LOOKING BACK EARL K. BELL: A VETERAN’S DAY PROFILE IN COURAGE!

EARL K BELL RACISM0005

ARMY SERGEANT LED THE EXPLOSIVE RACIAL CONFRONTATIONS IN GERMANY

By Bernard Garnett August 28, 1969 (JET Magazine)

“Next year. when I complete my present hitch, I’m not going to re-enlist.  I’m giving up the Army because there’s too much racism.”

This sentiment–common among young black servicemen–was voiced in Washington, DC, by Earl K. Bell a disgruntled 28 year old Army staff sergeant who led a nearly explosive civil rights protest in Nuremberg, West Germany, last spring.  The tall, robust, 250-pound veteran of eight years was denouncing the military, fully aware that such an action could lead to severe disciplinary action.

That same week, S/Sgt. Bell’s 30-year-old brother, Harold K. Bell, was at the White House exchanging pleasantries with President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State William P. Rogers, for whom he caddied as a youngster at suburban Washington’s Burning Tree Golf Course (Jet Magazine July 31).  The re-union led to a Presidential appointment.

With their seemingly contrasting outlooks, Harold and Earl shared the same poverty-ridden backgrounds.  The four Bell brothers (including Alfred, now 31, a tire salesman, and William, 20, a Marine Corps Private/First-class) grew up without a father in a DC low-income housing project.  Still youngters when their mother was on welfare, they grew up on the black ghetto’s proverbial “dead-end street”.

A turn of fate changed Harold’s life in the mid-1950s, after embarking on a 20-mile journey to Burning Tree, seeking part-time employment “to get some food money.”With other inner-city black men, he served as a caddy for Washington VIPs, but his favorite was then Vice-President Nixon, who frequented the links with Attorney General William Rogers.  “Mr. Nixon took a personal interest in me,” the muscular 6-foot-2, 185-pounder recalls.  ‘I would ride back with them to the MD/DC line, this allowed me to catch my bus back to my NE housing project.  During the ride the Vice-President and I to my surprise would talk sports, but he put heavy importance on my education.’      

A high school football, baseball and basketball star, Harold Bell would win an athletic scholarship to Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.  He left college in 1963 to chase his dreams to play in the NFL, but he came up short.  He returned home to take a position with the United Planning Organization (a community self-help orgaization) as a Neighborhood worker.

Meanwhile, Earl Bell–like many blacks sought to escape the lack of opportunities in civilian life through a military career.  He enlisted in 1961, served two tours of duty in Germany.  He was the Army’s heavyweight boxing champion in 1963.  Earl  was also a table tennis champion and first string fullback on the Army Football team.  He served as platoon sergeant in Nurenberg from 1966 until his overseas tour ended last month.

It was not long before he detected racial bias in promotions and in disciplinary actions as it related to black troops.  He told Jet, “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, Bell said, ‘Black officers, apparently protecting their positions, did little to correct inequities’. 

Three years ago, Bell tried unsuccessfully to have segregated off-base housing in Nurenberg declared off-limits, but he was rebuffed.  He complained to Rep. Charles Diggs (D-Mich.)  and the Pentagon.  Finally, he obtained adequate housing for his family, but the struggle for equality never ended.

On May 30, S/Sgt. Bell’s relentless drive reached a climaxat at a segregated discotheque (The Cage) in downtown Nurenberg.  Black servicemen had been refused admission previously, he led 35 militant troops in a march that almost ended in bloodshed, particularly when U. S. Army Military Police (mostly white) were rushed to the scene.  Bell on leave in Washington before beginning a one-year stint as a supply instructor at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia said, “I was the only peaceful man in downtown Nurenberg, everyone else wanted to fight.  I kept saying, ‘Be cool’ on that night the black soilders were not worried about going to jail or about their military records.  They also cared less about getting into the discotheque, all they wanted to do was straighten the white man out.”

S/Sgt. Bell’s perfect service record was marred a month later while umpiring a softball game.  He drew a $30 fine for identifying himself to a white lieutenant as “Mr. Bell.”  Insisting that normal military courtesy regulations are waived during athletic competitions.   Bell claimed the lientenant– a grandstand spectator who joined an argument between the umpire and two players on the field–was out of order and the citation was no more than his white superiors seizing a opportunity to retaliate for the night club incident. ‘If my tour of duty had not been over, he said, I would have stayed and fought the case’. 

Open and vocal allegations of racism no longer are unusual among black servicemen.  Rep. Diggs, who said he had received thousands of complaints from all branches of service during his 14 years on Capitol Hill.  He recently disclosed plans to investigate the July 20th Camp Lejeune, NC racial incident that resulted in the death of one white Marine and injury to 14 others (Jet August 14).  The acting Defense Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, L. Howard Bennett, said his office has probed numerous alligations of racism, though the policy of not identifying troops by race has hampered investigations.

Meanwhile, black militancy increases.  A number of blacks have risked punitive action rather than exert force against blacks in ghetto riots, and others are punished for refusing to fight in Viet Nam. Black troops from Ft. Belvoir–in civilian clothing–were among the anti-war demostrators who marred President Nixon’s inauguration last January.  Last year, the Navy created a special staff to handle race relations, and Marine top brass in Washington have been sent directives to all base commanding officers supporting young black recruits’ rights to wear neatly groomed afro hair styles. Plus, reliable reports from the Pentagon indicate that black re-enlistments have dwindled considerably in the last few years.

S/Sgt. Bell notes from his Army experiences, the young black man of today grew up listening to Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, and he is not going to accept the old white racist attitude.  He is willing to suffer the consequences by telling them to go to hell.  Bell adds, that with doors opening in civilian life , the young black man is finding it less advantageous to join a racist Army.

Summary: 

The late Sgt. Earl K. Bell became a Military Policeman (MP) and returned home to become a DC cop to help make his community a safer place.  He rose to the rank of Sergeant only to face the same racism he thought he had left behind in Germany.  My older brother Alfred joined the U. S. Marshall service and they both encountered “The Thin Blue Line and Code of Silence” use to stunt their growth in law-enforcement.  Today “The Establishment” is using that same military and flag as a camouflage to stunt the growth of black athletes in the NFL.  Its rather ironic in 1969 in the above story my brother Earl recognized, “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, Black officers, apparently protecting their positions, did little to correct inequities”  In 2017 forty-eight years later the exact same thing can be said of today’s superstar athletes and media personalities across the board.  Today there is a very thin line between ‘COURAGE and a Coward’!

 

“War and racism are not the answers for only love can conquer hate.” Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Going On’

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY: SANTA CLAUS AIN’T COMING TO THE GHETTO!

It is that time of year again when suddenly folks are in the giving mode of their lives (November and December).  The poor and down trodden have been ignored from January through October, but now they are in the spotlight thanks to a turkey and a guy called Santa Claus (sometimes he is one of the same).  Your television screens will be overrun with promos by multi-million dollar corporations like grocery chains, banks, clothing stores, radio and television stations asking you to meet them on a designated street corner or at the bank.  Your cash or toy donation will help them to make some kid and his family happy with a turkey dinner and a toy—thanks for giving?  Even some churches will get into the act of pretending that they care.  There will be turkey dinners, toys for tots and exchange your gun program for a gift card to save some child’s life—the brother turning in his one gun in all probability has two and a shotgun in his car.  If Santa shows up in the ghetto, he will be diguised as a cop, preacher or politician.  Check the DMV and see what police department that the Department of Justice has launched yet another discrimination investigation and see how many white churches have gun exchange programs–buyer beware!

The NBA and NFL will showcase some of their biggest stars at food kitchens serving hot turkey dinners, and hosting toy parties for needy children with “Officer Friendly” along for the ride!  The problem, they are much like Cinderella.  They will disappear at midnight (the new year) and its back to business as usual, they will go into hibernation in their gated communities until the following November.  In the meantime, Santa Claus ain’t coming to the ghetto and neither are “Sacred Cows” like Sugar Ray Leonard, John Thompson, Randy Kenney, James Brown, Michael Wilbon or Stephen A. Smith and little children will continue to die—Merry Christmas!

KIDS WILL DIE

This is for the men and women of color and especially for the kids who will die.  And black kids will surely continue to die.  The old and the rich will live on awhile, as always.  Eating blood and gold, while letting little kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi organizing share croppers.  Little black girls and boys will die in the streets of Chicago while jumping rope and shooting baskets in front of their homes.  Kids will die in Compton for wearing the wrong colors to school.  Kids will die in Potomac Gardens, Simple City and Barry Farms in the Nation’s Capitol.  And little kids will die in Forestville, and District Heights, Maryland—just because they are black.

People of color will die who don’t believe in lies, bribes, contentment and cops who want to make war in our community instead of peace—kids will die.  Let us not forget the sleazy courts and their sleazy judges and the blood loving politicians who also make war and not peace.  There are the money loving pimping preachers in the pulpit who pretend they are making peace.  And all they are making is money with the powers to-be who are responsible for kids who die.  They will raise their hands against the kids who will die, beating them with the Bible, laws, clubs, bayonets, and bullets are use to frighten the people to go along to get along—while kids are dying!

Of course, the wise and the learned who pen editorials in the paper and write best-selling books according to the NY Times and Oprah Winfrey—know best!  And then there are those with Dr. in front of their name pretending they live in the richest black county in America despite having the highest foreclosure rate in the country and a school system in chaos.  All of this while little kids die.

