Monthly Archives: February 2013

I love the first two movies in” The Godfather” trilogy. My favorite is “The Godfather.” I was intrigued by the character of Michael Corleone, and that whole reluctant Don thing.

He didn’t really want to be a part of the family business. He came home from the war with his non Italian girlfriend looking to make a break. Michael wanted a straight job and a straight life.

It didn’t work out that way. Events drag Michael into the family business and into the role of Don – a role that suits him perfectly.

This also plays out in the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George Bailey won’t even pretend to be reluctant about succeeding his father as he head of the Bailey Savings and Loan. George wants to travel the world and seek his fortune.

However, each time George prepares to leave, something happens that keeps him rooted in Bedford Falls. George could  have said the line uttered by Michael Corleone  in the forgettable “Godfather III” – “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Yet, George remains in Bedford Falls and becomes a good executive.

That’s Hollywood. Real life is  more complex. It seems that successor commitment is a good way to tell if junior (or sister) can do as good a job of running the family business as dad (or mom).

Katiuska Cabrera-Suarez studied family companies located in the Canary Islands that replaced their CEO’s with member(s) of the succeeding generation. Suarez defined commitment as the “successor’s willingness to take over the business.”

Not surprisingly, she learned that “effective successors have a more positive attitude about the business than non-effective ones.” Can a reluctant successor be transformed into a committed leader? There are likely too many qualifiers for you to bet the farm. Factors include the circumstances under which the successor assumed the leadership role, whether or not their elevation was voluntary and how much autonomy they have in making changes.


Carter G. Woodson is the black historian best known for starting Black History Month. He founded the an organization called the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. John Hope Franklin, another great black historian, was born in 1915. So it is sadly coincidental that D.W. Griffith released his groundbreaking and controversial movie “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915. The movie’s release sent another leading black intellectual, W.E.B duBois into the streets to lodge his protest.

Griffith’s film spread many stereotypes about black people and the role that freed slaves played during reconstruction. duBois, Woodson and Franklin spent much of their careers combatting this misinformation, and in doing so they built the foundation on which the current discipline of black studies is built.

Propaganda masquerading as history

Woodson founded the association to counter the view that blacks made no contribution to history. Griffith’s movie and the book from which it was adapted, Thomas Dixon, Jr.’s “The Clansman” promoted that racist view to generations of Americans.

“The Clansman” was  a love letter to the Ku Klux Klan with the revealing subtitle “An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan.” Dixon’s father was a  Baptist preacher who reluctantly owned the  slaves he inherited. Dixon was born in 1864. His formative years occurred during reconstruction and experience confirmed his views on politics, economics, religion, culture and race.

The family owned slaves, but both Dixon and his father opposed slavery. Yet, Dixon was a white supremacist who believed that reconstruction was one of the great tragedies of western civilization. That view came largely from the indignities that southern white suffered at the hands of its northern conquerers – such as the taking of private property by the Union Army and the corrupt northern politicians known as carpetbaggers.

Dixon held special contempt for reconstruction – the experiment in social equality that called for recently freed slaves to receive the vote and have the opportunity to hold public office. Dixon believed that blacks were mentally and morally inferior to whites and that northern whites used blacks to oppress and steal from white southerners. Dixon’s expressed those views in many of his novels and especially the three early 20th Century works known as The Klan Trilogy.

Klan as Defenders of Southern Virtue

Dixon believed that the reconstruction era Klan protected the southern honor and defended  southern white women against the biggest threat posed by social equality of the races  – interracial marriage. One instance that took place during reconstruction cemented Dixon’s belief in the reconstruction era Klan. When union soldiers ignored the accusation that a black man raped a white woman. The Klan responded  by lynching the supposed culprit.

Dixon makes a distinction between the reconstruction era Klan and the post-resonstruction era KKK. He viewed the former as a gallant organization comprised of men of honor such as his father who successfully resisted northern efforts to persecute white southerners. Dixon disdained the post reconstruction Klan because he viewed the members as a gang of low-class vigilantes.

Yet, the depictions of blacks – and especially black men -as mentally simple sexual predators was used to justifiy the nearly 100 years of racial oppression. “The Clansmen” inspired Griffth’s movie “The Birth of the Nation,” and that movie launched the rebirth of the Klan and start of a particularly violent period in race relations in the south and throughout the nation.

