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Herb Boyd

Stories by Herb

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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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Devoted activist-communicator J.D. Livingston passes

J.D. Livingston, the producer for Imhotep Gary Byrd’s radio shows, joined the ancestors last Friday at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx

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The wonderful historian Drusilla Dunjee Houston

Thanks to the tireless research and acclamation of Dr. Peggy Brooks Bertram students of Black history have gained a better understanding of journalist Drusilla Dunjee Houston’s incomparable contributions

The conductor and maestro Dean Dixon

A roster of African-Americans of great creative ability who had to venture abroad to perform, produce or present their craft and talents with integrity is long. Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Ira Aldridge, Melvin Van Peebles and Marpessa Dawn are a few notables who come quickly to mind.

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Obama takes foreign and domestic blows

It’s probably a good time for President Barack Obama to beat a hasty retreat to Key Largo, Fla., gather the golf clubs and seek some solace on the back nine.

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Lloyd Price delivers oldies-but-goodies at the Cutting Room

You knew it was going to be a special evening Friday at the Cutting Room with the great singer Lloyd Price

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‘Stokely: A Life’—a bio with brio

During his sizzling odyssey across the global firmament, Stokely Carmichael changed his name to Kwame Tur

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Marian Anderson, a ‘voice heard once in a century’

The great conductor Arturo Toscanini said her voice was one heard only “once in a hundred years.”

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Obama announces ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative

President Barack Obama's “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative for young men of color is promising.

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Giving the eminent historian and anthropologist J.A Rogers his due

Poignant and insightful vignettes reminded me of the ones that used to appear in Black publications “back in the day,” particularly the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender; many of them containing the wisdom of J.A Rogers, the eminent historian and anthropologist who rarely has received his due

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Obama endures an arsenal of insults

Of concern at the moment former rock and roll musician Ted Nugent, who called the president a “subhuman mongrel.”

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Last memories of Chokwe Lumumba

Editorial

On Tuesday evening, I came home to learn that Lumumba was dead. I wondered if his death was related to the sickness.

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New York Post lies about Greater Harlem Housing Development Corp

Ted Nugent’s comments that President Barack Obama is a “subhuman mongrel” and his subsequent so-called apology, which accused Obama of being a “violator of the Constitution,” is totally disrespectful

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Debi Thomas: From Olympics to orthopedics

With the current Winter Olympics in Sochi underway, particularly with speed skater and two-time gold medalist Shani Davis—the one Black participant of note no longer a medal contender—I thought of Debi Thomas.

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Black media in transition

To paraphrase an old economic saying: If the mainstream media sneezes, the Black media comes down with pneumonia.

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Wild about Eubie Blake, the great pianist and composer

A profile on Eubie Blake during Black History Month is more than appropriate since he was born and made his transition in February. Blake was a phenomenal pianist and an acclaimed composer and lyricist who, in the twilight of his life, was fond of saying that if had known he was going to live to be 100 years old, he would have taken better care of himself.

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It’s official—Emmis buys WBLS/WLIB

For many regular listeners at WBLS and WLIB, it comes as no surprise that Emmis Communications is now the official owner of WBLS/WLIB, having purchased it from YMF Media for $131 million.