Robin Williams: Reflecting on the Man and His Comedy

By: Kevin Brooks, PhDrobin williams


On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams, the Oscar-winning actor, was found dead in his California home. The news of Williams’s death was a bombshell. Even more shocking was that authorities said he committed suicide. It has been reported that he wrestled with depression over the years and was recently diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Considering Williams built his career on making people laugh with his uproarious comedy and sidesplitting humor, the thought of one of Hollywood’s most innovative, creative, and fascinating actors and comedians taking his own life is perplexing. After learning about Williams’s apparent suicide, I took a moment to mourn and reflect. My thoughts on his comedic genius led me to think about his predecessors and contemporaries who preceded him in death, such as Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Robin Harris, and John Ritter, to name only a few. Each of their deaths resulted in sudden distress, but nothing like the way I felt when Pryor (my favorite comedian) passed away. Later that evening, I went home, turned on the television, and, interestingly, the program airing at that instance was a documentary on Pryor, titled Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, in which Williams was featured, providing color commentary on Pryor’s career.

Williams, who also starred on NBC’s The Richard Pryor Show, provided expert analysis on Pryor’s career, demonstrating his kindness, compassion, and consideration of others as well as his profession. Scores of family members, friends, and fellow entertainers from Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brian, to Chris Rock and Wayne Brady, to Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg paid tribute in their own ways, both with and without words, describing Williams as a warm, gentle, and remarkable human being.

Williams got his major break on the television sitcom Happy Days, where he starred in a 1978 episode playing the alien Mork from Ork. His uncanny ability to transform from character to character using bizarre improvisations, including impersonations and physical comedy, heightened his popularity and led to a co-starring role in his own sitcom, Mork & Mindy (1978–1982). The show achieved instant success in its first season, but ironically began to decline by the second season, as Mork became more human. The show was canceled two years later.

Although I never met Robin Williams personally, I liked him because he provided joy and cheerfulness through his boisterous comedy, which was a familiar presence in our household when I was a kid. Each week we would watch Mork & Mindy and laugh uncontrollably at his antics. Williams played a variety of roles in television, film, and theater. However, he will always be remembered for making us laugh and cry with his sharp wit and rib-tickling comedy. We commemorate his life and his homegoing.

Na Nu Na Nu!


Leadership, Not Speeches Is Required From President Obama

By: Charles E. Campbell, MSW, CEO, Entrepreneur

I think that instead of supplying federal funding for military-style weapons and vehicles, the Obama administration should sign an Executive Order mandating funding that requires: 1) the use of a camera in all police patrol cruisers, 2) the use of Google glasses by all officers, 3) the use of cameras on the barrel of police weapons that are activated and record when the weapon is horizontal or has pressure around the handle, 4) the use of police bullet-proof shields, 5) that all law enforcement officers not fire their weapon unless they are fired upon first, and 6) that all video involving a police shooting be made available online to the public within five days of a shooting involving the death of a suspect or bystander. Federal policies like these can make more of a difference than any protest, march, or political speech. These are the solutions for which strong Black leadership with the moral courage to lead should advocate. Judge them by their behavior or lack thereof to solve our problems.

I was glad to see that President Obama spoke out against the murder of Michael Brown, who was unarmed when he was killed by a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. In the past, his lack of concern about what is happening to Black African Americans has emboldened many White law enforcement officers to take the lives of and abuse Black African American men, women, boys, and girls. Under President Obama’s leadership, the number of Black African Americans incarcerated has significantly increased, which is a direct result of his failed trickle-down economic development and “Pay-to-Play” stimulus allocation polices that reward campaign contributors like Solyndra Solar.

Juries have gotten the message that the Black community will not tolerate another unjust verdict as in the Trayvon Martin murder case. Now a similar message must be sent to unlawful, unethical, and dangerous law enforcement officers so that they understand that “It’s no longer open season on Black African Americans in similar counties and cities.”

When Writing and Protest is Not Enough

By: Judson L. Jeffries, PhD


What can I say about the recent shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, that hasn’t already been said? Over the course of my academic career I have published numerous journal articles as well as a book on the subject of police-community relations, namely police use of extra-legal force against people of color. When Demetrius DuBose, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was killed in 1999 by police officers in San Diego I wrote about it; when Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo were sodomized and killed, respectively, by members of the NYPD I wrote about it. When young men were shot down in the streets of South Central LA in the 1990s while I was a graduate student at USC, I protested.

