Sunday, February 7, 2010

Coretta King

By Dr. Barbara Reynolds

Four years have passed since the death of Coretta Scott King on January 30, 2006.
What greater time than now to commemorate her legacy by naming schools, federal and state office buildings and highways after her. King’s activism before, during and after the death of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped transform this nation, an accomplishment too important to be marginalized or forgotten.
In taped interviews over a two-year period to complete a biography, Mrs. King often emphasized that she was much more than just the wife or the widow of her husband. “I was an activist when I met him. I was a partner with him in the movement and I remained an activist after Martin was gone. I was married to the man I loved, but I was also married to the cause which helped me to go on without him.”
Here is a woman whose life is a stand- alone heroic epic. As a young girl she sometimes worked in the piercing hot sun of Alabama as a hired-hand picking cotton for two dollars a week, but rose in prominence to help pick presidents, mayors, and congressional leaders.
Mrs. King grew to womanhood in the 40’s when it was unacceptable for women to further their dreams outside the confines of their homes. Yet, she proved that a woman could become a housewife, raise four children and still become a co-partner on a violent battlefield with her husband in one of the world’s greatest human rights movement.
As a student at Antioch College, she became involved in the peace movement. “Before I ever met Martin in 1952 I was involved in politics. I did not become an activist after Martin’s death, as some might think. I was an activist when I met him.
Before she married King, she had to learn to live with fear. As a teenager, whites home burned down her family. Once married, threats were constant and sometimes real. She was at home with her infant daughter, Yolanda, when her house was bombed during the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott. “The bombing helped me to face fear and understand my faith in God was stronger than my fears.”
After Martin’s assassination, she said: “I had to fight back the tears and find the strength within to perpetuate Martin’s legacy by keeping the Dream alive. “We did that through the creation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-violent Social Change, which I envisioned as the West Point of non-violence. We created non-violent training programs that are still being conducted around the world. We promoted a national holiday as a model for commemorating Martin’s sacrifice and service for others to follow. Wherever there was injustice--war, discrimination against women, gays, and the disadvantaged-- I did my best to show up and exert moral persuasion for what is right.
Mrs. King said, “We spurred redevelopment in Atlanta, creating the diversity that helped attract the 1996 Summer Olympics and the Center continues to attract visitors from around the world, which brings in million to Atlanta through tourism.”
So far, Atlanta has not named any major buildings or highways after Mrs. King. This special recognition has been bestowed on many other movement leaders, such as the late Ralph D. Abernathy and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, both of whom were top King aides.
This shortcoming bothers loyalists, such as Steve Klein, the King Center’s Communications Director. “After all she did for the nation, especially Atlanta, it is surprisingly that so little has been done in her honor. A charter school named after her is about it. She took a deteriorating community, vacant lots and blight and through her work there is a King Complex, with a federal park, the King birth home, the gravesites where both Kings are entombed, all of which has become a spiritual Mecca.”
Dr. King once said of Coretta, “No matter where I am if she is not with me she is only a heartbeat away.” Yet, no matter who stood beside Dr. King, he would overshadow them in life as well as death. Nevertheless Mrs. King must not be allowed to recede in the shadows of history. She once told me, “My story is a freedom song, of struggle. It about finding one’s purpose, how to overcome fear and to stand up for causes bigger than one’s self.”
Mrs. King’s story must be writ large. If we fail to do so, a respect for process, perspective and posterity will suffer.
Journalism necessity requires shorthand. To say she built a Center and spoke out for injustice requires only a few words. It sounds easy, however, it was not. Somehow we must take the time to dig into the details of how many years all that took, how many tears were shed in the process.
Moreover, it is difficult to communicate to a younger generation how the nation moved from people being killed for trying to exercise their voting rights to the election of the first black president without studying the life of activists like Mrs. King who aided in the transformation.
Mrs. King worked tirelessly to preserve her husband’s legacy, which in the end became her farewell gift to the nation as well... It seems only right to commemorate both Kings because they were two souls with one goal. And they served our country well.

