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Herb Boyd

Stories by Herb

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Dr. Ben in his own words

Toward the front of the headquarters of the National Action Network in Harlem, there is a chair—no, a throne—that was placed there for the venerable Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan.

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Toni Stone, first female professional baseball player

With major league baseball currently in spring training and Women’s History Month nearing its end for this year, we throw the spotlight on Toni Stone, the first woman to ever play in a men’s professional league.

New film featuring Dr. Cornel West, revolutionary Bob Avakian

Bob Avakian, chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and Dr. Cornel West, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at the Union Theological Seminary in New York will show their film, “The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion,” Saturday, March 28, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Harlem youth winners at White House Film Festival

Good news about Black youth in the mainstream media has become increasingly rare, so we are thrilled to learn that Harlem’s Digital Media Training Program was among 15 winners of the second annual White House Film Festival and celebrated the occasion last week with President Barack Obama.

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The Rev. Willie T. Barrow, civil rights activist, dies at 90

President Barack Obama said that he was one of the Rev. Willie T. Barrow’s godchildren, “and I have worked hard to live up to her example.” Such has been the lot of many of Barrow’s many godchildren, all of whom are now mourning her death and remembering her undying commitment to civil rights. She was 90.

Envelope containing cyanide addressed to White House

Monday, according to a story posted on The Intercept, an envelope received at the White House mail screening facility tested positive for cyanide.

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Attorney general confirmation stalled

Four months ago, President Barack Obama selected Loretta Lynch to succeed Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general. In February, a Senate panel approved the nomination, but since then, things have turned into an interminable wait.

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Sharpton brings it home in Selma

Whatever the reasons for selecting the Rev. Al Sharpton as the keynote speaker at the “Bloody Sunday” commemoration at Brown Chapel A.M.E. church in Selma last Sunday, it proved to be a wise decision.

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Beauty mogul Rose Morgan

Since this is Women’s History Month, the “Classroom” column will keep its focus on the contributions of Black women. Last week, “Stagecoach Mary” led the way in opening the West, and on the eastern front, wielding not a rifle but a hot comb and a cosmetic kit, was Rose Morgan.

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Many rivers and bridges to cross

As President Barack Obama prepared to lead marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge spanning the Alabama River in Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that historic march for voting rights Saturday, he said that we as a nation have many “more bridges to cross.”

Civil wrongs

Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice were all unarmed Black males killed by the police or a neighborhood watch volunteer. And if the recent decisions in the Martin and Rice cases are any indication, the Justice Department will find it difficult to prosecute the officers for civil rights violations.

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The intrepid Mary Fields

Fortunately, the “Classroom” column has a number of knowledgeable readers, and a few of them, from time to time, send in suggestions of historic figures who need wider recognition. Recently, one from B.J., requested a profile on Mary Fields, someone I had thought about several months ago. His prompting was enough. Here’s our take on this legendary woman of the West.

Netanyahu gives controversial speech before Congress

In this third speech before a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel made it abundantly clear where he stands—and “stand” is the operative word in this 40-minute address—on the deal now in process between the U.S. and Iran.

Civil rights legend Anne Moody dies at 74

As we move into the final week of Black History Month and African-Americans cheer the victory of “Glory” at the recent Academy Awards ceremony after many have commemorated the life and legacy of Malcolm X, we pause now for a moment of silence in memory of Anne Moody, who died Feb. 5.

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Dr. Charles H. Wesley: The eminent historian on Black labor

A few weeks ago, we profiled Dorothy Porter Wesley, the premier librarian, and promised to do one on her scholarly husband, Dr. Charles H. Wesley.

HERB

Civil rights legend Anne Moody recently made her transition in Gloster, Miss., and that small town is again in the news with the Gloster Project, a new initiative led by Margaret Porter Troupe with the purpose of providing arts education and free summer camps and activities to the children of rural Mississippi, where she was born and raised.

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Dori J. Maynard, a fighter for diversity in journalism, dead at 56

Maynard is a name almost synonymous with Black journalism, and a pall hangs over it at the moment with the death of Dori J. Maynard, the daughter of publisher Robert C. Maynard, who carved her own unique niche in the pursuit of journalistic excellence and diversity.

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Sharpton the newsmaker

It may be a great disservice to mention the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rudy Giuliani in the same article, but they are two public figures with a long affair with the media—one longing for it to go away and the other courting it for coverage.

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Elizabeth Keckley, Mrs. Lincoln’s dressmaker and confidant

My daughter Maya arrived in town the other day to attend and possibly participate in the currency that vibrates with Fashion Week. An artist and fashion designer based in Miami, she often makes this annual pilgrimage, where women of her color and caliber are as a scarce as Black female directors in Hollywood.

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Eric Garner lives!

Eric Garner has been dead since July of last year after police officers forcibly apprehended him on the streets of Staten Island for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. He may be dead, but Garner is not gone.

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On cloud nine at Harlem Fine Arts Show

Each year since its inception six years ago, the Harlem Fine Arts Show has grown in size and prestige, featuring an extraordinary number of artists and their priceless productions from more than 80 galleries around the globe.

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DOE announces safety, fairness reforms

During his successful mayoral campaign, Bill de Blasio often mentioned the need to have schools where students would have a safe and fair learning environment. This week’s announcement by Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina about school climate and discipline reforms is a major step in fulfilling that mission.

Judge blocks Obama’s immigration plan

President Obama’s executive authority hit another wall of resistance when a judge in Texas temporarily blocked his immigration plan.

Mayor de Blasio’s pre-lemonary budget

With a gravelly voice and between sips of herbal lemon tea, Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his preliminary 2016 Fiscal budget. He outlined the budget within three areas: fiscal responsibility, progressiveness and honesty.

