Muhammad Ali Earl and Bighouse Emauel Steward Jim Brown Danny Glover Doug Williams Bert Sugar
UNPARALELLED UNCOMPROMISED UNFORGIVEN UNSUNG
HILLCREST CHILDREN'S CENTER SATURDAY PROGRAM:
THE HOUSE HAROLD BELL BUILT!
In the 1960s Children's Hospital was located on 13th Street between W and V Streets, NW. Hillcrest Children's Center was located on 13th and W Streets (Old Turner's Arena). Hillcrest was an affiliate of Children's Hospital. The building housed emotional disturb children. The children served were overwhelmingly white from the Maryland suburbs and upper NW DC. During the week white parents were seen in and out of the facility and on the weekend they would pick-up their children and take them home. On Mondays they would bring the children back.
I was the Roving Leader (Youth Gang Task Force) assigned to the Cardozo/Shaw community. My time was spend one block over on 13th and V Street working out of Harrison Playground and Harrison Elementary. I paid little or no attention to Hillcrest Children's Center.
The Hillcrest complex did not sit well with blacks on the block. More then anything else, the facility was a mystery to them. They wanted to know what the hell was going on, but didn't know who to ask! I was of no help, I knew little or nothing about Hillcrest and how it served the community.
On school days I walked pass the complex and through the neighborhood. I was more concerned about the knuckleheads I would encounter hanging out in the U Street corridor. This was not a good sign. I decided to approach Mr. Cousins, the Harrison Principal. We discussed what remedies we could use to combat these acts of truancy.
My thoughts, why not try to use athletics as a motivational tool? The athletic team concept helped me to improve my school attendance and discipline, why not use the same vehicle for these knuckleheads (I know a knucklehead when I see one, because I was one). I would notice after school the young men who should have been attending Harrison during school hours would migrate to the playground.
With the permission of Mr. Cousins and Roving Leader Director, Stanley Anderson, I held tryouts for the Harrison touch football team on Harrison Playground in the evenings after school. They were some of the greatest young athletes I have ever been associated with. You name the sport, football, basketball, baseball, track and field, most could run like the wind. I wished that I could have been that talented at their young age.
Getting them to tryout for the team was easy, but getting them to improve their attendance and their grades was not going to be an easy chore. The rules of participation were; regular school attendance, maintain a C average, respectful behavior (no profanity) and be on time for school and practice. Easier said then done, some of my best players refuse to abide by the rules. Several I had to dismiss from the team or I benched them in favor of a not so talented teammate, but as we started to win without them, they changed their rebel ways.
I convinced other elementary schools in walking distance of Harrison to participate, Garrison and Grimke principals liked the concept and came aboard. The idea went over so well other elementary schools wanted to participate and the program went city-wide. With my coaching genius, Harrison Elementary won the first City Wide Elementary Touch Football League Championship. The team was called "The Harris Hustlers."
Harrison Rec Center won the first City-Wide Police/Community Relations softball championship, I was the coach, but this time the participants were playground tough guys and Third District cops who though they were just as tough. It took several practices before Andrew Johnson my high school teammate and police officer could convince his colleagues to take off their guns during practice.
The league was the brainchild of the late Mayor for Life, Marion Barry. The league was designed to help improve police community relations and it did for a minute.
In 1968 all hell broke loose after the gun related death of our Prince of Peace in Memphis, Tn, Dr. Martin Luther King. I remember NFL Hall of Fame and Green Bay Packer player Willie Wood and I standing on the corner of 9th and U Streets after having lunch at the in-crowd hangout of the Che Maurice restaurant. It was a beautiful bright sun shiny April 4th day when someone rode by in a car and yelled "Harold Bell they just shot and killed Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis."
Willie and I were in a state of confusion because we didn't know what to believe until some friends exited from Che Maurice and confirmed that Dr. King had been shot. Our boss Stanley Anderson requested that we stay on the streets because we might be able to save a child. I was told to report to the Third District HQ to meet with Assistant Chief Timon O'Bryant.
I arrived at the precinct and was ushered down to the basement for Roll Call. There I met with Chief O'Bryant and he introduced me to his command. The next words out his mouth and actions stun me. He told the officers to watch my back because I would be on the streets with them trying to keep the peace. He then gave me a police badge to assist me in getting through police and military barricades. My next question "where is my gun?" The Chief's response, 'Harold I don't have the authority to issue you a gun. I don't think any of the looters will be shooting in your direction.' I was not really worried about the looters, it was some trigger happy cop that worried me.
