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Herb Boyd

Stories by Herb

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Jack Whitten, sculptor, painter who released spirits

When it came to my attention that a fresh body of sculpture by Jack Whitten was slated for the Met Breuer, I hastened there, although the exhibit is scheduled to stand until Dec. 2.

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A Queen and her common folks: Aretha Franklin's homegoing

As only an admiring peon, I had no invitation to attend the homegoing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

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Octavia Butler, the doyenne of sci-fi

A few weeks ago at The Stone at the New School, flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell led her ensemble into the “Xenogenesis Suite,” dedicated to the author Octavia Butler.

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Mixed feelings about a ‘hero’ with blood on his hands

Praise and accolades are pouring in for the recently departed Sen. John McCain who died of brain cancer Saturday at age 81, many of them extolling him as an American patriot with flags across the country flying at half-mast—except at the White House.

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The intrepid Donald Cox, a Black Panther field marshal

Within a 24-year period, two books and one article centered on the year 1970, and while one, a novel by Bill Fletcher, Jr., only unfolded in that year

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White ex-cop convicted of murdering Black unarmed youth

The white, former police officer, Roy Oliver, who shot and killed Jordan Edwards in suburban Dallas last April was convicted of murder Tuesday.

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Dorothy Van Engle, a gorgeous and talented actress

Near the end of director/producer Oscar Micheaux’s film “Swing” (1938), Dorothy Van Engle delivers an intimidating look that dares a man to pilfer from her friend’s purse.

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Legal noose tightens on Trump

If Trump’s Twitter account has intensified and he seems a bit more agitated, blame the tightening legal noose, thanks to his current and former attorneys and consultants.

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Long live the ‘Queen of Soul,’ Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, will be remembered mainly for her heavenly voice, which Aug. 16, joined the angelic choir not too far from Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward, the latter who mentored Franklin and was the companion to her illustrious father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin.

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William Leo Hansberry, noted authority of Ethiopian history and culture

Anytime the renowned playwright Lorraine Hansberry is mentioned, it invariably summons memories of the eminent historian and anthropologist, William Leo Hansberry.

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Who’s unhinged?

“Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House” is Omarosa Manigault Newman’s new book, and without the entire title we might be left to ponder who in fact is unhinged.

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Delilah Jackson, a treasury and repository of entertainment

Leafing through a book on the great vocalist Billie Holiday, I stumbled on a photo attributed to Delilah Jackson. That photo was just one of thousands from her immense collection, which included a trove of entertainment memorabilia piled and scattered throughout her apartment in lower Manhattan.

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Trump’s trunk

If Trump’s nose was like Pinocchio’s, which grew with each lie he told, it would be longer than an elephant’s trunk. Last week, in an attempt to rescue his son Donald Jr. from a mess, he further tangled himself in a web of lies about his son’s meeting with the Russians in his tower in Manhattan in June 2016.

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The unfazed fighter for justice, Ron Dellums, is dead at 82

Whether on the streets of Oakland, in the Marines or on the floor in Congress, Ron Dellums was a fighter. The same tenacity he demonstrated as a youth when he was assailed by a bully who called him a “dirty Black African” was part of his demeanor and attitude during 27 years as a representative from California.

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Boxing trainer extraordinaire John Clinton Grinage, passes at 89

John Clinton Grinage was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov. 19, 1928, at St. Mary’s Hospital to Luther and Viola Grinage. He was the sole offspring of that union. Grinage’s father was a professional boxer in Belize during the 1920s and exposed him to the sport at a very young age. He was around it constantly and it became a part of him. By the age of 10, Grinage had developed his boxing skills.

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Legendary baseball player, the speedy James ‘Cool Papa’ Bell

Cool Papa Bell was so fast, legend has it, that he could turn off the light and get into bed before the room got dark.

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Manafort to trial, Trump to Florida

For months now it seems Trump has been declaring “there’s no collusion” in reference to the possible ties between Russia and the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.

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Dr. Eileen Southern, classical pianist, historian and musicologist

A recent visit to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture was made all the more stunning with the discovery of a quote from famed musicologist and historian Dr. Eileen Southern.

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Obama lauds Mandela, lashes Trump

At the start of his speech in South Africa to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, Barack Obama confessed that he didn’t come on his own, but at the “demand” of Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel.

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Dr. Price M. Cobbs, psychiatrist who co-authored ‘Black Rage’

There is no need for years to pass to enshrine Dr. Price M. Cobbs, who died June 25 in Philadelphia, where he had traveled to his grandson’s high school graduation.

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Diaspora meeting with our historic pioneers

It was a special day in Harlem, and 50 was the magic number June 25 when the same number of notable New Yorkers and our historic pioneers were respectfully invited by co-hosts, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Lloyd Williams, to a 50th anniversary breakfast summit of memory and celebration.

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Trump checkmated by Putin

It was generally agreed among pundits that the meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would amount to nothing more than a photo op to shore up his leadership uncertainties. However, it was less predictable that he would use the occasion in Helsinki to excoriate Hillary Clinton and to accept the denials of Putin over intel from his own intelligence agencies.

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Mary Shadd Cary, journalist, lawyer, educator and abolitionist

In his narrative of the raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, Osborne Anderson, one of the five Black men (and the sole survivor) who rode with John Brown, provides an eyewitness account of the incident, and wrote this toward the end of the book: “From York [Pennsylvania], I wended my way to the Pennsylvania railroad,” Anderson explained after his escape from the battle.

