Newswire : 50th anniversary of King assassination: Coretta King’s last wish to expose secrets about her husband’s killing is yet unfulfilled

 

By Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds

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Coretta Scott King : Library of Congress

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Efforts must be increased to break down the wall of secrecy surrounding the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was gunned down on April 4, 1968 as he stepped out onto the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
That was one of the lasting wishes of his wife, Coretta Scott King. It was underscored by the findings of a rarely discussed December 9, 1999 jury trial in Memphis which concluded that King was the victim of assassination by a conspiracy involving the Memphis Police Department as well as local, state and federal government agencies, movement insiders and the Mafia. Mrs. King died on January 31, 2006. The secrecy shrouding the death of Dr. King is still in place.
As the nation prepares to commemorate the death of the martyred leader hopefully there should be a renewed effort to bare submerged information that could finally set the record straight about the role of U.S. governmental agencies in a plan to eliminate King who had emerged as one who millions perceive as the most successful African-American protest leader of the 21st Century.
In a civil suit filed by Mrs. King in Memphis, a jury of six Whites and six Blacks, affirmed the trial’s evidence which identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter and agreed that Ray had been set up to take the blame.
“The trial only proved what our family had maintained all along,” Mrs. King told me in her memoir Coretta, “My Life, My Live, My Legacy.”
The jury’s proceeding went on for four weeks. The 2,735-page transcript contains the sworn testimony and dispositions of more than 70 law enforcement agents, reporters, civil rights leaders and witnesses, some of whose statements contrasted starkly with official reports.
Of particular interest was Loyd Jowers, owner of Jim’s Grill, which was located beneath the rooming house where the shots were supposedly fired. Jowers said that he had been given $100,000 by a man with Mafia connections to help provide a cover for the shooting. Jowers said he took the rifle from a man named Raul, moments after Dr. King was shot and hid it under his counter until it was picked up the next morning by the shooter, a Memphis police officer.
More than 2,000 reporters covered the O.J. Simpson trial, but the mainstream media virtually ignored the sworn testimony of law enforcement agents and others who provided important insight into the assassination of Dr. King. The testimony included:

Ed Redditt, a Memphis detective and fireman Floyd Newsum, the only two Blacks assigned to provide security for Dr. King were reassigned on April 3, the day before the assassination. Redditt said he was guarded by a man, who identified himself as a Secret Service agent, which raised questions of why an agent would, whose job is usually to focus on the president. be concerned with a lowly Memphis police detective.
Judge Joe Brown, an experienced Memphis court official as well as a seasoned hunter, told the jury he believed the rifle that prosecutors used to implicate Ray was not the rifle used to kill Dr. King. “That weapon literally could not have hit the broad side of a barn,” he said.
Don Wilson, an FBI agent working in the Atlanta Bureau, said that in searching Ray’s car, several days after the assassination he found pieces of a handwritten note with the name “Raul” on it ,the same name of the man who had handed Jowers the rifle for safekeeping after the assassination. Wilson, who is presently retired, also told me how the agents laughed and joked about the murder of Dr. King.

