Racial discrimination an in your face item today. Trump’s attempts to limit/stop Muslim immigration an example.

Today, it is Muslims. At another time, the Chinese. The year 1888. On this date in 1888, the U.S. passed a law forbidding Chinese laborers from entering America. Note the word “laborers.” Merchants, extra smart persons and seafarers not included.

California was the tender spot. Over 100,000 had come in. The Anglo cry was they were taking up the white man’s jobs and causing wages to be low.

By 1888, some Chinese had become successful. They owned and operated laundries and restaurants. Both considered women’s work up to that time.

The U.S. continued to discriminate against and exclude laboring Chinese till 1943. The middle of World War II. The Chinese were our ally and such blatant racism could not be permitted to continue.

Spent a little time yesterday reading about turtles and the Florida Keys. A tale of love.

Sloan came by mid afternoon. I called her. Needed her. I wanted to improve on my new Go Live videos on Facebook. Two problems. Quickly resolved.

Big night! Jenna at Berlin’s. We had not seen each other for several weeks. It was catch up time.

Jenna is absolutely amazing. Her professional life continues to develop. Her income accompanies the success.

She was excited I was doing FB videos. She was watching them. She quickly shared with me two things I could do to make the videos better. Love her!

Compared to Jenna, I am a rank amateur when it comes to social media, FB, video, etc.

She shared with me a recent exciting experience.

Jenna has been running the past year. I should be so thin! She has competed in several 5Ks. Comes in 1st or in the top 5.

She works out with Dante. Another thin creature. His abs pronounced.

Jenna ran a short video on FB of her and Dante standing waiting to run. Eleven thousand views! Wow! Even she was surprised. She could not figure out why the video became instantaneously hot.

Would I love to have 11,000 views!

Bria stopped by. Lovely! Enjoyed her singing afterwards.

Tennessee Williams time.

This afternoon at 2 at the Tennessee Williams Gallery at 513 Truman, a talk about the making of The Rose Tattoo. Starred Anna Mangani and Burt Lancaster. Filmed in Key West in a house 2 doors from Williams’ home. The movie based on a Tennessee Williams story.

One week from today at The Studios of Key West, a presentation involving Williams and Frank Merlo. Williams and Merlo were lovers. They lived together in Key West and elsewhere for years. I believe their love letters the basis of the show.

I wrote about the Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo relationship in an article in KONK Life three years ago. The emphasis was on the influence that Merlo had on Williams life and writing.

The State of Florida took like a 100 years to complete the reconstruction of North Roosevelt Boulevard. The State screwed up re the cross walks. How to long to spell out. If you live in Key West, you know.

Too many accidents at the crosswalks. Serious injuries the result.

The State has been screwing around about correcting the situation. Nothing definite from them.

City officials are trying again. The State has to come in and fix. It is a State highway. Even if the State agrees, I can tell you it will be an additional 2-3 years to get to it because of funding. Not in the budget or proposed budget.

Harry Truman loved Key West and Key West loves Harry Truman. On this date 1950, the President arrived in Key West for a one month vacation. A working one. At the Little White House.

I am fortunate to live on this island. Warm most of the time. Experienced enough snow while living up north.

New York City got hit by a major snow storm in 1888. Began this date. Forty inches in 36 hours. The City was isolated for days. An example being that messages to Boston had to be routed through England.

Here I go again with robots and autonomous intelligence. It is not sneaking upon us. It has. And no one is talking about where those human employees being replaced by robots, etc. will work.

The issue is not bringing jobs back from Europe, Asia and Mexico. Such an issue 20 years ago. Over the next 3-4 years, it will be the robots taking over.

And no one talks about it. Not even Trump who professes to know everything.

California plans to permit no driver vehicles on its highways by the end of the year. No steering wheel, no pedals, no driver.

A biggie beginning at 5:30 today. The NCAA Selection Show. I do not expect Syracuse to be selected.

Enjoy your Sunday!



The War of 1812 primarily involved the United States and Great Britain. Britain had not readily accepted its defeat by the Colonial army. Britain did things to aggravate the new nation.

The aggravations included impressment of ten thousand American merchant seamen into the Royal Navy, trade restrictions, and the launching of minor invasions on U.S. shores. Britain also wanted to prevent the expansion by the United States westward.

The United States declared war on September 12, 1814. A war of importance and significance to the new nation. Britain considered the war an extension of the Napoleonic wars going on in Europe. Once again, Britain failed to take seriously America’s interests.

Britain won the first two major battles of the War. The second being the Battle of Washington. Britain burned Washington, including what today would be described as the White House.

Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane was the British leader during the first two victories.

Following his Washington victory, Cochrane wanted to do battle next in Rhode Island. His judgment was overridden by higher authority. He was told to take Baltimore.

The Battle of Baltimore began with the bombardment of Fort McHenry. The bombardment was ineffectual. Cochrane was reluctant to get his fleet and men too close to the Fort. He feared the Fort’s return fire would gravely damage his fleet and men.

Cochrane kept his ships quite a distance away. Cochrane used his bomb vessels and rocket ships to attack the Fort. Both long range guns. Both highly inaccurate at the distance.

A large American flag flew over Fort McHenry. It was still flying after a night long bombardment.

Cochrane’s soldiers consisted of British professional soldiers and Corps of Colonial Marines.

The Colonial Marines were made up of two groups. One a company, the other a battalion. They were black American slaves. Escaped slaves. Some 20,000. They had joined the British forces based upon Britain’s promise of freedom. Freedom in return for fighting their former masters, the


The Colonial Marines had assisted in the burning of Washington.

Britain lost the War of 1812. Britain honored its promise however. Following the War, the former slaves and their families were relocated to Halifax and Trinidad.

Francis Scott Key was a prominent Washington attorney. Well respected. A consummate Washington insider. An important player in the early days of the United States. A competent lawyer. Argued more than one hundred cases before the United States Supreme Court. Served for a time as U.S. Attorney for the District of Washington, D.C.

Key was opposed to the War of 1812. Considered it “abominable”, as well as a “lump of wickedness.”

The evening that Cochrane was bombing Fort McHenry long distance, Key was on one of the British vessels.

 A client had been taken prisoner by the British. He was on board seeking his release. The release was granted. On one condition. Key and his client had to remain aboard the entire evening till the bombardment had been completed.

Key remained awake all night. Observed the bombs and rockets being fired on Fort McHenry. With the dawn, his heart was gladdened. The American flag still flew.

While still on the British vessel, Key wrote a poem in recognition of the event. A poem of pride in the American flag still waving. He titled it the “Defence of Fort McHenry.”

Note, a poem. Not yet set to music.

London had many men’s clubs in those days and the years before. One was The Anacreontic Society. Amateur musicians.

One of its members was John Stafford Smith. Some forty years earlier in 1773, Smith had written an official song for the Society.  The song was titled The Anacreontic Song.

The music of The Anacreontic Song was applied to Key’s poem. The musical version renamed the Star Spangled Banner.

The Star Spangled Banner first consisted of four stanzas. A fifth was added some time later.

The United States Navy began officially using the Star Spangled Banner in 1889. The only governmental department to do so at the time.

President Woodrow Wilson decreed it should be used officially as a national anthem in 1916. However, Wilson had two lines removed from the third stanza which he thought might be considered objectionable by the British. In 1916, the U.S. and Britain were close allies. Britain was already in World War I.

The two lines were reinstated in 1931 when Congress passed a resolution signed by President Herbert Hoover declaring the Star Spangled Banner the United States National Anthem.

Baseball got into the act in 1918. During the seventh inning stretch of game one of the World Series, the Star Spangled Banner was played.

Patriotism hit its peak during World War II. The Star Spangled Banner was played before every game. It still is to this day.

The first stanza is generally the only one played. The others rarely heard. Key’s experiences on the ship that night evident in the words he wrote: …..by the dawn’s early light…..bombs bursting in air…..rockets red glare.

Two lines in the third stanza that Wilson thought objectionable in 1916 have returned to the forefront in recent weeks.

            No refuge could save the hireling and slave

            From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave


Key regarded the British professional soldiers as mercenaries. He described them in the two lines as “hirelings.” Without question, Key considered the British soldiers scoundrels. He was upset with the havoc and destruction the British had brought to the Chesapeake area.

Key looked upon the escaped black slaves making up the Corps of Colonial Marines as traitors. Slave or not, the United States was their country. Key feared more slaves would escape and join the British ranks. He was concerned such would spark a national slave insurrection.

An interesting observation by a man who considered slavery a moral wrong. His position apparently was country first.

Which brings me to the motivation for this column. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting and kneeling while the Star Spangled Banner was being played.

In a nation where burning the American flag is Constitutionally protected free speech, sitting or kneeling while the Star Spangled Banner is played is significantly less offensive.

Kaepernick had something to say. He had a right to say it by his actions. Especially as an African-American. He was speaking out. Protesting racial injustice, minority oppression and police brutality.

I sometimes think we have not come very far from pre-Civil War days. Nor from the anti-black happenings in our country in the 1950s and 1960s.