For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—and the old and rich don’t want the people to taste the iron of the kids who die.

They don’t want the people to get wise to their own power and to believe in the Harold Bells, Gary Johnsons, Maggie Lintons and the Jemele Hills of the world.  Former NFL football great and now a television color analyst Randy Moss recently said, “A lie does not care who tells it”!  The TRUTH, kids are dying.

https://www.gofundme.com/the-day-ali-made-media-history / Thanks to friend and foe for the support and inspiration you have given me.  I never could have made it without you.

Noteworthy: In a Bleacher Report blog Kevin Durant sounds off, (a must read) “There Ain’t No Loyalty in the NBA”.  He says, ‘Just because you hold up a trophy does not make you a champion’.  The same can be said for black media personalities, just because you are black does not make you an expert on the black experience.

OPEN LETTER: DR. HARRY EDWARDS “OUR TRUTH”!

This Open Letter is in response to Dr. Harry Edwards after I emailed him about an interview relating to the American Flag and NFL players. Dr. Edwards is the founder of “The 1968 Mexico City Olympic Project”.  The project was made famous when American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black glove fist to demonstrate against racial discrimination in America.  That moment in American history has been re-visited by former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers–coincident?

 

H-
Really VERY busy right through here – we are 0-5 at the SF 49ERS, I am working with Nor Cal educators in fire-ravaged communities on the potential role of sports in helping kids and communities to heal and deal with the trauma , and of course there is the ongoing “4th Wave “ of Black athlete activism in response to police violence and other injustices. When you are REALLY busy , not a lot of time for conversation.

H-

Harry,

Let me address your “VERY busy” to make sure I understand your “VERY busy” and how it does not compare to my ‘VERY busy–except in dollars and sense.

Harry, you have done some wonderful things when comes to using athletics and community advocacy as a way to reach back to help your community, but you didn’t invent the wheel when it came to those two entities.

For example; I have been “VERY busy” in the war zones of the inner-city since 1960 when “The Greensbor 4” students at North Carolina A & T University said, ‘Enough is enough’ and sit down at a Woolworth lunch counter in downtown Greensboro and asked to be served.  They jump started the modern day Civil Rights Movement.  I was a student/athlete at Winston-Salem State University 30 miles up the road when the movement hit the twin-cities.  Despite a warning from my Coach Clarence Bighouse Gaines saying, ‘If I catch any of you knuckleheads taking part in the boycott downtown I will put you on the first thing smoking back to the ghetto’. The warning went in one ear and out the other.  Three of my teammates and I joined the boycott while trying to stay out of the eye of the television carmeras.     

In 1965 my first job out of college was with the United Planning Organization as a Neighborhood Worker (community self-help).  My co-workers were  the legendary community advocates Petey Greene and H Rap Brown.  We walked the streets together for two years before Rap took over the leadeship role with SNNC, Petey hung in there with UPO and I moved on to a new role as a Roving Leader with the DC Department of Parks & Recreation.  I was assigned to its “Youth Gang Task Force.”  This was years before you hit it big with the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Boycott. 

when you teamed up with “The Great” Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers in 1987, I had already teamed up with the ‘Greater’ Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics in 1974. My only regret with Red, I didn’t tell him that Maryland basketball player Len Bias was on drugs before he made him No. 1 in the NBA draft.

NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame because I was able to convince Red and Washington Times sports’ columnist Dick Heller to help me campaign for his 2003 induction.  I also recruited James Brown, along with Celtic great Sam Jones, but James disappeared without a trace after asking me if I had checked with Wizards’ owner Abe Polin.  I reminded him, Abe was not my father and I didn’t work for him.

Harry, I appreciate you saying, “H-Your Inside Sports platform and archives should be given the broadest possible exposure and the discs of your program should be included in the new New Museum of African American  History & Culture. There will be a wing 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”.  Great job over the years, great timing in reprising that legacy now”. 

Harry, I was honored and I am forever grateful just for the thought, but the only museum and hall of fame I am interested in being included in is God’s Hall of Fame and my chances of making his are slim and none.  In the meantime, I am still defining and projecting “Our Truth”!

This thought brings me back to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon as it relates to “Our Truth” he does not have a clue, but he has plenty of company.  I have tried to give Wilbon the benefit of the doubt as it has related to several lies he has told me.  I understand “Courage” plays an important role when it comes to truth and there are far too many of us who lack courage to stand for something and not fall for just anything.

Wilbon, recently called the NFL a “Plantation” if you know Wilbon you would have to wonder where did he suddenly get the balls to allow the word plantation to slip out of his mouth?  His most passion plea relating to a black and white issue was when his Washington Post colleague John Feinstein called him “The biggest ass kisser in sports media” other than that silence as it relates to racism in media and sports has been ‘Golden’ to him.  The ongoing struggle to sit or stand for the national anthem in the NFL is just the tip of the iceberg. 

You along with our then Conrade in Arms, Jim Brown pointed out on Inside Sports decades ago the plantation mentality and struggle of the black athlete started and lives at the college level. You think Wilbon has finally caught up?  The slave mentality is fresh and prevails, the thought of inmates running the prison is a reality for owners in the NFL.

Congratulations to the World Champions Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers for participating in one of the most exciting World Series in my memory. Still you could count on one hand the on field participation of African-Americans.  This is the game we call America’s favorite pastime?  Jackie Robinson must be turning over in his grave.

For example; your new friend NFL/CBS Studio host James Brown was named a minority owner of the Washington Nationals in 2006.  I immediately questioned him about his role as a minority owner.  First, I pointed out, he made no decisions involving trades, hiring or firing managers, coaches and front office personel to run day to day operations. His role was to serve as a token black face to announce the Opening Day line-up over the public address system and to show up at team functions and designated Board meetings. He finally got my message when he confessed on the late George Michael’s television sports talk show.  He said, “George I make no personnel decisions for the Washington Nationals.”  I bet you a dollar to a donut the Lerner brothers the owners of the Washington Nationals never consulted with him before they fired Dusty Baker. The best manager in the history of the franchise. He improved his won-lost record from year one to year two!

Next up Magic Johnson, he was also named a minority owner for the L. A. Dodgers.  He follows closely in the footsteps of James Brown.  He makes no personnel decisions for the Dodgers except to request tickets for the games, to his credit he parlayed that into a front office position with the L. A. Lakers (President of Basketball Operations) thanks to the late owner Jerry Buss.

The new lead-off hitter and latest token minority owner (4%) Derek Jeter a former New York Yankee great is now the black face of the Tampa Bay Marlins.  His first official duties were to fire MLB Hall of Fame players Andre Dawson and Tony Perez.  Dawson and Perez are both men of color and had been working in the front-office of the Marlins for over two decades. Jeter delivered the bad news that the new owners wanted to go in another direction, like limit the number of people of color in the organization.  This is nothing new in MLB, the number of on field Afro-American players is its lowest in decades.  James Brown, Magic Johnson and Derek Jeter are the best examples, “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”

None of these guys have ever been in the war zones of their communities until after their athletic careers were inked on a professional contract. James Brown came close, he was a model in my annual toys for tots Kids In Trouble & Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Show.   He was then employed as a sales rep at Xerox.

In 1968 when the riots hit DC Willie Wood (NFL), Judge Luke C. Moore (1st black modern day U. S. Marshall in Charge) and I walked arm and arm in the U street NW corridor trying to save lives without guns or police protection. I was the only civilian swore-in and given a DC Police Department badge that allowed me to cross police and military barriers set up around the city.

In 1969 I was in the right place at the right time when President Richard Nixon honored me with a Presidential appointment for my work with inner-city children.

My first assigment was with the President’s Counsel on Physical Fitness and Sports. I worked with the legendary Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson for a year before settling in with Secretary Melvin Laird at the Department of Defense.  If it was about becoming a millionaire the opportunity was there for the taking.  My passion then as is now, “Children First” but Jim Brown reminded me, ‘Harold, childre don’t vote’.

In Washington, DC in 1970 I became the 1st black to host and produce my own radio sports talk show, Inside Sports.  The show was out of Compton long before NWA.  

I was the first sports talk show host to play message music, hold discussions on racism inside and outside of sports, media roundtables, write commentaries, etc.  The media personalities who came through Inside Sports read like a Who’s Who, to include your new friend James Brown and Bill Rhoden of the New York Times. 

In 1974 Muhammad Ali shocked the world when he knocked out the undefeated Heavyweight Champion, big George Foreman.  It was the greatest upset in boxing history now known as, “The Rumble in the Jungle”. The first sports media personality to interview Ali when he arrived back in the United States, was not Ed Bradley of CBS 60 Minutes, Bryant Gumble of NBC’s Morning Show or Howard Cosell a television sports icon seen and heard on the ABC network.  His first interview was with yours truly a little known sports talk show host heard on W-U-S-T a gospel AM radio station in Washington, DC.

Ali proved to be a man of his word, in the summer of 1974 I met with him in Chicago to talk about a one on one interview. In that meeting I politely said “No” to his invitation to fly to Zaire (I was scared to fly across the ocean) for the interview.  After he got through laughing at me, he promised that I would be the first to interview him when he got back to the states after he knocked out Foreman. 

