Baked macaroni and cheese jpeg.  music staff

 The person I am today is a by-product of baked macaroni & cheese, and music. And by that I mean not calories, but character. And though I cannot share the taste of the food with you here, I hope you enjoy some of the sounds at the music links. In fact, to fully enjoy this blog it is essential that you listen to a least some of the musical hyperlinks. I promise it will be very much worth your while.

DadMy dad loved to cook. He taught me how to cook. Everything from how to break eggs without getting the shell in the pan, to how to make great cheese eggs, to the world’s best meatloaf.

meatloaf One of his favorite dishes was baked macaroni and cheese and the way I make it today was the way he made it and taught me. He also loved to baste a turkey

baste a turkey and when I do that, I also think about him doing it. Mom taught me how to make gravy.How-To-Make-Gravy-I-howsweeteats_com-7 When I make baked macaroni and cheese now on Thanksgiving and Christmas, or make gravy, I think of my dad and my mom in a special way that only a son or daughter can after they have passed. I have never explained that to my daughter Kimberlykim or my son Michael Mike, but I need to do some of the cooking during the holidays. Its part therapy, part honoring memory, part something else, but it is something important for me and I cannot function without that memorial process.


Music and Me

I grew up playing a musical instrument. Starting in elementary school, I “had to take” piano lessons. And though I did not learn about him until I was an adult on the Board of Trustees of The Studio Museum in Harlem, I sometimes felt like I was in a Romare Bearden painting. romare bearden piano lesson Then I wanted to play trumpet (after listening to Louis Armstrong. Louis ArmstrongAnd if you want true insight into this musician, about whom Miles Davis (a.k.a. the prince of darkness ) miles davis prince of darkness jpeg said “I never heard a bad note come out of his horn”, get the exquisitely written book “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong” by Terry Teachout).

Eventually, after having worked up to 120 minutes of practice on the trumpet and then on the piano, I moved more to my horn than tickling the ivories. Despite the shift, I was still good enough to win 2nd place in the New Jersey state Key Club International

Key Club international jpegconvention—playing an original composition, part of which involved my playing piano with my left hand and trumpet with my right.

In High School, in addition to being on the varsity Swim Team and the JV Basketball team, I played in the marching band, the concert band, the Community Band, and also took conducting classes. While some of my contemporaries collected comics,the flash  I was into albums. record albums My collection numbered in the low four figures.


During my junior and senior years at Rutgers College, my beautiful college girlfriend and kindred spirit Suzanne Zeman,

Suzanne Zeman introduced me to modern dance

Modern dance 1 modern dance 2 ,Andres Segovia’s

Andres Segovia classical guitar (Segovia:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9efHwnFAkuA)

, Dvorak’s New World Symphony,new world symphony

to Buffy Sainte-Mariebuffy st. marie (“Until It’s Time For You To Go”), to the Blues and artists such as Muddy Watershoochie coochie man( Hoochie Coochie Man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV_ZhBcNiQQ  B-B King (“The Thrill Is Gone”), and Alberta Hunter (My Castle’s Rockin  from her Live From The Cookery album Alberta Hunter: http://tv.jazzcorner.com/view_video.php?viewkey=cd8d7dd095917f9efe4c


Reciprocally, I shared my lifetime love of jazz. I loved to listen to, and tried to play my trumpet to some extraordinary musicians.  If I  had to summarize this aspect of music for me, I would express it this way: Like the “Ode to Joy” in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, or the “Unto Us A Child Is Given” or the “Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah,  or the chanting of “A Love Supreme” on John Coltrane’s album of the same name A Love Supreme jpeg , you were transported to being a little closer to the Supreme Musician when Rhassan Roland Kirk, Freddy Hubbard,, Horace Silver, and the other musicians referenced below were really cooking in their own musical Genesis.

  • freddie hubbard Freddie Hubbard (who played a flugelhorn in a way that transported you to other realms)
  • Lee Morgan (checkout his album “Sidewinder”

Lee Morgan and Sidewinderhttp://www.last.fm/music/Lee+Morgan/_/The+Sidewinder  I know some generation Y person will be asking “What’s an album?”. Morgan was only 33 years old when he passed; “Morgan was murdered in the early hours of February 19, 1972, at Slugs’ a jazz club in New York City’s East Village where his band was performing. Following an altercation between sets, Morgan’s common-law wife (Helen Moore, a.k.a. Morgan) shot him in the chest.” According to a Wikipedia article, “The injuries were not immediately fatal, but the ambulance was slow in arriving on the scene as the city had experienced heavy snowfall which resulted in extremely difficult driving conditions. They took so long to get there that Morgan bled to death. He was 33 years old.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Morgan

Sketches of Spain,Skethches of Spain jpeg Bitches Brew bitches brew jpeghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc7qiosq4m4


  • And in addition to MJQ (Modern Jazz Quartet), MJQ jpeg
  • Dave “Baby” CortezDave Baby Cortez jpeg
  • , Jimmy Smith Jimmy Smith
  •  and Dr. Lonnie Smith Dr. Lonnie Smith Sikh(all of whom played jazz organ like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel played their genres; and Lonnie did it on the Hammond B-3 organ )

I encourage you to learn more about Yusef at this link: http://yuseflateef.com/about-yusef-lateef/ (“Yusef Lateef is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest masters and innovators in the African American tradition of autophysiopsychic music – that which comes from one’s spiritual, physical and emotional self. As a virtuoso on a broad spectrum of reed instruments – tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, bamboo flute, shanai, shofar, argol, sarewa, and taiwan koto – Yusef Lateef introduced delightful new sounds and blends of tone colors to audiences all over the world, and he incorporated the sounds of many countries into his own music. In 1987 he won a Grammy Award for his recording of “Yusef Lateef’s Little Symphony,” on which he performed all the parts.”)

You know it’s good to be in a place that feels like you’re in your house, you know. Now, it’s a beautiful thing, we’re glad you people are assembled here with us on this Saturday night … You know what I mean? You don’t feel like Saturday night people. Some Saturday night people, that’s the only night they get out and they act like it. […] Now we would like to think of some very beautiful Bright Moments. You know what I mean? Bright Moments. Bright Moments is like eating your last pork chop in London, England, because you ain’t gonna get no more . . . cooked from home. Bright Moments is like being with your favorite love and you’re sharing the same ice cream dish. And you get mad when she gets the last drop. And you have to take her in your arms and get it the other way. Bright Moments. That’s too heavy for most of you all because you all don’t know nothing about that kind of love. The love you all have been taught about is the love in those magazines. And I am fortunate that I didn’t have to look at magazines. Bright Moments. Bright Moments is like seeing something that you ain’t ever seen in your life and you don’t have to see it but you know how it looks. Bright Moments is like hearing some music that ain’t nobody else heard, and if they heard it they wouldn’t even recognize that they heard it because they been hearing it all their life but they nutted on it so, when you hear it and you start popping your feet and jumping up and down they get mad because you’re enjoying yourself but those are bright moments that they can’t share with you because they don’t even know how to go about listening to what you’re listening to and when you try to tell them about it they don’t know a damn thing about what your’re talking about! Is there any other Bright Moments before we proceed on? Bright Moments. Bright Moments. […] Bright Moments is like having brothers and sisters and sisterettes and brotherettes like you all here listening to us.

Because he mastered rotary breathing he could breathe through his nose while playing continuously and his Prepare Thy Self To Deal With a Miracleprepare thyself to deal with a miracle jpegis a complete side of an album without taking a breathing break. http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/4865088/a/Prepare+Thyself+To+Deal+With+A+Miracle.htm


  • Nat and Cannonball Adderley and I could go on, and on.

Nat and Cannonball Aderley jpeg

During the six years I was in Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and my first year at ITT World Headquarters, I was also in the New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York Army National Guard, where I played in the band. After many marches behind horses who left their morning feed in the streets through which we had to march, I became Drum Major.  It was a strategic decision to do so. Mounted police riding Clydesdale size horses were frequently at the front of the parades in Massachusetts. Our marching band was directly behind these horses, which frequently somewhere around mid-parade route would deposit their morning feed in the streets through which we had to march. I became Drum Major so at least I could avoid the horse deposits and lead the musicians behind me around these manure mines.  It’s not easy trying to play a Sousa march such as Stars and Stripes Forever, while marching around one of those mines, and the band musicians appreciated when I gave a special baton signal to take evasive stepping action. One of the nicest times I had in the band was when Dorian McGee, formerly from Elizabeth, now in East Orange and a Facebook friend, joined the same National Guard Company I was in. Dorian was one of the most fantastic drummers I ever heard. For many years he played with the road company of the Broadway musical” A Chorus Line”.

A Chorus Line

If Dorian had kept his drumsticks in the trunk of his car, I believe that either Sorcerer Apprentice like, or like the CylonsCyllons jpeg in the original sci-fi version of Battlestar Galactica Battlestar Galatica with Lorne Greene, those drum sticks would have materialized from that trunk, marched over to Dorian, and bowing their tips would have uttered four words: “Master, by your command!” When I gave the special signal for evasive step action, Dorian added some special side taps to his drum, and even musicians who missed seeing my baton signal heard his drum warning.

This activity also contain a leadership lesson, namely that a leader also needs vision (the ability to see ahead and what is coming), a sense of direction (including where you are and how much farther you need to go to successfully arrive at a specific end destination or goal) and change management skills. In order to be an effective drum major, you have to know the music by heart, you have to be able to lead (conduct) facing away from those who are following you, and you have got to know what you are facing on the field or in the street. In order to be an effective drum major, you have to know what you are doing, where the band is supposed to be going, and the best way to safely and efficiently get the band to where it is going. It takes multiple skills to be able to play music while walking or marching as part of a group. You cannot look down and you have got to have one band and one sound.

And whether you are a drum major leading a group or a member of a group following a drum major leader, you should do it with creativity, with passion, with class and a commitment to excellence. Benjamin ZanderBenjamin Zander jpeg, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, expressed it best this way: “The conductor, a magical figure for the audience, enjoys a leadership mystique of significant magnitude. It may seem strange to the orchestral musician that the corporate world would be interested in hearing a conductor’s views on leadership or that the metaphor of the orchestra is so frequently used in the literature of leadership, because, in fact, the profession of conductor is one of the last bastions of totalitarianism in the civilized world.” “A monumental question for leaders in any organization to consider is this: How much greatness are we willing to grant people? Because it makes all the difference at every level who it is we decide we are leading. The activity of leadership is not limited to conductors, presidents, and CEOs, of course—the player who energizes the orchestra by communicating his newfound appreciation for the tasks of the conductor… is exercising leadership of the most profound kind.” The drum major is a musical leader, a walking conductor.

In order to perform successfully and to ensure the success of those who are following, the drum major or leader has to know the score thoroughly. For example, a drum major needs to thoroughly know what is entailed in correctly and professionally playing some (of my) favorite and  well known John Phillip Sousa marches such as Semper Fidelis, The Washington Post march, The Thunder march, or the Stars and Stripes Forever. He or she also needs to know what is entailed in correctly and professionally playing the somewhat different Johnny Owen march, sometimes referred to and known as the Regimental March of the 7th Calvary. The former and the latter tunes are marches but they cannot be conducted or performed as though they were identical. They are played, performed, and executed differently

As any Reservists knows, the two weeks active duty each summer requires adjustments. And active duty is, well, active duty. You do everything on military time, ranging from when you get up to when you eat. It’s doing your duty and fulfilling your obligation. Rarely, is the word “fun” associated with it. But for me, one of the things I really enjoyed was when our military band played late afternoon pop concerts featuring a medley of Broadway show tunes for the troops and also for civilians near Fort Drum in New York. These tunes beautifully arranged, a pleasure to play, and always well received: “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”  and “Get Me To The Church On Time” from My Fair Lady, “Comedy Tonight” from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To the Forum, “Camelot” from the musical of the same name,  “One” from A Chorus Line, “


Before Joe Sample Joe Sample. jpeg, one of the pianist I loved (after Nina Simone,Nina Simone jpeg who was trained at Julliard, and who once told me that if I ever wanted to truly learn to play, I had to learn classical before I tried anything else) one of my favorite players was Horace Silver.    Horace Silver jpeg   Horace Silver wrote the tune Song for My Father, and it was one of the favorite songs I used to love play along with on my flugelhorn. Here’s a link to the song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWeXOm49kE0. Wikipedia provides this background about it: “Song for My Father is a 1965 album by the Horace Silver Quintet, released on the Blue Note label. The album was inspired by a trip that Silver had made to Brazil. The cover artwork features a photograph of Silver’s father, John Tavares Silva, to whom the title song was dedicated.

“My mother was of Irish and Negro descent, my father of Portuguese origin. He was born on the island of Maio, one of the Cape Verde Islands” (Horace Silver, quoted in Leonard Feather‘s original liner notes)

A jazz standard, “Song for My Father” is here in its original form. It is a Bossa Nova in F-minor with an AAB head. On the head, a trumpet and tenor saxophone play in harmony. The song has had a noticeable impact in pop music. The opening bass piano notes were borrowed by Steely Dan for their song “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number“, while the opening horn riff was borrowed by Stevie Wonder for his song “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing“. Earth Wind & Fire also borrowed the opening bass notes for their song Clover.”

When I hear Song for My Father today, especially around the Holidays, I think about my dad. When I go up yonder, it is my hope and prayer to be able to sit in and play along with that group of Heavenly musicians who praise the Lord with the trumpet, the harp, with every instrument every created and those yet to come into being. I also look forward to making some celestial baked macaroni & cheese, meatloaf, turkey, and gravy, and sopping some Beatitude biscuits.



I Did SomethingWicked

o the

confession is bad for your reputation

Okay. There is a saying that confession is good for the soul. Okay, it’s hard to do, but it is time to confess.  I did something wicked. Really, really wicked. Last month. And I did it in public. In a store, packed with people. But I couldn’t help it.  And I did not care. I knew it was wicked. Not like the play or the Ray Bradbury storyRay Bradbury and Something Wicked This Way Comes.   And bump Aristotle.aristotle on wicked This was real.

The urge was irresistible, like the cry of the SirensThe sirens 1 to Odysseus.odysseus and the sirens 1 If I had been chained to the mast of a ship, I would have broken the mast.

At first there was just one, and it kept calling my name, “Ron, Ron, Ron”.  But I resisted. And the temptress raised the bar, and as images of Patti AustinPatti Austin Baby Come To Me came into my mind, the one became many, in a chorus, singing  “Baby Come To Me”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUsnVOqrqqE and these words of enchantment: “You know you want us and we want you!” And the temptress then raised the bar higher and started singing “I want you baby” from Dream girls!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6O_tUAJWgM In my mind, I replied, “No I don’t”. Instantly I heard this screaming reply: “Yes you do! And you will really, really enjoy us. It’s been a very long time.” And so, I gave in.

I reached out and grabbed, not just one, but 49! That’s how many flavors were in the jar of Kirkland Signature Gourmet Jelly Beans! Kirkland 4 pound jar of jelly beansAnd they were right, I enjoyed each flavor. Geri did too! They were wickedly good!

And a funny thing happened. When I looked at the jar of jelly beans, it struck me that those jelly beans were like my friends. The jelly beans, like my friends, come in many different colors and flavors. But underneath, we are the same. What we have in common is far more important and outweighs our differences and anything we may have in conflict.  I am blessed to be in the jar of life with you. Say amen if you are a jelly bean with me.people are like jelly beans







What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?

Langston wrote other poems around dreams

 “Hold to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannnot fly”


And of course, the famous dream of freedom


Dream of Freedom


There’s a dream in the land

With its back against the wall

By muddled names and strange

Sometimes the dream is called.


There are those who claim

This dream for theirs alone—

A sin for which, we know,

They must atone.


Unless shared in common,

Like sunlight and like air

The dream will die for lack

Of substance anywhere.


The dream knows no frontier or tongue,

The dream, no class or race.

The dream cannot be kept secure

In any one locked place.


This dream today embattled.

With its back against the wall,

To save the dream for one,

It must be saved for all.


But enough of poetry for now. let’s move onto something a bit more narrative.


i saw a headline recently. at first it shocked me. but as i thought about it, i realized it was probably true. here’s what it said: “ for today’s children, the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s is as remote as the civil war”.  if that frightening statement is true, then let me at least say this. Dr. King was a preacher. His father, his grandfather, and his (maternal) great grandfather were preachers. Professor James Washington (Union Theological Seminary) says Dr. King’s life “was his greatest sermon.”Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.Dr. King was (posthumously) awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 4, 1977. The citation of the award reads as follows;

“Martin Luther King, Jr. was the conscience of his generation. A southerner, a black man, he gazed on the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to free all people from the bondage of separation and injustice, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream of what America could be. He spoke out against a war he felt was unjust, as he spoken out against laws that were unfair. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. Honored by kings, he continued to his last days to strive for a world where the poorest and humblest among us could enjoy the fulfillment of the promises of founding fathers. His life informed us, his dreams sustain us yet.”

