Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B (36202)

“It’s ironic that people change the most when things are at their worst…” Susan Sullivan, “Rich Man, Poor Man” (1977)

Just as the beautiful days of May and October make them my favorite months, the festive atmosphere and family feelings of Thanksgiving make this my favorite holiday-its often quirky weather notwithstanding.

With this special day upon us, I’d like to extend sincere thoughts of happiness, good cheer and a long life to 11 very special men, women and things-chosen without regard to race, gender, profession or politics.

The common denominator is the respect and admiration I feel for each. So Happy Thanksgiving, one and all-and thanks for all you have given us. You are the best:

Hank Aaron: Baseball’s leading home run hitter with 755 in a long, distinguished career. Unlike so many of today’s leading athletes, the stylish, albeit humble Aaron always carried himself with impeccable class. When he joined my hometown Milwaukee Braves in 1954 as a rookie at age 19, my late father, Sanford Carter-a star in the Negro Leagues-helped him find a place to live.

Harry Belafonte: An outspoken civil rights activist and one of the finest singer-actors to grace the movie screen. My favorites were his powerful dramatic roles in “Island in the Sun” (1957) and “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959), and his hilarious send-up of Marlon Brando’s memorable Don Corleone character in “Uptown Saturday Night” (1974). His recent HBO special “Sing Your Song,” was the most to say the last.

Brooklyn Nets: Starting next year, the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association, will hold forth at Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center. I became a Nets’ fan when I saw Julius “Dr. J.” Erving palm the red-white-and-blue American Basketball Association ball and soar majestically to the hoop. In the mid-’90s, the Nets made two straight trips to the NBA Finals led by Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin.

Ruth Brown: Perhaps the best female vocalist of R&B’s golden era of 1953-63 with the likes of “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean;” “Daddy, Daddy,” “So Long;” “5-10-15 Hours,” “Oh, What a Dream,” “Teardrops From My Eyes,” and “Have a Good Time.” Brown almost single-handedly transformed Atlantic Records into a hit-making factory, and the label became known as “The House that Ruth Built.” In 1989, she gloriously returned to prominence on Broadway, starring in “Black and Blue.”

Herman Cain: A successful business entrepreneur, the plain-speaking Cain is a no-nonsense Black conservative and a revelation in big-time American politics. Gloria, his wife of 43 years, and their family, were wonderful in a Fox News Channel interview Nov. 14 with Greta Van Susteren. Sparked by his bold “9-9-9” tax reform plan, Cain strongly connects with everyday Americans. But sadly, the Secret Service last week was ordered by Congress to initiate protection for Cain after he received death threats.

Ruby Dee: Among the finest dramatic actresses ever, she was spellbinding in a variety of movie roles over the years-including what I consider her best in 1961’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” Married for 56 years to the late Ossie Davis, Dee also was memorable opposite Davis in Spike Lee’s searing “Do the Right Thing” (1989). The byplay between them-with Davis speaking from the street and Dee from an open window of her home-was the stuff Black cinema dreams are made of.

Julius “Dr. J” Erving: The best basketball player I’ve ever seen in more than five decades of fandom. The most revered name in the annals of the old ABA, the amazing Dr. J led the then New York Nets to glory in the mid-1970s and his feats of magic continued into the ’80s with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Too bad he and Michael Jordan never went one-on-one. In my view, Julius would have stuffed Michael.

James “Pookie” Hudson: The late founder of the legendary Spaniels of “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight” fame. Songwriter extraordinaire, he is acknowledged by many as the greatest lead singer of original Black rhythm and blues, which evolved into rock ‘n’ roll and changed America for all time. A true gentleman, Pookie was a role model for the great Aaron Neville and other fine singers.

Sidney Poitier: One of the finest actors of all, Poitier’s legacy of film excellence is unsurpassed. From early roles in the likes of “No Way Out” (1950), “Cry The Beloved Country” (1951) and “The Blackboard Jungle” (1955), through powerful turns in “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961), “Lilies of the Field” (1963) and “The Bedford Incident” (1965), to the present, Poitier lit-up the big screen for generations of admiring filmgoers.

Condoleezza Rice: A bright, shining light in the dreadful Bush administration, many feel the brilliant Dr. Rice should have run for president. Regardless of your politics-and I am an independent-we’ve got to give this lady her due. If, indeed, she had decided to run for the White House, Black America would have a difficult time voting against her.

Turner Classic Movies: Must-viewing day and night for film devotees. TCM’s huge library of commercial-free, vintage flicks-especially the all-time great era of 1945-60-make it a delight. Younger viewers can compare Hollywood’s golden days to the brain-dead fare of the present, and learn movie history from its priceless documentaries.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. And a heart-felt wish for many, many more.