The ‘Revolution’ Will Not be Televised: it’s over

More than a generation ago, singer, poet, troubadour Gil Scott-Heron advised us sardonically: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”

Gil was right then. And if I may be permitted to update his wise prophecy today through my lens I like to call “Obama-view,” I would add that now: “The Revolution is Over. Finis. Dead.”

But there may have never been a real Second American Revolution brewing on the front burner, or the back-burner in the first place. Sure, in the 1960s we talked a good game, loudly. But real revolution? I don’t think we were ever really ready for that. I say that as one of those who thought himself to be most ready, back in the day. And if Black people are not dissatisfied, then there can be no revolution in America.

I believed and still believe the 1968 words from Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) which pushed me over the edge: “If you’re used by The Man, you’re useless to your people.”

But at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, Black Dudes are “The Man.” And not just President-elect Barack Obama either. Black Dudes are Governors of both New York and Massachusetts, and in the recent past, the incumbent Mayor of Richmond (the Capital of the Old Confederacy) served as Governor of Virginia. What could be more “The Man” than Governor of Virginia? How about President of the United States? We’ve stopped counting the number of Black mayors, and Cabinet Secretaries, and police chiefs, and other potentates.

Forget about the George Jefferson America. We’ve got the Cliff Huxtable America, in living color, moving into the White House in a few days, on television, right before our eyes. Continue reading

Did J.J. Jr. want to be Senator too much?

After Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s name was disclosed as “Senate Candidate 5″–the Congress member who may have engaged in some minor, good-faith, “Pay-to-Play” action with Gov. Rod Blagojevich over his possible appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama–he quickly came forward to confess his role in the alleged bribery scheme.

Rep. Jackson, now in his sixth term, admitted he had talked to Gov. Blagojevich, the person with the sole power to appoint the President-elect’s successor, just one day before federal agents arrested the Illinois governor. Mr. Jackson said he only presented his credentials and polling information that suggests he could win re-election in 2010.

For weeks (two years all totaled) FBI agents had been listening to Mr. Blagojevich talk about a number of potential prizes he could get in exchange for his appointment to the Senate seat. The guy is clearly delusional. Because he knew that the Feds were investigating him, but he still said out loud that he thought he could get anything from an ambassadorship to a corporate board slot for his wife. From who?

Okay, I am not so naïve as to forget who mayors and governors always appoint to panels, boards, and commissions–their supporters who raise and contribute money to their coffers. But this scheme by the governor was bizarre. What could they have been thinking?

What tipped the scale for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, was when the FBI said they overheard Mr. Blagojevich saying he was giving “greater consideration” to one potential senator–Senate Candidate 5, because of his willingness to raise money.

Even though the prosecutor’s case would have been stronger had he waited for one of the conspirators to actually commit a crime before arresting the governor, Mr. Fitzgerald swooped in prematurely, not to necessarily convict Gov. Blagojevich of a crime, but in order to prevent him from appointing Rep. Jackson. If the Feds hadn’t rushed in, by now the governor might have already named Rep. Jackson to succeed Mr. Obama. The arrest was executed in order to stop a Jackson appointment. Continue reading

Obama camp: “Certain Muslims” need not apply

Mahdi Bray and Nihad Awad at U.S. State Dept. 2001

When it comes to being kicked out of some pretty fancy parties, I have an enviable track record.

“What are you doing having a Black Muslim call my office,” HUD Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris demanded of Louis Martin, Editorial Director of The Chicago Daily Defender, after he sent me to Washington to cover the Jimmy Carter White House in 1977. But I was never thin-skinned about having a name which evokes a strong racial and religious identity. I didn’t just get kicked out, I was never invited to some pretty fancy parties in this town, I’ll have you know.

A past president of the National Press Club once tried to get me declared ineligible for Club membership because I am a correspondent for The Final Call newspaper, published by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. I’ve been kicked out of some pretty fancy parties, but the Club Speaker’s Committee and my friends in the Club would have none of it. The former President was rebuked.

So, I thought I would have common cause when Sen. Barack Hussein Obama came to town in 2005, became the Democratic nominee, now the president-elect, and stands to become the 44th President of the United States in 40 days or so. He used to refer to himself as a “skinny kid with a funny name.” Yeah. I’m feeling you Brother. I’ve been kicked out of some pretty fancy parties myself.

But, maybe I was wrong.

Maybe President-elect Barack Obama is just like all the rest of those folks in high office: judgmental, xenophobic. “Change” that, Mr. President! Continue reading

Billionaire Bob Johnson and his money

Bob Johnson at 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia

Billionaire Bob Johnson once made me an offer I could not refuse.


