50 Years + later, Tommie Smith receives recognition



October 16, 1968 is well over 50 years ago. Tommie Smith captured gold while setting a world record in the men’s 200 meters final with a time of 19.83 at the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City. Worldwide 1968 was an iconic year.

At the time Smith’s gesture was seen as one of the worse sins a person could make. That is based on the perspective of Olympic officials and many who were in denial of world-wide social unrest, particularly right in the United States. It took years and for some over a half-century to understand and finally recognize the importance of the gesture made by Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman in accepting their medals.

“With Drawn Arms” came out in 2020. It was a great piece produced by Glenn Kaino. It is noted in the documentary that Olympic athletes are usually featured on the Wheaties Box. Unfortunately Smith was passed up. It took over 50 years as someone from Wheaties must have been paying attention or perhaps it was nudging by Kaino but the box recently came out. I was in Panama in December 2020 and received an email from Wheaties that the commemorative box would be produced and advance orders were being taken. The production is outstanding and three months later my box arrived today. By the way, it was even full of Wheaties!!!! Either way, as an Olympic aficionado, particularly the ’68 games I am honored to add the box to my Olympic memorabilia.


TO GET YOUR SPECIAL BOX CLICK HERE

Bruce’s Beach – Is it time for real reconciliation?


[Manhattan Beach, CA – April 10, 2020]   Protest is an American right.  Some who do not like it or attempt to marginalize its effectiveness always ask the rhetorical question why is it necessary? The strategy of a protest is not a fix-all or immediate remedy.  Instead, its main thrust is to raise awareness of an issue or an incident.   Bruce’s Beach has been around for over 100 years.  It pops in the news every so often then disappears.  The George Floyd murder on May 25, 2020 brought a public outcry not seen in years.  People from all walks of lives and various ethnicities, including many Whites raised their voices to the injustice they witnessed from social media footage.  A residual effect of the Floyd issue elevated the Black Lives Matter movement to a special status, whereas four years earlier they were vilified and mischaracterized as some type of violent force.  Their presence created an awareness for many to allow their voice to be heard on social issues around the globe.

Manhattan Beach is a tony beach community nestled along the shorelines of Southern California.  It has the appearance of a very progressive tolerant community.  But like all things it has its history and was recently thrust in the news on April 9, 2021 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn during a press conference led by her, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, State Senator Steven Bradford and various public officials.   It just so happens that even though the property is in Manhattan Beach, the County of Los Angeles is the current owner and that is why Hahn led the conference.


Bruce’s Beach was a venue created by Charles and Willa Bruce in 1912.  Their goal was pretty straightforward – to create a place for African-Americans to enjoy the beach.  History and context are two important parallels.  Southern California, specifically the greater Los Angeles area was experiencing a population boom.  As Slavery was legally outlawed and followed by Reconstruction many decided it was better to “start-over” than deal with Jim Crow or “southern traditions.” Those African-Americans who could make the migration from the South did so.   Unfortunately, Jim Crow as a vestige of White Supremacy followed them as it was dominant in areas some thought were off-limits, such as Manhattan Beach. 

As a native of Los Angeles I had never heard of this place! I was fortunate as my parents stressed education and I have been blessed to travel and experience other cultures. About ten years ago I made a decision to become more informed, particularly African-American history. Racism was happening then and it still permeates our society today.” Larry Wiggs, II

A new beginning

The Bruce’s left New Mexico and discovered Manhattan Beach.  Mr. Bruce was a pullman porter so he was away most of the time.  Thus, Bruce’s Beach was opened and operated by Willa.  Even though the venture was successful, some White’s simply could not accept the fact of African-American’s creating a haven for themselves.  The Bruce’s dealt with harassment, violence and other acts of organized intimidation until finally the City of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to force them out.   The Bruce’s dream of tranquility and peace faced the reality of overt racial discrimination.  In 1912, they paid $1,225 to acquire their coveted piece of property.  In 1924 The city paid them $14,500 as compensation and told them to move on.

