1 Jan 2009

Mumia obituary for Eartha Kitt

Most famous, or infamous, was the tongue-lashing she delivered to President Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, at a White House luncheon in 1968. The topic was the then-raging Vietnam War. Kitt, according to some accounts, caused the first lady to cry when she said, "You send the best of the country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot."

I have been blogging about wheely bins but I have some space for my guest posters on another green world too!

I am so lucky to get this kind of stuff from Mumia, he is generous Eartha did have a bit controversy from not boycotting South Africa but lets be generous too, she did her bit for Indochina....wonder whether Mumia will write about Pinter?

I get the impression sadly that my man in Havana may be ill or busy but will let you know as soon as I get something....and of course Cuba celebrations soon, I have just been blogging so much from and about Gaza.

Anyway on to Mumia...a great man still in prison, our prophet.

He will certainly be commenting on the massacre on going in Gaza.

Do copy Mumia's columns and paste them up on your own websites, I know he would like that very much, just acknowledge him and don't change uno palabra, por favor.

EARTHA KITT -- (1928-2008)
[col. writ. 12/25/08] (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For generations, the name, Eartha Kitt, was synonymous with sexy, sultry, and outspoken.

In an industry where careers can sometimes be measured in minutes, Eartha Kitt was the real thing, for quite a while; dancer, singer, actress, and on occasion, a comedian.

Since the tender age of 14, she worked the stage, and for nearly 7 decades, she left her indelible imprint by her work on the big screen, TV, and on recordings.

On Jan. 26, 1928 she was born in South Carolina as Eartha Mae Kitt.

She danced, sang, and acted her way into the hearts of millions.

In 1968, she dared speak out against the Vietnam War, when the war was raging at it's hottest, and was both blacklisted and hounded for doing so. That's because she spoke at a photo op at the White House in the face of First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson (wife of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson). For daring to speak her mind at the heart of the empire, and for denouncing an Imperial war, the media and the state tried to 'disappear' her. She had to go abroad to find her freedom of speech, where she remained for nearly a decade.

For those who want to see her as a seductive chanteuse, the 1958 film, St. Louis Blues, starring Nat King Cole, Ruby Dee, Pearl Bailey and the gospel great, Mahalia Jackson, is a great source. For a slightly comic turn, see her as an amorous entrepreneurial cougar on the hunt for a young Eddie Murphy in the 1992 film Boomerang starring Halle Berry as the principal love interest.

Although she was known as the quintessential sex kitten for her acting, her public outspokenness came at quite a cost. Her comings, goings, doings and sayings were tracked by both the FBI and the CIA.

She moved through life with an intelligence, wit and nerve that made her distinctive and unforgettable.

Eartha Mae Kitt was 80.

--(c) '08 maj

[Source:African Arts and Letters, eds, Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (Phila., PA: Running Press, 2004.]

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