Thursday, November 25, 2010

Faceless Heroes and Heroines!

BH 402
December 2, 2010

While growing up in Chicago all of my friends, both male and female would tell stories of how one or more of their family members had to flee the south because they wounded or killed members of the Klu Klux Klan or other white people in retaliation for the way they were treated. Today’s column is my tribute to those unsung heroes; some of them gave their lives for us.

For many years, we've been taught the harrowing description of the civil rights movement as a series of nonviolent protests, led primarily by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other ministers, that so stirred the hearts of northern white America that the courts and the government passed a series of laws that ended white supremacy and the practice of Jim Crow. This is his-story, not the truth. The civil rights and human rights movement for Black people began before they left the Motherland.

No African-American accepted their status as slaves and the slave owners were aware of this and lived in fear of the Blacks under their control. Not only did slave owners expect slaves to run away, but they believed that revolution would happen at any moment. It demonstrates how Americans get a distorted understanding of their past in their high school years, believing that persons of African decent accepted the injustices heaped upon them from persons who considered themselves superior. This was not the way that it was.

African slaves revolted as early as 1733 in St. John, Virgin Island; the first major slave revolt in the south was led by a slave named Gabriel Prosser in the 1800’s: Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Cinque and other followed shortly thereafter. And while these are the most prominent that is documented in the annals of history, there were thousands more, by Black men, women and children that are not known.

Frederick Douglas in his Fourth of July speech acknowledged: ‘What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters?”

Most states in the South passed anti-African American legislation. These became known as Jim Crow laws. This included laws that discriminated against African Americans with concern to attendance in public schools and the use of facilities such as restaurants, theaters, hotels, cinemas and public baths. Trains and buses were also segregated and in many states marriage between whites and African American people.

There are hundreds of thousands of stories of African Americans who were intolerant of the conditions when the South was under the grip of so-called Jim Crow laws but Blacks fought back, although the history books will teach you that they did not. Long before Emmett Till and Rosa Parks.

By the First World War, Blacks were increasingly armed and prepared to defend themselves from mob violence in many parts of the country, even in the Deep South. In one case, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee was advised, “The Negroes would not make trouble unless they were attacked, but in that event they were prepared to defend themselves.” Most of the race riots were the result of Negro retaliation to white acts of persecution and violence.

The "Red Summer of 1919 there were 26 race riots between the months of April and October. These included disturbances Charleston, South Carolina: Gregg and Longview counties, Texas, Washington, D. C., Chicago and Elaine, Arkansas.

These quotations are taken from “The Voice of the Negro,” a brilliant compilation by Robert T. Kerlin, professor of English at the Virginia Military Institute. They reflect the true mood and reaction of the times.

“For three centuries we have suffered and cowered. No race ever gave passive resistance and submission to evil longer, more piteous trial. Today we raise the terrible weapon of self-defense. When the murderer comes, he shall no longer strike us in the back. When the armed lynchers gather, we too must gather armed. When the mob moves, we propose to meet it with bricks and clubs and guns. If the United States is to be a land of law, we would live humbly and peaceably in it; if it is to be a land of mobs and lynchers, we might as well die today as tomorrow.”

So, likewise, the New York Age: “Every day we are told to keep quiet. Only a fool will keep quiet when he is being robbed of his birthright. Only a coward will lie down and whine under the lash if he too can give back the lash. America hates, lynches and enslaves us, not because we are black, but because we are weak. A strong, united Negro race will not be mistreated. It is always strength over weakness, might over right.” Meanwhile a colored preacher writer in the Cleveland Gazette: “don’t start anything, but when something is started make it hot for them and finish it.”

These are stories and factual descriptions of the temper and frame of mind of our forefathers and of our ancestors and America should be exposed to the truth and not the myths of American history. The important thing to point out is that here in America, a propaganda machine was set in motion, powered by huge media and political interests repeating the Myth that Black people were docile and afraid. Their mission was and is, to prevent real history from reaching people. Do not trust those sources. Do your own research.

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am on WGNU-920 AM, and watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.

I can be reached by e-mail at:

Be Ever Wonderful!


Monday, November 8, 2010

In The American: "Segregated Sounds"

Please read the newest column for the St. Louis American, "Segregated Sounds."

