“If an American Black man works as a butler in the home of a poor white man, the weak economic position of of the “Boss” will reflect itself in the overall appearance of the black butler. If the “Boss” suddenly becomes wealthy, naturally the butler will also make more money and become wealthy, too. He will wear better clothes, he will eat better food, and perhaps house his family in a better community and his children may have access to better schools. A casual observer will think this black butler has made great material progress. But has he? His position has not really changed. He is still a servant and the white man is still his boss”.
On February 29, 1965 the above statement was given to A. Peter Bailey by Malcolm X. Bailey was the editor of The Organization of Afro-American Unity News Letter. Malcolm X was assassinated the next day February 30, 1965.
In 2019 the median white household held $188,200 in wealth—7.8 times that of a typical black household ($24,100). If you are black and looking for an “Even Playing Field” you won’t find it in America!
As we remember black soldiers on this Memorial Day lets remember those who fought on every battlefield that an American white soldier fought on defending America, but once the black soldier returned home it was the same old song. They returned to the back of the bus, to homes on the wrong side of the tracks, red lining at their banks, they were spat on and hung from the nearest tree, while still in their military uniforms. Never forget “Black Wall Street, Emit Till, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and the list goes on and on. Let us forgive, but not forget. Let us also remember U. S. Army Coporal Rupert Trimmingham!
TIME MAGAZINE by Mathew Taub July 28, 2020
For Coporal Rupert Trimmingham, it came as no surprise that he’d have to eat inside the lunchroom’s kitchen, he was invisible to the diners enjoying table service. This was 1944, and the deep south. Trimingham and eight other Black soldiers were en route from Louisana’s Camp Claiborne to Arizona’s Fort Huachuca and, as he later wrote, he knew the only boss was “Old Jim Crow”.
But what Trimmingham and his companions saw as they looked out at the lunchroom from inside that kitchen defied even their expectations. About two dozen German prisoners of war entered with their American guards sat at the same tables, had their meals served, talked, smoked, in fact had quite a swell time. In a April 1944 letter to Yank, a weekly Army Magazine, Trimmingham asked the obvious: “Are these men” Nazi troops who’d been captured while fighting on Hitler’s behalf—swored enemies of this country? Then why are they treated better than we are?”
Nineteen years after Corporal Trimmingham encountered white U. S. soldiers dinning and entertaining Nazi German prisoners. My younger brother Earl “Bull” Bell a Military Police staff sergeant in the U. S. Army had a racist encounter in downtown Mannheim, Germany, it was 1963. He had served two hitches in Germany, was the country’s heavyweight boxing champion, first string fullback on the Army football team, ping pong champion, and served as a platoon supply sergeant in Nurenmberg from 1966 until his overseas tour ended in August 1968. Along this military journey he was noticing racial bias in promotions and in disciplinary actions against black soldiers.
Blacks who dared to speak out were labeled “Troublemakers,” and sympathetic whites were branded “nigger lovers” and were disciplined as badly as blacks if they violated any rules. Worse still, my brother complained, black officers (spooks who sat by the door) protecting their own positions, did little to correct inequities.
In 1965 Earl tried uncuccessfully to have segregated off-base housing in Nuremberg declared off-limits, but was rebuffed. He complained to Rep. Charles C. Diggs (D-Mich) and the Pentagon. Finally, he obtained adequate housing at the Army camp for his wife and two children, but the struggle for equality never ended.
My brother’s relentless drive for his and other’s human rights reached a head in downtown Nuremberg at a segregated discotheque called ‘The Cage“. He had been refused admission previously because of the color of his skin, but this time he returned with 35 black militant troops on a march that almost ended violently. Military Police his co-workers (mostly white) were rushed to the scene to quell the disturbance. He turned out to be the peacemaker and out of respect for him everyone backed off.
A month later May 30, 1969 after the night club incident, his perfect service record was marred while he was umpiring a softball game. He drew a $30 fine for identfying himself to a white lieutenant as “Mr. Bell”! He insisted that normal military courtesy regulations are waived during athletic competitions. The lieutenant was a spectator and grandstanding. He joined the argument between the two players and my brother on the field of play. He was out of order and still wrote the citation to get back at Earl. It was then my brother said enough was enough and decided not to sign up for a 3rd tour of the U. S. Army–too much racism.
I remembered my freshman year at Winston-Salem State during homecoming weekend, Earl hitched hike from DC to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He made the trip to tell me he was going to join the U. S. Army. I was so happy he was going to get off the mean streets of DC. We were not expected to survive those mean streets, but we did.
I found it interesting how Jet Magazine (July 31, 1969 & August 28, 1969) made it looked like while my brother was fighting racism in the military I was home playing footsie at the White House with Richard Nixon.
The stories read, ” With their contrasting outlooks, Harold and Earl share the same poverty-ridden background. The four Bell brothers (including Alfred, now 31, a tire salesman; and William, 20, a Marine Corps Private/First-Class) were raised without their father in a DC low-income housing project. Still youngsters when their mother was on welfare , they grew up on the black ghetto’s proverbial “Dead-End street.”
I am proud of all three of my brothers who served this country, William the youngest separated from the Marines and returned home to be an outstanding photographer. He worked for the notorious boxing promoter Don King for several years. My older brother Bobby and I never served in the military, we were classified 4-F (health issues).
Bobby graduated from Maryland State on the Eastern Shore and he was a U. S. Marshall for 20 years. He inspired me to pursue athletics. I was in middle school when I spotted him playing second base for Armstrong High School with the great Willie Wood (NFL). I had no idea he was an athlete. He was raised by our hero and matriarch, Grand-Ma Bell. My mother Mattie, I am sure was proud of all four of us–not bad.
Malcolm X knew America like the back of his hand. As we close out Memorial Day, we must remember “Black Wall Street, Jimmy Lee Jackson in Selma, Eric Garner in New York, City, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and hundreds of other black unarmed men and women shot and killed in American streets by racist cops, too many were white and some black.
One-hundred years later Anneliese Bruner the great-granddaughter of Mary E. Jones Parrish, a teacher and a journalist lived to tell her story in a book. Ms Bruner who now lives in Washington, DC says from accounts as described by her great-grandmother, “the Tulsa race riot was actually something that was akin to an act of war where the country turned on its own citizens.” Philonise Floyd after visiting the White House made one of the most profound and provacative statements I have heard in my life time. He said, “If Congress can pass legislation to protect endandered birds, they can also pass legislation on police reform to protect people of color.”
He is hoping that civilized white men can come together and pass legislation on police reform when they can’t come together and pass a anti-lynching law, that is like pissing against the wind and exposes who they really are in America!
Racism is embedded in our fabric, its a baby white America cannot throw out with the bathwater-its here to stay! White folks do not have a copyright on racism, there are some black folks who could teach them “Racism 101”.
Black America has always famously preached how to beat the system of racism in America. The logical choice has always been education. I have some good news and some bad news for Black America. Education is great to use as a deterrent, but the real deal to success in America if you are black, you need a white man or white woman in your corner and avoid the spooks who sit behind the door (family and friends)! They can truely be crabs in a barrell.
I am speaking from what I know and not what I heard. A lot depends on what your definition of success? It maybe money or it maybe peace of mind–but peace of mind is not for sale.
It has always been peace of mind for me. I have traveled in the circles of the rich and famous and the life style was never a good fit. I was an eye witness up close and personal as 30+ pro athletes, radio and television personalities became millionaires and benefactors of my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports, my radio talk show. I watched 2% come back and reach back to help a black child.
Thousands of blacks, hispanics and white children participated in our Christmas toy parties for forty-five straight years (1968-2013). My wife Hattie and I owe our success to, Dr. Nicholas Long (Director of the Hillcrest Children’s Center), Richard M. Nixon (U. S. President), Red and Dotie Auerbach (NBA Boston Celtics), Bert R. Sugar (Boxing historian) and Angelo Dundee (Boxing trainer) all white/Jewish men. They are the reason, I closed out my sports talk shows with, “Every black face I see was not my brother and every white face I see was not my enemy”! I am living proof that success is not measured by a dollar sign. The road to success is helping others.
This Memorial Day I remember my brothers Earl and William and the brothers and sisters (black and white) who are in this struggle to be free, but they must remember, freedom ain’t freeand “This America is Us”.
I’m thankful for Donald Trump because he served as the catalyst which brought racists and spooks who have been sitting by the door out of the shadows into the open.
For years the Karen’s and Ken’s of the world lived a secret life. By day they were bankers, business executives, teachers, politicians, police officers, actors, models, artists, and even members of the House and Senate. They mostly kept their views to themselves, played by the rules, and seemed like well adjusted members of the multi-cultural society that has been America, well, since it’s founding. They knew how to play the game and what, and what not, to say in order to get along and advance in their world.
Like most Americans who were told they were white, they had been raised from birth on a revisionist version of American history in which slavery was but a small blemish upon America’s past perpetrated by an unenlightened misguided minority in the South. White civilization in the North had righted the ship, realizing that slavery was in fact not in keeping with the teachings of Christianity, or for that matter, the ideas set down in the U.S constitution by the founding fathers, that formed the moral fabric of their society.
They were taught that the civil war was related to, but not really fought over slavery. Rather, it was a war fought between two highly civilized groups who only came to arms because one, the North, wished to subdue the other, the Confederacy, who wished to secede from from the Union. In their story there were “very fine people on both sides” that were driven to war because they reached an impasse and were simply trying to protect their families, property, and way of life.
This version may be one of the most naive and only war retellings throughout history where there is neither aggressor nor villain. Of course, if this version were true, then the actual history which directly arose from the civil war would not exist. There would’ve been no need to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, black people would’ve received the 40 acres and a mule that they were promised, the Black Codes would never have been written and adopted, there would be no need for Jim Crow laws, thousands of lynchings would’ve never taken place, Black Wall Street would still exist, a black Harlem would be thriving today, the entire civil rights movement would’ve been redundant, Rosa Parks would’ve been allowed to sit at the front of the bus like all the other ladies, Ruby Bridges wouldn’t have needed a police escort to walk to school, four little girls would now be four grandmothers with large families to show, MLK, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and hundreds of other black activists would’ve chosen other vocations and might still be alive, the G.I bill would’ve been an equal opportunity affair, redlining would never have happened, historically underserved black communities would instead be thriving multi-cultural metropolises, mass-incarceration would not exist, neither would gentrification, there would be no need for Black History Month because black inventors and innovators would not have been written out of the American story, jazz and so many other black musics would celebrate their actual black origins, a black life would carry the same worth as a white life, so Black Lives Matter would never need be said, and a black president may have been elected 100 years earlier, followed by many others.
Instead America swallowed whole the white-washed fiction of the confederacy along with the belief in a persistent Black Menace, who secretly wanted revenge for slavery, and who might slaughter their families and impregnate their daughters, if given the opportunity. Birth of a Nation was not just some black and white silent movie, it was the encapsulation of an entire belief system that was viewed by white Americans everywhere, including in the White House itself. ANTIFA and BLM are nothing but modern day incarnations of this same menace and thus one more reason for why so many white people are obsessed with gun ownership and the second amendment. Thus, it wasn’t just Karen and Ken who believed in this narrative which made no sense, it was the vast majority of white and white adjacent America, who seemed fine on the surface, but below something far more sinister stirred. Behind closed doors, and when in like company their true colors and characters came out.
This true character stayed mostly hidden. With the many victories won during the civil rights movement, and with the passage of federal laws which prohibited racial discrimination, going all the way back to the Klu Klux Klan, most who did not support black and brown progress learned to hide in plain sight. In more recent times they quietly donned confederate battle flags stickers on trucks, revered confederate monuments, re-enacted the civil war, and mostly only used the N-word in private. Believe it or not, they actually considered this to be a form of oppression. If they considered the Clinton through Bush presidencies to be inhospitable to their true beliefs, then the Obama presidency was like being Jewish in Germany in the 30s. For them Obama represented 8 years of hell and the rapid decline of what America was all about.
