This post is another fond remembrance of my Dad. Who had the unfortunate task of raising me as a son. I was that kind of kid who questioned everything..But mostly the “Jim crow” apartheid system he was forced to make a life for his family under. Like a lot of young “newly militant” people of that time we made the stupid mistake of thinking that because our parents took up the challenge to take care of their families even in that evil system. That it meant that our parents were somehow “okay” with being 3rd class citizens in our own country…It took a lot of growing up for me to see that my Dad fought me so hard about joining SNCC, about joining the Black Panther Party..about going to Africa..was because every person he had ever known who openly challenged the “status quo” of white supremacy …..was dead..And not just him, as I grew older it seemed almost every family had a tale of somebody who had challenged the way things were …back in the 1920s..or during WW II or even back in WW I..those stories all ended with a person who died under “strange circumstances” like my Dad’s father..or had to secretly leave town “forever” like my Moms Uncle Arthur..or sometimes they just hung you from a tree..My Father fought me on those things out of love…….and fear. When he passed away in 1984 …I found out from my brother and from my Dad’s old army buddies that he not only gave money secretly to SCLC and SNCC..but that at night when he drank with his VFW buddies he would brag about his son who had the “whiteys” so scared…it’s awful that I didn’t really know that side of my father while he was alive. But when I talk about him today I always mention the guts and bravery it took to dare to just take good care of your family in that awful time that I grew up in..This picture is from the late fortys or early 50s…my Dad walking to work in downtown Atlanta. He was the Chef in a white Restaurant that he was NOT allowed to eat at himself…He once during the civil rights movement beginnings told me about how he saw all the Black students picketing the place..and getting beaten up by the cops…He made me and my sister promise that we would never get involved . what he didn’t know is that I already knew them all…But what I didn’t know it that it was not lost of Dad that he cooked there all day long and could never bring his family in for a meal…Dad helped to bail out several of those people…that was called “The Atlanta Student Movement”.. Those people….those parents were ALL heroes.And I salute ALL the Black fathers of those times..and a profound apology to my Father.
I have not written any new entries here for a while….I guess I just put to much of myself into the last election …and more than politically burned out from the results…The last time I posted this picture , an old friend complemented me on taking such a nice picture when I was a young man. But to most of you I don’t have to tell you, this is Dr. Martin Luther King born Micheal King Jr .he is at Morehouse College in 1948. I always stop and honor Dr. King on this day. But most of the time I don’t go out and do any special activities on the Holiday that is his birthday. I have tried to make everyday that I am able to serve as Martin Luther King Day. I won’t say I was a friend of Dr. Kings. He certainly knew who I was. He was a very early hero to me long before the march on Washington. But I was much too young to have been in his circle. And as a youngster I tried very hard to spend as much time with the people I considered the “movers and shakers” in the civil rights movement. I must have washed Martins car about 10 times. and helped cut the grass at his house a few times. But for me as I grew further into my teens. It was Julian Bond, and John Lewis, Diane Nash, Lonnie King, C.T. Vivian and a lot of other people you never heard of from SNCC and the Atlanta student movement that called to me and formed my idea of the type of activist I wanted to be. Even though Atlanta Georgia was the only true Metropolis soaked in the culture of “Jim Crow” It probably was the biggest threat to the old segregated culture..Because as anyone who knows the area can tell you, the city is full of historically Black educational institutions and even today it’s the Black educational capital of the world..many movements from the civil rights era may have started in other towns …with student and clergy from other places. But they all seemed to gather in our city when the movement matured. I got to see it all happen. The meetings . planning sessions. And all the talk about what tactics to use. heard many of the arguments between different factions. And I was just a kid. But that was rarefied air to be in if you were growing up then and there. I still remember the talks among my “elders”..meaning 22-30 year olds ..making plans to risk their lives on campaigns to change the way we lived “down south” as well as the way Black people all over America saw themselves and how we were perceived by the rest of the country as well as the rest of the world. These same people lead me to be able to go to several other countries and see and participate in movements for freedom and justice for oppressed people , Angola , Palestine, North Viet Nam and other countries. There is a reason why I am so disgusted by “coonery” , deadbeat dads, monkeyfied rappers, and hip-hop hoochie mamas. Back then ALL the images we saw of ourselves were clowns, maids , janitors, criminals, shoe shine boys, “bucks” and Mammies. And these people in the movement were the best and the brightest of us. Risking not just any future success in employment but their lives in order that the coming generation could walk unthreatened. with dignity and pride…..seems like a simple thing today….but it was not. Today’s activist need to understand that it was a deadly business. Most of us didn’t expect to live past 30……..and many did not. Martin Luther King was NOT Santa Claus , and God bless him our Dear John Lewis who Trump insulted this week is not. Regardless of whether you always agree with Lewis today….I consider him one of the the bravest Americans who ever lived. I was on that bridge in Selma when we were both along with dozens of other people beaten and trampled by horses and gassed. I know we did not “fix” America back then …..but there are a hell of a lot of things black, brown and poor people can do today that they couldn’t do before the movement….and it goes on ..and it should everyday..NO Martin was not Santa..the movement was not “cute and fluffy”…and one day of service won’t change sh*t. Honor Martin in what you do everyday…….thanks…..just an “old head” talking
Why am I posting a picture like this you might ask. I’m Tim Hayes ..the guy that the chief of police in Atlanta Georgia. Herbert Jenkins .once described as a “mad dog cop killer”…That was when I was the founder of and for a while until I left for Cuba and Africa the Captain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Black Panther Party.. But The fact that after those days I like to consider myself an honest historian. Meaning when you speak of history …you have to say what your research has revealed ….whether you like it or not or whether it fits your preferred world view or not. That’s what separates real historians from hacks….and there are a lot of hacks out there…The history of Black community relations with city police forces for the most part has been a history of an “occupying force” rather than people who are there to “protect and serve”…But I know from over fifty years of observation that there really are decent people out there who wear the blue suit…When I got the worst beating of my life..by a cop….and I have gotten several, it took two rookie cops to come and pull the sadistic pig Sgt.. Eldren Bell off of me…he still managed to crack my skull..The officer who took care of me later and got me medical attention.. Later sued the Atlanta police Dept. for police brutality…his name was DeWitt Smith…I will never forget him..that was 1970…Since that time I have seen that the culture of the urban American police officer has changed very little..They usually don’t tell when a fellow officer ignores someone’s rights…and most of the times when they do they get ugly treatment from their co-workers. But there are real people on the police force who step up from time to time and many of them have been people I know ..or the child of someone I know…and one of the most decent people I know is a nephew of mine who is an officer in Georgia…so yes we should keep shedding the light on those pigs on the force who abuse the people they are sworn to protect..but we also need to help create a culture where those people on the police force who REALLY are there to “protect and serve” are more willing to step up when they are protecting one of us from one of their co-workers…..I know I will get a lot of flack for this….I just had a talk with a Philadelphia policeman who I know from my days as a counselor at Olney High School in Philly where he was student..he will be reporting another officer tonight for assaulting a woman he had already arrested …I wish him well..oh yes and by the way ….I never killed a police officer.
I was offline for the most part yesterday ..I just found out that my best friend in the 5th 6th and 7th grade Virgil Howard passed away. Virgil and I became friends when my family moved from the monster public housing project …Carver Homes into a community of small affordable ( 10,000 dollars, a lot of money in 1959-60 ) houses in a subdivision on the northwestern edge of the city of Atlanta.Called “Lincoln Homes”. It was still very much the time of “jim crow” and Virgil and I met when we found out that the only place close by that sold comic books..( I mean the real deal D.C. and Marvel..not the “Archie” and “Donald Duck” stuff which were called “funny books” in those days) did not allow Black people to even come into the store. We ended up coming up with schemes every month to get some white person to go into the store and make a purchase for us…sometimes we paid a white “wino” to go inside…one summer we went into the surrounding woods and picked buckets of plums to give to the white church lady who lived across the street from the store and she would go in and buy from the list of our favorites that we would give her. Virgil and I in those days were true kindred spirits ..not just comics but we discovered all the classic fantasy writers Ray Bradbury, John W. Campbell., Isaac Asimov.,Arthur C. Clarke.and Robert A. Heinlein. together ..we knew already that we were a lot