Black Interests



Gospel vocalist, Robin ‘Sugar’ Williams on a field trip to WJLA television with a group of DC elementary school children and today with her own child.

Black Friday has been a holiday tradition for over a century.  Where did it all start?  It was on a Friday in September 1869 in what became known as ‘Black Friday”.  The US Gold market crashed and Wall Street Barons Fisk and Gould’s faced bankruptcy.  According to the History Channel, Black Friday had nothing to do with holiday shopping.

It was all about two unscrupulous power hungry and greedy men who conspired to corner the American Gold market, which at that time was the basic for the US dollar.  The earliest evidence of the phrase of the holiday Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving.   In a shopping context suggest that the term originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disrupted pedestrian and vehicle traffic the day after Thanksgiving.   Black Friday, thanks to the greedy has since spilled over to the Christmas holidays.

“What a Wonderful Life” is one of my favorite holiday movies starring the great actor Jimmy Stewart. It played a role in assisting me in keeping hope alive for one of the most admired DC TV anchors ever. The giving spirit is what Christmas is all about. When I gave my first ever Christmas toy party for needy children in December 1968 I had no clue that Hattie and I would be carrying on the tradition for 45 straight years without grants or loans and thousands of children in the DMV would benefit.

You would not believe some of the folks who became Santa’s Helpers!  I Remember DC Superior Court Judge Luke Moore and several of his colleagues and police chiefs that followed his lead?  They included, Chief Judge Harold Green, Ted Newman, Eugene Hamilton, Henry Kennedy Jr. and Assistant DC Police Chief Tilmon O’Bryant and DC’s first Black Chief, Burtell Jefferson.

DC Police Chief Burtell Jefferson is a Santa’s Helper during a Kids In Trouble annual toy give away at Face’s Restaurant in NW DC.

The toy drives were led by Washington Redskins WR Roy Jefferson, LB Harold McClinton, RB Larry Brown and DB Ted Vactor.  The Santa Helpers would also include; radio and television personalities, like Petey Greene, movie stars, and entertainers from the world of music.

The real stars and the backbone of the toy parties were everyday people from all walks of life.  They had names like, Zack, Dog Turner, Black Danny, Bob Wayne, Norman Smith, Phila.Jake, Slippery Jackson, Cornell, Shep, Nook, and Herman Thomas. They were all entrepreneurs and businessmen on the streets and byways of DC.  Their Fortunate 500 Companies (stores and offices) were opened 24/7.  They were located in far NE (Benning Road) to far NW (7th & T Streets).  They never had sales or Black Fridays their reach-back efforts were 24/7.  Their Masters Degrees and PhDs were earned as a result of Common Sense–Street Sense–Book Sense (well read). Their best characteristic, you could carry their WORD to the bank.  They had my back come hell or high water.  NFL All-Pro DB Johnny Sample, producer Rodney Brown, Santa’s Helper, Phila. Jake, join WR Roy Jefferson, DB Willie Wood and RB Jim Brown at the Hyatt Regency for a NFL Legends Round table forum in NW DC.

I remember one Christmas as I was preparing for one of my annual toy parties when one of Santa’s Helpers lengthened the life span of one of DC’s most popular media anchors, Jim Vance.  He gave me a check the anchor had written for a drug transaction and it had nothing to do with ‘insufficient Funds’.  He surprised me with the check because it was all cash and carry in his business.  Bob was known as a “Hard Ass” in the streets of DC and we were often like ships passing in the night with attitudes.  He reminded me of my friend NBA legend Red Auerbach, he had a hard exterior, but he was nothing but a pussycat if he liked you! Television anchors Maureen Bunyan and Lark McCarthy join DJ Donnie Simpson and me for a fund raiser at the Foxtrappe for the Atlanta child murders.

I remember, when I decided I wanted to be a politician, Bob and several of my friends encouraged me to run against the notorious Ward 7 City Councilman H. R. Crawford.  Bob gave me his cherished red Volkswagen to use for the campaign.  He helped finance a office on Minnesota Ave. NE for my campaign Headquarters.  He and several other Santa’s Helpers decided to have a fund raiser for me at Nook’s crap house an after hours joint on Benning Road NE one Saturday night.  I went to keep an eye on the fund raiser but in the wee hours of the morning with money flowing like water I decided I needed to go home and get me some sleep.

On Sunday I returned to Nook’s place to pick up the money cut/raised by Bob for my campaign.  Bob was nowhere to be found.  I was told that he had cut between $3,000 and $5,000.  It took me several days to catch up with him and when I did he gave me an envelope with $1,500.  Rumor had it he had gone to Atlantic City with the fundraising money, I never question the rumors.  I left well enough alone.  I learned early not to look a “Gift Horse” in the mouth.  I lost to H. R. because I lacked the proper funding, Bob put his money and resources where his mouth was, the others just ran their mouths.   Looking at today’s political landscape it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

Jim and me at the Roy Jefferson reading center in NW DC.  Roy’s community outreach was unmatched when it came to Redskin players.

Bob was a businessman an admirer of Jim and the work we were doing together in the community.  This was an unheard of gesture on the mean streets of DC.  When I gave Jim the check I encouraged him to get some help.  He stopped speaking to me for 20 years.  Still this was one of the best Christmas presents I have ever given—20 more years of a life.  He enrolled in the Betty Ford Clinic shortly after that encounter.

I cannot wait to see my favorite Christmas story “It’s a Wonderful Life” because it is—Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Letter to Hattie and Harold congratulating them on honoring Muhammad Ali on the 45th Anniversary of The Rumble in the Jungle / Steny Hoyer

The late Congressman Elijah Cummings one said, “From my own life experience, I can attest that we have come a long way toward universal justice in this country, but we are not there yet”. “We are better than this.”

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