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Johnny Ray DeBose, 78

He passed away on March 23, 2021, after battling Parkinson’s disease.

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JOHNNY RAY DEBOSE

A longtime resident of Oakland, California, Johnny Ray DeBose, was born in Rayville La., on Jan. 21, 1943, and came to California when he was 4 years of age.

He passed away on March 23, 2021, after battling Parkinson’s disease.

He attended McClymonds High School in Oakland, he started his work career soon after graduation, getting married and raising a young family.

He moved up the ranks and became a supervisor with Montgomery Ward’s warehouse where he worked for more than 25 years, retiring nearly 25 years ago.

DeBose was a man of his times who loved sports, politics and always loved a good debate.

He had a memory like an elephant and was loyal to his friends to a fault and his unwavering spirit kept those who loved him stopping by for a good visit.

Although divorced, he is survived by his two daughters; Tandra DeBose (granddaughter Jordan DeBose Holman) and Heather DeBose; son Bobby Godfrey, sister Barbara Lopez Edwards and brother-in-law Earl Edwards. Johnny was loved by his many nieces and nephews, countless cousins, and devoted lifelong friends.  He was preceded in death by his brother Billie Lawson.

The coronavirus has stopped many of us from being present in our loved one’s final hours; however, Johnny knew that he was not alone because his faith told him so. Thank you to all for the loving words of support from those who sent cards and flowers.

A celebration of his life is planned when it is safe to gather.  Visit Harris Funeral Homes Legacy Center website for more details, 1331 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley, Ca 94702.

1 Chronicles 16:34 Give Thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever!

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Activism

IN MEMORIAM: Charlene Mitchell, Civil Rights Activist and 1st Black Woman to Run for President, Dies at 92

In her 1968 run for president, Mitchell’s slogan was “Black and White Unite to Fight Racism, Poverty, and War!” She and her running mate made it to the ballot in only four states and won just over 1,000 votes, the New York Times reports, but her candidacy put a new face on the Communist Party, which was struggling under the weight of repression from the federal government.

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Charlene Mitchell. Wikipedia image.
Charlene Mitchell. Wikipedia image.

By Brandon Patterson

Civil rights activist Charlene Mitchell, a long-time Communist Party leader and freedom fighter, passed away in Manhattan, New York, on Dec. 14, 2022. She was 92.

As the Communist Party’s nominee in 1968, Mitchell was the first Black woman to run for president, ahead of Shirley Chisolm who became the first Black woman to seek the nomination for a major party —the Democratic Party — in 1972.

Mitchell was also known for her leadership in the campaign to free Angela Davis when Davis was arrested in 1969.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1930, Mitchell moved to Chicago with her family at age 9, where they settled down in the Cabrini Green housing project, then a mix-raced housing complex and “a center of left-wing politics,” according to the New York Times.

Her father worked as a Pullman porter and was active in the labor movement, so she was exposed to the Black civil rights struggle from a young age. At 13, Mitchell joined the local youth branch of the Communist Party, helping to lead a student protest against segregated seating at a local theater.

In the 1960s, she moved to Los Angeles, where she founded an all-Black chapter of the Communist Party. Mitchell stressed the need for solidarity with oppressed people around the world, and traveled the world meeting with leftists in Europe, South America, and South Africa, the Grio reported. Notably, she was among the first Americans to speak out against the incarceration of Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

“Having known Charlene Mitchell through political victories and defeats, through personal tragedies and triumphs, I can say with confidence that she is the person to whom I am most grateful for showing me a life path,” activist Angela Davis, a professor at UC Santa Cruz, told the New York Times. Davis continued: “I don’t think I have ever known someone as consistent in her values, as collective in her outlook on life, as firm in her trajectory as a freedom fighter.”

In her 1968 run for president, Mitchell’s slogan was “Black and White Unite to Fight Racism, Poverty, and War!” She and her running mate made it to the ballot in only four states and won just over 1,000 votes, the New York Times reports, but her candidacy put a new face on the Communist Party, which was struggling under the weight of repression from the federal government.

Mitchell would eventually split from the Communist Party in the 1980s but would support several other anti-racist political organizations, including the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and the National Alliance Against Racial and Political Repression.

“Black Lives Matter and modern Black feminism stand on the shoulders of Charlene Mitchell,” Erik S. McDuffie, a professor of African American studies at the University of Illinois, told the New York Times.

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Arts and Culture

IN MEMORIAM: Thom Bell, Co-Creator of the Sound of Philadelphia, Dead at 79

“Thom Bell left an indelible and everlasting mark on the history of popular music, but even more so, he will be remembered by all who knew him as a kind and loving friend and family man. The music world has truly lost one of the greats,” his attorney wrote in a statement published in Billboard magazine.

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Thom Bell. Sarkari Library.
Thom Bell. Sarkari Library.

By Post Staff

Songwriter Thom Bell, a classically trained instrumentalist who wrote songs for 1970s singing groups Delfonics, Spinners and Stylistics, passed away at his home Bellingham, Wash., on December 22. He was 79.

With Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Bell gained renown in creating what became known as the “Sound of Philadelphia,” writing, arranging and producing songs for those soul groups as well as the O’Jays, Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials and individual artists including Phyllis Hyman, Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass, Johnny Mathis, Dionne Warwick, The Temptations, Phyllis Hyman, Dee Dee Bridgwater, Elton John, Fatboy Slim, Dusty Springfield, David Byrne, Joss Stone and more.