The Janice Hahn press conference brought many to the historic spot to see it for themselves, including Los Angeles native Larry Wiggs, II (left).

The Bruce’s story is compelling.  Unfortunately, there are many noteworthy examples of African-Americans being stripped of their resources and the final chapter of what happened has never been told, hidden in recorded documents or marginalized as if nothing nefarious occurred.

What Hahn communicated yesterday is historic.  You hear all of the time of the wealth-gap?  For many African Americans the gap is a direct result of their ancestors having their property or assets stripped from them, thus there was nothing to “pass down.”  At the same time, some whites will rightfully argue they were not involved in Slavery or did not create any of the ills which caused the gap.  Historians have rightfully defined “white privilege.”  The Bruce’s Beach issue puts the topic right back on the table – the legacy of wealth. 

Why is it hard to discuss Reparations?

Reparations appears more complicated than it really is. History notes various groups in the past have been made whole in some fashion. It only turns into a huge problem or something not to be discussed when attempting to deal with the descendants of enslaved Africans. You heard the lady in the clip pose the question what is all of the fuss about? After all, eminent domain is a legal process municipalities can use to acquire property for the public good the Bruce’s were paid something! The issue specifically related to the Bruce’s is the city wanted to rid itself of a racial problem and used eminent domain as the resolution. The question remains what legacy could the Bruce’s have left their heirs had race not been the issue to force them to leave?

I’m from Burbank and saw the news about the beach, so I needed to see it for myself. I knew about certain groups being discriminated against but I was shocked to see racial covenants were enforced to keep Blacks from buying homes in many parts of Los Angeles.” An anonymous middle-aged White man

The word reparations scares the hell out of people, primarily because they do not understand it.  Interestingly in the past political leaders or those in power acknowledge making various ethnic groups “whole” who have been harmed by White Supremacy or racist behavior as a necessary remedy towards reconciliation.  That is, unless those harmed are African-American.  Hopefully Hahn and other leaders will spur a nationwide crusade that it is one thing to apologize yet it is another to repay and truly make whole to ensure the descendants can attempt to enjoy the same legacy that so many take for granted.  First things first.  While reimbursement or reparation dollars have not been specified, for now the energy is to return the property to Bruce’s heirs.  There is also discussion of the County reverting from owner to tenant of the Bruce heirs, as a major part of the property is currently being used by them.


The Bruce’s Beach incident is American history so here is a recommended bibliography for additional reading:

Dr. Mary McLeod-Bethune to become first African-American in Statuary Hall


The cover picture is from the first "Freshman" college in 2006 as students took their place in front of the iconic Dr. Bethune statue at the campus

Dr. Mary McLeod-Bethune’s legacy is historic.  The school she founded in Daytona Beach, FL is a proud HBCU (Historically Black College and University) campus.

Dr. Bethune will be the first African-American to have her statue in Statuary Hall which is located in the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.  Perhaps aided by the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement during last year’s worldwide reaction, Dr. Bethune’s statue will replace Confederate General Kirby Smith.

Interestingly the statue will be sculpted by Italian Master sculptor Nilda Comas. While her selection was already sealed, it brings some consternation among African-American sculptors who for years have developed an impressive tradition in preparing works of art.  Similar to the Dr. Martin Luther King memorial which was produced by a Chinese sculptor, once again they may feel shut out of lending their talents to such revered figures.

Nevertheless, this represents a great testament to the respect Dr. McLeod-Bethune garnered during her life’s work.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

editorial note: Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) has a great history particularly in Daytona Beach. The campus is two miles from the Atlantic seashore. More importantly it is located approximately one mile from Jackie Robinson stadium, which is where Robinson played as part of his brief minor league stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The venue is now part of the Chicago Cubs organization. For those who watched 42 featuring Chadwick Bosman, many scenes from Robinson’s time in Daytona Beach were near the campus. Our youngest son, Fred IV was a graduate of BCU.

