The Kings of the four seasons by Marcella Muhammad
Wearing pants without belts and wearing them so low on the waist that the top of their underwear is showing. Wearing hundred dollars work boots as a fashion statement. Driving cars with the seat reclined so far back as to be laying down while driving and playing music so loud with the base cranked up loud enough to annoy anyone within a two block area. Young men walking around carrying forty ounce bottles of beer while wearing doo-rags on their heads. What is wrong with this generation? Donít they have any respect for themselves? They are bringing down the race!
This could be a genuine concern for I have thought the same myself when I look at young people today. Then I remember my generation. Wearing bell-bottom polyester paints. Having a gold rope chain around my neck and wearing the shirt open to show off the chain. Wearing fifty dollar high platform shoes with multi color heels and fifty dollars was a lot of money at those times. Driving my duce and a quarter, "diamond in the back sun roof top and digging the scene with a gangster lean. We didnít have the sound systems of today but we still cranked up our sounds as loud as possible. We walked around with our nappy afros and drank Richards Wild Irish Rose wine while watching Super Fly on the movie screen. And the maturity of the day stating; "What is wrong with this generation? Donít they have any respect for themselves? They are bringing down the race!"
In my mothers age young people did and acted as they were told or they received a trip to the wood shed. Age didnít matter. It wouldnít be abnormal to see a seventeen, eighteen or nineteen year old man getting a beating from his mother. This however was not the golden age. This was not the good olí days for this was the time of lynching, Jim Crow laws and legal disengagement.
In my mothers age there were no statements of; what is wrong with this generation? Donít they have any respect for themselves? They are bringing down the race! In her day there was a respect for parents, culture and self. Today when I hear the words "Old School," itís those days I think of.
School by definition meansan institution for specialized higher education often associated with a university, a source of knowledge. If the past is the school for learning, what lessons are there to learn or what lessons should be learned by the ensuing generations of the community from our diverse history?
A perception of each generation by their perspective elders was and is that the youth were engaging in the social and spiritual degradation of the community. The perception of the youth of each generation is they are successfully defining their essence and justifying their purpose for being. The youth of today call it "keeping it real."
The ultimate question is whose perceptions are right? Are the elders right in thinking the community is digressing because of the youth? Are the youth correct in perceiving they are paving their own futures in their own way in their own time? Are both generations seeing correctly or are both seeing incorrectly and how can one be right and another wrong?
"Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things."
This wise saying brings me to the point I wish to explore. If school is a source of knowledge and we have coined the phrase "Old School," then should we not take the knowledge of the distant past and see it as if it were close and take a distanced view of the knowledge we live within now?
The phrase "Old School" was initially introduced into common verbiage when talking about music and sports. The Sugar Hill Gang was old school rap. Dr. J. was the old school athlete and Earth Wind and Fire was old school Soul, now call Urban.
Earl LloydBecame the first African-American to play in an NBA game on October 31, 1950. Mr. Lloyd also became the first African-American to win an NBA championship (1955 with Syracuse). He Averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and helped lead Syracuse to 1955 NBA Championship. While playing with Syracuse he was denied the right to eat with his teammates at any local restaurant of the day. Earl Lloyd Became first African-American Assistant Coach with Detroit Pistons (1968-70).
Nat King Cole in 1955, the same year Earl Lloyd Lead Syracuse to the NBA Championship, sang "A Blossom Fell," Nat King Cole peak billboard position # 2 in 1955 finished the year at no. 20. 1954 "Answer Me My Love," toped on the charts, 1953 "Pretend," and 1950, "Mona Lisa." Nat King Cole in 1951 came out with "Too Young," Nat King Cole peak Billboard position # 1 for 5 weeks in 1951. Jim Crow was in full force when Mr. Cole was topping the charts. Separate and not equal was the rule of the day and yet the words of his hit songs were so non reflective of the trials he suffered living day to day.
They try to tell us we're too young
Too Young 1951 song by Nat King Cole
On July 25 1941: Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till is born in Chicago's Cook County Hospital to Louis and Mamie Till. August 28 1955 About 2:30 a.m., Roy Bryant and his half brother J. W. Milam, kidnapped a fourteen year old boy who went to visit relatives near Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, Intelligent and bold, with a slight mischievous streak, was ripped from Moses Wright's home. The savages later describe brutally beating him, taking him to the edge of the Tallahatchie River, shooting him in the head, fastening a large metal fan used for ginning cotton to his neck with barbed wire, and pushing the body into the river.
I know that Emmett Till had experienced segregation in his hometown of Chicago, but he surely was unaccustomed to the severe segregation he encountered in Mississippi. It is alleged that when he showed some local boys a picture of a white girl who was one of his friends back home and bragged that she was his girlfriend, one of them said, "Hey, there's a [white] girl in that store there. I bet you won't go in there and talk to her." Emmett went in and bought some candy. As he left, he said "Bye baby" to Carolyn Bryant, the wife of the store owner. That was the crime that justified the savage beating and disfiguring killing little Emmett endured.
