Thursday, October 30, 2014

THE MIDTERM ELECTIONS: OBAMA’S LAST STAND?





President Barack Obama’s presidency began with so much promise. I remember writing six years ago that this could be the golden Age of Augustus in the modern world referring to that period of time when Caesar Augustus stabilized Rome after toxic years of Civil War had crippled the greatest city in the world.

Augustus and his sidekick, trusted general and best friend, Marcus Agrippa, set Rome on a course that made the Imperial city the greatest empire of antiquity. In fact they established what was known as the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) which lasted 500 years.

Surely campaign wiz David Axelrod playing the role of Agrippa, would do the same for Obama?

The president rode a wave of hope all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by weaving a titular tapestry of black, white, brown and red into office. From coast to coast and many places in between there was the dawning of a new day in America from the heartland to the hills.

Then came the turbulence! Then came the planned congressional obscene obstruction after Democrats lost the House! Then came the smear campaigns! Then came this and then came that and then came more of this and more of that!

President Obama’s approval ratings have taken a nosedive and like so many presidents who win a second term, he is seen more as a liability to Senate candidates and as a result he cannot hit the campaign trail with them in states like Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Louisiana.

The stakes are high next Tuesday. In fact we will most likely know if the U. S. Senate falls into Republican control when the sun comes up on next Wednesday morning.

Republican senate control would heavily handicap the final two years of Mr. Obama’s presidency. For the first time since he took the oath of office, Repubs will control both congressional chambers and previous years of obstruction will be mild compared to the madness that we will see come January 2015.

The president’s polices will be vulnerable to ultra-conservative railroading. Supreme Court aand other judicial appointments will be in jeopardy. The middle class will see unheard of attacks. Women’s rights will be ravaged. Minorities will be miserable. Immigration will not stand a chance. And the beat goes on.

Poll after national poll gives the Repubs the edge in taking back the upper chamber of Congress with them only needing to flip 6 seats as their path to a majority.

Yet, polls do not vote. Voters vote. Talk of the president’s and the Democrats senatorial demise might be premature for several reasons.

1.      While the president cannot campaign in some of the states that are razor thin in polling, he has been on the phone chasing and raising dollars.
2.      While the president is largely absent from the campaign trail, President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are ripping and running up and down the campaign trail with a fire and fervency that is stirring up the electorate. President Clinton’s approval rating is higher than any living president. In fact he and Pope Francis have the identical approval rating of 55%! Clinton is the Democrat’s BEST friend right about now. He can rally the troops. Can he change some voter’s minds? We will know by next Wednesday.

3.      Wins in three unlikely states could very well save Obama’s last two years while simultaneously allowing Harry Reid to remain the Senate Majority Leader.

Let’s analyze those states.

When I was a kid growing up in Washington, Georgia, my fondest memory of Kansas was from the Wizard of Oz. That’s where Dorothy and Toto were from before that had to follow the yellow brick road in the land of Oz. Dorothy and her dog were transported to Oz via a tornado.

A new tornado is raging in the blood red state of Kansas. Republican Senator Pat Roberts is trailing Independent candidate Greg Orman. Should Orman win, this would be a major coup. Carl Rove and his political minions are pumping money into that race quicker than a Vegas card dealer in a $1000 hand baccarat pit. To say that they are nervous about losing Kansas would be a huge understatement.

Ray Charles used to sing:

Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through (the whole day through)
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)

Well Georgia is on the mind of both political parties. Again, we have a state that used to be a cinch for Repubs but Michelle Nunn, daughter of the legendary U. S. Senator Sam Nunn, has maintained slim leads over Republican nominee David Perdue in the race for the open seat. Bill Clinton has Georgia on his mind and will be in my city on Saturday to stomp for Ms. Nunn.

Then there is Kentucky which also prides itself as a Republican safe haven. Yet, the man who would be the new Senate Majority Leader if his party picks up the needed six seats, Mitch McConnell, finds himself in the fight of his political life with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Yes, both Clintons have been to the Bluegrass State to campaign for Grimes.

This is a great path for Democrats to keep control of the Senate and thus save the last two years of Obama’s presidency.

Also, if Democrats can keep the political damns from breaking in Louisiana, North Carolina and Alaska, then democratic chairmen can keep their gavels.

“Tip” O’Neal, one of the most powerful Speakers of the House in American history once said, “All politics are local.”

