Parable of Walter Hawkins
by Jean Damu
Many of us on the so-called Left don’t pay much attention to Black gospel music
but we should. And if you live in the SF-Oakland Bay Area and never heard Walter
Hawkins, and the Love Center choir at their annual performances at the
Paramount theater well you missed one of Oakland great natural treasures. A
friend I used to go with Betty DeBerry dragged me to my first encounter with
the Love Center choir and I will forever be indebted to her.
The Love Center Choir was a musical experience that ranked right up with the
best I ever heard-this from someone who virtually took up residence at
Philadelphia’s Uptown Theater in he early 1960’s and witnessed almost every
popular black singer of the day.. The featured singer of the Love Center choir
was the great Tremaine Hawkins, a Hawkins by marriage and the daughter of Lois,
who for decades ran the very popular Lois the Pie Queen’s restaurant in N.
What surprises me about all the accolades to Bishop Walter Hawkins, even from
the Likes of Jesse Jackson and Bebe Winans is that no one has mentioned that
Walter Hawkins and the Love Center was the first Black church in the US to
establish an Aids ministry, way back in the 1980’s when virtually every Black
minister ran from the topic; at a time when many outside the black church were
recommending that black ministers step down from their pulpits and introduce
themselves to their choir directors. To the degree that the African American
church is addressing and has addressed the aids issue in the recent past we can
say that Walter Hawkins led the way.
Bishop Walter Hawkins passed away this past Sunday and Oakland is
memorializing him in a two day affair at the Paramount theater.
Below is a recording of Walter Hawkins and the Love Center choir with perhaps
their best known hymn, “Goin Up Yonder.” Tremaine Hawkins is singing the lead.
Reply by Marvin X
Jean Damu is on the money in his remarks on Walter Hawkins and the Hawkins
family. Tremaine is simply a black goddess who steals souls with her angelic
voice, steals them for the Lord of course.
If you read my memoir of Eldridge Cleaver, I think I mentioned dealing with
Walter when Cleaver toured the Born Again circuit.
Now Walter was not high on the list of singers with the Born Again Christians,
his music was too black, the whites can't take it. Their choice was brother
Andre Crouch, who was in attendance at Walter's funeral, along with everybody
who is anything in gospel music and black art as well. Halle Berrry, Danny
Glover, Richard Ghant, et al.
In a way, I'm sorry I didn't attend, but I'm still suffering from the trauma
of Christians during my tour of Christian America with Eldridge. I received a
daily briefing of Walter's funeral arrangements and the drama at his church.
How "the believers" felt it was disgusting to give out free tickets to the
common people, since they are "above" those common folks who stood in a line
from 7:30 at night til 10am the next day to get one of the 500 free tickets,
2,500 went to the church and were only given to members in good standing. The
whole ritual revealed the strict class nature of the black bourgeoisie. As I
headed home on the bus the day of the funeral, two elegantly dressed ladies
boarded and sat across from me. When I asked, then begged to see their copy of
the program, they absolutely refused until I showed them a promo of myself,
only then when they saw I was "somebody" did they allow me to look at the
program, although I was ready to depart by this time. I was absolutely shocked
at this "Christian" behavior.