Those words are as true today as they were then: “his dreams sustain us yet.”

 We must constantly work to move the dream forward so that we never return to the time of nightmares.

 If the words above about today’s children are true, then I have to give some background on events that led up to the march on Washington and dr. king’s “I have a dream” speech. Some of this background will be familiar to you but I suspect that some of it will be new. I certainly hope so.


 “On August 28, more than 2,000 buses, 21 special trains, 10 chartered airliners, and uncounted cars converged on Washington. All regularly scheduled planes, trains, and buses were also filled to capacity.[5] The march began at the Washington Monument and ended at the Lincoln Memorial with a program of music and speakers.

“The march was planned and initiated by A. Philip Randolph, the president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, president of the Negro American Labor Council,[6] and vice president of the AFL-CIO. Randolph had planned a similar march in 1941. The threat of the earlier march had convinced President Roosevelt to establish the Committee on Fair Employment Practice and ban discriminatory hiring in the defense industry.” The mobilization and logistics of the actual march itself was administered by deputy director Bayard Rustin, a civil rights veteran and organizer of the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, the first of the Freedom Rides to test the Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination in interstate travel”

“March organizers themselves disagreed over the purpose of the march. The NAACP and Urban League saw it as a gesture of support for a civil rights bill that had been introduced by the Kennedy Administration. Randolph, King, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) saw it as a way of raising both civil rights and economic issues to national attention beyond the Kennedy bill. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) saw it as a way of challenging and condemning the Kennedy administration’s inaction and lack of support for civil rights for African Americans.[5]” 


Euchner’s new book, Nobody Turn Me Around: A People’s History of the 1963 March on Washington, tells the story of the march through the eyes and voices of the people who helped make it happen. One of those people was march organizer Bayard Rustin, a veteran civil rights activist who had been a controversial choice to head up the preparations. “He was considered to have three strikes,” says Euchner. “One, he was gay. Two, he was a war evader; he didn’t serve in World War II. And three, he had once been a member of the Communist Youth Party in the U.S.“ Rustin planned the March in two months.

The speech Lewis “planned to give, circulated beforehand, was objected to by other participants; it called Kennedy’s civil rights bill ‘too little, too late’, asked ‘which side is the federal government on?’ and “declared that they would march ‘through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did’ and ‘burn Jim Crow to the ground—nonviolently.” ‘ Now when you talk about Gen. Sherman, them’s fighting words in the South,” Euchner says Washington’s Catholic Archbishop, Patrick O’Boyle, threatened to withdraw his support if Lewis left those passages in his speech.

Euchner says the conflict between Lewis and O’Boyle split the leaders of the march. “Some of the leaders said, ‘You know what, these kids have a right to say what they want to say,’ and others said, ‘We risk driving a wedge right in the heart of our movement.’ ” Ultimately, Lewis allowed parts of his speech to be rewritten, and Euchner says the overall insistence on calm, nonviolent action was what gave the march its power.

There were nine organizations that were the principal organizers of the march on washington. The nine organizations were the Congress of Racial Equality; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; the N.A.A.C.P, and the National Urban League; the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice; the National Council of the Churches of Christ in America, and the United Auto Workers. Institutionally, “the executive board of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations declined to support the march, adopting a position of neutrality. Nevertheless, many constituent unions attended in substantial numbers.”

“The only female speaker was Josephine Baker, though there were musical performances by Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, Mahalia Jackson, and Mary of Peter, Paul, and Mary.”

The “biggest expenses were printing leaflets and bulletins ($16,626), paying salaries and payroll taxes ($13,382), providing transportation for the marshals ($12,931) and printing buttons and pennants ($11,277). The Washington operation cost a total of $29,563, including $18,838 for sound equipment.”

Rustin had two rules of management.

“His first rule of management was to make lists of every conceivable task. If somebody thinks that something can possibly go wrong, come up with a specific solution, and put it on the list. Organizing anything — a massive march, a union picket, a training program, a newspaper — succeeds or fails because of details.”

“Rustin’s second rule of management was to assign trustworthy people to do these thousands of tasks. Rustin didn’t care so much about training or even experience. He wanted brains and persistence. When he asked Rachelle Horowitz to organize the buses to get at least a hundred thousand people to Washington, she hesitated.

“Are you crazy? I don’t know anything about transportation,” she said. “I can’t drive.”

“My dear, you’re compulsive,” he said. “You won’t lose a bus. You won’t lose a person. Don’t worry, you can do it, and I want you to do it.”

So the compulsive Rachelle Horowitz got to work. She sat on the phone, calling bus companies and local organizers. She made a card for every bus that confirmed. She didn’t book any buses — that was left to local organizers. They also put up the money and recruited marchers. But she explained how things worked and tracked progress….”

“In the week before the march, Horowitz persuaded the Metropolitan Transit Authority to run subways on a rush-hour schedule after midnight, to make sure New Yorkers could get to their buses. And she got the bridge and tunnel authorities to pass out leaflets with march information at tollbooths.”

Horowitz  “worked on the second floor with Joyce Ladner. The two women answered calls for each other. ‘Yes, this is Joyce’ Rachelle would say, the Jewish woman from Brooklyn becoming a black woman from Mississippi to keep operations moving briskly.”  Joyce Ladner attended a HBCU. She is one of the voices featured in the exhibit, Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow.  Let’s take a moment to meet and listen to Joyce. [Insert here and play the audio clip]

Hate is hate. Dr. king once obsered: “The segregationists and racists make no distinction between the Negro and the Jew.” and i need to take some time (but not here this morning) to share some of the extraordinary information in a marvelous exhibit: From Swastika To Jim Crow.


“Since the time of slavery, Blacks have in some ways identified with the Jewish experience. They compared their situation in the American South to that of the Jews in Egypt, as expressed in Black spirituals such as “Go Down, Moses.” The longing for their own exodus inspired the popularity of “Zion” in the names of many Black churches. Black nationalists used the Zionist movement as a model for their own Back-to-Africa movement.

Over the years Jews have also expressed empathy with the plight of Blacks. In the early 1900s, Jewish newspapers drew parallels between the Black movement out of the South and the Jews’ escape from Egypt, pointing out that both Blacks and Jews lived in ghettos, and calling anti-Black riots in the South “pogroms”. Stressing the similarities rather than the differences between the Jewish and Black experience in America, Jewish leaders emphasized the idea that both groups would benefit the more America moved toward a society of merit, free of religious, ethnic and racial restrictions.”

“Discrimination against both Blacks and Jews has the unfortunate distinction of a history that dates back centuries. 

“Long before the Nazis existed, anti-Semitism manifested itself most commonly in the form of pogroms – riots launched against Jews by local residents, often supported by authorities. In the 1800s, xenophobic German scholars formed the “Voelkisch movement” to cultivate their conviction that Jews were not “truly German.” German Nationalists feared political movements such as Marxism, Communism, Pacifism, and Internationalism, which they associated with Jewish intellectuals. Now they produced pseudoscientific theories of racial anthropology which found political expression in the formation of the Nazi party in 1919. Leaders in literature, music, medicine, science, finance and academia, German Jews were at the forefront of their country’s culture – they’d fought in World War I and were proud to be thought of as Germans, despite their awareness of growing anti-Semitism”. 

“Warning! Jews!”

“Hitler’s Germany
In 1931, the SS (named for Schutzstaffel, the elite military unit of the Nazi party) formed the Race and Settlement Office to “investigate” the suitability of potential spouses for SS members. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they passed the Civil Service Law, calling for the purging of Jews from all government agencies, cultural organizations and state positions. Jews were segregated to the back of public buses and restricted entrance to restaurants. The works of leading German writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Lion Feuchtwanger and Alfred Kerr were ceremoniously burned in Berlin. Economic sanctions limited the rights of Jews to practice their trades. The Law for Preventing Overcrowding in German Schools and Schools of Higher Education took effect in April, 1933. Initially restricting the enrollment of Jews, this law soon resulted in the dismissal of Jewish professors. “

“While few, if any, could imagine that by 1941 the Germans would begin the systematic slaughter of Jews – a slaughter that over the next four years would take the lives of close to six million souls – many of these scholars realized in the early 1930s that Jews had no future in Germany and fled to the United States. Most of the 1,200 refugee scholars who arrived in the U.S. could not find work in their fields. A small number, however, would end up in the historically Black colleges of the American South. In many ways, these scholars discovered that the American South was not unlike Germany had been in the mid-1930s before mass murder became the policy of the German state.” 

“Jim Crow’s America
In 1933, America had its own share of troubles. World War I had left its mark in the form of a profound isolationist sentiment. The Depression paralyzed the economy, leaving 25 percent of the workforce unemployed. The Jim Crow Laws, strictly segregating Blacks from Whites, were still in effect in the South and racial tension was high.”

“Like anti-Semitism abroad, discrimination against Blacks in the U.S. had a long and complex history. After the Southern states were defeated in the Civil War and slavery was abolished, Black codes were enacted in 1865 and 1866. Though the codes granted Blacks certain basic civil rights (to marry, to own personal property and to sue in court), they also called for the segregation of public facilities and restricted the freedman’s rights as a free laborer, to own real estate, and to testify in court. These were soon repealed as the radical Republican governments, led by so-called carpetbaggers (Northerners who settled in the South) and scalawags (Southern Whites in the Republican Party), began to rebuild the Southern economy and society. The civil and political rights of Blacks were guaranteed (on paper), and Blacks were – for a brief time – “free” to participate in the political and economic life of the South”.

“Most Southern Whites were very uncomfortable with the former slaves’ new role in society. Social custom persisted, legal obstacles (such as the poll tax and unfair literacy tests) were established, and terrorism was used to keep African Americans and White Republicans from voting. Informal vigilante groups or armed patrols were formed in almost all communities. In Louisiana in 1896 there were 130,334 Blacks registered to vote; by 1905 there were only 1,342. Organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan arose, the radical Republican governments were overthrown, and Reconstruction officially ended in 1877 as all federal troops were withdrawn from the South.”

“Between 1889 and 1918, a total of 2,522 Black Americans were lynched, including 50 women. Often the excuse was used that the accused Black man had supposedly raped a White woman, a popular myth at that time, yet in 80 percent of the cases there were no sexual charges alleged, let alone proved. Hanged, burned alive, or hacked to death, people were lynched for petty offenses such as stealing a cow, arguing with a White, or trying to register to vote. Social critic H.L. Mencken explained, “In sheer high spirits, some convenient African is taken at random and lynched, as the newspapers say, ‘on general principles.'” This practice went unpunished until 1918.”

“The horrors of prejudice became a common thread that could bind these exiled Jewish professors with their black students and colleagues. The film pairs shocking archival footage of the KKK dressed in costume and carrying torches with footage of Nazi salutes and marching German soldiers to compare the barbarity of both ideologies. A picture of a lynching shows a mob of average white citizens standing around casually and looking up at the tree, while photographs of the Holocaust depict emaciated corpses piled on top of each other.”


 “KKK members displaying the Nazi salute and advocating Holocaust denial.

“Showing the similarities between German anti-Semitism and Southern racism through a rich compilation of interviews, archival film footage, and photographs, From Swastika to Jim Crow shows that both African-American students and their Jewish professors were familiar with prejudice and felt isolated from European American southern society. Their common understanding bonded them together to create a safe haven of interracial, intellectual dialogue and friendship.”

“When Germany forced its Jewish intellectuals to flee, America embraced high-profile thinkers like Albert Einstein, but the vast majority of lesser-known Jewish intellectual refugees struggled in America. Not only were jobs scarce because of the Great Depression, but prevalent anti-Semitism and anti-German sentiments meant the decision to take teaching jobs in the South was not based on the prestige of the positions, but rather because African-American schools had the only slots available to these normally discriminated against German Jews.”

“These Jewish professors brought their proper German teaching style with them to America. They approached the classroom with strict formality, wearing full suits and insisting that students rise when answering questions. Although their students were not accustomed to being treated with such formality in the classroom, with time they grew fond of their professors’ quirks.”

“In addition to developing relationships with African Americans, the Jewish professors often served as a bridge between the African-American and European-American communities. In one instance, a professor organized a dinner with both African-American and European-American families. He asked the African-American guests, who arrived first, to sit in every other chair, so that when the European American guests arrived they would be forced to interact with one another. The professor knew he couldn’t force people to give up their prejudice, but he was committed to doing whatever he could to encourage tolerance.”

“Through these simple acts, the Jewish intellectuals planted seeds that developed into the Civil Rights movement. By treating their African-American students with the respect and dignity they deserved, Jewish professors acted as catalysts for forward thinking that recognizes all citizens as equals.”

“[Art Professor Viktor Lowenfeld] was interested in our inner feelings…. We lived a restricted life of segregation and discrimination, so art became the way that we could speak. Viktor chose Hampton because it was a Black school. He understood racial prejudice in America, and felt that he should cast his lot with those people who were working against racism.”- John Biggers, artist former student, Hampton Institute.

“I’ve heard Dr. Manasse say that when he first came to America as a freshly-minted Ph.D. from one of the most respected and revered institutions in Germany – perhaps in all of Europe – that he found it strange that he encountered nearly as much anti-Semitism here as he did in Europe.”  – Eugene Eaves, provost former student, North Carolina Central University


John Hope Franklin:”I shall never forget the first time I witnessed the manifestation of anti-Semitism, when I was a graduate student at Harvard back in 1936. And when I suggested that a certain person in the Henry Adams history club be nominated for president, the other members of the nominating committee said, ‘Well, um, he doesn’t have all of the objectionable qualities of a Jew, but he is still a Jew.’ I was absolutely dumbfounded – speechless.”


John Biggers: “One day, Viktor [Professor Lowenfeld] invited me to go home to have dinner with them. Upon leaving the art center we went by the post office to get his mail. There he received a letter from the State Department. This was a terrible letter. It was announcing members of his family who were burned in concentration camps in Germany. He stopped for a few minutes, along the road, and read the letter aloud. And then he said to me, ‘John, you’re segregated. You have to ride on the back of the bus. You can’t drink water in any building. You don’t have toilet facilities,’ he said, ‘but, they’re not burning you in mass. They just burned these members of my family – and these people did not commit any crime – they were just born, that’s all.’ So this was one of the first lessons for me in what we call race prejudice. And suddenly I realized it went beyond Black and White. I realized this was one of the truly great tragedies of the human family. This I have never forgotten.”


William Jackson:“Dr. Manasse did suggest that I should apply for a Fulbright Scholarship. I think I expressed dismay and disbelief that he could even expect such a thing of me. But Dr. Manasse was a very soft-spoken person, a very, very gentle person, but a very, very persistent person. And this was one thing that he really wanted me to do – he wanted me to apply for a Fulbright. I really did get perturbed when he showed me what the forms looked like, and I, in a not very commendable attitude said, ‘Okay, I will fill out these forms so that you won’t have to bother me about it anymore,’ or something to that effect. And I did. I went and I filled them out and applied for the Fulbright and hoped that he would be satisfied that I had gone through this very, very empty process. And then I got a Fulbright. And I felt about “that big.” I felt that I just could not crawl back to his office low enough with an apology for how I had acted. The remarkable thing is – and I am sure I remember this correctly – never once did he say I told you so.”


Before Mrs. Parks had that earth shaking sit down, she had earlier down something almost equally profound. n 1943, twelve years prior to her refusal to move on the bus in Montgomery, Rosa Parks went to register to vote in Alabama.  Because of the Jim Crow laws of the time, African Americans had to pass a literacy test in order to register.  Ms. Parks took the test, was told she passed and that she would receive her voting card in the mail. The card never came. When she went back to take the test a second time, officials told her that she had failed the test and denied her the ability to see her results. In 1945 Ms. Parks went back a third time to register to vote.  She again took the literacy test and again was told that she passed and that her card would be mailed. This time, however, Ms. Parks would not be denied; she stayed and hand-copied all of the questions and answers to that test to make sure that she would get her card and if not, she would have proof that she did in fact pass the test. Ms. Parks finally received her card, but when she went to vote the poll workers ordered her to pay a poll tax of $1.50, not just for that year but for every year that she had been eligible to vote.  At the age of 32, that amount came out to $16.50. In 1945 that was quite a lot of money for a young seamstress to pay. Undeterred, Ms. Parks opened her pocketbook, paid the money and cast her vote. She voted in every subsequent election in her lifetime. ”  Rosa Parks sat down so that we could stand up but not so we could stand still.

