Students from the Philippines wanted to know “When are you bringing Ben’s to the Philippines?”
Students from Bristol, England–next stop Capitol Hill to meet the politicians
When legendary musician Quincy Jones produce and directed the song “We Are the World” for charity in 1985 the guest artist participating were a Who’s Who of the music world. The goal was to raise money for the famine taking place in Ethiopia where little children and their parents were literally starving to death. Quincy send out an SOS to all divas (male and female) and the response was nothing short of amazing. The only requirement for participation, “Check ego at the door.”
When Ben and Virginia Ali open Ben’s Chili Bowl in 1958 the diners were a Who’s Who of entertainers, politicians, sports personalities and everyday people in Black America. They could be found on the U Street corridor aka Black Broadway on any given evening but the weekends were always buzzing.
I remember, I was in middle school when I first heard of “Black Broadway.” On the weekends my mother and her sisters, brothers, cousins and friends from our NE Parkside Housing Project would meet at my house. They would all be dressed up (clean as chittlings) and I would ask “Mommy where are you guys going?” And her response would be ‘We are going downtown to party!’ I was still in the dark because I thought downtown was by the White House located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, but I later discovered that the U Street NW corridor was considered downtown in the black community. In our community there was a bus company called Capitol Transit and on Sundays three would be allowed to ride on a pass to close out the week. Someone in the group would get a pass from their parents so that we could joy ride to what we thought was downtown. To get all of our crew on the bus we would open one of the windows and hand the pass out to three other guys at each stop on the route out of the projects. Sometimes there would be 15 to 20 guys on the ride. The bus driver was not fooled but we never coursed him any problems and he looked the other way. Sometimes he would act like our tour guild pointing out the landmarks.
The Matriarch and hero of the Tyler/Bell family, Amy Tyler Bell aka Grandma Bell and her grand-children. Standing L-R cousin, Carole, brothers HB, Earl, Bobby. Next to Grandma, cousin, Ronnie and cousin Tommy
The Black Broadway crew of NE in photo before heading down to the U Street corridor for a party over here and a party over there. Mommy B standing center in the back with white pearls around her neck.
The bus would take us down in front of the White House which was across the street from Lafayette Square. The driver would make a U turn and bring us back to the projects and that is why I thought was downtown was by the White House. The U Street NW corridor “Black Broadway” was downtown to my mother. There was a ‘Broadway’ in New York City but black folks were never made to feel comfortable there. They were treated like ‘Outsiders.’ The more things change the more they remain the same.
In the 40s and 50s the U Street corridor aka Black Broadway was where the black community let its hair down on the weekends. There you could walk shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest entertainers, politicians and sports personalities in America. They included, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Dick Gregory, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Pigmeat Markam, Redd Foxx, etc.
My brothers and I spend our early years with Grandma Bell. The closest we got to “Black Broadway” was our place of worship, Mount Airy Baptist Church. The church was located in walking distant of the U Street corridor at North Capitol and L Streets, NW, but my brothers, cousins and I were never out of sight of Grandma Bell on Sundays. Our leisure time was spend visiting the sick and shut-in at the housing project Sursum Quarters surrounding the church and on Wednesdays we would sometimes visit Freeman’s Hospital. My community involvement is not by accident.
The Bell/Tyler family settled in Washington, DC in the Early 1800s my Great-Grandfather Alfred Johnson Tyler laid the first brick to build Mount Airy in 1893 and was named Pastor in 1906 and served in that capacity until he went home to be with the Lord in 1936. My Great-Uncle the Rev. Earl Tyler was his successor until he went home to be with the Lord in 1958. The Tyler House a senior citizen complex two blocks north of the church is named after him.
My brother Bobby, Earl and I attended Burville Elementary School together and church would become our home away from home. It was not unusual for us to be in church three to four days a week and all day Sunday. My Great-Uncle the Rev. Earl Tyler could preach like ML King, and sing like Marvin Sapp. Grandma Bell played the organ and directed the choir of heavenly voices that included, my aunts and uncles. Every Sunday was a revival—this was real church. On Sundays if you were 5 minutes late there would be standing room only.