The piece, published online on October 28, 2010, is available right here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

African American Endurance!

August 26, 2010
BH 399

On my radio program recently, I played an episode of the Amos N’ Andy radio series. I wanted my audience to remember, or for some, to be exposed to how the descendents of Ancient Africans were portrayed and demonized by two Caucasian men for fun and profit.

Records show Amos ‘n’ Andy was the story of two black characters created by two white actors, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. They presented the characters as fools, womanizers, crooks and buffoons that were senile, docile, lazy and unintelligent morons. The show became a national phenomenon with nearly 40 million listeners.

For the program's entire run as a nightly serial, Gosden and Correll portrayed all the male roles, performing over 170 distinct voice characterizations in the show's first decade. It was the first radio program to be distributed by syndication in the United States.

Most of their audience was white who had never seen or met a person of color, and the image these performers delivered was devastating to black people. Although Amos ‘n’ Andy’s so called dialect humor caused much controversy among African-Americans, the show’s appeal during its prime was not restricted to any single race. We all should be appalled at the crudeness and discriminatory words used in the Amos N Andy series but it was so popular among whites that the program was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.

After playing only a portion of the racist, bigoted Amos N Andy program, I enlightened my audience with a taped interview I did with writer and historian Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan, the author of several volumes including ‘The Need for A Black Bible’, ‘The Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the Exclusion of Their African Origins’, ‘African Origins of Major Western Religions’, ‘St. Augustine: African Influence in Christianity’, ‘Moses: African Influence on Judaism’, ‘Bilal: African Influence on Islam’ and Dr. Ben's best known work ‘Black Man of the Nile and His Family’, that was first published in 1972.

The publication is described as ‘capturing much of the substance of his early research on ancient Africa. In a masterful and unique manner, Dr. Ben uses Black Man of the Nile to challenge and expose "Europeanized" African History. He points up the distortion after distortion made in the long record of African contributions to world civilization.’

I also treated my listeners to part of a lecture by Dr. John Henrick Clarke, educator, lecturer and professor, humanitarian and scholar. Dr. Clarke lectured and held professorships at universities worldwide. His longer and most influential tenures were at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, and in African and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City. He received honorary degrees from numerous institutions and served as consultant and advisor to African and Caribbean heads of state. In 1997 he was the subject of a major documentary directed by the noted filmmaker Saint Claire Bourne and underwritten by the Hollywood star Wesley Snipes.

Dr. Clarke said “I saw no African people in the printed and illustrated Sunday school lessons. I began to suspect at this early age that someone had distorted the image of my people. My long search for the true history of African people the world over began. My main point here is that if you are the child of God and God is a part of you, then in your imagination God is suppose to look like you. And when you accept a picture of the deity assigned to you by another people, you become the spiritual prisoners of that other people’.

He said ‘religion is the organization of spirituality into something that became the hand maiden of conquerors. Nearly all religions were brought to people and imposed on people by conquerors, and used as the framework to control their minds. Powerful people cannot afford to educate the people that they oppress, because once you are truly educated, you will not ask for power. You will take it.’

These two gentlemen are only two of the thousands of our leaders, scholars and elders. They played a crucial role in bringing about the ending of the racist system that held our minds hostage, while preserving our dignity and refusing to submit, psychologically, to the definition that the oppressors attempted to force upon us. Both Ben-Jochannan and Clarke fashioned a link between generations and regenerated our belief in the morality, respectability, strength and the wisdom of our ancestors.

As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, and our scholars have shown that education is the key to overcoming prejudice and discrimination.

It is easy to realize that Gosden and Correll, being members of a different culture received different kinds of information from their environment. If they knew the achievements of the sons and daughters of Africa, or respected the works of George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Sojourner Truth or even Abraham Lincoln, there never would have been a radio series or television program such as Amos N Andy.

In 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson said “there is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem”, but President Barack Obama said “the past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” He said “we do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow”.

Goodbye Amos and Andy and hello Mr. President.

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am on WGNU-920 AM, and watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.

I can be reached by e-mail at:

Be Ever Wonderful!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Black media is abating its mission!

