I was looking forward to the New Year 2023, but first I had to get out of December 2022 alive. The years of 21 and 22 were difficult times with the pandemic piled on top of the racism that has engulfed America.
Gentrification has become the new “Back of the Bus” for blacks and unarmed black men being shot down in our streets. 1,000+ homicides overall in 2022. One thousand children shot and killed or wounded under the age of seventeen!
There seems to be no end in sight. The annual battlecry of the politicians and pimps in the pulpit, “Enough is Enough.”
In the meantime, on December 28th my wife Hattie and I were watching an N.B.A. game. The Dallas Marvericks were playing an improved New York Knick’s team, a doormat no longer. The Knicks were up by 9 points with 33 seconds left in the game.
The Maverick’s Luke Doncic took over and send the game into overtime. In overtime he took the game to another level. He finished with 60 points, 21 rebounds and10 assist for an unheard of triple double. He was making history right before our very eyes. The final score, the Mavericks 126 and the Knicks 121. The victory against the Knicks in Dallas was the first time in N.B.A. history that a player had recorded 60 points in a triple-double.
The other highest point totals with 20 rebounds and 10 assists all came more than 50 years ago: Wilt Chamberlain’s 53-32-14 in 1968, Elgin Baylor’s 52-25-10 in 1961 and Chamberlain’s 51-29-11 all in the 1960s (G.O.A.T.S of the 60s & 70s).
During the game I received a call from one of my young men involved with “The Village”, Harrison Rec Center, Harrison Elementary, Kids In Trouble and Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Programs and Cardozo High School (1968-2013).
The call was from former Cardozo HS basketball coach and Athletic Director, Robert Richards. He was calling me from his hospital bed at Walter Reed Hospital/Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. The call came in around midnight.
The game was over, when I saw the call was from Robert, I answered dispite the late hour. I could see this call was different-he had me on Face Time via cell phone for the first time ever. Hattie was sitting nearby when Robert said hello and explained he was in Walter Reed Hospital and waiting for someone to pick him up and take him home!
This was rather strange because of the time of night. We talked for several more minutes with me trying to make sense of this late night call. The call dropped, and he called me right back. I could now see clearly that he was in a hospital bed. I was comtiplating on driving to the hospital but Hattie was shaking her head-NO-NO! It would have been like going cross country, from Suitland, Maryland to the top of Georgia Avenue, NW.
Hattie thought Richard sounded a little delirious!
I convinced Richard to hang up the phone and let me see if I could find him some help and he agreed. First, I called 911 to see if they had a number for Walter Reed Hospital. The operator gave me the number and I dialed the number it was out of service. I was left trying to found someone closer to Walter Reed even though it was going on 1 a.m.
My next call was to Evelyn Cureton a Cardozo grad and good friend of KIT and Coach Richards. She lived in the upper NW in the Georgia Avenue corridor. I didn’t think Evelyn was going to be too happy about me ringing her phone at that time of the morning. No risk no reward, I dialed her number and got her answering service. I left no message.
My last call was to our friend Eric Campbell a mainstay back in the day at Harrison Rec Center. I got his answering service and I left a message to give me call first thing in the morning. I tried calling Richard and I got no answer. I sit at the dinning room table for about 30 minites before going to bed.
The next morning I spoke with Evelyn and Eric, they both asked, “What’s Up?” The real deal wasWalter Reed had moved out to Bethesda, Maryland!” and Richard was still in the Washington Hospital Center. Hattie as usual had my back.
I eventually found a number for his wife Carole and gave her a call. She confirmed that Robert was boulderline dilirious. She had been to the hospital to visit him and she tried to sit with him beyond visiting hours but because of convid visiting hours could not be extended.
One week later (January 4, 2023) my cell rang while I was driving to the Giant to pick up some water. I notice the name on the caller ID was Robert Richards. I pulled over to curb with a smile of relief and said, “Hello” the voice on the other end was Carole. She said, “Harold, Richard is gone!”
Robert’s uncle Earl Richards was my early hero while growing up in our NE Parkside housing project. He was a great high school athlete while attending Armstong HS and St. Paul & Augustine College in Raleigh, NC.
Earl and I later became teammates on the Virginia Sailors, a minor league team for the Washington Redskins. He was an outstanding player/coach. His skills as a center/LB were ahead of his time, too early for the NFL.
Earl Richards is standing directly behind Bob ‘Blue’ Johnson No. 22. We are in Mobile, Alabama’s Ladd Stadium. We had just won our first minor league championship in 1970. I am No. 82 in photo.
Robert followed his uncle into coaching (Eastern HS football coach) in the DC Public Schools at Cardozo HS as its Athletic Director, football and basketball coach.
There are very few financial rewards in helping peope, but the spiriture rewards are unlimited. Robert Richards was a spiriture reward. For Richard to reach out to me in his last hours–is truly a blessing.
IT TOOK A VILLAGE VIA KIT: Harrison Rec Center-Harrison Elementary-KIT Hillcrest Saturday Program-The Gang is in the house. L-R Sammie-Ricky-Chet-HB-Tyrone-Richard-Eric-Gus Kneeling Michael ‘Gee’-Jimmy Lee and Billy Buck.
TOP ROW-Robert Richards’ on the left. His last hurrah was at Harrison Elementary School with the guys and girls from the village. We were celebrating the homegoing service of Michael ‘Gee’ Gordon. Harrison was where it all started. The Nedabs, Lucy, Bernard and Oliver lived next door to the school–they were never late!
IN MEMORIAN: MY FRIENDS AND MENTEES–I AM GOING TO MISS YOU!
BOYS TO MEN IN THE HOOD:
JOE GORHAM-MICHAEL ‘GEE’ GORDON-WILLIAM WALKER, SR-ROBERT RICHARDS-OLIVER B. NEDAB
You and Thomas Hearns were two great warriors. Hearns is and was the better human being and probably the better boxer.
“The Hit Man” never forgot who he was and where he came from. I know because I had the opportunity to see you both up close and personal during the glory years.
Muhammad Ali is definitely The Greatest, after his retirement, the “welterweights and middleweights”, kept boxing alive. During the late 70s and 80s, you and Tommy were the frontrunners–you being the cash cow. There were some decision you lost, but won!
Ray, remember the bogus story you, Janks Morton, and Mike Trainor planned in the LA Times with sports columnist, the late Earl Guskey?
You claimed I was a part of your entourage and you left me home with the rest of the soreheads. You claimed I was mad because I had asked you for a job and you said “No!” This is just one of the BIG LIES that you told regarding me.
For example, another BIG LIE, I asked you to donate to my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble (a pastor in the DMV recently made the same claim-another lie). I have never asked you for a ticket or a dollar! Why would you make something like that up?
You seem to have forgotten when Mike Trainor was talking down to your parents during a training session like they had just gotten off the boat, I reminded him that was a no-no.You never uttered a word.
I told you when I found out that Trainor was seeing your checks before you, I said, “When this charade is over, he will have more money than you.” There was not that much difference in Trainor and Don King. King robbed you loudly and Trainor robbed you quietly.
Inside Sports Boxing Roundtable with Ray, Don King, Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes, Dave Jacobs, Sr. and Dave Jr.
Sugar Ray Leonard, Jr. wrote a blog, titled, “Harold Bell I am Not My Father!” I asked him to confront you about those lies that were written in the LA Times, but he never got back to me. You can run but you cannot hide.
Ray, do you remember after you won your first title against Alfredo Benitez, I was the first media personality you called on your arrival home?
You called me while I was on the air (Inside Sports) with comedian Chris Thomas as my co-host. You said, “Harold Bell I am the Welterweight Champion today because you were there when no one else was!” Why is it that this is THE BIG LIE you want to hide?
Ray the only thing you have in common with Muhammad Ali as it relates to me, is when THE GREATEST knocked out Big George in Zaire, Africa, I was the first media personality he called to interview him on his arrival back in the U. S. It was not Ed Bradley (60 Minutes), Bryant Gumble (NBC), or Howard Cosell (ABC), it was Harold Bell (Inside Sports). https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C5f66WDvT0ow9d3HkdUwzRHKvx-5Xrfw/view
Ray, remember, a LIE will change one-thousand times–the TRUTH never changes. I hope Santa Claus brings you the TRUTH for the holidays. Merry Christmas my friend.
THE WAY WE MADE CHILDREN FIRST365 DAYS OF THE YEAR
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE BELLS–HATTIE T & HB (photo Fred Sheppard)
Re-visited 12-16-2022–Courtland Milloy the Washington Post 1998
Washington Redskin LB, the late Harold McLinton is Santa for the annual KIT toy party at the Marriot Twin Bridges Hotel in Arlington, Virginia (1970).
In 1968, Harold Bell was a “roving leader” for the D.C. Department of Recreation, working with troubled youths, while also playing wide receiver for the Virginia Sailors, a farm team for the Washington Redskins.
Harold and his teammate WR Ed Bitner share a photo with young fan after winning the minor league football championship in Mobile, Alabama.
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis that year, Bell drew on his knowledge of the streets as well as his contacts with professional athletes to help quell the riots that rocked Washington. One of his most enduring achievements: was to establish a Christmas toy drive for children who lived in riot-torn areas.
Next week, Bell and his wife, Hattie, will put on their 30th Christmas toy party for needy children. The Bells met in 1967 when Hattie was a swimming coach at Cardozo High School in Northwest Washington and Harold was volunteering as a wide receiver coach with the school’s football team. They celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on November 30.
“I just lucked out with her,” Harold said. “Hattie is someone who enjoys working with young people as much as I do, and she’s never complained about the challenges that we have faced. She’s the real Santa; I’m just her helper.”
Hattie said the same thing about Harold, adding, “It’s all a bout seeing children smile. As Harold says to professional athletes all the time, No one is too tall to stoop to help a child.’ “
Hattie T and her Cardozo High School MerimaIds swimming team.
Mayor Wilson Goode, Sonny Hill, and Harold are in the hood in Philly.
Bell started a nonprofit organization, Kids In Trouble Inc., or KIT, soon after the riots. Former football great Jim Brown currently serves as the chairman. Its aim is to expand recreational opportunities for youngsters and encourage them to go to college. During the summer Sonny Hill/John Chaney basketball camp invites KIT participants to their camp in Philly. And sports personalities such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dave Bing, and Spencer Haywood have shared with the children stories of success and how they overcame obstacles.
Bell started a nonprofit organization, Kids In Trouble Inc., or KIT, soon after the riots. Former football great Jim Brown currently serves as the chairman. Its aim is to expand recreational opportunities for youngsters and encourage them to go to college. During the summer Sonny Hill/John Chaney basketball camp invites KIT participants to their camp in Philly. And sports personalities such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dave Bing, and Spencer Haywood have shared with the children stories of success and how they overcame obstacles.
NFL legend Jim Brown host KIT toy party at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC
At the first toy party, in 1968, his Virginia Sailors’ teammate, the late George Kelly, played Santa Claus and he managed to collect enough toys for about 50 children,” Bell recalled. “We held it at the old Hillcrest Children’s Center at 14th and W streets NW. It was so beautiful that I had to go into a room by myself, lock the door, and cry. That’s how much it filled me up, and I’ve just had to do it every year since.”
In 1970, Bell persuaded Redskins linebacker Harold McLinton to play Santa for the party, and he showed up with wide receiver Roy Jefferson. running back Larry Brown and defensive back Ted Vactor as his helpers. The children loved it, and the Redskins became Christmas party regulars.
The late NBA great Sam Jones later signed on as a helper. He became an integral part of the toy drive with Al Attles, KC Jones, and Roy Jefferson.
“Harold, Roy, Larry, Ted, and Sam are some of the most unselfish men I know,” Bell said. “Roy would always show up with a sack of toys and food. He’d dare me to spend my own money. Sam was a stalwart. He’s the kind of guy who’s always there when you need him.”
