NBA FOOT NOTES:
WIZARDS ARE FOR REAL & AN OPEN LETTER TO SIR CHARLES BARKLEY!
First, congratulations to the Washington Wizards for their great 2014 NBA start. Its their best in decades. Wednesday night's 111-95 victory over Kobe Byrant and the LA Lakers was a great TEAM victory. A lot of credit goes to Coach Randy Wittman. I know it is early but they are keeping hope alive in a city that has nowhere to run and nowhere to hide with the continued demised of the Washington Pro Football team and RGlll. The Washington Nations baseball team despite a great regular season that ended with them crashing back to earth in the play-offs are now saying "Wait until next year." The Washington Caps continue to be a puzzle to its fans and ownership. If the Wizards stay healthy (NeNe has taken his annual leave of absent due to injury) but it should be an action packed and competitive NBA season (I predict another play-off run if they stay healthy). Byron Scott Laker coach says, "John Wall is the fastest guard in the league and he is a headache to the defense--stay tune.
On another note I saw ESPN's Michael Wilbon in the Wizard's Media press room before tip-off last night. We have finally agreed to disagree and I think we have a better understanding when it comes to a difference of opinions (its not personal). Last night I asked him had he heard the latest opinion of his good friend and colleague NBA great Charles Barkley (Mike has written two books on Barkley)?
He said "No I have been on the air all day, what did he say now?" I sort of summarized the interview that I heard on CNN that has now gone viral.
The interview was on race relations in America as it related to Mike Brown and Ferguson and the NY choke hold victim Eric Gardner. I sit there in shock as Barkley talked about today's cops being a blessing in the black community and he did not think the death of Eric Gardner was murder. This brought to mind an episode seen of the classic soap opera, Dallas. Sue Ann Ewing enter an unlock hotel room and found her husband the womanizing J. R. Ewing in bed with another woman. J. R. looked up and said "Who are you going to believe me or your lying eyes.
The same could be said of Charles Barkley and the Grand Jury that allowed the offending NY cop to go free without a trial. Mike said, "I am not unaware of the interview." I found it amazing he had not heard especially, being in a press room full of his colleagues. But I took him at his word.
Mike said "Charles called me on Thanksgiving inviting me over to his house. I now wish I had gone but it was family time and I begged off, but I will be seeing him tomorrow and get his take." In the meantime, Kenny Smith ESPN's NBA analyst working along side of Barkley and Shack O'Neal decided to write an Open Letter to Sir Charles. The letter had the tone of the definition of Diplomacy once defined to me by a Colonel stationed on Bolling AFB. I kept butting heads with the Commander (my boss) of the base as it related to community issues. One day the Colonel took me to lunch and gave me the definition of Diplomacy. He said, "Harold the definition of Diplomacy is being able to tell someone to go to hell and have them looking forward to the trip!"
I think Kenny Smith hit the nail on the head with his Open Letter to Charles Barley (see below).
I hope this finds you in the way I always see you, in great spirits, with great joy and full of life. There are some things I want to openly say to you that sometimes in conversation get lost.
Firstly I lied! You are the greatest Power Forward of all time. It’s not (Tim) Duncan or (Karl) Malone, they had size and height that you weren’t blessed with and you never had near the talent around you that they were blessed to have. Contrarily you took your teams to similar heights. Secondly, you are a champion in my book. Effort and determination is what makes a champion, not a ring.
Lastly, you are the most entertaining person in sports television (partly because I throw you so many assists lol).
However, what I consistently find interesting is how writers and media members view your insights in politics, and now race relations, with the same reverence as your insights in sports.
They did it in the Trayvon Martin trial and now with Mike Brown and the decision in Ferguson. It’s not that you shouldn’t ever have an opinion, but you are often quoted alongside the likes of Al Sharpton and even President Obama. I would hope that Sharpton or President Obama would never be referenced with you when picking the next NBA Champs!
The body of work that our Black Civil Rights leaders put in by planning, executing and activating does not justify you being in the conversation. While your body of work on the court very few compare to nor should be mentioned when you are giving your expert analysis. Again, I respect that you have an opinion on Ferguson. And here’s mine.
The question must be asked: Why is there so much distrust in the police and the legal system from the African American community? Without manifesting what the effects of slavery still have today, Dec 1st still marks only 59 years since Rosa Parks sat on that memorable bus. Many of our parents and grandparents have lived through those times and have passed those stories on to all of us. Those civil rights changes were at one time the law! They were not illegal.