Years ago my colleague at Medgar Evers College, Dr. Carlyle V. Thompson, was so put-off by the sadistic manhandling of Abner Louima that he was prompted to write an article titled, “White Police Penetrating, Probing, and Playing in the Black Man’s Ass.”

As someone who was reared in a military/law enforcement family, I have a deep appreciation for the work that police officers do on a daily basis. In some respects it can be a thankless job. One could, however, easily make the argument that no state agent does, on average, more good on a day-to-day basis than America’s police officers. For example, if I had a dollar for every time I saw a police officer helping some lady change a flat tire on a busy highway, I’d have a big fat piggy bank. And while we often only hear about police work when the issue revolves around excessive force, the fact of the matter is that very few officers across the country engage in that type of cowardice. As someone who has an intimate knowledge of the profession, I am aware that most officers enter the field because they want to make a difference. Many are just hard working blokes trying to etch out a living and provide for their families.

While this may be hard to believe, incidents involving excessive force are typically committed by the same _ _ _holes. For example, in a department of 100 officers there may be one or two who exhibit a proclivity for this type of criminality. Most often the officers are white, but not always. On occasion, when in the company of a white officer, an overzealous African American officer might engage in extra-legal force against a black male in an effort to win his colleague’s approval. In the event these bad apples are allowed to enjoy a career of twenty years or more, what they will undoubtedly leave behind is a file as thick as a small-town telephone book comprised of complaints lodged by various motorists and pedestrians.

It has been years, I mean years, since I’ve participated in a protest against police use of excessive force and two years since I have produced a scholarly piece on the subject of excessive force against Black males. Why, because I’ve no more protest in me where this matter is concerned. I’ve run out of words to describe my contempt for those miscreants who dishonor police departments everywhere with their rogue ways.

Other than poverty and ignorance, I can think of no greater threat to American democracy than to allow these evil-doers to injure, maim, and kill residents with impunity. Neither words nor protest will sufficiently rid society of these perverts nor will five men in ski masks unskilled in the art of warfare. Nope, it’s gonna take way more than that.

UnbelievaBULL: LBJ headed back to Cleveland

By: Judson L. Jeffries, PhD

lebron coming home

Four years and two NBA championships later LeBron has reportedly decided to leave South Florida and take his talents back to Cleveland where he spent seven years not only as the Cavaliers’ main attraction, but the star attraction across all Cleveland sports. And to play for a man in Dan Gilbert who, like a scorned lover called him a coward and a quitter in a letter that was posted on the team’s website.  I’d be naïve if I didn’t believe much worse was said behind closed doors. Wow!

Gilbert who was so enraged at LBJ for taking advantage of a system (free agency) that former St. Louis Cardinal Curt Flood helped put in place many years earlier that he made the ridiculous public declaration that the Cavs would win an NBA championship, before Miami would, a team comprised of three of the top NBA players of their generation. Yeah, Ok. The Reverend Jessie L. Jackson was so repulsed by Gilbert’s behavior that he likened him to an overseer who had suffered enormous economic loss due to the escape of his prized buck.

When the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks the year after he left Cleveland, Gilbert reveled in LBJ’s failure as did many others given the comments posted on twitter and other social media. For some demented reason, many derived some sort of perverse pleasure from seeing LeBron fail.

In the days leading up to today, some African American analysts wondered understandably why and/or how LeBron could consider a return to Cleveland with Gilbert as owner. Recently, Hall of Famer and former Cleveland Brown Jim Brown chimed in on the matter stating that there would have to be a strong public apology on the part of Gilbert to LeBron before any return could be seriously considered.

I should note that the letter to which I referred earlier was coincidently edited just days ago, not rewritten, but edited, tracks included. No attempt whatsoever was made to craft a new letter. This is the owner to whom LeBron has elected to return. Reportedly Ms. Harriet Tubman once said “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

