The National Museum of African American History and Culture

stmuseumproject41447720452 (Source: Ricky Carioti, Washington Post)

On Monday, November 16, 2015 I had the pleasure of attending a special ceremony for the National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The ceremony was organized to thank donors for their generous monetary donations and to give the public a glimpse into what is to come. The evening was simply magical with speeches from political dignitaries, Dr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Director of the NMAAHC, poetry, prose, and beautiful music including a performance from internationally renowned gospel recording artist BeBe Winans. The ceremony was another shining example of the great strides and accomplishments made by blacks from the African Diaspora.

With a $250 million price tag, the NMAAHC was established by Congress in December 2003[1]. The idea for the museum was first born in 1915 and one hundred years later, the idea has become a reality. The 400,000 square foot building will feature 11 exhibitions to include a 1913 bible once owned by a Buffalo Solider, belongings from a Tuskegee Airman, and Harriet Tubman’s hymnal[2].

The NMAAHC sits squarely on the National Mall in all its regalia as magnificent as the people it represents. Its exterior walls are made of bronze symbolic of a crown from the Yoruba culture[3]. It is juxtaposed with the Washington Monument which sits a few hundred feet away directly across the street. One white, the other brown. One built by slaves, the other built by experienced architects. The past. The future. A collision of space, time, and history.

On September 24, 2016, the doors of the National Museum for African American History and Culture will officially open. If the November 2015 event was any indication of what’s to come, hold onto your hats, bring plenty of tissue, and make sure your smartphone is charged.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#BlackHistoryEVERYDAY #BlackHistory #BlackHistoryMonth #NMAAHC #HarrietTubman #LonnieBunch #Smithsonian #Museum #history #WashingtonDC #DC #DMV #NationalMall #ljsamuel #deardiary

[1] McGlone, P. (2016, January 30). Lonnie Bunch has eight months to get ready for African American museum opening. Retrieved from

[2] McGlone, P. (2016, January 30). Lonnie Bunch has eight months to get ready for African American museum opening. Retrieved from

[3] Wikipedia. (2016, February 4). National museum of African American history and culture. Retrieved from

Note: reprint from Black History Program at The Church of Our Lady and St. Basil, Toronto, Ontario

The Papal Effect

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis after this welcoming speech during the state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Last week the Pope was in town.  It was sheer Pope Pandemonium.  People adjusted their schedules and lives in the hope of just catching a glimpse of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.  I had the honor and pleasure of seeing Pope Francis’ Pope-mobile and seeing him address the US Congress.  It was truly a blessing. From his arrival on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 to his departure on Thursday, September 24, 2015, a spirit of love had set over the city of Washington.  The City was calm and peaceful.  Everywhere you went people smiled and discussed in excitement their experience of the Papal visit.  There was so much optimism in the air that it felt like there was a shift.  A shift in the way we view each other, a shift in the way we treat each other.  The happiness was infectious.  I thought that perhaps this was the change we needed and the examples provided would lead to healing of some societal hurts such as discrimination, hate, lack of respect, rudeness, and violence.  Unfortunately, that was a utopian desire as once Pope Francis left the United States, the calm dissipated and we all went back to our normal habits. Wouldn’t it be a better and more enjoyable life if we all had mutual respect for one another regardless of religious background, political affiliation, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, whether you like cats or dogs, or sleep upside down?  It should not be that hard. Really.

I wish there was a way to recapture the feeling of last week…

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#PopeInDC #PapalVisit #WashingtonDC #DC #GoldenRule #peace #calm #respect #kindness #change #reform

Subculture of Violence

The Subculture of Violence is a criminological term normally reserved to explain crimes committed in poor, urban communities but today’s on air killing of WDBJ Reporter Allison Parker and Cameraman Adam Ward show us that these behaviors have not been confined within neatly drawn boundaries around disadvantaged neighborhoods.  This violence has oozed out of areas where it normally occurs and is now everywhere.  Rudeness, dismissiveness, and a sense of entitlement lead to poor and sometimes heated interactions which are precursors to violence. We as a community have got to do better.  And, we have to treat each other better. It is no secret that those involved in these violent incidents are trouble souls.  They feel invisible because society does not care about them.  Or at least that is the perception.  They have been cast aside by family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  This does not excuse this behavior.  Violence is NEVER the answer! What it means is that we need to wake up.  We have a responsibility.  If something is out of the ordinary, say something.  If something does not seem right, do something.  Ignorance is not acceptable.  We can no longer be complacent spectators going through the motions of life.  We all play a vital role in this script. Now is the time to start caring.  Wave at a neighbor.  Smile at someone coming down the street.  Help an elderly person across the road.  Stop at stop signs and let pedestrians cross safely before you gun the engine to move quickly through the intersection.  Ask someone how they are doing and have the compassion to wait for the answer to ensure they are truly okay.  Slow down.  The world does not revolve around you or me.  The only way we are going to survive is if we go back to basics and start treating people kindly, gently, and humanely.  Hatred has crept into places that used to be off limits: our schools, playgrounds, churches, and workplaces.  We need balance.  We live in this world together and thus must be accountable to one another.  Recognize the warning signs and act on them.

