NETWORKING—-this is what the key should be to success in our community, but somewhere along the way we lost our way! I thought about the e-mail I received from my dear friend Rodney Coleman titled “Money problems and no-name acts—Howard Theater struggling again!” DC’s last jazz club the Bohemian Caverns closed for good and has anyone seen our old friend, Walter Fauntroy?
I watched as superstar comedian/actor Kevin Hart’s recent visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl. A group of 40+ young people from Kentucky was scheduled to have lunch at the in the World famous Chili Bowl but they had to be moved to Ben’s Next Door because of the visit by Kevin Hart.
The diverse group of Black, White and Hispanic kids hailed from a Community Center in Kentucky. You could easily see they came from backgrounds similar to our very own.
Kevin Hart and the youth from Kentucky entered Ben’s Chili Bowl and Ben’s Next Door at about the same time. The cameras lined-up on the sidewalk alerted the kids that someone important was in the Chili Bowl. In fact, one could have easily assumed that it was President Obama and Michelle, because of the number of SUV’s parked in front and Kevin’s entourage was nothing to sneeze at.
While I am trying to get the Kentucky youth into Ben’s Next Door away from the cameras their curiosity got the best of them. Someone leaked that Kevin Hart was the visiting celebrity (I didn’t have clue), I was just as surprised as they were.
I finally get them all into Ben’s Next Door but as they are taking their seats another group is crowded at a door that leads to the Chili Bowl but the door is locked. The door has a see through window and Kevin Hart is seated on the other side of the door in plain sight.
It took me several minutes to get the group looking at Kevin to take their seats. It was then the pleas from the kids and the chaperons started. They begin asking me if I could get Kevin to come over and say “Hello.” I explained to them I was nothing but a ‘Worker’ for the restaurant and had no say so.
The matriarch and founder Ms. Virginia Ali stops by to see if everything is okay next door. This provides one the chaperons an opportunity to introduce herself and ask Ms. Virginia if it would be possible if she could get Kevin to stop by and say “Hello” to the kids. The matriarch uses all her charm and diplomacy and explains that Kevin is on a tight schedule and it would be almost impossible. I breathe a sigh of relief at least I got that responsibility off of me.
To watch the look of disappointment on the faces of those young children as Carmalo (chaperon) broke the bad news to them. I also felt and understood their pain.
I had already explained to Ms. Ali, that these are the young folks who are going to pay to see his movies (It would have been a great PR move for him).
When I had excess to the superstars to include, Ali, Jim Brown, Red Auerbach, Sugar Ray Leonard, Doug Williams, Don King, etc. it was a must that they meet and talk with my young people and they never said “No!”
Who would have thought that when these young people left Kentucky headed for DC they would be sitting in a restaurant with superstar comedian/actor Kevin Hart two feet away next door?
I met Kevin long before he became a superstar. On a visit to DC He was a guest at one of my Kids In Trouble Celebrity Fashion Shows.
My wife Hattie had already gotten his attention when he entered the restaurant. She told him I was next door (he winked). As I checked the arrangements for the kids next door I had to pass through where he was holding court in the other restaurant our eyes met and he winked (recognition). I kept moving, I have been a lot of things in my life, but never star-struck.
In the meantime, I had to make sure that the kids from Kentucky had my undivided attention.
When you have sat on a Mountain Top with Muhammad Ali, it does not get any better than that. Still I am thinking, how can I get Kevin to stop by and say a few words to these kids? I know I would not want to be a kid and have to ride all the back to Kentucky, thinking Kevin Hart was right next door and he didn’t have time to stop by to say hello!
My break came when one of the security detail came through the kitchen. I told him that Kevin and I went back and I needed for him to stop on the way out and say hello to the kids. He in turn sent another member of the team out to meet with me and he said okay.
There was another video shoot to execute out in front of the restaurant. A team member came back and told me that Kevin would make his exit through the kitchen and to keep my eyes on the front.
I all most missed him trying to get the kids back into their seats, by the time I got back to the kitchen Kevin was headed up the steps to the exit. I called out “Kevin where are you going, come back here and holler at the kids?” He put his hand up to his mouth and said, ‘I am hollering at the kids Harold!’
I said, “No way Kevin, come on man and say hello to the children.” He said ‘okay’ and he came back down and went into Ben’s Next Door and waved to the children.
