Life is like a box of Chocolates

You never know what you are gonna get. These are the the lines to an iconic film that most of us know by heart. CBS Sunday Morning highlights two actors from the film served their country long  after the camera stopped. As a Vietnam Era Veteran I looked at it as perfect timing – being the day before American is about to honor their military veterans on Veterans Day.

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Hard to believe that’s it been 25 years since the movie premiered all across the country, but it has become an American Classic. The commentator called it an ‘odyssey of innocence, not just a war movie’. Hidden in plain sight is a unique peek into American history that many want to forget.

In the speech where Pvt. Gump  receives his Metal of Honor. These are the words we didn’t hear – ” Sometimes when people go to Vietnam they go home to their mommas   without legs. Sometimes they don’t come home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that”. I know some, who physically came home but the war never left them.

In real life, the Metal of Honor was given to Pfc. Sammy Lee Davis and Tom Hanks head was superimposed over his, in the 2002 documentary – A time for Honor. The history inserts brought back memories I saw in the news at that time. The University of Alabama only accepted the three students in 1963 after President John F. Kennedy sent in Federal troops.

Another historical insert, had Forrest Gump calling to complain about people walking around in the middle of the night with flash lights. That was an indication that something strange was going on at the “Watergate Hotel”. In real life, Frank Wills  a security guard called it in.

Near the end where Jenny talks about being so sick with an unknown  virus that doctors had not cure, she was talking about AIDS. The movie follows Forrest and Jenny through a life-time of experiences. He was a unlikely war hero and many other things, she was the hippy girl who always wanted to be a folk singer.

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Pvt. Gump (Tom Hanks) and Lt. Dan (Gary Sinse) established a brotherhood that was formed during war. Life may be a box of chocolates but a battlefield is a box of horrors: You never know who is going to make it, who won’t and who is going to be wounded.  Gary Sinse never served in the military, but he had family that did. He now serves military veterans and first responders  with his foundation. The battles may be over in Vietnam but they wage on in other parts of the world.

Michael Conner Humpheys served 18 months in Iraq. At the age of 34 he struggles with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). But when he was eight years old, he played the role of young Forrest Gump. He figured he got the role because of his Southern accent but Tom Hanks carried it throughout the movie.

Injuries and accidents happen even when not on the battlefield. They just happen on a larger scale in war.

H.G.M.

Mitch’s Mission was one of self-discovery

CBS Sunday Morning did a story titled “Mitch Albom’s Mission”. What appeared to be a story about a man who found a mission, becomes a story about a little girl who made a difference.

About ten years ago Haiti suffered a terrible earthquake killing more than a hundred thousand people and leaving millions more injured and homeless. Mitch who flew down from Detroit found an orphanage that was not destroyed but found children sleeping on the ground. He flew back home and put the word out that he needed help. Detroit is a blue collar town and he found twelfth who volunteered to help.

Years later Mitch was spending four days a month at the orphanage where he met a little girl named Chika. When Chika was five years old the director noticed that something was wrong because one of her eyes drooped.

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The one MRI scanner in Haiti revealed that she had a mass on her brain and there was no one in Haiti that could help her. Mitch and his wife Janine who had no kids of their own decided to take her to America where she could get the medical attention she needed. For two years they became family while battling her rare pediatric brain tumor.

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Mitch wrote a book about their journey together and titled it Finding Chika.  The orphanage keeps her memory alive by singing her favorite song at the end of each day – L.O.V.E.

How does one mend a broken family? We gather all the broken pieces and mend them together with God’s help.

H.G.M.

The Remarkable Journey of Harriet Tubman

CBS Sunday Morning (October 20, 2019) feature the remarkable journey of Harriet Tubman. Next month Cynthia Erivo will play her in the movie titled “Harriet”.  But to Judith Bryant (below) she was her great great great Aunt.

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She was small in stature but larger than real life; there are two National Parks dedicated to her story. She was separated from her parents at a young age. When she was 13, she was hit in the head with a 2-pound weight that was intended for a young runaway boy. As a result, she suffered from sudden epileptic seizures and visions for the rest of her life.

In 1849 she escaped from a place called Poplar Neck in Caroline County Maryland when she heard she was going to be sold. Along and on foot she traveled over one hundred miles to the Pennsylvania border.

While most would have settled for their freedom, but she traveled 13 times over 10 years to free others. As a results more than 70 people were freed from bondage. During the Civil War she became the first woman to lead troops into battle and liberated 750 enslaved people in the Combahee Ferry Raid.

Her friends included people like Fredrick Douglass, John Brown, and Susan B. Anthony. William Henry Steward, United States President Abraham Lincolns, Secretary of State even sold her seven acres of land.

Over time the curtail was been drawn back to highlight many American heroes that didn’t make the history books and hopefully many more will be revealed.

H.G.M.

A Fresh Face in a Old Space

Maybe what the country needs is a Sara Nelson, who would be a fresh face in an old space – Labor Union Leader.  CBS Sunday Morning’s Richard Buddenhagen  titled his news report; Sara Nelson, The new face of Labor Unions.