July 21, 2010

Numerous studies find that people of color continue to be under-represented, stereotyped or misrepresented, and the spread of racist thinking in the Tea Party Movement and Right Wing Media has many of us lost in a sea of misinformation, and black radio and television outlets are actually contributing to the crisis.

Not too long ago, in the African American media names such as Frederick Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, infused our national awareness.

We heard and read about the achievements and writings of A.J. Rogers, John Hope Franklin, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Chancellor Williams, Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Dr. John Henrick Clarke, and listened to Dr. Ben, Percy Sutton, Douglas Wilder, and David Dinkins on Bob Law’s Night Talk radio program; Wesley South was speaking to Jesse Jackson and other religious and political figures in Chicago; Joe Madison was interviewing members of Congress; Mildred Gaddis and ‘Martha Jean’ were talking to Coleman Young and others in Detroit. I was talking to Dick Gregory, Naim Akbar and Malauna Karenga. Ty Wansley was keeping the community of Pittsburgh informed with timely news and events that impacted the African American community. There are others who made positive differences and created positive change. We were communicating.

We used to discuss how and why African-Americans fought for American independence, the abolition of slavery, civil and equal rights. Black media that featured black programs provided this information to the people. Today the industry has become filled with buffoonery, sarcasm and silliness, with hours of hip hop music that lulls us to sleep.

While Armstrong Williams, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Rielly, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Russ Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Hugh Hewitt and others are blasting the airways with their points of view, we are being entertained by Tom Joyner, Michael Baisden and Steve Harvey. Katt Williams being arrested is headline news. I am afraid that we have failed our mission.

Despite the fact that the right wing media machine is creating and spreading false impressions of the Obama administration and the African American and Latino communities, most black owned and black oriented media outlets are engaged in a war to promote themselves as “number one in hip hop and old school."

Black talk radio and black oriented television stations have to return and be a place where conversations can begin, where communities can be strengthened, and where the human spirit can be celebrated. The main mission for our existence should be to provide outlets to broadcast the truth, or in any case to counter the lies and untruths that some of these so called conservative media moguls are spewing.

In the past black radio, black oriented television stations and African American newspapers were the only means of communications, and acclaimed as the champions of African Americans, the poor and people of color. We were a critical communications link that offered programs that motivated, inspired, and educated. We interviewed experts in marketing, business, personal development, health, and music.

Are the black radio and television stations today forward-thinking and positive? Black media outlets can provide valuable input and should be realistic, operational, inspirational, motivational, informative, and even emotional, and should be reassessed on a regular basis by the public that it serves.

Collaboratively we must define our fundamental purpose, philosophy, and values, and we must verify whether the Black media is doing its intended job and making the right decisions for the community.

Life can be a real challenge at times and Black radio and TV audiences include a diverse group of individuals: young children, students, intellectuals, political figures, young parents, the elderly, and while understanding social media we ought to be required to entertain, to engage, to inspire, and to inform the listeners of the truth with dignity, and continue to honor the commitment of the pioneers that gave black talk radio, black newspapers and black oriented television its rich heritage and proud legacy.

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am on WGNU-920 AM, and watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.

I can be reached by e-mail at:

Be Ever Wonderful!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Emmett Till -An indispensable piece of American history!

June 17, 2010

When you celebrate Father’s Day, remember Emmett Till.

Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till would be 69 years old; probably a father and grand father and perhaps a great grand father. Who knows what his children might have been. They may have preceded Barack Obama as the first African American president. But Emmett died at the age of fourteen. He was murdered by a group of bigoted thugs, with the help of some blacks.

In August 1955, Till supposedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant, a white woman in a grocery store that she and her husband owned in Money, Mississippi. Three days later, two white men dragged him from his bed in his uncle’s home, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. His mutilated body was found in the muddy Tallahatchie River. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who died in 2003, held a three day open-casket funeral in Chicago, and a photograph of Till's disfigured and decomposed face was displayed in Jet Magazine. She said "let them see what they have done to my boy”. The photograph stirred and motivated the nation. His death motivated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks was quoted as saying "I thought of Emmett Till, and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back and I just couldn’t move."

Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband at the time, and J. W. Milam were arrested for the murder but were acquitted of the crime by an all-white jury. The men later confessed in an interview with Look magazine. How could Bryant and Milam hate and kill a fourteen year old juvenile? Because they believed their actions were completely justified.