One week after the fight I was asleep in my SE DC apartment when my telephone rang.  It was raining and I was in a deep sleep, I reached over and picked up the phone and said, “Hello”.  The voice on the other end said, “Let me speak to Harold Bell” and I asked who was calling the voice yelled back, ‘Fool this is the Heavyweight Champion of the whole wide world, Muhammad Ali.’ I sat straight up in the bed and said, “Whats up champ?” I could not believe my ears.  I thought I was dreaming. The rest is sports media history.  In 1975 thanks to the late television anchor Jim Vance I became the 1st black to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC afiliate WRC-TV 4.  My special guest was Muhammad Ali.

In the meantime, the Washington Post was conspiring to kidnap my tag “Inside Sports” with a writer in their Style section name John Walsh.  He took my title to New York City in 1978 and published Inside Sports Magazine–it was DOA (Dead On Arrival)) in two years it folded. The magazine could not figure out how to capture the success of my talk radio format and transfer it into a successful magazine reading format.  Walsh later became Vice-President of ESPN television who had adopted my radio format and it is now the most popular sports network in the world.

Inside Sports was “Out Side the Lines and Real Sports” long before ESPN and HBO.  My format changed the way we talk sports in the WORLD and it is now use in every radio and television format you see and hear. 

When it comes to police brutality and police mis-conduct I lost two brothers to The Thin Blue Line and Code of Silence.  I am in the fight to the bitter end as it relates to unarmed men of color being shot down in the streets of America just because they are a darker hue. There is no one in media who has been on the frontlines of civil and human rights as long as I have.

I have broken bread with Presidents, great politicians, great athletes, and great entertainers, but none of them were as great as my mother, grandmother and my high school coach, Dave Brown.  They taught me to be a man of integrity and to tell the truth (Our Truth) and walk with my head held high. And not to talk behind people’s backs—my telephone number is listed and I am not hard to find if anyone wants to discus any issue with me.

Harry, I think you got me mixed up with some of your new friends in sports media.  I notice in your emails relating to your criticism of them, you would always close saying how much you liked and loved them (Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon).  I don’t want any of those brothers who don’t love themselves or their people, to be under the impression that I love or like them–they are killing us softly.

In 1968 my wife Hattie and I found our non-profit organization Kids In Trouble and hosted our first Chrstmas toy party for needy children.  The party (1968-2013) benefited thousands of elementary school children in the District, Maryland and Virginia without grants or loans. 

This is the same reach back format now copied by MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL.  Dave Bing (1967), Willie Wood (1968) and the Washington Redskins as a team in (1971) were the first to join the my non-profit, Kids In Trouble organization to help enhance the growth of inner-city children.  Santa’s Helpers had names like Redskins’, WR Roy Jefferson, RB Larry Brown, DB Ted Vactor, LB Harold McLinton, LB Dave Robinson and QB Doug Williams.

The first ever NFL national television community promo by NFL films was taped at my Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program.  The 1972 NFL Most Valuable Player RB Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton were taped in a swimming pool teaching water safety to inner-city kids.

Harry, you mention something about helping educators in Northern California as it relates to the tragic lost of lives and property in their recent fire ravaged communities.  I think its commendable that you would want to explore the role of sports in helping kids and communities to heal and deal with the traumatic experiences cause by those tragic fires.  This is nothing new either, I have been trying to put out fires as it relates to education, drugs, police brutality, unsavory politicians, pimps in the pulpit, Justice & Just-Us, unemployment, and health care denial issues in my community and beyond for decades.

We cannot keep passing the buck and blaming all of our woes on white folks.  First, the rights and freedoms we once enjoyed we are now losing today.  We need to thank President Harry Truman, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Baines Johnson for reaching back.  We are looking for love in all the wrong places, we are too busy thanking the “First Black President” Bill Clinton or the last Black President, Barack Obama (check the history books).  Someone dropped the ball long before the Trump Presidency.  Many of us were sitting on our hands thinking we had it made while “Rome Burned”.

There comes a time in one’s life when you have to close the door on fake NEGROES like some of your new and old friends, for the simple reason you get tired of them going up on the roof with you at the front door knocking and they piss down on you saying, “Harry, don’t worry its just rain, the sun will come out in the morning!”  

I didn’t come up with the phrase “Every black face I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy” by accident.

I was confused by the fact you wrote in the Washington Informer a community Hustling Newspaper published here in DC.  You said, “In 1968 we were still in the throes of battle despite the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act where black people were being denied their Civil Rights and the right to vote and there was police violence against black people where nobody was being held accountable. You pretty much have the same causes today.  Police violence in the black community and an assault on civil rights. The difference today is you have athletes like Lebron James who can get on Twitter and say to Trump, ‘You Bum’ and it automatically goes out to 3 million people who retweet to their followers and it goes viral to the point it reaches Trump.’ 

Harry, are you kidding me, you are comparing Lebron James to Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Tommy Smith, Colin Kaepernick, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Bennett, Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman?  Let me be the first to tell you, LeBron James is not a hair off of these brothers backside.  And it is totally disrespectful for someone like you and Jim Brown’s with your backgrounds in the struggle to standby silently and rubber stamp LeBron James’ role in producing a documentary/movie on the life of Muhammad Ali. This is Fake News in its truest form–what does he know about the real Ali?

For example, you claim that you decrie NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s recent edict that all NBA basketball players stand when the anthem is played.  You were quoted saying, “I would like to see Adam Silver tested in court.  Even if its a collective bargaining agreement item, a person doesn’t check their First Amendment Rights when they put on a uniform .  Ony in the military and then the rules there say you can’t speak wearing a uniform.  When Silver said you can’t speak in the uniform, what is it about playing a game that’s so serious and conspicuous in terms of civil responsibility”?

Harry, you are talking out of both sides of your mouth, are you saying you can ask John and Tommy to put their lives on hold with the 1968 Olympic Project, and tell Colin to take a knee, but you can’t suggest to the G.O.A.T Lebron James, to sit down for the playing of the national anthem with his partners in this charade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade?  These brothers are on their last legs in the NBA what’s the problem—what do they have to lose?

In the meantime, you want them to carry Adam Silver to Federal Court when the most important court is the one they are playing on.  This is the best way to insure their legacy and the legacy for their children–what ever happen to “Making Children First”? 

You closed your email with “Not a lot of time for conversation”!  You make it sound like you are the only one busy in “The Struggle”.  Are you saying, because I don’t have a national Fake News format you don’t have time for an interview—4 decades after Inside Sports—something is wrong with this picture and it is not Harold Bell.

Last Christmas (2016) when a Harvard bred NEGROE suggested I was wasting my time in the community working with the poor and down-trodden and then had the balls to ask me what did I make? See my response below.

“MAKING A DIFFERENCE”

During a Christmas party in 2016 my wife Hattie and I were sitting around the table discussing life and the Presidency of Donald Trump.

One man, a brother with a PhD from Harvard and a CEO in Corporate America decided to explain the problem with teachers and youth advocates.  Evidently, he decided we were the problem.  

He said, ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher or advocate for children?’  

He reminded us what they say about teachers: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t teach.” 

To emphasize his point he looked at me and said, “Harold you are a community activist and youth advocate.  Be honest. What do you make?  

My reputation for honesty and calling it like I see them is well known. I replied, ‘You want to know what I make’?

First, I went where there was no path in community involvement and sports talk radio and I left a trail for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL to follow.

I make kids believe they can sit on the mountain top with Muhammad Ali and have lunch with the President.

I make kids excel in the classroom when they thought they could not. I make them believe they are the best when they take the field in athletics.

I make a C+ student feel like they just won the Congressional Medal of Honor and A and B is just around the corner.

I teach kids sportsmanship and make them respect each other.  And losing a game is not the end of the world. There will always be another game the next day, the next week or next year.

I make a young athlete understand that the most important game being played in the world today is not football, basketball or baseball—it’s the game called life and Black Lives do matter.

I make kids understand that every black face they see is not their brother and every white face they see is not their enemy.  

I make them do one-100 sit-ups and one-100 jumping jacks when they don’t follow the rules.

I make kids believe their heroes are not athletes and entertainers, their heroes are their parents and teachers.

I make pulling a 15 year old artistic girl off the subway tracks in SE DC with a train approaching look routine.

I make a young man like Lonnie Taylor growing up in the inner-city believed he could become the first black Chief of Staff for a white Congressman on Capitol Hill (Jack Buechner D-Missouri).

I make a broke and penny-less Sugar Ray Leonard believe he could become a world champion and the first pro boxer to make 100 million dollars in prize money in the history of the sport.

I make Radio and TV One owners Cathy Hughes and her son Alfred believed they can be all that they can be.

I make mentee and NY Times best-selling author Omar Tyree (Flyy Girls and Mayor For Life) remember where he came from and he didn’t make it by himself.

I used Inside Sports to help make Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson, Jr. the first black to win a NCAA Division One championship.

I guided Doug Williams’ in the community as he gilded the Washington Redskins to the Super Bowl in 1988. Making him the first black QB to win a Super Bowl and MVP.

When the NFL and the NBA forgot the pioneering efforts of Willie Wood and Earl Lloyd I made them remember. They were inducted into the NFL and NBA Hall of Fames in 1989 and 2003 respectively.  

I make kids believe that the most important hall of fame—is God’s.  

I made it possible to help get Jim Brown an early release from jail in 2007 for a bogus domestic violence charge.  I led a letter writing campaign that made it possible to get DC basketball playground legend Jo Jo Hunter released from jail.  He had served 18 years for armed robbery. 