The truth is that America’s issues actually began when the first European slaughtered the first Native American, and then continued while the founders of the resulting European colonies committed serial genocide, then kidnapped and transported millions of native Africans in the greatest forced migration (or just plain kidnapping) of people that the world had ever seen. Murdering, brutalizing, kidnapping, transporting and then forcing millions of human beings to work for free over hundreds of years took a great deal of hate and effort. The Transatlantic Slave Trade made the world a darker place and the people who were responsible in many ways had to sacrifice their own humanity in order to excel at it.
The cultures which sprang up around such slave colonies were truly evil, and the unbridled hatred, which they nurtured, tainted every man, woman and child, perverting every facet of their characters and lives, from their versions of Christianity to their versions of history and ultimate world views. They elevated brutality and hatred to high arts. This went on for hundreds of years, until in America even white Southern children could see nothing wrong in the ownership, brutalization, and raping of their black childhood friends. All they saw was the natural order of things.
The South was not alone in its brutality to those of the darker hue. Others, at home in the U.S and around the world in the colonies of the West Indies, Australia, South America, Asia and Africa, echoed the same beliefs, structures and behaviors. What America did provide in a post slavery world was the normalization of modern racism through a focus on capitalism. Without the support of America (and others like Britain) South Africa’s system of apartheid would never have survived for so long. And indeed, once that support was finally withdrawn in the 1990s, it crumbled.
Like other cultures based on white supremacy, Southerners actually viewed the events which led up to the American Civil war as an attack on their culture, way of life and livelihoods, which was entirely supported by slave labor at the time. To them their ancestors fought to retain who they were as a people, and though they lost, many never truly surrendered their beliefs. They simply buried them, or transformed them into some modified form which the North might turn a blind eye to.
An egotistical bigot billionaire con man turned reality TV star realized this and went about riding this wave of historic white grievance all the way into the White House. How did he do it? He made it cool to be openly racist again. He gave America’s bigots permission to let their bigot flags fly. He restored white pride. He retweeted the grievances of “oppressed whites” throughout the world, including white South Africans, and drew connections with what some thought might happen in the U.S, if liberalism were allowed to continue along it’s present politically correct trajectory.
Trump attacked any and everything liberal, from Climate Change to abortion and gay marriage. He promised whites in the U.S that they would always come first. He celebrated white privilege. He demonized nations South of the Border, and “shithole countries with majority non-white populations. He attacked the left and cozied up to racist extreme right groups, becoming their long awaited messiah. Through people like Steve Bannon he reached out to other right leaning groups and movements around the world, forming an alliance, which would rewind the clock on progress.
Thus, the entire Trump presidency was really about one thing from beginning to end; The restoration and preservation of White Supremacy throughout the world. Just like Jim Crow, its true intentions were dressed up in a lot of words, but when naked it was clearly all about preserving one of the oldest stratification systems on earth, racism, so that people who believed themselves to be white could finally walk with their heads held high again. And they did. The behavior which was once reserved for gatherings of the likeminded exploded into an openly racist resurgence which saw thousands of people gathering at rallies, reminiscent of those huge rallies which took place in Nazi Germany after Hitler seized power. Nationalism became a good word, and even had its own slogan; America First. Despite the inclusion of a few lost and confused people of color, America First, its MAGA twin, and Brexit counterparts were clearly for white people.
One could draw a line directly from the emergence of the Birther Movement to the storming of the U.S Capitol. In the birther movement Trump sought to redefine what it meant to be an American, and thus be a legitimate American President. His problems with Obama were centered around questioning his American citizenship, but they were actually about his skin color. In the storming of the U.S Capitol Trump sought to embolden racists and bigots all over the world to “take their countries back” from people like Obama. His actual goal was far more selfish; A second term as president and the protection that this offered from the mountains of lawsuits headed his way in his post presidential life.
Even now, Trump’s situation is dire enough that he is prepared to burn down everything and tear America to shreds in the process in order to achieve his objective. He is perfectly prepared to push the country into a second civil war, if it will save him from prosecution. It will not be over and we will not be able to breath that long overdue sigh of relief until every single shred of power that he was awarded as president is rescinded.
Like Hitler, Trump’s ability to broadcast his vile and hateful message (over any and all platforms) needs to be suppressed, and to speak very plainly, he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for his part in enabling his followers, both the radical terrorists and idiot sycophants, who stormed the Capitol. Those in Congress who supported his rise, and who even now support the disenfranchisement of millions of voters to win him a second term, need to pay a high enough political price that no politician of sound mind would ever consider following the same path in the future.
When Trump assembled, riled up and sent that mob down to the Capitol, he placed the safety of millions in jeopardy. When he refused to call out the national guard or do anything to address his supporters for hours he intensified this threat. When he finally did address his supporters, without condemning their actions, and even while telling them that he “loved them”, he legitimized their coup attempt. The attack on the Capital was an attempted bloodless coup, but if Trump had the loyalty of the U.S military, he absolutely would’ve graduated to a more standard version, which all but certainly would’ve been more bloody. All of this is before we even consider his total failures around dealing with the pandemic.
If America wishes to remain a democracy it must stand against all those who seek to seize power by other means, even if that person is the sitting president. They say that presidents cannot be sentenced to prison, but I humbly suggest that Trump may be one hell of a candidate for that policy’s revision.
Wendell Smith and Sam Lacey of the Pittsburgh Courier and Afro-American newspapers respectively are considered the greatest black American sportswriters of the 20th century. They now have to move over and make room for Harold Bell whose legacy carries him into the 21st century.
He was always first, in 1972 he became the first black radio sports talk show host to produce a talk show in his hometown of Washington DC. He was the first to use the INSIDE SPORTS tag to ID his radio sports talk show. Inside Sports is now global. The format was unique to sports talk radio, it dominated the Washington market. The tag would be later hijacked by the Washington Post. In 1978 the paper published “INSIDE SPORTS MAGAZINE” in New York City. They failed to the tune of several million dollars and two years later packed their bags and headed back to DC. They could not figure out how to transfer my talk radio success into print. The INSIDE SPORTS copyrights are now owned by the paper.
Bell was the first sports media personality to mix sports and politics successfully. He was the first to play message music long before NWA ( What’s Going On, Who Shot the Sheriff & Wake Up Everybody). He was the first to write sports media commentaries, first to establish media roundtables, first to convene police and youth forums, first to encourage pro athletes, politicians, law enforcement, judges, and media personalities to reach back into the community. He was the first to host celebrity fashion shows and tennis tournaments, the first sports media personality to be named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian Magazine. He was the first DC sports media personality to be cited in the Congressional Record (Lou Stokes, Bob Dole, and Eleanor Holmes Norton). He was the first sports media personality to buy time from a radio station (unheard of).
In 1969 he became the first Youth Advocate/Sports Talk Show Host to receive a Presidential Appointment from (Richard Nixon). He was the first sports media personality Muhammad Ali contacted on his arrival back in the U. S. after his historic beat-down of George Foreman in Zaire, Africa in 1974. In 1975 he became the first black to host and produce his own television sports special in primetime on NBC affiliate WRC TV 4, his special guest was Muhammad Ali.
When Georgetown University basketball icon the late John Thompson could not win a game in his first year and the media completely ignored his struggles, Harold Bell gave him five minutes on Inside Sports every Monday to promote Georgetown basketball. He reached out to Sugar Ray Leonard and gave him a platform to help him to regain his lost self-esteem after the 1976 Olympic Games. Leonard won a Gold Medal and returned home expecting a ticker-taped parade in his honor, the media blindsided him by exposing him of having a baby out of wedlock with his girlfriend Jaunita. He hid in the house in Palmer park and refused to come out.
Janks Morton Ray’s trainer would travel to Anacostia Park in SE DC to plea with Bell to go and talk with Ray. He did and became Leonard’s mentor. Ray would go on to become one of the greatest boxers of all time and the first pro boxer to earn over one-hundred million dollars. Leonard went from being an introvert to being a pathetic liar and forgetting who he was and where he came from. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sV-uSNzfZo/ The lie!
Bell was also the first media personality to provide platforms on Inside Sports for James Brown (CBS/NFL), Michael Wilbon (ESPN), Dave Aldridge (TNT), Bill Rhoden (NY Times), Kevin Blackistone (Washington Post). The late legendary sports writer Dick Heller of the Washington Times newspaper said, “Harold Bell is the God Father of sports talk the good kind”.
Darryl Hill is a pioneer in college football. He was the first black to play at the Naval Academy and the University of Maryland. Maryland recently named a building in his name. Hill is also a disciple of Bell.
Harold Bell was the first black media personality recognized as a “TRAILBLAZER” by William Taaffe of the Washington Star (1978). In an unheard-of first, he was the first black sports media personality ever spotlighted in lead stories in the Washington Post, on pages ONE & THREE (June 1989). The title of the stories, “Local Anchors: A Shut Out and Turn the Sound On, Hear Bell Sound Off”. No issue was off-limits when it came to children. His work with youth is legendary.
He was the first sports talk radio host to point out the embedded racism in pro sports. The racism was found on every press table on every pro sports team in America. In 1974 a white reporter Frank Pastor and Bell changed seats at the press table during an NBA Washington Bullets’ home game. Thanks to Pastor the press table was integrated without a picket line or word said in anger.
In the 90s he was the first to ID crooked sports agents stealing from the black athlete: Adrian Dantley & Dave Falk and Sugar Ray Leonard & Mike Trainor. The agents were the scammers and the players were being scammed for millions. It took the New York news media almost two decades to discover Falk was robbing, Dantley, MJ, etc?
Bell was the first Nike Shoes Sports & Marketing rep in DC and the first Anheuser Busch Beer Sports & Marketing rep in DC. He was the first media personality to coordinate and host Christmas toy parties for needy children. For forty-five straight years he and his wife were the host from 1968-2013. His 501 C3 non-profit organization Kids In Trouble never received a grant or a loan. Inside Sports was 7 On Your Side before Paul Berry got the bright idea while being a guest on his talk show. Now every television network in America has a version of 7 On Your Side.
He was the first sports media personality to campaign successfully to have the blackballed Willie Wood (NFL) and Earl Lloyd (NBA) inducted into their hall of fame. A stature of Lloyd was recently placed in the Charles Houston Recreation Center in his hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. Wood has a street named after him in his old NW neighborhood in DC. Bell, he has been blessed by the best.
Bell was the first sports media personality to campaign and get early jail releases for sports icons Jim Brown (NFL) and DC basketball playground legends, Bernard Levi and Jo Jo Hunter among others.
“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!” Dr. Harry Edwards
In 2021 he is still a voice to be heard. May 11, 2021, he will be a co-host with long-time friend and mentee, talk show host Lavonia Perryman on iHEART radio out of Detroit. The show will air every other Tuesday between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
It is rather ironic he finds his way back to Detroit, it is the home of the first pro athlete he encouraged in 1967 to reach back into the community, homeboy Dave Bing. Bing is a native Washingtonian and was named NBA Rookie of the year in1967. When Bing heard of Bell’s radio voice coming to Detroit his email read, “Harold just be yourself, you are more appreciated than you know.”
The great Marvin Gaye and Bell were childhood friends, Emanuel Stewart and Thomas Heards of the Kronk Gym were supporters of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports, the great pro basketball pioneer Spencer Haywood was a frequent contributor on Inside Sports, “Great Scott” WR Freddy Scott of the Detroit Lions was a frequent flyer in and out of DC for his Kids In Trouble, Inc Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Shows and Tennis Tournaments, NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd was a benefactor of Inside Sports, and last but not least his dear friend the late Wayne Davis was the first black FBI agent in-charge of the Detroit office.
He met Davis during the 1968 riots in DC. Davis was working undercover and he was working with youth gangs using the cover of a DC police department badge. The badge allowed him to breach police and military barricades. In August 1980 Bell and Davis watched together as Thomas Hearns knocked out Pipino Cuevas in the second round. It was Hearns first title win. Wayne Davis was a stand up brother.