It wasn’t one of those Goodfellas, “you’ll be swimming with the fishes” offers. It was a legitimate “Tender Offer.”

I once owned 10 whole shares of stock in Black Entertainment Television (BET). I paid $30 per share for it. According to my “investment philosophy,” BET was a good buy: it was a company with a “mission” I shared; and it was owned and operated right here in Washington, DC.

My portfolio also contained shares in Giant Food, Radio One, The Washington Post, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and US Airways. I was no John D. Rockefeller Sr.–not by a long shot–but I felt like a pretty savvy investor.

Then I got this letter stating that BET was making me “an offer you cannot refuse.” Bob Johnson–the founder of BET, which had its humble beginnings as a D.C. cable franchise located over on 31st and M Streets Northwest–Bob Johnson, was purchasing back all the outstanding stock in his company for the princely price of $60 per share. He obviously had bigger plans in mind. Continue reading

Obama and Malcolm X

So, let me get this straight: Al-Qaeda number two man Ayman al-Zawahiri ridiculed US president-elect Barack Obama as a “house Negro” in an Internet audio message. Okay.

Aside from the obvious possibility (probability, in the minds of some) that this was an elaborate forgery perpetrated by Western intelligence agencies in order to deepen the wedge dividing Blacks in America from the Islamic world (not that Al Qaeda in any way represents a standard for measuring the Muslim world), what if Dr. al-Zawahiri actually said that?

Dr. al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian physician. His “boss,” Osama bin-Laden, is a wealthy Saudi Arabian construction company heir. They were never “house servants” or “field servants” in The Big House. No. They grew up enjoying all the privileges of official residents of The Big House. But, so for that matter, did Cuba’s Fidel Castro and his revolutionary companion Dr. Che Guevara. And as far as that goes, so did William Ayers, of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) Weather Underground-fame. So, just being privileged at birth, per se, is no curse.

Dr. al-Zawahiri insulted President-elect Obama (who worked his way up from humble beginnings) and other prominent Black Americans who have held high office in the U.S. administration with the term used by the late Muslim Black militant Malcolm X. Brother Malcolm used the term to describe slaves he said were more loyal to their white masters than they were to their slave brothers and sisters. Slaves who would betray their own best interest–freedom from slavery–in order to hold on the comforts they received living in the slavemaster’s house. Continue reading

Bush’s Africa ‘Glass’ Half-full

Dr. Jendayi Frazer

If you ask me, Pres. George W. Bush’s middle initial stands for “Worst-President-in-history.”

But even a broken clock which has stopped running will show the correct time twice every day.

And so, maybe, perhaps, possibly, it might be conceivable, and I might consider it within the remote realm of credulity that there is one area on the 24,896 square miles on the face of the Earth where this president’s policies did not produce a dung-heap. Lucky for him and for us it’s a big place. So looking at a world map, a “C-grade” in Africa, helps average out the numerous “Fs” and “D-minuses” he’s earned everywhere else, including the United States.

Dr. Jendayi Frazer, the outgoing Deputy U.S. Secretary of State for Africa says that when it comes to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Africa he’s done a good job. If you ask me again, I’ll concede: Pres. Bush’s Africa “glass” is half-full, rather than half-empty.

“The story is very positive and perhaps as positive as the ‘60s,” Ambassador Frazer told members of The Trotter Group of African American columnists and commentators at the State Department Nov. 12. “I think that the ‘60s were a very promising and positive time on the continent in general in terms of the dynamics of the continent and certainly this is a period that is even more so.” Continue reading

Obama and Farrakhan


I could not have written what I’m about to say here one month ago, not even two weeks ago. As a colleague who is acquainted with some of the details I’m about to discuss told me at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer, this revelation could have amounted to be a “deal-breaker” in this year’s Presidential election outcome.

Imagine that. Realizing that the only impact you can have on the election of the President of the United States might be to ruin a candidate’s chances, not because of a wrong-headed policy or a fiendish act, but because of an innocent observation.

You see, that’s just what the xenophobes, and Islamophobes, and Neo Cons who’ve been dominating the politico-intellectual discussion in this country for the last zillion years, wanted to get their hands on this election cycle–an Obama-Farrakhan link.

I searched on-line this week. Hundreds of purported “Obama-Farrakhan” connections came up. One was a magazine cover from Trinity United Church of Christ. It had mug shots of a dozen or so people, including Sen. Obama and Min. Farrakhan, placed randomly. Another showed a photo of the two men’s wives in a group. In that shot, Mother Khadijah Farrakhan and First Lady-elect Michelle Obama weren’t even standing on the same row, let alone next to one another.

