Governor David Paterson visited the Upper Room AIDS Ministry when the only promising HIV medication was AZT. The Helen Keller of the election process was part of a black political posse, led by Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel, who, in the sense of community organizing and disbursing ear-marked funding, inspected the organization I worked for. The proud sons and daughters of congressional re-districting came to evaluate services being offered in the black community for homeless people suffering from AIDS.
Published social work veteran, black queen, and child welfare specialist Willis Green, Jr., LCSW, was running the place at the time and had hired me, a pretty white boy, as his first defense in moments such as the day when David Paterson and Charlie Rangel were led blindly into the workplace– along with at least a half dozen other, well-dressed, fast-talking, Al Sharpton knock-offs.
The power players were in a rush to see the sanctuary that a press release had so eloquently described. The Upper Room, in an effort to attract more city funding, promised the politicians an award at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture during a special event featuring dance icon, Carmen de Lavallade, who had agreed, thanks to a few connections I had, to come out of retirement at 70, and dance for the sick at the Upper Room.
It didn’t hurt, when I wrote that press release, that seasoned black superstars like Rube Dee and Ossie Davis had personally donated money to the Upper Room, long before I worked there, back when Melba Moore was still singing in the name of a good-cause for her neighbors in Harlem. Putting a name like the late Willis Green, Jr. after my sentences, behind such endorsements as Dee, Davis and de Lavallade, caused the power of my pen to soar to unknown places high-up in government.
I used my connections in the entertainment industry when writing that press release. It was my job to put together a fundraiser and not only find potential funders, but also to secure the participation of people who would make other people in Harlem want to donate money for a ‘good cause. I found my to the dance diva through my lover at the time, Frank West. When Charlie Rangel learned that Carmen de Lavallade was going to perform again in Harlem, the many-term congressman led the little people in city and state government to the inside chambers of the Upper Room.
It was a time before mass e-mailing, when fax machines were like newspapers, back when it was possible to be a writer with a punch. I went the extra mile and made follow-up calls to the offices where my faxes went, to ensure speedy delivery.
What the entourage of “minority” assembly and city council members thought in their busy political minds as they saw what was up with AIDS in Harlem is anyone’s guess. It must have seemed like just another day playing saint at some religiously–based, church going, praise ye non-profit dollar scam company. This one was called what? Oh yes, The Upper Room.
We put on a show in the office that day!
An effeminate white sissy answered the door when they drove up in tinted window cars. I shook all their hands, pretending to be like a Hollywood agent with artsy sophistication. I escorted the elected down the dusty hallway of our facility. I swished my way with them at my heels, into a little carpeted office where our skinny Executive Director, Willis Green, Jr. was still sitting behind a mahogany desk with a tacky silver contraption made of strings and swinging balls which, thankfully, was not in motion. Willis’ fancy new executive game had been placed like a prescription pad next to a fancy stapler that in the course of six years was punched less than one hundred times.
We never really believed they would all show up, and the little round mahogany desk with matching leather padded seats was not enough space for so many reaching arms of government. The desk and matching chairs were purchased at non-negotiated catalog rates just a week before. The furniture was paid for with Division of AIDS Services contract dollars that needed to be spent on office supplies, before June 30, 1993. David Paterson stood that day, but didn’t seem to mind.
David Paterson was last in line, coming in the door that day. I’ll never forget him. He was carrying all the bags and almost forgotten by the big names that came uptown into the upper room, that day. I assumed Dave was just like me—some sucker secretary. I knew from the haphazard rolling of his eyeballs that he was blind, but didn’t know he could see just about everything until he reached his hand out first to shake mine.
It was genuine, but it seemed to me he did it because he was being ignored by the big person at the Upper Room.
What a nice politician, I realized, when later, I learned that he held office and was the son of some really powerful politician. When he became governor, I was happy for him because I know he sees what goes on behind the scenes as well as any of us. It’s terrible to see the Jewish run media secretly destroy the reputation of one who I know to have such a warm handshake.
Has there ever been a politician who has not used their influence to help their friends or those in need? I cannot help but think that if ever I got into trouble, I could call my friend, David, the governor, while he was still in office, but like one of a million press releases, he must have forgotten me after all these years.
We all have good intentions– but a press release can lead anyone astray, and in politics, one is not immune to the deficiencies in honest journalism.