This recounting is found in several published sources. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2005/12/b1231847.html

 “E.D. Nixon, the black Montgomery lawyer who represented Ms. Parks, was flying on a plane many years after that event. He met a woman on the plane who told him she couldn’t imagine what would have happened to black people if Martin Luther King had not come to Montgomery.  Nixon told her “If Ms. Parks had got up and given that white person her seat, you’d never have heard of Rev. King.” 6 And before we forget it, remember this.  When Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on that bus, and she was sitting there in the jail cell, and if you could have asked her “Who you gonna’ call?”, she would not have answered “Ghost Busters”, or the law firm of “Here-we Come & Wonder-What-We-Gonna’-Do, When We Get There”. She called for her pastor, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In her autobiography, Rosa Parks said: “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I wasn’t tired physically, or no more tired that I usually was at the end of a working day. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”7

You have to understand or remember the events that took place in Birmingham Alabama to have a full appreciation of the March on Washington that took place on August 28, 1963 and a horrific act of terror that occurred less than a month after the March. Some of that story is found in “Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience”, edited by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates:

“On May 2, children and young adults from age 6 to 16 gathered at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the movement headquarters, and marched to downtown Birmingham. The police arrested more than 900 and carried them off to jail in paddy wagons and school buses. On the second day, more than 1,000 young people stayed out of school and assembled at the church to march. In an effort to abort the march, the police turned dogs and fire hoses on demonstrators as they left the church. The pressure of the hoses, which was strong enough to strip the bark off trees, slammed children to the ground and sent others sailing over parked cars…With more than 2,000 people in jail, the marches were still growing larger. The next major confrontation with the police occurred several days later in downtown Birmingham. Once again police turned attack dogs and fire hoses on the demonstrators. Television coverage of the brutal assault on children shocked the nation, while news reports quickly spread around the world.

With Birmingham on the brink of a full scale race riot, city businesses began negotiating with King through a Kennedy administration intermediary. A tentative agreement to desegregate downtown stores and employ black clerks sparked a spate of bombings. With federal troops stationed on alert outside the city, Mayor Albert Boutwell finally ratified the agreement and repealed the city’s segregation laws.”

Africana, at 450-451.

“The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was used as a meeting-place for civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth. Tensions became high when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) became involved in a campaign to register African American to vote in Birmingham.” 


“In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss, members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church, near the basement. At about 10:22 a.m., twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room to prepare for the sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” when the bomb exploded. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins’ younger sister, Sarah.[1] The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps and all but one stained-glass window, which showed Christ leading a group of little children.[2]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing

“Civil rights activists blamed George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, for the killings. Only a week before the bombing he had told the New York Times that to stop integration Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.“ A witness identified Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as the man who placed the bomb under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. He was arrested and charged with murder and possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. On 8th October, 1963, Chambliss was found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence for having the dynamite”.

“The case was unsolved until Bill Baxley was elected attorney general of Alabama. He requested the original Federal Bureau of Investigation files on the case and discovered that the organization had accumulated a great deal of evidence against Chambliss that had not been used in the original trial.”

“In November, 1977 Chambliss was tried once again for the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. Now aged 73, Chambliss was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Chambliss died in an Alabama prison on 29th October, 1985.”

“On 17th May, 2000, the FBI announced that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing had been carried out by the Ku Klux Klan splinter group, the Cahaba Boys. It was claimed that four men, Robert Chambliss, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry had been responsible for the crime. Cash was dead but Blanton and Cherry were arrested and Blanton has since been tried and convicted”.

 Sometimes, like Mrs. Parks you will be faced with your own trial of courage. And by not giving in but going on, you may, like Rosa Parks, be making a way where there is no way. Courage is contagious. And like a drop on the surface of the water, ripples you can create by being courageous can extend far beyond the limits of anyone’s imagination. And to borrow words from the book of Esther, who knows if you have not come into your agency for such a time as this.

 I  hope that some of the lessons  i will be talking about this morning will make the movment less remote and at least as meaningful as lessons learned from the civil war . And i am going to start with something you may not know that happened in 1876. in that year,“ the celebrated orator Frederick Douglas dedicated a monument in Washington, D.C., erected by black Americans to honor Abraham Lincoln. The former slave told his audience that ‘there is little necessity on this occasion to speak at length and critically of this great and good man, and of his high mission in the world. That ground has been fully occupied… The whole field of fact and fancy has been gleaned and garnered. Any man can say things that are true of Abraham Lincoln but no man can say anything that is new of Abraham Lincoln.” 1

THIS MORNING,  the same might be said of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., namely that “any man can say things that are true of Dr. King, but no man can say anything that is new of Dr. King.” AND THAT LEADS ME TO  the leadership lessons I am going to share with you this morning. In something not quite resembling speed dating, in less than the 15 minutes i have been allotted,  i am going to cover 13 leadership lessons. most i will just list. a few i will amplify. the slide deck for my power point presentation contains 17 lessons, but time will not permit me to cover those lessons here.

 LEADERSHIP LESSON #1 FROM DR. KING AND FROM FREDERICK DOUGLAS: Stay focused on the Big Picture and Keep your eye on the prize even if you must retreat from the crowd and consult your inner spiritual compass. (See David Baron, Moses on Management) (Jesus did. Ghandi did. Dr. King did. Pretty good examples I think.)

 Don’t ever forget who you are, where you come from, where you are going, and who is leading you to fulfill the purpose and plan for which you were created and for which you are called.

 And when you find yourself in a time when it seems like you are all alone, remember the question asked in a popular song and the answer it gives. The popular song asks, “What do you do when you’ve done all you can, and it seems like it’s never enough?  And what do you say when your friends turn away, you’re all alone?  Tell me, what do you do, when you’ve given your all, and it seems like you can’t make it through. You just stand, and be sure. God has a purpose. Yes, God has a plan.”




LEADERSHIP LESSON #3: Don’t Try To Solve Everything By Yourself; Even Superhereos Have sSdekicks.  Don’t Even Attempt To Do It All. . Find Competent People And Give Them Real Responsibilities.” (See David Baron, Moses on Management) Have A Succes Plan as well as a Sucession Plan

  Jethro had to teach his son-in –law Moses ABOUT DELEGATION.











 LEADERSHIP LESSON #7:You must have the courage of conviction and not give up when confronted and challenged.

 Here is an example.


“in 1943, twelve years prior to her refusal to move on the bus in Montgomery, Rosa Parks went to register to vote in Alabama.  Because of the Jim Crow Laws of the time, African Americans had to pass a literacy test in order to register.  Ms. Parks took the test, was told she passed and that she would receive her voting card in the mail. The card never came. When she went back to take the test a second time, officials told her that she had failed the test and denied her the ability to see her results. In 1945 Ms. Parks went back a third time to register to vote.  She again took the literacy test and again was told that she passed and that her card would be mailed.  This time, however, Ms. Parks would not be denied; she stayed and hand-copied all of the questions and answers to that test to make sure that she would get her card and if not, she would have proof that she did in fact pass the test. Ms. Parks finally received her card, but when she went to vote the poll workers ordered her to pay a poll tax of $1.50, not just for that year but for every year that she had been eligible to vote.  At the age of 32, that amount came out to $16.50.  In 1945 that was quite a lot of money for a young seamstress to pay.  Undeterred, Ms. Parks opened her pocketbook, paid the money and cast her vote.  She voted in every subsequent election in her lifetime”.[1]

 LEADERSHIP LESSON #8:”Keep a sense of humor because some things in life are a laughing matter.

 Dr. King was also a drum major with a sense of humor.  In a sermon he said, “I got a letter the other day, and it was a new magazine coming out.  And it opened, “Dear Dr. King:  As you know, you are on many mailing lists.  And you are categorized as highly intelligent, progressive, a lover of the arts and the sciences, and I know you will want to read what I have to say.”  Of course I did, said Dr. King.  After you said all of that and explained me so exactly, of course I wanted to read it!”  But though Dr. King was able to laugh, sometimes at himself, helping other people was never a laughing matter with him.

 LEADERSHIP LESSON #9:You can not lead anyone further than you have been yourself or further than you are willing to go yourself.

  • And you must be  responsible for who you are and for what you do.  In the words of Edward Everett Hale,

 “I am only one

But still I am one.

I can not do everything,

But still I can do something;

And because I can not do everything

I will not refuse to do

The something that I can do.”[2]





According to JOHN Maxwell, there are times when leaders face a problem or limitation that they can not remove on their own.  When some leaders hit those lids, they give up, and they stop growing. That’s the beginning of the end for their organization.  But a few leaders, those with the courage and humility to lead, get together with other leaders who are able to be lid lifters in their lives. Clearly, Dr. King joined forces with others and lifted heavy lids.

 He lifted others with his words.  He was an encourager:  “I have a dream”. He raised others with his actions.  He lead marches and asked others to join in. He gave up so others could go up.  That is he made sacrifices so others could go to another level.  There are numerous examples of his sacrifices:  being jailed, spending time away from his family, etc.Is there something you are willing to be a lid lifter for? Or a Drum Major?  Are you going to march to some music and make a difference or are you just going to make excuses?







  Dr. King was not only a national hero, he was also a national and an international teacher. He taught us about love, hope, and peace.  And those lessons—the ones he spoke about and the ones which he spent his life trying to apply and to get us to apply—are why all of us can and should celebrate the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Centuries ago, a great teacher—Rabbi Nahman of Brazlav—spoke of peace in a prayer:

“Adon Haolom. May the will come from Thee to annul wars and the shedding of blood from the universe, and to extend a peace, great and wondrous in the universe. Let all residents of the earth recognize and know the innermost truth. That we are not come into this world for quarrel and division, nor for hate, greed and jealousy, contrariness and bloodshed, but we are come into this world to live together in peace and freedom with one another as good neighbors in mutual respect under Thy guiding providence.”

Dr. King dreamed of and worked toward a world in  which all people could “live together in peace and freedom with one another as good neighbors in mutual respect.”`

           When Dr. King spoke at Lincoln University and when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, his words reflected the feelings of his spiritual brother Rabbi Nahman. Here is what Dr. King said at Lincoln University:

 “As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich, even if he has a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people can not expect to live more than twenty or thirty years, no man can be totally healthy.”

 AS I LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM,  I see a Martin over here and a Corretta King and a Rosa Parks over there, and I want you to be a drum major marching on and make a difference in 2014.  And if we can get enough people marching to make a difference, we could end up with a drum line of drum majors making a difference. And for everyone who wants to be a drum major and make the dream come true, you have to remember that:

  • Defeat comes from looking back.
  • Distraction comes from looking around.
  • Discouragement comes from looking down.
  • Deliverance comes from looking up.
  • And Determination comes from looking forward.

We must hear Dr. King’s words not only with our hearts but we must also heed them with our hands and deeds.


Though you can not go back And make a brand new start my friend

Anyone can start from now And make a brand new end.

 Be a drum major for positive change.  Be a ”we can drum major.

 “We can not choose how many years we will live,

but we can choose how much life those years will have.

We can not control the beauty of our face,

But we can control the expression on it.

We can not control life’s difficult moments,

But we can choose to make life less difficult.

We can not control the negative atmosphere of the world,

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds.

Too often, we try to choose to control things we can not.

Too seldom, we choose to control what we can . . . our attitude.”

 Dr. King ONCE SAID:  “If I can help somebody as I pass along. If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song. If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, Then my living will not be in vain.” How about you?  Can somebody say of you that you are a drum major for justice, or peace, or righteousness?  And if not these things, what are the positive things for which you are being a drum major or will be a drum major in Montclair in 2014?

 I USED TO GIVE A LOT OF THOUGHT TO HOW DR. KING COULD BE SUCH A DRUM MAJOR FOR JUSTICE. i WONDERED WHERE HE GOT THE COURAGE, STRENGTH, FAITH AND CONVICTION TO DO SO. I FINALLY FOUND THE ANSWER. HERE IS MINE. “How could one person be such a drum major making a difference under so many different conditions?” Well, there is an answer.  And I believe it is this: If the spirit of the Lord is upon you, you can start to do things, and say things, that move mountains and quiet storms. Now I came here today to give remarks, but in the spirit of the Reverend Dr. King, I may just end up standing still and preaching.  Because you know sometimes it’s ok to stand still, especially if you are just “Standing on the Promises!”. And if you Stand on the Promises, you may start to surprise some people when they see you walk and not faint, when they see you run and not be weary. When they see you mount up on the wings of eagles soaring over the insurmountable. And you may really surprise some people when they see you facing tidal waves of worry today and tempest tomorrow, the Bull Connors of belligerence in the streets of the past and George Wallaces of confrontation and of insufferable arrogance in the cyber chat rooms of the present or the future, and they hear you say “Peace be still!  Peace be still!”

 I conclude by asking you to think about the dream and remember the poem that says:

 “Ah, great is the believe

 the dream,

as we stand in youth

by the starry stream.

But a greater thing is

To live life through,

And say at the end,

The dream came true.”


 To all the adults here today, I would ask that you rededicate yourselves to setting a good example for all children. Be teachers of peace, love, harmony, mutual respect, cooperation, and understanding. We must set an example for our children. If we lift their eyes to the stars, that’s the direction in which they will head: upward and onward.  We must be sure we speak of truth, loyalty, love, perseverance, justice, caring, and compassion so that they will learn the language of triumph, achievement, and commitment. We must speak of our dreams so that they will be able to have visions of a better future that transcends any limitations of the present. When our children see us, they must see people who are involved in education, who read books instead of simply watching videos, who talk about and help bring about good things in the world, who work to change things that are not as good as they should be. I hope our children will form opinions of us based on our active involvement to improve the quality of life rather than on the basis of passive complaining about what is wrong. 


The Master of the Universe has given us the power to choose. May we choose to love rather than to hate, to laugh rather than to cry, to create rather than destroy, to persevere rather than to quit, to praise rather than to criticize, to heal rather than to wound, to help rather than to hurt, to go on rather than to give up, to reach out to one another rather than to retreat within ourselves. The One Who Neither Slumbers Nor Sleeps has given each of us the power to decide, the courage to dare, the energy to do, the will power to be determined, the grace to be dedicated, and the patience to be diligent. And I ask this final question: What Do You Choose?




[1] This recounting is found in several published sources.

[2] John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You, at 170.

[slideshare id=30298843&style=border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px&sc=no] January 2014 omega version-for distribution-rwb power point presentation-mlk scholarship breakfast from Ronald Brown

<a href="

” title=”


Leadership Lessons and Legacies from African American History & Culture: Of Drum Majors, Drum Lines, and Dreams

My Sister Has Gone To Heaven

 Remarks  of Ronald W. Brown  At The Home Going Service of Mary Elizabeth Brown

 Dolphin, Cookie, and Mom-Back of Program

I am sure everyone remembers the old Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme about Humpty Dumptyhumpty dumpty:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Like humpty dumpty I have been and remain shattered by my sister’s passing. (She had not been ill.  I spoke with her on Tuesday evening and she was fine. Late Thursday I learned she had passed.And in my mind I started hearing the words of  Walter Hawkins’ “Going Up Yonder” ,http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=going+up+yonder&go=&qs=n&form=VBREQY&pq=going+up+yonder&sc=2-15&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=A4CEC12EF9D6FE56E9B7A4CEC12EF9D6FE56E9B7. And my eyes started leaking as I realized she was gone and our last goodbye was embodied in recorded voice mails. I also found myself thinking about the lyrics from the song “Praise Him Anyway”(In The Middle of It) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vqN1iSOuOU:

“Tears running down your face
And your heart feelin’ like it’s gon’ break
And your earth feels like it’s ’bout to shake
And you’ve taken all that you can take
Just remember where your help comes from
Realizing you got somewhere to run
Don’t worry ’bout what you’re going through
Instead of worrying, here’s what you can do
Praise him anyway
In the middle of it (repeat3x)
You should praise him anyway
In the middle of it”

I also thought about her during the different seasons of her life, from when we were kids going to churchCookie 8-PB, to kneeling with cousins on the beach at BelmarCookie-5 program, to me with a six-shooter and  her posingAunt Cookie 4b, to her being a bridesmaidCookie 10-Program when Geri and I got married, to us being at Pebble Beach   Cookie 5-PB in Califormia after Mike Graduated from Stanford, to her being with us in Seattle when Sean and Kim got marriedCookie 4-PB,  to this  October when she took Kim, Mike, and Geri to breakfast here in MontclairCookie 7-PB.