Former players (R-L) the late Byron Kirkley and Harold Bell are Santa’s Helpers for their former HS basketball coach, the late Rev. William Rountree, and his youth center kids.
When Larry Brown was named the NFL’s most valuable player in 1972, Gillette Razor Blade Co. presented him a check for $5,000 on a Bob Hope TV special. Brown donated the entire amount to the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program for Kids, which Bell was running at the time.
In 1971Redskin RB and MVP Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton give inner-city children swimming lessons during first ever NFL Films promo for national television. The lesson were given at the KIT Hillcrest Saturday Program in Washington, DC
Such generosity stands in stark contrast to the actions of some athletes these days, especially in the lockout-plagued NBA, where millionaire players see themselves — not poor children — as charity cases.
Bell attended Spingarn High. In the late 50s before graduating from Fairmont Height HS in Prince Georges County in 1959. He served briefly as a golf caddy for Vice President Richard M. Nixon at the all-male, all-white Burning Tree Club in Bethesda. In 1969, Bell ran into President Nixon, who was touring the riot-scarred Shaw neighborhood. Two weeks later, Nixon invited Harold and Hattie Bell to a White House dinner with Secretary of State William Rogers.
Nixon then appointed Harold Bell to head the Domestic Actions Program (DOD) making him the first civilian to coordinate the use of athletic facilities on military bases for children in the community. It was on Bolling he found the first ever Half-Way House for at-risk boys on a military installation. And for several years after that, Bell hosted a radio sports talk show, Inside Sports.
“This city has changed a lot in 30 years, but the problems that come from growing up poor remain the same,” said Bell, who is 59. “The children, especially, need a lot of help, and I just believe that those of us who have made it have an obligation to reach back. I’ve been through tough times, so I know what it’s like and I know how important a helping hand can be.”
This year’s Christmas party is scheduled for Dec. 22. Plans are underway to hold it at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, which has supported Bell in years past. Anyone wanting to donate new toys or make a financial contribution to help about 300 needy elementary school children can do so at Ebenezer AME Church, 7707 Allentown Rd., Fort Washington; Ben’s Chili Bowl, 13th and U streets NW; D.C.
This year, Santa’s helpers include sports legends Sam Jones of the National Basketball Association and Roy Jefferson, Willie Wood, George Nock, and Rick “Doc” Walker of the National Football League.
But the main attraction will be the hundreds of children who have been looking forward to the party for weeks now. As Hattie Bell put it, “Just the sight of their collective smiles, brought on not just because they received new toys but because they could see that somebody cares, is a blessing all by itself.”
CAPTION: Harold and Hattie Bell have been finding ways to be Santa’s helpers for the DMV’s school children each Christmas since they married, 54 years ago.
A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY WITH KIDS IN TROUBLE, INC FROM BOYS TO MEN TO A LADY WHO BECAME A CHAMP!
Miles Clarke–Pee Wee Bowl–Bowie HS (No. 52)–Bowie State-Big Man on campus.
Makale Thompson on left in a dance-off during a KIT fundraiser at Giant Food Store at the age of 10. Makale at the age of 17 senior WR/Safety for McNamara HS in PG County.Hattie and I are presentingMakale a KIT check for a school fundraiser.
Antonio Logan-El was 3 years-old when he became the poster boy for Kids In Trouble, Inc. He is seen sitting on a Grand Piano at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC. He is surrounded by KIT Life Time Achievement Award winners; L-R: the late Dr. George Logan-El-Montgomery County first black police Chief, Clarence Edwards-HBell-Federal Judge Alex Williams and Boxing Historian, the late Bert Sugar. At the age of 12 he was reaching back as a server for the KIT toy party and at the age of 17 he was a 300 pounder All-American football player for Forestville HS. He is a grad of Towson State University. He owes his success to his grandfather, Dr. George Logan-El (Piano photo by Don Baker)
Robert Glenn was age 10 when I took him to the hoop with his own ball. He is a grad of Morehouse University.
Sugar Ray Leonard was a kid in trouble. He is seen at the top with his Gold Medal around his neck on Inside Sports interacting with several elementary school children. This was after his Olympic Gold Medal win in the 1976 Olympic Games in Mexico City. He came home expecting a parade. Instead, the media attacked him for having a baby out of wedlock. He did not have a pocket to pee in or a window to throw the pee out. He went in his house and hid out. Harold Bell to the rescue–the rest is boxing history!
Hattie and I met Robin Sugar Williams at the age of 10 at an elementary school on Alabama Avenue in SE Washington, DC. We watched her grow from a child and become a lady–this lady became a mom and a Champ. She has sung at the White House and traveled the world asarenowedgospel singer.Robin andFonziethe clownwere thebackbone of KIT.
I was watching an episode of the popular television show America’s Got Talent. The show featured Archie Williams. He spent 37 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit–RAPE and MURDER! The DNA of a serial rapist freed him three years ago.
The question from host/executive producer Simon Cowell was, “How did you survive?” He answered saying, “My body was in prison but not my mind.” In other words FREEDOM is of the mind.
The song he sang, “Don’t Let the Sun Fall Down On Me” was a dedicated to what happen to him in 1982 can still happen to any black man in America in 2022. This brings me back to Maury Wills, he did not “Let the Sun Fall Down on Him.”
Maury, followed the lead of the World’s first black Heavyweight Champion, Jack Johnson, the great athlete, scholar and actor, Paul Roberson, the imcomparable basebal pioneer and civil rights leader, Jackie Robinson, last but not least, The Greatest, Muhammad Ali.
They all understood the most important game being played in America was not football, baseball or basketball–it is “The Game Called Life.” It is the only game being played where being called a Super-Star truly means something.
Maury, decided he was going to be a FREE black man in his lifetime. Archie Williams said it best, “The system locked up my body and not my mind.” Black men can not let the system lock up their minds!
Maury left a trail in in his NE DC Parkside housing project, for little fellows that followed him, like his brother Donald and me. There were athletes who followed us from the projects with names like Cecil Turner, Jimmy Bland, Kenneth Springfield, Alfonso Lawson, Gus Lee, Roger Scott and Darryl Hill (honorary Parksider).
The little fellows that followed Maury, Donald and me, left an impact in their communities. They became NFL players, teachers, principals, psychiatrist, FBI agent, sports talk show host and the first black to play at the Naval Academy and in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference).
Roger Scott aka “Shoes” is considered the best all-around athlete to ever come out of the Parkside housing project.
My 50+ years in sports media, writing as an freelancer for the Afro-American, New York Amsterdam, New Observer, Washington Times, and Washington Post newspapers, add blogs for the Bleacher Report, I know Fake News when I see it! As a talk show host on AM Gospel radio, the weakest signal in the radio universe my audience was far-few and in between. Still I successfully campaigned for two local blackballed pro athletes from the DMV in support of them being enshired into their hall of fames. Green Bay Packer great Willie Wood (NFL) was one, and Washington/Syracuse Nationals, Earl Lloyd (NBA) was the other. I also campaigned for LA Dodger great Maury Wills (MLB) but I came up short.
Willie was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989, and Earl into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003.
I hate looking back wishing I could have and should have, but I had Washington Times sports columnist, Dick Heller, All-Pro NFL and Green Bay Packer LB Dave Robinson in Willie’s corner. Earl Lloyd, I had Red Auerbach (NBA Hall of Fame), Sam Jones (NBA Hall of Fame), Congressman John Lewis (civil rights icon) and Dick Heller on his team. Maury, had no such support, but I still believed the support was out there.
It is often said, “It ain’t over to the Fat Lady sings.” I am on the way out and not on the way in. This is where the Wills Gang and Ebenezer AME can pick the ball up where I left off.
Yes Maury, wanted to be voted into the baseball hall of fame, yes he deserves to be in there, he earned it. But the most important hall of fame–is God’s Hall of Fame. The Player-Haters and KKK have no vote.
THE MAURY WILLS FIELD ON GEORGIA AVENUE CORRIDOR IN NW WASHINGTON, DC
Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans is the latest to follow the pattern of Democratic leadership laid out by mayors like Eric Adams of New York, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C.: lingering economic problems from rigid COVID policies, homelessness and rampant crime.
The voters in the Nation’s Capitol just voted Muriel Bowser back into office for what looks might be her third term (the vote is still out for the Republican and Independent candidates for the office).
Bowser ties “The Mayor for Life”, Marion Barry’s three terms for what ever that is worth. DC is not only the worst run city in America–it is run by the worst Mayor in the history of the city. Bowser has sold out black, brown and the downtrodden residents of the city. The gentrication residents are saying privately, “We don’t need a white Mayor,we got Bowser.”
Every year she has held the office of Mayor crime in Washington, DC has skyrocketed (murder, car thieft and juveniles terrorizing communities). Her latest effort to reduce crime sounded like something out of the twi-light zone. She has come up with a group called, “The Nightlife Task Force.” They are led by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety & Justice and the Metropolitan Police Department. According to Bowser, they will be supported by other District agencies, and public safety Go Teams comprised of non-law enforcement partners such as VIOLENT INTERRUPTERS, and ROVING LEADERS (scare of their own shadows).
Unless Furman Marshall and Theophus Brooks can come out of retirement and Calvin Woodland can be resurrected from the grave, Mayor Bowser is whistling in the wind. Her leadership was suspect from the very beginning. DC being voted as the worst run city in America proved she was in over her head. Her father was a nickle and dime politician in NW DC proving that an apple does not fall too far from the tree.
The real problem, the voters don’t seem to have a clue as it relates to the history of the nickle and dime politicians they allow to represent them year after year.
It all came to a head for me when I tried to forewarn her after a special report seen on Fox TV 5 News and that it true her Assistant Chief, Peter Newsome was not fit to be Chief of Police in the Nation’s Capitol.
The expose seen on Fox News identified Newsome as a domestic violence perpetrator as it related to his wife and girlfriends. He was also an alcoholic. He was found by other DC officers lying on the street face down drunk with his gun in his holster.
A hero cop, Inspector Nathan Simms had given me evidence that Newsome and colleagues were removing papers from the evidence room without permission. Inspector Simms tried to warn them he would not tolerate this type of behavior on his watch. The evidence being removed from the evidence room would have helped the courts convict Newsome and other members of the department of brutality during demostrations at the World Bank.
In April 2000 protest demostrations were held in front of the World Bank in Washington, DC and Peter Newsome and a band of his merry men (police officers) brutally strong-armed the demostrators and hauled them off to jail.
The demostrators sued the police department and the District of Columbia for damages and won. I put written evidence in the hands of Bowser, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and Councilwoman Mary Cheh during a birthday party for Virginia Ali at Ben’s Chili Bowl on H street, in NE. They never responded.
I was determined to see this through, I signed up to object to Newsome’s confirmation at a City Council confirmation hearing in the District Building. Councilman Charles Allen was chairing the hearing. I knew it was a sham when I noticed, Mary Cheh, Arnita Bonds,, Phil Mendelson, Vincent Gray, and Trayvon White were no-shows. With Newsome sitting on my right I told Allen that I was sure they had already decided to name Newsome the chief–of course he denied it.
The bottom-line, Bowser, Norton, Cheh and the Congressional Black Caucus looked the other way and gave Newsome a FREE pass to allow crime to explode on his watch. After his short run of three years and some change, he saw the handwriting on the wall. Allen and the city council came to their senses and said, “No Mas.” Too little, too late. Newsome had slipped out the back door and signed on to be Chief in the Frederick, Virginia police department–Bowser was clueless. Newsome’s profile fits new Virginia Governor Glenn Youngum’s profile. Bowser’s enept leadership surpasses that of Sharon Pratt Kelley and Vincent Gray as Mayors of DC.
