A Open Letter to Dr. King: A Change Ain’t Coming!

Dr. King, the odds of people of color overcoming racism and bigotry in America–are non-existent.  Every time we make a little progress, they change the rules.  The Kerner Report warned in 1968 we were headed for two different Americas, one Black and one White—its here!  They got it right, but no one listen.

Pro Sports and Corporate America are our best barometers (White Privilege).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTWMUhYG0Y8/ sportscaster Dale Hansen’s

Dr. King, meet the trail blazer, track & Field star, ERoseanna “Rose” Robinson, she sat in protest almost a decade before the 1968 Olympic Game’s track and field stars, John Carlos and Tommie Smith. It was the summer of 1959 and I had just graduated from Fairmont Height High School in Prince Georges County. Ms. Robinson was a high jumper and sprinter for the U. S. Summer Pan American Games.

Chicago was the host city for the games and it was overrun with 2,000 athletes from 24 countries participating. As the U. S. national anthem started to play, the crowd inside Soldier Field rose to its feet in excitement, but Ms. Robinson kept her seat in protest.  This track and field athlete was not there for the bloated displays of American greatness. To her, the anthem and the flag represented war, injustice, and hypocrisy.
Ms. Robinson was harassed for her political stand after the games were over. The most devastating harassment was at the hands of the IRS. Just six months after the games they hauled her into court for back taxes and sentenced her to one-year and one-day because she refused to pay $346. She told the judge, “If I pay income tax, I am participating in the U. S. government’s propensity for violence and war.”

In August 2019 sixty-years later at these same Pam American games, Ms. Gwen Berry stood on the podium wearing bright blue lipstick and a gold medal around her neck. As the end of the national anthem played, she bowed her head and raised her fist, issuing a silent protest motivated by her personal journey and her belief that, “America can do better.” She was penalized by the United States Olympic Committee. She was placed on probation and issued a public letter aimed at intimidating and discouraging further protest!

Gold medal winner Gwen Berry in action at the Pan American Games in Lima, PeruWomen who stood and are standing for something. WRoseann Robinson (top left) (Center photo) Natasha Cloud/Champion WNBA Washington Mystics and Gwen Berry (bottom right).

Something is wrong with this picture, the U. S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee just bestowed its highest honor on Tommie Smith and John Carlos two of the sports world’s most iconic activist. They were inducted into its hall of fame in November 2019?

Despite this hypocrisy, women keep stepping up to the plate. Recently the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever wore black warm-up shirts, a WNBA league uniform violation, in solidarity with the victims of police brutality. The Minnesota Lynx wore “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability” shirts in a pregame press conference and players from both the Lynx and Washington Mystics, have refused to take postgame interviews unless they could talk about social issues. Especially, gun violence, the Mystics, have taken a stand against Justice and Just-Us, and kids killing kids. This effort is being led by Mystics star guard, Natasha Cloud.

Washington Mystics Natasha Cloud leading the fast break in WNBA finals 2019.

In the meantime, Washington Wizards’ high paid stars John Wall and Bradley Beal are content in giving away toys at Christmas, book bags on the first day of school and turkeys at Thanksgiving in place of taking a stand against gun violence.  The violence occurs almost every day and night right outside their doors at their practice facility on Alabama Avenue SE, DC.

The biggest change the Wizards have made in the community since moving from Landover, Md. to the Nation’s Capitol was when owner Abe Pollin renamed the team, the Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards. The city was once called “Chocolate City and the Wild, Wild West” all in the same breath. The make-up and the name Chocolate City is slowly disappearing, but the Wild, Wild West is a stubborn kind of fellow. The murder rate in DC is 5.9 100,00 people higher than the national rate of 5.0 after dark Ward 8 is considered the most dangerous place to be in the Nation’s Capitol.

On January 20th the country celebrated Dr. King’s birthday and many hummed the tune “We Shall Overcome?”

The truth of the matter is, pro sports franchises today are the worst example of an equal opportunity employer in America.  During the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday, in Major League Baseball for example, out of the 30 teams there are only three men of color who are managers. Currently, there are three vacancies because of a cheating scandal that has rocked the league.  The chances of a Black/Afro-American being hired for one of those vacancies are a 100-1 odds.

The number of Black/African Americans on the rosters of Major League Baseball is less 10% , but the chances of a person of color being hired is 50-50 (Hispanic, Latino, Mexican, Dominican, Asia, etc).   Remember, Jackie Robinson supposedly broke the color line in 1947, seventy-three years later, Black ownership is ZERO!

NBA is much more progressive, blacks make up close to 75% of the league, and it has one black owner (Michael Jordan). And according to Super-Star Lebron James, Commissioner Adam Silver is a good guy because he allows them to be black and protest!

The NFL is a disaster when it comes to being an equal opportunity employer. They are heading into Miami for the 54th Super Bowl and celebrating 100 years??? My question, what are they celebrating? There are 32 teams and no black/afro-Americans owners. The league is 70% black, and the persons of color owning teams, one is a Pakistani (Jacksonville) and the other is an Asian woman (Buffalo)!!!! There are 32 teams and only two black/African American head coaches and then there is Ron Rivera (Puerto Rican).
The owners and system have all made a mockery out of the Rooney Rule. The rule was designed according to Google “To give ethnic-minority candidates an opportunity for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. It is an example of affirmative action, even though there is no hiring quota or hiring preference given to minorities, only an interviewing quota!”

If you were watching the showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. One of the commentators put on the screen a chart of the Shanahan Coaching Tree. There was not one Black/Afro-American, offensive or defensive coordinator on their tree. It was proof of the “Good Old Boy System” at work. The top coaching trees belong to Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells (Todd Bowles was on both trees?).

The owners shown their true colors when QB Colin Kapernick took a knee to protest police brutality in America.  They changed the whole narrative to “Fake News” using the flag and soldiers in and out of uniform to fan the flames of hate.  The clincher, the 90 million dollars offered to the players to resolve issues in their community!

NHL is the worst of the 4 pro sports franchises: There are 31 teams, no black coaches, no black owners, no black PR guys. And according to google there are 30 Black/African American NHL players, either playing on the parent club or with an affiliate. The commissioner Gary Bettman is a former senior Vice-President and general counsel for the NBA. I remember a meeting when I was a Nike rep in the late 70s at the league office in New York City. In that meeting were Beckman, Rod Thorn, Vice-President of player personnel and Chief of Security, Horace Bondam. The meeting and discussion centered around players and community involvement. Things got kind of heated when Beckman blurted out, “We own the players!” Some things never change.

NoteWorthy: read the rest of the story track and field stars, Rose Robinson and Gwen Berry at https://zora.medium.com/sixty-years-ago-she-refused-to-stand-for-the-anthem-cf443b4e75c7/black

 

THERE GOES THE JUDGES AND SO WENT JUSTICE FOR ALL!

The late DC Superior Judges Luke C. Moore and Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton hanging out at Hillcrest Saturday Program during Community Day.

January 2020 marks twenty-seven years since the death of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and November 2020 marks twenty-six years since the death of DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore.  They were two GIANTS when it came to challenging the system as it related to Justice & Just-Us in American Courtrooms.  I would be remissed if I didn’t mention DC Superior Court Judge Harry T. Alexander in this same paragraph and in the same breath as it relates to Justice & Just-Us!

The reason I was so successful in my work with youth gangs and at-risk children was because Judges Moore and Alexander had my back when came to our community.  Judge Moore was the first modern day Black American to be appointed U. S. Marshall in-Charge of the U. S. Marshall Service in America.  He was appointed by my mentor President Richard M. Nixon.  In 1877 Frederick Douglas was the first black to hold the office.  He was appointed by President Rutherford Haynes and then approved by the Senate.  Douglas was also the first black to be honored with a Presidential appointment, but his power of authority was limited to Washington, DC (whites were not subject to arrest).

Santa’s helpers Judge Harry T. Alexander and Redskin LB Harold McLinton host annual KIT toy party at Marriott twin-bridges hotel in Arlington, Va.

During the 1968 riots Luke Moore, Willie Wood (NFL) and I walked the U Street corridor arm and arm trying to save lives. It was here our bond was formed. When I received a Presidential appointment in 1969 from President Nixon, Luke played an important role in supporting my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble.  After his appointment to the DC Superior Court as a sitting judge by Nixon, we teamed up to establish the first ever Half-Way House for DC juvenile deliquents on a Military Base in America. Col. Charles Reider the base Chaplin was the one who gave me the idea for Bolling Boys Base.  He is seen standing in the middle with me on the right and a resident on the left.  The Bolling Boys Base served as the home for the overcrowded Receiving Home in NE DC.

Bolling Boys Base was found on Bolling Air Force Base in SE DC in 1971. Chief Judge Harold Greene, Judges Ted Newman, Eugene Hamilton, Harry T. Alexander, and Henry Kennedy, Jr. would all follow Luke’s lead with Maryland (PG County) Judges Bill Missouri and Alex Williams (the first black State’s Attorney in PG County) would also join the team.  Redskins Larry Brown, Harold McLinton, Roy Jefferson and Ted Vactor, media personalities Petey Greene, Bill Raspberry, Jim Vance and Fred Thomas, from Law-enforcement, Assistant Chief Tilmon O’Bryant and the first black chief of the department, Bertell Jefferson all became team players for Kids In Trouble, Inc.  Our mission, to enhance the growth and opportunies for inner-city youth.  The benefactors read like a Who’s Who!

Judges Newman, Alexander and Hamilton pay tribute to Redskin RB MVP Larry Brown during a KIT charity basketball game at Georgetown University

Judge Moore welcomes Redskin WR Roy Jefferson, judges Newman, Kennedy and Tim Baylor (NFL) to the annual KIT toy party at the Foxtrappe in NW DC.Judge Kennedy at the Foxtrappe during a Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Show.  He met his wife Altomease here during a toy party for KIT.

KIT was a “Family Affair” with the Kennedys, Randy Kennedy (Harvard University Professor) and Henry Sr. are seen here during a KIT toy drive.

Since losing Marshall, Moore, Alexander, and Chief Judge Greene we have come up short in the department of justice for all.  We lost the lion of the court Harry T. Alexander in 2010.  The turnout for this great man’s homegoing service I found rather embarrassing, especially by the absence of DC Superior Court judges and the black community at-large who chose not to attend.  Today’s black judges stand on his shoulders, but were nowhere to be found during his service.  Retired Judge Ted Newman was the only one I saw in attendance. The other no-shows know who they are that didn’t pay this man the respect he earned in the courtroom.  Judge Alexander and I didn’t always agree, but I loved and respected the man.  He didn’t just talk the talk he walked the walk.My friend the late Judge extraordinary Harry T. Alexander, a man who demanded respect in his courtroom for men and women of all colors, and creeds, no matter their status in “The Game Called Life”.   One DC cop kept referring to a black on trial in his courtroom as “Boy”, Judge Alexander dismissed the case for mistaken idenity.

The Washington Post came up short as usual when we lose stand-up black men in our community.  They would rather promote drug kingpin Rayful Edmond’s new DVD on Page One.  I wrote a lionizing column on what is now a national media outlet CBS television own blog “The Bleacher Report”! Google, “Judge Harry T. Alexander A Super Star in the Game Called Life”.

Judges Alex Williams and the late Bill Missouri of PG County were contributors to KIT but both came up short in the courtroom.  One was known as “The Hanging Judge” and the other was known to ‘Speak no evil and see no evil’, that was not justice for all–it was justice for some.

For those who didn’t know DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore let me introduce you to this remarkable and unique human being. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fkafk63frbg

Noteworthy: A change ain’t coming if you sitting around waiting for it to knock on your door.   My friend the late Congressman Elijah Cummings said it best, “200 years from now when you are dancing with the Angels, the question will be ‘What did you do to keep our Democracy intact, did you say and do nothing?  We are better than that!’  My question to you,  “Are you better than that”?          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEXhZ8PwM-Y

IMPEACHMENT: MY PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY LESSON!

Attorney General William Rogers and President Richard M. Nixon welcome Hattie and me to the Oval Office of the White House in 1969. 

History was made in Washington, DC on November 18, 2019, just for the 3rd time in American history a sitting President of the United States of America was impeached, Donald J. Trump the 45th President.  The two-acts for impeachment, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress.  In this impeachment process all goodbyes don’t mean GONE!  The process now goes to a Republican Senate for the final word!

I remember another article of impeachment that took place in the United States House of Representatives on October 30, 1973, against President Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President of the United States.  It was written that five low-level crooks were caught breaking into the Watergate Hotel on June 17, 1972. The Democratic National Committee Head Quarters was located in the hotel in South West, Washington, DC.

WHEN A HERO WAS NOTHING BUT A SANDWICH: MEET FRANK WILLS!

As a caddy for Vice-President Richard M. Nixon in 1957 I got the opportunity to get to know a man who would later become my mentor.  In 1969 I received a Presidential appointment from Richard M. Nixon the 37th President of the United States. He would go on to become one of America’s most controversial political personalities.  He now runs a distant second to Trump.

In 1974 I was just a spectator on the sidelines during the impeachment process.  My education relating to the Watergate break-in came from the non-stop news media accounts.  In February 2017 my wife Hattie and I celebrated my 60th anniversary of meeting Mr. Nixon at the Burning Tree Golf Course in 1957.  I put visiting the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California on my “Bucket List”! 

During our rounds of golf and rides to catch my bus, Vice-President Nixon would sometimes talk about his exploits of being a athlete, but admitted he was not that good.  These photos captured our “Bucket List” visit to the new library in 2017. 

 

Hattie and me are seen in a library photo of the President wearing No. 12 as member on the Whittier College football team.  He also wore No. 23, he is one of five U. S. Presidents to play college football.  I am sure if he had not become President–he would have been a sportscaster.  Nixon loved talking sports.  He was a big fan and friend of Coach George Allen of the Redskins.

My go to guy in the White House and the man who had my back was Mr. Herb Klein.  He was the White House Director of Communications.  He was the first to hold that position in White House history.  Rumor has it Mr. Klein was too honest for the administration.  The President felt he could not keep a secret when it came to Watergate and forced him to resign.  Wrong Man: The man who could not keep a secret was White House Counsel John Dean!

Mr. Klein had been one of the President’s closest friends since he entered politics in the early 60s.  He felt betrayed by his ouster.  He returned to the newspaper business and was the editor in the Copley newspaper chain.  Shortly after President Nixon died, Mr. Klein contacted me after reading my commentary on my unique relationship with Mr. Nixon in the Washington Post.  He was coming to DC on  business and suggested we have lunch at Union Station.  I could not wait to see him and thank him for everything he had done for me during his tenure at the White House.

When we met I was surprised of how up-beat he was.  All he wanted to talk about was how proud he was of me and my accomplistments as a sports radio talk show personality and my community endeavors during my White House appointment.  I was blown away.  He suggested that I should contact the Nixon Library in Yoba Linda, California so they could add my newspaper clippings, photos and memorabilia to the new rededicated library.  He promised he would mail me a contact person at the library once he returned to San Deigo.  Several weeks had passed since we met in DC and I had forgotten, but true to his word he did as promised.  Mr. Klein died in 2009 he was a class act.   

The visit to the library was an eye opener.  Mr. Klein was nowhere to be found in the library and neither was my friend Art Fletcher!  Art was the Assistant Secretary of labor for the admistration.  He was known as “The Father of Affirmative Action”.   Art was the architect of ‘The Philadephia Plan’.  The plan required government contractors in Philadephia to hire minority workers.   Art’s life was threaten several times while trying to implement the plan.   When things got heated Nixon moved him out of the Labor Department, Art was nobody’s ‘House Negro’.   When he headed the Negro College Fund he was given credit for helping to coin the phrase ‘A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste’.

During my visit I discovered the many high and low lights of President’s Nixon remarkable life.  Most were on display for public consumption.  Further enlightement came from the movie “All the President’s Men”, spotlighting the two so-called hero reporters of the Washington Post, Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein, The February Group, “Our Nixon” aired on CNN in June of 2017 and the 2017 release of “Mark Felt—The Man That Brought Down the White House”.  The story is based on the FBI Associate Director known as “Deep Throat” who leaked information to the Washington Post.  He was also considered a hero. 

There were many unbelievable moments written about the Watergate break-in.  The saddest moment for me was when I read the way the only black involved and real hero Frank Wills was treated.  Wills was the security guard who uncovered the break-in.    

During the investigation President Nixon famous last words, “I am not a crook” but the real crooks were caught ‘Red Handed’ in three piece suits.  They defined the definition of ‘White Collar Crime’, after serving minimum sentences in jail they returned to civilian life to find jobs and opportunities galore waiting for them.  The Washington Post, and the Democrats saw nothing heroic about Frank Wills and he died broke and homeless!

American history and many others have forgotten the real hero was a man that broke the case wide open. Frank was a twenty-four-year-old black security guard and just doing his job when he discovered locks at the Watergate Hotel had been tampered with and called the police.  His life would never be the same.

June 17, 1973, will long be remembered in American politics. The arrest triggered the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.

On the night of June 17th Wills noticed a piece of duct tape on one of the door locks while he was making his first round.  The tape was placed over the latch bolt to prevent the door from shutting.  He removed the tape and continued his round. Thirty-minutes later, Wills returned to the door and noticed there was more tape on the same door.  Without hesitation, he rushed up to the lobby telephone and asked for the Second Precinct police. The police arrived and turned off the elevators and locked the doors while accompanying Wills to search the offices one by one.  

Wills remembered in 1997, “When we turned the lights on, one person, then two persons and then three persons came out, and on down the line five crooks in total.

During questioning the five men revealed what would become the biggest scandal in American political history.

In the meantime, our hero Frank Wills received a raise of $2.50 (equivalent to $15 in 2018). He was previously making $80 a week (equivalent to $480 a week in 2018).  He asked for a promotion but did not get it.

According to the NY Times, Wills quit his job because he did not receive a raise. He then struggled to stay employed because media opportunities and appearances kept him away from work, employment opportunities consisted of minimum wage jobs.

For example; the man who is credited for helping to bring down the Nixon White House, John Dean is now known as “The White House Snitch”.  Dean an ex-con has an on-going lucrative position as an analyst on CNN cable television.  Former White House staffers, Attorney Rob Oldle, appointments’ Secretary Dwight Chapin and others tried to bar Dean from a speaking engagement at the new Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yoba Linda, California in 2009.  They failed.   

No thanks to Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein’s book “All the President’s Men” Wills became a movie star for a minute, he played himself on the Big Screen. The book relived their investigation into the Watergate scandal.  A scene of Wills discovering the tape door latches was enacted in the 2017 film ‘The Post’ directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. He also appeared briefly on the talk show circuit.

Over the next 20 years, Wills struggled to establish and maintain roots and stability while suffering bouts of unemployment.  He traveled between southern cities, with some time spend in the Bahamas. He said in an interview that Howard University feared to lose their federal funding if they hired him.   A security job with Georgetown University did not last long.   He also worked in a failed stint as a diet food spokesperson for legendary comedian Dick Gregory.   In the mid-1970s, He finally settled in North Augusta, South Carolina, to care for his aging mother, who had suffered a stroke. 

Together, they survived on her $450 per month Social Security checks.  In 1979, Wills was convicted of shoplifting and fined $20.  Four years later, he was convicted of shoplifting a pair of sneakers from a store in Augusta, Georgia and sentenced to one year in prison.  By the time of his mother’s death in 1993, Wills was so destitute that he had to donate his mother’s body to medical research because he had no money with which to bury her.

Only when significant anniversaries of the Watergate break-in occurred did the decreasing spotlight reach out towards him again.  In 1992, on the 20th anniversary of the burglary of the DNC headquarters, reporters asked if he were given the chance to do it all over again, would he?  Wills replied with annoyance, “That’s like asking me if I’d rather be white than black.  It was just a part of destiny.”

That same year, Wills told a Boston Globe reporter, “I put my life on the line.  I went out of my way if it wasn’t for me, Woodward and Bernstein would not have known anything about Watergate.  This wasn’t like finding a dollar under a couch somewhere.” Wills was quoted saying, “Everybody tells me I’m some kind of hero, but I certainly don’t have any hard evidence.  I did what I was hired to do but still, I feel a lot of folks don’t want to give me credit, that is, a chance to move upward in my job”.

Otherwise, Wills tended his garden, made the local library his study hall, and led a quiet life with his cats. Frank Wills died at the Medical College of Georgia hospital in Augusta, Georgia at the age of 52 from a brain tumor.

Wills’ log entry made on June 17, 1972, at 1:47 a.m. is memorialized in the National Archives.

In 1957 I was just a student/athlete attending Spingarn High School in NE DC when I met Mr. Nixon at the Burning Tree Golf Course. One of my neighbors in my NE Parkside housing project Jodie Warr invited me to go with him out to Bethesda, Maryland on the weekends to caddy.  I had never caddied before but once I put a bag on my shoulder it was easy.

I remember the day when Burning Tree golf pro-Max Elbin called me to caddy for Vice-President Nixon.  I was in dilemma even then.  First, I had earned a nice day’s pay for carrying two bags and I was in early with time on my hands.  My homeboys liked for all of us to ride back to the projects together.  We usually wait for each other to come in off the course. 

One of the first warnings that I got during my orientation as it related to Burning Tree was to stay away from Petey Greene.  He was a notorious hustler, drug abuser, ex-con, and a card cheat.  Petey didn’t come out to the golf course just to caddy, his game was found deep in the woods behind the caddy shack.  The game; cards and crap for all the suckers who been out in the cold or sun carrying golf bags all day and thought they were gamblers. He would lay in waiting.

I knew better, but for some reason, I was getting bored waiting for my homies.  I decided to take a walk down in the woods and check Petey out.  Big mistake, I was broke and back in front of the caddy shack with-in 10 minutes.  I borrowed a dollar from Petey for bus fare and Little Tavern 10 cents hamburgers.   As I headed back to the caddy shack I heard Petey yell, “See you next week and be sure to have my two-dollars.” He was charging me a dollar on a dollar.  I never looked back or went back,

The last people I wanted to see were my homeboys—they had forewarned me.  In the meantime, I was walking back and forth between the caddy shack and the parking lot trying to decide whether to look for a ride into town or wait for them.

Suddenly, I hear a voice calling, “Little Bell” and I turn to see Max Elbin the club pro standing with two bags.  He wanted me to take the two bags of two golfers who wanted to get in nine holes before dark.  I grabbed the bags and started for the first tee.  I had no idea who these two men were, but at this point, I didn’t care.  They had saved my day.

Several minutes later I see Vice-President Richard Nixon and his partner Attorney General William Rogers walking in my direction. The vice-president introduces Mr. Rogers and the next words out of his mouth are, “Harold, are you ready for an adventure?” Not fully understanding I smiled and said, ‘Yes sir’ but after three holes I understood the remark.  His golf balls stayed in the woods and trees more than the birds and bees.  On the other hand, Mr. Rogers was an excellent golfer.

I was thinking that since it was so late in the evening, along with the bad golf of Mr. Nixon they would only play nine-holes as predicted, but instead this would turn out to be an adventure of eighteen holes.  As we approached the clubhouse on the 18th hole, I notice the lights were on and meant my homeboys had probably left for the long ride back to the projects.  This was my first time at the golf course this late without them and a ride into DC.

The Vice-President came out of the clubhouse to pay me and thanked me for my patient and said, “We will see you next time”. Under my breath, I said, “I hope not”.  It was now after 7 p. m. and it was the dark of night. There were a few cars in the member’s parking lot.  The few who remained were more than likely involved in a high-stakes gin rummy game. The likely hood of me getting a ride into town before 10 p. m. did not look good.  I would probably end up catching a ride with the hired help (cooks and locker-room men).

My saviors who had rescued me from going home broke three hours earlier came to my rescue again. The vice-president and the Attorney General came bouncing out of the clubhouse, and before I could say, “Goodnight,” the vice-president had offered me a ride into the town.  It had never crossed my mind to ask them for a ride, even though members routinely gave caddies rides into town to catch their buses.  The short walk to the parking lot I discovered my ride would be in a long black Cadillac that was as long as the parking or so I thought.  I had never been in a car that big and beautiful.

The ride to catch my bus home would be a ride I would never forget.

Mr. Rogers would drive and Mr. Nixon would ride “Shotgun” (passenger) and I would get in the back.  When I opened the door to get in the back seat it looked like a hotel room, but I was cool like I had been there before.  You must remember it was 1957 and the Vice-President didn’t travel with an entourage of Secret Service Men.  It was just him and Mr. Rogers who was a class act.  As we pulled out of the parking lot I laid back into to enjoy the ride into town. The best way to describe the ride, it was like “Driving Ms. Daisy.”

In the meantime, as we pulled on to River Road which was the main road leading into DC, I notice the Vice-President had turned in his seat and was checking me out.  The next thing I heard was “Harold where do you live in DC, how many brothers and sisters do you have and what school do you attend?”  I took a deep breath because I was amazed that he was interested in this little black kid who lived in a NE housing project in a single-parent household and attended Spingarn High School!  After I explained who I was and where I came from, his next question put me in my comfort zone.

He said, “Do you play any sports?” I stuck out my chest and said proudly, ‘I play football, basketball, and baseball.  The Vice-President looked at me and raised his eyebrow and said, “Are you any good?”   My response, ‘I am a starter in all three sports. I play end and defensive back on the football team, I play guard/forward on the basketball team and I play outfield on the baseball team.  I then settled back in my seat as if to say ‘How do you like me now?” 

He was by no means through with me, his next question made me put my head between my legs, he said, “How are your grades?” Oh no, he didn’t just say that!  All I could say was, “Not good sir, not good.”

The last fifteen minutes of the ride Mr. Nixon spend explaining to me how important it was to do better as it related to my grades.  I remember him saying, “Your education will carry you further in life than football, basketball, and baseball.”

Now talking about busting my bubble, he was right, but his advice was going in one ear and out the other.  I was too busy smelling myself as an athlete.  My “One Adventure” with the Vice-President became several more adventures and we developed a great friendship.  I was amazed over the years as I read or heard people say how aloof, withdrawn and non-caring this great man was. The golf course was his oasis.

Mr. Nixon and Mr. Rogers were class acts from my limited view. They inspired me to be all that I could be.

Our conversations on the golf course and during our rides back to DC after their rounds of golf were inspirational and gave me hope in those trying times.  April 1958 would be the last conversation and the last time I would see the Vice-President.  He did something strange when we got to Westmoreland Circle to catch my bus—he got out of the car and wished me well.  He said, “Harold, I am going to be leaving the country in a few weeks and I wanted to say so long” and he handed an envelope with a card.  We shook hands and he got back in the car and they drove off.

I was left standing at the bus stop with an empty feeling and I could not understand why.  The bus seemed like it took forever to arrive, but once it did I went straight to the back and sit in the corner.  I open the envelope and there were two fifty-dollar bills in it. This was the first fifty-dollar bill I had ever had. The card read simply, “Finish your education, my friend.” The card was signed, Richard Nixon. 

I will never forget how proud my mother was when I gave her one of the bills.

It would be another decade before we crossed paths again. In the summer of 1969, Petey Greene found me standing in front of Ben’s Chili Bowl on U street and said, “Your man is down on 7th Street touring the riot area”.  My response was, ‘My man’?  He said, ‘President Nixon fool’!  I immediately sprinted to the 7th Street corridor to see my old friend, but the Secret Service would not let me get anywhere near him. I tried to tell them I use to caddy for him at Burning Tree Golf Course, but one of them said, ‘Write him a letter’ and I did.  The rest is history.  

NIXON & HB EXCHANGE LETTERS

In 2007 Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan) invited me to be his guest at the Hilton Hotel in NW Washington, DC.  The ocassion, he wanted to introduce me to The February Group and President Nixon’s daughter Tricia Nixon Cox.  The February Group was made up of former loyal Nixon White House staffers that formed after their leader was forced to resigned from from the White House.  They would get together every several years to reminisce and pay tribute to their former boss (see link).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li3Mcj9N63U

The lesson Learned: I could have been a security guard instead of a caddy!

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY: BLACK FRIDAY 365 DAYS OF THE YEAR IN THE INNER-CITY!

Gospel vocalist, Robin ‘Sugar’ Williams on a field trip to WJLA television with a group of DC elemeantary school children and today with her own child.

Black Friday has been a holiday tradition for over a century.  Where did it all start?  It was on a Friday in September 1869 in what became known as ‘Black Friday”.  The US Gold market crashed and Wall Street Barons Fisk and Gould’s faced bankruptcy.  According to the History Channel, Black Friday had nothing to do with holiday shopping.

It was all about two unscrupulous power hungry and greedy men who conspired to corner the American Gold market, which at that time was the basic for the US dollar.  The earliest evidence of the phrase of the holiday Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving.   In a shopping context suggest that the term originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disrupted pedestrian and vehicle traffic the day after Thanksgiving.   Black Friday, thanks to the greedy has since spilled over to the Christmas holidays.

“What a Wonderful Life” is one of my favorite holiday movies starring the great actor Jimmy Stewart. It played a role in assisting me in keeping hope alive for one of the most admired DC TV anchors ever. The giving spirit is what Christmas is all about. When I gave my first ever Christmas toy party for needy children in December 1968 I had no clue that Hattie and I would be carrying on the tradition for 45 straight years without grants or loans and thousands of children in the DMV would benefit.

You would not believe some of the folks who became Santa’s Helpers!  I Remember DC Superior Court Judge Luke Moore and several of his colleagues and police chiefs that followed his lead?  They included, Chief Judge Harold Green, Ted Newman, Eugene Hamilton, Henry Kennedy Jr. and Assistant DC Police Chief Timon O’Bryant and DC’s first Black Chief, Burtell Jefferson.

DC Police Chief Burtell Jefferson is a Santa’s Helper during a Kids In Trouble annual toy give away at Face’s Restaurant in NW DC.

The toy drives were led by Washington Redskins WR Roy Jefferson, LB Harold McLinton, RB Larry Brown and DB Ted Vactor.  The Santa Helpers would also include; radio and television personalities, like Petey Greene, movie stars, and entertainers from the world of music.

The real stars and the backbone of the toy parties were everyday people from all walks of life.  They had names like, Zack, Dog Turner, Black Danny, Bob Wayne, Norman Smith, Phila.Jake, Slippery Jackson, Cornell, Shep, Nook, and Herman Thomas. They were all entrepreneurs and businessmen on the streets and byways of DC.  Their Fortunate 500 Companies (stores and offices) were opened 24/7.  They were located in far NE (Benning Road) to far NW (7th & T Streets).  They never had sales or Black Fridays their reach-back efforts were 24/7.  Their Masters Degrees and Phds were earned as a result of Common Sense–Street Sense–Book Sense (well read). Their best characteristic, you could carry their WORD to the bank.  They had my back come hell or high water.  NFL All-Pro DB Johnny Sample, producer Rodney Brown, Santa’s Helper, Phila. Jake, join WR Roy Jefferson, DB Willie Wood and RB Jim Brown at the Hyatt Regency for a NFL Legends Roundtable forum in NW DC.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzY5Mki8OVE/

I remember one Christmas as I was preparing for one of my annual toy parties when one of Santa’s Helpers lengthened the life span of one of DC’s most popular media anchors, Jim Vance.  He gave me a check the anchor had written for a drug transaction and it had nothing to do with ‘insufficient Funds’.  He surprised me with the check because it was all cash and carry in his business.  Bob was known as a “Hard Ass” in the streets of DC and we were often like ships passing in the night with attitudes.  He reminded me of my friend NBA legend Red Auerbach, he had a hard exterior, but he was nothing but a pussycat if he liked you! Television anchors Maureen Bunyand and Lark McCathy join DJ Donnie Simpson and me for a fund raiser at the Foxtrappe for the Atlanta child murders.

I remember, when I decided I wanted to be a politician, Bob and several of my friends encouraged me to run against the notorious Ward 7 City Councilman H. R. Crawford.  Bob gave me his cherished red Volkswagen to use for the campaign.  He helped finance a office on Minnesota Ave. NE for my campaign Headquarters.  He and several other Santa’s Helpers decided to have a fund raiser for me at Nook’s crap house an after hours joint on Benning Road NE one Saturday night.  I went to keep an eye on the fund raiser but in the wee hours of the morning with money flowing like water I decided I needed to go home and get me some sleep.

On Sunday I returned to Nook’s place to pick up the money cut/raised by Bob for my campaign.  Bob was nowhere to be found.  I was told that he had cut between $3,000 and $5,000.  It took me several days to catch up with him and when I did he gave me an evelope with $1,500.  Rumor had it he had gone to Atlantic City with the fundraising money, I never question the rumors.  I left well enough alone.  I learned early not to look a “Gift Horse” in the mouth.  I lost to H. R. because I lacked the proper funding, Bob put his money and resources where his mouth was, the others just ran their mouths.   Looking at today’s political landscape it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

Jim and me at the Roy Jefferson reading center in NW DC.  Roy’s community outreach was unmatched when it came to Redskin players.

Bob was a businessman an admirer of Jim and the work we were doing together in the community.  This was an unheard of gesture on the mean streets of DC.  When I gave Jim the check I encouraged him to get some help.  He stopped speaking to me for 20 years.  Still this was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever given—20 more years of a life.  He enrolled in the Betty Ford Clinic shortly after that encounter.

I cannot wait to see my favorite Christmas story “It’s a Wonderful Life” because it is—Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

 

Letter to Hattie and Harold congratulating them on honoring Muhammad Ali on the 45th Anniversary of The Rumble in the Jungle / Steny Hoyer

The late Congressman Elijah Cummings one said, “From my own life experience, I can attest that we have come a long way toward universal justice in this country, but we are not there yet”.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFgPqTesnk/ “We are better than this”

HATTIE T: SHE WAS ALONG FOR MORE THAN JUST THE RIDE! by harold bell

photo by fred shepard

Hattie T and me with Congressman Steny Hoyer’s Senior Community Constituent Service’s Coordinator, Daryl Pennington.  She congratulates us on our reach-back efforts in the community through our non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc.  Daryl presents us with a certificate from Congressman Hoyer.

When “The Harold Bell Story ” made its way to the Big Screen on Sunday November 24, 2019, it was clear that Hattie T was there for more than just the ride.

She is a “Lady” of the south, a first born in Orangeburg, S. C. to Civil Rights icons, the late Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr. and Elease Thomas.  Her mother was a school teacher and her father taught psychology at South Carolina State University.  He was also the President of the local chapter of the NAACP and he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in the early 50s.

 

There is a faded Christmas card received from Dr. King to the Thomas family during the Christmas holidays in the late 50s. Dr. King is seen sitting on the left and Dr. Thomas is standing on the right in the home of the Thomas Family.  Dr. Thomas “FREEDOM NOW”.

He coordinated the first-ever student-registration drive on the campus of South Carolina State University.  The movement quickly spreaded across the state of South Carolina. He was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.

Dr. Thomas and his wife seen here on the front lines led Orangeburg residents on the march for Civil Rights in the 50s.

In the meantime, his oldest daughter Hattie T and her siblings followed him and his wife Elease to the picket lines to protest racial discrimination in the city of Orangeburg.

Dr. Thomas is seen rescuing his children, Hattie T in sunglasses, Reggie and Loretta from the Orangeburg jail.

Dr. Thomas is a graduate of Dunbar High School in Washington, DC

Hattie T is a graduate of Claflin University in Orangeburg and received her Master’s Degree at Indiana University. She landed her first teaching job in Greensboro, NC at the HBCU Bennett College.

In 1967 she moved to Washington, DC which she considers her second home and accepted a job in the DC Public Schools at Cardozo High School in the NW Shaw/Cardozo community. The school was located several blocks from the historic U Street corridor. Hattie’s first teaching assignment—girls swimming coach. It was here she met me a youth advocate and her future husband.  I was volunteering as the wide receiver coach for the Cardozo football team. 

Coach Harold Bell with DC Public School’s Inter-High West All-Stars with a show and tell of the proper technique of catching a football.  I never saw one I could not catch.

Top Photo: Hattie T with beginners in the Cardozo High School pool and me with Redskins’ RB Larry Brown and the late LB Harold McLinton at the Kids In Trouble Hillcrest Saturday Program.  NFL Films/CBS Sports is videotaping the first-ever national television community promo for the league.  Larry and Harold were teaching water safety to inner-city youth.

Hattie T and me became engaged shortly before the 1968 riots in April.  She watched me take to the dangerous streets of DC as a Roving Leader and Youth Gang Task Force member for the DC Department of Recreation and Parks.  I had nothing but a DC police badge for protection and God on my side.

I was on the streets for three days with co-worker Willie Wood (NFL) and U. S. Marshall-in-Charge, Luke C. Moore.  We were trying to keep the peace between the armed cops and military personnel with inner-city residents.  We were married in November 1968 and found our non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. in December.  This was just in time for our first-ever KIT toy party for elementary school children.

Hattie T was there when my Virginia Sailor football teammate the late George Kelly played the first-ever Santa Claus. Redskins’ LB Harold McLinton, WR Roy Jefferson, LB Dave Robinson, and QB Doug Williams would all follow his lead.  She was there for 45 straight years.  I was the host and coordinator for toy parties for elementary school children throughout the DMV to include Baltimore without grants or loans.The late DC Superior Court Judge Luke Moore and the late Redskin LB Harold McLinton with teammates NFL Hall of Fame player, LB Dave Robinson and All-Pro WR Roy Jefferson were all Santa’s Helpers for the annual KIT toy party.

She was there in 1969 when President Richard M. Nixon invited me to the White House to renew an old friendship established in the late 50s when I caddied for him at the Burning Tree Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland.  He honored me with a Presidential appointment.

Hattie T was there in February 1972 when I became the first Black/Afro-American to host and produce his own radio sports talk show in DC.  It was her idea to name the new talk show “Inside Sports”.   The format changed the way we talk sports around the globe.

She was there in 1974 when Congressman Lou Stokes (D-Ohio) read my name into the Congressional Record on the House Floor for my work with youth gangs and at-risk kids on the streets of the inner-city.  On the Hill with Lou and NFL great Jim Brown.

She was there when Muhammad Ali woke us up in the middle of the night inviting me to New York City to interview him after he had stunned the world with his 8th round knockout of the undisputed and undefeated heavyweight champion, George Foreman.  She was there when I became the first Black/Afro-American to host and produce my own sports television special in primetime on NBC affiliate WRC TV 4 in November 1975.  My special guest was Muhammad Ali.

She was there when Washingtonian Magazine honored me as Washingtonian of the Year in 1980.  I was the first sportscaster ever honored.  The 1980 Washingtonian of the Year included, Redskin QB Joe Theisman and, his friend kicker Mark Mosley was also in attendance.

She was there on June 4, 2019, as the Executive Producer against all odds for my on-screen teaser “We Remember Muhammad Ali”.

photo by fred shepard

She was there on Sunday, November 24, 2019, when my one of a kind documentary “The Harold Bell Story: I remember Muhammad Ali” against all odds made its debut on the Big Screen at the Miracle Theatre in Washington, DC. Former Redskin and vocalist Dick Smith closes the show with “My Way”. photo by fred shepard

Hattie T. Bell standing by her men, Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr., and Harold Bell.

Happy holidays to a “Phenomenal Woman”.

Happy belated birthday to my Aunt Elaine Stone who was 100 years young on June 4, 2019 photos by fred shepard

ON THIS DAY IN BOXING HISTORY! 

In 2007 legendary syndicated radio talk show host and fly jock Tom Joyner called me “A little known Black History fact!”  

October 30, 2019, marked the 45th anniversary of The Rumble in the Jungle.  On this date in boxing history, Muhammad Ali stunned the boxing world with an 8th round knockout of the undisputed and undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the world–George Foreman in Zaire, Africa.

On November 3, 1974, Muhammad Ali returned to New York City to make more sports history when he called me, I was a little known sports talk show host in Washington, DC, but still Ali invited me to come to New York City for an exclusive one on one interview.  This invitation made me the first Afro-American/Negro/black/colored/N to ever be invited to interview an undisputed reigning Heavyweight Champion of the World one on one. Why me?  Ali had not forgotten a promise he made to me in Chicago before leaving for Africa and what is now known as “The Rumble in the Jungle!”

When I hit the airwaves with The Original Inside Sports in 1972, the format changed the way we talk sports in America and now around the world. I was the first talk show host to successfully blend sports and politics into a radio talk show format.

I am the reason sports talk show host Jim Rhome is worth 75 million dollars, NFL/CBS host James Brown is worth 10 million dollars. In the meantime, the likes of ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith will be trying to negotiate a 10 million dollar contract for the year 2020 and ESPN’s Mike Wilbon formerly of the Washington Post is now earning 6 million dollars. The common denominator, they all copied my Original Inside Sports talk format–unheard of before1972.

When I hit the airwaves with The Original Inside Sports in 1972, my format changed the way we talk sports in America and now around the world.                                                   

Dr. Harry Edwards was the architect behind the 1968 Olympic Boycott that featured winning sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith standing on the platform holding their right hands high with black gloves protesting discrimination in America.  The protest was heard around the world.

Dr. Edwards said, “Harold, congratulations, your archives are valuable and should be given the broadest possible exposure.  Your discs and videos of your programs belong in the new Smithsonian Institution of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).  A wing of the new museum will be dedicated to the struggle in sports and will be titled “Leveling the Playing Field”.  Your work was a major force over the years in leveling the playing field, especially in terms of the struggle to define and project “Our Truth!”  

Mike Wilbon and the legendary late Gary Mays aka “The One Arm Bandit” during a  celebration of Black History Month in DC.

Sam Jones, James Brown and the late Earl Lloyd as we celebrate Black History Month on Bolling Air Force Base. 
“Inside the NFL” I wonder who thought of that tag?

I made more sports media history when NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4 in Washington, DC aired a segment of my one on one interview with Ali in primetime on Sunday, November 23, 1975.

