Dream or Nightmare: You Decide!

On January 24, 2016, I posted a blog titled, ‘Dr.  King and Malcolm X: Dream or Nightmare?” In that article, I wrote that Malcolm X challenged the premise of the Dream that Dr. King articulated in his speech at the Washington March for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. In a speech at Ghana University a month later, Malcolm X exclaimed, “If someone else from America comes to you to speak, they’re probably speaking as Americans and they speak as people who see America through the eyes of Americans. And usually those types of {people} refer to America as the American Dream. But for twenty-million of us of African descent it is not an American Dream, it is an American nightmare.”

The question rather Black American’s relationship with this country is a good one (dream) or a continuous bad experience (nightmare) continues to be debated. This has been especially critical since the election of Trump to the White House and the bigots and racists seem to be crawling out of their holes and expressing their dislike of people of color.  As we celebrate another year of marches, speeches and religious ceremonies marking Dr. King’s birthday, we must also re-consider the question raised by Malcolm X fifty-five years ago. Using the hindsight of history, we must examine the condition of Black people in this country today; a prognosis of our progress.

Recently on my show “Discussions with the Writer Fred,” on Black Video News, I raised the issue with two well-informed guests. Allow me to share that broadcast with you and invite you to decide if we are indeed living out King’s dream or still stuck in the tragedy of Malcolm X’s nightmare. You listen, watch and decide.

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A Perfect Union

I have labored over the years to create a publishing company that concentrates on publishing works that accentuate the strength, beauty and values ensconced deeply in the history and heritage of my people. I have tried working with a number of high profile celebrities, different groups, organizations, and companies whom I assumed shared the same vision. The endeavor has often been depressing and quite disheartening. Not all Blacks feel as I do about what is happening to our culture and much of it due to the projection of our race through music, books, movies and television. That is why I was so elated when I finally met someone who does share that vision and believes our writing should reflect our love and respect for our history.

D.L. Grant is the Branch Manager of the Carver Public Library in San Antonio and a long-time member of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. He strongly believes that libraries should be the repositories of great works about great people of all races, to include the African American race. Consistent with his beliefs, Grant also believes we writers must continue the long tradition, going back even before the Harlem Renaissance, of excellent story telling both oral and written. He has chosen to tell his stories through the written word and that is why he recently released his outstanding novel, Hundred Dollar Bet.

D.L. also did something that a lot of Black writers will not do, he placed his confidence in a Black publishing company, Jaed Publications, that they could give him a final product to match any coming from larger publishing companies. The relationship between the author and the publisher became a perfect union and his novel is now out and available for purchase from the publisher or on Amazon. This is what is known as economic cooperation, one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa and probably the most important one. Now, all that is left is for you, the readers, the most important link in this union, to purchase the novel and read it. So, allow me to take a few lines and provide you with a summary of the novel.

Hundred-Dollar Bet is a work of historical fiction of African-American life in the South and West Texas. Hobart Grayson of San Antonio, and Shelby Murchison of Bliss, Texas near Lubbock, come of age in their respective communities and are as different as night and day. Hobart, the accidental offspring of a teen-age father who, ill prepared for the responsibility of being provider, abandons his family. Shelby is the son of an uneducated farmer. Both boys believe football is the only way of escaping a dead-end future and having any shot at a decent life. An athletic scholarship for each to the same university causes their paths to merge and an unlikely friendship to develop during their freshman year. The friendship continues once they graduate behind a one-hundred-dollar bet.

Tested loyalty and the love of a woman are at the heart of this saga that unfolds against a backdrop of the Great Depression, the Second World War, the bigotry of Jim Crow and a lynching. There hadn’t been a lynching in Texas since the early 1940s, when a distant cousin of Hobart’s was accused of raping a white woman and strung up in Texarkana. His fate, only spoken of once in a whisper, resonates with young Hobart who grows up confused and bitter. When the same thing happens to 18-year-old Willie Eason years later, Hobart vows to achieve justice for Willie and will not stop until he fulfills that promise.

You will not be able to put this novel down until you know how Hobart manages to avenge Willie’s death, what the hundred-dollar bet is all about and who is the winner.

