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FATTY TAYLOR A DC PLAYGROUND ODESSEY: AN EPIC JOURNEY!

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Roland “Fatty” Taylor was a native Washingtonian. He grew up in NE DC and was a product of the DC Public School system. Fatty transferred from Spingarn High School and graduated from Fairmont Heights High School in Prince Georges County, Maryland. He died in Denver, Colorado on Thursday December 7, 2017, he was 71.

On Thursday December 21, 2017 Roland Fatty Taylor will return to his roots of Washington, DC for a home going celebration of his life with family and friends.

When I first met Fatty on the Kelly Miller playground in the late 50s he was just a little chubby guy hanging out with two skinny little guys, Dave Bing, and Donald Hicks. They would usually arrive early and shoot around until the bigger and older guys got ready to play. I would walk from my NE Parkside housing project a couple miles away on the weekends to Kelly Miller. This was where the best competition could be found. Fatty and his crew would become regulars among the spectators and often witness playground basketball played at its highest level. Kelly Miller was not a basketball court for the weak of heart or for cry babies.

Even though our athletic foundations were laid on NE playgrounds and at Spingarn, Fatty and I both graduated from Fairmont Heights. After graduation in 1959 I headed south to Winston-Salem State University to chase my dreams of playing in the NFL. During the summer breaks I would return home and find the chubby and skinny little guys had grown up and were now playing on the same courts with me (Kelly Miller, and Brown). During the Christmas break Spingarn would hold a annual varsity verse alumni basketball game and it was there I would encounter Hicks and Bing, but no Fatty Taylor. I later learn he had followed my lead and enrolled at Fairmont Heights. He would later tell me I had recommended the school, but I didn’t remember that conversation. I did remember telling him the basketball coach Kenny Freeman was a great coach who refused to let me play. My Spingarn football coach Dave Brown told Coach Freeman I was there to graduate and I was to play one sport only. I guess he took that conversation as a recommendation.

Fatty, Bing, Donald and I became good friends (I was more like a Big Brother). Sometimes I would arrive late and the games had already began. There was always a back-up for “Next” but if one or the other was on the winning team they would let me take their place in the second game and I would do the same for them. Fatty was a real agressive player even back then. Donald held his own as a ball handler, but Dave the best all around player of the three became a “Cry baby.” He didn’t like contact. When we were on opposite teams, I played him one on one all over the court. I liked the challege and he didn’t. I remember the summer at Kelly Miller like it was yesterday when he said, “Enough was enough” without opening his mouth. As usual I decided I was going to guard him. On that particular day I discovered he was much stronger then I remembered. He was only a sophomore at Syracuse, but he took me to school anyway. He no longer allowed me to push him around. He ran by me so fast and jumped so high I thought he was on a pogo stick. The message was loud and clear, ‘There was a new sheriff in town and his name was Dave Bing.’ The next summer I switched to tennis.

This encounter with Dave takes me back to a similar experience with Earl Monroe. He was making a visit to Winston-Salem to check out the school and he took a break to play in a pick-up game on a local playground one block from campus. I was sitting out in front of the dinning hall after dinner shooting the breeze when my homeboy Richard “Jelly” Hansberry excitingly brought the news of this little black skinny guy was shooting the lights out at the playground. Barney Hood my roommate was a great jump shooter from Chicago he was sitting with me and decided we needed to go and check this basketball phenom out.

When we arrived at the court there were several opps and aahs taking place by the spectators and then we saw the skinny little black guy ‘Jelly’ was talking about. We had to wait our turn, we were second in line for the “Next” three. Luther Wiley another roommate and basketball guard from Lynchburg, Virginia was our third player. Watching Earl trick and destroy the opposition made me very apprehensive about the task ahead. He did not let us down he tricked and destroyed us also. The best way I described the experience to Bighouse Gaines when he stopped by our dorm room later that night. I said, “It was like I had just come out of a Maytag washing machine that had been on spin dry.
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Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Bighouse Gaines attend a KIT Celebrity Fashion show

In 1966 Dave was selected in the 2nd round of the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. He averaged 20 points a game. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year. I remember sitting in Frank’s Restaurant a popular in-crowd eatery on 8th U streets, NW, I was having lunch that summer day when Dave and my childhood friend Arnold George walked into the restaurant. We waved to each other and the two came over to my table. I got up to greet them. I shook hands with Arnold first and then Dave. We exchanged small talk and I told Dave how proud I was of him and jokingly said, “I taught you everything you know!” His response surprised me when he said, ‘Harold you help prepare me for the wars of the NBA’ and we both broke out laughing. He made a lot of player-haters mad because I would use Dave’s own words to describe our relationship over the airwaves and in print media. It was not my fault I was the only one of his mentors that had a sports talk radio show and had a non-profit organization that he supported–unbelievable that kind of envy and jealousy still exist in our community today.
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Dave Bing returns to the ghetto to say “Job well done” Harold Bell

When Fatty graduated from Fairmont Heights I remember him asking me about Winston-Salem State and Bighouse Gaines and what was it like to play for him? I told him “Bighouse would kick your ass (not really)if you stepped out of line, but he saved my life when he gave me a chance to get a college education”. I called Coach Gaines and recommended Fatty sight unseen. Bighouse had former athletes like me all over the east coast as recruiters. He took my word and Fatty was all set to go to Winston-Salem, but he disappeared without a trace. I found out later through the grapevine, he had decided to attend Dodge City Community College in Kansas and the rest is basketball history.
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HBell and Bighouse Gaines during his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Fatty and I had a lot in common, we were similar in size when it came to sports and neither one of us like to lose. I never saw a shot I could not make and a football I could not catch and Fatty never saw a shooter he thought he could not stop. Plus, he had street sense and common sense and we both graduated from Fairmont Heights.

He and Bing hung out with my younger brother Earl (known as The Bull) and they became a group of petty thieves. They could be found hanging out on weekends on the busy NE H Street corridor robbing businesses’ who left their cash registers unguarded. Thanks to his Coach William Roundtree, Bing avoided jail time for one of his petty crimes.
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Earl ‘Bull’ Bell from crook to cop

I was a hard nose basketball defender at Spingarn under the tutelage of Coach Roundtree. He use my athleticism, competitiveness and installed something called a box-in-one defense. It was designed for me to guard the opposing team’s top scorer while everyone else played zone. It was great until I discovered my name was never mention in the newspapers after holding the team’s top scorer below his average. My senior year I spend the summer on the playgrounds developing a jump-shot and all held broke loose the following school year. My new role as a scorer didn’t sit to well with my coach or my teammates. I was kicked off the team for selfish behavior. I immediatrly transferred to Eastern High School where I was going to hell in a hurry. Coach Brown stepped in and recommended me to the coaching staff at Fairmont Heights, saving me from the mean streets of DC.

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My Spingarn teammate Spotswood Bolling was the lead petitioner for the DC public school system in the historical 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs Board of Education.

Years later I discovered Fatty had tried out for the Spingarn basketball team, but for some reason he and Coach Roundtree didn’t see eye to eye and he followed my lead and transferred to Fairmont Heights. The rest is basketball history.

Against all odds despite all the naysayers and player haters, he went the distance, all the way from Dodge City Community College, to LaSalle University, to the Sonny Hill Basketball League, and to the Philadelphia 76ers. All of these institutions led him to a stella eight-year pro career in the ABA/NBA.

Fatty joined the American Basketball Association in 1969. After one year playing for the Washington Capitals, he moved on to the Virginia Squires, with whom he spent the prime of his career, scoring 3,495 points, handing out 1,737 assists, and grabbing 1,715 rebounds in five seasons.

He became known as one of the few outstanding defensive players in a league known primarily as a “run-and-gun” operation. On the Squires Fatty played with former NBA stars Adrian Smith, ‘Jumbo’ Jim Eakins and Julius ‘Doctor J’ Erving. For one-and-a-half seasons he was a teammate of George Gervin. He has been credited with coining Gervin’s nickname “The Iceman” (he first called Gervin Iceberg Slim, but Iceberg Slim got lost somewhere in the shuffle and ‘The Iceman’ stuck. George flew in from San Antonio, Texas and was at Fatty’s bedside the night before he passed away. I was not surprised, because that is what friends are for and George Gervin has always been a class act.

Fatty retired in 1977 with combined ABA/NBA totals of 5,098 points, 2,563 assists, and 2,524 rebounds. He was named to the ABA’s All-Defensive first team in 1973 and in 1974. Fatty, never developed a decent jump shot, but the jump shooters respected and feared his “In Your Jockey Strap” mentality defensive skills.. He was known as a defensive stalwart.