Does racism run that deep? I must presume the answer is yes. It is unfortunate that people find a way to hate people who are different from themselves. Racism is not only the bad attitude by people with different color skin, but it refers also to people that feel superior to others. Many of the less intelligent of the country have attitudes about other races. Some of the truly ignorant southern people even today hate blacks.

Southern whites, such as Bryant and Milam, and every member of the jury that freed them, did everything in their power to keep African-Americans in a downgraded and substandard social position. How and why did they feel justified by committing such an immoral and shameful act? At that time in Mississippi, it was unheard of for an African American to even glance at a white woman, or to publicly accuse a white of committing a crime.

The nation was also complicit in creating a climate of fear and hatred. In 1857 Chief Justice Robert B. Taney of the United States Supreme Court wrote the opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford: ‘In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument. “They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit’.

Taney’s name should be listed along with Adolph Hitler, Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK, and George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party as some of histories worst criminals. The South should idolize and commemorate Taney as much as they celebrate Robert E. Lee. Taney is the instigator and creator of the contention and affirmation that “The Negro Has No Rights” and the nation at that time adopted his premise. Not too much had changed even now.

Taney’s pronouncement could easily be classified as ‘hate speech’, because hate speech creates an environment of hate and prejudice that legitimizes violence, as in the Emmett Till slaying, and it is not limited to a few isolated instances or any one. Hate speech against vulnerable groups is pervasive in our society today.

We must remember Emmett Till, his mother and uncle, Money Mississippi, Leflore County, Tallahatchie County, Fannie Lou Hamer, Sumner Mississippi, and places where pioneers of the movement marched, sat-in at lunch counters, gathered in churches; where they spoke, taught, and organized; where they were arrested, and where they lost their lives.

Emmett Till’s birthday is July 25 so along with July 4 you now have two dates in July to observe.
Till is buried at the Burr Oak Cemetery, in Alsip, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, with his mother and grandmother. My parents are buried there also. Although four former cemetery employees are accused of disturbing hundreds of gravesites in a plot-reselling scheme, the Cook County Sheriff said the slain youth’s gravesite was not disturbed.

You should visit the Emmett Till Multipurpose Complex and Tallahatchie County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in Sumner, Mississippi. This is a chance for us to learn, remember and be proud of a group of people who struggled to make changes and remember the men and women that are etched into our national memory.

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am on WGNU-920 AM, and watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10 pm and Friday Morning at 9 am on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.

I can be reached by e-mail at:

Be Ever Wonderful!


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Media Bias in Black and White!

May 20, 2010

During the first week of May every major news organization in America focused on the 1970 Kent State University shootings remembering that on May 4 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War. A total of 67 shots were fired in 13 seconds. Four students were killed and nine students were wounded. All of the students wee white.

But only ten days later, on May 15, two more students were killed on a college campus by the Mississippi National Guard and the local police department. It happened at Jackson State College, now Jackson State University, in Jackson Mississippi, and the students were African American, but this incident did not receive any national media coverage. Apparently no one remembered.

The Jackson Police Department and the Mississippi National Guard fired continuously on a group of students at Jackson State, killing two and wounding 12 others.

According to a 1970 report from the President's Commission on Campus Unrest, police fired more than 150 rounds. And an FBI investigation revealed that about 400 bullets or pieces of buckshot had been fired into Alexander Hall, a girl’s dormitory. Was not this unpleasant incident worth remembering? Was this not worthy of a news story? Was it not reported because of the race of the victims?

The only group to have involuntarily immigrated to the United States, to have been forcibly stripped of its culture, African or black Americans has as a group yet to receive its fair share of the American dream, even in news coverage.

Professor Henry Lewis Gates wrote ‘during the sixties, even before students on white campuses demonstrated against the Vietnam War, students on black campuses raised the issue of whether their institutions of higher learning were "relevant" to the needs of the black community”.

The Atlantic Online column “Race in America” said ‘Race, (meaning, mostly, the relationship between Caucasians and African-American descendants of slaves) is commonly described as the most difficult, troubling issue in American life. This is nothing new: the race issue was even more troubling in the nineteenth century, when it was the cause of our bloodiest war.” He said ‘the century that is now ending began with a proclamation by W.E.B. Du Bois. "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line", the prescience of which not many people would dispute.’

