Review:  Michael Eric Dyson Lecture – “United States of Amnesia”


[Dominquez Hills, CA ]   On May 8, 2019 close to 200 came out to hear prophetic words delivered by lecturer and sociologist Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.  Urban Issues Forum through their Mervyn Dymally Institute hosted the event as part of their distinguished lecture series.  The event was held at California State University Dominguez Hills.


The video (AUDIO ONLY) clip has been divided into 2 clips.

CLIP 1 (I hour 38 min.)

 

Clip 2 (13 min)


Dyson is a gifted orator who weaves through the experiences of African-American culture.   He is unapologetic in his retort and covered the spectrum from politics to Hip-Hop, through the founding of the United States as well as the presidency of Barack Obama and the disgraceful performance of Donald Trump as president.

“President Obama hosted a meeting at the White House were ten African-American leaders had assembled.  Tom Joyner voiced concern that I was writing a book on the president and belted out his displeasure fearful the book would be too critical.  The book had not even been released so I remarked……are you Nostradamus?”  Michael Eric Dyson

The lecture titled, “American States of Amnesia” was two hours and those in attendance were not disappointed as Dyson offered a wide range of analysis.  He spoke about the genius of Nipsey Hussle and the cross-country plane ride they shared, which allowed him to appreciate his gift.  He ventured into territory that many avoid due; to its complexity; such as explaining Thomas Jefferson’s contradiction and his subsequent love-interest; Sally Hemmings.  He shared his experiences and friendship with Michelle and Barack Obama, knowing them since 1998.  Like many African-Americans he shared the pride of seeing them become America’s first family.  As proud as he was, he had to admit frustration regarding various policy issues.  In doing so, he emphasized with the predicament Obama was in as while his achievement was historic, he was shackled with an environment that crippled many of the projects he truly wanted to initiate.

I was somewhat disappointed when I read Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming” by the way she mentioned her relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  It was sad.  I applaud her for being able to sell 10 million books but to through Rev. Wright under the bus?  Michael Eric Dyson.

Dyson was his usual spirited self and left the audience with thoughts to ponder.  His critique of Donald Trump was scathing.  Here is a sampling:

  • In speaking about our founding fathers, specifically Thomas Jefferson in comparing intelligence with Donald Trump Dyson stated, “He (Trump) is proud to be unmolested by enlightenment!”
  • “He (Trump) is allergic to intelligence!”
  • “He (Trump) sees a book and runs…….event his own!”
  • “He (Trump) refuses to read the briefings his advisor’s give him!”
  • “He (Trump) is mad that the dude who had the job before him was just smoother with it!”

“All of us are proud of Michele and Barack but I’ll be honest with you, we thought Michele would help Barack be blacker…..instead it appears Barack has made her whiter by the way she interacts with the black community.”  Michael Eric Dyson

“Donald Trump can never get over Obama’s genius.  As sad as it is he is nothing more than an ignorant Neanderthal” Michael Eric Dyson

More on Obama

Some folk (those who opposed him) were just mad that a brother had that type of intelligence and was in control and Obama “wasn’t apologizing for it.”

“He walked out of Air-Force One like Fifty Cents was playing in the background!”

“I wish I could have been Obama’s anger-translator…..just for a day!  I wish Obama would have come out of the White House with a skullcap, flashing a gold-grill and some Magic Johnson socks on his way to pick up his paper.”  


Dr. Anthony Samaad is managing director of Urban Issues Forum.  They operate the Mervyn M. Dymally African-American Political & Economic Institute at California State University Dominquez Hills.

Obama Boulevard now open


[Baldwin Village, CA]  Baldwin Village is a small community in South Los Angeles (south of the Santa Monica Freeway).  It is known by many Angelenos as the “Jungle,” which was the name given as it was made up of intricate apartment complexes featuring tropical landscapes.  Like many parts of Los Angeles the area has changed, some good some not so good.  It is currently a working-class community that is surrounded in all directions by some of the area’s most iconic neighborhoods such as:  Baldwin Hills, Leimert-Park, Baldwin Vista, View Park and West Adams.

