After being arrested for blocking the street in front of the Chinese
Mission on Tuesday, 2/19/08, on Wednesday, 2/20/08, I spoke to students,
professors, staff and activists at Kean College in NJ on the crises
in Darfur. On Thursday, 2/21/08, at 6:35am I boarded USAir for Augusta,
Georgia, via Charlotte NC. At 2pm I eulogized Minister Lindsey Reynolds.
He died on 2/13/08. He had been a friend and a longtime member of our
church. For 42 years, he had been as faithful as the sunrise. He became
a member as I was being consecrated the Bishop or the National Presiding
Minister of our Churches.
On Friday, 2/22/08, after spending the day taking care of various business
obligations, I went to a basketball game. It was the Regional High School
Championship Game. Glen Hill won the game by a large margin. Glen Hill
has a young star name Christopher, we call him Chris. He is the grandson
of the deceased. In fact, I was driven to the game by the wife of the
deceased, Minister Betty Reynolds. In moving details, she gave me the
information on Brother Reynolds’ last few weeks up until the final
moment when he passed. She said he said to her, “I’m ready
to go home.”
To return to Chris, many, many years before, I had played ball with
him, maybe he was about 9 or 10. I used to play in the park with the
young fellows whenever I was in Augusta, GA. Of course, I still play
in Brooklyn and New Jersey parks and gyms. I saw in Chris an extraordinary
talent. I told him, “Boy, you are good, really, really good. If
you continue to play and improve, you are going to be a superstar.”
Watching him play, I thought to myself, there is at least one prediction
that I made which came true. I whispered a prayer that God would grant
me the years to see him play in the Atlantic Yard Arena a few blocks
from my Church.
On February 23, 2008, I caught the 6am USAir Flight #1040 to Charlotte,
NC, then to LaGuardia, New York. I was picked up by my wife, Dr. Karen,
at 10am and driven to Penn Station. After lunch, we boarded Amtrak for
Washington, DC arriving at 3:30pm. We were driven by our driver to pick
up my daughter, Leah. We drove to the home of Ms. Alexis Herman, former
CEO of the 1992 Democratic National Convention and Secretary of Labor
during the Clinton Presidency. She lives in Virginia.
There was a reception for Leah sponsored by Ms. Herman and a group of
very influential young ladies of African Ancestry who call themselves,
the “Colored Girls.” It was a gathering of some of the most
prominent people in America. My wife and I could not contain our emotions
as we heard our daughter praised. When we were called on to speak, our
words were highly emotional. We thanked everybody for their support
for Leah. We thanked our daughter for being the person she is and always
It was 8:30pm when we boarded Amtrak for Penn Station. We returned home
around 2am. It had been an exciting, challenging 24 hours. It is representative
of the kind of time in which we live. Within 24 hours, I had had seven
(7) car rides, two (2) plane rides, and two (2) train rides. I had been
in six (6) states. It called to mind the year we concluded a three (3)
years study with the World Council of Churches in Bangkok, Thailand.
Having concluded the Conference, I decided to make some other visits.
I had breakfast in Saigon, Vietnam, where I met with church leaders,
visited hospitals and talked with veterans. I had lunch in Singapore,
where I conferred with business and community leaders, and I had dinner
in Jakarta, Indonesia. In the evening of the same day after dinner,
I spoke to religious, political and community leaders.
The Bible says, “In the last days they shall run to and fro and
knowledge shall be increased.” We interpret that “in the
last days” travel will be speedily extensive and knowledge will
be rapidly and comprehensively increased. When we study events of the
past 75 years, who can argue with the incredible advances and discoveries
that we have made. In this age of rocket travel, it’s hard to
believe that less than 100 years ago, people were still riding horse
On Sunday, starting at 8am, I did three (3) worship services at my church,
including the 36th Anniversary of our Usher’s Board. On Monday,
the 25th, I attended the Sean Bell trial in Queens.
