Thoughts on ‘race’ in the Presidential race

Many of the supporters of the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are more than just a little bit peeved these days that the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright has gone public in his defense of reputation, his theology. Black Liberation Theology. Where’s the “contrition” in that philosophy?

On the other hand, Sen. Obama’s critics are ecstatic. They feel Rev. Wright has piled more fuel at the foot of the already incendiary stake to which Sen. Obama–a healer, a Rev. Jeremiah Wright at Press Club 2008reconciler, a conciliator, who has eschewed a race-base campaign all these months–has been bound. Somewhere, smirking, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) must be hoping someone will soon toss a torch onto the awaiting bonfire.

Just two months ago, Sen. Obama was forced to “reject and denounce” the unsolicited kind words said about him on Feb. 25 by Min. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. Min. Farrakhan’s name is still being bandied about in this latest contretemps, even though he has been silent on the subject for the last 60 days. Go figure.

Suppose, just suppose, in his remarks before the National Press Club April 28, instead of quoting the Bible: “God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, so shall he reap…” in defending his “incendiary” comment about America’s “chickens coming home to roost” on Sept. 11, 2001; suppose instead Rev. Wright had quoted James Russell Lowell’s poem, “The Present Crisis.”

“Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,–

“Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,

“Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.” Continue reading

Hillary: maybe not ‘in it to win it’

Thankfully, I missed the fabled Pennsylvania presidential debate. Instead, I attended the 64th Annual Radio & Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Vice President Dick Cheney told jokes. Like the one about his wife, who said that calling The Veep Darth Vader, “humanizes him.”

After the dinner, I got a chance to chat with former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. The prominent Black Republican’s observations about the Democratic nomination contest were instructive.

The Clinton campaign’s continuing attacks against Sen. Obama do “only one thing. Help Obama lose in November,” he said. Gov. Steele is now practicing law with a Washington firm specializing in Africa.

Later, a store clerk made the very same observation.

And then came the screams about all four of them–the two network interviewers, Republican Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Hillary Clinton, all piling on with hostile questions.

“Oh, stop whining Obama supporters,” I thought.

“This is the Big Leagues. Hardball.”

“How are you going to handle America’s adversaries on the world stage and you can’t handle George Stephanopoulos?”

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

“Hillary’s tough. Ready to whip John McCain in November. Ready to find Osama bin Forgotten, and whip his behind, after she gets finished whipping Barack Obama’s…” 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

Is Obama a Muslim?

“Is Senator Barack Hussein Obama a Muslim?”

So, what if he is? I don’t see anything wrong with being a Muslim.

But writing from Jerusalem, WorldNetDaily correspondent Aaron Klein asked recently: “Is Sen. Barack Obama a Muslim? Did he ever practice Islam?”

“The presidential candidate officially rejects both claims, but the issue of Obama’s personal faith has re-emerged amid conflicting accounts of his enrollment as a Muslim during elementary school in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation,” writes Mr. Klein.

“Widely distributed reports have noted in January 1968, Obama was registered as a Muslim at Jakarta’s Roman Catholic Franciscus Assisi Primary School under the name Barry Soetoro. He was listed as an Indonesian citizen,” he continues. Sen. Obama’s stepfather he said, worked for the Indonesian Army.

That’s enough about, whether he is or was ever a Muslim! At age six, in 1968, he–Barry Soetoro, or Barack Hussein Obama–could hardly have been expected to make an informed decision about what religion he should list on his elementary school registration. And why now, should the adult Obama be held responsible for an administrative decision made by his now deceased parents. What did they cheat and get food stamps or something? Do they even have food stamps or welfare in Indonesia?

We are not going to “Play The Dozens” concerning Sen. Obama, okay? Continue reading

The ‘Mumia Abu Jamal Rule’

It’s not hard for Black folks in America to imagine a world where there is one set of rules for the general public, and another set of rules just for them. Comedian Richard Pryor famously jokes about the situation. He says we go down to the Court House looking for “Justice,” but what we find there is “Just us.”

Death-row journalist Mumia Abu Jamal knows what’s that’s all about, and for 26 years has been a victim of a cruel double standard in the courts of Pennsylvania.

A federal appeals court refused to overturn Mr. Abu-Jamal’s murder conviction, on March 27, and rejected his call for a new trial. In 1982 he was convicted of murder in the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner following a controversial, racially tense trial before a predominantly white jury. Many, many people, including yours truly, believe he did not kill that cop.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals did order a new sentencing hearing in the case because of flawed jury instructions. If he is re-sentenced, he could again get the death penalty, or life in prison without parole.

“We will not accept this vicious and outrageous decision to keep an innocent man locked up and silenced,” Pam Africa, Coordinator of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal said in a statement. “The conspiracy to kill Mumia even though the government, the judges, the politicians, and everyone involved in this decision knows he is innocent, should be and will be denounced by the whole world.

“The only reason the government wants Mumia killed or locked up for life is because he has been so successful in exposing the hypocrisy, racism, oppression and deadliness of this system,” Ms. Africa continued.

“Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man who never should have even been arrested let alone convicted and sentenced to death,” the International Action Center said in a statement. A world-renowned journalist and writer, a Black Panther Party member and a supporter in the 1980s of Philadelphia’s MOVE back-to-nature collective, Mr. Abu-Jamal’s recorded messages and his books have been heard and read around the world.  Continue reading