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Herb Boyd

Stories by Herb

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Dr. R. Chester Redhead, the eminent dentist, passes at 92

“The best way to understand New York’s Black upper class is to study its origins,” Dr. R. Chester Redhead told author Lawrence Otis Graham.

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Two civil rights icons—Simeon Booker Jr. and Ernest Finney Jr.

There is no way to say for certain if the journalist extraordinaire Simeon Booker and the eminent Justice Ernest Finney Jr. were ever at the same place at the same time, but given their eventful lives, particularly on the civil rights battlefields, they traversed some of the same historic ground.

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Painter Laura Wheeler Waring, noted for her portraits and illustrations

Depicted on the cover of the April 1923 edition of The Crisis magazine is the art of Laura Wheeler Waring, and this image of a woman playing an ancient harp, entitled “Egypt and Spring,” was just one of several covers she illustrated.

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Doug Jones wins; Trump rebuked in Alabama

No matter what you call it—a rebuke or a repudiation of President Trump and his former strategist Steve Bannon—folks in Alabama are calling it a victory for Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore Tuesday evening in a very important special senate election.

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Rest in power—Dr. Jack Felder, activist and scientist, passes at 78

For many years, come rain or shine, Dr. Jack Felder, along with his son, Nova, had a permanent spot on 125th Street in front of Mart 125.

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An undaunted civil and human rights advocate, Rep. Charles Diggs Jr.

Current news stories surrounding the political turmoil in Zimbabwe and Kenya, the sexual harassment charges against Rep. John Conyers Jr., remembering Rosa Parks’ iconic moment almost 62 years ago to the day and the ongoing recollection of the tragic death of Emmett Till bring to mind memories of Congressman Charles Diggs Jr. (D-Mich.), who had ties with each of these individuals or events.

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The Miracles’ Pete Moore dies at 79

Whenever the Miracles, Motown’s seminal group, is mentioned, invariably Smokey Robinson is the next word. But by 1975, Robinson was soloing, and it was left for Pete Moore, Ronnie White and Bobby Rogers to maintain things.

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Remember her name—Singer and composer Alberta Hunter

There’s a large blowup photo/poster of famed singer Alberta Hunter in the office of the Edwards Sisters’ Realty in Harlem. Hunter’s naked body is partially covered and at the bottom of the photo is her inscription to a Charlie Parker.

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The Iconic John Conyers I know

I am troubled by the recent allegations of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior levelled against Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), but there is no way I can be impartial.

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The gifted and talented ex-slave Elizabeth Denison Forth

Among the several riveting discoveries disclosed in Tiya Miles’ book “The Dawn of Detroit—A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of Straits” (The New Press, 2017) is the extended discussion on Elizabeth Denison Forth.

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Pianist/composer Alice Coltrane cast her own shadow

By now, many of you have seen the documentary “Chasing Trane,” about the acclaimed musician John Coltrane.

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The muddled Middle East

Dampening the good news from Abu Dhabi about the recent opening of its new Louvre museum, which has already shown signs of boosting tourism and momentarily subsuming its reputation as a mall heaven, is the terrible news that an earthquake on the border of Iran and Iraq Sunday has left more than 400 fatalities, with more expected.

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Harlem’s poet laureate, George Edward Tait, is with the ancestors

Among the last emails George Edward Tait sent to his friends and comrades were his “Occult Observations on the Months of January and February.

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Dakota Staton, a versatile vocalist with fantastic rhythm

Whenever a notable person appears in a profile, particularly when that person is a relative or a close associate, I find it difficult to ignore that individual, and that is certainly the case with songstress Dakota Staton.

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Geri Allen’s music, name resounded at Carnegie Music Hall

“She was a sister and daughter,” Merkerson noted, “a gentle spirit who saw the best in everyone.”

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More guns is Trump’s answer

In the wake of the terrorist attack and the indictment of his former aides, President Trump conveniently embarked on a tour of Asia.

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Fred Staton, a tenor saxophonist for the ages

Because I won’t be around for Fred Staton’s home going services Nov. 2—the tenor saxophonist died Oct. 24 at the Atria Nursing Home & Zicklin Hospice in Riverdale, Bronx at 102—I thought the Classroom would be a perfect venue for a musician whose longevity was only exceeded by his soulful swinging.

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Trump’s cronies indicted

After weeks of waiting and wondering how Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was going, a resounding answer arrived Monday with indictments against Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, and Rick Gates, Manafort’s associate.

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Cornelia Bailey, the Gullah-Geechee griot of Sapelo Island

Many years ago, while conducting research on the Gullah-Geechee culture in the small islands off the coast of South Carolina, I had plans to extend this pursuit to Georgia, particularly to Sapelo Island.

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Hoyt Fuller, an editor and advocate of the Black aesthetic

No discussion of Detroit’s Black history is complete without consideration of the contributions made by Fred Hart Williams.

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Trump threatens NBC and other networks

Ever since his announcement to run for the presidency, we have known of Trump’s distaste for the media, as he underscores it with the charge that we are “the enemy of the people.”

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Trump’s tragedies

After putting his feud with the NFL and the cultural wars on hold, President Trump has finally devoted attention to the disaster in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

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Elombe Brath ‘showing’ us the Way

Like the hundreds who attended Elombe Brath’s events at the Harriet Tubman School in the past, there was a sizable crowd in the heart of Harlem last Saturday for a street co-naming ceremony in honor of the esteemed “freedom fighter,” as he was repeatedly called.

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A homegoing of music for Sarah McLawler Kimes

From the opening organ prelude with Donald Smith at the keyboard and Carol Sudhalter on baritone saxophone in a rendition of “Caravan” to a collective singing of “This Little Light of Mine,” led by Antoinette Montague, who officiated the funeral services, Sarah McLawler Kimes rested in a familiar milieu of music.

