Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Episode 150: "Wheels Across Africa"

Here it is ladies and gentlemen...episode 150! Another milestone for the BMA. I'm not going to try and say too much about this one (if I get all the way to 200 I'll do it BIG!), other than to say thank you to everyone for listening/watching, subscribing, and passing the word along about the BMA podcast. I truly appreciate all of the support that I've received for this podcast and blog, and I'd appreciate it even more if y'all would drop a comment on the BMA iTunes page.

This episode is the 1926 documentary "Wheels Across Africa", presented by Dodge (a division of Chrysler Corporation) and adventurer/filmmaker Armand Denis is a road trip that takes you on a motor expedition (courtesy of Dodge trucks) straight through the colonized African continent. This film shows a very interesting portrait of 1930s Africa, starting at the Mediterranean (complete with a snake charmer in Morocco), and following all the way to the Indian Ocean. You get to see some cool stuff on the course of the journey, as the crew struggles to cross the Sahara Desert amongst the Arabs of North Africa, then continues on with the people and villages along the Niger River, and along on a wildlife safari through the east African plains and valleys. All in all it is an enjoyable look at an Africa of decades ago. I think y'all will dig it. Peace.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Episode 149: Malcolm X

Back-to-back Malcolm! This episode is a lead up to episode 150...and in it, Malcolm speaks on the subject of "You Can't Hate the Roots of a Tree and Not Hate That Tree". Delivered in 1965, Malcolm makes the case for gaining a knowledge of your African ancestry and culture. And since that is part of the foundation for this podcast and blog, I wanted to share this with my audience. Episode 150 and beyond is next. Peace to you all.

Hurricane Ike

Man, it's been a heck of a week. Ladies and gentlemen...Hurricane Ike was/is the reason that this beloved podcast and blog has been delayed over the past week. Out here in Houston and Galveston, Ike hit us pretty hard. Me and the future Mrs just moved out here a few months ago, and we've already survived our first hurricane! But all is well, and now that the worst has passed, I'm finally getting back down to business. There are a lot of people in the Houston area that could use some help though, so please look into volunteering or donating to the hurricane relief effort, or supporting the Red Cross to aid the relief effort. Ike was a big ole category 2 storm, and it'll still be awhile before things are back to normal out here. But in the meantime, Texas keeps pushing on. Peace y'all.

Episode 148: Malcolm X

Following up with the blog backlog...next up is Malcolm X in this incredible interview that he gave at UC Berkeley back in 1963. Since I'm still playing catch-up, I'll keep it short, but this interview seems to touch on so many topics that still have relevance, that it is a must-hear. I'm not going to take too much time to try and break it all down, but when brother Malcolm spoke...whether they agreed or disagreed, people listened. So sit back and enjoy this episode, and I'll keep it moving. Peace.

Episode 147: Gil Scott Heron

Man...what a week! Needless to say I got some catching up to do on my blogging. First up, Gil Scott Heron explaining and reciting his poem "Whitey on the Moon". It's brilliant social commentary. If you've never heard it before...you'll love it. Ain't nothing that I can add with my lil' commentary, so I'll move it right along. Enjoy. Peace.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Episode 146: James Baldwin

If it hasn't already, the start of the new school year is right around the corner. So especially for everyone headed back to class, I offer up this episode featuring the one and only James Baldwin. In this episode, James Baldwin discusses the topic "Living and Growing in a White World" in a talk with students at predominantly black, Castlemont High School in Oakland, California. The important thing here though, at least to me, is that in this talk Mr. Baldwin is encouraging the students to learn how to think for themselves. To take in information and form their own conclusions about it, instead of regurgitating facts and the opinions of others. I'm not sure when this was actually recorded, but this talk was broadcast on June 23, 1963. So to all of the students out there...this one is for y'all. If you're in high school...stay focused and graduate (I'm talking to you cousin)! To all of the college students...study hard, and learn to think!! Take an art class! Go Seminoles! Peace.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Episode 145: 1968 Democratic National Convention

With the 2008 DNC set to begin this week, I wanted to take y'all back to the 1968 DNC with this piece of radio coverage from Pacifica radio in Chicago. In this episode, broadcast live on August 28, 1968, correspondent Julius Lester is on the floor of the convention interviewing several black delegates from various parts of New York including Juanita Watkins, Guy R. Brewer, Edward J. Odom, Ted Childs, and Tyrell Duckworth, Sr., (as best as I can make out the names). This episode specifically highlights the massive disorganization between the democratic delegates, the black delegates in particular, and the members of the black caucus (today's Congressional Black Caucus - CBC). Julius Lester asks each delegate what action they believe the black caucus should take. He follows up with a question about the black delegates supporting the nomination of 'favorite son' Rev. Channing E. Phillips of Washington, D.C. as the party's nominee. Apparently the 1968 DNC went horribly, with disorganization inside and massive protests outside. But overall I thought this was an insightful piece of historical interviews, and I'm curious to see how it will compare to this year's convention (and the coverage of it). There is a lot of speculation and excitement surrounding this year's DNC, and I thought it would be worth looking back on how a convention went so badly forty years ago. Peace.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Episode 144: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" or "Life Among the Lowly"

I've had the desire to read this book for a while now, and after putting it off long enough, I finally decided to check out this copy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" or "Life Among the Lowly" (first published in 1852). I just finished it last week...and truthfully I haven't stopped thinking about this story since. I can't believe that it took me so long to finally get around to reading it. This story is deep. Much better than I had anticipated. So I wanted to put out this episode (along with episode 143) and just let y'all know what I've been thinking about this classic American masterpiece.

First let me say, EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. For real. Going into it, I had my modern-day ideas of what an "Uncle Tom" is. Y'all know what I mean. We think of an "Uncle Tom" as some sellout ni**er, "yessuh...nossuh", type sucker. Actually reading this book blew those stereotypes out of the water. The character of Uncle Tom was so much more. Uncle Tom is a Christ-like character, a true Christian willing to endure pain and suffering rather than violate his morals with the belief that he would be rewarded in the next life. In that vein, an "Uncle Tom" is actually much more similar to MLK or Ghandi in his actions and beliefs. It's really a shame the way this story has been distorted and tarnished over the years, and I definitely have my opinions as to why it has been. But I'll get to those in a second. First let me start with the basics.

The story itself is written in a style much like a play or screenplay, and this makes it really easy to read and follow (despite some of the old timey language - warning: the word nigger is used throughout this book like it's no big deal). And this particular version was published in 1900 as a children's book with nice big type and interesting black and white illustrations throughout. So even if you're not big on reading, I would recommend just flipping through the illustrations in this book. They'll definitely grab your attention.

Secondly, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a story about morality and family, and how those themes were challenged by the institution of slavery in this country. The author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, did a great job of creating characters both black and white that connect and resonate with the reader, even though they were mostly pretty flat and stereotypical. However the characters' dealings with each other is what makes the story great. Now let's get to the plot.