To view the letter click on link

This Whole Donald Sterling Thing

By: Judson L. Jeffries, PhD

donald sterling

For the past thirty years Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, has been well known for two things: a) referring to people of color, namely African Americans in a most offensive manner and b) being the worst owner in North American professional sports. In 1984, this miscreant purchased the San Diego Clippers and promptly moved the team north. At the time, many of his fellow NBA compatriots forbade him to do so. When he defied them, David Stern’s NBA slapped him with a $25 million fine. Undeterred, Sterling countersued for $100 million. The fine was eventually lowered to $6 million, at which time Sterling dropped his suit. Rather than remain in San Diego, a burgeoning locale where the Clippers were the only basketball show in town, Sterling transplanted them to LA where they were forced to compete with one of the most recognizable, marketable and lucrative sports brands in North America, then and now. In fact, I can think of no city in professional sports where one team has more consistently played second banana to the other than have the Clippers to the Lakers, winners of 16 NBA championships. Indeed under Sterling’s stewardship the Clippers fast replaced Cleveland as the Siberia of the NBA, not for its location obviously, but because of the organization’s perennial losing ways. For years, the Clippers were mired in mediocrity (I’m being nice) primarily due to poor draft day decisions, attrition within the coaching ranks, and a penchant for either signing free agents who were way past their prime or trading for players whose potential never seemed to actualize in a Clippers uniform. The Clippers organization was considered a place where careers go to die. Even now, with the Clippers winning and the Lakers losing, LA is still a Lakers town and probably always will be.

Sterling’s recent comments are perhaps news to the casual basketball fan, but not to those who follow the game closely. In the past, more than one player has made mention of Sterling’s racist tendencies.  Simply put, on the issue of race this ignoramus “outed” himself eons ago. Many agree that there is no place in the NBA or society for that matter, for comments like those. Although the socially conscious are well aware that there are millions of Donald Sterlings among us; they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. What is also clear to me and has been for a long time is that whenever a person reveals him or herself to be someone who goes about the business of preventing others from the pursuit of life, liberty or happiness based on race, gender, age or some other feature used to discriminate a consequence has to be exacted.

Public denouncements have been made by people such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, to name a few. There has, however, been no public outcry from the league’s thirty owners. Sure, we’ve heard from Mark Cuban and a few others, but there has been no avalanche of criticism from within those ranks.  Some have insisted that the other owners should pressure Sterling to sell the team. As stung as Cuban seemed to be by Sterling’s venom, Cuban treaded lightly when asked if Sterling should be ousted as owner of the Clippers. “That is a very slippery slope” said Cuban.  Michael Jordan was seemingly the first and to date only NBA owner to call out Sterling and insist that he be forced to sell the team.

Interestingly, when Sterling broached the topic of moving the team from San Diego to LA in 1984 many NBA owners dug in their heels and warned Sterling not to. Even the newly minted commissioner David Stern took issue with Sterling’s public defiance and fined him a significant amount of money for his brazenness. As of this writing new Commissioner, Adam Silver has issued a $2.5 million fine and a lifetime ban on Sterling preventing him, from participating in any way shape or form in the operations, business or otherwise of the Los Angeles Clippers, specifically and the NBA generally.  While Silver does not have the authority to force Sterling to sell the team he has indicated that his recommendation to the other owners will be just that.

While Commissioner Silver’s actions are a step in the right direction there is still work to be done. Moreover, his actions do not absolve others from taking appropriate action. If Sterling is to be completely deposed, the fans, players, sponsors and media personnel have to play an active role in his complete ousting. Indeed, there are those within upper Clippers management who worked for Sterling and therefore served as enablers. In other words, they co-signed on Sterling’s behavior, unwittingly or not.

One of the most effective weapons of the Black Freedom struggle has been the economic boycott. Systems, paradigms and regimes have been changed as a result of economic boycotts. It is one thing to complain about racial inequality and unfair treatment and quite another to do something about it. Fans, players, sponsors and media personnel have a responsibility to send a clear message to the Clippers organization that such lewd behavior will not be tolerated in the future. They need to make clear that the person picked to run the Clippers organization from this point forward will not be a protégé of Sterling for obvious reasons.

Some folk knowingly subject themselves to unfair treatment day in and day out. For more than twenty years, the Clippers’ general manager was a Black man who was paid no more than $250,000 annually while many of his counterparts around the league were paid in the millions. How does one account for this? Simple, many of us prefer to go along in order to get along. A few years ago Attorney General Eric Holder claimed that when it comes to matters of race we are a nation of cowards. Who can argue with that observation, although Holder is one to talk. After all, I’m still waiting for him to charge George Zimmerman with violating Trayvon Martin’s civil rights.