“Stop and Frisk” is the most discredit police practice in America. It exclusively targets black and brown people and it has led to racially biased harassment and violent intimidation.
“Stop and Frisk” in SE/NE in 2018 targeted black and brown people overwhejmingly (70%). Black Lives Matter had to sue Bowser and police chief Newsome for data on “Stop and Frisk.” When the cat was let out of the bag there stood Mayor Bowser as the architect of the racially biased tactic.
When Bowser led negotiations with the DC Public School’s Substitute Teachers relating to how much a substitute teacher should be paid–she low-balled them. The substitues had to threaten her with a one day walk-out during the week. She finally saw things their way and surrendered $20 an hour and $25 an hour for long term substitutes–they are now (still underpaid) the highest paid substitutes in the DMV.
The school Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee followed his boss’s lead when he brought outsiders into the DC school system as mentors. He recently gave a grant to a dishonest organization, INNER-CITY INTERNATIONAL and its CEO Dwyane Bryant. Bryant is a Chicago native with no integrity. He is being brought into DC to lead our children down the road of no-return? I know him from an up-close and personal experience–he is the blind leading the blind. This organization adds on to the problems we already have. I am trying to figure out why would Mr. Byrant be leaving his hometown of Chicago to bring this program to DC to help young people survive the mayhem in our city, while Chicago is overrun with unsolved homicides of their own children?
As of July 1st DC is on the way to setting another record for murders in the city. On July 1, a 17-year old young man, Daniel Simms was shot and killed leading the city into the holiday weekend ahead of last year’s record for the month of July. In 1988 DC was known as “The Murder Capitol of America.” Simms became the 13th murder victim in DC under the age of 18 years-old. He was found dead on Yuma Street in SE DC. On that same day in Montgomery County, Maryland our neighbor next door three 16 year-old young men who are DC residents were arrested. They shot at police in a high speed chase, and were arrested when their car crashed. Loot from a home burgarly was also found in the car. They will be charged as adults.
We have just moved past the half-way mark for 2022! If Bowser thinks a group of brothers calling themselves, the VIOLENT INTERRUPTERS, and ROVING LEADERS are going to solve the ills of today’s youth and the ills of this city, she is in for a rude awaking and we all are in for a long hot summer. The VIOLENT INTERRUPTERS, I think I have heard that song before, it was rumored these problem solvers came out of Philadelphia? When I heard the rumor I asked, “Why would the Mayor bring strangers from another town with similar problems to try to sovlved our problems (sounds like Dywane Byrant and Beate Ewing)? I am a 4th generation Washingtonian and I have spent 55+ years working in the war zones (streets, schools, playgrounds and courtrooms) of the DMV. I started in DC, as a neighborhood worker for United Planning Organization in 1965, moved on to the DC Recreation Department’s Roving Leader Program in 1967. My home territory was the U street corridor/Cardozo Shaw as a Neighborhood Worker for UPO. The legendary Stanley Anderson, Director of the Roving Leader Program gave me the same assignment.
My wife Hattie was a DC Public School teacher (Cardozo HS) when we found our non-profit organization, Kids In Trouble, Inc in 1968. Pioneering U. S. Marshall in Charge, Luke C. Moore and I walked arm in arm down the U street corridor with NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Wood (Roving Leader) during the 1968 riots. We were trying to save lives.
I met DC native Dr. George Logan-El in 1970 in Alexandria, Virginia. I joined him, Alexandria Recreation Department youth workers, Lawrence Brown and Michael Johnson in their work in the Alexandria school system with a group of young men calling themselves “The Untouchables.”
My mentor was the late Senator Decatur Trotter. He made it possible for me to become the first independent minority vendor for the Maryland Lottery (sponsors of Inside Sports). His earlier work with institutionalized at-risk children enhanced our non-profit organization, Kids In Trouble, Inc.
I have not forgotten when Michael Brown was murdered in Fergerson, St. Louis by a rogue cop, Politico Magazine published an artice titled, “Prince Georges County, the Fergerson Next Door.” The PG county police department has been in the Top 10 as one of the most brutal in the country for decades.
The “Freeloaders and Politicians” in Prince Georges County are “The Usual Suspects.” Being a politician in the county means you never have to say you are sorry for not looking for a REAL job to help people.
You drive through Prince Georges County you can barely see the highway for the political posters. These Negroes have a nerve to look down there noses at those of us who live in sudidizied housing and use food stamps to eat? Some of the worst politicians are LIFERS in the political arena.
The most notorius politicians in PG County similar to DC’s Bowser, Norton and Cheh. Meet, Anthony Brown, Donna Edwards and Glenn Ivey.
PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY THE FERGERSON NEXT DOOR?
BAD NEWS: THREE OF THE WORST POLITICIANS IN THE COUNTY!
Anthony Brown was nothing but a “Spook Who Sat by the Door” when he was Lt. Governor, did absolutely nothing as a Senator and now he was to play musical chairs with the lives of black folks in the county–he wants to be Attorney General!
This is the story I wrote about the shooting at Suitland High School in 2004. Glenn Ivey and Donna Edwards were nowhere to be found.
Two weeks later I was attending a prayer breakfast at a church on Central Avenue when I was approached by a young lady saying, “Mr. Ivey would like to see you.” He wanted to know why would I write about him in the Washington Post without contacting him first? My response was, “Did I write something that was not true?” He asked if I had any solutions, and I said, ‘Yes, when would you like to meet?’
A meeting was arranged in his office with him and his staff. I brought with me members of my non-profit organization, Kids In Trouble, Inc. team. They included, Rev. John Edwards, former DC police officer and DEA Supervisor, Andrew Johnson (ret), Lawrence Brown (Untouchables), Dr. George Logan-El (Phd) and Sidney Davis of Cities in Schools, all together it was about eight of us. We met with Ivey’s staff for about two hours. Ivey excused himself for another meeting after 30 minutes. He never followed up. It looked like the meeting was just a photo opt for him.
I would later discovered that members of his staff were double dipping with other jobs. One of the young ladies was working with boxing great Laila Ali on her media team for an upcoming fight card in Prince Georges County.
I was living in Bowie when I had my next encounter with Glenn Ivey. I was attacked by a white neighbor living in a senior residence on Mitchellville Road in Bowie. I only knew the man in passing. One summer evening I was headed out for a walk to Bowie Town Center Mall when he jumped me.
When the fight ended his blood was all over me, as I walked back to my apartment several neighbors became concerned when they saw me with a blood covered white tee shirt, not knowing the blood was not mine.
Someone called the police as I waited in the lobby. The cops explained their hands were tied because it was now he say, she say. They advised me to go to the Upper Marlboro Courthouse if I wanted to press charges. First, I was advised to go to Annarundle Hospital to be examined. The next morning I went to the Upper Marlboro Courthouse and was I in for a surprise. A little Bird told me that Glenn Ivey was trying to have me charged with assault (it was a little white bird).
I should not have been surprised, if he crawls like a snake, smells like a snake, talks like a snake–he is a snake–meet Glenn Ivey. Evidently, someone told the judge who I was and he dismissed charges against both of us. I later discovered the man who assualted me was bi-polar and had not taken his medicine.
Glenn Ivey’s wife who is a member the City Council has been spreading the word that the Iveys are next Kennedy Family of Prince Georges County!!!
You know Ivey is desperate for votes when has to turn to the worst County Executive in the history of Prince Georges County, Rushine Baker for an endorsement. Baker had throwed his hat into the ring for Governor, but had it throwed back at him for lack of support and money to run.
Remember, Sidney Davis who accompanied me to the meeting with Glenn Ivey? He lost his job with Cities and Schools, signed on with the Alliance of Concerned Black Men (sponsor Bob Woodson, the biggest pimp in the non-profit world). Concerned Black Men kicked him to the curve. His next job was with Metro driving the bus. I have no clue how he managed to lose that job.
The next thing I heard through the grapevine, he was working for an ex-con, Calvin Hawkins, President of the Prince Georges County City Council?
He claimed Calvin did him wrong after he help get him elected to the council. Remember, Harold Bell never stopped taking his phone calls or looking for away to help him even though I was limited. I have learned the hard way, there is little honesty and integrity among black men.
When I came up with the Zoom “Speak the Truth” podcast last year I offered Sidney a seat at the table. He brought his partner along ex-con Charles Hopkins (good people). Sidney wanted to use the podcast to discuss Re-Entry for returning citizens–no problem.
After a year of finding out he was not the sharpiest knife in the draw, he slipped out the back door with Charles to reconnect with a man with no integrty, Glenn Ivey? Now this was a surprise because he knew Ivey had no integrity, but birds of a feather flock together.
If you listen to Ivey’s television campaign ad you will see and hear what a big liar he really is. In a photo opt with President Obama he seize the moment to talk about his crime fighting background (non-existent). I press him to name one crime fighting task he led in Prince Georges County?
He was never there to support the community or minority police officers to combat racism and brutality on the Prince Georges Police Department. He was not there for the Suitland High School students, and on his watch he was nowhere to be found when a young black man was found hung in his cell in the Upper Marlboro jail in 2007–a case that is still unsolved!
Is it any wonder that DC is the worst run city in America and Prince George County is their Next Door Neighbor? With the likes of Bowser, Norton and Cheh in DC and Ivey, Brown and Edwards in Prince Georges County, the path to the ballot box in November does not look good for our children.
There was no better time to revisit the impact of civil and human rights relating to Red Auerbach and owner Walter Brown of the Boston Celtics than the 2022 NBA Championship Finals. The Celtics headed back to Boston needing a win at home and a win at the Golden State Warriors to capture the NBA Championship–but the Warriors closed out the the Celtics in six games at the Boston Garden 103-90 to win the NBA Championship. Never the less this was a history making pro sports series.
In 2022 the Celtics became the surprise and cinderella team in pro sports. During the NBA All-Star break their won-lost record was below the 500 mark. Their turn-around was nothing short of amazing. They took on the role of David against, the giant Philistine warrior, Goliath,
Their opponents were considered giants in the NBA play-offs, first, the Brooklyn Nets, the Miwaukee Bucks, the Miami Heat and now the real warriors of the NBA–Golden State!
The Boston Celtics were in the 2022 NBA finals with a rookie black head coach, Ime Udoka and that is not the only surprise. There are 30 NBA franchises in the NBA-surprise, there are now 15 teams with black head-coaches. This is unheard in the annals of pro sports in America.
The disappointment–Michael Jordan is the only black owner and he deserves to own a team. He carried the league on his back during his entire NBA career, but there are other blacks who deserve to own a team.
Celtic Pride, Red, Walter, K C and Sam Jones, Dennis Johnson and Jo Jo White were looking down and smiling. Pro sports franchises including, the NFL, MLB and the NHL are still operating in the dark ages with no light in sight. When these franchises are talked about in barber shops around the country, the word most used to describe them, “Plantations”!
The best example; the NFL Washington Commanders defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, he recently proven once again it is best to be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt. He was evidently pissed off about the televised hearings on the January 6th terrorist attack on Capitol Hill by U. S. citizens.
He claimed the actions on the Capitol were nothing but a “Dust Off” and the actions by Black LivesMatter protesting the death of George Floyd were “Summer Riots”?
Minnesota cop tries to get away with murder of George Floyd in plain sight on national television.
Del Rio was fined $100,000 by the team for speaking out of turn–he should be fired. You wonder where are the black players and where do they stand on Del Rio? Probably, the same way they stood on Colin Kapernick. Kapernick is getting ready to walk into a trap as he tries to return to the NFL. Del Rio is waiting and folks who think like him.