smarter than the kids we went to school with ..but didn’t dwell on it. I guess it was my interest in being a musician, and later the civil rights movement that caused us to drift apart when we got to high school .I sort of went with the academic crowd while Virgil became something of a loner…But we only lived one block apart so I still saw him everyday. We really did go through a lot together and I treasure the time of discovering who we were together. I have always felt kind of sad that we did not keep in touch…The last time I saw Virgil was about 1976..long after high school walking down the street not far from his parents house. I already lived in Philly by then but we had a beer and talked a little ..I heard two days ago from a class mate that Virgil was ill and in the Hospital..I was off the computer yesterday and at 7 this morning I read that he had passed…this might be the worst thing about this time in life ..when you lose people or things and regret ….strongly how you didn’t get to spend more time with them or let them know how important they were…I have no idea what kind of life Virgil lived as an adult..and I regret that..but where ever he is I wish him peace….this is a picture of Virgil Howard from our high school yearbook …he was voted ” most humorous”
I don’t remember the date, it was in September of 1970, I knew I was hungry, as I had almost nothing to eat the day before. Not an unusual thing in those days when I was full time in the Black Panther Party. On the streets of Atlanta Georgia, I had decided to go to Chestnut and Fair Street, in the center of the Black College complex. Clark College on one corner Spelman College a block away Morehouse College where I was technically still a student on the opposite corner. I was standing there trying to sell Black Panther News Papers. If I sold enough to cover the cost of food for the Free breakfast program I would be able to keep what ever was left for myself. I was busy trying to sell a paper to a really pretty Clark College girl and didn’t notice until I turned around that there was this really tall guy standing right next to me. After I sold a paper to a passing car I noticed the look on the face of the buyer when he looked at the tall guy. I stepped back on the sidewalk and looked up and sure enough it was Muhammad Ali. It was him who struck up a conversation. He said how he respected the BPP and the work we did and was sorry that he had not done more to donate money to our community programs. I told him that we all knew what he was going through, and that to us he was always the “People”s Champion” we went into a lot of subjects Like Abdul Nassar who had just died and how the new Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was a real Egyptian …a Black man and not an Arab. I told him that it meant a lot to many of us that he had taken this stance on the war.Ali kept saying that he had not planned any of this…he just had to do what he thought was the right thing…”suppose ” he said ..”when they grow up …my kids ask me what did I do about this” …”I don’t want to have to say I did nothing ” simple words …but I knew exactly what he meant….You have to understand that during the time Ali had been suspended from boxing the number of Black as well as non-Black men drafted to go and fight that war had grown enormously This was over forty five years ago so a lot of the words have faded away. But what got me was after about ten minutes somebody across the street said “HEY LOOK ….IT’S ALI “..all of a sudden his voice changed, his posture changed, he began to speak more in a “ghetto dialect” and got really loud.It was like a switch was thrown and he turned on his other persona….I think in that moment I learned more about him that in any of his interviews ….he knew who he was, he knew what he was. I knew in that one second that Ali was not being manipulated by Malcolm or Elijah Muhammad. Within seconds there were dozens of people ….trying to get close to Ali. I noticed that a bright yellow limo drove up..Ali pushed through the crowd ..gave me a ten dollar bill..I gave him the Black Panther newspaper, he got in the car and was gone. I found out a few minutes later that Ali had been using the gym at Morehouse College to train for his up coming comeback fight..against Jerry Quarry…it was an easy win about a month later. A lot of things happened to me during those Black Panther years but this day is one memory that I treasure…To guys in my generation maybe Stokely may have made Black what we called ourselves..but it was Ali who maybe not alone but in terms of the loudest voice, taught us how to BE Black men and women…real Black men and women…We were under no obligation to aide America in it’s imperialism …and it fact had more in common with the people America wanted us to kill…The most powerful words spoken by a Black American ..ever, were “NO VIET CONG EVER CALLED ME NIGGER” This took what we were still calling a “civil rights” movement and turned it into something much bigger. That’s what Malcolm died trying to do…it’s what MLK came to embrace at the end of his life…and despite all the money and being the “worlds most famous person” This is and will be what made Muhammad Ali….”The Greatest”…don’t have to tell Ali to “rest in power”…..we know he is.