While I was in Georgia, information reached me would our church be available
for a funeral for Judge John L. Phillips? By the time I responded, arrangements
had already been made. Judge Phillips died on 2/13/08. The excerpts
from his obituary read:
“The Honorable John L. Phillips passed away unexpectedly on Saturday,
February 16, 2008, from circumstances unknown. Phillips known as the
Kung-Fu Judge, for his habits of employing marshal arts moves on the
bench, was born April 10, 1924 to his beloved parents, John Sr. and
Icie Mason. He grew up on a Kansas farm, and lived in Ohio. He served
in the Army Infantry during WWII but never saw combat.
He worked his way through Wilberforce University and later Akron Law
College where he obtained a law degree. An avid traveler, Phillips went
to China and Japan, studying the marshal arts, eventually developing
his own school of combat, something he called the Gorilla-Gnat System
of Scientific Movement and Defensive Fighting. He taught the style for
15 years in a dojo on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
His accomplishments were many. He was the first Black man admitted to
the Montana State Bar and was a 10th degree black belt. He became a
self-made millionaire buying up real estate in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn;
ran for Judgeship in Brooklyn Civil Court in 1976 as the anti-machine
candidate: He was first elected to the bench in 1977 without the support
of Brooklyn’s political machine. He served honorable for 17 years
before his retirement in 1994. In 2001, Judge Phillips, at age 77, announced
he would challenge the incumbent Charles J. Hynes in the race for the
District Attorney in Brooklyn.
Judge Phillips holdings included several apartment buildings and two
movie theaters, both purchased in the 1980s. He named one, the Century-Regent,
the Slave One Theater, “So that no one would ever forget our struggle.”
He called the other the Black Lady Theatre. Both metaphors of his love
for his mother, Icie.
Judge Phillips became more widely known, especially among the grassroots
in the activities surrounding the Slave Theater. He had purchased the
Theater because his film work had been rejected by the movie world.
The Theater became a Center for community meetings, forums, lectures,
information sharing and organizing.
Sadly, the last days of Judge Phillips were spent in physical and mental
deteriation. He was afflicted with Alzheimer. Also, there was controversy
regarding his wealth. There were accusations that unauthorized checks
were written from his account. He is reported to have said while in
the hospital, “I’ve got to get out of here. They are stealing
The wake was held at Woodard Funeral Home in Brooklyn. All levels of
the community attended. All day long starting at 2pm, they filed past
the open coffin to see the Kung-Fu Judge. There were few people at the
funeral on 2/26/08 held at the Church of the Open Door in Brooklyn.
Family members occupied the first pew. Community activist and clergy
and friends were scattered across the sanctuary. Everybody spoke highly
of the Judge’s kindness, toughness, and afrocentrism and community
I confess that I had confused Judge Phillips with our first attorney
in 1960, Mr. Phillip Roach. But the things I said thinking I was speaking
about Mr. Roach are equally applicable to Judge Phillips. What will
become of Judge Phillips’ body we know, what will become of his
wealth is uncertain. What will become of his spirit? Faith declares
his spirit will return to the creator.
Going from funeral to funeral and remembering so many whose shadows
crossed my path when they sojourned on this side of history; there came
to my mind the words that I quoted before by Lord Byron, “What
are the worst of woes that wait on age? What stamp the wrinkle deeper
on the brow? To view each loved one blotted from life’s page,
and be alone on earth, as I am now.”
I would make a slight modification on the reference to loved ones and
insert acquaintances or contemporaries. And so it would read, “To
view each acquaintance or contemporary blotted from life’s page…”
Surely, we who are among the aged or aging – maybe not so much
for the young – have a feeling of melancholy with the passing
of anything we have been around or have known for many years. Even inanimate
things, such as old houses, shoes, clothes, trinkets, family heirlooms,
neighborhoods, and living things in inanimate apparel, i.e. Old books
and movies and art and music, etc. how much, much more living members
of the human family, especially those who were near and dear to us,
do we feel a sadness with their passing.
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm
Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who
needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures,
predatory lending and/or sub prime lending.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday
from 2pm to 4pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House
of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @