Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.

1-3-07

So long Home Boy – Part I

Starting December 25, the Grim Reaper came knocking for four “movers and shakers,” Mr. James Brown, President Gerald Ford, Judge William Booth and President Saddam Hussein.
James Brown died in his sleep on Christmas morning. In that part of the performing arts where he displayed his skills, there might have been a few that matched his superlative talents but none surpassed him. He was simply the best at what he did. Moreover, his influence wasn’t confined to his particular area of music. It has been said his half beat influenced R and B, Funk, Hip Hop and Rap as his dance influenced the choreography of other entertainers.
There were those of other races who achieved greater fame and fortune that Brown, but their talents and abilities were so conspicuously less than his. They even stole his acts but they couldn’t steal his soul. Such is the story of American racism. God only knows how much have been stolen from people of African ancestry. We know a little of the physical and material thefts, our bodies, our homes and our lands – but equal to or the surpassing the material thefts were the spiritual or mental thefts. I.e., music, inventions, literature, etc.

He was called the “godfather of soul” or “soul brother #1,” “Mr. Dynamite” and the hardest working man in show business. It is only the reference to soul brother #1, with which I have questions. I am concerned that the singling out Mr. Brown as soul brother #1 confines the meaning of soul to a certain kind of music and demonstrativeness. I always thought of soul as passion, freedom of feeling, agile and coordinated physical expressions, great talent or gift, also, primarily spiritual connection to God, closeness with the universe from which comes the energy or life force creativity, rhythm, etc.

Some people say it is due to African people being born near the sun. The Greeks seem to think so. They thought so highly of the Ethiopians (burnt fact people) that they said their gods vacationed in Ethiopia. They attributed the advance civilization of the Ethiopians to their being born near the sun’s path.

Because of this closeness to God, the sun, the universe, however one chooses to define it, we have soul, life, spirit which manifests itself in creative, vibrant, dexterous rhythmic ways. Since the universe is vibration, to say rhythm then, is more than music, it is life or the life force. All people have it but some people seem to have more of it or are able to tap into it more than others.

Moreover, soul also means values, i.e., kindness, compassion, charity, in a word, it means love. It means love of one’s people, culture, history, features, beauty and achievement. By my definition, there were/are many soul brothers and sisters who could be consider #1 at least in their field of endeavor. Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Tupac Shakur, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hammer, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, W. E. Dubois, George Washington Carver, Michael Jordan, and the list goes on. They were all soul brothers and sisters, tops in what they did.

That James Brown was a soul brother is indisputable. His voice and songs, his rhythm perfectly fitted with the gyrations of his body, his artistic genius all flowed from the boundless energy and super creativity emanating from the university or God which blessed him with an abundance of that indefinable something we call soul.

There is another expression of soul. It is resiliency or invincibility. It is what has sustained people of African ancestry through four hundred years (fourteen hundred years if you add the thousand years of Arab’s intervention in Africa) of unprecedented cruelty. It is the will to win and the determination to overcome! It is the perseveration to take the worse and make the best and to transform pain into power. James Brown was blessed with plenty of the above qualities. Rev. Sharpton in one of his statement about James Brown said, “No one started lower and went higher than James Brown.” His mother left him when he was three and his father did the same when he was seven. He was raised by his grandmother. He grew up in the racist South which created conditions of poverty and denials deprivation, dehumanization which so often led to jails especially the young black males. Brown was arrested for armed robbery in his youth. Yet, the years he spent in jail he used to help himself reach his goal. Even in his adult years, there were encounters with the police and accusations of domestic abuse.

I along with countless others can identify with those who suffered the viciousness, humiliation and impoverishment of the racist South. Before my parents brought me to Brooklyn and Jersey City, I spent my earliest years in Savannah and Augusta Georgia. Brown was seventy-three, I am seventy-five although he was born in South Carolina, his earliest years were spent in Augusta. Our childhoods were similar.

To be continued
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Organizing Meeting on Darfur
each Thursday, noon to two p.m.
at The House of the Lord Church 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
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I will be speaking
at the Monumental Baptist Church in Jersey City
January 15, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.
For future information call the church at 718-596-1991
The Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry is featured in The Daily Challenge’s Wednesday and Weekend Edition. Reverend Daughtry, known as the “People’s Pastor,” is the National Presiding Minister of the House of the Lord Churches (HOLC). He also pastors the Brooklyn Church. A prolific writer, his books include “No Monopoly on Suffering, Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights,” “My Beloved Community,” “Effectual Prayer,” and “Tupac, Letters to a Son.” HOLC has a weekly broadcast which airs on WWRL 1600 on Sunday from 10:30am-11:00am. He is also on BCAT the 2nd and 4th Sundays at 2pm. Website: www.holnj.org