Next Tuesday the locals will decide the balance of power in the United States Senate. One party will love the locals and one party will loathe the locals.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I AM STILL A GURLEY MAN




You almost always remember where you were when major earthshaking events occurred. For example, I remember getting off the school bus in high school in my hometown of Washington, Georgia when I heard that President Ronald Reagan had been shot on March 30, 1981. I remember being in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 31, 1997 when Princess Diana was in her fatal car accident in Paris. I would later make a pilgrimage to the scene of the wreck while passing through Paris on the way to Bucharest, Romania. I clearly remember pulling into my old subdivision on June 23, 2003 when news broke on the radio that Atlanta’s first African-American mayor had died of a massive heart attack. I remember exactly where I was on April 2, 2005 when Ioannes Paulus II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła but better known to the world as Pope John Paul II died.

So it was for me on Thursday, October 9 while I was on a fishing trip in Pensacola, Florida with my 90-year old fishing buddy, Dr. J. E. Hightower. I had taken a mid-afternoon nap so that I could do some night fishing. Upon waking up, I had the following Facebook message from my college classmate and perennial Georgia Tech football fan Vedia Murray Henderson at 6:36PM while I was still asleep, “What's going on with your boy Gurley? As much as I dislike the puppies, I hate it for him and his team. I guess you need to suit up [at] RB.”

My reply at 7:36PM was, “Hey um still in FL fishn...wut happened?” To my shock after scrolling the internet and reading the AJC.com and ESPN.com, I discovered that the “Top ‘Dawg,” Todd Gurley had been suspended indefinitely by the Georgia Bulldogs for allegedly taking money from a broker for signing autographed items.

Todd Gurley is unquestionably the best college football player in the nation. He is a man among boys running, leaping, passing and powering his way down the football field in between the hedges or in the opposing team’s stadium.

While we do not know many of the facts surrounding Gurley’s suspension, it has left the BullDawg Nation barking loudly and rightfully so. I wish that you could have heard me barking from Pensacola. When I learn of Gurley’s suspension, I barked louder at that news than I did after I had caught a five foot black-tip shark the night before!

Let me get this out of out of the way. I have a deep and deaf ear to those who keep saying, “Well Gurley knew better.” A man knows better than to cheat on his wife but he cheats anyway. People know better than to cheat on their taxes but they cheat anyway. People know better than to drink and drive, yet, they drink and drive anyway. So let’s leave our hyper moral hypocrisy for another conversation.

Regardless of the facts in this case, there are a few things that I would like to point out.

First, many African-American athletes come to college from environments of poverty or abject poverty where they are raised by mothers and/or grandmothers who are forced to work multiple jobs to put food on the table and to keep the lights on not just for the star athlete but also for his siblings.

Second, the temptations brought on by the lure and lights of super stardom are hard to resist when the athlete has been exposed to the grandeur and excesses of life that come with being the “best” player.

Third, there are leeches and vultures like Danny Robbins, the man who allegedly entrapped Gurley, who prey and pounce on star athletes so that they can cash in prior to the athlete signing his lucrative NFL contract.

Having established the aforementioned, everyone seems to benefit from the college star except the college star himself. Every Saturday in the SEC (Southeastern Conference), hundreds of thousands of fans and scouts pack into football stadiums as if they were the gladiatorial games of the Roman Emperor Titus when he opened the Coliseum in 80 A. D. At Sanford Stadium in Athens, home of the Georgia Bulldogs, 96,000 barking fans assemble for each home game.

The schools rake in millions of dollars each season and the stars like Gurley cannot receive one dime. This great NCAA injustice is a testament to its archaic rules. Athletes are forbidden to receive any $$$ for their services. The NCAA believes that since the athlete receives free tuition, room and board that he should be content while the NCAA rakes in billions with it conference championships, bowls and national championship game.

The only break of daylight for NCAA athletes came this past summer when U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the NCAA can't stop players from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses, striking down NCAA regulations that prohibit players from getting anything other than scholarships and the cost of attendance at schools.

Judge Wilken appropriately wrote, “The Court finds that the challenged NCAA rules unreasonably restrain trade in the market for certain educational and athletic opportunities offered by NCAA Division I schools.”

I do not know if this will help Todd Gurley but I pray that it does.

Student athletes should be allowed to eat from the same money trough that the NCAA eats from. Student athletes should be allowed to withdraw from the same ATM that the NCAA withdraws from.