In a recent conversation I had with our Philly mentor playground and NBA legend Sonny Hill, he said, “Fatty Taylor is on my all-time list as a great player, but he was a better human being. Philadelphia will be heart broken when they hear the news of his death, because this city loves him like he was one of their very own.”
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Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode tours city playgrounds with Sonny Hill and HBell

He never forgot who he was and where he came from. He loved his hometown of Washington, DC and his homies. During his pro career he often reached out to me and would call and say, “Harold who you got on Inside Sports tonight—you want Dr. J? We are going to be hanging out together at a concert. Give me a time to call and I will make it happen.” He kept his word, as he did with ‘The Ice Man’ George Gervin, David Thompson and George McGinnis all NBA Hall of Fame players and all made guest appearences on Inside Sports—thanks to Fatty Taylor.
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NBA Hall of Famer Big George McGinnis (Philadelphia 76ers)

Fatty was like a little brother to me and sometimes he would make a mistake like most human beings, because we are all flawed. What I liked about him he never made excuses and would always say, “Harold I have to do better.” Sometimes he did and some times he didn’t, but I still loved him.

He sometimes traveled in the “Fast Lane” but I always told him, “If you got a problem you can always call and we can talk.” He and Dave Bing were really close and I knew he had mixed emotions, because I had to remind Dave who he was and where he came from on several ocassions. It was tuff love with me in every sense of word when it came to Dave. He was the first pro athlete to join my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble (1965). He led the way in reaching back into the community to enhance the growth and development of inner-city children. He cared long before the NBA. Dave’s problem, he was surrounded by too many homeboy cheerleaders.
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Kids In Trouble visit the Dave Bing Basketball camp in the Poconos Mountains

Fatty, finally called me several years ago while he was home to check on some family members . I picked him up and we rode around DC for about 30 minutes and then stopped at Denny’s Restaurant on Benning Road in our old neighborhood to get something to eat. Benning Road and East Capitol Streets brought back memories of The Hood (the neighborhood), especially, when he saw the landmark Shrimp Boat still standing tall. He said, “Seeing the Shrimp Boat is like seeing the Washington Montument flying into National Airport, I know I am home.”

We talked about life and how far we both had come against all odds. He then broke the news that I had never expected to hear from a man, “I had breast cancer!” I sit there in silence for what seem like two or three minutes and he finally said ‘I am okay.’

He wanted to talk about his work with at-risk kids in the Colorado high school system. It was there he realized the need to form his own program, which resulted in the development of his non-profit organization “Taylor Made Playaz.” I jokingly said, “Sounds like Kids In Trouble to me.” He looked up and said, ‘Man, we have always followed your lead since we were little guys on the playground.’

He was especially proud of having to work with his son Kobe. Fatty had failed as an entrepreneur with several businesses that included restaurants and night clubs in Denver and one here in Washington, DC. He had finally found his calling, “Kids In Trouble.”

And then there was the work he was doing with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for Breast Cancer. It started out being an up hill battle because men are only one/percent of the victims. After being cancer-free for several years since 2000, Fatty’s fight began all over again in 2009. He said, “I began having breathing problems following a busy summer traveling with my AAU basketball team. Doctors found blood clots in my lungs and I was diagnosed with cancer in my left breast. Man, I was all shook-up and I could not believe this was happening to me all over again. It was a wake-up call as far as a person thinking that they’re healthy and then one day they tell you its cancer again.”

Just as he had passed along his basketball knowledge to young players, he now wanted to help educate fellow breast-cancer patients, particularly men who might have felt confused and isolated. He wanted them to know they were not alone. Fatty was thankful that the cancer in his left breast was not as severe as it was in his right breast in 2000. I left Denny’s Restaurant that day thinking “Fatty is going to beat this cancer,” but his one on one up-close and personal fight with this deadly desease there would be no OT.

The Lord reached down on Thursday December 7, 2017 and said, “Come home my son and run the point guard and play defense for my team of All-Star coaches, Red Auerbach, Bighouse Gaines, Johnny McLendon, Dave Brown, William Roundtree, and players, Wilt Chamberlain, Connie Hawkins, Bad News Barnes, Earl Lloyd and Sid Catlett. Here you will never have to worry about fouling out.” As always Fatty Taylor went down fighting.
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TRAIL BLAZERS: HBell–Red Auerbach and Earl Lloyd

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L-R Fatty, HBell, Larry Brown and Petey Greene–Community Reach Back!

Note Worthy: Sonny Hill was recently honored by the NBA Philadelphia 76ers for his life long contributions to the community and the NBA. There will be a Community Service Award presented every year in his name to a worthy individual.
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Sonny Hill participates in Kids In Trouble DC Police Community Relations Forum.

HOME GOING SERVICES FOR ROLAND ‘FATTY’ TAYLOR IN WASHINGTON, DC

Funeral
December 21, 2017
Highland Park Baptist Church
6801 Sheriff Road
Wake 9AM
Funeral 11 AM

MAKING A DIFFERENCE 365 DAYS OF THE YEAR!

I was in attendance for the annual Inter-High DCIAA Turkey Bowl Championship game on Thanksgiving day at Eastern HS. The participating teams via for the championship were Ballou and Woodson on a beautiful bright sun shiny day.  I don’t remember the last time I attended a HS Championship game, but this was a special day. They DCIAA were honoring inter-high DCIAA FOOTBALL LEGENDS.  I was one of the so-called football legends being honored and this is where it got kind of confusing. One of my favorite sayings “Some of us are legends in our own time and others are legends in their own minds” and on this day the saying was in full evidence. There were about 50+ athletes under the VIP tent disguised as “Football Greats”. There were only a handfull of legends in attendance led by Phelps HS great and all-around athlete Rock Greene. The others in attendance were “The Usual Suspects” of wanna-bees, but a shoutout still goes out to Ms. Lucille Hester for the thought.  My contributions as a student/athlete (1958 First Team All-High), coach, community advocate, innovator and pioneer in the DC public school system made me worthy of an invitation.  In 1967 as a Roving Leader I help prevent further tragedy after a Spingarn student was shot outside the school immediately after a basketball game between Spingarn and McKinley Tech. There was talk of revenge when I arrived on the scene.  My next move was to travel to Baltimore where the NBA All-Star Game was being played.  I went there to ask NBA rookie and Spingarn alumnus Dave Bing to join me at the school to calm things down.  Monday morning Bing walked into a full student-body assembly to a standing ovation.  His words of wisdom brought peace back to the school community.   On April 4,1968 I was standing on a street corner at 9th & U NW with my co-worker and NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Wood (DC Public School football great) when  all hell broke loose with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  When the smoke and tear gas had cleared after the riot my wife Hattie and I found our non-profit organization Kids In Trouble.  We established the longest on-going community Christmas toy party for DC elementary school children in DC.  December 2017 will mark the 49th anniversary of the toy party.  1968 I was the WR coach for Cardozo HS football champions and the WR coach for East/West HS All-Star game.  In 1969 I established the first ever city-wide elementary school tag football league.  Harrison Elementary School located at 13th V Street, NW were the first city wide champions (Harrison Hustlers) coached by yours truly.  In 1970 I became the first Black/Afro-American to host and producer his own radio sports talk show “Inside Sports” in DC @ W-O-O-K Radio.  In 1971 I encouraged Washington Redskins players WR Roy Jefferson, RB Larry Brown, LB Harold McLinton and DB Ted Vactor to join the KIT team to help enhance the growth of inner-city children.  Kids In Trouble was the host of a celebrity tribute to former DC Public High School players, QB Cornelius Green, RB Woodrow Roach and RB Lenny Willis of Ohio State in 1973.  Legendary Coach Woody Hayes and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin were in attendance.  In 1975 I was the first Black/Afro-American to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4.  My special guest was Muhammad Ali.  Mayor Marion Barry established a city-wide community softball league with cops and gang members playing side by side hoping to bring peace between the two in 1978.  My cop/gang team from Harrison playground were crowned the champions.  In 1980 I was named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine making me the first sportscaster ever honored.  When all is said and done all the glory goes to God—Merry Christmas!

LOOKING BACK EARL K. BELL: A VETERAN’S DAY PROFILE IN COURAGE!

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ARMY SERGEANT LED THE EXPLOSIVE RACIAL CONFRONTATIONS IN GERMANY

By Bernard Garnett August 28, 1969 (JET Magazine)

“Next year. when I complete my present hitch, I’m not going to re-enlist.  I’m giving up the Army because there’s too much racism.”

This sentiment–common among young black servicemen–was voiced in Washington, DC, by Earl K. Bell a disgruntled 28 year old Army staff sergeant who led a nearly explosive civil rights protest in Nuremberg, West Germany, last spring.  The tall, robust, 250-pound veteran of eight years was denouncing the military, fully aware that such an action could lead to severe disciplinary action.

That same week, S/Sgt. Bell’s 30-year-old brother, Harold K. Bell, was at the White House exchanging pleasantries with President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State William P. Rogers, for whom he caddied as a youngster at suburban Washington’s Burning Tree Golf Course (Jet Magazine July 31).  The re-union led to a Presidential appointment.

With their seemingly contrasting outlooks, Harold and Earl shared the same poverty-ridden backgrounds.  The four Bell brothers (including Alfred, now 31, a tire salesman, and William, 20, a Marine Corps Private/First-class) grew up without a father in a DC low-income housing project.  Still youngters when their mother was on welfare, they grew up on the black ghetto’s proverbial “dead-end street”.

