Black Interests

Joe Gorham and Bill Lindsay: Bridges To The DC Community by Harold Bell

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Joe Gorham was a native Washingtonian and a product of the DC Public School System.  In addition, he was a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia.  His career in radio at radio station WHUR radio is legendary.

BILL LINDSEY FOXTRAPPE
Bill Lindsay is an native Washington and a noted track and field athlete at Spingarn High School in Washington, DC.  This photo pays tribute to our High School coach, Dave Brown on his retirement.
DC lost Joe Gorham and Bill Lindsey days a part in 2022. They both were native Washingtonians and products of the DC Public schools system. Joe was a graduate of Roosevelt High School and the University of the District of Columbia. Bill was a graduate of Spingarn High School and attended Illinois Southern University on a track scholarship and transferred to Maryland University before being drafted into the military.

Joe Gorham was 69 years old when he was called home to be with the Lord. He was a veteran broadcaster of more than twenty years. Most of his many years in radio were with WHUR 96.3 in one capacity or another. He started as a freelance Technical producer for the Jerry Phillips (Spingarn alumnus) Morning Show in 1979. He went from the Jerry Phillips Morning Show and, became a freelance announcer and moved on to become a full-time staff performer. He accomplished all of this and more in his first ten years at WHUR.

What many of us missed was that Joe Gorham was a risk-taker. In 1991 he went to WDJY-100 FM and then to Atlanta’s WALR 104.7. His outgoing personality and being a “Team Player” were very important to his success in a profession that is overrun with player-haters, envy and jealousy. Joe never burned bridges and he was welcomed back to WHUR in 1994 to continue his dreams of making a difference.

When Joe retired he was still reaching back to help others. You did not have to be a member of the WHUR radio family for Joe Gorham to reach back and pull you along with him.

Joe and I were like ships passing in the night on the street corners, the political and community meetings in our hometown of DC. When Joe came into radio, I was on the way out as a controversial mover and shaker in the DC market. During our encounters, he would always say for everyone to hear, “Harold Bell the real DC legend.” It took me some time to get used to these shoutouts, I didn’t know if he was being sarcastic or being sincere.

My last encounter with Joe was at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown DC in 2019. The occasion was a long-overdue tribute to comedian Sylvia Morrison. Sylvia’s special guest was a lady that wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her people. The legendary comedian, Monique. She is the best stand-up comedian in America. Her act/routine includes, serious discussions concerning human and civil rights for blacks and other minorities. She speaks out when the voiceless cannot speak for themselves. Monique has more balls than most black men.

I was happy Sylvia was finally getting the accolades she richly deserved. There was a reception folks were waiting for the arrival of Sylvia and Monique to say hello before the main event. The room was a little too crowded for me so I left my wife with some friends and left the room.

Comedian/Actor Mo’Nique and Hattie T share words and a hug during tribute to comedian Sylvia Morrison.  Photo credit Fred Sheppard

I am standing out in the hall and Joe Gorham comes out of the crowded room I had just exited. He sees me and says, “Harold Bell the real DC legend.”  He turns to go back into the room and hollers, “Harold do not move, I will be right back.”

He returns with this guy looking like he might be a member of the “Over the Hill Gang” for the Washington Redskins. Joe’s introduction, “Marc, I want you to meet the real DC legend, Harold Bell and Harold Bell I want you to meet Marc Clarke.” 

Marc and his wife, Allison Seymore were a husband and wife team during the evening drive for WHUR radio. Allison was also a morning news anchor for Fox Morning News. She has successfully made the switch to WUSA TV 9 as an anchor on the early morning news.

Hattie and I were invited to be guests on their radio show during Black History Month. Hattie’s family is the First Family of Civil Rights in Orangeburg, S. C. Her father, Dr. Charles H. Thomas, Sr. was the President of the local chapter of the NAACP, and a Professor of Psychology on the campus of South Carolina State University.

He started the first-ever voter registration drive on a college campus and it has since spread to college campuses all over America. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. Thomas died in 1977, he was inducted into the Black South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.

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Joe let no grass grow under his feet. He was a brother on the go–have time he would travel.

He started out as a freelance Technical producer for the Jerry Phillips (Spingarn alumnus) Morning Show. In 1979 Joe was also the host of Legato Lycx on WHUR-WORLD 96.3 HD2 Monday thru Thursday from 7 PM-11 PM with a mixture of music WHUR originally brought to the attention of the Washington Metropolitan Area, with a twist of world music. What many of us missed, Joe Gorham was a risk-taker. He never thought about failure. He went from the Jerry Phillips Morning Show and, became a freelance announcer and on to becoming a full-time staff performer.

In 1991 he went to WDJY-100 FM and then to Atlanta’s WALR 104.7. Joe never burned bridges and was welcomed back to WHUR in 1994 to continue his dreams of making a difference.

