Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A00434 - Bill Badger, Tackled Giffords Shooter

Bill Badger in 2011. CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images
Bill Badger, who was credited with saving lives during the 2011 shooting in Arizona that critically injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords, died on Wednesday. He was 78.
The cause was pneumonia, said his wife, Sallie Badger. She did not say where he died.
Mr. Badger was wounded — a bullet grazed the back of his head — in January 2011 in a grocery store parking lot near Tucson at a constituent event for Ms. Giffords, a Democrat. He nonetheless managed to tackle the shooter, Jared L. Loughner, and helped others hold him down and disarm him before the police arrived. Ms. Giffords was shot in the head at close range.
Six people were killed and 13 people injured in the shooting. Ms. Giffords, who resigned her House seat, is partly paralyzed, with impaired vision and limited speech.
Mr. Loughner is serving seven consecutive life terms in prison.
“I believe that Bill helped save lives that morning,” Ms. Giffords said in a statement. “I will always be grateful to him for his selfless, brave actions.”
Mr. Badger, who was born in South Dakota, joined the National Guard as a high school junior and was an Army pilot for 37 years. He and his wife moved to Arizona in 1985 when he established the Western Army Aviation Training Site in Marana, just outside Tucson.
In addition to his wife, his survivors include a son, Christian.
Mr. Badger was not permanently injured in the shooting, but he showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, his wife said.
The Badgers traveled across the country to push for stricter gun laws. “We wanted desperately to have background checks on every gun that was sold,” Ms. Badger said. “And Bill just made that his mission.”