A turn of fate changed Harold’s life in the mid-1950s, after embarking on a 20-mile journey to Burning Tree, seeking part-time employment “to get some food money.”With other inner-city black men, he served as a caddy for Washington VIPs, but his favorite was then Vice-President Nixon, who frequented the links with Attorney General William Rogers.  “Mr. Nixon took a personal interest in me,” the muscular 6-foot-2, 185-pounder recalls.  ‘I would ride back with them to the MD/DC line, this allowed me to catch my bus back to my NE housing project.  During the ride the Vice-President and I to my surprise would talk sports, but he put heavy importance on my education.’      

A high school football, baseball and basketball star, Harold Bell would win an athletic scholarship to Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.  He left college in 1963 to chase his dreams to play in the NFL, but he came up short.  He returned home to take a position with the United Planning Organization (a community self-help orgaization) as a Neighborhood worker.

Meanwhile, Earl Bell–like many blacks sought to escape the lack of opportunities in civilian life through a military career.  He enlisted in 1961, served two tours of duty in Germany.  He was the Army’s heavyweight boxing champion in 1963.  Earl  was also a table tennis champion and first string fullback on the Army Football team.  He served as platoon sergeant in Nurenberg from 1966 until his overseas tour ended last month.

It was not long before he detected racial bias in promotions and in disciplinary actions as it related to black troops.  He told Jet, “Blacks who dared to speak out were labeled Troublemakers, and sympathetic whites were branded nigger lovers, and were disciplined as badly as blacks if they violated any rules”.  Worse still, Bell said, ‘Black officers, apparently protecting their positions, did little to correct inequities’. 

Three years ago, Bell tried unsuccessfully to have segregated off-base housing in Nurenberg declared off-limits, but he was rebuffed.  He complained to Rep. Charles Diggs (D-Mich.)  and the Pentagon.  Finally, he obtained adequate housing for his family, but the struggle for equality never ended.

On May 30, S/Sgt. Bell’s relentless drive reached a climaxat at a segregated discotheque (The Cage) in downtown Nurenberg.  Black servicemen had been refused admission previously, he led 35 militant troops in a march that almost ended in bloodshed, particularly when U. S. Army Military Police (mostly white) were rushed to the scene.  Bell on leave in Washington before beginning a one-year stint as a supply instructor at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia said, “I was the only peaceful man in downtown Nurenberg, everyone else wanted to fight.  I kept saying, ‘Be cool’ on that night the black soilders were not worried about going to jail or about their military records.  They also cared less about getting into the discotheque, all they wanted to do was straighten the white man out.”

S/Sgt. Bell’s perfect service record was marred a month later while umpiring a softball game.  He drew a $30 fine for identifying himself to a white lieutenant as “Mr. Bell.”  Insisting that normal military courtesy regulations are waived during athletic competitions.   Bell claimed the lientenant– a grandstand spectator who joined an argument between the umpire and two players on the field–was out of order and the citation was no more than his white superiors seizing a opportunity to retaliate for the night club incident. ‘If my tour of duty had not been over, he said, I would have stayed and fought the case’. 

Open and vocal allegations of racism no longer are unusual among black servicemen.  Rep. Diggs, who said he had received thousands of complaints from all branches of service during his 14 years on Capitol Hill.  He recently disclosed plans to investigate the July 20th Camp Lejeune, NC racial incident that resulted in the death of one white Marine and injury to 14 others (Jet August 14).  The acting Defense Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, L. Howard Bennett, said his office has probed numerous alligations of racism, though the policy of not identifying troops by race has hampered investigations.

Meanwhile, black militancy increases.  A number of blacks have risked punitive action rather than exert force against blacks in ghetto riots, and others are punished for refusing to fight in Viet Nam. Black troops from Ft. Belvoir–in civilian clothing–were among the anti-war demostrators who marred President Nixon’s inauguration last January.  Last year, the Navy created a special staff to handle race relations, and Marine top brass in Washington have been sent directives to all base commanding officers supporting young black recruits’ rights to wear neatly groomed afro hair styles. Plus, reliable reports from the Pentagon indicate that black re-enlistments have dwindled considerably in the last few years.

S/Sgt. Bell notes from his Army experiences, the young black man of today grew up listening to Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, and he is not going to accept the old white racist attitude.  He is willing to suffer the consequences by telling them to go to hell.  Bell adds, that with doors opening in civilian life , the young black man is finding it less advantageous to join a racist Army.

Summary: 

The late Sgt. Earl K. Bell became a Military Policeman (MP) and returned home to become a DC cop to help make his community a safer place.  He rose to the rank of Sergeant only to face the same racism he thought he had left behind in Germany.  My older brother Alfred joined the U. S. Marshall service and they both encountered “The Thin Blue Line and Code of Silence” use to stunt their growth in law-enforcement.  Today “The Establishment” is using that same military and flag as a camouflage to stunt the growth of black athletes in the NFL.  Its rather ironic in 1969 in the above story my brother Earl recognized, “Blacks who dared to speak out were labeled Troublemakers, and sympathetic whites were branded nigger lovers, and were disciplined as badly as blacks if they violated any rules.  Worse still, Black officers, apparently protecting their positions, did little to correct inequities”  In 2017 forty-eight years later the exact same thing can be said of today’s superstar athletes and media personalities across the board.  Today there is a very thin line between ‘COURAGE and a Coward’!

 

“War and racism are not the answers for only love can conquer hate.” Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Going On’

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY: SANTA CLAUS AIN’T COMING TO THE GHETTO!

It is that time of year again when suddenly folks are in the giving mode of their lives (November and December).  The poor and down trodden have been ignored from January through October, but now they are in the spotlight thanks to a turkey and a guy called Santa Claus (sometimes he is one of the same).  Your television screens will be overrun with promos by multi-million dollar corporations like grocery chains, banks, the Army, Navy, Marines, clothing stores, radio and television stations asking you to meet them on a designated street corner or at the bank.  Your cash or toy donation will help them to make some kid and his family happy with a turkey dinner and a toy—thanks for giving?  Even some churches will get into the act of pretending that they care.  There will be turkey dinners, toys for tots and exchange your gun program for a gift card to save some child’s life—the brother turning in his one gun in all probability has two and a shotgun in his car.  If Santa shows up in the ghetto, he will be disguised as a cop, preacher or politician.  Check the DMV and see what police department the Department of Justice has launched yet another discrimination investigation and see how many white churches have gun exchange programs–the NRA has already served notice white folks are not giving up their guns, buyer beware!
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The “First” black DC chief of police Burtell Jefferson is a Kids In Trouble Santa’s Helper.

The troubled NFL and NBA will showcase some of their biggest stars at food kitchens serving hot turkey dinners, and hosting toy parties for needy children with “Officer Friendly” along for the ride!  The problem, they are much like Cinderella.  They will disappear at midnight (the new year) and its back to business as usual, they will go into hibernation in their gated communities until the following November.
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Sugar Ray Leonard once a kid in trouble was the first pro boxer to earn over 100 millions dollars.  

In the meantime, Santa Claus ain’t coming to the ghetto and neither are  the “Sacred Cows” like Sugar Ray Leonard, Doug Williams, John Thompson, Randy Kenney, James Brown, Michael Wilbon or Stephen A. Smith and little children will continue to die.

This is for the men and women of color and especially for the kids who will die.  And black kids will surely continue to die.  The old and the rich will live on awhile, as always eating blood and gold while letting little kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi organizing share croppers.  Little black girls and boys will die in the streets of Chicago while jumping rope and shooting baskets in front of their homes.  Kids will die in Compton for wearing the wrong colors to school.  Kids will die in Potomac Gardens, Simple City and Barry Farms in the Nation’s Capitol.  And little kids will die in Forestville, and District Heights, Maryland—just because they are black.

People of color will die who don’t believe in lies, bribes, contentment and cops who want to make war in our community instead of peace—kids will die.  Let us not forget the sleazy courts and their sleazy judges and the blood loving politicians who also make war and not peace.  There are the money loving pimping preachers in the pulpit who pretend they are making peace.  And all they are making is money with the powers to-be who are responsible for kids who die.  They will raise their hands against the kids who will die, beating them with the Bible, written and unwritten laws, clubs, bayonets, and bullets are use to frighten the people to go along to get along—while little kids are dying!

The wise and the learned who pen editorials in the paper and write best-selling books according to the NY Times and Oprah Winfrey—know best!  And then there are those with Dr. in front of their name pretending they live in the richest black county in America despite having the highest foreclosure rate in the country and a school system in chaos.  All of this while little kids die.

For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—and the old and rich don’t want the people to taste the blood of the kids who die.

They don’t want the people to get wise to their own power and to believe in the Harold Bells, Andrew Johnsons, Maggie Lintons, Shannon Sharps, Herb Edwards and the Jemele Hills of the world.  Former NFL football great and now a television color analyst Randy Moss recently said, “A lie does not care who tells it”!  The TRUTH, kids are dying.

https://www.gofundme.com/the-day-ali-made-media-history / Thanks to friend and foe for the support and inspiration you have given me.  I never could have made it without you.