Back to Gurley and Georgia. Coach Mark Richt and his coaching staff did a masterful job in preparing the ‘Dawgs for their game against Missouri on last Saturday just two days before the Gurley bomb dropped. Freshman sensation Nick Chubb chugged his way to 143 yards on 38 carries along with one TD in Georgia’s 34-0 win in Columbia.

However, T. Gurley deserves to be on the field. “Free Gurley!” No one knows how this case will end up as both Gurley and Rollins have lawyered up. If Gurley does not receive a favorable ruling, then he should return to UGA for his senior year and run his way to Heisman Glory while leading the ‘Dawgs to the National Championship which would be their first one since the “Legendary ‘Dawg” Herschel Walker was running wild.

Insure Gurley’s legs with Lloyd’s of London and let this ‘Dawg run wild.

Schools have to do more to protect star athletes from the pouncing predatory parasites who seek to line their pockets with silver and gold at the expense of the athletes who cannot even receive a plane ticket to fly home for the holidays.

I believe that one solution is to assign the athletes mentors from the faith community to shadow and shore them up.

Often God gives me the titles for my sermons way in advance of my preparation to preach the actual sermon. Such is the case of a sermon title that I was given in September which I will preach on October 26 entitled “There Shall Be Glory After This!” Now, I know why I was given that title and later wed it to II Corinthians 4:7-18.

After the mishaps and missteps of life, there can be glory!

There shall be glory for UGA and Todd Gurley after this!


“Free Gurley!”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND ISIS



When I was a fourth grader growing up in my native Washington, Georgia, I was enthralled with reading Greek and Egyptian mythology. Those mythological stories transported me to a wonderful world of gods and goddesses. Edith Hamilton was such a compelling writer that I could vividly see Zeus hurl his lethal lightning bolt to destroy some threatening beast. I could see Cupid reach into his quiver and line up a love arrow and prick the heart of some lad or laddess. I was able to walk with Hercules for his 12 labors and watch him wrestle with the Hydra.

In Egyptian mythology, I took great delight in reading about the gods and goddesses like Osiris, god of the underworld; Re, the sun god; Set, the god of chaos and Horus, the god of the sky. The adventures of these gods and goddesses along with others captured and held the imagination of this young country kid growing up in the Deep South.

Yet, there was one goddess who stood taller than the rest and that was the beautiful Isis. Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife. She oversaw nature and the magical arts. This goddess was beloved by a diverse audience ranging from slaves to aristocrats and rulers throughout all of Egypt. She became so beloved that she was worshipped throughout the mighty Roman Empire. Isis became my favorite goddess in Egyptian mythology.

Please fast forward to 2014. The term Isis does not mean today what it meant in ancient Egyptian antiquity. Isis has become ISIS – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS has become the face and personification of the most evil terrorist group in the 21st century. Over the past couple of years, these bullies and butchers have rained down a terrible terror of beheadings, crucifixions and chaos in Iraq and Syria.

President Barack Obama was criticized for not taking the moderate rebels’ side by arming them in Syria’s Civil War a few years ago and thus taking some blame for ISIS eventually filling the vacuum. The president has been repeatedly criticized by both political parties. Even as he addressed the nation and told us that he had a plan, critics and crags cackled like hens in frenzy. Like a sponge, he soaked up the criticism and marched to the beat that he thought was best.

Then on last night, we received word that a United States led coalition in the words of the 80’s R&B group The Gap Band,“dropped the bomb” in Syria. Make that several bombs in the form of Tomahawk missiles, F-22 Raptors and precision-guided munitions that rocked ISIS and heretofore an unknown group known as Khorasan with 200 pieces of ordnance.

President Obama had to do order these airstrikes. Left unchecked, ISIS is a threat not just to the Middle East but to the West as a whole. These mean men are capable of prolonged Old Testament Babylonian brutality. Their barbaric bullying is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

While once again ignoring his critics, Obama put together an unprecedented and previously unheard of coalition to take on ISIS in Syria. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar all joined the “land of the free and the home of the brave” in bombing the butchers and bullies inside of Syria.

Very few in the political and military arena believed that Mr. Obama could assemble such an array of united force that would include members of the Arab world. Critics and crags alike must admit that the president’s strategy looks brilliant. It proves that he is the ultimate negotiator. It proves that voices around the world listen to him and defer to him.

This coalition even includes the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad as well as the Iranians. While not participating in the airstrikes, the Syrian air force did not interfere with our pilots flying into Syrian airspace and the Iranians have sent arms to the moderate Syrian militants.

