A rainbow of children attend the annual Kids In Trouble, Inc Christmas toy party. Children are not born to hate–racism is taught!
The only thing to top the campaign wins of people of color and women on election night was a little two-year old kid giving free hugs as he was leaving a park. He inspired America and truly gave us hope! This month (November) will mark the 50th wedding anniversary of my wife Hattie and me. We also found Kids In Trouble, Inc. 50 years ago (December). It became our battle cry (save the children). We were able to touch thousands of kids and adults successfully without lying, cheating and stealing. My 1974 interview with Muhammad Ali inspired me to continue to make children first.
Ali pictured at the Cleveland Hospital for sick children with the little folks he loved.
The kid that gave free hugs was a referendum on NFL great Jim Brown’s bold statement to me several years ago, when I said, “We have to do better by our kids because they are our future.” His response, ‘Harold kids don’t vote!’ It was a wake up call for me I was finally seeing the real Jim Brown. His appearance in the Oval office with Kanye West last month was not by accident, he was following the money. The visit came after his bank account had grown from two-million to 50 million dollars. He is now own by the politicians and his past efforts of fighting and standing up for the poor and down-trodden took a big hit on his legacy. The Crips, Bloods and other gangs around the country made note of his appearance at the White House. The brothers in prisons he plans to visit were not fooled and they will be reminding him how he sold out!
Congresswoman and his friend Maxine Waters, track and field great Jackie Joiner Kersey and NFL Coach/Administrator for the Cleveland Browns Mike Holmgren were all right about him hustling the black athlete (aka John Thompson). In 2007 I organized a tribute to my homeboy and friend Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame defensive back Willie Wood. The tribute was held on the Water Front in Georgetown. The goal of the tribute was to raise monies to help pay Willie’s nursing home expenses. He was suffering from dementia and had fallen behind on his bills.
Willie’s lawyer Bob Schmitz a former teammate at the University of Southern California was one of the organizers. He assigned his family to collect the funds being donated at the door. Willie’s Green Bay Packer teammates came out big time, they included, QB Bart Star, RB Paul Hornung, WR Boyd Dowler, and DE Willie Davis. They were joined by players from all over the league, LB Sam Huff, RB Calvin Hill and WR Charlie Taylor (Redskins), WR Lance Alworth ( San Diego Chargers), TE John Mackey (Baltimore Colts), RB Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns) and a host of other players.
The great NFL Hall of Fame LB Sam Huff shows his support for Willie. Sam recently came down with dementia.
The tribute looked like a success. Several days later Willie Wood ask me how much money was raised and where was his money, I told him his lawyer Bob Schmitz and his family had his money. I then tried reaching out to Schmitz for several days without success. My next move was to call Washington Times’ sports columnist Dick Heller a long time friend of Willie’s. He had covered him since his high school days an played an important role in getting him inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989. Dick reached out to Schmitz and got through. He promised Dick he would be holding a press comference in the next several days and would make a report on the $57,000 raised and where the money was being kept.
We waited one week and no press conference. Dick tried reaching out again but Schmitz had disappeared without a trace. I called my ace in the hole Jim Brown and explained the situation to him and he agreed to call Schmitz. I gave Jim the number with the stipulation that I wanted Willie’s sister Gladys to participate in the call since she was family,(street sense and common sense kicked in), Jim agreed.
I waited two days for a follow-up report from Jim and Gladys but there was no call forthcoming. On the third day I decided to call Gladys for an update. Her response was not music to my ears. She said “I was on the call for two minutes when Jim ask me to excuse myself and he would take it from there!”
My next call was to Jim and his response was definitely not music to my ears. After I asked him what were the results of his conversation with Schmitz and why did he dismiss Gladys from the the call! His reponse, was one of foul language use by some of today’s Rappers. First, I thought I had dialed the wrong number and I had got Snoop Dog by mistake. Jim wanted to know why in the F was I questioning him about this BS. He started to use words like, MF, bitches and whores. His rant caught me completely off guard. He hung up on me and I spend the next couple of days trying to figure out what had just happen. I was thinking I should have left him in jail. My best guess, he had made a deal with Schmitz and was given a cut of the money–it fits his Mode of Operation. The $57,000 is still missing.
Jim Brown’s role with the Cleveland Browns had diminished and his excess to the players cut, and contributions to his non-profit Amer-I-Can were dropped from the Cleveland Brown payroll. All this took place after Holmgren took over as team President. Later in a interview hearn on WSKO radio in Syracuse, NY, Jim said, “I am a very sensitive person. I do like to be respected. I’m very loyal. I like it to be a two-way street.” Loyalty is any thing but a two-way street with him–its Jim Brown’s Way or the Highway! Former teammates and friends who really know him will tell you the same thing, but they will request anonimity because he has been known to go into his “Gangster Mode” if you crossed him.
The late Redskin LB Harold McLinton and boxing great Thomas Hearns making children first.
In 1996 I returned a $10,000 check to Don King, he claimed in a letter to me he wrote “Promises Made Promises Kept.” He was referring to a partnership deal he had reneged on relating to my Muhammad Ali project. After telling me he owed me because I was the only one in sports media who vocally and in writing had his back when mainstream media was dragging his name through the mud. He was referring to me writing lionizing commentaries in the Afro-American Newspaper, or I was heard on my Inside Sports radio talk show promoting his fight cards. I was seen on national television defending his rights for a second chance in the work place as the first black boxing promoter. He had served time in jail for killing a man over a number bet. In the meantime, I had to chase him around the country trying to get him to keep his word. He finally got pissed off at me and wrote the check. I returned the check to him as he was hosting one his boxing shows at the DC Armory here the nation’s capitol.
The look of surprise on King’s face as I return his $10,000 pimp check. My younger brother Tyrik who he hired as a photographer took this photo.
Don has always had a very vindicted personality, later that evening I went to the media window at the Armory to pick up my press credentials there were none. He had given instructions to Charlie Brotman to deny me credentials. He hired Brotman to promo the fight card and assign seats at the press table. I was not really surprised he had made it difficult for me aquire credentials at most of his boxing shows and he played a game of hide and seek. He hid in a trailer off site making it difficult for the media to comfront him. The problem, I would not laugh at his jokes unless they were really funny and I would not kiss his ring or his jackass for credentials.
Later that evening during the fight at the Armory I went over to say a few words to a guy I respected highly and considered my big brother. He was legendary R & B vocalist, Lloyd Price. Sitting with Lloyd was another musical giant Kenneth Gamble of Gamble & Huff. The legendary duo out of Philadelphia (Philly Sound). Lloyd was surprise to see and gets up and gives me a big hug. He then introduces me to Kenneth and then he heaps on me all this praise about the great things I was doing in the community and sports media, suddenly he goes completely silent and I follow his eyes into the boxing ring. We both see Don giving us this ice-cold stare from the ring. Lloyd returns to his seat and I walk away. The irony of Don King intimidation stare down, it was Lloyd who was responsible for Don meeting and connecting with Muhammad Ali. He was responsible for the crazy hair-do. I was in Cleveland for the exhibition that Ali fought for Children’s Hospital and this is where the introduction took place.
I had breakfast the following morning after the fight with Don and the late DC sports columnist, J. D. Beathea. J. D. was interviewing him for a story for the Washington Star Newspaper. When the interview was concluded, Don looked at me and said, “Harold Bell stick with me baby we are going places!” The last time I looked he went by himself. Lloyd was responsible for it all, but Don being Don kicked him to the curb, like he did Ali me and hundreds of others he could not buy off. It is often said, “You can take a N out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of him”–meet Don King! King and Lloyd have since kissed and made up. I am still on the outside looking in, but my peace of mind is not for sale.
I signed off of Inside Sports every Saturday saying, “Every black face I saw was not my brother and every white face I saw was not my enemy!” Meet Don King again.
I have never forgotten how he use one of my written commentaries in his boxing program for a Mike Tyson vs Pinklon Thomas fight in Philadelphia in 1987 without my permission. I was walking around the hotel and everyone was congratulating me for a nice column. I didn’t have a clue to what they were talking about. I arrived in the media room and there in the program was my commentary I had written in the Afro-American. I was overjoyed and pissed off at the same time. He never got my permission to use my commentary for the program. As fate would have it I would get on the same elevator with him and the first thing out of his mouth, “My man Harold Bell, man I didn’t know you could write like that (BS).” My response was ‘For free!’
I had never forgotten Don’s ‘Right Hand’ Connie Harper telling me in his New York office shortly after he moved from Cleveland. ‘Harold don’t ever take any money from Don unless you earned it!’ I had earned it, but he was in a pimping mode and ignored the expression of discontent on my face.
I was also seen on the Geraldo Rivera national television show. I was pitted against Geraldo who seem to hate Don with a passion, columnist Jack Newfield who had won a Pulitzer Prize for his book and documentary titled “The Life, Lies and Crimes of Don King” and my dear friend the late boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar. It was three against one. When I saw the panel I said to myself, “Oh shit how did I get myself into this mess!” I was there sitting in for the Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon. He had chicken out at the last minute. He found out that the topic was going to be about Don King. He said, “No way.” He then called me to sit in The Hot Seat for him. I now truly understand why Wilbon’s colleague Washington Post columnist John Feinstein once said, “Michael Wilbon is the biggest ass kisser in sports media.” I cannot vouch for that but I can say. he is one of the biggest liars in sports media and courage is not one of his strong suits.
ESPN’S Michael Wilbon a smiling face telling lies
On one of Jim Brown’s visits to DC I was taking him back to his hotel and Mike Tyson’s name came into the conversation. This led to a rant about how King was a treacherous MF and he was robbing Mike blind. He said, ‘I would advise you to put that n—-r in the wind.” One year later Jim and I are having dinner at Face’s Restaurant on Georgia Avenue in DC. The conversation turns to Don King again and he completely switches gears on me. He claims. ‘Don is a good guy he is just misunderstood.’ I almost choked on the sandwich I was eating. I later discovered his real beef with Don was he was blocking Mike from donating to the Amer-I-Can program. All is well that ends well, the two are now the best of friends, Don wrote a three figured check to the Amer-I-Can program. George Foreman has written many checks to the Amer-I-Can program. And according to my friend Prentis Byrd (Kronk Gym), Jim Brown successfully intercepted a letter I had addressed to George reminding him he was to come to DC for a fundraiser for Kids In Trouble. The bottom-line for Jim Brown is a dollar bill–his dollar bill.
The great Congressman from Ohio, Lou Stokes. He was one of the original members of the first Congressional Black Caucus that crew of Ron Dellums, Walter Fauntroy, Bill Clay, and Perrin Mitchell among others. They don’t make them like those brothers any more.
Jim Brown pretending kids are first.
The kid that gave free hugs and the thousands that walked out of school and went to the polls for the first time are keeping ‘Hope Alive’ for America. The gesture by the little kid took me back to my one on one exclusive 1974 interview with The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. He explained to me why he loved kids of all colors. His explanation will warm you heart. I am in the process of having it put on CD so that I can share it with the World. Lets follow the lead of the little kid and give a hug to someone today and maybe someday we will all be free.
When a hug is much better than a bullet!
The day I lost my hometown of Washington, DC forever–burn baby burn!
Ben’s Chili Bowl along with Industrial Bank of Washington and Lee’s Flower Shop are three of the landmark survivors of the riots. When the White House ordered the shutdown of all businesses in the city, U S Federal Marshall in Charge Luke C. Moore called President Lyndon Johnson and asked him to allow Ben’s to stay open-request granted. Luke would later go to become a sitting judge on the DC Superior Court. Luke, Willie Wood (NFL) and I walked arm in arm down the U Street corridor the first day of the riots.
Judge Luke Moore and Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton of the DC Superior Court attend annual Bolling Air Force Base Kids In Trouble toy party.
A story written by me in 2004 in the Washington Post titled “Breaking the Faith” based on my up close experience of how black crooked politians, pulpit pimps, cops, judges and spooks that sit by the door sold us out and one of the reasons why we have the DC we see and hear today!
I recently read in a post shared by George Coustantin on Face Book relating to a lost city known as the “Harlem of the West,” Five Points, in Denver, Colorado. Five Points was a predominately black neighborhood. The community of nearly 6,000 residents included black doctors, lawyers, dentists, clergy, railroad porters, as well as cooks, janitors, domestic servants and funeral directors. The community was created when Black Americans were prohibited from buying in other areas of Denver. I grew up in a similar community called Parkside/Mayfair/Eastland Gardens in NE DC.
The community’s Welton Street was home to over fifty bars and clubs, where jazz musicians Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and others performed. The Rossonian Hotel, built in 1912, was where many Black Americans stayed when they visited town due to Jim Crow laws (don’t forget Black Wall Street and DC Chocolate City).
Good cops: in 1968 my friend in the community former Assistant Chief Tilmon O’Bryant ask me to put my life on the line when he issued and swore me in as a DC cop with nothing but a badge. The badge allowed me to pass freely through the police and military barricades set up around the city. Cops on the beat Charles Robinson and Andrew Johnson (not pictured) teamed up with me to help bring peace to our streets–but were sabortaged by the FOP!
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture says,
“Part of our mission is to work with individuals, organizations, regional museums, and historical societies to identify treasures and reclaim them for future generations to enjoy. We’re excited to partner with the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, and the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center in Denver for our Community Curation Program. Join us to learn how to preserve your family history.” If these are really the words of the Smithsonian National Museum they are talking out of both sides of their mouth!
December 1968 shortly after the riots my wife Hattie and I found our non-profit organization Kids In Trouble, Inc in the Hillcrest Children’s Center (now the YMCA). Redskin players RB Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton are seen teaching water safety to inner-city kids as NFL Films record promo.
My wife Hattie T teaching potential merimaids of Cardozo HS how to swim
When we tried to recruit black volunteer mentors from Howard and DC Teachers colleges none were to be found. We had to bus white students in from a Seven-Day Adventist Church in Tacoma Park, Md. every Saturday to meet the needs of kids in trouble.
I don’t know how the Black History in Denver, Colorado was lost or suppressed, but I clearly know how my history is being lost and suppressed. For example; my history is being lost because of black folks like Lonnie Bunch and Damion Thomas who are suppose to be “The Gate Keepers/Curators” of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) instead they are looking like “The spooks that sat by the door.” Their Assignment, ‘block other blacks!’ To show you how small and petty they are they denied me press credentials for ‘The Grand Open’. Control freak boxing promoter Don King must have told them I don’t kiss rings or jackasses.
I am a pioneer in (audio, video and oral testimonies) in sports talk radio and television. I changed the way we talk sports in America and I also changed the way we talk sports around the World.
How could I have touched the lives of all the names listed below and they can have buildings and streets named after them and be considered for a place in any hall of fame or museum without me? How can the ‘The Gate Keepers’ at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), ignore the fact in writing that the owners of the Washington Post Katherine and her son Donald Graham kidnapped my tag ‘Inside Sports’ my popular sports talk show and made it their own in 1978? It sounds a lot like ‘Old Christopher Columbus’ discovering America to me. The two Grahams assigned a staff of writers to take my title and go to New York City and publish ‘Inside Sports Magazine.’ The magazine folded two years later after losing millions of dollars because they could not transfer my radio success into print. In the meantime, Newsweek owned by the Washington Post also now own the Copy Rights to Inside Sports!
Talking about “Breaking the Faith” these are the same two Grahams who convinced Cathy Hughes in 1986 to sell out Congressman Walter Fauntroy and dozens of other black community activist as they were participating in a boycott of the newspaper giant for racial discrimination in advertising.
Hughes in the cover of darkness made her way up the backstairs of the paper and made a deal with the Grahams to call off the boycott without the knowledge of Fauntroy and other partipants. This was the birth of Radio One with the Grahams providing financial support.