Lynching: The Rule of the Mob

Lynching reflected the level of oppression blacks faced at the time. Of the 4,742 known lynchings that took place between 1882 and 1968, 72 percent of victims were black. The victim was often accused of assaulting a white woman. That was the case in the 1930 lynching in Marion, In.

Lynching became an epidemic in the years after reconstruction. Nearly 3,000 lynchings occurred between 1882 and 1901. There were 55 lynchings in 1914. That number jumped to 69 in 1915, the year that “Birth of a Nation Was Released.”

The First Blockbuster

The Klan likely felt empowered by the movie’s reception. President Woodrow Wilson, who was a classmate of Dixon’s at Johns Hopkins University, screened the film in the White House. That made  “The Birth of a Nation” the first movie to been seen there. A quote attributed to Wilson, but denied later, added to the belief that “Birth of a Nation” was historically accurate.

Though “The Birth of a Nation” contained many questionable facts, the film was quite innovative. Griffith employed close ups and split screens, filmmaking techniques still used today. In 1998, the American Film Institute ranked “The Birth of the Nation” 44th in its list of the 100 greatest American movies of the first 100 years of film. The late Roger Ebert called the film’s battle scenes among the best ever filmed even as he echoed criticism of Griffith’s depiction of the reconstruction era as horribly racist.

Not Universally Loved

Griffith’s master work faced similar criticism in 1915. The head of the Los Angeles NAACP wanted the movie censored. Jane Addams founder of Hull House and a NAACP board member criticized the movie. NAACP members picketed in front of the theater where the film had its New York premier. Black filmmakers responded by making a series of movies to counter the depictions of African-Americans seen in Griffith’s film.

Surprisingly, these efforts bore some fruit. Griffith reedited the movie  and removed references to the KKK in deference to the NAACP. Eight states banned the movie. Griffth’s next movie, “Intolerance,” was a sweeping drama that told four stories that took place over hundreds of years with the connecting theme of man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man. “Intolerance” was viewed as a Griffith’s response and atonement for making “The Birth of a Nation” even though the later film didn’t address racial issues.

First Draft of History

Still the damage was done. Dixon’s book and Griffith’s movie became the first draft of history and set the cultural and political agenda in America for generations. Movie goers in the north and south flocked to the film, paying $2 – the equivalent of $45.97 today. The Klan used the film and the poster of a hooded man on horseback to initiate an explosive growth in its membership, which jumped to  4.5 million by 1920. Of the 144 people lynched in 1919 and 1920, 129 are black.

The film reinforced the racism that seeped from the pores of American society in the early 20th Century and was reflected in the era’s art and scholarship. Academics such as Columbia University professor William Archibald Dunning championed the Dixonian view that reconstruction was a failure and blacks ill-prepared for self government.

Crafting a Historical Revision

No short term revisions such as reediting “The Birth of a Nation” or making “Intolerance” could undo the entrenched racism manifested through white supremacist groups such as the Klan.  This was especially true since those racist views had academic legitimacy. Academics such as  Columbia University professor William Archibald Dunning championed the view that  reconstruction was a failure and that the black Freedman were ill-prepared for self-government and the vote.

Reversing the damage done by the historical fiction of Dixon and Griffith, as well as Dunning’s advocacy research required a generation of scholars devoting years of research to making a counter argument. DuBois, Franklin and Woodson played major roles in providing that narrative.

DuBois offered one of the earliest critiques with his academic paper “Reconstruction and its Benefits,” published in 1909. He expanded on that earlier research with the book “Black Reconstruction,” published in 1935. DuBois book detailed how reconstruction legislatures in southern states established universal public education and public health agencies. The post reconstruction legislatures undid many of the reconstruction era reforms but left those intact, DuBois wrote. Franklin added to scholarship providing an accurate view of reconstruction in his book “Reconstruction After the Civil War,” published in 1961

Historians such as DuBois and Franklin provided the historical scholarship that countered the white supremacist view of the era. Woodson provided the institutional leadership and structure that legitimized researching black history through the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History


However, when Woodson started the association, the belief in black inferiority had a home in a highest level of politics, business and academia.

In his 1933 book  “The Miseducation of the NegroImage,, the historian wrote:

“If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as

any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard

to race.”

That was not the education that blacks received in 1933. As Woodson writes in “The MIseducation of the Negro,” the blacks who went to school were taught that they were intellectually and culturally inferior. Black students received this message at every level of education. Woodson responded by launching Negro History Week in February 1926 in honor the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.

