The People, Places, and the History of The Northern Neck of VA

A Book and A Movie

The Spook Who Sat By The Door & The Mack

So here we go with “The Book and The Movie,” sometimes referencing the music, the cast; whatever made it memorable to me.

Intelligence is not a race or a gender.

The Spook Who Sat by the Door

Unrest and awareness were the paths I traveled when I left “The Neck” for SE Washington, DC in 1973.

“Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown, “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” by Nina Simone, inspired by the title of Lorraine Hansberry’s autobiography of the same name, were blasting on the radio station “WRAP” with Daddy Jack Holmes, the Black R&B station out of Norfolk, VA that we listened to in the morning before catching the bus to school.

After graduating, if you didn’t have a job, waiting the summer before entering into college, going into the military, or just waiting in limbo to see what your next move be, you went away. That meant going to live with relatives that lived out of town, somewhere to go to figure what you were going to do with your first step into adulthood.

My relatives on Dad’s side of the family living in DC said I could come there. The next week, my relatives on my Mom’s side asked me if I wanted to come to New York. I had committed to the first offer, DC, so I didn’t want to seem ungrateful and renege on the first offer so off to DC I went.

It was my first time being on my own…but being with family there were familiar things to help me adjust…learning how to play bid whist instead of playing rook, and the ever present library in their home.

One of the first books I read living with my aunts, Eldine, and Margaret, and Uncle Rosamond, in D.C. was the book “The Spook Who Sat by the Door” by Sam Greenlee. The one line from that book that always remained with me was “a Black man with a mop and bucket could go anywhere without question.” That fact proved to be the undoing to the villains in the book.

When there aren't many alternatives, you make do.

The Mack

As to the movie: “The Mack” starring Roger E. Mosley, Max Julien, Richard Pryor, and a host of other wonderful actors. The plot: the war to save a Black neighborhood from the government’s intention to enslaved the poor by enabling slum lords, crushing unemployment, and the readily available and cheap drugs, using young Black people as their enforcers.

The struggle remains.

An important part of the movie was the soundtrack by Mr. Willie Hutchinson. In the piece “Brothers Gonna’ Work It Out,” are the voices of Roger E. Mosley and Max Julien as the brothers who have conflicting roles in their community.

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