The War on HBCUs (Their inconvenient continued existence)


Historically Black Colleges and Universities; they only ever existed because America didn’t want black men and women to attend colleges (or any schools) with their children. Well before the end of slavery, the Institute for Colored Youth was founded in Cheney, PA in 1837. It later became the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, recognized as the nation’s first HBCU. It was a Quaker philanthropist, Richard Humphreys, who bequeathed $10,000 to found the school to educate those of African descent. Specifically preparing them to carry the torch and become teachers. Lincoln University of Pennsylvania came along in 1854 and was the first degree-granting HBCU. Wilberforce in Ohio joined them in 1856 and was the first college run by African-Americans. Wilberforce, Ohio was a stop along the underground railroad. Its goal was to be an intellectual mecca and a refuge from ignorance.

The first wave of HBCU’s was founded by black churches along with the American Missionary Association (AMA). AMA spending during and after the Civil War far exceeded that of the government’s Freedmen’s Bureau who they worked with sometimes. Among the schools founded between 1865–1867, were Atlanta University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Dillard University, and Howard University. The 2nd Morill Act of 1890 forced states (mostly Southern) to provide land grants for black schools when admission was not allowed otherwise. In other words, states that refused to de-segregate had so set aside some space to educate black students and at least pretend they cared about black kids too. That Act is how we got Tuskeegee University, Alabama A&M Univerity, Florida A&M, Fort Valley State, Kentucky State University, Maryland Eastern-Shore, Alcorn State, North Carolina A&T, and Langston University among others. You could make the case that the purpose of the 2nd Morill Act was as much to preserve segregation as educate black students, there’s no question it did both.

With the exception of those who didn’t want black people to exist at all in this country, perhaps anywhere. Most white people didn’t mind the existence of HBCUs. Though there was that time that Wilberforce was destroyed by arson in 1865 (they rebuilt). There was also the time police shot and killed two student demonstrators at South Carolina State in February 1968. Say the names of Samuel Ephesians Hammond, Jr., Delano Herman Middleton, and Henry Ezekial Smith. The white students killed at Kent State are in the history books, the black students at Jackson State not so much. For the most part, however, black colleges tended to be left alone as long as they didn’t make too many waves. The power structure had another way to keep HBCUs in check… money.

Of the ten largest HBCUs by enrollment; nine are state schools including North Carolina A&T, Texas Southern, Florida A&M, Prarie View A&M, and Jackson State. These schools are generally dependant on their state legislatures to dole out funds. Always to a lesser degree than their white counterparts. Some are under pressure to merge with other state schools. Tennessee State University was forced by a judge into a shotgun wedding with another Nashville school; UT-Nashville, in 1979. Albany State University merged with Darton State College in 2017. Each case saw an HBCU merge with a predominantly white institution (PWI) with the thought the HBCU would maintain its name and identity. A new proposal would see Albany State, Savannah State, and Fort Valley State, all merged into one institution to be called Georgia A&M and run apart from the University of Georgia system. It sounds like… exactly like separate but equal and we all know how well that one worked.

Private schools have their own pressures, always seeking to raise the funds to stay in operation. Chief among their pressures is the need to stay accredited and thus able to receive federal and state funds and the students/parents eligible for Pell grants and student loans. As most HBCUs are located in the South. The vast majority are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; one of six groups approved by the Dept. of Education (Betsy DeVos). One can only imagine what pressures the US Government might exert on its standards for accreditation.

Even when schools meet accreditation standards. There’s always the chance the government will fail to fund them anyway. Funding for HBCUs expired on October 1, 2019, and Congress appears to be in no hurry to restore it. Democrats want to go with a two-year fix while working on a comprehensive review while Republicans want to offer permanent funding as long as multiple measures affecting higher education are adopted. Both parties are playing chicken with HBCUs in the middle.

HBCUs have always been under attack whether physical or financial. More people are questioning the need for their continued existence, given we’ve overcome the racism of the past. A closer look would reveal that the racism of the past hasn’t disappeared, the names simply change. Slavery became the Black Codes, which became Jim Crow, which splintered off into multiple other forms of oppression with the one constant throughout being voter suppression. HBCUs have been affected by this with some campuses being split into different districts in order to dilute their voting strength.

HBCUs have always done more with less. In addition to their output measured in doctors, lawyers, teachers, and scientists. Black colleges produce black leaders. We just lost Elijah Cummings (Morgan State), Kamala Harris (Howard) is running for President, John Lewis (Fisk) is the conscience of the House of Representatives. For all I could name, there are hundreds more coming to take their place. Much more than flashy bands, athletic teams, and drum lines. HBCUs hone the minds of those that attend, graduating critical thinkers who know their own worth. The war will continue, but HBCUs are up to the battle. No weapon formed against them will prosper. And mostly, the graduates of HBCUs give back and come back. Never forgetting from whence they came and not forgetting those who come after.

Hello Followers.

I’m starting a new publication that may not relate to some of you but others may find it very relevant to their life experience. It’s called, “The HBCU Chronicles,” in which the stories will be somehow relevant to HBCUs. The story may involve a Historically Black College or former student. Some will be about that life which universally involved long registration lines, bad food, and professors that truly cared.

I’m also looking for writers/contributors because if you went to an HBCU. I’ll bet you have a story to tell. If you have something you’d like to add. Send me a note or email me at spiveywilliamf@gmail.com and I’ll add you as a writer. Thanks!

William Spivey

Should Donald Trump Receive a Pardon?


We know the Impeachment of Donald Trump is coming. That the House of Representatives will send multiple counts to the Senate for trial is a given. Whether Republicans are able to put Country before Party is another thing but despite the theory that if Trump survives Impeachment it allows him to declare himself a victor. The more likely outcome is that even if he’s not convicted by the Senate. American voters won’t want to put themselves through four more years of this perpetual madness. Once he’s out of office, he’ll be eligible to be prosecuted for his crimes and there’s a line forming of people waiting to charge him. The question is; should Trump receive a pardon as Nixon got? Allegedly to keep from tearing the country apart.