Unlike humpty dumpty, I don’t have to worry about any ordinary kings men trying to put me back together again. I am being held together by the power of prayer and by many prayer warriorsprayer warrior 1 bending their knees  in prayer The Kneeling Warrior-Christ Church and practicing the disciples they have mastered and lifting me up.

It is my hope and prayer that if there is someone here who does not know the lord, that that person will be touched in a special way by what they hear today, and say I don’t know what those speakers have, but they all spoke of their faith and want to know the one before whose name every knee shall bow and who empowered them to speak with such power through unspeakable personal pain.

One of the sources of strength for me during this unbearable time has been reading again the powerful sermon Rev. William Sloan Coffin gave at Riverside Church when his son Alex passed. You can find it in The Collected Sermons of William Sloan Coffin, The Riverside Years, Volume 2. bill doffin the collected sermonsI did not realize when I gave it to myself as a Christmas present this year, that I would find myself in Bill’s shoes. Let me share with you the first  two paragraphs of Bill’s sermon.

“As almost all of you know, a week ago last Monday night, driving in a terrible storm, my son Alexander—who to his friends was a real day-brightener, and to his  family ‘fair as a star when only one is shining in the sky’—my twenty-four-year-ole Alexander, who enjoyed beating his old man at every game and in every race, beat his father to the grave.

Among the healing flood of letters that followed his death was one carrying this wonderful quote from the end of Hemingway’s  Farewell to Arms:’The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.’ My own broken heart is mending, and largely thanks to many of you, my dear parishoners; for if in the last week I have relearned one lesson, it is that love not only begets love, it transmits strenth.”

And these powerful words from another part of that sermon: “And of course I know, even when pain is deep, that God is good. ‘My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?’ Yes, but at least, ‘My God, my God’; and the psalm only begins that way, it doesn’t end that way. As the grief begins that way, it doesn’t  end that way. As the grief that once seemed unbearable begins to turn now to bearable sorrow, the truths in the ‘right’ Biblical passages are beginning once again, to take hold…’The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5)”

I think you may also be able to download an audio file of Bill delivering this sermon.  Here  is a link to those downloadable sermons: http://williamsloanecoffin.org/index.php?page=download-sermons.

In thinking about how to send my sister off, I was tempted to simply bring my flugelhorn and play “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”.  But the last time I played that was in a end of year video and I was not sure I could get through it here.

Some people who play musical instruments are sometimes better at expressing themselves in music rather than in words. One of my favorite people who can sing, play violin, and express herself verbally is Charisa Rouse know professionally as The Violin Deva! violin divahttp://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/21772-charissa-the-violin-diva-wins-the-2011-rising-star-talent-search. However since I have not practiced in a while, I thought I would go with speaking rather than playing. Also, I worried that some religious historians or lawyers might think I was borrowing from Bill Coffin’s “Preached from A Piano Bench” without attribution and committing some type of copyright infringement.  Notwithstanding that I won’t be playing, here is the link to that sermon by Bill and you can listen to it at no charge, unlike some of the other sermons for which there is a fee like you would pay if you downloaded an iTune.

Let me warn those of you sitting in  the first or second pews. You may need to put on a raincoat or put up an umbrella. The men in my family cry over the women they love.  And it just may be that we need to alert the FEMA folks that Linden has not been hit by a tidal wave. It’s just Ron, missing his sister so, and letting it show.

And it’s not my fault. My friends and colleagues Liz Caldwell and Shelley Bates have kept me and my family in their thoughts and prayers.  My sisters  and brothers (we dropped the in-law part ages ago) Gloria, Marietta, Myra, Stephanie, Sue, Rob and Ray have lifted me up, and all my  cousins have hugged me with love. My  wife, son, and daughter have hugged me with love.  Cookie’s co-workers have hugged me with love. Sarah and Josh the cousin of Sue Rosenfeld havs hugged me with love. (Sue and Cookie have known each other since before dirt. Even though Sue has lived most of her adult life in Africa, and is curently living in NigerSue Rosenfeld, she is here through her cousin’s presence.)

Sue advised me that when she and Cookie were kids, my sister  had ‘tormented’ Josh, saying stuff like, ‘Josh, you know we were meant to be together; I’m going to wait for you.’  This at a time when Josh, and all the boys his age, thought girls were icky.  And when Cookie was at Sue’s house , if Josh were out, Cookie would leave a little ‘love note’ on his pillow.   Often when Sue  saw Cookie these last couple of years, Josh would join them and the banter continued.  Sue also informed me that as for Sarah,  her mother adored my sister and, when Sue would be back in Jersey, Debra (Sarah’s mother, now also deceased) would invite Sue for a meal and always say, ‘Bring Mary.’   Sue remembers kidding Debra and saying, ‘I know I’m just the vehicle through which you get to see Mary.”

Pastor Marcus Burbonmarcus and grace burbon has hugged me with love and lifted me up in prayer. Pastor Anthony Franklin Anthony Franklinhas prayed for me as I stood at the alter with my son Michael standing behind me providing emotional and physical  support.. Friends from St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Montclair St. Markshave lifted me up in prayer.The Morningstar Christian Community Center has welcomed me and my family with hospitality, graciousness, and prayer.  And my sister in Christ Mrs. Lenora Saunders IsaacLenora 2 — who sometimes refers to herself as an military brat because like my cousin Birdie, she grew up on military bases because her dad was career military, and everyone knows such brats do not believe in or practice public displays of emotion or affection—just gave me a big public hug and allowed my tears to wet her hair. (I am so glad her hair was in braids and not hanging long in a perm, because even though she is my sister, no brother better wet the hair of a sister who just came from getting a perm at the beauty parlor!). And last, but my no means least,  I have been lifted up by the  support, love, and prayers of Cookie’s dear friends Hazel Jones Hazel and Denise and Rev. Pastor Denise M. Wooten-Troutman.Rev. Wooten Cookie was god-mother to Hazel’s son and to Denise’s son.

I was lifted up by Gail OpacityGail on the Apalachian trail and these words about my sister: “Mary was” Employee of the Year” given to only one person from all of the agencies in the county.  Both I and Chris Monoco, now also deceased, had to write a short essay recommending her.  She was awarded this by the county freeholder and received financial compensation and an extra day off as a reward….  There were many reasons we nominated her.  She was always on time. She was instrumental in arranging for Shiloh Baptist Church to make Thanksgiving dinners for the children in Detention Center and helped to pack them herself for many years. Even I helped her a couple of times.  She was the unofficial supervisor and training officer for the education department.  I wouldn’t have made it 19 years without her.  She was also, the unofficial guidance counselor for the entire staff.”

Mary Elizabeth was my sister’s public name. My sister was named after our fraternal grandmother Mary  and our maternal grandmother Elizabeth Fitch Elizabeth.

But my sister’s “secret identity” was “Cookie”, the name by which she was known by family and friends. My sister was a superheroine, not like Wonder  WomanWonder Woman with her Amazon powers or SuperwomanSuperwoman who like her male counterpartGeorgeReevesasSuperman could “change the course of mighty rivers.”. My sister changed the course of every life she touched as a teacher, friend, relative, and believer in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For those of you who don’t know, let me put you on notice. My fatherDad, my mother and my sister are here. And I’m not talking about like Patrick Swayze in the movie Ghost with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. ghostI’m talking about really here. My dad just raised a single finger in the air.  And those of you who knew my dad, know when he raised his hand, he had my undivided attention. My mother just gave me “the look” conveying quite clearly what she expects of her son. And in the event I don’t meet her standard, she will do the same thing to me that she would do to her brothers and sisters and anyone else that didn’t rise to the occasion, namely slowly look away over her left shoulder. And my sister just whispered in my ear the words she said and she made the gesture she made when she enjoyed good singing or preaching, “Allright now!” with a wave.

I am going to say a few words about saints, service, what I hope you will do when you hear the word Cookie in the future, and conclude with what my sister just told me to tell you.


Some saints are easy to recognize. In New Orleans, you can recognize them by their National Football League helmetsNew Orleans Saints helmut and by their fans who and who belong to the Who Dat NationWho Dat Nation and say things like “Who Dat”. But there are some other saints among us today who are not as easy to recognize as those who love football in New Orleans. And I am going to tell you who they are.

I have it on the highest authority—- well not the highest but pretty high up—that my wife is a candidate for sainthood. So are my son Michael, and my daughter Kimberly.  So are Rob, Annette, Gordon, and Susan Reed. So is my friend from childhood David Brinkley, my friend from our days in the National Guard, Dorian McGee, my sister in Christ Lenora Sanders Isaac and my Omega Psi PhiOmega Psi Phi frat brothers Walt Frye and Joe Rouse, every one of my cousins, uncles and aunts, everyone with whom I have ever worked, and until she passed, my beloved sister Cookie. Would you like to know why? (Say “Yes” walls).

Part of the criteria for being considered for sainthood is the performance of a specified number of miracles. And undoubtedly everyone I just mentioned has met those criteria, because on innumerable occasions they performed a documented miracle by resisting the temptation to strangle me in order to get me to shut up. (Say  “Amen” walls.) I do not intend to tempt them or any other would be saints very much this morning.


Marian Wright Edelman Marion Wright Edelmentells us that “Service is the rent we pay for being.” One form of service is what we do when we help others. Another form of service is simply sharing what you know to inform or to educate others. And somewhere in Scripture we are informed that even as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me. For thirty plus years as a teacher in the Juvenile Detention Center, and outside of that facility my sister helped, informed, and educated and did it unto the least of these. Cookie paid her rent rent paid 1and rendered her service.

When You Hear the Word Cookie in the future please remember that each letter in that word has a meaning, and hopefully you will remember my sister, your relative, friend, and former co-worker:

C – Be Compassionate, Considerate, and Caring – You never know what may be going on in another’s life

O – Be Obedient to God’s call for your life

O – Be an Original – there was only one Cookie – let her originality inspire you to always be yourself.

K – Seek out Kindred spirits – Cook and my mom shared a special bond. Invest your time in the people you love.

I – Embrace your Insightful – your never know how your perspective can help those around you

E – Lend an Ear – She was a confidant of many. People found peace in her listening.


In Conclusion

My sister, who had a sense of humor, wants me to tell you two things that happened to her this past week.

There was a zebrazebra standing in front of her at the entrance to heaven. And the zebra seemed quite distressed. Saint Peter Saint Peterasked the zebra what was the matter. The zebra said, “I have to ask the Lord a question”. St. Peter said, “The Lord is quite busy this week. We have praise and worship full time up here, but when they celebrate Christmas on earth, that’s nothing to what goes on up here. When we do In Excelsis Deo,In Excelsis Deo we rock the firmament.”

But the zebra insisted, saying “I have always been troubled by this question! Please let me ask the Lord”. Saint Peter said, “Tell me the question, and then I will decide whether to let you speak to the Lord.  The zebra said: “My question is this: Am I white with black stripes, or black with white stripes?” Saint Peter said, “Okay, you can ask the Lord”. The zebra was ecstatic, galloped over to the Lord, and asked the question. The Lord whispered an answer in the zebra’s ear. The zebra walked slowly back to Saint Peter, shaking his head. Saint Peter, asked, “What’s the matter?” The zebra replied, “I don’t understand the Lord’s answer”. Saint Peter said, tell me what the Lord said. The zebra replied: “The Lord said ‘You are what you are’.  Saint Peter said, you are new up here and the Lord always speaks to people in the language they are most familiar with and understand the best. You are white with black stripes because if you had been black with white stripes, the Lord would have said “You is what you is!?”

My sister says to tell you whether you are what you are or you is what you is, you respond to the voice of the Good Sheppardgood shepard 2 for cookie when He calls you, just like she did when he said, “Mary, it is I. Come home. Well done thou good and faithful servant.” When he calls your name, you drop everything you are doing, just as Cookie did. You don’t have time to send an email or update your Facebook timeline, or send a text message or make a phone call. You go when the Shepard calls.

Here is the final thing my sister  wants me to tell you about her first Christmas in Heaven.


I saw the countless Christmas trees around the world below with tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow.  The sight was so spectacular! Please wipe away that tear, for I spent Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I heard the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear, but the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.  I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring, for it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me.  I see the pain inside your heart, even though I am so far away, we really aren’t apart.  So, be happy for me, loved ones.  You know I hold you dear.  Be glad I spent Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.  I send you each a memory of my undying love.  After all, “LOVE” is the gift more precious than gold.  It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do, for I can’t count the blessings or the love He has for you.  So, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear!  Remember, I spent Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

With Eternal Love,


There is one last thing I want to share with you. It is a poem written by my second son, Sean, the husband of my princess Kimberly.

Good Morning/Good Night

Sun up to Sundown, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in each hour, 60 seconds in each minute

Each inhale and exhale is a gift from God, a miracle; our time together is a privilege

Life is an undeserved expression of love from the Father that he offers to his children

Those of us who received his gift of grace by believing in the Son whom it was revealed in

Cookie was one of these, those that believed, and through her conviction she lived life

When she was finished she went home and now Cookie is spending eternity with Christ

This isn’t Mary’s ending; God is saying good morning Cookie, as we gather together to say goodnight

Sweet Dreams Cookie, We Love you.




 I have always loved great screenplays and good movies. In my remarks this evening, I will be referring to several films. If you are not a film buff, you can nevertheless relax and enjoy the on-line version of my remarks  which  include hyperlinks to several film trailers. If you watch the Academy Awards/OscarsAcademy Awards 2,  the recipients of those awards sometimes take so much time thanking everyone that a signal is given to bring up the music, the equivalent of a hook to pull them off stage. I don’t intend to speak very long tonight.  But those of you with IPods, I phones, cell phones, or other devices, please feel free to turn them on and key up the music if I do. The Lord is blessing me right now. And my heart is full. But I hope at the end of my brief remarks, that if Irwin Markowitz were here—and he is in spirit—   he would say one sentence to me as this year’s recipient of the award that bears his name, and of my remarks. And that sentence would be the same one Will Smith said in the film Independence Day Will Smith and Independence Day: “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Permit me this aside: Anytime a lawyer refers to brief remarks, get ready for those remarks to end in eternity.  But I promise you I will not take us there. I have published the full text of my reflections as a wordpress blog at: https://ronaldwbrownassociatesllc.com/. I am fairly confident that everyone going to the site will enjoy the graphics and audio files as well as learn something new. In addition, if Bob Holmes goes to that site he will see a picture of the basement apartment where we lived during our first year of law school and at which someone erected a plaque memorializing the parties we threw. Peter Mumma, if you go to the site you will find the results of some original research I did and I think never before published information about something Dean Derek Bok, Professor Albert Sachs and Professor Charles Nessen[i] did with students in 1967-1968, as well as information about correspondance between Professor Derrick Bell and  Dean Derek Bok   Everyone who goes to the site will find examples of the Socratic Method at HLS applied in life in two novel ways that I know will leave you laughing. Tonight I will only draw from sections of what’s presented in the blog so that we can honor our time commitment. Also by publishing a link to the blog, I can assure Pete Mumma from the HLS alumni office that we will not be requesting the next edition of The HLSA-NJ newsletter be published in multiple volumes like a treatise. NicoleNicole Bearce, as your first act as the newly elected President of HLSA-NJ, would you please stand in place of Gerry Markowitz. Sylvia Cohn, would you please stand in place of your late husband AlAlbert Cohn. David LandauDavid_Landau and Steve Roth would you please stand. Would everyone please join me in a round of applause for these prior recipients of the Irwin Markowitz Award and in memory of the great person after whom the award is named? Irwin Markowitz was married to his Gerry for 51 years. I have been married to my Geri for 41. In telling you that and despite the presence here this evening of the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, and distinguished members of the criminal defense bar, I also have to take this opportunity to confess to the commission of a crime. I suspect it must have been the same one Irwin committed with his Gerry, but I shall only speak about my crime with my Gerry. Given how obviously gorgeous my Geri isGeri-June 2013, I confess to the crime of marrying her before the age of consent. She wasn’t just a child when I married her, she was an infant. And truth be told, I not only married her before the age of consent, I married her before she was even conceived.  The sentence I am serving for this crime is wonderful. It’s a life sentence, without the possibility of (or the desire for) parole.