Other testimonies; “Harold and I have a lot in common. He has persevered and stood fast for the principles in which he believes.” Muhammad Ali
“Harold, you help prepare me for the NBA.” Dave Bing (NBA Hall of Fame)
“Harold if you had been white you would be a millionaire and they would have been calling Howard Cosell the white Harold Bell.” Ali Business Manager, Gene Kilroy
“Harold, I am the Welterweight Champion of the World today, you were there when no one else was. Sugar Ray Leonard
“Harold has always been a voice for people who didn’t have a voice. He has always called it as he saw it. He has been an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other black broadcasters.” James Brown (NFL/CBS Sports)
Benefactors of Kids In Trouble & Inside Sports
David Aldridge (Washington Post/TNT)
Tim Baylor (NFL)
Raymone Bain (Michael Jackson publicist)
Dave Bing (NBA)
Kevin Blackistone (ESPN)
Larry Brown (NFL MVP)
Jamie Foster Brown (Sister 2 Sister Magazine)
Jim Brown (NFL)
James Brown (CBS/NFL)
Adrian Branch (NBA)
Maureen Bunyan (TV 7)
Adrian Dantley (NBA)
Bobby Gardner (NFL)
Cornelius Greene (Ohio State)
Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. (ESPN)
Glen Harris (DC Sports talk radio)
Darryl Hill (Naval Academy/University MD)
Grant Hill (NBA)
Robert Hooks (DC Black Rep)
Cathy Hughes (Urban Radio & TV One)
Tracy Jackson (NBA)
Lamont Jordan (NFL)
Mark Too Sharp Johnson (Boxing)
Don King (Boxing)
Randy Kennedy (Harvard Law Professor) Alfred Liggins (Radio and TV One) Earl Lloyd (NBA Pioneer)
Jair Lynch (Olympic Gymnast)
Sugar Ray Leonard (Boxing)
Butch McAdams (DC Sports talk radio)
Vasti McKenzie (the first female Bishop in the AM & E church)
Tony Paige (NFL)
Lavonia Perriman (Radio talk show host)
Bill Raspberry (Washington Post winner of the Pulitzer Prize)
Bill Rhoden (NY Times & ESPN) Darrell Sabbs (Cardozo HS)
Donnie Simpson (WKYS/Bet)
John Thompson (GT Basketball)
Roland ‘Fatty’ Taylor (ABA/NBA)
Lonnie Taylor (Capitol Hill )
Cecil Turner (NFL)
Chris Thomas (Comedian)
Omar Tyree (Author)
Jim Vance (DC TV-4 anchor)
Michael Wilbon (Washington Post/ESPN)
Michelle Wright (DC Radio personality)
Alex Williams (Federal Judge)
Doug Williams (NFL Super Bowl & MVP) Robin Sugar Williams (gospel vocalist)
Willie Wood (NFL)
The bottom-line black folks are still comfortable in letting others (mainstream media) pick and chose our heroes. The latest example; NBA great LeBron James, he has been selected as “The Chosen One!” How do I know–I have seen several of The Chosen Ones’ up close and personal to include, Magic Johnson, Sugar Ray Leonard and now LeBron James.
HBO recently named James and his partner Maverick Carter the Executive Producers of a two part Muhammad Ali documentary titled “What’s My Name.” First, I would like to know who advised James he was an authority on Muhammad Ali? There are some who think because he is the greatest basketball player in the NBA and he has millions of dollars in his bank account that qualifies him to be executive producer of a documentary of one of the most admired black men in the World?
The recently released 41 second trailer was the worst I have ever seen representing Muhammad Ali. Judge for yourself/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5CZ7p6F_vI
*Check out the voice impersonation of Ali (fraud)
*There is nothing in the trailer that resembles Ali (photo or live shot)???
Jarrett Bell NFL columnist for USA Today called me in November last year to ask me to lookout for his friend Branson Wright. Branson is a columnist and sports talk host in Cleveland and was coming to DC to promote a documentary. The documentary was relating to a former Ohio basketball phenom who had lost his way because of drugs and the criminal justice system. I thought to myself there must be dozens of those stories on the playgrounds of DC! I have already covered most of them up-close and personal. But I can never say “No” and I told Jarrett I would do what I could to connect his friend.
I don’t know if it was by coincident but his friend would becoming to town the same week that LeBron James and the Cavaliers would playing the Wizards. The Cavaliers would beat the Wizards in OT. I gave Lebron a copy (teaser) of my one on one interview with Ali after the press conference. He has not even had the professional courtesy to get back to me. This made me do further research on Branson Wright the sports columnist and why would he travel all the way from Cleveland to promote his documentary and seek financial relief for his project? He is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a sports talk show host and beat reporter for the Cleveland Cavaliers–home of “King James.”
In conversation with a Cavalier player that knows both men I was told that Lebron and Maverick Carter were the first to see Branson’s documentary, but did not acknowledge or support the project. He said, “I was not surprised, Lebron is a very selfish guy and you better keep a close eye on your Ali interview!” I called and asked Branson about LeBron being the first to see his documentary, his response was “No Comment!” I then called the player back to tell him Branson would not confirm, he said “I understand LeBron and his crew are very vindictive, he is not as black as many think. The school is a sham all he did was put up the money the city owns the school and there seem to be more white teachers than black, but I still applaud him for the effort.”
Now after seeing the Ali trailer. my conversation with LeBron’s teammate and the silence of Branson Wright made my antenna go up. I am now thinking Lebron and his crew are thinking of trying to use some of my Ali interview footage despite my copy right protection. I know for a fact there is limited original footage available for a two part documentary as they claim.
I have already been burned by Corporate America once (Washington Post) see https://sundaylongread.com/2018/01/28/inside-inside-sports-the-oral-history/
My interview footage is one of a kind, but a thief is a thief, especially when they think money makes them smarter than the black brother they just left behind. I not only know Muhammad Ali’s name but I know his history.
Coming soon to social media a one part slide show documentary titled,
“Uncovered & Uncrowned: Harold Bell & Muhammad Ali”
Introduction: George Foreman-Geraldo Rivera-Don King and Muhammad Ali
TOPICS OF DISCUSSION AND ALI’S RESPONSE IN OUR ONE ON ONE INTERVIEW:
Ali-The difference between a fighter and boxer (Photos of Joe Frazier & George Foreman)
Ali-The eyes of God
Ali-Our precious gift: Black women and children
Ali-Personal Goals in ‘The Game Called Life’
Bert Sugar-The Greatest
THE BROTHERS’ REFLECTIONS:
Roy Foreman-George’s state of mind in Zaire
Rahman Ali-Just the two of us
Closing: slow motion Sonny Liston-Joe Frazier-George Foreman
Theme song: Muhammad Ali
“Harold and I have a lot in common. He has persevered and stood fast for the principles in which he believes.” Muhammad Ali
“Harold if you had been white you would be a millionaire and they would have been calling Howard Cosell the white Harold Bell.” Ali Business Manager, Gene Kilroy
“Harold, I am the Welterweight Champion of the World today, because you were there when no one else was. Sugar Ray Leonard
“Harold has always been a voice for people who didn’t have a voice. He has always called it as he saw it. He has been an inspiration and motivation for me and a lot of other black broadcasters.”
James Brown (NFL/CBS Sports)
“Harold Bell is the Godfather of sports talk—the good kind.”
Dick Heller (Washington Times)
“Harold Bell is the Heavyweight Champion of sports talk.”
Don King (Boxing Hall of Fame)
NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd was heard on the ESPN John Thompson sports talk radio show saying “Harold Bell maybe controversial but I have yet to hear someone call him a liar.”
“Birds of a feather flock together” GT Coach John Thompson and Cathy Hughes of Radio and TV One benefactors of Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports.
Let me remind Lonnie Bunch in the words of Dr. Harry Edwards the architect of “The 1968 Olympic Project.” The project spotlighted the raised black gloved fist of sprinters and medal winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos. They were protesting racism in America. He said, “Harold, congratulations, your archives are valuable and should be given the broadest possible exposure. Your discs and videos of your programs belong in the new Smithsonian Institution of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). A wing of the new museum will be 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”! Dr. Harry Edwards. In the words of actor Jack Nicholson in the movie a Few Good Men, “You Can’t Handle the Truth!”
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has named October 19th as Robert Hooks Day in Washington, DC in recognition and in honor of the DC Black Repertory Theater Company he found in 1971. The company and its alumni association and multi-media training institute will honor Ed Murphy and 11 other luminary leaders who were an integral part of the company during the two day celebration from Thursday thru Friday. The celebration will include an exhibition of 26 years of theater memorabilia that will be on exhibit on Thursday afternoon at Bus Boys and Poets located on the corner of 14th & V Streets, NW from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm.
The celebration will continue the following day Friday October 20th at the Lincoln Theater for a Gala tribute and awards celebration. Actor/producer Robert Hooks proves the old adage “You can always come home.” He returns to Washington, DC after almost an in and out four decades of now you see me and now you don’t. He returned to Hollywood in 1978.
Robert/Bobby is a native Washingtonian he grew up in the Foggy Bottom section of NW DC now known as Georgetown. A section of town he will hardly recognized as his birth place as well as his old haunts of the Nation’s Capitol (F Street—14th Street –U Street and Georgia and Florida Avenues).