This kind of coalition is unheard of. This is what I call Obama’s Pharisee/Sadducee moment. The Pharisees and Sadducees in the Bible maintained a fierce theological juxtaposition until it came time to get rid of a man that they saw as their common enemy, Jesus Christ. They laid aside their differences to deal with Jesus. The aforementioned Arab coalition has laid aside their differences to get rid of a common enemy, ISIS.

America could not go this alone and thus the Obama coalition.

This “war” will not be won overnight. It will take time. Therefore, we need to hold our collective political breaths and stand united behind our president. Democrats and Republicans as well as people like Wolf Blitzer and other mad media need to put our plowshares down for a moment and stand with President Obama on a united front and save the armchair quarterbacking.

If Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar can stand with President Obama. Then America needs to stand with Obama. Take the politics out and put people first.

I give double thumbs up to Representative Peter King of New York for calling on Democrats and Republicans to stand united with President Barack Obama.


Mr. President, thank you for pulling the trigger on ISIS. In the words of Outlaw Josey Wells, “hound them to the walls of hell!”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

STEVE LEVENSON AND DANNY FERRY IN THE CITY TOO BUSY TO HATE


The city of Atlanta prides itself by trying to live up to the moving moniker that it has been tagged with: “The City Too Bust to Hate.” Atlanta is one of the colossal cradles of the Civil Rights Movement. This is the home of the drummer major for justice the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Atlanta is home to the first African-American elected mayor of a Southern City, Maynard Jackson. This city can stick its chest out laying claim to producing the first African-American female mayor of a Southern city, Shirley Franklin. Atlanta gave the United States a United Nations Ambassador in the person of Andrew Young.

Atlanta is the home of the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The Phoenix, who rose from the dust of her past, is the home of several Fortune 500 companies like UPS and Home Depot.

Atlanta is home to some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities like Georgia Tech, Emory, Morehouse and Spelman.

The Atlanta region prides itself on overcoming a rowdy and rough racial past highlighted by segregation and segregationist who refused to change i. e. Governor Lester Maddox and others, to achieve an admirable working diversity among multiple races. This diversity was showcased to the world when the races in the region came together to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

Atlanta has worked hard to live up to that massive moniker “The City Too Busy to Hate.” The results have been rewarding for black, white, brown and all of the people who make up Atlanta’s beautiful racial rainbow.

Then came Sunday night when the Atlanta Hawks’ majority owner, Steve Levenson’s 2012 racially inflammatory email sent shockwaves through the National Basketball Association. In his racial rants such as suggesting that whites do not like coming to the basketball games because they are uncomfortable being around so many blacks, Levenson rambled on and on. He even introduced economics into in his endless rant by suggesting that it was difficult to build a season ticket base with blacks because they do not have the disposable income to become season ticket holders.

Realizing the absurdity of his rants, Levenson agreed to sell his majority ownership in the Hawks and in the words of Beyoncé he exited “to the left, to the left.”

Let’s move to Danny Ferry, the Duke University graduate and former San Antonio Spurs player who is the current general manger of the Hawks.

This guy read a background report to a group of people about NBA star Luol Deng, a native of Wau, South Sudan who the Hawks were considering signing as a free agent. This Duke grad had the nerve to read the following: “He is still a young guy overall. He is a good guy overall. But he is not perfect. He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way.”

Do you think that Ferry stopped there? Of course not! He continued to read the report and said, “Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”

Really Danny Ferry?

Both Levenson and Ferry have apologized. Of course they did because they were caught.

Levenson and Ferry’s email and reading are sick and sad examples of the racial culture that permeates in all four of America’s professional sports leagues. If they were bold and brazen enough to put these thoughts in an email, imagine what these guys say about minorities face to face! The face to face conversations are held in good ole boys’ clubs and on golf courses.

Steve Levenson will cash out in a big way making far more money from selling his interest in the Hawks than he made when he bought the team and Danny Ferry will either be forced to resign or get canned when a new owner is in place.

I have read many articles saying this is not about race but I disagree. This is about race but I do not want to focus solely on race. There is another story within the deliberate and disturbing rants.

The other story is that the Hawks have not put a product on the court that will drive fans to sell out Philips Arena. The Hawks do not have a superstar player and they have not had one since the “Human Highlight Film,” Dominique Wilkins, lit up the Omni with spectacular dunk after dunk.