So did the protection of the law by the courts and police make it right? Obviously not, so as African Americans we still know and feel that there are laws and jurisdictions that severely penalize the poor and, most importantly, African Americans greater than any other group. Some laws were initially made without us as equals in mind; that’s just the facts. So the thought process that it’s not for us or by us will unfortunately lead to distrust.
When someone is in “the struggle”, which many of our black communities are in, they are living with a lack of educational facilities, high unemployment and poor recreational facilities. The masses involved in “the struggle” will react in several ways. They can overcome it, challenge it, live in it, or fall victim to it … For those of us who are decades removed from “the struggle” because of our life through sports or business, we now have to acknowledge that every option listed exists. If not, then we are the ignorant ones.
That leads me to the looters and civilians burning buildings which you referred to as “scumbags”. Here’s an analogy: If you put 100 people on an island with no food, no water, no hope of a ship coming, then some will overcome it and be resourceful, some will live in it, others will panic and others will show horrific character, which is wrong. But not to understand that all alternatives are possible is wrong as well.
I was also disheartened to see the reaction of burning buildings and looters by some. However, when you are in “The Struggle” to not expect that that potential reaction is foolish on our part.
The real issue is learning to positively manage your anger so you can be heard. It’s not that they are “scumbags”, their emotions won’t allow them to rationally think through their anger. I applaud that you have done a great job in your anger management in recent times … but not always.
Mike Brown wasn’t about race relations, nor Trayvon Martin or even Hurricane Katrina for that matter. It’s about trust. Do I trust you to help me off the island? If so, do you have my best interests at heart? Do I trust that you will you send a ship or allow me access to build my own ship?
And you were right Chuck, let’s not discredit that there are great police officers in all neighborhoods, but let’s not credit that we shouldn’t have doubt.
See you Thursday night!
NBA SPORTS MEDIA SAD NOTE: Byrant Burwell who once was a sports columnist for the now defunct Washington Star newspaper here in DC has died (RIP).
HATTIE T CONGRATULATIONS:
TO A SUPER STAR IN THE GAME CALLED LIFE ON OUR 46th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY--NOV 30, 1968-NOV 30, 2014
Civil Rights icon-Educator-Community Activist-Historian
MARION BARRY: I REMEMBER THE DC MAYOR FOR LIFE!
MARCH 6,1936--NOVEMBER 23, 2014
I remember Marion Barry, when he first blew into Washington, DC in 1965. He was like a midwestern hurricane. He came in as the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNNC). His credentials, he coordinated and led the African-American Civil Rights Movement in Tennesee and student sit-ins.
When he arrived in DC I had just returned home after spending two years chasing my dreams of playing in the NFL without success. I was home looking for a job when my friend Petey Greene alerted me that the United Planning Organization (UPO) a self-help community organization was hiring. Petey knew the Director Jim Banks and told me to meet him at the 11th & U Street NW office the next morning.
UPO hired three Neighborhood Workers for the Shaw/Cardozo community. Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown and me. The rest is community and media history. Coincident, that this would be the same year the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee would decide to make Washington, DC its home base? Who would have thought that Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown, Harold Bell and Marion Barry would share and work on the same U Street corridor (Black Broadway) together? (continued@headline news)
THE MOST DANGEROUS GANGS IN AMERICA:
THE POLICE DEPARTMENTS & THE 1%?
I watched recently as a white retired captain on the Philadelphia Police Department said, "Police Departments in America are all corrupt. They do the bidding for the 1% who control all the wealth."
Made sense to me. All my brothers were involved with law enforcement. My older brother Bobby was a U. S. Marshall for 20 years, my younger brother Earl was a member of the DC Police Department for 13 years and the baby Tyrik (Billy aka Puddin) was on the wrong side of the law, he served time for drugs. He got his act together and later worked for boxing promoter Don King (Photographer). Each were raised in a single parent household. Our heroes were our grandmother and mother. Poppa was a rolling stone.
Bobby and Earl served with honesty and integrity and there were times when I had to intervene on their behalf because of racism in both organizations. I have spend the last 50 years working up close and personal in the war zones with police departments in DC, Md. and Virginia. Not a bad job by Grandma Bell and Mommy B who taught us to be honest and have integrity. When it comes to cops, I have seen the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Ferguson in 2014 was Washington, DC in 1968. The assination of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King mirrors the assination of Michael Brown. Ferguson was a sit-up for the black community much like the bitch sit-up of Marion Barry by the FBI in 1989. It looks like these set-up cycles have a shelf life of every 20 years plus.