On Tuesday May 11, 2021 on iHEART radio “The Lavonia Perryman” talk show in Detroit from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm, the country will have a ringside seat and understand why Radio Fly Jock Tom Joyner said, “Harold Bell is a little know Black History Fact”.
The late NBA great Red Auerbach said, “Jackie Robinson may be America’s greatest all-around athlete in history!”
Black Minority Owners in pro sports are nothing but window dressing!
On April 15, 2021, MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day for 18th since its inception in 2004. Hundreds of players paraded around the playing field wearing his trademark number 42. My question, is baseball integrated? Looking at MLB today it is nobody’s success story, if you take Jackie’s number 42 and let only Black Americans wear it on the field of play on that day honoring Jackie, only then would you have an accurate count of how many Black Americans are on MLB teams. April 15th has been a cover-up for the lack of Black Americans playing in the league. Today there are Less than 8%.
MLB is the second richest pro sports’ league in America, but they have the First Lady of MLB, Jackie’s wife Rachel on hold while they try to locate financial support to open the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City. She has been on hold for close to 10 years. Ms. Rachel Robinson is approaching 100 years old—-MLB has to stop faking.
When I asked ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon about the museum and what the problem was, he said, “Harold I am meeting Commissioner Bud Selig next week and I will pose that question to him?” Talking about famous last words, that was Wilbon five years ago!
The late great Hank Aaron was not a “Happy Camper” with the racism and The Good Old Boys that still run the league.
To make things worst there are still too many Spooks that still sit by the Door in media and baseball front offices. We got brothers pretending they are minority owners and front office executives, for example, in 2005 DC’s own James Brown CBS/NFL studio host is one of them. The Lerner’s gave him the ceremonial title of being a minority owner. His official duty as a minority owner was carrying the opening day lineup card out to the umpire or being the opening door announcer reading the starting line-up over the Public Address system.
As a so-called minority owner, he made no baseball decisions, He was never in the room for the big trade or the hiring or firing of personnel. It took me a minute, but I kept reminding him he was being used.
He finally went on the late George Michael’s Sports Machine television show and confessed, “I make no baseball decisions”. I have not forgotten how the Lerner brothers disrespected the late great Frank Robinson. Frank was one of the greatest players of all time, but he was also a great manager, when the Lerners became the owners, they made it clear they didn’t want him around. Frank never forgot and he refused to come back for a “Frank Robinson Day” charade tribute! He saw them for what they were, Good Old Boys in a suit and tie.
The Lerners after several losing seasons hired Dusty Baker, they were desperate to put a winner on the field for as cheap as possible, and Dusty was available. He was the man for the job. He took them to two straight play-offs but was victimized by untimely bad hitting and bad pitching in both play-off years. Everyone who knew anything about the game knew this was a championship team.
What did the Lerners do–they fired Dusty? First, they didn’t want to pay him what he was worth, so they kicked him to the curve and hired a Hispanic manager Dave Martinez to cover up their racist act—he came cheap also.
Guess what happens–the exact team Dusty was the manager of won the World Series for Martinez? My question, where was minority owner James Brown when the decision was made to fire Dusty and hire Martinez—he was nowhere to be found.
It is just not James Brown, it’s Magic Johnson with the World Series-winning LA Dodgers. He is the same smiling face that was hanging out with racist Donald Sterling the LA Clippers owner before he was made to sell the team. Now his smiling face has been hired to hang out in Dodger Stadium pretending he is a minority owner, like James Brown and Derek Jeter he makes no baseball decisions.
Let us not forget in 2017 Derek Jeter became the so-called CEO and minority owner of the Miami Marlins. He has a 4% stake in the team and NBA hall of fame player Michael Jordan has a half-percent stake for the same team. Jeter and MJ own less than 5% together!
Remember Jeter’s first official act was “Hatchet Man” for the new owners. He had Mike Hill another black executive to fire two black high-profile Marlin executives they were baseball hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, two of the most popular former players in Miami.
To add insult they were told if they wanted to stay with the team they have to take a $60,000 pay cut to $25,000. It got worse, they were then told if they took the offer they would not be allowed to wear the Marlin uniforms around the clubhouse or on the field.
One of the owners told Dawson to check back in two years after Jeter had an opportunity to evaluate him, Dawson’s response “I need to evaluate him.”
Hill had three years left on his contract with the Marlins as GM so he was safe when Jeter arrived. Jeter showed him the door once his contract expired. Hill is now working in the front office of MLB.
These brothers calling themselves minority owners—the only thing they own is going to the bathroom by themselves.
This is the plantation mentality that controls pro sports. Black NFL owners in 2021–ZERO. A Pakistani man and a Asian woman are NFL owners, would someone please name me one Pakistnani man or Asian woman who has played in the NFL. There is Zero co-ownership or complete black ownership in MLB, the NBA has Michael Jordan as the lone owner in the NBA—the NHL is out of the question the Commission Gary Bettman is a well-known Proud Boy!
I met Bettman when he was the legal counsel for the NBA in the late 70s. John Phillips and I were the Nike reps for the NBA. Rod Thorn was the VP for player personnel and the Security Director was the late Horace Bowman. We met to clear the air on player participation in All-Star Games during the off-season.
The problem, the owners didn’t want the players to play in a charity game in St. Thomas the Virgil Islands, the home of Mycal Thompson of the LA Lakers. The meeting got a little heated when Bettman claimed that the NBA owns the players, there is no way that Bettman’s plantation mentality has changed as the Commissioner of the NHL.
Today after games black NHL players in some cities have to have police protection to get to their cars.
Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams are the latest “Smiling Black Faces for Hire” in the NFL. It is rumored they are now minority owners of the NFL Miami Dolphins? Their NFL credentials as minority owners read rumored dates with LB Lavar Arrington and WR Keyshawn Johnson.
In the NBA former NBA star and future hall of fame player, Dwyane Wade has been offered a minority ownership stake in the hottest team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz. NBA rules state a minority owner must own at least 1% of the team. Baseball owners have different rules Michael Jordan owns only one-half-percent of the Marlins? I would be surprised if Wade would settle for being just a “Black Smiling Face” for the Utah Jazz.
The NBA-NFL-MLB and NHL leave little doubt birds of a feather flock together. Black Minority owners remember if you are going to soar with Eagles you cannot hang out with chickens. Someday we will all be free but it won’t be on Jackie Robinson day!
NOTEWORTHY: All eyes on the Negro League Museum in Kansas City as it relates to receiving monies from MLB to support the facility. No monies from MLB should exchange hands until the Jackie Robinson Museum open its doors.
Harold Bell was the first African American to host and produce his own sport’s talk radio show Inside Sports in Washington, DC in 1972.
On his “Inside Sports” radio show he interviewed some of the most famous athletes in pro sports. In 1975, Bell interviewed Muhammed Ali after he knocked out George Foreman in Zaire, Africa on WRC TV 4, the NBC afilliate in Washington, DC. The show made him the first African American to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time. The late DC Superior Court Judge Luke Moore said, “Harold you are our voice in the community!”
His interviews and friendships with Muhammed Ali and Red Auerbach put his “Inside Sports” talk show on the map and changed the way we talk sports around the globe. Many have copied the Inside Sports talk format, but none have been able to duplicate it. Bell interviewed hall of fame athletes like Jim Brown, Spencer Haywood, Harry Edwards, Sonny Hill, Don King, Bighouse Gaines and John Chaney just to name a few. These relationships became valuable when he was advocating for NFL All-Pro Willie Wood and NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd to be inducted into their Hall of Fames after they were “Blackballed” by their leagues.
When Earl Lloyd called Bell asking him to campaign for his induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, he in turn called NBA Godfather Red Auerbach and Washington Times legendary sports columnist the late Dick Heller for support. His next call was to an old friend, Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis asking him to join the campaign team for Lloyd. Bell was no stranger to the city of Alexandria, he had worked closely with “The Untouchables” founders, Dr. George Logan-El, Lawrence Brown and Michael Johnson. They helped him to coordinate his annual toy party for needy children leading into the Christmas holidays in Alexandria.
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES/HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES-WASHINGTON, DC 205-1005
October 25, 2000
Mr. Earl Lloyd
P.O.B. 1976-Fairfield, Tenn.
Dear Mr. Lloyd:
As a colleague in the civil rights struggle, I am proud to say congratulations to you in celebrating 50 years of integration in the NBA. There is is little doubt that is in 1950 your NBA debut was greeted with cheerleaders and pom-poms by NBA owners and fans. . I really appreciate the sacrifices made by you on behalf of today’s players . I hope that one day soon they will understand who prepared the table for their present day success.
It is great that the NBA and the New York Knicks are finally reconizing your pioneering efforts in New York City on October 31, 2000. Thanks to the efforts of my friends Harold Bell, Sam Jones, and Richard Evans of “Kids In Trouble Inc” we are together in planning a reception on Capitol Hill in your honor.
In closing, I hope you enjoy your special night in New York City. I am looking forward to meeting you on Friday February 9, 2001 during the NBA All-Star weekend next year.
John Lewis / Member of Congress
Thurston McLain would follow his lead from DC into the Alexandria community. Bell was his mentor during Thurston’s early childhood days, first at Harrison Elementary School to the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program. He graduated from Cardozo High School and went on to Langston University in Oklahoma where he became and All-American linebacker. Thurston returned home to join the Alexandria Fire Department and made Christmas toy parties for needy children an annual event during his fire fighting career. He retired as a Captain.
During NBA All-Star weekend in Washington, DC in 2001, Bell’s non-profit organization Kids In Trouble organized a Earl Lloyd Day in Alexandria. The Saturday festivities included a basketball clinic at the Charles Houston Rec Center. NBA stars, Bob Lanier, Al Attles, Phil Chenier, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Earl Monroe among others were in attendance.
Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore declared it “Earl Lloyd Day” in the state of Vrginia. The historic jazz and blues club, “The Bohemian Caverns” in Washington, DC was the site that closed out the Earl Lloyd festivies with Red Auerbach and basketball legend Sonny Hill co-hosting the tribute on Saturday night. Earl was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003. Thanks goes out to Congressman John Lewis, Red Auerbach, Dick Heller and Harold Bell for carrying the torch for the Alexandria, Virginia NBA pioneer.
He participated in the documentary “The First to Play” based on the NBA trials and tribulations of Earl Lloyd’s NBA journey. Segments of the documentary were video taped in Alexandria at the Departmental Club with several of Earl’s friends, including, the legendary James E. Henson.
The film producer Arka Sengupta was found to be a scammer and a fraud. Bell again contacted friends he knew in the NBA as well as TNT NBA analyst David Aldridge who assisted him in exposing the fraudulent producer. He later received a thank you letter from NBA Commisioner Adam Silver.
Bell’s passion is helping inner-city children who are at risk. He and his wife, Hattie found Kids In Trouble, Inc., and the Hillcrest Saturday Program in 1968 shortly after the Washington, DC riots. Harold and Hattie’s work with at-risk-children did not go unnoticed; President Richard M. Nixon invited them to the White House and acknowledged their work with at-risk-children in Washington, DC. Harold and the President became friends when he was in high school and caddied on the weekends at the exclusive Burning Tree Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland. Mr. Nixon was then the Vice-President in the Dwight Eisenhower administration.
Harold helps kids because someone was there to help him, the only reason I’m still standing strong today is because of my high school and college coaches, Dave Brown and Bighouse Gaines. They were there to prevent me from going to hell in a hurry.”
Bell is that type of person who fights and advocates to make things right. He was born on May 21, 1938, he is a 4th generation Washingtonian. His great grandfather Alfred Tyler laid the first brick to build historic Mt. Airy Baptist Church in 1893. The church is located in the shadows of the nation’s Capitol in NW DC.
He attended Spingarn High School where he was an all-around athlete playing three sports, football, basketball and baseball. After high school, Bell attended Winston-Salem State University where he played football and basketball. He met his wife, Hattie a teacher at Cardozo High School in 1967 and they married after the DC riots in 1968, and out of those ashes they found their non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc.
