Jamal Muhammad: Farewell My Friend

With all the nasty, hateful things so many Americans have to say about Muslims, both here and abroad, it’s a wonder that there’s a Muslim anywhere in this “wilderness” who doesn’t go around with a snarl and a scowl on his or her face all the time.

But Jamal Muhammad was a cheerful Muslim whose mouth was always full of smiles. When he ran out of smiles, he always had a cheerful or an amusing story to tell.

My Buddy Jamal joined the ancestors Feb. 4. Continue reading

Remembering why, I Like Mike

Good. Michael Jackson, Jan. 16, 2004

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t “Like Mike.”

Even though men aren’t quick to confess it, there was probably a time in every boy’s life when that boy still believed in Santa Claus, when he thought he’d like to fly like Peter Pan (or some other fantasy-land character) and when he thought fairies (or some other fantasy-land characters) would make fine friends.

That’s the substance of the worst thing you can say about 50-year-old Michael Jackson: he lived in a fantasy world, where he never grew up.

I like mike.

I once compared the Million Man March to Michael Jackson.

I unsuccessfully argued to an executive producer of a network news broadcast, that just as Michael Jackson was the first American Superstar who sang Black Music in a Black body; the Million Man March was the first grassroots movement expressing the “body” of Black discontent, which had a Black “head” on the body.

The editor wasn’t buying it. While conceding that American vocal superstars Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley both arguably sang Black Music, and that Michael Jackson’s accomplishments had certainly equaled or surpassed those two Original, Old School American Idols, that was as far as I was permitted to go with my metaphor. Continue reading

A Skunk at the garden party

The Black Band

INDIANOLA, MISS.–If there is one place in Creation which symbolizes White racists with their lips dripping with “the words of inter-position and nullification” more than Mississippi, it’s the depths of Hell.

From Simon Legree’s final torment of the loyal slave Uncle Tom; to the bulging-eyed body of 14-year-old Emmett Till, tarred and feathered then thrown alive into the Tallahatchie River with a millstone around his neck; to Medgar Evers and Mack Parker; to Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner; my home state has an unmatched reputation for racial terror-on-terror, on into the 21st Century.

I returned “home” to the Delta with good intentions: to honor Riley “Blues Boy” King, a man who just turned 83, but who has a heart as forgiving as Tiger Woods.

But for me, I just couldn’t forget. I couldn’t let go of the pain. Continue reading

The Promise is True…Tony Snow

The last time I saw Tony Snow.

I really shouldn’t say anything about him.

We disagreed so fundamentally, on

Just about everything.

But the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad reminded

Us of a promise, that we would have

Money, Luxury, Good Homes, and Friendship in all walks of life.

I bear Him witness.

The Promise is true.

The last time I saw Tony.

Tony Snow was Press Secretary

For the President of the United States of America,

George W. Bush.

Some say the “W” stands for the “Worst” President in U.S. history.

But I owe Tony Snow my respect Continue reading

Bishop S.C. Madison: “Daddy’s” Gone…Long live “Sweet Daddy”

Daddy Madison

Bishop S.C. Madison, the Presiding Bishop of the United House of Prayer for All People has been laid to rest in grand fashion April 14. He was only the third leader of what must be considered the first Black “Mega Church.”

My hat is off to the UHOP. May God Be Pleased With You. UHOP members don’t stand out from other middle class, “Raisin in the Sun” type, striving Black folks, they don’t change their names to “El” or “Bey” or Rashideen. Of course their clean, well dressed, well represented. But there’s something else about their strength I admire. The way they worship, their exuberant musical tributes.

Bishop Grace–Sweet Daddy Grace–founded his first church in West Waltham, Massachusetts, around 1919. By the mid-1920s he had moved South, and was holding large, popular revivals and tent-meetings around Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1927, with an estimated 13,000 followers, Bishop Grace incorporated The United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith. The church grew rapidly and soon included branches all along the eastern seaboard, claiming some 500,000 people in 100 congregations in 67 cities.

Was he “charismatic” or merely “flamboyant?”

Charles Manuel Grace was of mixed African and Portuguese descent, born in the Cape Verde Islands around 1882. His family came to the United States during the first decade of the twentieth century. In the Cape Verdean communities of New Bedford and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the young Charles Grace worked as a short-order cook, a cranberry picker, and a sewing machine and patent medicine salesman, before giving his life completely to his ministry.

