Ol’ Ghetto Revolutionary Soldier of the Whole World
Henry Edward Moscow Beamon
Gemini with Leo Moon
May , 23 1931 to Feb. 7, 2012
The creative sparks that flowed through Henry Edward Moscow Beamon II made him a genius. His brilliance is evident in the phrases he coined, the materials he fashioned for the execution of his work and in the conception, formulation and expression of ideas.
By his ninth year, Henry had known three portentous circumstances: Family love; the death of his father, Henry Edward Moscow Beamon, in 1939; and cigarettes. His oldest sister, Birdie, recalled: “My brother started smoking when he was 5 years old. He would go next door into the basement of the white man’s store and pick up the cigarette butts the men had dropped.”
His father, Henry (1879-1939) and his mother, Beulah Christine Oates Beamon (1898-1981) married in Lonoke County where their first three children were born. Lavert John — also known as “Son” — Birdie, Edith “Brown Doll,” Henry Edward Moscow Beamon II and Clarice Ruth completed the immediate family.
As did so many African American students, Mr. Henry attended a school named for Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the people’s poet. Like his siblings, his wife and her sibling, Mr. Henry attended the storied Dunbar High School in Little Rock, Ark. Built, staffed and opened in 1929, Dunbar not only offered superior instruction in scholarship, art and trades in white supremacist Arkansas. The school was a mechanism for the promulgation of goals, ideas and practice for uplift of The Race. Teachers and students were Black. Dunbar High School was an accredited public secondary institution, a distinction superior to that of Central High School which, years later, became the object of the traumatic campaign for the Little Rock 9. Negro history was part of the curriculum at Dunbar and it was Henry’s specialty, winning honors in school contests.
The seeds of business ownership in the Beamon family followed the parents’ ownership of an 80-acre farm in England, Ark. Upon the death of their father, his wife supported the family with the preparation of hair oils for mail-order and door-to-door sales.
By 1954, four of the siblings and their mates had relocated to Detroit, where older brother Lavert established several bars, a bowling alley, a restaurant/grill, hotels, apartments and a construction business. Henry and his wife, Mary Louise Miller Beamon, arrived in Detroit following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps. During his stint, Henry was a member of the Special Forces. He played football for the Barstow Marines and was scouted by the Los Angeles Rams. Once healed from a broken leg he received in the heat of the game, “Hank’s” next assignment was to the fire department. He qualified as a sharpshooter and achieved the rank of corporal. “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
Henry and Mary Louise produced Teresa Kristine Nkenge Zola, Henry Edward Moscow Ras Kufugo, Tanya Angelique Ntianu Sunny Safiya, Michael Craig, Bruce Miller, David Niles and Lance Phillip, all were born in Detroit.
Mr. Henry affirmed his love for and dedication to his family daily. “When I was a little boy,” he’d say, “I prayed to God for a good wife and family.” Louise and Henry conducted their married life as partners. Each was expected to give leadership in their strengths. He explained to his children that “your Mother and are like swans. We mate for life.”
With his wife’s encouragement, Henry took an aptitude test for the Veterans Administration to learn what he was suited for in civilian life. Excellent at working with his hands, he decided to pursue working with cars. Enrolling in Wolverine School of Trades on Fort Street across from the Main U.S. Post Office he began to his stride. Hired by Earl Scheib automotive painting company, he excelled in bumping out cars and restoring them to better than new. He made his bonus the first day on the job, earning $100 a day at a time when the average weekly earnings in Detroit was a fifth of that. He became known throughout the city as a go-to man for collision repair.
Taking care of his family and providing for his wife’s desires was of primary importance to him. The couple traveled, dated, she made him chocolate éclairs and lemon meringue pies. He presented her with gifts: a parasol, earrings and jewelry. They read to each other. His goal was to surprise her with a red Corvette Stingray by 1963. At 6 feet 2 and a half inches, his slim athletic frame looked perfect beside Louise’s petite shapeliness.
Henry worked briefly for his brother in various enterprises before undertaking his own interests. He owned two garages in the Cass Corridor, a lot in the North End, fueled airplanes at City Airport, took a locksmith correspondence course, worked for the U.S. Post Office, Chrysler Corporation and a bump and paint shop on E. Grand Boulevard, retiring from the city of Detroit Department of Transportation in 1992.
During his third decade, Henry began the transformation that would result in Old Ghetto Revolutionary Soldier of the Whole World. This, he declared, was “the only reason I was born — to save my people.” After work on the city’s bus terminals he began to take up a post at the Woodward Avenue entrances of J.L. Hudson’s. Even among the Krishna devotees and Black Panther Party members, he stood out. Wearing heavy chain links around his neck, at least 20 different political buttons, a hand-written sign addressing a critical question of the day, he positioned copies of books, “The Choice, Black Rage” and “Black Like Me” in such a way as to challenge all passersby. He took a vow of public silence until all of his people were free, wherever in the world they were. He communicated by his handwritten signs and notes written between him and any number of women, men and youth he encountered, while making his rounds of greasy spoons, bookstores, bars, churches and the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.
His modes of locomotion were his feet (he walked really, really fast) and the bus. His routes included Woodard Avenue from downtown to the Boulevard, the Cass Corridor, the Highland Park City Hall and any public festivals where his people amassed.
Thousands of men, women and children loved Old Ghetto Revolutionary Soldier. Thousands of men, women and children dreaded seeing Old Ghetto Revolutionary Soldier. In 2010 he began to call himself Old Marine. A realist, practical, inventive, generous man, he was ready and capable of punching out the lights of any man who dared to try and physically attack him or his. “I’m not afraid of no man made out of meat like me,” he was known to say.
The ethos holds: “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” Henry held, even on his last day in the Veterans Administration hospital on John R, “It’s not the color of your skin. It’s what’s in your heart that counts. Love. Love. Love. Love.”