 

 

I closed by saying, “when people like you try to judge me by what I make, knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and overlook your ignorance, because it is people like you who are holding our community back.

You want to know what I make, I make a difference.  What do you make, Mr. CEO?” He suddenly remembered he was late for another engagement and disappeared out the back door. 

“There is nothing wrong with the world, this is a beautiful world. The problem is the people in it!”                           Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines

COMMON SENSE–STREET SENSE–BOOK SENSE–UNDEFEATED 

Happy Holidays,

HBell

Note Worthy: There is also Randy Kennedy a Harvard grad, he now teaches law at the school and pretends to be an expert on the black community (written several books). I remember when his dad Henry Kennedy, Sr. and I use to take him out in the community with us as a kid. He was amazed of how many people knew me on the streets in the neighborhoods were we walked. He said, “Mr. Bell when I become famous I am going to write about you”—famous last words. He forgot, just like the rest.  His father died about 10 years ago.  I remember when his daddy would remind him that he still had family in DC and he needed to come home to visit sometime. Well he didn’t and when his father died guess who was draped over the coffin crying crocodile tears?  When his mother died last year I was there also.  He has a great family background, his brother Henry Jr. is a retired Federal Judge (community advocate) and sister Angela is an attorney, but somewhere along the way he forgot.  It is often said, “A apple does not fall too far from the tree,” this brother was not even in the same orchard as his father.

See link to Dr. Edwards’ interview with NFL/CBS Studio host and Harvard alumus James Brown on the campus of Harvard University as he toots his horn.
http://www.iop.harvard.edu/forum/robinson-kaepernick-evolution-athlete-activism

  

 

 

 

 

NBA COACHES AUERBACH AND POPOVICH UNDERSTOOD: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM HAS ALWAYS BEEN RACISM!

Jackie Robinson, and Athlete/actor/scholar Paul Roberson–they led the way and took the blows.  Robinson had a black cat thrown on the field during a game by racist whites and Roberson had his passport revoked by white politicians and labeled a member of the communist party.

The race card that President Donald Trump recently played was a joker, “Fire the sons of bitches” back fired.  The Colin Kaepernick boycott in the NFL had hit a wall, but thanks to Donald Trump he is back on the radar screen and all the credit goes to the leader of the free world, the President of the United States.  His calling for NFL players to be fired for not standing and honoring the American flag was the best thing to happen to the plantation mentality found in pro sports in my life time.

Black trailblazers like Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Paul Roberson, Jackie Robinson, Emmett Ashford,  Curt Flood, Jim Brown, John Carlos, Tommy Smith, Dr. Harry Edwards and Muhammad Ali all carried the torch for human and civil rights. They blazed a path and left a trail that few have followed until “Fire the sons of bitches” was heard across America.  There are so many frauds and cowards in pro sports including, players, coaches, owners and sportcasters (if the shoe fits wear it).  The Colin Kaepernicks, Richard Shermans, and Michael Bennetts, are far few and in-between.  Too many black athletes are putting the dollar bill first instead of solidifying a future free of racist cops killing their people and love ones.  Instead of a rope and a tree, the new lynching tool is a gun in the hands of a racist cop.  Michael Bennett was the best example, his experience after the Floyd Mayweather fight in Las Vegas proves that stardom and money does not make you a free black man in America.

The late Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Jim Brown and the late Dick Gregory true warriors in the civil rights movement and we have the scars to prove it. 

President Donald Trump’s criticizing black athletes came to a head when he told a roaring crowd of Alabama supporters how great it would be if NFL owners fire every son-of-a-bitch who didn’t stand for the national anthem.  Sunday September 25, 2016 will go down in sports history as the day when black athletes came out of hiding across the NFL and said, “Hell No!”  The day will rank right up there with the 1968 Olympic Games when sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their black fisted gloves against racial discrimination in America.

There are many who say “Politics & Sports don’t mix.”  Politics and sports have been mixing since the early days of slavery.  The first pro athlete was a slave, in the early 1800s slave owners had too much leisure time on their hands.  One day a slave owner saw two of his slaves racing each other back to the plantation and came up with the idea of having his slaves compete against each other to entertain “The Master.”

The contests would eventually turn to plantation against plantation.  There were heavy wages bet and plantations would be lost and participants sometimes would be granted their freedom and some would lose their lives.

The games would consist of track and field, boxing, and horse racing.  No one understood the peculiar ways of the thoroughbred horses better than the slaves who took care of them.  When the Kentucky Derby first ran in 1875 there were 15 riders and only three were not black.   For close to three decades black riders dominated the Kentucky Derby.  They were the first black superstar athletes in the United States.  Isacc Murphy is considered one of the greatest riders in American thoroughbred history.  He won three Kentucky Derbies and was the first rider inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Olympic sprinters Jesse Owens, Tommy Smith and John Carlos were on the fast track and on the forefront of the civil rights movement. 

The response to Trump’s threat was swift and heart-warming as players, coaches and owners finally joined arms together on the field of play or were told to stay in the tunnel during the playing of the anthem (Pittsburg Steelers) in protest of Trump’s misguided efforts to divide and conquer.  Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger said, “I could not sleep after staying in the tunnel, I wish there could have been another way.”

Pittsburgh Steeler Coach Mike Tomlin stood on the field with several coaches while one of his linemen Alejandro Villanuena stood just outside the tunnel with his hand over his heart?  Alejandro a former Army Ranger later admitted he had thrown his teammates under the bus “Unintentionally.”  Much like Trump he instantly became a hero to the racist in the country.  His number 78 jersey went to the front of the bus in sales in the NFL it is now a best seller.  NASCAR owner Richard Petty has since become a Trump echo and standard bearer saying, “I will fire anyone who protest the America flag.”  Legendary driver Dale Earhardt, Jr., said, “All Americans have the right to peaceful protest, he then quoted John F. Kennedy, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  Earhardt could be right, NFL stadiums around the country should be on high alert for the rest of the season.

There were still owners like Jerry Jones who refuse to acknowledge that Kaepernick’s protest had nothing to do with the American flag or the military. Jones convinced his players to kneel on the field arm in arm before the national anthem was played to show solidary and when the anthem was played they were told to stand at attention.  My question, how does that show solidarity with the rest of the league, especially, when you have an owner dictating the terms of surrender?

Colin Kaepernick’s protest was about the shooting deaths of unarmed people of color, but the Jones, the Trumps  and Fox News are still pretending they don’t understand.

Some media personalities even came out of the closet and aired their opinions as it related to race, sports and politics.  Opinions never so boldly heard on the airwaves since the Original Inside Sports created the format of Sports, Politics and Community Reach Back mix took over the airwaves in Washington, DC in 1970.

The “Talking Heads” on radio, television and in print media didn’t seem to have a clue as how to bring everyone to the table to talk with understanding until Trump added his two-cents.  CNN’s Wolf Blitzer had a panel of experts asking “Is there Racism in the NFL?”

The panel of experts never played a down in the NFL or walked in the shoes of an inner-city black man.  Christine Brennan is a long time Washington Post reporter and now a columnist for U. S. A. Today (over 3 decades as a pioneering female reporter), Mike Wise is another former misguided Washington Post columnist/talk  show host.  It was definitely a case of the blind leading the blind.

First, it was ESPN television known as Washington Post North it was there members of the Washington Post sports’ department would start their second careers in television media.  The beat goes on the with the Undefeated now the Third Arm of the Washington Post and ESPN–the Fake News and Fake News Reporters are never ending. The late civil rights and equal opportunity employers were NBA Boston Celtic owner Walter Brown and the great Red Auerbach.  If it was really possible to be color blind, Red and his wife Dotie were. 

Trump’s “Fire the sons of bitches” gave ESPN’s Jemele Hill got a stay of execution, because they were coming after her.  She called Trump a white surpremacist and he hired and surrounded himself with like personalities.  But now she will be given the “Sportscaster of the Year Award” for having bigger balls than her male counterparts.

On Sunday I use the remote to catch all the highlight shows and I notice very few black commentators taking a hard position on Trump despite “Fire the sons of bitches” outburst, most played it safe with the understanding “I just work here and I will work to give the scores again next week.”   

You could also see Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson and former NFL running back Freddy Mitchell getting into a heated exchange during an interview on Carlson’show on Sunday.  The exchange centered around Carlson’s condemning NFL players for not honoring the flag and then said to Mitchell “I understand their frustration.”  Mitchell’s response “You don’t understand, because you have not walked in their shoes!” He became incensed with Mitchell’s response he didn’t understand and he turned beet red in the face.

I have always said, “There are some well meaning white folks or we would have never made it out of slavery, but they will never fully understand racism, because they have never walked in my shoes!”

Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones and Trump have the identical same problem.  Their ideology is the same, both keep going back to the disrespect for the flag during Kaepernick’s protest (camouflage).  The protest had nothing to do with the military or the flag. They all want to deny and claim that race has nothing to do with it, the NFL is 70% black and the players protesting are 99% black and Colin Kaepernick is black=racism.

Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones pulled the wool over the eyes of the players and fans Sunday Night and they are still asleep.  There was a rumor that Jones had warned his players several weeks ago that no one on the team would be allowed to kneel during the national anthem without consequences.  Sunday night the Cowboy team nixed plans to join their opponent the St. Louis Cardinals to show solidarity by locking arms with each other.  Instead on the orders from Jones they decided to lock arms only with each other and kneel together before the anthem played.  They would them stand together to the playing or the singing of the anthem!

