The leadership of the Black Power Summit, for the most part, consisted of Black nationalists and revolutionaries with a sprinkling of Black politicians thrown in for good measure. Black Arts Movement Poet Imamu Amiri Baraka was the organizer. So whenever Baraka, and the entourage of bodyguards and flunkies who flanked him from point to point, made his way through the passionately radical crowd, a phalanx of media followed—including me. Mayor Robert H. Beckworth was front and center stage, after all Prentice was his town. But, while it was Baraka’s troupes and Beckworth’s auditorium, it became Billy’s show.
Rev. Crowe had this unequalled talent for upstaging anyone at any public event where there happened to be media. This time, among this crowd, it would be prudent for him to raise his rhetoric. With his Afro combed out to it’s full glory and sporting a black daskiki with a red and green embroidered fist on the front, Billy took a shot at being more militant than the most militant at the Black power conference.
“If white America ain’t gonna give Black America its due, then we’ll do whatever we have to do to get our due. Do you hear me? I said, ‘if white America ain’t gonna give Black American its due, then we’ll have to do whatever we have to do to get our due,’” Crowe preached to a roaring crowd.
“Billy’s gone from talking shit to speaking do-due,” I joked with Allison as I watched him work both the audience and media.
I was no longer interested in working at Raven Magazine so I was all set to make my job interview a revolunary one. I planned to give those Negroes a piece of my Black mind. They would know, from the beginning, that I believed they were old-fashioned and out-of-fashion.
To make my point, I dressed to protest. No traditional suit and tie for this job interview. I showed up in a very mod Royal blue knit wool leisure suit. The pants were narrow legged and cuff less. The four-button modified military-style jacket was cut at the waist. The suit looked like something Richard Roundtree might be wearing as John Shaft. I wore a Navy blue knit turtleneck underneath. I was GQ on the Black-hand side.
“Damn, Trotsky, you look delicious. Don’t let any of those sisters at WIPE peel you like a grape,” Allison said, fastening the snaps on her suitcase.
Although we had flown to Chicago from D.C. together to cover the Black Power Summit, she’d be flying home alone. She had to be back in the station at WCDC-AM later that day. I would be on my own.
“Hmmmm,” I said, savoring the thought.
“Oh, before I forget, I’ve got a good luck gift for you.”
“For real. Close your eyes.”
I obeyed, resisting the temptation to peek. Allison tenderly put her arms around me. She kissed me gently on my earlobe then clipped something around my neck.
“You can open up now.”
I looked at the 18-karat gold chain. A cardboard sign bearing Allison’s handwriting in big red lettering had been safety-pinned to it. It was easy to read, even upside down. It read: TAKEN.