Blacks have been coming and going out of the White House for over one-hundred years. Frederick Douglas was an abolitionist, orator, writer and a frequent visitor to the White House in the late 1800s. President Rutherford Hayes made him the first black U. S. Marshall in 1877. Following Douglas to the White House were Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown and his sidekick Al Sharpton. The athletes were many including Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Holmes, Don King, Hank Aaron. Who will follow Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into the White House?
When you hear someone say, “Sports and politics don’t mix” you can bet your last dollar it was not Jim Brown. He has hustled the black athlete and the White House for more checks than any visitor in White House history. In 2020 he hit the jackpot with Donald Trump, Trump authorized 50 million dollars for his Amer-I-Can Program disguised as prison reform. His networth went from one-dollar in 2019 to 50 million dollars in 2020?
If you were to ask a black Republican why are you a Republican?, nine times out of ten they would say, “It is the fastest way to the money!” Jim Brown can atest to that, that has been the norm for most blacks. Their visits are to enrich themselves and not the black community. My reach-back track record in the community improved after I left the White House–not my bank account.
If you are a black man or woman and living in America and you have been “Sitting On the Fence” and in denial as it relates to being a Republican or Democrat you better–fasten your seat belts for a wake up call and smell the coffee. History has proven there is very little difference between the two.
What is it that Richard Nixon and Donald Trump have in common, nothing except being Republican Presidents–and one left the White House saying, “I am not a crook” and the other left saying, “I am not a racist?” I would take Nixon over Trump everytime and anytime. Trump has replaced Nixon in the minds of many blacks as the worst President in American history.
Listen to Princeton University Professor Eddie Glaude. There is no big fancy vocubulary with big words (Don King and Eric Dyson). He breaks it down so that all the PhDs on Capitol Hill and the brothers and sisters living in SE DC with no Ds can understands exactly what he is saying.
Claude’s description of racism in America is the same racism I was describing on my sports talk show Inside Sports with Muhammad Ali, Harry Edwards, Jim Brown, Duane Thomas, Willie Wood, Roy Jefferson, etc in 1972. My problem was, I was not as eloquent as Claude. I was emotional and pissed off in the first 3 seconds of my presentation. I came off like the angry black man and I was. In Claude’s 3 minutes he was armed with a knife (smooth vocabulary) that cut deep, he cut through the BS like a surgeon in a operating room at John Hopkins Hospital. The patient (White America) never knew that they had been cut until his final word. He was a smooth operator. See his presentation below.
Check the expression on the faces of the panel as he ends his presentation and the narrator Nichol says–“WOW” and Eddie Claude says, “Lord help us.” I think he just sent a prayer up for President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Claude brought back memories from my days on Bolling Air Force Base as a White House Presidential appointee (Richard Nixon). I had started out working with the great Oklahoma football coach, Bud Wilkinson in 1970. Wilkinson was the Director of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He turned to politics after his great college football career. I hung in there with Bud for about six months and I got bored. Bud would come into the office on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday he would hit the road for the next big college football game. I would not see him again until the following Monday.
I called the man President Nixon assigned to look over me, Herb Klein. Mr. Klein was the White House Communications Director (he was a class act and a gentleman). It took him about a week to find me another job. He transferred me to the Department of Defense (Pentagon) in the care of Secretary Melvin Laird. Mr. Lair was looking for someone to head a new position for DOD called Domestic Actions (a community based program). I was assigned to Bolling Air Force Base in SE DC (‘The Hood’ Ward 8) as the Director of Domestic Actions. My role was to allow the off-base community to use on-base facilities when they were not being use by military personnel. Those facilities included baseball and football fields, swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts and the base library for community meetings. It was my dream job.
The base Chaplain and I became good friends, his name was Charlie Reider. The Chaplain had this grand idea about making use of some of the vacate buildings on the base. He asked me what I thought and I told him about how the juvenile facilities in DC were overcrowded and maybe we could house some of the youth on base. He took the idea and ran with it and within a couple of months Bolling Boys Base was established. The first of its kind on a military installation, I had a little help from my friends at the White House and DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore. Luke had close ties with DC’s first black Mayor, Walter Washington. Chaplain Reider locked down things on base.
The program was a big hit, I had radio and television personality Petey Greene, DC Superior court judges, the Washington Redskins and Harlem Globe Trotters visit the Boys Base to encourage and enhanced the future of the youth. My dream job would turn into a nightmare.
I had several unpleasant encounters with the base commander a Colonel named, Duane Erickson ( ‘Good Old Boy’ from Texas). He didn’t like civilians under his command no matter if they were Presidential appointees. My office was in the base headquarters down the hall from his. We had to see each other almost everyday and I could tell I was a sight for his sore eyes. The second in command was Colonel Fred Taylor and he was a true officer and a gentleman.
Colonel Taylor knew things were not kosher between me and his boss, but he would always have a kind and encouraging word. One evening he asked me to join him for breakfast at the Officer’s Club in the morning and I did. I remember him saying, “Harold, you are doing a great job here on the base, the Bolling Boy’s Base was a great idea. Colonel Erickson does not like civilians in his space, but he had no choice with you because you were assigned here directlly from the Pentagon by way of the White House. I know it might look like something else, but I don’t think it is (racism). My advice, is for you to remember he is the commander of the base and you guys need to work together as a team. The base needs you both.”
Colonel Taylor excused himself and returns to the table with a poster and gives it to me, it read, “The definition of Diplomacy is being able to tell someone to go to hell and have them looking forward to the trip.” There was a picture of the Devil standing in the middle of red hot flames with a spear in his hands smiling. The Colonel smiled and we finished our breakfast. It looks and sounds like Professor Eddie Claude learned that lesson.
The hand that Biden and Harris have been dealt left by Trump; 400,000+ deaths due to convid 19, unemployment, homes and businesses lost, racism by cop and a criminal justice system–that thrives on Justice and Just-Us. I would not wish that on Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham “The Proud Boys” of the U. S. Senate. I don’t expect Joe Biden to save us, I agree with Professor Eddie Claude, we cannot blame all of this chaos (based on racism) on Donald Trump, but he help let the skeletons out of the closet, “This is Us”–Lord help us!