Robert/Bobby and Murph were close friends and colleagues throughout the decades of the 70s. Everyone is aware of the story of how he came back home in the 70s with this grandiose ideal of starting a theater company but had no place for an office and workshops. It was then Murph stepped in and offered the use of his warehouse (free of charge). The warehouse was located next to his restaurant. “It was only then could we begin to recruit the local talent. Without this gracious and heartfelt gesture by Murph it would have been much more difficult to get the company off the ground,” Robert/Bobby says.
He remembers, their friendship was found and shared on their love for DC and its people. “We wanted to see the city make a strong comeback from the upheaval after the 1968 riots.” The present day 2018 upheaval was not what they had in mind (gentrification). If I had to describe the relationship of Murph and Robert in a movie title, it would be “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”—much like Paul Newman and Robert Redford, they had each other’s back.
Time always brings about change and in the 90s Murph constantly re-invented himself to rise up with even more creative and unique business ventures. His attitude was if one thing failed he had no problem in trying and trying again. He could go from Superman, to Batman to Spiderman in the blink of an eye. He was always ready for the next challenge and he never needed a phone booth to change into his next suit or uniform.
In 1992, he founded the African-American Business Association (AABA), which addressed the needs of small businesses in the heart of the black community. Long before President Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus to stop whining, groaning and complaining, he was telling the black community to stop complaining and practice ‘Self-help’ and support each other, but his shout-out was all about love for his people. Murph was black and proud long before soul brother James Brown’s classic “Say it loud—I am black and proud!”
Murph’s was a hustler and gambler and his street name was ‘8 Ball’. He seldom saw a pool table he didn’t like. I met Ed in 1965 my partner and mentor Ralph ‘Petey’ Greene introduced us. H Rap Brown, Petey and I were standing in front of Sam K’s Record store located at 7th and T Streets, NW on a bright sun shiny day. The three of us had just been hired by the United Planning Organization a community self-help organization as Neighborhood Workers in the Cardozo/Shaw Community. From that day on I watched Ed play the Game called Life by his own rules without fouling out.
I first became aware of the “Power Lunch” was in the 70s when DC’s In-Crowd would gather every day during the week at Ed Murphy’s Super Club for lunch on the Georgia Avenue corridor near the Howard University campus. You could find politicians, judges, entertainers, media personalities, athletes and everyday people sitting at the bar or at their favorite table having lunch. Petey and I would meet there several days a week. We made the restaurant our secondary office.
During the holidays leading up to my Christmas toy parties for the kids, Santa’s Helpers who had names like Black Danny, Slippery Jackson, Bob Wayne, Dog Turner, Phila. Jake, Zack, Shep, etc would leave toys or evelopes for my parties at the restaurant. Ed would joke he was going to start charging us rent.
One year Joe Nesline left an evelope for me with Ed. This was strange because he usually left toys or money at Billy Edwards’ boxing gym at 9th & S Streets, NW. During lunch one day Ed came over to the table to chit chat with me and Petey. He handed me an evelope and waited until I had open it. The evelope had five one-hundred dollar bills in it and a note from Joe saying “Merry Christmas.” Ed looked at me and Petey and said, ‘No charge.’ I think Joe’s visit was out of curiosity about Ed and the restaurant. The restaurant and Harambee House Hotel had become land marks in the Nation’s Capitol.
There were other black restaurants in town during that era, Sylvia’s and Billy Simpson’s but none could match the locker room camaraderie of Ed Murphy’s Supper Club—when you walked in you could feel the energy and everyone felt connected!
Face’s Restaurant was another Georgia Avenue landmark that came close to matching Murph’s supper club but in the final analysis it was still a distant second.
Murph, had no problem calling out politicians, ministers, business leaders to support each other. He was convinced if we spend just a portion of our 4 billion dollar annual income within our own community, we would be upholding the true meaning of Harambee (Swahili pulling together). He, was unlike today’s businessmen, ministers, politicians and community advocates, he was a man for all seasons and all people. He made an effort to be Inclusive instead of Exclusive.
It was nothing unusual to walk into the restaurant and see me having a “Power Lunch” with Boston Celtic greats Coach Red Auerbach and KC Jones, or Roy Jefferson, Jim Brown, Willie Wood, Bert Sugar, Spencer Haywood, etc.
Murph, also started the Annual Small Business Awards dinner, each year he honored small business leaders who were often overlooked. He was an advocate for small business. He coined the motto and creed for (AABA) “Spending our dollars where we create jobs and opportunities for others in our community”. Ed and Pearl became a team in—–and found the African-American Media Incubator which was the first African-American broadcasting school in the country.
Gentrification was not a part of their ‘Game Plan.’
Ed and Robert friends to the end–it was one for all and all for one.
Ed hit the jackpot in 1991 when he married Sharon Pearl Murphy. There was now a sheriff in town and she had his back. There many great community and business projects they collaborated on but founding the African-American Media Incubator (AAMI) was truly a milestone. It was the first African-American radio broadcasting school in the country.
On Saturday October 15, 2011 the legacy of Ed Murphy lived on as City Leaders met on the front lawn of Howard University Hospital. They re-named Byrant Street, N. W, “Ed Murphy Way.” He lives on now again as the DC Black Rep remembers him, a man who did it his way! Ed Murphy’s Supper Club was one of a kind much like the man himself.
P. S. There will be two more men receiving DC Black Rep Luminary Awards who touched me and inspired me to be all that I should be, my mentor and go to hell friend, Ralph ‘Petey’ Greene. I became a mentor to Darrell Saabs when I was on the football coaching staff at Cardozo High School in the late 60s. He was a first team All-Inter-High defensive back. Congratulations!
Who will save the babies—not the cops, politicians or the preachers!
Edward Matthew Glass again I want to thank you for that nugget of a phrase I found from you in my email. I could not have said it better—it was PRICELESS!
If you missed what he said about the worst kind of racism found in the black community. He said, “It is the kind of racism you have to fight off with one hand because the other hand is too busy writing trying to keep slave negroes (including family) from attacking me (behind my back) while I defend them.”
He hit a homerun with me. In 1970 on my successful sports talk show “Inside Sports” I coined a phrase I closed out my show every Saturday evening with. “Every black I saw was not my brother and every white face was not my enemy! I learned the hard way thanks to John Thompson, Sugar Ray Leonard, James Brown, Dave Bing, Adrian Dantley, Darryl Hill, Adrian Branch, Cathy Hughes, Chris Thomas, Cornelius Greene, Michael Wilbon, Jair Lynch, Kevin Blackistone, Bill Rhoden and Larry Fitzgerald, Sr. Each one of them came through Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports before their 15 minutes of fame. The common denominator after success, they all disappeared without a trace. And then there were the already made super-stars who faced racism despite their star-status and had to turn to me for help and support, they include, Jim Brown, Calvin Hill, Don King, and Doug Williams.
NFL runners Jim Brown and Calvin Hill smiling faces telling lies
What made me and Inside Sports different from today’s media personalities—I was a community personality and star all-around athlete when I hit the airwaves in 1965. It all started with radio talk show icon, Petey Greene. He was my partner and mentor. Petey gave me 5 minutes on his show, “Petey Greene’s Washington” every Sunday evening on W-O-L Radio to talk sports and the rest is sports talk radio history. Today’s black media personalities only become experts as it relates to the black experience after they are hired as a writer at the Washington Post, New York Times or become an reporter on one of the local TV channels. Check their backgrounds and track records for working in the war zones of the inner-city in the fight for civil and human rights before they became media personalities—you will come up with zero. Their only hands on black experience is walking and driving while black.
WR for the champion Virginia Sailors minor league affiliate Washingto Redskins
The real problem in the black community it is overrun with Player-Haters. They bring with them, envy and jealousy traits that run deep. Success of any kind experienced by another person of color whom does not sell-out and can think for one’s self are often seen as a “Trouble Makers!”
Far too many blacks think white folks hate them—the truth told is that white folks envy us and want to be like us! For example; the suntan lotion business is a trillion dollar industry and it is not because our cabinets and shelves are overrun with the product. Why do you thing big butts, big lips, big noses are the in-thing with white folks today? They take our soul and jazz music and claim it as their own. They even take our gestures, high fives, fist bumping, dance routines (NFL). Do you remember the big deal they made over The President and First Lady Fist Bumping on National television? They also take our radio sports talk formats “Inside Sports” aka Washington Post. Read below of how the Washington Post and its owner Katharine Graham stole Inside Sports while I was in studio doing my show. She liked the show so much she took it and I was only five minutes away with her sports editor George Solomon and Michael Wilbon, Dave Dupree, Donald Huff, Byron Rosen, Leonard Sharpiro in studio talking sports. No surprise this has been their mode of operation for over 400 years.
