This is a Black American History Moment
We are given little credit for living and get little or no credit in death for our life here on earth.
The Washington Post broke the mold during Black History Month on Thursday, February 6, 2020. In a story written in the obituary section titled, “Packer’s star defensive back key to Super Bowl l Victory!” In an unusual turn of events, the Washington Post gave native Washingtonian Willie Wood credit for living and dying in America, but it backfired on them.
The last DC Public School black coach/athlete whose obituary appeared in the Washington Post and whose name was not Joe Gallagher or Morgan Wooten, was my Spingarn High School coach, Dave Brown (Elgin Baylor), thanks to sports editor George Solomon I wrote his obituary. Legendary athletes and coaches like Fairmont Heights HS basketball coach, Kenny Freeman, Spingarn HS coach, William Roundtree (Dave Bing), Gary ‘One-Arm-Bandit) Mays (Coach Charlie Baltimore) are given no credit for their accomplishments in this Game Called Life. Mays for example, is the only one-armed baseball player to hit a homerun out of old Griffin Stadium in Washington, DC. He also did what was thought impossible, he helped to hold Elgin Baylor the greatest basketball player to ever come out of DC to 18 points. This was well below his 40 point average. The feat helped Armstrong to win the segregated Division II Public High School Championship. Roland ‘Fatty’ Taylor is a ABA/NBA trailblazer (Fairmont Heights HS). He is the only player out of DC to excel in both the ABA and NBA, and last but not least, James Ratif, Eastern HS was a first-team All-Met and All-American basketball player when he died in January 2020. The story of their demise never appeared in the Washington Post.
Gary Mays “The One Armed Bandit” Armstrong High School’s Boy Wonder
The Washington Post carried a story on the death of my Spingarn high school coach Dave Brown. He saved me and Elgin Baylor from the mean streets of DC. “Breaking the Faith” was a commentary I wrote in the Washington Post. This was a story exposing Pimps in our Church Pulpits and do-nothing politicians in leadership positions in the DMV.
My Inside Sports documentary was first reported in the Washington Afro by writer James Wright. I was a freelance writer for the Afro for over a decade.
The obituary story written on Willie Wood in the Washington Post was planted by a thief, his legal adviser and former college teammate (back-up QB), Attorney Bob Schmidt. He came out of hiding after 13 years to try to reclaim the spotlight that Willie stole from him in the 50s. He never forgot that it was Willie who sent him to the bench at the Universty of Southern California where he was the starting QB until Willie arrived. He tried to get revenge in 2007. He and his family scammed Willie out of $60,000 at a charity tribute held in Willie’s honor in Georgetown.
In the spring of 2006 a group of Willie’s boyhood friends, Frank Smith, Lester Lewis, Andrew Johnson, his sister Gladys, her husband Charles ‘Chink’ Hawkins and I were visiting Willie at The Manor Care Rehab and nursing facility. The facility was located in Hyattsville, Md. He had just vacated the best rehab center in the DMV at the Washington Hospital Center. The everyday regiment of rehab Willie found a little difficult–enter Manor Care.
During his stay at Manor Care, we became concerned about his mounting nursing home bills and his deteriorating health (the first signs of dementia). Bob Schmidt was also in the building along with Willie’s friend sports columnist the late Dick Heller of the Washington Times. The topic of discussion centered around a way to raise money to help meet some of the financial needs of a new nursing home for him.
We put our heads together and decided first, we needed to find another rehab facility in DC and organize a fundraising tribute. One month later a decision was made that Bob Schmidt and I would be the co-organizers for the fundraiser. In the meantime, Willie moved to The Residences an assisted living facility located on Massachusetts Avenue and Thomas Circle in NW Washington DC. It was a great facility.
Schmidt found a restaurant on the Georgetown waterfront to host the fundraiser and suddenly left town for almost a month leaving me with the day to day operations for the tribute.
Thanks to Dick Heller (PR) and committee members, Andrew Johnson, Frank Smith, Maggie Linton, and Lester Lewis we managed to make the necessary contacts to pull the tribute off. I must give an assist to the Gun Show that was being held in Chantilly, Virginia on that same weekend. Heller discovered that the gun show had invited several players from around the NFL to participate.
Their role was to sign autographs for the thousands of gun enthusiasts from around the east coast who would be in attendance. I thought I had hit the jackpot when I found out my friend NFL legendary running back Jim Brown was one of the guests for the gun show.
Bob Schmidt was not a happy camper when I told him that Jim would be our contact for NFL players participating in the tribute. He said, “I don’t think that is a good idea, Jim Brown is a troublemaker and he will try to take over the event!”
Players invited by Jim to participate in the tribute on March 16, 2007 read like a Who’s Who in the NFL. There was TE John Mackey (Baltimore Colts), QB Bart Starr, DE Willie Davis, RB Paul Hornung, and WR Max McGee, (Green Bay Packers), Lenny Moore (Baltimore Colts) Lance ‘Bambi’ Alworth (San Diego Chargers), LB Sam Huff, and WR Charlie Taylor (Washington Redskins). The event was flooded with NFL hall of Famers and All-Pro players.
Hazel Hawkins and Delores Pruden with NFL legends Charlie Taylor (Redskins) and Willie Davis (Packers) enjoy the evening.
Former Green Bay Packer great Paul Hornung pose for photo with Delores Pruden, Delores Sams, Salim Edwards and his son Ahmad.
The late comedian Dick Gregory shares a laugh with comedian Ernie Fields and his partner Cockroach the dummy. I turned to them to assist me with the entertainment part of the program and they came through with flying colors.
I turned to my Kids In Trouble Board of Directors, the late Michael Simpson and James Young my PR guys to contact DC Mayor Adrian Fenty for a proclamation declaring it ‘Willie Wood Day” in Washington, DC, they delivered.
Michael and I share the proclamation with Willie declaring it “Willie Wood Day” in the Nation’s Capitol
NFL legendary LB and NY Giants/Washington Redskin player Sam Huff bring a smile to Willie’s face. Sam has since become a victim of dementia.
Willie’s sister Gladys talks with friend Delores Sams while Willie greets a fan.
The evening of the event I was still trying to figure out a way to get Willie from the nursing home to the restaurant in Georgetown. Frank Smith and Andrew Johnson answered the call for help. When I arrived at the restaurant I notice that Bob Schmidt had his family on the front door taking donations for admission to the tribute. I still had a lot on my plate (the program for the evening, music, speakers, etc) so I was relieved to see that part of the program was taken care of and I moved on (I would regret).
To catch a thief–meet attorney, fraudulent legal adviser and former college teammate to Willie Wood–Bob Schmidt. He and his family made off with the proceeds ($60.000) from the Willie Wood fund raiser tribute. He was never to be seen or heard from again until Willie’s obituary appeared in the Washington Post on Thursday, February 6, 2020.
The following Monday after the tribute, Frank Smith, Andrew Johnson, Dick Heller, Lester Lewis and me visited Willie at his nursing home, The Residences. Bob Schmidt and Joe Johnson were invited but they were nowhere to be found. The first thing Willie ask was “Where is my money?” My response, “Willie your lawyer and friend Bob Schmidt has your money!” The look on his face was one of horror.
I placed a half-dozen phone calls to Bob Schmidt and his partner and friend Joe Johnson trying to get to the bottom of this charade. They never responded.
The next steps I took was to contact the NFL Players’ Union, NFL Hall of Fame, the Vince Lombardi Cancer Research Foundation on the campus of Georgetown University. Every contact was a Dead-End street none had heard of Schmidt. He had disappeared without a trace. Finally, Dick Heller called and said, “Your friend Bob Schmidt returned my call and said he will be holding a press conference to explain exactly how much money was raised and where the money is!” It never happened.
I then turned to my friend and partner in the community NF L legend Jim Brown. I explained to him what had happened as it related to the tribute for Willie Wood. He asked, “What do you want me to do?”