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Andy Razaf—poet, lyricist and Black nationalist editor

Fats Waller, the prolific composer and pianist, was such a phenomenal musician and versatile entertainer that many believed he wrote the music and lyrics for such popular songs as “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “The Joint is Jumpin’,” but Waller shared these creations with Andy Razaf.

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Rep. Maxine Waters defies death threats

Controversy and heated discussions are no strangers to California Rep. Maxine Waters.

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Trump’s former attorney about to flip?

Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that his first loyalty was to his family and his country.

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Septima Poinsette Clark, innovative teacher and devout freedom fighter

When the roll call of civil rights icons is delivered, Septima Poinsette Clark should not be omitted.

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Let’s ostracize Trump

We are not at all surprised that our columnist Armstrong Williams has found it necessary to rush to the defense of a Trump administration staffer, specifically White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was asked on June 22 to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va.

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SCOTUS upholds Trump’s travel ban

By upholding Trump’s travel ban Tuesday, the Supreme Court has expanded the president’s executive powers.

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Eston Hemings, an accomplished musician and cabinetmaker

All the fanfare surrounding the opening of the Sally Hemings exhibit at the Thomas Jefferson Monticello estate in Virginia last week finally gives recognition to the slave woman who was the mother of four surviving children by Jefferson.

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The Rev. Sharpton and civil leaders oppose the separation of families

About the same time members of Congress were conferring on a bill to keep immigrant families together who had been detained at the border, the Rev. Al Sharpton, along with several civil rights leaders, were voicing their objection to the children being separated from their parents.

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Dorothy Cotton was the personification of the brave civil rights activist

In the annals of the Civil Rights Movement, there is a photo of eight stalwarts in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young, James Bevel and Hosea Williams. Only one of them is a woman—Dorothy Cotton.

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Jazz harpist and composer Dorothy Ashby

In the world of jazz, harpist Dorothy Ashby had a unique and singular presence.

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Trump and Kim on the same Page

The on and off again meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump finally happened Tuesday in Singapore, although little is known about what transpired beyond their cordial exchanges after a five-hour session.

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Attorney Lewis Myers Jr., ‘the people’s lawyer,’ dead at 70

A coterie of African-American revolutionaries and civil rights activists were recipients of the wise counseling of attorney Lewis Myers Jr., including the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., Assata Shakur and his good friend, Min. Louis Farrakhan.

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Charles W. White, an artist and muralist of political commitment

No gallery or collection of African-American artists is complete without one from Charles Wilbert White.

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Five hundred days of Trump

“L’etat, c’est moi!” (“I am the state!”) is an expression widely attributed to Louis XIV and his long monarchical rule in France, but to some extent, it can be applied to Trump as he moves autocratically in his absolute political authority.

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Pioneering military woman, attorney and cleric, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, passes at 104

Described by some as a “one-woman legal aid society,” Dovey Johnson Roundtree shattered several color and gender barriers in her long and productive career.

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Rosie Lee Tompkins, a private but spectacular quilt maker

From what I can gather, Rosie Lee Tompkins, the extraordinary quilt maker, was not that interested in the spotlight, preferring a more reclusive life to do her work.

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Herman D. ‘Denny’ Farrell, gentleman and beloved politician, dies at 86

Herman “Denny” Farrell Jr. might have evinced an aristocratic presence, but his constituents knew him as a political leader of deep conviction and integrity during his 42 years in office.

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Trump slams Schumer and Pelosi

Trump was back on script Tuesday during his speech in Nashville, where he was ostensibly to support the candidacy of Marsha Blackburn, who is seeking to replace the retiring Sen. Bob Corker.

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Mel Tapley, a beacon of brilliance at the Amsterdam News

Thanks to my friend and colleague, Ken Sargeant, I was notified that Mel Tapley, for many years the arts and entertainment editor here at the AmNews, was honored at the Field Library May 12 in Peekskill. It was officially “Mel Tapley Day” in the city that, along with the NAACP chapter there, paid homage to the editor, cartoonist and a versatile civic stalwart in Peekskill and elsewhere.

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No ‘rule of law’ for Trump

That the Trump administration approached and then balked from stepping into a constitutional quagmire is nothing new, and such was the case Monday when Trump veered close to involving partisan politics and the independence of law enforcement.

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Toni Parks, like her famous father, was a versatile and accomplished artist

When your father is Gordon Parks, it is easy to understand your hesitancy to pick up the camera, settle behind a piano, or generally pursue any artistic career, given his accomplishments.

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Him and Kim?

The only predicable thing in the Trump universe is to expect the unpredictable, and then hold your breath. Another instance of that uncertainty arrived recently with Trump apparently changing his mind about a few Chinese companies when it comes to tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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Bill Rowe, a war correspondent, influential columnist and publicist

Bill Rowe, a war correspondent, influential columnist and publicist

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Trump dumps Iran deal

Trump dumps Iran deal

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The Rev. Dr. James H. Cone, creator of Black Liberation Theology, passes at 79

The Rev. Dr. James H. Cone, creator of Black Liberation Theology, passes at 79

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Elizabeth Ann Wells, former model, proprietor and nurturer

Elizabeth Ann Wells, former model, proprietor and nurturer

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Mueller’s 49 questions for Trump

Mueller’s 49 questions for Trump

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