When the armor trucks and military personnel had cleared the U street corridor, there were only three businesses left standing, Lee's Flowers, Industrial Bank of Washington and Ben's Chili Bowl. The Chili Bowl was the only business allowed to stay open during the riots, thanks to an assist from Chief U. S. Marshall in charge Luke C. Moore. After the White House had ordered all businesses to shut-down, Luke intervene on behalf of Ben's explaining to President Lyndon B. Johnson that Ben's needed to stay open for first respondents, doctors, nurses, police, fire departments, military personnel and youth advocates like myself, we needed some place to eat. President Johnson relented and allowed Ben's to stay open.
Out of the rubble and ash, Kids In Trouble emerged. The administrators at the Hillcrest Children's Center reported having problems with neighborhood youth and some adult residents harassing staff and family members of their patients. A friend on the staff of Children's Hospital recommended that they talk with me about the problem. It was here I became known as "The Child Whisper!" The 1300 block of W and V streets NW, the two-block radius was known as my domain.
I met with the Hillcrest Director, Dr. Nicolas Long and his staff to talk about their neighborhood problem. The tour of the facility was an eye opener for me, I could not believe there was a indoor swimming pool, in door and outdoor basketball courts, overnight facilities for patients and a cafeteria. It was like I had found a full service Marriott in the ghetto. The results of the meeting, Dr. Long wanted to open the facility to kids in the neighborhood on the weekends (Saturday only). I thought this was a great ideal, but there was a catch, they wanted me to run the program. I said, "Thanks, but no thanks!"
In hindsight, my reasons were purely selfish. I was a paid starting WR for a minor-league football team, the Virginia Sailors. They were an affiliate of the NFL Washington Redskins. There was no-way I was giving up that job, I still had dreams of playing in the NFL.
I had a sit-down discussion with my wife Hattie, my brother Earl and my friend Andrew Johnson, both DC cops. We reached a compromise and figure out a way to open the facility on Saturdays to neighborhood kids without me missing a game. All out of town games, Hattie, Earl and Andrew would oversee the program. All three were known to the kids in the neighborhood. Home games were played at night and presented no problem, because Hillcrest operating hours were from 12 noon until 3:00 pm,kick-off was 7:00 pm for all home games. The Sailors provided tickets for the Hillcrest kids to attend all home games.
There were a lot of first to come out of Hillcrest Saturday Program; the longest on-going community based Christmas Toy Party started at Hillcrest Saturday Program (1968-2013). The first Santa's Helper was my Virginia Sailor teammate LB George Kelly. The first ever students bused in from Tacoma-Park Seven Day Adventist Church from Tacoma-Park, Md. to mentor inner-city children. Students from Howard and UDC were nowhere to be found. Today, high school and college students can earn credits toward graduation for volunteering in the community (unheard of before 1968).
The first ever NFL Films nationally televised (CBS) community promo was video taped at Hillcrest in 1972. The video shown NFL MVP RB Larry Brown and LB Harold McLinton of the Washington Redskins teaching water safety to inner-city kids.
Dr. Nicolas Long and his wife Jodie are two of the finest human beings I have ever known. Integrity and honesty were their hallmarks during all the community First accomplished at the Hillcrest Saturday Program, they had my back. They inspired the closing of my radio sports talk show, "Every black face you see is not a brother and every white face you see is not your enemy!"
The Price of Gun Violence in America:
Since Sandy Hook, a Kid Has Died by a Gun Every Other Day!
Kids Who Die - by Langston Hughes
This may provide a measure of the changing sameness and shameness in our history, Mississippi burning, Ferguson, LA, Chicago, Charleston, Baltimore, DC, NY City and the beat goes on in the war against black men in America. The Angelo Herndon, reference in the poem, rings familiar it describes a young black Georgian in the 1930's. He was arrested under a state statute for insurrection, because he protested unequal justice and segregation laws while championing an interracial workers movement.. He was summarily sentenced to life in prison, though released on appeal following massive black protests. He later moved to Harlem where he joined the Communist Party, becoming a writer and spokesperson for its causes.
This was not one of Hughes' most famous poems, but it now energizes the moment while embracing renewed meaning and relevancy.
This is for the kids who die, Black and white, For kids will die certainly.The old and rich will live on awhile, as always. Eating blood and gold, letting little kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi organizing sharecroppers, Kids will die in the streets of Chicago organizing workers. Kids will die in the orange groves of California telling others to stick together.