I like many Atlantans usually go Hawks games to see the other team’s superstars like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

Fans, black and white, love winners. They will buy tickets for winners. They will cheer for winners. They will arrive at the game early for winners. Remember when the New Orleans Saints were called the “Aints” and their fans used to wear bags over their heads? Since the Saints put a winning product on the field, they have sold out home game after home game.

The Hawks simply do not have a product that drives people downtown Atlanta to see the Hawks dribble, run, jump and shoot.

Whoever becomes the majority owner of the Hawks must bring a superstar or two superstar players to Atlanta and then the crowds will come both and black and white.


Until then, this cloud created by Levenson and Ferry will blow over. Atlanta Mayor Kasim will continue to work to ensure that “The City Too Busy to Hate” will continue to be a great melting pot of race and culture.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON THE KILLING OF MICHAEL BROWN



Hello Mr. President! Please know that you are constantly in my prayers as no one on this earth can possibly feel and understand the enormity of the weight that you carry as the President of these United States of America with the simultaneous realistic and unrealistic expectations of you from many people in different pockets of the world.

Being a fan of Greek Mythology since the 4th grade, I can imagine that some days you feel like Atlas who was cursed by the gods to hold the world on shoulders or perhaps you feel like Hercules having to perform a modern day 12 Labors!

The world is in a very trying place with the inferno that has become ISIS, the off and on again scary scrimmages between Israel and Hamas, the agitation in Afghanistan and contagious cauldron of calamity that casts a cloud from Egypt to Libya and far beyond. All of these chronic and callous international crises constantly demand your attention. Again, my prayers are with you because you do not have a magic wand that can solve these problems with one wave of your hand.

While the world bleeds and begs for answers, a more immediate domestic concern which the world has had a front row seat to over the last 10 days is the killing of Brother Michael Brown.

Unfortunately Michael Brown has joined a long litany of young Black men in America who have been gunned down and had their dreams gutted. He is now a part of that fatal fraternity whose membership includes Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin and countless others whose names could fill unlimited volumes of books.

Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin have become the embodiment of the millennium version of Billie Holiday’s gloomy lyrics “Strange Fruit.”

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees

While we still do not know all of the facts yet in the Michael Brown case, we do know that another black male has died at the hands of a white police officer. This happens over and over and over and over again and again in our communities from New York to Los Angeles and many cities in between.

Another black male has had his dreams drowned, his hopes hung and his future fizzled by the bullets of a white police officer.

I completely understand that you have had to walk a very tight and tense political tightrope relative to race since your ascendency to the presidency. I completely understand that you have to be the president for all of the people even those who did not vote for you. Heck, you even have to be the president for John Boehner and Mitch McConnell! Whew!

Mr. President, I am not telling you anything that you do not already know but race relations in America is tantalizingly terrible and toxic. Many in this country thought that with your election that we would enter a post-racial America and a utopic colorblind society. That far-fetched fantasy faded fast.

Since your election race relations have worsened in many pockets of this country and especially in the South where I live. While I enjoy living in Atlanta, once you travel outside of I285 or below what we call “The Gnat Line” in Georgia, you could make a strong argument that you are back in the 60s!

America has never really dealt with her racial issues on a broad and national scale say like South Africa did with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, no law passed in this land can legislate what is in a person’s heart.

When you have to pass laws that say that segregation is wrong, then you have a systemic problem. When you have to pass laws to allow people access to the same water fountain or to the same bathroom, then you have a systemic problem. When you have to pass laws to allow one race to have the right to vote, then you have a systemic problem.

Not only was there a need to pass laws to include Blacks in the American dream but now we are experiencing an erosion of those laws at the hands of a politically polarized and activist John Roberts led Supreme Court which has as one of its goal to not only turn back the clock but to also knock the hands on the clock completely off.

For too long, African-Americans have had to be called African-Americans instead of Americans. When are we going to remove the – from any reference to us?

This leads to me the killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer. When you have a racially charged environment like we have in America, then white police officers are very comfortable with shooting unarmed black men over and over again and immediately covering it up.

Mr. President the time has come for you to devoutly disregard the political tightrope that you have had to walk relative to race so that you would not be seen as a “Black President” or “An Angry Black Man.” It is time for you to ignore your political advisors and talk about race on a national level.