I.                   Service

Marian Wright Edelman Marion Wright Edelmenwas correct when she said “Service is the rent we pay for being.” The plaque I received this evening is for service to this organization. I hope to be able to continue paying rent by rendering service to it for a long time. One form of service everyone who is alum can perform is to pay you HLSA-NJ dues. Those dues help us fund such things as the Summer Fellows program. If you don’t know about that program ask Ken Oettle, and can talk with you about it. This year, we are not only recognizing the Fellows who worked in Newark this summer, but also our very first fellow John Bartlettjohn.bartlett who will be sharing not only what he did in his fellowship but more importantly what he has done since. I hope we can persuade all our former Fellows to be “come on back” men and “come on back” women. When you see a sanitation truck going around you will always see a person behind the truck signaling and saying to the driver, “come on back, come on back, there’s plenty of room”. We want our past Fellows to reach out to future Fellows and say come on back, come on back to practice in New Jersey. Come on back, there’s not only plenty of room, there’s plenty of opportunity! Another form of service is what we do when we help others.

There is someone here who shall remain nameless but we all know him in his official capacity. What most impressed me about him was when a former Governor talked about meeting this person while he was rendering service in a soup kitchenSOUPKITCHEN on Thanksgiving Day. And though I will not name that person lest reporters start showing up at every soup kitchen in New Jersey, I will drop a hint about how we all know him. Some in this room refer to him as the CJ while others more respectfully refer to him as Chief Justice.

A third form of service is simply by sharing what you know to inform others. Geri and I  first did that when we authored a Case Note in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.  We have did that when I applied to be, and Professor Jerome S. Bruner accepted my application to become the first pre-law advisor at Currier HouseCurrierhouse[ii] where he and his wife were to be the first Masters. Currier House opened in 1970. Among the students who were my pre-law tutees were Radcliffe students Phyllis Jamesphyllis james[iii]( Phyllis would go on to become Executive Vice President, Special Counsel for Litigation and Chief Diversity Officer for MGM Resorts International  and in 2012 become the only gaming executive to be named to the  “Top 100 Executives in America”  by Uptown Professional Magazine) and Norma Barfieldnorma barfield[iv]( Norma would go on to serve as the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for The Bartech Group, a staffing services and human capital management firm).

In connection with this third form of service, I am pleased to advise you that there is a person here with us tonight that was formerly one of the editors of the newsletter for the Pro Bono and Public Interest Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation . As you probably know, the Litigation Section is one of the largest in the ABA and gaining professional visibility through publications is always a wise career move. The editor of the Pro Bono and Public Interest Newsletter would eagerly have accepted anything you cared to write, and given the caliber of the writers within the Harvard Law School Association of New Jersey, would have fast tracked whatever you wrote.  That editor has recently been promoted. The portfolio of the former Pro Bono and Public Interest Committee has been broadened through a merger with two other committees into the Access to Justice Committee. The Access to Justice Committee is having a conference call tomorrow night to discuss soliciting articles for publication.  If you speak with me tonight about a subject about which you would like to write an article  you will be fast tracked because the editor who was recently promoted is the same person who is editor of The Connector, the newsletter of this Association; me.

II.                SAINTS

Some saints are easy to recognize. In New Orleans, you can recognize them by their National Football League helmetsNew Orleans Saints helmut and by their fans who and who belong to the Who Dat NationWho Dat Nation and say things like “Who Dat”. But there are some other saints among us are not as easy to recognize as those who love football in New Orleans. And though All Saints DayAll Saints Day occurred earlier this year, we are going to recognize some saints tonight.

In addition to Gerry Markowitz and Sylvia Cohen, would anyone who was married to an HLS grad, please raise your right hand and keep it in the air? Now, would anyone who is currently married to an HLS grad, please raise your right hand and keep it in the air.

Finally, would anyone who in the future would consider marrying an HLS grad, please raise your right hand? Thank you. Everyone can now put their hands down.

I have great news for everyone who raised their right hand. I have it on the highest authority—- well not the highest but pretty high up—that each of you is a candidate for sainthood. As you may know, part of the criteria for being considered for sainthood is the performance of a specified number of miracles. And each of you who were married to or are married to an HLS grad have undoubtedly met that criteria. Anyone married to an HLS grad must on innumerable occasions have resisted the temptation to strangle them in order to get them to stop talking, and it is a miracle that you did not do so.

Let me mention a benefit of belonging to the HLSA-NJ.  Not only do you get to meet some great lawyer such as Irwin Markowitz, and Al Cohn, you get to meet some great lawyers who are also super nice human beings. Their super powers consist of always being willing to extend a helping hand, and making a difference for HLSA-NJ, super people such as Bob Lack , Ken Oettle , and Fredi Perlmutter. So, if you have not already done so, become a dues paying member of HLSA-NJ.

When Irwin Met His Jerry

Not only was Irwin Markowitz Superman, he was Geri Markowitz’ husband. When I talked with Gerry Markowitz last month, I was disappointed to learn she would not be with us at the Lecture, but I was absolutely delighted when in response to my question, she shared how she and Irwin met and talked with me about Irwin’s hopes for the Vanderbilt Lecture. Gerry gave me permission to share the Irwin-Gerry story with you tonight, but I hope she will share the full story at a future Vanderbilt Lecture. It is not like the Billy Crystal-Meg Ryan film, WhenHarryMetSallyWhen Harry Met Sally . It is even more romantic that the film Sleepless in Seattle Sleepless in Seattle


.   I am also pleased to advise that my Geri has reviewed my comments about how she and I met, and after giving those comments her usual detailed editorial review, she has given me a “conditional green light” to proceed with telling you the story of how we met at HLS.

If I were thinking about negotiating a rights deal for Irwin and his Gerry’s story, and if I secured those rights, the trailer for their film would include at least two historically accurate scenes. The screenplay, which as everyone knows is always written in the present tense, would start out something like this. The first scene shows Gerry Miller, a college senior roaming around Europe for three months on less than $500. She loves opera. She speaks German poorly. She is staying in a youth hostel for less than fifty cents per night. She goes to the British Officers Club where she assumes she will find someone who speaks English. She forgets the observation of Winston ChurchillChurchill  that “Americans and British are one people separated only by a common language.”  She tries to explain to several people in the Club that she wants to get tickets to the Salzburg Festival Salzburg Festivaland find out what the train schedule is to Austria.

Irwin is visiting the Club. He is in the U.S. Army and stationed not far away from what had been Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” Hitler's Eagle Nesthouse in Berchtesgaden. He overhears Gerry ask a question. As Gerry related the story to me, folks from a certain place in New York, always drop the “r’ at the end of some words[v] and add an “a”, so for example, “New Yorker” becomes “New Yorka”. This is very similar to you or I saying we are going to park the “car” while by someone whose native zip code is 02138 saying they are going to park their “ka”. When Irwin hears Gerry ask the question, he asks her: “Are you from Brooklyn or from Boston?” She thinks “what the heck do you care?”, but answers “I’m from Brooklyn”.

Fast forward. Irwin, living at home with his parents, is practicing law in Teaneck and in Gerry’s words working “700 hours a week.” A Yenta-like woman where Irwin works and who has unsuccessfully tried to “fix him up” with innumerous single women, finally in exasperation asks Irwin: ”Is there any woman you would go out with?” Irwin replies: “I’m too busy to date! I have to get my billable hours in!” The woman persists. Finally, Irwin answers: “Yes, there is a woman I met in Germany. Her name is Gerry Miller. She said she lives in Brooklyn. I would go out with her.”

Hearing “Yes”, this woman springs into action, bringing together the emotional skills of the Match Maker in Fiddler on the RoofFiddler on the roof and the detective skills Tommy Lee Jones in the film U.S. Marshalls, or Harrison Ford in “The Fugitive”Harrison Ford in the fugitive . She starts calling every Miller listed in the Brooklyn telephone directorytelephone director . Do you have any idea how many Millers live in Brooklyn?Brooklyn2

She finally reaches the right Gerry Miller. Later, Irwin asks Gerry “Will you go out with me?” Gerry replies, “No, I’m too busy to go out on a date. I’m finishing my B.A. at Brooklyn College, and also pursuing my Masters at Hunter College.” Irwin makes a counter proposal:” You should go out with me on  November 11th.Armistice Day That day is a holiday. No one is too busy on a holiday.”  Gerry responds to the offer with one word:”Okay”. Later she tells her mother:”I’m going out with this guy—he lives in Teaneck—and I’m going to meet him in Times Square  in New York City.”times square 1959 Gerry’s mother goes ballistic, asking a gazillion questions including this one: “So, why does this guy ——he has a name, right?—-not come to here to Brooklyn to pick you up?” Gerry says nothing but thinks “Because I don’t think he has a car and even if he had one, why should he drive all the way from Teaneck to Brooklyn to take me out on a date in New York City?”

Gerry’s mother jumps into the silence asking yet another question:, “So, what does this guy do for a living?” Gerry replies: “Irwin’s’ a lawyer”. Gerry’s mother looks as though Irwin will be dead on arrival because when it comes to professions, everyone in Brooklyn knows two things are true: Doctors make money. Lawyers make excuses! Gerry thinks I should have said: “He’s a doctor”, and her mother almost reading Gerry’s mind gives Gerry a look that says: “Okay! Now that’s what I’m talking about!”

III.             SOCRATESThe socratic method

I love good movies and great screenplays. Some of my remarks this evening will sound like screenplays, and hopefully visualize some events in my life that were movie-like. Four things happened in 1968 during the second semester of my first year at HLS.  Each of these events permanently impacted my life. I am sure that two of these events permanently impacted yours.

  1. In February of 1968, I stood on Mass Ave outside a gate to Harvard Yard porcellian gate to harvard yardand prayed to God that while I was in Cambridge I would meet a woman with whom I could spend the rest of my life. Someone who was intellectually gifted, physically gorgeous, emotionally compatible with me. And for those of you who know me, you are probably thinking “Ron, you should have just asked for two out of three, because once you added that last one you were really pushing the outer limits for miracles!”
  2. On April 4th, while I was again standing on Mass Ave. at nightHarvard Coop at night, just outside Harvard Yard across the street from The Coop, we received the news from Atlanta that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Dr. King praying had been shot and had died.
  3. On June 5th, we received the news from Los Angeles, that Presidential candidate Senator, Robert Kennedy Jr. SenatorRobertKennedyInHisOfficehad been shot and later died.
  4. Sometime between the first event and the third, the fourth event occurred: My roommate Bob Holmes and I received our draft noticesdraft notice.

I want to elaborate on the first and fourth of these events. At the end of my first year I went into the National Guard and then to Fort Dix for basic trainingWelcome to Fort Dix and adjusted to a new regimenbasic training schedule 1.  During that time I learned some leadership lessons, and applied the requirement of obeying a lawful order.

When I was in the Army, I lead my platoon in PT run training. The leader would and the platoon would do what was called a “Jody call”[vi] , a chant and the platoon would repeat the chant in response, which resembled the PT run in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman.[vii] Two of our favorites were “Everywhere We Go”[viii], and “Airborne School”[ix]. One day, immediately after the morning PT run and while going to a training session, my platoon committed some infraction and as platoon leader I was held responsible. While the platoon set in bleachers usarmyinfatiguesfortdix, I was called out and a First Lieutenant ordered me to start running laps. He simply said, “You, start running laps until I tell you to stop.” So, because I am required to obey a lawful order directly given to me, I start running laps. After about eight laps, the First Lieutenant goes up to the First Sergeant and says “Tell Braithwaite to stop running.” The First Sergeant who knows my name and that I am not Jorge Braithwaite does not move. Braithwaite isn’t running, Brown is. Braithwaite (an African American in my platoon who was from Brooklyn and would later go on to a distinguished career with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York), is sitting in the bleachers with the rest of my platoon receiving training instructions. When the First Sergeant does not comply with the First Lieutenant’s order, the First Lieutenant goes ballistic.  He runs out onto the track and yells, not one foot from my face, “Braithwaite, stop running!” Without missing a stride, I go around him and keep running. The First Lieutenant then goes intergalactic, because not only do I not stop running, but he hears snickers coming from my platoon. He stomps over to the First Sergeant and tells him “Put that man on report. I want him in the stockade!” The First Sergeant responds, “Sir, I cannot do that.” The First Lieutenant goes beyond intergalactic, and says” Then you are on report too and can report to the stockade with him!” Momentarily realizing what he has just said, the First Lieutenant in a defiant voice asked, “Why can’t you obey the direct order I just gave you!?”  With a look only a First Sergeant who is a drill instructor could muster Drill Sergeant, the First Sergeant replies, “Because the soldier’s name is Brown sir, not Braithwaite.” Chagrined, the First Lieutenant runs out on the track and yells at me,” Brown, stop!” In compliance with that legal order given directly to me, I comply with it by freezing in mid-step as though I were the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz Tin Man in Wizard of Oz. The First Lieutenant is so mad at me he can barely speak and gives me a look that is somewhere between LokiLoki staring in The Avengers, and Marvel’s Dr. DoomDr, Doom . Through gritted teeth he orders me to walk over and rejoin my platoon in the bleachers. I do so. And almost to a man, my platoon gives me a thumbs up.  Braithwaite quietly says to me, “Man, you are crazy, messing with that First Louie like that. He is going to be watching you like you were Kunta Kinte in Roots. You better not mess up!” I quietly respond,  “Fiddler, I don’t intend to mess up and I intend to leave here with the same two feet I came with.”kunte kinte and fiddler Aside from that instance, I was doing fine on active duty, not thinking about Cambridge and what I was missing at the Law School. Then someone sent me a Harvard Crimson newspaper from the Fall of 1968HARVARDBEATSYALE29-29 . The  headline, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29[x], later to be described simply as the greatest football game in Ivy League history[xi], did not do justice to the event or the excitement in Cambridge. And that’s when I lost it. Many years when Geri and I watched the video[xii] of The Game, I lost it all over again thinking about how great it would have been to experience it live with her. But God’s plan was not for me to meet her at the Game, but almost a year to the date after I prayed outside the Porcellian Gate, to meet her in Harkness Commons.

I completed my six month active duty requirement too late to begin second year in February. I transferred to the Massachusetts National Guard to begin fulfilling my six year obligation. Playing trumpet, I qualified for the marching band. After several months, I went from playing trumpet to being the Drum Major .black drum major.jpeg .  It was a strategic decision to do so. Mounted police riding Clydesdale size horses were frequently at the front of the parades in Massachusetts. Our marching band was directly behind these horses, which frequently somewhere around mid-parade route would deposit their morning feed in the streets through which we had to march. I became Drum Major so at least I could avoid the horse deposits and lead the musicians behind me around these manure mines.  It’s not easy trying to play a Sousa march such as Stars and Stripes Forever, while marching around one of those mines, and the band musicians appreciated when I gave a special baton signal to take evasive stepping action. One of the nicest times I had in the band was when Dorian McGee, formerly from Elizabeth, now in East Orange and a Facebook friend, joined the same National Guard Company I was in. Dorian was one of the most fantastic drummers I ever heard. For many years he played with the road compamy of the Broadwasy musical ” A Chorus Line”.chorus line musical If Dorian had kept his drumsticks in the trunk of his car, I believe that eitehr Sorcerer Apprentice likesorcerers-apprentice-mickey, or like the Cylons cylonsin the original sci-fi version of Battlestar Galacticabattlestar galactica, those drum sticks would have materialized from that trunk, marched over to Dorian, and bowing their tips would have uttered four words: “Master, by your command!” When I gave the special signal for evasive step action, Dorian added some special side taps to his drum, and even musicians who missed seeing my baton signal heard his drum warning. A leader also needs vision (the ability to see ahead and what is coming), a sense of direction (including where you are and how much farther you need to go to successfully arrive at a specific end destination or goal) and change management skills[xiii]. In order to be an effective drum major, you have to know the music by heart, you have to be able to lead (conduct) facing away from those who are following you, and you have got to know what you are facing on the field or in the street. In order to be an effective drum major, you have to know what you are doing, where the band is supposed to be going, and the best way to safely and efficiently get the band to where it is going. It takes multiple skills to be able to play music while walking or marching as part of a group. You cannot look down and you have got to have one band and one sound. And whether you are a drum major leading a group or a member of a group following a drum major leader, you should do it with creativity, with passion, with class and a commitment to excellence. Benjamin ZanderBoston Philarmonic, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra , expressed it best this way: “The conductor, a magical figure for the audience, enjoys a leadership mystique of significant magnitude. It may seem strange to the orchestral musician that the corporate world would be interested in hearing a conductor’s views on leadership or that the metaphor of the orchestra is so frequently used in the literature of leadership, because, in fact, the profession of conductor is one of the last bastions of totalitarianism in the civilized world.” “A monumental question for leaders in any organization to consider is this: How much greatness are we willing to grant people? Because it makes all the difference at every level who it is we decide we are leading. The activity of leadership is not limited to conductors, presidents, and CEOs, of course—the player who energizes the orchestra by communicating his newfound appreciation for the tasks of the conductor… is exercising leadership of the most profound kind.”[xiv] The drum major is a musical leader, a walking conductor. In order to perform successfully and to ensure the success of those who are following, the drum major or leader has to know the score thoroughly. For example, a drum major needs to thoroughly know what is entailed in correctly and professionally playing some (of my) favorite and  well known John Phillip Sousa marches such as Semper Fidelis[xv], The Washington Post march[xvi],The Thunder march[xvii], or the Stars and Stripes Forever[xviii]. He or she also needs to know what is entailed in correctly and professionally playing the somewhat different Johnny Owen march[xix], sometimes referred to and known as the Regimental March of the 7th Calvary. The former and the latter tunes are marches but they cannot be conducted or performed as though they were identical. They are played, performed, and executed differently.