When the 1968 riots hit DC I was working in the U Street NW corridor as a Roving Leader for the DC Recreation Department. I watched along with my co-worker Willie Wood and U.S Marshall in charge Luke C. Moore as the city burned without any law enforcement intervention! The White House had issued an order for law enforcement agencies to only moderate the situation.
While the city burned and the looters looted no-one made a move. The next day there were wholesale arrest but by now the damage was done. The black looters had destroyed their own communities---sound familiar? In 1968 you could buy a home in the U Street corridor for $50,000 today it would cost you $750,000 to live there. Guess who is on the outside looking in?
In Ferguson, why would it take 100 days for the Grand Jury to reach a decision on whether to send Darren Wilson to trial or cut him loose? The reason, they were plotting ways to turn the table on the black community and the likes of Al Sharpton. As doom's day drew near for the decision, the Governor calls out 400 National Guardsmen. It is then announced that the decision reached by the Grand Jury will be announced at 8:00 pm on Monday night. The time stretched out to 9:00 pm!
My question, why would you wait to annouce the decision in the dark of the night with a powder keg of pissed off people waiting on the outside to explode? Where were the called up National Guardsmen when the "Mom & Pop" businesses own mostly by black folks were burned to the ground and police cruisers were set ablaze? Nowhere in sight, something is wrong with this picture?
You often hear police officers talk about how they put their lives on the line everyday they hit the streets. Some of the most tragic police brutality atrocities have come out of LA, NY and Prince George's County. For the past several decades black men in America have put their lives on the line every time they leave their homes and places of employment. Their mode of transportation matters very little. They can be walking (Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown) or Driving While Black (DWB). They are caught between a rock and a hard place. Often they don't know who to duck, the police or the thug, sometimes they are one of the same.
My wife often questions me why is it I wear my cap backwards like so many of today's teenagers. Its a simple explanation, "I wear it backwards as a defensive ploy to help ID me as a hip black man!" I am still working in the inner-city among young people who have no respect for today's senior citizens. The elderly have become prime targets for harrassment today's youth. The cops are even scare of them. Which explains why they are shooting first and asking questions later.
America police departments are made of a body of cops who are cowards and they are being protected by a Code of Silence. There are some Good Cops out there but they are outnumbered by the Bad Cops!
My brother Sgt. Earl K. Bell (aka Bull Bell) was a Good Cop for 13 years on the DC Police Department. I was his checks and balances. Whenever I heard he had crossed the line. I was there to remind him who he was and where we came from.
In 1976 he turned in a couple of his cowardly colleagues who were brutality abusing BLACK only prisoners in the DC cell block on the weekends. He warned them "Not on my watch!" A black cop named Musgrove and white cop continued the abuse. When my brother came to me for advice I told him to take them to our homeboys, Chief Maurice Turner and Ass't Chief Marty Tapscott. When they looked the other way, he turned them into the U. S. Attorney's Office. They both were indicted. Musgrove was sent to jail and the white cop disappeared with no jail time. Musgrove appeared his sentence and it was overturned. The department rewarded Musgrove (he retired as an Inspector) and they punished my brother with the Code of Silence.
I took the case to our homeboy, DC Congressman Walter Fauntroy. He immediately called Mayor Marion Barry who was out of town but he was able to reach him on his cell phone. I was standing there when Marion promised Walter he would look into the situation as soon as he returned to the city---he never did. It was doing this office visit that Walter asked me about rumors of Marion's drug use. My response, "Walter you are as well connected to the streets as I am. You know the real deal."
In the meantime, I would later encountered Marion's Chief of Staff Elijah "Baby" Rogers at Face's Restaurant. Rogers was a long time friend of my wife Hattie and her family, he hailed from South Carolina. I brought the problem to his attention and he promised to look into it---he never did.
The Code of Silence was later enforced by a coward who was also a native Washingtonian, Chief Ike Fulwood. It was Fulwood who carried out the Code of Silence when he discipline my brother by taking him off the streets and assigned him to office duty at the Police & Fire Clinic. This was after I had made a personal one on one visit to him at the 14th Precint on Benning Road, NE. It was there I asked for an update on my brother's status. He said, "I got your brother's back" famous last words.