The Good Lord Bird and the Commitment to Racial Equality

By:   Hank Yancey

Ask any of your co-workers, friends or relatives what’s the last good book they’ve read and watch as they struggle to come up with an answer. Seems like fewer and fewer people are reading books these days unless it is of the Eric Jerome Dickey variety or someone like him. I have noticed though that some people like books on CD, which is ok, but not the same. If one is listening while driving one cannot readily reach for the dictionary, re-read the same line or underline important passages.  Recently, I read The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. This book was enjoyable, taxing and prompted several questions. Nothing taxes the brain like a good book. After all, reading is fundamental. Sometimes books end up raising more questions for me than they provide answers; such was the case here.

James McBride is a great American novelist, winner of the McArthur award. His works have been made into major motion pictures such as the 2008 Spike Lee joint Miracle at St. Anna. McBride’s latest work, the Good Lord Bird chronicles the life of the Caucasian abolitionist John Brown through the eyes of a young slave boy who passes as a girl. Although a fictional account this story gives one a realistic glimpse into the struggles encountered and risks taken in the name of freedom.

After reading this book one has no choice, but to recognize John Brown’s 1859 raid on the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia as one of the era’s pivotal moments in the history of American slavery.  Brown was a man who tired of talk and demanded action. On more than one occasion Brown found himself trying to free slaves who had no desire to be freed. Sound familiar? The book reveals Brown as a deeply religious crusader whose faith propelled him to address slavery first in Kansas then in the south where slavery not only flourished, but became its primary source for generating revenue. Frederick Douglass once said of Brown: “His zeal in the cause of my race was far greater than mine.”

Brown’s attempt at insurrection was one of many in the 18th and 19th century, nearly all of which were quelled after the insurrectionists were betrayed by one of their own. The more things change the more they stay the same. This reality prompts three lingering, but all-important questions: a) Do people really want the freedoms that they have been historically denied? b) Would most people be content to let others fight their battles for them? and c) Why is it that so many people turn their backs on the struggle for racial equality when in fact they themselves have benefitted greatly from the life altering sacrifices made by those who preceded them?

The answers to these questions will hopefully give us some insight into how far we’ve come or the degree to which we have devolved.

Exchanging White Sheets for Brooks Brothers Suits

By: RD

On March 9, 2014, Minnesota State Representative “Patrick Lee Garofalo” tweeted: “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in the NBA could fold tomorrow and nobody would notice a difference with the possible exception of an increase in street-crime.” After his remarks were met with public outrage, Garofalo attempted to explain himself,


“I was talking about the NBA’s high arrest rate and that their punishment for positive drug tests are weaker than other leagues. No intent beyond that. The culture among many pro athletes that they are above the law is the problem, not people like me pointing that problem out.”
The very next day, Garofalo was compelled to render this humble, if not disingenuous, acknowledgment:

“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had the opportunity to re-learn one of life’s lessons: whenever any of us are offering opinions, it is best to refer to people as individuals, not groups. Last night, I publicly commented on the NBA and I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized. The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our community and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize. Additionally, it has been brought to my attention that I was mistaken and the NBA policy on drug enforcement is stronger than I previously believed. Again, I offer my sincere apologies for my comments.”
Too late. Garofalo’s mea culpa did little to extinguish the flames, which by that time resembled a west coast forest fire.

If that wasn’t enough five days later, and just 270 miles away in Wisconsin, former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan lodged this sweeping – yet inaccurate indictment against African American males:


“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

As a former Economics major, how can Rep. Ryan grasp the intricacies of the labor market while failing to acknowledge the history of African Americans being consigned to an inferior place within it or locked out altogether? Surely, Ryan’s Irish ancestry should have afforded him an attuned perspective regarding racial discrimination and poor employment prospects. Sadly, Ryan appears incapable or unwilling to delineate between the oppression of his ancestors and the oppression and exploitation that fuels this purported “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular!”

Like founding father Thomas Jefferson, Ryan seems to be a tightly-wound mass of contradictions, especially where matters of race are concerned. Like his forefather Ryan too enjoyed the companionship of a Black Woman, all the while proffering less than accurate and unsavory statements about Black men. In fact, a contemporary of Jefferson, the famed Astronomer, Benjamin Banneker, did what many of us fail to do in instances like that—he called attention to Jefferson’s hypocritical ways- just as others have done with Ryan and will undoubtedly continue to do. Ryan’s curious position is reminiscent of a by-gone era…where men whose vitriolic hatred of Blacks was glaring, but were more than willing to have relations with the slave girl when the opportunity presented itself. Yes sireee, they may appear to be more refined, may even possess stellar academic credentials and they may have even frequent the finest men’s haberdasheries, but at the end of the day Garofalo and Ryan (and men like them) are nothing more than “Saltines” draped in Brooks Brothers Suits.