“Thom Bell left an indelible and everlasting mark on the history of popular music, but even more so, he will be remembered by all who knew him as a kind and loving friend and family man. The music world has truly lost one of the greats,” his attorney wrote in a statement published in Billboard magazine.

Born in 1943 and raised in West Philadelphia, Bell showed early talent as a musician and went on the road with Chubby Checker as a touring conductor in his early 20s. His familiarity with classical and global instruments like bassoons, oboe and sitars made his productions lush and full, influencing Soul music for some time afterwards.

His first production gig was in with the Delfonics, producing the hits “La-La Means I Love You,” and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time” in 1969. In 1972, he produced The Stylistics self-titled first album and later helped The Spinners achieve hits with “I’ll Be Around” and “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love.”

His 11-year partnership with fellow songwriter Linda Creed, yielded several more hits, among them “People Make the World Go Round,” and “You Are Everything.”

In 1975, Bell became the first winner in the Grammy category ‘Best Producer of the Year.’ He worked in the 1990s with James Ingram, David Byrne, Angela Winbush and Josh Stone. In 2006, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and won the Grammy Trustees Award in 2016.

Bell is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and children Royal, Troy, Tia, Mark, Cybell, and Christopher.

Vibe, Yahoo, The Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Seattle Times and Wikipedia were the sources for this report.

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Bay Area

IN MEMORIAM: Honoring Henry Fuhrmann, Self-described “Hyphen Killer.”

Henry Fuhrmann was an Asian American son of a German Danish Navy corpsman and a Japanese mother, born on a U.S. hospital ship in Japan. He probably saw hyphens all his life and knew why they should be eliminated.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He does a talk show on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

Are you African American? Or African-American?

Filipino American? Or a Filipino-American?

Asian American? Or Asian-American?

What’s the difference?

That line between words. You either like it, or you despise it. Henry Fuhrmann despised it.

It might as well have been a royal scepter.

This week, when most of the world was still thinking about Queen Elizabeth II, I was thinking about Henry.

Perhaps you could tell, I wasn’t much for the media’s hagiography. Since her death, I took to criticizing the repressive colonial misdeeds of the British Empire to balance out the steady stream of adulation.

When you hear someone say ‘queen,’ remember Kenya. Or Kowloon. Or Burma.

I wouldn’t have bothered to watch the funeral. But then my friend Henry died last week from esophageal cancer. He was just 65. And that put me in a somber mood.

I mean, what did the queen ever do for us? Compared to her, Henry was a king. Or deserved to be.

Henry Fuhrmann liberated us from our hyphens. I will use none here.

Henry was an Asian American son of a German Danish Navy corpsman and a Japanese mother, born on a U.S. hospital ship in Japan. He probably saw hyphens all his life and knew why they should be eliminated.

But deleting the hyphen would take more than a keystroke.

Henry was a copy editor who retired in 2015 as an assistant managing editor at the Los Angeles Times. An Asian American Journalist Association buddy of mine, we’d see each other at professional events, and re-tweet each other from afar.

Henry’s passion was that demon hyphen. He wanted to expose it for what it was and get rid of its use. In that simple dash, the parallel line that posed as a connector, Henry saw a dividing line, an “othering” tool that did us more harm than good.

“Asian-American?”

Uh, no. Nope, Henry said.  Just write Asian American. Or Filipino American. Or Mexican American. Or African American.

The hyphen was a grammatical prosthetic that didn’t help matters. It made us less than.

Henry made his case professionally to journalism’s high court of wordsmithing, the keepers of the Associated Press Style book, known as AP Style.

In an essay Henry wrote in 2018 he cited the Oakland writer Maxine Hong Kingston, who expressed how she felt being called ‘Chinese-American’ in her 1982 piece “Cultural Mis-Readings by American Reviewers.”

“I have been thinking that we ought to leave out the hyphen in ‘Chinese-American,’ because the hyphen gives the word on either side equal weight, as if linking two nouns,” wrote Hong Kingston. “Without the hyphen, ‘Chinese’ is an adjective and ‘American’ a noun; a Chinese American is a type of American.”

Wouldn’t that be better?

From that, Henry attacked the hyphen and pushed for change.

A year later, AP eliminated the hyphen in Asian American, and mentioned Henry’s essay as a driving force.  In 2021, the New York Times changed its usage.

Since media organizations can adopt their own style books, you’ll still see the hyphen used. And you’ll still see ‘black’ uncapitalized. But you surely won’t see “oriental.” It’s used to describe rugs. Just not people.

Normally, editors act as conservative gatekeepers of so-called standards. They’re not my favorite people. Unless they’re like Henry. Freedom fighters for a changing language in a changing world.

It’s always a matter of clarity.

Were Japanese Americans placed in internment camps? Was what happened to them “internment” or were they more truthfully incarcerated?

More and more are saying the truth — incarceration. That was Henry’s influence on the AP Stylebook as well.

It shouldn’t be so hard to tell the truth in mainstream journalism. But look at how big-time journalists pull their punches in calling Trump a liar. Or a racist. Or a fascist. Did you see his rally in Ohio? The facts are there.

Or look how cautious people are about calling Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a racist for his inhumane and possibly illegal relocating of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

That’s why I mourn Henry’s passing. He was against editing the truth.

He’s the reason you are an African American. Not an African-American.

And I am a Filipino American.

We deleted that line, the dash, the minus sign, and became whole. At least in print.

If words matter, if the truth matters, then remember Henry Fuhrmann, the ‘word nerd’ who unchained all people of color from the hyphen and liberated us all.

Emil Guillermo is a veteran journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com

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