Today, Bell has his own weekly program “Speak the Truth” Zoom Show every Sunday and Inside Sports Detoxx video show on You Tube. In addition, he is the most read and most popular blogger for Black Men in America.Com. There are over 500 black websites on the world wide internet, Black men in America in ranked in the top 10.
For Black Americans in Alexandria, we thank you Harold Bell for advocating for Earl Lloyd and getting him into the NBA Hall of Fame-thanks for being a Torch Bearer!
Editor’s Note: Famous Last Words
“Last week Harold Bell the sports talk show host, sportswriter, do-gooder and all-around rabble rouser threw a party to honor Earl Lloyd, the NBA’s first black player in a crowded ballroom at Bolling Air Force Base. Folks who remembered Lloyd from his days across the river at Parker Gray High School in the mid 40s mingled with those who just wanted to be near the alarming obscure athletic pioneer who broke the NBA color barrier as a member of the National Capitols in 1950. Lloyd for whatever reason never got his due around his hometown through the years and sadly he still isn’t likely to after this function. Local daily newspapers and television stations along with major sports figures all stayed away from the tribute. They all got press releases said, Bell, why didn’t they come? Deep down Bell knew. The mainstream press and jocks didn’t come because of him. Plenty of people including some of the biggest names in town wanted no parts of Harold bell or anything that he was associated with.” Dave McKenna City Paper 1998
It was 2 am Tuesday morning I was sitting in front of my computer when I decided to check my email box for the last time before heading to bed–the first email read, “Harold, why don’t you do a piece on Elgin? When I came up, he was, not only my favorite basketball player, but my favorite athlete too (He and Willie Wood). You know baseball was the thing back then. Elgin, Willie Mays, and Lenny Moore were my favorites. I was a Baltimore Colts fan. My brother liked Cleveland, so I couldn’t pick Jim Brown. I know Elgin’s legend has died out for the youngsters nowadays, but he is more than deserving of a final tribute, from those of us who are still left to remember how truly great he was. He was in a category with Wilt, Russell and Oscar, without question. You, more than anyone, should know that. In another strange way, he was a lot like the one-armed bandit, only Elgin had two arms. They were both D. C. legends, with talent that was freakish. I remember the day he scored 64 points. Everybody was up Ridge Road saying they were “Elgin Baylor.” (But in my mind I was the real Elgin Baylor).
I know Bing, Austin Carr, Reggie Rucker, Dantley and a lot of the few ballplayers left from those times, would really appreciate the memories. It would be a great Post-Black History tribute to one of our greatest athletes. The D. C. legends know that Elgin was the best to come out of D. C. This would be another feather in your own hat when it comes to the real history of DC.
As I try to be unbiased and thorough in my assessment of all time great pro basketball players, I just can’t leave him off of my top 10 list. I heard Dantley, and others on the news say a little about him and they felt like me. John Thompson used to say that you put Elgjn at the top, skipped 2nd, 3rd and 4th, then continued your list of all time greats with number 5 and so on.
I vaguely remember seeing him play in the pros. I must have been around 8-10 years old, or maybe a little older. My cousin used to take me to sports games. He was a semi-pro baseball player, maybe a little older than Elgin.
His death reminded me of how great he was.
Harold, you knew Elgin personally so who would be better to do this than Harold Bell? You are still here today to do things like this.
Harold, when I close my eyes, I can still see Elgin bouncing that ball up and down, in cadence with his famous head bobbing up and down, just before driving in for the kill. Even Wilt didn’t want to mess with that.
Lord God, thank you for Elgin, may he rest in peace. Amen.” Bro. Lawrence Brown
ELGIN BAYLOR HANGING IN DC BEFORE HE HUNG IN THE NBA!
Just in case there is someone in the DMV and they are not aware of who is the greatest basketball player ever to lace up a pair of basketball shoes in this city–Elgin “Rabbit” Baylor is his name. The late John Thompson, the fraud of the city was right, when he said, “when there is a conversation about the top five or top 10 players in DC, you start with Elgin.” I am here to remind you who he was.
I remember Elgin, the memories start when I was a student at Brown Middle School in NE DC. Every weekday morning I would take the bus from my NE Parkside Housing project to 24th and Benning Road. The first landmark I would walk past would be the Langston Golf Course, the home of golfing legend, Lee Elder. The next landmark would be Spingarn High School the home of Lieutenant/Coach Dave Brown and Elgin Baylor. I would stop and mingle with the students, some I knew from my neighborhood. They would be hanging out in front of the building and on the sidewalk leading into the school. There was this cop, officer Ray Dixon who was the keeper of “The Hill.” It seems like he would eyeball me like he knew I didn’t belong among this crowd. He would bark “Keep it moving” and he was never smiling–I kept it moving!
After school was out at Brown I would sit on the grass above the Spingarn practice field and watch the athletes practice baseball, football, or the track and field guys workout on the fringes of the field. It was there I discovered my older brother Bobby playing second base for the Armstrong baseball team with the great Wilie Wood as a teammate. I never knew he was playing baseball for Armstrong because he lived with my grandmother. Watching my big brother play inspired me to become an athlete.
The one place I wanted to be was in the Spingarn gym watching Elgin practice or play in a game. Every time I attempted to find a way into the gym it seems like Officer Dixon could smell my presence and give me that look.
My Spingarn teammate and friend, Andrew Johnson lived in Langston Terrace, the Spingarn gym was a few minutes away from where he lived. Langston Terrace is the second oldest black housing project in America (Atlanta 1933 & DC 1938). Andrew recently described to me how he sat in the Spingarn gym and watched Elgin score 64 points against rival Phelps–priceless!
I remember the day Armstrong played the BIG game against Spingarn and the One-Armed Bandit, Gary Mays became an American folk hero. The morning of the game I got off the bus and started my usual journey to Brown and all I heard was talk of the BIG game being played that evening for the championship. George Deal a teammate of Gary remembers, Armstrong Coach Charlie Baltimore preparing for the rematch and giving specific instructions to Gary, “If Elgin goes to the bathroom, I want you right there behind him.” Coach Baltimore had not forgotten earlier in the year Elgin had torched Armstrong for 45 points.
Deal, also remembered Elgin being an excellent free throw shooter. “We beat him up pretty good that game and most of those 18 points came from the free throw line. I never saw him miss a free throw until he got to the pros!”
Elgin was averaging in the neighborhood of 30 points a game when Spingarn and Armstrong had the face-off on The Hill that day. Spingarn lost by 3 points killing their undefeated season. Gary was given the credit for the defensive stop, but according to Deal, “the media tried to give the credit to another player and playground legend, Terry Hatchett.”
Amstrong and Spingarn High Schools are the only public high schools in America that can showcase four pro athletes in the pro sports hall of fames. There are Len Ford and Willie Wood in the NFL Hall of Fame (Armstrong), Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing (Spingarn) in the NBA Hall of Fame. The common denominator, both schools have been shut down and that important history has been lost.
I never had the opportunity to be an eye witness and watch Elgin torch Armstrong for 45 points, Phelps for 64 points, or watch the One Arm Bandit literally hold him to 18 points in a championship game, but I was there to watch him perform his magic during his tour of the DC basketball courts from Lincoln, Bannecker, Park View, Henry T Blow, Brown and Kelley Miller playgrounds.
It was at Kelley Miller where he and Wilt Chamberlain would go head to head. Every basketball fan and sports writer and talk show host in the DMV claim they were there or had first hand knowledge. I had a heads up from my long time friend Dave Harris who was Wilt’s roommate at Kansas on their time of arrival at Kelley Miller. When they pulled up in that bright red convertible Oldsmobile on 49th street NE, Dave threw me the keys to park the car.
I read where some of these wanna-bees claim they played against Elgin on the playgrounds like Kelley Miller, Henry T Blow, Brown and Watts, the domains of playground basketball in NE DC. If Elgin was there nine times out of ten I was there. I introduced Elgin to the Brown basketball court located directly across the street from my Brown Middle School. He had never played there until he moved to Mayfair Mansions in NE in 1958.
I got to know Elgin that summer of shortly after his NBA rookie year and he married Ruby Saunder. Wilt was a member of the wedding party. After the wedding Elgin and Ruby moved to a housing development in NE DC called Mayfair Mansions. The development was located directly across the street from my Parkside Housing Project.
Elgin had taken a summer job with the DC Recreation Department, and worked evenings at Bannecker Playground in NW DC. His introduction to Brown playground basketball–I led the way. I would be on the corner of Haynes Street and Kenilworth Avenue in the evenings when he would be heading to work. I would hitch a ride with him to 24th and Benning Road. I would then walk from Benning Road to Brown playground for an evening of basketball.
This ride share would go on for the entire summer. There were times I would be running a little late and he would be parked waiting for me. One evening he dropped me off at the playground to check things out, but no one was there. He got out the car and got a basketball out of the trunk. We shot baskets for about 20 minutes and then other players started to arrive. He left the basketball with me and went to work–that was his introduction to Brown.
The one thing Elgin and I had in common was our high school Coach Dave Brown. There would be no Elgin Baylor and Harold Bell without Dave Brown. With all these so called know it alls as it relates to the legend of Elgin Baylor, how many in media or other wise have you heard or read about the man who guilded him to the NBA–Coach Dave Brown?
Dave Brown was his first coach at Phelps the first two years. He left for Spingarn in 1953, leaving behind Elgin’s playmaker guard, Maxwell Banks aka Max Julien. According to J. A. Preston a native Washingtonian an outstanding track and field star at Armstrong High School, Max played an important role in Phelps’ success those first two years.
J. A. was also an accomplished actor on stage and screen (A Few Good Men and the Spook That Sat by the Door). He says, “Maxwell was one of the best guards in the city bar none. He was the cornerstone of that Phelps team with Baylor. He would go on to become best known as an actor for his off-Broadway performances, but it was Hollywood where he received critically acclaimed fame for his role as Goldie in the1973 blaxploitation film,’The Mack.’ He also appeared in Def Jam’s How to be a Player. Max Julien was also a great writer, he wrote and produced Cleopatra Jones starring Tamra Dobson and Bernie Casey. He and comedian the late Richard Pryor became great friends.”
Timing was everything, Elgin and his 1954 teammates never got the opportunity to play against their white counter parts in the DMV. They were one year away when my Spingarn teammate Spotswood Bolling a student at Sousa Middle School in NE was the lead petitioner in Bolling vs Sharpe when it became a landmark in the United States Surpreme Court case. The attorneys argued that the Constitution prohibited segregated public schools in the District of Columbia. The decision was originally argued on December 10-11, 1952 a year before Brown vs Board of Education, but Bolling vs Sharpe was re-argued again in 1953 before it was passed, cheating Elgin and the black DC Public high school athletes out of their just do on an “Even Playing Field!”
With Coach Brown it was always tough love–but love never the less. There are rumors that Elgin ran afoul of coach during a game, and at half-time Coach Brown settled the matter by locking his star player in the lockerroom. I could not verify that rumor, but I can verify being locked in the school bus during half-time of a football game against our rival Phelps. The game was played at Eastern High School. The team won without me and Coach Brown got my undivided attention. Thanks to him I didn’t go to hell in a hurry as predicted by Mr. Stinson.
I would not see Elgin again until my freshman year at Winston-Salem State University in 1960. The Minneapolis Lakers were in Greensboro, N. C. for an exhibition game before heading to their new home in L. A. I decided to travel to Greenesboro the home of the N. C. A & T aggies to see if I could catch up with Elgin. The drive was 30 miles north of Winston-Salem.
First, I tried to convince my homeboy Donald “Duck” Wills to go with me, but he begged off claiming he had a date. I was disappointed because Donald’s brother was the great shortstop for the L. A. Dodgers, Maury “Sonny” Wills. Elgin and Maury were great friends from their Stonewall days in DC. Maury was a great all-around student/athlete at Cardozo. He played football for the Stonewall, AC football team during his off-season in the minor leagues.
I remember Coach Brown inviting the Stonewalls to particpate in a scrimmage against the Spingarn varsity in 1957. It was MEN against BOYS. Sonny was a great punt and kick-off returner and running running back, but during the scrimmage he played defensive back. He lined up in front of me and he never allowed me to catch a pass from his brother QB Donald Wills. After the scrimmage he would tell us, “You guys are going to be all right” and we were!
