I've had an interest in international affairs since the late 1950s. It came about because I enjoyed sitting with my father, a veteran of World War II and Korea, while he listened regularly to a news show on CBS called World News Roundup. Through this show, and my father's stories about his foreign travels, I was able to imagine a world far away from the sharecropper's farm I was born on in the Eastern Arkansas Delta.
Asthma played a major role in developing my interest in international affairs. As a child, I spent most of childhood years reading hundreds of books on a wide range of
subjects since I couldn't play or work in the fields without triggering a severe and life-threatening asthma attack. Constant reading became a habit. As a result of that discipline, I've managed to read a fews thousand book during the past four decades or more. Mostly on international affairs, world history, American history, African history, Middle Eastern history, diplomacy, politics, espionage history, spy thrillers and detective mysteries.
After high school graduation, in Memphis, in 1969, I registered for the draft and waited with dread for my greeting from Uncle Sam telling me I was wanted in
Vietnam. Thankfully, it never came. I wanted to be a journalist, not a
I began working as a photojournalist in 1970, starting with a community newspaper in West Memphis, Arkansas called Many Voices.
I was paid $14.50 every two weeks but I didn't care. I wanted to write.
Not only did I write, I also developed and printed photographs for the
paper and helped with layouts. After I left Many Voices, I contributed periodically to the The Southern Mediator Journal in Little Rock and had photos published in Jet magazine and other publications.
Sometimes in early 1973, I met photojournalist Chester Sheard, then a correspondent with Muhammad Speaks,
a controversial Muslim publication with a huge circulation, bureaus all
across the U.S. and stringers in various countries. He encouraged me to
contribute to it, which I did.
During those days, I visited or reported from numerous small towns in
Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas.
Over the years, I also took reporting trips to California, Georgia,
Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
and Washington D.C., etc. But most of the time, reporting was done by phone.
In 1974, after having several freelance articles published in Muhammad Speaks,
I was invited to Chicago and offered a position as a staff reporter. A
year later, the paper sent me to the Printing Industries Institute of
Illinois and Indiana where I studied newspaper and magazine layout and
design. I wasn't interested in it but went anyway. I wasn't ready to
look for another job. For years, I was stuck doing layouts and reporting.
LAYOUT, REPORTING AND EDITING
From 1974 to 1987, I worked as a reporter, layout editor, copy editor, managing editor and foreign affairs editor. I eventually became the editor of Chicago-based Muslim Journal and held the position for about two years before I was dismissed. Among the people I interviewed were former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, former Liberian, U.N. envoy Winston Tubman, the late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, Dumasani Khumalo, South Africa's Ambassador to the U.N., representatives of South Africa's apartheid regime when it was in power, Palestine Liberation Organization officials and
revolutionaries from the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress and the Southwest Peoples Organization of Namibia, the Polisario Front of the Western Sahara, to name a few.
Although I've covered events in the the Caribbean and North Africa, 99 percent of my work was in the United States, where I concentrated during the mid-1980s on diplomatic reporting and interviewing foreign officials that regularly visited the U.S. I've also visited England and Mexico.
My articles were often pirated by publications in the U.S., the Caribbean, South Africa and other countries. Some articles have been referenced in books. I never complained about the pirating because I was glad to have the exposure.
During my tenure at Muslim Journal, I spoke to inmates at Federal prisons in Lewisburgh, Pennsylvania and at Terra Haute, Indiana. I also spoke at a few colleges, universities and high schools in Illinois and Michigan.
I was a frequent guest on WBEZ, the public radio station in Chicago, and WGCI radio during the tenure of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. I was also profiled in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press.
After leaving Muslim Journal, for a while I served as a correspondent for Sadaqa-TV, a local cable access program.
THE LEGAL PROFESSION
I also worked for the Chicago Council of Lawyers. While at the council, I took and completed a course at John Marshall Law School called "Law
for Community Developers and Social Workers. This made me think about becoming a lawyer. But first I decided to go to paralegal school, to gain experience working in the legal profession and to see if I wanted to undergo the rigors of law school. Since I wanted to be able to go home at a reasobale hour, I chose to remain a litigation paralegal.
THE DIPLOMATIC TIMES, INC.
In December 2000, I formed The Diplomatic Times, Inc. (TDTI) For a
while, I published The Diplomatic Times newsletter, and a website at The Diplomatic Times.Com. Those ventures were folded to concentrate on Internet publishing. In between, I taught myself how to create web pages after spending hundreds of dollars to have one designed that was never completed.
I've studied Arabic off and on since 1999 and intend to study it for the rest of life, off and on. I've studied at Chicago State University and East-West University in Chicago. I am a graduate of Roosevelt University's acclaimed Paralegal Studies program and have taken continuing legal education courses.
Finally, I've written two, unpublished novels. But that's because I haven't made much if an effort to publish them. They are: (1) When the Sun Rises in the West and (2) The Man From Port-au-Prince. A third, unfinished novel is in limbo. I may try to publish them one day or leave them for my granddaughter to publish, if she chooses to.
Last Updated: December 20, 2008.