Monthly Archives: January 2009


#1 R&B Song 1981:   “Fantastic Voyage,” Lakeside


Born:   Roosevelt Sykes, 1906; Harold “Chuck” Willis, 1928; Marvin Junior (the Dells), 1936



1958   Little Richard officially announced that he had retired at the peak of his career to become an Evangelist. His conversion lasted all of four years.


1970   The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” debut Motown single reached #1 pop and would reach #1 R&B for four weeks. The song was originally conceived for Gladys Knight & the Pips.



1973   Bobby Womack performed at the Sports Arena in San Diego, CA, as the opening act for Santana. Womack, who by now had already charted R&B seventeen times, was a prolific guitarist, having recorded with the likes of Aretha Franklin, janis Joplin, Ray Charles, King Curtis, Joe Tex, and Wilson Pickett. In fact, Picket recorded seventeen of Bobby’s songs in just three years.


1979   With one chart record to his credit, Prince appeared as the opening act on as Rick James tour and promptly instigated a fight with the King of Punk Funk.


1987   New Edition charted with “Teras On My Pillow,” reaching #41 R&B and featuring Little Anthony, who with the Imperials sang the original legendary hit almost thirty years earlier in 1958.


1993   Michael Jackson performed at Superbowl XXVII’s halftime show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The performance and the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys had an estimated record-breaking audience of more than 133 million people.


1999   Stevie Wonder performed at Superbowl XXVII’s halftime show in Miami, FL.

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Long before her “The Miseducation of Lauren Hill”
Cover art of Lauren’s “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” album.
Grammy Award-winning singer, rapper, musician, songwriter, producer, and film actress, Lauryn Hill, appeared on As The World Turns. While still in high school in Maplewood, New Jersey, Lauryn played a recurring role on the Daytime Drama as the troubled runaway, Kira (1991).

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I can picture Aretha now; just saying that she wanted to make a statement at President Obama’s inauguration; just saying that she simply wanted to make her mark on the style and type of hat she chose to wear that day; that she left the house looking her very elegant and impeccable.



  Jason Reed/Reuters/Landov

But, I am sure she never thought that the Smithsonian would want her hat as a part of history.

Here’s the 411, from :


Michelle Obama’s now-famous Jason Wu gown isn’t the only piece of Inaugural fashion that is headed for the Smithsonian. The museum is also requesting the now-iconic hat that Aretha Franklin wore while singing at the swearing-in. Aretha, however, is still undecided about parting with her Luke Song-designed hat. “I am considering it. It would be hard to part with my chapeau since it was such a crowning moment in history,” says the Queen of Soul. “I would like to smile every time I look back at it and remember what a great moment it was in American and African-American history. Ten cheers for President Obama.”

And that there are millions of women who want Aretha’s hat: ladies who love fashion, ladies who love hats, and especially you church ladies, well, it certainly is understandable that even the Smithsonian knows an icon when they see one.

And ten cheers for you Aretha, for your forward and beautifully brilliant fashion statement.

Aretha singing, “America: My Country, Tis Of Thee”:


So, readers: do you think Aretha should part with her hat ( she did come up with the unique bow design, after she went through many hats to find the right one), and offer it to the Smithsonian, or, should she keep it?


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#1 R&B Song 1961:   “Shop Around,” the Miracles


Born:   Jazz trumpeter Roy Eldridge, 1911; Ruth brown, 1928; Luther Ingram, 1944; Jackie Ross, 1946; Jody Watley, 1959



1958   The Silhouettes’ standard rocker, “Get A Job,” charted en route to #1. The ’70s group Sha Na Na named themselves after a line in the song.



1960   Dee Clark and Chuck Berry were the performing guests on Dick Clark’s nighttime American Bandstand.

1961   The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” reached the top of the charts (with Carole King playing drums). It was the first single by a rock ‘n’ roll girl group to reach #1.



1965   Shirley Bassey charted on her way to #8 with “Goldfinger,” from the James Bond movie. It was her first of four Top 100 singles. Meanwhile, the best of the blue-eyed soul duos, the Righteous Brothers, entered the R&B hit list with the powerful evergreen “Youve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” peaking at #3 while rising to #1 pop.



1965   The Manhattans had their first chart single, “I Wanna Be (Your Everything),”which went to #12 R&B, on their way to a career full of hits including sixteen pop and forty-six R&B entries through 1990.