Back to Elgin, my plans were to double team Elgin with Donald, but it looked like I had to go at it alone. I borrowed my roommate Arnold McKnight’s (former DC Boxing Commissioner) car to make the trip down highway 85 to Greensboro.
I had no problem finding the Lakers’ motel a friendly cop gave me the directions. I went to the front desk and the lady gave me Elgin’s room number (what a difference a day makes). I took a deep breath and knocked on the door. He opened the door and the first words out his mouth were, “Bell what in the hell are doing way down here?”
I told him Coach Brown had talked me into taking a scholarship to Winston-Salem Sate University. He smiled and said, “The old man is still at it huh!” He invited me in and we talked about the Lakers move to L. A. He was overjoyed about the move, the weather was the determining factor. He ordered room service and we ate and talked until it was time for him to head to the arena. He gave me four tickets, a twenty-dollar bill, a Lakers’ jacket (too big) and I headed back to Winston-Salem. I gave the four tickets to the lady at the front desk and it made her day.
My next encounter with Elgin would be my first NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas (80s). Former playground legend and all things basketball in Philadelphia, Sonny Hill convinced me to apply for press credentials for the game. It was a great trip but I had a problem getting press credentials and I had a strange encounter with Elgin.
Thanks to Dotie Auerbach (Red’s wife) and NBA PR man, Brian McIntyre we were able to work things out for the credentials. Mr. McIntyre would become a great friend and lifeline for my future endeavors whether it be NBA press credentials for me or the “Roundball Report” a local cable television show in Prince George’s County.
Elgin was another story that I am still trying to figure out today. Mr. McIntyre gave me my credentials and I headed up to my room that I was sharing with Sonny. I got on the elevator and it stopped at the next floor and who gets on but Elgin Baylor and a pretty lady holding on to him. He looked right through me. We rode at least six floors and he never uttered a word. When he and the lady got off, he looked back and said, “Bell it was nice seeing you.”
I could not wait to get to the room and tell Sonny about the encounter. Sonny swears that Elgin could walk on water if he had to and leaves little doubt that Elgin is the NBA G. O. A. T. His response was, “Elgin was just being Elgin, Harold, he did acknowledge you as he was leaving, some folks don’t get that!” All I could do was smile.
My last encounter was in the 80s, I was hosting a retirement tribute to our high school coach, Dave Brown. He was closing out his DC Public Schools coaching and teaching career. I called Elgin to invite him to come home and be a part of the tribute, not knowing what to expect, he took my call. I explained we were doing a tribute to Coach Brown and I would like for him to come home and surprise his coach. He begged off and said their was a conflict in his schedule for that date. The same exact thing he told Dave Bing when he asked Elgin to introduce at his NBA Hall of Fame induction. Elgin did send a telegram thanking Coach Brown for all that he had done for him and wishing him and his family nothing but the best. I never read it!
Sonny Hill once reminded me, “Your hometown will be the last to show you any appreciation and love!” I use to get pissed off at Elgin, Maury and Marvin Gaye because neither ever came back to DC to reach back and pull others with along with them, but they had plent of company.
It is possible they learned early in life that this town was and is overrun with Player Haters and envy and jealous black folks. I have never seen, Marvin, Maury, Elgin, John Thompson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dave Bing, Len Ford, Willie Wood, all hall of fame athletes photos on Ben Chili Bowl’s Wall of Fame? I remember when they open in 1958, I was senior at Spingarn and hanging out at 7th and T streets around the Howard Theatre and the U street corridor.
I was the Historian at the Chili Bowl for six years-I know the Real history! My childhood friend the late John Snipes became a well known businessman in the U street corridor and the honorary “Mayor of U Street!” I suggested to Kamal who has been the Wind Beneaght the Chili Bowl’s Wings since he was a little kid. He was Mommy’s Baby and Daddy’s maybe. He help keep the bowl afloat during some difficult times. His father Ben decided to go and live in Las Vegas and his older brother Sage left for Hollywood leaving him, baby brother and his mother Virginia to run the business. Kamal carried the load.
The suggestion was to name the room where I was doing the history presentations after John Snipes. The reason, it was Snipes who I first saw escorting white folks around the U street corridor showing them the landmarks of U street after the riots. He had a office over the Chili Bowl. The suggestion went nowhere–Sonny Hill was right.
Elgin died in L. A. at the age of 86 on Monday March 22, 2021. Let me remind those who didn’t know, Elgin was a NCAA Final Four MVP, NBA Rookie of the Year, named to the NBA All-Star First Team 10 straight years and he still holds the record for most points scored in a NBA final’s game, 61 points against the Boston Celtics. His NBA career scoring average of 27 points is ranked only behind Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
Elgin Baylor invented “Hang Time” in the NBA but it was just a carry-over from the playgrounds and the Division ll basketball that was played in the all black DC Public High Schools in the early 50s. During his NBA career he averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds. He is only one of two players to average those numbers, the other is Wilt Chamberlain. Elgin’s best year as a pro was the 1961-62 season when he averaged 38 points a game.
Elgin and Coach Brown started out at Phelps in 1952. Coach packed his bags and moved next door to Spingarn the new kid on the block in 1953. Elgin dropped out of school because of a young baby. He took the responsibility to help raise the child. Many thought this would be the end of the line for him. Coach Brown kept a light in the window and Elgin returned to Spingarn for that 1953-54 history making season. He was in the first graduating class for the new school and he became the first black to make the Washington Post All-Met basketball team.
The segregated schools where he became “Mr. Basketball” were comprised of Dunbar, Armstrong, Cardozo, Phelps and the last to be built was the home that Elgin Baylor and Lieutenant/Coach Dave Brown built, Spingarn.
“The Hill” was the most unique educational hill in America. There were four schools in walking distance of the second black housing project built in America, Langston Terrace. The four schools starting at the bottom of the Hill (Benning Road), were Spingarn, Charles Young Elementary, Phelps Vocational, and Brown Middle School at the end of the road, the home of Principal William B. Stinson. He predicted to my mother I would not live to get out of high school. If you lived in Langston Terrace you never had to leave the neighborhood to complete your formal education. “The Hill” was the first and last word in education in the hood.
My high school basketball memories would take me from Lincoln, Bannecker, Park View, Henry T Blow, Brown and Kelley Miller playgrounds and all stops in between. Elgin would would later take his show on the road in 1954. He was led to Idaho by Warren Williams aka W. W. Warren was a two sports star at Dunbar (football and basketball). They were joined by homeboys, Armstrong phenom, Gary Mays aka One Arm Bandit, and Francis Saunders his Spingarn teammate. They took the Idaho community and college basketball program by storm, especially when R. C. Owens joined them on campus and became the leading rebounder for the team.
R. C. would later play in the NFL where he became an All-Pro wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers. The Alley Oop pass play became folklore when in 1957 he and QB Y. A. Tittle created the pass play. Y. A. would throw a high pass to R. C. downfield and R. C. would jump over the shorter defensive back and catch the ball (today’s NBA jumpball).
Racism would chase Elgin out of Idaho when the team became too successful for some white folks. The opposing coaches and other whites in the town started to whisper about the grade point averages of the black athletes. This would lead Elgin to transfer to Seattle University where he would lead them to a failed Final Four appearance and to the NBA in 1958 as No. 1 draft choice of the Minneapolis Lakers. The team would leave Minneapolis in 1960 for L. A. and all things Hollywood. The legend of Elgin Baylor took root in 1953 (media) and ended in L. A. on Monday March 22, 2021. All these frauds/folks coming out of the woodwork confessing their love for Elgin Baylor don’t even know how to spell the word. His legend will hang in L. A. forever and a day–in DC he will just be a memory not on a wall.
HE WAS THE MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION WHO WILL BE FOREVER LINKED TO THE WELTERWEIGHTS!
Muhammad Ali revived the sport of boxing in the 60s with his brash personality, flare and traits he borrowed from the great pro wrestling sensation, Gorgeous George. Ali’s style was copied but never duplicated. The heavyweight division was full of stars, in the 60s and 70s but none bigger than Muhammad Ali. There was Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Ron Lyle, Ernie Shavers and others who help to make the fight game legit again. During the Ali era boxing attracted the Hollywood stars, pro athletes, the entire entertainment world, the gangsters and would be gangsters. When Ali retired in 1985 the game lost some of its glitter and gold.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-JZf8J0Dsk
The vacuum was filled by the little guys who would become giants of the game like Wilfredo Benitez, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Alexis Arguello, and Aaron Pryor, The former middleweight champion of the world, Marvelous Marvin Hagler was a step above the little guys in the welterweight division, but he would be a force to be reckon with in their later years. Hagler died on Saturday March 13, 2021 in Barlett, New Hampshire. During his career he caught hell chasing the middleweight champion. Fighters and their managers wanted no part of him. In 1980 he finally got the opportunity to win his first middleweight championship in Wembley, London. The champion Alan Minter played The Race Card saying, “I hope that black boy don’t think, he is coming in here and win my title.” Hagler knocked Minter out in the 3rd round. He changed his name in 1982 to Marvelous Marvin Hagler. The changed was made because network announcers often refused to refer to him by his nickname “Marvelous!”
Hagler was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He moved with his family to Brockton, Massachusetts in the late 60s. Hagler’s name will be forever linked to the welterweight division, it was there he had some of his most controversial and memorable fights. There was Roberto “The Hands of Stone” Duran. Duran took him the full 12 rounds and Hagler won a unanimous decision. He would next face Thomas “The Hit Man” Thomas Hearns in what is called today, the greatest three rounds of boxing in the history of the game. Hagler knocked out Hearns in the third round. His third and most controversial fight was with boxing great welterweight champion, Sugar Ray Leonard. Hagler’s ring record of 62-3-2 with 52 knockouts was nothing to sneeze at. Marvin had to literally chase Ray around the country for over five years trying to talk him into a fight. The fight between the two would be worth millions of dollars to the promoters and the fighters if they could come to some agreement. Ray lured Hagler to the Capitol Centre arena in Landover, Md., a stone’s throw from where Leonard grew up in Palmer Park, Md.
In a packed arena with thousands of boxing fans looking on, Ray took the microphone to make the announcement on his future in boxing. When it was all said and done, Hagler felt like the bride left at the altar. Ray announced that he would be retiring and there would be no fight between him and Hagler. Time brings about a change, the two later signed their names on the dotted lines for a fight that has gone down in boxing and folklore history.
The long-awaited fight was scheduled for April 6, 1987, in Caesars Palace. The fight would take place in a temporarily sold-out arena built just for Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Ray had fought just once in five years because there was potential for a career-ending eye surgery. This would be the biggest fight of his career bar none. Hagler was one of the most feared fighters on the planet. He was no joke and 52 knockouts proved he was to be feared. The fight was everything I thought it would be except the controversial split decision awarded to Sugar Ray Leonard, but I understood the how and why of the decision.
Sugar Ray Leonard is the greatest rags to riches story in the history of boxing. I was there when he arrived home from the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada with his Gold Medal expecting a ticker-tape parade in his honor. The Washington media had other ideas, they made him the lead story for having a baby out of wedlock, what a difference a day makes (1976-2021). Ray lost all of his self-esteem and went into his home in Palmer Park, Md and refused to come out.
I was playing tennis at Anacostia Park in SE DC on one beautiful September evening and I looked out into the parking lot and I see Janks Morton and Melvin Jackson. Janks was the trainer of Sugar Ray Leonard and Melvin was a close and dear friend of mine. It donned on me, both were great athletes, but neither played tennis. I stopped play and went out to greet them. We shook hands and I asked, “What’s up?” I was surprised when Janks explained the reason for their visit.