My solution was for him to call Schmidt with Willie’s sister Gladys on a conference call. I had heard all the rumors about Jim’s shady undertakings from family and friends, I had my doubts, but I could not see “The forest for the trees.” First, he thought he was always the smartest man in any room according to former Cowboy/Redskin RB Calvin HillI. I despise people who smile in your face and stab you in your back–meet Calvin Hill. He dropped his plate and made a quick exit from the restaurant when I told him I was going to tell Jim he had been talking behind his back. I was not surprised by his exit that is the M. O. of most cowards who talk behind people’s backs.
Calvin Hill and Jim Brown are not on the same page they are running from behind a different offensive line–both are off-side in the Game Called Life!
I met Jim in 1960 while I was a freshman student/athlete at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, NC. He was the guest speaker for our awards banquet. Bighouse Gaines made the banquet off-limits to freshmen, but I went anyway. I met Willie in the early 50s when he and my older brother Bobby were teammates on the Armstrong baseball team.
Brown Middle School was located on the Benning Road NE “Education Hill.” Spingarn High School was on one end of 24th street and Brown was on the other end of the block sandwiched in the middle was Phelps Vocation HS and Charles Young Elementary. When Armstong visited to play Spingarn baseball or football I had a front-row seat at the top of The Hill to watch my brother and Willie play. They were my first heroes. I was a freshman on the Spingarn football team in 1955 when we upset Armstrong and its legendary QB Willie Wood. The game was played in Cardozo Stadium. The final score was 13-7 for the DC Public High School East Division Championship. I didn’t play a down, but that game is still the crown jewel in my high school student/athlete career (two teams of great athletes). I was a knucklehead, but I went on to become an All-Star athlete in my own time and in my own mind (I never saw a football I could not catch).
Willie thanks Dick and me for our role in getting him inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
My ‘Street Sense and Common Sense’ kicked-in when it came to the conference call to Schmidt. Gladys would be my designated Checks and Balances during the call. It is always best to be safe than sorry. Jim Brown was my Kerner Report. The Kerner Report was a warning to Black America in the aftermath of the 1968 riots. The report said, “We are headed for two different Americas, one black and one white.” In 2020 here we are!
Calvin Hill had already told me about the time one of Jim’s friends caught him cheating on the golf course. He became so pissed off with the friend he beat him to a bloody pulp. The friend charged him with assault and carried him to court. He won a civil lawsuit against Jim. There was his friend Congresswoman Maxine Waters speaking at a forum at the Congressional Black Caucus. She advised the audience not to be like Jim Brown and pimp the community for his own financial gain. In a Black History Month forum with President Clinton, GT coach John Thompson and others on national television, former Olympic track and field star and three-time Gold Medal winner Jackie Joyner Kersey asked Jim, “Who are you to tell the black athlete where and how to spent his money?” For the first time in my memory, Jim was lost for words—-it was a priceless moment.
Last but not least former Green Bay Packer coach, Mike Holmgren was hired as President of the Cleveland Browns in 2009. Holmgren had the legendary Jim Brown run out of Cleveland. There are a lot of rumors of what happened to Jim Brown in Cleveland. First, Jim had a run-in with one of the Lerner brothers who were the new owners of the franchise. Holmgren didn’t like Jim hustling the players for his own financial gain via his Amer-I-Can Program. The sour relationship between Jim and ownership, left the door open for Holmgren to oust Jim. The big slap in the face for Jim came when he was left out of the Ring of Honor ceremony at the stadium in 2010. He was not a ‘Happy Camper.’ In a television interview, he claimed Mike Holmgren didn’t respect him. Respect has always been a BIG word in the vocabulary of the great Jim Brown. For example; when he got locked up in 2007 for domestic violence he asked his wife Monique to call me to start a media campaign to help him get his sentence reduced. He didn’t ask her to call Byrant Gumble, James Brown, Stephen A. Smith, Sonny Hill, or Howard Cosell, he asked her to call Harold Bell–how soon we forget!
Jim Brown calls a trick play for me and Dick Gregory. I discovered he is a man of many trick plays and secrets.
Three days later after the conference call, I would be ‘Sorry.’ I remember sitting by the telephone waiting to hear from Gladys or Jim, the telephone never rang. I took a deep breath and called Gladys, I asked her how did things go with Schmidt and Jim? Her response blew me away, she said, “Jim Brown demanded that I hang up the telephone and he would handle things with Schmidt and he would call me later.” He never called!
When I called Jim to ask him about the call between him and Schmidt, you would have thought I had just caught him cheating on the golf course. He called me everything but a child of God.
First, he wanted to know who in the f–k was I to be questioning him about Bob Schmidt and Willie’s money? I thought I had dialed the wrong number in Ward 8 in a phone booth on Martin Luther King Avenue in SE Anacostia. The next thing I thought of was the beating he gave his golf partner. I felt lucky I was on the other end of the telephone line. I would not be able to stand the ass-whipping he would be trying to give me. I would have refused to run. After a few choice words of my own, I told him what to do with his BS and hung up the phone.
By chance I would see him and his wife Monique in a hallway attending the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend here in DC a couple of years later, Monique smiled and waved, but he pretended he didn’t see me, but this is the same brother who is always talking about being a man and wanting RESPECT! He thinks that being a man and getting respect is a one-way street–for him only!
The bottom-line Jim Brown made a deal with Bob Schmidt and took a cut of Willie’s $60,000 from the tribute. According to Wikipedia, his net worth is $50 million he claimed he earned from real estate investments and the NFL? He is lying about the real estate investments and his base salary in the NFL never went beyond $60,000 a year. He must have been dead broke when President Donald Trump gave him 50 million dollars for prison reform. I wonder how does one add a cut of $60,000 from Bob Schmidt to 50 million dollars?
I also discovered Willie’s sister Gladys and friend Delores Sams and brother-in-law Chink discovered that Schmidt was still perpetrating a fraud that he was representing Willie. In 2012 Gladys and Delores took Schmidt to DC Superior Court and had a judge strip him of being Willie’s Power of Attorney and legal adviser. Willie Wood, Jr. was given that responsibility.
Schmidt evidently was surving on “White Privilege” he carried on this charade for five years after he stole the $60,000, but larceny caught up with him.
The Washington Post once again didn’t do their homework, they allowed a common thief to write Willie Wood’s obituary, they owe the family an apology. With their stamp of approval they allowed Schmidt to mis-represent the family. He claimed Gladys lived in Glen Arden, Maryland (wrong address), but he saved the worst for last. He claimed Willie’s first born and only daughter with his first wife, Lillian was from a previous relationship (wrong again). Willie we had your back despite the backstabbers RIP my man.
Inside Sports NFL Roundtable with Roy Jeffereson, Willie Wood, Sonny Hill, Johnny Sample and Jim Brown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzY5Mki8OVE
WILT CHAMBERLAIN THE G.O.A,T
THE TEAM: JULIUS ‘DR J’ IRVING-WILT ‘THE STILT’ CHAMBERLAIN-ELGIN BAYLOR-JERRY WEST-MICHAEL’MJ’ JORDAN-GUS ‘HONEYCONE’ JOHNSON-KAREEM ADUL JABBAR-EARL ‘THE PEARL’ MONROE AND KOBE BRYANT
COACHES: RED AUERBACH & GREG POPOVICH
“NO HE SAY SHE SAY” ALLOWED–EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS ONLY!
Michael White (FB) said, “If you are in DC find Harold Bell, he’s a walking history book.”
Michael, thanks, too many of these so-called know it all experts claiming to be historians don’t have a clue. Why did I choose Wilt as the G. O. A. T.? He led the league in every statistical category at sometime in his great career (scoring, rebounds, assist, FGP, etc). Name one other player to accomplish that feat! Russell and Magic were great but they could only make my team as subs. We have to be very careful about who is telling OUR history not only in February but through out the year. My motto “If you saw something say something.”
Maurice Stewart, started an interesting and enlightening conversation recently on Face Book and then my friend Aaron Snowell (Boxing Hall of Fame) and other associates were asking the question, “Harold when are you going to write something on Kobe?” My emotions were all over the place with his untimely demise. I didn’t know where to start—to be honest!