On January 21, 2004, WHUR 96.3 FM made history becoming the first broadcast facility in Washington, DC to launch the new HD technology for the future. Joe made a historical contribution by reestablishing and rebuilding the WHUR music library to its former greatness.

He accomplished all of this and more in his first ten years at WHUR. His outgoing personality and being a “Team Player” were very important to his success, especially, in a profession that is overrun with player-haters, envy and jealousy.

In 2005 Joe was given the task of creating and establishing a format for this new technology in the form of WHUR-WORLD 96.3 HD2. The station featured the jazz artists that WHUR made famous in years gone by. As a result of this task, Joe was named the Music Director of WHUR-WORLD 96.3 HD2. He was also the Music Director for HUR-VOICES SiriusXM channel 141.

Thanks to Joe, Marc Clarke has since joined the Kids In Trouble/Speak the Truth team and my other community endeavors. We hope to continue to reach back to make a difference in the life of some kid in our ongoing journey as Joe would have wanted. In November of 2019, Marc helped to co-host the successful debut of my Muhammad Ali video trailer at the Miracle Theatre in NE DC with Sylvia Morrison and Gary Johnson.

CEO & Publisher of Black Men in America.com Gary Johnson and radio and television personality Marc Clarke co-host Miracle Theatre salute to Muhammad Ali in November 2019/ photo credit Fred Sheppard

Marc continued his reach back efforts when he joined the Morning Team on WUSA TV 9. October 30, 2021, marked the 47th anniversary of the Rumble in the Jungle. Marc used the historic occasion to air a segment of my one on one exclusive interview with Muhammad Ali. Thanks to John Hollins Account Excutive and Sports Director Fred Kalil on CBS 46 in Atlanta, Ga. for airing a segment of my exclusive Ali interview during Black History Month. https://youtu.be/duGoaDIVZ6E 

Joe Gorham never got the opportunity to experience The Foxtrappe. When he joined the radio ranks in 1989, the Foxtrappe had gone dark (closed), but he had the spirit of Bill Lindsay.

Bill was a co-founder of the Foxtrappe. He 76 years-old when he was called home to be with the Lord.

The Foxtrappe Club opened its doors in 1975 and catered to the black Washington, DC, and beyond. The club was located on 1601 R Street in NW DC in a five-story mansion owned by the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.

The Foxtrappe was the brainchild of three native Washingtonians, Claude Roxborough, Malcolm Beech, and Bill Lindsay. This would become the place to be for DC’s elite for over a decade. During these times Washington, DC was still a closed city for blacks despite their influential government jobs, cash flow, and wardrobes to kill for. The downtown white restaurants and clubs were still off-limits. They viewed every black face as one of the participants in the 1968 riots who almost destroyed their city.

Bill was not only the face of the Foxtrappe, he was the bridge to the community. Claude and Malcolm were from another part of the world growing up in NW DC. Bill was from far NE DC and a product of the DC Public School system. He was a graduate Spingarn High School where he was also an outstanding student/athlete, participating and excelling in track & Field. He attended Southern Illinois on a track scholarship and transferred to the University of Maryland before being drafted into the U. S. Army.

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Bill Lindsey was a class act and he was the bridge to the community in Washington DC and beyond. The Foxtrappe was known around the world. Bill and I were friends before the Foxtrappe, we were both native Washingtonians, grew up in NE DC and were student/athletes at Spingarn High School. The friendship earned me a free club membership giving me unlimited excess for my community endeavors.

Bill and I met after an alumni basketball game between members of past Spingarn teams and the present varsity team. It was our basketball Coach William Roundtree’s idea of hosting the game during the Thanksgiving holidays. I remember the game like it was yesterday. The game gave me an opportunity to continue my head to head playground battle with rising star Dave Bing.

After we lost final alumni match-up several of the athletes gathered at Sportys’ a popular carry-out located directly across the street from the school. Sportys’ had the best half smokes and hotdogs in town only Evelyn’s on U street had better.

Dave Bing is seen here going one one with Earl “The Pearl” Monroe as a member of the Washington Bullets. Dave was an All-American at Syracuse University and a first round pick of the Detroit Pistons. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1967, led the league in scoring the following year, inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1990. He was named one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players in 1996 and closed out his public life as the Mayor of Detroit. Dave and Elgin Baylor are the only two student/athletes in America’s public schools who are from the same high school inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. Not bad for for a young man from far NE DC.

The carry-out was very small and there was a crowd standing in line outside the door to the entrance. I worked my way to the front of the line and was ordering a hotdog when a voice from outside the door yelled, “Harold Bell make that two hotdogs and a coke.” He then passed a dollar bill up to me.

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