This was not a show of solidarity with the players who considered themselves free, especially, if he had decided or wanted to kneel or raise his fist against racism in America.  The Cowboy players were dictated to not participate in pregame demostrations and that is not the definition of a “Free Black American Man.”

Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that he had spoke with Jerry Jones, he tweeted, “I spoke to Jerry Jones , a winner who knows how to get things done, players will stand for country.”  How could any black player say that they believe in freedom of speech and play for the Dallas Cowboys?

 

The GREAT ones, heavyweight Champions Jack Johnson and Joe Louis, Malcolm X  and Muhammad Ali are tough human rights acts to follow.

I remember Gregg Popovich saying after Trump was elected President of the United States, “I am still sick to my stomach, and not basically because the  Republicans won or anything , but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic , homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” Popovich later said, ‘And to think I live in a country where half of the people ignored all of that to elect someone like Trump.  That is the scariest part of the whole thing to me.’  When he was told of the firing of FBI Director James Coney, Popovich said, “I feel like there is , a pall, over the whole country, in a paranoid surreal sort of way that has nothing to do with  the Democrats losing the election, this individual thinks he is on a game show and everything that happens begins and ends with him, not our people or our country.”  Popovich’s greatest nightmare  has now become a reality.

Trump called out in Black & White: 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/texas-sports-anchor-dale-hansen-162028451.html?.tsrc=fauxdal / Sportscaster calls out Trump in an exemplary commentary! http://www.foxsports.com/watch/undisputed/video/1056079427823 / Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis in dispute over flag

U. S OPEN: THERE IS NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN-WHERE IT IS NEVER AS SIMPLE AS BLACK AND WHITE!

Defining elephant in the room: as a very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about. Perhaps a sore spot, perhaps its politically incorrect, or perhaps a political hot potato, its something that no one wants to touch with a ten foot pole–meet racism in America.

On Saturday August 8, 2017 two black women met in the finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first  time in tennis history and neither woman’s name was Williams.  It was no contest Sloane Stevens crushed Madison Keys in straight sets 6-3 and 6-0.  In the meantime, lets take a look at the state of American tennis and the role of the black athlete.

Richard Williams the architect of the pro tennis dynasty with his pride and joy, champion daughters, Venus and Serena.  He changed the face of tennis in America.  He was inducted into the first ATA Hall of Fame class in August and Venus and Serena donated 1 million dollars to the proposed ATA tennis facility in Florida to cement his legacy in the black tennis world.

 Richard and I share a photo at the 100th anniversary of the ATA in Baltimore in August 2017 

Move over Venus and Serena here comes Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, two women of color, I think.  Keeping, it real the problem is that Madison Keys is following closely in the footsteps of golfing icon Tiger Woods, who also denied he was black.  Tiger said, “I am not black, I am Cablinasian,” but when he was arrested for DUI in May 2017 according to the Florida Sheriff’s Department he fell under the “One Drop Rule.”  The rule says, ‘One drop of black blood makes one forever black.  If you are of black face in America you will always be seen as Black, Afro-American, Negro, colored or more often than not, the big N recently like  Michael Bennett and Kevin Sumlin.

Tennis commentator Chris Everett and her colleagues at the U. S. Open were so neverous trying to be politically racially correct they didn’t use black or African-American until the 9th game of the first set in the finals.  The first ocassion was when Evertt broke the ice and pointed out Sloane’s mother Sybil in the family box.  She said, “She was the first African-American named All-American first team as swimmer in Division One in NCAA history.  Chris followed up again during the post game interview when she said, “Your performance inspires other black girls that they can do the same thing.”

There are no FREE passes in the black community, it makes no difference if you played in the U. S. Open, Wimbledon, French and Australian Opens.  A cop will stereotype you and throw you to the ground and handcuff you without asking you for ID.  See tennis star James Blake, and NFL All-Pro, Michael Bennett.  If a cop stops you and you think because your driver’s license, birth certificate or passport reads you are, South African, Hispanic, from Trinidad, Tobago, Brazil, Dominican Republic or you are of Haitian descent, you should feel safe.  You are in for a rude awakening–the color of your skin is a dead give away for a racist cop in America to treat you like an animal.  Black cops are not even safe out of uniform!  Money, and star power are not “free get out of jail passes” when it comes to racism in America. In September 2015 Blake was thrown to the ground and arrested while he was standing outside of the Hyatt Hotel waiting for a ride.  The officer claimed he resembled someone wanted for fraud.

Bennett a linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks and Texas A & M football Coach Kevin Sumlin should be proof enough.  Bennet was targeted by the Las Vegas police department while attending the Floyd Mayweather fight. He was leaving the fight when there rumors of gunshots fired and like everyone else he tried to run to safety.  He was profiled by the cops and tackled and handcuffed.  The question is why?  He had no gun—he said, “The only reason I was arrested is because I am black.”   This type of racism is fueled by NFL owners like Jerry Jones who it is rumored said to his team, “No Dallas Cowboys will be sitting or kneeling for the national athem.”  Charlene Sumlin, the wife of enbattled Texas A & M Coach Kevin Sumlin posted a picture of a racist, angry threatening letter sent by a fan to the family’s house following the 45-44 lost to UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Southern California last Sunday.  The letter read, “You suck as a coach and you are ‘The Big N’ and you can’t win. Please get lost or else.”  A member of the Board of Regents of Texas A & M also called for Sumlin to be fired after the lost to UCLA.  Texas was leading 44-6 in the 3rd quarter and UCLA rallied to win 45-44.

Tiger, Madison, Alecia Keys and Halle Berry are among those mixed race Black Americans who think the “One Drop Rule” does not apply to them, because of their money and fame—nothing could be further from the truth.  Madison is really confused, she says, “I am not black or white!”  It is nothing wrong with being black and proud and there is nothing wrong with being white and proud.  Why can’t Keys be both?

It was almost comical watching the commentators dance around the issue at the U. S. Open.  I was praying for Madison to win for her ‘Wake Up Call!’   Pro golf and tennis are two of the most segregated sports in America and both have now moved into ‘The Dark Ages’ and Madison now joins Tiger as ‘The Elephant in the room.’

Black history is often overlooked and under reported, but pro tennis is in for a rude awaking.  In 2016 for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games four black American women represented the U. S. in tennis.  They were Serena and Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and maybe Madison Keys and there is help on the way with Taylor Townsend and Brienne Minor.  In 2012 Taylor became the first black female to win the Australian Open Girls’ singles championship.  The title made her the first American and Black American to hold the ranking of No. 1 at the end of the year for girls since 1982.  Michigan sophomore 19 year old Brienne Minor won the NCAA singles championship making her the first black female NCAA singles champion and making her the first black female in Big Ten history to hold the title.

Athea Gibson and Arthur Ashe are looking down on the U. S. Open with big smiles on their faces.  They were the trailblazers and first persons of color to win a major tennis open known as the grand slam.  In 1956 Athea won the French Open, the Australian, Wimbledon and U. S. Open all followed.  She won the singles title in the morning and that evening she won the U. S. Open doubles title.  During her fabulous career against all odds she won five grand slam titles.

Arthur Ashe making children first through the National Junior Tennis League.  He found the organization in 1967 in Washington, DC 

In 1967 Arthur won the U. S. Open, and still today is the only American Black man to win the Australian, Wimbledon, and French Open titles.  In 2017 he is still the only black man to be ranked No. 1 in the history of the sport.  In 2017 we are still talking about people of color being “The First” Athea and Arthur may have felt like the Long Ranger without Tonto back in the day.  In 2017 the U. S. Open for the first time in its history had three minority female players make it to the semi-finals.  Venus was feeling right at home when unexpected company arrived.  It was like “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner” without Sidney Poitier!

Venus was joined by Sloane Stephes and Madison Keys.  In the meantime, all three had moved into the semi-finals.  The commentators acted like the three little monkeys, “they saw no history, they heard no history and they spoke no history.”  The commentators seem to be afraid to say, “Three black women have qualified for the semi-finals, a first in U. S. Open history!”  I would guess they were trying not to offend Keys who is definitely walking around in a world of confusion.

The proud parents Richard and Oracene were looking on somewhere in the stadium in separate boxes cheering Venus, Sloane and Madison on to victory.  Little sister Serena was sitting this one out after giving birth to a baby girl in August.

One of my young men Joe Ragland grew up in The Hood in SE DC.  He was once on the pro tennis tour and was not a kid in trouble, but he and his brother Mike and their crew supported my community endeavors through my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. whenever his busy schedule brought him home to DC.  He played Santa’s Helper for my Christmas toy parties, played in my celebrity tennis tournaments, etc.  He eventually moved to Arizona to teach tennis on the country club level.  This odyssey would last him for sixteen years before he grew tired of the country club politics and sought solitude (peace).  He now teaches at a community recreation center near his home on his own terms.  He thinks pro tennis is in good hands despite the behind the scenes politics to keep us out.

I asked Joe in a recent telephone conversation about the emergence of the three Black American women reaching the semi-finals at the U. S. Open, he didn’t seem surprised.  His response, “The ladies have always had a support system that the men never had (egos).  A lot of that credit goes to Serena and Venus who quietly made themselves accessible to the young sisters who were new on the tour.  These two ladies have carried a heavy load on their backs for over two decades—they have earned a rest whether they want one or not.”