In 1988 on his first day driving to his new assignment, he had a head-on accident with a 18 wheeler on an unknown icy roadway on the Suitland Parkway bridge crossover. I was 10 minutes away when I got the call from his son telling me to get over SE Community Hospital his dad had been involved in an accident on the way to work. I was living in Suitland so I took the Suitland Parkway to Souther Avenue that led to the bridge. I was detoured around the accident and got a first hand look. I said to myself, "He has got to be dead" it was so horrific. Once arriving at the hospital the doctors told me he was hanging on but there was little hope he would survive.
"Bull" Bell did survive against all odds. The accident left him paralized from the waist down. He was confined to a wheelchair until he died in a abused Maryland nursing home on August 1, 2013.
Several years ago the Code of Silence raise its ugly head again in the LAPD which has a long and storied history of police brutality. The code was also responsible for the death of a black cop in who tried to expose corruption in the department. I regret, he had to take the lives of others to get their attention, but evidently they pushed to his limit. Like my brother he was a decorated police officer with a clean record. He took his own life after the LAPD cornered him in a blazing cabin fire in the mountains.
We don't seem to be learning anything from Rodney King, the black unarmed brother they shot 50 times in NY City or the one they recently choked to death on a New York street in broad daylight. Trayvon Martin and now Michael Brown and the list goes on and on. The bottom-line we also have cowards walking among us (politicians, etc.). Recently, I had a "Friend" say to me, 'Man folks don't understand why you have not committed sucide.' The reason, I have never been caught up in things and I am comfortable in my skin.
It looks like help is on the way with our young who are saying "Enough is enough." Bravo!
“Mother, mother there are too many of you crying, brother, brother there are far too many of you dying. We got to find a way to bring some loving here today, war is not the answer—Whats’ Going On?”
Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield were far ahead of their times when it came to message music as it related to the plight of America’s down-trodden. The word genius does not do either justice.
Marvin’s masterpiece album “What’s Going On” did more to expose racism and social injustice in America than any march, demonstration or documentary. Curtis Mayfield’s music messages were equally as important.
Oscar Brown Jr., Gil Scott Heron, Curtis and Marvin were the “Original Rappers.”
Their music still speaks volumes today. The social ills of America are front and center and the politicians could care less!
I met Marvin in the early 50s at Mount Airy Baptist Church in NW Washington, D. C. My Great-Grand-Father the Rev. Alfred Johnson Tyler laid the first brick to help build the historical landmark church in 1893. My Great-Uncle the Rev. Earl Tyler and Marvin’s father were friends.
Marvin was singing in his father’s choir and they were the guest choir at the church on that Sunday. When he first saw me his eyes got as big as flying saucers. I knew Marvin’s secret. He was a street corner messenger of Do-Wop. I would often see him singing under the street lights in my NE housing project. This type of street corner harmony was not allowed in the Gaye household.
Marvin’s Do-Wop group was very popular and performed at my alma mater Spingarn High School’s annual Spring Festival talent show. Parkside resident Robert Neal and Lincoln Heights resident Billy Bess were a part of the group.
Marvin and I had a lot in common, he had a church background. He caddied on the weekends at Indian Springs Golf Course in a Maryland suburb and I caddied on the weekends at Burning Tree Golf Course in Potomac, Maryland. He had always wanted to be an athlete and I always wanted to sing. It was wishful thinking by us both.
Our encounter was like “What’s happening man?” He gave the signal by putting his finger over his lips meaning ‘Please don’t say anything about me doing Do-Wop on the street corner.’ I read him loud and clear.
After church we enjoyed Sunday dinner together in the downstairs dining area. We talked sports the entire time.
During our high school days he always wanted to talk ball, but I never ever saw him play pick-up ball on any city playground!
Marvin attended Cardozo High School at that time and I remember asking him why he had not tried out for the team. His response, “My parents won’t sign the permission letter.”
I told him my mother would not sign the same letter either but I forged her signature. He wanted to be an athlete in the worst way.
He was found often working out with the Detroit Lions (NFL), Detroit Pistons (NBA), Detroit Tigers (MLB) and the Kronk boxing gym in his adopted hometown. He would work out on the heavy bag and speed bag and sometimes he would spar with boxing greats Thomas Hearns and Hilmer Kenty. These were some of his favorite hangouts. He was living out his athletic fantasy.