Washington Post sports editor George Solomon kneeling with sun glasses 2nd from right
This is letter I received from Katharine Graham’s son Donald as they were in the process of stealing my show tag Inside Sports asking for anonimity.
The problem is that we don’t like ourselves. When are we going to understand that the 1% are not going to volunteer to give their Power & Money to us (reparations or out of the realm of logical thinking in 2018). Those of you who think you have made it are in for a rude awaking. You can run, but you cannot hide behind those Gated Communities forever. It’s a given you will eventually have to come out and join “The Real World’ and when you do there is the possibility you or your children will encounter racism in the blink of an eye.
Racism comes in all sizes and colors the worst kind is an encounter with a white or black racist cop with a badge and gun on a lonely and dark road. The road can be in Rock Creek Park in the Nation’s Capitol, or a stretch on Lottsford Road in Prince Georges County or DaKalb County in Atlanta. When that scared cowardly cop gets out of his or her car and approaches your vehicle with their hand on their gun before he ask to see your driver’s license and registration the first thing he sees is your black face—you are guilty as charged with a DWB (driving while black).
You won’t have time to explain that you are from, Trinidad, Haiti, Jamaica or some other Caribbean Island and you are not black—too late. He has already determined who you are by your black skin (the big N). Racism/Police Brutality is American as Apple Pie. It is often said if you don’t know your history you are bound to repeat it. In 2018 we are repeating the 1800s. I am going to give you a quick History Lesson 101 as it relates to racism and police brutality in America. It all started during slavery when the slaves ran for their freedom and were chase by the slave owners with guns, dogs, whips, ropes and house nigras. Many slaves were caught and hung by their necks from the nearest tree. Today little has changed because the former slave owners became card carrying members of the KKK and they were the first to infiltrate today’s police departments all across the country. They found the FOP and the FOP is now the KKK.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser appointing troubled cop Peter Newsome as new DC Police Chief. His past history is of domestic violence and a known alcoholic. He was found in a DC street lying drunk with gun in hoster. Help is definitely not on the way in DC.
I spent 50+ years working in the streets in the District, Maryland and Virginia with police officers in each jurisdiction. I have seen “The Good, Bad and Ugly when it comes to cops”. My two brothers were law-enforcement officers. I was up close and personal as they experienced “The Thin Blue line and the Code of Silence” from their fellow officers while trying to be ‘Good Cops in the hood’ in corrupt departments (U. S. Marshall & DC cop). My best friend Andrew Johnson was a DC cop and homicide detective and he retired as a Supervisor with the DEA. My mentor Luke C. Moore the first modern day U. S. Marshall appointed by the President of the United States. We walked arm and arm with Willie Wood (NFL) during the 1968 riots on the U Street corridor.
Judge Luke Moore and Redskins LB Harold McLinton (Santa), WR Roy Jefferson and Hall of Fame LB Dave Robinson play Santa’s Helpers for needy children.
DC’s first black chief Burtell Jefferson meets Top Cop Sgt Earl ‘Bull’ Bell
Luke was later appointed as a judge for the DC Superior Court and maintained his relationship with Kids In Trouble and Inside Sports. During the late 60s I was a youth gang task force member with the DC Department of Recreation and Parks Roving Leader Program. DC’s first Black Mayor Walter Washington appointed former New York City Police Chief Patrick Murphy as his Public Safety Director. I was one of the Roving Leaders assigned to meet with Mr. Murphy once a month to discuss a strategy to overcome our gang problem. Patrick Murphy later became known as the “Godfather” of Police Community Relations in America.
Politico Magazine in 2014 published an article titled “PG County the Ferguson Next Door.” The article is about the lessons we should have learned from PG County’s History of Police Brutality (one of the worst in the country). In 2007 a young black man who was arrested for the hit and run death of a PG cop was found hung in his cell in a Upper Marlboro jail (on Chief Melvin High’s watch). A jail security guard was charged with conspiracy in his death.
I was overjoyed that my friend Federal Judge Alex Williams a regular on Inside Sports and a member of the Board of Directors of KIT was the sitting judge. He sentenced the jail guard to a year in jail for conspiracy. The real killers are still on the loose. Last year two cops from the PG County Police Department on appeared on Fox 5 News wearing a hood talking about the rampant racism in the PG County Police Department. Several months later another PG County cop appeared on NBC TV 4 news echoing the same concerns.
Former Federal Judge Alex Williams participant in a KIT Forum
The Chief Hank Stawinski claims “There are no racial problems in his department and requested the two officers to bring their complaints to him!” Fat chance, if these officers are scared of their own colleagues what chance do we have as black residents in the county and in this country? In 2016 I wrote an open letter and send it Priority Mail requesting a signature to Gov. Larry Hogan. My complain “Cowboy Cops” patrolling the streets harassing residents in packs of threes. I also challenged him to go to the Upper Marlboro Court House on any given Monday morning (Under Cover Boss). I suggested he sit in traffic court and count the number of blacks vs whites (8-1). I never received a response. His office confirmed he had received my letter.
Governor Larry Hogan–the buck stops at the top. No light at the end of the tunnel.
I also emailed Pastor John Jenkins of First Baptist Church of Glen Arden and asked him for his support, his response, “Dear Brother Bell, I feel your frustration, but I am in contact with our Chief of Police and our States Attorney and we are going to work through this. We must pray and keep the faith.” Recently two poorly trained cops were shot by a resident while trying to serve a warrant on the wrong home. Have we forgotten this same scenario took place in Tennessee several years ago where a husband and wife were watching the evening news on television in their home when police broke down the door in a raid of their home only to discover too late they had the wrong apartment! They were met with gun fire from the husband John Adams who was shot and killed. The white officers were 24 and 25 years old. Mr. Adams was 61 and black. A jury not representing the black community consisted of eleven whites and one black. No surprise they acquitted the white Lt. Steve Nokes who led the raid and the two white cops walked away free men to kill again.
Lets fast forward to Dallas, Texas and Renee Hall the black chief of police who claims she cannot fire officer Amber Guyger after she shot and killed 26 year old Botham Jean in his own apartment. He was unarmed—I will bet you Chief Hall has been brain washed with “It’s us against them” mentality. The next time a cop tells how dangerous their job is remind him or her they volunteered and they were not drafted.
It is amazing how silent the politicians, ministers and community advocates have become during these tubulent times of police shootings of unarmed black men in our community. It makes you wonder what Pastor Jenkins is talking about with the Governor, Chief and States Attorney? We can measure if a change is going to come when our New County Executive takes office in November. Her top priority should be change at the top of the PG County police department. If there is no change–things will remain the same and the cops will keep shooting and we will keep ducking!
https://blackmeninamerica and purchase my new book “The Legends of Inside Sports: My Walk Through Sports History with Champs & Chumps!
Book signing Sunday September 30th @ Q Ball’s Billiards 7945 Central Avenue, Capitol Heights, Md. 6 pm until 8 pm
With Muhammad Ali looking over our shoulders Robert and me are seen hanging out at a local gym on one of his recent visits back home to DC.
The DC Black Repertory Company was to celebrate its 47th Anniversary the weekend of September 14th in Washington, DC. The founder actor, producer and director, Robert Hooks a native Washingtonian was to be front and center. The tribute was cancelled due to a state of emergency declared by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser pertaining to Hurricane Florence. The tribute was long overdue, but will be re-scheduled later in 2018.
Profile: Robert Hook’s career as a producer and political activist in Washington, DC is second to none. He is most recognized for his over 100 roles in films and television to include, Reeve Scott in Hurry Sundown (1967), Mr. T. in the blaxploitation film Trouble Man (1972 musical score by Marvin Gaye stole the show), grandpa Gene Donovan in the comedy Seventeen Again (2000), and Fleet Admiral Morrow in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984).
He also appeared on television in an episode of the NBC crime drama series The Eddie Capra Mysteries in 1978 and portrayed Doctor Walcott in the 1980s television series Dynasty. Robert has been regarded, as a gifted artist who broke the color barriers in stage, film and television before the term “colorblind casting” even existed, and he was a leading man when there were no African American matinee idols. He originated roles on the New York stage in such classics as Dutchman, A Taste of Honey and Where’s Daddy, for which he won the Theatre World Award. He was the first African American lead on a television drama, the original N.Y.P.D. with one of my favorite actors, Karl Malden. In 1968 he was the host of a new public affairs television program, titled “Like It Is.”
