Here are excerpts from an obituary that recently appeared in The Cincinnati Enquirer for Frank Williams Sr.—
“At the funeral service this afternoon for Frank Williams Sr., (Above) the eulogy will take mourners back to the 1940s and ’50s, when Mr. Williams was a Cincinnati boxer. ”The minister’s going to say he fought the good fight,” said Williams’ daughter, Donna Wells of Bond Hill. “God had made my daddy a fighter and he fought it ’til the end.” He was one of heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles’ first professional opponents, in 1940, according to the book “Cincinnati Boxing.” He was also a longtime sparring partner of Charles. His last fight was against Alzheimer’s disease, one he ultimately didn’t win. Mr. Williams died June 11 at Indian Spring Health Center, Oakley. He was 81. Mr. Williams worked in construction for 36 years, first for Turner Construction, then Messer Construction….”
The place where Mr. Williams died–the Indian Spring Center in Cincinnati–is where my father died in March. The obituary says that Mr. Williams died of Alzheimer’s disease. I have no idea how long Mr. Williams was at Indian Springs, but there were patients at the facility who did have Alzheimers. I can still visualize some of these folks.
None of these people remained able to fight a boxing match.
It is good to see the story of someone who may have been one of the people I saw each day in the 3 1/2 weeks I spent visiting Indian Spring earlier this year.
Everybody has a story. Everybody has accomplishments. We’ve got to remember this fact even when people are at the end of life and are tired and not what they once were.
Texas Democratic Party, In This Instance, Fighting Like Ezzard Charles To Make Certain All In Harris County Are Able To Vote
The Texas Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against the no-good Leo Vasquez due to the fact that he is trying to make it difficult for the people of Harris County, Texas to be able to vote.
While it would have been great if the Texas Democratic Party, the Harris County Democratic Party, and elected officials in safe low-turnout districts in Harris County, had long been about the essential business of registering poor turnout voters, in this case I commend the TDP for fighting like the great Ezzard Charles to make sure that all in our county are able to vote in 2010. (Please see my post I’ll Follow, But Only At A Distance.)
I wanted to use a boxer in this post to indicate the hard-fighting nature of the TDP in this instance. Mr. Charles was a heavyweight champion of the world from my my former hometown of Cincinnati. He is seen here beating Jersey Joe Walcott in 1951. I bear no ill towards Mr. Walcott and am not comparing him at all to Leo Vasquez.
Today, the Texas Democratic Party filed suit in federal court against Leo Vasquez, in his capacity as Voter Registrar in the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office. TDP Chairman Boyd Richie issued the following statement:
“In 2008, the Texas Democratic Party was forced to take legal action in Federal Court to protect Harris County voters from the inappropriate, partisan actions of former Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt, whose office rejected tens of thousands of legitimate voter registration applications.
“When Leo Vasquez took office following Bettencourt’s sudden resignation after the 2008 election, he defended his predecessor’s actions. However, when the Texas Democratic Party presented the Court evidence of the serious misdeeds in the Harris County voter registration office, Vasquez ultimately agreed to a settlement, providing hope that those inappropriate practices had come to an end.
“Unfortunately, we believe Leo Vasquez violated the terms of our agreement last week, based on statements and information he distributed at a press conference that resembled a political pep rally. At that event, Vasquez made reckless accusations against a non-partisan organization based on a “review” of voter registration applications conducted by a group called “True the Vote.” In order to conduct such a review, Vasquez apparently provided the group access to the same applications he refused to provide the Texas Democratic Party last year, when he argued in Federal Court that such documents contained confidential information such as date of birth.
“All Harris County residents should be deeply disturbed by how easily this office disregards election law and federal court orders and by how casually they distribute voters’ confidential information. Just last year, well-documented reports revealed that deputy voter registrar Ed Johnson was selling driver’s license information to Republican candidates as part of an illicit side-business with Republican state representative Dwayne Bohac.
“Given Mr. Vasquez’ actions last week, we have been forced to take legal action to make sure his office does not repeat the same kind of practices that denied almost 70,000 Harris County citizens the right to register and vote in 2008.”
Many would agree that the pace of our lives is often faster than we would wish. We all have a lot do to and it seems that the demands placed upon us only grow. ( Except for people unlucky enough to lose their jobs in the recent months of layoffs. Those are people with a different set of pressures in life.)
Yet at the same time we cannot keep up, there is the fact that the average American watches more than 4 hours of television each day. (Please click here for disturbing statistics and facts about American television viewing.)
And that is just TV watching. What about the time we spend playing video games and surfing the web? It’s as if we have not enough time and extra time all at once.
I’m not a reflexive critic of television. If you went back in time and told most people who have ever lived, that instead of getting up at 5 AM to milk cows and hauling water from a stream a mile away, you could instead sit down for hours and watch a box showing games and stories—Well, I bet they would have thought that was some kind of paradise.
Yet it seems the point we’ve reached in our lives is that we get the first blow during the day and early evening when we face the demands of work and family, and then we allow the second blow of the ease of mindless relaxation to knock us down for the count until we hit the sack for the night.
Maybe it could be said that each night television knocks us out of the ring of thought and action. (Below is the painting Dempsey And Firpo painted in 1924 by George Wesley Bellows.)
There is hope however. Though it is Jack Dempsey shown below being punched out the ring, he still won the fight over Luis Firpo. Let’s pick ourselves off the couch and think about what we do with the hours of our lives.