In the 50s my brother Earl and I moved to the housing project with our mother Mattie Bell aka Mommy B and Bobby the oldest stayed with Grandma Bell. In 1955 against all odds I entered Spingarn High School. My middle school Principal, Mr. William B. Stinson had predicted to my mother after one of her frequent visits, he said, “Mrs. Bell you are not going to have to worry about Harold too much longer, I doubt if he lives to get to high school.”
Our father Alfred was a “Dead Beat Dad” in every sense of the word. The Temptations described him to a Tee with with their classic vocal ‘Poppa Was a Rolling Stone.’ My heroes growing up were not black men or black athletes, my heroes were black women, my grandmother, mother and my aunts.
My mother and grandmother’s efforts to keep me and Earl from going to hell in a hurry was to no avail. We continued to act like dam fools outside of the church and our home. Earl had turned to yoke robbery and hitting cash registers on the weekends on the busy H Street corridor in NE (now Capitol Hill). I would join him and his crew on a couple of outings, but it was too much drama for me. I decided to return to carrying groceries on the weekends at the Safeway. In 1957 thanks to one of my neighbors and homies from the projects, Jody Waugh, I discovered Burning Tree Golf Course. He convinced me I would triple my income at the golf course and I did. It was here I met my mentors, Petey Greene and President Richard M. Nixon.
In the meantime, Mommy B aka Mattie Bell got fed up with her monthly Relief/Welfare check she was receiving. She thought she could do better so she started to put her cooking skills with her specialty fried chicken (put Colonel Sanders to shame), chittlings, home-made potato salad and cakes and pies to good use. She sold dinners on the weekends. On Friday evenings family and friends would be lined up outside of our door sitting on the porch and curve waiting for the dinners. This led her to selling bootleg liquor and having card games (piddy pat and poker). She cut ten cents on every dollar won. She was hitting the number so much, the book maker for our housing project, Mr. Billy Jackson turned over his territory to her and gave her a cut of the book. Mommy B was the projects’ Donald Trump long before Donald Trump and Atlantic City. Somewhere during that era my youngest brother William Sterling aka Billy aka Puddin aka Tyrik was born.
Almost like any success in the black community and especially financial success, envy and jealousy were just a step behind. My mother’s Achilles Heel, was a big heart and she never learned to say, “No” to anyone who needed a helping hand. Suddenly, the cops started to raid our house on the weekends taking my mother out in handcuffs while Earl and I sit on the steps crying. She would stop and kiss us and say, “I will be back in time to take you to church in the morning” and she would. The raids would happen at least one a month. She would move the card games and the bootleg liquor to other locations in the neighborhood. But the cops had a snitch in the community and they would know her every move.
Trying to stay one step ahead of the cops and the snitch, plus three active boys would prove to be a little too much for her. Mommy B had a nervous breakdown in 1957 and was institutionalized at St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital. My younger brother was taken in my our next door neighborhood Ms. Winnifred Powell and her sons, Sonny and Gaylord, Earl was shipped off to the reform school for boys. I was homeless and left to fend for myself. I slept in parked cars until Doretha my mother’s cousin found me sleeping in her car one morning. It was around that time I was coming into my own as an impact athlete at Spingarn High School, meaning I could win or lose a game for my team. When the game was on the line I wanted the ball in my hands. This just give me the ball attitude kept me in hot water and sometimes in the doghouse with my teammates and coaches. I cost my baseball teammates a city championship when Coach Leo Hill kicked me off the team for selfish and reckless behavior on the field of play. Basketball coach Rev. William Roundtree gave up on me when I decided to change my role as primary defender to primary shooter and football coach, Dave Brown locked me on the bus at half-time in a game against rival Phelps for selfish and unreasonable behavior. The team won without me, 6-0 on a 63 yard punt return by QB Donald Wills. The only thing that saved me from the mean streets was an apology to my teammates and the coaching staff on the team bus. Coach Brown would take charge of my life from there and the rest is community and sports media history.