2020 General Election EC Tracker – President


The above cartoon courtesy of Gary Carvel

The chart below list Electoral College votes per state. Of course in the United States, the winner is declared by securing a total of 270 votes or above. In 2016 Donald Trump scored over 300 votes while securing a win. Noteworthy was him winning battleground states by a total of less than 100,000 votes. Remarkably, Hillary Clinton secured the most total votes but fell short in the determining tally which was the Electoral College.

Getting to 270 seems like a basic equation. For Trump supporters they are licking their chops thinking they will see a repeat of 2016, if not better. Some have been heard stating “we are in for a landslide.” On the other hand, Biden supporters claim no way! They point to the battleground states claiming Trump won by a fluke, emphasizing there is no way he will run a “Boston” this time around. Interesting for Trump as his first term is nearing the end is very few can point to any significant increases to his base of supporters. That might come back to bite him because based on elections following his win in 2016, more voters have switched to the other side, than staying put with him.

Another huge assumption is it is very unlikely Trump will win any states Clinton secured in 2016. Joe Biden on the other hand is assured of those states. At the same time, it is reasonable to assume he will win a few battleground states which Clinton lost? Therein lays the trouble for Trump, unless he cheats or pulls some maneuver to manipulate the votes? If Biden were to win just two battleground states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he would eke out a victory!

We encourage you to play around with the electoral tool we created to define your own assumptions.

Roger Stone and the Donald Trump criminal enterprise


“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” Robert Mueller, Special Counsel

Plenty of people have been found guilty of crimes they swear were never committed by them.  Some complain about injustice or other measures to justify their claim.  Then there is Donald Trump.  Any and every allegation against him or those who are part of his “crew” are false, fake or just plain untrue. His strategy in upholding his innocence is to create a vicious assault on the accusers. He takes the media microphone and attempts to blast his critics into submission or feels enough people have adopted his position. This attempt to nullify is laughable because it makes you wonder why he spends so much time doing this when as president, certainly there are more important things he could be doing in leading the nation?

As for Trump’s connection with Stone most people with their background of criminal dealings have an insatiable appetite to keep business dealings tied up in the court system. People like Trump who tout their “success” and “celebrity” are very careful to construct a web to keep their affairs private, which is why very few seek public life.  Then again, they have been transformed into such large personalities their ego can’t help from being in charge.  The presidency is known as the most powerful person in the free-world and the perfect motivation why Donald Trump licked his chops at the notion of gaining such a crown.

Your past is your past but even that can be dangerous in a world where more disclosure than you previously would have wanted must come to light.    Why are so many people out to get Trump?  Why does he have so many relationships with those who have a propensity for being involved in criminal activities?   On and on!  But to Trump’s credit he was able to convince enough people who actually voted that he was a self-made billionaire, let alone the world’s greatest entrepreneur and possessed the skills to not only improve their lives but could transform the United States of America into prominence nobody could imagine.  A good majority of those who supported him as the President figured why not give the lad a chance?  After all, many had forgotten about the near financial collapse of 2008 and fast forward they were feeling pretty good that our worse was behind us.

Trump didn’t start acting like a criminal akin to a crime boss once he was sworn in.  That behavior had been embedded into him for years and defined who he really is.  Roger Stone’s antics were well known when he worshiped Richard Nixon.  He was a known “dirty trickster” who would do anything for those needing the ploys that defined who he was. His tactic was basic, do enough activity that borders on the line of honesty/criminal but do not get caught.

Whether Donald Trump will be rewarded with a second term is anybody’s guess.  What is worth pondering is why do many people close to him and his White House administration have been caught up in the web of criminal malfeasance?  They skirt the law at every turn while proclaiming they have done nothing wrong while attacking critics and authorities “out to get them” fueled by being jealous of the 2016 election results. Jay Sekulow and other Trump attorney’s had convinced him he has absolute immunity and can do anything he wishes as if he were a Monarch, King or some other absolute political leader. That is until the other day when the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.

As president Trump has the authority to commute, pardon or otherwise minimize the crimes of Manafort, Flynn, Stone, et. Al.  The head scratcher for most is when can we remember a president having so many criminal calamities during his first term in office?