I want to share three scenarios from the Roxbury Legal Services Center. The first two were related to me by Harrison Fitch[xx], the head of that program, before I accepted the job. The second scenario happened after I started working there.

Scenario #1

One day a woman came to the Center with a large bath towel wrapped around her head. When asked how staff could help her, she just moaned and pointed to the towel. After several repetitions of this exchange, staff asked if they could remove the bath towel. She nodded affirmatively; they removed the bath towel, and were astonished to see an ice pick stuck in her jaw. The woman was able to communicate that her husband had stabbed her with it and told her not to touch it.  The first thing staff did was to get her medical attention for removal of the ice pick. The next thing was to both refer the matter to the police and apply for a temporary restraining order. The thing that struck me most about this after the horror of spousal abuse was the traumatic condition this woman had been put in that paralyzed her to the extent of not being able to remove the ice pick. I had to ask myself if I was up to handling client situations like this. In truth I did not know but I had to find out.

Scenario #2

A man came in with what staff at first thought was a landlord-tenant problem. This client had lived in Roxbury in the top floor of an apartment building with his wife and two kids. When it rained, the man had to take his family into the bathroom and stand in the bathtub with a raised umbrella because that was the only way for them to stay dry when it rained. He asked what could be done. And after staff explained the concept of a warranty of habitability, the man asked again, what could be done and how long would it take. What struck me most about this abominable situation was this: unless a legal remedy could be quickly found, this man might become so angry during the next time it rained that he resorted to self-help methods, including violence. The challenge was to find a remedy quickly enough to preclude that from occurring. Could we find it?

Scenario #3

I personally experienced this. A man who I will refer to as Brother X, self-identified as a Black Panther and a Black Nationalist came into the office very upset about what he thought was a lack of swift movement in his case. Brother X was married to a woman who looked like Peggy LiptonPeggy Lipton and the Mod Squad in the Mod Squad or the wife  of the Black Pantherblack panther and caucasian wife in the blackploitation film I’m Gonna Git You SuckaI'm Gonna Git You Sucka . Brother X met with Harrison. Soon, through closed doors we nevertheless heard the sound of the man’s escalating voice, with ended with his screaming “You are nothing but an Uncle Tom n_ _ _ _ _ _!” Whatever Harrison responded, the man went ballistic! He burst out of the closed door room and said “I am coming back here tomorrow and I am going to blow every one of you away with a Magnum!44 Magnum” In the office staff conference that immediately followed, I made this statement: “What are we going to do. That dude is coming back here tomorrow and blow us away!”  Though I had had combat training while on active duty in the ArmyU.S. Army hand to hand combat training book, and had seen it in the Star Trek episode where Kirk battled the Gornhand to hand combat the gorn and where Kirk thought he could beat the Olympian God ApolloI think I can take him bones , I did not recall having had any preparation during my first year at HLS on how to respond to the threat of being blown away with a Magnum. The first thing that Harrison decided was that the office would be closed tomorrow and indefinitely thereafter until Brother X’s threat had been permanently and legally neutralized. I was released from active duty in the U.S. Army in February 1969. Since I could not return to the law school until September, I took a job with the Legal Services Center in Roxbury. I learned a lot of lessons while working in that legal services center, lessons not then taught at HLS which at that time had a relatively small clinical law program. The lessons I learned in Roxbury from interacting with clients of the Center were just as meaningful as any learned in Cambridge from a casebook. See my blog for some of those lessons. A week after I was discharged from active duty at Fort Dix, and a week before I started working at the Center, I did something I had never done before. I went over to the Law School, walked through Harkness Commons Harkness Commons, and just as I was going out the door, looked to my left, and there she was. This breath-taking beautiful womanGeri-Fisk photo 001, whose laughter was like twinkling stars with sound, sitting there with Noah Griffin. Just my luck, I thought, a gorgeous woman finally comes to the law school while I am away and Noah’s got her. As I started to go out the door, I heard her laugh again. I looked, and said to myself: “Noah’s a friend, but not that good a friend.” (As I was looking at Noah, if this had been a Steven Spielberg movie script here is where it would read cue in the shark music from Jaws.) I did an about face even sharper than I ever did on active duty and came back into Harkness. I went over and said hi to Noah and he introduced me to Geri. Geri was telling Noah about the surprise birthday party that had been thrown for her a few weeks earlier in February.  Noah and Geri had both graduated from Fisk University and were good friends. A few days later I later asked Geri out on a date. (I called her at 8 am on a Saturday morning because during my first year we had class at 9 am on Saturday. Though Geri accepted my invitation to go out to hear Hugh MasakelaHugh Masakela at Lennie’s on the TurnpikeLennies on the turnpike , she told me never to call her again that early on a Saturday morning as the school had abolished Saturday morning classes!) She was reluctant to go out with me because of the stories she heard about parties I threw in the basement apartment at 25 Trowbridge Street25 Trowbridge Street  where Bob Holmes and I lived during our first year of law school. (I did not throw these by myself. Bob was my accomplice!) Those stories were total, bald face lies told by people trying to discredit me. Ok, not total, but highly exaggerated.  And in the parlance of the day, we got down to the Motown soundMotown 3 . I think we could still get down to that sound, but would need help getting back up. As we look back to those Days, Geri and I both realize that when we met was a special timeRonandGeri,


and under circumstances that permitted us first to just be friends.  And finding someone with whom you can be a best friend, is truly a treasure


.Noah is still a friend and was best man in our wedding.Ron and Geri-Wedding Day Toast 001 https://180ronwb.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/jimmydurante-astimegoesby-clip.mp3 When I was at the legal service center, I talked about the matters that came up.  All the time. Before work, at work, after work. I couldn’t shut it off.  I was the same way when I was a corporate attorney in the legal department at ITT World Headquarters, when I was with the Motion Picture Association of America as Anti-Piracy Counsel for North America, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and when I became Executive Vice President of the Sammy Davis Jr., National Liver InstituteSammy Davis Jr 1. I couldn’t shut it off. As I look back, I think that on innumerable occasions, Geri was tested and tempted to help me shut it off by strangling me to get me to stop talking about work. Fortunately, she did not have to strangle me. I eventually learned that working for a living should never become a substitute for your life or stated differently, what you do for a living is not a substitute for living your life.

In 1967, fifteen years after Erwin Markowitz, David Landau, and Norman Dorsen left Cambridge, my roommate Bob HolmesBob Holmes and I, along with many others, were standing on the steps of Langdell Langdell registering for our first year at  Harvard Law School. I was one of five first year law students who had graduated from Rutgers College just a few months beofre. See the following for insights on my years at Rutgers:


As first year law students, we had some of the giants of the legal world as professors: W. Baron Leach for PropertyW._Barton_Leach-Yearbook; Milton Katz for TortsKatz.07; Lon Fuller for contractsFuller.06

I want to share two experiences. One involves two professors and two distinguished visitors. The other involves a Civil Procedure class and then four things that happened in the second semester of our first year.

I want to share two experiences. One involves two professors and two distinguished visitors. The other involves a Civil Procedure class and then four things that happened in the second semester of our first year.

Here is the first experience. During the 1967-1968 school year, something extraordinary happened that I remember and you probably don’t know about. Dean Derek Bok   Derek Bok                      , Professors Albert Sachs Albert Sachs-1and Professor Charles NessonProfessor Charles Nessen quietly collaborated with two HLS African American students— Reginald V. GilliamReg Gilliam -1[i] , a founder and the first Chairman of the Harvard Black Law Students Association and Bishop Hollifield barristers headshot_bishop holifield) and brought five distinguished visitors to campus for some evening  “conversations” with some faculty, some  students who were on the Law Review, and us. Though these small sessions were open to anyone who wanted to attend, I don’t recall seeing any announcements about them in the Harvard Law Record or the Harvard Crimson. Two of those distinguished visitors who came up from New York City to participate in these evening “conversations” included civil rights activist Roy InnisRoy Innis -1 , the founder the Congress of Racial Equality and  Professor Charles V.  HamiltonCharles V. Hamilton 1 of Columbia University. Professor Hamilton was the author of a book on Adam Clayton Powell and the coauthor with Stokely Carmichael of a book on Black PowerBlack Power . One of the other distinguished visitors was Derrick A. Bell Derrick Bellwho would later become the first tenured African-American Professor of Law at HLS and for whom an official website[ii] was created after his passing in 2011. These conversations were an unprecedented, and in my view, courageous undertakings to broaden dialogue within the Harvard Law School.

Recent research in the Derrick A. Bell papers at New York University yielded additional insights on Derrick’s decision to come to HLS.

On June 2, 1969, Derrick wrote two letters. One letter was written to Dean Dorothy Nelson, USC Law Center.  The other letter was written to Professor Howard Miller, USC Law Center. The first letter provides insight on Derrick’s decision to join the Harvard Law School faculty. The second letter underscores his commitment to legal services.

Below are the first three paragraphs of the letter to Dean Nelson. Note in particular the last paragraph.

“This is to inform you of my decision to resign from my position on the U.S.C. Law School faculty effective September 1, 1969.

As you know, in recent weeks I have been seriously considering an invitation to join the faculty at the Harvard Law School. Deciding to accept was difficult because it means terminating a relationship with this school which, while brief, has provided me with far more of substance than I can easily repay or even adequately describe.

My decision to leave reflects a number of considerations. Principal among them is the opportunity to work with the more than 100 black law students who will be enrolled next year at Harvard. The challenge of working with these students became irresistible when their leaders wrote and called urging that I come.”

Below are the first three paragraphs of the letter to Professor Miller. Note in particular the second paragraph.

“This is to submit to you as Chairman of the Board of Directors, my resignation as Executive Director of the Western Center on Law and Poverty, effective September 1, 1969.

As you know, I have been seriously considering an offer to join the faculty at the Harvard Law School. The decision to accept was most difficult because of my commitment to provide new avenues through which legal services lawyers can deal effectively with the problems of poverty and race that plaque our urban society today.

The need for the Center’s work in these areas is more crucial now than when we started little more than a year ago. Fortunately, the Center’s potential for effective action has attracted a staff the equal of any in the country. I am sure that given continued Board support, they will serve the poverty community with ever increasing vigor, skill, and success.”

On June 6, 1969, Derrick wrote a letter to Dean Derek Bok, Harvard University School of Law. The letter included a memo of the following transportation expenses incurred on May 27, 1969 “in connection with travel from New York to Boston and return for discussions with Harvard Law School faculty—as authorized by Dean Derek Bok:

Taxi to LaGuardia Airport                                              $  4.00

Eastern Shuttle round-trip fare                                    $36.00

Taxi to Cambridge from Boston Airport                  $  5.00

Taxi to Boston Airport from Lexington                    $10.00

Total                         $55.00”

More interesting to me than those transportation costs compared to what they would be today, are the following two paragraphs in that letter, particularly the second paragraph:

“The fringe benefits offered at Harvard are most impressive. (If the society could organize as good a welfare program for the poor, our domestic unrest would be greatly eased.) Harvard’s second mortgage program is particularly good and, with commercial mortgage money at the 8% level, I intend to utilize it. The problem I originally posed remains, however. If we have not completed sale of our Los Angeles home before leaving, is there a source for a low interest loan of about $10,000, repayable when I obtain my equity from the Los Angeles house?

On another subject, one of my secretaries, a Mr. Vernon White, has inquired about the possibility of accompanying me to Harvard. Mr. White is a phenomenal typist (speeds in excess of 100 words per minute) and has excellent shorthand and other secretarial skills. He is extremely intelligent and very dependable and has done some work on an advanced degree at Harvard. He turned to secretarial work after illness wrecked his hopes of becoming a concert pianist. If I can select a secretary, Mr. White would be more than satisfactory. (I do not expect that Mr. White will make demands for travel expenses of the outlandish variety to which recently you have been subjected.)”

While giving appropriate attention to practical matters, Derrick always kept a sense humor as well as a sense of commitment and caring about others. I think his letter reflects that.

Here is the second experience.. Let me set the stage by referring to The Paper Chase , a book written by John Osborne, a classmate with whom I took Contracts Baisc contract law. There is a scene in trailer for the movie The Paper Chase when Professor Kingsfield calls a student down to the front of the lecture hall and says “Mr. Hart. Here is a dime. Call your mother and tell her there is serious doubt about your ever becoming a lawyer.”[xxi] As some people in this room will remember, back in the day, some Professors actually used put downs like that as part of their Socratic teaching method . Another of those infamous Kingsfield like put downs was this: “If that is your best answer Mr. Hart, we take this shroud and slowly draw it over your head. Your brain is dead, and we mourn its passing.” Professors had a seating chart with the name and picture of every student in the class and would look at that chart before selecting who would be called upon. I think they kept little marks next to the names so that they could be sure to distribute their penetrating questions evenly. People who had not read the cases or where otherwise unprepared did not sit in their assigned seat, but sat in the very last row of the lecture hall and were known as backbenchers. Being called on by a Professor was the intellectual equivalent of going into the gladiatorial arena. If you were not prepared you would be slaughtered. Back in the day, some professors entered the classroom with a facial demeanor resembling that of Ivan Drago entering the ring in the film Rocky III or  Russell Crowe as Javert in Les Miserables I now want to share something that actually happened my first year. If it were a screenplay, it might be called: Civil Pro and the day no one knew the answer” We had a Civil Procedure class with Professor ShapiroDavid Shapiro . In one class he asked the most convoluted, complicated, and incomprehensible question ever heard in Austin Hall. The closest thing to that question was the type of questions Master Po asked David Carradine200px-Caine_and_Master_Po, a.k.a. “Grasshopper”, in the television series Kung Fu.[xxii] No one answered his question. With a visage worthy of Professor Kingsfield Professor Kingsfield 1in The Paper Chase. Professor Shapiro calls on three students who usually had an answer to those kind of questions. One of those he calls on is Joel KleinJoel Klein (who would go onto Law Review, clerk at the Supreme Court, and later become Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education) . Joel says: “I have no answer to the question because I don’t understand the question.” The classroom seems to become very dark and quiet, as though an intellectual solar eclipse solar eclipse has occurred and we are inside Plato’s CavePlato's cave rather than Austin Northaustinnorth1.  Professor Shapiro again poises the question. Up in the far left corner of the room, the hand of Bill Jones slowly goes up.  I think to myself: “Bill you have never spoken in this class. Please tell me your arm is having a spasm and that’s why your hand is in the air!”. Everyone, including Professor Shapiro sees the hand. The Professor asks, “Is there anyone else who thinks they can answer my question?” Seeing no one else respond, and Bill’s arm apparently locked in a Charlie-horse like cramp since his hand was still in the air, Professor Shapiro looks down on the seating chart, identifies the name that goes with the hand, and says “Mr. Jones?” Bill replies, “Yes, that’s me”. Professor Shapiro then asks “What is your answer?” In a clear, loud and confident voice, Bill says “ Professor Shapiro, I think that your question was asked and answered in Ashwander [xxiii] . For a few seconds there is no sound other than the rest of the class flipping to the index and the Table of Cases looking for Ashwander. It is not to be found. Someone whispers to a neighbor, “What’s Ashwander?” The even softer reply comes back “I don’t know. I thought Ashwander was something you ordered with extra sprinkles from Hazens in Harvard Square!” And then it happens! Professor Shapiro smiles. Back then, law professors do not ever smile. They have practiced frowns like that of Tommy Lee Jones either as U.S. Marshall Sam GerardTommy Lee Jones and Wesly Sniips  or as Thaddeus StevensTommy Lee Jones in Lincolnin Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln. Smiling in class was surely a breach of the faculty code of conduct for classrooms.  Professor Shapiro’s smile is like the sun coming up at daybreaklet there be light 3 dissipating the mental fog of our Plato’s cave. You can almost hear a couple of classmates, formerly with the Harvard Glee ClubHarvard Glee Club , start to hum the Hallelujah Chorushallelujah chorus . For the next twenty minutes, Professor Shapiro goes back and forth with Bill Jones on Ashwander. At the end of the class the Professor commends Bill and says he hopes the rest of us will be as well prepared for our next class as Mr. Jones was for this one. A few months later I am at Bill’s apartment celebrating his birthday. After a few libations, I ask Bill, “How in the world did you do what you did that ‘Ashwander’ day in Civil Pro?” He replies, “Do you really want to know?” I said: “Yes.” He replies, “You promise not to tell?” I say, “I promise.” He says, “Come with me to my den”.  There he shares his secret.  He pulls down and opens two notebooks. The first page of one says “Harvard Law Review“ harvard law review.    The first page of the other says “Yale Law Journal” YaleLawJournalThe pages of each notebook have extensive notes in the margins and different highlighted colors. Bill says to me, “Ron, I looked at the course syllabus at the beginning of the term and saw we were scheduled to discuss a certain principle in Civil Pro. I went to Langdell Library and found the Law Review article Professor Shapiro had written on that principle. I also found the critique and rebuttal to that article that was published in the Yale Law Journal, as well as Professor Shapiro’s response. I knew every argument cold. And every time Professor Shapiro asked me a question, I simply drew from the answers in the Law Review and Law Journal.” I said, “Bill, with all the work we have to do, how did you find or make time to do all of that extra work.” He looked at me and said, “Ron, welcome to competition at Harvard Law School.”

