*“He was my friend before he was Ali,” said Oscar winning Louis Gossett, Jr. (Officer and a Gentleman). “He was a kid when I got an Oscar. He used to tease my son, who was 5 years old at the time, tickling his ear. I told my son, who is over 40 now that that’s his Godfather.”
Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story is the title of the documentary on Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, Jr. and nicknamed The Greatest, around the time of his military draft ordeal. Louis Gossett, Jr. (Roots) signed on to executive produce this documentary film to make sure the ordeal is told correctly and he is looking for funding.
“I remember him speaking to 4,000 people and he saw me…there is an under current of friendship there,” Louis said about how humble to him Ali was during the height of his career.
Gossett believes those who “make it”, as he and Ali did, should use that position in life to influence or put a light on issues that benefit everyone.
“Built connections for the benefit of us all,” Gossett said. “I just met with 30 award winning kids at a restaurant… reconnecting,” he added. Racism is also an issue Louis advocates to put a truthful light on. He said on the subject, “I’m an American-African, not an African-American.”
Gossett said that being an American is what “locks us together” and takes the race out of the equation.
“The conflicts are getting old,” he said like a man who has lived and witnessed racial injustice for many years thereby knows exactly what he is talking about. “We need to start making people aware of the need to raise peace.”
The truth he wants to put a light on is the Ali avoiding the draft for the Vietnam War story and what happen as a result.
“It’s an American project,” he said of the Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story documentary. “Ali found a loop hole and made a comeback.”
Aside from his skill in boxing Muhammad Ali was always unpredictable in and out the ring, outspoken, funny and loving. It was at the height of his career in 1966 after winning the Heavyweight titles that he was drafted into the Army. When they called him in 1967 he refused to go, which was a federal offense. Ali cited his religious beliefs as a Muslim speak against war provoked by man when he was arrested.
The conviction, public and federal ordeal that followed his refusal to join the Army resulted in loosing his boxing license and having his Heavyweight Champion titles (WBA, WBC) taken. This sparked public opinions to turn against the war. Ali successfully won the appeal and his conviction of evasion was over-turned by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, later on that decision was over-turned for a paper-work error, which to me is obvious a racial injustice. Ali aged out of boxing without his license but he successfully turned his career from boxing to that of a motivational speaker, author and spoken word artist winning two Grammy Awards.
You can say “Uplifting Minds II” (ULMII) entertainment conference is my give-back project. My service in the U. S. Navy straight out of high school was my way of giving back to America for my freedoms. ULMII is one of many projects I have brought to urban communities. There are also many panelists and sponsors that help me do this with no budget.
I had a talk with three of those sponsors – Paul Gardner, II, founder and general manager of The Gardner Law Group, radio personality Doresa Harvey and artist manager Nadiyah Kareem, founder and president of Superstar Entertainment. All have participated and sponsored the ULMII event, in multiple cities, for over 15 years straight.
“Someone said get with Eunice, that it would be a great business marriage,” said Paul about how he was introduced to the “Uplifting Minds II” entertainment conference, which was founded in 1999 on the campus of Coppin State University with Mathew Knowles (Destiny’s Child) as the expert speaker and Jazz and Woody of Dru Hill as talent showcase experts. I asked Paul why he keeps coming back when the turnout is not as big as it could be if it had a budget or very high-profile panelist and he said, “My dedication to help others and my love for Eunice.”
He said, “To whom much is given, much is required. You have to give back. I don’t care if its one person there. I may be able to help them. It’s not about the number it’s about the quality.”
Gardner is referring to the upcoming “Uplifting Minds II” event Saturday, April 21, 2018 at Security Square Mall (6901 Security Blvd) in Baltimore from 1-4pm. For five years from 2000-2005 the ULMII event was held also in Houston, Atlanta and Los Angeles. The last 12 years it has been held only in Baltimore and Los Angeles.
“I went one year to support 92Q’s Big Phat Morning Show (who were ULMII hosts), they are friends of mine,” said Doresa, a Stellar Award nominated radio personality who up until 2017 was the Mid-Day jock at Heaven 600 radio in Baltimore straight out of college. “I started telling kids about the event. You called and asked me to host.”
Doresa has been voluntarily hosting ULMII every since and that was back in 2000-2003. When asked why she keeps coming back Harvey said, “Its done good. I love being with people like you…like it says its uplifting…and also it being a stepping stone for someone.”
Doresa knows its history in talent success stories and high-level panelists. In 2001 in Baltimore SisQo (Dru Hill) was at the event and used a performers’ song on their album, which went platinum. In 2002 in Los Angeles panelist Jimmy Maynes (VP of Jive Record) saw a young performer named Miguel and signed him to a record deal – Miguel is now a Grammy Award winner. There are other stories of ULMII scouting successes that are just as fascinating.
“I’ve been to competitions where anything goes. I like that you’re selective about what you put on your stage” said Nadiyah, whose artist Talib Kareem was signed to Jive Records as part of the group Imajin. “As the name says it’s uplifting that’s only what I want, to be a part of something that is positive and that’s what you are about – uplifting.”
On Sat., April 21st Doresa will host the talent showcase portion of the ULMII event with DJ Rick of the GWUAP Squad and Paul will serve on the entertainment business panel, which opens the event. Along with Paul on the panel is Baltimore award winning playwright/producer Ursula V. Battle, award winning actor/filmmaker Anthony Michael Hobbs, producer/performer Marvin Davis aka VIP, celebrity stylist Jeneanne Collins and other experts. ULMII is held at Security Square Mall from 1-4pm. Log onto www.UpliftingMinds2.com to see if you qualify to perform and read other success stories of ULMII participants and performers.
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eunice Moseley, has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENT: 19th annual “Uplifting Minds II” Free Entertainment Conference (Baltimore on Sat April 21st 1 – 4p, at Security Square Mall and Los Angeles on Sat October 20th 1 – 4pm at the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood). Entertainment Business panel and national talent showcase competition (vocal, songwriting and dance) with over $13,000 in prizes. www.UpliftingMinds2.com.