Joe knows Katrina Adams who is now serving her second term as the USTA CEO and President.  She oversees tennis programs for underserved communities across America.  They both played on the pro tennis circuit together in the 80s and 90s.  He discovered a brother in his community who was teaching tennis to neighborhood children for $5.00 for two hours. The program was one the most unique he had ever encountered, but the brother was barely hanging on financially.  It was then he decided to call his old friend Katrina to seek support from the USTA.  After they had gone down memory lane Joe got around to telling her about the innovated tennis program he had discovered in his neighborhood.  Her response, “Joe that sounds great, let me get back to you” famous last words from blacks who let success handle them, instead of them handling success.

The program in Joe’s community had the potential to meet the Mission and Goals set by the USTA as described in their handbook.

The USTA Mission: To Promote, Grow, Develop, and service the Game of tennis.  Vision: Leadership at every level –inspire innovation, create opportunities, impact lives and build community through tennis. Value Proposition: To be your trusted resource for tennis. Core Values: In pursuit of its mission, the volunteers and staff accept responsibility for their actions in achieving the mission and for reaching the strategic goal of the association while sustaining the highest standards of quality.  Diversity and Inclusion: include all people on a non-discriminatory basic, and make diversity and inclusion an embedded part of the USTA Midwest Section.

It is folks like Ms. Adams who are sprinkled all around our community who are double agents for the system.  She is another spook that was hired to sit by the door and stunt the growth of the black athlete.

The next question, where are all the Black American men?  According to Joe, “They are not far behind the women, Donald Young is the most consistent black face in play, but coming on fast is Evan King from the University of Michigan.  He was a qualifier this year before losing in three sets to 20th ranked Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 and 7-6—not a bad showing.  Busta made it all the way to the semi-finals.  I think Frances Tiafoe a 19 year old had the most impressive showing of the three. He was born in College Park, Maryland, but no one is talking about how he extended the great Roger Federer to five sets in Arthur Ashe Stadium.” Federer would lose later to J. del Potro in the quarter finals in four sets.

Rashada McAdoo a recent grad of Georgia Tech was the women’s single tennis champion for the August 2017 ATA 100th anniversary celebration in Baltimore, Maryland.  She poses with the men’s singles winner from New Jersey.  Rashada is the granddaughter of NBA great Bob McAdoo.   

H. Bell, Rashada McAdoo and coach

It’s a family affair, Joe’s brother Mike is also in the community “Reach Back” business as the Director of Tennis for the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation in SE Washington, DC.  He is a member of the team headed by tennis icon Willis Thomas, Jr. the Vice-President of Tennis Programs.  Willis and the great Arthur Ashe were doubles partners growing up under the tutelage of tennis guru and icon Dr. Robert Johnson.

Willis and Mike are leading the charge to enhance the growth and development of inner-city children.  The foundation is a premier educational and tennis organization serving underserved children providing the best quality instruction, resources and mentorship to build champions in the game called life. They seek to keep children safe by getting them off the city streets during out of school time into a safe environment they can trust; by providing them with productive activities that teach discipline, build and encourage a healthy lifestyle.  You can trust Willis and Mike to get the job done.

I think ESPN’s cheerleading analyst Jason Whitlock did the Williams’ family a grave injustice when he accused the father Richard of cheating to get his daughters to the top of the tennis world.  If teaching them to play tennis his way by slowly making sure that they learn the game while protecting them from the racism that existed in the sport and in the tennis academies all over America—more power to him.

Richard Williams was recently inducted into the ATA Tennis Hall of Fame during their 100th Anniversary celebration in Baltimore in August 2017.  My question, why was the great NFL All-Pro cornerback Johnny Sample left out of the ATA Hall of Fame?  His contributions; a champion in his age group for several years running.  He organized the largest inner-city youth tennis program in the country, he was second to no one.  He was also a pioneer on the pro tennis tour as a line judge and chair umpire at Grand Slam Tournaments around the world—where is the beef?

A “Man for all seasons” has anyone seen my old friend Johnny Sample–he is gone but not forgotten.

There are rumors that Richard Williams has finally decided to open his own tennis academy in Florida in the near future.  The same rumors are being spread by the ATA who are also claiming they will build an academy in Florida.  Life time members of the ATA James Ridley of Washington, DC and William Blue out of Philadelphia think the organization has no clue and are overrun with “Player Haters and Nay Sayers.”  Their only interest is in promoting themselves and could care-less about the future of our children.  The new ATA tennis academy earmarked for Florida in the near future could be more than just a “Pie in the sky” dream.  It has been reported Venus and Serena Williams the daughters of Richard will donate one million dollars to the project.  Evidently, Richard’s induction into the ATA’s first Hall of Fame last month gave the project the facelift that it needed.   Venus and Serena, Richard, Oracene and family members can relax and enjoy the new baby while watching the U. S. Open finals.  They will hear in the distant skies shout-outs from trailblazers Athea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, saying, ‘Job well done.’  

There is definitely a need for more tennis academies to meet the needs of our youth who are being under-served.  Tennis academies such as; Nick Bolletteri, Patrick McEnroe, and Chris Evert Tennis fall short when it comes to the black tennis player.  For example, a black potential tennis player paying to attend these academies is like a black/student walk-on athlete choosing Maryland University (BIG TEN) over Howard University (HBCU).  His or her chances of making the Maryland team are slim and none.  Their best chance for success is a HBCU school.

The Richard Williams’ tennis academy is a step in the right direction, but one academy won’t do the job and he would definitely have to be an independent lone wolf.  Hopefully, he will have a franchise of academies that won’t be under the umbrella of the USTA and his board members won’t be the likes of boxing promoter Don King and Cora Masters Barry well known crooks and thieves.  King is considered a “Member of the Williams family.”  Don and Cora’s police ‘Rap Sheets’ read like an episode of America Greed (don’t take my word Google their history)!

“Birds of a feather flock together”  Cora Masters Barry and Don King hanging out in DC 

In 1987 Cora Masters Barry then Chairwoman of the DC Boxing Commission pleaded guilty to second degree theft for double billing the city for over $2, 680 in travel expenses (under estimated).  She was forced to resign as chairman of the DC Boxing Commission as a convicted felon.  Her next big heist would be the boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World, Riddick Bowe.   In 1992 Bowe earned over 10 million dollars for beating Evander Holyfield and he would later name Cora the Executive Director of the Riddick Bowe Better Life Foundation.  The only lives she would better would be her own and promoter Rock Newman, today Bowe is dead broke.

In a Washington Post newspaper column during the 1992 Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield championship fight in Las Vegas a reporter asked Cora about the glamorous world of boxing as it related to a “World of dreamers, schemers, high rollers, gold diggers and other folks of questionable character?”  He said, ‘she took a drag off of her cigarette and responded, not any more than there are in politics?’  She should know, she has worked both sides of the isle.

In the meantime, she has moved into the glamorous world of tennis without missing a beat with her on-going scam of the Williams family.  There is a rumor that Venus and Serena will be donating to her on-going slush fund scam at the SE Tennis Foundation in Washington, DC. Her recent appearance at the U. S. Open with her new “Best Friend” DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.  Their appearance together had nothing to do with tennis, it was because Cora likes money by any means necessary.  She has already scammed the DC government out of 18 million dollars earmarked for the tennis center via her “Make a Wish–Make Me Rich Foundation.”   She is now whispering in the ear of Bowser for more and more.  The producers of the television show “American Greed” has her on their radar screen.

I would have never in my wildest dreams imagine that three minority women in leadership roles in the DC Government would take part in approving the appointment of new DC Police Chief, Peter Newsham.  He has a history in the court system of domestic violence and he is a known alcoholic.  His court appearances involved domestic violence brought against him by his wife and several girl friends. He was also found lying in a DC street with his gun in his holster dead drunk, but Bowser, City Council Woman Mary Che and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton all looked the other way.

I had personally given them inside information provided by former Inspector Nathan Sims.  He was a witness to colleagues’ of Newsham removing records from the DC Police Property Warehouse without signing for the property in question.  He warned them that this type of behavior would no longer be tolerated on his tour of duty.  He was immediately demoted back to captain and several months later retired.

There are definitely not enough black tennis academies to meet the needs of our youth, but who can they depend on to do the right thing as it relates to having their best interest at heart?  I don’t think we can count on CEO of the USTA Katrina Adams, Don King or Cora Masters Barry.  It looks like the balls they are playing with is in the wrong court (criminal court)—stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

THE 50 GREATEST BLACK ATHLETES: BLACK HISTORY LOST AND FOUND!

Jack Johnson the first black heavyweight champion of the world and Jackie Robinson the first black to play Major League Baseball

 

In August 2017 a group calling themselves the SURVEY MONKEY & THE UNDEFEATED of ESPN teamed up to select The 50 Greatest Black Athletes of All-Time, it was a gross injustice to the rich history of the Black Athlete.  This was Monkey Business with a bunch of monkeys who didn’t have a clue. It was the blind leading the blind.

How can anyone pick the 50 greatest black athletes in one survey swoop?  To be fair you would have to divide the survey into three 50 year segments starting with 1900–1950 for the first 50 years and 1950–2000 for the second 50 years. The athletes born between 2000–2050 will just have to wait their turn and see if they stand the test of time.  Especially, if you are going to measure their greatness on Player DominationImpact, and Community Service!

