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Remember the Lorraine

#NeverForget

I wrote about this a year ago, but I always keep coming back.

44 years seems like a long time ago. But it’s hard to believe not even half a century has passed since the most prominent face in American Civil Rights history had his life stolen away from him on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, just when he was embarking on his newest territory to conquer.

… and I’ve looked over, and I have SEEN the Promised Land! I may not get there with you… but I want you to know tonight that we as a people WILL get to the Promised Land…”

I sometimes return to that quote every now and then. Admittedly, these days it’s moreso because of Aaron McGruder, but it still amazes me how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., seemed to know his death was imminent. He just knew that his life was about to end, but that that the fight was far from over as well. As the popular saying goes, “one monkey don’t stop no show.” Dr. King wasn’t the first person to lose his life fighting for justice, and he certainly wouldn’t be the last. But what I appreciated about King, even more than the oft-overquoted “I Have a Dream” speech, even more than the marches, even more than the vigilance, even more than the fact that he was about to turn America’s attention to the hard issues of poverty and the problems with Vietnam just before he was killed… was the fact that this man had HOPE.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to make the obvious Obama parallel here.

Y'all can't stop me from posting this picture though. Obama 2012.

But that goes far. That went far in the 1960s and it would go SO much farther in the 21st Century if people – but Black people especially – believed in themselves. While it’s true that we on The Thread often joke about “coonery,” I think that in general everyone spends a substantial amount of time cracking on Black folks and our worst, than we do encouraging and reminding each other that we really do have the capacity and potential to do the things that must be done.

I can’t say for sure what “the Promised Land” was, and I won’t speculate on it. But it’s saying something that MLK accepted his fate and wasn’t dismissive. He was not so prideful as to assume that the movement would die with him. King was like, “I’m going home soon… but y’all GOT this.” Even today, King’s words seem prophetic, in light of such movements as the Trayvon Martin incident –

“If one recognizes [the yearning for Freedom] that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat, but a fact of history.”

And progress was made. America as a country and Black people have certainly made many strides, but we still have so much farther to go. Surprisingly, electing a Black/Kenyan/biracial president didn’t solve all of America’s racial problems like so many thought it would.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed… For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see… that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

So today, once more, I remember a King. I remember his legacy. I remember his prophecy. Because he believed in Him as much as he believed in us, I believe in you. Don’t “wait” to do something. As a friend of mine once said, “Find [a cause] worth dying for and live for it.” And always, always… Remember the Lorraine.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Black History 24/7, Thank You

 

Tales From The Metro(rail)

Junkie (novel)

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So recently I’ve moved to D.C. to pursue opportunities in my field, Government, as a Fellow, fancy I know, at a fundraising shop. Yesterday I left a fundraiser with a free tray of fruit, because I’m still broke. I made my way from the absolutely beautiful house we used as a setting for the shindig and headed to the Eastern Market Metro Stop. Whilst paying for my metrocard, who made public transportation so expensive, I thought “hmm I should eat these pineapples before they get warm” no one like lukewarm pineapples. As I took my seat to wait on the train I opened up the lovely tray and this is what happened.

Me – Me, Chad Stanton

Surprisingly Well Dressed Junkie – A junkie with the Bubbles look and alcohol on his breath, except dude had on a blazer, clean white shirt, jeans and and some wingtips

*Surprisingly Well Dressed Junkie enters and sets next to me*

*I start eating pineapple chunks (Junkie or not I’m eating these dxmn chunks)*

SWDJ: Yo can I get one of those joints?

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Why Prison’s are Psychologically Damaging

English: The main cellblock taken by ghostiegu...

Image via Wikipedia

English: A picture of in-ear monitors, also kn...
Image via Wikipedia

My brother’s headphones went out. While lamenting the loss of convenient music I thought. Imagine if you were in prison. You lose your headphones while free you’re irked but you can easily buy a pair of new ones. If you’re low on dough someone may loan you theirs until you save up and get some more. If you’re in prison that pair of headphones that just went out represent either a sentimental gift from a loved one in a place that doesn’t allow many or the result of work done at near non-existent wages to buy a pair. That’s if you’re allowed to buy one at all because it may be banned having been deemed contraband. Either way it’s subject from removal by guards at a moment’s notice. Don’t forget the other inmates who may not have been so lucky as to have a pair and decided that they may take yours. So imagine you’ve overcome all designs upon your headphones to remain in possession them and have grown used to enjoying them. Thwarting all your foes for the peace and quiet you have awarded yourself with by the spoils of your work. You place them on your head and they … go out. Imagine that moment. No wonder people come out of prison with symptoms of PTSD.

 
 

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Black History 24/7 #7: “Gone Too Soon”

This is dedicated to the little boy from Gary, Indiana, who never stopped til he got enough… and even then, he kept on, ’til his [life] force stopped.

I’ll be the first to admit it – I laughed when Katt Williams made his “Michael [Jackson] forgot he was a nigga” jokes. Probably because, like most people in America at the time, I appreciated who Michael WAS… not who he had become.

Then, in 2009, the announcement came: after years of being embroiled in scandal, avoiding the relentless scrutiny of the media (who still hadn’t gotten the message he’d issued out to them years ago via one of the most clever music videos ever), and a six-year hiatus since the release of his last album… Michael Joseph Jackson was going on tour one more time. The This Is It tour would finally give those of us who’d never yet had the chance to see the man in person – and you lucky bastards who actually had attended a Michael Jackson concert previously – one final opportunity to see a live Moonwalk.