Feb. 2007 to May 2019

A little over twelve years ago, then Senator Barack Obama made a pit-stop to the community pleading for support and cash to support and fuel what turned into a historic campaign.

President’s row

Today thousands of Angelenos got a chance to pull out their Obama gear and once again show their support for the 44th president of the United States. The occasion was Rodeo Road (Ro-D-Oh), which has the same spelling as Rodeo Drive which is in Beverly Hills, was transformed and is now President Barack Obama Boulevard.  The street stretches from just east of Arlington Avenue and goes west where it ends in Culver City. The significance of the street is because it is now part of Los Angeles’ president’s row.

Many Angelenos, even natives do not know about this factoid.  Quite simply, president’s row starts from Washington (George Washington) Blvd. which is immediately north of the Santa Monica freeway so now the next four intersections going south are part of the row.  Washington Blvd., Adams Blvd. (John Adams), Jefferson Blvd. (Thomas Jefferson) and now Obama Blvd.  You can find this iconic part of the city by going south on any of the following thoroughfares; Arlington, Crenshaw and La Brea.


13 min. event highlight clip


23,000+ in attendance

The naming ceremony was one of those occasions where you just knew something special was going to happen.  The city of Los Angeles estimated the enthusiastic crowd to be around 23,000.  The bottom-line strategy of city officials was to recognize the community’s pride in Barack Obama with hope that it stimulates the community and triggers much-needed rebuilding.

To read more of why this celebration is important read HERE.

A huge thank you to the more than 23,000 people who came out and made our dedication such a special event today.


Here are some photos from the event.


Review:  Soul of a Nation Exhibit


Lorraine Motel. Site of where Dr. King was assassinated. April 4, 1968. photo courtesy of Fred Thomas, III collection

Today many across the nation and throughout the world pay respect to Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was this day, fifty-one years ago when he was slain by an assassin’s bullet.  The result was a public outcry not seen before, as over 100 cities erupted in riots and demonstrations.

1963-1983

Several weeks ago, the Broad museum opened Soul of a Nation chronicling twenty years; 1963-1983.  It is a powerful exhibit showcasing African-American artist who used their talent to communicate the movement and the struggle during that era.  Interestingly, several of the artist used Dr. King’s death in 1968 as a backdrop for their artistic talent.


The exhibit is a “special presentation” so the cost is $18 per person, however The Broad is offering free admission to Soul of a Nation every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. (last entry at 7 p.m.) during the exhibition’s run.  A tip is to arrive early and stand in the “free general admission line” AND GET INSIDE THE MUSEUM.  Once you are inside, you are good because at 5 p.m., the exhibit opens for general admission viewing.  The exhibit runs through September and then moves to San Francisco at the De Young museum, which opens in October 2019.


From Negroes to African-Americans

I had a chance to visit the exhibit.  Some of the artwork brought back vivid memories.  There was an abundance of material I had never seen but it reflected the interpretive period.  Sometimes we live in historic times and do not realize it as it seems like life as usual.  The Harlem Renaissance was a benchmark period for African-American music and art.  Years followed and the civil rights era brought back similar expressions as artist appeared in droves to interpret that era.  It was a new time, a new level of consciousness as Negroes morphed into African-Americans and created a new dynamic.  The exhibit does a great job of showcasing that period featuring very good diversity among the art work presented.


Listed below is a small sample of some photos from the exhibit

 


 

The Broad Museum - 221 S. Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012

Mid-Term Postscript: Trump v “Low-IQ” Waters


Now that the much talked-about mid-term elections have come and gone, many who took time to engage can get back to their daily routine.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

 

A part of Donald Trump’s political ascendance was his ability to target his opponents and mock them in a way to make them irrelevant or plucking away any political favorability they had.