For those Ever-Trumper’s demanding to know what crimes he’s committed? The rest of the nation is sure he’s broken Federal Election laws and obstructed justice as well as violated the Logan and Hatch Acts. When his finances are finally revealed, we can add tax fraud, regular fraud, and money laundering to the list. There won’t be a question as to whether he and his family have broken the law. The question is; what are we willing to do about it?

When Nixon resigned in disgrace, President Gerald Ford pardoned him before charges could be brought in order to “spare the nation.” We’ll never be able to know how the nation would have responded had Nixon been jailed but America was pretty much in turmoil after he was pardoned. Ford discovered the voters held a grudge as he was beaten in the next election by a peanut farmer from Plains, GA. I’ve been to Plains and don’t suspect they’ll be producing any more Presidents anytime soon.

Yes, Trump’s base will be upset if he goes to jail. They’ll be upset if he doesn’t go to jail. They’d be upset if he managed to win re-election. When your constituency is glued together by rage, being upset is what they do. I’m less concerned about the Trump base than I am the next politician who wants to use the Office of the Presidency to enrich himself and his friends at the expense of the rest of us. It’s going to take enough to rebuild this nation as it is without a pissed-off Donald Trump on Twitter all day about how he was wronged.

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Donald Trump didn’t reach the highest office in the land with lofty aspirations to help the country and maintain high ethical standards. He was a crook when he arrived, surrounded himself with more crooks in his Cabinet and administration. It seems almost all of his political appointees were either crooks, white supremacists, or both. None of the people Trump pardoned went through the normal process of having been reviewed by the Office of the Pardon Attorney within the Justice Department. They were issued because someone knew someone or had a celebrity advocate like Kim Kardashian. Like every other American. Trump should have the opportunity to file for clemency. This usually takes place after someone has served a portion of their sentence and met all the guidelines.

I don’t want Trump to go to jail because I dislike him (although I do dislike him). Not because he’s a Republican (he’s not really a Republican although they are willing to follow him off a cliff). Not because he’s conservative (have you seen his deficits?). But because an example must be set. There’s a criminal right now thinking he can avoid a jail sentence if he can just get to be President and avoid prosecution. No, America doesn’t want to become a banana republic where politicians who lose or are ousted are thrown in prison. But America can no longer consider itself a nation of laws if its most visible citizen is above it.

America Has a Big Race Problem: It Can’t Acknowledge It Has One


Not only is America incapable of admitting to its race problems. It has developed a whole new language of discussing race in a kindler gentler way so as not to offend those who would prefer not to think of themselves as racist. America used to at least recognize it had a horrible history regarding race. That too is changing as history books in some cases refer to “immigrant labor” as opposed to slavery. Bill O’Reilly, a self-proclaimed historian, refers to how “well-fed” the slaves were that built the White House. Slavery itself is being rewritten as a mere labor arrangement where the “workers” were provided free housing, food, and health-care. America is finding it harder to admit it even had a race problem.

For those willing to concede America once “had” a race problem. They consider it a thing of the past. Solved by the Emancipation Proclamation, or Brown vs The Board of Education, or this Civil Rights Act or that Voting Rights Bill. America has never solved its race problem or rids itself of systemic racism. It has only given it different names. Slavery was replaced by “The Black Codes”, which was replaced by “Jim Crow” which was replaced by redistricting and gerrymandering and voter suppression.

History meanwhile has ignored or forgotten the most heinous acts committed against people of color. We all know about “Custer’s Last Stand”.How many know about the “Devil’s Punch Bowl” in Natchez, MS where 20,000 Black men, women, and children died. Imprisoned by Union troops in a concentration camp after the Civil War ended. History doesn’t mention “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma where a thriving community was attacked on the ground and from the air. Over 35 blocks of property were burned and destroyed. Over 300 Black citizens killed and 800 hospitalized. 10,000 Black people were left homeless. Over 6,000 were arrested for up to 8 days. Despite the carnage, the official death toll was listed as “39” by the Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Orange County, Florida including Orlando, was claimed to have suffered the “largest mass shooting in American history” at the Pulse Nightclub shooting with 49 innocent people killed. As horrible as that was, it wasn’t even the worst mass shooting in the County as hundreds of Black people were killed and the rest of the Black population driven out of Ocoee, FL when some tried to vote in the 1920 Presidential Election. Ocoee stayed all-white for over 40 years afterward. America omits the inconvenient mass shootings in Elaine, Arkansas or E. St. Louis, Missouri or Mountain Meadows, Utah where Mormons dressed as Indians and killed 140 unarmed men and women. This is the history America doesn’t teach you when the victims are of color. It has redefined mass shootings to exclude more than a couple of shooters or apparently, race-motivated murder. It allows them to forget it had a race problem.

The problem that continues today stems from demographics. Those that wish to, “Make America Great Again” really mean to re-establish White control which is quickly fading. The reason they forcefully claimed “Barack Obama is the worst President in history” is not based on empirical data. They ignored the fact he saved an economy that was hemorrhaging jobs when he took office. He saved the auto industry. He served in grace despite the hate leveled against him. He established health care benefits for over 20 Million additional Americans. They conspired against him on his first day in office. For those who hate him, he has one inherent flaw. He is Black.

The secret to maintaining White control, even as White’s will soon be a minority in this country, is to control the vote. The tactics now closely resemble those used after reconstruction. Impose voter restrictions, enact poll taxes (although we now give them another name). Position polling places where it will be harder for some to vote than others. Provide limited access to minority voters hoping to dissuade them with long lines. America can deny the inherent racism in policies designed to disparately affect minorities; as long as we can claim it’s for another reason. We all know the almost non-existent voter fraud isn’t the real reason for these laws. What America can’t acknowledge is, that it’s all about race.

America has long not wanted to appear racist. Now I find that it no longer cares about keeping up the facade. Putting aside for a moment the racist background of President Donald J Trump, and his father Fred who was once arrested at a Klan rally. His Campaign CEO was Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, who proved that racism has gone mainstream. That he is racist is beyond dispute. His personal comments and those he approved of in the media outlet he controlled; showed his hatred of Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, Women and more. When Hillary Clinton discussed the specifics in a nationally televised speech, surely America would say this was too much. A man with his background cannot stand. After a couple of days of being a story, the storm faded as the media preferred to chase Trump’s evolving immigration policy and Hillary’s Emails. One Trump campaign manager was lambasted for an assault on a woman, another ousted because of his close ties to Putin. These apparently were terrible offenses. A racist heading up the Trump campaign, not a problem.