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Bernie Casey, gifted athlete, artist and actor

Within a few days of learning of Bernie Casey’s death, I had read an article about polymaths, those individuals who are proficient in several endeavors.

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Trump’s culture war and war of words

The topsy-turvy Trump world tumbled even further into chaos and turmoil last week as the president ratcheted up his culture war, asserted once more his support for repealing and replacing Obamacare, sided with a right wing candidate in Alabama and drew a line in the sand when faced off with the NFL.

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Dr. Ruth Elizabeth Burks, literary scholar and film authority

When Ishmael Reed announced this week that Dr. Ruth Elizabeth Burks had died, he reminded us that she was among the contributors to “Black Hollywood Unchained—Commentary on the State of Black Hollywood,” a collection of essays he edited in response to the film “Django Unchained” and published by Third World Press (2015).

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Trump ‘bombastic’ at UN

President Trump should swallow some of the words he delivered in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.

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A. J. Smitherman, a fearless publisher and advocate for the damned

It was during a recent speaking engagement in Tulsa on the riot that occurred there in 1921 that I discovered in my research a most interesting man.

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Remembering Simeon Wright—Emmett Till’s cousin

“I was lying there, frozen stiff and not moving, when my mother rushed into the room,” Simeon Wright recounted of the morning when his cousin Emmett Till was abducted by two white men.

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Evelyn La Rue Pittman, teacher and composer of folk operas and spirituals

In preparation for lectures in Tulsa, Okla., I stumbled upon the name of Evelyn La Rue, or LaRue, Pittman, and recalled seeing a photo of her taken by Carl Van Vechten, who documented so many outstanding African-Americans, particularly during the Harlem Renaissance era.

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James Edwards, consummate actor and war veteran

The recent death of Dick Gregory and citations from his book “Nigger” brought to mind the actor James Edwards.

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The Rev. Charleszetta ‘Mother’ Waddles, fed the body and the soul

Nearly every African-American community has its “Mother” or “Queen Mother,” who has dedicated her life to preserving both her people’s present welfare and her enduring legacy.

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Trump is Trump again

As predicted, President Trump, hours after a rather conciliatory speech at Fort Myer—where it was more about Charlottesville than Afghanistan—was back at his accusatory best, blaming the media for the violence in Virginia last week.

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Dick Gregory—He attacked racism and bigotry with ironic humor

Dick Gregory possessed a comedic gift that when combined with his political insight cut like a laser to the heart of the Black experience in America.

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Dr. Darwin T. Turner, poet, teacher and leading literary critic

When I arrived at the University of Iowa in 1983, Dr. Darwin Theodore Troy Turner had already reached a commanding plateau of his amazing academic career. At that time, he was the University of Iowa Foundation’s Distinguished Professor of English.

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NABJ in NOLA was a Hall of Fame affair

Rather than being upstairs at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, where there was a standing room only crowd for the appearance of Omarosa Manigault at the 2017 National Association of Black Journalists conference, a few of us chose to spend the time meeting with the National Writers Union.

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A rogue president

The fissure in the nation’s race relations experienced a more tragic chasm in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend, and it also signaled a further collapse of the Trump administration.

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Sarah Webster Fabio, poet, educator, activist and literary critic

No matter which of the endeavors consumed her at the moment—poet, scholar, educator, musician, activist, literary critic, performer or mother—Sarah Webster Fabio did it with uncommon flair and creativity.

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Trump's words or war...'caught between two maniac

President Trump ratcheted his rhetoric to its most militaristic edge Tuesday, warning North Korea to end its threat against the U.S. or face the “fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

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Dr. S. Allen Counter, ‘the most interesting man in the world’

There is no need to wait for years to go by to enshrine Dr. S. Allen Counter, who died July 12 at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Dr. Counter was 73 and his daughter, Philippa Counter, said the cause of death was cancer

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Kiss the Mooch goodbye

Anthony Scaramucci, the latest victim in the Trump administration, might be said to have tripped over the same tongue that for 10 days as communications director had given him a national platform.

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Regina Anderson Andrews, librarian, playwright and patron of the arts

The storied Harlem Renaissance is replete with authors, but often neglected are the librarians, the bibliophiles who played an important role in keeping the books on the shelves and ensuring a struggling writer’s success.

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Senate debate on Obamacare underway on Capitol Hill

“Let the sideshow begin,” Blue Magic sang years ago, but they could have been talking about the GOP charade, the upcoming vote-a-rama as they reject amendment after amendment on how to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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Jim Ingram, an intrepid reporter and radio commentator

Despite the overwhelming recognition and attention Detroit is receiving in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the rebellion, there are sure to be many interesting elements that will not be covered.

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McConnell foiled again

One would think that with the GOP in command in Congress and with President Trump presiding over the White House that the repeal or the replacement of Obamacare was all but history.

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Martha Rivera Chavis, wife of civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis, dies at 53

While we welcome the arrival of Black Press Month, we mourn the passing of Martha Rivera Chavis, the wife and first lady of the NNPA, of which her husband, Dr. Benjamin Chavis Jr., is the president and CEO.

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Noted former Detroit native Geri Allen remembered in words and music

Pianist, composer, educator Geri Allen was born in Pontiac, Mich., June 12, 1957; raised in Detroit; was a graduate of Howard University; earned a degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Pittsburgh; played all over the world;

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Lillian Hardin Armstrong, pianist, composer and tailor

There was, as expected, a flurry of renewed interest in the life and musical legacy of jazz great Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong over the last week or so because his birthday was on or somewhere around the Fourth of July.

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Democrat files articles of impeachment against Trump

After months of threats and speculation, Wednesday afternoon Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) has formally introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump.

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