The story starts off dealing with the characters of Eliza, the fair-skinned (they use the terms mulatto, octaroon, and quadroon a lot in this story) house slave of a pretty well-to-do white Kentucky family. Eliza has a young son named Harry with her husband George Harris, who is a fair-skinned worker slave on a neighboring plantation. George is a very smart man who has a hard life dealing with his jackass of a master, and finds consolation in his family. George is, however, about to lose his mind with the way he is treated and is ready to try and run away to the north to try and get freedom for himself and eventually his young family. The drama starts however, when Eliza's master falls on hard times and is forced to sell off a few of his slaves to a (ni**er) trader, and they settle on her young son Harry and old Uncle Tom. Well this news is simply too much for Eliza to handle, and she decides to also try and escape with her son rather than have him shipped down south to God-knows-where and completely break up her already fracturing family.

The second storyline involves the life of Uncle Tom, another faithful slave on the Kentucky plantation who is chosen to be sold down south to pay off his master's debt. This is another aspect of the book that is told vividly, just how much the slaves are deemed the property ("mind, body, and soul") of their masters to be broken up, bought, and sold on a whim. Uncle Tom has a personality opposite of the slave George however. He humbly accepts his fate, and sacrifices himself to be sold in order to keep the rest of his family secure. Uncle Tom had accepted Christ while being enslaved. And although he was enslaved and illiterate, he did his best to try and read and study his Bible, and was devoted to a life of honesty and integrity.

Well to make a long story short, after these events set the story in motion, George, Eliza, and Harry must adventure along the underground railroad aided by well-meaning whites to obtain their freedom in Canada. Uncle Tom on the other hand is sold down south, and lives out his life first with the St. Claire family in New Orleans before circumstances take him to another plantation (probably in Texas or Oklahoma) near the Red River where he is subjected to the stereotypically cruel master Simon Legree.

It's Uncle Tom's time in New Orleans with the St. Claire family that tests a lot of the moral and Christian themes of the story. The St. Claire family believe themselves to be good people, yet are forced (mostly through their very Christian and sympathetic young daughter Eva) to confront the moral of the story, that Christianity and slave ownership are morally and philosophically incompatible. This element of the story drives home two points to the reader. First is to expose the hypocrisy typical of many who decried slavery but could not love anyone of a differing background from their own (and most especially those of a different race). The second was to reinforce the overall moral of the story with the idea that Christians could not afford to wait to do something to end slave ownership.

The other pieces of the story that were unexpected to me, are first that the Harris family eventually make their way to Liberia in Africa. I guess you can consider this the happy ending, and it seems to show that the author believed that the best way for the ex-slaves to find peace and happiness was to leave the United States (as the Harris family does...first to Canada, and then making their way to Liberia). I wonder if this is truly what the author felt, or was a widely held belief in the years this was written (leading up to the Civil War).

Also, the eventual liberation of many of the other slaves in the story, based on the suffering endured by Uncle Tom and his continued nonviolent resistance to so much evil is so Christ-like, it is beautiful although tragic. Contrasting Uncle Tom with George, one can see the two choices a man can take when being faced with being enslaved and separated from his family. While George chooses the more natural reaction of resisting (sometimes violently) to gain freedom for himself and his family, Uncle Tom chooses to view it all as God's will, and bravely submit to the cruelty and sorrow he knows will face him and the family he leaves behind.

All in all, this story is worth reading. After finishing it I can see how it would have had such a powerful impact on the conscience of this nation back when slavery was a normal way of life. This book was the best selling novel of the 19th century, and was acted out and retold for decades afterward through stage plays, minstrel shows, and cartoons (like previous episodes 13 and 143). There is a great link where you can see the impact this story (particularly the saga of Eliza) had on American entertainment here (check out the video snippets at this link...wow).

Unfortunately, the characters of this story were also used and distorted to create several negative stereotypes of blacks, as well as the story itself being twisted into different types of racist propaganda. It seems it fit white audiences fine in the following decades to turn this tale of compassion and morality into a joke or a gag...and in turn strip it of it's power to challenge the hypocritical Christian beliefs held by so many in this country. To me that is truly a tragedy, and does not do justice to the book's legacy, the author's intent, or the lasting impact that the story itself has on one's conscience.

Lastly, I would actually be interested in seeing this book (if the story is kept intact) being turned into a modern day film. I think the power of the story along with the powerful imagery it evokes would really be something to see. Also I would be curious to see how it would be accepted by today's audience. Just an afterthought.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Episode 143: "Eliza on Ice"

Apparently the story of a slave master and his dogs chasing down a runaway slave woman and her infant son was a funny idea for a cartoon not too long ago. "Eliza on Ice" is a rare Mighty Mouse cartoon (does anyone out there remember Mighty Mouse?) from 1944 that was a parody of the classic novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" featuring the characters Eliza, her young son Harry, Simon Legree, and Lil' Eva (similar to previous episode 13, you'll have to scroll way down to go back to that one). Overall, this cartoon is just strange, and it completely distorts the plot of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in the worst way. First of all, Uncle Tom is the race starter in this piece, asking everyone (including the dogs) if they're ready before the chase ensues. Then Simon and his dogs go about chasing Eliza and the baby through several scenes of winter landscape, including the famous river crossing scene (in which Eliza runs across a slot machine that jackpots the ice that keeps the chase going). Watching this episode after episode 13's "Uncle Tom's Bungalow", it's funny how the cartoons seemed to copy each other's gags (although "Uncle Tom's Bungalow" was produced seven years earlier...I guess some jokes are so good you can rip 'em off and do 'em twice). Finally, after getting a call from the angelic form of Lil' Eva in heaven, Mighty Mouse springs into action. Mighty Mouse flies down just in time to battle Simon Legree and his dogs aboard a river paddle boat, and save Eliza and Harry from plummeting to their demise over a waterfall. As much as I love cartoons, the subcontext of this one is still puzzling to me (but I'd love to hear anyone else's opinion of it). So in the end Mighty Mouse is a freedom fighting abolitionist! Who woulda thunk it!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Episode 142: 1964 Olympics Newsreel

With the Olympic games in full swing, and the track-and-field events set to start this weekend, I thought that it'd be a good time to put out this episode and take a look back at some footage from on the track from back in the day. This episode is an old Universal Newsreel (they used to play these in the movie theaters, now they play commercials...boooo) of a few of the standout track-and-field events, as well as the closing ceremony of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. The featured athletes in this clip are "Bullet" Bob Hayes, the anchor leg of the 4x400 U.S. relay team, and the Florida A&M and Dallas Cowboys star. Also spotlighted is Abebe Bikila, the Ethiopian runner who became the first person to win the Olympic marathon twice. It's an entertaining little piece of Olympic history, and a teaser for some track and field events. Enjoy...Peace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Black Cinema Stamps

In a bit of unadmitted government publicity for the BMA podcast (wink, wink) the U.S. Postal Service has issued a set of Classic Black Cinema Poster postage stamps. Check out the story that appeared in USA Today here, and you can see images of all the stamps in this collection here. The other images included in this series are posters for the films "The Sport of the Gods" (1921), "Black and Tan" (1929), "Caldonia" (1945), "Princess Tam-Tam" (1935), and "Hallelujah" (1929), which is also available on previously released BMA episode 91. I'm a see if I can get my hands on copies of the other films for y'all.