Hurting people hurt, and in this case kill.  Let’s do better.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#subculture #violence #killing #crime #RoanokeVA #RIP #WDBJ #allisonparker #adamward #prayer #community #neighborhood #togetherness #kindness #responsibility #accountability #justice #peace

Humanity Lost

praying What a week.  So much violence, sadness, and turmoil.  Escaped murderers and cop killers.  Rape and murder of a 16 year-old innocent.  And the unthinkable tragedy of the brutal, senseless killing of nine souls praying in a house of worship. The world has a gaping wound and oozing out is hurt and pain.

Whenever there is a tragedy, the media highlights the name and handiwork of the evil doer a million times.  The victims are often the secondary story.  There are even times that stories are slanted to suggest victims of violent, unspeakable crimes are not innocent and blameless.  Let’s not demonize victims.  It disrespects their memory, diminishes the agony families are facing, and presents an excuse or defense for the perpetrator of the crime.

I cannot fathom what goes through a person’s mind when they are planning murder.  Where is the sense of conscience?  Where is the respect for life?  Where is the deference to that which is holy and sacred?  And how is it that once again we are at a point in history where the issues of race are sparking such venom and hatred to lead one to murder nine people in cold blood?  Where does that come from?  How does an innocent child brought into this world grow up to hate a group of people so much because of the color of their skin that he wants to annihilate them?  There is an indoctrination which most certainly began in the home.  These thoughts, feelings, and actions were encouraged.  And sadly since symbols of hate fly on flag posts outside state government buildings, then there is an unspoken acceptance of these ideals.

We have to do better.  We’re destroying each other- in the name of race, gender, or political affiliation.  This cannot go on.  Now, more than ever, we need to come together.  In honor of the nine brave people that lost their lives on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 as they sat in their church for bible study, we have to root out this hate.  And let’s not forget their names and the good they did while here on Earth doing God’s work.

The Emanuel 9

  1. The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41 years old
  2. Ms. Cynthia Hurd, 54 years old
  3. Ms. Susie Jackson, 87 years old
  4. Ms. Ethel Lance, 70 years old
  5. Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49 years old
  6. Mr. Tywanza Sanders, 26 years old
  7. Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74 years old
  8. Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45 years old
  9. Ms. Myra Thompson, 59 years old

We cannot go on like this.  Be kind to one another.  Love.  Love one another.  Love. Love one another whether black or white, male or female.  Just love.

God bless the souls of the Emanuel 9, Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#Emanuel9 #IAmAME #Charleston #humanity #peace #love #blessings #prayer #black #white #justice #fairness #crime #violence #BlackLivesMatter #respect

Image Source:

Police Brutality in the United States: The Past is Prologue

Past is Prologue Image                                            (What is Past is Prologue, Archives) McKinney Police Incident In 1951, a Florida Sheriff shot two black men he was transporting in his police vehicle. The two men had been wrongly convicted of a crime. The victims, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin were spared the death penalty after the US Supreme Court overturned their convictions (Equal Justice Initiative, 2014).  The Sheriff shot them shortly after the Supreme Court's decision was made. The past is prologue.

In 1963, 700 black teenagers were arrested by the Birmingham Police Department in the State of Alabama. The police clubbed them with their Billy sticks, turned fire hoses on them, and attacked them with their police canines (Equal Justice Initiative, 2014). Their crime? Protesting racial segregation in the South. The past is prologue.

In 1979, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) shot and killed Ms. Eula Love in her front yard.  Ms. Love was shot eight times by two LAPD officers who were called to the scene by the gas company seeking assistance in shutting off her service (La Ganga & Susman, 2014).  The past is prologue.

