Four Little Girls In a Church and Two Young Boys on Bicycles

On September 15, 1963, four little girls walked into their church in Birmingham, Alabama expecting to socialize a little, learn about Jesus a little and go home to prepare for school the next day. But instead, they never made it through the morning.  Their frail, innocent, young bodies were blown to pieces from a bomb planted at the base of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, by a professed white racist.  Later in the afternoon, two young boys riding their bikes, innocent of what happened at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, were struck down by bullets fired from the guns of friends of the culprits, who detonated the bomb at the church.

When the bomb exploded at 10:22 a.m., the four young ladies were in the basement lady’s room talking about the beginning days of the school year. That particular Sunday happened to be Youth Day at the church, and they were also preparing to run the main service at eleven o’clock. The four girls, Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, all dressed in white, were excited about the adult roles they would play in about twenty-five minutes. In a bitter twist of irony, a Women’s Sunday School Class upstairs in the sanctuary was discussing the topic for the week, “The Love That Forgives.”

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Inspired by the bombing at the church, later that day a white police officer shot Virgil Ware in the back while he was riding his bike, and Johnny Robinson was shot by a good old Eagle Scout, Alabama version, vintage 1963.  On that particular Sunday morning, while the world paid homage to God, six young Black children fell victims of a vicious, racist cult that has existed in this country since its inception back in 1787.

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There is a sickness that dominates America and just refuses to go away. It’s called racism. Now that term has become one of the most misused words in our lexicon of terms.  Contemporary users of the word state that almost anyone can be a racist. However, the historically correct definition states that racism exists when one race of people assume their superiority over another race. The feeling of superiority is simply a form irrational thinking that leads to brutal acts of violence. That certainly has been the case of white relationship with blacks over the course of American history. One of the most blatant examples of,  “the power of irrationality in men,” occurred on that Sunday morning in Birmingham, Alabama.

At the funeral days later for three of the girls (Carole Robertson’s parents decided to have a separate funeral for her), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reiterated and elaborated on what the women’s group had been discussing when disaster struck. He would stress the value of love and forgiveness as requisite for the Christian Church. Love and forgiveness were also critical components in Black America’s struggle against racism. The fact that an aggrieved Black population did not strike back, and possessed the willpower to forgive the murderers is a testament to the strong spirituality, endemic to the Black race. Dr. W. E. B. Du Boise wrote about it as a unique quality that Black America has given to all civilization. That our family members sacrificed that day at the altar of evil is true personification of the forgiving nature or our people.

The combined six deaths served to connect the Black experience from the time our forebears first arrived in this country in chains until today. Their murders were an awesome sacrifice that serves an awesome purpose. The four young ladies and two young boys’ legacies in death are our challenges in life. It is quite obvious that other races can learn from our experience on how to be forgiving, and actually believe that by loving your adversary, you also love yourself.  For years after the tragedy at the church and on the streets, Black folk turned inward and discovered who they were and how God had blessed them with an inordinate amount of courage and dignity, through times of suffering.

We must never lose that special quality that is the foundation of our culture. We owe it to Denise, Carole, Addie Mae, Cynthia, Virgil, Johnnie and all the other martyrs who have gone to their death, at the hands of evil. With the attacks on our culture we are witnessing today in media and books, it is now time for a new renaissance among our people. Like the great sphinx rising out of the ashes of destruction, we must rise once again and reject those forces of greed, narcissism, and nihilism that would bring us to a point of cultural annihilation.

Additional Note: Much of this post was gleaned from the essay, “The Love that Forgives,” I did with my daughter, Carrie, for the anthology, Black Is the Color of Strength. For more very cogent and well-written essays about our culture and race, you can purchase the anthology through Amazon.com or by visiting Prosperity Publications website at www.prosperitypublications.com.

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Make Some Noise for the Color Black

darkwaterThis may sound like a very unusual request, but I am going to ask everyone to make some noise if you agree with me that the color black has been denigrated and abused far too long. The noise is to signal all those who have accepted the definition “Black is wicked, black is ugly, and black is evil,” that a change is going to come. The great scholar, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, made some noise back in 1920 in his essay, “The Souls of White Folk,” found in his book, Darkwater, when he boldly exclaimed that the European and dominant American cultures have extolled the color white while debasing other colors, including black. He wrote, “Everything good, efficient, fair and honorable is white; everything mean, bad, blundering, cheating, and dishonorable is yellow, a bad taste is brown, and the devil is black.” All colors are equated with negative qualities with the exception of white. According to Dr. Du Bois, yellow and brown get pretty low grades but the lowest is the color black. So that is why I am making a request that anyone who wants to join me to change those definitions should make some noise for the color black.

