Master P and Romeo Miller love the Saints, like Stephen Curry, and look forward to Lonzo Ball The father/son stars of ‘Growing Up Hip Hop’ on basketball, heroes — and courage

Seems like Master P and Romeo Miller are always fighting. It’s just a thing they do. The love is real between father and son, but so is the drama. No Limits Records founder Percy “Master P” Miller and his rapper-turned-actor son, Romeo, are executive producers and stars of WE Tv’s Growing Up Hip Hop, which chronicles the duo’s sparring sessions. Now in its third season, the show has showcased Romeo’s decision to skip the family’s record label event in New Orleans to film scenes for Fox’s hit show Empire. Papa Miller also wasn’t happy about Romeo being slapped with a $500,000 lawsuit after an on-camera restaurant brawl. On a recent visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Romeo and his dad talked sports (of course), the Balldashians and keeping it real.

Which NBA and NFL teams are your favorites?

Master P: In the NFL, we got the New Orleans Saints.

Romeo: Even when we were losing, we still had the Saints.

Master P: We won the Super Bowl, and Drew Brees about to go back again.

Romeo: Let me tell you a secret. I’ve always liked the Cowboys, too. It’s always been the New Orleans Saints first, but Deion Sanders is my favorite player. Him and Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith — them days? That’s the glory days for me.

Master P: As for the NBA, I really like Steph Curry. I think he’s an underrated player at this point. My favorite guy to watch play basketball right now, for sure.

Romeo: Let me say something about basketball. If the New Orleans Pelicans let [my] pops come over there and coach, I think they could make it to be a top-three team.

Master P: I’ve been talking to them about it a little bit. [Laughs.]

Romeo: My favorite NBA team is the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m a ride-or-die Lakers fan. I like Lonzo [Ball]; he’s a great talent. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. I like LaVar [Ball] too. Lonzo’s got a strong father figure in his life, and that’s amazing. Can’t wait to see what all of the Ball brothers do in their careers.

Master P: I take my hat off to LaVar for being such a strong presence in his kids’ life.

What’s the craziest lie you’ve ever told?

Master P: Hmm, I’ve got to think on that one.

Romeo: That’s the thing about him; he keeps it real. He’s not a yes man at all.

Master P: I always try to live by my word. If I say something, I’m giving my word. Now that I think about it, I do have one. I told my dad once that I was on my way to school when I had actually been expelled. I’d gotten into a fight at school and they kicked me out. So that wasn’t good to do at all.

Where do you get your courage?

Master P: Coming from nothing, growing up in poverty.

Romeo: I get it from seeing my two cousins die with my own eyes when I was 9 years old. You go give anybody $10 million, $100 million right now, but you don’t change overnight. And that’s why I always had the blessing with my family where I’ve seen both sides. I’ve seen my favorite cousin locked up, my best friend dead. And I know you can’t take nothing for granted.

Who is your childhood hero?

Master P: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said, ‘I have a dream,’ and that meant something to me. That’s how I made it in this world.

Romeo: It’d definitely be my pops, and Allen Iverson.

Labor Day and Dr. King should always be in the same thought MLK was assassinated in Memphis just after speaking in support of striking sanitation, and AFSCME’s president wants to make sure we never forget that

“The labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Many Americans around the country celebrate Labor Day annually as the last three-day weekend before the summer ends and cooler weather kicks in. True, but it is also a day of reflection for those who fought for an equitable job market for all.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) wants to change that narrative of how many Americans think of the labor movement. Saunders wants citizens to be aware of King’s contribution to a cause that essentially was his last call to action before being killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

That’s why Saunders is heading a new campaign with AFSCME and the Church of God in Christ to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike and King’s “Mountaintop” speech. I AM 2018 was launched in June. The program entails holding town hall meetings across the country to spread King’s message of fairness and equality.

“It’s just not a commemoration, it’s activity, and it’s activity leading up toward the activities that will take place on April 3rd and 4th in Memphis, Tennessee, where on April 3rd we will recreate that level of excitement that existed when Dr. King gave his mountaintop speech, and then have a march leaving the union hall in Memphis and going to Mason Temple Church of God in Christ [where King made his final speech],” Saunders said. “But we’re also planning to have similar events around the country, so we really want this to be a major mobilization effort, No. 1 to understand our history, understand that we’ve come a long way since 1968 but we still have a long way to go, and to link that story with what we must do presently.”

For Saunders, the labor movement hits close to home, and so does King’s death. A leader of the labor movement in the United States, Saunders grew up in a union household in Cleveland, Ohio. His father was a bus driver and a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union. His mother was a community organizer and, after raising two sons, returned to college and became a community college professor and a member of the American Association of University Professors.

Saunders, the first African-American to serve as AFSCME’s president, began his career with AFSCME in 1978 as a labor economist, and he recalls King vividly.

“I was in high school and I remember when Dr. King was killed, and I remember the next day the African-American students who attended that high school walked out, walked out of school, and we gathered in downtown Cleveland to pay respect and to make a statement,” Saunders said. “That’s ingrained in my memory. I mean, we did that collectively. That was a collective action that those African-American students believed that we needed to take to recognize that Dr. King did not give his life in vain, that we have a responsibility. Our community has a responsibility, and folks who care about working families and the issues that affect all of us — all of us, not just a few but all of us — we have a responsibility to organize and mobilize and make our voices heard. I try to do that every single day.”

King’s support of unions was long-standing, although that endorsement was not returned by unions that did not allow African-Americans to join. In 1961, King’s address at the AFL-CIO’s annual convention was considered a turning point.

“Our needs are identical with labor’s needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community,” he said. “That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”

Saunders now serves as a vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, which guides the daily work of the labor federation.