The assassination of Dr. King raises serious question about FBI involvement. After King questioned the FBI’s sincerity in investigating the murder of civil rights activists, Hoover in a November 1965 press conference, shot back with a war of words, condemning King as “the most notorious liar in the country,” as well as a communist.
King quickly became a target of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program that had the stated mission to surveil, infiltrate, discredit and disrupt domestic groups that the FBI deemed subversive. (This was the same high-profile program that led to the dismantling and murder of several Black Panthers.)
One well-reported incident of COINTELPRO was a suicide letter and an audio tape the FBI secretly sent to the home of Dr. King on Nov. 3, 1964, shortly before he was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. It accused him of committing indecent sexual acts and suggested that the only way King could save himself from national disgrace was to commit suicide. Mrs. King played the tape and said she heard people telling dirty jokes, but there was no reference to her husband.
A 1977 court order resulted in the King papers being sealed for 50 years and despite several inquiries from various groups, the King files reportedly numbering about 700,000 pages are not scheduled to be opened until the year 2027. The sealing only increases fears that many pertinent records will be destroyed before that date leaving many questions unanswered.
Old fears are being rekindled as several reports suggest that the FBI’s COINTELPRO is being reincarnated to monitor, surveil and contain so called, “black identity extremists.” This information using that label was obtained by Foreign Policy Magazine from an unofficial FBI report.
The document, according to the magazine, warns that “black identity extremists” pose a growing threat to law enforcement and that police attacks on Black Americans could spur “premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence” against the police. As confirmed in The Root, the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was the catalyst for widespread violence, the FBI report says, concluding that continued “alleged” police abuses have fueled more violence.
While the report didn’t specifically mention Black Lives Matters, it is difficult not to connect the dots. There are several Black Lives Matter activists who report being put under surveillance, which sounds like the tactics of CONINTELPRO created to neutralize the activities of Black activists.
Mrs. King called for all files to be opened to finally lay out all the “facts pertinent to the truth of who killed my beloved Martin.” So far, her wish has been denied. And like in so many denials, history could well be on the way to being repeated.

Newswire : Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, Civil Rights Icon, Chief of Staff to Dr. King, dies at 88