In 1980, white officers tied bags over the heads of some black males they were interrogating in the shooting death of a New Orleans police officer.  This came after four blacks were shot and killed by police in response to the slain officer’s death. The interrogation tactics violated police policy, federal law, and basic human rights.  Their actions led to a 1981 indictment (NY Times). The past is prologue.

In 1991, Rodney King was savagely beaten by 20 LAPD officers after a car chase.  Rodney King sustained 11 fractures after officers struck him over and over with their police batons and kicked him while he was on the ground.  Mr. King was unarmed.  The incident was caught on tape and sparked world-wide attention. The City of Los Angeles exploded and citizens rioted for five days (CNN Library, 2015). The past is prologue.

In 2015, a young, black 14 year-old girl wearing a two-piece bikini was forcefully thrown to the ground by an out of control police supervisor in McKinney, TX who was responding to a call about a pool party that had gotten out of control.  The white officer sat on the young girl’s back screaming obscenities at her and bystanders who yelled and cried for him to stop. The past is…wait, this just happened last week.

Police interactions with black citizens continue to be marred by fear, suspicion, and violence.  There is distrust between both groups that is based in history and experience.  But this incident in particular gives great pause as the victim in this case is a young female.  The officer was in full uniform with all his equipment, including his police issued firearm.  Where was the threat?  Sure, the teenagers outnumbered the officers but when you view the video, the kids showed deference and in fact were fearful and sat down and lay down on the ground when told.  This officer arrived on the scene angry.  Therefore, anything that was said to him was filtered through his blue colander.  There were other officers on the scene that were calm and spoke to the teens in a respectful manner but this one rogue officer was out of control.

As a trained Criminologist, if his case came across my desk, I would have recommended some extensive counseling beyond termination.  This officer was clearly out of control.  When he did a barrel roll across the grass and ran down the street, he appeared like a rabid animal.  When he pulled his gun out and pointed it at the group of teens, the incident turned the corner.  He had a clearly snapped. Even other officers on the scene tried to push him back and they should be applauded for that.  This was clearly a rotten apple.  Although this McKinney police officer acted individually, his position affords him such great power that these interactions are devastatingly dangerous.  Sadly, racism, oppression, and discrimination still exist.  They exist in all major systems such as education, health care, and the criminal justice system.  Perhaps this officer just snapped?  I doubt it.  I am certain that if you look back in his record, there was be a telling pattern of problematic behavior.  That being sad, he should never have been allowed to work out his problems on the young citizens of McKinney.  This is never a fun discussion but we need to set aside our feelings of discomfort and begin some real discussions on the issue of race in policing and how some are abusing their power and hurting people and communities in the aftermath.

There was once a time that when a ship was sinking attempts for rescue started with the most vulnerable victims: women and children.  Women and children have always been treated differently and at times, more gently.  For example, female officers are always (or should be) used to pat down females.  There is a societal rule in terms of how men versus women should be handled.  Thus, the outrage in social media after this case is warranted.  Certain behaviors and actions should be off limits and this McKinney officer went too far. Let’s do better.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#BlackLivesMatter #protectourgirls #McKinney #poolofoppression #policebrutality #police #accountability #pastispresent #socialjustice #criminaljustice #crime #justice #peace #compassion #dialogue #ljsamuel


CNN Library. (2015). Los Angeles riot fast facts. Retrieved from

Equal Justice Initiative. (2014). A history of racial injustice. Retrieved from

La Ganga, M. & Susman, T. (2014). Controversial police use-of-force cases. LA Times. Retrieved from

New York Times. (1981, October 10). 7 officers indicted in New Orleans. Retrieved from

Image Sources

National Archives, picture taken by L.J. Samuel McKinney Incident, dallasmorningviewsblog

Shades of Gray

Freddie Gray Yesterday Freddie Gray, age 25, was buried after succumbing to injuries he sustained at the hands of several Baltimore Police Department officers. No one knows exactly what happened that terrible day on April 12, 2015 and perhaps no one ever will. But one thing is for certain- Mr. Freddie Gray is dead. His twin sister has lost her brother, his parents have lost their son, and the world has lost another young black man to police brutality. The media consistently reports that Freddie died of a spinal injury but official reports state that his spine was severed, an injury so severe that it took his life. Semantics? I think not. If we are going to have a real discussion on the issue of police brutality, accountability, police-community relations, and steps towards healing then we must not sugarcoat the issue. 25 year-old Freddie Gray died after officers stomped on his back and severed his spine ending his short life. They gave Freddie Gray a life sentence for allegedly having guns in his possession. These officers acted as the judge and jury and unfortunately Mr. Gray did not have a chance.