By 1968, King would make his last attempt to stand up for the labor movement. Details of the sanitation strike once existed in an exhibit prepared by the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne State University.

“Wages and working conditions for Memphis sanitation workers were atrocious,” reads the online text from the exhibit. “The average pay was $1.80 an hour. The wages were so low that forty percent of the workers qualified for welfare and many worked second jobs.”

They lifted leaky garbage tubs into decrepit trucks and were treated unfairly. During foul weather, black workers were sent home without pay while the white workers were paid for a full day. There were no benefits, vacation or pension. The sanitation department refused to modernize ancient equipment used by the black workers. Black sanitation workers were called “walking buzzards.”

Aside from the pay and unfair treatment, it was dangerous. Two black sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were killed when each was crushed to death in a garbage truck with faulty wiring. The families of the workers were given just $500 to pay for the funeral services and one month’s pay from the Memphis Sanitation Department.

As Saunders recounts those events, he reveals that moment when the members of Local 1733 AFSCME had to go out on strike for a change in conditions. King was right there to help lead the charge.

“That was something that was unheard of, but they were sick and tired of being disrespected and being mistreated, and they went on strike to have a seat at the table and for dignity and respect,” Saunders said.

Reflection on the true meaning of Labor Day prompts a short history lesson. Celebrated on the first Monday in September, the day was formed during the height of the Industrial Revolution to commend the contributions that workers made in building and strengthening their country, while also offering a day of respite for some. Founded after the Pullman Strike of 1894 gave railroad workers increased recognition, it ironically failed to include black Pullman porters in that same labor movement.

Black porters were a huge part of the workforce but were not allowed access to the American Railway Union. They later formed their own union, the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters, which was the first black union in America.

Given the fact that labor gaps exist right now, taking the day to remember the history of the labor movement, King’s contribution and the strides that influencers like Saunders are continuing to make, Labor Day should be more than just another three-day weekend at the beach or the mall.

King’s Vietnam speech still holds true 50 years later Bernice King says her father’s love of humanity is what is missing today

Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City. It was titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” King criticized the war in Vietnam, calling on those of draft age to seek status as conscientious objectors and saying, “we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.”

Exactly one year after giving that speech, King was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee, brought down by a sniper’s bullet at the Lorraine Motel.

During a recent speech at the National Press Club, King’s youngest daughter, Bernice, noted that once her father started speaking out against the war in Vietnam he became a threat.

“The reason why my father was assassinated was because he had such a love for humanity,” King told the crowd. “It was not because he was talking about black and white together. He was assassinated because once he spoke out against the war in Vietnam, he started talking about how we were distributing our wealth to fight what he felt was an unjust war.”

King’s daughter noted how her father’s next mission, the war on poverty, was put on the back burner as the country focused on the Vietnam War. King said as much in his speech:

It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

King also saw the injustice of sending young poor black men to fight for rights that they didn’t have in their own country.

It became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.”

And the civil rights leader realized the hypocrisy when rioters in Northern cities pointed out his push for nonviolent action while America wreaked violence in Vietnam.

Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

But it was King’s concern for the people of Vietnam, who he said languished “under our bombs,” that powered his protest.

… We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. … We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. … Now there is little left to build on — save bitterness.”

Her father’s love of humanity is what is missing today, said King.

“I am very concerned about the state of America right now,” King told the audience at the National Press Club. “I’m concerned about the deep polarization that exists in our nation and the fact that it is potentially getting worse. And if there’s anything that Dr. King tried to teach us, it was how to create a world where we could co-exist with all of our different ideologies.”

King noted that Black Lives Matter and President Donald Trump both “awakened us to our deep divisions, which in many respects we have tried to avoid, ignore, deny.”

Her father, she said, left an important blueprint — plans and strategies.

“In his book, Where Do We Go from Here? he asked is it going to be chaos or is it going to be community? And that’s a question we need to ask today,” King said. “Where do we go from this distinct moment in time in America? Are we going to move toward more chaos or are we going to move toward community?”

She relayed a story her father once told her about a time when he was in jail.

“He said he began talking to his jailers, asking them about their situation. They told him about the challenges of not having enough money. When they finished, he said to them, ‘Well, you ought to be marching with us.’ He had such a capacity to hear,” said King.

Today’s climate is hostile and intense, she noted.

“We need people who will value courageous conversation that includes respectful discourse and keen listening,” King explained to the crowd. “There has to be some people who are willing to rise above the fray and be willing to engage in conversations with people who see a little bit different and understand a little bit differently.

“That’s what Daddy was doing. He was coming outside of himself. He was daring to have the courage to have the conversation with those who didn’t care for him.”

That’s not done today, she pointed out.

“We’re not hearing each other right now because we’re too intent on getting our points across. We don’t like to listen oftentimes to people who think differently than we do,” she said. “We want to draw a line in the sand. We want to cut them off. We want to shut them down. We want to unfriend them on Facebook. We want to disconnect the link on LinkedIn and we want to enter into a dragging event on Twitter.”

Her father, King said, acknowledged while writing his last book that movement leaders never developed long-term processes for long-term challenges.

“He said, you know we were acting in the moment as we were living this movement,” she noted. “We were just specialists in those momentary crises. But we’ve got to organize our strength into compelling power.”

That’s the challenge of today, King said, noting that “every day there’s another nonprofit being built, doing something similar to another nonprofit.”

“We’ve got to look at the landscape of the black community, and we’ve got to make some very hard decisions and choices. One of those decisions and choices that we have to begin to make is we’re going to have to figure out how not to continue to dilute our strength and our power,” said King. “We have to find an agenda where we can work together. We can’t keep trying to scatter our energy the way we do. Why can’t we forge an agenda together that we both want to pour into our strengths, and our areas of strength? … That’s when we’re going to see massive change.”