 

It’s the House fool

 

As the mid-terms came many political pontificator’s were nervous in wiping Trump’s success off the table or declaring many of his missteps were self-inflicted.  After all his rallies were huge hits, packed to the brim with supporters?  Many assumed his magic would last forever and that he was untouchable?  A good many more bought into the notion of his celebrity and the new-found Republican party he had developed.  The economy was booming.  Tax cuts were rolling in.  The wall would be built, absent of any money from Mexico.   Ending his second year as president, Trump was feeling a bit giddy.  His tone was who in their right mind would vote against what was achieved?

 

The IQ Factor

From “low-energy Jeb” to “lyin’ Ted Cruz” to “dishonest Hillary” on and on, Trump had created a line that many supporters came to adore which was about the House of Representative from the 43rd district of California named Maxine Waters.  He declaredly labeled her as “Low IQ” Maxine.”  The name stuck with his supporters and he took glee and great pleasure in admonishing her.  The fact he has created a history of marginalizing or mocking those who are non-white, intimating them as lazy, stupid, criminalistic or other negative attributes was not seen as racist behavior.  To his supporters he was simply telling it like it is!!! And, after all he was making their lives better, not to mention giving them their country back?

 

The result of losing the house

 

For two years Trump and his administration has held the wild card of controlling all three branches of the government.  Yesterday, they received a public rebuke as they lost the House of Representatives.  While some will dismiss this fact, it is critical and may provide a glimpse of what Trump and his supporters must deal with.  The win provides the Democratic party with the coveted power of being transformed into chairs of the many committees.  It also provides them with power of the subpoena.

Attendees react as election results are displayed on a screen during an election night rally for State Senator Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia and U.S. Representative candidate, in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Wexton defeated two-term Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock, ousting a Republican in a northern Virginia district that was arguably the top target for Democrats in their effort to take back the House majority, according to projections from NBC and CNN. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

One chair swap that will take place in January 2019 is the Financial Services Committee.  Despite Trump labeling her as a “low IQ” individual, Maxine Waters is in line to be selected as chair.  Those who know her define her not by an IQ issue but brilliant in being an advocate against the powerful, specifically personalities such as Trump.  They applaud her resilience and track record of getting the job done.  Whatever motivated Trump from creating the moniker he assigned her, he may come to regret it as she becomes laser focused on all of his alleged corruption and mis-dealings, including releasing to the public his long-promised tax returns.

Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some will dismiss her strategy as “what’s the big deal?”  They may be blind of not understanding what transparency is all about?  Or, perhaps like some have stated, they may fear the exposure of his financial entanglements which perhaps could be a reason of his behavior, not necessarily just the Mueller special investigation?   In the meantime, yes, the economy is moving and consumer confidence is up but the core reality is many view the president as untrustworthy and the likes of Waters and others in the house now have the ability to put a spotlight of what they have been prevented from uncovering or at least obtaining an honest answer for the people they represent.

 

The Trump and Waters soliloquy will be an interesting dance.  One might assume Trump felt he would never lose the house to allow Waters to be unleashed?  The voters decided that reality.


BEFORE WE GO…..ICYMI

Many of you recall the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin?  The again, some of you are aware of the Women’s Movement which mushroomed the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president?  But how many remember the killing of Jordan Davis who was gunned down by Michael Dunn in Jacksonville, FL?  Unlike George Zimmerman the killer of Martin who was found not guilty, Michael Dunn was found guilty of Davis’ death and is now in prison.  Like the parents of so many who have been found their plight by the end of a gun, Davis’ mother found the energy to raise her voice and become a political voice.  

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Yesterday, Lucy McBath was one of those women who threw their hat in the political ring and won their election (although the results are within the range of an automatic  recount).  If she is ultimately successful, her victory is a sign of how democracy works – at the local level.