My Kobe Bryant experience all started when I met Kobe’s father Joe Bryant. Joe was playing for the 76ers. I was introduced to him by my mentor, Philly legendary player/broadcaster Sonny Hill. Joe’s nicknamed was ‘Jellybean’. He was playing in the Sonny Hill/John Chaney, Summer Basketball League when I drove up to Philly with several of my young men from the Hillcrest Saturday Program. Kobe had just been born because ‘Jellybean’ was handing out cigars just before a game. When he offered me one I said, “Joe I don’t smoke”! He said, “OK I ain’t mad.” I didn’t realize at the time it was just a symbolic gesture.
I met Kobe either his rookie year or the following year at the Capitol Centre in Landover, Md. I introduced myself saying I was a friend of Sonny Hill. His response, “That is my mentor, you cool.” For the rest of his NBA career we were like passing ships in the night, but he would see me and say “Whats up my brother?” I am sure he didn’t remember my name, but he always had a smile.
During my sports talk show career starting in 1972 I have only interviewed a handful of players in a NBA locker room. I can name them, Dr. J (Fatty Taylor), Iceman (Fatty Taylor), Wilt (Carl Greene) and George McGinnis (Sonny Hill). I have never interviewed Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, or Phil Chenier, etc. The reason; I was a eyewitness to too many dumb questions being asked by dumb-ass writers and sportscasters. I have alway refused to be a part of that charade.
I am a happy camper that I had a front-row seat to Kobe’s amazing NBA career. In a recent appearance of The Round Ball Report, a TV Cable television show devoted to basketball in Landover, Md, I was asked by the host and Executive Producer Andrew Dyer, where did I place Kobe among the All-Time NBA greats?
Kobe is in my top 10 of NBA greats of All-Time. He would be my Sixth Man off the bench.
My Head Coach, Red Auerbach / Assistant Coach Gregg Popovich
Kobe’s friend and former NBA player Caron Butler gave the best testimony I heard on Kobe being a true friend. He said, Kobe was someone who was always looking to give and never expecting anything in return (aka Muhammad Ali). He was not perfect by any means, but he dedicated his life after the NBA to his community and family, PRICELESS.
Noteworthy: Great players dictate changes in the game to compensate for them being better than all the rest—meet Wilt Chamberlain. Another Example; The Simone Biles’ Rule. This young lady is being penalized for being better than all the rest. Wake up everybody!
RIP Willie Wood
The Trailblazers: Athlete/Actor Paul Roberson and college basketball coach, Clarence Bighouse Gaines
Memories: My first home was a one-room shack with an outhouse on Douglas Street in NE DC. One cold morning my mother Mattie a single parent thinking I was asleep quietly slipped out of the shack to go to the corner store for bread and milk, I was 3 years old. My German Sheperd dog Billy was sleeping nearby with a kerosene lamp burning to keep us warm. My mother returned to find the shack on fire and me sitting in the yard crying with my dog Billy standing over me. Fire trucks were all over the street.
The shack burned to the ground and the only thing left standing was the outhouse. My mother tried to thank the firemen for rescuing me from the burning shack but they explained to her they found me sitting in the yard with my dog. To this day I have no clue how I escaped from that shack on fire-Billy never said a word–the rest is American history,
*In 1967 I encouraged Willie Wood (NFL) and Dave Bing (NBA) to join me in the DC community to enhance the growth of inner-city youth, Judges, politicians, law-enforcement, print, radio and television personalities, NBA-NFL-MLB & NHL franchises all followed my lead. They all now CARE!
Dave returns to ‘The Hood’ to pay homage to members of the Hillcrest Saturday Program basketball team
Dave one on one with NBA Hall of Fame player Earl ‘The Pearl’ MonroeThe Pearl and Kids In Trouble, Inc. pay tribute to Bighouse Gaines at the Foxtrappe Club in Washington, DC
In November 1968 I discovered a child lying on the bottom of the swimming pool at my Hillcrest Saturday Program. I dove into the pool and pulled him out. I then ran soaking wet with him in my arms to Children’s Hospital one block away.Redskins’ RB Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton are videotaped by NFL Films teaching water safety at the Hillcrest Saturday Program
My wife Hattie teaching swimming in one of her classes at Cardozo High School in NW DC.
*In 1969 I was honored at the White House by President Richard M. Nixon for my work with youth gangs and at-risk children. Hattie joins me in the Oval Office to meet Attorney General William Rogers and President Richard M. Nixon
*In 1972 my Inside Sports talk show format changed the way we talk sports in America. The tag is now used around the World.
*Inside Sports was the first sports talk show to successfully blend sports and politics.
*Inside Sports was the first sports talk show to convene a media roundtable. Guest, boxing greats, Sugar Ray Leonard, Don King and Larry Holmes.
NBA legend Red Auerbach and his wife Dotie are the guest host on Inside Sports *In 1973 I sat on The Mountain Top with Muhammad Ali
*I was the first Black sportscaster to produce and host a prime time sports special on NBC affiliate WRC TV 4 in November 1975. My special guest, Muhammad Ali.
*In 1978 I was the first Sports & Marketing rep for Nike shoes in the DMV.Congressman Walter Fauntroy receives Nike gear from Nike rep Laura Cash and me on Capitol Hill
*In 1979 I was the first Sports & Marketing rep in the DMV for Anheuser-Busch Beer.*I was the first sports media personality honored as Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine (1980).
Washingtonian of the Year, Washington Redskin QB Joe Theisman and me share a photo opt with teammate Mark Mosley and our wives*I have been cited in the Congressional Record on three different occasions by Congressman Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). I was honored for my work with inner-city youth.
*In Chicago in 1998 I became the first Winston-Salem State athlete to receive the first annual Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines Community Service Award.
*In 2007 I found a 15-year-old autistic girl lying across the tracks at Potomac Avenue subway station SE DC. I pulled her off just as a train was entering the station. NBC affiliate WRC-TV 4 creates re-enactment of the rescue of the child at the Potomac Avenue subway station
I successfully campaigned with Washington Times legendary sports columnist the late Dick Heller and NBA legend Red Auerbach for NFL great Willie Wood and NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd to be inducted into their hall of fame after they had been overlooked.
Dick Heller congratulates Willie on his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame
Red Auerbach, me and Earl Lloyd during a Black History Month celebration at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown DC
NFL legend LB Sam Huff stops to say hello to Willie during a tribute in his honor in 2007. The 83-year-old Huff is now suffering from dementia.
Members of the Hoffman clan, Ted Wells, Jalen and Jared Morgan bring a rare smile to Willie’s face during tribute in 2007
Willie was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989 and Earl was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003. Willie’s legendary coach Vince Lombardi said, “Willie is my coach on the field.” Ronnie Lott is one of the greatest safeties to ever play in the NFL, but he has to take a backseat to the trailblazers, Dick ‘Night Train Lane’, Willie Wood and Johnny Sample. Willie never forgot who he was and where he came from. One week after his induction he was a guest on Inside Sports saying, “Thank You.” This month in Black History, February 3, 2020 my friend Willie Wood died.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzY5Mki8OVE/ Jim Brown, Johnny Sample, Roy Jefferson, and Willie Wood / NFL Roundtable
*On Sunday, November 24, 2019, I became the first native Washingtonian to produce a sports documentary on the Big Screen titled “The Harold Bell Story, I Remember Muhammad Ali.”
I am flawed and less than perfect, but I have never sold or done drugs, never been to jail, never snitched, never stole money from little children. I have broken bread with champs & chumps. The benefactors of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports read like a Who’s Who.
In February 2020 they still call me NIGGER!
Noteworthy: Harvard Law School grad and sitting judge “Still A Nigger” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYsl6AQBZn4
by Harold Bell
Big John Hollins named Community Hero by the Atlanta Braves in his hometown of Atanta, Georgia / https://www.cbs46.com/cbs-s-john-hollins-named-community-hero/video_c2872280-791f-5719-bafa-6173e2329625.html
Why did ATL METRO RBI choose Curacao? The man behind the project is John W. Hollins, Jr. John has been a dedicated and respected community leader for over 30 years. A corporate executive and business owner. He is a Senior Account Executive with CBS 46, where he has been an integral component to the company’s growth and development for several years, managing the advertising of some of the top Ad agencies, law firms and small businesses in Atlanta, as well as helping develop several local midsize businesses through television and digital advertising.
