Black Interests

I Remember the Athletes Who Cared and the Judges for Justice for All! By Harold Bell

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Judges Luke C. Moore and Harry T. Alexander were real life Super Stars in the Game Called Life and in the criminal justice system.  They were risk takers and applied their trade in the DC Superior Court in the District of Columbia.  Luke died November 1995 in Atlanta, Georgia he was 70 years old.  He died like he lived–helping others.  He was raking leaves for a next door neighbor when he had a heart attack.  On July 8, 2010 Judge Alexander died in his adopted hometown of Washington, DC.  He was 85 years old.  They both left vacancies that have yet to be filled. “Here comes the judges” was a familiar cry in my community programs in the Nation’s Capitol.

My work with at-risk children made me a frequent visitor to the DC Superior Court and they were frequents visitors to my community programs.  They were led by pioneering Judge Luke Moore, his side-kicks were Chief Judge Harold Greene, Harry T. Alexander and Ted Newman (DC Federal Court).  DC Court Judges like, Eugene Hamilton, Henry Kennedy, Jr., Paul Webber and Alex Williams (Md. Federal Court) and William Missouri (Upper Marlboro Court) would join the KIT team after Luke had blazed the trail.

In the 70s and 80s they presided over courtrooms where integrity, and honesty were in high demand.  It was there Black residents and minorities were made to feel that there was such a thing as a fair shake and justice for all.  Racist and bully cops and attorneys were not welcome in their courtrooms. Judge Alexander had a short fuse for disrespect in his courtroom, he dismissed cops and attorneys from his courtroom who refuse to address defendants as Mr and Mrs.

My programs Kids In Trouble, Inc. and Inside Sports were closely associated with professional athletes (NFL, NBA & MLB) and rightfully so, but the DC Superior Court was the backbone of KIT.
NBA Hall of Fame player, native Washingtonian and former Mayor of Detroit Dave Bing and NFL Hall of Fame player Willie Wood were the anchors of the Kids In Trouble team when I found it after the 1968 riots.Washington Times sports columnist Dick Heller receives KIT Life Time Achievement Award from Willie Wood.
1967 was when all hell broke loose on a Friday evening at my alma mater Spingarn High School in NE DC.  A Spingarn student had been shot after a basketball game between Spingarn and rival McKinley Tech.  My boss Stan Anderson immediately assigned me to find a way to bring peace to what could become a volatile situation.
Dave’s first KIT assignment came during his NBA Rookie Year.  He had been selected to play in the 1967 NBA All-Star Game in Baltimore at the Civic Center.  It was also my first year as a Roving Leader for the DC Recreation Department (Youth Gang Task Force).
I arrived on the scene to find cops and students in a world of confusion–neither seem to have a clue except, Spingarn won the game and they think a McKinley Tech student shot the Spingarn student for celebrating. There were a couple of knuckle heads standing around on the fringes talking about revenge.
None of it made any sense to me so I decided to leave it up to the cops to solve.  I retired to Sporty’s Carry Out across the street from the school for a hot dog and soda.  I was waiting for my hot dog when I hear someone say “You know the NBA All-Star Game is in Baltimore this Weekend”! 
Suddenly, lights, bells and whistles started to go off in my head and I said to myself I thought, “Oh hell no, Dave Bing”.  And the guy said, “Oh yes, he is playing”.
The next morning I was on my way to Baltimore to catch up with Dave.  On arrival I found the Civil Center players’ entrance.  One hour later I spotted Dave arriving with teammate Bob Lanier.  He saw me and this big smile came across his face and his first words were, “Harold Bell what the hell are you doing over here?”  He introduced me to Bob and we huddled outside. I explained what had happen at Spingarn and I needed him to meet me at the school on Monday morning to address the students–done deal.
I kept my fingers crossed hoping there would be no drive-by shooting over the weekend between the two schools,  I got my wish.  Dave and I met at Spingarn on Monday morning to a full assembly waiting for his arrival.  When he walked into the assembly hall, the students gave him a standing ovation. They had just seen him on national television representing them and the school. His words of wisdom brought peace to the school on The Hill.  I was proud of Dave, it was a moment never to be forgotten.
Pro athletes and sitting judges working together to empower the community was unheard in the 70s and 80s.  The NBA, NFL and MLB would all follow my lead.
The “KIT Dream Team” was made up of pro athletes and  DC Superior Court Judges who help give hundreds of at-risk children an opportunity to grow up to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Make no mistake Luke and Harry T. set the bar when it came to making sure attorneys and police officers respected everyone in his courtroom.  All defendants were to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss. It did not matter your station in life!

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