Noteworthy: In a Bleacher Report blog Kevin Durant sounds off, (a must read) “There Ain’t No Loyalty in the NBA”.  He says, ‘Just because you hold up a trophy does not make you a champion’.  The same can be said for black media personalities, just because you are black does not make you an expert on the black experience.

OPEN LETTER: DR. HARRY EDWARDS “OUR TRUTH”!

This Open Letter is in response to Dr. Harry Edwards after I emailed him about an interview relating to the American Flag and NFL players. Dr. Edwards is the founder of “The 1968 Mexico City Olympic Project”.  The project was made famous when American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black glove fist to demonstrate against racial discrimination in America.  That moment in American history has been re-visited by former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers–coincident?

 

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Really VERY busy right through here – we are 0-5 at the SF 49ERS, I am working with Nor Cal educators in fire-ravaged communities on the potential role of sports in helping kids and communities to heal and deal with the trauma , and of course there is the ongoing “4th Wave “ of Black athlete activism in response to police violence and other injustices. When you are REALLY busy , not a lot of time for conversation.

H-

Harry,

Let me address your “VERY busy” to make sure I understand your “VERY busy” and how it does not compare to my ‘VERY busy–except in dollars and sense.

Harry, you have done some wonderful things when comes to using athletics and community advocacy as a way to reach back to help your community, but you didn’t invent the wheel when it came to those two entities.

For example; I have been “VERY busy” in the war zones of the inner-city since 1960 when “The Greensbor 4” students at North Carolina A & T University said, ‘Enough is enough’ and sit down at a Woolworth lunch counter in downtown Greensboro and asked to be served.  They jump started the modern day Civil Rights Movement.  I was a student/athlete at Winston-Salem State University 30 miles up the road when the movement hit the twin-cities.  Despite a warning from my Coach Clarence Bighouse Gaines saying, ‘If I catch any of you knuckleheads taking part in the boycott downtown I will put you on the first thing smoking back to the ghetto’. The warning went in one ear and out the other.  Three of my teammates and I joined the boycott while trying to stay out of the eye of the television carmeras.     

In 1965 my first job out of college was with the United Planning Organization as a Neighborhood Worker (community self-help).  My co-workers were  the legendary community advocates Petey Greene and H Rap Brown.  We walked the streets together for two years before Rap took over the leadeship role with SNNC, Petey hung in there with UPO and I moved on to a new role as a Roving Leader with the DC Department of Parks & Recreation.  I was assigned to its “Youth Gang Task Force.”  This was years before you hit it big with the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Boycott. 

when you teamed up with “The Great” Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers in 1987, I had already teamed up with the ‘Greater’ Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics in 1974. My only regret with Red, I didn’t tell him that Maryland basketball player Len Bias was on drugs before he made him No. 1 in the NBA draft.

NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame because I was able to convince Red and Washington Times sports’ columnist Dick Heller to help me campaign for his 2003 induction.  I also recruited James Brown, along with Celtic great Sam Jones, but James disappeared without a trace after asking me if I had checked with Wizards’ owner Abe Polin.  I reminded him, Abe was not my father and I didn’t work for him.

Harry, I appreciate you saying, “H-Your Inside Sports platform and archives should be given the broadest possible exposure and the discs of your program should be included in the new New Museum of African American  History & Culture. There will be a wing 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”.  Great job over the years, great timing in reprising that legacy now”. 

Harry, I was honored and I am forever grateful just for the thought, but the only museum and hall of fame I am interested in being included in is God’s Hall of Fame and my chances of making his are slim and none.  In the meantime, I am still defining and projecting “Our Truth”!

This thought brings me back to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon as it relates to “Our Truth” he does not have a clue, but he has plenty of company.  I have tried to give Wilbon the benefit of the doubt as it has related to several lies he has told me.  I understand “Courage” plays an important role when it comes to truth and there are far too many of us who lack courage to stand for something and not fall for just anything.

Wilbon, recently called the NFL a “Plantation” if you know Wilbon you would have to wonder where did he suddenly get the balls to allow the word plantation to slip out of his mouth?  His most passion plea relating to a black and white issue was when his Washington Post colleague John Feinstein called him “The biggest ass kisser in sports media” other than that silence as it relates to racism in media and sports has been ‘Golden’ to him.  The ongoing struggle to sit or stand for the national anthem in the NFL is just the tip of the iceberg. 

You along with our then Conrade in Arms, Jim Brown pointed out on Inside Sports decades ago the plantation mentality and struggle of the black athlete started and lives at the college level. You think Wilbon has finally caught up?  The slave mentality is fresh and prevails, the thought of inmates running the prison is a reality for owners in the NFL.

Congratulations to the World Champions Houston Astros and the LA Dodgers for participating in one of the most exciting World Series in my memory. Still you could count on one hand the on field participation of African-Americans.  This is the game we call America’s favorite pastime?  Jackie Robinson must be turning over in his grave.

For example; your new friend NFL/CBS Studio host James Brown was named a minority owner of the Washington Nationals in 2006.  I immediately questioned him about his role as a minority owner.  First, I pointed out, he made no decisions involving trades, hiring or firing managers, coaches and front office personel to run day to day operations. His role was to serve as a token black face to announce the Opening Day line-up over the public address system and to show up at team functions and designated Board meetings. He finally got my message when he confessed on the late George Michael’s television sports talk show.  He said, “George I make no personnel decisions for the Washington Nationals.”  I bet you a dollar to a donut the Lerner brothers the owners of the Washington Nationals never consulted with him before they fired Dusty Baker. The best manager in the history of the franchise. He improved his won-lost record from year one to year two!

Next up Magic Johnson, he was also named a minority owner for the L. A. Dodgers.  He follows closely in the footsteps of James Brown.  He makes no personnel decisions for the Dodgers except to request tickets for the games, to his credit he parlayed that into a front office position with the L. A. Lakers (President of Basketball Operations) thanks to the late owner Jerry Buss.

The new lead-off hitter and latest token minority owner (4%) Derek Jeter a former New York Yankee great is now the black face of the Tampa Bay Marlins.  His first official duties were to fire MLB Hall of Fame players Andre Dawson and Tony Perez.  Dawson and Perez are both men of color and had been working in the front-office of the Marlins for over two decades. Jeter delivered the bad news that the new owners wanted to go in another direction, like limit the number of people of color in the organization.  This is nothing new in MLB, the number of on field Afro-American players is its lowest in decades.  James Brown, Magic Johnson and Derek Jeter are the best examples, “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”

None of these guys have ever been in the war zones of their communities until after their athletic careers were inked on a professional contract. James Brown came close, he was a model in my annual toys for tots Kids In Trouble & Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Show.   He was then employed as a sales rep at Xerox.

In 1968 when the riots hit DC Willie Wood (NFL), Judge Luke C. Moore (1st black modern day U. S. Marshall in Charge) and I walked arm and arm in the U street NW corridor trying to save lives without guns or police protection. I was the only civilian swore-in and given a DC Police Department badge that allowed me to cross police and military barriers set up around the city.

In 1969 I was in the right place at the right time when President Richard Nixon honored me with a Presidential appointment for my work with inner-city children.

My first assigment was with the President’s Counsel on Physical Fitness and Sports. I worked with the legendary Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson for a year before settling in with Secretary Melvin Laird at the Department of Defense.  If it was about becoming a millionaire the opportunity was there for the taking.  My passion then as is now, “Children First” but Jim Brown reminded me, ‘Harold, childre don’t vote’.

In Washington, DC in 1970 I became the 1st black to host and produce my own radio sports talk show, Inside Sports.  The show was out of Compton long before NWA.  

I was the first sports talk show host to play message music, hold discussions on racism inside and outside of sports, media roundtables, write commentaries, etc.  The media personalities who came through Inside Sports read like a Who’s Who, to include your new friend James Brown and Bill Rhoden of the New York Times. 

In 1974 Muhammad Ali shocked the world when he knocked out the undefeated Heavyweight Champion, big George Foreman.  It was the greatest upset in boxing history now known as, “The Rumble in the Jungle”. The first sports media personality to interview Ali when he arrived back in the United States, was not Ed Bradley of CBS 60 Minutes, Bryant Gumble of NBC’s Morning Show or Howard Cosell a television sports icon seen and heard on the ABC network.  His first interview was with yours truly a little known sports talk show host heard on W-U-S-T a gospel AM radio station in Washington, DC.

Ali proved to be a man of his word, in the summer of 1974 I met with him in Chicago to talk about a one on one interview. In that meeting I politely said “No” to his invitation to fly to Zaire (I was scared to fly across the ocean) for the interview.  After he got through laughing at me, he promised that I would be the first to interview him when he got back to the states after he knocked out Foreman. 

One week after the fight I was asleep in my SE DC apartment when my telephone rang.  It was raining and I was in a deep sleep, I reached over and picked up the phone and said, “Hello”.  The voice on the other end said, “Let me speak to Harold Bell” and I asked who was calling the voice yelled back, ‘Fool this is the Heavyweight Champion of the whole wide world, Muhammad Ali.’ I sat straight up in the bed and said, “Whats up champ?” I could not believe my ears.  I thought I was dreaming. The rest is sports media history.  In 1975 thanks to the late television anchor Jim Vance I became the 1st black to host and produce his own television sports special in prime time on NBC afiliate WRC-TV 4.  My special guest was Muhammad Ali.

In the meantime, the Washington Post was conspiring to kidnap my tag “Inside Sports” with a writer in their Style section name John Walsh.  He took my title to New York City in 1978 and published Inside Sports Magazine–it was DOA (Dead On Arrival)) in two years it folded. The magazine could not figure out how to capture the success of my talk radio format and transfer it into a successful magazine reading format.  Walsh later became Vice-President of ESPN television who had adopted my radio format and it is now the most popular sports network in the world.

Inside Sports was “Out Side the Lines and Real Sports” long before ESPN and HBO.  My format changed the way we talk sports in the WORLD and it is now use in every radio and television format you see and hear. 

When it comes to police brutality and police mis-conduct I lost two brothers to The Thin Blue Line and Code of Silence.  I am in the fight to the bitter end as it relates to unarmed men of color being shot down in the streets of America just because they are a darker hue. There is no one in media who has been on the frontlines of civil and human rights as long as I have.

I have broken bread with Presidents, great politicians, great athletes, and great entertainers, but none of them were as great as my mother, grandmother and my high school coach, Dave Brown.  They taught me to be a man of integrity and to tell the truth (Our Truth) and walk with my head held high. And not to talk behind people’s backs—my telephone number is listed and I am not hard to find if anyone wants to discus any issue with me.

Harry, I think you got me mixed up with some of your new friends in sports media.  I notice in your emails relating to your criticism of them, you would always close saying how much you liked and loved them (Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon).  I don’t want any of those brothers who don’t love themselves or their people, to be under the impression that I love or like them–they are killing us softly.

In 1968 my wife Hattie and I found our non-profit organization Kids In Trouble and hosted our first Chrstmas toy party for needy children.  The party (1968-2013) benefited thousands of elementary school children in the District, Maryland and Virginia without grants or loans. 

This is the same reach back format now copied by MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL.  Dave Bing (1967), Willie Wood (1968) and the Washington Redskins as a team in (1971) were the first to join the my non-profit, Kids In Trouble organization to help enhance the growth of inner-city children.  Santa’s Helpers had names like Redskins’, WR Roy Jefferson, RB Larry Brown, DB Ted Vactor, LB Harold McLinton, LB Dave Robinson and QB Doug Williams.

The first ever NFL national television community promo by NFL films was taped at my Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program.  The 1972 NFL Most Valuable Player RB Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton were taped in a swimming pool teaching water safety to inner-city kids.

Harry, you mention something about helping educators in Northern California as it relates to the tragic lost of lives and property in their recent fire ravaged communities.  I think its commendable that you would want to explore the role of sports in helping kids and communities to heal and deal with the traumatic experiences cause by those tragic fires.  This is nothing new either, I have been trying to put out fires as it relates to education, drugs, police brutality, unsavory politicians, pimps in the pulpit, Justice & Just-Us, unemployment, and health care denial issues in my community and beyond for decades.

We cannot keep passing the buck and blaming all of our woes on white folks.  First, the rights and freedoms we once enjoyed we are now losing today.  We need to thank President Harry Truman, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Baines Johnson for reaching back.  We are looking for love in all the wrong places, we are too busy thanking the “First Black President” Bill Clinton or the last Black President, Barack Obama (check the history books).  Someone dropped the ball long before the Trump Presidency.  Many of us were sitting on our hands thinking we had it made while “Rome Burned”.

There comes a time in one’s life when you have to close the door on fake NEGROES like some of your new and old friends, for the simple reason you get tired of them going up on the roof with you at the front door knocking and they piss down on you saying, “Harry, don’t worry its just rain, the sun will come out in the morning!”  

I didn’t come up with the phrase “Every black face I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy” by accident.

I was confused by the fact you wrote in the Washington Informer a community Hustling Newspaper published here in DC.  You said, “In 1968 we were still in the throes of battle despite the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act where black people were being denied their Civil Rights and the right to vote and there was police violence against black people where nobody was being held accountable. You pretty much have the same causes today.  Police violence in the black community and an assault on civil rights. The difference today is you have athletes like Lebron James who can get on Twitter and say to Trump, ‘You Bum’ and it automatically goes out to 3 million people who retweet to their followers and it goes viral to the point it reaches Trump.’ 

Harry, are you kidding me, you are comparing Lebron James to Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Tommy Smith, Colin Kaepernick, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Bennett, Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman?  Let me be the first to tell you, LeBron James is not a hair off of these brothers backside.  And it is totally disrespectful for someone like you and Jim Brown’s with your backgrounds in the struggle to standby silently and rubber stamp LeBron James’ role in producing a documentary/movie on the life of Muhammad Ali. This is Fake News in its truest form–what does he know about the real Ali?

For example, you claim that you decrie NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s recent edict that all NBA basketball players stand when the anthem is played.  You were quoted saying, “I would like to see Adam Silver tested in court.  Even if its a collective bargaining agreement item, a person doesn’t check their First Amendment Rights when they put on a uniform .  Ony in the military and then the rules there say you can’t speak wearing a uniform.  When Silver said you can’t speak in the uniform, what is it about playing a game that’s so serious and conspicuous in terms of civil responsibility”?

Harry, you are talking out of both sides of your mouth, are you saying you can ask John and Tommy to put their lives on hold with the 1968 Olympic Project, and tell Colin to take a knee, but you can’t suggest to the G.O.A.T Lebron James, to sit down for the playing of the national anthem with his partners in this charade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade?  These brothers are on their last legs in the NBA what’s the problem—what do they have to lose?

In the meantime, you want them to carry Adam Silver to Federal Court when the most important court is the one they are playing on.  This is the best way to insure their legacy and the legacy for their children–what ever happen to “Making Children First”? 

You closed your email with “Not a lot of time for conversation”!  You make it sound like you are the only one busy in “The Struggle”.  Are you saying, because I don’t have a national Fake News format you don’t have time for an interview—4 decades after Inside Sports—something is wrong with this picture and it is not Harold Bell.

Last Christmas (2016) when a Harvard bred NEGROE suggested I was wasting my time in the community working with the poor and down-trodden and then had the balls to ask me what did I make? See my response below.

“MAKING A DIFFERENCE”

During a Christmas party in 2016 my wife Hattie and I were sitting around the table discussing life and the Presidency of Donald Trump.

One man, a brother with a PhD from Harvard and a CEO in Corporate America decided to explain the problem with teachers and youth advocates.  Evidently, he decided we were the problem.  

He said, ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher or advocate for children?’  

He reminded us what they say about teachers: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t teach.” 

To emphasize his point he looked at me and said, “Harold you are a community activist and youth advocate.  Be honest. What do you make?  

My reputation for honesty and calling it like I see them is well known. I replied, ‘You want to know what I make’?

First, I went where there was no path in community involvement and sports talk radio and I left a trail for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL to follow.

I make kids believe they can sit on the mountain top with Muhammad Ali and have lunch with the President.

I make kids excel in the classroom when they thought they could not. I make them believe they are the best when they take the field in athletics.

I make a C+ student feel like they just won the Congressional Medal of Honor and A and B is just around the corner.

I teach kids sportsmanship and make them respect each other.  And losing a game is not the end of the world. There will always be another game the next day, the next week or next year.

I make a young athlete understand that the most important game being played in the world today is not football, basketball or baseball—it’s the game called life and Black Lives do matter.

I make kids understand that every black face they see is not their brother and every white face they see is not their enemy.  

I make them do one-100 sit-ups and one-100 jumping jacks when they don’t follow the rules.

I make kids believe their heroes are not athletes and entertainers, their heroes are their parents and teachers.

I make pulling a 15 year old artistic girl off the subway tracks in SE DC with a train approaching look routine.

I make a young man like Lonnie Taylor growing up in the inner-city believed he could become the first black Chief of Staff for a white Congressman on Capitol Hill (Jack Buechner D-Missouri).

I make a broke and penny-less Sugar Ray Leonard believe he could become a world champion and the first pro boxer to make 100 million dollars in prize money in the history of the sport.

I make Radio and TV One owners Cathy Hughes and her son Alfred believed they can be all that they can be.

I make mentee and NY Times best-selling author Omar Tyree (Flyy Girls and Mayor For Life) remember where he came from and he didn’t make it by himself.

I used Inside Sports to help make Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson, Jr. the first black to win a NCAA Division One championship.

I guided Doug Williams’ in the community as he gilded the Washington Redskins to the Super Bowl in 1988. Making him the first black QB to win a Super Bowl and MVP.

When the NFL and the NBA forgot the pioneering efforts of Willie Wood and Earl Lloyd I made them remember. They were inducted into the NFL and NBA Hall of Fames in 1989 and 2003 respectively.  

I make kids believe that the most important hall of fame—is God’s.  

I made it possible to help get Jim Brown an early release from jail in 2007 for a bogus domestic violence charge.  I led a letter writing campaign that made it possible to get DC basketball playground legend Jo Jo Hunter released from jail.  He had served 18 years for armed robbery. 