I actually wrote this one morning two years ago but a friend of mine saw it recently and suggested that this remembrance belonged here……May 26th 2014…I woke from a fitful dream this morning , in my sleep I kept seeing guys I knew who never came back from the war Viet Nam..in that way that dreams can be, some of them were real guys that I knew in high school or from my “hood” but some of them were just faces. I think it’s because I went to sleep with the TV on and there was so much stuff on about Memorial day… But yes I knew a lot of guys and even a few women who went to “the NAM” many never came back. As high school was ending for me and my generation, you had many people who lived in complete fear of the day they would get “called up” in the draft to go fight that war To be honest I also grew up with guys who grew up watching all those WW II movies with John Wayne and Audie Murphy..( I know none of you young people know who Audie Murphy was…do what you do best google him) and these people could not wait to get in uniform and go fight and kill some communists. You have to understand that everybody I mean EVERYBODIES Dad had fought in WW II in fact you could not buy a house in our neighborhood unless you were a veteran. Also I have to mention that not as many Black men went to college as they do today some didn’t have the grades , even more could not afford it. I was in that few who were sought out by the colleges both Black and White. We didn’t have Affirmative Action back then so all the big white colleges would literally hunt down Black “super students” …you only needed two or three in your school then no one could say Cornell , or Dartmouth were “racist” ..but you really had to be that “super student” ten times better than the white student to be what we called in those days “the nigger who sat by the door”..I didn’t have the best grades but in my IQ tests I scored in the 160s ..by the time I was in 11th grade it was not unusual for there to be a big black car sitting in front of my parents house when I got home from school two or three times a week ..all asking us to sign an agreement for me to go to their University … I don’t say this to brag .in fact it was a curse that inflicted a lot of pain on my parents and to this day colors the relationships I have with my siblings. But that’s a story for another day, the point here is that I seemed to be in a position to not be “cannon fodder” in that war….But they got a lot of us…I feel bad about it today that the stupid young man I was would make fun of these guys..”hey man you a little brown guy who is treated like shit in your own country going off to kill little brown guys on the other side of the world who just want to run their own country, man you’re a complete fool”. That was easy for me to say …I would have a student deferment and would not have to go…or so I thought ..that’s another story too for another day or for my blog. But the point here is Uncle Sam took a lot of boys through no fault of their own .Money and class for the most part decided if you had to go or not.0ver 58,000 never came back.. and today I salute every single one of them. This picture is of a statue that sits in the park where the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial is….I kind of like it ..look closely at the soldiers faces ….I think it says it all.
When time permits I have been writing here for a few years. Today I was asked for a “bio” by a group that will put me on a panel discussion about a new book dealing with the civil rights movement. I also realized that I had never done that here…so from now on I guess this little blurb that we put together this morning will be my “official” bio. Tim Hayes has been an activist all his life. Inspired by the freedom riders in 1961, Tim still in elementary school sought them out. Even sneaking out of his Mothers church on Sundays to attend meetings of the Atlanta Student Movement. Later Tim spent most of his high school years following the older members of the new organization SNCC. Just doing anything he could just to be around them and a part of the organization. Making coffee , getting sandwiches ,or what ever it took.In January of 1965 while on a trip to New York for the National Science fair. Tim met and talked with Malcolm X . Who he had seen speak several times in Atlanta but had never got a chance to actually meet. This was where Tim got the idea that the civil rights movement was really only a small part of an international struggle to rid the world of Imperialism and colonialism. In March of 1965 Tim was allowed to go on his first real civil rights demonstration. He was a part of the group who marched across that bridge in Selma Alabama on “Bloody Sunday”. On that day he was teargassed and beaten and was run over by a horse before getting away. After high school Tim attended Morehouse College and Yale Univ.. But dropped out when he was asked to join the Black Panther Party . This was directly related to the words he remembered from Malcolm X. Tim founded the Atlanta Ga. chapter of the party and worked in the Chicago , New Haven, and Los Angeles chapters and several offices in New York city..The Black Panthers were an organization that developed solidarity with most of the liberation movements in Africa and Asia at the time.Tim used this opportunity to visit and work in many countries , Cuba, Angola, North Viet Nam and Israel/Palestine.During this time he dug wells in Guinea, inoculated children against TB in Angola during the middle of the war for liberation there and spent time in an Israeli prison under some of the harshest conditions you can imagine. When Tim decided he wanted to settle down and have a normal life and raise children. He found this was impossible to do in his home town of Atlanta Ga. It seemed that he was simply too well known by law enforcement to just be a “regular” citizen. So he moved to Philadelphia in 1973..Taking jobs first in drug rehabilitation and then with the Philadelphia board of education. When Tim moved to the Germantown area in 1978 he found his new mission . and has mostly devoted his time to voter education and registration.And from time to time if the candidate inspires him he works in political campaigns most notably the Irv Ackelsberg and Sherrie Cohen city council campaigns. In 2014 Tim registered over 4000 voters in the Philadelphia area..Today Tim spends most of his time trying to be a good grand father and still plays music with among others the legendary Philadelphia band Philly Gumbo.