Roger Stone has been granted a reprieve by Donald Trump. So the question is will Donald Trump pay a political price for badgering anyone and everyone from members of the Supreme Court, to politicians he does not like, to the myriad of authors who have written tell-all books about his childlike behavior, while granting favors to those with a criminal past such as Stone or those he deems loyal, while using the office of the presidency to invoke such privileges?

Robert Mueller, Special Counsel – Full Op-Ed in response

to Stone’s sentence being commuted by Donald Trump

CLICK HERE

John Lewis – “Good Trouble”


Our nation has not experienced the type of environment we are living through. Millions have hit the street and that many and more can’t wait until November 3rd, at least those in the United States who are eligible to vote.

Congressman John Lewis’ doc – “Good Trouble” was debuted this weekend. It chronicles Lewis’ iconic career including battling for the right to vote and fighting back voter suppression. Through his career you have a front seat to the battles, the victories and some of the defeats. Political buffs will love the doc. Those who are new to the scene may be inspired how a simple-minded lad from Troy, AL got involved and embraced public service. There is so much to his life you almost forgot how he pulled the cous de gras to defeat his longtime friend Julian Bond to represent Altanta’s fifth district.

The 90 minute doc is available on demand and most streaming services.

My hood score – 9+

Visions with a leader………”I can’t breathe!”


Stevie Wonder & Hurricane Dave

Shortly after George Floyd was murdered and folk took to the streets many used the airwaves to voice their response.

One leader, you will recognize when you hear the song spoke poignantly about how African-Americans have historically dealt with the consequences of having a “knee on their neck.”

Through Hurricane Dave’s genius and the gift of Stevie Wonder who owns KJLH (Kindness, Joy Love & Happiness) radio station in Los Angeles (102.3FM), part of the leader’s speech “I can’t breathe” is woven into Wonder’s “Vision” song which is from his 1973 Innervisions album.

Enjoy!!!

If the song does not load – try this link

George Floyd Protests – Scenes from Los Angeles…..continues


[Los Angeles, CA – Day 18]  It has been eighteen days since George Floyd was murdered.  Depending on one’s perspective or life’s experiences, sides have been drawn.  Just about everyone agrees ex-officer Chauvin as well as the other three arresting ex-officers used excessive and unnecessary force.

The Floyd incident has morphed from a moment to a movement based on what we are witnessing in cities around the globe.  As expected, there are those who proclaim the reaction is over-blown.  They go further to suggest it is some type of Democratic funded operation to smear our system.   I guess they feel because Floyd was African-American and the majority of them vote in favor of Democratic candidates, surely the party must be behind their antics?  They quietly dismiss the notion that deciding which political party to support boils down to which one MOSTLY  supports your issues?  It appears to be a sound-bite that some accept based on which media they consume? 

One side sees a need for justice.  The other side sees a need to stop disrespecting civility.  Another critical analysis those in opposition can’t explain, as history may be the final arbiter is why folk from various ethnicities, age groups and other demographics have joined the movement?   To further justify their belief the reaction is fueled by a political party, they voice opposition via social media suggesting those who support the reaction to Floyd are ill-informed or have they been induced into some cult?  

Most have forgotten the Black Lives Matter has been around.  Just in 2016, through media it was vilified as a revolutionary group you should be scared to associate with.  That’s why this time is different.  As mentioned, folk from all walks of life have changed their social consciousness and now proudly proclaim the Black Lives Matter moniker.

 

There is one more critical point about protesting which those in opposition somehow find difficult to accept or understand.  Protesting is a public gesture to create awareness of the issue.  Following must be a series of actions which make the reason for protesting a serious action.  As an example most people never heard or knew of Emmett Till, Jimmie Lee Jackson or more contemporary examples such as Alton Sterling,  Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner or even George Floyd.  It was the type of tragic death they suffered which made them household names.  Therein lays a prime reason for the public outrage we are experiencing.  It is bigger than any specific named person.  It has to do with a system that minimizes their life merely because they were black. It has very little to do with their past as a seed of racism makes it okay to marginalize those who are deemed less than.  Unfortunately, many buy into this paradigm while defining themselves as wholesome american folk.  