1965   Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” charted on its way to #9 R&B. It would be Sam’s last of nineteen Top 10 hits from 1957 through 1965. The song was Sam’s answer to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ I The Wind.” Sam influenced a diverse group of future stars including Micahel Jackson, Otis Redding, and Al Green.


1985   USA for Africa’s “We Are The World” was played on he radio for the first time. Over the next ten years the recording would sell in excess of 7.2 million singles and albums and help raise more than #588 million for the charity.


1995   Babyface received the Best Male Artist, Soul/R&B prize at the American Music Awards twenty-secong annual show in Los Angeles. He also performed his duet hit with Madonna, “Take A Bow.”

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#1 R&B Song 1955:   “Sincerely,” the Moonglows


Born:   Bandleader Paul Gayten, 1920; William King (the Commodores), 1949



1952   One of the best-known artist/songwriters of his day, bluesman Wille Dixon (“Spoonful,” “Little Red Rooster”) died of a heart attack in Burbank, CA, and was buried in the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.


Willie Dixon.jpg
Willie Dixon


1960   Brook Benton was the headliner at the Apollo Theater.


1967   The Jimi Hendrix Experience performed at London’s famed Saville Theatre with the Who.


1977   Natalie Cole charted with “I’ve Got Love On My Mind,” reaching #5 pop and #1 R&B for five weeks. It would be her biggest hit of a career eighteen pop hits and thirty-one R&B winners through 1997. The record was also her fourth #1 of her first five chart singles.


1994   James Ingram began a tour of Asia starting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


1994   Mary Wilson of the Supremes was seriously injured (though she recovered) in a car accident on a California highway.


1998   Bad boy Bobby Brown was convicted of drunk driving charges in a Fort Lauderdale court. The judge sentenced Brown to five days in jail along with having to attend DUI school. He also had to submit to random drug and alcohol testing and spend thirty days in an alcohol and drug rehab facility. Along with that, he had to pay $500 in fines and was ordered to serve one hundred hours of community service along with a one-year suspension of his driver’s licence.

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The following article addresses the issue of the disparity in farm subsidies of Black American farmers. Overwhelmingly, White farmers receive more U.S. government subsidies, than Black farmers, even in counties where the majority of farmers are Black.

This issue is nothing new to me, as I have been following the plight of Black American farmers and their litigation efforts against the U.S. government  for years, and have read of the hells so many Black farmers have suffered at the hands of their government which beats them down as they are already reeling from  drought, crop losses, and farm mortgage losses. This contempt and racist economic violence against Black farmers has been going on for decades:


PDF]American Black Farmers Project Overviewfarmers afloat, but have systematically excluded blacks from government. subsidized farm programs over the decades. Black farmers have been …   

PDF]House Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill Will Loc…

discrimination in government farm lending. Analysis of payments to individual farmers and farm businesses shows that a subsidy gap. between black farmers




Government considers putting black farmers on subsidy commit…

WASHINGTON (AP)–The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to put more black farmers on the committees that have oversight in how federal farm subsidies are

The victory that Black farmers received against the government was symbolic, as always, with no lasting results that would protect them from further U.S. government mismanagement or racism in farm subsidies:


Brian Oliver Sheppard, Black Farmers and Institutionalized R…

May 3, 2000 Some black farmers covered under the lawsuit are saying their victory …. more US government subsidies than any other corporation today.

In order to create  a lasting policy of sustainable local capacity in the continued existence of Black farmers, especially in the American South, farmers who have much to offer in the way of small-scale and biodiverse farming (essential to food security and environmental sustainability),  this government will have to come to terms with the always present question of race, and the legacy of a history of systemic racism fom the United States government , and in the USDA.   The administration of President Obama must address the continued negative effects of the racist history of loans denied and subsidies destroyed that this government committed against Black farmers, as well as the present-day denial of farm subsidies to Black farmers.  This country cannot have any honest discussion on this travesty until it confronts the decades-long legacy of race in the hypocrisy of farm subsidies that continue to give all to White farmers, and very little to nothing, to Black farmers.



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Farm Subsidies Overwhelmingly Support White Farmers


Speaking last November about his plans to address the economic crisis, President Barack Obama called out subsidy payments to “millionaire farmers” as a waste the U.S. federal budget could do without. He was reacting, in part, to a new report from the Government Accountability Office documenting tens of millions of dollars of payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to almost three thousand multimillionaires who derive most of their income from activities other than farming.


The U.S. government spends billions each year subsidizing farm operations. Yet Black farmers receive only one-third to one-sixth of the benefits that other farmers receive.


For those who follow farm policy, there was nothing surprising about the report.


For years, the GAO and major media outlets have documented wasteful farm subsidies to ineligible rich people, dead people and people who don’t even farm. Less well documented is the other side of the story: that crop-subsidy programs systematically fail to support small farmers—and this disproportionately impacts farmers of color.


The U.S. government spends billions each year subsidizing farm operations.
Yet Black farmers receive only one-third to one-sixth of the benefits that other farmers receive, according to the Environmental Working Group, a D.C.-based nonprofit research organization that has partnered with the National Black Farmers Association on several reports. Looking at farmers of color more broadly, the Southern Rural Development Initiative found that less than 1 percent of agriculture subsidy payments between 2001 and 2003 went to Blacks, Native Americans and Asian Americans. (Because the available data comes from the Census Bureau, whose definition of “nonwhite” excludes many Latinos, the researchers were unable to include Latino farmers within its people-of-color analysis.)


Even in counties where people of color are the majority, researchers estimate that at a minimum, almost 95 percent of agriculture subsidies “are going to farms with white operators.”


Federal crop subsidies go to commodity crops like corn, cotton and rice, which require large farms, and most large farms in the U.S. are white-owned. So even when USDA dollars move to counties where people of color are the majority, they largely end up in the hands of the white landowning minority. The report by the Southern Rural Development Initiative put it bluntly: “USDA perpetuates the legacy of the Deep South’s anachronistic, inequitable economy through its agricultural subsidy programs.”


USDA spokespeople maintain that disparities in subsidies payments are not a matter of race, but simply of “large farms and small farms.” Yet a history of systemic racism in the U.S. (including at the USDA) means that farmers of color disproportionately own small farms where they raise livestock or grow fruits and vegetables—crops that are ineligible for USDA crop subsidies.


USDA crop payments are based not only on type of crop but also on historical acreage and per-acre yields. Given the long and documented history of discriminatory lending practices and foreclosures against farmers of color by the USDA, Black farmers today have fewer land holdings to make them eligible for the subsidies.


Because of that history, farmers of color also mistrust the USDA and are often disinclined to apply for the types of support they do qualify for. Scott Mexic, who during the Bush administration performed outreach to “socially disadvantaged” farmers for the agency, promoted USDA programs created to help small-scale farmers of color, including technical-assistance programs to help them form co-ops and increase sales in local markets. But he faced an uphill battle, having to earn trust in communities long mistreated by the agency.


Although farmers of color have much to offer in a world that increasingly sees small-scale, biodiverse farming as essential to food security and environmental sustainability, they are locked out of major USDA funding streams. There is “too much money in the hands of the wrong people, and the people that really need the assistance are not receiving anything,” says John Boyd of the National Black Farmers Association.


Body’s group and even the USDA itself supported restructuring the subsidies program in the most recent Farm Bill to reduce payments to the wealthy, but the bill that Congress passed was heavily influenced by big-farming interests and fell short of both groups’ proposals.


“There’s a place for supporting agriculture,” while benefiting communities, says Jason Gray, policy and research director at the Southern Rural Development Initiative. , “[Policymakers need to] ask: is the decision we’re making here going to result in more local capacity to … create a future? In the rural South, you cannot ask that question without having an honest discussion about the legacy of race.”
Although Gray thinks “the allocation of USDA resources in rural America is one of the best examples of systematic racism that can be found today in America,” he and other advocates for farmers of color see the potential for change. The new Farm Bill offers several hard-won provisions aimed to help “socially disadvantaged” farmers, and organizers have hope for systemic change under new USDA leadership in the Obama administration. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, hopes the new administration will “take steps to end abuses” in subsidies programs and “redirect some of those savings into programs to help small farmers.” Still, Gray is careful to note that a change in USDA leadership is only part of the needed solution.
“The government can only be a partner to efforts happening on the ground,” he says.
Jessica Hoffmann is coeditor and copublisher of make/shift magazine.

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    First Lady Michelle Obama stepped into the limelight to offer support for the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by President Obama. Mrs. Obama gave Ms. Ledbetter a hug at after the ceremony. The legislation expands workers’ rights to sue over pay discrimination.

    Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times



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