The list of things America won’t address because it can’t acknowledge its race problem is long. Unequal funding for schools. Disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of minority students. Voter suppression. Mass incarceration. Inequitable policing. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America, you have a race problem and it’s time you acknowledge it.

Exactly How Many White Supremacists Are There In America?


I heard two different numbers the other day and started wondering if there’s a scientific method to determine exactly how many white supremacists there are in America. The first number was provided by a presumably white Internet associate (I wouldn’t go as far as calling him a friend) who I communicate with regularly on a purported legal blog which seems to attract quite a few white supremacists. He insists that the only people that qualify as white supremacists are card-carrying members of the Klan and nobody else. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimated in 2016 that there were 3,000 active members at that time. Therefore his number was 3,000.

A real-life black friend recalled hearing a speech given by the Rev. James M. Lawson who estimated the number at 50 million. For those who don’t know, Lawson played a pivotal role in organizing the Freedom Riders working with students primarily from Fisk University and Tennessee State including Diane Nash and Congressman John Lewis. Lawson was a serious activist during the civil rights era and has some credibility on the subject.

There’s quite a difference between 3,000 and 50 million so I wanted to consider ways to narrow the gap, assuming the true answer is somewhere in the middle. I considered that there are other organizations besides the Klan that would qualify as white supremacists. I went back to the SPLC and looked at their designated hate groups, this doesn’t make them white supremacists as these groups include al sorts of haters and all the groups are not mostly white.

I felt safe in including the American Freedom Party which “exists to represent the political interests of white Americans.” They also want to return America to, “White Rule.” I added the American Renaissance and the Aryan Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seems to be hard to enter and leave with their motto, “Blood in, blood out!” They’re mostly a prison gang but run gambling and prostitution rings. The “Brotherhood of Klans” (different than the Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) has gone international and claims to have about 250 Canadian members who I’m not including in my total. Looking at the various Klan organizations alone, I was starting to suspect my associate may have misled me with that 3,000 number. It could also have been an honest mistake.

Working backward alphabetically there was; White Revolution, White Lives Matter, Vinlanders Social Club, VDARE, United Constitutional Patriots… By the time I got to the League of the South (they want to politically dominate black people and other minorities. I was ready to accept that the number of white supremacists affiliated with groups in the United States exceeded 500,000 as estimated by one source. Then I read something that was truly disturbing which was that most white supremacists don’t affiliate with organizations. It’s probably because of the dues.

Most white supremacists do not belong to organized hate groups, but rather participate in the white supremacist movement as unaffiliated individuals. Thus the size of the white supremacist movement is considerably greater than just the members of hate groups. Among white supremacist groups, gangs are becoming increasingly important. -ADL

That made sense to me, the average white supremacist isn’t marching down the streets anymore in his/her robe and hood. It’s your co-worker, your pharmacist, the bagger at your local grocery store… your minister. White supremacists look just like your white neighbor, and maybe your neighbor is one?

Instead of working from the bottom number and adding up. I wanted to look at the 50 million number and see if I needed to reduce it. I said to myself, white supremacists would likely do white supremacists things; like vote in their self-interest. In the past Presidential election. A white supremacist would likely have viewed it would be in their self-interest to vote for Donald Trump as opposed to Hillary Clinton. How many people voted for Trump? Just under 63 million people.

Now I am not suggesting that everyone that voted for Trump is a white supremacist. A lot of wealthy people who wanted to get a lot richer with his tax cut might have voted for Trump. Desperate coal miners and their families thinking Trump would put them back to work. Blacks for Trump? No that was just a couple guys with signs at his rallies. The point is that no good information could be gleaned by looking at Trump voters.

I went back to my hypothesis that white supremacists do white supremacist things. I looked at states where people voted to legalize voter suppression. Who wanted to ban Muslims? How many people were Birthers? Who thought “both sides” were to blame in Charlottesville?

I never got close to establishing an exact number of white supremacists in America. I’m positive that 3,000 was a terribly low estimate. I wish I could have proved the 50 million number was wrong beyond all doubt, but I couldn’t. Assuming Trump hasn’t gotten himself Impeached and is still the Republican Nominee, he may get 63 million votes again and all of them won’t be white supremacists. It will be true they don’t mind mingling with them, however.

The Process of Rebuilding America After Trump


Eventually, unless Trump declares himself President for life and Congress and the Supreme Court both refuse to act. There will be life after Trump, and the next President will have to pick up the pieces of what the Trump era has wrought.

Let’s use the State Department as an example. With the release of depositions taken by the combined House committees in the Impeachment inquiry. We find that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lied when he said his Senior Advisor Michael McKinley never informed him about concerns about attempts to oust the Ambassador to Ukraine; Marie Yovanovitch. McKinley resigned from the State Department, giving as his reason the Trump administration was using its Ambassadors to advance Trump’s political interests instead of stated American policy. America’s foreign policy in Ukraine was apparently being directed by Trump’s personal lawyer with no official role in government; Rudy Guiliani. That’s just one country without getting into US relations with Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, China, and Turkey to name far more than a few where our foreign policy is either unclear or just not working.

The majority of the government is effectively rudderless as dozens of posts requiring Senate confirmation remain unfilled with “Acting” officials trying to lead Departments whose heads are not respected because they’re basically temp workers. Trump in many cases isn’t even trying to get people confirmed because he likes his people not only not to get too comfortable but to actually be fearful of Trump. He can get rid of them at a whim.

The one area Trump has been most effective throughout his tenure is deregulation. Today he weakened an Obama-era regulation that kept coal plants from dumping residue into our lakes, rivers, and streams. How is dumping coal ash into our drinking water a good thing? He’s made possible greater levels of air pollution, water pollution, and chemicals in our food.