I have written and spoken about the police shooting of blacks the past two years. My message was…..Beware! What goes around, comes around. You can only tread on a people for so long before they retaliate.

That time has come this past year with the killing of police by blacks.

I tolerate neither.

Without any question however, Kaepernick has the right to protest in his fashion. He kills no one. He did not yell or scream. He made a silent showing of protest. Legal and proper.

Too many Americans have condemned him. Wrong. Condemn that which caused him to make his statement by sitting and kneeling.

I read somewhere this past week that the “home of the brave” is not necessarily the “land of the free.” Think about it.

Our country is mired in discrimination. It is part of the national fabric. It will remain such till there are few if any persons of white color remaining. With the increasing number of colored making up our society, the day will come sometime in this century where discrimination will have disappeared. Via intermarriage of the races. It is inevitable.



America, land of the free. Not really. Not for persons of color.


Strange that a Civil War, a Civil Rights Movement, and a black President have failed. Failed after 150 plus years to bring the United States to accepting and treating all persons equally.


This article highlights two individuals and one situation. All three from different time periods. All three telling the same story. Equality yet a distant hope, a distant dream.


His name Eugene Bullard. Better known as Gene.


He was born in 1895 in Columbus, Georgia. The grandson of a slave. His father a Haitian, his mother a Creek Indian. He was fortunate to have received formal schooling till age 10. He learned to read and write.


Ten opened his eyes big time to racial discrimination. He saw his father narrowly escape a lynching. He decided America was not the place for him.


Gene stowed away on a ship to Scotland. Eventually ended up in Paris where he settled.


World War I began in 1914. Gene tried to join the French Army. He was refused. Not because of color. Rather because he was a foreigner. He was permitted however to fight with other foreigners for France in the French Foreign Legion.


Trained as a machine gunner, he fought in several major battles. At some point during the war, France permitted foreign troops to transfer to the regular French Army. Gene was assigned to the Metropolitan French Army. Crack troops. The division became known as the Swallows of Death.


Gene was seriously wounded in March 1916 at the Battle of Verdun. Recovered by October, he joined the French Air Force. He was the first black combat pilot in history.


The U.S. was still not in the war. Americans who wanted to fly joined the French Air Force. The group was known as the Lafayette Escadrille. By the time Gene applied, the group was filled.


He took more training.


Another American volunteer group was formed. The Lafayette Flying Corps. Part of the French Air Force, also. Gene joined.


He took part in heavy combat missions.


Racial discrimination had left its mark on him. His life became one opposed to discrimination. Reflecting his feelings, his plane was named Tout Le Sang Qui Est Rouge. All Blood Runs Red.


When the U.S. entered the war, the U.S. Army sought out all Americans flying with the French Air Force to transfer to the U.S. Army Air Force. Gene took and passed the physical. However, he was rejected because of race. Only white pilots were permitted to fly for the U.S.


Gene was a hero to the French people. He was awarded 15 medals. One medal came later in life in 1959 when he was awarded France’s highest honor, the Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur. Another recognition came a few years earlier when he was invited to Paris to rekindle the flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.


He remained in Paris after the war. Initially employed as a drummer, he became manager of Le Grand Duc night club. Paris’ most famous night spot at the time. Frequented by friends such as Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong. He also opened his own night club. L’Escadrille.


World War II began. Following France’s invasion by Germany, Gene joined the French Army. He was seriously wounded. Friends helped him escape to neutral Spain and then to the United States. He spent significant time in New York hospitals for his war wounds from which he never fully recovered.


His French fame did not accompany him to New York. He was a black nobody. Broke. He worked menial jobs. His last as an elevator operator at Rockefeller Center.


His night club in Paris was destroyed by the war. However, he was able to obtain some settlement from the French government for it. He used the money to buy an apartment in Harlem. He remained a stranger in his homeland. Spent his days sitting in his Harlem apartment. In obscurity and poverty. All he had were photos from World War I and his decorations which covered the walls.


Gene died in 1961 at the age of 66 of stomach cancer. He was buried in the French Veterans’ War Section of New York’s Flushing Cemetery.


On August 23, 1964, 33 years after his death and 77 years to the day after passing his physical for transfer to the U.S. Army Air Force, Gene was commissioned posthumously a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.


World War II brought another person of color to the forefront. Josephine Baker. In reality, during the war she was a spy. A spy for France. A woman whose life was on the line for five years because of her activities.


During that time she was a singer and dancer. The most popular in the world. Known as the Black Pearl, Bronze Venus and Creole Goddess.