Thanks Mac for passing this on! Peace.

Episode 141: James L. Farmer, Jr.

This episode features James L. Farmer, Jr. (also appearing in episode 75, and portrayed as the youngest member of the Wiley College debate team in the film, "The Great Debaters"), co-founder of CORE in a November 13,1992 appearance on the show "Open Mind". In this episode, he discusses the topic of his role and reflections on the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, as well as his views on where it all stood in the early to mid-1990s. Farmer shares some interesting opinions in this episode, and it's always interesting to me to hear members of previous generations take a look at what they feel they were successful in accomplishing, as well as some of the shortcomings that need to still be addressed. This episode is exactly that, and I wanted to share it with the BMA audience. Peace.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Episode 140: "Motherless Children Have a Hard Time"

Here we are at episode 140...and in this episode, I bring to you for your listening pleasure blues legend Blind Willie Johnson singing "Motherless Children Have a Hard Time". Now I like this song...there's such truth in just the title alone. Blind Willie recorded this one on December 3, 1927 in Dallas, Texas. The original title of the song "Mother's Children Have a Hard Time" was a garbled translation of someone trying to decipher Johnson's singing, which is understandable as Willie has a deep, gravely voice. It makes me think of a blues singing Buju Banton. A native Texan, Blind Willie has one heck of a legend/story. According to whoever tells this stuff, it is reputed that Johnson was blinded as a child by his stepmother in a fit of anger after she was discovered in bed with another man by Johnson's father, who then beat her. The stepmother then picked up a handful of lye and threw it, not at Willie's father, but into the face of young Willie.

Nevertheless, Willie became a master at the slide guitar whose music straddled the border between blues and spirituals. While the lyrics of all of his songs were religious, his music drew from both sacred and blues traditions.

Blind Willie Johnson was born in 1897 near Brenham, Texas and remained poor until the end of his life, preaching and singing in the streets of Beaumont, Texas to anyone who would listen. A city directory shows that in 1944, a Rev W. J. Johnson, undoubtedly Blind Willie, operated the House of Prayer at 1440 Forrest Street, Beaumont, Texas. This is the same address listed on Blind Willie's death certificate. In 1945, his home burned to the ground. With nowhere else to go, Johnson lived in the burned ruins of his home, sleeping on a wet bed. He lived like this until he contracted pneumonia two weeks later, and died.

Johnson made 30 commercial recording studio record sides in five separate sessions for Columbia Records from 1927–1930. His music has influenced a number of artists, and his songs have been remade by more than a few. This record is one of my favorites, and I hope that y'all enjoy it too. Peace.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Episode 139: Mahalia Jackson

I needed a little encouragement on Sunday, so this episode is the beautifully brilliant Mahalia Jackson in a November 12, 1957 appearance on the short lived "Nat King Cole Show" on NBC. In this episode Mahalia sang two songs, the one included in this episode is "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho". Mahalia Jackson was featured in Nat's then-current movie "St. Louis Blues," which is a pretty good movie...you should check it out if you get the chance. But this episode is Mahalia at her best, so listen and be encouraged as you work through this week. Peace.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Episode 138: "Pop-Pie a la Mode"

Dang...Popeye too?!? I haven't put out a cartoon in a while, and I'm all about cartoons. So here's an old white supremacist Popeye cartoon from 1945. See, the cool thing to me about cartoons is that they really give you a unique insight into the artistic and cultural attitudes of the time. Even more so than film or television does, just because cartoons can be so "out there"...completely imaginative works of art. So this cartoon really says something about 1945 WWII years America. It's along the same lines of previous episodes (8 and 18...really all of the cartoons previously released on this podcast share similar qualities) with the silly looking, donut-mouthed black people. And in this episode, navy war hero, the all-American Popeye whoops up on a whole tribe! So I had to share this one. Dang...you too Popeye? Peace.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Episode 137: "American Blackout" (parts 1-3)

I feel as though the previous episode (episode 136) and this one are kindred media, as the issue that they highlight was just as relevant in 1963 as it was in 2000 and 2004, and continues to be all the way up until today. Peace to GNN for producing this documentary. "American Blackout" is an important film, and I felt that now was the perfect time to share this with my audience. "American Blackout" (2006) was directed by Ian Inaba, and chronicles the recurring patterns of voter disenfranchisement from Florida in 2000 to Ohio in 2004. What makes this film compelling, to me at least, is that it does this while following the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. In producing this podcast, I sometimes try to release episodes in a sequence where they are able to shed some light on specific topics from different historical perspectives. I feel that this episode, following episodes 136 and 135 help me to pay homage to the work of important black women, as well as try and give a different perspective on the work and troubles that have faced Ms. Cynthia McKinney. Through this film, Ms. McKinney sounds very much like a modern day Fannie Lou Hamer...at least to me. Ms. Hamer was also belittled and dismissed in her day, and continued to press on with her work to try and do what was right and necessary, despite the haters. So to me, this film is a must-see in the months before this year's historic presidential election. It touches on so many important issues, that all I can say is that with the efforts being made to increase black voter turnout and elect this country's first African-American President, people ought to pay attention to the ways in which Americans have been disenfranchised back in the day, and in recent years, and begin to prepare ways to prevent these same things from happening in 2008. Truth be told, voter disenfranchisement may be the opposition party's only hope of victory this fall. I usually try to keep away from political commentary on this blog...the topic of African-American history is so much broader than a political issue. But everything that is, is because of everything that was. So in the spirit of political awareness and voter education, I offer up this episode. And in case you would like to see more evidence of modern voter suppression (or are one of those people who only want to believe something is true if it is presented by a certain demographic), I'd also encourage you to watch this documentary, HBO's "Hacking Democracy" once you've finished "American Blackout". Peace.

Episode 136: Fannie Lou Hamer

Sorry congregation, I was off of my blogging game recently, so I have some catching up to do. In this episode, Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer recalls how her efforts to register other black people to vote took a dramatic turn in Winona, Mississippi on June 9, 1963. The story that she tells is heartbreaking, and reminds us of how the ability for black people to be able to cast a ballot was fought for and earned, and why it should not be taken for granted. Mrs. Hamer was a true political pioneer in this country, and her contributions towards making America a better, fairer place cannot go unrecognized. And even though the events that she describes happened over forty years ago, their relevance is still important...especially in this election year. So in honor of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, and everyone else who is actively engaged in expanding the electorate by working to register and empower more Americans to exercise their right to vote...I hope that this episode offers a little bit of inspiration. Thank you all for your hard work and sacrifice. Peace.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slavery After the Civil War

I found this on Newsweek.com today and thought I'd pass the link on. Heartbreaking.
Click here to see for yourself (and make sure to check out some of the comments on the article/interview with the book's author).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Episode 135: Coretta Scott King