A Sea Change

Every February articles such as this one question whether Black History Month is relevant or necessary. Regardless of an individual’s feeling on that issue, take time to marvel at what scholars such as Woodson, DuBois and Franklin accomplished. In 1926, critics not only mocked Woodson and DuBois for questioning the prevailing academic research on topics like reconstruction, most mocked the very idea of black scholarship.

Yet in the 87 years since Woodson established the observance, the scholarship conducted by historians such as DuBois and Franklin moved from the fringe to the mainstream. Historians accept the conclusions made by both as correct. Universities such as Dunning’s Columbia and Wilson’s Princeton now have highly regarded departments of African and African-American studies. Negro History Week became Black History Month in 1976 and studying black history a part of curriculum at most schools. Today, none but the most obstinate racist would attempt to deny that blacks have contributed greatly to the nation. Next, we will examine how deeply engrained the changes ushered by duBois, Woodson and Franklin have reached.

President Obama will decide whether to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline in March or April. The pipeline is a system to transport oil from the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, Canada to multiple pipelines in the United States.

Not surprisingly the Keystone XL project pits environmentalists against oil companies. Pipeline opponents say that if the president means what he said about climate change being real in his inaugural address and the State of the Union, then he has no choice but to reject the pipeline.

In addition to the global warming concerns, environmentalists also worry about pipeline leaks and spills like the one that happened in Michigan in 2010. Pipeline supporters in the oil industry talk about energy independence and view Keystone as a way to further wean the US off foreign (read Middle Eastern) oil. Supporters also tout the thousands of construction jobs that will be created when building the pipeline – although those estimates are far from being universally accepted as this story and video show.

The president’s decision is going to make one side very unhappy. Simple political calculations might lead people to conclude that Obama will reject the pipeline reward the environmentalists who are among his most steadfast supporters and punish the oil companies that donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the unsuccessful effort to make him a one-term president.

However, such calculations are a bit overly simplistic. For one thing, plenty of the president’s supporters are also strong supporters of Keystone XL. Union, mainly the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters, support Keystone.  Union support and money likely played a bigger role in Obama’s 2012 win than did the environmentalist vote. Unions helped to organize in states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada, and those organizers want repayment for their efforts and likely view Keystone as a good start.

Black and Hispanic voters were the most loyal parts of the Obama coalition. While minority voters worry about environmental issues in part because they are concentrated in highly polluted areas, environmental issues are not among the top concerns of black and Hispanic voters. Jobs and economic disparity issues head the list. Approving a project that will create a minimum of 20,000 high skilled construction and manufacturing jobs would appear to be of a greater concern for black and Hispanic voters.

Obama probably doesn’t put much stock into what implacable foes such as Ted Nugent say about his urban policy agenda. However, the persistent high unemployment rate and the violence that plagues black and Hispanic communities bother the president a great deal, and I’m sure he’d like to begin addressing both in a second term. The pipeline construction jobs and spin-off jobs created by Keystone XL presents an opportunity for the president to simultaneously address the high unemployment rate generally and the extra high jobless rate for blacks and Hispanics.

The president must also be aware that the Republicans definitely support the Keystone. The newly reelected president who overcame Karl Rove and a host of right leaning billionaires might not be in the mood to play nice with the Republicans. Still, he’s also aware that the good will that comes from approving Keystone XL might make it easier to achieve other second term priorities.

The competing interests among Obama’s allies takes the Keystone XL decision out of the realm of moral imperatives that would argue for the president to reject the project, and place it squarely in the realm of realpolitik. That’s a playing field that is more to the liking of the Keystone XL supporters – at least on this issue. Some of the president’s liberal allies are aware of this and are already preparing for the bad outcome.

That Obama’s practical, realistic side would prevail on this issue should not be surprising. As a leader, the president has been far from a left wing nut. He’s clearly liberal on social issues. However, the list of issues in which Obama choice realism and practicality over ideological purity is long – as supporters of the Public Option, closing Guantanamo, drone strikes and arming the Syrian rebels can tell you.

If Obama chooses to approve Keystone XL, it will likely be the result of the president engaging in a realpolitik balancing act that will find him looking for to salve the bitter wounds felt by his environmentalist allies. In fact, the president might have started laying the groundwork to earn some forgiveness in the aforementioned State of the Union.