It gets worst, Chanel Reynolds the first black woman hired in the Commanders front office was recently seen on television claiming she will bring more diversity to the Commanders front office. I wonder if she checked with owner Dan Snyder and Jack Del Rio first? As it stands at the moment the Commander’s front office is rampant in corruption and sexual mis-conduct? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel has been called to The Hill to testify on the Commanders and owner Snyder.
News Alert: The NFL Good Old Boys welcomed the first black into their club. NFL Credentials: She is a black woman from Princeton, she sits on the Board of Starbucks and she is married to movie director George Lucas–neither has ever played a down in the NFL. There is no sports background and you can bet The Good Old Boys consider her a SAFE bet.
Back to the NBA: In 1950 Red and Walter began their crusade for equal and human rights in pro sports mirrored abolitionist John Brown’s efforts one-hundred years earlier in the late 1800s. Brown was a white man that took his two sons on a raid on Harper’s Ferry to free slaves. He was eventually captured and executed for the failed incitement of the slave rebellion. John Brown proved, that every black face you see was not your brother and every white face you saw was not your enemy.
It is rather ironic, during the same week the Warriors beat down the Celtics, the country celebrates Juneteeth commenrating the abolishment of slavery in 1865!
In the 50s Red Auerbach and Walter Brown of the Boston Celtics were the leaders in civil and human rights in the NBA.
Black NBA fans considered the Boston Celtics a racist organization getting them mixed in with the city.
I will never forget my friend and colleague the late W-H-U-R radio sports talk show host, Ron Sutton. He said, “Larry Bird is an overrated white boy”! It was Larry’s rookie year and we were both sitting at the segregated Washington Bullets press table watching the Bullets play the Celtics. The game was still in the first half and Larry had scored 24 points. I asked Ron, “Man what game are you watching”?
W-H-U-R sports talk show host Ron Sutton and I smiling for the camera-halftime of a Bullets game.
I went to my mentor, George Solomon, he was the sports editor for the Washington Post and I asked him to let me write a freelanced column explaining the NBA history of the Boston Celtics. It was my first column for a major newspaper. The column took my radio show Inside Sports to a higher level in sports talk radio in DC.
George became a regular contributor on Inside Sports and his writers followed his lead, Byron Rosen, Dave Dupree, Donald Huff, Tom Callahan, Michael Wilbon and Dave Aldridge.
Inside sports Celebrity Tennis Tournament. George Solomon (sunglasses) and the Usual Suspects.
The column cited, Red as the first NBA coach to draft a black player. He drafted Chuck Cooper in 1950. He was the first coach to play five black players at the same time and he was first to hire a black coach, Bill Russell. Russell was later promoted to General Manage another first.
During the Auerbach and Brown tenure Boston Garden was a “Race Free Zone.” The stifling racial strife in the city of Boston for the past 100 years was not allowed in Boston Garden during Celtic games.
When games were played in the garden the redneck riff-raff had to leave their KKK robes and hoods in their cars and trucks and replace them with a shirt and tie, or blue jeans and tee-shirts. Boston Garden security had orders to show them the exit if they did not comply.
Red Auerbach is the greatest coach in the history of team sports (one team and one franchise). His won-lost record in Human and Civil Rights—-undefeated.
The NBA Cares because Dave Bing, Red Auerbach and Willie Wood (NFL) all cared in the late 60s (KIT).
Bing’s basketball camp in the Poconos Mountains and my crew.
Red and K C-luncheon for Kids In Trouble, Inc.
I met Red and Dotie Auerbach on a Chevy Chase playground in a Maryland suburb of DC in the late 60’s. They were hanging out watching Summer League Basketball. When I met them, Dotie was sitting alone outside the fence watching the action. We struck up a conversation about one of the players. I thought to myself “This little white lady knows a lot about the game of basketball.” We would talk basketball for the next 30 minutes when suddenly her husband shows up with cold drinks.
The husband was the one and only Red Auerbach. She introduced us to each other and Red growled something sarcastic and Dotie said, “Arnold, stop acting up.” Red had a demeanor of a tiger when he didn’t want someone getting too close, but in reality he was nothing but a pussycat.
For the next 30 years Red and Dotie Auerbach would become a fixture and supporters of “Kids In Trouble, Inc and Inside Sports.” During that relationship my wife Hattie and I would visit their home in upper NW DC. We would often have lunch with Dotie and she would show off her antiques and art collection in the room of a next door apartment.
Red and Dotie share a laugh with tennis star Jimmy Connors during a telephone interview.
The walls of the apartment had been knocked down to accommodate her collection. The Woodmont Country Club in Bethesda, Md. is where Red could usually be found playing tennis and cards. Dotie was a classy down to earth lady and we fell in love with her. We were and still are benefactors of their generosity and kindness.
I remember the first time Red invited me to have lunch with him. He asked me to meet him on the corner of 9th and F Streets in NW DC. I am thinking we are going to have lunch at some fancy restaurant downtown. I was in for a surprise, he treated me to a kosher hotdog with sauerkraut and a RC cola from a vendor’s stand.
We would later walk around the corner to Ophenhimer’s jewelry store where his brother the late Zang Auerbach worked. Zang had been a cartoonist for the now defunct Washington Star newspaper before his retirement. He would later draw a cartoon of Hattie playing a guitar for her 40th birthday portraying the legendary and late comedian Jack Benny saying “I am 39 years old and not a day older.”
Zang Auerbach’s happy birthday tributes to Hattie and me.
Much like Red, Zang and his son Johnny who also worked in the store were rare jewels. The jewelry store would become my downtown hangout. I remember one day walking into the store and there was Red, Zang and Hymie Perlo joking around. Before I could get through the door, Hymie was asking Red, “What does Harold Bell have on you, every time I turn on the dam radio you are on his show?” Without hesitation Red responded “My wife loves him.” Red was the host once a month of a VIP luncheon in Chinatown on Tuesdays. He would play “King for a Day” Red would hold court and listen to his friends, media personalities and others tell him how great he was.
I really enjoyed the outings when his friend the late Hymie Perlo attended. Hymie kept us laughing and he made Red keep it real with his down to earth humor. With the exception of a few most of the guys in attendance were a bunch of wannabees and being around Red made them feel like they were important!
Red and Dotie’s friendship reminds me of what Muhammad Ali once told me about the definition of a “Friend.” He said, “A friend is someone who is always doing something for others and never expecting anything in return.” Ali, meet—–Red and Dotie Auerbach.
Local sports anchors “A Shutout” The Washington Post (1989)
Red reminded me a lot of Ali when he made his entrance into a crowded room all activity came to an abrupt end. He would be the center of attention. When I called the house to talk with Dotie and once he found out it was me he would shout “Hey Dotie its that nuisance Harold Bell or Dotie its your boyfriend Harold Bell.” Red and Dotie treated us like we were family.
Red Auerbach was a rare “Superstar.” His telephone number was listed and he would answer the telephone. I don’t ever remember him having an answering service or maybe I just never left a message!
2006 marked 38 years straight for Christmas Toy Parties sponsored by Kids In Trouble, Inc. Before Dotie took ill and died in 2000 there was always a check for toys coming from the home of the Auerbachs. Red co-hosted several of my Inside Sports Celebrity Tennis Tournaments. He was a frequent guest speaker for my Kids In Trouble, Inc. forums. He co-hosted and was a regular on “Inside Sports”. In 1990 he co-hosted a show with me titled “Celebrity Sports Calls.”
Our special guest were basketball greats, Sam Jones, Bighouse Gaines, Connie Hawkins, and Al Attles. Red loved to attend and watch “Double Dutch” jump rope tournaments in the inner-city. I would call him and we would go and sit up in a far corner of a gym and enjoy the program. He would swear the kids participating were some of the greatest athletes in the city.
In Houston, Texas somewhere in the 1980s I was attending my first NBA All-Star game. I would encounter a problem acquiring press credentials. When I went to pick up my credentials I was told by NBA Media Director Brian McIntyre that my credential request had not been received. I asked Mr. McIntyre, “Why would I fly all the way from DC to Houston without applying for press credentials in advance?” He was not budging. I remembered talking to Red before I left DC and he said “Harold I don’t think I am going to make this one.” It was then I realized I had an ace in the hole, Red Auerbach.
I asked Mr. McIntyre if he knew Red Auerbach? His response was “Yes do you?” I then asked him if I could use his telephone and he said “Sure go ahead.” I dialed Red and Dotie’s number knowing Red was probably out at the club playing tennis or cards. My only hope was that Dotie would be home.
The telephone rang several times and Dotie answers and I said, “Hi Dotie this is Harold Bell I am at the NBA All-Star game in Houston, would you please speak to Mr. McIntyre he needs verification of who I am.” I gave the phone to Mr. McIntyre and the look on his face said it all. The look said, Dotie Auerbach had ID me. Talking about a look being “Priceless”, he hung up the telephone and was speechless for about 30 seconds. He finally said, “No problem Mr. Bell.” For the next 20 years Mr. Mac and I would be like ships passing in the night-honking horns. Out of the honking horns-came a sense of trust and respect.
Earl Lloyd out of West Virginia State (CIAA) was the first black to play in a NBA game, beating Chuck Cooper by one day (Lloyd was discharged from the Army one day before Cooper).
For years basketball historians like, broadcast and playground basketball legend Sonny Hill, and New York Amersterdam sports editor, Howie Evans were under the impression that Cooper was the first to play. I had Red address the issue in 1974 on my sports talk show “Inside Sports”. He and wife Dotie were my in-studio guests. Red made it clear that Earl was the first to play in an NBA game.
I remember when Earl was the Detroit Piston’s head coach. Dave Bing and several of his teammates conspired to run him out of the Motor City, it was my shoulder he cried on.
The NBA forgot he was the first black to play in a NBA game. Earl played on an NBA Championship team, with the Syracuse Nationals in 1954-55 season. He was named the NBA’s second black head coach with the Detroit Pistons. He could have been the first black head coach ahead of Bill Russell, but Detroit named Dave Debuschere player/coach for some unknown reason!
For years the NBA had forgotten that it was Earl Lloyd who broke its color barrier or ignored the fact. They left him on the outside looking in when it came time for induction into the Hall of Fame. He asked me if I would campaign and bring the needed attention of his NBA contributions. I asked Red, legendary sports columnist, Dick Heller and Congressman John Lewis to join me in the campaign.
Black History Month on Bolling AFB–Sam Jones andJames Brown (CBS) pay tribute to Earl.
Red and I pay tribute to Earl at the Grand Hyatt in DC.
Letter from Congressman John Lewis to Earl Lloyd:
Dear Mr. Lloyd,
As a colleague in the civil rights struggle, I am proud to say congratulations to you in celebrating 50 years of integration in the NBA. There is is little doubt that in 1950 your NBA debut was greeted with cheerleaders and pom-poms by NBA owners and fans. I really appreciate the sacrifices made by you on behalf of today’s players. I hope that one day soon they will understand who prepared the table for their present day success.
It is great that the NBA and the New York Knicks are finally recognizing your pioneering efforts in New York City on October 31, 2000. Thanks to the efforts of my friends Harold Bell, Sam Jones and Richard Evans of Kids In Trouble Inc. we are working together in planning a reception on Capitol Hill in your honor.
In closing, I hope you enjoy your special night in New York City. I am looking forward to meeting you on Friday February 9, 2001 during the NBA All-Star Weeekend next year.
Member of Congress
While growing up in DC I watched Earl shoot hoops on the playgrounds with legends that included the great, Elgin Baylor. He was born and raised in nearby Alexandria, Virginia but hung out in NW DC near the residence of his brother on Park Road NW.
In 2001 in Washington, DC I would coordinate and host a tribute to Earl during NBA All-Star Weekend.
