Wake Up Everybody

 By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.

We often listen to music of today’s artists and shake our heads as we compare the quality of the music of today to that of yesterday. The number one hits today are for the moment. We snap our fingers, swish our hips, sway our legs, and bob our heads back and forth. The artists of today are indeed talented, and their songs are like riddles, phrases and jargon that tell a secret story that is often a mystery to the novice singer and listener. The hits you hear today are barely recognizable in 2-3 years, unless of course they are samples from one of the great hits of my time.

Today, one of my favorite groups, Frankie Beverly and Maze ,has sell out concerts that fill the venue with people of all races, genders, and age groups. Frankie Beverly and Maze, however, haven’t released an album since Twilight: Back to Basics in 1993 and haven’t had a number one hit on the charts since 1989 with Can’t Get Over You. Humm. Just typing the song title has me closing my eyes and humming the words… “I know I brought it on myself, I owe blame to no one else, And now I realize, I can’t get over you.”

The group’s most memorable hits were produced in the early to mid-80’s. During concerts lead singer Frankie Beverly put on no airs or frills with fancy clothes and wardrobe changes. In all white… jeans, t-shirt and cap, he simply sings every number one hit he and the gang have ever written, produced and released for our listening pleasure.

Another of my favorite groups is Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Teddy Pendergrass got his start as a Blue Note. Most of us remember the eight minute, 30 second long song, Miss You, released in 1972. Miss You gave Black men the permission to openly express emotions of thinking, drinking, crying and dying from the miserable loneliness of missing a woman. It starts out swooning and crying: “Oh I, Oh I, Miss you, Miss you, Miss You, Miss You, Miss You. I swear I do.”

Now that I have taken you somewhat down memory lane, I want to have some serious reflection on Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ song, Wake Up Everybody. Teddy Pendergrass leads in with:

“Wake up, everybody, No more sleepin’ in bed, No more backward thinking, Time for thinking ahead, The world has changed so very much, From what it used to be, There is so much hatred,

war and poverty.”

Teddy was singing about the world, but I will borrow from the phrase, “think globally, act locally” to reflect on what is happening here at home in Broward County. We could add a couple more songs that fit quite well in the scenario of the missteps of our school board here. Just to name another two: Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Bobby “Blue’ Bland’s I Pity the Fool stand out in my mind.

As we begin thinking about the new year and making resolutions, I am urging the community, particularly our faith-based leaders and politicians who are not engaged, to engage, reengage, commit, and recommit to our community like we have never done before. There are over 40 Black elected politicians in Broward County. Our Black Greek lettered organizations (BGLOs) have never had more chapters and members as we have today. Yet, we have become almost extinct like the Malayan Tiger, in the wake of what is happening to our most valued and precious resource… our children at the soil hands by what is happening in our schools. We have a superintendent that is way in over her head in her inability to handle the sixth largest school district in the nation. Her unreadiness is having the worst impact on Black, Brown, and poor children. She has stripped and silenced competent Black leadership, and replaced it with less educated, incompetent, and untrained employees. When the trauma of poor leadership occurs in our schools, fragile students suffer the most. For example, the pandemic forced schools to close their doors for almost a year. Who suffered learning loss the most? Black, Brown, and poor kids.

I would like to commend Pompano. A very small, but powerful group in the North Corridor  has galvanized to protect our children. Members of the group, Pompano Strong, have showed up to every single School Board meeting and have demanded not just what is right and justly due for the schools and students in Pompano, but for all Black, Brown, and poor children in the district.

Yet, the majority of central and south Broward communities have remained uncomfortably silent. There are all kinds of rumors circulating that explains the “Quiet as a Church Mouse” syndrome. It is difficult for me to believe that one or two people have the political capita and influence to silence dozens of pastors, politicians, BGLO presidents and the National Panhellenic president about the welfare and well-being of our schools and the students who learn (or fail to learn) in these buildings; in the words of Nelly, Must Be The Money. Are pastors and politicians so afraid to lose their positions that they fall silent to injustice that is plaguing our children? I can hear the O’Jays tuning up, ‘For the Love of Money -some people will do strange things for it! Does anyone, but the Almighty God, has that level of power to silence the entire Black community? I don’t think so.

There is but one local Black politician, State Representative Patricia H. Williams of District 98 who has voiced concern over this superintendent and the damage being caused to our children. Even the Fort Lauderdale Branch of the NAACP is silent. Silent. No voice. No action. Just silent consent to injustice that will take at least a decade to undo.

Has anybody here seen my old friends Abraham, Martin and John?

People do not gain power with position. Power is not an absolute being. Power is simply perception and people establish power when others shudder in fear because of some perceived harm or blessing that will come to them by falling in line or taking a stand. What I know well is power can be in full force today and disappear like a snowflake over an open fire. Look at what is happening to the once most powerful and influential Republican in the country. Between the January 6th Committee, New York State Attorney General, Letitia James (a sister), Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis (a sister), the power once wielded by the former president is grinding to a screeching halt.

We are amid the seven days of Kwanzaa, a festival observed from December 26th to January 1st by mostly African Americans, however all the world could benefit from its Principles. Kwanzaa is about connecting the past and the present and celebrating our community and cultural heritage. We are reminded to act upon its principles and values that give us strength to overcome struggles we have faced, are presently facing, and are still to come. For each of the seven days of Kwanzaa, we celebrate seven values in African culture: Ukoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).

These principles should guide us, our politicians, pastors, and BGLOs and potential leaders in our walks in life and work in the community. We have somehow lost our way when we have just shy of 50 Black elected officials and dozens of Black pastors leading our churches and our voice is nothing more than flatulence in a blizzard. No sound. No smell. No presence of existence.

Wake Up, Everybody. We can do better. We must do better. Not for ourselves, but for our children.

Wake up before it might be ship ahoy, ship ahoy, ship ahoy.


About Carma Henry 22156 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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