Shout out to all of the women in the audience! This episode is especially for all of the ladies in the BMA congregation. I'm not exactly sure where this speech was delivered, but on August 26, 1971 (I believe) on the establishment of Women's Equality Day, Coretta Scott King delivered this short address to the audience. In it she speaks on the important role of Christian women in the ongoing struggle to make this world a better place. It's a beautiful message from an extraordinary woman. Unfortunately, that's about all that I could find out about this episode. But I thought that she spoke brilliantly. I hope that y'all enjoy it too. Peace.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Episode 134: "Let It Burn" (parts 1 & 2)

I haven't put out an episode featuring Robert F. Williams in a while (see episodes 50 and 76), and I've been sitting on this film until now. The documentary/interview "Let It Burn" with Robert F. Williams (1968) is a must see. 'Nuff respect to Robert C. Cohen for having the insight to make this film 40 years ago. If you'd like to see more of Mr. Cohen's work, you can check it out here or you can get a copy of Mr. Cohen's book about Robert F. Williams here. Mr. Williams was a brutha who didn't take no mess...he spoke his mind and stood up for himself and his community...and was promptly run out of the country for it. He is also someone whose voice and opinions need to be heard by the younger generation. So if you don't know who the man was...understand that there's a reason for that...then take this episode as an introduction to the man and his work. There are some great quotes in this film, so even though it's kind of long it's worth a watch. There's not a lot that I can add with this little commentary, so I'll keep it short. Watch this one, and then tell somebody else about it. Peace.

P.S. Thank you oakland babi for your comment on iTunes. It's comments like yours that help motivate me to keep this podcast going. I truly appreciate the kind words and support, and I love to hear how the BMA can help spark family conversations. I couldn't have wished for anything better from this podcast.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Episode 133: "Political Ads"

Ok...I'm a little tardy with this post. But I was trying to cool out and enjoy my shortened holiday work week last week, and long weekend. So now that it's back to business, I can catch up on my blog. So this episode is a pair of old school Presidential campaign ads, the few that I could find in the vaults that feature some black people (actually speaking) in them. It's well known that this is a historic year for presidential politics. But as these ads show, black people have used their influence in the past by publicly participating in presidential campaigns (and in both parties I might add). So maybe this will offer some "shut the heck up" to the people on the web who seem to think that black people have just begun to support a specific candidate this election year. I even offer one more piece of evidence here:

But I digress...episode 133 includes first, an ad from the 1960 Presidential campaign of Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy in which he sits down with Harry Belafonte for a sound bite snippet of all the great things he stands for. Belafonte urges us to cast our vote for JFK, as he plans to do. Pretty standard campaign stuff. The second ad however, doesn't include the actual candidate at all. It is for Republican Gerald Ford's 1976 re-election bid, and stars Pearl Bailey. In this ad she too urges us to cast our vote for Ford, but doesn't seem to offer any specific reasons for doing so. This one was a little strange to me, and seemed to be a pretty blatant advertisement proclaiming, "I'm black and I support Ford...maybe you should too" with little substance to it. At least Kennedy appeared in his ad, and made it a minute long to make his case. Ford on the other hand just offers 30 seconds of Ms. Bailey talking vaguely about how she likes Gerald Ford. This just reminds me of something that Republicans would still try and do (like in the 2004 GWB ad above). Put a black face on the screen to say, "hey, there are some black people who vote for us...why not you?" But that's just my interpretation. Enjoy these ads, and remember to vote (regardless of which candidate you support). Peace.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Episode 132: "Beware" (part 2)

In the conclusion of the 1946 film, "Beware" starring jazz legend Louis Jordan, we return to Ware University (home of the fighting mules...they got an old mule as a mascot) to wrap up the movie with a few more classic Louis Jordan tunes. Two of the songs that Jordan performs in this half of the film, "Don't Worry 'Bout That Mule" and "Beware (Brother, Beware)" went to #1 and #2 respectively on the 1946 U.S. R&B "Race" Charts (that was like the Billboard music chart for black folks music back in the day). Plus you get to see "Long Legged Lizzie" do her thang! I must say that some of these old timey movies really aren't that bad. I thoroughly enjoyed this film...Louis Jordan was quite the entertainer. He could hold his own as a band leader, sax player, singer, rapper, and comedian (plus I understand that he could play several other instruments as well). So I'm glad to wrap up Black Music Month with this musical...and maybe at the same time expose Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five to a new generation. As far as the plot goes...there was just enough of one to keep the movie and musical numbers working together. And in the end, the hero gets the fly girl...the villian gets dissed...and the school survives financial crisis! It can't get much better than that. I hope that y'all enjoy it. Until next time...Peace.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Episode 132: "Beware" (part 1)

As Black Music Month draws to a close, I wanted to share an upbeat musical with my audience. This episode is the 1946 movie "Beware" starring jazz legend Louis Jordan and his band "the Tympany Five". In the first part of this movie, the scene is set and the characters are introduced. The setting: small fictional HBCU, Ware College, in Ohio that is on the verge of bankruptcy. It seems as though the overseeing descendant of the Ware family is intent on letting the school go broke and have to shut its doors, especially since he can't seem to interest the woman of his dreams. In a last ditch fund raising effort, the instructors/administrators reach out to their famous alumni for help. The only one who comes to the aid of his school (although unintentionally) is Lucious Jordan, a former Ware student turned musical superstar (although the old, lame instructors/administrators) have no idea. But the students sure do! Louis Jordan and his band are posted up at their school, and it's about to get funky!! I really liked this film, and wanted to share it as it highlights an HCBU (although a fictional one), the need for its alumni to give back, and some really cool performances by Louis Jordan. Overall, a real positive message. My favorite part comes at the end of part 1, where Louis Jordan busts a rhyme about how "today you gotta have the beat". If this isn't some early 1940s hip-hop, I'm not sure what else to call it. But I think that y'all will dig it...and in part 2, it only gets funkier! Sorry about the quality of this video...it's got some weird wavy stuff going on with the picture. Something didn't go quite right in the conversion process. But the music is what makes this movie fresh...even in 2008. So turn up the volume and tap your feet to the beat. Peace.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BMA Greatest Hits DVD

I've been thinking about this for a while now, and thanks to my anonymous commenter a few episodes back I at least know that there may be some interest in it. It would be a collection of higher-resolution copies of some favorite BMA episodes on DVD. Specifically, I'm thinking of a collection of some of the old school movies, but the reason I'm posting this is to try and get an idea as to what are some audience favorites. I'd like your feedback on this, just add a comment to this post and let me know which episodes you would most like to have a higher-quality copy of on DVD. Depending on if I get any responses to this posting, I'll look into putting together a "BMA Greatest Hits" DVD of video files. Once I can get an idea as to how many and which episodes should and could (without copyright infringement) be distributed, I'll make the DVD available to all of my wonderful audience for a small fee (plus shipping and handling). The proceeds would greatly help the increasing costs of managing and operating this podcast (I mentioned the bandwidth issue a few episodes ago), plus I would love to help distribute some of these old black movie classics to an even wider audience. So here's the part where I need your input. Hit me up and let me know what have been your favorite BMA episodes...or which ones would you like to have some DVD quality copies of. My hope is that based on your responses, I'll see if I can get a top 4 or 5 and fit them into some kind of double-disc set. So take a look at the listing of past BMA episodes...think it over for a minute...and click the "comment" button to add your 2 cents. Do it today! Peace.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Episode 131: "Hard Times"

