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Herb Boyd

Stories by Herb

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Full arsenal of funk from James Carter at Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival

Although James Carter played the soprano, alto and tenor saxophones in succession during his sizzling performance as the opening act at the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival Thursday evening at the Waterfront Plaza in the Financial District, there were times when he seemed to be playing all three at once, sounding like a rip-snorting version of the World Saxophone Quartet or Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

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Alice Coachman, an immortal Olympian

Amsterdam News in the Classroom

It isn’t often that this column is devoted to either the living or the recently departed, but it would be absolutely criminal not to suspend the usual guidelines and give the space to a woman who holds a unique place in African-American history, Alice Coachman.

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Community in Outrage over handling of Eric Garner police killing

When a white police officer kills an unarmed Black man, as it happened last week on Staten Island, you can expect a furious outrage from one part of the community and an attempt to justify the death from the other side.

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Black man choked to death by cops

With images of Marlene Pinnock, a black woman brutally beaten by a California Patrol office on July 1 still fresh on the nation’s mind, another more fatal scene was captured on video yesterday from Staten Island.

No eyes on Gaza

While millions of eyes were glued to the World Cup final in Brazil, few turned away from the game to see the ongoing exchange of bombs falling on Israel and Gaza.

‘Racial animus’ from Republicans, AG Holder charges

Attorney General Eric Holder is apparently no longer willing to hold his tongue and is clearly fed up with outlandish charges and accusations from Republicans.

Obama welcomes new citizens

Each day brings a new obstacle to surmount, and on the Fourth of July, immigration reform—or the failure thereof—had to be numero uno for Obama as he welcomed a new batch of American citizens.

Progressive Alliance Movement host Seminar

With Israeli warplanes pounding the Gaza Strip, there is little chance that the strife in Africa will command the headlines in the U.S. As ever, the crisis in the Middle East always trumps the turmoil in Africa, unless there is an American casualty or America’s interest is somehow involved.

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Prolific and passionate author Walter Dean Myers dies at 76

Walter Dean Myers was as prolific as he was passionate about children’s literature.

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The Brown men and Paul Robeson

Lawrence Brown and Lloyd Brown teach us about the music and writing of Paul Robeson

Lawrence and Lloyd Brown were not related by blood as far as we know, but they had one thing in common: their kinship to the great Paul Robeson. Given his enormous genius, Robeson realized his deficiencies, which was another part of his genius, and sought the assistance of the Browns. From a musical perspective, it was Lawrence; when it came to getting his words into print, it was Lloyd.

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Singer and dancer Florence Mills was the ‘Queen of Happiness’

AmNews in the Classroom

A few weeks ago while doing a profile on the great pianist and composer Eubie Blake, I was reacquainted with the short but brilliant life of Florence Mills, who starred in Blake and Noble Sissle’s musical “Shuffle Along” in 1921.

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Harlem and Detroit: Same difference

Researching the history of the Black community in Detroit, my hometown, I am struck by the number of commonalities it shares with New York City, particularly Harlem, where I have lived for nearly a generation.

‘You are valuable, Black men,’ preaches Michael Eric Dyson

“Are you the one or should we expect someone else?” Dr. Michael Eric Dyson asked rhetorically, addressing an audience last Thursday evening at Bethel AME Church.

Obama once more between Iraq and a hard place

Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Obama administration, it did.

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Resourceful, gifted Dr. Charles H. Wright

School kids in Detroit in the mid-1960s used to look forward to field trips that included a visit to the Museum of African American History, where they could view such items as the first traffic signal and gas mask invented by Garrett Morgan. If they were lucky, they might also see Dr. Charles H. Wright, who founded the museum.

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First lady of African-American stage and screen, Ruby Dee, dies at 91

Ruby Dee, the first lady of African-American theater and film, made her transition last Wednesday, June 11, at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y., according to Arminda Thomas, the archivist for Dee-Davis Enterprises. Dee was 91 and the cause of death was not disclosed.

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The supremely versatile Althea Gibson

If there is a marker on 143rd Street near Malcolm X Boulevard for tennis great Althea Gibson, it is not clearly visible. And if there is one for her embedded on the Walk of Fame on 135th Street, it’s perhaps obscured by debris. Ironically, it was in the streets of Harlem that she first gained public recognition.

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Basil Paterson’s remarkable life celebrated at Riverside Church

Basil A. Paterson’s prowess in the kitchen, especially his special way of making blueberry pancakes, was mentioned with reverence by several speakers at his memorial service last Thursday evening at the Riverside Church. However, his ability on the grill took second place to the citations and commendations about his expertise in the legal arena and in the political realm.

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The wizard of housing: Robert C. Weaver

When your maternal grandfather is the first African-American to graduate from Harvard University’s School of Dentistry, then your middle-class status is firmly established and your educational pedigree is a mark of distinction.

Reparations redux

As thousands of college students return home for the summer and compete with the thousands of teenagers already scrambling for jobs in an ever-shrinking job market, the Obama administration has announced it will be allotting $6.7 million for the creation of conservation jobs for youths and returning veterans.

William Worthy Jr., a bold Black journalist dead at 92

At a time when journalists were forbidden to travel to China, Cuba and the Soviet Union, William Worthy Jr. defied the U.S. State Department, grabbed his trusty typewriter and embarked on journeys to report the unreportable, interviewing several prominent Communist leaders.

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Claudia Jones was to the left of Karl Marx

There’s very little to distinguish 504 143rd St. between Hamilton Place and Broadway. But there was a time back in the late 1940s when a notable revolutionary lived here.