1958 Named first team All-High Wide Receiver DC Public Schools (Spingarn High School)
1959 Accepted athletic scholarship to Winston-Salem State University–saved my life.
1965 hired by United Planning Organization (UPO) as a Neighborhood Worker with Petey Greene and H Rap Brown
1968 In the forefront of the riots in the U Street corridor. Married Hattie Thomas and found non-profit Kids In Trouble, Inc
1978 Pioneering radio show Inside Sports picked number one talk show by the Washington Post
1988 Harold Bell Sounds Off Washington Post publish front page story on the lack of equal opportunity for blacks in sports broadcasting
Civil Rights Up Close & Personal:
In college in Winston-Salem, NC (1960) when students from North Carolina A & T staged restaurant sit-ins
In college when 14 year old Emit Till was murdered for whistling at a white woman
In college when Civil Rights advocate Megar Evers was murdered by a shotgun blast in his driveway
In DC and in attendance for the 1963 March on Washington and Rev. King’s, I have a Dream Speech
In DC on September 1963 when 4 little black girls were blown up in their church
In 1965 I was hired by United Planning Organization (UPO) as Neighborhood Worker with Petey Green and H Rap Brown
In 1968 I was on the front lines of the riots on the U Street corridor (Roving Leader DC Recreation Department)
Looking back and at today’s race relations in America it makes one wonder are we regressing?
Quincy Jones was 19 years old when he made an observation as it related to racism in America in 1941. He was traveling with band leader Lionel Hampton to Europe, he said, “It turned me upside down, altering my view of racism in my country.”
‘It gave you some sense of perspective of past, present and future. I took the myopic conflict between black and white in the United States and put it on another level because I saw the turmoil between the Armenians and the Turks, and the Cypriots and the Greeks, and the Swedes and the Danes, and the Koreans and the Japanese. Everybody had these hassles, and you saw it was a basic part of human nature, these conflicts. It opened my soul, it opened my mind.’ What a sad commentary on the human race.
Quincy forgot to throw Native Americans and European Americans into the mix
It has often been said “If you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it.” AME Church in Charleston, S. C. June 2015 nine died!
Thanks to my heroes, Grandma Bell, Mommy B, Ms. Winnifred Powell, Coach Dave Brown, Coach Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines and last but not least my wife Hattie T, 1965 marks 50 years of working in the U Street corridor with youth gangs and at-risk children. In the end all the glory goes to God.
“Until the lion is able to tell his story, the hunter will always get the glory”
Page 1 headline story in the Washington Post on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 read, “A Federal judge sentenced former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell to two years in prison Tuesday–an unexpectedly lenient punishment for a man who was convicted of selling the influence of his office to a wealthy benefactor for sweetheart loans, luxury vacations and even a Rolex watch. Unless his case is overturned on appeal, McDonnell (R), who was once mentioned as a presidential contender, will become the first Virginia governor to go to prison.”
Judge James R. Spencer was the presiding judge in the historical trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell. McDonnell was facing felony charges stemming from his misuse of office. He and his wife accepted bribes from a Virginia businessman Jonnie R. Williams a wealthy dietary supplement company executive. The loans totaled $177, 000 (depending on who was counting). Spencer sentenced McDonnell to 2 years, something is wrong with this picture.
“Here Comes the Judge” took on a whole new meaning in Richmond, Virginia on January 6, 2015. It was Comedian Pigmeat Markam who coined the phrase ‘Here comes the Judge.’ He used it in his comedy routine in the 50s, 60s and 70s. U. S. Supreme Court Judge Thurgood Marshall, DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore and the late “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry must have all turned over in their graves when they heard the sentence.
In the meantime, in Williamsburg, Virginia a black man was recently apprehended after stealing 3 pairs of sunglasses. The store got its merchandise back. The man was convicted in a Circuit Court (state) and he is now awaiting a sentence of up to 20 years for the theft of 3 pairs of sunglasses.
When Judges Cared: Pro athletes and DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore and his colleagues reach back to support Kids In Trouble, Inc.
Top: L-R Luke C. Moore and Larry Wright (NBA), Eugene Hamilton and Adrian Dantley (NBA), Harry Alexander and Kermit Washington (NBA), Luke, HB and HB, Ted Newman, Harry T, Larry Brown (NFL) and Hamilton, Luke, HB, Roy Jefferson (NFL) Ted Newman, Henry Kennedy, Jr., HB and Kennedy, Luke, HB and Eugene Hamilton.