I coordinated a luncheon meeting at Union Station to discuss the format and the logistics for the NBA weekend. In attendance were Sam Jones (NBA), James Brown (CBS), Andrew Dyer (Roundball Report), Christie Winter-Scott (Roundball Report), Butch McAdams (WOL Radio) and my wife Hattie. James and Sam agreed to host the tribute.
As we wrapped up the luncheon, James asked me a strange question, “Harold have you checked with Abe Polin?” I ignored him like I didn’t hear him. He sounded more like a slave in 1901 instead of a free man in 2001.
Red Auerbach was not a Yes Man for Commissioner David Stern or Wizard’s owner Abe Pollin. Together we coordinated the celebration for Earl Lloyd. Red was the glue that held everything together.
The NBA usually locks down the host city during All-Star weekend. The lockdown includes hotels, restaurants and any basketball related events not controlled by the NBA. There were outsiders who tried their best to sabortage the tribute to Earl. I thank God and Red Auerbach–they were my aces in the hole.
I am glad I started the campaign a year earlier at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC. There was an all out media assault by the Washington Post and other media lightweights. My mentor sports editor George Solomon refuse to cover the event. Dave McKenna a Washington Post wannabe wrote a demeaning column for the City Paper making me out to be “The Bad Guy”!
ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, and Dave McKenna during tribute to the late Gary Mays seated on right.
I had to call the CEO and Publisher Donald Graham to get Solomon’s attention. Mr. Graham would write a note back saying, “Harold the salute for Mr. Lloyd should have been covered, but George says he was not aware that the event was taking place.”
The Washington Post via their Style section finally had to get on board when the rival Washington Times published a Page One story with Red Auerbach and Earl Lloyd. The story in the Times had Red and Earl looking back on the early years of the NBA during a Black History program hosted by the Smithsonian Museum.
On Saturday morning of All-Star weekend there was a basketball clinic in Earl’s hometown of Alexandria. Several hundred inner-city children participated in the clinic at The John Houston Recreation center. Boston Celtic legend Sam Jones and playground legend Sonny Hill coordinated the clinic. NBA Hall of Fame player Bob Lanier was in attendance to represent NBA Commissioner David Stern. The clinic was a great success.
Sonny Hill and NBA legend the late Bob Lanier confer during clinic at the Charles Houston Rec Center in Alexandria in Lloyd’s honor (Washington Post).
On Saturday evening Sonny Hill and I hosted a tribute and reception at the historic Bohemian Caverns Jazz Club in NW DC. CBS NFL Studio host James Brown and NBA Legend Earl Monroe were scheduled to co-host the reception but disappeared without explanation. Earl would attend the reception later in the evening. I was surprised by Earl’s disappearing act. He had always been a straight shooter.
Sonny Hill (NBA), Sugar Ray Leonard, Ricky Jennings (NFL), HBell and ‘The Pearl’ model in one of my celebrity fashion shows at the Foxtrappe in DC.
Earl introduced me from the audience during his induction into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1989 citing his participation in my community reach back endeavors in DC . James Brown non-response was predictable; his word has never meant much.
In attendance was basketball royalty, K. C. Jones, Arnold Heft, Al Attles, Clarence “Bighouse” Gaines, Sam Jones, Sonny Hill, Phil Chernier, and Earl Monroe. The reception would be the only NBA activity Red would participate in that weekend. I think Stern and Polin got his message.
Red had never got over the way Abe Polin treated K C Jones after the lost to the Golden State Warriors, when they swept the Bullets in four straight. K C was given one more year and kicked to the curve. K C would bounce back.
In 1983, K C took over as head coach of the Boston Celtics, replacing Bill Fitch. He guided the Larry Bird Celtics to championships in 1984 and 1986. The Celtics won the Atlantic Division in all five of K C’s seasons as head coach and he reached the NBA Finals in four of his five seasons as coach. He was a gentleman and a class act. He was like a big brother to me. There were rumors spread he could not coach, spread by his asssistant coach, Bernie Bickerstaff.
K C and Bickerstaff salute DC public high school coach and player on Inside Sports
During the NBA All-Star weekend the salute and reception were the only NBA related events Red Auerbach attended. In 2003 Earl Lloyd was finally inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.
There is a stature of his likeness located on the campus of his alma mater, West Virginia State. In Alexandria, Virginia his hometown, there is a stature of his likeness in the Charles Houston Recreation Center and in NE Washington, DC there is a giant banner on the building Earl Lloyd played his first professional basketball game–Uline Arena in 1950.
This stature and banner stand and hang thanks to the late Red Auerbach, Washington Times sports columnist Dick Heller, Congressman John Lewis and Sam Jones. Hopefully, they are all looking down watching the diversity in the NBA and are saying, “Job well done Harold Bell.”
photos by Fred Shepard
Hattie T and I standing under the Earl Lloyd banner at UlineArena.
The Auerbachs’ acts of kindness is just not my story, there are probably hundreds more stories like my story in the inner-cities of America. Red and Dotie Auerbach are gone but never should be forgotten in the black community.
In 2009 there was a sports column written by Jayson Whitlock (Fox News Sports) titled “Jim Brown my Hero” the blog must have had the late legends Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich and Afro-American sports columnist Sam Lacey turning over in their graves.
Mr. Povich was the author of a best-selling book titled “No Cheering in the Press Box.” I admired and respected the man. He and pioneers like Sam Lacey, Mal Goode (ABC News), and Wendell Smith (Pittsburgh Courier), stood for something and did not fall for just anything. These great men cleared a path for me and those who followed. They wanted to be sure we would not have to face the same racism that hindered them during their distinguished careers, but we have come up a minute late and a dollar shortwhen comes to media pressrooms at deadline.They are only second to a church on Sunday mornings when it comes to racism in America.
I dared not miss their commentaries and columns here in my hometown of Washington, D.C. Never thinking one day instead of playing in the NFL, I would be a pioneer in sports talk radio. Their kind of sports writing and reporting has become an endangered species. They inspired me to write commentaries and host a Media Roundtable for my radio sports talk show, “The Original Inside Sports.”
Participating in my Media Roundtable were George Solomon, Byron Rosen, Dick Heller, Frank Pastor, Dave Dupree, William Rhoden, Kevin Blackistone, Sonny Hill, Dr. Harry Edwards, Tom Callahan, Howie Evans, and Larry Fitzgrald, Sr. Larry would introduce me to the Minnesota Vikings first black Head Coach, the trailblazing Dennis Green. He would also be the first black coach to be hired in the Big Big 10–Northwestern University. Dennis would become a regular on Inside Sports.
I remember Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., when he was in middle school. He would answer the phone when I called for his dad to participate on the Inside Sports Roundtable. He would yell, “Hey dad, its Mr. Bell in Washington, DC.”I also remember his late wife Carole, she would answer the phone, “Good morning Mr. Bell, I will get Larry for you.” Sometimes Larry would take a minute or two to get to the phone. She would stay on the line until he picked up. She would ask, “How are things in the Nation’s Capitol. She was always a sweet lady.
Now Larry, Jr. is headed to the NFL Hall of Fame as one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL.” What a difference a day makes!
Jim Brown once said, “All Sam Lacey did was cover Jackie Robinson; he never really covered the NFL.” Jim does not like being second fiddle behind anyone.
I wonder why Jim failed to remember in the late 40s and 50s, Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson were the most important black athletes of our time?
Mr. Whitlock’s ill-timed and idiotic column in 2009 defending Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan against Jim Brown’s accusations as “Do nothing Negroes” was cheerleading at its worst. Plus, Jim Brown while he was calling the kettle black, had his own hidden agenda.
You would think Whitlock’s column would make the next sports columnist think twice before following in the same path. Enter, Washington Post columnist and ESPN’s PTI co-host, NBA Playoff analyst and “Expert” on everything sports, Michael Wilbon.
On July 1, Michael’s column in the Washington Post was titled “Tiger’s Actions Speak Volumes.”
Let me clear the air from the very beginning, I like Michael Wilbon, he is really a good person, but he is a go-along-to-get-along guy. He has never stood up for anything, including himself.
He has no track record of ever doing anything in the community before the Washington Post, but he should not feel like the Lone Ranger; he has plenty of company in the media.
During my radio days in the 70s and 80s, I had a pipeline into the Washington Post newsroom. My radio talk show, “The Original Inside Sports” was the No. 1 rated sports talk show in town.
Long-time sports editor George Solomon was my “Go to guy” in the sports department. George was a pretty smart guy, and much like Jim Brown, he thought he was smarter than anyone else.
My show was like a “Watering Hole” for writers and sports columnists at the newspaper.
Longtime Washington Post High School Sports Editor Donald Huff once said, “George Solomon runs the sports department like a Nazi Concentration Camp.” Despite that assertion, there were some great writers and reporters who worked for him, including Huff. My favorites were Shirley Povich, Byron Rosen and Tom Callahan (class acts).Huff once wrote, “Harold Bell gets his ratings off the streets of DC.”
If George wanted to know the latest on the Black Athlete or something going on in the black community, he knew he could hear it on Inside Sports.
He was a consistent contributor, he participated in-studio, and there were long-distance calls from Wimbledon and track meets and golf courses from around the World.
My community programs became one of his favorite hangouts, celebrity tennis tournaments, Christmas toy parties for needy children, etc.
His staff followed his lead: Rosen, Callahan, Wilbon, Dave Dupree, Donald Huff, and Dave Aldridge all became regulars on Inside Sports.
Somewhere in the 80s, I became a regular on the first televised Comcast Washington Post sports talk show. George treated me like a member of the staff.
Good Old Boys like Tony Kornheiser, John Feinstein, and hatchet-man, Leonard Shapiro, kept their distance.
I clearly remember Shapiro taking a gamble to come on Inside Sports to plug his bogus book titled “John Thompson: The Real Story.”
My first question to him was, “Leonard how could this be the Real John Thompson story when you didn’t interview him, or anyone in his family and you never interviewed me?” I am sure that was the longest hour he ever spent on the radio.
I have known John Thompson since he was in middle school. During his playing days on the playgrounds in Northeast DC. He could have easily played the role of the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” (no heart).
I remember I had to chase him off the basketball court during a pick-up game. He wanted to be a jump shooter. I was capable of filling the bucket up myself, I needed a rebounder. He was not allowed back on the court until his protectors, Sandy Freeman and Bob “Batman” Grier showed up.
John Thompson’s NBA basketball claim to fame: “I backed up Bill Russell.” He backed Russell up so far, Red Auerbach put him in the NBA expansion draft the next year. He was not tough enough during that era for the wars of the NBA.
In my opinion, he was also overrated as a college coach. With Big men like Pat Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Michael Graham, and John Turner, etc., he should have easily won two maybe three National NCAA titles.
When he was first hired at Georgetown, he could not buy a story on any sports page, or time on any radio or television station to promote Georgetown basketball.
I gave him a five-minute time slot every Monday evening on Inside Sports (W-O-O-K Radio) to promote his team.When he became “Big John Thompson” he hired a white boy to do the play by play for Georgetownbasketball.
He became another “know it all” in the media with no community track record. He started out working for 4-H on his retirement from the NBAthat was his introduction to the black community.
He married a “Lady” named Gwen and started to smell himself as a lady’s man and an intimidator. When things went bad in the marriage he would show up at her residence unannounced. He would sit in a parked car and hide behind trees late at night. In the black community, we call it ‘Tree Boxing.’He warned her he had Las Vegas connections and she better go quietly.
I assisted in her divorce.Gwen had her lawyer call me to tell her how to proceed with the divorce. I gave her all the skeletons in “Big John’s” closet.
She took him to court and to the bank to the tune rumored to be $6 million. It could have easily been $12 million but she wanted him out of her life.
John was a millionaire before he left Georgetown. He was taking money under the table from sports agent David Falk. That is the Real John Thompson story. I exposed Falk 20 years before the sports department of the New York Times. I exposed him for stealing millions from NBA Hall of Fame player Adrian Dantley. The New York Times called him a NBA snake.