He said, “We have a problem with Ray” my response was “Ray who?” I could not believe my ears as Janks explained that Ray refused to leave the house because of the media attacks on his having a baby out of wedlock!I laughed and asked the question again “What’s up?” Melvin then chimed in and said, “We need for you to go over to the house and talk to him. He respects you and will listen to you.” I said, “No problem, I will check him out in the morning and see what the problem is!” I returned to the tennis court to finish my game. Ray and I had established a “Big Brother” bond during his amateur boxing days.
I would show up when they were trying to raise monies to go on trips to fight in different cities around the country. I encouraged my partner radio talk show host Petey Greene and Congressman Walter Fauntroy to support the Palmer Park boxing program. The following morning after the visit from Janks and Melvin I made my way out to Palmer Park to visit Ray. It was around 10:00 a. m. when I knocked on the door. He opened the door with tears in his eyes and I jumped right on his ass. I cannot use the language in this story that I used to get his undivided attention. But I will sum it up by saying, I suggested he put on a tie and suit and put his Gold Medal around his neck and follow me. I had called a friend of mine on the way to Ray’s house, his name was Mr. Cousins and he was the Principal of Harrison Elementary School in NW DC. I asked him to do me a favor and have a group of students ready for a visit from Sugar Ray Leonard after lunch. He said, “No problem.”
The kids treated Ray like the hero he was and you could see him regaining confidence as he told the kids about his winning the Gold Medal at the Olympic Games. We would visit more schools in the area and I made sure they were all elementary school children because they had not yet developed or grown into the envy and jealous characteristics of some young adults. Ray would slowly come out of his shell. I let him co-host my Inside Sports talk show on Saturdays to help him grow as a public speaker. Ray and I were both butchering the King’s English so bad my wife Hattie a teacher in the DC Public schools brought Ray a book of poems. She suggested he read the poems out loud to himself to improve his pronouciation and diction. We gave it to him as a wedding present.
Ray still had not made up his mind on what he wanted to do for his future. It was between turning pro or getting a job to support Junita and little Ray. He claimed his hands were too brittle to turn pro and he thought it best to find a job. I contacted my friend Dr. Bill Rumsey, he was the Director of the DC Recreation Department. Dr. Rumsey was a well-known educator and former athlete in the DC Public Schools. I set up an appointment for Ray to meet with him about a job opportunity. We met in his office with, Willie Wood (NFL), Jim Vance (TV 4 anchor), and Sonny Hill (NBA color analyst).
Ray was offered a job, but before he could start work, I received a telephone call one morning around 8 a. m. saying, “Sugar Ray Leonard was holding press conference in The National Press Building. The caller was boxing promoter Don King. I broadcasted my Inside Sports talk show on WYCB radio in the National Press Building.
Don wanted me to meet him and Larry Holmes (Heavyweight Champ) at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown DC. I arrived around 10 a. m. This was all a surprise to me the press conference was scheduled for 11 a. m. When Don asked me did I know anything about the press conference all I could say was “Hell no!” Ray was announcing he was turning pro and I was the last to know. I was being scooped in my own work place.
I swallowed my pride long enough to get Ray, Don King, and Larry Holmes in the studio for an interview.I should not have been surprised by Sugar Ray Leonard’s announcement to turn pro. Ray didn’t have two pennies to rub together and he needed the money.He went on to become the first pro boxer to earn 100 million dollars in boxing revenue.
When Sugar Ray Leonard needed a way out of no way, there was no Janks Morton, Mike Trainer, Charlie Brotman, J. D. Brown, Rock Newman, Glenn Harris or anyone in his family there to give him advice or to lend a helping hand.
For example, when his best friend Joe Brody brought to my attention that Mike Trainer was seeing Ray’s checks before he saw them, it was me who pulled Ray aside and told him, “this cannot continue.” I suggested he put his sister Bunny in Trainer’s office to be the caretaker for all his mail, she had an accounting background. Bunny, barely lasted a year in the office and she was gone. I saw the handwritting on the wall and told Ray, Janks Morton, Ollie Dunlop and Dave Jacobs, “when this ride is over Trainer will own the bank!” I became the “Trouble maker” in the camp when I saw Trainer or Janks talking down to to Ray’s family, I would remind him, that blood was thicker than water!
I made arrangements for a bus to take a group of Sugar Ray Leonard fans to the Baltimore Civil Center to watch him make his long awaited debut against Luis ‘The Bull’ Vega. The group included, radio talk show host Petey Greene, television news anchors Jim Vance, Fred Thomas and Maureen Bunyan, actor Robert Hooks and his son Kevin were among a host of fans and friends who would be there to cheer him on.I coordinated “The After Party” for Ray to meet and greet family and friends. The jockeying for position to be around him was a little overwhelming for me. It was then I walked away from the madness.
In December 1979 I was in the WYCB radio studio hosting my sports talk show with comedian Chris Thomas. This was after Ray beat Wilfredo Benitez for the welterweight championship of the world.My producer started to wave frantically that I had a call on line two. I punched in the line and on the other end was Sugar Ray LeonardLIVE. He called to thank me for all that I had done for him because I was there when no one else was.I thought the call was pretty special, but the call runs a distance second to the call I received from Muhammad Ali. It was five years earlier after Ali beat George Foreman for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the Worldin Zaire, Africa in December 1974.
I received a blog correspondence from Sugar Ray Leonard, Jr. several years ago. He was responding to a blog I had written about an alledge encounter he says he did not have with his father. He wanted to clear the air and set the record straight and he did. I let it go. The heading of his blog read, “I Am Not My Father!” He went on to say, “I am trying to be a better father to my children than my dad was to me.”
Despite all his success in the ring and the millions of dollars he has earned, Ray Leonard Sr. is a loser in the Game Called Life. He has left a trail of deceit and the sad part of his deceitful journey, he has not fooled his first born, Ray Jr. He mentioned to me he wants his father to go on a tour of the U. S. to discuss domestic violence–I told him not to hold his breath.
I understood exactly where Ray Jr. was coming from because his father and his partner Janks Morton had done the exact same thing to me, but they use one of the most read newspapers in America- the L. A. Times to tell lies about things that never happen as it related to my relationship with Sugar Ray Leonard. The story was written in 1989 by legendary sports columnist, the late Earl Guskey. It was written during the second Thomas Hearns fight in Las Vegas. The column was about Ray having to leave members of his entourage home for this particular fight including his brothers.
I have no clue how my name got mixed into Ray’s entourage. According the late Mike Trainer, I was one of those guys who helped Ray out when he first started, but I had become pissed off after I asked Ray for a job and got turned down–it never happen??? What really pissed me off was that Ray and Janks Morton allowed this “Redneck Proud Boy” to lie about my relationship with them. First, I have never been a part of anyone’s entourage including Muhammad Ali, second I have never asked Ray for a ticket, a dollar bill or a job! When I did need some help and support he never answered his phone.
His drug habit and domestic violent problems were of his own doing. His best man Joe Brody was the only one to come to me saying, he was scare Ray was going to OD and die. Joe said, he was drinking congac straight and snorting cocaine at the same time. Joe begged me to talk with him. He came with the old familiar song, “He will listen to you”, I reminded Joe that was when he was broke, but now he has money, he thinks he is smarter than me. In my last correspondence with Ray Jr. I asked him to do me a favor and ask his father if I ever asked him for a job, money or a ticket. I wanted clear the record also. I am still waiting for a response.
In my last face to face interview with Sugar Ray was in DC in 2014 when he was promoting “The Contender” a boxing series for NBC television. The show follows 16 promising pro boxers who come to LA to compete in a tournament. The finals taking place in Las Vegas and the winner taking home one-million dollars. Ray would be an analyst with Sylvester Stallone.He got his his first broadcasting experience co-hosting Inside Sports and now he has his own show on ESPN and now shares analyst duties with Hollywood icon, Sylvester Stallone. The beginning of the interview it looked like Ray was looking for the closest exit out. Yea, ESPN and NBC was eons away from W-O-O-K radio in NE DC. TRUTH needs noevidence!. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEC9hX3jQVo/
The Monday Morning Quarterbacks had it all wrong on why and how Hagler lost the fight to Ray. A debate that is talked about today in barbershops around the world. There are claims that Ray did absolutely nothing during those 12 rounds to earn a split decision and then there are those who claimed Ray stole the fight in the closing of each round with the flurries and that is what impressed the judges.I think that is a valid point.
My thoughts, Ray won the fight in the eyes of the judges because he outsmarted Hagler not because he outboxed him. His thing was to stay out of harm’s way and not be a victim like Thomas Hearns. Hearns decided to go toe to toe with Hagler. The judges were blindsided because they were saying to themselves, “If Hagler didn’t knock Leonard out he lost the fight.”
Ray outsmarted Roberto Duran and Don King in New Orleans in 1980 in much the same way. He frustrated Duran until he quit. Duran had the fight won before he entered the ring, but he let his ego determine the outcome. Why would I say Duran had the fight won? I was in Don King’s suite when Duran’s brain trust met with him shortly before the fight. The door in the other room where I had fallen asleep was left open. I heard Don tell Roberto’s braintrust corner that all he had to do was stay on his feet and he would be the winner—the fix was on. Duran’s ego got the best of him and he decided to do his own thing and the rest is boxing history.
The one thing that fight fans and the so-called experts overlooked—Sugar Ray Leonard was “THE CASH COW” of professional boxing during the 70s and 80s. The best example, in 1979 he beat Benitez in what was a close fight until Ray knocked him down in the 15th round. Benitez beat the clock, but the referee stopped the fight with 15 seconds left on the clock? I still had Ray winning the fight.
The first Thomas Hearns fight in Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas Hearns was leading on all three scorecards, 124-122, 125-121, and 125-121 going into the 13th round. Ray desparately needed a knockout and he got a tko inthe14th round.
The fight still haunts Hearns today. Predictably, there was controversy over the tko some experts believed that Hearns was not hurt when the fight was stopped. Evidently, those second guessers had their heads up their asses. Then there were those second-guessers asking, why the fight was not stopped in Hearn’s favor because Ray’s eye was almost completely closed–Cash Cow? In the second fight Hearns defensive skills were vastly improved. The fight would go the distance. Hearns easily outboxed Ray, Ray was holding on for dear life. The fight was called a draw. Ray later admitted Hearns had won the fight.
I think the first Hearn’s fight was some of Ray’s greatest work in his ring career. He was losing the fight going into the later rounds, but he dug down deep and proved his heart was as big as the ring he fought in. If Ray had lost that fight in 1981 Hearns would have easily become “The Cash Cow!” The brain trust in the Kronk Gym in Detroit with Emanuel Stewart, Prentis Byrd and the corner men were class acts and were heads and shoulders above Ray’s brain trust of Mike Trainer, Janks Morton, and Dave Jacobs in Palmer Park. Ray was the nugget that carried the Palmer Park Gym on his back and he was in the right place at the right time.
In Detroit, the Kronk Gym had several champions in Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, and others standing-by waiting their turn to become champions. Aaron Pryor was the great one, on the outside looking in at Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez, Thomas Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard. They were The Big Four of the welterweight division.
There was a story written in a sports blog called “Undefeated” in 2016 by a writer named Branson Wright that was completely false. The story was titled “Aaron Pryor: A Boxing Life Remembered!” It was and is “Fake News” completely false as it related to an encounter in 1979 with Sugar Ray Leonard and Aaron. The encounter was falsely claimed to have taken place at a boxing gym in Cincinnati, Ohio. Unless Aaron Pryor has a twin the 1979 encounter reported by Branson Wright is a bald-faced lie. In 1979 the only encounter Pryor had with Sugar Ray Leonard took place in Washington, DC/Palmer Park, Md. I was responsible for transportation and housing for Aaron Pryor during that encounter. Sugar Ray Leonard and Janks Morton invited him to DC to work with Ray for a week and help to prepare for his upcoming fights.
Aaron was a handful for me to handle. He brought his girlfriend/wife with him and he use her as a punching bag. They almost destroyed the apartment I got for them to stay in. My brother Earl was a DC cop and he had to call me after a disturbance at the apartment one night. He was getting ready to lock him up when Aaron blurted out my name–that is what you called being saved by the bell. After 3 days of workouts, Aaron gave Ray a boxing lesson each day. He was too much for Ray to handle and Janks cut the week short and gave him the money owed for the week and plane tickets back to Cincinnati.Aaron Pryor is definitely a boxing life to be remembered, but let us get our facts straight.