I took a class on library research from Julie Elliott in the fall, so I knew that she could help me address the struggles I had in trying to find source related to my subject. That’s what happened during our consultation. I have been looking at the topic of leadership, mainly the distinction between transformational and charismatic leaders. The question that I sought to answer is what qualities make a leader effective and why is it difficult to replace an effective transformational leader?.

As I thought about transformational leadership, I realized that transforming leaders empower their followers to become leaders. One thing that often causes institutions to struggle when moving from a highly effective leader is that “followers” often see a transformational leader as a charismatic leader. Transformational leaders are often very charismatic. However, unlike charismatic leaders, transformational leadership is an egalitarian style of leadership rather than a method of leadership that focused on elevating the leader above followers.

Julie asked me to focus on one topic during our meeting. I chose to focus on the topic of leadership succession. She suggested that we look at two databases -most prominently Web of Science. It was amazing how the word “and” yielded more results. I used the some of the same keywords that Julie used such as leadership succession, transformative leaders, but putting the word and between the keywords allowed me to get more usable information.

I  downloaded four journal articles that will be very useful in my research. Three of them dealt with leadership succession and one examined the difference between charismatic and pragmatic leaders. I look forward to reading them and providing more details about what I learned.

Soul Music Week forces us to be about it rather than just talking about it. Yes, we can get music for little or nothing from a variety of sources, but this effort allows music fans to put our collective dollars where were mouths are. This is a great idea. I already purchased Fast and Curious by Sy Smith.

CBS Detroit

DETROIT —, the Detroit-based soul music Web site, is celebrating soul music during Soul Music Week, Feb. 15-24.

“We ran a string of articles highlighting the great soul music being made by both young and old artists around the world and the challenge those artists have in getting the attention of broadcast radio and mass media,” said SoulTracks Publisher Chris Rizik. “We were then inundated with comments from readers — readers who are passionate about soul music and who want to make a difference in supporting the music and the artists making it.”

The result is Soul Music Week 2013, designed, according to Rizik, as “a week of discovery, connecting music fans with the great artists who continue to drive soul music forward.”

The concept for Soul Music Week is simple. Each music fan is being asked to do three things:
* Buy a new soul music CD, either online…

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“Am I gon’ die.” I could imagine generations of Dukes and Crowders who worked in southern mansions and northern factories spinning in their graves. How could I not maintain the clipped and precise college educated diction earned by their collective sweat equity. Even worse, I slipped in front of “mixed company” – if you know what I mean.

I guess the ancestors and those still here forgave me once they knew the deal. I just received a cancer diagnosis from the oral surgeon who performed a biopsy on my gums. So as he calmly explained that the results returned positive for squamous cell carcinoma, the question leaped from my mouth in the form of a ghetto stereotype.

I was real in that moment. The question I blurted out J.J. Evans style hung over all the scientific talk about surgery and radiation and chemotherapystages and five year survivability.

How I Made It

Several factors explain why I’m still here eight years later. The support and prayers of many people, the quality of my medical team, and  persistence of my wife to make me get that discoloration on my gums checked out.

Lets begin with Gail. We were sitting at home one day and I casually asked her to look at what a bruise on my gums above my two front teeth.

She asked for a closer look in that comfortable manner that comes only as the result of being someone who has seen me naked and heard and smelled my flatulence plenty of times. I peeled up my front lips to reveal my gums and her jaw dropped like a character on a Warner Brothers cartoon. Gail grabbed a phone book, flipped the yellow pages to orthodontists and kept looking until she found a dentist who had an opening in late April.

Taking a Sample

That dentist, Dr. Bantz, took a few Polaroids of my mouth and showed those photos to Dr. Lehman, the oral surgeon who conducted the biopsy. They met over lunch. Doctors have real strong constitutions. I’m guessing that Dr. Bantz suspected cancer immediately, and he wanted confirmation.  Dr. Lehman also suspected cancer and that a sample of the affected area needed to be biopsied.

After the biopsy and the surgery and the recovery period but before I went through a month of radiation and chemotherapy, I learned that being a relatively young non-smoker kept me alive. I also learned that doctors have an annoying habit of burying the lead.

The Second Opinion

Dr. Zon, my medical oncologist, suggested that I get a second opinion from oral cancer specialists at the IU Medical Center in Indianapolis. Gail, my mother-in-law and I went there in September. I thought I was a goner when the doctors told me that only 31 percent of oral cancer patients live five years. I recall the preciseness of his pronouncement. I felt my heart drop. My wife would be a widow, my children fatherless and my mother would see another child die.

The doctor let that grim news hang out there for a minute before mentioning that all those patients were all 60 year old smokers, drinkers and snuff chewers. I didn’t know whether to hug him or use his stethoscope to give him a colonoscopy. The real reason that my medical oncologists (not to be confused with my radiation oncologist) sent me to Nap was to get advice on what kind of chemo to use. We had two choices – the one that would ruin my kidneys and the one that wouldn’t. We selected the second one – not a hard choice.

What is happening to me?

Then it was back to the Bend to start my treatment. The first of my 33 radiation treatments was on Sept. 8, 2005 with the first of my six chemo sessions taking place on Monday, Sept. 12, 2005.

The staff told me me about the side effects They tend to understate things, so I still ended up being unpleasantly surprised. The radiation oncologist said radiation would give me mouth sores. That came nowhere near explaining the boils on my tongue that looked like something I AM cast down on the Egyptians to punish them for not letting his people go.

They said radiation would damage my salivary glands. The chronic dry makes it hard to swallow.  I nearly choked to death at least three times. Radiation burned my taste buds. Some foods I can’t taste. and I’m sensitive to spicy foods. I lost a lot of weight because the sores on my tongue made it impossible to eat solid food, I needed a feeding tube that dispensed a tan nutrient filled liquid into my stomach. I did NOT see that coming.

Pitch man

I made it through the treatments. They scanned me a couple of months later to make sure the cancer was gone. It was. I got scanned every three months at first. Then every six months. Then every year. Still no sign of cancer. Eventually I hit that magic five years. That’s when I could say that I beat it.

That’s also when I became a poster child for Memorial’s unit. The hospital featured me and other survivors in commercials and in their calendar.Got paid $250 for the commercial. I know Memorial hopes the newly diagnosed see the commercial and come there, and I’m cool with that.

Besides, the folks in radiation/oncology started using me as an advisor right after my treatments ended. They wanted me to advise recently diagnosed head and neck cancer patients. I agreed because unless you’ve had it you can’t really explain it.

I happily talked to these recently diagnosed people, but  I was just winging it. And I wondered how much my advice helped. I needed a mentor and a sounding board. I would soon get one.

Athletes are bad role models. That’s true if we define role model as someone who’s off the field behavior is beyond reproach. For many people Ray Lewis’ connection with a 2000 double murder disqualifies him as a role model. Plenty of football fans look at his excellent play and clean record over the last 12 years and accept that he is a changed man. Madison Avenue agreed and made Lewis one of the league’s leading pitch men.

Lewis’ role in the 2000 altercation that resulted in the death of two men will forever place his off-field character in a questionable light. However, nobody will doubt that Lewis was one of sports greatest on-field leaders.

As he exchanges his helmet for a sportscaster’s headset, it’s fair to ask what kind of leader was Ray Lewis? Anyone listening to the sideline or locker room speeches such as this one given after the Ravens were defeated in the playoffs in 2012, will call Lewis a charismatic leader.

Charisma has long been associated with the church, and Lewis’s personality has the religioius component. His legal troubles prompted a spiritual rebirth. Lewis ia a Christian who frequently quotes scripture during interviews. The Ravens’ Lewis inspired motto during their recent Super Bowl run was “no weapon,” which can be found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

Sociologist Max Weber is credited with advancing charismatic leadership theory. Weber borrowed the term charisma from the Christian bible. Charisma refers to the impartation of the Holy Spirit as a gift from God. Charismatic leadership is often viewed negatively because the focus is on the leader and his or her powers of persuasion. Charismatic leaders are often seen as egotistical.

Lewis possessed qualities associated with transformational leadership. Mary Miller, author of the article “Transformational Leadership and Mutuality,” notes that James McGregor Burns developed transformational theory in 1978

Transformational leaders are  egalitarian. They develop mutual relationships hoping to convert followers into leaders. Transformational leaders also establish bonds of trust and love. Miller  cites Kenneth E. Boulding’s theory of love. Boulding believed that love was the only form of power that is not abusive. Love allows the transforming leader to use power in a way that does not encourage “reverence for the leader, but the aforementioned space is held open for the follower to form a personal identity within the organization in a non-abusive manner.”

Lewis often talked about the role that love that Ravens players had for each other influenced the team’s on success on the field. Teammates such as Brendon Ayanbadejo  echoed that belief.

Perhaps it would be accurate to call Lewis as a transformational leader blessed with loads of charisma – in other words, the classic tweener.