On June 25, 2009, the unthinkable happened. Literally, Michael was there one minute… and gone the next. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Dallas Threaders present: Title Talk

The recent NBA championship coming home to Dallas, TX stirred up a lot of feelings and emotions for a city desperately seeking a team to call champion for the first time in 12 years. This particular victory is that much sweeter because it is our basketball team’s inaugural title. We as fans have spent the last decade defending our team, sulking at our failures, and always re-energizing for the upcoming season. I gathered my fellow Dallas threaders (realist23, facecurtinista, chadstanton, and slimshady817) to share their thoughts with the world on their relationship with our beloved Mavericks over the last 2 decades.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2011 in Sports, Thank You, Uncategorized

 

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Black History 24/7 #6: Remembering a REVOLUTIONary

 

“Young rappers, one more suggestion before I get out of your way/
But I appreciate the respect you give me and what you got to say
I’m sayin’ protect your community and spread that respect around
Tell brothas and sistas they gotta calm that bullshit down…”

The time is 1970. A few years have passed since after the Civil Rights movement in America reached its apex and resulted in legislative victories for African-Americans – but all Americans, really – through the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965. While the “Colored” and “White” signs are gone from many public establishments, there are still many Americans at the time who haven’t put aside racist thoughts and assumptions about Blacks. African-Americans had access, but still limited opportunities. And the most outspoken figureheads of the movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, were recently assassinated within years of each other. Black America is frustrated. The Black Panther Party is losing some of its fire and falling apart due to internal agendas and a focus on “I instead of we” mentalities. Black America is searching for its soul. Black America is looking for its protest voice again.

Enter Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron, in a sense, could be considered the more soulful, more engaging counterpart to other protest voices that had emerged at that point in time, such as controversial radio host Petey Greene. Scott-Heron was celebrated especially because he seemed to be the personification of the anger, frustration, and feelings of post-progress stagnation amongst Blacks at the time. He blended elements of soul, jazz, and spoken word poetry to create what many consider an early form of rap music. Scott-Heron would step on stage and immediately command attention and respect in his dashiki and big afro. Accompanied by head-bobbing, finger-snapping instrumentation in the background, his subtle yet powerful voice rumbled ominously on “songs” ranging from tragic to “soapboxing” to full out militant motivation. From 1970 until about 1993, Scott-Heron flaunted his lyrical prowess on albums bearing such names as Winter in America, Pieces of a Man, and Moving Target, consistently telling the stories of the oppressed and underserved.

His best and perhaps most-known work, is a soulful track entitled “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Through pop culture references and a tone of stern finality applied to each verse, Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was pretty much the spoken word equivalent of Laurence Fishburne screaming for everyone to “WAKE UP!” on the campus of Mission College. He called out Black people’s limited attention spans at the time and over-reliance on the news and media to get their information instead of seeking out the facts themselves. “The Revolution,” Scott-Heron assured his listeners, “will put you in the driver’s seat. The revolution will be no re-run, Brothers. The Revolution will be live.” Indeed, the first time I myself heard of Scott-Heron was when I heard this particular poem played during one of the boxing match scenes in Norman Jewison’s 1999 biopic of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Other great pieces of Scott-Heron’s, often directed to societal issues at the time, include “We Almost Lost Detroit” and “Johannesburg.”

“See that gent in the wrinkled suit? He done damn near blown his cool to the bottle…”

While Scott-Heron was an amazing speaker and consistently dropped knowledge on wax, he was as much a victim of the perils he spoke of as he was an informer. Even the best amongst us have vices, and Scott-Heron’s – in an almost eerie way, analogous to the “doctor” in the last verse of his song “The Bottle” – was cocaine. On two separate occasions in 2001 and 2006, Gil Scott-Heron was arrested on drug related charges. He did, however, attempt to bounce back after being paroled in 2007. He refocused his attention on spoken word performances and worked on a novel; and in 2010, he released another album, I’m New Here, which while not commercially well-known, was acclaimed by music critics.

“… the young folks need to know, that things don’t go both ways
You can’t talk respect on every other song or just every other day…
On one song she’s your African Queen – on the next one, she’s a joke
And you ain’t said no words that I haven’t heard, but that ain’t no compliment
It only insults eight people out of ten and questions your intelligence
It’ll only magnify how shallow you are and let everybody know it…”

Yesterday, on May 26, 2011, at 62 years old, Gil Scott-Heron died. It is almost fittingly poetic that, decades later, generations still continue to enjoy manifestations of Gil Scott-Heron’s work. It’s no surprise why some consider Gil Scott-Heron’s proto-rap style as foundational to the emergence of hip-hop as a music form. To this very day, Scott-Heron’s “Revolution” poem has been employed in numerous rap songs. Rapper Kanye West was also influenced by Scott-Heron, having sampled Scott-Heron’s work for many of his own songs, such as “My Way Home” and the recent track off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, “Who Will Survive in America.”

Today, Black History 24/7 remembers and celebrates the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron, pioneering spoken word artist. Let us do our very best to ensure THIS MAN’S Revolution, while not televised, is certainly twittered, facebooked, ThreadBlogged, and most importantly, LIVED.

The Legend. Rest in Peace, Gil Scott-Heron (4/1/49 - 05/27/11)

 
 

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Thank you, Dr. King

In loving memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

“…And I’ve seen the mountaintop. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land…”

 

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Thank You

 
 
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