As election night gets closer and closer, prevailing thoughts of race and entitlement rage louder than any bomb ever made. And for anyone that had the blinders on previously, there just was no excuse after Iowa Congressman Steve King uttered out his foolish comments made during coverage of July's GOP Convention. For those that have already forgotten, Rep. King referred to non-whites as a "Sub group" and pressed the idea that no other race had contributed more to civilization than that of the European and/or "where the footprint of Christianity settled the world." Sad to say this is the perspective (I refuse to call it thinking) of far more people in this country than you can imagine. All across the nation there are have been stories of school textbooks under fire for correctly portraying the foundations of civilization as beginning with The Black & Brown People of Earth. And let's not forget those Texas history books that refer to African Slaves as "workers from Africa" brought "to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” This is the cross by-product of centuries of propaganda used to justify the rape, murder, pillage, enslavement, exploitation, and oppression of The Black and Brown-plus the increasing fear and paranoia of repercussions coming from the true majority. But that's another topic for another blog. For now let's just soak up some facts to counter those foolish notions of ignorance that empower fools like Steve King. I could have included all sorts of long form lectures and documentaries, but I highly doubt that people like Representative King have that type of attention span Lol. Check out the videos, fact-check them, and SHARE...
For most people that grew up in the 70's and 80's Pro Wrestling and Shaolin Kung Fu Movies were two staples that dominated television on any weekend, and for me both of those somewhat guilty pleasures would continue to be a part of my life right up to this day. I don't really get too much into toady's wrestling as much; but can (and do) sometimes spend hours at a time watching the old classics. Figuring I knew just about all there is to know about the different legends and pioneers, I have spent considerable time learning about the Black and Brown Faces of yesteryear that could have been so much more well known-if not for segregation and old racist attitudes in certain territories. People like Ernie "The Big Cat" Ladd, Bobo Brazil, Thunderbolt Patterson, The Junkyard Dog and many others were fan favorites and generated lots of money for the different promotions that they worked for; but were not allowed runs as World champions because by many accounts promoters feared that angry white fans might riot. In fact it wasn't until 1992 that a Black World Heavyweight Champion would be crowned, when College Football Hall Of Famer Ron Simmons would be Big Van Vader for The WCW World Heavyweight Championship Belt.
One pioneering name seems to have fell through the cracks; and it wasn't until watching last week's WWE Hall Of Fame Presentation Show that I first heard the name "Sailor" Art Thomas. Inducted as a "Legacy" entrant, Art Thomas broke into wrestling back in 1943. After finishing up his time in the U.S. Navy, Thomas had already made a name for himself as a Bodybuilder and was asked to wrestle some house shows. Possessing an amazing physique, crazy strength, and 6'5" 265 lb frame he quickly rose up the ranks. Billed as a former seaman, Sailor Art Thomas was also known to showcase much style and flavor-always dressed immaculately in either a business suit or a seaman uniform. As a fan favorite Art Thomas would earn many opportunities to challenge for The NWA World Championship Belt-including several memorable battles with The Legendary "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. In the 1960's Sailor art would move on to The then-WWWF and battle in Tag Team matches with Legends like Bobo Brazil and Bruno Sammartino. During the 1970's Art would move on again to wrestle in Canada, and would retire in the early 1980's. While working all over the country, Sailor Art Thomas was best known for his time wrestling in Chicago. Sailor Art would succumb to cancer in 2003. He was also known as "Seaman" Art Thomas, "Hercules," and "The Body." Without his hard work and sacrifice, so many others would not be selling out huge arenas today like The Rock, Booker T, and others have in more recent times. #SaluteThePioneers
WELDON IRVINE - "MORNING SUNRISE"
His genius is mostly only known by the truest of music aficionados; but his work is the foundation of so many classics of multiple genres. Weldon Irvine once worked for The Legendary Nina Simone-playing Organ, serving as Bandleader, Arranger, and Road Manager. He wrote "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" which would turn into HUGE Hits for Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin. He would go on to record several albums of his own, and write/produce at least 20 stage musicals. And his magic would even transcend into the future generations, as he worked actively on albums by Mos Def, BlackStar & others. The featured song of this blog post, "Morning Sunrise," was sampled for Jay-Z's classic "Dear Summer" and also "Bitch Is Crazy" by Drake. The original appeared on his 1979 LP "The Sisters." Sadly, Weldon Irvine's time on this Earth came to close on April 9, 2002. However, his music and contributions will go on FOREVER...