Here we have the face of  two American Heroes; Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (the US Airways  pilot who landed his damaged plane in the Hudson River) and Sara Nelson who helped end one of the longest government shutdowns in American history as  they sat before a House Committee on Air Transportation on Capital Hill in Washington D.C. in June 2019.

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Sara Nelson came to predominance during a speech – a call to arms– she gave to the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations) during the January 2019 Federal government shut down. The last time there was a call for a general strike was in 1946. With 12 million workers walking out in mass, politicians and business leaders would finally take notice.

When four hundred thousand people are forced to come to work without pay, it creates an unsafe environment especially when those people are airport screeners and air traffic controllers during the post 9/11 world we live in today. When President Ronald Reagan fired all those air traffic controllers in 1981 it started a downward spiral for all labor unions.

My first ‘real job’, was on the auto assembly line in Detroit MI in the late 1960’s. The UAW (United Auto Workers) made sure auto manufacturers provided a decent living wage for many until the late 1980, then Corporate American leadership and politicians decided to adopt the Better Business Model as explained by Les Leopold in his book Runaway Inequality, An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice.

H.G.M.

 

 

Generation One Movie

Generation One is a Lamar & Ronnie Tyler production:  They ask the question: Will this be the last generation that starts from scratch or will we do what’s necessary for the next generation to build wealth?  http://www.generationonemovie.com.

The 2007 recession, the housing crisis, the soaring unemployment and the rising cost of education effects the whole country, but it effects the Black and Brown community even more.

As a Black entrepreneur I took notice when I saw the preview of the DVD when it first appeared on Facebook. Social media and times have changed for the younger generation. I ordered it right away and found it to be very informational and to be a reflection of my past.

I worked on the auto assembly line in Detroit MI while I was still in high school back in the 1960’s. Back then working on the line was fine, for a lot of people. All you needed was a good work attitude and a strong back (come to work and do your assigned job, no matter how hard the the task), with the hope that you would gain some seniority and get an easier job on the line.

It was really tough on me because I wanted to at least finish high school while making some extra money. In my young mind I looked at the working world as grown folks working in the factory, working in an office somewhere, or owning their own business. Those folks that didn’t hustled on the streets, or worked minimum wage jobs.

The generation one panel of experts takes a hard look at the numbers and provides strategies family can implement now to begin building wealth for the next generation. For me it all begins with the right mind set and discipline to do the thing we must.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux – Founder and President Economic Education .

Patrice C. Washington – Author – Real Money Answers.

Lawrence Watkins – Founder & CEO Great Black Speakers.

Deborah Owens – The Wealth Coach

David Anderson – Founder Empowerment Radio Network

Dr. Boyce Watkins – Founder – FinancialJunteenth.com

Before the big push for legal Integration, Blacks had to build their own businesses to support themselves for the skills they  learned over the years. “Separate but legal” was never equal. We were in the search for a piece of the American Dream. But instead of getting a piece of the pie, all we got was crumbs. We abandoned our financial institutions and flocked to put our money in regular “White banks”. According to the Generation One Movie there were 23 Banks and financial institutions established to help the Black communities build their businesses and purchase their homes.

Somewhere along the line we were not taught the keys to creating “real wealth”. In America its about ownership and control.

Owning a business

Owning a home

Owning land

The few rare exceptions to owning something substantial were were Berry Gordy Jr. who owned  Motown Records in Detroit MI  and John H. Johnson who owned Johnson Publishing  Company, who published Ebony and Jet Magazine in Chicago IL.

Wealth includes precious owning metals metals.

Rhodium

Platinum

Palladium

Gold

Silver

Annuities

Equities

Foreign Currency

The lack of wealth is not just a Black thing. it an American thing. But it hurts the Black and Brown  community even more. We are a trillion dollar resource but we hardly own anything. We have earned the higher education credentials in record numbers, but many of us are the first generation to attend college. If our parents didn’t set aside for a college fund we graduated with a ton of debt. I kind of fall into that  category but I got a little help from the GI Bill.

Wealth is something handed down. How to accumulate it is not discussed by families living paycheck to paycheck. Those who live month to month are doing a little better, and then there are some who plan from year to year. But real wealth is a study. One of the things is the habit of adding value to others. Then there is the habit of leveraging your unique strengths.

It’s hard to make a decision without information. And it’s hard to make changes without sacrifices. Where there is a will, there is a way.  I highly recommend you order your copy today and share with your family.

H.G.M.

What’s Happening in America Today

Les Leopold wrote about what was happening a few years ago. He titled his book Runnaway Inequality. An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice.  Many in ‘powerful political  positions’ have said that the free market model is where upward redistribution of wealth is actually good for ‘us’ and America. Don’t believe the hype!!!

For most working people the economy is  still  a mystery, but many know that wealth does not trickle down – it stays and increases at the top. Les Leopold connects the dots so we can get a better understanding. Once you understand something,  you will be a better condition to keep your head while others are losing theirs.

