Dear Philly: Stop Patting Yourself On the Back for the Octavius Catto Statue

Photo by Helen Armstrong.

In case you missed it, the Octavius Catto statue was finally unveiled at City Hall on Tuesday. There were lots of Very Important People. There was a gospel choir. There was musket fire. That’s all well and good. Octavius Catto was a great man. But let this sink in for a minute: It’s 2017 and the Octavius Catto statue is the first statue on Philadelphia public property honoring a Black individual. Read more »

I Took on the PPA and Won — and It Might Be Worth Millions to Philly Drivers


If you hate the robbers known as the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) and its conspiratorial kangaroo court known as the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA) as much as I do, you’ve got to read and circulate this article — especially since it might earn you and thousands of other victimized drivers millions of dollars in total.

I won a big trial this month against the PPA/BAA in a real court, i.e., the Court of Common Pleas, which is presided over by real judges who had been real lawyers who had attended real law schools (unlike the non-legally trained patronage-infested bureaucratic hacks in the PPA/BAA).

As a result of my major victory, the PPA/BAA might have to refund a whole lot of unlawfully confiscated money to you all. How much? Let’s do the math: Although it’s unclear exactly how many $51 “bus zone” parking tickets the PPA issues each year, let’s reasonably estimate, for example, approximately 100 daily from just Monday through Friday, which equals 500 weekly and 26,000 yearly. And, for the sake of easy computing, let’s apply this to a ten-year period (although it’s certainly much longer). That means the PPA/BAA could owe drivers who were victimized like me a total of more than $12 million! Read more »

Opinion: Five Reasons African-Americans Need to Stop Drinking the Poisonous Clinton Kool-Aid

Hillary Clinton (center, Matt Rourke, AP). Protesters (left) and Bill Clinton (right, photos Dan McQuade).

Hillary Clinton (center, Matt Rourke, AP). Protesters (left) and Bill Clinton (right, photos Dan McQuade).

A version of this column also ran in the Philadelphia Tribune.

Black people love “Billary” (i.e., Bill Clinton plus Hillary Clinton equals Billary). But Billary doesn’t love Black people. Never did. Let me count the ways:

1. Billary believes Black children are vicious animals. When she was being her real self in 1994 and not a presidential candidate, she described Black juvenile delinquents as “super-predators (with) no conscience… (who need to be trained) to ‘heel.’” First of all, she completely ignores America’s blatant racism that created and continues to create inadequate schools, little or no job-training, and poverty-stricken neighborhoods, all of which in turn creates delinquency. Second, our children are not irredeemable and remorseless monsters with no conscience. A very small percentage of them instead are young, immature, alienated, and misdirected human beings who made mistakes. And third, our children ain’t no damn dogs that need to heel.  Read more »

This Is the Monster Celebrated on Columbus Day

Sebastiano del Piombo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sebastiano del Piombo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A version of this story ran in 2014.

Imagine that a man who tortured, raped and murdered innocent people and then robbed them of their homes is worshiped each year as a hero. Well, imagine no more because that’s the outlandishly evil shit Christopher Columbus did and the outlandishly racist shit America and Philadelphia celebrate.

On October 12, 1492, Christopher “Admiral Hitler/King Leopold II-On Steroids” Columbus, financed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, arrived at the Bahamian island of what he referred to as San Salvador. By the way, he didn’t “discover” the so-called New World or America. In fact, the red people, i.e., the Taino, were here 14,000 years before his 1451 birth. After his arrival in 1492, he sailed to what he labeled Española — today’s Haiti and the Dominican Republic — in the inept belief that he had discovered a shortcut to India. But this “Malicious Gilligan” was thousands of miles off course. Not long afterward, in order to get more royal financing, he returned to Spain with his great, but false, news that he had found a quick route to India. As a result, he received funding to lead three more voyages to the so-called Americas, occurring in 1493, 1498 and 1502. But his monetary heaven would become the red people’s monumental hell. Read more »

Charles Bowser Deserves to Have a Philly Street Named After Him

A version of this story ran in 2014.

Many prominent, as well as not-so-prominent, Philadelphians have important stories to tell about the preeminent Charles W. Bowser, Esquire, a giant who passed away in 2010. Here are some that I decided to share in honor of the man born October 9, 1930.

In 2000, which was five years before he semi-retired, Charles W. Bowser, Esquire called my small solo practitioner law office and left a voice mail message. At the time, I didn’t know him personally but I certainly knew his great reputation. And that was because, in the mid-1970s when I was a young elementary school kid at Masterman, my mom and grandmom used to always brag about him as some kind of local Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., and even Malcolm X all rolled up into one. Ever since then, I read everything I could about this thoroughly impressive man and his thoroughly impressive work.

In his phone message, Mr. Bowser simply said, “Hey, Michael. This is Charlie Bowser. I haven’t met you before, but I’ve heard some good stuff about your legal and social activism on behalf of Black folks. And I’d like to meet with you to discuss the possibility of you working with me at the Bowser Law Center.” I couldn’t believe it. This couldn’t be happening. That couldn’t have been “the” Charles Bowser calling me. I wasn’t worthy. He was a legend. He was a giant. He was larger than life. He was calling me? No way!

Read more »

In Charleston Church Shooting, America’s Founding Racism Rears its Ugly Head — Again


The media are notorious for name-calling.