Marvin grew up in northwest section of Washington, DC and I grew up in the northeast section and we were like passing ships in the night after that church encounter.
Several years later my family moved to 58th and Blaine Streets NE, another housing project on East Capitol Street. My next encounter with Marvin would be on those same NE streets.
I was headed out to school one morning and waiting at the bus stop was Marvin, once again the shout-out was “What’s happening man?” I remember saying ‘What are you doing out here man, you are a long ways from home?’ He said ‘I am just staying with some friends for a minute.’
The friend was Peasie Adams. Peasie lived down the street from me and she baby sit me when I was just a puppy in Parkside.
After his tragic death she was the brains behind “Marvin Gaye Day” and building a memorial park in his name.
Marvin said he was on the way to the golf course to see if he could pick up a few dollars. I found that rather strange since this was a school day. Marvin had moved in with Peasie because of some conflict with his father which he never elaborated on. As I was getting off the bus at 24th and Benning Road, his last words to me were “I am thinking about joining the Army and if not I will see you around.”
In the meantime, Marvin had disappeared and I would later discover he had joined the United States Air Force.
I remember Marvin as a quiet and thoughtful brother who loved to laugh, but always seem to have a lot on his mind.
In 1957, I was coming into my own as an all-around athlete at Spingarn High School and I started to smell myself (I began to think I was “all that” and a bag of chips). I played football, basketball and baseball. I drove my coaches and teammates crazy because I had troubled understanding it was about the team and not Harold Bell.
I was not a great athlete as some would claim but I wanted the ball when the game was to be won or lost! I took the risk of making or missing the shot that was my competitor side.
My baseball coach Dr. Leo Hill kicked me off the team my junior year, Coach Dave Brown (savior) locked me in the bus at half-time of a football game during my junior year and basketball coach Dr. William Roundtree said “No Mas” in the middle of the season during my senior year. I was in almost as much conflict as Marvin!
I would steal home with the ball game on the line, take the last shot to win or lose the basketball game and demanded the ball be thrown to me regardless of the double team.
Marvin Gaye had those same characteristics as an artist he took risk that others dared not take in the music industry (Curtis Mayfield was the exception). Motown founder Berry Gordy refused to release “What’s Going On” because he thought it was too radical!
In 1958, I was going to hell in a hurry just as my Brown Middle School Principal William B. Stinson had predicted. One night I was hanging out on the corner of 7th and T Streets at the landmark Howard Theatre when Marvin appeared out of nowhere. I joked that someone had told me he was in jail. His response, “Almost, the U. S. Air Force but I am getting paroled in a few months.”
He wanted to hear about what was happening in my life. I tried to put on a happy face that I was doing well too proud to say “Marvin my life is in shambles.”
After that sighting Marvin and I lost contact with each other for another decade. The next thing I knew his career had taken off (Moonglows) and again we became like ships passing in the night. We would run into each other occasionally while he was in town to perform and see his family. He was much like me a mommy’s boy. He would later tell me his mother was the only thing that really brought him back to DC.
Marvin kept a low profile when he was in town but he never let success change him. He stayed close to family.
He would always say to me, “Harold we have got to get together the next time I am in town.” We would exchange numbers but we never called each other. I would always hear after the fact he was in town, but I never took it personal that he didn’t call.
It always looked to me he went out of his way to say “I have not forgotten.” There were also the “he said, she said” rumors about him and his father having major problems.
In 1971, I had done my college tour and was playing semi-pro football and had received a Presidential Appointment. I used my White House contacts to open a Half-Way House for juvenile delinquents on Bolling Air Force Base, the first of its kind in the nation. Around that time Marvin had released “What’s Going On.”
I was so proud of the brother I called the Motown office in Detroit and left a message congratulating him. The song hit close to home it reminded me of our early struggles and little had changed. It was still an uphill battle.
In 1972, Marvin came home to perform at the Kennedy Center. Petey Green, the legendary radio and television personality and I managed to work our way backstage to say hello. The first thing he said when saw me was “Now you are a politician, I am looking for you in the NFL and you show up at the White House. I still love you anyway.” We laughed and hugged and he moved on to the next group of well wishers.
I remember going to Detroit in August 1980 to cover and watch Thomas Hearns knockout Pipino Cuevas to win his first title. My first call was to an old friend Wayne Davis. Wayne worked as an undercover agent for the FBI and hailed from Newark, New Jersey. We met on the streets of DC when I was working as a “Gang Buster” for the Roving Leader Program for the DC Recreation Department.