The other area where he’s got his wishes although I wouldn’t describe it as being successful; is stacking the courts. In addition to his two Supreme Court picks, he’s done perhaps more damage (along with Mitch McConnell) in packing judges on the Federal bench. The Republican-controlled Senate has rubber-stamped the nominations of almost every nominee including some rated “Non-Qualified” by the American Bar Association. But the question being raised today is not just what has Trump done, it’s how do we fix it?”

The first step to rebuilding the government is staffing it. Unlike Trump’s transition team where Chris Christie the former Governor of New Jersey was unceremoniously dumped as its head. He was replaced by Mike Pence who seems to be denying any knowledge as to how selections were made. Particularly those like Michael Flynn who lasted all of 23 days, having to resign because of being an unofficial agent of Turkey and questionable ties to Russia.

The Trump administration has stopped communicating with America except via tweets or interviews on friendly networks like Fox News. The White House needs to resume daily news briefings and give honest responses to questions, even when it is bad news. After three years of Sean Spicer, the “Mooch”, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and a few others with no relationship to the truth. The next administration needs to be credible; not lying about things easily debunked like inauguration crowd size or whether or not any new wall is being built and who’s paying for it.

In the next Presidency; science should be viewed as if it were a real thing. Science-related departments like the Department of Agriculture have systematically replaced actual scientists with political cronies who owe their loyalty to the interest groups they used to work or lobby for. The official government position is to dispute climate change or accept it but it isn’t manmade, or acknowledge that but say there isn’t anything that can be done about it. The one thing they’re sure about is that corporations have no responsibility to stop ruining the environment and afterward have none to clean it up.

Besides these basic minimums; a wish list would include a functioning Congress that recognizes its role in providing a check and balance to the Executive Branch. One where the Senate actually votes on bills sent them from the House. One where “advise and consent” is taken seriously and we staff our government and the courts with the best of the best. Some non-partisanship from time to time would be a little nice where the interests of the nation take precedence over the Party line.

These few guidelines are just a starting point. Perhaps the whole notion of staffing much of the government with political appointees should be looked at? Eliminating nepotism would be helpful and be wary of anyone volunteering to work for the government without pay (Manafort, Jared, Ivanka). Nobody takes that kind of job without getting enriched somewhere.

Who Will Be The Vice-President Choice of the Democrat Nominee?


Each of the five leading candidates has different needs and therefore the answer to the question depends on the candidate. Some of the considerations typically in play are those that will give the nominee a balanced ticket. Someone who will help them reach particular voters they might otherwise have a hard time reaching. Once upon a time, geography was a critical factor and a running mate from the South might be helpful to a nominee from the Northeast. These days the swing states in the Midwest are considered crucial which might influence the pick. Let’s look at the current leading candidates and whom they might select?

#5 Kamala Harris

Kamala is currently languishing in 5th place after a brutal, seemingly coordinated attack against her that began once she took on Joe Biden during the first debate. She’ll need a breakout moment and a very strong finish in Iowa and victories in South Carolina and California to have a chance. She’s low on funds and it’s almost Hail Mary time in terms of winning the nomination. Should she win, however, who might give her balance and help her win a general election? Her choice would likely be male, neither Biden or Sanders are likely to agree to take the second spot. Booker would make the slate just a little too colorful. If she wins her choice will likely be Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana.

#4 Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete is slowly but surely climbing up the polls, almost in striking distance of the three leaders; Biden, Warren, and Sanders. Buttigieg has youth in his favor, is articulate (they usually save that compliment for black people). Though he started out with very little name recognition, when people actually listen to him he typically makes a good impression.

While Sanders, Biden, and Warren, are all in their 70’s and might need to choose someone younger. He would run the risk of pointing to his youth as a negative by in effect bringing aboard a chaperone, pointing to one of his potential negatives. Because of local issues in South Bend involving the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer. Pete needs help with black voters. His choice will be Kamala Harris.

#3 Bernie Sanders

Bernie’s choice of VP is extra critical seeing how he just had a heart attack. People have already been reminded the Vice-President is one heartbeat away from the Presidency with that incident. While by all accounts he gets along well with Elizabeth Warren, she’s almost the same age as he and they both appeal to the same general base of voters.

Sanders has struggled to attract black voters but is unlikely to choose Cory Booker or Kamala Harris. He needs to find someone seen as more conservative than he but pragmatic enough to accept his popular ideas. He’ll pick a woman for balance, but it will be Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.

#2 Elizabeth Warren

Of the septuagenarians (people between 70–79) in the race, Elizabeth exudes energy and vitality. Still, her choice for VP will be someone more youthful, with a record of fighting for the consumer. They will have progressive bona fides yet be attractive to the mainstream Democrat voter.

Her choice will be male and although she could use some help with the black vote, it won’t be Cory Booker. She’ll be looking for someone to give a shot to her campaign and a shot at winning a state that will negate Trump possibly still winning Ohio or Wisconsin. Warren will pick Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

#1 Joe Biden

Biden more so than any of the others needs someone who can go on the attack. AssumingbTrump is still the 2020 Republican nominee given that Impeachment thing going on. Biden will face a blistering assault from Trump about Ukraine and any other topic he decides, truth notwithstanding.

Biden will need someone that can make the case that Trump is a criminal with the credentials to back it up. Politics make strange bedfellows and Biden will select the one voted least likely to be invited; Kamala Harris.

Feel free to disagree and post your VP picks and the reason you believe you’re right.

The 73–74 Fisk Bulldogs Enter the Athletic Department Hall of Fame


I’m writing this story both as an insider and an outsider. I was a freshman on the team that went 26–4, finished as SIAC Conference Co-Champions, won the SIAC Tournament and made it to the Regional Finals of the Division II NCAA Tournament. Everything that happened that season was completely outside my experience coming from Minneapolis, MN. My high school had a losing record (though they won the State Tournament two years after I left). My high school was maybe 15% black, while at Fisk, I could name the two white students that attended during my tenure, Shawn and Snow.