"Have you ever sent a loved son on vacation and had him
returned to you in a pine box, so horribly battered and water-logged that
someone needs to tell you this sickening sight is your son -- lynched?"
William "Bill" Russell takes us from the fifties and champions the sixties. Bill Russell Led San Francisco to back-to-back NCAA championships (1955, 1956). He was a Member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic Team (1956) at the Melbourne Australia Olympic Games. Mr. Russell Won an amazing 11 NBA championships with Boston Celtics in 13 seasons (1957, 1959-66, 1968-69). His greatness has not been matched in all of athletics. Mr. Russell too had to suffer and endure a great deal of racialism. Like in 1957 Black students were denied to go to desegregated schools. They arrived escorted by two white ministers and two African American ministers. They were stopped from entering by the National Guard. As the students left, they were verbally abused by white students and adults from Little Rock. These scenes were captured on television and shown throughout the world. America was shocked at what it saw. In this case, the camera could not lie. Still Bill Russell performed with great determination and elegance overcoming the challenges before him.
The songs of the sixties are diverse and run the gambit emotions. "Banana Boat (Day-O)," by Harry Belafonte and "You Send Me," by Sam Cooke tops the early sixties. In the interest of erudition, look at the words to Sam Cookeís song and look at the last two lines. Hmmmmmm!
You send me (send me)
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was introduced in Eisenhowerís presidency and was the act that kick-started the civil rights legislative program that was to include the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Eisenhower had not been known for his support of the civilrights movement. Rather than lead the country on the issue, he had to respond to problems such as in Little Rock. He never publicly gave support to the civil rights movement believing that you could not force people to change their beliefs; such changes had to come from the heart of the people involved, not as the result of legislation from Washington.
Late 1967, Martin Luther King initiated a Poor People's Campaign designed to confront economic problems that had not been addressed by earlier civil rights reforms. The following year, while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, he delivered his final address "I've Been to the Mountaintop." The next day, Dr. King was assassinated.
A rifle shot struck Dr. King as he stood on a balcony outside his second-floor room at the Lorraine Motel. Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) member Ralph Abernathy ran to the balcony and cradled his friend's head until the paramedics arrived and rushed him to St. Joseph's Hospital. Doctors pronounced King dead at 7:05 pm... Following an international manhunt, white segregationistJames Earl Ray was arrested for King's murder on June 8th in London and later extradited to the United States. In a plea bargain, Tennessee prosecutors agreed in March 1969 to forgo seeking the death penalty if Ray pled guilty to murder charges. The circumstances surrounding this decision were later questioned,
1968 gave rise to songs like; "ĎSittiní On the Dock of the Bay" by the great Otis Redding and "Little Green Apples," by O.C. Smith.
And i wake up in the morning with my hair down in my eyes and she says hi
And i look across at smiling lips that warm my heart, and see my morning sun.
Everyday People, Sly & The Family Stone 1969
Sometimes Iím right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the thinker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group Iím in
I am everyday people, yeah
There is a blue one, who can't accept the green one
For living with a fat one, trying to be a skinny one
Separate but equal? With segregation, marching for freedom, combating for desegregation and the assassination of a Great leader within the Black community, the sixties proved to be a major challenge for us and yet Bill Russell achieved prominence and our music kept it real and reflected the mood of the community without the hostilities we endured. We kept it real by talking of love and living together.
Julius (Dr. J.) Ervingwith the skills of a great surgeon skillfully carved up the NBA and mesmerized the nation with angelic skills as the seventies came to fold. He was the ABAís MVP (1974, 1976). Dr. J. was on the ABA First Team All-Star (1973-76) ABA championship with New York Nets (1974, 1976), and was Five-time ABA All-Star (1972-76). He had to wait before He Led 76ers to his first and only NBA championship in (1983). Today, Mr. Erving is simply known as basketball's ambassador to the world. He's a basketball legend who, during his 16 scintillating seasons in both the ABA and NBA, redefined the forward position. Mr. Erving was flamboyant and artistic. His athleticism was unreal as he played in-your-face hoops. Opponents knew where Dr. J was headed, but few could stop his offensive assault. He was the King in the seventies and into the early eighties.
1974 the beginning of Dr. Jís dominance was the anthem of my times. "Be Thankful For What You Got," by William Devaughn and the words say it all.
Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
but just remember brothers and sisters
You may not have a car at all, but remember brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall. Strong and deserve sentiments that displayed the love and esteem of the community and that may have been lost in todayís efforts of keeping it real. From slavery when the Negro sang spirituals like swing low sweet chariot while our athletic prowess was exploited in the cotton fields. To the era of reconstruction and discrimination where the Colored man sang of love and family of being married supporting each other. Pioneers like Mr. Jackie Robinson and Mr. Earl Lloyd and Mr. Jessie Owens proved to the world that we in spite of the anchors weight upon us we can excel. We proved the Black man was "Everyday People" as we suffered institutional poverty and yet we kept our heads up high and again showed the world we had grace and splendor. However the times were about to change. Deficiency was about to be unconstrained as African American became more assimilated into society as deserving equals.
Earvin "Magic" Johnsonreviled the eighties with enchantment as he defined teamwork. His skills were as a magician as he moved the ball around to his players and the basket. He defined the term triple double. Earvin Led Michigan State to NCAA Championship (1979). Magic Led Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA Championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988). Showtime brought more money into the game and more income to the players. The average annual income of the NBA was $19,000 at the height of Bill Russellís unprecedented eleven NBA championships, to six figures by the time Magic tossed the ball around. Now payers make millions of dollars per year.
Michael Jackson moon walked the eighties into being with "Rock With You," "Billie Jean," and "Beat It." Earvin Magic Johnson was working magic on the court while Michael Jackson was working magic in the charts. E.J. was battling Byrd and M.J. was battling Elvis and the Beetles.
Another performer who showed great prominence as a entertainer and an entrepreneur was Prince. Prince was the first artist to take control of his work at a young age. Even in one of his songs he talks of how Little Richard still hasnít gotten paid for his work. Many of our entertainers of the past died poor because the record studios took control of their work. 1984 Prince let the charts with "When Doves Cry,"
Dig if u will the picture
Change is in the winds by the end of the eighties. Money is pouring into the community like never before. The person in sports who epitomizes this change is MICHAEL JORDAN a Five-time NBA Most Valuable Player (1987-88, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1995-96, 1997-98) Mr. Jordan was a member of six Chicago Bulls NBA championship teams (1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98). Michael Jordan is questionable the greatest player in NBA history. I say questionably because his moves were seen prior in Dr. J. His scoring and been seen prior in Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell has the record in dominance and championships. Still in one package Michael was all of those past heroes in one.
Michael also proved economic success in the multi business ventures he is involved in. His corporate Involvement propels Mr. Jordan as the businessman, the chairperson and one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Some of the corporations and products Michael is involved with; Electric Arts, Gatorade, Hidden Beach Records, MCI WorldCom, Michael Jordan Automotive Group, Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational, Michael Jordan Flight School, NBA Videos, JORDAN Brand, JORDAN Cologne, Oakley, Sara Lee Corporation, SportsLine, The Upper Deck Company, Wilson Sporting Goods, Michael Jordan Restaurants, Michael Jordan's Steak House, Michael Jordan's 23.sportcafe,One Sixty Blue.
Musically the scene changed drastically from love togetherness and family to sex and violence. Keeping it real in expressing of raw feelings. "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe opened the nineties along with their hit "Do Me." Color Me Bad came out with "I Wanna Sex You Up" and Sir Mix-A-Lotís "Baby Got Back." The greatest controversy came from the world of rap. The artist Bodycount featuring Ice-T came out with "Cop killer."
I got my black shirt on
FUCK THE POLICE!
No, no, no, Mommaaaaa...
"Maybe you havenít ever thought about it, but you canít leave home in the morning without being dependent on most of the world. You get up in the morning, and you go to the bathroom and you reach over for a sponge, and thatís even given to you by a Pacific Islander. You reach over for a towel, and thatís given to you by a Turk. You reach down to pick up your soap, and thatís given to you by a Frenchman. Then after dressing, you rush to the kitchen and you decide this morning that you want to drink a little coffee; thatís poured in your cup by a South American. Or maybe this morning you prefer tea; thatís poured in your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you want cocoa this morning; thatís poured in your cup by a West African. Then you reach over to get your toast, and thatís given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning you are dependent on more than half of the world.
And oh my friends, I donít want you to forget it. No matter where you are today, somebody helped you to get there. (Yes) It may have been an ordinary person, doing an ordinary job in an extraordinary way. Some few are able to get some education; you didnít get it by yourself. Donít forget those who helped you come over."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
From the sermon; Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool
Delivered at Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, on 27 August 1967
This long journey started to give a closer look at the history of the past and learn from it. And to take a distant look at the present and learn from that as well. It is up to you to discover what lessons are here. As Dr. Martin Luther King was stating in his sermon, "Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool," we are here because of those who were here before us. Our successes and our wealth we have because of the pioneers who tread the waters ahead of us. We must honor them!
Myself as a child my dad before his death in 1965 and me now. Looking back.