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Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker speaks at Virginia Union University’s annual Community
Leaders Breakfast in Richmond in January 2008.
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Richmond Free Press
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker Jr. did all he could to advance civil rights during his long life. He is credited with being the key strategist behind many of the civil rights protests that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led in seeking to end the racial injustice of Jim Crow in the 1960s.
During his four years as Dr. King’s chief of staff, he helped raise the money for and orchestrate major civil rights protests. Dr. Walker came to Dr. King’s attention after leading protests against segregation in Petersburg that resulted in his repeated arrests. At the time, he was pastor of Petersburg’s Gillfield Baptist Church, which he led for seven years.
On New Year’s Day in 1959, he led a “Pilgrimage of Prayer” in Richmond against school segregation. Dr. Walker’s contributions to justice and freedom in America are being remembered following his death Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in Chester, near Petersburg, where he lived for the last 14 years. He was 88.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at Free Press deadline on Wednesday. The Rev. Al Sharpton, a family friend, announced the death of Dr. Walker, who also was the first board chairman of Rev. Sharpton’s National Action Network.
“A true giant and irreplaceable leader,” Rev. Sharpton stated in releasing the information on Dr. Walker’s death on Twitter. “A huge tree has fallen.”
“America has lost a great civil rights leader,” said Henry L. Marsh III, a retired civil rights attorney who served as Richmond, Va.’s first African-American mayor and later as a state senator. “He was a Virginia civil rights leader who earned a place on the national stage. The world is a better place because of his presence,” said Mr. Marsh, who was deeply engaged in attacking segregation and racial injustice in the courts.
Dr. Walker spoke against bigotry and racial oppression from pulpits in Petersburg, Atlanta, New York City and on five continents. He also was a leading voice in protesting apartheid in South Africa and was part of the team that helped supervise South Africa’s first free elections in 1994 when the late Nelson Mandela was elected that country’s president.
He also advocated for affordable housing and better schools in New York during his 37 years as the pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem. The grandson of a former slave, Dr. Walker was born just before the start of the Great Depression on Aug. 16, 1929, in Brockton, Mass. He was the 10th of 11 children of the Rev. John Wise Walker and Maude Pinn Walker. His father read both Greek and Hebrew and was a member of the 1899 graduating class of Virginia Union University. His mother also was a VUU graduate.
Although the family had little money after his father became pastor of a church in New Jersey where he grew up, Dr. Walker said his father instilled in him his passion for fighting racial injustice. “My father was what we called a ‘race man,’” Dr. Walker said. “He reacted to anything that smacked of racial injustice or prejudice. I was under that influence growing up. He was my first hero.”
Dr. Walker came to Richmond after World War II to start his studies at VUU. A standout student who went on to earn his undergraduate and ministry degrees at the university, he began his civil rights work while a student. Refusing to accept second class status, he often was put off Richmond street cars for refusing to move to the back. After being called to the Gillfield Baptist Church pulpit in 1953, he preached, protested and courted arrest.
The first of his 17 arrests came when he led a group of African-Americans through the whites-only door of the Petersburg Public Library, one of his many acts of civil disobedience. He also served as president of the Petersburg Branch NAACP, state director of the Congress of Racial Equality and founder of the Petersburg Improvement Association, which was modeled on the Montgomery Improvement Association that guided the bus boycott in 1956 in that Alabama city.In 1960, Dr. Walker went to Atlanta to join Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference as its executive director after previously serving on the board.
He had met Dr. King when both were presidents of their seminary classes, he at VUU and Dr. King at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where Dr. Walker later would earn his doctorate. Through 1964, Dr. Walker served as the SCLC executive director and Dr. King’s right-hand man. Dr. Walker raised money to support the SCLC and also devised boycotts and demonstrations for Dr. King, most notably in the spring of 1963 in Birmingham, Ala., under the code name “Project C.” The C stood for “confrontation,” Dr. Walker recalled in an interview.
“The federal government was against us, the local communities were against us, the judges were against us, but we managed to do it, and I guess we found the strength to do it because it was a moral fight,” he told an interviewer in 2006. “I was fully committed to nonviolence, and I believe with all my heart that for the Civil Rights Movement to prove itself, its nonviolent actions had to work in Birmingham,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for Birmingham, there wouldn’t have been a Selma march, there wouldn’t have been a 1965 civil rights bill. Birmingham was the birthplace and affirmation of the nonviolent movement in America.”
Dr. Walker played a key role in circulating Dr. King’s famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” penned in April 1963, that argued for civil disobedience as a legitimate response to racial segregation. Dr. Walker also helped organize the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was capped by Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Historians and those who worked with Dr. King argue that Dr. Walker’s management skills enabled the SCLC to grow from a largely volunteer organization into a crucial, professional element of the Civil Rights Movement, with a $1 million annual budget and 100 full-time workers. Dr. Walker’s “brilliance as a strategist was his greatest contribution to the Civil Rights Movement,” according to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who also worked with Dr. King and went on to found and lead the national Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
He knew how to harness the energies of people who were excited about social change and how to use the church as the center of his advocacy for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed,” Rev. Jackson said. Dr. Walker left the SCLC in 1964 to become pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and to work with the Negro Heritage Library.
In 1966, he became president of the organization whose goal was publishing works of African-Americans and pushing for inclusion in textbooks information on the role of African-Americans in U.S. history. In 1966, at Dr. King’s recommendation, he became interim pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, a post he held until a series of strokes forced him to retire in 2004.
Dr. Walker led the church in developing housing units with reduced rents, retail stores and apartments and a service center for elderly people. He also fought to remove drug dealers from streets around the church, and when he thought police were ignoring the problem, he took action.
For example, in April 1970, Dr. Walker preached a Sunday sermon through a bullhorn outside the Teen City pizza parlor that was notorious for drug trafficking. “We are trying to save our children,” he said, before turning his bullhorn toward tenements across the street.
“You, up there in the windows,” he said, “tell your kids to keep out of Teen City.”
At one point, the Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas “put a hit out on me,” Dr. Walker recalled, “because I was effectively thwarting the drug traffic.”
He said he ignored warnings that his work against illicit narcotic sales was too dangerous. “I had been involved in the struggle in the Deep South, so I was accustomed to dangerous situations,” he said. “It was tough to frighten me because I was so convinced that God would take care of me.”
Dr. Walker also was considered an authority on sacred music. Along with composing religious music, Dr. Walker also was the author of 10 books and articles dealing with the ties between music, religious traditions and social change. He also was noted for his photography and for founding Harlem’s first charter school in 1999.
Dr. Walker chaired the boards of Freedom National Bank until it collapsed in 1990 under the weight of risky loans and of the Consortium for Central Harlem Development, which Canaan Baptist stated was responsible for $100 million in housing. In the years since his retirement, the aging and frail Dr. Walker, who needed a wheelchair to move around, received numerous invitations to speak. He used his speeches to continue to encourage activism on the racial justice front and was outspoken in support of Black Lives Matter.
In a speech a few years ago during the holiday for Dr. King, he expressed his concern that the legislative victories of the 1960s at the height of the movement — including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — “seduced us into becoming too comfortable.”
“It is insufficient for us to come together on (Dr. King’s) birthday, sometimes in an artificial way, White and Black together, and sing ‘We Shall Overcome’ and hold hands and get a warm feeling and then go back to business as usual in White racist America,” he said.
Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Theresa Edwards Walker; a daughter, Patrice W. Powell; three sons, Robert, Earl and Wyatt Tee Walker Jr.; his sister, Mary Holley; and two grandchildren.

Newswire : Award winmning actor, Robert Guillaume, dies at 89

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

Robert Guillaume

Robert Guillaume
Family members, friends and fans are grieving the loss of television and stage icon Robert Guillaume, who died on last week in Los Angeles. Guillaume, 89, is survived by his second wife, Donna Brown, a son and three daughters.
“He was a pioneer and what he did with his role as [Benson DuBois] was give him integrity,” said actor, director and producer Shiek Mahmud-Bey, who wowed critics earlier this month at a New York Film Festival with his proposed new television series, ‘The Inner Circle.’ “What could have been just another servant or symbolically subservient minority, a butler role, he gave the world an extraordinary insight and exposed us to a human being. The invisible became viable and we all loved it.”
Anyone who watched “Soap” knew the brilliance of Guillaume, said Mariann Eperjesi-Simms, who hosts the Facebook page, “The Classic Movie Group.”
“‘Benson’ wasn’t exactly as brilliant as ‘Soap,’ but most things in this world aren’t written to that much perfection. He was a fantastic actor who deserved a lot of recognition,” Eperjesi-Simms said.
Born Robert Peter Williams in St. Louis in 1927, Guillaume began his acting career in the early 1970s when he made guest appearances on “Good Times,” “Sanford and Son,” and “The Jeffersons.”
However, his recognition and place in popular culture was cemented when he portrayed Nathan Detroit in the first all-Black version of “Guys and Dolls,” which earned him a 1977 Tony Award nomination.
Later, Guillaume earned the distinction of becoming the first African American to sing the title role of “Phantom of the Opera,” doing so alongside a mostly, all-White cast.
Still, it was his role as Benson DuBois in the soap opera satire “Soap,” which also starred Billy Crystal, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Robert Urich, that made Guillaume a legend.
“The minute I saw the script, I knew I had a live one,” Guillaume said in a 2001 interview. “Every role was written against type, especially Benson, who wasn’t subservient to anyone. To me, Benson was the revenge for all those stereotyped guys who looked like Benson in the 40s and 50s [movies] and had to keep their mouths shut.” The character’s popularity grew so much that it led to a spinoff called, “Benson,” which lasted eight seasons and earned Guillaume an Emmy Award.
“I always wanted kids of any background to understand the characters I’ve portrayed were…that the solutions they found were true and possible,” he said on his official website. “It has always been important to me to stress that there was no diminution of power or universality, just because my characters are African American.”
Guillaume, who won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for his role as the voice of “Rafiki” in “The Lion King,” steered clear of Hollywood’s demeaning Black stereotypes and sought quality roles in which he could evoke his characters’ humanity, according to his obituary at Legacy.com.
Though today he’s remembered widely as a comedic actor, it was the musical theater that was Guillaume’s first love and gave him his entry into the acting world, the Legacy.com obituary said. That entry took place in Cleveland, Ohio, where, after completing his education in the music school at Washington University in St. Louis, he joined the Karamu Theatre and debuted in their production of “Carousel,” Legacy.com reported.
In the audience for one of those “Carousel” performances was Oscar Hammerstein II, the critically acclaimed playwright, who penned the book and lyrics for the musical. According to Legacy.com, “It was an auspicious start, and Guillaume soon made his way to Broadway, where he both toured and appeared on the Broadway stage.”
Later, Guillaume would portray Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie “Prince Jack”; he also starred as Frederick Douglass on the TV miniseries “North and South.”
“In 1992, Guillaume and his wife, founded the Confetti Entertainment Co., creating read-along books for children with Guillaume’s voice as narrator,” the Legacy.com obituary said. “In 1995, the Confetti Entertainment books were transformed into the HBO series ‘Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.’ Narrated by Guillaume and featuring a cast of other stars, the series’ 39 episodes retold classic fairy tales with a multicultural focus.”

Some say Russia ‘collusion’ investigation distracting from Black issues

 

By Barrington M. Salmon

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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) was among several members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the hearing room as Comey testified.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – During former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, the irony of Black people cheering for Comey didn’t escape African-Americans who watched the on-going saga unfold in public view last week.
In more than three hours of testimony, Comey said under oath that the president repeatedly pressed him for a pledge of loyalty and asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. And after Comey failed to fulfill the president’s wishes, Trump fired him.
In casual conversations, political discussions and debates in Black communities across the country, the question has centered on how invested African-Americans should be in the hearings and their outcome given the FBI’s history of unfairness to Black leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Moreover, with Black progress at stake,some wonder whether the focus on the Trump-Comey controversy is too much of a destraction.
Mimi Machado-Luces, a documentary filmmaker, photographer and mother of two, said she watched the hearing and believes Trump is a liar who lacks the skills or temperament to be president. This is all the more reason that Black people must escalate thier attention to Black progress.
People of African descent in America, she said, were lulled to sleep by eight years of a Barack Obama presidency and now most still can’t rouse themselves to fully confront the dangers that the Trump administration has spawned.
“I think that we’ve fallen back onto this lull of ‘Oh…good times are over.’ We’ve fallen back into this reactionary mode,” she said. “Black Lives Matter and other groups like that are grand but I don’t see anyone coming out aggressively about things we need to be pursuing in our agenda, talking about the effects of things Trump is coming in to dismantle.”
Machado-Luces, an artist-in-residence teaching Digital Media at several DC and Maryland schools, said she wonders if and when Black people will come together and coalesce around a meaningful, substantive agenda.
“I don’t know if that will happen, probably not in my lifetime,” she said. “All I know is that there’s so much work to do. I don’t want to say we as a people lack vision. We’re psychologically lulled into accepting the oppression. I see some people trying to change things but part of the oppression is written into law. People get off when they shouldn’t.”
The intrigue and importance of the topic of possible collusion with a foreign country by a U. S presidential administration has not escaped coverage by the Black press, which has historically covered the antagonist relationship between the Black community and the FBI as well as other law enforcement agencies. DC-based independent journalist and political analyst Lauren Victoria Burke said she was among those glued to coverage, mainly because of the gravity of the events.
Burke said unlike the Iran-Contra scandal, for example, the ethical lapses and conflicts of interests swirling around this White House is a “much more serious matter because of the possibility of the president or his people being involved in treasonous activity.”
She said, “It’s a spy-level novel situation…No. I’ve never seen anything like this. The idea that somehow this is normal – none of this is normal.”
Burke, who covers Capital Hill daily, says Black Democratic lawmakers like Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Al Green (D-Texas) have been leading the charge in criticizing Trump, calling for a special prosecutor and seeking impeachment.
“They’ve been a little bit more out in front than most people. Green and Waters have called for impeachment. They’re the only members to call for impeachment,” said Burke. “Waters came out in front very early. She talked in a way that people were saying to take it back. But it’s almost mainstream now.”
Sam Collins, a millennial grassroots journalist and activist, said he watched sections of the Comey hearing with a jaundiced eye. He’s tired, he said, of the mainstream treating critical, potentially life-and-death issues and the dysfunction and chaos emanating from the White House as a pay-per-view event. Even though he has a good handle on the inner-workings of government and its relationship with the people it purports to serve, Collins said he’s still not sure whether the entire Russia debacle is just a diversionary tactic.
“Our leaders are following Russia while districts are going through issues, such as access to quality healthcare, unemployment and other problems that were here long before Russia or Trump,” said Collins, who is a teacher with District of Columbia Public Schools. “It’s proxy war. They’re putting up this proxy war to distract us.”
As he’s watched the Trump White House try unsuccessfully to fend off a rising chorus of accusations of collusion with Russia and a variety of other potential misdeeds, Collins believes Black leaders have become distracted as African-Americans and people of color face more overt racism, unprovoked attacks, hostility from the Trump administration, and the reversal of hard-earned gains by regressive forces.
“We need to organize among ourselves,” he concluded. “The NAACP is going through an identity crisis and may be about to fall under. I wouldn’t be mad,” Collins said with a chuckle. “There are no radical voices…All this political stardom and we have no juice to move anything.”

SCLC Names International Headquarters after President Charles Steele, Jr.

By George E. Curry
Editor-in-Chief
EmergeNewsOnline.com
Charles Steele Jr.

 

ATLANTA – The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Atlanta-based civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has named its international headquarters at 320 Auburn Avenue, N.E. in honor of Charles Steele, Jr., its current president and CEO.
Steele, a former Alabama state senator from Tuscaloosa, AL served from 2004-2009 as its sixth president since the founding of SCLC in 1957. When he assumed office, the organization could not pay its utility bills and was nearly $2 million in debt.
Fred Shuttlesworth, the leader of the Birmingham, Ala. civil rights struggle and a former SCLC president, had written off his organization as dead, saying: “Only God can give life to the dead.”
When he took over, a confident Charles Steele answered that criticism directly, saying, “Well, I talked with God as well and he said he was not coming, but he sent me.”
And the record appears to support his godly assertion.
Steele said within three years, he had raised approximately $20 million – half in cash and the other half through in-kind contributions.
Having accomplished his primary mission, Steele decided to return to his life as a businessman in 2009. But his “retirement” would be short-lived.
In 2014, Steele was asked by the board of directors to give up his full-time private consulting business to return as president to an organization again on the verge of financial collapse.”Dr. Steele has returned as president because of a very important need at this point which is fundraising and fund development. That’s a primary responsibility of the president, and he has excellent skills and contacts in that arena to help us maintain our financial stability,” Board Chairman Bernard LaFayette, Jr. said at the time.
After Steele’s 5-year stint, SCLC went through a series of leadership changes. The charismatic president and fundraiser was succeeded by Rev. Howard W. Creecy, Jr., who served from 2009-2011, when he died accidently while still in office. Issac Farris Jr., a nephew of Dr. King, was dismissed in 2012 after serving less than a year as president. He was followed by civil rights icon Rev. C.T. Vivian, who agreed to serve on an interim basis until SCLC could select a new president.
For stability, SCLC turned again to a reliable face.
Steele, the only person who has ever served twice as president of the storied civil rights group, has been widely recognized for raising most of the $3.5 million to erect the 2-story building on Auburn Avenue and providing the leadership to resurrect the troubled organization.
The building, which opened in 2007, carries the official name: “SCLC International H.Q. – Charles Steele, Jr. Bldg.” A marker is prominently displayed above the front entrance of the building.
“Here is a president who, for the first time, made it possible for SCLC to own its own headquarters,” said LaFayette, the SCLC board chairman. “This is not just a building, it’s an international headquarters named to emphasize our international thrust.”
Steele said he was deeply touched by the decision to name the building in his honor.
“I could go on forever without the personal recognition,” he said in an interview. “But to put my name on the building gives respect to all of the people who supported me, especially my family. It’s a blessing from God and the expression of gratitude says that my work has not been in vain.”