The golden nugget of his career was in 1967 when he and Douglas Turner Ward found The Negro Ensemble Company (NEC). The NEC is credited with the launch of the careers of many major black artists of all disciplines, while creating a body of performance literature over the last 40 years, providing the backbone of African-American theatrical classics. Additionally Robert is the sole founder of two significant black theatre companies: the DC Black Repertory Company, and New York’s Group Theatre Workshop, built to mentor the talents of New York’s disadvantaged youth.
He was nominated for a Tony for his lead role in the musical, Hallelujah, Baby!, Robert has received both the Pioneer Award and the NAACP Image Award for Lifetime Achievement, and has been inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. He also won an Emmy for his PBS special “Voices of Our People”.
Proving that an apple does not fall too far from the tree, it was 46 years ago that Robert’s son Kevin got his first taste of Hollywood starring along side of Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson in the critically acclaim movie “Sounder.” The movie was based on a novel of a young boy living with his sharecropper family when his father is imprisoned for stealing a ham. To make matters worse his dog runs away. The dog is later reunited with his master (Winfield). One night the two leave the house to go hunting. The dog returns home without his master. The son (Kevin) goes to look for his father and finds him dead. The dog later crawls up under the porch and dies.
Kevin now carries the titles of actor, writer, director and producer, but after the dog he gets mixed up with a sick cat. Here he stars as a 10 old year name JT in a television episode on the CBS Children’s Hour. The episode won a Peabody Award. Kevin graduated to television with a series titled, White Shadow, and Aaron Loves Angela. He is now producing and directing for NBC. His signature and credits can now be found on shows like, The Color of Friendship, Sarafinaskin, The Power of One, Cry Freedom, Roots, The Gift, Heat Wave and strictly business.
In a recent interview on Inside Sports, Robert reminded me that “Little Kevin” got his first taste of pro boxing when I organized a bus trip to the Baltimore Civic Center to see the pro boxing debut of Sugar Ray Leonard. Ray was facing the undefeated Luis ‘The Bull’ Vegas (no contest). Kevin was a 18 year old senior at Potomac High School in Prince Georges County. He was the youngest among the in-crowd of adults on the bus who were just excited as he was to witness the boxing debut of Sugar Ray Leonard–how time flys.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dya-RNZlflI / You Tube Legends of Inside Sports
Jimmy Hooks the brother of Robert is seen on the dance floor with me looking like we could dance at a charity basketball game at Howard University.
My celebrity fashion shows, tennis tournaments and annual Christmas Toy Drives for needy children, Robert was in the house.
In 1979 I suggested to Robert it was time to cut his losses and head back to Hollywood to start the second act of his career. I coordinated “The Going Away Party” at the Charpter II Club in SW DC and the in-crowd was in the house, Jim Vance, Carole Randolph, Roy Jeffeson, George Nock, Sonny Hill, Martin Wyatt, Judge Luke Moore and the Welterweight Champion of the World–Sugar Ray Leonard.
This weekend tribute will kick-off Friday at 1:00 p. m. at the Wilson Building with the DC Mayor and City Council proclaiming it “Robert Hooks Day” in Washington, DC. He will probably be given the key to the city which will probably have double locks on every door. The evening will conclude with a VIP Reception at Bus Boys & Poets located at 14th & V Street, NW. The celebration continues on Saturday evening at the Lincoln Theater with a Gala of Stars saluting Robert. He will share the spotlight and tribute with former repertory board members and COMMUNITY activist and two of his buddies, the late radio and television icon Petey Greene and businessman and entepreeur, the late Ed Murphy. Robert credits Ed with the survival and success of The DC Black Repertory Theater.
Murphy was known in the streets as “8 Ball” and he and Robert were joined at the hip. Ed Murphy’s Supper Club and the Harambee House Hotel located on Georgia Avenue, NW were the playgrounds for the DC in-crowd. This is where “The Power Lunch” was coined and established. Between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm you could find politicians, pro athletes, actors, entertainers and media personalities hanging out between the hotel and the supper club.
There were the likes of Ossie and Ruby Davis, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Harry Belaforte, etc. When I say “Playground for the stars” that maybe an understatement. I remember when Robert torn ligaments in his knee and Petey Greene and I paid him a visit at the Washington Hospital Center late one evening. We walked into his room and there were ‘The Wilson Girls’, legendary vocalist Nancy Wilson and Mary Wilson of the Surpremes reading him a bedtime story. They were a tough act to follow. We immediately said, ‘Goodnight Robert!’ On the way down we met Ed Murphy on the way up.
There are hundreds of stories in the Nation’s Capitol as it relates to Robert Hooks and the DC Black Repertory Theater. This week’s tribute could never record all the sacrifices made by one of DC’s finest who has comeback home from Hollywood for this great weekend tribute—CONGRATULATIONS Robert Hooks.
P.S. see reviews for new book “Harold Bell’s Legends of Inside Sports: My Walk Through American Sports History With Champs & Chumps!” @https://blackmeninamerica.com
ALERT: TRIBUTE TO ROBERT HOOKS HAS BEEN CANCELLED UNTIL NOVEMBER. DC MAYOR DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY. HURRICANE FLORENCE AN UNINVITED GUEST IS EXPECTED TO PARTICIPATE!
by Harold Bell
I am not surprised by the stand taken by Phil Knight and NIKE for Human Rights.
In 1977 I was hired as the first ever NIKE Sports & Marketing rep in Washington, DC. My job was to outfit the DC In-Crowd with NIKE shoes and apparel at no cost to them. The benefactors included; Jim Vance (TV 4), Petey Greene(W-O-L), Maureen Bunyan (TV 7), Fred Thomas (TV 7), Cathy Hughes and her little Alfred, (Radio One), politicians, Walter Fauntroy (D-DC), Lou Stokes (D-Ohio)and DC Superior Court Judges, Luke C. Moore, Eugene Hamilton and Harry T. Alexander.
Congressman Walter Fauntroy is seen here with me in his Capital Hill office sizing up a pair of NIKES. NIKE store manager Laura looks on approvingly.
In 1977 founder Phil Knight allowed me and NIKE rep John Phillips to meet in the NBA offices in New York City to challege NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien’s refusual to allow NBA players to participate in Reach Back Community projects.
In 1976 John had organized and took a group of NBA All-Stars to the Virgin Islands to play in a charity game for Island native Mychal Thompson. Thompson was a star player for the LA Lakers. The game was a success. When John tried to organize the game again in 1977, Commisioner O’Brien said, “Hell No!”
Phil Knight was advised and he gave John and I the green light to meet with the NBA brass in New York City. In that meeting was NBA Counsel Gary Bettman (NHL Commissioner), Executive Vice-President and former player Rod Thorn and a brother in charge of NBA Security, Horace Bordam. Commissioner O’Brien took a leave of absence he was nowhere to be found.
The meeting open with introductions around the table. John looked Rod Thorne straight in his eyes and asked, “Rod what seems to be the problem with players participating in community projects. The trip to the Virgil Islands was a success all around?” Rod Thorne was one of the good guys according to John. His response did not convince me he was a good guy. He said, “John we think that there could be problems developed from these types of community projects. Players could be hurt, and security could be another issue.” John looked at me as if to say, “Is he kidding?”
He then reminded Thorn that players have been participating in these type of All-Star Games for decades. Starting with the Sonny Hill Basketball League in Philadephia and the annual Rucker League games in New York City without serious injury or security problems! It looked like these guys just wanted to rain on our parade. Before Thorn could respond I reminded him I watched Elgin Baylor vs Wilt Chamberlain participate in one the biggest playground basketball games of all time. The game was played in NE Washington, DC in 1959 at Kelly Miller Rec Center & Playground. There were no referees, no injuries and no security problems.
To me this seem like a double standard now that NIKE wanted to do the exact same thing with NBA players like Mychal Thompson, Magic Johnson, etc who were on board to raise monies for their communities. I looked Bettman who was sitting directly across from me in his eyes and asked again, “Whats the problem?”
Bettman stood up defiantly and said, “Because we own the players!” I countered with, “Are you saying the players are your slaves?” All hell broke loose. Everyone was shouting but Horace Bordam (security) who looked very dis-interested during the proceedings didn’t say a word. Ron Thorn literally jumped on the table and said, “lets take a timeout and comeback”—they never came back. And Magic Johnson and Mychal Thompson changed their phone numbers and disappeared until the 1977 NBA season started.