Whites and Filipinos, Negroes and Mexicans, all kinds of kids will die who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment and a lousy peace. Of course, the wise and the learned who pen editorials in the papers, and the ladies and gents with Dr. in front of their names, white and black.
Who make surveys and write books will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die.
And the sleazy courts and sleazy attorneys, and the bribe-reaching police, and the blood-loving generals, and the money-loving preachers, will all raise their hands against the kids who die, beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets, to frighten the people.
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—and the old and rich don’t want the people to taste the iron of the kids who die. They don’t want the people to get wise to their own power to believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together and listen to kids who die—Maybe, now there will be no monument for you except in our hearts.
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in swamp or prison grave. swamp or the potter’s field, or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht.
But the day will come—you can be sure yourselves that it is coming—when the marching feet of the masses will rise for you with a living monument of love, and joy, and laughter. And black hands and white hands clasped as one, with a song that reaches the sky—the song of the life triumphant.
Through and for the kids who died.
By Earl Tildon / August 9, 1993
Who is Harold Bell? From where I sit, a man obsessed with youth and children’s plight. He walks swiftly away from compromise, aggressively wanting things right. Who is Harold Bell? From where I sit, he is an arrogant rebel with youth as his cause. He keeps raising their issues without fear or pause.
Why does Harold Bell do what he does, and why does he do it his way? It may be because many others who did it are longer doing it today. It may be that those who have risen to the heights don’t quite remember any more. For once they have left the place of their birth they throw away the key that once opened the door. Harold Bell is no diplomat; perhaps he doesn’t know how the game is played! Perhaps he is naïve to think that “Superstars” are coming back where he stays. Could it be that it is not vogue to court the poor, or not want a black child to die, or maybe it is politically incorrect to ask the question why?
Maybe Harold Bell speaks up too much, or perhaps he is far too crude. Or maybe he has spoken out against the establishment, or maybe he has just been rude. But Harold Bell didn’t invent rudeness nor does he speak as loud as some, for leaders have known through the ages that justice goes to the beating drum.
Harold Bell perhaps understands that silence somehow appears to be consent. And he knows that our oppressors flourish when our heads and backs are bended. He also knows that children maybe homeless or parentless or in pain. He also knows that their need to survive is real and to reach out to our children the World gains.
Thank God Harold Bell has access to the media so that we can read and listen to his candid outspoken word. Thank God for readers and listeners who understand motivation is what we need. Thank God for those like Harold Bell, who speak out against “Kids killing kids,” crack, heroin and speed.
It is hard for me to understand why some may dislike Harold Bell! He is such a nice guy it is hard to believe some would turn him off while little children die. There may have been a word that even Harold Bell could say that would have caused the listener to save a child along the way.
But such is life we can’t always please, so why expect it of Harold Bell? He did not create today’s problems and who are we to judge we do so little well? At least he is study on the course and he is consistent from year to year. We need more Harold Bells who understand our plight and “A Grieving Mother’s Tears.”
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and say and do nothing.--Albert Einstein
When I received the sad news of the passing of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing in an e-mail from Dr. Al-Tony Gilmore, I had to step away from the computer and take a deep breath. Back in the day she was like a sister I never had.
The staff tried in vain to have his daughter to give them permission to administer a drug that would make him sleep much of the time—she said, “No.” I have been trying for 2 years for them to get him a new wheel chair. They claimed his insurance does not cover a new wheelchair.
In the meantime, they are taking his checks from his Army pension, checks from the DC Police Department, Social Security and Medicare benefits and claiming they cannot afford to buy him a wheelchair? Something is wrong with this picture.
When I was first introduced to “The Wound Doctor” Dr. Ernest Scroggins he was seeing my brother weekly and it has since changed to bi-weekly. My brother’s bed sores have taken a turn for the worst. It looks like they are rarely clean. Dr. Scroggins had to remind the Unit Manager Oloue and his assistant Mariann in my presence that the patient’s wounds needed to be clean regularly.
After his children had abandoned him in September 2012 I applied for Power of Attorney for his Health. This meant that with his permission I was to be notified on all health issues pertaining to him. The facility has not had a “Family Meeting” since October 2012 to update me on my brother’s progress or lack of progress on any of his health issues.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I attended “The First Family Meeting” since October 2012 with 3 witnesses. The meeting was held Wed February 6, 2013. For some reason his son Kenny was in the meeting (remember this date). I suspect they called him even though he gave them notice to never call him again. Their main objective was for him to counter-act any position I took or complain I made (divide and conquer).