He has been a proud member of the 100 Black Men of America since 2008 and has served as the President of the 100 Black Men of DeKalb County Inc. Serving the community has always been very rewarding to John, he watched his father mentor young people with absent fathers and created the first organized football program in the local Eastlake Meadows housing project to promote teamwork and sportsmanship. His father passed away in 2001.
To prove that he believed God made all young people equal, he signed his oldest son and namesake (John jr.) up first. He also believes no baby comes out of his/her mother’s womb wearing a KKK robe, with an AK 47, selling drugs or using the N-word, it is all taught behavior. Those beliefs were established by a father who planted the seeds of community reach-back at an early age. He inspired John to establish a community youth sports program to help the family keep the legacy intact and help our children.
Big John with his son John Jr. hanging out at a charity event during the Christmas holidays.
John, established his 501 c3 non-profit organization in the summer of 2014. He begin International travel last year 2019, the teens went to Puerto Rico to help and they had a fabulous time.
The international component created the reason for giving back. First, he had to identify a country where baseball was not just a passion, but a part of the country’s fabric and Identify a need for baseball equipment for kids in that country. The American youth would become a part of the research and reason to raise money for someone you have never met because of the need. Finding similarities among the communities, partnering with a supplier to provide the goods. Common ground, training his youth to compete against boys that had no other way off of their island, but to play their backsides off. Then there was Player development component, partnering with a major league franchise to create exposure for these American Boys, enter the Atlanta Braves.
Curacao island is the home of former Atlanta Braves star Andruw Jones and current Braves star Ozzie Albies. Ozzie will meet the young players on Curacao so he can take them on a tour of the island. After Ozzie showed the youth where he grew up, he talked to them about his life on the island and his journey to the top of his game playing major league baseball. Ozzie was generous with his kindness and time hoping to help shape the futures of the young players visiting the island.
Ozzie Albies Atlanta Braves All-Star second baseman played host and tour guild for the Atlanta Metro youth baseball team during the ML King holiday weekend.
John Hollins is the Executive Director and founder of ATL Metro RBI, Inc., the program provides health and wellness sports activity, mentoring and leadership, as well as scholarships to kids in inner cities. To date, the ATL Metro RBI program has provided over $160,000 in scholarship money to students attending Tuskegee University, Morehouse College, Albany State College, Alabama State University, Lemoyne Owen, Clark Atlanta University, TSU, Benedict College, Grambling University, Southern University, Chipola NJCAA, Voorhees and other HBCUs. In 2015-2018 he has served passionately with other community leaders in the 100 Men organization. They mentor underserved young men and women towards helping to improve the quality of their lives by offering exposure and access to key community influencers, scholarships, leadership programs, and international travel.
Community service is a “Family Affair” John has been married to his college sweetheart Tekki for 33 years. His two sons L-R: John III and Jordan can come off the bench and pinch-hit at any given moment.
The RBI program has been supported in part by Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves organization and has, directly and indirectly, helped over 100 kids go on to play college baseball and professional baseball, through the affordable baseball programs and guidance provided. He has also touched 400 -500 students by providing a positive baseball coaching program every summer. In 2016 he received the Barak Obama Honoree award for Lifetime Achievement in community service for his continued work with our youth and community. He will forever be enshrined in our 44th President’s Library with all other recipients.
John started an international program with the sponsorship of Mizuno SportIing Goods in 2019. He, Mizuno and his players have provided over 100,000 dollars in much-needed sports equipment in the Caribbean islands of Curacao and Puerto Rico. On the island John was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award in 2019. Clemente is one of MLB greatest players and humanitarians. He lost his life trying to help his people on New Year’s eve in a plane crash in 1972. He was trying to deliver aid packages to his homeland, the island had just suffered a devastating earthquake.
John leads by example, he offers leadership and guidance drawing from his own college experience as a D1 All-Conference baseball player at Georgia State University. He lettered for four years. He was also an All-Conference academic athlete honoree in his junior year and was a 1st team All-Conference and 2nd place vote-getter for conference player of the year. He became an unrestricted free agent in his senior year and was selected by the Pittsburg Pirates organization. He majored in Marketing and minored in Public relations at Georgia State University. He is a proud Executive Board Member of Grady Memorial Hospital and serves on the Board of 100 Black Men of America, Dekalb Chapter.
He says, “I believe that working with kids will ensure a better future for our community and them. In life, you only know what you know, with today’s technology our youth don’t interact with their elders in the community as we once did. Our rich history is being suppressed because no one is teaching the pitfalls of yesterday. Our youth are not being mentored and they are making some of the same mistakes we made. I got involved in the RBI program for a few reasons, one is to teach the game the right way and to use the game to enhance the life experiences of young men with a focus on young men of color”.
Those life experiences involved but not limited to how to conduct yourself at all times on and off the field. He makes them understand why education should be their main focus and no plan B, plan B is what you fall back on, Plan A is what you will plan to do for the rest of your life, with the understanding nobody plays baseball forever, but you can live to be 90+ years old. So finding a passion for what you want to do after your professional, college or high school career is over is very important. You only know what you know, so he takes these young men on international trips with his partner Mizuno. In 2020 they were fortunate to get Ozzie Albies to meet them on his island of Curacao and take them around where he grew up, his parents’ house, his neighborhoods, his old playing field where he still comes home to train in the offseason.
John, has helped over 100 kids go on to play college sports and 17 made it to the pros, not one has ever given a dime back to the program (Mode of Operation).
There is no one to teach our young men of color the importance of giving back, we just give to them. You would think if you fed a child when he gets older he will feed his child, but if you don’t teach him the reason and the purpose than his behavior becomes expected. With food it’s a little easier because with hunger your child begins to cry out and so you feed him or leave him, not to hear the pain. With our community, it’s a little harder, because success allows you to move out of poverty, where they don’t hear the pain. Out of sight as you know is out of mind. So very few black men give back, especially athletes.
The Black athlete and other successful blacks have made gentrification easy. When their old neighborhoods are overrun with returning “White Flight” it is because those same homes they left behind have become ghettos because they refuse to return. Gentrification is the process of renovating and improving a house or district where these athlets once lived so that it conforms to middle class (white folks) taste. The system takes over their old neigborhood homes with inflated taxes and other well thoughtout maneuvers. The ‘White Flight’ whites seize the opportunity to leave behind those one and two hour rides home by car, carpools, bus, and subway train for 30 minute rides to their front door in what was once known as the inner-city.
Bing returns to the inner-city a place he once call home
NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing grew up in NE Washington, DC. He was one of the few black athletes who returned home DC/Detroit and tried to support and enhance the life style of the down-trodden.
In 2008 Dave announced in DC he was running for Mayor of Detroit. I advised him against running. I told him, “Dave, running for Mayor of Detroit is a “Dead End Street”! He won the election and suddenly became the ‘Enemy of the State.’ The city declared bankruptcy, the declaration of bankruptcy made Detroit the largest municipality in the United States to do so. Dave did not seek re-election in 2013.
Let the Renaissance begin–The Realestate Market in Detriot is now booming—I will give you one guess why, Gentrification with a White Mayor!
John Hollins hopes to build an academy with an educational component equal to home school and a training facility to allow more kids to learn in each major league city where young black boys are dying every day on the streets with no hopes or dreams and no place to train and play out the Game Called life.
Coach Hollins wants to teach his youth the importance of giving back and remembering who they are and where they came from. He found the best time to accomplish this is on Dr. King’s holiday. Helping fellow players on the islands is not the only part of their weekend adventure, the teens are required to do a research paper on the history of the island, the residents, and their independence. The youth finish their paper when they return stateside. They write about their personal experiences and how the trip impacted them. The youth that made the trip were from Dekalb, Clayton, Henry, Newton, Fulton, Rockdale, and surrounding counties.
