"Give them their flowers while they can see them," is a common saying in the black community. Far too often, the flowers and kind words are extended at the funeral, which serves the living but does nothing for the deceased.
Well, on Saturday, June 19 at Grace Memorial Baptist Church, 1457 S. Kenneth Ave. at 5 p.m., the entire Chicago area will have the chance to give Garfield Major some flowers while he can enjoy them. As I've written before, I am a co-host on the Garfield Major show, Talking to the People. It airs live every Sunday evening on WRLL 1450AM from 10 until midnight. Also joining me on the air is Congressman Danny Davis (D-7th), motivational speaker Johnny Westmoreland, Martha Swain of the North Lawndale Juvenile Justice Collaborative, and the immeasurable praying of Pastor Bowers from the True House of Holiness Church.
From the opening gospel song, "Just Put It in Jesus' Hands," to his trademark answering of calls to the station, "You've Got Garfield," Major is an institution. For years, he has reached into his own pocket and paid for the show, which has allowed two hours of information to go directly to the people. It has also permitted him to be among the last radio personalities whose opinions are his own and not controlled by any sponsors.
Major's style takes me back to the early days of black stations when the community was totally dependent on the radio and the hosts for information. Even with all the modern technology we have today, many issues aren't covered by the major radio stations and news media but can be heard on Garfield's show.
Some in the past have been dismissive of him. Yet after last February's primary vote when all was tallied, Major hosted more politicians and wannabe politicians on his show than any other radio program.
When the Dan Hynes' campaign ignored my offer for Hynes to come on Garfield's show the Sunday before the election in return for a fee of a couple of hundred of dollars and lost the election by less than 700 votes, well, that proved Major has that many listeners and more. It is always unwise in the dead of winter in frigid, cold Chicago to be dismissive of radio, which can get a politician's word out to folks when other methods won't work. Thousands of people listen to Garfield and are influenced by him.
One of the initiatives Garfield now wants to undertake is getting people to "drop a dime on crime" by calling into the radio station and publicly outing people who are responsible for some of the killings. To date, the families of Percy Day and Tyrone Williams are still seeking information on their killer. And just last week we had Jeremy Baggett slaughtered while riding his bicycle in front of Piccolo School. What better forum to get those with the knowledge to put it out in public than via the media where we aren't trying to find out who is calling? We just want to know the truth.
To do that will take money - money to keep Major on the air, money so he can have his show heard over the Internet.
The fundraiser at Grace Memorial is already shaping up to be a fantastic event. Otis Clay called in and said he's coming to sing. So did T.C. Raven who was out of town but wanted Garfield to know he's coming to perform. I understand Kathy Lockett offered to be the M.C., and Rev. Johnny Dodd will be there to perform some of his songs, along with many others.
There will be plenty to eat and drink. And every dime collected will go to keep Garfield Major on the air. So bring your wallets and checkbooks. All checks can be made payable to WVON and in the memo portion, write "Garfield Show." See you on Saturday, June 19.
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