Let me be even clearer. The racist white media and their racist white viewers, listeners and readers are notorious for their racist name-calling and racist approval of such.

Wednesday night’s attack by a white man against black churchgoers was textbook terrorism, but we’re currently engaged in a furious debate over whether to call it such. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old sadistic terrorist Dylann Storm Roof has been described in an ABC news broadcast as “just a quiet kid…,” in Reuters as “quiet and soft-spoken,” in the Washington Post as a “quiet, shy boy… (who) didn’t get into trouble… (and) a son, nephew, and brother… (who merely) slipped toward his alleged horrific… visit to the church, and in The Wall Street Journal as a “bright boy from a middle-class… family.”

Bullshit. Pure racist bullshit.

After all, this is the very same person who has reportedly confessed to methodically shooting to death nine defenseless bible-studying black women and men at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Therefore, he’s no nice kid who merely went astray through no fault of his own. To say otherwise is racist hypocrisy.
Read more »

MOVE 30: Inside the May 1985 Assault on Osage Avenue

In this May 1985 photo, scores of row houses burn in a fire in the west Philadelphia neighborhood. Police dropped a bomb on the militant group MOVE's home on May 13, 1985 in an attempt to arrest members, leading to the burning of scores of homes in the neighborhood.

In this May 1985 photo, scores of row houses burn in a fire in the west Philadelphia neighborhood. Police dropped a bomb on the militant group MOVE’s home on May 13, 1985 in an attempt to arrest members, leading to the burning of scores of homes in the neighborhood.

A version of this article was originally published in 2012.

On May 13, 1985 at 5:20 p.m., a blue and white Pennsylvania State Police helicopter took off from the command post’s flight pad at 63rd and Walnut, flew a few times over 6221 Osage Avenue, and then hovered 60 feet above the two-story house in the black, middle-class West Philadelphia neighborhood. Lt. Frank Powell, chief of Philadelphia’s bomb disposal unit, was holding a canvas bag containing a bomb consisting of two sticks of Tovex TR2 with C-4. After radioing firefighters on the ground and lighting the bomb’s 45-second fuse — and with the official approval of Mayor W. Wilson Goode and at the insistence of Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor — Powell tossed the bomb, at precisely 5:28 p.m., onto a bunker on the roof. Read more »

My 10-Step Plan for Emancipation From Police Brutality

NEW YORK CITY - AUGUST 23 2014: Thousands rallied in Staten Island demanding justice & accountability in the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown & other victims of alleged police brutality a katz /

NEW YORK CITY – AUGUST 23 2014: Thousands rallied in Staten Island demanding justice & accountability in the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown & other victims of alleged police brutality a katz /

Municipal police departments, as they are now known, began as slave patrols. In fact, the first official one started in 1704 in the Colony of Carolina and then spread throughout the South until 1865. The laws creating those patrols required white men to ride the roads and, as documented by Western Michigan University history professor Dr. Sally Hadden in Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and Carolina, engage in the “monitoring … (of) rigid pass requirements for blacks … breaking up large gatherings … of blacks, … searching slave quarters randomly, [and] inflicting impromptu punishments.”

Sound familiar? Yeah! A lot like 2009 when more than a quarter million persons in Philadelphia were subjected to “Stop and Frisk.” Despite African-Americans constituting 44 percent of the city’s population, they constituted 72 percent of the persons stopped and frisked. And because the vast majority was black men, that means (after extrapolating from available race/gender figures) approximately 20 percent of Philadelphians comprised, inexplicably, nearly three of four persons stopped and frisked. By the way, of that quarter million, less than about eight percent led to formal arrests and even less to convictions. Read more »

Remembering Edward Robinson, Philadelphia’s Great Champion of African Consciousness

A version of this article was published shortly after Robinson’s death in 2012.

Edward Wesley Robinson. Photo |

Edward Wesley Robinson. Photo |

The birth of Edward Wesley Robinson Jr. on April 24, 1918, in Philadelphia laid the foundation for the birth of African consciousness — and the academic excellence of black students — in Philadelphia’s school district. Robinson, who died at age 94 on June 13, 2012, was a historian, educator, professor, author, documentarian, filmmaker, and curriculum specialist who attended Central High School, Virginia State College for Negroes (now Virginia State University), Temple University School of Law, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Robinson said that “Never during all my years in America’s best elementary schools, middle schools, junior high schools, high schools, colleges, and post-graduate schools was I ever taught anything about the huge body of information concerning the beauty, grandeur, and sophistication of Kemet (i.e., ancient Egypt) or the Songhai Empire. I was mis-educated. Fortunately, though, I was later rescued from cultural and intellectual oblivion by the intervention of my ancestors.” That rescue is quite obvious, and he wrote such books as Journey of the Songhai People and Twas the Night Before KwanzaaRead more »

Gil Scott-Heron, Godfather of Hip-Hop, Would Have Been 66


A version of this article ran on in March 2012.

When he first told America in 1970 that “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” after writing it in 1968 at age 19, Gil Scott-Heron set the stage for what would become part of the musical and poetic soundtrack for black, white and brown progressives and revolutionaries. And he didn’t stop until 40 years later. Gil was the “musical grandson” of insurrectionist Nat Turner and liberator Harriet Tubman, and the “poetic son” of fiery author David Walker and anti-lynching editor Ida B. Wells.

Read more »

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