I hadn’t intended on playing basketball at Fisk. I got there because I scored well on standardized tests. I was offered scholarships around the country. Somebody in my family who knew better than I pretty much shut down the conversation saying, “you’re going to Fisk!” After being in school a month, I was homesick and got to fly home for a weekend. Most of my old friends were doing the same things; hanging out at the park, chasing girls, drinking beer, or discussing one of the above. I didn’t even spend the whole weekend with them, I stayed close to home with family, ready to go back, homesick no more.

My mother brought me to Fisk. We somehow had hotel reservations in Madison, TN a good way from the Fisk campus. I remember we were ordering breakfast, the middle-aged white waitress walked over smiling, “Can I help y’all?,” in what I thought was the most exaggerated Southern accent I’d ever heard. I later learned that was the norm. When the cab dropped us off at New Livingston dormitory. We went to the enclosure across from the lobby that served as the greeting station. While my mother and I were checking in, there were several members of the football team draped all over the lobby furniture. They had arrived days earlier and appeared tired from practice. At the time I was 6’6″ and 217 lbs. I heard a voice, “Look at him, big ol’ sissy, I bet he don’t play nothin’.” I think the player was Dirty Red but I’ll never know for sure.

A hundred yards from my dorm was the Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium. I’d been playing basketball half my life so it was natural to go there after classes and join in the pick-up games. It didn’t take long before I was asked if I was going out for the team. I discovered the fundamentals I’d been taught by Coach Prohofsky in high school traveled well. Playing against some of the returning players gave me the confidence I could hang.

Three weeks prior to the official opening day of practice, those trying out were required to run three miles each morning to the Buckman Bridge. There’s a metal plate on the bridge that reads, “Built by Virginia Bridge and Iron Co. 1917.” We’d run to the bridge, touch the plate, then turn around and run back to campus. Freshman rookies like myself thought there was some correlation between how fast we ran and future success on the team. A fellow from Boston, Charles Woodson, would win the race every single day. The veteran players had no interest in racing, just finishing as Coach Ron Lawson cruised up and down the route in his Camaro, presumably making sure who was there.

I don’t recall if it was the first day of regular practice but it wasn’t long before the weight jackets came out. Approximately 25 lb. vests which we wore every moment of practice from beginning to end. Coach Lawson’s game plan required everyone to be in shape. We employed a full-court press from the opening tip until the end of the game unless the score got so ridiculous he’d ease up on the other team.

There were three things about that 73–74 team I came to appreciate more and more each successive year. We had two senior guards, Dick Gold and Freddie Lewis, who had played together for four years. They were listed in the program at 5’10” and 5’8″ and both may have been exaggerations. They were tough as nails and did whatever was required to win unselfishly. They could score a bunch if that’s what we needed. There was a game against Stillman where they each scored thirty points.

They typically got a tremendous number of steals in our pressing defense, ran the offense, one or the other assisted on most of our scoring plays in the set offense. The week heading into the NCAA playoffs, with each approaching the end of their college careers. An article ran in the Nashville paper, “Who Were Those Guys?” featuring Dick and Freddie.

Freddie was quoted, “We’ve been playing together for these four years and we knew what to expect of each other. And that goes not only for the two of us but for Billy Hastings, Roy Jackson, and Ernest Crawford, too.” Dick added, “This team is a real unit. We know what to expect from each other and from the coach.

The second thing I appreciated was that we had seven players that averaged in double figures which is unheard of. Some of that was related to our press defense which generated a lot of lay-ups off steals. We averaged nearly 100 points a game and we looked forward to, “busting the clock” which wasn’t equipped to handle more than 99. I credit our balanced scoring to the decision making of Dick, Freddie, and Corwyn Hodge who is to date the fastest player I’ve ever seen on the court. Dick Gold said, “We’re not supposed to be the primary scorers. We get things started and let the big guys like Billy Hastings, Ernest Crawford, Kit Floyd, Stephen Lee or Bill Spivey do the scoring.”

The third thing and most intangible was the leadership. Dick was mostly quiet but whenever he spoke people paid attention. Freddie was always keeping us focused on what we needed to do. I was the baby of the group at 17 throughout most of the season. It was Roy (Pops) Jackson who kept challenging me to concentrate on team goals and not my own. Billy Hastings also adopted me calling me “son.” The following season I got a “son” of my own, carrying on the tradition.

This was a team that was genuinely happy at the success of any individual on the squad. We laughed at each other but mostly with each other. It was a group of men that genuinely loved each other. I talked to Roy Jackson the other day and all that love is still there. It will be great to be in a room with most of them again one more time at our Hall of Fame induction.

To those who know, some parts of the story were left out. The Daytona/Atlanta trip which led to Coach Lawson banning fans traveling with the team ever again. We went from 16–1 to 16–3 over the course of two nights but between the beach and the “Brass Monkey,” I can’t recall a better time. There was the time we were in Knoxville and had our pre-game meal at a Morrisons Cafeteria, eating a ridiculous amount because Coach Lawson was at a meeting and not there to supervise us. We were so sluggish we were down by 20 points at halftime before coming back to win 120–100 once the food was digested.

Coach Lawson and Asst. Coach Kindell (M’dude) Stephens are no longer with us. Coach Lawson talked more trash than a little bit, having earned the right setting freshman records as a player at UCLA in the John Wooden years. He had high expectations and ran us until we were able to make them come true. Kindell had been a star Fisk player who’d been drafted by the Lakers. He was always there to talk to, making sure we stayed in shape and paid attention to our education. I’m sure when we players get together some stories will be told.

There are individual moments on the court that come back to me as if they just happened. The favorite involving me was a defensive play where I tracked down a ball going out of bounds near a baseline corner, I spun and threw it to a streaking Corwyn Hodge who scored on what seemed an impossible play. Our gym was small but we always rocked. There was a stretch of over four years we didn’t lose a home game.