In January, and again in April, of every year the world pauses to honor the memory of the one & only Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But what is his true legacy? If you let corporate media, politicians, or the school system tell his story, you get just a really watered-down version that really loses relevancy with each passing year. If you rely on those vessels for information, as far too many do, then Dr. King Led a few marches, Had "a Dream," Went To "The Mountaintop," and then was snuffed out by some Crazy Lone White Assassin's Bullet. How many even know that in 1999 The U.S. Federal government was found Guilty as a Co-Conspirator in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King? Yes. So while the narrative of James Earl Ray continues to go on, the FACT is that it has been CONFIRMED that members of U.S. Military Intelligence and Sniper Groups were in the immediate vicinity of Dr. King's Motel-and all police protection was REMOVED within an hour of his execution (check the links below for more information).
Anyway, back to the point...
Starting around 1967, or some evidence would suggest even 1965, Dr. King's message and overall demeanor began to change/gain a stronger sense of urgency. Dr. King's message began to shift away from a loving message of integration-to a stance against Institutionalized Racism. Dr. King began to call out the government for the hypocrisy of spending hundreds of millions of dollars toward wars to control other sovereign nations, and at the same time, loudly proclaiming the intention to fight harder for God-Given Rights. Dr. King railed against Racism practiced via Housing Discrimination, Employment discrimination, discrimination in Federal Funding and Grants, Violence against Non-Whites, and the overall lack of morality in the actions of Government & society.
“We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.” Missing from the pages of history is the reality that many of his allies turned on him during those latter days of his life. He was no longer welcome in Lyndon B. Johnson's White House. Many spoke out against him. His change in focus, and willingness to criticize The Federal Government, put him on an island by himself. And much like Malcolm, it got him killed. Do note that on April 4th 1967 (EXACTLY ONE YEAR PRIOR TO HIS ASSASSINATION) Dr. King called the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." Most of those that walked with him prior to that time began to go into business for themselves, and Dr. King knew it. Once he was gone, they all got rich-and today they continue to bask in his light, while never doing anything more than SYMBOLIC acts that remain in the vein of a strategy that he had moved away from.
“We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.”
In an encounter just days before the execution of Dr. King, Harry Belafonte Jr. described the demeanor of Brother mLK:
"I remember the last time we were together, at my home, shortly before he was murdered. He seemed quite agitated and preoccupied, and I asked him what the problem was. "I've come upon something that disturbs me deeply," he said. "We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I've come to believe we're integrating into a burning house." That statement took me aback. It was the last thing I would have expected to hear, considering the nature of our struggle, and I asked him what he meant. "I'm afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had," he answered. "And I'm afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation."
originally modeled to be a Black version of LIFE magazine, soon to be Mega Publisher John H. Johnson launched EBONY Magazine on November 1st 1945. Based out of Chicago, The Johnson Publishing Company Empire would soon grow to include Jet Magazine, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, and a book publishing company. Functioning as a "lifestyle brand," Ebony Magazine's circulation reached an estimated 1.8 million faithful readers at the height of its popularity. Today we celebrate the wonderful legacy of John H. Johnson & The Johnson Publishing Empire. Let's take a look back at some of the legendary covers. #SaluteThePioneers
What is now Tuskegee University was founded on September 19th 1881. Founded by The Great Booker T. Washington and others, Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute started with 30 students & a one room shanty. Since then, Tuskegee University found itself to home to one of, if not the most prestigious school of Veterinary Medicine, The Tuskegee Airmen Flight Training Program, the founding of The United Negro College Fund, and so much more.