You have two years left in your presidency. You cannot let history record President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as having done more for Blacks in America than the first black President. You cannot let history record John Fitzgerald Kennedy as having done more for Blacks in America than the first black President. You cannot let history record President Lyndon Baines Johnson as having done more for Blacks in America than the first black President. And yes, you cannot allow history to record President William “Bill” Jefferson Clinton as having done more for Blacks in America than the first black President.

There is a burden that you must bear for Blacks as the first black President. It is a mantle that has been thrust upon you. I believe that God placed that mantle around your neck for such a time as this!

History needs to record that in 2014 President Barack Hussein Obama II went to Ferguson, Missouri and comforted Michael Brown’s mother and father. History needs to record that in 2014 President Barack Hussein Obama II went to Ferguson, Missouri and spoke to the peaceful protestors. History needs to record that in 2014 President Barack Hussein Obama II went to Ferguson, Missouri and spoke at a Church rally. History needs to record that in 2014 President Barack Hussein Obama II went to Ferguson, Missouri and showed that he cared about his black brother being killed.

Back to my mythological musing, Zeus, king of the gods, ruled from Mount Olympus. However, from time to time he would leave Mt. Olympus to mix and mingle among the inhabitants of planet earth.

Mr. President, while I applaud you for sending the apt and able Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson on today, it is time for you to leave the Mt. Olympus of Washington, D. C. and spend some time in Ferguson. Why not attend the funeral on Monday? Your presence can fan so many flames.

I understand the public perception by some in the majority culture if you dare come off your political tightrope and talk about race openly. But know that should you fall from your tightrope, we who love and pray for you will catch you and history will record you as having been on the right side in this situation.

Finally Mr. President, not only am a faithful fan of Greek Mythology but I am also a student of Imperial Roman history with my favorite personality being Rome’s 1st and greatest Emperor, Caesar Augustus.

To quote Augustus, I encourage you “to make haste slowly” and travel to Ferguson.

God Bless America and God Bless President Barack Obama.

Yours to serve,

Dr. Kenneth Augustus Walker
www.greaterelizabethbiblechurch.org






Thursday, July 31, 2014

GET ON UP AND GO TO SEE THE JAMES BROWN MOVIE





One of the highlights of my life was being blessed to spend some time with the “Godfather of Soul,” the legendary and immortal James Brown. The man was a pure and perfect musical genius whose gift and innate ability to feel, write, sing and perform a rhythm still remain unsurpassed today.

James Brown could sense and sound a beat and propel it to a bombastic stratosphere of which only he owned the musical GPS to and then transport us to that place as his most prized protégé Michael Jackson says in a song on his Xscape album “a place with no name.”

After many battles and much struggle, an appropriate movie chronicling the life of Brown is finally making its screen debut in theaters across the world beginning tomorrow. The movie “Get On Up” which I was blessed to preview on last Friday at the invite of Brown’s daughter Dr. Yamma N. Brown, who has worked tirelessly to keep her father’s legacy alive and thriving, is a moving masterpiece that encapsulates “Soul Brother #1!”

Chadwick Boseman was born to play James Brown. He is masterful as Mr. Brown as he was known by his employees. Boseman is as good as Denzel Washington as Malcolm X and yes, he is as good as Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in his role as “Mr. Dynamite.” Boseman is so good as Brown that if you close your eyes during the movie and listen to his voice, you will think that James Brown has risen from the grave and is playing himself on the screen.

Chadwick walks and talks like Brown. If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then prepare to be floored by Boseman as Brown.

Hats off to Tate Taylor, he of “The Help” directorial fame who directs “Get On Up.” Taylor tells Brown’s story in a direct and methodical way that allows the viewer to see and feel the sights and scenes in the making of the musical legend whose music still pumps in iPods and on Android devices even as I pen this blog.

Mr. Taylor rewinds the clock of time and allows us to follow Mr. Brown from his childhood struggle, the ravages of a broken home, living in a house of ill repute, going to jail and then rising on the crescendo of musical note after musical note until the world literally becomes his musical playground even though his educational achievement only rises to the 7th grade.

In “Get On Up” the James Brown story is a true American story. In many ways it is an example of liberation theology at work in a different way. Born in the segregated South, poor, discriminated against, given zilch chance of succeeding, a brief life of petty crimes, hustling to make it and then, finally getting a break and making the most of that break and thus breaking a glass ceiling.