Let's switch gears away from the blues for a minute, and to a little good old timey gospel music. Lord knows that black folks have been singing gospel music for as long as we've been singing...so I present in this episode Elder Curry and his Congregation singing the song "Hard Times". This particular recording took place on December 16, 1930 with Elder Curry playing guitar, and Elder Charles Beck playing piano. Elder Curry and his Congregation belonged to the Church of God in Christ and recorded in (and I believe hailed from) Jackson, Mississippi. The Congregation were well known performers throughout the old tent revivals that traveled throughout the South. Another well known tune recorded by Elder Curry and his Congregation is "Memphis Flu" (you can click here to listen to it online). I have heard a lot about the old traveling church revival meetings that used to be commonplace in the South in the early 1900s. But it was seldom that any of these events were recorded or attempted to be preserved in any way. It is recordings like this one (and dramatic reenactments like episode 91) that allow us to get a sense of what these revival meeting must have been like. Maybe this episode will revive someone out there. Peace.

P.S. Aaaaw...yeah! I got two new iTunes reviews, and have to give a shout out to "smiley e" and "Curtis141" for leaving their comments and kind words. Your attention to this podcast is appreciated. I love it when I log on to iTunes and see that someone has showed this podcast some love with a 5-star comment! You can't beat that. Peace y'all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Episode 130: "Three Songs By Leadbelly"

Continuing on with our celebration of Black Music Month (I don't know who thought it up...but I'm embracing it), I present to you...the king of the 12-string guitar...the legendary Leadbelly! I put out a few episodes featuring Leadbelly before (go back and check out episodes 96 and 97), but this one is my favorite. First of all it's in color, even though it was filmed in 1945. Secondly, it's a music video and thirdly, it's of Leadbelly singing and playing three classic songs ("Pick a Bale of Cotton", "The Grey Goose", and "Take This Hammer"). But aside from the music (and a mighty fine pickin' and a singin' it is), just the direction/cinematography of this film is extremely interesting to me. As a whole it's beautifully creepy...from the graveyard scenes at the beginning and end, to the way ol' Huddie Leadbetter was filmed. It makes me wonder if the director/cameraman was trying to make Leadbelly look kind of scary and dangerous...or maybe Leadbelly was just a hard and scary looking man. He undoubtedly had a hard life, but the lighting and camera angles are also peculiar. The way the colors, shadows, movement, and editing work together create a soulful, haunting effect. But it is this stange look to the film that's about half of the appeal of it to me. So...here it is...bluesman Huddie Leadbetter AKA Leadbelly performing three songs. Enjoy. Peace.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Episode 129: "Last Kind Words"

“If Geeshie Wiley did not exist, she could not be invented: her scope and creativity dwarfs most blues artists. She seems to represent the moment when black secular music was coalescing into blues.”

Don Kent's liner notes to "Mississippi Masters: Early American Blues Classics 1927-35" (Yazoo CD 2007, 1994)

What more can you really say to that? The guitar arrangement of this song is both beautiful and haunting. Geeshie (Geechie) Wiley was truly a unique talent. As I wrap up my "Ladies Who Sang the Blues" series with this song, keep in mind that the emotions that black women expressed in the early days of the blues are the recipe for almost all soul or R&B secular music that came afterwards. These ladies don't often get the props that they deserve, but their music is still wonderful. This song was recorded way back in March 1930, with a guitar accompaniment by Elvie Thomas. I was even able to find some pieced together (as best they could) lyrics to this one. Check it out:

Last Kind Words Blues
by Geechie Wiley

(Guitar Intro)

The last kind words I heared my daddy say
Lord, the last kind words I heared my daddy say

If I die, if I die in the German war
I want you to send my body, send it to my mother, lord

If I get killed, if I get killed, please don't bury my soul
I p'fer just leave me out, let the buzzards eat me whole

When you see me comin' look 'cross the rich man's field
If I don't bring you flour I'll bring you bolted meal


I went to the depot, I looked up at the stars
Cried, some train don't come, there'll be some walkin' done

My mama told me, just before she died
Lord, precious daughter, don't you be so wild

The Mississippi river, you know it's deep and wide
I can stand right here, see my babe from the other side

What you do to me baby it never gets outta me
I may not see you after I cross the deep blue sea

I hope that y'all enjoy this one, and I have more Black Music Month episodes to come. Give the song a listen again and see how well these lyrics match up. Peace.

P.S. I couldn't find any kind of photo of Ms. Geeshie Wiley. It seems that this woman was a mysterious figure...not much is known about her.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Episode 128: "He Treats Me Like A Dog"

Now this lady sings some blues. This episode is blues legend Bessie Mae Smith singing "My Man Treats Me Like A Dog", and boy...the lyrics to this one are some truth and pain. I mean, she doesn't leave much to the imagination about how her relationship is going, and she's tired...she's tired of it. This poor country girl has it rough, and she sings it out in this song with a strong, beautiful voice. But that's what the blues is all about. Bessie Mae also went by the stage name "St. Louis Bessie" and also recorded under the name "Blue Belle". If y'all like this song, I have one more I'm gonna share in my "ladies who sang the blues" series. Then we'll keep it going for "Black Music Month" after that. Stay tuned. Peace.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Episode 127: "Mind Reader Blues"

I'm going to continue on with my "Ladies Who Sang The Blues" series...plus it's "Black Music Month" (who came up with that whole notion?) so I plan on sharing some musical episodes with y'all throughout June. Now this episode is one catchy tune...I really like this one. "Mind Reader Blues" is a short but powerful song about a woman who knows just what her man is up to. Bertha Lee sang her heart out on this one, and apparently she was singing about her then common-law husband, blues legend Charlie Patton. It is noted that in the fourth verse Lee sings:

"I remember a day when I were livin' at Lula town,
I remember a day when I were livin' at Lula town,
my man did so many wrong things 'til I had to leave the town."

Lee was from Lula, Mississippi and Patton lived there with her for a period of time.I kinda makes you wonder what ol' Charlie was up to. Some good blues right here. Peace.

P.S. There doesn't seem to be any photo of Bertha Lee that exists, and this photo is one of the only ones of Charlie Patton that seems to have survived the years.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Episode 126: "Where Is My Good Man At?"

