The Washington Post reveal the obstacles facing blacks in radio and television sports departments in the Nation’s Capitol in the 70s and 80s.The Washington Star’s radio and television critic columnist William Taaffe tells the story how the Inside Sports talk format changed the way we talk sports in America and around the globe. 

Hattie and I were invited by Professor Jackie Jones and DeWayne Wickham, the Dean of the School of Communications and Journalism at Morgan State University as their guest for Black History Month.  The historical HBCU is located in Baltimore, Maryland.  We are surrounded by future journalist students and members of the Morgan faculty.  Black students in 2020 will still face an uphill battle to land jobs in journalism.  We must remember major media at their deadline is second only to a church on Sunday morning when it comes to racism in America and those who make it are not reaching back to pull other young blacks along with them.  We are allowing folks who have never walked in our shoes to tell our history!

“Until the lions hire their own PR firm–the glory of the hunt will always go to the hunter.”

I don’t normally participate in telephone conference calls with folks I don’t know, especially when I don’t have a clue to the format, but there is so much “Fake News” circulating I made an exception when I saw a familiar name in my text message. The call was scheduled for between 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. I was watching the ESPN special “OJ Simpson Made in America!” Those of you not familiar with the story, it’s about an NFL superstar who crossed over and could not or would not find his way back to the other side of town, he was not the first and he will not be the last. OJ and his NFL running partner Jim Brown have a lot in common when it comes to domestic abuse.

I asked my wife to excuse me, I needed to watch “OJ Simpson Made in America” like I needed to watch a re-run of Rodney King that was also made in America.

I made the conference called at 8:45 pm late for the 8:30 starting time and early for the 9:00 pm starting time. I successfully joined the conversation and I listened for several minutes while someone I assumed was talking about the state of America’s newest crisis, the corona-virus and where do we go from here!

I didn’t know whether the person who was doing the talking was the moderator or a participant who had been asked to join the call as I was. When the person doing the talking paused I waited a moment for someone else to jump in and add their two cents, but no-one did, so I did what I do best and added my two-cents.

I am always amazed at how it takes a tragedy for Americans to understand that we are all in this together. The September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City is now known as 9-11. It took a hurricane in 2005 the costliest national disaster in American history. They named it Katrina in the state of Louisiana. The latest disaster the Corona-Virus America welcomes Black Americans to be a part of the landscape.  We are now all ONE and in this together—I have seen, read, heard and lived through these acts of disasters!

For example, I have read the accounts of Black Wall Street, Tulsa race riots in 1921, I was in my first year of high school when Emmit Till was lynched in 1955, I was in my my senior year at Winston-Salem State University when four little black girls were blown up in church in Alabama, and Civil Rights leader, Medgar Evers was murdered in his driveway in 1963.  I was caught physically in the middle of the race riots before and after the Martin Luther King assassination 1968.  I was working in the streets with youth gangs for the DC Department of Recreation & Parks on that April 5th day when our Prince of Peace was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.   The Rodney King beat down in 1991 (videotape), teenager Trayvon Martin murder in 2012, Eric Gardiner choked to death on a New York street in broad daylight by New York’s finest. He was murdered by cops for selling loose cigarettes (videotape).  I remember all of these events and how it was back to business as usual when the major newspapers ran out of ink to print and NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News lost their signals and appetite to broadcast the truth.  We have cable television to thank for keeping hope alive!

What about the children?

This was “White Privilege”, thanks to Justice & Just-Us.   America houses more prisoners than anyone else in the world, 80% are Black Americans and we make up only 13% of the population? It would be 90% when you add Hispanics to the mix.

The 1% owns 40% of the nation’s wealth.  This is the highest wealth ownership in 50 years.  In 10 years it will be 50% and 20 years it will be 60% greed knows no limit.

There will never be any Reparations or an Even Playing Field when it comes to black people who help build this country.  They will never give us our “40 acres and a Mule” as promised. Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen and White Privilege.

Racism is embedded in the American DNA.  We were forewarned in 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson in an Executive Order 11635 asked Michigan Governor Otto Kerner to convene a commission to look into why there was so much unrest in America’s inner-cities (1967 riots).  The Kerner Report was completed in February 1968 and it said, “Our nation is moving toward two different societies, one black, and one white.”  

The report was a bestseller and over two-million copies were sold.  It looks like whites were the only ones who read the report.  It is often said, “If you want to hide something from a black man or woman put it in a book”.   Fifty-two years later in 2020 the Kerner Report was right, there are two different societies, “One black and One white, separate and unequal!  Welcome to the real America!  Fifty-two years later it looks like Black folks sat on their hands and did absolutely nothing!

In 1968 Washington, DC was once known as Chocolate City.  The last 52 years black mayors have ruled, we have had black school superintendents, a black majority city council, black police chiefs, black DC Delegates, and the Congressional Black Caucus.   Still health care (hospitals closed), our public schools are among the worst in the nation, DC leads the nation in HIV AIDS cases, this deterioration of the black community took place during the watch of black leaders who all claimed they were in charge.

There is an annual contest at Duke University for the most
appropriate definition of a contemporary term.
This year’s term was: “Political Correctness”
The winner wrote:
“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of do-do by the clean end.”  Sounds like the winner knew DC politicians!

My first home was a one room shack with an outhouse on Douglas street in NE DC, but still I had enough Common Sense, Street Sense and Book Sense to crossover the politic isle (Republican and Democrat) and find a way to help to enhance young people’s lives that once resembled my very own.

We cannot keep pointing the finger at white folks for our lack of leadership.  We keep “Talking the talk, but we are not walking the walk!” 

Speaking of an “Even Playing Field”, Dr. Harry Edwards is the architect of the Mexico City Olympic Games in 1968, it was there track and field stars, sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos after receiving their medals raised their black gloved fist on the podium to protest racism in America.  The sacrfice by Tommie and John is still etched in my memory.  They were ostracized by the Olympic Committee and banished from the village and only recently in 2005 they were honored by their college San Hose State with a 22 foot statue of their protest titled “Victory Salute”!VICTORY SALUTE!

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

I want to quote my late friend, Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings, he said,

“When you are dancing with the angels the question will be asked in 2019, what did you do to make sure we kept our Democracy intact.  Did you stand on the sidelines and do (and say) nothing?”

Hopefully, when I am dancing with Angels and not with the devil, when the question is asked, “What did Harold Bell do?”  When they look me up on GOOGLE or on You tube they will see and read “When I saw something I said something!”  Now ask yourself, ‘What will be in my wallet when I am dancing with the Angels?’  Congressonal Black Caucus & Kids In Trouble Remember and Honor Congressman Elijah Cummings

Noteworthy: Jesse Jackson became a prophet when he said, “When White America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia” Amen!



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