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Herb Boyd

Stories by Herb

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The Little Rock Nine—yesterday and today

When classes began at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., on Sept. 4, 1957, the nine Black students who had been selected to integrate the school were blocked from entry by orders from Gov. Orval Faubus.

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Trimming the book tree

On Horace Campbell’s “Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya,” Dr. Grant Harper Reid’s “Rhythm for Sale” and Charlotte V.M. Ottley's “Surviving Success: Changes, Challenges & Choices”

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A framework for peace awaits Syria’s response

There was no reason to expect President Barack Obama’s decision about the Syrian conflict to find unanimous approval, especially from his GOP critics. On Sunday, he responded to those dissenters and naysayers, dismissing the notion that he mishandled the situation in Syria.

Detroit’s decline dissected

To understand Detroit’s current economic downturn, it is necessary to flip the pages of the city’s history back to the 1950s, according to a recent in-depth report by the Detroit Free Press. While this has always been the proposition for many pundits delving into the city’s plummet, now with this exhaustive study that took up over four full pages in Sunday’s paper, there’s empirical evidence to underscore the assumptions.

A framework for peace awaits Syria’s response

There was no reason to expect President Barack Obama’s decision about the Syria conflict to find unanimous approval, especially from his GOP critics. On Sunday, he responded to those dissenters and naysayers, dismissing the notion that he mishandled the situation in Syria.

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Film Commentary: Butler, bring me a martini

It felt rather strange watching a film that is essentially about the life of a butler who served seven presidents in the White House

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Four little Black girls dressed in white

Much attention was given recently to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington featuring the immortal “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Obama calls for delay on Syria vote

As if the nation may have been dozing, President Barack Obama sent an email to his constituents yesterday explaining his position on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

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Ben Jealous to leave the NAACP

As the world has discovered, Benjamin Todd Jealous is a man of his word, and his word is his bond. Five years ago when he became the youngest President and CEO of the NAACP, he promised to take the Association to a new level of achievements.

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Albert Murray, literary giant, dies at 97

“Man, the very act of writing a story is always a matter of a certain amount of lying and signifying. Think of camera angles, microphones and the soundtrack of movies.

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Obama in a hard place over Syria

President Barack Obama appears to be on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to Syria—a damned if you do and damned if you don’t proposition.

Willie Reed Louis, a witness to the murder of Emmett Till, dead at 76

In his memoir, “Simeon’s Story,” Simeon Wright recalled the testimony of Willie Reed during the trial of the two men who abducted and killed Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boya from Chicago who went to Mississippi in 1955 to visit his relatives, including Wright, his cousin.

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Call to impeach Obama, but on what grounds?

Probably the only thing more unlikely than the impeachment of President Barack Obama is my hitting the Power Ball lottery. Currently, there is talk among a bevy of bewildered Republicans about putting in a motion a process to impeach the president, but they seem flummoxed on what grounds to use.

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Bill Lynch’s productive life celebrated

Delivering the eulogy for Bill Lynch Jr. at Riverside Church last Thursday, the Rev. Michael Waldron of First Corinthian Baptist Church said there were no words to capture the great man’s majesty, but the good reverend came close. “Bill Lynch was a transcendent soul,” Waldron told the overflow crowd, which included the rich and the poor. “He was a mighty river pouring into others … so self-effacing that you were embarrassed to be arrogant.”

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Bayard Rustin: the March on Washington and its ties to Harlem

Several days ago, Louis Sharp called the Amsterdam News seeking assistance on a historical item. He was trying to verify something he remembered from his past. In 1963, he was a volunteer working with Bayard Rustin, the key coordinator of that year’s March on Washington. He wanted to install a plaque in the Apollo Theater, where the headquarters of the march was located, but to do so, he needed proof that Rustin operated from this site.

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Carlos Alcis dies from trauma when police raid home for stolen cell phone

The family claims that Alcis died of a heart attack brought on by the sudden intrusion. “Why would you raid somebody’s house in pursuit of someone who allegedly took somebody’s cellphone? These are the things that cause so much tension in our community.”

Willie Reed Louis, a witness to the murder of Emmett Till, dead at 76

In his memoir, “Simeon’s Story,” Simeon Wright recalled the testimony of Willie Reed during the trial of the two men who abducted and were charged with killing Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who went to Mississippi in 1955 to visit his relatives, including Wright, his cousin.

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Commentary: Baseball, PEDs and Latinos

One of the most obvious facts about the recent suspension of Major League Baseball players is that most of them are Latinos. Ryan Braun is the only exception among the list of players from South America, mainly the Dominican Republic, who was recently suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

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No love to Russia

Addressing Marines at Camp Pendleton in California last Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama made no mention of Russia, President Vladimir Putin or Edward Snowden.