By that criterion alone there is no way you can pick Michael Jordan over Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown or Jackie Robinson. Jordan’s impact in the community was “Ground Zero.”  I was not surprised that MLB owners may allow him and Derek Jeter to join their “Good Old Boys Club” as the first minority black owners.  Neither will have the final word or control.  According to sources Jordan is mostly lending his name, the sale is not yet final.

The barriers (racism) were completely different in the first 50 years and the same can be said for the second 50 years and the third 50 years.  The problem, it is evident the Survey Monkey and the Undefeated of ESPN who teamed up to vote for this top 50 black athletes  had no clue when it comes to the history of the Black Athlete. This was a sham—anytime you name two female gymnist who just turned 21 in the top 10 proves that you have no clue.  The group should re-name themselves from the Monkey Survey & the Undefeated to “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” 

The black slave was the first pro athlete, therefore, my top ten of the first 50 would have to be athletes who fall before or after the time constraints of 1900-2050.

My TOP TEN in the first 50 years would include four boxers with names like Joe Gans, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson, adding to the list would be Paul Roberson (Football), Isaac Murphy (horse racing), Jesse Owens (track & field), Athea Gibson (tennis), Jackie Robinson (baseball), and Josh Gibson (baseball) and not necessarily in that order.  

Jackie Robinson and Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis are black athletes who made a difference on and off the field.  The great track star Jesse Owens won 4 Gold Medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.  He set three world records in front of Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler who claimed blacks were the inferior race. 

My question, where are the checks & balances in sports media—who are the Gate Keepers for our history ? Is it Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, James Brown, David Aldridge, Kevin Blackistone, Bill Rhoden, Jarrett Bell, or Jason Whitlock?  These are just a few of the names in sports media that I am familiar with.  Whitlock for example has no clue; I was one of the early writers for the CBS owned Bleacher Report when Whitlock wrote a column claiming GT Coach John Thompson open the doors for black coaches and black sports media personalities, nothing could have been further from the truth. The only door Thompson open was the one he open for himself.  I wrote a follow-up blog on The Bleacher Report titled “The real John Thompson” and the blog went viral and received over 55,000 hits in three days.  The blog caused shock waves in sports media.  Mike Wise who was then a columnist for the Washington Post invited me to come on The Fan his radio sports talk show heard on 106.7 in Washington, DC to discuss my blog on Thompson.

The Gate Keepers for Black Sports History?

Before I could sit down he and his Howdy Doody co-host ambushed me with a barrage of questions about, “When did I know and how did I know about The Real John Thompson?”   I was not aware I was to wear a bullet proof vest to the show.   Muhammad Al’s Rumble in the Jungle was pale in comparison to my interview.  When the smoke and dust had cleared according to columnist Dave McKenna of the City Paper who had tried a similar tactic several years earlier wrote, “Harold Bell left the Mike Wise radio show heard on The Fan 106.7 with his legendary status still intact.”

Whitlock recently wrote an opt-ed column in The Wall Street Journal of all places titled “Kaepernick is not black enough!”  Deadspin a blog website was quoted, ‘Its hard to find anything truly shocking nowadays in a world that seemingly no longer has any rules, but that an ostensibly proud and legitimate newspaper like the Wall Street Journal sees fit to regularly lend its credibility of legitimacy to the rambling thoughts of a blithering idiot like Jason Whitlock is, somehow, still mind-blowing.’  I also found it unbelievable, but you have to look no further than ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to understand that loud mouth idiots like them are in demand—loud and wrong most of the time.

Dave McKenna who I got to know later was really not a bad guy, but he was just a little confused.   Back in the day I was like “The No. 1 gunfighter in DC sports talk radio and everyone was gunning for me.” Anyone who could knock me off of my high horse would be the toast of the town.  Tony Korheisner of the Washington Post (ESPN) tried the same tactic.  Korheisner should be glad he was not born black—he has no talent.

Sports media taking pot shots at me is nothing new, but very few if any put anything in writing or call me out on the air—the reason, I talk back in writting.

One local sports talk show host in a story written in the Washington Post in 1989 said, “Harold Bell thinks someone owes him something!”  He was evidently encouraged to say something negative about me by the writer, Norman Chad whom I considered at the time an objective and fair critic/writer.  Chad is known today as ‘The Slouch’ and serves as a color analyst on The World Series of Poker seen on ESPN television.  What I did not understand why Chad would ask such a question knowing he was interviewing me for the same story?  He never asked me about my colleague.  I am sure he knew better, because at that time I would never say anything negative about another sports talk show host—what a difference a day makes.  There were so few of us in sports talk media, but Chad convinced my colleague to go negative on me.  The Washington Post column was titled “Blacks in Broadcasting.”

I responded to the comment on my sports talk show “Inside Sports” by calling Chad out for causing friction between me and the other talk show host. He shown his true colors and used the Willie Lynch school of thought, Divide and Conquer and it worked.  I still have a copy of the “Dear John letter” Chad wrote me after I called him out.  Another mentee whom I saw as a trusted friend wrote an excellent column on my trail blazing career in the community and sports media, but he wrote a paragraph stating I negatively blasted “Sacred Cows” like John Thompson of Georgetown?  I could not believe my eyes, these were words coming from a young brother who  I thought knew me and what I stood for in the community.  His blog would be read by millions on the internet who had no clue to who Harold Bell was, but they would see John Thompson as the first black coach to win a Division One NCAA Basketball Championship.  My response and rebuttal would be read by hundreds–maybe.  John Thompson to this day, is still one of the biggest frauds in college basketball, but he is probably seen as a “Sacred Cow” and me as a “Player-Hater.”  

I remember my first live interview on national television.  Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon called me one day and ask if l would I sit in for him on “The Geraldo Rivera Show.”  I jumped at the opportunity, he gave some flimsy excuse for not being able to be on the show, but did mention the subject would be boxing promoter Don King.  Michael reminded me, “Harold no one in media has tooted Don King’s horn and his right to a second chance as a boxing promoter, despite his criminal past than you.”  I told Wilbon, ‘the world of boxing is overrun with criminals.’

I almost fell asleep waiting for almost two hours in the TV 9 studios for the hook-up with Geraldo in New York City.  When the connection was finally made I understood why Wilbon had taken a “Rain Check” to appear on the show.  The panel against Don King included Geraldo, boxing historian Bert Sugar and Pulitzer Prize winner New York Times investigated reporter Jack Newfield, I woke up fast and in a hurry.  Newfield was also the author of the Emmy Award winning HBO special “Only in America the life and crimes of Don King.”  I found myself on ‘The Hot Seat’ it was three on one with some of New York City’s finest journalist.  King would later see me in Las Vegas for a fight and he would yell from the ring, ‘Harold Bell my man you did good’, famous last words.   

Don King is the greatest boxing promoter of all time, thanks to Muhammad Ali.  Ali said to me, “He was one of my biggest mistakes.” 

Recently, a sports columnist and namesake Jarrett Bell of U. S. A. Today newspaper whom I thought was also a friend, but in a recent telephone conversation he said, “Man I cannot deal with your Nixon connection!”  I could not believe my ears, my President Richard Nixon connection?

In the late 50s I was an All-Star athlete at Spingarn high school.  I was living in a NE housing project in a single parent home, my mother was on welfare, but she and my grandmother were my heroes.  They did everything they could to hold the family together, but still I was going to hell in a hurry.  My Grandmother and mother the real Super Stars in the Tyler/Bell family. Brothers, Earl and Bobby.

 

I tried to help my mother make ends meet by caddying on the weekends at Burning Tree Golf Course in 1957-58.  It was here I met Richard Nixon and the experience inspired me.  I didn’t see him again until 1969.

Shortly after taking office as the 37th President of the United States of America I saw him on a tour of the riot torn area on the 7th Street NW corridor of Cardozo/Shaw in DC.  I was working with youth gangs and at-risk children for the DC Department of Recreation & Parks.  I had walked those same streets with nothing but a DC police badge to protect me from the rioters in 1968.  The badge was use to get me through the police and military barricades.

Shortly after his visit to the inner-city I wrote him a letter reminding him of our days at the Burning Tree Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland.  He followed-up by inviting me and my wife Hattie to the White House for lunch.

The luncheon led to a Presidential appointment that inspired me to reach back and help thousands of inner-city children whose lives once resembled my very own.  I thank him for not forgetting who I was and where I came from and giving me a platform and foundation to help others.  President Nixon never asked me if I was a Republican or Democrat during those rounds of golf or at our meeting at the White House.

My visit to the White House open the door for me to become a pioneer in radio and television sports talk shows and my community reach back programs are now copied by the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.  My brief telephone conversation with Bell made it sound like I was involved in the Watergate break-in—its blacks like him who are always complaining about what white folks are doing to us.  He needs to look in the mirrow.  The industry is overrun with “Spooks Who Sit by the Door.”  Black folks like Jarrett Bell are the reason I still end my You Tube shows with, “Every Black face I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy.”

The only Gate Keepers of our history who have a national sports platform are Shannon Sharp, Skip Bayless, Herm Edwards, David Aldridge, and Ryan Clark, you can count on them for an honest evaluation.  They are the only ones I will surf for with my remote.

If I missed any of their commentaries or columns of rebuttal or response to the sham of the selection of the 50 Greatest Black Athletes of All-Time or how black NFL players don’t have the balls to stand up and support the plantation mentality of the NFL,  I would hope they will add a comment so that I can apologize for the oversight.

