ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



15 years after the split I’m at his / table, a black hole of the universe—

a Mississippi boy made good in NY, / Philly, a national leader – no Ph.D.

& wields power like she his woman.




Last Man Standing

                     — for Bea Crockett


By Rudolph Lewis

Like a black pontiff at age 71

Nick spread forth a great feast

of salmon, fruits, and cakes, for

a magician king every moment

every chair becomes his throne.


He’s at Hyatt in Inner Harbor

conclaving, his soldiers armed

with the union card & promises

of dignity & integrity & defense

against slave drivers of the poor.


15 years after the split I’m at his

table, a black hole of the universe—

a Mississippi boy made good in NY,

Philly, a national leader – no Ph.D.

& wields power like she his woman.


“I should have killed him when

I had a mind to.” His eyes burns

into the brain. He’s got this Mafia

Philly-NY all in the air, rocks the

poetic ground on which I stand.


“I knew he was going to sell me

out. I respected his wife, she I

listened to. But he broke the leash

for what, to cakewalk in this town?

Power is bloody, and to the death.”


His words. I smiled. I handed him

my letter years ago. I was a 1199er.

“The real leaders were killed off

or sold out. The rest were followers

I’m the last man standing.”


He ran their names down. “He’s

dead . . . they’ll all dead. I made

them. They betrayed me. And

look where they now. All dead

no power. We’re still moving.”


I spoke of his nemesis & rival. “He’s

driven into a one-way alley, and he

can’t turn around. He’ll say anything

these revolutionaries, with no vision to

remake the world, still losing workers.”


Feared, adored, mystifying Nick is

from the crypt. And though an SOB

treacherous & dangerous I like his bravado:

he’s stayed the course. “No tears for me

just go pass out some muthafuckin cards.”

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Henry “Nick” Nicholas, president, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees since 1981; elected International Vice President in 1989. Began career as health care worker in New York City, and led organizing campaigns that built Local 1199 into a major labor organization. Member of numerous boards in areas of rights, job training, and health care. AFSCME

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Nick’s vehicle for greatness was 1199, a union founded by New York Jews, for Jewish pharmacists.

It became a black union of hospital and nursing home employees, especially in certain cities, Baltimore and Philadelphia, in 1969-1970. Organizing so many blacks and Latinos everyone knew Jewish leaders would be displaced and that a black would be the leader.

In my youth I too was a union man in Dr. King’s favorite union (Local 1199) 1969-1972; and returned in 1987-1990. The in-fighting and the hunger for personal power, that is, power over those nearest, where friendship and more spiritual matters are placed to the side, it all was too heady for a small town boy like me. One union leader I’ve known 35 years, I sat with recently, ate, and talked. The poem above was my response to that encounter. I knew Bea Crockett. I last saw her in 1990 just after the National Union of Hospital and Nursing Home Employees were divided up, after local elections (including one in Baltimore), between AFSCME and SEIU, two international unions, looking desperately for new members. Bea had mixed loyalties and paid heavily by her neutrality—Rudy

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Beatrice Crockett-Moore

Passed over March 2005

Executive Vice President, Baltimore District 1199E-DC (1986 to 1990)

–Secretary National Hospital Union (1984 to 1990)

–Executive Secretary Baltimore District 1199E-DC (1978 to 1986)

Beatrice Crockett-Moore, born in North Carolina, moved to Baltimore in August 1957 and worked several months as a domestic.

In November 1957, Beatrice (“Bea”) was hired by Johns Hopkins Hospital as a housekeeper. As a daughter of tenant farmers, Bea knew what it was to work long backbreaking hours, in the sun, come rain or storm. She was a stout woman not easily moved. Baltimore’s own Fannie Lou Hamer.

Crockett-Moore said she earned more money picking cotton in Carolina than as a Johns Hopkins housekeeper. Hopkins paid $18.75 a week. Beatrice said she could pick 250 pounds of cotton a day, at three cents a pound. Still I think she was glad to be out the fields and in Baltimore.

When Local 1199 came to Baltimore in 1969 Beatrice was a nurse’s aide in Hopkins medical department. She was instrumental in Local 1199 Hospital & Nursing Home Workers Organizing Committee’s drive in Baltimore. And Hopkins was/is the largest of the private health care institutions. It employed thousands of “non-professional” (housekeepers, dietary, nurse assistant, laundry, engineering) workers.

Crockett-Moore served on the first Local 1199 negotiating committee, that raised service and maintenance employees’ paycheck by as much as $25 a week.

Elected as an 1199 “delegate” Bea defended (in the shop) the contractual rights of fellow workers. It was a new day! A new kind of thinking was grinding its way to light. Bea was a bulwark for those who feared reprisals from the petty bosses. During this period she worked as a dental assistant in Hopkins’ OPD Dental Clinic. In the mid-70s, Beatrice served on the District Executive Council, representing Johns Hopkins Hospital workers.

As a woman leader, in a union with majority black women, Beatrice Crockett was very inspirational, her dedication, her sacrifices were exemplary and modeled what black women could do in labor in leadership positions. These women did the real work of holding the union and our society together. And often they are invisible, even by the men who have “their” interest at heart. Beatrice was active in other women’s groups, labor organizations, and community organizations.

In her tenure with 1199 National Hospital Union and District 1199E-DC, Beatrice Crockett served as

–Member, National Union Executive Board

–Trustee, 1199 Benefit/Pension Plan

–Member, 1199 Unity Committee

–Member, Coalition of Labor Union Women

–Health Round Table

–Member, NAACP Labor Division


–Recognized for leadership in the Labor Movement during “Baltimore’s Herstory Week” by International Women’s day Committee (1987)

–Recognized by Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus (1984)

posted 25 April 2005 

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Marcus Garvey “Africa For The Africans”  /  Look For Me in The Whirlwind 

 Marcus Mosiah Garvey  / Marucs Garvey Speech

   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest.

Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Obama’s America and the New Jim Crow / Michelle_Alexander Part II Democracy Now (Video)


There are more African Americans under correctional control today–in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste, not class, caste—a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits—much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.—Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Michelle Alexander Speaks At Riverside Church

/  part 2 of 4  / part 3 of 4  / part 4 of 4

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 5 July 2012




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Henry Nicholas on Social Justice Last Man Standing  Understanding “Last Man Standing”   Portrait of Robert Moore