Dr. Barbara Reynolds is an ordained minister and author of five books, one of which is entitled No I Won’t Shut Up for which Mrs. King wrote the foreword.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Dr. Barbara Reynolds

As President Barack Obama directs aircraft carriers and transport planes jammed with food, medicine and as physicians, relief workers and journalists risk their lives to help beleaguered Haitians, the callous, venomous statements of Rush Limbaugh and Rev. Pat Robertson show how irrelevant the GOP has become.
With gifts to the American Red Cross totaling about $35 million in the first 48 hours of the disaster, U.S. citizens text-messaging millions, school children chipping in their spending change and CNN showing the tragedy to the world, the ugly words coming from the Republicans have me saying “Thank God America is not like them. Not anymore.”
At a time when tens of thousands of Haitians were buried under concrete, the best Limbaugh could muster was a twisted political statement about how the president was offering humanitarian aid to “build credibility with both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.” Then he said it was doubtful that “money being donated to Haiti through the White House Web site would actually go to the relief efforts,” suggesting that the Administration would use this money for their own special interests.
If that were not enough televangelist Robertson, who once ran for President on the Republican ticket, said on his 700 Club TV show that Haiti’s troubles came from their leadership making a pact with the devil some two hundred years ago.
Every Republican who still has any semblance of decency ought to be storming the airwaves denouncing Rush Limbaugh, the mouthpiece of the GOP. Limbaugh has become so zealous and frothy in his crusade to smear President Barack Obama that he has become the symbol of a lunatic.
How can Republicans put up with this kind of callous political venom? Why aren’t their leaders denouncing Limbaugh and Robertson? Is it because the GOP is so intent of making our president fail, as Limbaugh has decreed, that they will twist every presidential act, no matter how noble, to satisfy their own pathetic objectives?
Where, for example, is RNC chairman Michael Steele? If there is any hope for the GOP to be anything but a Gross Old Party, he should be out front putting Limbaugh in his place. But the last time Steele corrected Limbaugh, it was Steele who later cowed in a corner backtracking on his statements.
By allowing the GOP to be painted as “haters,” without a challenge from the top, the party has segregated itself into a corner reserved for the greedy, the blamers and the spoilers, a place few people of good will want to reside.
The GOP led by bombastic Limbaugh and silent Steele is what crazy looks like. The Democrats led by Obama is what goodwill feels like.
The ability to look at human suffering and make judgments only based on skin color is what we saw during the Katrina Hurricane under President George Bush. We saw U.S. citizens—war veterans, school children, teachers, soccer coaches, grandmothers, some wrapped in the American flag—stranded on roof tops, sweltering on asphalt highways, knee-deep in rat infested waste shared with human bodies—while our government headed by George Bush relaxed at his Texas ranch. We recoiled as we saw the U.S. born black population of New Orleans, labeled as “refugees,” as justification for aid being slow to come.
We are not fooled by a party who allows Limbaugh, who has announced the failure of Obama as his mission, to be its mouthpiece and defacto HWPIC (white person in charge). Limbaugh stands for race hatred. In recent years, he, reportedly, told a black caller on his radio show to "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back," he asked his audience: "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?" Of civil rights groups, he said, "the NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies." Recently he has enjoyed playing the song "Barack the Magic Negro" on the air.
It is not our president who is failing but Limbaugh who is failing as a human being. In addition it is Pat Robertson who should know the devil is not confined to Haiti—which incidentally is 80 per cent Christian-- when evil abounds everywhere.
In stating that Haitians made a pact with the devil, the GOP’S vicar is apparently referring to a Voodoo ceremony that in Haitian national mythology initiated the 1848 French revolution. In the ceremony, Haitian leader Boukman supposedly said: “The white man’s god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It’s He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men’s god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that speaks in all our hearts.”
Most people reading these words see an oppressed people rejecting the God of their oppressors, just as black slaves once did in this country. In the minds of people like Robertson, however, those who reject the god who champions oppression must be devil-worshippers.
If the devil is running things as Robertson alleges he clearly has found many cohorts in the party of Limbaugh and Robertson.