Matthew Knowles with his two-handed high-arching shot that just floated through the nets. Steve Brown double and triple pumping in his New York style. There was a series where Kit Floyd got four consecutive offensive rebounds before putting in a lay-up while Coach Stephens kept recording the stats. Billy Hastings hitting jumpers from the corner. My favorite Stephen Lee moment didn’t involve one of our own games. We went down the street to see Tennessee State play Kentucky State. A KSU player, Billy Ray Bates dunked on three TSU players when you couldn’t even see the dunk coming. We were seated in the upper deck and Stephen Lee jumped up and screamed at the play, running down the steps to the lower section. Sam Gates who I often matched up against in practice, issued out more punishment than most opposing players. There was the time my roommate William Settle and I arrived in Chicago a day early for a Christmas tournament at Chicago Circle. We used the time to visit friends in Gary, IN and attended the West Side Basketball Tournament wearing new hats we knew were bad.

The favorite team moment had to be our second game in the NCAA Tournament. We faced Tennessee State after defeating James Madison in a play-in game for the right to play TSU. They rested while we played the night before. Their team featured All-American Leonard “Truck” Robinson who later played for the Knicks and led the NBA in rebounding one year. They were a much bigger school with taller players and heavily favored. We won 65–54 with Billy Hastings, Dick Gold, and Stephen Lee in double figures. Truck Robinson fouled out in the final few minutes, ending his college career other than he planned. The official attendance for that game was 5,428. I’ve met 10,000 people since then who swear they were there.

We lost our game the next night against the University of New Orleans. We were playing on our third consecutive night. I can’t speak for anyone else but I remember a play where my mind was willing to move over and cut someone off but the body wasn’t able. A week or so later we had a team banquet and got gold jackets. Perhaps a week after that, we had a team only party at Burrus Hall in which I learned bad things happen after drinking 16 short cans of “The Bull.” What I’ve never forgotten is how much that team and its players meant to me and how I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

Not My Constitution


Many of my blog pieces are inspired by “Morning Joe.” Given enough time, someone on the panel, most often Joe Scarborough will say something so ridiculous I have to respond. In the past few days, he’s talked about the number of increased Republican seats in the House of Representatives since President Obama first took office. He presents it as if it were because of Republican ideas and policies as if that were the reason. Not once did he mention Gerrymandering and redistricting, often in Unconstitutional ways according to the courts. Not discussed was the impact of Republican pushed bills suppressing votes wherever they have control. Many introduced the day after the Supreme Court gutted enforcement of the Voter Rights Act. That’s typical Scarborough propaganda and because it’s what he always does. It didn’t stir me to write.

What did get my attention was his assertion that the Constitution of the United States was powerful enough to withstand a Trump Presidency as it has withstood Nixon, Bush and others. It was that assertion that spawned this piece because the Constitution has not now or ever been mine.

There is a misconception that the Constitution considered Black people as three-fifths of a person. The Constitution neither said or did anything to supercede existing State laws which universally didn’t consider Blacks any portion of a person. They had no rights whatsoever and were governed by Slave Codes. What the Constitution did was allot additional Congressional seats to States, primarily in the South where slaves were counted for that strict purpose as being worth three-fifths of a white person. The Constitution also didn’t recognize at all “Indians not taxed” which was all Indians on reservations or roaming free. It’s not their constitution either. Republicans have made a hero out of the late Justice Antonin Scalia who favored a strict interpretation of the Constitution as “originally intended.” The Constitution originally intended to codify by its silence, the horrors of slavery and the total lack of power for Blacks and Native Americans.

When the Constitution does speak of race, it does so indirectly. Apparently race was just as uncomfortable to talk about then as now. It refers to, “other persons” or let the individual states determine who counted with language like, “such persons as any of the states now existing think proper to admit.” Its mention of slavery was couched in terms like, “persons held to service or labor.” There are those who defend the Constitution by saying it did not specifically affirm slavery. They feel it was somehow better to wink and nod at slavery and let the states take responsibility for what the Federal government would not. At best the Constitution ignored the plight of Black people. That’s why I can say it’s not mine.

The Constitution set up three allegedly co-equal branches of Government. The Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and the Supreme Court. When initially created. Every office in every branch was inhabited by a white male. While a great deal of diversity relatively speaking has taken place since then. Two branches have never ceded that control and the third only for eight years. During those eight years, it must be said that the Republicans in the Congress settled on a policy of obstruction and are now about the business of wiping out the legacy of the sole Black President.

You might ask, what of the court? The official arbiter of what is Constitutional and what is not. The Supreme Court is now and forever has been a hotbed of partisan politics. The Court gave us the Dred Scott Decision where Chief Justice Roger B Taney said, “The Founders Constitution regarded Blacks as so far inferior that they had no rights the white man was bound to respect, and that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

When no legal basis could be found to continue segregation in schools in Brown V Board of Education. They decided to desegregate schools but immediately muted their own decision calling for it to be implemented “with all deliberate speed” which set back desegregation for decades.

When the 1965 Voter Rights Act passed. The Supreme Court gutted the enforcement clause and as a result in the most recent election. Hundreds of thousands of voters were unable to vote that could have if not for their action. These are not the sole instances of the Constitution either being ignored or its meaning twisted on behalf of white people. One could make the case that every major piece of Civil or Voter Rights legislation was later weakened by the court. What good is the Constitution when it mostly serves one group? Not my constitution.

In America, the Constitution is revered. Elected officials and our military swear to uphold it. It was originally a compromise that protected the rights of slave states and the Electoral College is a remnant of those days. It acts eerily as it was intended when originally conceived. To provide an unnatural balance of power that serves rural and sparsely populated states and diminishing the power of the heavily populated centers. This is how we get a result where the popular vote doesn’t matter and white votes matter more than minorities.

Back to Morning Joe. The reason he can say the Constitution is strong enough to withstand even our worst Presidents. Is because he doesn’t stand to lose what some other Americans do. He will not be stopped and frisked or have his House of Worship surveilled. He will not see his community flooded with law enforcement, newly empowered to care even less about my life which matters even less than before. He will not lose his healthcare with no plan for replacement. His ability to vote is not at risk. No family member will be deported and hyper mass incarceration was never intended for him. His Constitution is doing for him what it always had. His Constitution… not mine.