I really like riding the buses in my community of Germantown Philadelphia..I love this part of the city. I was out and about a lot these last couple of days,,catching up with old friends ..since I have not been out much lately ..recovering from surgery and stuff…People on the bus as well as the supermarket are much more interested in current events than a lot of you may realize. They don’t always know my name but many people come up to me with a story about my driving their Mom or Grandmother to the polls or how I registered them to vote or in some cases who do you think the next President should be…But the existance of facebook seems to have given people a whole new window into what you care about…”How come you never post anything about Jesus?” ..”You got a lot of wisdom Mr. Hayes but you are not very spiritual are you”…So I told these two people on the bus that I saw a facebook post once that explained how I feel about religion..it said “religion is like a penis….it’s a nice thing to have but you shouldn’t go waving it around in peoples face all the time”….this was not my original line…like I said I read it on fb…but this simply was not enough …and they were not going to let me get off the bus with no insight into what my religious beliefs were…Finally as we got to my bus stop I did something I have never done …as I consider it a very private matter ..I told them that I get great comfort from reading and listening to the thoughts of Jiddu Krishnamurti…I got off the bus and started walking down Schoolhouse Lane to my home…suddenly I noticed these two seniors like myself had gotten off the bus and were rapidly walking towards me…”We heard you talking to those people ..could you tell us about Krishnamurti.?..I was horrified ..religious proselytizing is something I really can’t stand…and would hope to NEVER be accused of it myself..but there they were coming and they just wanted to know …So I walked along with them for the two blocks or so to my house..and we sat on my steps for a while…and I did what I have NEVER …EVER done ..sat down and talked about this..and what I find in Jiddu Krishnamurti’s teaching that actually fits in with my old school Marxist view of the world….AND I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.
It’s Saturday morning March 7th 2015, I’m listening in the background to all the newscasters and politicians give their take on the events that happened one morning 50 years ago today. Since the recent film “Selma” was released the subject “Bloody Sunday” has been talked and talked about…and in more than one forum I have talked about how I was there. I was there for the Bloody Sunday attempted march but I was not there for the two marches that came later. it’s strange how when you are in the middle of an event that will become history..or in this case almost legend, you don’t really think of it in that way. I was very young, in my mid teens. I had been an admirer of the college students who became the “freedom riders” since 1961..they replaced ,TV cowboys and Superman as my heroes..Names like Diane Nash, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. James Bevel, Jesse Harris there were many more names but the two who would inspire young Tim Hayes the most at that time where C.T. Vivian and and John Lewis and the people who would later become SNCC. I was in grade school when the Freedom Riders became my heroes in 1961 ..after the Atlanta student movement and the sit ins in the Carolina began. Black student mobilization gained a momentum that was unstoppable. I began to read about SNCC almost every week. And since I lived in the capitol of the old South and it’s largest city Atlanta, Ga. there was plenty to read about. Atlanta is also a city with several historically Black Colleges and Universities Morehouse, Spelman, Morris Brown and more. And it was only a matter of time until the Black Student arm of the civil rights movement would become centered there. I began to hang around these people as much as I could..and as I grew and got older I heard and observed many things..One thing that impressed me the most as a youngster was how SNNC was not governed from the top down…but in the meetings I was sometime able to attend or at least listen from outside these people who were really not that much older than I was, became committed to a type of participatory Democracy….ruling by consensus as described here from a Wike article…. ” SNCC was unusual among civil rights groups in the way in which decisions were made. Instead of “top down” control, as was the case with most organizations at that time, decisions in SNCC were made by consensus, called participatory democracy. Ms. Ella Baker was extremely influential in establishing that model, as was Rev. James Lawson. Group meetings would be convened in which every participant could speak for as long as they wanted and the meeting would continue until everyone who was left was in agreement with the decision. Because activities were often very dangerous and could lead to prison or death, SNCC wanted