It was in the meeting on February 6, 2013 we found out that they had my brother “Declared Incompetent” in October 2012?
The last ‘Family Meeting’ was in October 2012. This meant that no one from the Administration or staff had made me or his son and daughter aware that my brother and their father had been declared Incompetent. This leads me to believe that they had the paper work forged and backtracked to the October date to make my Power of Attorney void! This is criminal negligence.
The following Wednesday February 13, 2013 I returned to the hospital to see if the “Wound Doctor” Dr. Ernest Scroggins would be making his rounds (his visits have become like Russian roulette). The doctor made his way to my brother’s room at exactly 2:30 pm but could not examine him right away because his wounds had not been cleaned. The unit nurse Marriann followed the doctor into the room to clean his wounds. This was supposed to be done before the arrival of the doctor.
What I witness next made me sick to my stomach. The bandages removed by the nurse were filthy. The 2 open wounds on his buttocks were the size of quarters (I remember when they could hardly be seen). I watched as the nurse put her finger into one of his wounds and pulled out a piece of gauze. Dr. Scroggins asked “What was that” and response was ‘nothing!”
The open wounds if left open will surely become infected because his urine and feces will eventually find their way into the open spaces. Patuxent River is a dangerous place to live!
I knew this was a dangerous place for my brother but when they recently declared him incompetent made me realized how corrupt and dangerous they really are. It reminds me of the NRA and how they have the politicians in their pockets it looks like the nursing home industry may also maybe in the same politician’s pockets. Mr. President I have heard you and others say, “I am the President of all the people!” What about senior citizens?
I have contacted your Vice-President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their only response has been e-mails asking for a monetary donation or soliciting some type of support against the Republican Party! I have written Rep. Steny Hoyer, Congressman Ben Cardin and Congresswoman Donna Edwards and there has been no response from neither??? Do you only care when we go to the polls to vote?
Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. Steny Hoyer, U. S. Senator Ben Cardin
Anytime, the Nursing Home industry as reported in USA Today Newspaper offers cash incentives on top of the salaries already paid to nursing home staffs to treat the residents fairly---you know you really have a problem!
Mr. President I never dreamed in 2010 I would go from working with at-risk youth to fighting for at-risk seniors like my brother. We fought our way out of a single parent household in a NE housing project and pulled ourselves up by our boots with no straps. We did this without the baggage of drug addiction, police records and academic inferiority to be all that we could be! We didn’t earn our way through this Game Called Life for him or me to be mistreated and disrespected in the twilight of our lives. The Patuxent River Nursing Home mentality reminds me of what the Plantation Mentality must have been like in the 1800s. This nursing home experience reminds me of something right out of the Twilight Zone.
Mr. President, has integrity, honesty and fair play become a lost art among politicians in America.
I now think back to 1978 when I received an early morning phone call from my brother’s son saying that I needed to go to the SE Community Hospital right away. He was calling to tell me that his father had been in a bad automobile accident. My brother a DC cop was on his way to work and hit some “Black ice” and skidded into a 16 wheeler truck. The accident ended his 13 year police career.
Sgt. Earl K. Bell had been re-assigned and was headed to his new assignment when the accident occurred. His re-assignment was the result of him turning in 2 rogue DC Cops who were physically abusing prisoners in their jail cells on his watch. He first warned them to back off from the abuse. Despite his warnings they continued to abuse black prisoners only. When he turned to me for advice I told him to write them up and turn them into their superiors. His superiors tried to sweep the incident under the rug. He then turned the abusive cops into the U. S. Attorney’s Office.
The indicted officers Tommy Musgrove and his partner (ID unknown) were convicted but won on appeal 5 years later. Musgrove was given 5 years back pay and obtained the rank of Inspector before he retired, proving that crime does pay at least in the DC police department.
When I arrived at the SE Community Hospital the doctors told me they were not expecting him to live but they didn’t know “Bull Bell!” He was a former heavyweight boxing champion during his military stint in the U. S. Army he fought racism head on. He returned home to discover racism didn’t end when he left Germany.
Sgt. Bell (MP U. S. Army) Heavyweight boxing champion U. S. Army
In the meantime, my brother faced “The Code Blue and silent treatment” for turning in 2 ‘Rogue Cops.’ I met with two guys that I knew from the neighborhood to get an update on my brother’s status; they were Assistant Chiefs, Marty Tapscott and Ike Fullwood (soon to be named Chief). Marty ran for cover and Ike told me, “Harold, Bull is okay I got his back,” famous last words. Two months later Fullwood took my brother off the beat and assigned him to the Police & Fire Clinic it was payback time for Musgrove and the department. It was his first day on his new assignment when the accident occurred.