Do media hold some people to one standard while using a different standard for other groups? Were the Jackson State shootings less important than the Kent State shootings?

We know and understand that there is hardly any race and gender diversity in national news outlets compared to the African American press. Media have tremendous power in setting cultural guidelines and in shaping opinionated dialogue. It is essential that the white news media, along with other institutions, are challenged to be fair.

News outlets should require their reporters, news director and editors be compelled to take courses in cultural diversity. Diversity encompasses not only racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, but also diversity of socioeconomic contexts, cultural perspectives, national origins, sexual orientation, physical ability, and educational backgrounds, because the differences among us have historically formed the basis of fear, bigotry, and even violence.

The so called ‘major media’ is unscrupulous in presenting a one-sided picture such as devoting several minutes, features and programs to the May 4 Kent State massacre, while ignoring the Jackson State bloodbath, and this bias is revealed in the Kent State –Jackson State news coverage. Or should I say exclusion of news coverage?

There is an irrefutable and significant bias in a number of mainstream media that will not allow them to be devoted to promoting accurate, full and balanced media coverage of African American issues and events.

A review of news media sources identifies stereotypical depictions of students at Kent State and at Jackson State and that is unfortunate because these stories have implications for public attitudes and behavior.

We know and understand that there is hardly any race and gender diversity in national news outlets as there is in the African American press.

How many producers, editors or decision-makers at news outlets are women, people of color or openly gay or lesbian? In order to fairly represent different communities, news outlets should have members of those communities in decision-making positions.

If there had been, we would have known or heard about a tragic day in May on both campuses; one in Ohio and one in Mississippi.

For more information on both incidents, read book ‘Lynch Street published by Kent State University Press (October 1988).

“Lynch Street is not, as one might assume, named after lynching’s, rather it is identified with John Ray Lynch, an emancipated slave and Mississippi's first black congressman. Lynch Street is the site of the black Jackson State College, where two black men were killed during antiwar and civil-rights protests in May 1970, 10 days after the Kent State University incident where four white students were slain by National Guardsmen. According to Spofford, a writer for the Albany Times Union , the Jackson State killings have been largely forgotten in contrast to the Kent State deaths. In his account, Spofford relies mainly on interviews with the wounded students and the families of the dead. He traces the mounting tensions on Lynch Street between blacks and whites and maintains that Jackson State students were not known for their political activism; yet a mini-riot, fueled by an atmosphere of racism, escalated, and the police panicked, called for extra help and began shooting. Spofford successfully recalls the moment with primary sources. His reportage is rigorous but somewhat repetitious and not particularly analytical. The evidence of the killings was studied by a presidential commission, two grand juries and a civil court but, as Spofford demonstrates, the racial strain was not settled by a court of law and has yet to be resolved.”

Also watch the movie or the DVD “Fire in the Heartland - 40 Years Since Four Dead in Ohio".

Please listen the Bernie Hayes radio program Monday through Friday at 7am on WGNU-920 AM, and watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday Night at 10pm and Friday Morning at 9 am on KNLC-TV Ch. 24.

I can be reached by e-mail at:


Sunday, March 28, 2010

April 4, 2010

April 4, 2010. What is so significant this year about this date? The date shares a common impression.

April 4, 2010 is Easter Sunday. This date applies to the western calendar designed for Catholic and Protestant Churches, and also to the Eastern Orthodox Church. But this year April 4 is important for another cause. It is the date Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

April 4, 2008, marks the forty- second anniversary of the assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On that date in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee. He was undoubtedly the most famous and influential leader of the Peace and Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

I am not comparing Dr. King to The King of Kings, but there are many points of similarities between these two individuals. Like Christ, Dr. King suffered unwarranted mistreatment for his faith through his dedication to the modern day civil rights movement. He and his followers provided a powerful message, believing that change was worth suffering for.

Another important comparison between the two is that, in both cases, without seeking their own death or any harm to others, each was murdered or put to death for their religious faith.
A happenstance is that an African Pope, St. Victor decreed that Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday, and this year Easter Sunday is celebrated on April 4.