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Sharpton: ‘No commemoration, but a continued call to action’

Among the number of commemorations on the docket this year—the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the four little girls killed in Birmingham, Ala.,—it’s the historic March on Washington that is getting the most attention, thanks to the Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and the prominent speakers they’ve assembled to re-create the spirit and letter of the great march on August 24 in the nation’s capital. Commemorating the March on Washington and particularly Dr. King’s famous speech is something Sharpton and King III have been doing for years under the auspices of Realize the Dream.

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Peerless political strategist Bill Lynch dies at 72

Few political consultants were as savvy as Bill Lynch, Jr. Bill Clinton, Charles Rangel, Mario Cuomo, and David Dinkins are four notables who benefited from Lynch’s sagely advice, his astute understanding of how to shape a campaign for victory. Those seeking to navigate the often complicated electoral contours will have to do it now without Lynch’s guidance. He joined the ancestors Friday from complications related to kidney disease. He was 72 and “a good guy,” said David Dinkins.

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No Campaign Finance Board funds for John Liu

Each new poll is placing John Liu’s mayoral chances in deeper jeopardy. On Monday, the city comptroller’s campaign was delivered a devastating blow when the campaign finance board denied him more than $3.5 million in public matching funds. Ever since campaign donor Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan and Liu’s campaign Treasurer Jia “Jenny” Hou were found guilty of a creating a dummy donor scheme to finance Liu’s bid for office, it was widely presumed that he would not be getting the funds. According to the board, there was evidence of much wrongdoing in Liu’s campaign, and the vote to deny him funds was unanimous.

Escambia County sheriff deputies shoot an unarmed 60-year-old Black man in Florida

In a little more than three weeks and fewer than 460 miles from the city where Trayvon Martin was killed and George Zimmerman was acquitted, the state of Florida is once again the center of a shooting incident that could have been almost as tragic as the one that shook the nation.

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Johnny Hartman remembered, celebrated by NAMA

Chuck Foster, the archivist for the New Amsterdam Musical Association (NAMA), wasn’t around when the organization was founded in 1905, but he recounts its history as if he were there.

‘Angola Three’ prisoner Herman Wallace diagnosed with liver cancer

It was with a rather bitter irony that a few days before receiving notice that Herman Wallace, one of the “Angola Three,” has been diagnosed with liver cancer, there was an article in The New York Times about the negotiations between the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture to acquire the prison’s concrete guard tower. The apparent willingness to transfer the ancient guard tower—a symbol of the prison’s brutal and corrupt legacy—contrasts starkly with Wallace’s deteriorating physical condition.

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Sonia Sanchez, the Rev. James Forbes spark Harlem Book Fair

It wasn’t a full house at the Harlem Book Fair’s Phillis Wheatley Book Awards last Friday at the Schomburg Center, and only half of the winners attended, but poet-activist Sonia Sanchez was there and she was worth the time and the ticket.

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Ashton Springer, first major Black producer on B’Way, dies at 82

Ashton Springer’s determination as a producer was evident at the very start of his career when he was given a copy of Charles Gordone’s play “No Place to Be Somebody.” It took him years to mount a production, and when it finally appeared in 1969, it made Springer a “somebody” to be reckoned with. Springer, 82, died Monday in Mamaroneck, N.Y. The cause was pneumonia, according to his son Caz.

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Trailblazing journalist Helen Thomas dies at 92

President Barack Obama can be thankful that Helen Thomas was well past her prime and spunkiness by the time he took up residence in the White House and fielded questions from the press.

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Justice or Just us? Nationwide rallies for Trayvon Martin

Thousands of protesters rallied in over 100 cities across the nation on Saturday with a singular mission: to keep the memory of Trayvon Martin alive and to bring some semblance of justice to his tragic death. Simultaneously, as the George Zimmerman verdict came in, the “Justice for Trayvon Martin” call went out. Following the lead of legendary artist Stevie Wonder last week, a bunch of performers have announced that they too are going to be supporting the Florida boycott.

Detroit hits bottom

In the annals of Detroit’s history, the city is distinguished in so many glorious ways, and even some inglorious. On Thursday, the Motor City officially tanked when the emergency financial manager filed for bankruptcy.

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Obama appeals to the ‘better angels of our nature’

Sensing or informed he had not said enough about the verdict that exonerated George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama called a special press conference on Friday to “talk a little about context and how people responded to it and how people are feeling,” he said near his opening remarks.

Egypt’s other Rosetta Stone

If folks close to the chaos and turmoil in Egypt are not sure what to make of it—a suspension of democratic rights, political upheaval, a military coup, a looming civil war or an Arab Spring evolving into Arab Summer—what are we to make of things there, way up here in Harlem?

