A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN UFO EXPERIENCERS – THE UNSUNG PATRIOTS OF UFOLOGY

By Sean Casteel

This book should be accredited in academic circles for its visionary efforts and its attempts to cover a little known cultural aspect of the already controversial topic of UFO studies.

The content is given a great deal of legitimacy due to its many valued contributors, including a Religious Studies Professor, Stephen C. Finley, who teaches at Louisiana State University.

But let us start “at the beginning!”

When editor and publisher Timothy Green Beckley first proposed the idea for a book to be called Alien Lives Matter: It’s OK To Be Grey,” some among his stable of writers and contributors were concerned that the title might be seen as trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement that has been the catalyst for so much hoped for meaningful social change in this country.

So Tim did a little background research and discovered that the “Lives Matter” slogan had been appropriated in numerous ways and in numerous places. For example, there is a group calling itself “Hawaiian Lives Matter,” and Amazon offers a wide selection of t-shirts with “Alien Lives Matter” emblazoned on the chest. So we are not alone, to use an expression.

When we were working on the book and I mentioned the title to family and friends, it never failed to elicit a chuckle and a comment about how clever it was. Even among nonbelievers, the title struck home and resonated profoundly.

Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore yuck it up on “The Daily Show.” Larry seemed to think Black Americans don’t have UFO experiences. Dead wrong!

The book turned out to be a monumental effort over 500 pages in length and utilizing the talents of many, many contributors well known in the fields of Ufology and paranormal research.

One of the main concepts we were trying to illuminate was the idea that aliens, grey and otherwise, do indeed have lives that matter. And they are not completely invulnerable to attack by humans. We present a large number of case histories in which humans assaulted aliens with guns, ran over them with cars, and imprisoned them in jail cells, etc., all as a response to humans’ fear of the unknown. In many cases, the aliens were perfectly harmless and did not deserve the mayhem unleashed on them.

Which doesn’t mean that the aliens don’t take a kind of vengeance in such cases – or at least make a show of force intended to demonstrate that they will defend themselves when necessary and are not intimidated. Like we humans, the aliens value their own lives and the lives of their fellow creatures.

But this line of thinking, in racial terms, also led us to do a section on Black and African-American UFO experiencers. Most of them are little known in the field, even among the so-called “experts,” but there are many cases of interaction between Blacks and aliens, and we present a great deal of them in “Alien Lives Matter.”

AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN BOARDS A UFO

In September of 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were driving from Montreal, Canada to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, when they had a bizarre encounter that changed their lives forever.

There is, for example, one of the most famous instances of alien abduction, the Barney and Betty Hill case. A chapter in the book called “The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction – An African-American UFO Story,” written by researcher David J. Halperin, tells their story briefly.

“They were coming home from a vacation in Canada,” Halperin writes, “driving by night through the New Hampshire Mountains, when they noticed a light following them. The light seemed to move against

the background of the starry sky, suggesting pretty strongly that it wasn’t itself a heavenly body.”

The event was taking place in September, 1961. The story continues.

“Barney stopped the car, got out, and looked at the light through a pair of binoculars,” Halperin continues. “He saw a glowing, flat, pancake-shaped object with what seemed to be rows of lighted windows around its edges. Behind the windows were humanlike figures. Terrified, Barney fled back to the car and they zoomed off down the highway. The rest of the trip was surreal, dreamlike. Twice the Hills heard, or thought they heard, a series of beeps. That was all they remembered of the UFO before they arrived in Portsmouth at dawn, hours later than they’d expected.”

Those “missing” hours that Halperin is recounting have come to be a familiar element in the many alien abduction stories that were to follow in the nearly sixty years since the Hills’ encounter. In February 1964, under hypnosis with Boston psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Simon, the details of one of the strangest encounters in the history of mankind would emerge in all its history-making glory once the alien-induced “amnesia” was penetrated.

What has often been overlooked is the fact that Barney was an African-American and the Hills were a mixed race couple in a time when the shadow of racism hung over such a union. The Civil Rights movement as led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was in its early stages and Jim Crow laws still existed in many parts of the country. As the Hills made that fateful drive down the New Hampshire highway, Barney said later that he had been tired and considered stopping at a motel to sleep before continuing their journey.

But Barney decided against the idea simply because he didn’t want to risk the indignity of being turned away from a “whites only” motel.