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authorsI made some noise when I invited twenty-three writers to provide me with an essay, short autobiography, or biographical sketch about the African American culture for publication in an anthology celebrating the beauty, grace and strength behind the word black as in Black America. The result has been the release of Black Is the Color of Strength. All of the writers who chose to participate shared a common goal, and that was to present this country and the world with a range of well written works, accentuating the positive qualities found within the Black culture in this country The last section of the book is titled, “Legacies of Courage” and features short sketches on such giants as Dr. Maya Angelou, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker and Shirley Chissolm. There is a short essay on the Tuskegee Airmen and a final work called, “The Love That Forgives.” It recounts the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in September 1963, and the unique ability of Black Americans to forgive. This anthology is available for review on our website and on Amazon.com.

firesbookI made some more noise when I decided to tell our story our way and wrote a historical novel about the Tulsa Riot of 1921 titled, Fires of Greenwood. The novel chronicles the real-life events that led to the horrendous slaughter of American citizens, during this country’s turbulent racial past. I have also brought to life, the debate between Booker T. Washington’s accommodationist approach to segregation and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois’ advocacy for a more radical protest, against the evils confronting Blacks during the early years of the Twentieth Century. This novel is an excellent primer for those who are interested in tracing the history of racial violence in this country, and why racial turbulence continues to confront us today. It is available for review on our website and on Amazon.com.

DrDiopDr. Mateen Diop made some noise when he wrote an excellent book, Inner City Public Schools Still Work. Dr. Diop shares with all of us concerned about the future of public schools, how they can still serve as effective tools for teaching our children. The key, according to Dr. Diop, is dedication and concern for those innocent young minds that are starving for knowledge. He challenges the notion that charter schools are superior to public schools, and gives examples to back his argument.  However, he agrees that both are useful institutions for teaching our children. In one very interesting section, he takes the reader through his own experience as a principal of an inner city school and how his staff, under his leadership, changed the entire learning environment, and increased the children’s scores far above just passing on state examinations. Dr. Diop’s book will be available through Prosperity Publications in August of this year. It is available for review on our website.

TMoffettAttorney Toschia Moffett made some noise when she meticulously interviewed and then wrote, The Spiritual Journey of a Legend, about the life of one giant of a preacher in Gaffney, South Carolina. Dr. Reverend James W. Sanders was one of those brave heroes that led the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s He did his work right in the city of Gaffney, challenging segregation in all its manifestations. This is the story of a man whose life’s journey begins in a segregated schoolroom in Union, South Carolina in 1933, and reaches its pinnacle of success when he is invited to the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008. Toschia points out how the Christian faith can still serve as a vehicle for social change and economic improvement, in the Black communities. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, who was one of the many admirers of Reverend Sanders, wrote the foreword to the book. This book is available for review on our website an on Amazon.com

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The late David Floyd made some noise when he wrote about his extraordinary climb from a young man who graduated from high school reading at the second grade level, and in 2014 received his Doctorate Degree in Accounting. In his autobiography titled, Through My Mother’s Tears, David shares with the reader the tremendous obstacles he faced growing up in poverty in Freeport, Texas.  He recounts the personal humiliation and his rejection by others because of his dark skin color, and because he could not read. Despite all the obstacles, and with sheer determination, David turned a tragic beginning into a glorious victory in his life’s journey. This book is a must read for all educators interested in knowing, from a first hand account, how the education system can fail to help a child who always had a desire to learn, and for those who have lost hope and need a source of inspiration to keep on fighting for a better life. David’s book will be available through Prosperity Publications and on Amazon.com in July of this year.

chrispittardChris Pittard made some noise with his coming of age story, The Transmanaut Chronicles, about his brother, two friends and him. These four young men take off on a trip from El Paso, Texas to San Francisco, California, making stops in San Diego, Los Angeles and Oakland. Chris, who is an attorney in San Antonio, has given us a refreshing book, not about young men who are slinging drugs, chasing women and killing each other. It is the kind of book that young men and women can read and recognize that if these four boys can challenge life at an early age and commit to great accomplishments, then they can also do the same. Chris’s brother, Dana Pittard, is a Major General in the United States Army and his two friends are IT Specialists working for the United States Government in Washington, D.C. Attorney Pittard’s book is available through Prosperity Publications or Amazon.com.