Dr. Barbara Reynolds, an ordained minister, is an author of five books, including Out of Hell & Living Well, Healing From the Inside Out.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Black Leaders silent as black rappers Create environ of death and abuse

Black leaders silent as black rappers
Create environ of death and abuse

By Dr. Barbara Reynolds

Singer Chris Brown’s arrest for allegedly beating and biting his girlfriend, pop princess Rihanna the same night vulgar rapper Lil Wayne was being lauded with four Grammy awards is a reminder of how thuggish rap culture creates a climate for not only male-on male violence but abuse of black women as well.
On one level Brown was only doing what the environment created by hustlers like Lil Wayne and his white backers promote. When the dope-using, pornographic rappers aren’t bragging about how good they are at killing other blacks, they swagger around calling black women “..itches and sluts” and showing their agility at dogging and abusing them.
In fact, Snoop Dogg once showed up at the MTV video awards accompanied by partially clad girls being pulled along by dog leashes.
The white establishment is applauding this behavior by elevating the thug music that glorifies killing, maiming and abuse to great fortunes. After all, the thugs are only killing black men and abusing black women. What a great victory for white supremacists who no longer need the KKK. Blacks brandishing guns and a pimp mentality are destroying each other faster than white militants could ever dream of.
Mainstream Time magazine in their July 2008 issues headlined Lil Wayne as the Best Rapper Alive. The magazine took great pleasure in commending him for how well he could rhyme “day” with “say” and “way.” Those sophomoric rhymes are worthy of praise for five-year-olds but for a grown man? Give me a break.
What else does Lil Wayne advocate that makes mainstream America love him so much? His “lollipop” number was honored as Best Rap Song. It is all about having the so-called “fun and games” of oral sex, of young girls licking him like a lollipop before regular intercourse. Of course, the promoters would not honor any artist who also talks about how HIV/AIDS is epidemic among black youth and how now 72 percent of household are headed up by single black women, who means the boys and men are missing in action as soon as the babies come.
Another song which the Grammys saw worthy of honor was included in Wayne’s latest album, Tha Carter III. With all the media hype behind it, it sold over one million copies the first week. If there is any doubt what Wayne thinks about women, the lyrics make it plain: “I ain’t got no loves for broads, I grab them on they butts and all.” Then he goes on to sing about how wonderful it is for his girls (sluts) to have oral sex with his dog.
It is not hard for me to understand why white led-media and music institutions want to honor blacks who entertain them with low-life, illiterate rantings, while creating a climate of death and destruction for black people. But I can not understand why so much of the black establishment—the pastors, civil rights institutions and universities—accept this standard without protesting their outrage at the systematic destruction of our young.
The major themes of most rap songs are Guns, drugs, death and destruction. And with the help of white corporations they are reaping a rich harvest.
For example, homicide is the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 18 and 24; 94 percent of blacks murdered are murdered by other blacks, usually men.
Our black women, whose images are being dragged through the mud not only in rap videos, but in movies, are increasingly being raped and beat. Black women are 35% more likely to be sexually and physically assaulted than white women. And one in 4 girls is in danger of being raped by age 18. Every 45 seconds a woman is physically assaulted, according to the National Victims Center.
Big bucks, of course, are fueling this genocidal assault. Women-hating rappers whine about how the man won’t fund them if they don’t go violent and after all they are only giving the public want they want. The argument is that titles like Get Rich or Die Trying will sell, but uplifting songs won’t. If that is so, why aren’t Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson broke?
No amount of money should make black rappers stoop so low as to scandalize black women, whose birth canals are their very entry into humanity. They insult our mothers, daughters and sisters. They are no different from the 19th century white slave masters who paraded half naked black women to the public square to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Unfortunately, the self-esteem of so many young black women, have fallen so low that they too see themselves as half nude butt-shaking objects, who can be sold for group sex, drugs or background filth for videos. They are faceless, pride-less, pitiful creatures who are agree they should be treated like dogs
In the case of Chris Brown, Wrigley is pulling his chewing gun ad and
RadioNOW, a black- owned Radio One network affiliate, is taking a stand by not playing his music. All that is good.
Yet, until the black establishment protests groups like Lil Wayne, who white corporations are paying to sing and dance the death jig, the beat down of black women will still be viewed by many as acceptable behavior for black men.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Don’t Make Michelle Over: We Like Her Like That

By Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds
REYNOLDS News Service
Don’t Make Michelle Over:
We Like Her Like That
The next national pastime by pundits and well-placed politicians will be The Makeover of presumptive First Lady Michelle Obama.
Recently the ignorant conservatives interrupted my idyllic daydream of seeing this brilliant, elegantly clad African-American woman presiding over state dinners and influencing important policy matters, along with the Obama children hosting the annual Easter egg hunts on the White House lawn.
What interrupted my revelries was the crass Fox News calling Michelle Obama, “Obama’s baby Mama,” a derogatory term for an unwed mother. What gall!
The conservatives spin lies about Mrs. Obama but hide the truth about Cindy McCain, the wife of the presumptive Republican challenger, John McCain. She is an heiress whose wealth estimated at $100m – comes from her late father’s beer distribution company. During the senator’s first run for president in 2000 it was reported that Mrs. McCain had been addicted to painkillers and had stolen from her own charity’s medicine cabinets to feed her drug habit.
Then, the well-meaning handlers around her responding to polls that Cindy McCain is more likeable have set out to soften Michelle Obama’s image, make her appear less “angry,” and more approachable. Hopefully her recent appearance on The View where she tackled the pressing issues of why she wears panty hose and eats bacon smooched up her “likeability” enough so she won’t have to talk about that minutiae again.
My fear is that too much tampering with or too many fingerprints probing over her will smudge up a person who is loved exactly the way she is. Why try to turn a Sojourner Truth into a Stepford wife?
One way to fix the so-called Michelle problem is to fight lies with truth. Much is made out of a sound bite where in response to her husband’s historic campaign for president she said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.” This in the hands of conservative twists became proof that she was unpatriotic.
First, of all as Whoppi Goldberg so artfully pointed out on The View, the operative word is REALLY, referring to a degree of pride. For example to be happy is wonderful, to be REALLY happy is pure joy, a step above.
Yet, if any of us have always been proud of our country we need psychiatric evaluation. Have we always been proud of a country that once enslaved and lynched blacks all within the protection of law? Are we proud of the nation’s almost total destruction of native American populations, the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the present oil war being waged in Iraq on the false pretense of Weapons of Mass Destruction?
No matter how the right and the left try to poke, prod and fix Michelle Obama, I see much in her background to believe that she will make waves one way or another to help the world’s left behind, just as she did at her six-figure position as a vice president at a white-led hospital in Chicago.
As the New York Times reported, when it was proposed that a certain vaccine to prevent cervical cancer should be tested on black teenage girls, Mrs. Obama stopped it. The clinical trial rightly raised the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, where white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.
Those kinds of bold acts where in the backrooms Mrs.Obama put her reputation and job on the line to fight for the powerless are what makes her a credible force and is what the world needs now—unchecked and undiluted.
Many would be more comfortable with the role of the First Lady as all fluff and puff, more decorative and ornamental than substantive. Historically when a First Lady did take on an issue, except for First Lady Hillary Clinton, it was usually far from the line of political fire. For example, Barbara Bush, wife of President George Bush, championed the cause of literacy. President Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, took on highway beautification.
Already there is a script being written for Mrs. Obama to continue in the mold of Jackie Kennedy who reigned over Camelot. Today, however, at a time when thousands of people are losing their homes through foreclosures, can’t afford gas to get to work, if they are still lucky enough to have a job, a Camelot-like lushness of life at the top does not seem appropriate.
Certainly, Mrs. Obama will chart her own course in history, but the mantle of Eleanor Roosevelt is worth considering. As First Lady, Mrs. Roosevelt broke many traditions. She was the first to give a press conference, the first to testify before Congress, the first to write a newspaper column, the first to become a political figure in her own right and was one of the most ardent champions of civil rights long before it was popular, a stance that resulted in the KKK putting a $25,000 bounty on her head. After leaving the White House, Roosevelt became chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and was voted the most popular American in magazine polls in the 1950s.
That’s the kind of Michelle Obama the world awaits. Bold. Brave. Beautiful. That is who I believe she is and that is who I believe neither those who hate her or love her won’t change.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Column: Church Fights