During these difficult times we should always make children first, whether they are ours or someone else’s child.
Ali was a different kind of fellow if a child or baby was in his space the child had his undivided attention.
Many times it is not the celebrity at fault it is “The Yes Men” who are suppose to have his best interest at heart. Kevin probably has changed and success does that to some. Some folks handle success and other let success handle them. I am thinking in the end Kevin is going to handle success because his heart is in the right place. He could have blown me and the kids off but he didn’t.
After Kevin and his entourage had cleared the restaurant, the kids from Kentucky were still waiting outside to get into see the original Chili Bowl where Kevin Hart had just eaten. I took them on a walk through and they seem to have left happy.
When I took Sugar Ray Leonard under my wing as his mentor Robert Hooks was there and a host of others that I brought into help me support this kid in trouble. Ray did not have a bucket to piss-in or a window to throw it out. But when the dust had cleared, he had become the first pro boxer to earn over 100 million dollars (not Muhammad Ali)!
Folks often wonder how I came up with the phrase that I closed my sports talk show INSIDE SPORTS, use to close with, “Every black face you see is not your brother and every white face you see is not your enemy?”
The phrase was inspired by the likes of Sugar Ray, John Thompson, Don King, Adrian Dantley, Adrian Branch, Tony Paige, James Brown, Cathy Hughes, and the list goes on and on, but on the flip side of the coin there were the white faces that inspired me to be all that I could be, to include, Richard Nixon, Red Auerbach, Bert Sugar, Angelo Dundee, Hymie Perlo, etc.
April 4, 2016 marked 48 years to the day when our Prince of Peace Dr. Martin Luther gave his life trying to help the poor and down trodden in Memphis, Tennessee.
On Tuesday April 5th a group of young white middle school kids from Montana came in to the Chili Bowl and blew the top off the place. They had all competed in an essay contest on Black History and their reward was a trip to Washington, DC during spring break.
One the young ladies who won the contest closed out the evening by standing next to the matriarch and founder, Ms. Virginia Ali. She recited the winning essay, it was Dr. King’s speech the night before he was killed in Memphis. It was breath taking. She and fellow students are another reason why we should make all kids first.
On April 4, 1968 when Dr. King was shot and killed in Memphis,Tennessee, I know exactly where I was.
I was with my co-worker Willie Wood (Green Bay Packer NFL Hall of Fame) and we were standing on the corner of 9th and U Street NW DC. We were both working for the DC Rec Department’s Roving Leader Program (Youth Gang Task Force). We had just left Chez Maurice Restaurant’s Happy Hour, a popular hangout for the so-called black in-crowd in DC.
It was a beautiful spring day and we were enjoying the sunshine when someone rode by in a car and shouted, “Hey Harold, they just shot and killed Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee.”
Now here we are almost 50 years later and the theme song in the Black community is still “We Shall Over Come?” The newly renovated Howard Theater is struggling with a bunch of no-names on the marquee and the historic Bohemian Caverns has shut its door for good. And we are still trying to figure out what went wrong, the answer is in your closest mirrow.
In 2016 a racist billionaire is leading the polls to become the President of the United States and his counter-parts have come out of their holes to support him (keeping hope alive). Donald Trump is exactly what the Republicans wanted, but they had not planned on a member of their own 1% club whom they could not control! Now they are crying “Foul.” You reap what you sow.
President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle are getting the last laugh. I would love to be a fly on the wall while they are lying in bed laughing their asses off at this charade while the 2016 Presidential Campaign being spoofed on Saturday Night Live!
Our children’s blood flows in our streets while we pretend there has been progress has been made in human and civil rights in America.
To understand our problem we have to look no further then the black politicians, pimping ministers and black judges sitting on the bench seeing no evil, hearing no evil and sentencing no evil.
In the meantime, cops have become paid assassins in the black community. Their guns have taken the place of a rope. The real problem lies at the top of the law-enforcement community. The problem is the message of “Us against them” mentality.
This message was placed in the minds of racist cops decades ago by the KKK who infiltrated police departments around this country. They were hoping that the message would protect them and it has.
The Code of Silence and The Thin Blue Line were designed to protect white police officers against charges of murder and brutality in the black community. Black police officers unknowing would join forces and become card carrying members of the KKK by being members of the Fraternity Order of Police.
