walk a fine line. It is our job to advocate for our people.”

The theme for the three-day gathering in Memphis was “Accepting Responsibility to Rebuild Our Community.” Farrakhan said he came to Memphis with the intention of starting a dialogue to develop a comprehensive plan, an agenda and strategy for the community.

He said the Nation of Islam is linking with others in Chicago in such a process and he envisions Memphis and other centers following suit, with the best of such efforts shared en route to an overall plan that works.

Among the Memphis notables present during the events held by the Nation of Islam were County Commissioners Sidney Chism and Henri Brooks, State Rep. G.A. Hardaway, state Sen. Reginald Tate and City Councilman Joe Brown. On Sunday, Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery brought symbolic gifts and called the Memphis gathering a historic occasion for the city. Lowery said everyone needed to hear the message of self-reliance and “we need to take the message back to others.”

Former mayor Dr. Willie W. Herenton was a prominent figure at the leadership conference and at the Sunday event. Farrakhan said Herenton had earned the support he should receive in his bid to become the Ninth District representative and noted that as mayor, Herenton had the courage to present him with the key to the city.

On Sunday, Herenton said it was easy to extend the key to Farrakhan, whom he described as worthy, a man who speaks the truth and who is anointed and committed to improving the human condition.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dr. Vasco Smith: The Quiet Warrior...R.I.P.

Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht
Former county commissioner Vasco Smith and his wife Maxine in 1994.

Former Shelby County Commissioner Vasco Smith Dies

By Jody Callahan
Memphis Commercial Appeal

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vasco Smith could have been described any number of ways: dentist, Air Force veteran, jazz lover, politician.

Those who knew him best kept coming back to the same words: freedom fighter.

"Vasco was a great soldier in the fight for freedom," said former NAACP leader Dr. Benjamin Hooks of Memphis.

"He was a tremendous warrior, even up unto his last days."

Dr. Smith, a longtime civil rights advocate and former Shelby County commissioner, died Monday. He was 89.

Dr. Smith and his wife, Maxine, executive secretary of the Memphis branch of the NAACP, celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary 10 days ago.

Their partnership had a lasting effect on the march toward civil rights in Memphis. "She and Vasco should have been called the freedom fighters," said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who served with Dr. Smith on the commission. "They would stand up for principle and stand up on issues. They were strong moral voices in the community."

Dr. Smith graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1937, then from LeMoyne College in 1941. He received his dental degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville in 1945.

He began his public life in 1973 when he won a special election for an at-large seat on the Shelby County Quorum Court, forerunner of the commission. He served on that body until retiring from politics in 1994.

During his time there, Dr. Smith and others were instrumental in founding the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. Dr. Smith remembered his mother, who worked at the old John Gaston Hospital, telling him stories about that facility's inadequacies.

"I always said if I could at some time do something about it, I would. On the County Commission, I saw an opportunity," he told The Commercial Appeal in 1994.

But it was also his efforts at promoting civil rights and rooting out racism that left a lasting mark on the city.

Teaming with the likes of Jesse Turner, A. W. Willis, H. T. Lockard, Russell Sugarmon, Hooks and others, the Smiths pushed for voter registration, filed lawsuits, raised money and helped elect African-Americans to office. They also took part in demonstrations and were each arrested more than once.

"I know that I would not be where I am today as a lawyer or in political circles had it not been for Vasco Smith," said Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, a neighbor of the Smiths, who announced Dr. Smith's death at Monday's commission meeting.

"I could best describe him as a valiant soldier in the army for justice (and) equality who suffered many combat injuries and never received a Purple Heart for it," he said.

Dr. Smith was also a legendary music aficionado with a particular love for jazz. At the Smith home, a large portion of one wall is devoted to his expansive collection, dominated by jazz but including music that covered most of the nearly nine decades of his life. The albums were catalogued in the kind of minute detail characteristic of someone passionate about music.

Wharton would often pass along obituaries from The New York Times when an influential musician would pass away, but Dr. Smith's knowledge of the musician would run deeper than the newspaper's account.