 

 

I closed by saying, “when people like you try to judge me by what I make, knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and overlook your ignorance, because it is people like you who are holding our community back.

You want to know what I make, I make a difference.  What do you make, Mr. CEO?” He suddenly remembered he was late for another engagement and disappeared out the back door. 

“There is nothing wrong with the world, this is a beautiful world. The problem is the people in it!”                           Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines

COMMON SENSE–STREET SENSE–BOOK SENSE–UNDEFEATED 

Happy Holidays,

HBell

Note Worthy: There is also Randy Kennedy a Harvard grad, he now teaches law at the school and pretends to be an expert on the black community (written several books). I remember when his dad Henry Kennedy, Sr. and I use to take him out in the community with us as a kid. He was amazed of how many people knew me on the streets in the neighborhoods were we walked. He said, “Mr. Bell when I become famous I am going to write about you”—famous last words. He forgot, just like the rest.  His father died about 10 years ago.  I remember when his daddy would remind him that he still had family in DC and he needed to come home to visit sometime. Well he didn’t and when his father died guess who was draped over the coffin crying crocodile tears?  When his mother died last year I was there also.  He has a great family background, his brother Henry Jr. is a retired Federal Judge (community advocate) and sister Angela is an attorney, but somewhere along the way he forgot.  It is often said, “A apple does not fall too far from the tree,” this brother was not even in the same orchard as his father.

See link to Dr. Edwards’ interview with NFL/CBS Studio host and Harvard alumus James Brown on the campus of Harvard University as he toots his horn.
http://www.iop.harvard.edu/forum/robinson-kaepernick-evolution-athlete-activism

  

 

 

 

 

NBA COACHES AUERBACH AND POPOVICH UNDERSTOOD: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM HAS ALWAYS BEEN RACISM!

Jackie Robinson, and Athlete/actor/scholar Paul Roberson–they led the way and took the blows.  Robinson had a black cat thrown on the field during a game by racist whites and Roberson had his passport revoked by white politicians and labeled a member of the communist party.

The race card that President Donald Trump recently played was a joker, “Fire the sons of bitches” back fired.  The Colin Kaepernick boycott in the NFL had hit a wall, but thanks to Donald Trump he is back on the radar screen and all the credit goes to the leader of the free world, the President of the United States.  His calling for NFL players to be fired for not standing and honoring the American flag was the best thing to happen to the plantation mentality found in pro sports in my life time.

Black trailblazers like Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Paul Roberson, Jackie Robinson, Emmett Ashford,  Curt Flood, Jim Brown, John Carlos, Tommy Smith, Dr. Harry Edwards and Muhammad Ali all carried the torch for human and civil rights. They blazed a path and left a trail that few have followed until “Fire the sons of bitches” was heard across America.  There are so many frauds and cowards in pro sports including, players, coaches, owners and sportcasters (if the shoe fits wear it).  The Colin Kaepernicks, Richard Shermans, and Michael Bennetts, are far few and in-between.  Too many black athletes are putting the dollar bill first instead of solidifying a future free of racist cops killing their people and love ones.  Instead of a rope and a tree, the new lynching tool is a gun in the hands of a racist cop.  Michael Bennett was the best example, his experience after the Floyd Mayweather fight in Las Vegas proves that stardom and money does not make you a free black man in America.

The late Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Jim Brown and the late Dick Gregory true warriors in the civil rights movement and we have the scars to prove it. 

President Donald Trump’s criticizing black athletes came to a head when he told a roaring crowd of Alabama supporters how great it would be if NFL owners fire every son-of-a-bitch who didn’t stand for the national anthem.  Sunday September 25, 2016 will go down in sports history as the day when black athletes came out of hiding across the NFL and said, “Hell No!”  The day will rank right up there with the 1968 Olympic Games when sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos raised their black fisted gloves against racial discrimination in America.

There are many who say “Politics & Sports don’t mix.”  Politics and sports have been mixing since the early days of slavery.  The first pro athlete was a slave, in the early 1800s slave owners had too much leisure time on their hands.  One day a slave owner saw two of his slaves racing each other back to the plantation and came up with the idea of having his slaves compete against each other to entertain “The Master.”

The contests would eventually turn to plantation against plantation.  There were heavy wages bet and plantations would be lost and participants sometimes would be granted their freedom and some would lose their lives.

The games would consist of track and field, boxing, and horse racing.  No one understood the peculiar ways of the thoroughbred horses better than the slaves who took care of them.  When the Kentucky Derby first ran in 1875 there were 15 riders and only three were not black.   For close to three decades black riders dominated the Kentucky Derby.  They were the first black superstar athletes in the United States.  Isacc Murphy is considered one of the greatest riders in American thoroughbred history.  He won three Kentucky Derbies and was the first rider inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Olympic sprinters Jesse Owens, Tommy Smith and John Carlos were on the fast track and on the forefront of the civil rights movement. 

The response to Trump’s threat was swift and heart-warming as players, coaches and owners finally joined arms together on the field of play or were told to stay in the tunnel during the playing of the anthem (Pittsburg Steelers) in protest of Trump’s misguided efforts to divide and conquer.  Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger said, “I could not sleep after staying in the tunnel, I wish there could have been another way.”

Pittsburgh Steeler Coach Mike Tomlin stood on the field with several coaches while one of his linemen Alejandro Villanuena stood just outside the tunnel with his hand over his heart?  Alejandro a former Army Ranger later admitted he had thrown his teammates under the bus “Unintentionally.”  Much like Trump he instantly became a hero to the racist in the country.  His number 78 jersey went to the front of the bus in sales in the NFL it is now a best seller.  NASCAR owner Richard Petty has since become a Trump echo and standard bearer saying, “I will fire anyone who protest the America flag.”  Legendary driver Dale Earhardt, Jr., said, “All Americans have the right to peaceful protest, he then quoted John F. Kennedy, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  Earhardt could be right, NFL stadiums around the country should be on high alert for the rest of the season.

There were still owners like Jerry Jones who refuse to acknowledge that Kaepernick’s protest had nothing to do with the American flag or the military. Jones convinced his players to kneel on the field arm in arm before the national anthem was played to show solidary and when the anthem was played they were told to stand at attention.  My question, how does that show solidarity with the rest of the league, especially, when you have an owner dictating the terms of surrender?

Colin Kaepernick’s protest was about the shooting deaths of unarmed people of color, but the Jones, the Trumps  and Fox News are still pretending they don’t understand.

Some media personalities even came out of the closet and aired their opinions as it related to race, sports and politics.  Opinions never so boldly heard on the airwaves since the Original Inside Sports created the format of Sports, Politics and Community Reach Back mix took over the airwaves in Washington, DC in 1970.

The “Talking Heads” on radio, television and in print media didn’t seem to have a clue as how to bring everyone to the table to talk with understanding until Trump added his two-cents.  CNN’s Wolf Blitzer had a panel of experts asking “Is there Racism in the NFL?”

The panel of experts never played a down in the NFL or walked in the shoes of an inner-city black man.  Christine Brennan is a long time Washington Post reporter and now a columnist for U. S. A. Today (over 3 decades as a pioneering female reporter), Mike Wise is another former misguided Washington Post columnist/talk  show host.  It was definitely a case of the blind leading the blind.

First, it was ESPN television known as Washington Post North it was there members of the Washington Post sports’ department would start their second careers in television media.  The beat goes on the with the Undefeated now the Third Arm of the Washington Post and ESPN–the Fake News and Fake News Reporters are never ending. The late civil rights and equal opportunity employers were NBA Boston Celtic owner Walter Brown and the great Red Auerbach.  If it was really possible to be color blind, Red and his wife Dotie were. 

Trump’s “Fire the sons of bitches” gave ESPN’s Jemele Hill got a stay of execution, because they were coming after her.  She called Trump a white surpremacist and he hired and surrounded himself with like personalities.  But now she will be given the “Sportscaster of the Year Award” for having bigger balls than her male counterparts.

On Sunday I use the remote to catch all the highlight shows and I notice very few black commentators taking a hard position on Trump despite “Fire the sons of bitches” outburst, most played it safe with the understanding “I just work here and I will work to give the scores again next week.”   

You could also see Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson and former NFL running back Freddy Mitchell getting into a heated exchange during an interview on Carlson’show on Sunday.  The exchange centered around Carlson’s condemning NFL players for not honoring the flag and then said to Mitchell “I understand their frustration.”  Mitchell’s response “You don’t understand, because you have not walked in their shoes!” He became incensed with Mitchell’s response he didn’t understand and he turned beet red in the face.

I have always said, “There are some well meaning white folks or we would have never made it out of slavery, but they will never fully understand racism, because they have never walked in my shoes!”

Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones and Trump have the identical same problem.  Their ideology is the same, both keep going back to the disrespect for the flag during Kaepernick’s protest (camouflage).  The protest had nothing to do with the military or the flag. They all want to deny and claim that race has nothing to do with it, the NFL is 70% black and the players protesting are 99% black and Colin Kaepernick is black=racism.

Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones pulled the wool over the eyes of the players and fans Sunday Night and they are still asleep.  There was a rumor that Jones had warned his players several weeks ago that no one on the team would be allowed to kneel during the national anthem without consequences.  Sunday night the Cowboy team nixed plans to join their opponent the St. Louis Cardinals to show solidarity by locking arms with each other.  Instead on the orders from Jones they decided to lock arms only with each other and kneel together before the anthem played.  They would them stand together to the playing or the singing of the anthem!

This was not a show of solidarity with the players who considered themselves free, especially, if he had decided or wanted to kneel or raise his fist against racism in America.  The Cowboy players were dictated to not participate in pregame demostrations and that is not the definition of a “Free Black American Man.”

Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that he had spoke with Jerry Jones, he tweeted, “I spoke to Jerry Jones , a winner who knows how to get things done, players will stand for country.”  How could any black player say that they believe in freedom of speech and play for the Dallas Cowboys?

 

The GREAT ones, heavyweight Champions Jack Johnson and Joe Louis, Malcolm X  and Muhammad Ali are tough human rights acts to follow.

I remember Gregg Popovich saying after Trump was elected President of the United States, “I am still sick to my stomach, and not basically because the  Republicans won or anything , but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic , homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” Popovich later said, ‘And to think I live in a country where half of the people ignored all of that to elect someone like Trump.  That is the scariest part of the whole thing to me.’  When he was told of the firing of FBI Director James Coney, Popovich said, “I feel like there is , a pall, over the whole country, in a paranoid surreal sort of way that has nothing to do with  the Democrats losing the election, this individual thinks he is on a game show and everything that happens begins and ends with him, not our people or our country.”  Popovich’s greatest nightmare  has now become a reality.

Trump called out in Black & White: 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/texas-sports-anchor-dale-hansen-162028451.html?.tsrc=fauxdal / Sportscaster calls out Trump in an exemplary commentary! http://www.foxsports.com/watch/undisputed/video/1056079427823 / Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis in dispute over flag

U. S OPEN: THERE IS NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN-WHERE IT IS NEVER AS SIMPLE AS BLACK AND WHITE!

Defining elephant in the room: as a very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about. Perhaps a sore spot, perhaps its politically incorrect, or perhaps a political hot potato, its something that no one wants to touch with a ten foot pole–meet racism in America.

On Saturday August 8, 2017 two black women met in the finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first  time in tennis history and neither woman’s name was Williams.  It was no contest Sloane Stevens crushed Madison Keys in straight sets 6-3 and 6-0.  In the meantime, lets take a look at the state of American tennis and the role of the black athlete.

Richard Williams the architect of the pro tennis dynasty with his pride and joy, champion daughters, Venus and Serena.  He changed the face of tennis in America.  He was inducted into the first ATA Hall of Fame class in August and Venus and Serena donated 1 million dollars to the proposed ATA tennis facility in Florida to cement his legacy in the black tennis world.

 Richard and I share a photo at the 100th anniversary of the ATA in Baltimore in August 2017 

Move over Venus and Serena here comes Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, two women of color, I think.  Keeping, it real the problem is that Madison Keys is following closely in the footsteps of golfing icon Tiger Woods, who also denied he was black.  Tiger said, “I am not black, I am Cablinasian,” but when he was arrested for DUI in May 2017 according to the Florida Sheriff’s Department he fell under the “One Drop Rule.”  The rule says, ‘One drop of black blood makes one forever black.  If you are of black face in America you will always be seen as Black, Afro-American, Negro, colored or more often than not, the big N recently like  Michael Bennett and Kevin Sumlin.

Tennis commentator Chris Everett and her colleagues at the U. S. Open were so neverous trying to be politically racially correct they didn’t use black or African-American until the 9th game of the first set in the finals.  The first ocassion was when Evertt broke the ice and pointed out Sloane’s mother Sybil in the family box.  She said, “She was the first African-American named All-American first team as swimmer in Division One in NCAA history.  Chris followed up again during the post game interview when she said, “Your performance inspires other black girls that they can do the same thing.”

There are no FREE passes in the black community, it makes no difference if you played in the U. S. Open, Wimbledon, French and Australian Opens.  A cop will stereotype you and throw you to the ground and handcuff you without asking you for ID.  See tennis star James Blake, and NFL All-Pro, Michael Bennett.  If a cop stops you and you think because your driver’s license, birth certificate or passport reads you are, South African, Hispanic, from Trinidad, Tobago, Brazil, Dominican Republic or you are of Haitian descent, you should feel safe.  You are in for a rude awakening–the color of your skin is a dead give away for a racist cop in America to treat you like an animal.  Black cops are not even safe out of uniform!  Money, and star power are not “free get out of jail passes” when it comes to racism in America. In September 2015 Blake was thrown to the ground and arrested while he was standing outside of the Hyatt Hotel waiting for a ride.  The officer claimed he resembled someone wanted for fraud.

Bennett a linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks and Texas A & M football Coach Kevin Sumlin should be proof enough.  Bennet was targeted by the Las Vegas police department while attending the Floyd Mayweather fight. He was leaving the fight when there rumors of gunshots fired and like everyone else he tried to run to safety.  He was profiled by the cops and tackled and handcuffed.  The question is why?  He had no gun—he said, “The only reason I was arrested is because I am black.”   This type of racism is fueled by NFL owners like Jerry Jones who it is rumored said to his team, “No Dallas Cowboys will be sitting or kneeling for the national athem.”  Charlene Sumlin, the wife of enbattled Texas A & M Coach Kevin Sumlin posted a picture of a racist, angry threatening letter sent by a fan to the family’s house following the 45-44 lost to UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Southern California last Sunday.  The letter read, “You suck as a coach and you are ‘The Big N’ and you can’t win. Please get lost or else.”  A member of the Board of Regents of Texas A & M also called for Sumlin to be fired after the lost to UCLA.  Texas was leading 44-6 in the 3rd quarter and UCLA rallied to win 45-44.

Tiger, Madison, Alecia Keys and Halle Berry are among those mixed race Black Americans who think the “One Drop Rule” does not apply to them, because of their money and fame—nothing could be further from the truth.  Madison is really confused, she says, “I am not black or white!”  It is nothing wrong with being black and proud and there is nothing wrong with being white and proud.  Why can’t Keys be both?

It was almost comical watching the commentators dance around the issue at the U. S. Open.  I was praying for Madison to win for her ‘Wake Up Call!’   Pro golf and tennis are two of the most segregated sports in America and both have now moved into ‘The Dark Ages’ and Madison now joins Tiger as ‘The Elephant in the room.’

Black history is often overlooked and under reported, but pro tennis is in for a rude awaking.  In 2016 for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games four black American women represented the U. S. in tennis.  They were Serena and Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and maybe Madison Keys and there is help on the way with Taylor Townsend and Brienne Minor.  In 2012 Taylor became the first black female to win the Australian Open Girls’ singles championship.  The title made her the first American and Black American to hold the ranking of No. 1 at the end of the year for girls since 1982.  Michigan sophomore 19 year old Brienne Minor won the NCAA singles championship making her the first black female NCAA singles champion and making her the first black female in Big Ten history to hold the title.

Athea Gibson and Arthur Ashe are looking down on the U. S. Open with big smiles on their faces.  They were the trailblazers and first persons of color to win a major tennis open known as the grand slam.  In 1956 Athea won the French Open, the Australian, Wimbledon and U. S. Open all followed.  She won the singles title in the morning and that evening she won the U. S. Open doubles title.  During her fabulous career against all odds she won five grand slam titles.

Arthur Ashe making children first through the National Junior Tennis League.  He found the organization in 1967 in Washington, DC 

In 1967 Arthur won the U. S. Open, and still today is the only American Black man to win the Australian, Wimbledon, and French Open titles.  In 2017 he is still the only black man to be ranked No. 1 in the history of the sport.  In 2017 we are still talking about people of color being “The First” Athea and Arthur may have felt like the Long Ranger without Tonto back in the day.  In 2017 the U. S. Open for the first time in its history had three minority female players make it to the semi-finals.  Venus was feeling right at home when unexpected company arrived.  It was like “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner” without Sidney Poitier!

Venus was joined by Sloane Stephes and Madison Keys.  In the meantime, all three had moved into the semi-finals.  The commentators acted like the three little monkeys, “they saw no history, they heard no history and they spoke no history.”  The commentators seem to be afraid to say, “Three black women have qualified for the semi-finals, a first in U. S. Open history!”  I would guess they were trying not to offend Keys who is definitely walking around in a world of confusion.

The proud parents Richard and Oracene were looking on somewhere in the stadium in separate boxes cheering Venus, Sloane and Madison on to victory.  Little sister Serena was sitting this one out after giving birth to a baby girl in August.

One of my young men Joe Ragland grew up in The Hood in SE DC.  He was once on the pro tennis tour and was not a kid in trouble, but he and his brother Mike and their crew supported my community endeavors through my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc. whenever his busy schedule brought him home to DC.  He played Santa’s Helper for my Christmas toy parties, played in my celebrity tennis tournaments, etc.  He eventually moved to Arizona to teach tennis on the country club level.  This odyssey would last him for sixteen years before he grew tired of the country club politics and sought solitude (peace).  He now teaches at a community recreation center near his home on his own terms.  He thinks pro tennis is in good hands despite the behind the scenes politics to keep us out.