Taylor allows us to see the fire, force and the fierceness that Mr. Brown embodied and that allowed him to become the “hardest working man in show business.” Brown’s music became something of a healing agent in a segregated and Vietnam War torn America. Brown music served as a bridge that allowed some Blacks and Whites to walk across and into each other’s worlds.

James Brown gave blacks in America a great sense of self-worth when he recorded a new Black national anthem in 1968 “Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud.” It was James who quelled a possible race riot the day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his concert in Boston’s famed Boston Garden.

Taylor captures and Boseman in an Oscar worthy performance acts out all of this and so much more. Between these two men, we are forced to see James Brown as more than a cultural musical icon. Conversely, I walked away from this movie seeing James Brown as a true American success story who was ahead of his time and transcended what separated America and brought us together with his music and he did it at time when his odds of failing were far greater than his odds of succeeding.

I would like to encourage you to get on up and go to see “Get On Up.” I guarantee that you are going to have “a funky good time!”





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE RESIDENTS OF WASHINGTON, GEORGIA





The best thing about my life is that I had the honor of being born in Washington, Georgia 48 years ago. There is a powerful pride that percolates in my persona from being raised in the first city in America to be named after President George Washington being established in 1790.

I grew up in the Baltimore Community of Washington and lived in a three bedroom wooden house on a dirt road just off Baltimore Road with my late grandmother, Mrs. Bessie Mae Hayes. Each time that it rains here in Atlanta, I long for the tin roof that covered our little wooden house because you could hear the robust raindrops as they powerfully pelted the roof when heaven’s rain-gates opened. Please believe me when I tell you that there was a sweet sleep to be had from the tremendously tranquil music that the rain played on that tin roof!

Life was great in my beloved Washington. I remember attending Church at Saint James CME Church and Mt. Carmel Baptist Church where the late Rev. Lamar Davenport would become my Pastor. I also remember attending Vacation Bible School at Pompey’s Chapel down in the “country.”

My mind backpedals to the neighborhood giants in the Baltimore Community like Mrs. Doris Booker, Mrs. Minnie Turman, Deacon John Thomas Evans and Mr. Sim Dill, Sr. Who can forget Rev. Sutton’s little “store” on the corner where you could pinwheel cookies that cost one penny or sell pecans for profits or buy Now or Laters!

I also hold dear those moments when my grandmother said, “Let’s go to town.” This was usually on a Saturday morning. Going to town meant that we would shop at Harper’s 5&10, Bentley Brothers Furniture Store, A&P or Meadows Grocery Stores, Poss Ace Hardware, and we would pick up her meds from Mr. Joey Fiever at Fievet’s Pharmacy. She always made sure that we got a copy of the News Reporter because “boy read everything that you can.”

Who grew up in Washington and did not remember Toombs McLendon, III who buried the dead with great grace and cracked such jokes as “I don’t wish you any bad luck. I just want business to pick up!” Toombs McLendon Funeral Home is now professionally owned and managed by his son Toombs McLendon, IV who can really grill some chicken!

Fond memories of some of the men and women who taught me still resonate in my active academic life. Teachers such as Ms. Francis Fair, Mrs. Burgess, Mrs. Alfreda Rucker, Ms. Heath, Mr. Albert Shank, Ms. Victoria Wright, Mrs. Frances Cook who taught me that the three Bs of music were Brahms, Bach and Beethoven ( I remember that because I got in trouble that day for talking too much in her class and Mr. Reid paddled me and called my grandmother to the school who “beat me!”); Mrs. Frances Dukes, Mr. Eddie Finnell, Mrs. Anna Cagle, Mr. Andrew Jackson, Mr. Booker Jackson, Mrs. Ellen Cowne, Ms. Louise White, Mr. Willard Lance, Mrs. Chandra Adkins and a parade of others whose names space will not afford me the opportunity to list.

My principals from primary school to high school graduation were Mrs. Thelma McClendon, Mr. Charles Reid, Mr. Josh Scoggins and finally Mr. Charles Prince.

Because I received a SUPERIOR public education from my teachers and administrators in Washington, Georgia, I have been blessed to earn Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees. As a result, I have been blessed to hold high level jobs and travel halfway around the world because of the educational and social advantages of being raised in my beloved Washington, Georgia.

Can you imagine how a “country boy” from Washington felt walking down the Via dei Fori Imperiali (The way of the Imperial Forum) in Rome and look up at the Il Colosseo (The Coliseum) or to stand in Nelson Mandela’s home in Soweto, South Africa or to stand at the base of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in the Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro?

