Category Archives: History

RASpect: Sidney Poitier

Greeting Mi Irieites,

Here’s another day to remember, ’cause today is the 50th anniversary when Sidney Poitier won best actor for the film, “Lilies of the Field.”

It was no easy road for actors of colour, like Sidney Poitier in Hollywood, so to be the first black actor to win an Oscar back in 1964 was an incredible feat in itself.

Sidney was born on February 20th, 1927 in Miami of Bahamian parents. In his early acting years there were drama institutions for “Negroes,” as the term was put in those days. But he was not too favourable by those who attended due to him being ‘tone deaf.” Being able to sing was a very important credential for black actors, therefore Sidney was immediately at a disadvantage, not to mention his mono tone Bahamian accent that he tried very hard to get rid of.

But more success snowballed his way. With the racial climate of segregation as it was in the USA, he was chosen to star in 3 films after receiving his Academy award: “To Sir with Love,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and In the Heat of the Night. (1967).

Acting is not Sidney’s only forte. He went to direct many a great films; “Stir Crazy,” starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, is one that I can immediately bring to mind. And come this August will be the 5th anniversary since he received his Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

May I mention, that in our little ghetto world back in the UK as well as the Caribbean, Sidney Poitier was our pride and joy. No matter how brief he appeared on TV, we would stop whatever we were doing to watch who we thought was representing us…”Gwarn cuz, go deh!”

Ride On Sidney, ride on!

A Prayer for Rwanda 20 Year Later

Yes, Mi Irietes,

Today, April 7th 2014, marks the 20th anniversary of one of the saddest days in African history. It was the beginning of the Rwandan Civil War that lasted a good part of 100 days. It was estimated that a total exceeding 800,000 people were massacred during that time. That’s just about 20% of the population of which 70% of were of the Tutsi tribe; one of the three main tribes in the country.

The war started when an aircraft carrying the Rwandan President, Juvenel Habyriman and the Burundi President, Cyprien Ntaryamira, both from the “Hutu’ tribe was shot down a day before, while attempting to land in the capital, Kigali. Both Presidents and their delegates were all killed. And although things have been brewing between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribe for several decades, this was believed to be the catalyst that triggered off this genocide in 1994.

But this horror will also be remembered for the moral blindness of the UN, the USA and Great Britain. History condemns these nations for standing by and watching – without action. France too is condemned for giving their moral support to the governing Hutu faction, who carried out this genocide.

What was even more sad to remember, were the thousands prisoners that paid their captors to shoot them as oppose to be cut to pieces by their captors with a machete. The movie “Hotel Rwanda,” starring Don Cheadle, just cannot compare to the harsh reality that took place 20years ago.

Like I said …”It’s time to sip from the cup of peace, let’s strive for racial equality,”

Peace Party. Rwanda has made great strides and is rising from the ashes. But we – all humanity – must never forget. Love over Hate.

Remembering Marvin: 30 Years After

Hail Mi Irieites,

Though still out of action, I just had to take a few moment to think of Marvin Gaye, struck down 30 years ago today. I was fortunate to have seen him many years ago back in England at the American Embassy. It was not long after that he made his comeback hit, “Sexual Healing.” Not many acts can get a second chance of success, but Marvin certainly did ’til the tragedy happened.

His biography, Divided Soul - was a real eye-opener. I read it the moment it came out. While studying it, one could clearly see that he was destined to be killed by his father. As a matter of fact the gun that killed him was actually a Christmas present he had given to his father, Marvin Senior. An epic tragedy on every level.

May his children continue to be proud of the songs this man has produced for mankind.

More here >>

David Koff: A Big Up to “Blacks Britannica” director (24.09.1939 – 06.03.2014)

Hail Mi Irieites,

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 7.06.23 PM

With more tributes out there, we pay our respects to David Koff, film director of “Blacks Britannica.” David Koff, who died just over a week ago, age 74, was said to have had bouts of depression, ultimately taking his own life.

You will be missed, David, because you spoke up for justice when few had the courage. We salute you and your work.