Lucy McBath declares victory in Georgia’s 6th District race  

The race was too close to call Tuesday night 

 

My review:  Los Angeles Freedom Rally, 1963


cover photo.  courtesy of CAAM and Harry Adams collection

Exhibit handout. Courtesy of CAAM

The United States civil rights movement escalated with the 1955 murder of young Emmett Till.  It was during that time the Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the leader.  Fast forward to 1963 as the iconic March on Washington earned its place in the annals of world history.  Through that event Dr. King’s reputation became cemented as he displayed his oratorical gift.

 

 

 

May 26, 1963

As great as the March on Washington was you must go back to May 26, 1963 to understand a cornerstone of how a rally in Los Angeles generated the success it did.  Through the California African-American Museum (CAAM), historians and curators Tyree Boyd-Pates and Taylor Bythewood-Porter have created a “must-see” exhibit that underscores the little-known fact of how it was a critical complement to the March on Washington and why that date has historical significance.

Wrigley Field, Los Angeles

Titled, “Los Angeles Freedom Rally, 1963 “the exhibit highlights how Dr. King came to Wrigley Field in Los Angeles and stirred the crowd of 35,000 who came to hear him share why the movement needed their support.  1963 was a critical year.  In Birmingham, AL Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor had unleashed a direct assault against the movement.  Peaceful protestor’s were being locked up and given unreasonable bail amounts.  Contrary to history, some have accepted the notion about Dr. King not being willing to go the jail?  However, the facts are much different as it was agreed Dr. King could do more out of jail, than in jail.  Thus, his time was spent traveling to various cities to raise funds needed to combat the malicious bail amounts rendered by the likes of Connor.  It was that reason Los Angeles was a target for him to visit and make an appeal.  The residents of Los Angeles responded and the rest is history as their support helped fuel the issue of providing money to get folk out of jail, and also helped undergird the funding needed for the eventual March on Washington.

Boyd-Pates and Bythewood-Porter have assembled a must-see exhibit.  It runs through runs until March 3, 2019.  Click BELOW to obtain the handout

lamarch1963

 


Group photo of those who attended presentation. Photo courtesy of Tyree Boyd-Pates and Taylor Bythewood-Porter

To listen to the full speech CLICK HERE

 


 

My review: Central Avenue


[Exposition Park]  On October 25th, the California African-American Museum (CAAM) kicked off its symposium series about Central Avenue.  In what appeared to surprise CAAM, nearly 500 came out to hear the presentation from historian Robert Johnson and staff from the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center.  The room was filled with enthusiasm and anticipation, and eventually swelled to a standing-room only crowd.


Fred with Robert Lee Johnson, historian and lecturer CAAM

Central Avenue evokes positive feelings for African-Americans.  The community became the pride and joy for many, particularly those known as “Easterners.”  The event kicked off with a short video provided by the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center titled, “Los Angeles: Displacement of Utopia”  It served as an excellent precursor to set the stage of how African-Americans were relegated to the Central Avenue district of Los Angeles.  It showcased how despite tremendous racial hostility, they were able to carve out a community which became a model for those migrating from the south, who were also seeking a fresh start.  (the video is expected to be made available to the public in the first quarter of 2019)

 

Johnson, through his brilliance spoke about the development of Central Avenue and how it became a cornerstone to showcase positive attributes of African-American culture.  Staff from the Bradley center served as an excellent complement by sharing their research.  They also encouraged those in attendance to contact them and help build more oral histories and other memorabilia to insure the story is historically correct.  There were many in attendance who had a first-hand experience about Central Avenue.  Among them was the son of John Dolphin who created and built the iconic Dolphins of Hollywood Record Shop.

 

As good as the event was, a downside was CAAM not being prepared for the large crowd.  So many in attendance brought specific anecdotal experiences about Central Avenue.  Unfortunately, the question and answer period lost its stealth due to a shortage of microphones needed for those to communicate their question as well as some who wanted to speak but could not refrain from turning a question into a diatribe.  One other point which hopefully the organizers will address at the next series is keeping the questions on point.