I first met The Honorable Rev. Judge R. Spencer in 1990 at The First Baptist Church of Arlington, Virginia. He was the pulpit guest speaker. His sermon, “Role Models and Heroes.” This sermon came shortly after Marion was caught on tape smoking crack cocaine in a DC hotel room with a former girl friend. Much like the game of Monopoly, Marion went straight to jail. The sermon was one of the most powerful I have ever heard coming out of a pulpit.
One weekend in 1991 while I was in Richmond attending the annual CIAA Basketball Tournament, I decided to take Rev. Spencer up on his invitation to have lunch and a game of tennis. He was also a competitor on the tennis court. I kept the game close like most competitive athletes I didn’t want to bruise his ego so I won the only set we played 7-5. He walked away saying, “I will get you next time.” I loved his dialogue during our lunch on what it meant to be a black man in America and the obstacles that lay ahead for us.
These two encounters left me totally confused and disappointed by the slap on the wrist he gave Gov. McDonnell. If you are asking the question “Why are you so confused?” First, the prosecutors recommended jail time of 10 to 12 years and I find it very puzzling how Judge Spencer’s math and sentencing guild lines equaled 2 years? Especially, after I had heard his “Brim and Fire Stone” sermon as it related to ‘Heroes and Role Models.’ My meeting with him the following year in Richmond convinced me he was the real deal.
When I heard that he was the presiding judge (a media best kept secret) I was convinced that Gov. McDonnell would serve at least 3-5 years. In my community there is an old saying, “If you cannot do the time don’t do the crime.” Evidently, Judge Spencer and I grew up on different sides of the tracks. I am sure you will also be confused once you hear his sermon in Arlington in 1990 (see link below).
Judge Spencer is not the only black Federal Judge I have seen and broken bread with Up Close and Personal. My former friend and associate Alex Williams a U. S. Federal Judge is another who forgot who he is and where he came from. His home base before he retired was the U. S. Federal Court in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Former Federal Judge Alex Williams and H Bell at Kids In Trouble, Inc Youth Violence Forum back in the day. Alex standing at the piano 2nd from the right after accepting the Kids In Trouble, Inc Life Achievement Award.
Alex is another benefactor of Inside Sports and Kids In Trouble, Inc. and then there is former Judge William Missouri. He was the Chief Administrate Judge of the Upper Marlboro Courthouse in the 80s and 90s. He and I attended Spingarn High School and grew up in NE DC. He was known as “The Hanging Judge” in the black community in Prince Georges County. If you were black and appeared in his courtroom your goose was cooked. The two judges have served as panelist for several of my conferences on Youth Violence. Williams’ mentor was Judge Moore and Missouri worked at the U. S. Post office with Luke but the similarities end there. This is a sad commentary when you see black men who have become successful in the criminal justice system where they can make a difference. But suddenly have forgotten what it was once like to be black in America.
Today a Black man or woman who has to face a judge in Prince George’s County or in the DC Superior Court and the same probably holds true in Richmond, Virginia has the deck stacked against them. Every courtroom in America has a joker in a Black Robe and in Black Face.
Black faces may be out front in the Upper Marlboro, DC and Richmond courtrooms but there is a hint of who is in charge, the KKK aka the “Tea Party” still runs the court system in America.
How can we forget the law enforcement person or persons who murdered the black youth Ronnie White in his jail cell in Upper Marlboro in Prince Georges County, Maryland in 2008? This all happened on the watch of a Black State’s Attorney, a Black Chief of Police and a Black Federal Judge? White was charged with murder for fleeing the scene in a stolen car and the hit and run death of a Prince Georges County police officer. He was being held in the Prince Georges County Upper Marlboro jail waiting for his day in court when he was found hung by his neck in his protected jail cell. This sounds like a scene out of a Mississippi jail or some backwoods city in the deep in the south in the early 1900s. But no this happen in the shadows of the Nation’s Capitol in 2008.
It is now 6 years later and the FBI and the Justice Department on Civil Rights violations have not found the guilty party or guilty parties responsible for this hideous crime. But they have found a “Fall Guy and Scapegoat” in a black jail guard Anthony McIntosh.