Hard to believe it’s been 30 years: Remembering Marvin Gaye

By: Judson L. Jeffries, PhD

Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Marvin Gaye. On April 1, 1984, one day before his 45th birthday Marvin Gaye met an untimely demise when he was shot by his father reportedly after Gaye had come to his mother’s defense during a squabble between the two parents. At the time of Gaye’s death, his career was experiencing a resurgence of sorts as two years earlier upon leaving Motown Records he released Midnight Love his seventeenth album, which went 3x Platinum in the U.S. and Gold in the United Kingdom. On that album was the Grammy Award-winning single Sexual Healing that announced to the world that Gaye was indeed back, back in a big way. If that wasn’t enough one year later Gaye was chosen to sing the National Anthem at the 1983 NBA ALL-STAR game in Los Angeles. Gaye was no novice at this as he had honored us in this capacity at least twice before, in 1979 in Las Vegas at the Larry Holmes v. Ernie Shavers II heavyweight title fight and in Game Four of the 1968 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. But 1983 was different. Wearing shades, the 6’4’’Gaye strolled out onto the floor of The Forum decked out in a double breasted suit as the color guard (comprised of four Marines) stood tall in the background while Gaye belted out perhaps the most soulful and pulsating rendition of the National Anthem to date as people shrieked, whistled and hollered with approval. Toward the end, Gaye had the audience, visibly moved by this time, clapping and stomping in lock-step with the beat. In 2008, Coach K at Duke University felt compelled to play it for the 2008 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team for inspiration.

For your viewing pleasure

On Jordan Davis’ Killer and Other Pertinent Matters

Judson L. Jeffries, PhD

What surprised me was not that the majority white jury deadlocked on the first degree murder charge, but that the jurors actually found Dunn guilty of three counts of second-degree attempted murder. Dunn’s demeanor in court and his behavior in the minutes and hours following the shooting mirrored that, which Dr. Bobby E. Wright described in his 1984 work The Psychopathic Racial Personality. According to Wright the white psychopathic racial personality is someone who:

a)    has a total disregard for the rights of others
b)    is completely callous
c)    is unable to experience guilt
d)  takes advantage of Blacks without any hint of guilt, anxiety or threat to their self-esteem and
e)    is bereft of ethical and moral development

Let’s see. On November 2012 a boisterous argument ensues over loud music and the rational response, in the mind of this middle age white guy, is to retrieve a fire arm from his vehicle and fire ten rounds into a car in which sat four fresh-faced teenagers. Afterwards Dunn and his lady friend drove to their hotel where he reportedly ordered pizza and spent the night. According to his companion, Dunn seemed unmoved by what had transpired. Well, why would he be unsettled or shaken by the day’s events? After all, history, recent history at that, was on his side. Hell, Florida history was presumably on his side. All that was required of Dunn was for him to remember to convincingly repeat the all-too familiar refrain “I feared for my life”, “I feared for my life”, “I really feared for my life!” when questioned by the police. Dunn was apparently so unfazed by what he had done that calling the police did not figure into his evening plans. What many might consider an anomalous sequence of events was seemingly normal for Dunn, a psychopath whose world view was undoubtedly tainted by race.

Imagine this. Dunn pulls into a gas station and seconds later a carload of Goth, grunge looking white kids pulls alongside him. Dunn asks them to turn down their radio from which Marilyn Manson is blaring at ungodly (no pun intended) decibels. An argument erupts at which point Dunn reaches into the glove compartment, pulls out a gun and fires ten shots into the car, killing one of the kids. He drives more than an hour away, gets a room, orders pizza and settles in for the night without so much as notifying the authorities. Can you imagine that? No, you can’t, because it’s unthinkable, so unfathomable that it resembles (and this is a stretch) a wicked, demented and perverse iteration of Albert Camus’ theatre of the absurd. In other words, the mere suggestion is ludicrous, because it wouldn’t happen.