ATL METRO RBI has helped over 100 youth go to college, while 17 are currently in the pros. The organization will continue to stress education and invest in developing future leaders since they cannot play sports forever. The program has been fortunate to have some of the players attend practice and talk of their humble beginnings when they played under Coach Hollins. It helps the young men realize their dreams from those who have practiced and played on the same diamond.
ATL METRO RBI is thankful for the help of the players who help make the organization work for the younger generation of baseball players: Jordan Hollins is a two-time JUCO National Champion and senior at Ottawa University in Arizona where he is one of the Captains and leaders of the program. BJ Armstead is a Morehouse graduate now working on his Masters’ degree in social studies at UGA, while managing his own company that works with mental health challenges for young athletes, the company, APOLLO is a 501 c3 non-profit organization. He is currently interning with Kansas City Royals.
Curtis Terry a Texas Rangers MLB home run leader in the last two years and a double-A stand out 1st baseman. Kyle Lewis a 2016 1st round draft pick, 11th overall, Rawlings College player of the year, currently on the 40 man roster of the Seattle Mariners.
Jason Davis was a standout pitcher and Outfielder. He is a Morehouse graduate and Phi Beta Kappa (3.75 GPA). He is currently a MLB scout for the NY Mets, he spend his youth playing for Coach Hollins. He said,
“I began playing for coach Hollins around the age of 16. I played with his travel ball team, Tigers USA, in the summer and he would go on to coach me at Morehouse College. The summer after my freshman season, he also led the RBI Atlanta 18U team as we competed in the Southeast Regionals. Coach Hollins was always a steady leader and a strong voice in the dugout; he got the most out of his players through respect and accountability, always treating us like and preparing us to become men. These lessons, both on and off the field, are what stick with me the most as I’ve begun my own matriculation into manhood. He helped me realize the value of networking and the positive impact that it can have on the lives of others, evident through his leadership with the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, RBI Atlanta (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), and countless other efforts. Coach Hollins’ love for his community and undeniable passion to empower those around him are qualities that make the world a better place”.
Coach Hollins: A man, a leader, a role model.
This unique opportunity would not have been possible without the sponsorship of MIZUNO and community partners Atlanta Braves Foundation, Atlanta Braves, MLB, Alston and Bird, Slappy and Sadd, Pain law, Better Baseball, Patrick Desamours-Edward Jones, and Bauer Harris.
To learn more about the Atl Metro RBI organization and how to donate contact email@example.com
THE MLB CHEATING SCANDAL ACCORDING TO COACH HOLLINS:
Stealing signs from the other team has been a part of the fabric of baseball sense the beginning of the game. What made it truly wrong in this case was they used technology that the other team did not have access too, so in essence they truly cheated and they added more technology to make it even more unfair, by notifying the batter when a certain pitch was coming based on technology and not human interaction. So the other team could never catch them getting signs.
Harold Bell is a pioneer in radio sports talk shows in America. He changed the way we talk sports. Sports columnist the late Dick Heller of the Washington Times said, “Harold Bell is the Godfather of sports talk—the good kind.”
RIP KOBE & GIANNA
Dear Dr. King, the odds of people of color overcoming racism and bigotry in America–are non-existent. Every time we make a little progress, they change the rules. The Kerner Report warned us in 1968 we were headed for two different Americas, one Black and one White—that America is here! They got it right, but no one was listening.
Pro Sports and Corporate America are our best barometers (White Privilege). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTWMUhYG0Y8/ Dallas, Texas sportscaster Dale Hansen.
Dr. King, meet a trail blazer, track and Field star, Roseanna “Rose” Robinson. She sat in protest almost a decade before the 1968 Olympic Game’s track and field stars, John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Ms. Robinson was a high jumper and sprinter for the U. S. Summer Pan American Games. It was the summer of 1959 and I had just graduated from Fairmont Height High School in Prince Georges County.
Chicago was the host city for the games and it was overrun with 2,000 athletes from 24 countries participating. As the U. S. national anthem started to play, the crowd inside Soldier Field rose to its feet in excitement, but Ms. Robinson kept her seat in protest. This track and field athlete was not there for the bloated displays of American greatness. To her, the anthem and the flag represented war, injustice, and hypocrisy.
Ms. Robinson was harassed for her political stand after the games were over. The most devastating blow was at the hands of the IRS. Just six months after the games they hauled her into court for back taxes and sentenced her to one-year and one-day. She refused to pay $346.00. She told the judge, “If I pay income tax, I am participating in the U. S. government’s propensity for violence and war.”
In August 2019 sixty-years later at these same Pam American Games, Ms. Gwen Berry a Hammer Thrower, stood on the podium wearing bright blue lipstick and a gold medal around her neck. As the end of the national anthem played, she bowed her head and raised her fist, issuing a silent protest motivated by her personal journey and her belief that, “America can do better.” She was penalized by the United States Olympic Committee and placed on probation and issued a public letter aimed at intimidating and discouraging further protest!
Gold medal winner Roseanna Robinson (top left) at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru in 1959. Natasha Cloud/Champion WNBA Washington Mystics (Center photo) and Gwen Berry (bottom right). These are women who stood and are standing for something.
The U. S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee just bestowed its highest honor on Tommie Smith and John Carlos two of the sports world’s most iconic activist. They were inducted into its hall of fame in November 2019? Ms. Berry was put on probation for taking a similat stand in 2019! Something is wrong with this picture.
Despite this hypocrisy, women keep stepping up to the plate. Recently the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever wore black warm-up shirts, a WNBA league uniform violation, in solidarity with the victims of police brutality. The Minnesota Lynx wore “Change Starts With Us: Justice & Accountability” shirts in a pregame press conference. Players from both the Lynx and Washington Mystics, have refused to take postgame interviews unless they could talk about social issues, especially, gun violence. The Mystics, have taken a stand against Justice and Just-Us, and kids killing kids. This effort is being led by Mystics star guard, Natasha Cloud.
Washington Mystics Natasha Cloud leading the fast break in WNBA finals 2019. She leads a faster break trying to stop violence in her community.
In the meantime, Washington Wizards’ high paid stars John Wall and Bradley Beal are missing the boat by just giving away toys at Christmas, book bags on the first day of school and turkeys at Thanksgiving in place of taking a stand against kids killing kids. It would be great to see them team up with the Mystics to help curb the everyday violence that occurs right outside the doors of their practice facility on Alabama Avenue SE, DC (Ward 8).
The biggest change the Wizards have made so far in the community since moving from Landover, Md. to the Nation’s Capitol, was when owner Abe Pollin renamed the team, the Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards. The city was once called “Chocolate City and the Wild, Wild West” all in the same breath. The make-up and the name Chocolate City is slowly disappearing, but the Wild, Wild West is a stubborn kind of fellow. The murder rate in DC is 5.9 100,00 people higher than the national average of 5.0, after dark Ward 8 is considered the most dangerous place to be in the Nation’s Capitol.
On January 20th the country celebrated Dr. King’s birthday and many sung and hummed the tune “We Shall Overcome?”
The truth of the matter pro sports franchises today are the worst example of an equal opportunity employer in America. During the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday, Major League Baseball for example of the 30 teams there are only three men of color who are managers. Currently, there are three vacancies because of a cheating scandal that has rocked the league. The chances of a Black/Afro-American being hired for one of those vacancies, the odds are against him. The Mets are the best bet of hiring a Black Afro-American, but the chances of a person of color being hired is 50-50 (Hispanic, Latino, Mexican, Dominican, Asia, etc).
The number of Black/African American players on the rosters of Major League Baseball is less 10% , Remember, Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947, seventy-three years later, Black ownership is ZERO!
NBA is much more progressive, blacks make up close to 75% of the league, and it has one black owner (Michael Jordan). And according to Super-Star Lebron James, Commissioner Adam Silver is a good guy because he allows them to be black and proud and protest!