McIntosh was 48 years old at the time White was found hung in his jail cell on his watch. And according to the Washington Post in a published story written February 1, 2013, “McIntosh was charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, a civil rights violation, in connection with White’s death at the County Detention Center in Upper Marlboro.
McIntosh allegedly found White unresponsive and didn’t get him the proper care, the Justice Department said in a news release.
According to the Washington Post, “Ronnie White was found in his cell ASPHYXIATED (hung by his neck). The newspaper was hoping by using the word asphyxiated many black folks would not have a clue to how the young man died!
It has often been said “If you want to hide something from a black person put it in a book.” Their thinking, a dictionary was out of the question or reading the Washington Post.
What is the difference in the 1955 lynching of 14 year old Emit Till in Mississippi and the 2008 lynching of 24 year old Ronnie White in a Prince George’s County jail cell? Only the dates and ages have changed the color remains the same. Sixty-six years later blacks are still talking about marching? The new updated lynching in America–being killed by a white cop while walking or driving black and unarmed.
McIntosh was also charged with covering up his role in White’s death. He falsified an incident report and witness statement, according to the Justice Department.
The other charges include, two counts of destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation.
McIntosh faced life in prison for the civil rights offense, authorities said, and further prison time for the others.”
On June 2, 2013 Justice & Just-Us raised its ugly head in another American courtroom——Greenbelt, Md.
Let me fast forward to an old friend and associate the presiding judge, U. S. District Court Judge Alex Williams Jr. I would like to focus on his comments during the sentencing of McIntosh. He said, “It remains unclear whether Ronnie White was murdered or took his own life.”
My question, where is the video that was suppose be on and running in facilities like these—suddenly Big Brother is no longer watching? First, White’s death was correctly ruled a homicide. Later “The Good Old Boys” got their heads together and convinced the coroner to change his mind to say it also could have been suicide!
I had to take a deep breath and my heart sunk after reading Alex’s statement. The Alex Williams I once knew knows better, but I am willing to conceive this is not the same Alex Williams I once knew (a member of the Board of Directors of Kids In Trouble, Inc). He used my Inside Sports radio talk show to campaign for office.
I have to agree with the legendary neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson when he spoke several years ago at National Prayer Breakfast with President Barack Obama in attendance, he said “Whatever happen to common sense?” I would like to ask Judge Alex Williams the exact same question.
During the trial the jail guard McIntosh spoke for the first time on the White hanging. He said, “I often think of how I should have done things differently, I should have been honest…no excuses.”
Alex tried to clean up his act later when he said, “In a county with a long history of corruption, your awful lie did broader damage, furthering a perception that there is cause for residents to be distrustful of authorities.
“Law enforcement officers and correctional officers are the glue that holds society together. What has happened here is this lie. . . has inflamed and fueled the skepticism of the public that something fishy took place.”
Alex, too late the damage has already been done.
My Interpretation of McIntosh’s response to Judge Williams; “With this payout I can do 2 years standing on my head.” Checkout his release in 2015 and follow the Yellow Brick Road to a life of leisure and comfort.
White’s family members used the courtroom to go further, saying they still believe White’s death was vigilante justice.
White’s mother and stepfather said in court that they did not accept the explanation that White committed suicide. Lonnie Gray, White’s stepfather, said, “I think the county police killed Ronnie.” He called McIntosh a “scapegoat” in a larger conspiracy.
Alex countered with, “I cannot blame Mr. Gray for the accusation.”
“The father, the family, is expressing the view that is out there that something occurred that has never been resolved, adding that he, himself, is not sure. No one clearly knows whether the death was a suicide or a homicide.”
Alex sounds like the Trayvon Martin jury “The killer was only standing his ground.”
The family has been paid off, McIntosh has been paid off and Alex??? This is a very scary situation for Prince Georges County residents in 2015 and beyond. The county is fast becoming a “Police State.” Alex and his neighbors don’t have to live in fear so far, but it is coming to his neighborhood sooner than he thinks.
