Monthly Archives: December 2007
History of THE BLACK PANTHERS. In 1966, two young black men, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, met at the campus of Merritt College in Oakland, California. Finding that they shared each other’s frustration with the police brutality, poverty, and repression that blacks suffered in the Oakland community, they founded an organization in an effort to fight back. They called their new organization the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. It differed from other black rights groups of the time, which were almost all non-violent, in that it advocated armed defense and self-reliance for the liberation of American blacks. Newton and Seale believed that the non-violent traditions of leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. concentrated wrongly on the integration of whites and blacks. This integration, they believed, hinged on proving to whites that blacks were good enough, intelligent enough, even human enough to “deserve” equality. Rejecting this notion, Seale and Newton countered that blacks should instead focus on correcting the discrepancy in power, political and financial, that existed between whites and blacks.
To that end, Bobby Seale, along with a small group of fully-armed followers, marched on the California State Legislature in May of 1967 in order to protest a gun control bill that would have limited blacks’ ability to arm themselves against police and government brutality. This audacious act, along with the arrest in October of Huey Newton for the alleged murder of a policeman, propelled the Party to the national stage. The Party renamed itself the Black Panther Party and new branches began forming all across the country. Soon, the Panthers had their own newspaper, edited by Eldridge Cleaver, the Party’s Minister of Information. In it, and in other forms of the establishment media apparatus including television, the Panthers perfected what would become a very powerful propaganda machine. This machine spread the party’s socialist and nationalist messages to very great effect, so much so, that despite the Party’s demise nearly three decades ago, the clenched fist continues on as a powerful symbol today.
The socialist tendencies of the Party were very important to the creation of its Ten-Point Program, a list of what were basically demands from the government. The Program calls for, among other things, an end to the Vietnam War, free health care, housing, full employment, and the payment of reparations promised after the Civil War. This extremely ambitious list of demands represented all the things that the Party believed black people deserved from the government, but seemed almost to call more for the dissolution of the government, since the demands are probably more than what any government, short of a socialist one, could achieve. Since the U.S. government wasn’t interested in providing for any of the Panther’s demands, they, in the spirit of self-reliance, decided to provide the black community with some of the programs themselves. The so-called “Survival Programs” of the Black Panthers were grassroots efforts to effect the real life problems of poor blacks and included ground breaking programs such as free breakfast for inner-city children, free clothing drives, healthcare clinics, tenants’ rent strikes, and campaigns for community control of schools, police, and gun and drug violence. They also formed the Liberation School for grade-schoolers and the first ever hospital program to address sickle cell anemia, a disease that affects black children disproportionately.
The socialism of the Party, along with its agenda of armed self-defense, caused J. Edgar Hoover to dub it “the greatest threat to the internal security of America.” He launched a counter intelligence program, called COINTEL PRO, in order to destroy the Panthers using many different means. These included sowing internal dissent within the party through covert operatives, forging documents, murdering members in raids on Party offices and residences, and imprisoning the leadership of the party, including Huey and Seale. The FBI even pitted the Black Panthers, through spies and forged letters, against other black nationalist groups, such as US (United Slaves) and a black gang called the Blackstone Rangers. These groups, though they had similar problems and goals, would end up killing each other in violent confrontations, in effect killing two birds with one stone for COINTEL PRO.
This internal and external fighting during the late 1960s and early 1970s, along with the later focus on installing members of the Party in Oakland political office, led to the gradual decline and death of the party by 1980. The legacy of the party lives on mostly in the effect it has had on social programs. Shamed by the success of the free breakfast programs, the U.S. government took over control of these programs and expanded programs that work for the benefit of poor urban children. The government even began funding research on sickle cell anemia. Though the ten-point program’s demands were never met, the Black Panthers helped spur the government on to a more comprehensive treatment of the ill effects of poverty and showed just how powerful small revolutionary groups could be in the U.S.
Those interested in watching footage about the history of the Black Panthers can visit online educational videos publishers.
Beth Schelle is an educational video consultant for the historical film company Quality Information Publishers, who maintain a library of historic film and video collections at http://www.qualityinformationpublishers.com. She’s cuurently sifting through their Civil Rights Movement collection of film footage.
VintageNewscast.com has received permission by the author to republish this article.
Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe co-star in a crime drama directed by Ridley Scott and based on the true story of the man who ran the illegal drug trade in New York’s Harlem 40 years ago. Alan Silverman has a look at American Gangster. Frank Lucas was ‘somebody’ in the shady underworld of New York in the 1960′s. A protege of ‘Bumpy’ Johnson, the local crime boss who ran the streets of Harlem for decades, Lucas took over when his mentor died.
Lucas smuggled heroin in the coffins of dead American soldiers returning to the United States from Vietnam. Uneducated – except for what he learned on the streets – Lucas used his innate business sense to build a criminal empire that was rivaled only by the Italian Mafia. He was brought down by dogged investigator Richie Roberts, a New Jersey police detective-turned-prosecutor who headed a special narcotics task force.
When he was finally arrested and convicted, the crime boss formed a remarkable alliance with the prosecutor; and in return for a shortened sentence, Lucas helped bring down the network of bribed officials and high level drug dealers. American Gangster stars Denzel Washington in the title role and he spent time with the real Frank Lucas to understand the character and his world. Washington describes Lucas as ‘charming;’ but says he tried to give an accurate portrayal of the man who, by his own admission, is a murderer.
“If you hang around long enough you’ll get the real story,” Washington says. “I worked with (journalist) Bob Woodward doing research for The Pelican Brief and he used to say ‘let the silence bring out the truth.’ So you hang around and listen to Frank, let him brag …’I was this, I was that’ … but you just keep hanging around and some days, after 11 hours, somebody is tired and another side comes out. You see how a person treats his nephew or somebody who works for him and you go ‘oh, okay.’ You see a look in his eyes and you go ‘oh, all right. Quite a few people who aren’t here any longer saw that look.’ So you get below the surface.”
Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts and, like the real investigator and prosecutor, Crowe admits to a grudging respect for the convicted drug baron. “You educate Frank Lucas in a different way and you probably end up in a situation where you’d name universities after this guy. He was smart. He was a good businessman. He took the attitude of a regular product into the dark, murky depths of the heroin business; but he operated it like it was a MacDonald’s,” explains Crowe. “He sold a higher quality product cheaper. He put it out on the streets at the right time, timed for when welfare payments were made and all that sort of stuff …he was a clever businessman.”
But does making his story into a major motion picture celebrate that death-dealing lifestyle? Screenwriter Steven Zaillian insists that his script was not meant to lionize Lucas or makes his world look attractive. “I didn’t worry about that,” he says. “I think that when I write a script I approach it from dealing with the events and the behaviors of the characters and what they did, tell the story in as straight a fashion as I can and let people come to their own conclusions. I certainly didn’t go out of my way to make him sympathetic. You see him kill three or four guys in cold blood. You see people dead from his product, so that was never a problem for me.”
Director Ridley Scott says the real Frank Lucas spent considerable time on the film set as a ‘technical advisor;’ and the filmmaker says he recognized something familiar in the now-retired gangster. “These guys are all performers and my life is with performers, so in a funny kind of way, with Frank it is like talking with an actor,” says Scott. “It’s as if he didn’t do it. That makes him a true sociopath. There is lots of memory, but there is no association with anything emotional.”
American Gangster features British actor Chewitel Ejiofor as Lucas’s younger brother and right-hand henchman. Screen and stage legend Ruby Dee plays their aged, but strong-willed mother. Josh Brolin plays a corrupt police detective; and the cast also includes contemporary music stars RZA and Common.
By Alan Silverman
VintageNewscast received permission by the author to reprint this article
One of the founding fathers of rock and roll, Ike Turner, died Wednesday December 12 at his home near San Diego, California. He was 76. The cause of death was unknown. While an architect of the modern rock sound, he was also notorious for his abusive relationship with his wife, Tina. Mention Ike’s name, and most music fans will likely peg him as the drug-addicted, abusive husband of superstar singer Tina Turner.
Laurence Fishburne earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Ike in the hit 1994 film, What’s Love Got To Do With It. While Ike disputed those claims, they have overshadowed his real contributions to the birth and development of rock and roll. Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Ike Turner was eight years old when he began doing odd jobs at a local radio station. He carried amplifiers for blues guitarist Robert Nighthawk while learning boogie-woogie piano from his idol, Pinetop Perkins.
In the late 1940s, Ike formed his own group, The Kings of Rhythm. In 1951, he recorded “Rocket 88,” which some critics call the first true rock and roll record. While working with the Kings of Rhythm in the St. Louis area, Ike Turner also became a session musician and talent scout for Sun Records. He helped such later stars as Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Otis Rush sign contracts.
In the late-1950s, Ike hired a young singer from Tennessee named Anna Mae Bullock. Changing her name to Tina, after the popular action heroine “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle,” Ike featured her in his popular soul review. After enjoying a hit single in 1960 with “A Fool In Love,” the pair wed in Mexico, and embarked upon a stormy 16-year union. Throughout the 1960s and early-70s, Ike and Tina were one of the most exciting and influential acts in rock. They toured with the Rolling Stones, and in 1971 performed in Africa.
Shadowing their success, however, was Ike’s treatment of Tina. Acting as the group’s manager and musical director, he allegedly treated his wife in a ruthless manner. In her 1986 autobiography I, Tina, she wrote that he regularly isolated and abused her, often in the form of vicious beatings.
By the mid-1970s, Ike Turner was in the grip of a cocaine habit. In July, 1976, Tina fled Ike, reportedly carrying only 36 cents. She declined to comment on his death. In 1989, Ike went to prison on drug charges, and was still behind bars when he and Tina were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He reportedly maintained sobriety after leaving prison in 1993, and in 2001 published an autobiography, Takin’ Back My Name. In it, he admitted to physically abusing Tina, but denied beating her. He also continued to perform with the Kings of Rhythm, and in 2007 won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. You can buy some of, both Ike & Tuna’s songs; by clicking HERE for my 99c music store. Select Ike & Tina.
By: Ray Mcdonald
VintageNewscast has obtained permission, to republish this article.
In my day, Barry White was called a Maestro of love. With just a mere sound of his voice, he drove almost every woman around the world nuts. According to BBC news, from his first international hit, Love’s Theme, in 1973, White expounded on only one topic. Songs, such as his theme tune, You’re The First, My Last, My Everything, typically dealt with what he termed “the only subject on planet earth – love between fellow human beings”. White had not always conducted himself in such a loving way, and the theme of his songs was a long way from his own background Los Angeles’ South Park neighborhood, although he was born in Galveston, Texas, on 12 September 1944. His brother Darryl was murdered in a clash with a rival gang, and White himself was jailed – at the age of 17 – for stealing $30,000 worth of Cadillac tires. Read more on this story, from BBC News.
Albinia Jones, was a wonderful and, talented female blues singer, of the 1940′s era. I had a very difficult time trying to find research material on this artist. Very little is written about her; she is almost forgotten about. This woman had a voice like no other. When she sings, she means what she sings. It’s almost as the she is talking to you directly, when you hear her music. She has performed a few songs with the great Dizzy Gillespie. She was a featured performer on an album called “Evil Gal Blues”. Which I can’t seem to find either. I guess it is out of print most likely. You can download her song called, “Give it up daddy”, FREE Click here – Albinia Jones – mp3
May Tammy’s soul finally rest in peace. I remember all of the horrible comments, that people used to say about Tammy. Whether or not you loved Tammy Faye, hated her, or just thought she was 12 cans short of a 3 pack. One thing Ms. Tammy Faye Baker has shown consistently, was unconditional love for all. Be it black, green, blue, gay, straight, or confused; Tammy demonstrated tirelessly, what true respect & compassion is all about. Despite all of the scandals, embarrassments and heartbreak with her X-marriages; her huge heart and spirit would not break. I Think there was so much about Ms Baker that we did not understand, but I really think that, when it comes to love and respect, many so called “Christians” could have really learned from her. Yes, I do think she is a role model in many ways. If you truly listen to a lot of the things she’s said in the past, you’ll find there was a huge amount of wisdom she shared. We were just too busy commenting about her make-up, hair, and everything else. But although a woman, she had enough BALLS, to do the only thing she could do, and that was to be herself.