In the modern era Tuskegee added doctoral programs in integrative bio-Science, materials science & engineering, Business and Information Sciences and more. already existing programs in Engineering, Architecture and Physical Sciences expanded-including Aerospace Engineering (the only program of its kind at any HBCU). Today Tuskegee provides a high percentage of the Black Chemical, Electrical & Mechanical Engineering Graduates-and provides more Doctorates in Materials Science and Engineering than any other school in the nation. The University is currently a highly preferred training locale for the future scientists from all over Africa, Asia & The Middle East-and is the Only University Campus in America designated as a National Historic Site by the U.S. Congress. Distinguished aumni include Military Pioneer & Legend Daniel "Chappie" James & groundbreaking author Ralph Ellison. Booker T. Washington is buried on campus of Tuskegee University, near the University Chapel.
During the early morning hours of June 17th 1972 a security guard Frank Wills was walking the premises of The Watergate Building in Washington D.C., when he discovered tape covering a door latch, which prevented it from closing all the way. The security guard made note of his find, removed the tape, and went on his way. But upon returning to the area, Wills observed that the door was again taped open & called the police. That door was an entrance to the offices of The Democratic National Committee, what Wills had discovered was five men, all in some way attached to Then-President Richard Nixon, there to steal documents & set up wiretaps on the office phones. The five men were arrested, and over the next 22 months, it was confirmed that these men were working with the campaign to re-elect Nixon. Though he steadfastly denied any involvement in the burglaries, Nixon was implicated in having providing so-called "hush money" to the burglars, obstructing the FBI's investigation & and destroying evidence. He was NEVER PROSECUTED, but facing impeachment, Nixon ultimately resigned from office in August of 1974.
What happened to Frank Wills? While he did enjoy some level of fame & fortune briefly, he ultimately died broke & destitute. The security company that he had been working for refused to give him a raise, and likely blacklisted, he never found stable employment again. Just like The Iran-Contra Scandal, that would come a decade later, most of those involved in the criminal side of this conspiracy found fame & money. The two reporters that covered Frank Wills story, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, are important figures right up to this day. But like in so many other cases, in which the whistle-blower ends up being the one punished, Frank Wills was made to suffer for doing the right thing. Sadly Frank Wills died penniless, of a brain tumor, on September 27th 2000. The Democratic National Committee honored him with a superficial award in 1974, but few looked out for him to make sure that the obvious pending backlash would not be allowed to destroy him.
Yesterday I posted a blog post saluting The Legendary Bill Russell as the First Black man to coach in Professional sports; but after being pointed in the right direction by a journalist that I have a great degree of admiration for, I went back to do my homework a little bit more. Somehow left on the back pages of history stands a monumental talent in the form of Coach John McLendon. Coach John B. McLendon, Jr. was the first Black Man to coach basketball at a Predominately White university, and the first Black head coach of any professional sports team.
A Student of Basketball's founder Dr. James Naismith, at The University of Kansas,
McLendon enrolled as the first black student in the school’s physical education department. he endured hostile/racially motivated treatment while enrolled, and was never allowed to play on the All-White basketball team. McLendon tried out for the team several times, but would be cut on each attempt. Upon graduation McLendon was hired as an assistant coach at North Carolina college (North Carolina Central). In 1941, he would become Head Coach, and in his first year as head coach, his North Carolina College Team would win the Negro National College Championship Tournament. McLendon is widely credited as the Founder & Pioneer of The Fast Break. McLendon's teams quickly became known for their Up-Tempo/Baseline to Baseline offensive & defensive play, superior conditioning, aggressive Defense and High-Scoring showmanship. The John McLendon coached North Carolina College Teams would go on to win Eight Black College Championship between 1941 & 1952. McLendon would be lured off to Tennessee A & I University (Tennessee State University). While there, the combination of McLendon's coaching & the play of The Great Dick Barnett would lead the Tigers to win Three Straight National Intercollegiate Championships (1957 thru 1959). No coach had EVER accomplished such a feat. It has been said that these were some great years for basketball, as the Tigers put on such an amazing show for what would quickly become a packed house of Integrated crowds. Coach McLendon would next move on to become The First Black Head Coach of a Professional Basketball Team in an Integrated League, as leader of the George Steinbrenner owned Cleveland Pipers of The american Basketball League (ABL). Quickly moving on from Steinbrenner's meddling, McLendon would again make history as the first black head coach of a majority white college upon taking the job at Cleveland State University. In 1969, he took the head coaching position with the Denver Rockets of the ABA, before retiring & spending the next two decades as a company rep for Converse.