When I returned to law school, Gwen Alexis gwen alexiswas one of the nice people I met. Gwen and Geri were both from California and very, very bright. Gwen would go on to graduate from HLS and become a member of the New York, New Jersey, and Florida Bars but also to earn a Masters Degree in Ethics from the Yale University Divinity School; and a Ph.D. in Sociology and Historical Studies from the New School for Social Research in Manhattan. In addition to her practice, she is a Associate Professor of Management at a University.

Gwen, was quiet and had a quick wit and for reasons I never understood would from time to time where skirts that were shorter than those Twiggy twiggy mini-skirtwould wear on magazine covers and would remind you what would later become the cover for Donna Summers album Bad GirlsDonna Summers and Bad Girls and I would kid her about that.

One day she turned the tables on me and I have never been more embarrassedembarrassed2. Geri and I were walking underground between classes, and Gwen was walking in the opposite direction. Kiddingly, and in a soft voice that only she, Geri, and I could hear, I said why are you here wearing that short skirt I bought for you to work that corner on Mass Ave! Without missing a beat, Gwen dropped to both knees and started yelling at the top of her voice, “Please don’t make me go back on that corner. It’s cold in this skirt. And students have no money to pay!” I turned  red with embarrassment and as fellow law students move away from me as though I  was Iceberg Slimiceberg slim or was walking down the corrideor had not used deodorant in a centurystinky armpits2.jpeg, I kept saying, ”Gwen get up, Gwen get up, these people don’t know you are kidding!”. And the more I pleaded the louder she got. “I can’t study on that corner. The light’s too dim!dim street light” ”Gwen get up, Gwen get up, these people don’t know you are kidding!”Then she asked me, “Are you ever going to say anything about my skirts!?  I replied, “Never, never, never” to which she replied as she quietly got up as though she had simply slipped, and fallen, “Then we have offer, acceptance, and a contract; don’t breach or I will embarrass you so badly you will have to go to Mass General HospitalMass General Hospital2 for an emergency ego transplantid,ego,superego.”

When I returned to the law school in 1969, one of my favorite courses was Constitutional Law taught by Professor Andrew KaufmanProfessor Andrew Kaufman . I loved Con Law and devoured the case book written by Gerald Gunter.Gunther-ConLaw  Based in part on my experience with the legal services center in Roxbury, in 1969 I joined the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review Geri also joined. We co-authored a Case Comment. The Editor in Chief of that publication learned that the next edition of The Harvard Law Review would also contain a Case Note on that same case. He was concerned that our note would not be competitive as it contained a novel application of “badges of servitude” to this case.[xxv]  After a vigorous “exchange of views”, it was decided that he would ask a person on the HCRCLLR to read our article and opine if it was good and we would ask a professor to undertake the same task. Both readers reached the same conclusion. Our case note was good, and so it was published. The Editor in Chief at that time was Mark GreenMark Green . Mark, a former Nader’s Raiders, went on to serve as Public Advocate in New York City, and was a candidate for Mayor. The reader we selected to review our case note was Professor Derrick Bell Derrick.Bell. The reader that he selected was a fellow whose name was Bruce WassersteinBruce Wasserstein . The building that bears his name Wasserstein Hallsits on a corner of the law school campus that was where Wyeth HallWyeth Hall used to stand.  According to The Harvard Crimson newspaper Wyeth Hall was the first University Dorm open to women[xxvi]. Wyeth Hall 503 was where Michelle (L. Robinson, HLS ’88)  Michelle RobinsonObama lived during her second year at HLS[xxvii].  The steps of Wyeth were a special place because it was on those steps that I first kissed Geri goodnight, and where in reunions past we would return and do it again.

The Socratic MethodThe Socratic Method in law school

HLS grads are thoroughly immersed in the Socratic method.  In real life, that method has it its pros and cons. Let me share two personal examples.

Pro After Geri and I got married, we went to JamaicaMontego Bay Jamaica on our honeymoon. Despite the fact that she does not swim, I persuaded her to go out on a rubber raft at the beach. She was on one raft and I was on another, and we were holding hands. She was wearing a kerchief, and somehow it came lose. Instinctively, she let go of my hand and reached for her kerchief. In the process she rolled off her raft into the water. I instantly came off my raft and held her up. She was panicking, Ron, don’t let me drown, Ron, don’t let me drown. Since I am a very good swimmer and had even taken some lifeguard classes at the Y many years ago, I thought about that training. It only took me a nano second to realize hitting her in the chin in order to calm her and get her into the lifeguard saving stroke position would not be a good idea. So I resorted to the next best alternative: The Socratic Method. I began by asking her, “Where are we?” She replied ,”Ron don’t let me drown! Ron don’t let me drown!” Since her response did not answer the question I had asked, I repeated it, this time yelling: “Where are we?” As new husbands learn, and seasoned husbands wisely know, if you yell at your wife under any circumstances, she will give you what we all known as “You are going to feel my wraith!” She gave me that look, and responded:” In Jamaica”. I moved onto the second question: “What are we doing here?” She responded: “Drowning!” I rephrased the question: “Why are we in Jamaica?”. She responded: “We are on our honeymoon.” I then said: “Before I let you drown on my honeymoon, I will drink this ocean dry!”  As I started to put my mouth on the water to start drinking, she said: “Don’t be stupid, you can’t drink that much sea water!” And she smiled a little. I then proceeded to take three stokes with her in tow and then told her to stand. She said:”No, it’s too deep. And you’re not drinking it any lower?”  I said please try. She did, and stood up since we were only in a couple of feet of water. In this case, if the Socratic method had failed, I might still be drinking sea water.


Early in our marriage, we were having a vigorous exchange of views. I presented the most clear, cogent, and persuasive arguments anyone ever heard. (At least they seemed that way to me.) And after finishing my arguments, I assumed the poise of the Man of Steel, folding both hands across my chest in a there you have it, take that poise .  Geri, in slow motion like Sharon Stone sharon stone-- the quick and the dead 2opening the saloon doors in the western The Quick and the Dead  or Clint Eastwoodthe outlaw josey wales in the Outlaw Josie Wales or Buford “Mad Dog” Tannenbufford mad dog tannen1 in the film Back To the Future,  she put her right hand on her hip as though she was going to draw on me. (As soon as she put one hand on her hip, I was a goner). Then she put her left hand on her other hip.( I was going to get blown away with both barrels.  But instead of drawing weapons, Our conversation resembled that which occurred between Judge Chamberlain Heller Judge Chamberlain Haller 2(Fred Gwynne)(who graduated from Harvard University and was affiliated with Adams House)[xxviii] and Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny.[xxix]She took  a gavel, and like Fred Gwyn the judge in My Cousin Vinny, said “Ron, that was a cogent and clear argument. “Overruled!”

Now any lawyer in their right mind, having heard those words, would simply have said, thank you your honor, and moved on. But not me, I proceeded to take my arguments to a higher level, walking back and forth, with an explosion of erudition, elocution, explanation, explication. She started looking all around, muttering softly, it must be around here somewhere, but where could it be. After about 30 seconds, I asked here, what in the world are you looking for. She replied, your mind since you have obviously lost it. Then in a Darth Vader Darth Vaderlike voice that would have made the knees freeze and the liver quiver in Luke SkywalkerLuke Skywalker , she said to me: Ron, I did not marry Socrates. I married you. However, if you insist on being Socratic with me, I have only one question for you. How would you like it, hot or cold?. I responded,  how would I like what? She replied, “Your hemlock!” .death of socrates And then she said the twelve words that caused me to cease and desist from every being Socratic with her again. These words were later to be adapted and picked up by the character that was known as the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld the television show. This is what she said: “If you ever try to use the Socratic Method on me again, no milk and cookies for you!”

  1. IV.             SUPERMAN: IRWIN MARKOWITZ[xxx]

According to two sources: “Irwin S. Markowitz had a law practice in Bergen County for 50 years. He was of counsel to Fischer Porter & Thomas, where he focused his practice on corporate and commercial transactions. He had considerable experience in alternative dispute resolution proceedings and had been appointed by the Chancery Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey in a number of complex matters with a high degree of success in achieving non-litigated resolution. Mr. Markowitz was on the approved list of mediators for the New Jersey Superior Court, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey and N.A.S.D.A.Q. He had also served as Chairman of the A.D.R. Committee of the Bergen County Bar Association and had lectured extensively to legal and non-legal groups on the subject. Mr. Markowitz was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Harvard Law School (Class of 1952).Prior to Mr. Markowitz’s entry into private practice he served as general counsel to financial and insurance companies. He was a U.S. Army veteran.”[xxxi] One of the reasons Irwin was so passionate about The Vanderbilt Lecture[xxxii] was his dream that proceeds from the event would help fund Fellowships for students to experience working in New Jersey in areas of Public Interest.  Judge David Landau shares the following words with us, showing just how passionate Irwin was about the Vanderbilt Lecture: “In reading the short bio in one of the responses to your note, I think it omits   singular aspects of Irwin’s service to the HLSA of N.J: tenacious dedication to ensure the successful continuation of our Vanderbilt lecture tradition and indeed, the Association itself. On his death bed, he had Gerry reach out to me on my cell phone, when I was driving in Massachusetts, to ask if I could arrange for an appropriate Vanderbilt lecturer. I was able to do so, fortunately, very quickly, by telephone from the car. He passed, knowing that the tradition would survive. Long time members will remember his telephonic efforts to remind them of THE LECTURE every year.” Some people think that Clark Kent was Superman. They are wrong. Irwin Markowitz was the real Man of Steel .  The character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster[xxxiii] in 1933, that first appeared in D.C. Comics, and later became a television series , was only able to do such things as “change the course of mighty rivers” and “leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Irwin Markowitz did much more than that. Irwin changed the course of people’s lives, for example, when, as Gerry Markowitz shared with me, Irwin paid the rent for a walk-in store front in Teaneck  that provided draft counseling  during the Vietnam War, as well as in his always being involved in the American Civil Liberties Union and in Fair Housing. Irwin “The-Man-Of-Steel” Markowitz changed the course of HLSA-NJ through his passion for the Vanderbilt Lecture and generating the funds from this event to help support its Summer Fellows program. I believe we are fulfilling Irwin’s dream for The Lecture, and it is a living testimony to him. If this were a film, the music you would start to hear now would be the Superman theme  composed by John Williams , the greatest film composer of our time. Thank you Superman Irwin Markowitz. Thank you everyone for your attention and thank you for this award.

[iv]  http://www.ronbrown.org/aboutus/BoardofTrustees/NormaBarfield_copy1.aspx  (Norma serves on the Board of the Ron Brown Scholarship Program.  “Before making the commitment to join the ranks of those seeking to reform urban education through charter schools, Ms. Barfield served as the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for The Bartech Group, a staffing services and human capital management firm. She also practiced banking and commercial law with Jenner & Block in Chicago and corporate law with Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone in Ann Arbor, MI.”)
[v] Go to  http://www.howcast.com/videos/500483-How-to-Do-a-Brooklyn-Accent-Accent-Training and to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hrA9-6o4tI for insights on a Brooklyn accent and how words are pronounced in the five boroughs of New York City.
[vi] For an excellent history of cadence calls, as well as some great examples, see http://www.b2501airborne.com/Cadence.htm   The examples of Jody Calls found in footnotes 8 and 9 below are from this source. (“Jody calls,” or simply “jodies,” as those little songs soldiers often sing as they march or double-time in formation are called, are about as basic to soldiering as rifles and shower shoes. They’re a No. 1 factor in motivating soldiers. There are few better ways to build motivation and esprit de corps. Ironically, the same Army that teaches soldiers how to do even the most basic things like shining boots and arranging hangers in a wall locker leaves them to their own devices when learning cadence calls. You either have the knack or you don’t.  Jodies have been bursting in soldiers’ hearts for more than 50 years. As the story goes, a formation of exhausted troops was returning to its barracks at Fort Slocum, N.Y., in May 1944 when a rhythmic chant arose from the columns. Pvt. Willie Duck-worth, a black soldier on detached service with Fort Slocum’s Provisional Training Center, sang out the first-ever rendition of “Sound-off,” “Sound-off; 1-2; Sound-off; 3-4; Count cadence; 1-2-3-4; 1-2 — 3-4.” Other soldiers in the formation joined in and their dragging feet picked up momentum. At a time when black soldiers’ achievements were just being acknowledged by many in the Army, the “Duckworth Chant,” as Duckworth’s cadence came to be called, got notice. Col. Bernard Lentz, Fort Slocum’s commander, recognized it as a way to keep his soldiers in step while boosting unit pride and camaraderie.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_cadence (“ In the armed services, a military cadence or cadence call is a traditional call-and-response work song sung by military personnel while running or marching. In the United States, these cadences are sometimes called jody calls or jodies, after Jody, a recurring character who figures in some traditional cadences.) For examples of  Jody calls see http://www.lighthorseaircav.com/hum-jody-calls.html: Two old ladies, layin in bed. One rolled over to the other and said. I wanna be an Airborne Ranger! I wanna live a life of danger. Airborne! Ranger! Up in the mornin’ for the break of day. We are hard core, we can run all day. We care for our country, we are mighty and brave. Up in the mornin’ for the break of day. We protect our country all the way.
[viii] Everywhere we go – oh Everywhere we go – oh People wanna know – oh Who we are Where we come from So we tell them We are Bravo Mighty Mighty Bravo Rough – n – tough Bravo Straight shooting Bravo Better than Alpha Awful awful Alpha Better than Charlie Chicken chicken Charlie Better than Delta Dumb-dumb Delta Better than Echo Icky icky Echo We are Bravo Mighty mighty Bravo
[ix] I saw an old lady running down the street Had a chute on her back, jump boots on her feet Said, “Hey old lady, where you goin’ to?” She said, “US Army Airborne School” Whatcha gonna do when you get there? Jump from a plane and fall through the air I said, “Hey old lady, ain’t you been told? Airborne School’s for the brave and the bold.” She said, “Hey, now soldier, don’t be a fool, I’m an instructor at Airborne School!”
[xiii] The musician in the band and the staff in an enterprise both expect the person leading the group to communicate/signal when a change of direction is required and to lead in the execution of that change.