The Obama-Farrakhan-haters have got zilch!

But I kept my counsel. No, just as I wrote months ago, that as far as this election cycle was concerned, Muslims in America were persona non grata–unwelcome, unacceptable–I understood that the only constructive thing I could do would be to keep my mouth shut. Until now that is. Continue reading

America turns “Green” for Obama

“…a Dream” 8-28-08 Denver

In many places, ambulances and other emergency vehicles approaching any intersection can literally cause red traffic lights ahead to turn green in their direction.

Throughout his life and especially his political career, obstacles, impediments “red lights” if you will, have continually turned “green” so that Barack Hussein Obama could proceed without having to slow down, without breaking his stride.

Now, with the landslide political mandate President-elect Obama was given by the voters Nov. 4, the entire nation did not turn “blue” (as in “red states” versus “blue states”), rather the entire national body-politic showed the Illinois senator yet another Green Light, this time directing him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC.

I’m not any more superstitious than the next person, but my reading of the signs and omens in this presidential campaign have been crystal clear.

There was a time when the President was not inaugurated until March 20, following the election every four years. At some point a decision was made to shorten the “Lame Duck” season of the incumbent and to hasten the swearing in of the new Chief Executive, and the date was moved up two months to Jan. 20. When that date was set, no one even dreamed that there would be a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday being observed each year on the Third Monday of January, and that every four years that holiday would fall on or near Inauguration Day.

This year Inauguration Day will be on a Tuesday, the day after the King Holiday observance. For my money, I could never in a million years imagine the presidential inauguration of a U.S. Senator who voted against the King Holiday Bill, who hails from Arizona, the only state in the Union which does not recognize the King Holiday. The calendar gods could have no part in such an arrangement. A green light for Sen. Obama. Continue reading

Colin Powell: Redeemed?

Gen. Colin Powell after Meet The Press

Did former Secretary of State and Gen. Colin Powell redeem his membership in the Nelson Mandela Circle of Honor, by his appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” October 19?

Most emphatically yes!

Gen. Powell did not just ceremonially endorse Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), patting him on the back with one hand while handing him his curriculum vitae with the other hand. No, he described the Democratic nominee as a potentially “transformational” figure…as in maybe Barack Hussein Obama really was born on the Planet Krypton, and was sent to Earth with Super Powers beyond those of mortal men.

More importantly, he walked off Ol’ Massa’s Plantation like a grown man, back straight, no hat in hand, no apology, and said what was on his mind, on his heart.

Ol’ Massa didn’t like it either. Gen. Powell was “ungrateful,” said one pundit who unapologetically argues “a brief for Whitey” whenever he gets a chance. He never was much of a Republican anyway, complained another.

Gen. Powell was voting for Black Democrat Obama to express his own racial solidarity, rather than out of any patriotic sense of what’s best for his country, let alone what’s best for his Party, said others. “Benedict Powell…Race Patriot,” Gen. Powell was dubbed in a cartoon caricature, as traitor Benedict Arnold. Continue reading

Obama on Nov. 5: A Brand New Day

I’ve been so busy watching the presidential “horse-race” (and especially the skin-color-aspects of this historic campaign) until I almost didn’t notice that an even more epic battle is being decided–the very destiny of the country. Unless there is a massive breech in the fabric of the entire nation’s fitness to govern itself on the level of Tianamen Square Nov. 4, and unless I entirely miss my guess: Wednesday Nov. 5 (or more particularly Tuesday Jan. 20, 2009) will see a brand new era for the U.S. and the world.

I’ve believed since February that there was a certainty where there’s normally randomness and a purpose where there’s normally serendipity about everything that has anything to do with the Obama for President Campaign of 2008. But even when I thought there must be a Divine Hand guiding the goings and comings of the Illinois Senator, I read a scripture where Almighty God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” concerning the Children of Israel, so He (God) could destroy Pharaoh rather than forgive Pharaoh for doing right by the Hebrews.

There were many times–after Sen. Obama secured the Democratic Party nomination, when I was reminded that an unpopular incumbent party, with two unpopular wars, and a failing economy could not possibly win the White House–when I feared that God had hardened America’s heart to Sen. Obama, that he would be rejected by the people, and America would follow the Neo Conservatives, marching to destruction into that Red Sea. But now it seems people may vote what they think is in their best interest, where this Black man is concerned, rather than their White supremacist inclinations. Continue reading