"You name it, he would give you a dissertation on it," Wharton said.

In an interview with The Commercial Appeal in January, Maxine Smith talked about how she and Dr. Smith's efforts built on even greater sacrifices made by those who came before.

"We hit the ground running after Vasco got out of the service," she said. "I never had the good sense to get away and I don't have a single regret.

"We all got here on somebody's shoulders and we can go as far back in history as we want and far enough we don't even remember some of those days. One good thing stacks on top of another. I sometimes wonder why God is so good to Vasco and I."

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be sent to LeMoyne-Owen, the Memphis Branch NAACP or Freedom's Chapel Christian Church.

Jody Callahan: 901-529-6531

Reporters Daniel Connolly and Zack McMillin contributed.


Wendi C. Thomas: Difficult to think of 1 Smith at a time

By Wendi C. Thomas
Memphis Commercial Appeal

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New York had Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis.

Jackson, Miss., had Medgar and Myrlie Evers.

And Memphis, we had Vasco and Maxine Smith.

Dr. Vasco Smith, 89, a dentist, a former Shelby County Commissioner and a civil rights warrior, died Monday, leaving his wife, Maxine, the other half of the legendary civil rights fighting couple, to fight on.

The Smiths were one of Memphis' premier power couples. And to spend any time around them was to be in the presence of strong, enduring love, love that lasted the 56 years of their marriage.

The last time I saw Dr. Vasco Smith -- who insisted I call him simply Vasco -- I was interviewing his wife for a piece about the 40th anniversary of Black Mondays, the school boycotts designed to get black representation on the city school board.

Before the interview even began, Vasco was showing his gentlemanly side, offering to run out and get me some barbecue for lunch.

In the den of their South Memphis house, the walls were full of bookcases that contained his vast music collection (albums, not CDs), and the walls in the hallway were heavy with plaques honoring one or the other for their tireless work.

Maxine held court on the couch, but again and again as we talked, she turned to her life's partner.

He sat in a nearby chair as she plumbed his memory for the nugget she'd forgotten. What was the name of so-and-so? What year was it when we did that?

His mind was quick with the details she didn't remember -- they were an amazing tag team.

When I remember Vasco, I can't think of him alone. I think of him as half of a duo, a part of a beautiful, healthy relationship. He was not threatened by her activism, she was not diminished by his success and status.

In a world with too few models of successful marriages, theirs stood out. Spend any time with them and the love and respect they had for each other was clear. Palpable, almost.

And now that I think of Vasco, gone to be with his maker, my heart goes out to Maxine. The grief she must feel, losing her husband, her ally, her partner, her friend -- the prayers of thousands across the city who were blessed enough to know them will hopefully be of some comfort now.

Thank you both, for reaffirming my belief that true love exists and can persist.

Vasco and Maxine. Maxine and Vasco.

Whenever I saw one, I saw the other.

Inseparable, until death parted them.

Contact Wendi C. Thomas at 901-529-5896 or e-mail thomasw@commercialappeal.com.
Scripps Lighthouse

© 2009 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

See Also...
Tha Artivist Remembers Dr. Vasco Smith, A Friend Of The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival:

Tha Artivist Remembers Dr. Vasco Smith, A Friend Of The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival

“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
~Albert Pine

Photo: ©The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group/r2c2h2 tha artivist

Longtime Memphis music patron, Luncefordphile, jazz aficionado and civic leader Dr. Vasco Smith moves the crowd with his emotional plea on why it is important to remember the genius of Jimmie Lunceford and why it is necessary to celebrate our other heroes and heritage.