As I've said before, I'm a fan of the old timey blues...and as my audience demographic poll has shown, it seems that the sisters have been my core audience supporting this podcast so far. So to show some love for the sisters who have been faithfully checking out the BMA podcast, with this episode I'm kicking off a new short series of episodes of ladies who sang the blues. First off is Memphis Minnie singing "Where Is My Good Man At?". One of Memphis Minnie's more famous songs was "When The Levee Breaks" that she recorded with then husband Kansas Joe McCoy, but I wanted to podcast this one instead, as it highlights her solo singing and guitar playing talent. As the words on her headstone say, "The hundreds of sides Minnie recorded are the perfect material to teach us about the blues. For the blues are at once general, and particular, speaking for millions, but in a highly singular, individual voice. Listening to Minnie's songs we hear her fantasies, her dreams, her desires, but we will hear them as if they were our own." Peace.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Episode 125: Dr. Na'im Akbar (parts 1 & 2)

Winding down with my audience appreciation speech series, I thought I'd finish it off with a more recent speech on video. Thanks to my old neighbor, T, back in Georgia for this one. This episode is a speech delivered by fellow Seminole, Dr. Na'im Akbar on October 23, 2001...and I thought that now was a good time to offer this up to my audience. I'm not really sure what, if anything, I can add to this speech through my lil' commentary, so I'm not going to spend too much time trying. I did try to clean up the audio as best as I could, but you may have to turn up your speakers a little bit. I just hope that y'all listen to and enjoy this message. If you're interested in more from Dr. Akbar, he has several books available for purchase. Check 'em out. Peace.

P.S. I appreciate all of the traffic that the BMA podcast has received recently. It seems like every week and month I am able to reach more viewers that the previous. So if your downloads are going a little slow, I apologize, but it turns out that all of you viewers are eating up the amount of bandwidth that I'm allowed (and costing me $$!). So y'all will just have to bear with me in the meantime until I can find a more suitable long-term solution. But in the big picture...this really isn't such a bad problem to have. Thanks again to everyone for your continued support of this podcast. Peace.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Episode 124: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ladies and gentlemen...this episode may very well be the crown jewel in my speech collection. Indeed, if I had to choose one episode that best describes what I had hoped that the Black Media Archive could be an avenue for, it would be so that words like these could be heard and shared with a modern-day audience. This episode is another speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that was delivered on March 16, 1968, brought to us in the city of Los Angeles at a benefit held by the Men and Women in the Arts Concerned with Vietnam....less than a month before his assassination. If you want to hear an example of the kind of rhetoric that led up to Dr. King being targeted...then you need to hear this speech. We have all heard how we are given a sterilized, non-confrontational portrayal of Dr. King in the years since his passing. Well, this speech is a beautiful example of his ideas, beliefs, and criticisms of this country in his own voice. Please listen to this episode, and I encourage you to share it with someone...anyone who you think would be open to hearing an important message. As with many other speeches that have been broadcast through this podcast, it seems to have special relevance today...although it is forty years later. I particularly enjoy the part in which Dr. King describes the conversation that he had with the white gentleman on the plane. I've never heard another speech replayed in which Dr. King says quite the same things, and I'm sure that that is not by mistake. So I am excited to offer this episode as a continuation of the BMA speech series. I think I'll conclude the series by putting out one more after this. But this one is one of my absolute favorites, and I hope you find it meaningful as well. Peace.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Episode 123: Malcolm X & James Baldwin

Although I have been podcasting a series of speeches lately (in response to the results of my audience poll), this episode is not a speech. It's even better than a speech...it's a debate! And it is my pleasure to make this episode available as this debate is between Malcolm X and James Baldwin. On April 25, 1961 these two debated on the issue of American racism, the methods of the civil rights movement, and what it meant to be a Negro in those times. It is fascinating to me to listen to the ideologies and beliefs of these two men as they respond to each other in this debate. It is not often that you get to hear two historic black men such as these engage each other in debate, as we are usually given one-sided views of individuals through speeches or lectures. Just as an aside...when was the last time you heard a thoughtful debate on the airwaves? Nowadays, even in the midst of a political election, you don't really hear a lot of substantial debate being broadcast...especially not between African-Americans, and definitely not on hot-button issues such as American racism anymore. Or maybe I just don't listen to the radio enough to catch them, but if I am missing something...someone please let me know. But back to this episode, it is a respectful exchange of ideas that absolutely deserves re-evaluation. So I urge all of my audience to listen and spread the word about the speech series that the BMA is currently podcasting. I have a few more that I feel compelled to share in the next couple of episodes, so thanks for listening and I hope that y'all are enjoying them. Hey...you asked for it! Peace.

P.S. I couldn't find a photo of these two men together, instead I decided to post this photo of James Baldwin. I just like it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Episode 122: Shirley Chisholm

As we proceed to give you what you need...and what you asked for (according to the poll), we continue on with a few episodes of selected speeches. This episode's keynote speaker is Shirley Chisholm. In this speech, Mrs. Chisholm describes the future that she sees for the American family, and proves to be somewhat predictive, (is that a word?) as she delivered this speech in 1977, and seems to vividly describe the condition of the American family today. The speech is a cry out for parental and social responsibility. It may sound a little old school to today's audience, or perhaps a little preachy...but it is a heart-felt speech, about an increasingly important issue as you can hear the sincere concern in Mrs. Chisholm's voice. Her concern is for the future of America's children, about their education and well-being, and these words deserve to be replayed and heard by today's generation. Listen and enjoy. Peace.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Episode 121: Reverend Ralph Abernathy

Now here's a little something that needs to be heard...continuing on with more audience appreciation episodes (it seems my audience really appreciates hearing a good speech), here's another good speech (recommended by yours truly) this time delivered by Reverend Ralph Abernathy. Rev. Abernathy gave this speech on June 19, 1968, only a few short months after the assassination of his friend and associate Dr. King. The speech is given at the Poor People's Campaign which took place at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. as a fulfillment of the prior commitment of Rev. Abernathy, Dr. King, and the SCLC. From what I've read about the Poor People's Campaign, it didn't quite go over the way that the organizers had planned. Perhaps attitudes and the social atmosphere was a little too charged at the time for such a unifying passive protest rally. But what I do know is that Rev. Abernathy delivered a heck of a speech. I had been looking for a while for some sample of Rev. Abernathy's speeches or sermons, you don't hear his words replayed much even though he played such a large role in the Civil Rights Movement...so I am very fortunate to have found, and to be able to share this one. He delivers this speech as both a political activist and fiery pastor, and calls to account the nations' moral priorities on a number of issues. And as with several of the episodes, especially speeches, that have been distributed through this podcast...the speech seems amazingly poignant today...even though it was delivered 40 years ago. So this episode I pay homage to Reverend Ralph Abernathy...this one is kinda long, so sit back, listen, and enjoy. Peace.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Episode 120: H. Rap Brown & Stokeley Carmichael

Since speeches are still the most enjoyed content according to the poll...I gotta give the people what they want. So the next few episodes, I'm going to share a couple of my favorite speeches that I've collected with y'all. This episode is a recording of some good ones, and by good I mean thought-provoking and controversial. Some stuff that you probably won't hear anywhere else. Back on episode 40, you could see included shortened video clips of these two speeches. Well this episode are the speeches of H. Rap Brown and Stokeley Carmichael, leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in their entirety. These speeches were delivered 40 years ago at the Free Huey P. Newton rally held in the Oakland Auditorium on February 17, 1968. I'm not even sure what to say about these words...I mean all you can really do is listen. Listen and think. And whether you agree or disagree with them, these two men had some guts to speak the way they did. I say that because I can't help but think that they had to know that they would face some kind of consequences and repercussions for speaking out like that. But they did it anyways. And they spoke up unapologetically. Does that take courage? Is it arrogant stupidity? Do you hear any young black men or women speaking out like that today? Do you ever wonder why not? Do you know what happened to these two? If not...you need to look it up. Peace.