I asked Joe in a recent telephone conversation about the emergence of the three Black American women reaching the semi-finals at the U. S. Open, he didn’t seem surprised.  His response, “The ladies have always had a support system that the men never had (egos).  A lot of that credit goes to Serena and Venus who quietly made themselves accessible to the young sisters who were new on the tour.  These two ladies have carried a heavy load on their backs for over two decades—they have earned a rest whether they want one or not.”

Joe knows Katrina Adams who is now serving her second term as the USTA CEO and President.  She oversees tennis programs for underserved communities across America.  They both played on the pro tennis circuit together in the 80s and 90s.  He discovered a brother in his community who was teaching tennis to neighborhood children for $5.00 for two hours. The program was one the most unique he had ever encountered, but the brother was barely hanging on financially.  It was then he decided to call his old friend Katrina to seek support from the USTA.  After they had gone down memory lane Joe got around to telling her about the innovated tennis program he had discovered in his neighborhood.  Her response, “Joe that sounds great, let me get back to you” famous last words from blacks who let success handle them, instead of them handling success.

The program in Joe’s community had the potential to meet the Mission and Goals set by the USTA as described in their handbook.

The USTA Mission: To Promote, Grow, Develop, and service the Game of tennis.  Vision: Leadership at every level –inspire innovation, create opportunities, impact lives and build community through tennis. Value Proposition: To be your trusted resource for tennis. Core Values: In pursuit of its mission, the volunteers and staff accept responsibility for their actions in achieving the mission and for reaching the strategic goal of the association while sustaining the highest standards of quality.  Diversity and Inclusion: include all people on a non-discriminatory basic, and make diversity and inclusion an embedded part of the USTA Midwest Section.

It is folks like Ms. Adams who are sprinkled all around our community who are double agents for the system.  She is another spook that was hired to sit by the door and stunt the growth of the black athlete.

The next question, where are all the Black American men?  According to Joe, “They are not far behind the women, Donald Young is the most consistent black face in play, but coming on fast is Evan King from the University of Michigan.  He was a qualifier this year before losing in three sets to 20th ranked Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 and 7-6—not a bad showing.  Busta made it all the way to the semi-finals.  I think Frances Tiafoe a 19 year old had the most impressive showing of the three. He was born in College Park, Maryland, but no one is talking about how he extended the great Roger Federer to five sets in Arthur Ashe Stadium.” Federer would lose later to J. del Potro in the quarter finals in four sets.

Rashada McAdoo a recent grad of Georgia Tech was the women’s single tennis champion for the August 2017 ATA 100th anniversary celebration in Baltimore, Maryland.  She poses with the men’s singles winner from New Jersey.  Rashada is the granddaughter of NBA great Bob McAdoo.   

H. Bell, Rashada McAdoo and coach

It’s a family affair, Joe’s brother Mike is also in the community “Reach Back” business as the Director of Tennis for the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation in SE Washington, DC.  He is a member of the team headed by tennis icon Willis Thomas, Jr. the Vice-President of Tennis Programs.  Willis and the great Arthur Ashe were doubles partners growing up under the tutelage of tennis guru and icon Dr. Robert Johnson.

Willis and Mike are leading the charge to enhance the growth and development of inner-city children.  The foundation is a premier educational and tennis organization serving underserved children providing the best quality instruction, resources and mentorship to build champions in the game called life. They seek to keep children safe by getting them off the city streets during out of school time into a safe environment they can trust; by providing them with productive activities that teach discipline, build and encourage a healthy lifestyle.  You can trust Willis and Mike to get the job done.

I think ESPN’s cheerleading analyst Jason Whitlock did the Williams’ family a grave injustice when he accused the father Richard of cheating to get his daughters to the top of the tennis world.  If teaching them to play tennis his way by slowly making sure that they learn the game while protecting them from the racism that existed in the sport and in the tennis academies all over America—more power to him.

Richard Williams was recently inducted into the ATA Tennis Hall of Fame during their 100th Anniversary celebration in Baltimore in August 2017.  My question, why was the great NFL All-Pro cornerback Johnny Sample left out of the ATA Hall of Fame?  His contributions; a champion in his age group for several years running.  He organized the largest inner-city youth tennis program in the country, he was second to no one.  He was also a pioneer on the pro tennis tour as a line judge and chair umpire at Grand Slam Tournaments around the world—where is the beef?

A “Man for all seasons” has anyone seen my old friend Johnny Sample–he is gone but not forgotten.

There are rumors that Richard Williams has finally decided to open his own tennis academy in Florida in the near future.  The same rumors are being spread by the ATA who are also claiming they will build an academy in Florida.  Life time members of the ATA James Ridley of Washington, DC and William Blue out of Philadelphia think the organization has no clue and are overrun with “Player Haters and Nay Sayers.”  Their only interest is in promoting themselves and could care-less about the future of our children.  The new ATA tennis academy earmarked for Florida in the near future could be more than just a “Pie in the sky” dream.  It has been reported Venus and Serena Williams the daughters of Richard will donate one million dollars to the project.  Evidently, Richard’s induction into the ATA’s first Hall of Fame last month gave the project the facelift that it needed.   Venus and Serena, Richard, Oracene and family members can relax and enjoy the new baby while watching the U. S. Open finals.  They will hear in the distant skies shout-outs from trailblazers Athea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, saying, ‘Job well done.’  

There is definitely a need for more tennis academies to meet the needs of our youth who are being under-served.  Tennis academies such as; Nick Bolletteri, Patrick McEnroe, and Chris Evert Tennis fall short when it comes to the black tennis player.  For example, a black potential tennis player paying to attend these academies is like a black/student walk-on athlete choosing Maryland University (BIG TEN) over Howard University (HBCU).  His or her chances of making the Maryland team are slim and none.  Their best chance for success is a HBCU school.

The Richard Williams’ tennis academy is a step in the right direction, but one academy won’t do the job and he would definitely have to be an independent lone wolf.  Hopefully, he will have a franchise of academies that won’t be under the umbrella of the USTA and his board members won’t be the likes of boxing promoter Don King and Cora Masters Barry well known crooks and thieves.  King is considered a “Member of the Williams family.”  Don and Cora’s police ‘Rap Sheets’ read like an episode of America Greed (don’t take my word Google their history)!

“Birds of a feather flock together”  Cora Masters Barry and Don King hanging out in DC 

In 1987 Cora Masters Barry then Chairwoman of the DC Boxing Commission pleaded guilty to second degree theft for double billing the city for over $2, 680 in travel expenses (under estimated).  She was forced to resign as chairman of the DC Boxing Commission as a convicted felon.  Her next big heist would be the boxing Heavyweight Champion of the World, Riddick Bowe.   In 1992 Bowe earned over 10 million dollars for beating Evander Holyfield and he would later name Cora the Executive Director of the Riddick Bowe Better Life Foundation.  The only lives she would better would be her own and promoter Rock Newman, today Bowe is dead broke.

In a Washington Post newspaper column during the 1992 Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield championship fight in Las Vegas a reporter asked Cora about the glamorous world of boxing as it related to a “World of dreamers, schemers, high rollers, gold diggers and other folks of questionable character?”  He said, ‘she took a drag off of her cigarette and responded, not any more than there are in politics?’  She should know, she has worked both sides of the isle.

In the meantime, she has moved into the glamorous world of tennis without missing a beat with her on-going scam of the Williams family.  There is a rumor that Venus and Serena will be donating to her on-going slush fund scam at the SE Tennis Foundation in Washington, DC. Her recent appearance at the U. S. Open with her new “Best Friend” DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.  Their appearance together had nothing to do with tennis, it was because Cora likes money by any means necessary.  She has already scammed the DC government out of 18 million dollars earmarked for the tennis center via her “Make a Wish–Make Me Rich Foundation.”   She is now whispering in the ear of Bowser for more and more.  The producers of the television show “American Greed” has her on their radar screen.

I would have never in my wildest dreams imagine that three minority women in leadership roles in the DC Government would take part in approving the appointment of new DC Police Chief, Peter Newsham.  He has a history in the court system of domestic violence and he is a known alcoholic.  His court appearances involved domestic violence brought against him by his wife and several girl friends. He was also found lying in a DC street with his gun in his holster dead drunk, but Bowser, City Council Woman Mary Che and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton all looked the other way.

I had personally given them inside information provided by former Inspector Nathan Sims.  He was a witness to colleagues’ of Newsham removing records from the DC Police Property Warehouse without signing for the property in question.  He warned them that this type of behavior would no longer be tolerated on his tour of duty.  He was immediately demoted back to captain and several months later retired.

There are definitely not enough black tennis academies to meet the needs of our youth, but who can they depend on to do the right thing as it relates to having their best interest at heart?  I don’t think we can count on CEO of the USTA Katrina Adams, Don King or Cora Masters Barry.  It looks like the balls they are playing with is in the wrong court (criminal court)—stay tuned.