During my work in the streets and courthouses I encountered some good cops and some bad cops. One of the Good Cops was an FBI agent by the name of Wayne Davis. We had a common thread. We both were trying to save young black men. Wayne would later become the first black to head the Detroit Office of the FBI. He never forgot who he was and where he came from!
FBI Director Wayne Davis
DC Chief Burtell Jefferson (Good Cop) / DC Chief Ike Fullwood (Bad cop)
In the 70s my brother teamed up with me, DC Superior Court Judges, and pro athletes to help save at-risk youth from the mean streets of the Nation’s Capitol. My work as a Roving Leader (Youth Gang Unit) for the DC Recreation Department combined with my work with the Department of Defense and my non-profit organization Kids In Trouble means I have spend the last 4 decades working in the war zones of the inner-city which included the streets, alleys, playgrounds, schools, courtrooms and jail facilities in the Nation’s Capitol.
The late Judges Luke Moore & Gene Hamilton/(Redskins) Dave Robinson, Roy Jefferson, Harold McLinton, Dave Bing (NBA).
Judge Moore was appointed head of the U. S. Marshall Service by President Nixon. We walked arm and arm during the 1968 riots in the 14th Street NW corridor trying to save lives.
We tried to save at-risk children from gun violence. It was a hit and miss proposition much like you we could not be everywhere. In the 70s as a Presidential appointee working for the Department of defense (Domestic Actions) I found Bolling Youth Base.
Secretary of State William Rogers and President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office 1969 Strom Thurmond during his 95th birthday celebration.
The program was located on the Air Force Base at Bolling Field in the Nation’s Capitol. The facility housed juvenile delinquents from overcrowded DC facilities. The Youth Base was the first of its kind on a military installation in America.
Bolling Girl’s Base???
Yes I agree, Gabby Gifford, Newtown, Denver and Chicago school children should all have a vote, but so should the thousands of victims like my brother in nursing homes across America. They should also have a vote asking to abolish nursing home abuse. It will be easier to clean up these corrupt nursing homes then to wipe out gun violence in America, but both deserve your undivided attention.
Mr. President this is one of those times when silence is not “Golden.” This is definitely not the America we grew up in and definitely not the America we have known and loved. I was reminded of that fact this morning when I woke up to discover that a 15 year old child was found murdered on the streets in my community on Monday evening. He attended high school in walking distance of my residence and the church I worship is next door to his high school. There is a rumor that he was murdered over a pair of Timberlake boots.
It got worst a second 18 year old student from the same school was shot and killed on Tuesday evening making him the 6th student and on Wednesday his friend and former Suitland student died of his wounds. His death marked the 7th student to be murdered in the Prince Georges County School system this year. A third victim in less than 24 hours was shot and killed in a attemped robbery at a nearby gas station in the same community.
Mr. President as my day moved forwarded it took another turn for the worst. Kids In Trouble, Inc uses Black History Month to enlighten as many students as possible as it relates to our proud past. I often remind young people that our ancestors were Kings and Queens and not hoodlums and thugs as portrayed though the narrow eyes of the media.
We had coordinated a field trip to the Verizon Center and XM Sirrius Satellite Radio for honor students for the upcoming week. I was visiting one of our Middle Schools to confirm the outing. I walked in on a counselor who had a student in distress. The 12 year old child was threatening to commit suicide. I was blown away by this revelation. I have worked with at-risk for a long time and I don’t ever remember a child I have worked with threaten to commit suicide. I have had several threaten to kill me but that was all part of the territory.
The counselor got the child’s mother on the telephone to talk to him but once the child heard his mother’s voice he began crying hysterically. I quietly excused myself from the room because I knew I was in over my head. The counselor followed me out of the room while the child talked with his mother.
I looked at the counselor bewildered and I said “I have never had that kind of experience.” He looked at me and his departing words were ‘Mr. Bell, welcome to my world’ and he disappeared behind his office door.
The murder rate last year for example, in your hometown of Chicago there were 512 homicides; Detroit had 411; Philadelphia had 331; and Baltimore had 215.