P.S. Thank you LasPecas for your comment on iTunes. That brings my total back up to 10 (I seem to have lost one somewhere along the line). But I appreciate the supportive words, and I'll have to put out some more jazzy video content for you and the other old school jazz lovers out there in the near future.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Episode 119: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This episode provides an eloquent answer to the question, how do we tell and teach the children about this ugly thing called racism in America? As black people, we are unable to try to ignore or avoid the subject. Eventually it needs to be addressed, and addressed in a responsible manner. This snippet of Dr. King's speech on the subject delivered in 1964 provides a good example. Peace.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Episode 118: "The Beulah Show"

I like to try and keep y'all guessing as to what I'm gonna put out next, and this episode is a television first...the first show to star an African American woman...the one...the only...The Beulah Show! Starring Hattie McDaniel, this episode of 'The Beulah Show' is called 'The Waltz', and I must say that I found it entertaining. To start off, the show is funny. How about that lil' football dance that Bill shows to Little Donnie. But then I start to thinking...what is Beulah doing taking care of that white family like that for? What's wrong with the mom? Where's Beulah's own family? Apparently, this show was eventually canceled in 1953 due to protests from the NAACP because of its stereotypical portrayals of Black women in domestic positions. And although the show is not overtly racist, the family doesn't go around calling Beulah names or mistreating anybody, but it does reflect the times that created it. The racist times of the 1950s when blacks were expected to know their places, alongside and serving the good white folks. Anyhow, this is one of the episodes of this show that has survived over the years. It was entertaining, and does have a good message, and does portray some interaction between the races. I mean after all, Beulah is an integral part of this family's life and a motherly figure to the young boy. But I guess that's just and example of the complicated history of American racism. Y'all can take a look and decide for yourselves whether you think it deserved to be canceled or not. Peace.

P.S. I tried to update the short opening clip for the podcast...let me know what y'all think.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Episode 117: "The Bronze Buckaroo" (parts 1 & 2)

Howdy y'all...I haven't put out an old timey movie in a while, and who doesn't like a good western? Well, you may not think this movie is all that good...but it's not terrible either. It's just a western, but it's a black western, and that counts for something on this podcast. "The Bronze Buckaroo" (1939) stars Herb Jeffries, known for his roles as a singing cowboy, even though he doesn't sing all that much in this film. You can hear his song "I'm a happy cowboy" at the very beginning, but you don't get to actually see him singing it in the movie (as you can with other old black westerns starring Jeffries, I'll put out another one in the future so you can see what I mean). But he is a rootin' tootin' gun shootin' ladies' man of a cowboy...and that's what the old school western was all about. All in all I found this movie enjoyable. The whole talking mule joke is still pretty dang funny. And Spencer Williams does a fine job playing the crazy villian "Pete". If you've been watching the BMA for a while, you ought to recognize Spencer Williams from a few of the other past movie episodes (i.e. episodes 33 and 73). Mr. Williams was a talented actor/director and in my opinion deserves more props for his accomplishments. The same goes for Herb Jeffries, the African-American cowboy/country singer that has been all but forgotten today. But all that being said, I hope that y'all enjoy "The Bronze Buckaroo", a good example of how African-Americans attempted to cover different genres in film from the very beginning. I mean, when was the last time you saw an all black western movie hit theaters? See what I'm saying? Peace.

P.S. Shout out to blackphotographer for your comment on the BMA page on PodcastAlley. I hadn't checked out that page in a while, but I appreciate the props. For real.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Episode 116: Zora Neale Hurston

Some more good ol' blues and jook songs. In this episode, Zora Neale Hurston sings "Ever Been Down" (collected in 1933), an old blues song..."been down so long the down don't bother me"...now that's a lifetime of the blues. If y'all ain't figured it out yet, I'm a fan of the blues. Sometimes you have to try to sing the pain away. The second song, "Mama Don't Want No Peas, No Rice". It's a catchy lil' carribbean/Bahaman tune about living with a drunk woman. The third song, "Tampa" is just a trip. She makes Tampa sound stank in this song...but it's still funny. Hope that y'all dig em. Peace.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Episode 115: Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith

I realized that I haven't put out one of these interview episodes in a while. Even though they can be difficult to understand at times, I enjoy listening to these old slave interviews. First of all, just to hear the voices. There's something spooky and comforting about them to me, and the stories that they tell are truly priceless. The interviewers can get annoying at times, with their condescending attitudes, what sometimes sounds like fake interest, and constant requests for singing. But to listen to their voices is to hear both weariness and strength, victim and victor, and reminisces of times long since past (even though these recordings were made not that long ago...this one for example in 1941...that's my grandparents time). I also can't help but notice hearing deep American tradition and dialect that has lingered even today. I truly appreciate these recordings, and enjoy sharing them on this podcast. I hope that y'all enjoy them too. Peace.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Episode 114: Reverend Jeremiah Wright

I've been sitting on this recording for some time. Long before Rev. Wright has become such a famous name in the media. So I thought that now would be a good time to release this episode, a copy of his famous sermon titled "The Audacity to Hope" (1990). I haven't released a sermon in a while, and this particular sermon as well as the pastor have become especially famous during this presidential election for very different reasons. It is a stirring speech describing the human condition and capacity to hope. In it he works in an explanation of the biblical story of Hannah. Listen and look at the picture (the image of the painting is the same painting that Rev. Wright refers to in his sermon), and hopefully you will be inspired to understand how important it is to hope in this life and in this world. No matter how bad things seem we can hope in God. Peace.

Episode 113: Minister Louis Farrakhan (part 2)

Part two...the audience question and answer segment. This is where this show begins to really get interesting. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Episode 113: Minister Louis Farrakhan (part 1)

Can someone please tell me how the name Louis Farrakhan became equated with the word "racist" in this country? Because it seems that while watching the news over the past few weeks, every time I hear talk about racism, his name is brought up soon afterwards. Could it be because of programs like this one, (in the same vein as episode 111)? Are his speech snippets that outrageous? I see a pattern of outspoken black people repeatedly portrayed and labeled the same way. I see it, but I really don't get it. When did black people have to choose between embracing the man, or "denouncing and rejecting" everything he speaks out on. Why are black leaders forced into these public statements? But what can I do? Well, here's a copy of Minister Farrakhan from 1990 in an appearance on the Donahue show. Y'all can watch it and form your own opinions. Peace.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sweet Auburn Audio Tour - A Walk With Andrew Young

I would like to take this opportunity to announce the launch of a new podcast. Over the past year, I have had the privilege to work with the new Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights (http://www.cchrpartnership.org) on several projects, including this one. And this project is one that I feel is a step forward in utilizing new media to present important African-American history to the world. So please take a moment to visit the webpage introducing this podcast here, or check it out on iTunes here. And if you are ever in the Atlanta area, take a minute to take a walk down historic "Sweet" Auburn Avenue. You'll be glad you did. Peace.