Arguing With White People About The Confederate Flag


I read a lot of blog posts, some from people I don’t always (or ever) agree with. I saw a recent post from Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Lawyer who often appears on MSNBC to discuss Constitutional Law issues. He posted about a white Georgia Police Sergeant who was fired from her small-town police force, allegedly for flying a Confederate Flag in her yard. The post itself wasn’t inflammatory, he concluded the woman likely had 1st Amendment grounds for a lawsuit. Then the comments began…

Only a few people had commented before I replied. Most were supportive of the woman and her rights. Dismissive of the “overly sensitive people” who filed the initial complaint and attacked the political correctness of the police department that fired her. The reason provided by their Internal Affairs department was that she “engaged in conduct that was unbecoming” and “brought discredit to the Roswell Police Department.”

I replied, “The flag does have negative connotations and does reflect poorly on the Department. Whether there is a sufficient legal basis to remove her may depend on her contract and whatever clauses exist and how vague they were. We are presuming the sole reason for her firing is flying the flag (which is legal) which may not be the case. There is a portion of the citizenry that would find her flying that flag offensive. I believe it is generally illegal to walk around naked in one’s home if visible to others with some constitutionally protected exceptions. Whether it should be offensive to others is debatable. That it is… is not.”

That’s when they came for me!

Olly: “There is a portion of the citizenry that would find her flying that flag offensive.”

“There is also a portion that are offended by the Rainbow flag. There are portions of our citizenry that are offended by any number of things for any number of reasons. Is there some objective standard that you can possibly think of that might protect you, me, your family, everyone from being arrested merely because someone took offense to an object they happen to have visible on their own property? Anything?”

Me: “She was under no threat of being arrested. She according to the article was dismissed because she reflected poorly on the department which I don’t doubt is true. I suspect she will ultimately win a lawsuit, be reinstated with back pay and continue to fly her flag. The “Heritage” she claims the flag stands for will win out. The offended will have no recourse as has almost always been true.”

Nancy: “So, true. She is the one offended and has no recourse against those with leukophobia. I firmly believe that bigotry is fear that grows out of ignorance. We have no hope of being other than a society of all kinds of bigots if we are offended by all things, try to remove any words and history associated with our fears, cease trying to understand the whys and wherefores of those with differing views. This is an America where freedom ceases and we are driven underground. It is why many left their countries in the past and now seek entry to America. What a sad state of affairs.”

Me: “I confess I had to look up “leukophobia,” because the fear of the color white never occurred to me as being an actual thing. Pray tell what is the effect of this fear gripping the nation? Has any minority truly achieved equal rights? Hasn’t gerrymandering, redistricting and voter suppression kept you in control despite changing demographics? The saddest thing I can imagine is a poor white person that has never experienced 10% of the affronts minorities have in the present let alone the past. You’re not driven underground. Redlining and restrictive covenants have ensured you got all the best places. Please elaborate on the suffering you have endured as a white person? Stop & Frisk? Hyper mass incarceration. Racial profiling? Lynching? Let me know when I get one right.”

Squeeky Fromme — Girl Reporter (who apparently idolizes the Manson family) wrote: “The “offended” will have the recourse that they have always had, which is, to “Get a life!” I am offended every time I hear somebody laud Trayvon Martin, but know what? I have a life sooo I get on with it.

If black people need something to get offended over, might I suggest the ridiculously high illegitimate birth rate among black women, and the way that black men have been made unnecessary in their own families by Democratic Party policies. That is something that blacks actually have some control over. Their own lives.”

If you know me, you know I actually enjoy engaging with idiot’s on-line. I picture them getting angrier while I get calmer and bombard them with information for which they have no logical argument.

Me: “There are many policies that have helped remove black men from their families. Kudos to you for recognizing that. We might disagree as to whether or not they are strictly Democrat Party Policies although many were. Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voter Rights Act in the 60’s. Republicans (many of them who migrated from the Democrat Party) have done more than their share. Lee Atwater and the Southern Strategy, Mass incarceration began during the Nixon Administration although every President since has contributed to it (including Clinton and Obama). I don’t know that Trayvon Martin was made out to be a hero. Just a representation that one ought to be able to walk home from a 7-Eleven.”

Paul: “enigmainblackcom — one should not be allowed to pound someone’s head into the sidewalk.”

Me: “I supposed we’ll never know exactly what happened as Trayvon was unable to tell his side of the story. One thing that’s certain is that the entire situation was of George Zimmerman’s creation, after he disobeyed the police dispatcher’s instructions not to continue to follow.”

Paul: “enignainblackcom — I cannot believe how many people think that the police dispatcher ordered him to not follow him, she only suggested. She has no power to order anyone.”

Me: “I didn’t say she ordered him not to follow or that it was illegal. I am saying that everything that happened after that point is a direct result of his actions. His behavior since the trial does nothing to improve his credibility.”

Squeeky: “Oh the heck with the “Southern Strategy” canard. More word salads. I assure you that Lakeesha of the Hood is not thinking about Lee Atwater when she is laid up in the sack doing some Willie Horton wannabe in the sack. Or the next thug baby daddy, or the next. Nope, she is thinking about “benefits.”

And the “mass incarceration” canard is another non-starter. My goodness, but the durn Mexicans can swim the Rio Grande and find work. They roof houses, or work in slaughterhouses, or restaurants. And most of them don’t even speak English. And the poor old black men who just can’t find nothing to do except sell drugs and rob stuff? Hogwash. they are criminals, and don’t give a hoot about the very black people they sell the drugs to. They can be in prison, or they can be in the neighborhood.

And Trayvon? Oh my, but silly-a$$ white people were putting on hoodies and trying to end the right of self-defense after Poor Old Trayvon. What a joke. The little thug was busting George’s head into the sidewalk, and got shot in the process. That was hardly just “walking home from the 7–11.” Good riddance to bad rubbish, IMHO.

But by all means, ignore what blacks do to themselves, and sit around whining about slavery and Rebel flags. Geeesh, but most parts of the country haven’t had slavery for over 200 years, and many places, never, and blacks are still blaming whitey for their woes.”

