Michael, Gary and Me

Gary Celebrates His Life July 10

By Wayne A. Young


Like many other music lovers around the world I have my favorite Jackson tune; my favorite is "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground" from the Destiny album. My most memorable Jackson moment is driving from Ames, IA to the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, MO to see Michael and his brothers, along with Sister Sledge and Foxy, in 1979. I also recall Ms. Anita Hill, my third grade music teacher in Gary, trying to inspire our unruly class by telling us, “I use to teach Michael.”

Beat ItWhile I absolutely appreciate his gifts and the barriers he broke, I am sorry that I never had a chance to ask Michael one thing: “Why don’t you embrace our hometown, The Steel City, like Elvis embraced Memphis or Muhammad Ali embraces Louisville?

During the week that MJ died, another famous Gary native died, Mladen George Sekulovich, later known as Karl Malden (Streets of San Francisco). Like MJ, he made changes in his personal life, but unlike MJ he often proudly confessed his Gary/steel worker heritage even as the city became majority Black and a Black political achievement icon.

People in our economically challenged hometown will pay tribute to Malden, but the flags began flying half staff after the death of MJ and at least three other famous native children are heading home to participate in the Friday, July 10 memorial to Jackson at 1 U.S. Steel Yard, the new downtown ball park. As always, it won’t take a miracle for Deniece Williams ("It's Gonna Take A Miracle") to find her way to the Steel City. Joining the songbird will be Kelli Paterson (who is best known for her 1978 hit, "If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force" and who changed her name from Patricia), and footballer/movie star Fred “The Hammer” Williamson.

The mayor of Gary is now asking the family to help the city the way Elvis helped Memphis and Muhammad Ali is helping Louisville by allowing the city to build a Jackson Family museum. "We really want to speed it up, ASAP, so that the world can come into Gary, IN, where the home of Michael Jackson is," said Mayor Rudy Clay to Channel 2 News - Chicago. "If it was good enough for Elvis Presley, it's good enough for Michael Jackson, let me tell you."

P.S. Port of Harlem will host a preview of Bronx Princess in Gary during the Labor Day weekend and at the Black History Museum in Alexandria, VA Thursday, September 10 from 7p to 9p. Both events are free.

Photo:  Garyites show support of Michael Jackson even when times

were tough for the world greatest entertainer.  The Jackson home, inhabited by relatives, is in the background.



The Meaning of July Fourth

for the Negro

In the last Snippets, we asked readers for their opinion of Frederick Douglass’s famous “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” speech. Here are two of the most concise replies:

We are in a ticklish spot. We've got to move on and take places in the full mainstream of U.S. society. But we forget our past at our peoples' peril. We must hear and remember Frederick Douglas' words because of their great importance and the great risks he took in saying them. He is one of our greatest men.

Breena Clarke
Jersey City, NJ

The poignant speech delivered by statesman Frederick Douglass was about the state of affairs he saw in his nation at that time, and unfortunately, for the most part, almost 157 years later, it still rings true regardless of who sits in the White House today. The Fourth of July, in my interpretation, is a convenient day in the middle of the summer to take advantage of to travel, be with family and friends, and overindulge in eating bar-b-que and watermelon. I've always felt, the red, white, and blue decorations, the fireworks, the pompous parades and bands playing ?Yankee Doodle? and ?Star and Stripes Forever?, while festive, did not reflect or celebrate my experience of liberty and independence or that of my ancestors. Others Negroes will do as they please, but I've never felt it included me.

Norman Wesley West
Washington, DC

Summer Reading: Children’s Books


Let Me Play ($16.95, Sleeping Bear Press)

A great story about a non-fictional all-Black little league team and it struggle to it found when trying to compete with White teams on the diamond. Great pictures.

Autisum and Me: Sibling Stories ($16.99, Albert Whitman & Company)

A series of great short stories about autism from the brothers and sisters with autisic siblings.

Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House (Pelican Press, $17.95 )

OK, is this believable? Did Jefferson Davis really adopt a Black child?

An African American Alphabet D is for Drinking Gourd ($17.95, Sleeping Bear Press)

A somewhat boring story whose story line seems to complex and to history-laden for those just learning their ABC’s.

Riding to Washington ($17.95, Sleeping Bear Press)

Why are so many books for Black children historical accounts? Don’t our children like books about the environment, technology, the unseen? Of course, this book is about the great March on Washington.

Ebony in Trouble, Too

"Ebony owner Johnson Publishing Co. is under siege, battered by sharp drops in advertising and circulation amid the most severe downturn in its 67-year history. In the past three months, Johnson has been hit with contractors' liens claiming the company failed to pay for work worth nearly $500,000," wrote Eddie Baeb and Ann Saphir in Crain's Chicago Business.

"In May, Johnson mortgaged its South Michigan Avenue headquarters building and parking garage to its printer, R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co. Loan documents say the deal secured previous debts to Donnelley totaling $12.7 million — another sign of financial distress for the nation's largest black-owned publishing company.


Bus to Harlem Book Fair - July 18

It cost $50 to travel by motor coach from Baltimore’s Southwest Park or White Marsh Park to the Harlem Book Fair 2009. For more information call Robilyn Heath 410-258-7526.

While at the book fair, visit the Port of Harlem / Ida Clowney booth and while in Harlem, visit

Creole Restaurant.




Artist Submission Deadline:

July 11

Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Road SE, is seeking artwork for its third annual exhibition highlighting the best of the creative talents of artists who live, grew up or are otherwise personally invested in the communities in Wards 7 and 8. Click here for an application.



POH Photographer on

White House Blogs

The White House Blog has chosen pictures by POH Photographer Jason Miccolo Johnson to feature on its site. Johnson will be one of four photographers POH will feature in the next August - October 2009 print issue, The Art of Photography.

Photo:  Latest POH cover photography by Jason Johnson. Click cover for more pictures and story.



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