According to the Justice Department the Ronnie White case is now closed and they will not look any further for his murders. When is a murder case ever closed? Add to Alex’s slap on the wrist to McIntosh, this now means that Prince Georges County residents are playing Russian roulette with their lives every time they leave home. You will never know when the next Prince Georges County cop car pulls you over and behind the wheel sits one of Ronnie White’s killers.
There are police officers in PG County who will say that Ronnie White was murdered, but only off the record.
My brother Earl and I talked about this case before he died and he said, “The cops hung that brother.” As we read the outcome and verdict in the Washington Post, he said ‘What did you expect?’ I expected better because my friend Alex Williams was the judge on record—but what did I know and when did I not know it?
Remember, the Washington Post in an early report said, “McIntosh faces additional charges for the civil rights offense, and can get life in prison, authorities said.” How did we get life in prison down to 2 years? Alex missed an opportunity to send a message to the Fraternal Order of Police and their kind but instead he went along to get along.
The same Justice and vigilante acts that have been a part of Prince Georges County for decades are still in play and now with black faces in leadership positions it has gotten worst instead of better (Plantation Mentality).
If you don’t think the Plantation Mentality still exist, just ask Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and the residents living in the Nation’s Capitol of Washington, DC. They still have no rights that a white man has to respect!
Clarence Thomas, Spencer, Williams and Missouri all benefited from the Civil Rights movement but it seems like they have forgotten.
The Prince George’s County Police Chief Melvin High retired during the murder investigation but re-surfaced as a candidate for the Prince Georges’ County Sheriff’s Office! He runs away from doing his job as the Chief of Police but is voted back into a similar job as Chief in the Sheriff’s Office in the same county. His PR person Barbra Hamm saw what was ahead. She left the department before total chaos and went back home to Norfolk, Virginia. We cannot blame Chief High on white folks in what is called the most affluent black county in the United States. Once again, “What ever happen to common sense?”
Glenn Ivey the State’s Attorney didn’t have a clue when he took the office. I met Ivey at a Minister’s Prayer Breakfast shortly after I had written a column in the Washington Post questioning his and Chief High’s investigation tactics and lack of involvement into youth violence at nearby Suitland High School. The school was then known as “The Black Board Jungle” of the school system.
Ivey took offense to my commentary but agreed to meet with me and other community advocates in his Upper Marlboro Office to discuss solutions. I invited members of the clergy, ex-law enforcement officers, ex-cons and other well known community advocates to the meeting. We tried to come up with some solutions to youth violence in our community. To make a long story short, the meeting was a waste of our time. Ivey had surrounded himself with a staff that was as clueless as himself—it was the blind leading the blind. There have been several senseless murders at Suitland High School since I last met with Glenn Ivey. He was a total disaster and has since retired but thanks to him and his kind the beat goes on. The violence continues in our schools and community.
Kids In Trouble,Inc. Youth Violence Conference in Washington, DC in 1995. Co-Chairs, Jim Brown (NFL) and Congressman Tom Davis (R-Vir). Gang members and crews from the east coast and as far away as the west coast were in attendance. Davis was just another politician looking for a photo opportunity with Jim Brown. After the the forum Davis disappeared without a trace.
One of the reasons Justice has become so elusive and its Just-Us in America’s courtrooms, it is because the Black jurist sitting on the bench have forgotten who they are and where they came from. Judge James R. Spencer is just the latest. They are so busy trying to play fair but fail to realize that black folks are the only ones playing fair. The wake-up call should have been when the Supreme Court passed a bill saying, “Donors to political campaigns can give unlimited amounts of cash to their favorite politicians.” Does that Supreme Court act sound like or spell F-A-I-R? How can that be fair when 1% of the country controls all the wealth and now they will continue to control the office of the President and the House and the Senate.
Before his appointment to the bench Judge Luke C. Moore was the first black since Reconstruction to head the U. S. Marshall Service (President Lyndon Baines Johnson). Shakespeare once said “Kill all the lawyers,” I now understand his shout out, but Judge Luke Moore and Thurgood Marshall were keepers.