Despite the fact that the jury could not come to terms on the first degree murder charge, it is likely that Dunn will spend the remainder of his life behind bars along with scores of other devil incarnates. Sadly, however, Dunn’s imprisonment will probably do little to deter other grown men from snuffing out the lives of Black boys believing that in the end white privilege places them above the rule of law. While Dunn was clearly the culprit in this matter I can’t help but wonder if we bear some responsibility for Jordan Davis’ murder; and Trayvon Martin’s too for that matter. The great Rev. Vernon Johns of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama spoke powerfully to this very matter in a 1949 sermon titled “It’s Safe to Murder Negroes.” Click on the video below to hear Johns’ sermon as delivered by James Earl Jones in the 1994 biopic The Vernon Johns Story. His words are no less poignant and appropriate today than they were sixty five years ago.

My Take on Pete Seeger

Judson L. Jeffries, PhD

Arguably the most influential folk singer (even more so than Woody Guthrie) of twentieth century America, Pete Seeger, died on January 27, 2014 at a New York City hospital where he had been admitted several days earlier. As someone who collects vinyl, not CDs, I have several of Seeger’s albums including my personal favorite Dangerous Songs!?, released in 1966. To say that Seeger, an artistic maestro, was to the manner born is British understatement. His father, the Harvard-trained composer, reportedly not only established the first musicology curriculum in the U.S. in the early 1900s, but was instrumental in developing ethnomusicology as a discipline. Seeger’s mother was a concert violinist and taught at the Institute of Musical Art (later named the Julliard School). While Seeger is commonly associated with the 1960s, his career spanned seven decades starting in the early 1940s. His activism however began in the mid-1930s when he joined the Young Communist League as a teenager. Later, during World War II he joined the Communist Party USA although by 1950, feeling disillusioned, he cut ties with the organization.

Seeger’s combination of music and protest is, in some sense, rooted in a long tradition of old Negro spirituals as Blacks as early as 1619 used song as not only a means to express what they could not say directly, but to defy those who created the circumstances under which they were forced to live. Seeger loved the Blues, and he was heavily influenced by the legendary Blues singer Huddie William Ledbetter aka Leadbelly whom Alex Haley called “the Mount Everest of blues singers.” Seeger’s list of credits, those he sang as well as those he wrote for others combined issues of human rights, civil rights and worker’s rights; and many were not without controversy. One of Seeger’s earliest controversial recordings was Songs for John Doe, which was highly critical of the Roosevelt administration; it came as a member of a collaborative effort known as the Almanac Singers, a group founded by him and Woody Guthrie along with several others. Among the record’s lines was “Franklin Roosevelt is leading an unwilling people into a J.P. Morgan war.” When Roosevelt was made aware of the controversial song, it is reported that he quipped “few people will ever hear it.” Not coincidentally, the recording was removed from store shelves across the country and destroyed. Interestingly, one year later, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the Almanacs extended an olive branch in the form of Dear Mr. President. This song contained such lines as “So, Mr. President, we got this one big job to do, that’s lick Mr. Hitler and when we’re through, let no one else ever take his place, to trample down the human race, so what I want is you to give me a gun so we can hurry up and get the job done.”

By the end of the 1940s, Seeger was accompanying Henry Wallace around the country as part of his 1948 presidential campaign. Like many left-leaning public figures of the 1950s, Seeger was targeted by the Joe McCarthys of the world, as he was summoned before the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1955. Under questioning by members of HUAC on August 18, Seeger exclaimed “I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsions as this.” Seeger’s stance resulted in being blacklisted for many years, yet like his friend Paul Robeson, Seeger never relented and his activism never waned. Throughout the 1960s Seeger could often be found at marches and civil rights demonstrations throughout the south.

In the late 1960s, Seeger was one of the music industry’s most vocal critics of the war in Vietnam. Indeed, during that period President Lyndon Baines Johnson would find himself in Seeger’s crosshairs when Seeger used an appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour to proffer a scathing attack on the president and the Vietnam War via his 1967 album Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and other Love Songs. Although Seeger would not enjoy the same level of notoriety in subsequent decades his impact on the music industry is indisputable. Among those influenced by Seeger are Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Tracy Chapman to name a few.

Born one year after World War I Seeger died at the ripe old age of 94 and leaves behind a legacy unmatched by any other twentieth century American folk singer.