The NFL is a disaster when it comes to being an equal opportunity employer. February 2020 they head into Miami for the 54th Super Bowl and celebrating 100 years, my question, what are they celebrating? There are 32 teams and no black/afro-Americans owners. The league is 70% black, and the persons of color owning teams, one is a Pakistani (Jacksonville) and the other is an Asian woman (Buffalo)!!!! There are 32 teams and only two black/African American head coaches and Ron Rivera (Puerto Rican).
The owners and system have all made a mockery out of the Rooney Rule. The rule was designed according to the NFL “To give ethnic-minority candidates an opportunity for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. It is an example of affirmative action, even though there is no hiring quota or hiring preference given to minorities, only an interviewing quota”, from the results that sounds about right.
If you were watching the showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, one of the commentators put on the screen a chart of the Shanahan Coaching Tree. There was not one Black/Afro-American, offensive or defensive coordinator on their tree. It was proof of the “Good Old Boy System” was still on the job. The top coaching trees belong to Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells (Todd Bowles was on both trees?).
The owners shown their true colors when QB Colin Kapernick took a knee to protest police brutality in America. They changed the whole narrative to “Fake News” using the flag and soldiers in and out of uniform to fan the flames of hate. The clincher, the 90 million dollars offered to the players to resolve issues in their community-there was an immediate split among the players, mission accomplished, the owners Conquered by Dividing!
NHL is the worst of the 4 pro sports franchises: There are 31 teams, no black coaches, no black owners, no black PR guys. And according to google there are 30 Black/African American NHL players, either playing on the parent club or with an affiliate. The commissioner Gary Bettman is a former senior Vice-President and general counsel for the NBA. I remember meeting with him when I was a Nike rep in the late 70s in the league office in New York City. In that meeting were Beckman, former player Rod Thorn, Vice-President of player personnel and Chief of Security, Horace Bondam. The meeting and discussion centered around players and community involvement. Things got kind of heated when Beckman blurted out, “You cannot use the players, we own them!” Some things never change.
WHY A CHANGE AIN’T COMING
A. In 2020 a black man in America still makes half the salary of a white man
B. The benefactors of Affirmative Action are white
C. The education system is broken
D. A cop’s bullet has replaced a lynch mob. A black man in America is three times as likely to be shot and killed by a white cop than a white man, despite the fact we make up only 13% of the population and he makes up 75% of the population!
E. The judicial system is still broken–Justice and Just-Us is alive and well.
In closing, hopefully when I am dancing with the Angels, I can say “I tried”.
Harold K. Bell
NoteWorthy: Read the rest of the story of track and field stars, Rose Robinson and Gwen Berry at https://zora.medium.com/sixty-years-ago-she-refused-to-stand-for-the-anthem-cf443b4e75c7/black
The late DC Superior Judges Luke C. Moore and Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton hanging out at Hillcrest Saturday Program during Community Day.
January 2020 marks twenty-seven years since the death of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and November 2020 marks twenty-six years since the death of DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore. They were two GIANTS when it came to challenging the system as it related to Justice & Just-Us in American Courtrooms. I would be remissed if I didn’t mention DC Superior Court Judge Harry T. Alexander in this same paragraph and in the same breath as it relates to Justice & Just-Us!
The reason I was so successful in my work with youth gangs and at-risk children was because Judges Moore and Alexander had my back when came to our community. Judge Moore was the first modern day Black American to be appointed U. S. Marshall in-Charge of the U. S. Marshall Service in America. He was appointed by my mentor President Richard M. Nixon. In 1877 Frederick Douglas was the first black to hold the office. He was appointed by President Rutherford Haynes and then approved by the Senate. Douglas was also the first black to be honored with a Presidential appointment, but his power of authority was limited to Washington, DC (whites were not subject to arrest).
Santa’s helpers Judge Harry T. Alexander and Redskin LB Harold McLinton host annual KIT toy party at Marriott twin-bridges hotel in Arlington, Va.
During the 1968 riots Luke Moore, Willie Wood (NFL) and I walked the U Street corridor arm and arm trying to save lives. It was here our bond was formed. When I received a Presidential appointment in 1969 from President Nixon, Luke played an important role in supporting my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble. After his appointment to the DC Superior Court as a sitting judge by Nixon, we teamed up to establish the first ever Half-Way House for DC juvenile deliquents on a Military Base in America. Col. Charles Reider the base Chaplin was the one who gave me the idea for Bolling Boys Base. He is seen standing in the middle with me on the right and a resident on the left. The Bolling Boys Base served as the home for the overcrowded Receiving Home in NE DC.
Bolling Boys Base was found on Bolling Air Force Base in SE DC in 1971. Chief Judge Harold Greene, Judges Ted Newman, Eugene Hamilton, Harry T. Alexander, and Henry Kennedy, Jr. would all follow Luke’s lead with Maryland (PG County) Judges Bill Missouri and Alex Williams (the first black State’s Attorney in PG County) would also join the team. Redskins Larry Brown, Harold McLinton, Roy Jefferson and Ted Vactor, media personalities Petey Greene, Bill Raspberry, Jim Vance and Fred Thomas, from Law-enforcement, Assistant Chief Tilmon O’Bryant and the first black chief of the department, Bertell Jefferson all became team players for Kids In Trouble, Inc. Our mission, to enhance the growth and opportunies for inner-city youth. The benefactors read like a Who’s Who!
Judges Newman, Alexander and Hamilton pay tribute to Redskin RB MVP Larry Brown during a KIT charity basketball game at Georgetown University
Judge Moore welcomes Redskin WR Roy Jefferson, judges Newman, Kennedy and Tim Baylor (NFL) to the annual KIT toy party at the Foxtrappe in NW DC.Judge Kennedy at the Foxtrappe during a Inside Sports Celebrity Fashion Show. He met his wife Altomease here during a toy party for KIT.
KIT was a “Family Affair” with the Kennedys, Randy Kennedy (Harvard University Professor) and Henry Sr. are seen here during a KIT toy drive.
Since losing Marshall, Moore, Alexander, and Chief Judge Greene we have come up short in the department of justice for all. We lost the lion of the court Harry T. Alexander in 2010. The turnout for this great man’s homegoing service I found rather embarrassing, especially by the absence of DC Superior Court judges and the black community at-large who chose not to attend. Today’s black judges stand on his shoulders, but were nowhere to be found during his service. Retired Judge Ted Newman was the only one I saw in attendance. The other no-shows know who they are that didn’t pay this man the respect he earned in the courtroom. Judge Alexander and I didn’t always agree, but I loved and respected the man. He didn’t just talk the talk he walked the walk.My friend the late Judge extraordinary Harry T. Alexander, a man who demanded respect in his courtroom for men and women of all colors, and creeds, no matter their status in “The Game Called Life”. One DC cop kept referring to a black on trial in his courtroom as “Boy”, Judge Alexander dismissed the case for mistaken idenity.
The Washington Post came up short as usual when we lose stand-up black men in our community. They would rather promote drug kingpin Rayful Edmond’s new DVD on Page One. I wrote a lionizing column on what is now a national media outlet CBS television own blog “The Bleacher Report”! Google, “Judge Harry T. Alexander A Super Star in the Game Called Life”.
Judges Alex Williams and the late Bill Missouri of PG County were contributors to KIT but both came up short in the courtroom. One was known as “The Hanging Judge” and the other was known to ‘Speak no evil and see no evil’, that was not justice for all–it was justice for some.
For those who didn’t know DC Superior Court Judge Luke C. Moore let me introduce you to this remarkable and unique human being. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fkafk63frbg
Noteworthy: A change ain’t coming if you sitting around waiting for it to knock on your door. My friend the late Congressman Elijah Cummings said it best, “200 years from now when you are dancing with the Angels, the question will be ‘What did you do to keep our Democracy intact, did you say and do nothing? We are better than that!’ My question to you, “Are you better than that”? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEXhZ8PwM-Y
Attorney General William Rogers and President Richard M. Nixon welcome Hattie and me to the Oval Office of the White House in 1969.
