What’s On Your Mantel? In the 1960’s, whenever I went to friends and relatives homes in West Philadelphia it seemed as if they all had the same two pictures on their mantel John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and this was before they were assassinated. These were all predominately black homes and I understood MLK, but it didn’t dawn on me till much later the significance of why so many people would display a picture of the President of the United States. I’ve never seen a picture of George W. Bush on anyone’s mantel! I know everyone doesn’t have a mantel over aRead More →

THE SECRET OF LIFE By Winston Burton It was a hot summer’s day in Philadelphia, 100 degrees in the street with 98 percent humidity. I came home with chocolate syrup and strawberries all over my white uniform after another stressful day of driving a Mr. Softee’s ice cream truck in the hood. My father looked at me and said, “Son, how’d it go today.” I told him, “I spent half the day arguing with people who were trying to cheat me over a twenty–five cent ice cream cone and the rest trying to stop them from stealing the whole truck! In a way I can’tRead More →

The War On Ourselves By Winston Burton “We have met the enemy and it is us.” Last year my friend from Berkeley, Dwayne, called me on a cell phone and said, “Winston I’m on a business trip in Philadelphia for the first time, where should I go?” “Where are you”, I asked. “I’m driving past Broad Street and Ogontz Avenue” he replied. “Oh, you’re in North Philly, near Germantown”, I responded. After a long pause he said, “I don’t see any Germans around here”. “I know! The Germans left a long time ago and so should you.” “Why”, he asked? I told him, “Because youRead More →

Goin “Down Home”. Last week, as I was reluctantly writing a $1,500 check to send my two kids to a Berkeley summer camp, I started to think of what my parents, uncles and aunts did in the 1950’s and 60’s to provide childcare for their families during the summer months when school was out fulltime. The following is a story of how I spent my summers. Every summer, my younger brother and I spent the sultry months in a rural backwater somewhere on the eastern shore of Virginia. This southern outpost, which was reverently referred to as “Down Home” by my grandmother and assorted auntsRead More →

RUN, RON, RUN By Winston burton Like must people I know, I too am elated that Ron Dellums has won the election and will be the new Mayor of Oakland. His knowledge, experience and charisma has us all excited and full of hope for the potential he brings to turn things around. When he announced his intention to enter the mayor’s race at Laney College, the crowd chanted, “Run, Ron, Run!” and “Si Se Puede”. He laid out a vision in his unscripted remarks that promised to offer solutions to the big issues – including poverty, development and education – and to trigger national debate.Read More →

The Art of Tipping Tipping is not a city in China! I was twenty five years old and the middle son of three brothers who were going out for a night on the town. They are both great musicians, but usually broke. My father stopped us on the way out and said, “You guys should do what we used to do in the 1940’s. We would give all of our money to one person, he would pay for everything that night and everyone thought he had money. The next time out someone else would hold all the money and eventually people thought we all hadRead More →

Somebody Turn Off the Faucet: Vote Everyday By Winston Burton The day before Thanksgiving I was at an event in Oakland where well meaning local dignitaries volunteered to help cook and serve dinner to homeless and poor people. As the sumptuous meal was coming to an end one of the dignitaries spoke to those eating and said, “I’m glad I could be here tonight and help out, I promise I’ll be back for Christmas too.” Someone yelled out, “Great, but what am I supposed to eat until then!” There was no laughter only silence. For over 20 years I have worked at a local nonRead More →

FOLLOW THE LEADER By Winston Burton The following is an excerpt from the Phildelphia Daily News Posted on Tue, Feb. 28, 2006 Purcell Daniels Jr., a humble hero By JOHN F. MORRISON WITH COMPANY C pinned down by enemy fire in a battle during the Vietnam War, somebody had to get to a parked tank and take out the hostiles. There’s an Army adage that you don’t volunteer for anything, but Purcell Hayward Daniels Jr. paid no attention to that. To the surprise of his buddies, Purcell jumped up, ran to the tank and climbed inside. As related to his family by men who wereRead More →

Show Me The Street Money By Winston Burton We were standing on the corner in front of Rice’s Barbershop. There were about six of us between the ages of 18 and 21, African American males who had grown up together in the same West Philadelphia neighborhood. A black Chevy slowly approached and someone from inside the car rolled down the window leaned out the passenger side and shouted, “The Republicans are paying $75, go to the Overbrook High gym; the Republicans are paying $75!” A few weeks ago I saw a headline in the Oakland Tribune (April 12, 2008), “’Street money’ dispute threatens Obama,” andRead More →

NO TIME FOR CPT By Winston Burton I don’t know how many people are aware of CPT (colored people time), but it is a well-known term and tradition in communities of color. I’ve also recently heard of IST (Indian standard time) and another variation of CPT called Chinese people time. What it means to some is its OK to be late; what it implies is it’s cool to be late, not just sometimes but all the time. I’m in no way trying to suggest that only people of color are indifferent about time, no way! Malcolm X, in his autobiography, is quoted as saying heRead More →