Hopefully, Branson Wright will discover a lie will change a thousand times, the truth never changes–truth needs no evidence! Marvelous Marvin Hagler is without a doubt a boxing life to be remembered—and still champion of the World!
Bill Raspberry whose fiercely independent views illuminated conflicts concerning education, poverty, crime and race. He was the first black journalists to gain a wide following in the mainstream press. In 1994 he won the Puulitzer Prize for his compelling commentarieson on a variety of social and political topics.
When I learned of his passing in the Washington Post on July 16, 2012, I was moved to remember the song “The Way We Were.”
Looking Back: I met Bill along with my friend, the late legendary radio and television icon Petey Green. I remember Petey and I were in Face’s Restaurant in Washington, DC having a late lunch one evening. Petey was working for the United Planning Organization and I had just signed on to work for the DC Recreation Department’s Roving Leader Program (Youth Gang Task Force). This was shortly before the riots in 1968. Face’s was the hang-out for the so-called “In Crowd” in what was then known as “Chocolate City!”
Petey and I were sitting at the bar debating whether the Redskins would win a game during the upcoming season and he looked over at this little guy sitting a couple of bar stools away and asked “My man what do you think?” Bill looked up from his plate and said “Man I don’t have a clue I am from Mississippi!”
As only Petey Green could the conversation went from the Redskins to picking cotton. He made Bill laugh so hard he had to get up and go to the bathroom before he peed on himself. The three of us would become fast friends and football, kids and politics would be our topic of conversation for the next several lunches.
Petey was than working with the self help group the United Planning Organization as a Neighborhood Worker, Bill was working for the Washington Post (he never mentioned he was a writer) and I was working for the DC Recreation Department as a Roving Leader (Gang Unit).
We would meet at Face’s on Friday (lunch or Happy Hour) for its legendary fish fry. Ms. Booker the chef cooked the best fish in town. I don’t remember when Bill told us he was a writer but there were two things Petey pretended to hate, the Redskins and anybody who wrote for the Washington Post! But, Bill passed the smell test because he and Petey got along fine.
My wife Hattie and I found Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Hillcrest Children’s Saturday Program in December 1968 (the result of the 1968 riots). The Center was located at 14th and W Street s in northwest DC. The program was housed in the old Turner’s Arena where legendary entertainers once performed and it was the first home of the now world famous WWE and wrestling promoter Vince McMahon ,Jr., (he took over the mantle handed down by his father and James Dudley). Mr. Dudley lived directly across the street from the arena and was Don King before Don King. He was the first black to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was also my “checks and balance” guy.
The building was then the Hillcrest Children’s Center. The Center was run by Children’s Hospital and catered to children with emotional and behavior problems.
During the riots there was talk of burning the building down because the neighbor children resented the fact that they were not allowed to use the building. The center had an indoor swimming pool, indoor and outdoor basketball courts and classrooms. It didn’t make it any easier when black neighborhood children would see white kids parading in and out of the building during the week. The building was closed on the weekend (special needs children would sometimes stay over night and into the weekend).
The administrators became concerned when the neighborhood children begin to harass the staff and their clients verbally. Someone in the community brought me to the attention of Center Director Nicholas Long as “Mr. Fix It!”
A Monday morning meeting was arranged for me to sit down with Dr. Long to discuss how to mend the fences between the center and the neighborhood. Without my knowledge Dr. Long had already devised a“Game Plan.”
The plan was for me to coordinate and oversee a Saturday recreation program for the neighborhood kids! I didn’t think much of the idea because it would intrude on me moonlighting as a wide receiver for a minor league football team on the weekends. The Virginia Sailors was an affiliate of the NFL Washington Redskins. I still had dreams of becoming a player in the NFL. I left the office of Dr. Long saying “I would think about it.”
What I was really saying was “No way Hosea!”
I could not wait to catch up with Petey and Bill on Friday at Face’s to get their opinions on how to get out of making a commitment to this“Dream Buster” of an idea! I called Petey and Bill to make sure we were still on to meet because sometimes one of us would be a no-show because of prior commitments. Petey could not make lunch so we agreed to meet at the evening “Happy Hour.”
Bill had never seen me play for the Virginia Sailors, but Petey would come out to the home games played on Saturdays in Reston, Virginia. He would leave usually leave at half-time without acknowledging he was there. Hattie would see him coming and going! He was a student of the game. Petey could tell me precisely what pass patterns I had run and exactly when I would be free lancing on my own. He would always say “You would have made a great actor!” It was all a part of the on field game that I played with the defensive back to get the upper hand.
The meeting at Face’s took a turn for the worst when both of them jumped on me for putting football ahead of the kids. I was surprised when Bill said, “You need to do this and we got your back.” Petey just looked at me and said “Don’t look at me!” The decision was made and the rest is community history.
My Spingarn high school teammate Andrew Johnson and my brother Earl were DC cops and covered for me on the weekends when the team was out of town.
Bill Raspberry’s word was good (unheard of today in media), during our relationship he never lied to me. You could carry his word to the bank. Folks in media run a close second to politicians when it comes to telling a lie.
Bill and I didn’t always agree, if I brought something to his attention and he didn’t feel comfortable addressing, he would say “Harold I am going to pass on that one you handle it”, and I would!
For the next decade Bill’s columns would challenged the DC Police Department when they refused to allow my brother Earl K. Bell employment because of his juvenile delinquent past. Shortly after his story was published the department back tracked and him. Earl spent 14 years as a DC cop obtaining the rank of sergeant while fighting the Thin Blue Line and Code of Silence. There would be several other stories in his column with me as the focal point. He really had my back as he followed my trials and tribulations in the community as it related to kids in trouble.
With Bill and Petey showing their support by participating in my community endeavors others would follow their lead (athletes, judges, politicians, entertainers and media personalities, etc. joined the team). It also didn’t hurt to have their VIP wives Sondra and Judy in their ears as back-ups on my behalf!
William Raspberry’s support allowed me to excel and blossom as a Youth and Community Advocate. He also gave me an earful when he thought my radio show the “Original Inside Sports” was politically incorrect, but it was always “Constructive Criticism and never Destructive Criticism!”
We went our separate ways over a trivia disagreement and became like ships passing in the night. Much like Petey, Bill died without me telling him how much I appreciated and loved him.
In November 2021 Hattie and I will celebrate our 53rd wedding anniversary and December will mark our 53rd annual Christmas Toy Party for needy elementary school children (without grants or loans). The first was held at the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program in 1968. It only happened because Bill Raspberry kicked me in the butt (verbally) and made me get my priorities in order when I truly needed to.
On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, the House passed a bill titled “The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.” It is named after 46-year-old George Floyd who died Memorial Day 2020 after a racist Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The bill passed along party lines 220-212 with two Democrats voting against the bill and one Republican pressing a button that said “NO” but meaning “YES.” He was Lance Gooden of Texas. He was allowed to change his vote.
As I looked back at this bill there is no one in DC, Maryland, or Virginia who has made their presence known more than Harold Bell in the fight against racism in police Departments in the black community, especially in DC and Prince George’s County where it has been the Wild-Wild West when it comes to unarmed black men and women being shot and killed just for the hell of it. Now we can add Hispanics and those blacks from Africa and the Caribbean Islands who didn’t think they were black. They got a wake-up call when they were stopped on that lonely highway late at night or in the wee-wee hours of the morning by a racist cop, be he black or white. He approaches your car calling you “Nigger” with his hand on his gun. You are trying to explain to him that you are not Black, because you are from Haiti or Nigeria. You are finally getting the wake-up call you have been asking for in America!
I have been in this struggle for 55+ years starting as a Neighborhood Worker for the United Planning Organization (UPO) in 1965. My co-workers were Petey Greene and H Rap Brown. I remember the struggle in 1966 carried me back to my old neighborhood in NE DC. A young black man had been shot and killed by a white cop. His crime, he had allegedly stolen a 29 cents pack of cookies. The crime was committed at Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road NE in a convenience store on the wrong side of the tracks. His name was Clarence “Bug” Booker. The shooting brought back memories that I would rather have forgotten.
I will never forget my young brother Earl and I left home to cross those same railroad tracks that “Bug” crossed in search of those cookies. Our destination was the Safeway where I carried groceries on the weekend to help my welfare mother make ends meet. Booker was shot in walking distance of the Safeway store. I had flashbacks because there went me or my brother Earl.
Let me tell you the story of what happened on that cold December night. Earl entered the store from the back and I entered on the Minnesota Avenue side from the front. I was known to the Safeway clerks and staff and no one paid me any attention while I made my way down the aisle pretending I was searching for someone to help carry their groceries to their car or their home in the neighborhood. Earl and I made a clean getaway or so we thought with lunch meats and cheese stuffed down our pants and in our coats. We were about to cross the tracks to our home when a cop car jumped the curb with two cops jumping out with guns drawn–they were yelling and cussing calling us Niggers and telling us to put our hands up high. I was scared to death, but Earl was cool. He was trying to figure out how in the hell did they catch up with us?
The cops threw us in the back of the car and one of the rednecks held his gun on us while they sped up Benning Road to the 14th precinct with the siren on full blast. When they got us to the precinct both jumped out of the car and Earl and I use the moment to hide our meat and cheese under their seats. They pushed us into the precinct in front of a little old white lady asking her “are these the two boys that robbed you?” She looked up and said, “These are not the two niggers that snatched my pocketbook.” For the first time, the word nigger coming from someone white was music to my ears. One of the Redneck cops told us to get the hell out of his station house. Earl and I hurried and got out of his station.
The cops threw us in the back of the car and one of the rednecks held his gun on us while they sped up Benning Road to the 14th precinct with the siren on full blast. When they got us to the precinct both jumped out of the car and Earl and I use the moment to hide our meat and cheese under their seats. They pushed us into the precinct in front of a little old white lady asking her “are these the two boys that robbed you?” She looked up and said, “These are not the two niggers that snatched my pocketbook.” For the first time, the word nigger coming from someone white was music to my ears. One of the Redneck cops told us to get the hell out of his station house. Earl and I hurried and got out of his station house.
We started to take a shortcut home through the woods called “G Man Diamond.” We crossed the street heading into the woods and we looked at each other and turned around. We went back to get our food from under the cop car seats. Yea it was crazy-but we were hungry.
The moral of the story, we could have been Clarence ‘Bug’ Booker shot and killed for stealing lunch meat and cheese. Back to the scene of the crime where Booker was shot dead. His walking partner and friend was a young juvenile delinquent name Rufus Catfish Mayfield, he was a known petty theft and had served time in reform school for stealing a car. He was raising hell trying to stir up things to confront the police, without my knowledge Marion Barry was hanging around the fringes of the crime scene checking things out.
He was working behind the scenes making a deal to quell the threat of violence. He made a deal with the U. S. Labor Department to sponsor a program called Pride, Inc. The program received a grant the first year for $300,000 to hire hundreds of inner-city youth like Catfish Mayfield. The second-year the grant was worth two-million dollars, Marion and wife Mary Treadwell swooped in on Catfish who was in over his head and kidnapped Pride, Inc. Marion would use Pride as his platform to kick-start his political career to make him “Mayor for Life.”
I was 10 years Catfish’s senior, but we grew up in the same Parkside Housing project. His family lived in the 600 block of Kenilworth Terrace and I lived in the 700 block of Kenilworth Terrace and that was all we had in common. I had no love for the police simply because I had never forgotten the lunch meat and cheese encounter and how they use to kick my door down late in the night or the wee hours of the morning raiding my house and taking my mother out in handcuffs. She sold bootleg liquor and cut a nickel on a dollar in a game called Pitty-Pat on the weekends.