These writings represent just the tip of the iceberg of the works that Prosperity Publications will publish over the next six months. The company plans to release the second in the trilogy on the color black, titled, Black Is the Color of Love, in August of this year. It is a series of short stories accentuating the love and courage of our ancestors. These fictional stories complement the non-fiction works found in Black is the Color of Strength.

The company will also release the personal memoirs of the great Hall of Fame basketball genius, George Gervin, in October of this year. The one man, who is responsible for the San Antonio Spurs moving from the ABA to the NBA and made them into a competitive team, is determined to write a different kind of book from what you usually get from an athlete. He is determined to tell how after basketball he dedicated his life to building a school for young people that often make wrong choices in life, and end up being locked up and forgotten about by society. He has taken those young people and provided them with an environment conducive for learning and, therefore, giving them a second chance to succeed in life.

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We invite you to visit our website at www.prosperitypublications.com and make some noise with us. If you find one or two of these works interesting, we further invite you to make some more noise and purchase them when available. You will not regret it because these books are entertaining, enlightening and most important empowering.

Striking a Blow Against Illiteracy

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Last Saturday evening, one hundred men and women struck a blow against illiteracy when they gathered at the Club at Sonterra in San Antonio, Texas for a tribute dinner to our local authors and to the memory of the late Dr. David Floyd. School teachers, college professors, corporate executives, business men and women and elected officials came together and offered their support for the establishment of the Dr. David Floyd Writing Project, a proposed 501 c3 foundation dedicated to teaching young men and women the craft of writing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, screen writing and autobiographies.

sbai5Our guest speaker for the event was Mrs. Aaronetta Pierce, one of the leading cultural giants in our community. She spoke eloquently on the value of one’s heritage and the importance of cultural sustainability as we reach the halfway point of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Mrs. Pierce, a very close friend of the late and great Dr. Maya Angelou, shared some of her cherished memories of that icon with us. Mrs. Pierce reminded us of just how fortunate we were to have a grand lady like Dr. Angelou as a contributor to the grace and beauty of our culture. She also read excerpts from her soon-to-be published, “Letters to My Grandchildren,” which traces her ancestry back to Tennessee and elaborates on her family’s many accomplishments, despite the extreme obstacles they faced in the racist South during their lifetime. Her message was with the love of family and with sheer determination one can realize their dreams despite obstacles. Her reflections on Dr. Angelou as well as her “Letter to My Grandchildren,” will be two of the key essays in the anthology, Black is the Color of Strength, to be released in April 2015 by Prosperity Publications.

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Mrs. Pierce’s remarks segued right into my brief words on Dr. David Floyd. David was a man who graduated from high school reading at the second grade level but despite extreme obstacles, attained a PhD in Accounting in January 2014.  Unfortunately, we lost David to cancer in October 2014. Before he passed away and at the point he knew he would die, he asked me to write his eulogy because I had helped him write his life story. In my remarks, I described a system that failed David when it passed him from grade to grade knowing he could not read. I spoke about a system that had a cell waiting for David in one of its many prisons. About a system that had a gun waiting for David, so that he could take the life of another young man just like him.  About a system that had plenty of drugs waiting for David and a system that had death waiting for David, so that his life would end without any accomplishments at all. But this system did not know David Floyd. He defied all these odds and became an example for other young boys who face the identical pathological conditions in their lives.

sbai3David is no longer here to present to young adults what is possible if you are willing to try. He is a symbol of success against overwhelming obstacles. And that is why the one hundred guests at our dinner, along with our distinguished speaker and many thousands more have made a commitment to create the Dr. David Floyd Writing Project, as a vehicle to spread his story and assist others in their goals to become just as successful as him. Last Saturday evening was our first blow, but stay tuned because there are many more blows yet to come.

You will have the opportunity to read more about David’s fantastic accomplishments in his revised autobiography, Through My Mother’s Tears, to be released in May 2015 by Prosperity Publications. Once you read his story, you will know exactly why we plan to establish our writing project in his name.

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