I am truly proud of my accomplishments in the community and my pioneering efforts in media that were inspired by Richard Nixon, Red Auerbach, Bert Sugar, Harry Barnett, Brian McIntyre, Angelo Dundee, James Dudley and Muhammad Ali.  They were a rainbow of decent human beings who cared about their fellow man and believed in Harold Bell.  2017 marks 50 years since I brought the first pro athlete Dave Bing into the community to reach back and enhance the growth of inner-city kids.  I wonder what is in Jason Whitlock and Jarrett Bell’s wallets?

 

 

JIM VANCE THE GOOD—THE BAD AND THE UGLY: HE WAS NOT HEAVY HE WAS MY BROTHER!

He showed up in DC in 1969 shortly after the 1968 riots had almost devastated the town.  Jim Vance was one the first of the new media personalities to join the team of Kids In Trouble my non-profit organization.  After the riots major media discovered they needed to hire more blacks in their newsrooms to cover the inner-city.  Many white reporters refused to go into the inner-city during the riots.

Max Robinson was the pioneer at WRC TV 4 before Jim arrived but he joined the staff at WTOP TV in 1969 and Jim followed him to the news 4 news desk.

 Media pioneers Max Robinson and Jim Vance

I loved me some Max Robinson, but he was so moody you never knew which side of the bed he got up on that particular morning.  Despite his mood changes he loved his people—there was never any doubt.

The Original Kids In Trouble Dream Team was made up of my DC homeboys, Petey Greene, Dave Bing, Willie Wood and me.  We would later be joined by DC Superior Court Judges, Luke C. Moore, Harry T. Alexander and Bill Raspberry of the Washington Post (Pulitzer Prize winner).  Washington Redskins, Roy Jefferson, Larry Brown, Harold McLinton and Ted Vactor would join the team in 1970 and community give back changed forever.  The NFL, NBA and MLB would follow our lead.H. Bell and Bill Raspberry shoots hoops during half time of charity basketball game played at Georgetown UniversityL-R Back to Hollywood Farewell to actor Robert Hooks: Hooks, HBell, Jim, Carol Randolph, Derrick Humphries, Sonny Hill and Martin Wyatt in attendance.

Roland ‘Fatty’ Taylor, Larry Brown, Petey Greene and HBell participate in Kids In Trouble Community Festival 

Jim and Petey had a lot in common, they both had my best interest at heart.   Petey was a radio and television icon and we had been life-long friends.  He and I were already locked into the community.  Petey gave me my first shot to become a pioneering radio sports talk show host in 1970 and in November 1975 Jim made it possible for me to become the first black to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4. My special guest was Muhammad Ali.   The show was titled “Spotlight on Sports” Jim convinced the brass at WRC that the show was worth airing.

Thank you Jim Vance for opening the door

Petey, Jim and me would become like the three musketeers when it came to reaching back to enhance the growth of inner-city children in DC.

Jim hailed from the city of Philadelphia known as the city of “Brotherly Love” and he brought the love with him.  He and I became like brothers and no matter what the community endeavor, celebrity fashion shows, tennis tournaments, toy parties or support for the Roy Jefferson Reading Center—he was there.Jim and HBell are seen hanging out at The Roy Jefferson Reading Center on K Street, NW with several students.Robert Hooks, Eldridge Spearman, HBell, Jim and Derrick Humphries hanging out at the Chapter 4 club in SE DC

 Jim, Hattie T and the late and former Redskin LB Pete Wysocki looking good at KIT Fashion Show at DC Hyatt Regency Hotel

When a confused Sugar Ray Leonard was still trying to find his way, it was Jim who joined me, Robert Hooks, Sonny Hill and Willie Wood at the Department of Recreation & Parks’ to meet with Director Bill Rumsey asking him to help find Ray a job until he could get his act together.

When Ray got his act together it was Jim who helped me to coordinate a bus trip to Baltimore to support him in his pro debut and the rest is boxing history. Ray Leonard would go on to become the first fighter in boxing history to earn 100 million dollars in prize money.

Jim Vance in background as Sugar Ray makes Kids In Trouble Community Service Award presentation at the Foxtrappe 

Coach Woody Hayes, Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin and MC Jim Vance during KIT tribute and salute to Ohio State football

Jim loved to play tennis even though he was not that good we became partners on the tennis courts, when he found the time in his busy schedule.  I was right handed, but I would play him with my left hand to make the game competitive.  I think that was one of the reasons I never developed a backhand, I would switch to my left and hit a forehand when I should have been hitting a backhand.  The games were fun and great exercise for both of us.Inside Sports Celebrity Tennis: Jim Vance and the Usual Suspects at Anacostia Park in SE DC

Radio icon and ‘Quiet Storm’ host Melvin Lindsey, HBell, Jim and Washington Post sports columnist Dave Dupree attend KIT toy party.

It was easy to like Jim he was a people person and everyone was treated like his friend.  His special gift of loving children was understandable he was a school teacher in Philadelphia.

Inside Sports really took off when I started to write my own commentaries.  In the early 70s I was not only playing message music relating to community ills, but I also was writing commentaries relating to those same community ills.  Inside Sports was “Outta Compton” long before NWA.

Watching Jim on the evening and nightly news was very inspiring, especially when it came to his commentaries.  I would go up to the station in the evenings and sit down and watch him prepare for his newscast.  He would write his commentaries and then read them to me for sound effects.  This was a special skill because his writing reminded me of a definition I learned while working for the Department of Defense at Bolling AFB in the 70s.  I kept clashing with a Base Commander named Erickson, he hailed from Texas and acted like it when it came to communicating with minorities.

The Vice-Commander was really a class act pulled me aside one day and asked to meet in my office the following morning, I said okay.

The next day he came in and sit down and explained to me that I was too important to DOD and the community to keep going up against the Base Commander.  He then pulled out this poster that had a picture of the Devil with a long spear in his hand and it read “The Definition of Diplomacy”,  ‘Being able to tell someone to go to hell and have them looking forward to the trip’ that is how all of Jim Vance’s commentaries read and sounded.  He taught me while writing a story it had to have a flow and continuity.  That was the secret to him being an amazing writer and story teller.Maureen Bunyan, Lark McCarthy and Donnie Simpson all followed KIT and Jim Vance’s lead into the community

In 1983 our relationship went to hell in a handbasket because of his drug abuse.  The drug community in DC is a very small community and if you are using drugs everyone in the streets know who you are.  I tried to look the other way when it came to Jim, but one evening I could no longer look the other way.

One drug dealer brought a check to me that Jim had written for the drugs, it was then I realized how deep he was in.  The drug dealer gave me a copy of the check and asked me to talk to Jim about getting some help.  He explained that he could not tell him to stop using because this was his business and business was good.  This brother was known on the streets as a selfish and cold dude, but he shown compassion for and confessed he really liked Jim Vance.

The next day I waited for Jim to make his exit from the station after the 11:00 pm news.  We went to a nearby restaurant to have a sandwich and a cold beer.  I didn’t want to spent a lot of time making small talk and immediately showed him the check his drug dealer had given me.  He took the check and left the restaurant and didn’t speak to me again for 20 years.

When I told the drug dealer about Jim’s response, he was as surprised as I was that he would react that way to someone who was trying to save his life.  In 1984 he enrolled in the Betty Ford Clinic.  Jim and I were like passing ships in the night for the next two decades.

I will never forget in 2007 I rescued an autistic little girl off of the subway tracks at the Potomac Avenue station in NE DC.  One afternoon I emerged from a train and saw her lying flat on her back looking up and not moving.  My instincts told me to jump down on the tracks, but an Amtrak employee advised me against the tactic saying the third rail would electrocute me.  Together we laid down flat on our stomachs and reached out to her asking her to give us her hand, but she just stared at us.  Suddenly I looked down and notice the warning lights were blinking meaning a train was approaching the station.  I broke out into a cold sweat and hollered at the top of my voice, “Give me your goddam hand”.  She reached up and gave us her hand and we pulled her to safety seconds before the train pulled into the station–talking about a surreal moment.

The next evening NBC afilliate WRC-TV 4 covered the story and the anchors were Doreen Gentzler and Jim Vance.  Doreen excitely read the story saying what a heroic act it was–Vance looked dis-interested making like he never heard of me.  Hattie looked at me and I just laughed.  He never participated in “Fake News”.

 Doreen covers the Potomac Avenue Subway rescue on the evening news and Jim shows his love–looking like he never heard of me. 

The next time he spoke to me was at a tribute to sports talk show host Glen Harris on the campus of Howard University.  On his enry into the room I was standing talking to several of the guest and he walked by and said, “hey Harold Bell”, I was surprised and never responded.

The next time I saw him would be the re-opening of the renovated Howard Theater in 2012 he was covering the event.  He spotted me and came over and said, “Lets do lunch, give me a call so that we can set something up”!  Hattie and I stopped by the station one day while we were in the neighborhood.  He came out of the studio to greet her with a hug and gave me a date for lunch and never followed up—I let it go.Harold and Hattie T hanging out with Mayor Marion Barry “DC Mayor for life” at the Pigskin Club in DC

Marion Barry and Jim Vance had a lot in common they were leaders in their chosen fields, politics and media, but the demons they hung out with they were never able to conquer.   I tried to warn Marion that the Feds were trying to set him up, but he didn’t listen and his final cry was “The Bitch Set me Up”.   Jim ignored my warning and quietly slipped away.  RIP my friends you did it your way.