Justice in most American courts and Grand Jury rooms still seem to lean in the direction of Just-Us when it comes to people of color. Most of the good lawyers/jurist I know are dead, Thurgood Marshall, Johnnie Cochran, Luke C. Moore, Harry T. Alexander, Kenneth Munday, Warren Copeland and Charlie Schultz. Mr. Schultz drowned in a swimming accident in Florida several years ago trying to save a child. He died trying to help someone else, which was reflective of his courtroom demeanor.
Despite Barack Obama residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the country’s first Black President racism is alive and well in America. The American Court system is still one of racism’s main thoroughfares. Black men are being jailed and murdered in record numbers. America houses more prisoners then anyone else in the world. Prisons are big business and are on the Wall Street stock market–men of color are it biggest commodity.
The latest outcry in police departments around this country of “Us Against Them” is ridiculous. Blaming New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for the death of 2 New York City police officers ambushed in their patrol car is a cope out. This is nothing but a smoke screen for the embedded racism found in departments across America. They are hiding behind a Code of Silence and The Blue Wall that protects crooked and corrupt cops.
Eric Holder the U. S. Attorney General was right on the one when he said, “We have become a country of cowards!”
I am out of a cop family, 2 of 3 of my brothers served. My older brother Bobby was a U. S. Marshall for 20 years and my younger brother Earl was a DC cop for 13 years before he became a victim of The Code of Silence! I have spent 50 years working in the inner-city with youth gangs and at-risk children and I have seen the Good, Bad and Ugly when it comes to law enforcement.
Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Raspberry examines Police Community Relations efforts in DC. He takes a look at the non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. in the Cardozo U Street corridor in the 60s and 70s. He found it was the police that strayed and not the community.
There are some good cops out there trying to do the right thing but they are outnumbered by the cowards and bullies. Cameras are just a part of the answer. They will only slow down the corrupt and crooked cops for a minute.
The answer, change the mentality of law enforcement, especially, the Chief of the Wisconsin, Milwaukee Sheriff’s Department, David Clark. He is in need of a crash course not only in Black History but American History. I found his interview with CNN’s Brooks Baldwin on Tuesday January 6, 2015 not only disturbing but also embarrassing.
In 1967 President Lyndon Johnson commissioned a panel to study racism in America. The panel’s conclusion, “The country was headed in the direction of two Americas, one Black and one White.”
In 2015 the Republicans and Democrats with a little help from the likes of David Clark have made that prediction a reality.
In 1970 I found the first ever half-way house established for juvenile delinquents on a military installation on Bolling Air Force Base in DC. Chief Judge Harold Green and Judges Harry T. Alexander and Luke C. Moore were in attendance to cut the ribbon for this historical moment. Judges putting their mouths where their money was, back in the community.
One of the most impressive things to me about the judges of the DC Superior Court back in the day was when they gave you their word, you could carry it to the bank.
Judges Moore and Alexander’s community involvement attracted other judges, athletes and media personalities to encourage the growth of inner-city children .
This is a sad commentary because Black Judges like James Spencer and Alex Williams stand on the shoulders of men like Thurgood Marshall and Luke C. Moore. If I had to walk down a dark alley in one of the worst crime ridden sections of DC, it would be NE Trinidad. And I there was a need for someone to protect my back and I had my choices Judges to select between, Spencer, Missouri, Williams and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. My choice would be Thomas. At least he has been honest and up front as it relates to his position on his racial preferences and his state of mind as it relates to racial progress in America . The others have played both sides of the fence, jumping to one side or the other when it enhanced their agendas. They have gone along to get along and that is the problem in our community–no one takes a stand for what is right.
Can you imagine what the black man sitting in that jail cell in Williamsburg is saying to himself tonight, while awaiting a sentence of up to 20 years for stealing 3 pairs of sunglasses? How about “Judge Spencer can you give a brother a little help?”
Pastor John Jenkins and First Baptist Church of Glenn Arden, Maryland are scheduled to have a Town Hall Meeting titled “Beyond the Color of Our Skin.” They must be kidding, it is never going to be beyond the color of our skin in America in our life time. It is often said, “Justice is Blind” so is the leadership in our courtrooms Monday through Friday, in our Pulpits on Sunday mornings to the close business on Capitol Hill on Sunday nights. The problem–we are still looking for love in all the wrong places.