Episode 112: Malcolm X

The subject of this episode is "Reverse Racism" as elaborated on by Malcolm X. As with a lot of Malcolm's speeches, I don't know the place or date that this address was given, but as with episode 111, with as many times as that I have heard the phrase "Reverse Racism" on the news in the last few weeks, I thought that it'd be a good time to release this speech. Just to add Malcolm's 2 cents on the subject. Peace.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Episode 111: "The Hate That Hate Produced" (parts 1 & 2)

I'm a little late with this blog posting, but I've been trying to finish up this moving and unpacking. But I am back online, and trying to play a little catch up. So here is the posting for Episode 111 parts 1 and 2.

After all of the news reports the past few weeks about a certain dangerous religious figure, I thought it was a good time to put out the news documentary, "The Hate That Hate Produced". It's interesting to watch this report from 1959, and see how far journalistic reporting of outspoken African-American religious figures has come in the last forty years. "The Hate That Hate Produced" introduced the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X to mainstream America, and scared the heck out of them at the same time. This documentary appealed to white America and "sober-minded Negroes" to call attention to these "racist" and anti-American statements. It's interesting to compare this report to some of the journalistic reporting broadcast recently. But aside from those personal observations, this news report was so popular when it was broadcast, it became the format for the long running news program "60 Minutes" (yes, that's Chris Wallace narrating this program). This documentary is an excellent source of some historic interviews and speeches from the leaeders and spokesmen of the Nation of Islam and the United African Nationalist Movement including James Lawson, and political leaders including Adam Clayton Powell and NAACP spokesman Roy Wilkins. Part two features some interesting interviews with members of the black community of Harlem asking their opinions of the Black Muslims and Nationalist groups. And the ending interview with African-American reporter Lomax is also an interesting look into investigative reporting of the African American community. These episodes are definitely worth a watch. Peace.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Episode 110: Cynthia McKinney

I first really heard of Cynthia McKinney when I moved to Georgia years ago. She was already in elected office as a member of the House of Representatives from Georgia's 4th district, and even though I didn't live in the 4th district and could never vote for her, she seemed to often be a subject of the local Atlanta news. As time passed and I watched the way she was portrayed on television, and learned more about her, I became impressed at the way she handled herself despite her obvious political enemies. But I never really understood why she seemed to be so despised by about half of Atlanta. To me she was a refreshingly outspoken politician. A black woman who was very candid and, to me at least, brave enough to confront divisive Southern issues like the need to change the old Georgia State flag (from the old confederate battle flag with a blue bar on the side...that was a big news story/issue when I moved to Atlanta), and the men who supported stuff like that.

So when I found this video of Cynthia McKinney speaking about how she got into politics, and some of the issues that made her such a political target in Atlanta, I thought that I'd share it with you. She was finally defeated for her seat in the U.S. House in 2002 by Denise Majette, then after she won her seat back in 2004 she was again defeated in 2006 by Hank Johnson. That's where Cynthia McKinney's political story ends. But I still admire her fight and candor. If you want to find out more as to how Cynthia met her political fate, I recommend you watch the GNN documentary "American Blackout" (that I'll feature in a later episode of the podcast). I think that you'd find it intriguing, especially in this election year. Peace.

P.S. Supposedly, the podcast is being upgraded to a better hosting plan, and the episodes will be able to be downloaded much faster. Sorry for the slow downloads, but I'm doing what I can to get it up to speed.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Episode 109: Barbara Jordan

Impeach the President!! That's what happened to President Richard Nixon way back before my time (1974). So this is what a speech in favor of impeaching a crooked high ranking public official, or a "president swollen with power, and grown tyrannical" sounds like. Plus, Barbara Jordan gives us an education as to what a vote for impeachment actually means, and how it applied in the case of President Nixon. She knew what she was talking about. Very interesting indeed...Listen up everybody! Sisters gonna work it out! Peace.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Episode 108: Fannie Lou Hamer

***Correction: It was brought to my attention that this speech was given on October 15, 1969. (Thanks, P.L.)***

The celebration of the sisters continues...and this episode is a good one. Sometimes, when I listen to some of these speeches it's kinda creepy how relevant they still seem to be. It's almost as if you just swapped out some of the key words or names with some of our modern day issues and figures, the speeches would be just as potent today as they were when they were first given. This speech is an example of one that gave me that feeling. It seems that if you would swap out the word "Vietnam" with the word "Iraq", or "Johnson" with the name "Bush", the rest of the speech still applies, even though it's forty-something years later. Not to mention that in this election year, we seem to be listening to some of the same arguments. That's crazy. But that's also the beauty of a lot of these materials. They're almost timeless. I guess that some struggles and battles are just that. Fannie Lou Hamer was definitely a woman that was unafraid to speak her mind, and in her memory, the BMA is proud to rebroadcast this speech. Listen closely to her words and enjoy. Peace.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Episode 107: Rosa Parks

According to my recent audience poll numbers, the sisters are my number one target demographic. Much love to y'all. In recognition of this, I'm going to release the next few episodes in celebration of some famous black women. I said in the beginning of this blog that I wanted to share more episodes that featured the voices of important black women with y'all, but unfortunately a lot of materials featuring African American women has been difficult to find. But I do have some...so I think it's time that I release a few. Starting off with Mrs. Rosa Parks. This interview was recorded in 1956, and is supposed to be one of her first after becoming a national figure due to her unjust arrest, and one of the few of her early interviews that is still available for us to hear. The interviewer (I don't know exactly who conducted this interview) sure seems to talk a lot in this episode, but it is still a revealing conversation. I especially like Mrs. Parks' quote, "I had decided that I had to know once and for all the rights I had as a human being, and a citizen, even in Montgomery, Alabama." Yeah, I like that. I hope y'all do too. Peace.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Episode 106: "Cocaine Habit Blues"

And now ladies and gentlemen...for your listening pleasure...the BMA is proud to present...the lovely voice of Hattie Hart, Will Shade on harmonica, Tee Wee Blackman on guitar, Ben Ramey on kazoo, and Ham Lewis on the jug...the Memphis Jug Band playing their classic hit, "Cocaine Habit Blues". (Applause) Black folks were singing about cocaine waaay back in 1930. This is another one of those old timey gangsta tunes I was talking about a few episodes ago (episode 104). Well here's another example that the drug music of today is really nothing new. Even back before the D-boys took over the rap game, the old jug bands were singing the same tune, with a little more humility. You need more proof...here's the lyrics:

Cocaine habit mighty bad
It's the worst old habit that I ever had
Honey take a whiff on me

I went to Mr Beaman's in a lope
Saw a sign on the window said no more dope
Hey, hey, honey take a whiff on me

If you don't believe cocaine is good
Ask Alma Rose at Minglewood
Hey, hey, honey take a whiff on me

I love my whiskey, and I love my gin
But the way I love my coke is a doggone sin
Hey, hey, honey take a whiff on me

Since cocaine went out of style
You can catch them shooting needles all the while
Hey, hey, honey take a whiff on me

It takes a little coke to give me ease
Strut my stuff long as you please
Hey, hey, honey take a whiff on me

What more can you say? Peace.