 

The talk format was so popular and had so much potential the Washington Post kidnapped my tag INSIDE SPORTS in 1978. They would send almost their entire sports and Style section department writers to New York City to publish “Inside Sports Magazine.”

The Magazine folded in two-years after losing several million dollars. The problem, the paper’s owners Katerine and son Donald Graham and their All-Star publishing team could not figure out how to transform print into my popular Inside Sports talk show format.

Dale Hansen is a Dallas, Texas television sportscaster and a YouTube sensation. He confessed that his success and accomplishments as a television sportscaster were because he was the benefactor of “White Privilege!” 

He was honored here in my hometown of Washington, DC as “Sportscaster of the Year” after he had copied my sports talk format that I had introduced decades before he discovered he was a benefactor of “White Privilege.”
When Mr. Hansen discovered who I was and my sports media history this was the telephone message he left for me. “Harold this is Dale Hansen in Dallas (summarizing) everything you have done makes my little bit look like a page off the covering of WHITE PRIVILEGE!”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTWMUhYG0Y8
I have labored in AM radio (the weakess signal in radio broadcast media) almost my entire career.  My contributions to sports talk and community reach-back are unsurpassed. Pro athletes, politicians, judges, police chiefs, media personalities have all followed my lead into the inner-city to enhance the growth of inner-city children. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all care because Harold Bell went where there was no path and left a trail in the community for them to follow.

I use my talk show format to campaign successfully to have two pro athletes inducted into their hall of fames after they had been forgotten and blackballed, Willie Wood (NFL) and Earl Lloyd (NBA).  The athletes I have gotten an early release from jail are too many to count.

The benefactors of Inside Sports read like a Who’s Who, Dave Bing (NBA) John Thompson (GT), Sugar Ray Leonard (Boxing), Doug Williams (NFL), James Brown (NFL/CBS), Mike Wilbon (ESPN), Cathy Hughes (Urban One Radio), Kevin Blackistone (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (NBA/TNT), the list goes on and on.

Icons, Don King (Boxing) and Jim Brown (NFL) had to turn to Harold Bell and Inside Sports in times of trouble. When the media was calling King a murder and thief, I could be seen on National television (Geraldo Live) defending him against a panel of experts that included boxing historian the late Bert Sugar and the late Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jack Newfield. They all thought he should be locked up and the key thrown away. I argued that Don should be given a second chance and a opportunity to turn his life around which was and is suppose to be the American way.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nygALb50FV4

Jim Brown who was the NFL poster boy for domestic violence during his NFL career was arrested again in 2007 for the same offense against his wife Monique. Jim asked Monique to call me for help. I started a media campaign to get him an early release from prison.

In 2007 Jim repaid me by conspiring to rip off NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Wood for $57,000. The money was raised to help pay Willie’s nursing home bills during a tribute coordinated and hosted by me and Willie’s former University of Southern California teammate, attorney Bob Schmitz.

Unknown to me Mr. Schmitz had assigned members of his family to collect all monies raised on behalf of Willie during the tribute. The tribute was attended by Willie’s former teammates, Bart StarrPaul HornungWillie DavisBoyle Dowler, and hall of fame players, the late John Mackey, Charlie Taylor, Sam Huff, and Jim Brown among others.

 

NFLHall of fame player Willie Wood thrown for a lost by Jim Brown
The great legendary LB Sam Huff stops to wish Willie well.  Sam is now a victim of dementia.   Jim Brown and the late icon comedian Dick Gregory and I huddle during the tribute.

When the tribute was over Willie was asking, “Where is my money?” All roads led back to his Attorney Bob Schmitz.  He suddenly disappeared without a trace.  I called my partner and friend Jim Brown and gave him an update.  He agreed to call Schmitz to make an inquiry.  I suggested that Willie’s sister Gladys be a part of that conference call.  Two days passed and I had not heard from Jim or Gladys for what had transpired during the call to Schmitz?   I dialed Gladys’ number and I was in for a shock, she told me that Jim had demanded she hang up the phone and he would handle everything.  To say I was livid would be an understatement. I had to take a deep breath before I dialed his number.

He picked up the phone and I asked the question, “What was the status of the call to Bob Schmitz?”

He immediately jumped on the defense and asked the question, ‘What the F–K was I doing questioning him about some MF money and Bob Schmitz?’  I thought I had entered the twilight zone and had landed on some street corner in SE DC among some thugs and hood rats!  I said my two-cents and hung up the phone.  I realized how lucky I was to be on the other end of the telephone. I remembered he was caught cheating on the golf course by a friend.  Jim beat him bloody and had to settle out of court.  If Jim Brown could have come through the telephone I would have been in for a good ass whipping, but not without a fight!

This whole charade was my fault because I could not see the forest for the trees. I had been forewarned by his good friend Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Olympic sprinter and Gold Medal winner Jackie Joyner Kersey, and former NFL coach and President of the Cleveland Browns, Mike Holmgren. They all swore Jim Brown was nothing but a two-bit hustler of black athletes.  He has hustled the best, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and recently Don King.  He saved his biggest hustle for last, President Donald Trump gave him a grant for 50 million dollars disguised as “Prison Reform.”

I should have closed the door on him when Lenny Moore a former Baltimore Colts’ RB/Flanker and NFL Hall of fame player called me regarding our friend.  He said, “Harold could you talk to Jim Brown for me?” I said, ‘What’s up?’ He said, ‘Jim has been spreading the word that I have been Bad Mouthing him to the Baltimore Colt players!’  Lenny Moore is a class act and one of the nicest human beings you would ever want to meet—this was not his Mode of Operation.  Jim was paranoid because the Browns had uprooted in Cleveland and had moved to Baltimore–in Cleveland he was king.  In Baltimore, Lenny was idolized and Jim felt threaten. To make a long story short I had to meet with Jim and explain to him that whatever he was hearing about Lenny was not true–case closed! Lenny could not thank me enough.

In closing, I am grateful for this day in sports history that Muhammad Ali opened the door for me to make this great journey by his side without compromise.  RIP my friend.

Footnote: If I get a chance to dance with the Angels and the question is asked of me, “Harold what did you do in 2019 to make sure our Democracy was kept intact–did you stand on the sidelines and do and say nothing?”  Hopefully, I will be able to say, ‘I took a stand and I remembered my brother and friend in the struggle, Congressman Elijah Cummings and how he shown compassion for Michael Cohen a former attorney for President Trump. The President called him a “RAT!”  Congressman Cummings explained the definition of being called a rat (snitch) in the inner-city and said, ‘We are better than that!’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFgPqTesnk/

 

ELIJAH CUMMINGS: A REAL AMERICAN HERO WHO MADE CHILDREN FIRST!

I am still in disbelief in our recent lost of a great friend and human being to us all-Congressman Elijah Cummings.

He did not have to throw a touchdown on Sunday against the Steelers, shoot a jumpshot in Madison Square Garden or hit a walk-off homerun for his Baltimore Orioles to be an American hero!–all he had to do was be himself.  