Pope St. Victor was an African, the son of Felix. A troublesome controversy over when Easter should be celebrated occurred during the reign of Victor, because Christians observed different days for the most important feast of the year.

In the year 325 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine got the early Christian leaders together at Nicea to fix matters of doctrine and dates of important Christian events such as Easter. Pope Victor put his foot down and ordered the Church to celebrate Easter on Sunday. They chose the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox.

Regardless of the attitude that we sometimes take, each one of us should emphasize the importance of Easter and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in April, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My aim is to emphasize the importance of the repeatedly under-appreciated date of April 4, Dr. King’s last day on earth, and to gain a greater appreciation for our approach to spirituality.
April 4, 2010, a day of celebration and remembrance.

Happy Easter.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Precious Memories

March 25, 2010
(Originally published in the St. Louis American)

It look as if we are singing the words to this gospel song much too often. Recently several of my personal friends, some of the world’s most talented performers have passed on and it makes me very sad to know that I will never see them again.

I speak of Teddy Pendergrass, Levi Stubs, Robert Lester, Johnny Carter, Ron Banks and Mallia Franklin. They lifted hearts in gloomy times with their music, gave hope in hopelessness, refined the spirit of their audiences and inspired joyfulness. I have so much to be thankful for and I am so proud to have been an air personality and extremely thankful for each of them who became personal friends during my career. I thank them for their closeness and their life experiences. If it weren't for their memories this might be a most depressing time for me.

We lost Teddy. Teddy Pendergrass, one of the most successful R&B singers of the 1970s and ’80s. He was lead singer of the Philadelphia soul group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. We became friends during his many visits to St. Louis and Kansas City performing at concerts and The Kool Jazz Festivals.

Levi Stubbs was the lead singer of the Motown group the Four Tops. Levi, Larry, Obie and Duke always treated me with respect and reverence. We were on tour several times a year when we did concerts that I emceed. We also had fond memories of ‘The Rooster Tail’ in Detroit and we often joked about the fun we had at the Motown studios on Grand.

Johnny Carter of the Dells recently died of lung cancer at a Harvey Illinois hospital. Johnny was the tenor lead of The Dells. Although he was a member of the Dells for nearly fifty years, he had formerly sung with The Flamingos. Whenever he was in the St. Louis area, he and Chuck Barksdale would often visit me at home, and we frequently met when I visited my home Chicago.

Robert “Squirrel” Lester was the second tenor for the Chi-Lites. He got his nickname “Squirrel” because he liked to climb trees as a kid. I am very proud to say that I called Marshall Thompson, Squirrel and Carl Davis and told them “Have You Seen Her” was a hit here in St. Louis and should be released as a single. They were hesitant because of the length of the song, but we were noted as pioneers and for playing unconventional cuts at radio station KWK. The rest as they say is history. Squirrel called me on a recent visit to St. Louis.

Incidentally, here is a scoop. Stan Mosley, a former Sharpee (Do The Sock-Do The 45) and resident of St. Louis, now residing in Chicago, will replace Squirrel with the Chi-Lites.
Ron Banks, the founder and lead singer of the Dramatics recently made the transition after experiencing a massive heart attack at his home in Detroit. I was their Midwestern Promotional and Marketing Director for MCA and ABC Records while they were under contract with the companies. We traveled extensively together all around the country. When they played St.Louis, Kansas City or Chicago, I was their point man. Those were some wild times. We became like brothers.

Mallia Franklin, one of the original ‘Parlets” was a vocalist with P-Funk and recognized and acknowledged as the Queen of Funk, passed a short time ago. She introduced George Clinton to Bootsy Collins in 1971, and sang background on early Parliament and Funkadelic recordings. Mallia was mainly responsible for the success of “The Invasion of the Booty Snatchers” and other Parlets hits. She died recently of a heart attack.

These entertainers believed in nothing less than setting the highest standards with all the work they produced, either in the studio or during live performances. I am so thankful the world stage recognized their outstanding routines and accomplishments. They displayed and demonstrated confidence, poise, expressive vocal skills, and dynamic presentational ability in all of their routines.

As a result of their hard work, passion, and commitment to the performing arts, they have established a reputation that will never be forgotten or replaced. Goodbye dear friends.
Please listen to my radio program every weekday morning at 7 am on 920 AM –WGNU, and watch my television program every Saturday night at 10 pm and Friday morning at 9am on KNLC-TV, Channel 24.

