Speaking & Teaching

Aug. 16, 2019

Robert Leroy Johnson, it is said sold his sold to the Devil Man for the gift of blues genius, women, and fame. Well, fame would only come after his death. Today, on August 16, 1938, at the age of 27, the Devil Man came'a calling for his price of Robert's poor soul.

That was 81 years ago today and by my count ain't no one played that guitar like Robert L. Johnson since, cause me's guess that no ones sold their poor soul to that Devil Man. If you appreciate black genius you have to appreciate Robert Johnson although I think that Robert's persistence and a desired for greatness deserves the credit, not the Devil Man.

Robert Leroy Johnson born May 11, 1911,​ and died Agust 16, 1938, he was simply the greatest that ever was, and ever will be.

Aug. 15, 2019

Eudora Welty wrote this story for the New Yorker Magazine after the murder of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi on June 12. 1963. She didn't use the names of either Medgar Evers or his murderer. Nor did she use Jackson, Mississippi as the city where the murder occurred. However, her first-person​ account coming from the perspective of the white racist assassin​ details what Byron De La Beckwith may have been thinking prior to and after his murderous deed. I am reading this story today because on The Blackman's Read Aloud Hour I am reading How To Be An Antiracist. Surely Medgar Evers was an antiracist murdered by the worst of bigots. We still suffer in this nation from men who think as​ Medgar Evers murderer thought. It must get better, it has to get better, doesn't it?

Aug. 14, 2019

The Democratic Convention Atlantic City, New Jersey
Fannie Lou Hamer
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

On August 22, 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer spoke before the Credential Committee at the Democratic National Convention. This was before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had passed. During this remarkable speech Fannie Lou Hamer, a former sharecropper spoke about the life of a black person seeking political justice in the state of Mississippi.

The very nature of Fannie Lou Hamer's presence at the Democratic National Convention was amazing in itself. Fannie Lou Hamer wasn't an educated person with scholarly degrees. Fannie was simply, a black woman who wanted to be a citizen in this nation. She wanted the right to participate along with every other black person in the state of Mississippi in the electoral process.

The state of Mississippi had denied blacks the right to vote in 1890 when they created a stranglehold on the constitutional rights of blacks to be anything other than second and third-class citizens. That became unacceptable to Fannie Lou Hamer, so she put her life on the line to pursue her full citizenship rights.

On this August day in 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer demanded that the entire delegation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party be seated as the valid representatives for the state of Mississippi. The all-white Democratic delegation didn't reflect the state of Mississippi's population because blacks weren't allowed to vote in 1964 in the process of choosing national delegates.

So powerful was Fannie Lou Hamer's presentation that day it caused such a disruption that President Lyndon Baines Johnson attempted to take away the televised audience's attention by scheduling an impromptu news conference. Fannie Lou Hamer's shadow of black independence, black awareness, black pride, black love, and black determination resides in every living black person today. We owe Fannie Lou Hamer's spirit an uncollected debt of gratitude to continue to fight for the equality in that nation that Fannie sought in her lifetime.

If that means fighting for reparations, then we must fight for that sacred debt payments as Fannie Lou Hamer would've fought for them tirelessly. If that means going to the ballot booths to vote then we must actively participate in the voting process religiously. If that means loving your brothers and sisters like Fannie Lou Hamer then we must do so unconditionally. You see although Fannie Lou Hamer left us 42 years ago, her spirit resides in every molehill, hamlet, town, and city in this nation. Fannie Lou Hamer loved this nation not for what it was but for the infinite possibilities this nation could offer if it simply walked past the bigotry and hate. ​

Aug. 13, 2019

62 years ago on a steamy hot August 11, 1957, at Mount Heron Baptist in Vicksburg, Mississippi Medgar Evers delivered this message to the congregation at the Men's Day Program. So on this muggy humid day in August 2017 in his words, my voice, I reenact the words of that powerful message. Those words spoken 62 years ago are still relevant today as we challenge ourselves to better our communities for the coming generations.​

We do in fact as men have an obligation to God to stay within the bounds of humanity and decentness. A man also has an obligation to men to ensure a bounty of life's richness. Yes, a man must stay within those bounds of humanity and decentness. Sometimes that bounty is not measured by material wealth but it is measured by prosperity in friends, prosperity in health, and prosperity in that man's family.

Because of man's inhumanity to man, some men who delve into this realm are seemingly seen as prosperous. We may see men seeking prosperity by illegitimate ways. That doesn't make that gain godly. It, in fact, demeans those who seek to prosper by gain through inflicting pain on others. What Medgar Evers was saying that Sunday in Vicksburg, Mississippi to that congregation was even though we may see suffering. We shouldn't cross the line towards inhumanity because, in the end, those acts of indecency will reflect negatively on our paths in life.

I love reading the words of Medgar Evers although many of his words were not documented because his life was cut so short. However, if you decide to walk in the shadow of Medgar Evers, you will lead a life of purpose and your life gains will indeed provide positive life gains for others you encounter on your path. By staying true to both the obligations one has to both his God and to other men.

#joesmokethoughts

Aug. 12, 2019

From the author of Stamped From The Beginning, The Definitive History Of Racist Ideas In America, Ibram X. Kendi comes his newest just released 8/13/2019, How To Be An ANTIRACIST. We already read and was educated by Stamped From The Beginning on The Blackman's Read Aloud Hour. So tomorrow we begin reading Ibram X. Kendi's new book because if there is anything that this nation needs is to contemplate the possibilities of becoming antiracist. So please join me on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, as I launch into reading Brother Kendi's new creation.

The Blackman Who Reads Aloud believes that we must continue to nourish our minds from the tree of knowledge. To constantly refresh our minds with progressive thoughts to battle those forces that encourage racial separation and racial oppression. I'm truly excited to begin this journey with you tomorrow. It's an excellent stepping off point from the completion today of James Farmer's book Lay Bare The Heart, The Autobiography Of The Civil Rights Movement. It was indeed James Farmer's goal in life to encourage this country to develop the philosophical underpinning of antiracism.