Earl and I would sit on the steps and cry, but my mother would always look back and say, “I will be back in time to dress you for the church in the morning” and she always did, I never forgot. From 1965 until 2021 I worked to bring peace to my community as a Neighborhood Worker for the United Planning Organization, Roving Leader for the DC Department of Recreation & Parks, Presidential Appointee for the Nixon White House, founder of my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, and last but not least a pioneering sports talk radio personality with the Original Inside Sports. During the 1968 riots, I walked the streets for three days and three nights with nothing but a police badge. My friend and mentor Captain Tilmon O’Bryant convinced me I could make a difference or die trying. He swore me in as a cop without a gun.
Instead of making a difference I watched The Thin Blue Line and The Code of Silence hender the growth of my brothers and other good cops. My younger brother, DC cop Sgt. Earl K. Bell and my older brother Bobby Bell, a 20 year veteran of the U. S. Marshall Service. I watched them fight a system that is still there today. There are some good cops out there, but they stand by and watch the cowards and bullies run the departments, FOP/KKK. My high school friend and teammate, Andrew Johnson was a good cop. He was a foot patrolman, homicide detective and retired as supervisor for the DEA. We worked hand and hand in the community.
During the riots I met a great brother who was an undercover FBI agent, Wayne Davis. He and I became fast friends.
I met the late Wayne Davis on the streets of DC during the 1968 riots. In 1970 he was assigned as a desk supervisor at FBI HQ in Washington, DC. The assignment made him only the second black in FBI history to hold that position. Wayne and I would have lunch years later and he reminded me who were the real heroes of the 1968 riots in DC. He named DC’s first black Mayor, Walter Washington, and Patrick Murphy, the Director of the Police and Fire Departments as the real heroes. When I asked him to explain, he said, “When my boss suggested to shoot looters on sight, and they said ‘Hell No” we would never know how many lives they saved. J Edgar never consulted with members of his staff, this decision was made solely by him and his inner circle.” Wayne grew up in Newark, NJ where he was an outstanding high school athlete. He was the captain of the University of Connecticut basketball and track teams. He left DC and the next thing I knew he was the Agent in Charge in the Detroit Office of the FBI in 1980. I was in Detroit that same year covering Thomas “Hit Man” Hearn’s first title fight. I invited Wayne to attend fight. We watched Hearns knock out the champion Pipino Guevas in the 8th round to become the new welterweight champion of the World.
One evening in 1989 I found Mayor Marion Barry in Face’s Restaurant located on upper Georgia Avenue NW. The restaurant was a hangout for the “DC in crowd.” I asked his driver and security officer William Stays to go into the restaurant and tell the Mayor I needed to see him. Stays without question went into the restaurant and brought him out to me. I told Marion I had information that the FBI was on his trail and he needed to step back. His response, “Harold I appreciate the information, but I got everything under control!” Several months later, ‘The Bitch Set Him Up.” The Saturday before he was to go to jail on Monday, he stopped by W-U-S-T radio station with my college roommate, DC Boxing Commissioner, the late Dr. Arnold McKnight. The first world out of Marion’s mouth, “Harold Bell is always going to tell the truth.” He confessed, “Harold I should have listen to you.” Too little too late!
I testified during a DC City Council confirmation hearing against the hiring of Peter Newsham as DC Police Chief. He was not worthy and they hired him anyway. The murder and crime rate skyrocketed every year he held office. I forewarned Mayor Bowser, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Councilwoman Mary Che with written proof that I gave to them personally. We cannot blame Newshame on Donald Trump. I wrote a Priority Mail letter signature required to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan warning him about cowboy cops patrolling black neighborhoods harrassing the residents. Four years later he has yet to respond. https://theoriginalinsidesports.blog/…/cops-keep but now he is suddenly jumping on the band wagon of Police Reform? Whom ever took the poll approving his job rating for the state, you can bet they are on his payroll.
PG COUNTY EXECUTIVE ANGELA ALSOBROOKS EXHIBIT A:
*COUNTY WITHOUT A POLICE CHIEF FOR 9 MONTHS?
*SCHOOL BOARD IS IN SHAMBLES?
*COVID 19 HAS BECOME A POLITICAL FOOTBALL FOR ALL?
*COUNTY PAID 20 MILLION DOLLARS TO FAMILY BECAUSE OF A BAD SHOOTING BY A DERANGED COP?
*COUNTY SPENT 13 MILLION DOLLARS TO SURPRESS COURT FINDINGS OF RACISM IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT? WHO IS ON FIRST FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY?
MY QUESTION TO THE CAPITOL HILL POLITICIANS: WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?
6Jacques Chevalier, Clara Canty and 4 others1 Comment1 ShareLikeCommentShare
The U street NW corridor was the home of jazz greats, civil rights icons and Ronal ‘Blue’ Hamilton in the late 60s. I met ‘Blue’ at Harrison Elementary School where he was a student/athlete. The school was located directly across the street from Children’s Hospital, two blocks from Cardozo High School and one block from the U Street corridor. Harrison was definitely a inner-city school. When I received the call from Ricky Williams (a card carrying member of the KIT Saturday Program) with the sad news that Ronald Hamilton aka ‘Blue’ had recently made his transition. “The Good Old Days” came rushing back.
In 1965 I watched civil rights history change right before my eyes. It seem like H Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael and Marion Barry all arrived in DC around the same time. Brown would join Petey Greene and me as a neighborhood Worker for the United Planning Organization, Carmichael took over as the Chairman of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) and Brown would follow him as the chair in 1967. Marion had eyes only for Pride, Inc. In 1966 Marion would kidnapp Pride Inc from a teen ager name Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield. I was 10 years Mayfield’s senior, but we grew up in the same NE Parkside housing project. He lived in the 600 block of Kenilworth Terrace and I lived in the 700 block of Kenilworth Terrace that was all we had in common.
Catfish had inherited Pride, Inc as a result of his friend Clarence “Bug” Booker being shot and killed near Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, NE. Booker was shot in the back by a white cop who accused the pair of stealing a 29 cents box of cookies, all hell broke loose. Catfish was a 17 year old juvenile delinquent who was a petty theft and had served time in reform school for car theft. The potential for violence was real, but cooler heads prevailed, and out of those ashes came Pride Inc.
To quell the potential from further violence the U. S. Labor Department sponsored the project with a grant the first year for $300,000. The program would provide hundreds of jobs for at-risk youth like Mayfield. The second year the Labor Department’s grant was worth two-million dollars. Marion Barry and his wife Mary Treadwell were like sharks in the water smelling blood. The two swooped in on Catfish who was just a teenager in over his head. Marion use the Pride platform to jump start his political career. Marion and Mary Treadwell were later convicted in 1983 for fraudulent mis-using federal funds earmarked for Pride, Inc. Treadwell pleaded guilty of all charges sparing Marion jail time. Catfish was able to piggyback off of Marion’s civil rights platform and has since become a designated “Civil Rights” leader. Marion gave little or no credit to Catfish as the creator and heart of Pride, Inc. Read his book “Mayor For Life.”
In 1967 while still working for UPO I would meet Muhammad Ali on the campus of Howard University and the rest is community and sports media history.
1967 would be a very good year for me, UPO would give a grant to the DC Recreation Department to hire additional Roving Leaders for their “Youth Gang Task Force.” I would be a part of that grant package. I left UPO for the Department of Recreation & Parks’ in November 1967. Petey Greene stayed at UPO where he became the radio voice of black DC with “Petey Greene’s Washington.” He was heard every Sunday evening on W-O-L radio. I would later join him with a five minute sports report.
In the meantime, enter Ronald ‘Blue’ Hamilton, Lee House, Bernard ‘Fantastic’ Hillary, Ricky Williams, Gene Ward, Stacy Robinson, Keith Jackson, Raymond ‘Sweet Toot’ Hill, Thurston McLain, Tyrone Shorter, Lloyd ‘Preacher’ Jones, Michael “Dynamite” Palmer, Johnny Robinson, Michael Gordon aka Michael Gee, Jimmy Lee and brothers, Ronnie and Vincent. They were all students attending Harrison Elementary. They spent their evenings at the Harrison Rec Center located directly across the street from the school, both facilities were one block off the U street corridor. This was truly a inner-city school in every sense of the word. They didn’t have a care and politics were the last thing on their fragile minds.
I was re-introducing myself to the school environment in Cardozo/Shaw. My stint as a ‘Neighborhood Worker’ for UPO made it easier for me to transition into my new role as a Roving Leader. School leadship led by Harrison Principal, Mr. Cousins and Physical Ed teacher, Mr. Davis was the best, they really made ‘Children First.’ These black men were a breath of fresh air that I have not seen since. When Sugar Ray Leonard was trying to get his act together, Mr. Cousins granted him an audience with the children. He had lost his self-esteem and they helped him to regain it–they only saw the hero.
Our Prince of Peace Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 I spend three days and nights on the streets of DC with nothing but a police badge issued to me by Captain Tilmon O’Bryant of the 4th District Headquarters. The badge allowed me to cross police and military barricades anywhere in the city to help try to keep the peace. The only thing I was scare of was a scare cop mistaking me for a looter and shooting me down in the streets. I could not wait to return that badge to Tilmon O’Bryant.
My wife Hattie and I found our non-profit organization Kids In Trouble and were the host for our first Christmas toy party for needy children in December 1968. After 45 straight years of toy parties in the DMV without grants or loans Hattie said, ‘No Mas’ and I turned in my Santa Hat and keys to the sleigh.
Blue tried to participate in every toy party I gave for the children, he would show up at places I thought were off the beaten path for him, but there he was that smile and “Hey Mr. Bell.” I affectionately called him “Captain Knucklehead.” He was a member of the football and basketball teams at Harrison and Hillcrest Saturday Programs. He could not play dead, but he was one of those guys who gave his all. He also thought I could still make things happen after he became a grown man and I was an old man barely hanging on myself. He would call asking if I could find him a job, pay his electric bill, find him an apartment, etc. One night I was attending a NBA Wizards’ game at the Verizon Center and I spotted him working. He was with my friend Kay Ettridge, she was a former DC cop and she was his supervisor and mentor. I was elated he had a job, but happier that his mentor was Kay. Several years later that job would come to an end with new management. He would later call saying, “Mr. Bell I am over here near Sibly Hospital can you come and get me?” It was Sunday and raining, it was hard to say “NO” but I did.
My last call from Blue came two years ago to tell me his social Security had come through. He wanted me to help find him an apartment! He promised he was going to bring me a piece of money–I am still waiting (smile).
Father Raymond Kemp our watchdog priest from the house of St. Paul & Augustine Church, responding to the news of Blue’s demise on FB, he brought to my attention that there was a drowning incident at the Hillcrest Saturday Program pool back in the day. I remember one incident on my watch. It was on a cold November Saturday and I walked into the pool and spotted a body lying at the botton. Everyone was swimming all around him. I dove in and pulled him out-it was a little kid we called Horsey. I didn’t know mouth to mouth so I ran with him in my arms soaking wet to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room–they saved his life, but I would take the credit for it everytime I would see him, I would say “Boy I saved your life.” He would just laugh.
The first ever national NFL community television promo on water safety was video taped at the Hillcrest Saturday Program. Redskins Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton were taped teaching water safety to the kids. Those were ‘The Good Old Days’ with Dave Bing, John Thompson, Jim Brown, Red Auerbach, Petey Greene, Larry Brown, Harold McLinton, Roy Jefferson, they made Blue and the Kids In Trouble Hillcrest Saturday Program the best in the DMV. Those days were truly “The Good Old Days.”
It makes you wonder how will today’s children describe ‘The Good Old Days’ to their children and grandchildren? Will they remember ‘The Good Old Days’ as Donald Trump being the worst U. S. President in American history and how he let Covid 19 be on track to kill a million U. S. residents? Or will they tell their children stories on how racism in police departments across America killed a record number of black, unarmed minority men and women in our streets for no rhyme or reason? And how a Lie became the New Normal among black and white leadership in American politics? Will they tell how their heroes and sheroes were spooks that sit by the door with titles and high paying jobs, but their success and contribution was like having a “Hero Sandwich” without the meat. RIP Ronald Hamilton.