Big money talks and gets politicians re-elected, but when millions of American protest, politicians must take notice. The ‘Occupant Wall-Street’ protest was having an effect but was broken up by the forces with money. Unions get a bad rap but they give employees a voice.  Without union representation you are faced with the wiles of management; it’s called office politics for a reason.

My first real job came when I joined the UAW and got a job in the auto plant in Detroit. This was in the late 1960’s. All you needed was a good work attitude and a strong back and you were set for life as long as you showed up on time and did your job. Most made enough so that the woman could stay at home and take care of the kids. Now both parents work and it’s even harder to stay ahead of the game.

Runaway Inequality is designed to address the problems faced by everyday working people. Once you know the facts you know how to organize.

Part 1: What is the fundamental cause of runaway economic inequality?

Part 2: How does the United States stack up against other countries?

Part 3: What does economic inequality have to do with so many of the critical issues we face today. taxes, debt, education, criminal justice, racism, climate change, foreign trade and war?

Part 4: What concrete steps can we take to begin a fair and equal society?

People forget that we are a Nation of immigrants and we must demand a path to citizenship for all to end wage theft, and allow others to add to the tax base without the fear of deportation.

The super rich don’t require the same reliance on common public services. They don’t use our schools, our roads, or even our airports: they have private schools, chauffeurs that know how to take the best routes, and private jets. They keep their money by hiring an army of lawyers and bankers  to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. The rich get richer which makes it easier for them to influence the media and public officials.

How bad is it? In 1970 for every dollar earned by the average worker, the top 100 CEO’s earned $45. By 2013 that ratio had jumped to $829 to $1. Most  American think CEO’s make about $900,000 per year in compensation, but they really receive nearly $30 million. And those numbers have increased.

In the early 1980’s this is what happened:

  • Companies shifted production overseas for cheaper labor. Good paying factory jobs were replaced by low paying service jobs in fast food and retail.
  • In 1982 President Reagan fired more than 11,000 striking air traffic controllers which gave the green light to corporate America to attack the unions.
  •  The Vietnam War and the Cold War was increasing.
  • The 1973 and the 1979 Arab oil boycotts sparked a dramatic rise of oil.
  • Europe and Japan had fully recovered from WWII which increased global competition.
  • Political and social unrest in 1960 spurred the government to spend more to improve the lives of low-income Americans.

Policy makers and corporate elites decided to adopt the Better Business Climate model which involved the following:

  • Cut taxes especially on the wealthy and large corporations. The thinking being that the super rich and corporation would have more money to invest which would increase jobs.
  • Cut government regulations, especially on high finance. Get rid of the regulations so corporate America could expand without labor restrictions to maximize production and profits.
  • Reduce government social spending. Cut social programs like food stamps and welfare to force more low income people into the workforce , thus increasing the supply of low cost labor.

Les Leopold covers the effects of  America becoming the Incarnation Nation  but Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th shows the visual impact.

Another political election is coming and many will be fooled by the hype. Take the time to be informed. Then vote like your economic life depends on it, because it will.

H.G.M.

Chosen for the moon, he became a star

Ed Dwight joined the U.S. Air Force after obtaining a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Arizona State University. In 1961 he was chosen by the United States President John F. Kennedy to enter the experimental test pilot program to become the first African American Astronaut. However the untimely death of the U.S. President may have prevented him from going into space. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Dwight.

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He resigned from the Air Force in 1966 and became a Renaissance Man; an IBM Computer Systems Engineer, a Aviation Consultant , a Real Estate Developer and Construction Entrepreneur but focused his energy on art and  earned an Masters Degree in Fine Arts sculpture from the University of Denver in 1977.  He had only became an engineer because of his dad, who was Edward Dwight Sr., who played second base for the Kansas City Monarchs, the longest running team in the Negro Baseball league.  As a results of following his own passion he became one of the most prolific and insightful sculptors in America.

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His first serious artist work was in celebration of the Colorado’s first African American Lt. Governor, George Brown. He was then commissioned by the Colorado Centennial Commission to create a series of bronzes titled, “Black Frontiers in the American West.”  With the support of The National Parks Service  the 50 bronze were on exhibit for several years throughout the United States.

Here are some of his memorial sculptors: Texas History – Austin TX

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SC African American History – Columbia SC

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Underground railroad – Detroit MI.

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Underground railroad – Battle Creek MI

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Rosa Parks Memorial – Grand Rapids MI

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Hank Arron – Atlanta GA

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B.B. King Memorial – Memphis TN

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Dizzy Gillespie – Cheraw  SC

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Ed Dwight created over 100 Public Art sculptures. He has a gallery of African, Jazz, Black History, Black Western, small works and paintings.

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Special life-time opportunities will come to some, but if you follow your passion and do the work you will receive your reward. As a two-time military veteran I feel like I have a little of that Tuskegee Airman and the Buffalo Soldier in me. I started writing late and I finally wrote my story. If you don’t write your story, no one else will.

H.G.M.