I can be reached by e-mail at:


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who Dat New Mayor of New Orleans? (A Black History Month Normality)

February 18, 2010

While the New Orleans Saints were celebrating winning the Super Bowl, there was another celebration taking place in the Crescent City. The Big Easy has been anything but easy for the past few months. The city was locked in a contentious battle for mayor. Without sounding influenced by race, it should be noted that another major city lost its African American mayor to a white man. This is the first time in three decades that the predominantly African-American city elected a white mayor.

It is difficult for me not to continue to remember and talk about heroic and inspiring men and women of color and their achievements and contribution to ground-breaking changes in New Orleans, before and after Katrina.

Mitch Landrieu was elected mayor of New Orleans, the first time in over 30 years that voters of this majority-black city have chosen a white candidate. When he is sworn in on May 6, Landrieu will become the city's first white chief executive since his father, Moon Landrieu, left the job in 1978. Was it a symbolic act of defiance? Perhaps the city’s challenges were too demoralizing: a deeply troubled police department, a stubborn crime problem, laughable infrastructure and a vast budget gap.

Africans Americans have fought for more than a century to enter the American Political arena, struggling from Reconstruction to the election of President Barack Obama. The last mayoral race in New Orleans was notable for black voters because of their concern about rising white political power and the fate of inundated black neighborhoods. Both issues helped Ray Nagin, an African American, secure victory. It was a complete reversal of support from four years ago, when he attained esteem with black voters and was practically abandoned by whites as he and Landrieu waged a bitter, racially tainted battle in a mayoral runoff election. Nagin eventually emerged the winner.

Since then, some depressing judgments have been offered about the city's ability to rebuild and move forward. But what is more alarming to me is the number of African American cities, with the help of black people that are replacing the African American leaders with persons not of their ancestry. Blacks are losing offices at an alarming rate. We are losing our best and our brightest, so are the best men and women winning?

African Americans have been witness to revolutions which have changed and shaped the landscape of America, predominantly the South and history has on record great and glorious deeds of persons of African ancestry who played significant roles.

There is a list of African American mayors that most Americans have forgotten or perhaps were simply not aware of. February would seem an appropriate month to remind us of a few.
The early rise of a successful Black middle class and the determination of white supremacists to destroy fledgling Black political power began with the suppression of blacks in the earliest periods following reconstruction.

The First African-American elected mayor of a U.S. town was Pierre Caliste Landry in 1868. Ironically, it was in Donaldsville, Louisiana. The state capitol of Louisiana was moved from New Orleans in 1829 to Donaldsonville in 1830, but was moved back to New Orleans in 1831. Isn’t that a coincidence? The first African-American mayor of a predominately white U.S. town and of a Western U.S. town was in 1888. Edward Duplex was elected mayor of Wheatland, California.
There are many more but entering modern times; the first African-American elected mayor of a large U.S. city was in 1967 when Carl Stokes was swept into office in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1968 the first African-American elected mayor of a predominantly white southern city was Howard Nathaniel Lee in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In 1969 Charles Evers was elected mayor of Fayette, Mississippi.

In the 70’s African-American elected mayors in Newark, Dayton, Wichita; then came such notable as Coleman Young in Detroit, Maynard Jackson in Atlanta, Tom Bradley in Los Angeles, Walter Washington in D.C., Earnest Morial in New Orleans and Harold Washington in Chicago, David Dinkins in NYC and Freeman Bosley, Jr. in St. Louis. There are dozens more. Except for the nations capitol none of these cities have African American mayors.

From children of slavery to the first African American elected President I am amazed at how so many people could vote against their own economic self-interest and yet assert their desire for freedom and self reliance. I assume the national mood has changed. Are black people willing to give up everything for the promises of others? After all, we not only don't take our children to the polls, but we don't even vote in local elections.

Please listen to my radio program aired daily from 7am until 8am Monday through Friday on WGNU-920 AM with my co-host Rep. James T. Morris. And watch The Bernie Hayes TV Show on Channel 24, KNLC TV every Friday morning at 9am and Saturday night at 10 pm.

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