History was made in Washington, DC on November 18, 2019, just for the 3rd time in American history a sitting President of the United States of America was impeached, Donald J. Trump the 45th President. The two-acts for impeachment, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. In this impeachment process all goodbyes don’t mean GONE! The process now goes to a Republican Senate for the final word!
I remember another article of impeachment that took place in the United States House of Representatives on October 30, 1973, against President Richard M. Nixon, the 37th President of the United States. It was written that five low-level crooks were caught breaking into the Watergate Hotel on June 17, 1972. The Democratic National Committee Head Quarters was located in the hotel in South West, Washington, DC.
WHEN A HERO WAS NOTHING BUT A SANDWICH: MEET FRANK WILLS!
As a caddy for Vice-President Richard M. Nixon in 1957 I got the opportunity to get to know a man who would later become my mentor. In 1969 I received a Presidential appointment from Richard M. Nixon the 37th President of the United States. He would go on to become one of America’s most controversial political personalities. He now runs a distant second to Trump.
In 1974 I was just a spectator on the sidelines during the impeachment process. My education relating to the Watergate break-in came from the non-stop news media accounts. In February 2017 my wife Hattie and I celebrated my 60th anniversary of meeting Mr. Nixon at the Burning Tree Golf Course in 1957. I put visiting the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California on my “Bucket List”!
During our rounds of golf and rides to catch my bus, Vice-President Nixon would sometimes talk about his exploits of being a athlete, but admitted he was not that good. These photos captured our “Bucket List” visit to the new library in 2017.
Hattie and me are seen in a library photo of the President wearing No. 12 as member on the Whittier College football team. He also wore No. 23, he is one of five U. S. Presidents to play college football. I am sure if he had not become President–he would have been a sportscaster. Nixon loved talking sports. He was a big fan and friend of Coach George Allen of the Redskins.
My go to guy in the White House and the man who had my back was Mr. Herb Klein. He was the White House Director of Communications. He was the first to hold that position in White House history. Rumor has it Mr. Klein was too honest for the administration. The President felt he could not keep a secret when it came to Watergate and forced him to resign. Wrong Man: The man who could not keep a secret was White House Counsel John Dean!
Mr. Klein had been one of the President’s closest friends since he entered politics in the early 60s. He felt betrayed by his ouster. He returned to the newspaper business and was the editor in the Copley newspaper chain. Shortly after President Nixon died, Mr. Klein contacted me after reading my commentary on my unique relationship with Mr. Nixon in the Washington Post. He was coming to DC on business and suggested we have lunch at Union Station. I could not wait to see him and thank him for everything he had done for me during his tenure at the White House.
When we met I was surprised of how up-beat he was. All he wanted to talk about was how proud he was of me and my accomplistments as a sports radio talk show personality and my community endeavors during my White House appointment. I was blown away. He suggested that I should contact the Nixon Library in Yoba Linda, California so they could add my newspaper clippings, photos and memorabilia to the new rededicated library. He promised he would mail me a contact person at the library once he returned to San Deigo. Several weeks had passed since we met in DC and I had forgotten, but true to his word he did as promised. Mr. Klein died in 2009 he was a class act.
The visit to the library was an eye opener. Mr. Klein was nowhere to be found in the library and neither was my friend Art Fletcher! Art was the Assistant Secretary of labor for the admistration. He was known as “The Father of Affirmative Action”. Art was the architect of ‘The Philadephia Plan’. The plan required government contractors in Philadephia to hire minority workers. Art’s life was threaten several times while trying to implement the plan. When things got heated Nixon moved him out of the Labor Department, Art was nobody’s ‘House Negro’. When he headed the Negro College Fund he was given credit for helping to coin the phrase ‘A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste’.
During my visit I discovered the many high and low lights of President’s Nixon remarkable life. Most were on display for public consumption. Further enlightement came from the movie “All the President’s Men”, spotlighting the two so-called hero reporters of the Washington Post, Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein, The February Group, “Our Nixon” aired on CNN in June of 2017 and the 2017 release of “Mark Felt—The Man That Brought Down the White House”. The story is based on the FBI Associate Director known as “Deep Throat” who leaked information to the Washington Post. He was also considered a hero.
There were many unbelievable moments written about the Watergate break-in. The saddest moment for me was when I read the way the only black involved and real hero Frank Wills was treated. Wills was the security guard who uncovered the break-in.
During the investigation President Nixon famous last words, “I am not a crook” but the real crooks were caught ‘Red Handed’ in three piece suits. They defined the definition of ‘White Collar Crime’, after serving minimum sentences in jail they returned to civilian life to find jobs and opportunities galore waiting for them. The Washington Post, and the Democrats saw nothing heroic about Frank Wills and he died broke and homeless!
American history and many others have forgotten the real hero was a man that broke the case wide open. Frank was a twenty-four-year-old black security guard and just doing his job when he discovered locks at the Watergate Hotel had been tampered with and called the police. His life would never be the same.
June 17, 1973, will long be remembered in American politics. The arrest triggered the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.
On the night of June 17th Wills noticed a piece of duct tape on one of the door locks while he was making his first round. The tape was placed over the latch bolt to prevent the door from shutting. He removed the tape and continued his round. Thirty-minutes later, Wills returned to the door and noticed there was more tape on the same door. Without hesitation, he rushed up to the lobby telephone and asked for the Second Precinct police. The police arrived and turned off the elevators and locked the doors while accompanying Wills to search the offices one by one.
Wills remembered in 1997, “When we turned the lights on, one person, then two persons and then three persons came out, and on down the line five crooks in total.
During questioning the five men revealed what would become the biggest scandal in American political history.
In the meantime, our hero Frank Wills received a raise of $2.50 (equivalent to $15 in 2018). He was previously making $80 a week (equivalent to $480 a week in 2018). He asked for a promotion but did not get it.
According to the NY Times, Wills quit his job because he did not receive a raise. He then struggled to stay employed because media opportunities and appearances kept him away from work, employment opportunities consisted of minimum wage jobs.
For example; the man who is credited for helping to bring down the Nixon White House, John Dean is now known as “The White House Snitch”. Dean an ex-con has an on-going lucrative position as an analyst on CNN cable television. Former White House staffers, Attorney Rob Oldle, appointments’ Secretary Dwight Chapin and others tried to bar Dean from a speaking engagement at the new Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yoba Linda, California in 2009. They failed.
No thanks to Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein’s book “All the President’s Men” Wills became a movie star for a minute, he played himself on the Big Screen. The book relived their investigation into the Watergate scandal. A scene of Wills discovering the tape door latches was enacted in the 2017 film ‘The Post’ directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. He also appeared briefly on the talk show circuit.
Over the next 20 years, Wills struggled to establish and maintain roots and stability while suffering bouts of unemployment. He traveled between southern cities, with some time spend in the Bahamas. He said in an interview that Howard University feared to lose their federal funding if they hired him. A security job with Georgetown University did not last long. He also worked in a failed stint as a diet food spokesperson for legendary comedian Dick Gregory. In the mid-1970s, He finally settled in North Augusta, South Carolina, to care for his aging mother, who had suffered a stroke.
Together, they survived on her $450 per month Social Security checks. In 1979, Wills was convicted of shoplifting and fined $20. Four years later, he was convicted of shoplifting a pair of sneakers from a store in Augusta, Georgia and sentenced to one year in prison. By the time of his mother’s death in 1993, Wills was so destitute that he had to donate his mother’s body to medical research because he had no money with which to bury her.
Only when significant anniversaries of the Watergate break-in occurred did the decreasing spotlight reach out towards him again. In 1992, on the 20th anniversary of the burglary of the DNC headquarters, reporters asked if he were given the chance to do it all over again, would he? Wills replied with annoyance, “That’s like asking me if I’d rather be white than black. It was just a part of destiny.”
