Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Black History Month - Smokey Robinson

It is the person who knows how to shoot whom we put on the track of an animal. (Ghana)

1940 – William "Smokey" Robinson was born.

For those of us who followed Motown, Smokey Robinson was truly the "King". An original member of the Miracles, he was a singer, song writer, record producer. In all, Robinson had 37 Top Forty hits.

Robinson scrapped his early ideas on songwriting after Berry Gordy told him, “Every song should have an idea, tell a story, mean something.” He went on to write lyrics for about 4,000 songs, among which the best known are “My Girl” and “Tears of a Clown”. As a solo singer, Bobinson released an album, “Just My Soul Responding”, that commented on the USA’s treatment of Blacks and Indians. He also developed a style known as “soft soul”.

He was Motown’s vice president for 27 years, and was second only to Berry Gordy in commercial success. The Supremes, the Temptations and Marvin Gaye owe much to Robinson's skill in developing talent and reputation.

In 1999, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2006 Howard University conferred on him the degree Doctor of Music. He is the only person to be in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame. He is also the double-honoree of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,as a solo artist & member of The Miracles.

Also on this date in:

1963: British soul singer and songwriter Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel born in London, England.

1992: John Singleton was the first African American director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Boyz N the Hood

2002 - Vonetta Flowers became first Black to win gold medal at Winter Olympics (bobsledding).

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When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi)

Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.

Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.

For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at