Born in St. Louis, Missouri, her father deserted her and her mother early on. Josephine was poor. Very poor. She dressed poorly and was always hungry. Her playground was the train yards of the St. Louis Railroad Station. A place where she developed street smarts.


At 8, she worked for a white family as a domestic. She dropped out of school at 13. Homeless, she slept in cardboard shelters, scavenged food from garbage cans.


At 15, she was dancing on street corners for pennies. A producer saw her and brought her to Harlem to work as a show girl.


She began as a chorus girl. The last girl in the line. Her comic ability revealed itself. She became the highest paid chorus girl in vaudeville.


In 1925, she went to Paris. Her fame instantaneous. Night clubs the venue. She engaged in erotic dancing initially. Topless and only a stringof artificial bananas around her waist. Later, she took singing lessons. She excelled as a singer also. Became recognized as a grand diva.


She was the most successful American entertainer in France. Ernest Hemingway said she was “…..the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.”


Her close friends were Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Christian Dior. They ran together.


She returned to the United States in 1935 and 1936. Starred in the Zigfeld Follies. America did not take to her. They could not accept a black woman in a starring role. She was replaced by Gypsy Rose Lee. Time Magazine described Josephine as a “Negro wench.”


She returned to Paris, married a french Jew and became a French citizen. She renounced her American citizenship with no difficulty.


Her time as a patriot came during World War II. When Germany invaded Poland,

France declared war on Germany. French Military Intelligence immediately recruited Josephine. She frequented embassy balls and parties. Information was easily picked up. She reported back what she heard.


When Germany invaded France, Josephine moved to her chateau in southern France. She housed friends of De Gaulle and escapees from the  Germans. She obtained visas for many.


As an entertainer, she was allowed to move freely throughout Europe and North Africa. She also visited neutral Portugal and South America. She picked up information concerning German airfields, harbors and troop concentrations.


The information was returned to French intelligence in invisible ink on her sheet music and on notes pinned to the inside of her underwear. She figured no one would subject her to a strip search.


When North Africa was freed, she remained and entertained British, American and French troops.


In 1949, she returned to Paris. Welcomed with open arms!


She visited the United States again. This time as a ball of fire. She refused to accept segregation in any form.


Josephine had an appearance scheduled at a Miami night club in 1951. The night club practiced segregation re its customers. No blacks.  She openly went to war with the nightclub. Loudly. She won. The night club desegregated.


That same year, the NAACP designated Josephine Woman of the Year. One hundred thousand attended her parade in Harlem.


The Stork Club became a problem. The Stork Club also had a policy discouraging black customers. The Stork Club refused to serve her. She took the Stork Club on publicly. She also attacked her supposed friend Walter Winchell for remaining silent when she raised the issue. Winchell retaliated. He rebuked her and called her a Communist.


The publicity killed Josephine. Winchell was a power. Her work visa was terminated, all her engagements cancelled. She returned to France. It was almost 10 years before she was permitted to enter the United States again.


One of the good things to come out of the Stork Club incident involved Grace Kelley. The two did not know each other. Kelley was there the night the club refused to serve Josephine. Kelley walked out with Josephine. Never to return to the Stork Club again.


A close relationship developed from the incident. Josephine and Kelley became excellent friends. In Josephine’s later years when she was near bankruptcy, Kelley allowed her to use two homes she and her husband owned in Monaco.


Las Vegas refused to integrate its shows. No blacks could perform. Josephine went after Vegas. Vegas relented. As a result, Josephine began receiving calls from the Klu Klux Klan.


Another thorn in Josephine’s side was the practice of New York hotels to refuse admission to blacks. During the 1950s trip to New York, she and her husband were refused admission to 36 hotels.


She stood next to Martin Luther King in 1963 in Washington. Right next to him. She spoke. The only woman to speak. She also introduced Rosa Parks. Josephine wore her Free French uniform with the medal of honor of the Legion d’honneur which France had awarded her.


Josephine died broke. Were it not for friends like Grace Kelley, her last days would not have been as caring as they were.


The Civil War did nor solve the black/white problem. During World War I, the problem still existed. Gene Bullard was denied acceptance into the U.S. Army Air Force. Finally World War II, before and after, shows the prejudice that still existed as regards Josephine Baker.


Which brings me to the third and final episode. The Charleston, South Carolina massacre of last week. Where nine blacks were shot to death while Bible reading in church. By a 21 year old young man whose words during the event clearly reflected the tenor that still exists regarding blacks.


Then there are the killings of blacks by police.


Where does it all end? Does it all end? I don’t know. It has been more that 150 years since the Civil War and as a nation we are still mired indiscrimination and prejudice.