That same year, Wills told a Boston Globe reporter, “I put my life on the line. I went out of my way if it wasn’t for me, Woodward and Bernstein would not have known anything about Watergate. This wasn’t like finding a dollar under a couch somewhere.” Wills was quoted saying, “Everybody tells me I’m some kind of hero, but I certainly don’t have any hard evidence. I did what I was hired to do but still, I feel a lot of folks don’t want to give me credit, that is, a chance to move upward in my job”.
Otherwise, Wills tended his garden, made the local library his study hall, and led a quiet life with his cats. Frank Wills died at the Medical College of Georgia hospital in Augusta, Georgia at the age of 52 from a brain tumor.
Wills’ log entry made on June 17, 1972, at 1:47 a.m. is memorialized in the National Archives.
In 1957 I was just a student/athlete attending Spingarn High School in NE DC when I met Mr. Nixon at the Burning Tree Golf Course. One of my neighbors in my NE Parkside housing project Jodie Warr invited me to go with him out to Bethesda, Maryland on the weekends to caddy. I had never caddied before but once I put a bag on my shoulder it was easy.
I remember the day when Burning Tree golf pro-Max Elbin called me to caddy for Vice-President Nixon. I was in dilemma even then. First, I had earned a nice day’s pay for carrying two bags and I was in early with time on my hands. My homeboys liked for all of us to ride back to the projects together. We usually wait for each other to come in off the course.
One of the first warnings that I got during my orientation as it related to Burning Tree was to stay away from Petey Greene. He was a notorious hustler, drug abuser, ex-con, and a card cheat. Petey didn’t come out to the golf course just to caddy, his game was found deep in the woods behind the caddy shack. The game; cards and crap for all the suckers who been out in the cold or sun carrying golf bags all day and thought they were gamblers. He would lay in waiting.
I knew better, but for some reason, I was getting bored waiting for my homies. I decided to take a walk down in the woods and check Petey out. Big mistake, I was broke and back in front of the caddy shack with-in 10 minutes. I borrowed a dollar from Petey for bus fare and Little Tavern 10 cents hamburgers. As I headed back to the caddy shack I heard Petey yell, “See you next week and be sure to have my two-dollars.” He was charging me a dollar on a dollar. I never looked back or went back,
The last people I wanted to see were my homeboys—they had forewarned me. In the meantime, I was walking back and forth between the caddy shack and the parking lot trying to decide whether to look for a ride into town or wait for them.
Suddenly, I hear a voice calling, “Little Bell” and I turn to see Max Elbin the club pro standing with two bags. He wanted me to take the two bags of two golfers who wanted to get in nine holes before dark. I grabbed the bags and started for the first tee. I had no idea who these two men were, but at this point, I didn’t care. They had saved my day.
Several minutes later I see Vice-President Richard Nixon and his partner Attorney General William Rogers walking in my direction. The vice-president introduces Mr. Rogers and the next words out of his mouth are, “Harold, are you ready for an adventure?” Not fully understanding I smiled and said, ‘Yes sir’ but after three holes I understood the remark. His golf balls stayed in the woods and trees more than the birds and bees. On the other hand, Mr. Rogers was an excellent golfer.
I was thinking that since it was so late in the evening, along with the bad golf of Mr. Nixon they would only play nine-holes as predicted, but instead this would turn out to be an adventure of eighteen holes. As we approached the clubhouse on the 18th hole, I notice the lights were on and meant my homeboys had probably left for the long ride back to the projects. This was my first time at the golf course this late without them and a ride into DC.
The Vice-President came out of the clubhouse to pay me and thanked me for my patient and said, “We will see you next time”. Under my breath, I said, “I hope not”. It was now after 7 p. m. and it was the dark of night. There were a few cars in the member’s parking lot. The few who remained were more than likely involved in a high-stakes gin rummy game. The likely hood of me getting a ride into town before 10 p. m. did not look good. I would probably end up catching a ride with the hired help (cooks and locker-room men).
My saviors who had rescued me from going home broke three hours earlier came to my rescue again. The vice-president and the Attorney General came bouncing out of the clubhouse, and before I could say, “Goodnight,” the vice-president had offered me a ride into the town. It had never crossed my mind to ask them for a ride, even though members routinely gave caddies rides into town to catch their buses. The short walk to the parking lot I discovered my ride would be in a long black Cadillac that was as long as the parking or so I thought. I had never been in a car that big and beautiful.
The ride to catch my bus home would be a ride I would never forget.
Mr. Rogers would drive and Mr. Nixon would ride “Shotgun” (passenger) and I would get in the back. When I opened the door to get in the back seat it looked like a hotel room, but I was cool like I had been there before. You must remember it was 1957 and the Vice-President didn’t travel with an entourage of Secret Service Men. It was just him and Mr. Rogers who was a class act. As we pulled out of the parking lot I laid back into to enjoy the ride into town. The best way to describe the ride, it was like “Driving Ms. Daisy.”
In the meantime, as we pulled on to River Road which was the main road leading into DC, I notice the Vice-President had turned in his seat and was checking me out. The next thing I heard was “Harold where do you live in DC, how many brothers and sisters do you have and what school do you attend?” I took a deep breath because I was amazed that he was interested in this little black kid who lived in a NE housing project in a single-parent household and attended Spingarn High School! After I explained who I was and where I came from, his next question put me in my comfort zone.
He said, “Do you play any sports?” I stuck out my chest and said proudly, ‘I play football, basketball, and baseball. The Vice-President looked at me and raised his eyebrow and said, “Are you any good?” My response, ‘I am a starter in all three sports. I play end and defensive back on the football team, I play guard/forward on the basketball team and I play outfield on the baseball team. I then settled back in my seat as if to say ‘How do you like me now?”
He was by no means through with me, his next question made me put my head between my legs, he said, “How are your grades?” Oh no, he didn’t just say that! All I could say was, “Not good sir, not good.”
The last fifteen minutes of the ride Mr. Nixon spend explaining to me how important it was to do better as it related to my grades. I remember him saying, “Your education will carry you further in life than football, basketball, and baseball.”
Now talking about busting my bubble, he was right, but his advice was going in one ear and out the other. I was too busy smelling myself as an athlete. My “One Adventure” with the Vice-President became several more adventures and we developed a great friendship. I was amazed over the years as I read or heard people say how aloof, withdrawn and non-caring this great man was. The golf course was his oasis.
Mr. Nixon and Mr. Rogers were class acts from my limited view. They inspired me to be all that I could be.
Our conversations on the golf course and during our rides back to DC after their rounds of golf were inspirational and gave me hope in those trying times. April 1958 would be the last conversation and the last time I would see the Vice-President. He did something strange when we got to Westmoreland Circle to catch my bus—he got out of the car and wished me well. He said, “Harold, I am going to be leaving the country in a few weeks and I wanted to say so long” and he handed an envelope with a card. We shook hands and he got back in the car and they drove off.
I was left standing at the bus stop with an empty feeling and I could not understand why. The bus seemed like it took forever to arrive, but once it did I went straight to the back and sit in the corner. I open the envelope and there were two fifty-dollar bills in it. This was the first fifty-dollar bill I had ever had. The card read simply, “Finish your education, my friend.” The card was signed, Richard Nixon.
I will never forget how proud my mother was when I gave her one of the bills.
It would be another decade before we crossed paths again. In the summer of 1969, Petey Greene found me standing in front of Ben’s Chili Bowl on U street and said, “Your man is down on 7th Street touring the riot area”. My response was, ‘My man’? He said, ‘President Nixon fool’! I immediately sprinted to the 7th Street corridor to see my old friend, but the Secret Service would not let me get anywhere near him. I tried to tell them I use to caddy for him at Burning Tree Golf Course, but one of them said, ‘Write him a letter’ and I did. The rest is history.
In 2007 Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan) invited me to be his guest at the Hilton Hotel in NW Washington, DC. The ocassion, he wanted to introduce me to The February Group and President Nixon’s daughter Tricia Nixon Cox. The February Group was made up of former loyal Nixon White House staffers that formed after their leader was forced to resigned from from the White House. They would get together every several years to reminisce and pay tribute to their former boss (see link).
The lesson Learned: I could have been a security guard instead of a caddy!