I just called the Barack Obama campaign at 866-675-2008 and asked that a message be passed on that Senator Obama start fighting back more aggressively. I picked option 6 on the automated line to speak to a volunteer.
The very nice woman I spoke to said that she had been on duty for 15 minutes so far today, and that I was the fourth person to call with that same comment. She said she would pass my message up the chain.
Here is a Washington Post column about a weak non-combative interview Obama did recently on a Sunday morning talk program.
Are we going to lose again because we allow people who lie about everything to define us? We need to fight back as hard as we are able.
I’ve recently read, or am in the process of reading, three books about being Black in America in the years leading up to and following 1900.
A book I’ve finished is Sport Of The Gods by Paul Laurence Dunbar. (Drawing above.) This is a novel. It is the story of a black family in New York City at the beginning of the last century. It is bleak.
Sport was published in 1902.
The book is short and reads like the history of a time and place. It is worth the reading.
Here is an excerpt from this profile– ”Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of ex-slaves and classmate to Orville Wright of aviation fame. Although he lived to be only 33 years old, Dunbar was prolific, writing short stories, novels, librettos, plays, songs and essays as well as the poetry for which he became well known. He was popular with black and white readers of his day, and his works are celebrated today by scholars and school children alike. His style encompasses two distinct voices — the standard English of the classical poet and the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-century black community in America. He was gifted in poetry — the way that Mark Twain was in prose — in using dialect to convey character. ”
I’ve also been reading Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey Ward. This is a life of Jack Johnson. Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion.
It was published in 2004.
From an ESPN article about Johnson—
“He transformed himself from the docks of Galveston, Texas, to early 20th-century glitterati. He had his own jazz band, owned a Chicago nightclub, acted on stage, drove flashy yellow sports cars, reputedly walked his pet leopard while sipping champagne, flaunted gold teeth that went with his gold-handled walking stick and boasted of his conquests of whites — both in and out of the ring.
Johnson was also a fugitive for seven years, having been accused of violating a white slavery act with a woman who would become his third wife. ”
I’m about a third of the way through this book. I feel it could be shorter. Once you get the idea that white champions were reluctant to fight Mr. Johnson, you don’t need to read about every detail of that resistance.
Still, the book is holding my interest well enough and I enjoyed learning about Mr. Johnson’s youth in Galveston.
Souls was written in 1903.
Here is a little bit about Mr. Du Bois—
“William Edward Burghardt DuBois, to his admirers, was by spirited devotion and scholarly dedication, an attacker of injustice and a defender of freedom. A harbinger of Black nationalism and Pan-Africanism, he died in self-imposed exile in his home away from home with his ancestors of a glorious past—Africa.
Labeled as a “radical,” he was ignored by those who hoped that his massive contributions would be buried along side of him. But, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “history cannot ignore W.E.B. DuBois because history has to reflect truth and Dr. DuBois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded disclosed the great dimensions of the man.”
I’ve only reached up to chapter three in Souls. In chapter three, Du Bois is going to discuss Booker T. Washington and others.
The famous line from the book—”The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line”–is the first sentence and the last sentence of chapter two.
Du Bois says this ongoing issue is a “phase” of the same issue that was the cause of the Civil War.
Isn’t a bottom line of our 2008 campaign the question of will America elect a Black man named Barack Obama President?
The “race question” goes on and on.
At least so far.
Chapter two is in full a history of the Civil War years and Reconstruction efforts up until 1872.
Du Bois talks about the way the Freedman’s Bureau was doomed to fail from the start in the effort to help Black Americans gain some measure of equality after the Civil War.
I look forward to making it past chapter two and writing more blog posts on this great work of our American history.
I’ve been reading Unforgivable Blackness–The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey Ward.
Johnson was the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He was champion from 1910 until 1915.
Johnson grew up in Galveston, Texas and was once president of the Twelfth Ward Republican Club in Galveston.
From that position, Johnson ran for Galveston County Republican Chair. This was sometime in the late 1890′s.
( No black Southerner with any sense would have been a Democrat back in those days.)
Here is an account of the Republican county convention where Johnson was a candidate for county chair—
“He had a bitter rival whose name Johnson only recalled as “Deep Six.” When the two appeared side-by-side before the convention and his opponent reached for his revolver, Johnson knocked him out. A fistfight then broke out on the floor, and the delegates rand for the doors. After that Johnson said, he decided to return t the ring: the ” political struggle was too complicated and too wearying” to suit him.”
Here is a newspaper account of the 1896 Texas Republican Convention. The issue up for debate was should black Republicans vote in a separate primary from white voters—
“….bludgeons, bottles, pistols and knives all figured in. Tables were smashed and chairs broken, while groans and oaths blended. ”
I’d like to see that on C-SPAN.
Below is an excerpt from that history—
“African Americans were one group of Texans that would consistently support the Republican Party in Texas in those early years. In fact, throughout Reconstruction, African Americans comprised about 90% of GOP membership, and 44 African Americans served in the Texas legislature as Republicans.
It was through the hard work of a number of dedicated African American men and women that the earliest foundations of the Republican Party of Texas were laid. The first ever state Republican convention that met in Houston on July 4, 1867 was predominantly African American in composition, with about 150 African American Texans attending, and 20 Anglos.”
The second State GOP Chairman, Norris Wright Cuney, an African-American from Galveston who led the Republican Party from 1883 to 1897, is said by State historians to have held “the most important political position given to a black man of the South in the nineteenth century.”