The pride and joy of being raised in wonderful Washington rings and reverberates in the very fiber of my being. Heck, I even planted a garden in my backyard this spring here in Atlanta to commemorate the years that I assisted my grandmother in planting a garden in “Baltimore.”

All of the aforementioned leads me to now say that the intoxicating innocence and appetizing advantages of being raised in Washington, Georgia is now on life support and is a distant memory for many of our city’s residents now.

Why? Because Washington, Georgia like most of America has become politically polarized at its worst. Washington, Georgia like Washington, D. C. has become a tantalizingly tortured political divided city. Politics in America regardless of political party has become a cesspool of silliness and the odor from the stink and stench has filled the air with a terrible toxicity that hits and hurts all of us.

This odor has made its way to our beloved Washington, Georgia. The recent move by Mayor Ames Barnett and three of his City Council cohorts on July 17, 2014 to disband the Washington Police Department in the name of balancing the budget without meeting with Chief Theodosia Glenn who has given 30 years of her life in to protect citizens as an able and compassionate law enforcement officer is simply wrong and the result of tantalizing toxic politics.

There were no public hearings on the matter. There was no consideration given to the lives and livelihood of the men and women who have repeatedly risked their lives to keep Washington’s residents safe.

In one night with one 4-3 vote their careers were careened by a callous act!

The Mayor and his cohorts simply participated in southern “good old boy politics” and voted for “a la carte consolidation” of the police department and thereby contracted with the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement for Washington, Georgia.

Prior to the last Thursday’s vote, the Mayor repeatedly admitted that he had spoken to “Sheriff Moore” about disbanding the Police Department. But, who else was privy to those conversations? Why didn’t Sheriff Moore appear before the City Council to discuss this proposed disbanding? Why weren’t Councilpersons Marion Tutt, Charles Cullars and Kim Rainey not a part of these “secret” converastions?

This move was backroom politics at its worst.

The Mayor cried that this wass being done to save money. First, according to his own calculations, the city will only save $100,000 by disbanding the police department. Second, if this was really about saving money, then why did the Mayor and his cohorts reject Councilman Marion Tutt’s proposal to cut funding at Callaway Plantation, The Museum and Parks and Recreation thereby covering the “alleged” $400,000 budget shortfall? Why didn’t the mayor mention that Chief Glenn has ALWAYS managed her budget with great stewardship? Why do Callaway and the Museum remain sacred cows?

This was not about money. This was about malignant meanness! This may well be the very first domino to fall in the mayor’s attempt at consolidating the entire city government into the county thereby diluting minority representation in Washington-Wilkes.

He certainly has the votes to do it. He has the power to do it and he has the man to do it. Barry Fleming, the city attorney is a member of the Georgia General Assembly and can easy shuttle a consolidation bill through our state legislature. Talk about callous collusion.

It saddens me that the tart and toxic politics of Washington, D. C. has made its way to Washington, Georgia. Washington, D. C. is gridlocked. Washington, Georgia is gridlocked. Washington, D. C. is bitterly partisan. Washington, Georgia is bitterly partisan. Washington, D. C. participates in obscene obstruction. Washington, Georgia participates in obscene obstruction.

A quick perusal of the United States Supreme Court reveals that in ALL major decisions of the John Roberts court have been decided in 4-3 partisan votes. If you think that our Supreme Court is non-partisan, then I have a goldmine and three oil fields in Tignall that I would like to sell you. Washington’s City Council like the Supreme Court makes decisions based on 4-3 votes.

4-3 votes on almost all matters destabilizes and divides.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once espoused, “Where do we go from here?” Those who support truth and transparency in government must stand and fight against injustice and inequality.

This is not a time to be cowards. Now is the time to save our city. Now is the time to come together. Now is the time to vote people out of office who do not have your best interests on their agenda. Now is the time to recall the Mayor. The Mayor of Washington, Georgia must not be given a pass in this pathetic political parody.

America is only 50 years on the other side of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that very act of freedom and justice for all is constantly under fire. However, the defenders of freedom and justice for all must plan and execute their plan to guarantee that rightful freedom and justice for all.

The struggle for truth, freedom and justice never ends!

Mrs. Frances Dukes, who taught me Shakespeare, will certainly look down from heaven and smile when she sees me close my letter with a quote from The Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby gives Washington, Georgia the path forward into the future when he says in that last powerful line, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”