A00433 - Yosef ben-Jochannan, Afrocentric Scholar

Yosef Ben-Jochannan, 96, at the Bay Park Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation on Feb. 22.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times
The faded plaque to the right of the door said “Jochannan, Yosef B.,” but visitors to this nursing home on the northern edge of the Bronx knew the frail 96-year-old inside by another name: Dr. Ben.
As a sign of respect, many would also bend down on one knee.
The room was covered in mementos from a life spent between continents, weaving together the threads of the African diaspora: honors and awards, photos of Egyptian statues, kente cloth, a mug decorated with hieroglyphs and piles of letters from admirers and acolytes.
Yosef Alfredo Antonio Ben-Jochannan seemed unaware of the shrine that had accumulated around him. His eyes were barely open. He sat hunched in his wheelchair, dressed in baggy pants, a faded purple sweatshirt and a kufi.
One of his daughters held his hand; a granddaughter showed him photos of her own child on a cellphone.
Though he now had difficulty speaking, exhausted by even the smallest effort, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was once a powerful orator and a prolific author, one of the most vital and radical Afrocentric voices of his generation.
Seated, from left, Gil Noble, host of the public affairs television program, "Like It Is," with Ivan van Sertima, Yosef Ben-Jochannan and John Henrik Clarke. Ralph Carter stands at right with an unidentified guest. CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times
And he may have been the last. On March 19, Mr. Ben-Jochannan died, leaving behind 13 children from three marriages and a generation of intellectuals and activists who looked to him for guidance.
His life spanned eras. When Mr. Ben-Jochannan was born, Africa was largely under colonial rule, the Voting Rights Act was a half-century away and the lynching of black Americans was at its peak.
To some, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was a sage, a self-taught scholar who dedicated his life to uncovering the suppressed history of a people, challenging narratives that had written Africa out of world history.
In the 1960s, Mr. Ben-Jochannan emerged as prominent figure in Harlem, pushing his anticolonial message to its limit, claiming that the very foundations of Western civilization, including Greek philosophy, Judaism and Christianity, were African in origin. He regularly lectured to crowded auditoriums; he was a disciple of Marcus Garvey and a confidant of Malcolm X, and he appeared on stages with Amiri Baraka, Al Sharpton, James Brown and Louis Farrakhan.
“He is a kind of godfather to all of us in African and Afro-American studies,” Cornel West, the author and activist, said. “I salute him. I was blessed to study at his feet.”
And yet to others Mr. Ben-Jochannan was an impostor and a historical revisionist. The Anti-Defamation League, troubled by books of his with titles like “We the Black Jews: Witness to the ‘White Jewish Race’ Myth,” stopped just short of calling him an anti-Semite.
His work, the group once wrote, was “blatantly inaccurate” and “unworthy of any educational institution.”
But Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s legacy is not confined to academic debate. As part of his enterprise, he took thousands of black Americans on tours of the Nile Valley, to visit the pyramids and temples of ancient Egypt, where he always took special care to point out the faces on statues and shapes of the figures in hieroglyphs.
Asked in the weeks before his death what drove him to make these repeated pilgrimages to Egypt, Mr. Ben-Jochannan cleared his throat and answered very slowly. “I wanted people to see their faces were the same,” he said.
Mr. Ben-Jochannan was born, he claimed, in Ethiopia, to an Ethiopian Jewish father and a Puerto Rican mother (herself from Yemeni Jewish stock). But there is little evidence for that other than his own word; some peers, and even a family member, have privately expressed doubts.
Most accounts agree that wherever he was born, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was raised in the Caribbean and moved to New York City around 1940.
Harlem at that time was swirling with various strains of black nationalism in the wake of Mr. Garvey’s pan-Africanist movement. This is where Mr. Ben-Jochannan found his voice, holding impromptu lectures in city squares and talks at community centers. He later began teaching at Harlem Prep, an experimental school that opened in 1967, and at Malcolm-King: Harlem College Extension, a two-year liberal arts school, in the 1970s and ’80s.
Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s self-published books — around 20 volumes in total, with titles like “Africa: Mother of Western Civilization” and “Black Man of the Nile and His Family” — were collaged with hieroglyphs and hand-drawn maps. Ignored by academia, they became staples in Afrocentric libraries.
“I consider Dr. Ben the greatest of the self-trained historians,” said Paul Coates, founder of Black Classics Press, who would later work as Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s publisher. “There’s still no one like him.”
Having already established a reputation among African-Americans, in 1973 Mr. Ben-Jochannan joined Cornell University’s Africana Studies and Research Center (at the time only four years old), in Ithaca, N.Y., as a visiting professor.
He was a distinguished figure at the Africana Center, eventually becoming an adjunct over his 15-year affiliation with Cornell. A painted portrait of Mr. Ben-Jochannan still hangs at the school.
During that period, Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s 15-day trips to Egypt, billed as “Dr. Ben’s Alkebu-Lan Educational Tours,” using what he said was an ancient name for Africa, were more popular than ever. They typically ran three times a summer, shuttling as many as 200 people to Africa per season. In 1987, one ticket, all expenses paid, was $1,545.
“I was always taught that the ancient Egyptians were Caucasian,” saidAnthony T. Browder, who traveled with Mr. Ben-Jochannan in the 1980s. But in southern Egypt, Mr. Browder saw a statue of a pharaoh that left him speechless. “The face is African,” said Mr. Browder, who is the director of the IKG Cultural Resource Center, an organization devoted to the “rediscovery and application” of ancient African history. “It was mind-blowing, evidence of African greatness, thousands of years before our ancestors were enslaved.”
In accounts of his own life, some of Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s embellishments seemed to serve a larger purpose: gesturing to a distant past, establishing a grand narrative and creating a nearly mythic public persona. Others appear to be mere falsehoods or plain deceit.
Documents from Malcolm-King College and Cornell show Mr. Ben-Jochannan holding a doctorate from Cambridge University in England; catalogs from Malcolm-King College list him holding two master’s from Cambridge. According to Fred Lewsey, a communications officer at Cambridge, however, the school has no record of his ever attending, let alone earning any degree. Similarly, the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, where he also said he had studied, has no records of his enrollment.
It’s not clear whether employers had ever looked into Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s qualifications.
“People condemn me for not being an intellectual of the Ph.D. type,” Mr. Ben-Jochannan once said, reacting to questions later raised about his résumé. While he used the “white man’s credential” to go “certain places,” Mr. Ben-Jochannan said, he refused to “let the white man certify” his work.
Though beyond reproach to most acolytes, Mr. Ben-Jochannan was challenged publicly by classical scholars like Mary Lefkowitz, now a retired professor at Wellesley College. While Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s work was rooted in a desire to undo the damage done by colonial historians, Ms. Lefkowitz said, he was simply offering pseudohistory as an alternative.
“It’s a myth of conspiracy: ‘White people have taken away history and hidden the truth,’ ” Ms. Lefkowitz said. “But it’s all more complicated than that.”
Mr. Ben-Jochannan seemed unfazed by criticism.
“I don’t care whether white colleagues appreciate me as a historian or not,” he wrote once. “I’m writing for the African person all around the world.”
In the next decades, as most of his peers died, Mr. Ben-Jochannan emerged as the elder statesman of Afrocentrism. But like any vanguard, he may have been a victim of his own success, eclipsed by the younger intellectuals he influenced.
“That entire generation of self-trained historians really gave me my first sense of skepticism,” Ta-Nehisi Coates, an editor at The Atlantic, and the son of Paul Coates, Mr. Ben-Jochannan’s publisher, wrote in an email.
“What people like Dr. Ben were saying was, ‘History is not this objective thing that exists outside of politics,’ ” Mr. Coates wrote. “ ‘It exists well within politics, and part of its job has been to position black people in a place of use for white people.’ And that notion of skepticism goes with me in all of my work. It runs through everything I do.”

Yosef Alfredo Antonio ben-Jochannan (/ˈbɛn ˈjkənən/; December 31, 1918 – March 19, 2015), also known as Dr. Ben, was an American writer and historian. He is considered to have been one of the nation's more notable Afrocentric scholars.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Ben-Jochannan's background is uncertain. He asserted that he was born in Ethiopia to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father.[2] According to Tudor Parfitt, Ben-Jochannan was likely to have been of Puerto Rican origin.[3]
According to some sources, he was educated in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba, and Spain, earning degrees in engineering and anthropology.[2][unreliable source?] In 1938, he is said to have earned a BS in Civil Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico; this is disputed.[citation needed] He stated that in 1939 he earned a Master's degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Havana, Cuba.[2] and then doctoral degrees in Cultural Anthropology and Moorish History from the University of Havana and the University of Barcelona, Spain.[2]
In a New York Times article published after Ben-Jochannan's death it was reported that "Documents from Malcolm-King College and Cornell show Mr. Ben-Jochannan holding a doctorate from Cambridge University in England; catalogs from Malcolm-King College list him holding two master’s from Cambridge. According to Fred Lewsey, a communications officer at Cambridge, however, the school has no record of his ever attending, let alone earning any degree. Similarly, the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, where he also said he had studied, has no records of his enrollment."[4]

Career and later life[edit]

Ben-Jochannan immigrated to the United States in the early 1940s. He worked as a draftsman and continued his studies. He stated that in 1945, he was appointed chairman of the African Studies Committee at the headquarters of the newly founded UNESCO, a position from which he reportedly stepped down in 1970. In 1950, Ben-Jochannan began teaching Egyptology at Malcolm King College, and subsequently at City College in New York City. From 1976 to 1987, he was an adjunct professor at Cornell University.[5]
Ben-Jochannan was the author of 49 books, primarily on ancient Nile Valley civilizations and their impact on Western cultures.[2][dead link]In his writings, he asserts that the original Jews were from Ethiopia and were Black Africans, while the white Jews later adopted the Jewish faith and its customs.[6]
Ben-Jochannan made a number of appearances on Gil Noble's WABC-TV weekly public affairs series Like It Is.
In 2002, Ben-Jochannan donated his personal library of more than 35,000 volumes, manuscripts and ancient scrolls to the Nation of Islam.[7]
In the years preceding his death Ben-Jochannan lived in Harlem, New York City.
Ben-Jochannan died on March 19, 2015,[8] at the age of 96.[9]


Ben-Jochannan has been criticized for allegedly distorting history and promoting Black supremacy. In February 1993, Wellesley College European classics professor Mary Lefkowitz publicly confronted Ben-Jochannan about his teachings. Ben-Jochannan taught that Aristotle visited the Library of Alexandria. During the question and answer session following the lecture, Lefkowitz asked ben-Jochannan, "How would that have been possible, when the library was not built until after his death?" Lefkowitz stated that "Dr. ben-Jochannan was unable to answer the question, and said that he resented the tone of the inquiry."[10] Lefkowitz writes that ben-Jochannan proceeded to tell those present that they "could and should believe what black instructors told" them and that "although they might think that Jews were all 'hook-nosed and sallow faced,' there were other Jews who looked like himself."[11]
African-American professor Clarence E. Walker wrote that Ben-Jochannan not only confused Cleopatra VII with her daughter Cleopatra VIII and stated she was black, but also wrote that “Cleopatra VIII committed suicide after being discovered in a plot with Marc Antonio [Mark Anthony] to murder Julius Caesar.”[12]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • African Origins of Major Western Religions, 1991. ISBN 978-0933121294
  • We the Black Jews, 1993, ISBN 9780933121409
  • Black Man of the Nile and His Family, Black Classic Press, 1989. ISBN 9780933121263
  • Africa: Mother of Western CivilizationISBN 9780933121256
  • New Dimensions in African History
  • The Myth of Exodus and Genesis and the Exclusion of Their African Origins
  • Abu Simbel to Ghizeh: A Guide Book and Manual
  • Cultural Genocide in the Black and African Studies Curriculum. New York, 1972. OCLC 798725

Monday, March 30, 2015

A00432 - Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Formative Manga Artist

Japanese mangaka Yoshihiro Tatsumi poses during a photo session at the 64th Cannes Film Festival in 2011. CreditGuillaume Baptiste/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Yoshihiro Tatsumi, a Japanese cartoonist whose dark, psychologically astute tales helped establish the genre of adult comics and graphic novels, died on March 7 in Tokyo. He was 79.
The cause was cancer, said Peggy Burns, a spokeswoman for Drawn & Quarterly, Mr. Tatsumi’s English-language publisher.
Mr. Tatsumi is best known in the United States for the memoir “A Drifting Life,” published in Japan in 2008 and in English translation in 2009. A mammoth illustrated work, it draws heavily on the details of Mr. Tatsumi’s own early life, beginning at the end of World War II, when he was 10 and Japanese popular culture was awash in the serialized illustrated stories known as manga.
Manga, largely aimed at children (though enjoyed by many of their elders as well), was by tradition limited in both its illustrative and narrative possibilities, with a recognizable if not entirely uniform style of drawing (characters with wide eyes and small mouths) and a simplistic range of emotional and intellectual concerns.
Drawing from "A Drifting Life" by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Creditvia Drawn & Quarterly
Mr. Tatsumi grew up in this tradition, drawing manga as a child and publishing as a teenager. But by the time he was in his early 20s, he had begun producing stories with more adult concerns, part of a Japanese movement that predated the American underground comics of the 1960s and beyond created by the likes of R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman.
Often cited as an innovator, Mr. Tatsumi was one of a group of young writers and illustrators who, in the late 1950s, created a manga subgenre — Mr. Tatsumi christened it “gekiga” — that dealt, realistically and dramatically, with subjects like sex and violence, behavioral motives like greed and betrayal and emotions like anguish and regret.
In “A Drifting Life,” Mr. Tatsumi wrote that he had been influenced by the gritty American novelist Mickey Spillane and the bad guy played by Jack Palance in the film “Shane.” He often went to the movies when a story he was writing had ground to a halt, and the influence of cinematic imagery and technique, especially in the dramatic interplay of light and shadow, is recognizable in his work.
The stories had their pulpy elements, to be sure. But Mr. Tatsumi was a shrewd observer of his national culture. He created protagonists who were mostly of the undistinguished, unheroic variety — an unhappily married corporate manager, soon to retire, already forgotten and seeking an unlikely romantic thrill; an out-of-work cartoonist who finds himself obsessed with vulgar graffiti on a restroom wall; a lonely factory worker who loses an arm.
Drawing from "A Drifting Life" by Yoshihiro Tatsumi.Creditvia Drawn & Quarterly
Drawn with clarity and an often somber or strained mien expressive of life’s burdens (though he portrayed himself in a blander, Clark Kentish vein), the stories represent a kind of silent, grief-stricken desperation prevalent in a modernizing, urban-centered Japan.
In one story, “Hell,” a photographer who had become famous for an image captured after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima — it depicts a shadow, seared into a wall, of what seems to be a son affectionately massaging his mother’s shoulders — learns that the true story behind the shadow is in fact more sinister, and he commits a murder to keep the secret. Living for years with his guilt, he becomes a symbol of official Japan’s exploitation of the national tragedy. “Hell” was dramatized in “Tatsumi” (2011), an animated biographical documentary.
Mr. Tatsumi was born in Osaka on June 10, 1935. His father was the manager of a laundry but, according to “A Drifting Life,” not a constant figure at home. Yoshihiro graduated from high school in Osaka before moving to Tokyo. His survivors include his wife, Eiko Tatsumi, and a sister, Michiko Tatsumi.
Mr. Tatsumi’s first full-length book, “Black Blizzard,” published in Japan in 1956 (but not in English until 2010), is about a young musician falsely convicted of murder whose prison-bound train is derailed in an avalanche, allowing his escape through the snow. His other works include the collections “Abandon the Old in Tokyo,” “Good-Bye,” “The Pushman and Other Stories” and, more recently, “Fallen Words,” a wry set of moral tales published in 2009, after “A Drifting Life.”
A portrait of the artist as a young man, covering the years from 1945 to 1960 and translated by Taro Nettleton, “A Drifting Life,” doorstop-size at more than 800 pages, was the winner of an Eisner award (the comics-industry equivalent of the Oscar) for best reality-based work. It was widely viewed as the crowning triumph — “the big kahuna,” as Dwight Garner of The New York Times called it — of Mr. Tatsumi’s career.
“It’s a book that manages to be, all at once, an insider’s history of manga, a mordant cultural tour of post-Hiroshima Japan and a scrappy portrait of a struggling artist,” Mr. Garner wrote. “It’s a big, fat, greasy tub of salty popcorn for anyone interested (as Americans increasingly are) in the theory and practice of Japanese comics. It’s among this genre’s signal achievements.”