Bishop Grace was said to have been a showman, but he was always a generous benefactor. He sponsored bands and parades, and tossed candy to his followers (hence “Sweet Daddy”) and to this day UHOP marching bands and steppers travel up and down the east coast in bright, shiny, dream-mobile-looking buses where they perform at various congregation meetings and rallies.

Daddy Grace dazzled with his long hair, multicolored robes, and colored fingernails. Continue reading

If White People Only Knew

If White People Only Knew

What Black People really pray for

Every Sunday in church,

White People would pray every night

For the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright.

He brings that Old Time Religion.

An eye for an eye.

Chickens come home to roost.

If White People Only Knew what Iraqis really pray for

Every Friday at the mosque,

White People would pray,

Every day

For Bani Sadr.

Is he Ayatollah?

If White People Only Knew

What Black People really pray for

Every Sunday in church,

Modern Pharaoh, get drownded.

Modern Babylon System, falling. Falling. Continue reading

WPFW at 30, Pacifica Radio, Washington Style

Imagine, if you will, the hep Village Voice, Washington, DC, “Chocolate City” version. Then open your eyes and notice WPFW 89.3FM.

I first noticed WPFW in September 1977. The station had just been on the air six months. I produced a 14 minute radio show: “I Remember Elijah Muhammad” to be aired around October 7, the 100th birthday anniversary of the leader of the Nation of Islam. WPFW accommodated my effort. I worked and produced the program, and became a volunteer, as well as a contributor to the companion Pacifica National News Bureau.

The marriage of the left-radical Pacifica Foundation, to the Jazz, Blues, Oldies, Caribbean, African, and Latin rhythm-loving indigenous DC community–Chocolate City, if you will–is, without question, a marriage made in Heaven–the Village Voice on the Potomac. WPFW, the offspring of that marriage turned 30 in 2007, and celebrates with an Anniversary Gala on Dec. 15 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Continue reading

The Petey Greene, Jerry Washington, James Brown-Gene

I am very happy to know that I possess the Petey Greene, Jerry Washington, Gaston Neal, Nap Turner, Jamal Muhammad, James Brown, Chuck Brown-Gene.

My foot is genetically pre-disposed to pat whenever James Brown music is played. Whether I pat it or not. I’ve got the James Brown Gene.

The same for Chuck Brown who is still in our midst. He is the Grandfather-Godfather of Go-Go. One year on my birthday, I went to see Chuck Brown at the now defunct Club Ibex on Georgia Ave. For some reason, I was grateful they had a metal detector at the door. I’ve bought three or four of his CDs. I’ve got the Chuck Brown-Gene, and I’m proud of it.

It’s a Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, John Brown, Marcus Garvey, George Jackson-kind-of-feeling expressed in haunting melody, hypnotic rhythm. It’s the James Brown-Gene.

Petey Greene was that kind of a guy. They recently made a movie about him, the icon, the live and kicking D.C. Will Rogers. The movie: One Flew Over. Dewey’s Big Break! Ma, he was a M-F contender. Write that down. Original Rapper. With the schoolyard ‘Yo Mama’ training. Continue reading

Western Sunrise

Sunday 

Journalist Askia Muhammad to premiere photo exhibit during Islamic Festival Weekend 

            Philadelphia  The New Africa Center/Muslim American Museum & Archive located at 4243 Lancaster Ave. hosted the Philadelphia début of the photography of acclaimed journalist Askia Muhammad.  As a part the 2007 Islamic Heritage Festival & Parade the exhibit opened June 9 2007 at 3:00pm during the Archive’s open house. The exhibit is entitled “Western Sunrise, The Nation of Islam in the West.” 

           Photojournalist Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a radio and television commentator. He is News Director at Pacifica Radio’s WPFW-FM in Washington and host of “Tuesday Morning Jazz” since 1979 on WPFW; Senior Correspondent for The Final Call; he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer; he has been an occasional commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered;” and BET.com. He is Editor of National Scene News Bureau, a freelance news agency serving broadcasting, editorial and photographic clients.

            “Askia Muhammad is a personal friend and a superb political analyst,” wrote Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). “He knows both the players and the issues.” Continue reading