Video: Dr. Vasco Smith Featured With Tha Artivist In Memphis City Schools Documentary "Jimmie Lunceford: A Memphis Legend":


I did not know Dr. Vasco Smith long, but I knew his kind well...Dr. Vasco Smith was not only a true public servant in the greatest meaning of the phrase, but he was a true Jazz head, a swinging cat who couldn’t blow per se, but who could blow your mind with what he knew and had to say, especially when it came to jazz…

Dr. Vasco Smith, who was married to Memphis civil rights legend Maxine Smith, was a student of the beautiful Crystal Tulli Lunceford, Jimmie Lunceford’s wife and a former English teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis,TN…

His jazz hero of course was the one and only James Melvin Lunceford a.k.a. Jimmie the true King Of Syncopated Rhythm and the Memphis Music Legend that time and people forgot, except for a few…Dr. Vasco Smith had a special connection to the Jimmie Lunceford legacy and story…Not only was he a diehard fan of the music of the great Mr. Lunceford, but he was also taught by the revered band leader’s beautiful wife Crystal Tulli Lunceford…For a time Mrs. Lunceford taught English at legendary Booker T. Washington High School, another Memphis City Schools’ fountainhead of creative genius and daring that shaped the cultural landscape of America and the world at large with its exceptional progeny with Dr. Vasco Smith counted among them…

When I first talked to Dr. Vasco Smith on the phone over a year ago it was truly a pleasant experience…I looked up his phone number in the white pages a.k.a. the phone book (this guy is truly old school…only real pillars of the community and public servants put their number in a place where they are accessible so that they can be reached and present on the scene when things are going both good and bad…take a note young people)…He also was a true feminist because the wife whom he beautifully supported & encouraged for 50 plus years, Memphis Civil Rights Legend Maxine Smith, was listed as the contact person in the phonebook…What impressed me most of all was Dr. Smith’s humility...In spite of all of his awards and accomplishments he just wanted me to call him Vasco…He did not like to put barriers between himself or others regardless of race, creed, age or socioeconomic background…Even though he was 89 years old when he died, he had the youthful vigor and curiosity of someone half or dare I say two thirds his age…

So needless to say it was a joy to finally meet him this June for the wreath laying tribute and ceremony for Jimmie Lunceford on the observation of his 107th birthday…He was both truly happy to see overdue homage finally being paid to this great man in the “city of good abode” where he started his legendary career, but he was also sad that more weren’t in attendance to give this man his just due in a city he immensely contributed to by starting music education in the public schools through his own means and initiative…He was fighting back tears as he spoke of how I should be commended for doing this service for our community…He described me as a Gabriele-like jazz trumpeter trying to call our people back home to our rightful place where they can understand who they were and are…

What strucked me the most was the comment my mom made to him during his talk about us not acknowledging and appreciating our history and heritage…My mom made reference to his and his wife’s incredible shared legacy of social justice and told him bluntly that if a man like Jimmie Lunceford can be forgotten then we can surely forget about their contributions as well because it is not being taught…Dr. Vasco Smith had a speechless, frozen and haunted look on his face as if he chillingly and vividly saw the future of what she prophesied flashed before his eyes…

Thinking about that unforgettable look now and his passing only a few months later lets me know that we all got a lot of work to do…

Bro. Vasco may you rest in peace knowing that you did all you possibly could with what you had…Thanks for passing the torch…Tell Mr. Lunceford to keep it swinging, tight, light and right…

Jazznocracily yours,

Photos: ©The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group/r2c2h2 tha artivist
Bro. Ron/R2C2H2 Tha Artivist
Founder Of The Jimmie Lunceford Jamboree Festival

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Dr. Vasco Smith: The Quiet Warrior...R.I.P.

For the best information about the great Jimmie Lunceford on the information highway go to the official Jimmie Lunceford website:

Wreath Laying Ceremony & Birthday Tribute Swings Forgotten Jazz Great’s Contributions Back Into The Spotlight…

Also view the great documentary “And Rhythm Was His Business: Jimmie Lunceford...A Memphis Music Legend” in three parts on the W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV YouTube Channel:

• “And Rhythm Was His Business: Jimmie Lunceford...A Memphis Music Legend Part One of Three”:

• “And Rhythm Was His Business: Jimmie Lunceford...A Memphis Music Legend Part Two of Three”:


• “And Rhythm Was His Business: Jimmie Lunceford...A Memphis Music Legend Part Three of Three”:


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV~"Jimmie Lunceford: A Memphis Legend"

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...