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‘James Baldwin Place’ now official

It was a foregone conclusion that police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, both slain by a mentally disturbed man last year, would receive the most tributes at the recent co-naming ceremony at City Hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio presiding.

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Golfing immortal Charlie Sifford

The passing of pioneering golfer Charlie Sifford on Feb. 3 is just such a moment, particularly when there is no obituary in our publication. He was 92 and lived in Cleveland, Ohio.

Obama’s provocation

There is little need for President Barack Obama to be deliberately provocative, as he said he did after catching relentless flak from his detractors.

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‘Reach’ and ‘Soar’ Books that inspire

“Reach” is also like a sequel or companion to “Soar: How Boys Learn, Succeed, and Develop Character” by David C. Banks with G.F. Lichtenberg (Atria, 2015), and it’s probably not coincidental that they are both published by Atria. “Soar” is basically the story of the Eagle Academy and the amazing success it has had since its inception in 2004, putting young men at risk on the right path.

Rubenstein files countersuit against rape accuser

Last week, the Amsterdam News received a press packet from the office of attorney Benjamin Brafman, including documents that listed the woman who accused his client, attorney Sanford Rubenstein, of rape.

Jordanian pilot burned to death by Islamic State

The barbarism from the Islamic State group took another gruesome turn after they released a video purportedly showing a captive Jordanian pilot being burned to death.

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Distinguished Dr. Gene-Ann Polk Horne memorialized

Dr. Gene-Ann Polk Horne passed Jan. 3, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was 88 and lived in Lafayette Hill, Pa.

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First lady of the Black stage, Rose McClendon

No mention of Black actors and actresses or Black theater—especially from a Harlem standpoint, where Frederick O’Neal and Abram Hill founded the American Negro Theater—is complete without some discussion of Rose McClendon.

‘It won’t be easy … but let’s get to work.’

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his oft-repeated mantra, a “tale of two cities,” a fresh coat of rhetoric Tuesday at Baruch College in his State of the City address, determined to keep “New York City, a city for everyone.”

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Loretta Lynch deftly handles Senate Judiciary Committee

At the beginning of her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday morning, Attorney General-designate Loretta E. Lynch delivered her opening statement.

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‘Je Suis Jean-Claude’

“Yes, my friends. I guess we are all Charlie. Praying for a better world … Love, Jean-Claude.”

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Major Taylor, the ‘Black Cyclone’

Not many folks today can cite chapter and verse on Taylor and his phenomenal feats that began in the 19th century, particularly with cycling

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Sharpton promotes the Black vote in England

Along with invitations to the White House and other prestigious addresses, the Rev. Al Sharpton can now include the Oxford Union, where such luminaries as President Ronald Reagan and Mother Theresa have spoken.

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Embattled Speaker Silver asked to resign

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, charged with graft and corruption, decided Monday to take a step back. But that is apparently not a big enough step for Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright, leader of the Manhattan Democratic Party.

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Josephine Baker, the ‘Bronze Venus’

The recent death of Jean-Claude Baker, while a sad occasion, is an opportunity to renew our acquaintance with his “mother,” Josephine Baker, famously known as the "Bronze Venus".

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Tonya Pinkins stars in ‘Rasheeda Speaking,’ directed by Cynthia Nixon

Seeing the title of Joel Drake Johnson’s play, “Rasheeda Speaking,” you are eager to hear what this Black woman has to say. But, according to Cynthia Nixon, who makes her directing debut with the play, Rasheeda is not a character per se.

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Obama’s audacity of hope

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, was abound with a number of audacious proposals for the Republicans to chew on and mull over before they soundly reject them.

Report the news, Jake Tapper

Jake Trapper of CNN, stated his disappointment that President Barack Obama was not among the millions—particularly world leaders—marching in response to the horrific loss of lives in France this past week.

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Students to see ‘Selma,’ for free

Like the historic march in Selma, Ala., in 1965, the movie “Selma,” directed by Ava DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., is part of an unprecedented campaign to make sure that young school children in the metropolitan area get a chance to see the film free of charge, thanks to a coalition of Black New York business leaders.

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Lynch mobbed

Rather than an apology from Mayor Bill de Blasio about the current turmoil between his office and the NYPD, some officers would prefer more manpower, more police cars and better protective vests.

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Pioneer librarian and archivist Dorothy Porter Wesley

Whenever African-American librarians are mentioned, Jean Blackwell Hutson of the Schomburg; Clara Jones of Detroit, the first Black president of the American Library Association; and Dorothy Porter Wesley of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University usually head the list.

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Republican stalwart Edward Brooke III dead at 95

Attaining firsts were hallmarks in Sen. Edward Brooke’s remarkable political odyssey, but they were not among his most cherished milestones.

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Mayor: Officer Liu ‘was a good man’

It was a dreary, teary Sunday morning and afternoon for the funeral services of officer Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, N.Y. With police officers from all over the nation and some from abroad, all of them standing in formation along 65th Street, the overcast skies were gray, not blue, and a sprinkle came before the four-hour-long services were over.

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Mario Cuomo, three-term governor, laid to rest

Men in uniform and kilted bagpipers were in the streets of New York again Tuesday for the funeral services of former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo, who died New Year’s Day. He was 82.

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No criminal charges against Sanford Rubenstein

Attorney Sanford Rubenstein, as he has done in so many cases, won another decision from the district attorney’s office, but this time he was the accused, and the prosecutor found no basis to proceed on the charges of rape.

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An officer and a gentleman laid to rest

Even if you were not among the more than 20,000 police officers and spectators in Queens last Saturday for the funeral of police officer Rafael Ramos, you could tell it was a special moment in the city’s history.

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