The passion about Central Avenue was obvious from the vibe in the room.  The African-American experience in Los Angeles is vast and no doubt Central Avenue has tremendous pride.   The event was set for two hours and due to the overwhelming interest the discussion could have gone on for two weeks!  However, some inadvertently commented about their general experience and other communities versus sticking to the topic everyone came to hear about:  Central Avenue

One other criticism was noted regarding attendance demographics.  A lady commented about bringing her mother as well as her kids and pointed out that many more might be in attendance (particularly millennials) to gain this important knowledge if the time was better suited for those who work during the day.


Admission is free.  The series continues November 15th and December 13th. To RSVP CLICK HERE.

Tom & Ethel Bradley Foundation housed at California State University Northridge.  Click here bradley csun

EastCoast Trek v2018 – Ben’s Chili Bowl Celebrates 60


[Washington, D.C.]      On Wednesday, August 22nd Ben’s Chili Bowl celebrated its 60th anniversary.  Starting by selling half-smokes, Ben’s has morphed into an institution.  Locals understand the lore and many who visit the District of Columbia always make room in their schedule to stop by the iconic restaurant, if nothing more than to pay respect.

On Friday we were treated to be in the company of Ben’s grand dame and family matriarch Mrs. Virginia Ali.  She was her usual radiant self and took time to chat with my dear friend Renie Hale (Laurel, MD) and myself.  As an added treat she invited me outside to showcase the new murals.  In between she expressed views of how Ben’s must continue to meet the needs of a changing community to insure it remains a mainstay on U and the broader DC business community.

Another unexpected surprise was meeting Ben’s historian, Dr. Bernie Demczuk.  We were presented with one of his great compilations.

(please accept our apologies for the soiled document)


 

Random photos featuring great murals

Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story – An analysis


photo credit: Tasos Katopodis / Getty

Shawn Carter (affectionately known by the world as Jay-Z) and Cinemart have given reason to tear open the scab that was created from a painful wound of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story aired the first of its six part docuseries this past Monday, July 30th.  The tally is unofficial but at least 1.2 million viewers tuned it and were taken back five years when George Zimmerman was found not guilty in killing Trayvon Martin.

Whatever your feelings regarding the tragic incident which cut down the young life of Trayvon, the opening airing was riveting and offered some powerful scenes, some never shown before.

For me the February 2012 incident was personal.  Our son was in his final semester at Bethune-Cookman University which is located in Daytona Beach.  We were preparing to see him at graduation in May.   When news of the incident fanned outside of Sanford I called my son to ask if he had heard of the news?  Indeed he had and reminded me when we visited, Sanford was only thirty miles from Orlando was right off I-4.  His graduation was slated for May in 2012 so we agreed to visit the site and research the incident, including Martin’s movement to the 7-11 and back to the site were he was gunned down.

Some may dismiss the docuseries but from the first showing I would encourage people to tune in.  All along, from carefully following the incident including the subsequent trial, I concluded the prosecutor’s simply did a poor job in presenting the facts of the case.  Notwithstanding while the prosecution blew the case in holding Zimmerman guilty of the killing, Martin’s parents; Tracey Martin and Sybrina Fulton did win several civil legal settlements including the homeowner’s association who was guilty by having Zimmerman associate with them as their pseudo neighborhood watchman.

Next airing: Aug. 6, 10pm (est)

 


**REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE URBAN BLOGG, ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 13, 2013**

Whether it was the State who didn’t get their message or evidence across, or the Defense who put up road blocks that verified doubt, the bottom line is the 6 women Jurors found George Zimmerman not guilty.  Or, could it be they just couldn’t find sufficient evidence to find him guilty?

While the news is surprising, as in my mind I have no doubt George Zimmerman was guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin and should have been found guilty…..I was not a juror, so the struggle must go forward.  Your thoughts???????

cartoon courtesy of www.rippdemup.com
cartoon courtesy of http://www.rippdemup.com

For Zimmerman supporters, the news brings joy and their voice will recant this case never should have been tried.  For supporters of Trayvon Martin and his family, including me this is a travesty of justice.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL RECAPS