NIKE was also a sponsor of my popular radio sports talk show Inside Sports. I use the show’s one of a kind format to organize Celebrity Tennis Tournaments, Fashion shows, community outings and my annual Kids In Trouble Christmas Toy Party for needy children with pro athletes from all over the country.
Bullets MVP Elvin Hayes visits Nike store in Georgetown for NIKE shoes and apparel before the 1978 World Championship tribute to the Bullets at the Hyatt Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, NW. The tribute was sponsored by NIKE!
Bullets’ player Elvin Hayes thank the fans and NIKE for their support and the great tribute. John Phillips and I look on.
Media personalities Maureen Bunyan (co-host), Lark McCarthy and Donnie Simpson attend annual Christmas Toy Party for needy children at the Foxtrappe in NW DC.
NIKE hired NBA Legend Sam Jones as a rep later that year. He was all over town hustling shoes and apparel out of the trunk of his car for a dollar bill. In the meantime, Georgetown Coach John Thompson went behind my back and sold all of us out to Phil Knight.
WHUR Radio personality Melvin Lindsey (Quiet Storm) and WRC TV 4 anchor Jim Vance co-host Celebrity Fashion Show. The show was held at the Shorham Hotel in NW DC. Washington Post sports columnist Dave Dupree looks on.
During my time as a NIKE rep I honored my heroes, my mother and grandmother and my high school coach and savior, Dave Brown. His wife and daughter look on.
In the meantime, it took America decades to understand the position taken by Muhammad Ali when he said “Hell no I won’t go” to the U. S. Army as it related to the Viet Nam War. Ditto; the raised fist of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City is another great example, there is no comparison. Ali, Tommie and John were dead broke. Colin walked away from the NFL a millionaire. Still I admire him for his courage.
The Greatest and I sit on the Mountain Top at his training camp in Deer Lake, Pa while his head of security Pat Patterson keeps the peace.
The protest heard around the world, sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos stand tall in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
Since Trump and Colin have exploded on the American landscape some black and white folks are contradicting themselves as it relates to TRUTH and who should tell it. Thursday Night Football kicks off the NIKE/KAPERNICK ad campaign and watch the double talk begin. Phil Knight has not only upset Jerry Jones, and Donald Trump, but he has thrown the NFL players and Corporate America for a lost.
Colin Kapernick’s historic kneel with Eric Reid (cannot find a job), Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Malcomb Jenkins will make hundreds of present day players look like cowards. Phil Knight and NIKE will be on the right side of history—too many NFL players will be off-side and on the wrong side of history.
Some are legends in their own mind-Bernard Levi was a legend in his own time!
Growing up in a NE DC neighborhood yesterday and today, its a different world. Today you can live next door or on the next floor for years and not know your neighbor. The recent passing of Bernard Levi brought back memories of the way we were.
“The Ties That Bind” lyrics by Bruce Springsteen
‘You been hurt and you’re all cried out you say
You walk down the street pushin’ people outta your way
You packed your bags and all alone you want to ride
You don’t want nothin, don’t need no one by your side.
You can run but you can’t hide.’
On Tuesday July 31, 2018 Bernard Levi went home to be with the Lord, he was 78 years old. He was known as ‘Sonny’ to family and close friends. He grew up in a neighborhood off of 44th & Sheriff Road in NE called Deanwood. My brother Earl and I grew up in a housing project called Parkside aka Parkside/Mayfair in the late 40s and 50s. Our communities were in walking distance of each other.
His mother Rosa Lee, my mother Mattie and Bobby Dozier’s mom Annie were all close friends. The three were like sisters. Bobby and Bernard were cousins, but we were All In the Family!
Sonny and his niece Dorinda Parker take in a little sunshine in Ocean City
Bernard was a very private person even as a youngster. He and my late brother Earl were closer in age. They became good friends, because of the bond our mothers shared. Deanwood and Parkside were rivals when it came to athletics. Parkside was mostly a baseball and football community and Deanwood was a basketball community. The games were always competitive, but seldom played dirty and vicious. There was always a certain amount of respect earned among the players. We all hated losing, but winning at all cost was seldom broached.
Deanwood was my basketball homebase before Kelly Miller. The Deanwood basketball court was ajacent to Carver Elementary School. On any given weekday evening or weekend you could find a good game among the homecourt grown talent of brothers, Sleepy and Willie Harris, Bernard Levi, James Davis, Vaugh Johnson, Herman Roebuck, Paul Barnes, Floyd Cummings and his brothers, and the Jiles boys. Parkside was represented by John Tilley, Sackie Lee, Bubba Lanham, Duck Wills, Charles Hill and yours truly. It didn’t matter if it was 3 on 3 or whole court, the games would always be fast and furious and in your face basketball.
Bernard, Herman, Vaugh and James were just young bucks, but they blended in well and held their own with the older heads. As we got older we moved the games to Kelly Miller and the games got bigger and better as the competition level leaped forward.
I would go on to play football, basketball and baseball at Spingarn High School before eventually graduating from Fairmont Heights in Prince Georges County.
I never played Boys Club sports my foundation as an athlete was laid on playgrounds that included, Parkside, Carver and Kelly Miller.
In 1957 Kelly Miller was the host of one of the most talked about playground basketball games ever played in the Nation’s Capitol. It was Elgin ‘Rabbit’ Baylor vs Wilt ‘The Stilt’ Chamberlain. People and cars were everywhere, it was like a basketball festival!
Just in case there is someone unaware that the greatest basketball player ever to lace up a pair of basketball shoes in DC–his name is Elgin Baylor. Let me remind you, Elgin was a NCAA Final Four MVP, NBA Rookie of the Year, named to the NBA All-Star First Team 10 straight years and he still holds the record for most points scored in a NBA final’s game, 61 points. His NBA career scoring average of 27 points rank only behide Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Elgin Baylor invented “Hang Time” in the NBA.
My Brown Middle School Principal William B. Stinson told my mother I would not live to get out of high school. I was trying to go to hell in a hurry. In 1959 against all odds I graduated from Fairmont Heights thanks to my savior, Spingarn coach, Dave Brown.
Coach Brown would make arrangements for me to attend Winston-Salem State on a football/basketball scholarship and play for the legendary Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines–my travel down Tobacco Road saved my life.
In Chicago receiving the first Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines “Community Service Award”
In the meantime, I lost track of Bernard, but I would encounter him again during the summers at Kelly Miller with another hotshot upcoming player by the name of Dave Bing. I always liked the challenged of guarding guys that thought they were great or were predicted to be on the fast-track to greatness. On those ocassions I chose to play Bing one on one instead of Levi. I immediately discovered Bing was a “Cry Baby” and didn’t like contact and I loved it!
My senior year at Spingarn Coach Rev. Roundtree kicked me off the team because I decided I wanted to be a scorer instead of a defender. he had created the Box-in-One Defense. It was designed especially for me to play the other team’s top scorer, which should have been an honor. But I decided to spend the summer perfecting my jump-shot. I shot myself in the foot and off the team.
All was forgiven after my freshman year in college Coach Roundtree allowed me to return and play in the alumni game. Spingarn had a tradition back in the day former players/alumni were allowed to return to the school during the Thanksgiving break and play against the varsity basketball team.
During this time Levi and Bing had become ‘Playground Legends.’ During the in-between times Levi and I would meet at his house on 44th Street. It was there wI would bring my mother to visit his mom. We had moved to ‘Simple City’ located on the DC and PG County line my new address was 58th & Blaine streets NE. While our moms visited we would head out to the basketball court at Carver Elementary School and we play one on one. I don’t ever remember being victorious in any of those confrontations. He never talked trash about those one on one games I never won.
I remember Bing being a cry baby all the way up to his sophomore year at Syracuse University. I will never forget that hot summer day at Kelly Miller when I discovered there was a new Sheriff in town (DC) and his name was Dave Bing. He ran circles around me, blocked my shots and he jumped over me like a pogo stick and dunked the ball! It was then I decided to pick up a tennis racket and I never looked back.
Me and Dave together before he forgot who he was and where he came from!
Some way, some how Bernard got lost in the shuffle, St. Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital became a revolving door for my mother. I was trying to concentrate on college and keep a close eye on my mother and brother Earl. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd. When I called home to check with family and friends no one had seen him. My sophomore year he surprised me and hitch hiked to Winston-Salem for our homecoming, I had no clue. He came to tell me he was joining the Army–I cried in relief. He had hoped to see me play, bad timing I was in Bighouse Gaines’ doghouse, I never got off the bench as we crushed St. Paul’s College 61-0.
Still no sign of Levi and time was not standing still.