Coach John McLendon was born April 5th 1915, and finished his coaching career with a record of 496 wins & 179 losses. He is also famous for the racially-groundbreaking 1944 "Secret Game" between Duke & North Carolina College. At that time intermingling of Black & White, of any kind, was illegal. Great care was taken to keep this event a secret, and this day would remain a closely guarded secret for the next 52 years (1996). McLendon's team trounced Duke 88 to 44. After that, they played an additional game (mixing the players from both teams together) and hung out in the dormitories together. Coach McLendon also coached at Kentucky State University & Hampton Institute. Today The John McLendon Award is presented annually to the Nation's Top Collegiate Head Coach (Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and JUCO coaches are eligible for the award). John B. McLendon, Jr. died in 1999 at the age of 84. Sadly few know anything about his contributions to the Game of Basketball. #Salute
Bill Russell was one of the first Black Head Coaches of any major professional sports team. From 1966 to 1969 he wasn't just on the Boston Celtics sidelines either, he was Player/Coach. He had no assistant coaches, it was just Bill Russell doing what he always did best, lead his team to victories. Despite winning Back to Back Championships (in 1968 & 1969), Bill russell is rarely ever mentioned in history as a coach. Furthermore, few recognize the fact that Bill Russell not only operated successfully in spite of the pressures associated with being the first Black Coach in The NBA-but also coaching in the shadow of his legendary coach & mentor Red Auerbach. In his first season, Russell led the Celtics to a 60-21 record but lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in The Eastern Conference (Division) Finals. The next season Russell's coaching & on court play would lead The Boston Celtics to the 1967-1968 NBA Championship, beating Wilt Chamberlin & The Los Angeles Lakers in six games. Russell retired at the end of that season, but would later return for brief coaching stints as head coach/general manager of The Seattle SuperSonics & Head Coach of The Sacramento Kings.
As a player, Russell would lead The Boston Celtics to 11 championships in 13 years. He was arguably the first Black Superstar Player in NBA History, and today The NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award is named in honor of his dominance. His dominance and high character views on life were also felt in the field of race relations during the turbulent 1960's. We need more of our youth to know about The Great Bill Russell. #Salute
often I tell my kids that we should strive to learn something new Every single day. For me personally, today brought the discovery of Inventor Richard B. Spikes. Largely unknown, Spikes invented and/or patented the Automatic Gear Shift, The Automatic Safety Brake, Automobile Directional Signals, The Continuous Contact Trolley Pole and several other items that we daily use to get from Point a to Point b. Outside the realm of transportation, Richard Spikes is also credited with invented/patenting the Beer Keg Tap, The Multi barrel Machine Gun, The Horizontally-Swinging Barber Chair & bringing at least eight other innovations for the world. Spikes Beer Keg Tap was purchased by The Milwaukee Brewing Company & his Directional Signals picked up for use in the Pierce Arrow. His transmission & Gear-Shifting innovations were used industry wide from the 1930's on. Sadly Richard Spikes began losing his eyesight while working on the Safety Brake in 1962. So to adapt, he then invented a drafting device that would allow other blind engineers to use going forward. Richard B. Spikes died in 1963. We at The Wandering Eyes Blog salute his memory & legacy.
Think about him next time you get in the car & shift into motion.