Mr. President, those cities are joined by other dangerous cities---such as St. Louis, Memphis, Tenn., Flint, Mich., and Camden, N. J.---and they also lead the nation in shootings, assaults, rapes and robberies.
Both the populations of those cities and their crime victims are predominantly black. Each year more than 7,000 blacks are murdered. Close to 100% of the time, the murderer is another black person.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. We are only 13% of the nation’s population, we account for more than 50% of the homicide victims.
Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites and in some cities 22 times that of whites. Coupled with being most of the nation’s homicide victims, blacks are also of the victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault and robbery. Yes, the debate and issue of gun control is long overdue in my community.
Mr. President, with all due respect someone has completely dropped the ball. You can start with your Democrat colleagues (Donna Edwards, Steny Hoyer and Ben Cardin) in my Maryland District.
This is not a Democrat or a Republic thing and it is not a black or white thing, it is a people thing. You all have all dropped the ball with our senior citizens and it has spilled over to our children. You never see the likes of Edwards, Hoyer and Cardin until they are looking for a vote.
Something is wrong with this picture and if you don’t think so---we really have a problem.
In closing, we didn’t live to get this old by being stupid! I am looking forward to a response.
IS IT BARACK OBAMA OR BUST FOR AMERICA???
CIVIL RIGHTS AT THE WHITE HOUSE IN BLACK & WHITE
For all most 4 years we have heard over and over again President Barack Obama say “I am the President of all the people” that would be great if everyone was playing on an “Even Playing field.”
His supporters have become his echo and can be heard saying the exact same thing! Therefore, they claim he cannot be seen publicly making life better for the poor, the down trodden and people of color in America. Why should he be any different from any other President? Especially, with 1% of the population controlling all the wealth in America and in 2012 a white man’s salary still doubles that of a black man.
Listed below are some Presidents who blazed a Civil Rights trail while in office to improve the lives of black people while white.
It has been often been said “If you want to hide something from a black person put it in a book.” We can now add the World Wide Internet. The information gathered in this blog can be found there.
President Harry Truman
A 1947 report by the Truman administration titled To Secure These Rights presented a detailed ten-point agenda of civil rights reforms. In February 1948, the president submitted a civil rights agenda to Congress that proposed creating several federal offices devoted to issues such as voting rights and fair employment practices.
This provoked a storm of criticism from Southern Democrats in the run up to the national nominating convention, but Truman refused to compromise, saying: "My forebears were Confederates ... but my very stomach turned over when I had learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of Army trucks in Mississippi and beaten."
Instead of addressing civil rights on a case-by-case need, Truman wanted to address civil rights on a national level. He made three executive orders that eventually became a structure for future civil rights legislation.
The first Executive Order 9981 came in 1948, is generally understood to be the act that desegregated the armed services. This was a milestone on a long road to desegregation of the Armed Forces. After several years of planning, recommendations and revisions between Truman, the Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity and the various branches of the military, Army units became racially integrated. This process was also helped by the pressure of manpower shortages during the Korean War as replacements to previously segregated units could now be of any race.
The second order, also in 1948, made it illegal to discriminate against persons applying for civil service positions based on race. The third executive order, in 1951, established Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC). This committee ensured that defense contractors to the armed forces could not discriminate against a person because of their race.
In retirement however, Truman was less progressive on the issue of race. He described the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches as silly, stating that the marches would not "accomplish a darn thing."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the "3 Rs": Relief, Recovery, and Reform. That is, Relief for the unemployed and poor; Recovery of the economy to normal levels; and Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.
His wife Eleanor became an important connection for his administration to the African-American population during the segregation era. During Franklin's terms as President, despite his need to placate southern sentiment, she was vocal in her support of the African-American civil rights movement.
Mrs. Roosevelt was outspoken in her support of Marian Anderson in 1939 when the black singer was denied the use of Washington's Constitution Hall and was instrumental in the subsequent concert held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The first lady played a role in racial affairs when she appointed Mary McLeod Bethune as head of the Division of Negro Affairs
President John F. Kennedy
The turbulent end of state-sanctioned racial discrimination was one of the most pressing domestic issues of the 1960s. The Supreme Court of the United States had ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Many schools, especially in southern states, did not obey the Supreme Court's decision. Segregation had also been prohibited by the Court at other public facilities (e.g. buses, restaurants, theaters, courtrooms, bathrooms, and beaches) but continued nonetheless.
Kennedy verbally supported racial integration and civil rights; during the 1960 campaign he telephoned Coretta Scott King, wife of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been jailed while demonstrating for equal access of African Americans; Kennedy secured the early release of King, which drew additional black support to his candidacy.