Bing had become an All-American, Earl was now serving in the Army in Mannheim, Germany. He was moving on up and was promoted to Sergeant as a Military Policeman (MP), Heavyweight Boxing Champion, the base Table Tennis Champion and softball umpire. I always said, he was the best athlete in the family. Despite all of these accomphlistments he could not escape the racism embedded in the city of Mannheim. Jet Magazine would publish a story in August 1969 citing his frustrations, trials and tribulations with racism on an American Military Base.
In the meantime, the same Jet Magazine showed me at the Richard Nixon White House visiting an old friend who happen to be the President of the United States. I caddied (golf) for him when I was in high school. I had no clue as it related to the difference between a Democrat and Republican. I now realize I had broken bread with two of the most controversial personalities in American history, Richard Nixon and Muhammad Ali.
In 1966 Dave Bing was the No. 1 draft choice of the NBA Detroit Pistons and he was named the Rookie of the Year. In the summer of 1967 I encountered Dave and an old friend the late Arnold George while having lunch at Frank’s Restaurant on Florida Ave. in NW DC. We exchanged waves and when I looked up again Bing was walking toward my table with his hand out. I stood up to greet him and told him how proud I was of him. He said, “Harold you help prepare me for the NBA!” In 1967 he won the NBA scoring title, in 1969 he was named to his second straight NBA All-Star team. Still no Levi.
My brother Earl divorced the U. S. Army after his tour of duty ended in 1969 citing irreconcilable differences. He returned home to face the same racism he thought he had left behind in Germany. He applied for a job with his hometown police department only to encounter “The Spook That Sit by the Door” Ass’t Police Chief Maurice Turner (black–Afro-American–Negro–colored and the Big N). He told Earl he was not eligible to become a DC cop because of his juvenile record! I knew this was a lie because the DC code states “A juvenile’s record cannot be held against him/her while applying for employment in the DC government.” It took Washington Post columnist Bill Raspberry to blow the cover off of this police discrimination sham led by a black Ass’t Police Chief.
My brother Earl from ‘Street thug” to Military policeman to DC cop.
In the meantime, Earl had taken a job as a DC Correctional Officer at the DC jail. He was waiting for approval to join the DC Police Department when he received word that Bernard Levi had been spotted in prison in Allen Wood, Pa.
He called me and gave me the information to check on Bernard’s status. I found that he was serving a 10 year sentence for robbing a bank. It didn’t look good, but I called Herb Klein the Director of Communications for the White House. I asked him for the number to Norman A. Carlson the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I called Mr. Carlson and scheduled an appointment to meet with him. He in turn scheduled a meeting with the Warden of Allen Wood Prison.
Earl and I drove to Allen Wood to meet with the Warden. He took us on a tour of the prison and had Levi meet us in his office. One month later Bernard Levi was a free man never again to return to a life of crime. Something I never talked about pubulicly until now. The subject is one Bernard wanted to quietly forget. I have had at least a dozen brothers released from prison by early paroles or released outright, including NFL Legend Jim Brown. The number of brothers that I have help keep out of jail are to numerous to count. Only one found a need to return.
Bernard spent the rest of his life working to help others overcome their addictions and being a big brother to dozens of young men who’s life once resembled his very own.
The rumors that have been spread that Dave Bing had anything to do with the release of Bernard Levi from prison is a lie! I called Dave before the drive to Allen Wood and asked him to write a note of encouragement to Levi. He refused and rumor has it he told his cheerleading buddies that he wanted nothing to do with a criminal. This was when things started downhill with our relationship. He never dared to disrespect me, but I didn’t like the way he treated Levi. Guess who has been recruited by his Washington base cheerleaders led by Donald Hicks to speak at Levi’s funeral–Dave Bing! All this was made possible by a “Family House Divided.”
I made it clear to his sister Ruthie I wanted nothing to do with or to enhance “The Family Feud” that was taking place between Bernard’s sisters and his daughters. Bernard would not have approved, but I promised I would attend the funeral.
In the meantime, Levi’s friends are going door to door (restaurant to restaurant) raising money for the Repass? If Dave is so rich why are they collecting money from each other, is it to feed their egos? Dave Bing the man they are recruiting to showcase at the funeral is suppose to be a Multi-millionaire his wrting a check for the Repass should be a slam dunk!
I want to remember Bernard like I last saw him in June at the Washington Hospital Center with friends Harry Horton and Bobby Thompson. He was happy to see me as I was to see him. I surprised him with a copy of my new book titled, “My Walk through Sports History With Champs & Chumps!” In the book there is a page where I name the 20 Greatest DC Play Ground Basketball Players of All-Time. He is among the 20 names. The smile that spreaded across his face was PRICELESS!
What Dave did to Bernard Levi he did the exact same thing to our homeboy (Alexandria, Virginia) and friend NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd. He and Bob Lanier ran Earl out of the coaching ranks in Detroit. This came out of the mouth of the man himself–Earl Lloyd. Guess who was his presenter for his NBA Hall of Fame induction–how about Dave Bing?
The 2003 HOF induction of NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd with presenter Dave Bing with knife in back.
He sold KC Jones out when he came back home for his farewell NBA tour with the Bullets in 1975. He had a little help from Bernie Bickerstaff who helped him stab KC in the back. Bing told me that KC was a running drunk and didn’t have a clue as a coach. I was shocked when those words came out of his mouth about KC whom I always saw as a class act. I suggested he talk to KC ‘Man to Man’, he said, “Its too late.” It gets worst, Bing threw our high school basketball Coach Rev. William Roundtree under the bus and then backed the bus up and drove over him again.
KC and Bernie guest on Inside Sports
In a story published in the Washington Times Newspaper dated Monday May 12, 1980 titled “Happy Youngsters Flock to Roundtree City Mission.” This is Dave Bing’s most damaging quote in the story, ‘I have promised Coach Roundtree that I will support him financially (on a new center) and I fully intend to do just that.’
He not only didn’t build Coach Roundtree a new center, but when he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame, he never bothered to contact and invite his coach to the ceremony. This is the same coach who he claimed saved him from being a petty thief. I talked Coach Roundtree into going to Springfield, Massachusettes for the NBA HOF induction ceremony. We drove to Philadephia and boarded a bus that playground basketball legend Sonny Hill had booked for the trip. His friend Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe was also being inducted into the HOF.
During the induction ceromonies Rev. Roundtree and I were seated with Sonny when Dave made his induction speech. After minutes into his speech he introduced Rev. Roundtree as his high school coach. As expected he ignored my presense, but the next inductee Earl Monroe introduced Sonny and me as brothers in the community he was working with to help improve the lives of inner-city kids. Dave looked stunned. Another interesting note our homeboy and Spingarn alumnus Elgin Baylor said “No” when asked by Dave to be his presenter for the HOF ceremony. It is rumored Elgin spend the day on the golf course.
Bing would later threw ‘The Pearl’ under the bus. After both of their careers had come to end Earl ran into some hard times financially trying to be a music mogul. He borrowed $10.000 from Bing. Bing told his cheerleading buddies that Earl had messed up his money doing drugs and made some bad investments. In the end these guys deserve each other. They have no idea as it relates to the definition of integrity and loyalty.
Earl Monroe gets faked out by Dave Bing in the NBA and again in the Game Called Life!
Bing has a knack for showing up for funerals and playing “The Big Shot”, there was Roland ‘Fatty’ Taylor and now Bernard Levi. When Coach Roundtree died he was in attendance to pay for the Mausoleum and the Repass at the Fort Lincoln Cemetery. I bet you a dime to a donut Rev. Roundtree’s wife and kids are wondering to this day where was he when coach needed money to keep the lights on at his church and where was he when the kids needed toys and clothes on Christmas?
Rev. Roundtree host the Kids In Trouble annual toy party at his SE church with former players HBell and Byron Kirkley.
It is amazing how these brothers like Bing get two-dollars more than the brother he left standing on the corner and thinks that it makes him smarter. He ran for Mayor in Detriot and he thought he was smart again. I warned him it was a “Dead End Street” but Donald Hicks and the cheerleaders won out. When they threw his hat out the door behind him in 2013, the city of Detriot had declared chapter 9 Bankrutcy. A fool and his ego are soon departed.
Stay tune, all you wanted to know about “Champions & Chumps” and didn’t know whom to ask look no further. See my new book @ http://www.blackmeninamerica.com it is here you will find “A lie will change a thousand times, the truth never changes.”
“I love it when people have a problem with me and manage to tell it to everyone but me?” author unknown