I was the first Nike rep on the East Coast and thinking John was my friend, I went to him with a proposal to bring Nike to Georgetown. We shook hands and agreed to meet the next day to confirm the deal. The Nike store was a mile from Georgetown University and before I could walk back to the store, he had called to Portland, Oregon and made his own deal.He was the supreme “Back Stabber.”
Dave Dupree was the first to write a story on my community involvement (Christmas toy parties hosted by the Washington Redskins), but he started to smell himself after he became a columnist.
Dave and I fell out of love in the visitor’s locker room after a Bullets’ game. I jokingly asked him why was he a no-show on my talk show Inside Sports. He had a curt response, “I don’t work for Harold Bell.I took it as disrespect. I slapped him in his mouth and all hell broke loose—my bad!
Several of our colleagues stepped between us and I was hustled out of the locker room. I still regret the incident. Dave was not really a bad guy, he just got caught in the moment of trying to be cute.
Here we were in the late 1970s, Dave Dupree (Washington Post), Ron Sutton (WHUR Radio), Greg Mosso (WHUR Radio), Chuck Taylor (TV 20), Gerald Burke (Afro-American), and we were still sitting in separate but equal seats at the press table in Landover a ten minute drive from the Nation’s Capitol. Something was wrong with this picture.
I remembersports writer Frank Pastor and I were upstairs on the next corridor during half-time during a game and we notice the segregated seating. We walked down the steps to our seats, Frank went to the right and I went to the left. No one batted an eye.
The late Mark Splaver was the Director of Media Relations for the Bullets. One home game I arrived late after he had passed out media press guilds for the team. During half-time, I reminded him I had not received a press guild, he walked away without responding.
He returned in the third quarter and threw the guild on the table in my direction. I went after him for an explanation but Jerry Sachs the President of the team stopped me and asked me to let him handle it and I did.
At the next home game, Mark came to the press table and apologized. I think he had not gotten over the way Frank and I brought equal opportunity to the Bullet’s press table.
It was integration without a protest sign or march, we just did a sit-in. The following season, the press table was fully integrated. Frank and I gave each other High Fives to celebrate.
The new owner, Ted Leonis, and PR man, Scott Hallare carrying on the same racist tradition.The secondary media, Afro-American and Informer Newpapers, Roundball Report, Inside Sports are separated from so-called major media, Washington Post, USA Today, Washington Times, etc. Major Media seats are on floor level and black/minority media in the bleachers (nose bleed section).
In 1954, Rosa Parks had refused to get up and give her seat to a white man on a bus, and in 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King gave his life in Memphis fighting for our civil and human rights.
I am appalled here we are in 2022, and blacks in media are still being treated like second-class citizens.
My problem with Michael Wilbon started in the Green Room on the campus of Howard University. We were killing time waiting to go on a television talk show together with television talk show host Kojo Nmamdi (two-faces). Suddenly Michael start to cry his heart out to me regarding his boss, George Solomon.
It was here he confided in me that he didn’t like the way George was constantly looking over his shoulder and changing his columns.
Wilbon said, “He never does that to Tony Kornheiser. I am thinking since I am now a columnist, I should be free to write my own stories.”
Jill Nelson, a former Washington Post writer, wrote a book in 1993 titled “Volunteer Slavery/My Authentic Negro Experience.”
She wrote, ‘the Washington Post is The Plantation on the Potomac.’
My advice to Michael in the Green Room at the time was to take George to lunch away from the paper.
There he could let him know he appreciated his personal attention but thought that he could manage his column by himself.
I also advised him to leave George with the impression he had no problem calling on him if he got stuck.
It looks like Michael decided to kiss George’s jackass instead. He is now saying, “Harold Bell, how do you like me now?” I wonder if a heart attack was it worth his peace of mind?
When I see Michael on television playing the “Expert” on anything and everything, I don’t find him believable.He is still not a free black man!
For a better understanding of Michael Wilbon’s Trials and Tribulations with George Solomon, I am sending him a copy of my re-visiting the Bleacher blog from 2009.
I am thinking he is much like James Brown, he has been brought and sold several times over. There is a great possibility the system is telling him what to say and when to say it. Ed Bradley (CBS 60 Minutes) must be turning over in his grave—Ed was a real stand up black man.
James Brown admitted he was not a free black man when he called administrators at DeMatha High School. The call was made to apologize after he failed to mention former DeMatha High School All-American, Penn State All-American had died a day earlier. Steve was also 9-year vet NFL running/blocking back. He died on November 20, 2021, of Parkinson at the age of 57.
He confessed he had no say-so of what was broadcasted as the host of NFL/CBS on Sunday’s half-time show? I cannot understand that type of mentality.
James is living in a Fantasy World where it is okay to be someone you are not. For example; he pretends to be a minority MLB owner, and a pulpit pastor/minister!
I would guess it is easier for James and Michael to say, “I is rich instead of I is poor.”
Much like Jayson Whitlock’s column on “My Hero Jim Brown,” Michael Wilbon has crossed the line over and over again. For example; He managed to kiss Tiger’s jackass and Jim Brown’s jackass in the same column.
Check out the third paragraph leading into the story Whitlock says, ‘Tiger’s Actions Speaks Volumes.‘
He says, “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve admired Brown’s activism my entire adult life. One of the unforgettable experiences of my life came during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, when Brown through his determination, concern and sheer force of personality, persuaded gang members from the rival Crips and Bloods to call a truce to the violence and talk out their differences at Brown’s Hollywood home.” Would someone please get the toilet paper—No Cheerleaders in the Pressbox!
In Whitlock’s next breath, he goes on to tell how misguided Jim Brown is when it comes to Tiger’s contributions. He points out all the great things Tiger has done since he turned pro.
He reminds Jim that the Tiger Woods Foundation does not teach golf. He names the foundations’ activities; the courses taught at the academy such as engineering, robotics, and marine biology.
Then he cites the 25 scholars the programs have produced and the schools they attend like Georgetown, Florida A&M, Spellman, Penn State, UDC, Marymount, the University of Arizona, and the University of Idaho.
The learning center in California has had between 20,000 and 25,000 young people come through the doors.
Would someone please slow Michael down and fit him for a short skirt and pom-poms. No Cheerleaders in the Press Box!
The bottom line, is Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Michael Wilbon are nobody’s bargains in standing up for the rights of minorities. Jim Brown is heads and shoulders above the three, but he is also the great pretender!
Since Tiger has been on the pro circuit he has never hired a black caddy for the tour and he has had several opportunities to give a brother a chance to become a millionaire.
According to my former high school teammate and college roommate, Richard “Jelly” Hansberry, Tiger barely spoke to the black caddies on the tour.
Jelly once served as the Caddy Association’s Vice-President. He has been on tour for several decades.
Black caddies have become an endangered species on the pro tour (I was one in high school).
When the ruling was made that the tour’s pro golfers had to start paying the caddy a percentage of their earnings, they immediately started to hire people that looked like them (family and friends).
I have no problem with that. Tiger, on the other hand, he hired people he wanted to look like.
Keeping it simple, track star legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Charles Barkley both got it right, Tiger and Jim Brown are about themselves aka Don King!
Michael Jordan used to be Wilbon’s go-to guy. He has evidently fallen out of favor since Wizards owner Abe Pollin ran Michael out of town with his tail tucked between his legs and his foot on the gas pedal crying “foul.“
On the HBO special, Jim lumped Michael and Tiger in together, but Wibon never mentioned or defended MJ in his column.
Michael Wilbon is a contradiction. He closed his column with “I asked Tiger if it’s possible that a conversation with Jim Brown might be productive, and Tiger answered, ‘That depends on whether both parties show up open-minded.'”
Wilbon needs to get his own house straightened out before he can straighten out someone else’s.
In the three decades I have known Michael, he has never made an effort to donate a toy, book, shoes, a dollar or Send A Kid to Camp for my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc.I had to chase him down for a $1,000 to pay my rent, as I did with JB and David Aldridge (2).You talking about have to suck it up!
But Michael says “I have not forgotten.” He has made promises but has never followed through. He is still a lovable guy, but he is misguided.
He should not feel like the Lone Ranger: neither have benefactors like John Thompson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Adrian Branch, James Brown, and Adrian Dantley (he almost lost millions of dollars to David Falk’s Ponzi scheme until I alerted him). He never came back to bring a toy or to help a child.
There are some champions and some chumps among the group, mostly chumps.
There is one thing that is certain, whatever they are doing in the community or in the media, they are all following my Footprints in the Sandand I followed, Mal Goode, Wendell Smith and Sam Lacey.
Michael would have a life and death health crisis. I e-mailed him wishing him well and a speedy recovery.
He responded with “I was not surprised to hear from you, and I thank you for the thought. I am just disappointed when you get upset when people disagree with you.”
Michael is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He has never expressed to me vocally or in a written word about something I had written that he disagreed with.
I e-mail James Brown, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Michael, whenever their names appear in my commentaries.
I don’t want them getting second-hand information. He says, she says and anonymity is a dangerous weapon often used in the black community to purposely divide and cause confusion among the natives.
I understand that I am on the firing line every time I pen a commentary or column. My greatest asset is that I can tell the difference between Constructive Criticism and Destructive Criticism. My friends take everything personally, but I say, “if the shoe fits wear it.“
We always want to hear the truth when it is about someone else, but we never want to hear the truth about ourselves?
On chance encounters with Michael over the years, for example, there was the time I bumped into him coming out of the Washington Post in 2004.
The first thing he wanted to talk to me about was the book he was writing with Charles Barkley. No mention of any conflict with me.
In another encounter, I went out to my first Wizards game to witness the return of the gambling czar of the NBA, Agent Zero aka Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards were facing the best team in the NBA, the LeBron-James led Cleveland Cavaliers.
I would meet Michael in the press room after the game and you should have seen the surprised look on his face when he saw me. The relief came when he saw I had my wife Hattie with me. She was his checks and balances.
He knew I would not be all over him with her by my side. We smiled and made small talk about his $1,000 suit and $500 pair of shoes.
There was never a word about my commentaries or columns about him or his colleagues. Michael, proved there is still no defense against the truth.
Michael, I understand the need to have access to Tiger and have him on your side, but you don’t need to be a cheerleader or keep a roll of toilet paper in your glove compartment for whenever he shows up. I suggest you try speaking volumes about your own life and let Tiger speak for himself.
Our problem is thatwe don’t have a clue toour rich history and to who we really are.
Motown legend Smokey Robinson got it right when he recently said on the View television talk show. He said, “I resent being called Afro-American. I think that when you call me an Afro-American you’re disclaiming all the things, the contributions that Black people have made to America. You see, I consider myself to be a Black American. I enjoy being called Black, and Black has been so negativized as a color down throughout our history, by those who wanted to negativize it. And so it spilled over into the Black community and to the Black people. And even Black people back in the day calling each other Black was a sign for a fight.
Black Americans have bestowed so much positivity and culture and have even given their lives to fight in all the American wars; they did not do so for Timbuktu or Kenya, but have spilled their blood for Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama.He emphatically states that our contributions should be appropriately recognized.
He close saying, “I resent being called African American because Black people have contributed so much to the development of the United States of America.”
I wholeheartly agree, whether white America wants to recogonize my ancestors and my history, never the less Black America History is who I am.
When we lose great brothers like Steve Smith, his name should be shouted from the highest rooftop. It does not matter whether is CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News or the Afro-America Newspaper, we should be made aware that he lived among us. If you see something, say something.
SPORTS MEDIA ALERT for Michael Wilbon: “You still don’t know DIDDLY.”
IN MEMORY OF RENEE POUSSAINT–SHE WAS A TEAM PLAYER!