Nevertheless President Kennedy believed the grass roots movement for civil rights would anger many Southern whites and make it more difficult to pass civil rights laws in Congress, which was dominated by conservative Southern Democrats, and he distanced himself from it. He also was more concerned with other issues early in his presidency, e.g. the "Bay of Pigs" fiasco and Southeast Asia. As articulated by brother Robert, the administration's early priority was to "keep the president out of this civil rights mess".
As a result, many civil rights leaders viewed Kennedy as lukewarm, especially concerning the Freedom Riders who organized an integrated public transportation effort in the south, and who were repeatedly met with violence by whites, including law enforcement both federal and state.
Kennedy assigned federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders as an alternative to using federal troops or uncooperative FBI agents. Robert Kennedy, speaking for the president, urged the Freedom Riders to "get off the buses and leave the matter to a peaceful settlement in the courts.
In September 1962, James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi, but was prevented from entering. Attorney General Robert Kennedy responded by sending some 400 U. S. Marshall while President Kennedy reluctantly federalized and sent 3,000 troops after the situation on campus turned violent. Campus Riots left two dead and dozens injured, but Meredith did finally enroll in his first class. On November 20, 1962, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11063, prohibiting racial discrimination in federally supported housing or "related facilities."
In early 1963, Kennedy related to Martin Luther King, Jr., about the prospects for civil rights legislation: "If we get into a long fight over this in Congress, it will bottleneck everything else, and we will still get no bill." However, civil rights clashes were very much on the rise that year.
His brother Robert and Ted Sorenson pressed Kennedy to take more initiative on the legislative front. On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending. Wallace moved aside only after being confronted by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the Alabama National Guard, which had just been federalized by order of the President, and which had hours earlier been under Wallace's command.
That evening Kennedy gave his famous civil rights address on national television and radio, launching his initiative for civil rights legislation - to provide equal access to public schools and other facilities, and greater protection of voting rights. His proposals became part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The day ended with the murder of N.A.A.C.P. leader, Megar Evers, at his home in Mississippi. As the president had predicted, the day after his TV speech, and in reaction to it, House Majority leader Carl Albert called to advise him that his two year signature effort in Congress to combat poverty in Appalachia (Area Redevelopment Administration) had been defeated, primarily by the votes of Southern Democrats and Republicans.
Kennedy signed the executive order creating the Presidential Commission on the status of Women on December 14, 1961. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt led the commission. The Commission statistics revealed that women were also experiencing discrimination; their final report documenting legal and cultural barriers was issued in October 1963. Earlier, on June 10, 1963, Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex.
Over a hundred thousand, predominantly African Americans gathered in Washington for the civil rights March on Washington for jobs and freedom on August 28, 1963. Kennedy feared the March would have a negative effect on the prospects for the civil rights bills in Congress, and declined an invitation to speak. He turned over some of the details of the government's involvement to the Dept. of Justice, which channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the six sponsors of the March, including the N.A.A.C.P. and Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
To ensure a peaceful demonstration, the organizers and the President personally edited speeches which were inflammatory and agreed the March would be held on a Wednesday and would be over at 4:00 pm Thousands of troops were placed on standby.
Kennedy watched King's speech on TV and was very impressed. The March was considered a "triumph of managed protest", and not one arrest relating to the demonstration occurred.
Afterwards, the March leaders accepted an invitation to the White House to meet with Kennedy and photos were taken. Kennedy felt the March was a victory for him as well and bolstered the chances for his civil rights bill.
Nevertheless, the struggle was far from over. Three weeks later, a bomb exploded on a Sunday at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham; at the end of the day six children had died in the explosion and aftermath.
As a result of this resurgent violence, the civil rights legislation underwent some drastic amendments that critically endangered any prospects for passage of the bill, to the outrage of the President.
He called the congressional leaders to the White House and by the following day the original bill, without the additions, had enough votes to get it out of the House committee.
In 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who hated civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and viewed him as an upstart troublemaker, presented the Kennedy Administration with allegations that some of King's close confidants and advisers were communists.
The President concerned that the allegations, if made public, would derail the Administration's civil rights initiatives. Robert Kennedy and the President both warned King to discontinue the suspect associations. But after the associations continued, Robert Kennedy felt compelled to issue a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King's civil rights organization.
Although Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so," Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of King's life they deemed worthy.
The wire tapping continued through June 1966 and was revealed in 1968.