Protest is a basic right.  How long people take to the streets is anybody’s guess?  What we are hearing by documenting daily events is it will continue until November 3rd!  While Black Lives Matter is the main organization leading the protest, many splinter groups have joined and that has helped fuel the energy to sustain the reaction.

Revolutionary Communist Party known as RevCom was one group which led the Los Angeles Protest – Day 18.   Just like when Black Lives Matter hit the scene, their name probably scares the hell out of people.  The long and short, they are a social-action group.  One of their main tenets is trying to unite “Brown & Black.”  Speakers did a very good job in communicating how racism has been used to divide the groups.  Unfortunately many in the affected groups have bought into the notion of distrusting the other.  As an example one of the passionate Latina leaders expressed how many from Mexico and other Latin American countries have been raised to feel African-Americans are lazy, untrustworthy, criminal and otherwise the type of people you need to stay away from.


Like many rallies, the participation builds as it weaves through the streets to their final destination.  They started across the street from City Hall, facing Grant Park.  Headed south on Spring street, the spirited group marched to 7th Street and headed west until they reached Mac Arthur Park which is several miles away in the Westlake community.  There were no incidents or negative reaction.  As a matter of fact, many who were driving stopped their cars to show support.  A few actually joined the marchers.  Folk came out of restaurants and bars to show support.  The Los Angeles Police picked up the rear to undergird the marchers progress as they went through the streets.


HERE IS OUR PHOTO ESSAY FROM 

LOS ANGELES PROTEST RALLY – DAY 18

George Floyd Protests – Scenes from Los Angeles


[Los Angeles, CA – Day 9]  Activism is nothing new to me, at least that’s what I want to think!  Today marked the 9th day since the murder of George Floyd and after jockeying my schedule I ran out of excuses of why I could not be on hand to document the important rally scheduled at 3pm..

 

You’ve all seen the protest which followed ex-policeman Chauvin pulling a rare move most of us haven’t seen – putting his knee of the neck of George Floyd, while he had been restrained and in hand-cuffs. The cous de gras was Chauvin’s bold move to comfortable place his hand in his pocket while cutting off Floyd’s air flow.  Most of you saw what we all saw and perhaps that inspired you to raise your voice and join the movement?

 

I was trying to remember when was the last time I saw a reaction of this magnitude?  I go back to 2000 when I was fortunate to travel to Chiapas, Mexico to get a first-hand glimpse of supporters of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista movement.  The revolutionaries rose up against the government while loudly proclaiming – BASTA!!!!!!

 

The reaction from Floyd’s murder seems a bit different.  We’ve heard that refrain from members of the media who have been reporting the events   One of the major protests today centered at the Hall of Justice (County of Los Angeles) at the steps of District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office.  As I was driving to secure a parking spot, I could see a flurry of participants head towards Temple & Broadway.  Signs in tote it was quite a sight.  I just knew this was different from the many events I have attended/participated in.

The crowd swelled to easily 10,000 plus.  The event was well organized and despite the Covid-19 pandemic we are dealing with folk had mask and other protection.   Folk were walking the line dispatching out water, squirts of hand-sanitizer, snacks and even first-aid stations so you could maintain your energy.  Their focus was maintaining a safe environment to insure the message of change was front & center.

 

A very interesting dynamic that I witnessed was the demographic of the crowd.  I would guestimate the primary ages ranged from 20 – 40.  The ethnic composition was what you would expect from Los Angeles.  It was exceptionally diverse.  The take-away from today’s event as well as those which have taken place since Floyd’s life was cut short is will the energy and commitment get translated into serious civic engagement – VOTING?  For all the signs and images of being fed-up, will the people have the courage to leverage their voice and create the change they are seeking?


HERE IS MY PHOTO ESSAY FROM TODAY’S

LOS ANGELES PROTEST RALLY