I am so glad this man passed my way.  Congressman Cummings and I would often pass each other like ships in the night tooting our horns saying hello and goodby at the same time.  It was either during The Congressional Black Caucus Weekends in Washington, DC or at Ben’s Chili Bowl during my tenure as historian.  It was at the Chili Bowl I would see him making a pit stop on his way to The Hill or heading home to Baltimore.  He would pull his black Lincoln up to the curb and run in and get his favorite half-smoke, but never without a smile or handshake. 

In 2016 I was on my way out of the exhibit hall at the Congressional Black Caucus, I spotted him sitting at a table alone on his cell phone.  I stopped to say hello and waited for him to complete his call.  He acknowledged he saw me and flashed a thumps-up.  When he finished his call he waved me over to the table.

The conversation started light and then he switched gears and started to talk about how we were losing ground in the Civil Rights movement.  I expressed my disappointment also and cited the sacrifices made by many including my wife Hattie’s family out of Orangeburg SC.  I notice his eyes lit up when I mentioned Orangeburg.

I later discovered his mother and father were born in South Carolina (as was my mother in Sumpter).  In the early 50s Hattie’s father Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Jr. was a professor of psychology on the campus of South Carolina State University and President of the local chapter of the NAACP.  He also marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and started the first ever student voter registation drive on a college campus. Dr. Thomas was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.

Congressman Cummings was impressed and made me promise to get him that jmportant black history moment to him asap.  In November I called my good friend Attorney James Henson in Alexandria, Virginia.  He was a classmate and dear friend of Congressman Cummings.  He made a call for me to his Baltimore office to make sure that the information I was mailing would get into the right hands of staffer Vernon Simms .  Apparently it did and Hattie and her family received a letter from Congressman Elijah Cummings dated February 23, 2017 (Black History Month) commemorating her family’s contributions to the early Civil Rights Movement.  ELIJAH CUMMINGS LETTER

Dr. Thomas on the picket-line in Orangeburg, SC in the early 50s.

Congressman Cummings and I shared several character traits, he wore his heart on his sleeve, he loved children, and one of his best friends was a White Republican—Rep. Mark Meadows.  Cummings was a liberal from Maryland and Meadows is a conservative from North Carolina.  The two men had little in common, but they shared a uniquely strong friendship on Capitol Hill.  Cummings had been asked about his friendship with Meadows on several ocassions and he said, “Meadows is a good friend .  We disagreeon 95% of the issues, but ok, we’re able to talk.  He’s cordial, we’re able to negotiate the things that we are able to agree on and I like him.”  Been there and done that!

It was during a dramatic house oversight Commitee hearing in February when Lynn Patton a black woman and a long time Trump friend was brought to the Oversight Hearing chaired by Congressman Cummings.  She was there to deny that President Trump was a racist.  Things got heated when Democratic rep Rashida Tlaib called her appearance a “racist act” by Meadows.  Meadows demanded that Tlaib’s remarks be stricken from the record.  Chairman Cummings called Meadows “one of my best friends” and suggested Tlaib did not intent to call Meadows a racist.  Tlaib agreed and apologize to Meadows.  The next day they hugged it out.   Meadows returned the act of truth telling when he defended Congressman Cummings when President Trump attacked him.  Trump called Cummings’ Baltimore district “rat infested and he was a racist”!  The Baltimore Sun newspaper even called Trump out in an editorial saying,  “It is better to have a few rats than to be one!”

In 1969 I received a Presidential appointment from Richard M. Nixon a man I knew as Vice-President of the United States in the late 50s.  I was just a caddy at the exclusive all-white Burning Tree Golf Course in a DC suburb in Bethesda, Md.  When I met Nixon I was just a poor young black kid whose first home was a NE outhouse in 1940.  I was just trying to help my single parent welfare mother make ends meet.  Nixon and I had absolutely nothing in common as it related to our backgrounds except we both loved sports.  He hacked his way around the golf course with his golf partner Attorney General William Rogers who was an excellent golfer and a class act.  We would talk sports on my ride into DC with him and Rogers to catch my bus home.  My drop-off point was Westmoreland Circle located on the district line separating DC from Maryland.  When it came to knowing the difference between a Republican and Democrat I was clueless.  I was just in the right place at the right time.

From a NE Outhouse to a NW White House.  Hattie and I meet with President Nixon and Attorney General, William Rogers in the Oval Office (1969)

Congressman Cummings wore his heart on his sleeve.  His honesty and integrity were never questioned by those who knew the MAN, if he gave you his WORD you could carry it to the bank and never have to worry about insufficent-funds!  His type of integrity and honesty are a lost art in today’s American politics.  The best example;  the Words he spoke to Michael Cohen during the hearings on The Hill relating to corruption in government are words to live by  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFgPqTesnk 

I have been truly blessed and honored to have President Nixon, Congressmen Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), John Lewis (D-Ga) and Elijah Cummings on my team.  They inspired me to be all that I could be.  They supported my pioneering efforts to reach back and reach out to the community through my non-profit organization Kid In Trouble, Inc. and my sports talk show “Inside Sports” against all odds.  Congressman Stokes was the first politician to read my name into the Congressional Record on the House floor citing my work with at-risk children and youth gangs in DC’s inner-city (Senator Bob Dole and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton would follow his lead).

When I became a radio sports talk show host I remembered the naysayers who had critiqued my political appointment, but stayed in the closet with their comments of disapproval.  For my talk show I needed a comment to close my show that would freeze the race baiters who were waiting to call-in.  I coined the phrase, “Every black face I saw was not my brother and every white face I saw was not my enemy.”  It has worked for over 5 decades.  During the Oversight hearing, Congressman Cummings showed his compassion when he reminded Michael Cohen that President Trump had called him a “Rat” and in prison and in the inner-city that is one of the worst things that you can be called.  And being called a “Uncle Tom” is another.

NFL legend Jim Brown and I visit with our friend the late Congressman Stokes on The Hill.

Earl Lloyd of Alexandria, Virginia was the first black to play in a NBA game in 1950 and in the process played on a NBA Championship team.  He was also the first assistant black NBA coach hired and the second black head coach hired behind Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, but for some reason the NBA Hall of Fame Gods had forgotten his historical contributions to the league.  For decades they omitted his name from the ballot.  In 2000 Congressman John Lewis would team up with me and NBA legend the late Red Auerbach to campaign for his induction.  JOHN LEWIS NBA NBA legend and icon the late Red Auerbach and wife Dotie guest host on Inside Sports and NBA pioneer the late Earl Lloyd as he dribbled his way into NBA Hall of Fame in 2003, thanks to an assist from Congressman John Lewis and Red Auerbach.

Congressman Cummings saved his most profound and enlightening statement for last when he said,

“When we are dancing with the angels the question will be asked in 2019 what did we do to make sure we kept our Democracy intact.  Did we stand on the sidelines and say (and do) nothing?  The messages that we send our children are the living messages we send to our future, one we will never see!”

I am amazed how many young people have always wanted to be “Like Mike”!  If America is going to move ahead, grow and prosper more young people will need to be like Congressman Elijah Cummings.  I still want to grow up to be like Congressman Elijah Cummings and I am 81 years old.

I am following the lead of this great man and saying, “This blog is adjourned!”