We became fast friends and stayed in touch even after his job moved him from one city to another. His brotherly advice and wisdom helped me out of some tight spots on the mean streets of DC. If one public official had heeded my advice “The Bitch would have never set him up.”
Wayne’s final destination was Detroit, Michigan, where he became the first black to be named Director of the FBI Field Office. When I got to the hotel he picked me up and took me on a tour of the FBI Office. This was a brother who kept it real and never forgot who he was and where he came from.
I called Marvin and invited him to join us on the tour but when I told him we were going to tour the FBI Building and who Wayne was he begged off and said laughingly “They might keep me. I will see you guys tonight.”
It would be in Las Vegas in September 1979 Marvin would surprise me at a weigh-in for Sugar Ray Leonard. The fighter Ray was facing was undefeated Andy Price. He was owned and managed by Marvin.
Marvin was riding high and talking shit that his fighter was going to knock Ray out. He even said, “Harold after Andy knocks out Sugar Ray you can come and work for me.” We laughed he was in such good spirits. He loved being in this element. After the ceremonial weigh-in we made plans to meet for breakfast after the fight and hang out for a minute together.
With all of his success Marvin was still a loner there was no entourage or groupies following him around. The night of the fight Marvin was scheduled to sing the National Anthem. That would be his highlight for evening. Sugar Ray knocked Price out in the first round. Marvin was stunned and so was the crowd in attendance. I figured Ray would beat Price but I never expected a first round knockout.
Marvin’s next move surprised me further. He found me at the press conference and said “Don’t forget we are having breakfast in the morning.” I could see he was hurting and embarrassed by his fighter’s performance but he wanted me to know breakfast was still on. Marvin was still for real and had a heart of gold.
We had breakfast the next morning in one of Caesar’s Palace’s restaurants at 10:00 am. It would be close to lunch time when we finished talking about DC and how far we both had come from the East Capitol street projects.
We laughed about him hearing me on radio one Saturday evening as he was headed out of town and how proud it made him feel. He again brought up seeing me on television at the White House with President Nixon. He said “I could not believe my eyes.”
It was then I told him I was seriously thinking about running for the DC City Council seat in Ward 7 where we once lived. Marvin’s response was “If you feel it, do it and if I can help just call me. We need our own people in office.” He said, ‘Harold I have traveled the world but there is nothing like home and family.’
I reminded Marvin in Vegas about the Detroit trip and my conversation with him, he said “Harold I don’t even remember talking to you and I thought I attended the fight. I was probably in my other world.”
There were two things we never discussed, his drug problem or his strange relationship with his father. The topics were never broached, I didn’t do drugs and I had no relationship with my father. Case closed.
After breakfast he took me to a Diana Ross concert with him later that evening. We met in the hotel lobby for the first show and Marvin had an usher take me to a seat right in front of the stage. He disappeared after giving me his numbers where I could reach him if I needed him.
I thought he had left the theatre until midway through her show Diana said “I want to introduce my baby who has joined us this evening.” I was looking for her to introduce one of her children, when she said ‘The one of a kind Marvin Gaye.’ Marvin was standing in the back of the theatre in a corner by himself when the spotlight found him. He received a standing ovation.
Once I got back to DC I called to thank him for his hospitality he had shown me in Las Vegas. He said ‘It was about time my brother, I also enjoyed the quiet time we spend talking about our hometown. By the way I am getting out of boxing, this shit is too hard’ we both laughed. That was the last time I spoke with him.
I will never forget where I was when I heard that Marvin’s father had shot and killed him in Los Angeles. I was driving on Southern Avenue in southeast Washington, DC listening to WHUR Radio. There was a news flash that said “Marvin Gaye shot and killed in Los Angeles.”
I was on the way to Southeast Community Hospital. My brother Earl a 16 year veteran of the DC Police Metropolitan Department had been involved in a head on collision on the way to work a week earlier and the prognosis was he was not expected to live.
Now I am getting more bad news that Marvin was dead. I pulled off to the side of the road and cried for several minutes until an ambulance siren brought me back to reality. Marvin’s father had made himself, the judge, the jury and the executioner.
“Brother, brother, brother, everybody thinks we are wrong, but who are they to judge us simply because we wear our hair long. What’s going on?”