DC march calls for justice 50 years after MLK historic speech

Among the number of commemorations on the docket this year—the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the four little girls killed in Birmingham, Ala.—it’s the historic March on Washington that is getting the most attention, thanks to the Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and the prominent speakers they’ve assembled to re-create the spirit and letter of the great march on Aug. 24 in the nation’s capital.

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Chaos in Egypt continues

When President Barack Obama asked the Egyptian military to move quickly toward restoring democracy after it had forcibly removed the nation’s president and suspended the government on Wednesday, he clearly didn’t mean for them to use force

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Spitzer is back

Standing on the corner of 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem on Monday morning, a young woman was collecting signatures for Anthony Weiner to get on the ballot for his mayoral bid. Not too far from her at a newsstand, a New York Times’ front-page story featured Eliot Spitzer’s announcement to run for city comptroller.

Is WBAI on the verge of signing off?

Back in the winter when it was announced that WBAI would be moving from Wall Street to City College, there was widespread speculation that the Pacifica station was once again encountering financial difficulties.

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Supreme court contradicts itself in this week's Affirmative action and Voting rights rulings

Proponents and advocates of the various cases before the Supreme Court during this recent session experienced the extremes of the court.

Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, blues master, dies at 83

“Farther on Up the Road” is a classic Bobby “Blue” Bland song, but this song was initially recorded before his tenor voice gave way to that distinctive growl or “squall,” as he called it. The “Blue” in his name was as appropriate as the Bland was not. In either case, the great blues man has joined the ages. According to his son, Rodd, the drummer in his band, Bland died Sunday at his home in Germantown, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis, Tenn. He was 83.

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Justices delay decision on affirmative action

The final verdict on affirmative action will have to wait another year, because the Supreme Court, in a 7-1 decision, sent the challenge to the program at the University of Texas back to the lower court. In effect, this is a setback for the school’s race-based affirmative action policy.

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Martin Bernal, author of ‘Black Athena,’ dead at 76

At the close of the introduction to his breathtaking study “Black Athena,” Martin Bernal stated, “The political purpose of ‘Black Athena’ is, of course, to lessen European cultural arrogance.”

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New president of Medgar Evers college

There’s good news and bad news from Medgar Evers College, depending on your position on the longstanding dilemma about its presidential situation. The good news is that the Brooklyn CUNY campus has selected a new leader: Dr. Rudy Crew. The bad news, according to the new president’s detractors, is that the school has chosen the wrong one of the three candidates.

Abortion measure sinks Women’s Equality Act

Since his campaign to become governor, Andrew Cuomo has made women’s equality a primary item on his agenda. But on Friday, the state Senate stuck a pin in the governor’s balloon, and his push for a Women’s Equality Act will have to wait another day—or year.

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Supreme court issues devastating blow to Voting Rights Act

A day after the Supreme Court sent affirmative action to a lower court to determine its fate, they dropped the other shoe on Tuesday, killing the vital core of the Voting Rights Act. While the vote on voting procedures, 5-4, was not as decisive as the 7-1 vote on Monday on affirmative action, it was no less disappointing, particularly for civil rights activists.

Margaret Sullivan, New York Times Editor, says the Times isn't what it used to be

“The Old Gray Lady,” the New York Times, appears to be miffed that it was not the recipient of the leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden, now in Hong Kong and promising to fight extradition. Snowden, unlike Daniel Ellsberg with his “Pentagon Papers,” chose to deliver his disclosures to the Guardian of London and the Washington Post.

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U.S. Senate pushes immigration reform into limbo

The only certainty about immigration reform is the continuing uncertainty. As the bill enters the Senate floor after being ushered through the Judiciary Committee by the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of senators, the anticipated debate, the proverbial horse trading, is underway.

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Mayoral Candidates, John Liu and Bill de Blasio, talk income inequality in NYC

In a recent issue of the Nation, publisher and Editor Katrina vanden Heuvel was effusive in her praise of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s plan to combat income inequality. She expounded on the public advocate’s speech in May at the New School, in which he described New York as “a gilded city where the privileged few prosper and millions upon millions of New Yorkers struggle to just to keep their heads above water.”

Same old, same old, 50 years later

One of the most important revelations Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had even before he delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech—and what he deemed a shortcoming of the Civil Rights Movement—was the failure to give economics a more pivotal role in the struggle for freedom and justice.

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Noted author and master teacher Dr. Barbara E. Adams passes at 74

In the foreword to Dr. Barbara Eleanor Adams’ biography of Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Dr. Leonard Jeffries wrote, “Professor Adams has been inspired by Dr. Clarke and has refashioned her life to reflect his influence.”

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