My programs Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports were closely associated with professional athletes (NFL, NBA & MLB) and rightfully so, but the DC Superior Court was the backbone of KIT.
NBA Hall of Fame player, native Washingtonian and former Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing and NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Wood were the anchors of the Kids In Trouble
team when I found it after the 1968 riots.Washington Times sports columnist Dick Heller receives KIT Life Time Achievement Award from Willie Wood.
1967 was when all hell broke loose on a Friday evening at my alma mater Spingarn High School in NE DC. A Spingarn student had been shot after a basketball game between Spingarn and rival McKinley Tech. My boss Stan Anderson immediately assigned me to find a way to bring peace to what could become a volatile situation.
Dave’s first KIT assignment came during his NBA Rookie Year. He had been selected to play in the 1967 NBA All-Star Game in Baltimore at the Civic Center. It was also my first year as a Roving Leader for the DC Recreation Department (Youth Gang Task Force).
I arrived on the scene to find cops and students in a world of confusion–neither seem to have a clue except, Spingarn won the game and they think a McKinley Tech student shot the Spingarn student for celebrating. There were a couple of knuckle heads standing around on the fringes talking about revenge.
None of it made any sense to me so I decided to leave it up to the cops to solve. I retired to Sporty’s Carry Out across the street from the school for a hot dog and soda. I was waiting for my hot dog when I hear someone say “You know the NBA All-Star Game is in Baltimore this Weekend”!
Suddenly, lights, bells and whistles started to go off in my head and I said to myself I thought, “Oh hell no, Dave Bing”. And the guy said, “Oh yes, he is playing”.
The next morning I was on my way to Baltimore to catch up with Dave. On arrival I found the Civil Center players’ entance. One hour later I spotted Dave arriving with teammate Bob Lanier. He saw me and this big smile came across his face and his first words were, “Harold Bell what the hell are you doing over here?” He introduced me to Bob and we huddled outside. I explained what had happen at Spingarn and I needed him to meet me at the school on Monday morning to address the students–done deal.
I kept my fingers crossed hoping there would be no drive-by shooting over the weekend between the two schools, I got my wish. Dave and I met at Spingarn on Monday morning to a full assembly waiting for his arrival. When he walked into the assembly hall, the students gave him a standing ovation. They had just seen him on national television representing them and the school. His words of wisdom brought peace to the school on The Hill. I was proud of Dave, it was a moment never to be forgotten.
Pro athletes and sitting judges working together to empower the community was unheard in the 70s and 80s. The NBA, NFL and MLB would all follow my lead.
The “KIT Dream Team” was made up of pro atletes and DC Superior Court Judges who help give hundreds of at-risk children an opportunity to grow up to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Make no mistake Luke and Harry T set the bar when it came to making sure attorneys and police officers respected everyone in his courtroom. All defendants were to be addressed as Mr, Mrs , Ms, or Miss. It did not matter your station in life!
H. R. Crawford was a friend and former Assistant Secretary of Housing at HUD and long time DC City Councilman. He recalls a case being thrown out of Harry T’s court.
He says, “The arresting police officer kept referring to the black defendants as boys and girls. He refused to address the defendants as Mr, Mrs, Ms or Miss as instructed. Judge Alexander dismissed the case because of mistaken identity. He told the police officer, I don’t see any girls or boys in my courtroom.”
Judges Moore and Newman followed Judge Alexander’s lead but without the flamboyance or fanfare. Judge Alexander had an air about him that the insecure found difficult to deal with. He dressed and walked with a swagger, his head up and back un-bended.
One of the most impressive things to me about the judges was that when they gave you their word you could carry it to the bank.
Judges Moore, Alexander and Newman’s community involvement attracted other judges and media personalities to the KIT team.
For example; U. S. Federal Court Judge Alex Williams is another benefactor of Inside Sports and Kids In Trouble, Inc. I attended school and grew up with Judge William Missouri the Chief Administrate Judge of the Upper Marlboro Courthouse.
The two have served as panelist for several of my conferences on youth Violence. Judge Williams was a recipient of Kids In Trouble Life Time Achievement Award. Williams’ mentor was Judge Moore and Missouri worked at the U. S. Post office with him but the similarities end there.
Today a Black man or woman who has to face a judge in Prince George’s County or in the DC Superior Court has the deck stacked against them. Every deck has a joker in a Black Robe–it was Missouri in Prince Georges County, he was known as “The Hanging Judge”.
Black faces may be out front in the Upper Marlboro Court but there is a smell of the KKK aka “Tea Party” is still running things.
How can we forget that the person or persons who murdered 19 year old Ronnie White in his Upper Marlboro jail cell may still be working as a law enforcement officers.
The lynching happen on County Executive Jack Johnson, State Attorney’s Glen Ivey, and Chief of Police Melvin High’s watch. The conspirator a jailer was sentence in Judge Alex Williams Federal courtroom. The Federal Court Guildlines stated, the jailer could be sentenced to 20 years in jail and a $250.000 fine. Judge Williams said, “That there was something that didn’t smell right about the case”. Evidently, the smell was not strong enough, the jailer was free after a year served. All the players in-charge were black–it was not a time to be black and proud!
The Prince George’s County Police Chief Melvin High retired during the murder investigation and re-surfaced in the Prince Georges’ County Sheriff’s Office. Glenn Ivey was the worst State’s Atorney in the history of the office and County Executive Jack Johnson was convicted of taking brides and spent 5 years in jail.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks claims Johnson and Ivey are her mentors!
One of the reasons Justice has become Just-Us in America’s courtrooms is because the Black jurist sitting on the bench have all forgotten who they are and where they came from. They are so busy trying to play fair but fail to realize they are the only ones playing fair. In the meantime, they help America fill prisons and the U. S. leads the WORLD with the highest rate of incarceration! Prisons are now on Wall Street and the hot commodity is a person of color.
Today’s judges have forgotten the sacrifices and great works of Judges Thurgood Marshall, Carl Moutrie, Turk Thompson, Luke C. Moore, Harry T. Alexander, each man stood for something and didn’t fall for just anything.
This is a sad commentary, but Black Judges like Alex Williams, and the late Bill Missouri, and every black judge who sit on the bench whether at the DC Superior and Prince Georges County Courts, all stand on the shoulders of Judges Luke C. Moore Harry T. Alexander–they were for Justice for all and not Just-Us.