If Jesus Christ would show up in some of our churches, would He shed tears and walk out the door?
Once upon a time, church sanctuaries were treated as hallowed ground and the ordained clergy representing God and the people of God were viewed as the best examples of godly living.
Today, a demonic spirit of sexual perversion, prosperity blindness and power-tripping is creating a sense of shame and cynicism among rank and file Christians that is actually driving some from the pews.
For example weeks after Atlanta police and witnesses report how Bishop Thomas Weeks savagely chocked, kicked in the stomach and stomped his televangelist wife, Juanita Bynum in a hotel parking lot, the bishop is still in his pulpit at Global Destiny church.
As sad as this situation is, it provides a golden opportunity for preachers to deal with domestic violence in their own congregations. In America, every three minutes a woman is beaten, every five minutes a woman is raped and every ten minutes a child is molested.
These facts should provide much-needed real-life substance for preachers to rock the house with sermons against female-abuse, wife-beating and rape. But if pastors are beating their wives, having sex and babies out of wedlock in their own churches how can an atmosphere of respect for the Biblical mandates against adultery and violence against women be preached. Instead offending pastors and preachers hide behind sermons casting influential women as Jezebels and texts calling on women to be submissive—even if their spouses are skirt-chasing lunatics and fools.
The bishop acting like the wife-bashing Ike Turner or Mike Tyson is being widely discussed in beauty shops. In fact, the new name for domestic violence is “doing the Bishop Weeks,” as if it is a boxing match like Muhammad Ali’s Thriller in Manila.
Weeks, of course, is not the only spiritual leader scandalizing his office through violence. Click on the Internet’s You Tube and witness the brawl outside the St. James AME church in St. Paul, Minn. In this episode, church leaders angered over “the lack of people skills and mismanagement of church funds” locked the Rev. Hubert Armstrong from church properties. A confrontation ensued where a middle-aged female trustee smacked Armstrong and the portly pastor punched her with a solid right jab.
Other instances on You Tube show children fighting in the sanctuaries as dispassionate adults look on and a priest angrily throwing holy water on a woman. These sordid scenes give the impression that bar-room or playground behavior is acceptable for churches.
It’s not only the violence on the part of certain spiritual leaders but also sexually explicit gutter-type language that is creeping into sermons at the excuse of “keeping it real,” and examples of immoral conduct by pastors that are also causing grave concern.
Recently in a large Pentecostal church in Washington DC, a visiting preacher shocked many when he unashamedly used the offensive, vulgar “p” word during his sermon when describing a relationship with his wife. In Baltimore, a huge bill-board touting empowerment shows off a young AME preacher and his wife. But the talk on the East Coast and on Internet sites is about his impregnating yet another woman at his church.
Not only do these instances of preachers acting badly offend principles of holiness and respect for Bible-based living, they create bad examples for other preachers who can point to those offenders as their role-models, who are not taken to task for their outrageous behavior.
In addition, a can of worms has been opened by well-respected pastors Dennis and Christine Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church in Anacostia, MD deciding to perform same-sex union ceremonies and preaching that “homosexuality is not a sin,” despite the many scriptural references to the contrary.
One parishioner, Martha Battle, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, that she didn’t mind Covenant's outreach to gays at first, because "everybody needs to be saved." But now, "straight people are leaving and gay people are coming in," said Battle, who left the church with her 13-year-old grandson after the Wileys began performing same-sex union ceremonies. "They're taking over. I'm sick to my stomach over this mess. It's not right. Why should we have to leave and let them come in and take over the church?”
The Bible I read declares both adultery and homosexuality as sins. But now, since some preachers are saying homosexuality is not a sin some parishioners are concluding that neither are adultery and “shacking,” and are using this re-writing of Scripture as the basis for returning to their old sinful lifestyles.
In a nutshell, certain offensives conduct shows that some pastors need prayer, deliverance and spiritual counseling even more so than their parishioners. All pastors, of course, are not in error, but those that are may one day see that not only are parishioners leaving the church, but God, himself.
Dr. Reynolds is an adjunct professor at the Howard University School of Divinity, Howard, author of several books, including “Out of Hell & Living Well: Healing From the Inside Out,” and is the religion editor for the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Diary of a Glad Black Woman/nov.1/07

This is the first day that I tried to do a blog. They say it is easy. It is not. It made me use some words that I think are shameful. Anyway, while I am at it I watched the debates in Philadelphia. I think the Democrats were stupid for piling on Hillary. They don't seem to understand they are running against Republicans and destroying the strongest candidate will only help them implode. I am too worn out from this ordeal of setting up this blog to say more but I have just begun.