The keepers of this code are the Presidents of the Fraternity Order of Police Departments around America. This behavior is controlled by the 1% and condone by 90% of Police Administrators (to include Police Chiefs). The Godfather of Police Community Relations was the late New York City Police Chief Patrick Murphy. Mr. Murphy was hired by the late Mayor Walter Washington in the late 60s as the Director of the DC Police and Fire Departments. He tried his best to implement a Police/Community Relations Program in the Nation’s Capitol. He met with the staff of the Roving Leader Program once a month at police headquarters to get our input. The police union tried to stand in his path but he refused to give-in and there was progress made, but has since disappeared.
When was the last time you heard one of the Presidents of the Fraternity Order of Police where there was an unarmed black man or woman shot down in our community and a he said, “That was a bad shooting.” Never in the history of law-enforcement has one Fraternity own up to a bad shooting–similar to the KKK owning up to a bad lynching. All fatal shootings in the black community are considered “Good Shootings.”
You will not read or hear of this issue being discussed in Courtland Milloy, Coby King, Eugene Robinson’s columns in the Washington Post, or read about the issue in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, NY or LA Times. Talking heads like radio talk show host Kojo Knnamdi, Sam Ford or Bruce Johnson on WUSA TV 9 or Maureen Bunyan on TV 7 would dare not broach the topic. The reason, they don’t have a clue?
2015 marked 50 years I have spent working in the streets of the inner-city taking me from the courthouses, playgrounds and schools in our community. I have seen the Good, Bad and Ugly when it comes to Justice & Just-Us, by no means am I anti-cop, my two brothers were in law-enforcement.
My older brother Bobby was a U. S. Marshall for 25 years, my young brother Earl was a DC cop for 14 years (both deceased). I was responsible for both entering the field of law-enforcement (thanks to an assist from former U. S. Marshall-in-charge, Luke C. Moore and columnist Bill Raspberry). My brothers both faced the Thin Blue Line and the Code of Silence trying to stand-up and be good and honest cop serving the people of our community. But Bad Cops like Chief Issac Fullwood proved that white folks didn’t have a patent on racism. His kind still exist in police departments all over this country.
My mentors were the late DC Superior Court Judge, Luke C. Moore and the late Assistant DC Police Chief Timon O’Brant (he was a cop’s cop) both were stand- up Black Men.
My best friend is Andy Johnson (Top DC Homicide Detective). He retired as a DEA Supervisor. And last but by no means least, FBI undercover agent and later the FBI Director of the Detroit Field Office, Wayne Davis. I met Wayne during the 1968 riots after Assistant Chief O’ Brant issue me a DC Police Department badge to get me through the police and military barricades. Wayne would later tip me off to warn our “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry there was a FBI sting in the works to sit him up. Marion did not heed my warning and “The Bitch Set Him Up!’
There are not just bad cops, but there are bad judges and politicians who are perpetrating a fraud in our black communities. Hats off to the black female Mayor and Prosecutor in Baltimore, please keep them in your prayers.
I recently went back into my archives and found one of my Inside Sports talk shows with DC Police Department Commander Jimmy Wilson and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Alex Williams (a regular) discussing Police Brutality in our community. There is the e-mail from one of the leading Prince Georges County ministers discussing his hidden agenda when it comes to police brutality and how he is locked into the Chief and State’s Attorney? And then there is the homeboy Congressman who I volunteered my resources (media and community), when I first met him at last year’s 2015 Congressional Black Caucus Weekend in DC, he said, after I introduced myself “Man you just f–ked my day up!” He later invited me, my wife and several Kids In Trouble advocates to his office trying to clear up his blunder. It was there he told me, “Man I have never had folks come into my office without asking me for something!” He even called his mother and introduced us by speaker phone. But he turned out to be a ‘Cutie on Duty.’ Stay tune.
When it comes to politicians, The Congressional Black Caucus has been a waste of time for the past several decades.
Trump is not the only loser running for office, my Voter Alert includes, Prince Georges County, Donna Edwards, Glenn Ivy and Anthony Brown. Vote for their opponents whom ever they may be. In DC in Ward 7 Vote for the lesser of the two evils, there is little or no choice between Yvette Alexander and Vincent Reed. My best advice, vote for the unknown because the known is scary. Best bets: Chris Van Hollen and David Trone.