all participants to support each activity” ….By the time I was in my mid-teens I was just itching to go on a real march or get in the field and do some real work…In 1965 I was still in High School..and in fact on that Sunday in March 1965..I had to sneak out of my parents house to catch the ride to Selma. Before I got there all I really knew was the James Bevel a SCLC operative who has been organizing in Selma wanted this march to happen …and that most of SCLC did not like the timing..But after the death of Jimmy Lee Jackson at the hands of a State Trooper during a small peaceful march…Bevel and other people decided that the March was on…John Lewis of SNCC along with Hosea Williams of SCLC were at the head of the march..I was actually surprised to see that Andrew Young who I did not know at that time but I knew what his position in SCLC was there..as we had all been told that MLK did not approve of this march…Voting rights was the call for this time for us and the Selma Voting Rights Movement was intended to be a model for other communities in the South as we pressed for a voting rights act…Well the rest is well known and was portrayed very well in the film “Selma” We marched across that Edmond Pettus Bridge on U.S. Highway 80 ..and then we were stopped,.. they made an announcement that we were to disperse …and I remember the words from a bull horn saying “I have nothing further to say to you” then they walked towards us slowly at first and then faster …then the gas came..the way I remember it was a woman screamed, then I saw the people in front of me falling down, then I was struck in the head and fell down, shortly after that as I tried to get up and help a lady who had fallen something almost crushed my ankle..I looked up and saw that it was horse..the white people who were standing on the sidewalks were clapping their hands and cheering..those of us who had not started running back across the bridge helped other people to their feet …..and we ran …and we ran ..and we ran….most of us who were no locals .met back at the church where we had started out from..there was cursing, and crying, and there were men and women who went home to get guns…I went back inside ..limping as my ankle was injured ..even then I wondered what my parents would say when I got back home….Those were the events of March 7th 1965 as I can best recall them….All this began over the right to vote ..and the hopes of a Voting Rights Law that we could count on to serve us for the ages….As people today seem to be jumping on a bandwagon to be seen observing this day….what I think of mostly ….the brave local people of Selma who put there lives at risk …on that day and the next….and it really pisses me off that many of the people who are trying to dismantle the hard won Voting Rights Act are today going to observances of Bloody Sunday …like they actually give a damn ..This is just a lesson that the struggle is never really over..we have to maintain a constant vigil ..if we want to maintain our hard won rights
Okay what a horrible way to kick off this years voter registration drive. Yesterday a Black woman I knew vaguely from my days working at Weaver’s Way co-op. comes up to me at the little table I had set up on Ridge Ave. with a young Black man she introduced as her grandson. She said she had heard that I use to lecture on the civil rights movement and would I please explain to her grandson that the Holocaust was a hoax. Now I must admit I had heard the woman say that to someone about 10 years ago. But I was completely horrified that she somehow got the idea that I would back her up… I took a deep breath and I took my best shot..I said ” Well first of all the Holocaust being a hoax is an urban legend started by white supremacist in the 1970s. I could see her face getting distorted …she was not getting the response she expected.. “In fact” I continued “the Holocaust very well may be the most well documented event of the 20th century” At this point she had had enough, she began screaming at me. “Where do you get your information?” . I mentioned my Uncle Lucius Bridges who was one of the American soldiers who liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp. I was going to continue by explaining how I spent half my childhood living and work around survivors from the Polish death camp Treblinka. which is true.. they had a small community in S.W. Atlanta in the 1950s and 60s..but by then she stormed off. claiming I was “brain washed”.. This morning I am still horrified that this woman a Black woman, supposedly some type of Christian minister would believe something that stupid …but why the hell did she come to me to help her prove it to her grandchild. I wonder how many other Black people have heard this crap?…how many Black people believe it? Is this something some fringe group of Black Christians are preaching in the pulpit? Scratching my head ….but I will continue to be out there health permitting about three days a week registering voters … if you know anyone who just turned 18 send them my way..