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Positive Black Folks in Action By A. Peter Bailey
Reality Check
Positive Black Folks in Action 
By A. Peter Bailey


( - During June 2014, I attended two events that were both outstanding examples of positive Black folks in action. The first was the “Black Stars of the Great White Way Broadway Reunion” held in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, whose purpose was to “celebrate 100 years of the contributions, influence and legacy of African American men to Broadway.” It also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the legendary musical, “The Wiz.”

Honorees for the educational, exciting, and entertaining evening were superb artists such as Larry Hamlin, Robert Guillaume, Luther Henderson, Geoffrey Holder, Louis Johnson, Donald McKayle, Noble Sissle, Harold Wheeler and Stephen Byrd.

Award presenters were the equally superb: Phylicia Rashad, Cicely Tyson, Chita Rivera, Ben Vereen, George Faison and Andre DeShields. Andre received an enthusiastic response when he declared “the Lord created Black people and Black people created everything else.”

With a compelling blend of music, dance, theatre and poetry, an ambience was created that was deeply spiritual. The connection between members of the audience and those on stage had a warm, family reunion-like tone that permeated throughout a usually austere Carnegie Hall for nearly three hours. The history-making celebration, produced by Chapman Roberts, Norm Lewis and David Horace Greer, was brilliantly conceived and executed.

The second event held at the Malcolm X-Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center was equally educational and exciting. It commemorated the 50th anniversary of the public launching of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) which was founded in June 1964 by Brother Malcolm X. Instead of a speaker, the program featured the reading of important documents that outlined in detail the OAAU’s goal and objectives. Probably the most important was the statement distributed by Brother Malcolm at the July 1964 Organization of African Unity Conference in Cairo. In it he presented his plan to internationalize the movement against white supremacy/racism in the United States with that of the struggle against colonialism in Africa.

Others of the 12 document read included a resolution issued by the OAU against racism in the U.S., a letter signed by Brother Malcolm reaching out to civil rights leaders, a column, “Malcolm in Cairo,” written by Langston Hughes, excerpts from the OAAU’s goals and objectives, and excerpts from the speech deliver at a December 1964 OAAU rally by Abdul Muhammed Babu, Foreign Minister of Tanzania.
The essence of the commemoration is best reflected by Professor Clem Marshall:

“For those of us living in Canada and beyond, Bro. Malcolm’s legacy remains our link to Harlem, capital of the conscious Black world. So I felt the vibrations of our Ancestor-Martyr on June 28th at the Shabazz Center. In that sacred space when he breathed his last, we breathed in the aura of Black dignity Bro. Malcolm left behind. We heard the voices of two of his daughters and a nephew as well aBoth celebrations were successfully presented and attended by talented, visionary, committed, persistent, positive Black folks in action.s elders, sisters and brothers who were in that space on June 28, 1964. We listened to the precious stories only they could tell. His passing had changed many lives. Including those of “comfortable” Black folks like Gordon Parks, Ruby Dee and Juanita Poitier, who secretly had Bro. Malcolm’s back. Bro. A. Peter Bailey had selected readings that brought Bro. Malcolm’s steel-trap mind back into our midst. I again felt the power of his fearless stand on our human right to self-defense. In sum, June 28, 2014 proved a special blessing. Our ‘Shining Prince,’ it told us, ‘is still loving, guiding and protecting us.’ We, who live in witness to his legacy, bless his Great Spirit in return. Let the Black Family, worldwide, say ‘Amen!’”

A. Peter Bailey, whose most recent book is Witnessing Brother Malcolm X, A Master Teacher, can be reached at 202-716-4560 or

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