[xiv] The Art of Possibility: Transforming Personal and Professional Life,  by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, and Leading from Any Chair: Empowering Those We Lead to Realize their Full Potential and to Become Leaders Themselves http://hbr.org/product/leading-from-any-chair-empowering-those-we-lead-to/an/3766BC-PDF-ENG

[xx] In the interest of total transparency and disclosure, Harrison Fitch and I are cousins. Harrison graduated from Columbia Law School and would later work at the distinguished Boston law firm of Goodwin, Proctor, and Hoar.
[xxii] http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0037571/quotes Master Po: [after easily defeating the boy in combat] Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear? Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds. Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat? Young Caine: No. Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet? Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things? Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
[xxiii] As used here, Ashwander is merely a place holder for the case that Bill mentioned since I don’t recall the name of the case that was discussed.  The cite for the case is  Ashwander v. TVA , 297 U.S. 288 (1936). In Here is a link to a summary of Ashwander v. TVA. thttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashwander_v._Tennessee_Valley_Authority (“In Ashwander, the Supreme Court faced a challenge to the constitutionality of a congressional program of development of the Wilson Dam. The plaintiffs, preferred stockholders of the Alabama Power Company, had unsuccessfully protested to the corporation about its contracts with the Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”). Plaintiffs then brought suit against the corporation, the TVA, and others alleging breach of contract and advancing a broad constitutional challenge to the governmental program. In December 1934, Federal Judge William Irwin Grubb held that the government had no right to engage in the power business except to dispose of a surplus incidental to the exercise of some other Constitutional function. While he did not directly rule that the TVA was unconstitutional, he issued an injunction that caused Senator George Norris, prime sponsor of the New Deal’s power program, to declare: “The effect of the injunction is practically to nullify the whole TVA Act.” In July 1935, the injunction was overturned by the 5th Federal Circuit Court in New Orleans. When the matter reached the Supreme Court, the plurality did not reach the broadest constitutional questions presented by plaintiffs, but instead upheld Congress’s constitutional authority to dispose of electric energy generated at the dam and validated the contracts.”)
[xxv] The citation to our Case Comment in the Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review article is  5 Harv Civ. Rights-Civ.L. Rev 490 (1970). Our somewhat novel thesis, reflecting  a contemporary focus on the uses and misuses of power, was this: “When the state or one of its agencies enforces a law which prevents members of a racial minority—i.e. a comparatively less powerful group—from acquiring the same degree of power or liberty over their lives as is possessed by members of the racial majority, it regulates power unequally on a racial basis, creates a badge of servitude, and thereby violates section one of the thirteenth amendment, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment.” We also set forth a modest proposal which we more fully developed in “Busing and the Search for Equal Educational Opportunity”, The Journal of Law and Education, Volume 1, Number 2, April 1972 at 269.
[xxvi] http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1958/9/29/wyeth-hall-first-university-dorm-open/ (“The University moved one step closer towards complete co-education this fall with the opening of Wyeth Hall for women graduate students enrolled in the University. Previously the only women students in residence have been members of Radcliffe. The new dormitory at 1595 Mass. Ave. houses 73 women students of the Graduate Schools of Education, Law, Divinity, Design and Public Administration.”)
[xxix] http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0012599/quotes. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Vinny Gambini: I object to this witness being called at this time. We’ve been given no prior notice he’d testify. No discovery of any tests he’s conducted or reports he’s prepared. And as the court is aware, the defense is entitled to advance notice of any witness who will testify, particularly to those who will give scientific evidence, so that we can properly prepare for cross-examination, as well as to give the defense an opportunity to have the witness’s reports reviewed by a defense expert, who might then be in a position to contradict the veracity of his conclusions. [there is a short pause as Judge Haller appears caught off-guard by Vinny’s sudden compentence with knowledge of the law] Judge Chamberlain Haller: Mr. Gambini? Vinny Gambini: Yes, sir? Judge Chamberlain Haller: That is a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out objection. Vinny Gambini: Thank you, Your Honor. Judge Chamberlain Haller: [firm tone] Overruled.

[xxx] The information was taken verbatim from two sources. The source information was combined to eliminate redundancy. See http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Irwin-Markowitz/387146175 and http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/bulletin/2006/fall/memoriam.php.
[xxxi] The information was taken verbatim from two sources. The source information was combined to eliminate redundancy. See http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Irwin-Markowitz/387146175 and http://www.law.harvard.edu/news/bulletin/2006/fall/memoriam.php.
[xxxii] Arthur T. Vanderbilt (1888-1957) served as the first Chief Justice of New Jersey’s Supreme Court under the State’s 1947 Constitution.  His nine years of service on the Court were the culmination of a lifelong advocacy of judicial reform, reflected not only in the revised judicial article of the State Constitution, but in his contributions to the creation of the U.S. Administrative Office of the Courts and the drafting of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.  Prior to joining the Court, Vanderbilt maintained a highly successful law practice, taught at New York University School of Law (of which he became Dean in 1943), and served as President of the American Bar Association.  As Chief Justice, “Vanderbilt catapulted the New Jersey courts to an unaccustomed position of prominence and respect.”  G. Alan Tarr, “Arthur T. Vanderbilt: A Retrospective,” http://camlaw.rutgers.edu/statecon/publications/vandy2.pdf


This blog covers what happened between October 16 and October 20, 2013


I had a lot on my mind today. It would have been my Father’s birthday. And if I had been born a few hours earlier rather than on October 17th, we would have had the same birth day. And though he is among that Great Cloud of Witnesses found in Hebrews 11, I still think of him in a special way on this day. But being lost in reverie was no excuse for not being aware of my surroundings.

But I wasn’t staying away today. And so, without any warning, like a character in a movie,Taken movie poster    I would soon be taken! The conspirators had laid their plans well. No one suspected them. They were not under surveillance. No warnings had been issued. No heightened security alerts. No extra policemen with sniffer dogs. After weeks of middle of the night phone calls, and text messaging, the time had come. And I, the target, was completely oblivious.

There was nothing extraordinary in the way it started. After a long day, I called from Newark Penn Station to ask to be picked up at the Grove Street stop of Newark Light RailNewark Light Rail 1 . Our home phone rang several times. Then it went to voice mail. This was not a good thing. I was tired from a long day and just looking forward to getting homehome and relaxing a bit before getting the last vegetables from my gardenOCTOBER VEGETABLES A october vegetables b.  So I called again and just before it went to voicemail, Geri answered. When I asked to be picked up, she said I had to call Mike because he had the car. Becoming flusterednot a happy camper 1 I uttered a word that does not bear repeating. With a focused determination of will that would  have made Bruce Banner envious, I resisted the urge to turn from a mild manner professionalRon primary photo into one of my alter egos the Hulk the hulk 1 Nick FuryNick Fury,  SpawnSpawn 1, or super hero--the roy clark method or to call on one of my Agents of Shield teamAgents of Shield 1 or my AvengersThe Avengersteam.  I remembered that the night before Mike told me he would be picking his friend Ed Claremont up at the airport and would be finished dropping Ed off in time to pick me up. So I call Mike, and he says sure, he will pick me up.

When I get to Grove Street, I see the car, and I slowly walk over. As I approach the car, which is in an unusually dark area, I dimly see through the back window something slumped down in the front passenger side seat. I think, wow, Ed must have gotten in late so Mike did not have a chance to take him home, and now Ed is asleep in the front seat of our car. Mike slowly gets out of the driver’s seat, and I am wondering why he wants me to drive, and then I think, oh Ed is tall and there would not be a lot of room for my legs in the back seat, so Mike is going to sit in the back. And that’s when it happens!

I am taken! Completely! By Surprise! It seems to happen in slow motion as I get into the driver’s seat. With the impact of Emeril LagasseEmeril BamEmeril Bam    and the speed of Jamaican sprinter Usain BoltUsain Bolt , this voice says two words that make my heart skip beats:

“Hi Daddy!”

It isn’t Ed, it’s African-American princess1my Princess KIMBERYLY!!! (Since she is Mrs. Goode, I should probably change that to Queen). Dumbstruck dizzy with surprise and happiness, and appearing to observers to be a man who has imbibed too much I slowly get out of the driver’s seat—- I do not want to leave my aneurism too far behind—- and in a staggering walk, keeping one hand on the car for balance, I go around to the passenger side and gave her a bear hugbear hug 1 . To passersby, it probably seems to be something like this  African  american girl hugging her dad or something from The Little Mermaid Ariel and Nepturne Hug or more likely fromWrestle Mania .In fact the hug is so very long (I had to wait until my eyes stopped leaking), I do not break the hold until the guy behind us starts seriously honking his hornmotorist honking horn as though he thinks I am assaulting her ! bear hug 2 When I say, “It’s alright, she’s my daughter”, he replies “Right, and I’m Barack Obama!”

When I finally make it back around to the driver’s seat of our car, Kim and Mike are laughing like little kids . I had spoken to Kim by telephone two days before, having called her because I needed a daddy-daughter hug. She had said, “Well it will have to be virtual”. And when I had asked her about doing Skype on my birthday, she had simply said “you can count on it”.  For weeks, Kim and Sean (her husband and our second son)engagement  and Mike had plotted her coming home for my birthday. It was the most special present for which I could ever have asked. As we drove home to Union Street, I kept hearing the beautiful words of the song, The Lord Is Blessing Me Right Now.



As I wanted, we all got up and went to the Y to work outgeri, ron, kim, mike at the Y -A , starting in the circuit room on the treadmillThe 4 of us on treadmills at the Y . As I watched Kim,   kim on the treadmill at the YI wakim walking backward on treadmills reminded of those guys on rollerblades who did Soul Train like moves that made your jaw drop. She did Zumba moves, side straddle moves, and even did it backward. Wow.

Next we went to the weight roomkim and geri a the Y -b.  She showed us how to use some equipment we had ever used, but which she uses in the Seattle Y where she goes 6-7 times per week and works out for an hour. MikeMike, Geri and Kim in the weight room at the Y was lifting weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger training for Mr. Olympia. An older gentleman saw me taking pictures of my crew and later asked me “Is that your family?” When I replied, “Yes, my daughter came home for my birthday and I wanted us all to come to work out”, he replied, “That’s being blessed.”

After the work out, we went to see the movie “Gravity”. The special effects were extraordinary. Later in the evening, Chief Beezey (Mike’s culinary nome de plume) made a delicious Kale dish with his special chicken breast ala Iron Chief or one of the Gordon Ramsey competitions. For desert we had rum raisin ice cream, red velvet birthday cakeron's birthday cake 2013 , and tons of love.


Kim, Geri, and I went to a program called Elevate Your MarriageElevate your marriage 1DSCN1536. straight to the heart the greatest of these is loveIt was great and we all learned a lot. At the end of the program, couples who wanted to could renew their wedding vows, and that’s what Geri and I planned to do. Though the program ran out of time for that, we had a virtual renewal through the shared experience.Kim, Ron, and Geri West CampusGo ye into all the world

The program included some great resource material. We highly recommend the following books:

  • His Needs/Her Needs by William Harley.
  • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Regardless of where you go to worship, we also recommend Leaders on Leadership: Advice and Encouragement on the Art of Leading God’s People  by George Barna and High Impact African-American Churches: Leadership Concepts From Some of Today’s Most Effective Churches  by George Barna and Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Five other books arrived on Saturday as presents. One, that I got for Geri as a resource for her mediation and arbitration practice, and that I recommend you run out and get is The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement In A Chaotic World by Michael Wheeler. It was literally flying off the shelves at the HBS book store after folks came from a presentation by Professor Wheeler.  If you ever negotiate anything, this book is a must. Two other books that had also been flying off the shelves were:

  • What You’re Really Meant To Do: A Road Map For Reaching Your Unique Potential by Robert Kaplan.
  • How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon.

Both Professor Kaplan and Christensen had given presentations during our reunion weekend at HBS. Kaplan’s program was so popular that had to open additional classrooms so it could be seen on video cast.  And Professor Christensen’s was so popular it had to be held in Burden Auditorium.  One of the profound stories he related was about his working for a high powered consulting firm and being told by his team leader that there on Monday there would be a major presentation for a client and therefore the team had to work get together on Sunday. Christensen informed his team leader that he was sorry but he had promised God to always observe the Sabbath on Sunday, and he could not come to the team meeting. His team leader exploded, then after a couple of hours came back and said he had switched the team meeting to Saturday. Christensen informed him that he was sorry but he could not come on Saturday because that was the day he reserved for his family. Again his team leader exploded, came back in a few hours and asked, Do you work on Fridays?! The point of the story and of his book is the importance of being true to yourself and how to respond to the challenge of compromising who you are, what you believe and stand for.

Regardless of whether you are just starting out in your career, midway, or transitioning to another, this is a very helpful book. The final book that arrived was also written by Professor Christensen: The Power of Everyday Missionaries: The What and How of Sharing The Gospel.

Though Professor Christensen is a Mormon and I am not, some of the material in this book is transcendent. I decided to get it after seeing his reference to C.S.Lewis and the Screwtate Letters, and its discussion of why we don’t share our faith at work. I am fully conversant with the EEOC’s position with respect to proselytizing in the workplace and with the rules regarding religion. If you are interested in my discussion of Religion in the Workplace, see my blog on that topic: http://www.slideshare.net/180RonWB/legal-aspects-of-religion-in-the-workplace


Kim and I went to an 8:00 a.m. church service and my heart was full with these words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ggoek9-Y6Y. After that service we headed back home to pick up Geri to go to a 10:00 a.m. service where Geri was doing the Parable. Disappointed when it appeared Mike was not coming, we went to church and she did a superb job. We were delighted and surprised when Mike showed up (we only live a few blocks from the church) and had walked down to join uswe four in st. marks.  After church we went to Verona Park for a two mile walk/stroll around the lakeron, kim, geri in verona park,kim and geri in verona park October 2013 and some more precious family time including seeing dogs in costumeDogs in costume . Kim and Mike both demonstrated their ability to do chin upsKim doing pull upMike doing pull up and I demonstrated my famous dad hugRon hugging Kim 1


The day began by my sister Cookie coming over and going with Geri, Mike, and Kim to the restaurant ToastCookie, Kim, Mike, and Geri at Toast in Montclair.  Kim ordered  something you can only find in New Jersey: Taylor Ham. kim eating taylor ham I can not tell from this photo whether she is eating the sandwich or it is trying to devour her!

But all too soon, Kim was going back to Seattle and each of us responded to that in our own way.kim and I-James Brown, Please, please please

One of the things that was so great about Kim’s visit was how much fun we had. That even extended to the airport. Using my best James Brown imitation, I dropped to one knee and started singing his famous hit, Baby Please Don’t Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4w454Lape8&feature=player_embedded

But I had no Maceo to throw my cape (raincoat) back over my shoulders, and  when she saw me on one knee, Kim  said,”I hope you can get up without help because that’s the last call for my boarding.”

Notwithstanding that, and since James Brown did not work, I raised the bar to a higher levelKim and Me-Ain't Too Proud To Beg, with Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, the stop you in your steps song by The Temptations:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxHMHrWJ2SE.  Despite the irresistible lyrics, she said, “You can beg all you want by I’m boarding now and going back to Seattle and my husband.” And despite the concerns of some passersby and some former friends comments and questions on Facebook, I was able to get back up without any assistance!

When Kim got back to Seattle, Sean met her at the airport with this sign so she would know where her ride home was:Sean's best friend sign

How blessed can a dad be to have a second son who treats my princess as his Queen.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIEU2aiTzEY


Rules For Handling The Term Bill

For the parents whose sons and daughters are now part of the college class of 2016, congratulations on your son or daughter having been selected at a college or university of his/her choice. Hopefully it will be an extraordinarily rewarding and meaningful time for you and for them.

I want to share four rules for handling something you will receive before they actually enroll for the Fall semester: the term bill.


Never open a term bill envelop while standing. Open it only while seated at the kitchen table with  pillows in front of you. That way you won’t suffer a concussion when you faint.

Rule #2. DAY  TO OPEN

Only open the bill on your Sabbath Day. That way when the whole neighborhood hears what you may utter or scream they may hopefully just think you are observing the Sabbath at home.

Rule #3  HOW TO OPEN.

Just as you would never look directly at the sun, you must never look directly at a term bill.

Some folks who did were found immobilized with only their head going from side to side when the paramedics  arrived.

Here’s how to avoid being immediately immobilized: Slide the bill out and hold it the paper sideways so that you can only see the left edge of the 81/2×11 sheet(s). Then with one your right eye closed turn the paper slowly toward you so that your left eye only sees a few words as a time. As soon as you see a dollar sign, take a break. Come back in an hour or two, and start from there. When you come back and you see a comma and the first two digits after a dollar sign, take another break. Take as much time as you need. Come back in a few hours, or days, or if you need a vacation then a few weeks. When you come back, work your way up to what comes after the dollar sign and two digits, , then the first zero, then the next zero, and the ones after that.


FERPA is not something your son or daughter can catch at college, but it can catch you. Unlike the three rules above, that are somewhat tongue in cheek, this one is not. FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly called the Buckley Amendment. Make sure your son/daughter authorizes you to see and pay the term bill.  And if you think that just because you are paying the term bill, you have a right to see your son or daughter’s grades,  you might need to think again. Here’s a link to information about FERPA:  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html