Police Vehicle Burning    CVS Burning

The match was lit and Baltimore burned for the better part of the afternoon and night of April 27th. While many protested peacefully in the street, others used it as an opportunity to engage in lawlessness. Baltimore residents are angry. Those watching around the country and world are angry. We are all angry. But how does breaking into a liquor store or destroying a CVS Drug Store further the cause in a positive manner? How does bad behavior honor the spirit of Freddie Gray or comfort his family? It doesn’t. It is an unnecessary distraction and confuses the agenda. For those rioting in Baltimore, they are in the minority and they are punishing no one but themselves. They open themselves up to arrest, prosecution, jail time, and have physically destroyed segments of their own communities.

The Governor blamed the mayor for not acting soon enough and the National Guard was called in to occupy another city exploding from the frustration and anger of police brutality and unnecessary force. Not acknowledging the real problem feeds into the Us versus Them mentality between the police and the black community and broadens the divide between these two groups. It is absolutely mind-boggling that in 2015 we as a society are here again. With all that occurred in Stamford, Florida, Staten Island, NY, Ferguson, MO, Tulsa, OK, and many other cities, you would think that we would have learned. Leaders need to truly step up and take action that will be lasting and leave the recycled rhetoric in the past.

Community Clean Up

The good news is that every day we are provided with a new opportunity to start over and get it right. And this morning, residents of Baltimore let the rioters in the community, their fellow neighbors, and the country know that they were not going stand by and let their city be destroyed. So people pulled out their brooms and got out trash bags and started the slow process of cleaning up. This gesture is creating an atmosphere of solidarity and perhaps the healing has begun. The world is still young and we all must live in it together so why not do that from a place of love and respect? Surely that’s better than putting fires out.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#FreddieGray #policebrutality #policeabuse #Baltimore #BaltimoreUprising #policeaccountability #blacklivesmatter #crime #justice #peace #healing #death #future #hope

Images courtesy of:

Like a Girl

Always debuted their #LIKEAGIRL campaign during Super Bowl XLIX February 1st, 2015 by airing an ad featuring young girls, women, boys, and men performing various tasks when prompted by the off screen interviewer.  For example, they were asked to run like a girl or to fight like a girl.  I find it interesting that Always chose to introduce this campaign during one of the biggest and most popular sporting events.  Football is a hyper-masculine sport where no player ‘runs’ or ‘hits’ like a girl. Unfortunately, sometimes what players are taught on the field carries over into their daily life.  Given the tumultuous year the National Football League (NFL) has had with domestic violence, perhaps Always wanted to remind viewers and consumers that women still matter. What you were left with at the end of the commercial was a well-played dichotomy. But I shall take it a step further. Men don’t hit like a girl, so they should never hit a girl, young lady, or woman. We all need to find other ways to deal with conflict. Let’s use our words and not our fists. It is a known fact that modern women are more educated, they are strong, independent, and they make their own money.  But they are still women.  So if a man is not secure enough to handle a strong woman, then leave her alone.  Do not take your insecurities out on her.  Do not belittle her because you don’t have a university degree.  Don’t make negative comments about items she buys just because you may not be able to afford the same luxuries.  Bottom line: don’t mishandle her because she feels like a girl, bruises like a girl, and bleeds like a girl.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#LIKEAGIRL #Always #SuperBowl #NFL #strength #peace #love #female #empowerment #personalsafety #domesticviolence #spousalabuse #crime #justice #ljsamuel #deardiary