Our history, our traditions and our great institutions such as the historical Black colleges and the many Black fraternities and sororities are well represented in this excellent novel that entertains, informs and most important; empowers all readers in the strength and beauty of the African-American culture.

JAED Publications, LLC

 

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You Should Have Known David Floyd

You should have known David Floyd. In fact, the entire world should know of David Floyd and what he accomplished in his short 44 years here on earth. He came through life like a firestorm, overcoming some of the most horrendous obstacles any person should confront. You should have known David Floyd because according to statistics, David should have been an abject failure, ending up strung out on drugs, doing time in prison, and a disgrace to his family, his race, and his culture. But instead, David became a success in every measure of the word. I can’t really say he beat the odds because the odds were never an obstacle to him. He rejected any possibility that the odds would dictate the outcome of his life.

David Floyd

I had the pleasure of meeting and knowing David Floyd. He attended a creative writing workshop I conducted back in 2008 in Austin, Texas. Of all the attendees, he took the lead in challenging my specific points of writing that were a part of my lecture. After it was all over, he came up to the podium and informed me that he planned to write his autobiography. Having conducted these workshops for years, it was common for one of the attendees to inform me that they had the perfect story to tell. As usual I asked him what is the compelling force, working in favor of his story, being the very one that people all over the country would want to read? And what he told me, is the reason you should have known David Floyd. This man graduated from high school reading at the second grade level, but had since received his Master’s Degree in Accounting from the very prestigious Bentley College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and his Doctorate Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting.

I was totally taken aback by this young man’s story to the point that, at first, I doubted the veracity of what he was saying. But I did know that if what he told me was true, he had a story to tell the entire country. I soon found out that all he had shared with me was true, but that was just the tip of the iceberg of his life. David was confronted with all the pathologies that accompany poverty, a single parent home, a mother’s struggle to feed five children, a father whom he hardly ever saw and when he did was embarrassed by the man’s demeanor and frightened of his meanness, an education system that passed him on from grade to grade; all the time aware that he could not read.

Despite these overwhelming obstacles, David did not ever lose confidence in himself. He may have lost it in many people who were supposed to be there to help him instead hindered his growth, but he never lost it in himself.

David and I began to meet once a week as I had agreed to assist him with his writing. At that point in his life, he felt comfortable with his ability to scratch out a rough draft of the story and I was to assist in the refinement of the product. Over the two years time we spent working together, my admiration and respect for this man constantly grew.  He shared the horrible occurrences that happened all around him from a very early age. His one consolation and escape from reality was basketball. Like so many other young Black boys he dreamt of someday playing in the NBA and spent all his spare time on the playground with his closest childhood friend, J.B. playing basketball.

However, by the time he was an adult, reality had set in as it does for thousands of young Black men who dream of being a star in the NBA, and he recognized that stardom of that venue was not to be. But what he didn’t yet realize was that another corridor to stardom awaited him. He would soon become an unsung hero, not the kind of hero who you read about in the newspaper or see on television, running for touchdowns, scoring fifty points in a basketball game, or hitting home runs in the major league. His heroism would be much greater than those feats. His heroism would be taking on a system designed for his failure and beating it at its own game. This system had a cell waiting for David in one of its many prisons. This system had a gun waiting for David, so that he could either take the life of another young Black like him or become a statistic himself. This system had plenty of drugs waiting for David, so that he could get lost in the world of crack cocaine or heroin making him of no use to his family or his country. And this system had death waiting for David so that his life would end without any accomplishments at all.  But this system did not know David Floyd. They could not dictate his behavior, or his outcome based on the statistical data they constantly collect on young boys growing up in poverty.  And that is why David Floyd is a hero and that is why you should have known him.

Hopefully someday his widow, LaTisha Blanchard Floyd, will make his autobiography, Through My Mother’s Tears, available to the world. Also, someday Hollywood will realize that it is stories like David’s that must be made into movies instead of the trash stories glorifying drugs and other pathologies destroying the Black culture. Only then will David’s battle he fought and won for all us, get the credit it deserves.

Through My Mother_s Tears

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