NAACP selects Brooks as new leader

Last week, the NAACP’s national board of directors selected attorney Cornell William Brooks to be the association’s president and CEO. Since Benjamin Todd Jealous stepped down, an interim president was installed. Brooks, a veteran lawyer, minister and longtime president and CEO of the Newark-based New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, will now be in charge of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

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Beloved revolutionary Elombe Brath joins the ancestors

On the very day his friends and comrades were celebrating the birthday of Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz), Elombe Brath was joining his fellow revolutionary on the other side of our struggle. Brath, 77, made his transition on Monday, May 19 at the Amsterdam Nursing Home, according to his son, Cinque.

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Oliver Brown was more than a footnote in history

Sixty years ago this week, in 1954, the nation witnessed the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that supposedly brought an end to segregated schools.

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Three gallant freedom fighters join the ancestors

I was still reeling from the news that one of Detroit’s most remarkable freedom fighters, General Gordon Baker Jr., had joined the ancestors when in rapid succession, like a machine gun of sorrow, word came that the author Sam Greenlee had expired and that the uncompromising voice of Vincent Harding was stilled. Then, as if there was no end to the sadness, the phone was alive with messages that the beloved Elombe Brath was no longer a breathing icon of commitment

Big day at the NBT

“Ready for revolution” was the battle cry for Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), and it was also a mantra by which the activist lived during his spirited stay among us

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Memorial services for Basil A. Paterson May 29 at Riverside

A memorial service for the esteemed attorney and civil servant Basil Alexander Paterson is scheduled for Thursday, May 29 at Riverside Baptist Church from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Educator supreme Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

There are so many exciting and innovative ways to invoke our immortal ancestors, and the Central Brooklyn Leadership Council and the Men’s Ministry of Historic First Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn did it wonderfully in a pre-Mother’s Day event by saluting four women with its second annual Mary McLeod Bethune: Light of Our Life Awards.

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Celebrating the well-lived life of Paul Robeson Jr.

Appropriately, the sonorous voice of Paul Robeson singing a “Balm in Gilead” opened the celebration of the life of his son, the younger Paul Robeson

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The intrepid George Washington Williams

Recently, there have been a number of books about the Congo.

Obama tour to forge ties in Southeast Asia

Not since 1998 has a top American official paid a visit to Malaysia and President Barack Obama may have some second thoughts about his current tour of the nation

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Paul Robeson Jr, the son of a legend who made his own mark, dead at 86

Paul Robeson Jr. 86, died last Saturday, April 26, in Jersey City, N.J.

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Mary Church Terrell: A fighter for equal rights

Mary Church Terrell addressed the question of what it meant to be a Black woman in the nation’s capital.

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The mayor’s first 100 days and then some …

Mayor Bill de Blasio is not immune to the arbitrary and traditional milestone of the evaluation of a mayor’s 100 days in office, a date that now has been exceeded by more than a week. Those few extra days do not alter the fact that his first term is highlighted by an explosion and explosive news.

The Rev. Dino ‘Like Boom’ Woodard passes at 79

“Like Boom!” was the Rev. Dino Woodard’s favorite expression, whether he was greeting you or emphasizing a point. It was as much a part of him as the generous praise and fond memories extended to him during the homegoing service on Sunday, March 8 at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

National Urban Health Conference underway

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control cites heart and cancer disease as the leading causes of American deaths.

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Famous abroad, unknown in America, the actor Ira Aldridge

Whenever Hollywood or Broadway dips into Black culture with their interpretations, we should automatically be concerned. The films “12 Years a Slave” and “Django Unchained” prompted widespread response and the debate continues.

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NAN convention bigger and better than ever

It would take a Paul Bunyan to get his arms around the proliferation of ideas and proposals germinated at the 16th Annual National Action Network Convention last week at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

Race is on in the 13th District

There were not many oohs and aahs in the debate last Thursday evening at Abyssinian Baptist Church

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Famed novelist and former AmNews reporter Ann Petry

The famed novelist Ann Petry gained her knowledge of Harlem during her days as a reporter for the Amsterdam News in the late 1930s. She accumulated more insight on the historic community and its residents working for the People’s Voice, a weekly newspaper founded by the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

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And then there were two—Political pioneer Basil Paterson, passes at 87

Attorney Basil Alexander Paterson, one of the legendary “Gang of Four” from Harlem, was as warm and gregarious as he was astute and generations with his time and praise for those he deemed equals and to Mr. and Mrs. Nobody just wanting a chance to shake his hand.

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More grief from the Supreme Court

Once again the Supreme Court has delivered a devastating blow to our democratic rights by striking down any limitations on campaign contributions.

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Harlem’s ‘Manchild in the Promised Land’

One of my young students at City College once asked me how many writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s were actually born and raised in Harlem. “Not many,” I answered without any real concrete information for her question.

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Cat's out of the bag: Sharpton outed as FBI informant

With President Barack Obama scheduled to speak Friday at the National Action Network’s annual convention, the website the Smoking Gun felt it was an opportune time to dig up some old dirt to smear the Rev. Al Sharpton and, by extension, tarnish the president.

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Sarah Rector, the richest Black girl in America

This week we tout a local author, Tonya Bolden, writing about a virtually unknown Black girl from Oklahoma

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State legislature oks Pre-K

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators agreed on a $137.9 billion fiscal budget for 2014-2015 last Saturday what included $300 million set aside for preschool children in New York City.

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Carra Wallace appointed NYC chief diversity officer

Comptroller Scott Stringer selected the friendly confines of the National Action Network (NAN) to announce Carra Wallace as his first chief diversity officer.

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Perhaps the greatest of the Black Fives: The Harlem Rens

At the center of the exhibit “Black Fives” is the legendary New York Renaissance, whose home court was the now long-abandoned Renaissance Ballroom that nearly abuts Abyssinian Baptist Church.

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Political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz out of solitary confinement

political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz was released to the general population after 22 years in solitary confinement

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