I was in the women's locker room at my gym this past Saturday talking to a friend about my book.  I was describing the storyline, a domestic violence homicide, when something interesting happened.  Several other women in the locker room started listening and actually came over to hear what we were talking about.  As my friend and I chatted they started sharing their own experiences.  It was completely organic and unscripted.  I was floored that these women, who were strangers to me, were so willing to discuss such a personal part of their life with me.  There is something therapeutic about disclosure.  It truly is a part of the healing process.  Some of the women were able to speak candidly as the abuse occurred decades ago while others still had raw, fresh emotions.  Wherever they were in their lives, there seemed to be a common bond that created a small community right there in the locker room.  It became a safe place fueled by strength as they were able to break free from their abusers and are now living fulfilling lives filled with peace instead of violence. So I leave you with this- forgiveness is bliss so forgive yourself first.  This experience does not make you you a bad person nor does it define you. You got out because you are courageous. Remember, God does not make mistakes. You are beautiful through and through. So let that light shine for someone who is truly deserving of your love and who recognizes what a treasure you are. Teach your sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors what self-worth really is so that we can break this cycle of violence and everyone regardless of space or place can be safe in their homes.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#strength #courage #peace #love #female #empowerment #community #forgiveness #personalsafety #domesticviolence #spousalabuse #crime #justice #ljsamuel #deardiary

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanza! image

The holidays are a time of joy but they can also be a time of sorrow. Please keep in your thoughts and prayers those that are grieving and going through difficult times. Enjoy your family time and as you move from house to house dropping off gifts and enjoying all the season delights, please be vigilant in your activities.

This past week, the world lost two New York Police Department (NYPD) Officers to senseless and irrational violence. God bless the souls of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu who died as they served their community. Vengeance is not ours. Not everyone means us well but I believe in the inherent good in people. Use this time to slow down and reflect. We are all brothers and sisters whether black, white, red, or yellow. We are all connected whether we are wearing blue, white, a fancy suit, or rags. Let’s do better now, and in the coming year. Reflect. Ponder. And act accordingly in love and kindness.

Peace, love, and blessings,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#Christmas #holidays #peace #NYPD #family #ljsamuel #deardiary


Moore, T., Eisinger, D., Parascandola, R., Tracy, T., & Schapiro, R. (2014, December 21). Two NYPD officers ‘assassinated’ while sitting in patrol car in Brooklyn by gunman who boasted on instagram about ‘revenge’ killing cops. New York Daily News. Retrieved from

Protests: Aimless Walking or Organized Action?

On Friday, December 5th, 2014 William Bratton, the Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD) was asked his opinion of the ongoing protests in reaction to the grand jury decision not to indict the officer responsible for applying the lethal chokehold that killed Staten Island resident Eric Garner. The Commissioner responded by saying that people are going to get tired of “marching around aimlessly” (Jorgensen, 2014). Excuse me? I expected more compassion from the leader of the largest police department in the country. NYPD has over 40,000 officers and has always been heralded as the national model for training, technology, and responses to use of force. But it is also the same department that has been the catalyst for protests in the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, and now the 2000’s. Why? Because it appears as though they are playing by their own set of rules. There is nothing aimless about the revolution that has spilled out from the borders of New York City across the country and around the world. Just turn on CNN and you will see people protesting in Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Washington, D.C, Toronto, and London. Yes, people are in fact tired but this fire for justice is being done in an extremely organized and peaceful manner. People are tired of injustice. They are tired of innocent people being gunned down with no consequences. We are tired of families being torn apart and most of all we should all be tired of a justice system that is fractured and applied unevenly based of the color of your skin or the number of zeroes on your bank statement.

As Dr. John Kinney says “if you don’t believe and expect change, you will be an obstacle to change.” So let’s use this as a teaching moment. Now is not the time to stop. The organization and sophistication of the protests has been impressive. So too are the faces in the crowd. It has been a long time since there has been so much diversity and solidarity on one issue. Feelings about the injustices within the justice system have moved from a local issue to a national issue and is now firmly on the global platform. Respect each other in the community and within the police. Be mindful of your words for they can incite hate and hate begets violence. Use your tools in a constructive manner (education, government, policy, grassroots organizing, and social media) as this is everyone’s issue. So what is my response to whether protests are aimless marching or organized action? March on…left, left, left, right, left.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#protest # peace #love #justice #ericgarner #icantbreathe #NYPD #ljsamuel #deardiary

Eric Garner Protestors


Jarrett. T. (2014, December 5). Protests against decision not to indict in Garner’s death continue. NBC News. Retrieved from

Jorgensen, J. (2014, December 5). After huge demonstration, Bratton expects Eric Garner protests to ‘peter out.’ New York Observer. Retrieved from http;//

Kinney, J. (2014, December). A Change is Going to Come. Sermon presented at Metropolitan Baptist Church, Washington, DC.

Sanchea, R. & Prokupecz, S. (2014, December 4). Protests after. N.Y. cop not indicted in chokehold death; feds reviewing case. CNN. Retrieved from

Source of photo: