Monday, January 18, 2010

Call Yourself a Cool Cat? Larry Platt Actually is One.

By now you’ve heard of him. He’s an overnight Web sensation thanks to American Idol. I’m talking about “The General” Larry Platt. This 62-year old Georgian has a message for all the wannabee thugs and gangstas: Pull Your Pants Up. You can click HERE to see The General’s American Idol audition, but what I want to share is this cool mash-up. There are a ton of these out there already, but most of them aren’t very good. This one’s the best I’ve found. I’ll just warn you, though. You’re going to be singing this song for the next few days. Just give in and enjoy.


Back in the ‘60s, this former student of Martin Luther King, Jr’s was a civil rights activist (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and Southern Christian Leadership Conference to fight racial segregation in the South). On September 4th, 2001, the Georgia General Assembly created Larry Platt Day and announced:

"For the past 40 years, Larry Platt has given of himself in service to the people of the City of Atlanta, the State of Georgia, and the nation...Larry Platt merits the highest recognition for his many valuable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and his dedication to the struggle for equality and human rights."

Platt earned his nickname from civil rights leader Reverend Hosea Williams (1926-2000), who was so moved by Platt’s courageous efforts that he dubbed Larry “The General.” During the notorious 1965 "Bloody Sunday" protest march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama, where the protestors sought voting rights for all African Americans, Platt was actually tear-gassed and beaten, but this did not stop the General. He remains a community activist to this very day, working with the United Youth Adult Conference, a volunteer organization set up to find missing children in the Atlanta area, and fighting against public foreclosures.

So, this “overnight sensation’s” message is actually backed up by something real, by a lifetime of championing causes for men and women of color. Now if only these gangsta wannabees would recognize those who, like the General, have paved the way for them. Now if only they would appreciate and take the time to LEARN about those who have suffered, fought, been beaten, even died for a noble cause, so that today black men are free to walk around town acting like a fool with the gold in their mouth and their hats turned sideways. To me, Platt’s message is clear: Educate yourself. Walk proud. But most of all, pull your damn pants up and show a little respect. 


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