Revisiting the Slave Theater”: 1991 ©

In every cloud, there is always a silver lining. Leola Maddox and Khallid Muhammad celebrate the same birthdate, January 12. Both were members of United African Movement and they participated in myriad duties. UAM was no joke in 1988. Members pursued Garveyism. These are big shoes to fill. Marcus Garvey was a master communicator.

One day after Rev. Al Sharpton was stabbed in Bensonhurst on January 12, 1991, he submitted a written resignation to me. On behalf of the Rockefeller family, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Herbert Daughtry gave him a new assignment at his beside on January 13, 1991 at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. There would be a change of venue. This is “legalese.” For Rev. Sharpton, greed “trumped” ethics.

At that time, the Slave Theater operated according to business principles. There was a standardized schedule for “Black History Month.” Dr. John Henrik Clarke would be the first speaker in the month. Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan would follow in the second week. The other speakers for the month were Kwame Ture and Dr. Khallid Muhammad.

“Women’s History Month” followed in March. Dr. Patricia Newton and Dr. Julia Hare were two standard speakers. Because “censorship” was widely practiced in New York, other women speakers varied. Female speakers also came from around the world. Speakers were invited based on the “best interest” of blacks.

Because the schedule had been standardized, I knew the identity of the guest speaker for the second week in “Black History Month” in 1991. It was “Dr. Ben”. NBC-TV had pressured Rev. Sharpton to bully UAM. NBC-TV wanted to do a documentary on him at the Slave Theater. The “audience” would not be moved. This “audience” does not exist in 2016. The rest is history on that score.

On another note, there was always a prepared program. The program included the backgrounds of the speakers and ten questions with answers to be given the following week. Critics wanted immediate answers. They were, certainly, not adherents of Malcolm X: “Of all the disciplines, history is best qualified to reward our research.” [Emphasis supplied].

Dr. Newton will be the keynote speaker at the Brooklyn Christian Center, 1061 Atlantic Avenue (bet. Classon and Franklin) in Brooklyn on this Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Frances Cress Welsing was her role model. Controversial speakers needed a sanctuary (Slave Theater) from white supremacists. This legal battle was won in Southgate v. Maddox et. ano. Self-preservation “trumped” white supremacy.


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