HAROLD BELL: NBA TORCH BEARER!

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Earl Lloyd All-American West Virginia State
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Stature of Earl Lloyd’s likeness on exhibit in the Charles Houston Rec Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

Harold Bell was the first African American to host and produce his own sport’s talk radio show Inside Sports in Washington, DC in 1972.

On his “Inside Sports” radio show he interviewed some of the most famous athletes in pro sports. In 1975, Bell interviewed Muhammed Ali after he knocked out George Foreman in Zaire, Africa on WRC TV 4, the NBC afilliate in Washington, DC.  The show made him the first African American to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time.   The late DC Superior Court Judge Luke Moore said, “Harold you are our voice in the community!”

His interviews and friendships with Muhammed Ali and Red Auerbach put his “Inside Sports” talk show on the map and changed the way we talk sports around the globe. Many have copied the Inside Sports talk format, but none have been able to duplicate it. Bell interviewed hall of fame athletes like Jim Brown, Spencer Haywood, Harry Edwards, Sonny Hill, Don King, Bighouse Gaines and John Chaney just to name a few.  These relationships became valuable when he was advocating for NFL All-Pro Willie Wood and NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd to be inducted into their Hall of Fames after they were “Blackballed” by their leagues.  

When Earl Lloyd called Bell asking him to campaign for his induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, he in turn called NBA Godfather Red Auerbach and Washington Times legendary sports columnist the late Dick Heller for support.  His next call was to an old friend, Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis asking him to join the campaign team for Lloyd.  Bell was no stranger to the city of Alexandria, he had worked closely with “The Untouchables” founders, Dr. George Logan-El, Lawrence Brown and Michael Johnson.  They helped him to coordinate his annual toy party for needy children leading into the Christmas holidays in Alexandria.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES/HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES-WASHINGTON, DC 205-1005

October 25, 2000

Mr. Earl Lloyd

200 Riverfront

P.O.B. 1976-Fairfield, Tenn.

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 is 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 reconizing 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 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 weekend next year.

Sincerely,

John Lewis / Member of Congress

Thurston McLain would follow his lead from DC into the Alexandria community. Bell was his mentor during Thurston’s early childhood days, first at Harrison Elementary School to the Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program. He graduated from Cardozo High School and went on to Langston University in Oklahoma where he became and All-American linebacker. Thurston returned home to join the Alexandria Fire Department and made Christmas toy parties for needy children an annual event during his fire fighting career. He retired as a Captain.

During NBA All-Star weekend in Washington, DC in 2001, Bell’s non-profit organization Kids In Trouble organized a Earl Lloyd Day in Alexandria. The Saturday festivities included a basketball clinic at the Charles Houston Rec Center.  NBA stars, Bob Lanier, Al Attles, Phil Chenier, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Earl Monroe among others were in attendance.   

Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore declared it “Earl Lloyd Day” in the state of Vrginia.  The historic jazz and blues club, “The Bohemian Caverns” in Washington, DC was the site that closed out the Earl Lloyd festivies with Red Auerbach and basketball legend Sonny Hill co-hosting the tribute on Saturday night.  Earl was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003. Thanks goes out to Congressman John Lewis, Red Auerbach, Dick Heller and Harold Bell for carrying the torch for the Alexandria, Virginia NBA pioneer.

He participated in the documentary “The First to Play” based on the NBA trials and tribulations of Earl Lloyd’s NBA journey.  Segments of the documentary were video taped in Alexandria at the Departmental Club with several of Earl’s friends, including, the legendary James E. Henson.   

The film producer Arka Sengupta was found to be a scammer and a fraud.   Bell again contacted friends he knew in the NBA as well as TNT NBA analyst David Aldridge who assisted him in exposing the fraudulent producer.  He later received a thank you letter from NBA Commisioner Adam Silver.  

Bell’s passion is helping inner-city children who are at risk. He and his wife, Hattie found Kids In Trouble, Inc., and the Hillcrest Saturday Program in 1968 shortly after the Washington, DC riots. Harold and Hattie’s work with at-risk-children did not go unnoticed; President Richard M. Nixon invited them to the White House and acknowledged their work with at-risk-children in Washington, DC. Harold and the President became friends when he was in high school and caddied on the weekends at the exclusive Burning Tree Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland. Mr. Nixon was then the Vice-President in the Dwight Eisenhower administration.

Harold helps kids because someone was there to help him, the only reason I’m still standing strong today is because of my high school and college coaches, Dave Brown and Bighouse Gaines.  They were there to prevent me from going to hell in a hurry.”  

Bell is that type of person who fights and advocates to make things right. He was born on May 21, 1938, he is a 4th generation Washingtonian. His great grandfather Alfred Tyler laid the first brick to build historic Mt. Airy Baptist Church in 1893. The church is located in the shadows of the nation’s Capitol in NW DC.  

He attended Spingarn High School where he was an all-around athlete playing three sports, football, basketball and baseball.  After high school, Bell attended Winston-Salem State University where he  played football and basketball.  He met his wife, Hattie a teacher at Cardozo High School in 1967 and they married after the DC riots in 1968, and out of those ashes they found their non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc.   

Today, Bell has his own weekly program “Speak the Truth” Zoom Show every Sunday and Inside Sports Detoxx video show on You Tube. In addition, he is the most read and most popular blogger for Black Men in America.Com.  There are over 500 black websites on the world wide internet, Black men in America in ranked in the top 10. 

For Black Americans in Alexandria, we thank you Harold Bell for advocating for Earl Lloyd and getting him into the NBA Hall of Fame-thanks for being a Torch Bearer!

Editor’s Note: Famous Last Words

“Last week Harold Bell the sports talk show host, sportswriter, do-gooder and all-around rabble rouser threw a party to honor Earl Lloyd, the NBA’s first black player in a crowded ballroom at Bolling Air Force Base.  Folks who remembered Lloyd from his days across the river at Parker Gray High School in the mid 40s mingled with those who just wanted to be near the alarming obscure athletic pioneer who broke the NBA color barrier as a member of the National Capitols in 1950.  Lloyd for whatever reason never got his due around his hometown through the years and sadly he still isn’t likely to after this function.  Local daily newspapers and television stations along with major sports figures all stayed away from the tribute.  They all got press releases said, Bell, why didn’t they come?  Deep down Bell knew. The mainstream press and jocks didn’t come because of him.  Plenty of people including some of the biggest names in town wanted no parts of Harold bell or anything that he was associated with.” Dave McKenna City Paper 1998

Char McCargo Bah is a published author, freelance writer, independent historian, genealogist and a Living Legend of Alexandria. She maintains two blogs, http://www.theotheralexandria.com and http://www.findingthingsforu.com

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