Sunday, July 27, 2014


Two words. Russell Simmons. We grew up in the same neighborhood (Hollis, Queens), went to the same college and rode the same train to CCNY up in Harlem. It was on one of those old rickety E trains that I remember sitting with him and my friend Carmen Bell and he said something I will never forget as long as I live.
Russell has risen above his seemingly dismal circumstances to become one of the richest men in show business. He parties with the rich and famous in the Hamptons, always has a beautiful woman on his arm and gives money away to help others. Yet he still wears a baseball cap. If you saw him in the street and didn't know who he was, you probably wouldn't even look twice.
We hung out big time in Finley Hall on the campus of CCNY, basically just partying. He's always been a nice guy. I've only seen him a couple of times out here on the west coast and never mentioned his comment to me. But I can't let it go. I need to have a meeting with him.
This is what he said to me on that rickety E train back in the day: "Stick with me Carlease, I'll make you a star." Carmen and I looked at each other and chuckled and thought, "Yeah, right." Damn. What did I learn from that? Words are powerful. So are intentions and when a person believes in themselves they can make anything happen. Russell knew what he wanted and was not afraid to go after his dreams. He fearlessly connected with the people he wanted to emulate and learned from them. And they helped make him a star. He now helps people all over the world with his philanthropy which is one of the things I admire about him the most. That is definitely a goal of mine as well. But first, I need someone to get me Russell Simmons on the line so that I can find out if the statue of limitations is still open on that comment he made to me on that old rickety E train back in the day.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


History suddenly got interesting thanks to author Lt. Col. James C. Warren, one of heroes of this fascinating yet disturbing event.

I was introduced to this book by my cousin Leonard E. Williams Jr. His father, 2nd Lt. Leonard E. Williams Sr. was one the officers arrested in 1945 for attempting to enter an officer’s club at Freeman Field that was designated for white officers only.

So what happens when you try to oppress “articulate blacks with advanced black consciousness”? It seems the United States Army Air Forces (as it was called back then) would label it a mutiny.

The 162 black officers were arrested for refusing to sign a statement that they had read Base Regulation 85-2 restricting these men from access to certain areas on the base. It just so happens that this would exclude black officers from clubs that white officers had access to. First of all, segregation in the armed forces was supposed to be illegal therefore “if a person disobeyed an illegal order, that person could not be punished.” Nevertheless, these officers were held on house arrest for about 20 days while the powers that be went around & around trying to figure out how to deal with this situation. “The incredible amount of time and effort that these high-ranking officers of the Army Air Forces were taking in the middle of a general war to ensure the continued segregation of black officers was amazing.”

These black officers were highly qualified as pilots, co-pilots, navigators, bombardiers, engineer-gunners, radio-gunners, officer instructors and test flight engineers. It’s a shame that they were victims of racial bias from the very country they were willing to fight and die for.

On a positive note, President Truman ended segregation in the military with Executive Order 9981 in 1948. 50 years after the mutiny on Aug. 12, 1995 the US Air Force vindicated the arrested Tuskegee Airmen by removing the letter of reprimand from their permanent military records. 50 years? Really? Better late, than never I guess.

The reason this story means so much to me is because I just met my birth family about a year ago. My birth mother was 95 years old at the time and her brother would be my Uncle Leonard mentioned in this book. He passed away shortly before I would have had the honor to meet him. However, I am now building a relationship with his children Kimberly and Leonard Jr. & his wife, Ariemean. It warms my heart to finally know my family & my heritage and to understand the important role this event has in American History. I thank you Uncle Leonard for your impressive courage in this giant step for equality. It fuels that fight in me to do the same.