The cities of Winston-Salem and Baltimore lost a favorite son and sports legend, Monday, April 18, 2005, Coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines died at the age of eighty-one. He was a true college basketball giant and icon.
He is the winningest black coach in the history of college basketball. When he retired in 1993 at the age of seventy-two he was the number one winning active coach, black or white in the country. Big House was second only to Adolph Rupp of Kentucky University. He won 828 games to Rupp’s 876. He won eight CIAA conference titles and led the Winston-Salem Rams to an NCAA Championship, making them the first team from a black college to do so.
Despite the naysayers “Big House” could have easily coached into his seventies if the talent pool was still available. Penn State’s Joe Paterno won the Big Ten football title when he was eighty years old.
The athletic talent pools, at Black Historical Colleges, had been depleted by Division One Colleges. Black Historical Colleges have not been able to match the package of white schools so they have followed the adage “If you can’t beat them join them.”
They have done so without financial success or a Final Four or Rose Bowl appearance. The losers are Black Historical Colleges. For example, when Big House retired the once vibrant CIAA Tournament was almost down to a “Skeleton Crew.” Schools were jumping to Division One, including Winston-Salem. The conference moved from city to city like a gypsy caravan chasing the almighty dollar.
The price paid—–the loss of Black History. This made “Big House” sad, he was big on Black History.
During homecomings he would fix breakfast on Sunday mornings for about a dozen guys at his home for updates on our lives and the possibilities of us finding the next Cleo or Earl.
Despite the raids conducted by Division One schools for the black athlete “Big House” left behind a legacy of a winner on and off the court. He touched and won thousands of student/athletes’ hearts and minds with “Tuff love” during his forty-seven years on the Winston-Salem campus.
He left behind two families, first, his one-of-a-kind wife Clara, a daughter Lisa and a son Clarence Jr. The second family was the athletes and students who called him “Daddy” on campus. There were hundreds more he touched on other Black Historical college campuses around the country. He was like a rock star during games and at the CIAA Tournament, many of his players thought they were the stars, but “Big House” usually stole the show. It seemed like everyone wanted to talk with or touch him in those two settings. Many thought it was often like a scene from the movie “Godfather.”
During the Cleo Hill era, white fans would show up at our tiny gym and sometimes we were left on the outside looking in. Cleo was the Michael Jordan of Tabacco Road long before MJ. He was selected in the first round of the NBA draft in 1961 by the St. Louis Hawks (8th overall)
I met Coach Gaines through an introduction by my Washington, DC Spingarn high school football coach, Dave Brown. Big House was no stranger to the Nation’s Capitol. He was a graduate of Morgan State University in nearby Baltimore where he was a chemistry major and an All-American football player. He coached in the first-ever CIAA Tournament in D.C. at old Turner’s Arena in NW DC. in 1946. The first six CIAA tournaments were held in DC and the seventh was held at Morgan State University.
I will never forget that summer day in 1958 when he walked through the DC pool room door like he owned it and asked, “Which one of you guys is Harold Bell?’ All pool table action stopped it was so quiet you could have heard a mouse piss on cotton. I took a minute before I responded, I was not sure if he was a cop or a Bounty Hunter. I thought to myself “I had never seen a cop or Bounty Hunter that big.”
I identified myself and he sat down in a chair and waited until I finished my game. His first question was, “son are you interested in going to college?” My response was “yes sir.” His next words were, “I am Clarence Gaines and I am the coach at Winston-Salem Teachers’ College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. If you are interested in going to college you must first graduate from high school. When you do check with Coach Brown.” He got up and left the poolroom without another word. I was left thinking, “Where in the hell is Winston-Salem Teachers College?”
The visit from “Big House” would turn out to be a lifesaver. The life saved would be my very own.
“Big House” and Winston-Salem for almost five decades were the “Life Line” on the East Coast corridor (Boston, New York, New Jersey, Phila., Baltimore, and D.C.) for many lost souls like me.
In the summer of 1959, I would find my way down Route One south to interstate 85 to Winston-Salem, NC. Alan ‘Stu’ Roberson was a senior at Winston-Salem. He would pile us into his car for the drive down Tobacco Road. Stu was a graduate of Spingarn High School and a senior starting guard on the Winston-Salem football team. He took the responsible for getting freshmen, Al Mayo, Richard Hansberry, and me safely on to the campus of Winston-Salem Teachers College.
My freshman year in 1960 was a disaster, I sat on the bench for almost the entire season. I stayed in the Big House Gaines ‘Doghouse.’ This was a Coach Gaines’ ritual for knucklehead egotistical freshmen like me. This was his way of keeping me grounded. After the football season was over I was ready to try out for the basketball team. Big House kicked me to the curb immediately, he said, “I have one basketball and that belongs to Cleo Hill. Go to class and try to stay eligible for next season.”
The alumni team came up short for their annual game with the varsity, Big House reluctantly gave me the okay to play with them. Jack DeFares an all-time Ram great had returned to school to finish work on his degree. Jack was a super ball-handler and shooter. He told me to keep my eyes on him, he assisted me for 23 points but we still lost. Bighouse looked at me after the game and said, “You are still not playing varsity this year.”
I would be only 30 miles away when “The Greensboro 4” attending North Carolina A & T College sit-in at the all whites-only lunch counter at Woolworth’s department store downtown. Their act of defiance and courage would vibrate all the way to Winston-Salem.
Despite the warnings of Big House for all athletes to stay away from downtown Winston-Salem during the protest, I followed my friend and senior co-captain Winston-Salem native, Vic Johnson to the march. I would flunk out my freshman year simply because I was spending too much time hanging out in the city and not enough time hanging out in the classroom on campus.
Big House would bring me the bad news. I had failed to meet the academic requirements of the school and I would be returning to the ghetto and poolroom where he found me. He made it clear there was no money for dumb-ass athletes to attend summer school.
Two weeks later he would return to the dormitory to tell me my high school coach Dave Brown had mailed a check to him for me to attend summer school. Now I had to find a place to live for six weeks. The men’s dormitory would be shut down for repairs during the summer.
The first two weeks I would live with him and his family, wife Clara, daughter Lisa, and son Clarence, Jr. This was a first, no student/athlete had ever lived in the Gaines’ house. I paid the price, from scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom floors to cutting his treacherous uphill and downhill front lawn in the hot North Carolina sun. He find me a place for me to stay and I was sad to leave the big guy–his “Tuff Love” saved my life.
My successful work with at-risk children and youth gangs in the streets of the inner-city is my way of repaying Coach Brown and “Big House” for reaching back to help me.
He and coach Brown both deserved an assist. During the summer months after college my first job was as a member of the DC Department of Reacreation as Roving Leader with the Youth Gang Task Force. I would often try to give the inner-city youth camping experiences out of town.
Dave Bing a native Washingtonian and NBA Hall of Fame legend provided them with their first camping experience in 1969. The experience took place in the Poconos Mountains in Pennsylvania. Here they would meet Detroit Piston NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier and the late John Brisker.
The Harlem Globetrotters when they played in DC, would invite youth to the arenas thanks to my friends CIAA legends Jackie Jackson (Virginia Union) and Curley Neal (J. C. Smith).
There were camps organized by NBA pioneer Spencer Haywood in New Jersey, the John Chaney/Sonny Hill camps in Philadelphia, it was here they would meet NBA legends like Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Bill Bradley. Last but not least was the “Big House” Gaines camp on the Winston-Salem campus in North Carolina.
This was the camp that made the biggest impression on the young men from the inner-city. All the NBA players they met were all voted into the NBA Hall of Fame and selected among the Fifty (50) Greatest to ever play in the NBA, but the man they remembered most never played in the NBA—-Bighouse Gaines.
“Big House” and I were born on the same day and month, May 21st. We celebrated several birthdays here in D.C. during our forty-five-year relationship. It has been said, “They are like two Bulls in a China closet.” Others have described our relationship as one of “Love and Hate.” Our zodiac sign is Taurus the Bull.
I loved him and he hated me or vice-versa, but love was always the common denominator.
Big House reminded me of two other sports icons and friends, Muhammad Ali, and Red Auerbach. Ali and Auerbach just by their presence in a room made other men feel small and insignificant. “Big House” had that same kind of effect by just being himself.
On June 25, 2004, in Chicago, I received the first annual “Clarence “Big House” Gaines Scholarship Award for Unsung Heroes.” It was an award honoring a student/athlete for community service.
I am honored that I had an opportunity to go one on one with him Up Close & Personal.
“Big House” and I didn’t get a chance to have one of our face-to-face discussions at the last homecoming because of his health. I missed CIAA Tournament the following year in Raleigh, North Carolina. But it would be in Raleigh, where “Big House” would receive his last living tribute. The CIAA honored its All-Time greatest team, three of the ten players honored played for him, Cleo Hill, Earl Monroe, and Carlos Terry.
He was also honored and named one of two coaches on the All-Time greatest team along with his friend John McLendon. He was still stealing the spotlight even as he made his exit.
Harold Bell—— is a former student/athlete at Winston-Salem State and a pioneer in radio and television sports talk shows in Washington. D. C. His Inside Sports radio talk show changed the way we talk and reports sports in America and around the globe.
DC lost Joe Gorham and Bill Lindsay days a part in 2022. They both were native Washingtonians and products of the DC Public schools system. Joe was a graduate of Roosevelt High School and the University of the District of Columbia. Bill was a graduate of Spingarn High School and attended Illinois Southern University on a track scholarship and transferred to Maryland University before being drafted into the military.
Joe Gorham was 69 years old when he was called home to be with the Lord. He was a veteran broadcaster of more than twenty years. Most of his many years in radio were with WHUR 96.3 in one capacity or another. He started as a freelance Technical producer for the Jerry Phillips (Spingarn alumnus) Morning Show in 1979. He went from the Jerry Phillips Morning Show to a freelance announcer and moved on to become a full-time staff performer. He accomplished all of this and more in his first ten years at WHUR.
What many of us missed was that Joe Gorham was a risk-taker. In 1991 he went to WDJY-100 FM and then to Atlanta’s WALR 104.7. His outgoing personality and being a “Team Player” were very important to his success in a profession that is overrun with player-haters, envy, jealousy and few opportunities for blacks. Joe never burned bridges and he was welcomed back to WHUR in 1994 to continue his dreams of making a difference.
When Joe retired he was still reaching back to help others. You did not have to be a member of the WHUR radio family for Joe Gorham to reach back and pull you along with him.
Joe and I were like ships passing in the night on the street corners, the political and community meetings in our hometown of DC. When Joe came into radio, I was on the way out as a controversial mover and shaker in the DC market. During our encounters, he would always say for everyone to hear, “Harold Bell the real DC legend.” It took me some time to get used to these shoutouts, I didn’t know if he was being sarcastic or being sincere.
My last encounter with Joe was at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown DC in 2019. The occasion was a long-overdue tribute to comedian Sylvia Morrison. Sylvia’s special guest was a lady that wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her people. The legendary comedian, Monique. She is the best stand-up comedian in America. Her act/routine includes, serious discussions concerning human and civil rights for blacks and other minorities. She speaks out when the voiceless cannot speak for themselves. Monique has more balls than most black men.
I was happy Sylvia was finally getting the accolades she richly deserved. There was a reception and folks were waiting for the arrival of Sylvia and Monique to say hello before the main event. The room was a little too crowded for me so I left my wife with some friends and left the room.
I am standing out in the hall and Joe Gorham comes out of the crowded room I had just exited. He sees me and says, “Harold Bell the real DC legend.” He turns to go back into the room and hollers, “Harold do not move, I will be right back.”
He returns with this guy looking like he might be a member of the “Over the Hill Gang” for the Washington Redskins. Joe’s introduction, “Marc, I want you to meet the real DC legend, Harold Bell and Harold Bell I want you to meet Marc Clarke.”
Marc and his wife, Allison Seymore were a husband and wife team during the evening drive for WHUR radio. Allison was also a morning news anchor for Fox Morning News. She has successfully made the switch to WUSA TV 9 as an anchor on the early morning news.
Marc invited Hattie and I to be guests on their radio show during Black History Month. Hattie’s family is the First Family of Civil Rights in Orangeburg, S. C. Her father, Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Sr. was the President of the local chapter of the NAACP, and a Professor of Psychology on the campus of South Carolina State University.
He started the first-ever voter registration drive on a college campus and it has since spreaded to college campuses all over America. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. Thomas died in 1977. He was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.
Joe started out as a freelance Technical producer for the Jerry Phillips (Spingarn alumnus) Morning Show. In 1979 he was also the host of Legato Lycx on WHUR-WORLD 96.3 HD2 Monday thru Thursday from 7 PM-11 PM with a mixture of music WHUR originally brought to the attention of the Washington Metropolitan Area, with a twist of world music. What many of us missed, Joe Gorham was a risk-taker. He never thought about failure. He went from the Jerry Phillips Morning Show and, became a freelance announcer and on to becoming a full-time staff performer.
In 1991 he went to WDJY-100 FM and then to Atlanta’s WALR 104.7. Joe never burned bridges and was welcomed back to WHUR in 1994 to continue his dreams of making a difference.
On January 21, 2004, WHUR 96.3 FM made history becoming the first broadcast facility in Washington, DC to launch the new HD technology for the future. Joe made a historical contribution by reestablishing and rebuilding the WHUR music library to its former greatness.
He accomplished all of this and more in his first ten years at WHUR. His outgoing personality and being a “Team Player” were very important to his success, especially, in a profession that is overrun with player-haters, envy and jealousy.
In 2005 Joe was given the task of creating and establishing a format for this new technology in the form of WHUR-WORLD 96.3 HD2. The station featured the jazz artists that WHUR made famous in years gone by. As a result of this task, Joe was named the Music Director of WHUR-WORLD 96.3 HD2. He was also the Music Director for HUR-VOICES SiriusXM channel 141.
Thanks to Joe, Marc Clarke has since joined the Kids In Trouble/Speak the Truth team and my other community endeavors. We hope to continue to reach back to make a difference in the life of some kid in our ongoing journey as Joe would have wanted. In November of 2019, Marc helped to co-host the successful debut of my Muhammad Ali video trailer at the Miracle Theatre in NE DC with Sylvia Morrison and Gary Johnson.
Thanks to John Hollins Account Excutive and Sports Director Fred Kalil on CBS 46 in Atlanta, Ga. for following up with a similar segment of the Ali interview during Black History Month. Joe, Marc and John are the definition of “Networking.” A lost art in the black community. https://youtu.be/duGoaDIVZ6E
Joe Gorham never got the opportunity to experience The Foxtrappe. When he joined the radio ranks in 1989, the Foxtrappe had gone dark (closed), but he had the spirit of Bill Lindsay.
Bill was a co-founder of the Foxtrappe. He 76 years-old when he was called home to be with the Lord.
The Foxtrappe Club opened its doors in 1975 and catered to the black Washington, DC, and beyond. The club was located on 1601 R Street in NW DC in a five-story mansion owned by the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.
The Foxtrappe was the brainchild of three native Washingtonians, Claude Roxborough, Malcolm Beech, and Bill Lindsay. This would become the place to be for DC’s elite for over a decade. During these times Washington, DC was still a closed city for blacks despite their influential government jobs, cash flow, and wardrobes to kill for. The downtown white restaurants and clubs were still off-limits. They viewed every black face as one of the participants in the 1968 riots who almost destroyed their city.
Bill was not only the face of the Foxtrappe, he was the bridge to the community. Claude and Malcolm were from another part of the world growing up in NW DC. Bill was from far NE DC and a product of the DC Public School system. He was a graduate Spingarn High School where he was also an outstanding student/athlete, participating and excelling in track & Field. He attended Southern Illinois on a track scholarship and transferred to the University of Maryland before being drafted into the U. S. Army.
Bill and I met after an alumni basketball game between members of past Spingarn teams and the present varsity team. It was our basketball Coach William Roundtree’s idea of hosting the game during the Thanksgiving holidays. I remember the game like it was yesterday. The game gave me an opportunity to continue my head to head playground battle with rising star Dave Bing.
After we lost the final alumni match-up several of the athletes gathered at Sportys’ a popular carry-out located directly across the street from the school. Sportys’ had the best half smokes and hotdogs in town only Evelyn’s on U street had better.
The carry-out was very small and there was a crowd standing in line outside the door to the entrance. I worked my way to the front of the line and was ordering a hotdog when a voice from outside the door yelled, “Harold Bell make that two hotdogs and a coke.” He then passed a dollar bill up to me.
I noticed Dave was standing behind this guy smiling. I took the bill and ordered the two hotdogs. When I got outside, I asked the guy who had ordered the hotdog, “Do I know you?” His response, “My name is Bill Lindsay and I run track.” Dave came out and joined us and asked me had I met Bill? I had the feeling that I had just been played, it was the beginning of a great friendship–Bill was a class act.
In our adult years I was one of the founders of the Spingarn Alumni Association which was overrun by athletes and Bill would join us when his schedule allowed.
Bill was “The Go to Guy” at the Foxtrappe when you needed to settle a dispute at the entrance to the club, whether it had something to do with a lost membership card or someone challenging the dress code. He was the smiling face you wanted to see at the front door. Bill was the diplomatic muscle without using the muscle.
I remember the Ramsey Lewis trio recorded their classic “The In-Crowd” in 1965 at the legendary underground jazz club, the Bohemian Caverns in NW DC. I had just returned home from a failed minor league football tryout–my ticket to the NFL so I thought.
The Foxtrappe opened its doors in 1975 for the Nation Capitol’s black bourgeoisie residents. They were looking for an establishment they could hang out with the elite and call it their very own. Ten years after the Ramsey Lewis’ music classic “The In-Crowd.” The DC ‘In-Crowd’ would make their way to the Foxtrappe, when I hear it, I think of the Foxtrappe.
The club was housed in a red brick building at 16th and R streets NW. The club was so exclusive in its early days that it was rumored that music legend, Sly Stone, the flamboyant leader of Sly and the Family Stone, couldn’t get in because he wasn’t wearing a sports coat. I remember taking the heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali to the club for his first visit. His attaire was just a sport shirt and slacks. There were definitely exceptions to the rule.
The video produced by Don Baker, captured the beauty of Black Washington, DC in the 70s and 80s and the celebrities who made it their Foxtrappe. He forgot to mention that 90% of the celebrities that came through the Foxtrapp’s doors found their way there via Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports (BCRT).
Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Earl Monroe, Don King, Clarence Bighouse Gaines, Sam Jones, Al Attles, Jim Vance, Lark McCathy, Melvin Lindsey, Dr J, Maureen Bunyan, Carole Randolph, Redskin players Roy Jefferson, Speedy Duncan, Donnie Simpson, Dave Robinson and Green Bay Packer great Willie Wood were among the personalities who found a home at the Foxtrappe.
There was law and order in the Foxrtappe, DC Superior Court Judges, Luke Moore, Harry T. Alexander, Ted Newman, Eugene Hamilton and Henry Kennedy, Jr. They were all frequent visitors. Judge Kennedy would like to brag, “I met my wife Altomese at the Foxtrappe.” Burtell Jefferson DC’s first black police chief, Congressmen Walter Fauntroy (D-DC), Lou Stokes (D-Ohio) and other politicians would pop in out of the club to support my community efforts.
Bill was the glue that made it happen. After the Foxtrappe closed in 1985, Bill and I stayed in touch when he and his wife opened a new restaurant in walking distant of the Foxtrappe. The new restaurant was called, Mingles.
Mingles would be the site of our greatest community endeavor–a thank you and tribute to our Spingarn Principal, Dr. Purvis Williams, his support staff of Vice-Principals, Annie Duncan and William T. Davis and our teachers. Their support staff, included nurse, Rossetta Holmes, police officer, Ray Dixon and our dedicated maintance staff. The Spingarn success stories are second to none in the history of the DC Public School system.
Bill Lindsey and I were especially proud of being the host for this unique tribute coordinated by the student/athletes led by NBA Hall of Fame player, Dave Bing. This was an unheard of tribute by a group of students saying, “Thank You” to our extraordinary Principal and his team of teachers.
My success in the community and sports media was not because as some in media claim, I was a “One Man Community Action Program”—to be honest it took a a Village and the Foxtrappe!
I want to thank Joe Gorham and Bill Lindsey for “Running Against the Wind” and being the “Bridges” to the other side of the glitz and glamour of the Foxtrappe and WHUR radio. Thank you for reaching back to help others. You are gone, but you will never be forgotten. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmrkY-EZy74
Four decades later, Harold Bell is still making children first (1981-2021)!
Recently there has been talk about dropping or cutting back athletics in the D.C. public schools for the obvious reasons: personal cutbacks and a lack of available money to support the programs.
I hope it doesn’t happen.
For many of our inner-city youngsters, participating in athletics is still to some extent the main avenue to a better way of life. And the D.C. public schools have produced a long and distinguished list of student-athletes who have gone on to bigger and better things, in sports and other professions.
Many of these men and women, black and white, are now doctors or lawyers or professional football, basketball and baseball players. They used athletics and didn’t allow athletics to use them. There are thousands of success stories.
I’m not just talking about people like Elgin Baylor, Dave Bing, Maury Wills and Willie Wood, who are some of the city’s all-time great athletes. I’m also talking about Cecil Turner of Spingarn, who played for the Chicago Bears in the early 1960s and now is a special agent for the FBI, and Dick Drummond, a former all-Met running back from Wilson who is now a doctor, and Craig Anderson, who went from Anacostia High School to pitching for the New York Mets and now works as the business manager at Le-high University.
Let me tell you about another athlete, a young man whose junior high school principal, William B. Stinson of Brown Junior High School, once predicted would not live to finish high school.
That athlete went on to play football, basketball and baseball at Spingarn High School, but it never came easy.
During his senior year, his mother was hospitalized after a nervous breakdown and he and his three brothers were separated from each other, scattered to other families around the city.
The athlete literally lived in the streets, sleeping in cars and washing in public restrooms, carrying all his possessions with him because everywhere — and nowhere — was his home.
Many times he thought about dropping out of school, but because he was an athlete, because he loved the challenge of competition, he stayed in school.
The athlete was always in hot water with his coaches. Baseball Coach Leo Hill kicked him off the team because the athlete thought he was Willie Mays, trying to do it all himself. Football Coach Dave Brown once locked him on the team bus at halftime of a game against Phelps because the athlete chewed out his quarterback for not throwing more passes his way. Basketball Coach William Roundtree dropped him from the team for a selfish and self-centered attitude. He always wanted the ball when the game was on the line–he plays the Game of Life with inner-city youth the exact same way.
The athlete found himself playing musical chairs with his education. He transferred to Eastern High School and then to Fairmont Heights high School in Prince George’s County, where he finally graduated. But he always stayed in touch with his old football coach, Dave Brown, at Spingarn. And Brown talked Clarence (Big House) Gaines, the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach at Winston-Salem State, into giving the athlete a scholarship.
The athlete, if you haven’t figured it out by now, was me, and everything that’s happened ever since — most of it good — I can honestly say I owe to the D.C. public school system and its athletic program.
ByHarold Bell, recently named the 1980 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine for his work with DC youth. He is also the host of a radio sports talk show, “Inside Sports.” Washington Post May 17, 1981