Thursday, April 26, 2012


The man who destroyed Jim Crow had to know the Constitution better than the Supreme Court had allowed it to be known and trust its precepts more than the framers had themselves. [See below]

Both conventional wisdom and available evidence would seem to agree that men are reluctant to visit the doctor unless absolutely necessary, and that this is especially true of black men. Reasons for this proclivity to act against self-interest vary of course, but the bottom line is that men procrastinate about taking care of their health.

So here’s a prescription: Call your father, brother, adult son, uncle, nephew, cousin, neighbor, co-worker, friend, or significant male other and tell him to go TODAY, THIS EVENING, BETWEEN 5:30 and 8:30 PM over to the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, Glickman Tower, on Euclid Avenue at East 96 St, for the 10th Annual Cleveland Clinic Minority Men’s Health Fair.

There he can choose among an abundance of FREE HEALTH SCREENINGS for a variety of concerns either he has or that you may have for him, including:

Blood Pressure
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Bone Density
Diabetes (blood sugar)
Dental screening
Glaucoma (eye)
Heart Disease
Hepatitis C
Lung Health
Kidney Function
Oral Cancer
Prostate Cancer
Sickle Cell
Skin Cancer

Parking is FREE and he is sure to run into some of his good buddies. Tell him that if he goes early he can get home in time to see the Browns make their first selection, or he can hang around the Fair and join in the collective cheer or groan when the pick is announced/traded bungled.

This is Minority Health Month and a Minority Men’s Health Fair, but it is open to ALL MEN.

He can register in person at the Fair or Pre-register by visiting  

For more information, visit 

• • •

Procrastinators of a different stripe who missed last week’s successful debut of the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Fest can get a taste of what they missed TONIGHT ONLY at an encore presentation of two of the more talked about films: The Contradictions of Fair Hope and Happy Sad. Both films will be shown at Shaker Square Cinema, at 6PM and 8PM respectively.

“Contradictions” is a documentary treatment of a little known aspect of American history, when newly freed slaves throughout the South formed “benevolent societies” to respond to the abject hunger, illness and the fear of a pauper’s grave. The documentary sets the stage in rural Alabama, prior to Emancipation, and traces the development, struggles, contributions and gradual loss of tradition of one of the last remaining African American benevolent societies, known as “The Fair Hope Benevolent Society” in Uniontown, Alabama. The film is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and co-directed by S. Epatha Merkerson of Law and Order fame.

“Happy Sad” is a tender and vibrant coming of age story. Mandy, a high school footballer from the ghettos of Trinidad is shipped off to the idyllic island of Tobago to live with her great uncle Cephas (Bill Cobbs). Fury and fear keep Mandy from seeing the beauty all around her. Soon the island itself becomes a character that helps Mandy overcome her inner demons. 2009. Directed by Dianah Wynter.

Tickets may be purchased at the box office. GCUFF passes are no longer valid.

The Festival’s three-minute promo can be seen here. It was shown before every film during the Festival and was especially well done. Check it out.

• • •


There would have been no Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr. without an extraordinarily important cadre of people who planned, strategized, and acted with conviction and courage for years and even decades to prepare the way for the headliners to be written into history of civil rights heroes.

Similarly, there would have been no Thurgood Marshall, A. Leon Higginbotham, or Barack Obama had it not been for a brilliant, visionary attorney named Charles Hamilton Houston, architect of Howard Law School, and the strategic legal campaign that reached its dramatic zenith in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Tonight, Rev. Zachery R. Williams, Ph.D., will lead an informed discussion about this historic episode in civil rights and American history, based on the book, Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall and the Struggle to End Segregation.

Tonight’s discussion is part of an ongoing dialogue on the Civil Rights Movement that focuses on the organizing and other skills of a quartet of leaders, including A. Phillip Randolph and Ella Baker, in addition to Houston and Marshall.

The series is presented by The National Institute for Restorative Justice at Deuteronomy 8:3 Café and Books, 1464 Wade Park Ave, in University Circle.

Tonight’s discussion leader, Zachery Williams, is an assistant history professor at the University of Akron, assistant pastor at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church,  and the author of a fine book, In Search of The Talented Tenth: Howard University Public Intellectuals and the Dilemmas of Race, about which I wrote briefly here.
The examination of Houston’s legacy will continue next week when US District Judge Solomon Oliver, chief judge of the Northern District, leads part two of the study of “the man who killed Jim Crow.”

Find further details at

 • • •

"By now they understood that they were to become social engineers —
to use the law to change the law... Learning the law and learning to think 
like a lawyer were but the elementary steps in becoming social engineers...
The third step... was the most critical: In order to give meaning to steps one and two — if they were to be anything but 'parasites' on their society — African American lawyers were obligated to know what the law should be.
They had to know the Constitution better than the Supreme Court had allowed it to be known and trust its precepts more than the framers had themselves ...
For all his Ivy League education and conservative mien, Dean Houston's
teaching law in this manner was as audacious as the arguments he and his
former students would soon begin presenting to courts across the country."
Rawn James, Jr. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Being Green, or channeling my inner Feagler just after Earth Day

Being Green, or channeling my inner Feagler [1] just after Earth Day

[H/T to my Empire Junior High School classmate, Carolyn Carrier [née Hill], who emailed a version of this from Las Vegas, where she kicks butt and takes names as a super Obama volunteer.]
 • • •
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right — our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to protect public property — our school system-issued books. Then we  personalized our brown paper bag book covers with our art.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have throwaway disposables. We used wind and solar power to dry clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling 220-volt machine. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV and one radio, in the house, not a TV in every room, and the TV screen was the size of a handkerchief, not the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred
by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We used refillable ink pens instead of disposable ballpoints, and we replaced  the razor blades when the blade got dull instead of tossing it in the trash.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

It’s sad how the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then.

You might forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young’un. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

[1] Longtime Cleveland journalist Dick Feagler, the area’s Chief of Nostalgia.