Blacks Britannica” is a documentary that came out in 1978, depicted the social, political and racial issues throughout the UK at that time. This film became so controversial that it was banned from the UK for many years. Before it was made, not many outside Britain were aware of the plight and hardships faced by Caribbean migrants struggling to survive in a harsh England.

Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. Your spirit will be with us always. Selah.

(David and his producer was kind enough to offer any footage for us to use in the Steel Pulse film/ documentary which is now due for a late summer release.)

R.I.P. Philip Smart

Hail Mi Irieites,

psmart

A special tribute to one of the pioneers of reggae from the NY region; Philip Smart, engineer, producer, mentor and recording studio owner, out in Freeport Long Island.

Sad to say that Philip passed on peacefully, last week after a long bout of cancer. One of our last recordings at Philip’s studio was the backing tracks to “Put your Hoodies On,” a song dedicated to the murdered teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Many acts have gathered a momentum of success having worked at Philip Smart’s. Acts including: Shaggy, Sister Carol and more.

Philip, I’m sure that you will be proud to know the positive response our song has been getting on youtube since it’s release. With heartfelt condolences we come together in celebration of the life and legacy. One should have been named Philip “Smiles,”too for that beam of happiness always on your face.

Blessed King..

Celebration of his life starts today, March 8th between 12pm and 4.00pm.

VIDEO: Trayvon Martin: Put Your Hoodies On [2 Year Anniversary]

Yes Mi Irieites,

Here we are on the two year anniversary of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. Martin’s parents are still fighting courageously for justice – in this unsafe climate created by the unjust “Stand Your Ground” law.  Steel Pulse issues this video on the second anniversary of the slaying of Trayvon as a plea for justice for all mankind:

We will never forget. Forward ever.

50 Years: Boom! Ali vs. Liston

Yes Mi Irieites,

Once again, Our-Story and not His-Tory is in the makings.  Speaking of which, today is the 50th anniversary of the legendary Muhammad Ali beating Charles Sonny Liston, in Miami, 1964.

It was a moment I remember vividly, while our family watched it on TV in the early hours of the morning in Handsworth, Birmingham, England.  The pandemonium was something else that day.  It was the most wonderful feeling I have even seen to bestow my mother, father, uncles, aunt and elder brothers and sisters.   One would have thought we had “Bingoed” The National Lottery.

Muhammad, then called Cassius Clay, was the 7 to 1 underdog, who was hated by many because of his boastfulness, arrogance and assurance.  It was an attitude that we the minority, and also the underdogs of society who had no courage, were longing to have.

As the great man would say, “If any man would ever dream of beating me, he’d better wake up and apologise!”

Muhammad, Boom you are the best, Biff you pass ever test and Zapp, Jah Love and Jah Bless!

February 21, 1965

Malcolm_X

Hail Mi Irieites, this is a day to remember.

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was preparing to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom when someone in the 400-person audience yelled “Nigger! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards attempted to quiet the disturbance, a man who was seated in the front row rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting Malcolm X several times.He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm, shortly after arriving at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The autopsy report showed 21 gunshot wounds to the chest, left shoulder, and arms and legs, of which ten were buckshot wounds from the initial shotgun blast.

More on Wikipedia

Half the story has never been told. Selah!

Hail Julia Butterfly: The Inspiration for “Global Warning”

Hail Mi Irieites,

JuliabutterflyhillmicSteel Pulse is wishing Julia “Butterfly” a well deserved Happy 40th Birthday, today.  Julia Butterfly, who’s Babylonian name is Julia Lorraine Hill, was our inspiration to write the song “Global Warning.”  This came about when she took it on herself to live in a redwood tree, that she herself called “Luna,” for a period of 738 days (Dec 10th 1997-Dec 18th 1999), in Northern California.

Her purpose was to save the 1,500 year old tree that stood 180 feet tall (55metres), from being cut down as well as  the forest that surrounded it, by the Pacific Lumber Company.  Her mission succeeded.

Julia, this is just to let you know that you are a real trooper, fighting against those plentiful nights of cold and rain to get your message across.  This is just to show you the power of the individual when one truly believes in something.  You will not be forgotten.

“Global Warning, we looking for love,
Stand up and be counted, don’t ever let them chop us down.”

More on Julia >>