President Lyndon B. Johnson
In conjunction with the civil rights movement, Johnson overcame southern resistance and convinced Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed most forms of racial segregation. John F. Kennedy originally proposed the civil rights bill in June 1963.
He called the congressional leaders to the White House in late October 1963 to line up the necessary votes in the House for passage. After Kennedy's death, it was Johnson who picked up the torch and pushed the bill through the Senate. Johnson signed the revised and stronger bill into law on July 2, 1964. Legend has it that, as he put down his pen, Johnson told an aide, "We have lost the South for a generation", anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against Johnson's Democratic Party.
In 1965, he achieved passage of a second civil rights bill, the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination in voting, thus allowing millions of southern blacks to vote for the first time. In accordance with the act, several states, "seven of the eleven southern states of the former confederacy" - Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia — were subjected to the procedure of pre-clearance in 1965, while Texas, home to the majority of the African American population at the time, followed in 1975.
After the murder of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, Johnson went on television to announce the arrest of four Ku Klux Klansmen implicated in her death. He angrily denounced the Klan as a "hooded society of bigots," and warned them to "return to a decent society before it's too late." Johnson was the first President to arrest and prosecute members of the Klan since Ulysses S. Grant about 93 years earlier. He turned the themes of Christian redemption to push for civil rights, thereby mobilizing support from churches North and South.
During a Howard University commencement address on June 4, 1965, he said that both the government and the nation needed to help achieve those goals:
“We have to shatter forever not only the barriers of law and public practice, but the walls which bound the condition of many by the color of his skin. To dissolve, as best we can, the antique enmities of the heart which diminish the holder, divide the great democracy, and do wrong — great wrong — to the children of God.”
In 1967, Johnson nominated civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
President Richard M. Nixon
The Nixon years witnessed the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South. Nixon sought a middle way between the segregationist Wallace and liberal Democrats, whose support of integration was alienating some Southern whites. Hopeful of doing well in the South in 1972, he sought to dispose of desegregation as a political issue before then. Soon after his inauguration, he appointed Vice President Agnew to lead a task force, which worked with local leaders—both white and black—to determine how to integrate local schools.
Vice-President Spiro Agnew had little interest in the work, and most of it was done by Labor Secretary George Shultz. Federal aid was available, and a meeting with President Nixon was a possible reward for compliant committees. By September 1970, fewer than ten percent of black children were attending segregated schools. But by 1971, however, tensions over desegregation surfaced in Northern cities, with angry protests over the busing of children to schools outside their neighborhood to achieve racial balance. Nixon opposed busing personally but did not subvert court orders requiring its use.
In addition to desegregating public schools, Nixon implemented the Philadelphia Plan in 1970—the first significant federal affirmative action program. He also endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment after it passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and went to the states for ratification. Nixon had campaigned as an ERA supporter in 1968, though feminists criticized him for doing little to help the ERA or their cause after his election, though he appointed more women to administration positions than Lyndon Johnson had.
In summarizing what has gone wrong in our community I always refer back to a 60 minute interview with the founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Arthur Mitchell. In the interview about the financial struggles of his theatre and a lack of support from blacks, Morley Safer asked him if he was angry!
Mitchell did not miss a beat, he responded, “You show me a black person who is not angry about the status of black America and I will show you a black man and woman who need to see a psychiatrist.”
Our problems run deep and we have to look no further then the mirror on the wall.
In November 2012 as we head to the polls to elect a President for the next term we must remember that the poor state of America does not fall all on the shoulders of Barack Obama.
According to a published story in USA Today dated August 15, 2012 “Just 61 bills have become law to date in 2012 out of 3,914 bills that have been introduced by lawmakers, or less than 2% of all proposed laws, according to a USA analysis of records since 1947 kept by the U. S. House Clerk’s office.
In 2011, after Republicans took control of the House, Congress passed just 90 bills into law. The only other year in which Congress failed to pass at least 125 laws was 1995.
These stats make the 112th Congress, covering 2011-2012 the least productive two-year gathering on Capitol Hill since the end of World War II. Not even the 80th Congress, which President Truman called the “Do nothing Congress in 1948, passed as few laws as the current one, records show.”
In 2012 Minority American voters are caught between a rock and hard place, a do nothing Congress on both sides of the aisle and what too many consider a “Do nothing President!”
It does not matter your feelings as it relates to President Barack Obama, the bottom line---the answer is definitely not Mitt Romney in November.