“Before you can preach, you must entertain.” – Director Frank Capra
If you know somebody who has an extra seat for Saturday’s NAACP show, ask for it. You’ll be glad you crashed the gate. I should know. I’m producing it.
I guarantee that it won’t be just another expensive boring sitdown with people preaching to the choir. You’ll get some of that but like a good marketing man, I’m broadening the base.
If you show up you’ll hear some heart-rending stories of oppression and soul-stirring tales of elevation. You’ll also hear some great music. An ensemble choir from area Churches of God in Christ will perform “Oh, Happy Day,” a favorite of honoree Helen Stewart. The gospel arrangement of the 18th Century hymn reached number four on the singles chart for the Edwin Hawkins Singers in 1969.
BLACKS HONOR WHITES. As I noted last week, Helen Stewart White was the first paleface who had the courage to join the Reno-Sparks NAACP five decades ago in the apartheid era of Mississippi West Nevada.
Mrs. Stewart-White (1921-2013) took a young Dolores Feemster (1929-2018) under her wing and suggested she join the NAACP. They became best friends forever. Dolores Monica Mendocino Feemster, the daughter of an Italian-American father and African-American mother, went on to become the matriarch of the Branch and an icon of Nevada community and educational activism.
Dolores eventually rose to the presidency in 1981. One of her sons, Lonnie L. Feemster, Jr., later served four non-consecutive terms as president. He currently heads the Nevada operation of the NAACP National Voter Fund and will deliver the keynote address at the event that finally honors his mother’s mentor. (Why it took so long, I dunno.)
Helen Stewart’s family will accept the award on her behalf. They will share the stage with Dolores and Helen’s direct descendants, two teenage girls from Yerington High School and their family who recently won a major federal civil rights case against the Yerington Police Dept. and the Lyon County School District. (I broke the story last October.)
The blackguard principal who looked away at overt racism remains in office. Attorney General Adam Laxalt has not responded to a complaint filed by Lonnie Feemster against the Yerington Police Dept. for illegally shredding police reports regarding the family’s complaints of threats and intimidation. Hope springs eternal.
KOLO TV-8 news anchor Tabnie Dozier will serve as emcee. The Margaret Funk Band will perform a rousing tribute to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.
All pink Cadillacs will receive preferred parking. The Grand Sierra can accommodate vehicles in its convention center. The local Caddy dealer hasn’t got one, so somebody put out the word. We’ll only get one chance to do it right for Aretha and Helen.
A representative of Yes on 6, the renewable energy initiative, called me and of course suggested an electric Cadillac. I told him he’d have to settle for electric pink.
WHITE GUYS IN THE BLACK. I was invited to the Nevada Press Association convention in Gomorrah South this Saturday. For the first time in 30+ years, Sparks Tribune ownership offered to pay my expenses. They probably knew I couldn’t go. (Nice to know they occasionally read my screeds.) Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. Sorta.
Which will kind of be the overarching theme Saturday night.
I suggest showing up at the Grand Sierra by 6 p.m. Saturday. The Tahoe Ballroom is on the casino level. If you’re interested in attending, please call me and let’s negotiate like we learned in “The Art of the Deal.” (775-882-TALK)
WHITE GUY ROCKS. Helen Stewart White had five kids, an artist, a UNR professor and three lawyers. Well, nobody’s perfect and a .400 average will get you into the hall of fame with Ted Williams.
Top gun lawyer Geoff White has been playing guitar forever. I first heard his folk group, the Breeze Brothers, back in the 70s. He now fronts Beatles Flashback. They play Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City this Friday. It’s not your average white band. (Go to BeatlesFlashback.com to book ahead. They usually sell out.)
He’ll be at the thing Saturday, minus guitar. I had to move this item for two reasons: In honor of his mom and so he won’t figure out a way to sue me for telling you that he bought a Cadillac at the Reno store.
But it’s NOT pink, dammit. What kinda blue-eyed soul brother is that?
WHITE HOT. If you get a chance, see Michael Moore’s magnum movie opus, Fahrenheit 11/9. Tell people that an old member of Mike’s Nevada Militia sent you.
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 49-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail <email@example.com>. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.