Me: That’s as comprehensive a collection of misconceptions as I’ve seen in one place in the history of ever. So much that I don’t want to try to address everything individually. I would say that your premise that because slavery ended over 200 years ago that it wasn’t replaced by other institutions that were highly effective in suppressing a people. Slavery didn’t end and then everything was okay. It was replaced by Jim Crow. Those that couldn’t document employment were interned and sentenced to labor camps in some areas and were literally still slaves. There was some immediate progress. Former slaves in some areas got to vote and during Reconstruction actually sent members to Congress. In 1876–7, after a disputed Presidential election, Democrats (they were the bad guys then) ceded the Presidency as part of a deal to have Federal Troops removed from the South. Reconstruction ended and Jim Crow began.

I won’t explain to you what Jim Crow was, you might consider it more word salad. When The Civil Rights Act and Voter Rights Act were passed in the 1960’s. Many angry Democrats (Dixiecrats) fled the party and became Republicans. Lyndon Johnson famously said that Democrats had, “lost the South for a generation.” He may have underestimated. Then came the Southern Strategy you so easily dismiss as if it weren’t a real thing. The widow Atwater was front and center at the Republican Convention, happy to see the resurgence of her late husband’s beliefs. The Republican Party has a coordinated and comprehensive pattern of Voter Suppression which goes far beyond Voter ID which I could agree with it there was no cost which would be an Unconstitutional Poll Tax. I know, more word salad.

I suspect you have no true concept of what systemic things are substantially responsible for the difference in economic achievement between blacks and whites in America. Even you might agree whites had a bit of a head start. You might research “Black Wall Street” where what was the most prosperous black neighborhood in the nation was shot up by whites and police and bombed from the air by the National Guard outside Tulsa, OK. You might research The Ocoee Massacre where all the residents of the town were either killed, burned out or allowed to leave after two black men tried to vote outside Orlando, FL. The city of Ocoee stayed all-white for over 40 years. This is in the same county as Orlando yet nothing is ever taught about this, even locally.

I submit we should have a White History Month where the parts of American History too inconvenient to talk about and never seen on Fox News or read on Breitbart can be taught. I submit you live in a bubble which you demonstrated quite eloquently.

Mespo: “At some point, you might want to stop blaming people who weren’t even born for other people’s troubles. You might even consider that some problems in the black community are its modern cultural acceptance of illegitimacy caused by the welfare state and a persistent refusal to cooperate with police in fighting crime. And then you might want to adopt the very American belief in self-reliance. Until then, you’ll be complaining to an ever shrinking audience. Every group has troubles; some learn to deal with them and others don’t. No one owes anybody anything in a capitalist democracy except what the law requires.”

Me: “If you read through the various posts responding to me. It is Black people who have been blamed for all manner of things. All the while dismissing any rationale which suggests a rigged system or unequal playing field. I believe heavily in self-reliance. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real barriers, purposely erected to slow our progress.”

Paul: “enigmainblackcom — the only thing standing in the way of blacks today is blacks themselves. They are their own worst enemies. BLM has done more damage to the race than anything since Birth of a Nation.”

Me: “What is it you think Black Lives Matter stands for?”

Paul: “enignainblackcom — it is not what BLM originally stood for, it is what it stands for now.”

Me: “That wasn’t an answer to my question. I’ll try again. What do you think Black Lives Matter stands for now? I submit the original purpose hasn’t changed. Just the onslaught of negative publicity allowing people to ignore their message.”

Mespo: “There are short cuts purposely set up to speed your progress as well like college preferences, hiring preferences, affirmative action and the like which mitigate the historical discrimination. That never gets talked about.”

Steve (an ally): “There are short cuts purposely set up to speed your progress as well like inheritance laws, life insurance to avoid probate, legacy preference, and the like which suggest a rigged system or unequal playing field and which mitigate what you see as reverse discrimination. That never gets talked about.”

Me: “What I like about having responded to this one post about the right of one Georgia police sergeant to fly the Confederate Flag in her yard is being called on to address a wide range of issues. I don’t know that I accept the term “short cuts” when what actually happened was providing limited access to education/jobs/business opportunities that were historically denied. I’ll start with the colleges. At the end of slavery, a combination of efforts by the Freedmen’s Bureau and the establishment of Land Grant Colleges gave some black people the opportunity to attend college. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU’s) were initially almost the only school’s black people and they did a relatively good job of educating initially teachers. Later doctors and dentists with the majority matriculating from two Medical schools, Meharry in Nashville and Howard in Washington, DC. Land grant colleges were initially intended to educate Americans in science and agriculture. The first beneficiaries were schools like Kansas State, Texas A&M, Rutgers and Cornell. Their funding was based on the Morrill Act of 1863 (slavery was still in force). A second Morrill act was passed circa 1890 which created a number of state-owned schools for the education of black people. Some private schools like Fisk University founded in 1866 already existed. To be clear, the establishment of many black schools were a way to have an alternative to ending segregation and were the result not of a new special program but one that had existed for 27 years and benefitting white people only with tax dollars that black Americans contributed to.. When desegregation finally came to public Universities (being implemented with “all deliberate speed”) the pace was so slow and admissions so few that Affirmative Action programs for colleges and universities were established to get those schools to do what they were not inclined to do on their own. In general, the percentage of blacks admitted were less than that of the population so instead of being a “short cut”.It set admission levels artificially low, a percentage most schools were not inclined to exceed. A case can be made that some black students were admitted that were unprepared for a college curriculum. I submit it had little to do with intelligence but was a reflection of the inferior resources of the segregated schools they came from including books, facilities and more. “Separate but equal” was a slogan but never a reality.”

(I would have continued but I reached the maximum number of characters for a reply.)

The conversation is ongoing. I did leave out some posts solely for length, certainly not because of any persuasive arguments I was afraid to print. The point is that some white people are living in a separate reality in which Black people have so many advantages, gained at the expense of white people and their upset about a changing demographic under which their reign will end. I avoided calling any of them racist because historically they would shut down, call me the racist for having the nerve to call them out. I’d like to think a couple of them at least considered some of the uncomfortable facts I brought up but I suspect like one person, they consider it all “word salad.”

P.S. The on-line, mostly anonymous names have not been changed to protect the innocent. It’s scary that most of them are, lawyers, judges, legal secretaries, or have some connection with the legal system. Of course, they don’t represent all white people. Then again 63, 000,000 voted for Trump?