My Reunion With Fox News Channel’s Juan Williams As MLK Weekend Kicks Off At U. of Alabama

Juan_williams_2011
Juan Williams

It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years since I first met Juan Williams, the legendary author of Eyes on the Prize, the book that accompanied the 14-hour award-winning television series with the same name a quarter century ago.

Tonight I had the opportunity to be his chaffeur as he visited the University of Alabama to give the keynote address at our Realizing the Dream Legacy Awards Banquet.

Williams, formerly of National Public Radio and The Washington Post, now co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five, and fill-in host “The O’Reilly Factor,” spoke to a soldout crowd at the Hotel Capstone .

He used the occasion to share some of the comments from generations of readers of Eyes on the Prize who often are in disbelief about much of what Williams shares in recounting the Civil Rights Movement.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.56.41 PMA year after the 25th anniversary of the publication of Eyes on the Prize, Williams says people still ask “is that really true?” what he reported happened in the period between 1954 and 1965 “was it really that bad?”

Even as he shared stories from his Eyes on the Prize readers, who he says get “younger and younger” he lamented how many want to analyze what he calls the “complicated story of race in America today” by drawing comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement.

COMPARISONS TO FERGUSON

Months after the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and the unrest following a grand jury’s decision not to the indict the police officer responsible,  Williams says with an African American in The White House, an African American United States Attorney General and an African American executive editor of The New York TImes, there is no comparison.

“People want this period now to be just like the Civil Rights Movement,” Williams said.   ” We have a different of problems.”

The 60-year-old Panamanian born political analyst says, instead of drawing those comparisons,  we should take inspiration from those who accomplished much a half-century ago.

“It’s not necessary to say we were back where we were 50 years ago,” he said.

MY REUNION

This afternoon, neither of us could recall The Washington Post story on Former Howard University President Franklyn Jenifer published in September 1992 for which he interviewed me as the editor-in-chief of THE HILLTOP, Howard’s student newspaper.

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Williams visited The Malone Hood Plaza, located at Foster Auditorium where the late Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in The Schoolhouse Door.

The subject of that news story wasn’t important today.

What is significant is that 23 years after he sat in my office at THE HILLTOP in Washington, DC talking to me as I was weeks away from finishing my undergraduate degree in journalism,   I’d be an assistant dean at the University of Alabama and Williams would be giving the keynote address here, the same place that he wrote about as being one of the last institutions to integrate.

It was neat showing him Foster Auditorium where George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door and today where the University has recognized the accomplishments of the late Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, the first blacks admitted to the University in 1963.

What a great start to our Martin Luther King weekend!

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Remembering One of the Greatest Ministers of Music of All Time — Andrae Crouch

Andrae Crouch, who died Thursday, impacted generations with the songs God gave him to minister the Gospel. I wanted to remember what impact he had my life as a young church musician.

Courtesy: www.positivelygospel.com
Courtesy: http://www.positivelygospel.com

Early this morning on the radio,  I heard the chorus to the song “Take Me Back, Take Me Back, Dear Lord.” But, they didn’t come from a Gospel Radio Station or a Christian radio program.

Those words were coming through National Public Radio, which carried a story about the passing Thursday of one of the greatest Christian songwriters of all time: Andrae Crouch.

While those of us who literally grew up listening to Andrae Crouch’s music were saddened, he wouldn’t want us to be sad that he’s passed on from this life.

All we have to do is listen to the words of “Soon and Very Soon” and know that he’s had his head pointed toward heaven for many, many years.   It is the ultimate confidence that we as children of God have.

As Christians, our whole attitude about death and passing from this life on into eternity is different and we know and testify to that just by singing some of Crouch’s songs.

I can vividly remember learning how to play the piano by playing some of Crouch’s music.  Like Crouch, I too played piano (and the organ) in church as a teenager.

There are so many songs from the 1970s and 1980s–“Take Me Back,” ” Through It All,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, ” “My Tribute”– that taught me the power of music to minister to one’s soul.

As a singer, songwriter, choir director,  Crouch set the tone for what it meant to worship through our witnessing about what He means to us.   He showed us how to let the words of our testimony minister to others.

One of his last greatest hits– “Let the Church Say Amen” is a song that like dozens of others resonates with people to the point that they are sung not only in sacred, but also secular environments.

Crouch reached across racial lines with his music, touching those from all walks of life.

Even though he has passed on,  he’s left so much behind for us as music ministers of the Gospel to carry on.   Some have called Andrae Couch the “Father of Modern Gospel Music.”

If that is so,  then we the “children of modern Gospel Music” have to carry on Crouch’s work in our own singing of his songs, sharing the lyrics with those who are unsaved and writing our own songs that God places in our spirit and heart.

We’ll see Minister Crouch again one day  “Soon and Very Soon.”

Let the Church Say “AMEN.”