Meanwhile, as Tim Beckley tells the tale, Barney had not been entirely passive with the aliens. He became exceedingly frightened seeing the strange aerial activity and stopped the car. During a session with Dr. Simon, Barney explained how he went about getting Betty’s handgun out of the trunk.

“I went to the trunk of the car,” Barney said, “and opened it and took out a gun I had concealed there and I put it in my pocket. And then I said, ‘Give me the binoculars.’ And I looked and I could see that the thing I thought was a plane had made a turn to the left toward Vermont, and kept turning and started coming right back.”

The craft got bigger and more menacing, Beckley writes. Under hypnosis, Barney started screaming “I’ve got to get my gun!” Betty’s niece, Kathleen Marden, decades later coauthored with Stanton Friedman a well-received book on the Hills’ experience called “Captured!” When Kathleen was asked whether the Hills had taken the handgun they’d been carrying onboard the craft with them while being abducted, she replied that they had not.

Why did they leave the pistol behind, considering they were so frightened? Could it have been because the couple had been given a “mental command” by the aliens to leave the weapon behind – for everyone’s safety? Things might have gone far worse for Betty and Barney if they had gone onboard the ship “packing heat.”

The Hill case serves very well to illustrate the two main themes of “Alien Lives Matter.” On the one hand, you have the potential violent aggression against the UFO occupants as evidenced by Barney placing the pistol in his pocket. Add to that the fact that Barney was an African-American UFO experiencer and you understand what Beckley calls the book’s “two-pronged” approach to the flying saucer phenomenon.

THE MOTHER AND DAUGHTER EXPERIENCERS

Diane Tessman and her daughter Gianna.

Tim Beckley’s longtime friend, Diane Tessman, runs a psychic counseling service and is a prolific author, with a great deal of her work

having been published by Beckley himself. When I was doing some proofreading chores for “Alien Lives Matter,” I was surprised to learn that Tessman is mother to a biracial daughter who is also a Ufologist. The daughter’s name is Gianna, and her father hails from Trinidad.

“Diane and her daughter are striking beauties,” Beckley writes. “One blond with green eyes and the other with curly brown hair and big, expression-filled brown eyes. A wondrous contrast. I don’t know of any other biracial individuals in UFO research or the paranormal, but I am honestly probably not completely informed as I am not working for the census bureau. Diane and Gianna, who is an experienced video photographer, have had a number of UFO experiences together. And Gianna has done some channeling, but not fulltime like her mother.”

The paranormal experiences mother and daughter have shared have served as a bonding mechanism, though it is sometimes difficult to separate their UFO encounters from other kinds of supernatural events. Perhaps it is better to withhold their stories so the reader can experience what the pair saw in the kind of detail not possible in the space allotted for this article.

THE BLACK MAN WHO RAN PROJECT BLUE BOOK

Did you know that the Air Force’s UFO reporting and analysis agency, the now defunct Project Blue Book, was once headed by an African-American?

Colonel Robert Friend was said to be one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black unit flying single-engine planes into combat in the Mediterranean theater during World War II. After the war, Friend remained in the military in what became the Air Force, and, rising to lieutenant colonel, he directed Project Blue Book, holding the post from 1958 to 1963.

In a speech Friend gave at the National Atomic Testing Museum in 2017, he expressed skepticism about genuine alien UFOs having visited the Earth, but, unlike many of his colleagues, he favored further

research. He said he believed that the probability of there being life elsewhere in the big cosmos “is just absolutely out of this world.”

Friend died in 2019 at the age of ninety-nine.

BARBARA HUDSON – UFO CONTACTEE

Barbara Hudson is not intimidated by the horror of the Flatwoods Monster.

Barbara Hudson was one of only a handful of females involved in the UFO phenomenon. In the 1960s, she was a consort of flying saucer pioneers Gray Barker and Jim Moseley, forming a trio that the average Middle American would probably find a little bit out of the ordinary, particularly because Barbara is Black. Barbara claimed to belong to a secret organization called “The Group.”

Hudson’s entrée into the 60s saucer scene began when three mysterious men showed up at her New York apartment and informed her that she’d been chosen to become a member of a secretive outfit involved with UFOs. The three mystery men drove Hudson to a remote stretch of Long Island where they arrived at a secluded compound. Hudson was introduced to other members of “The Group,” a secret alliance of humans and ETs who had joined forces to reveal the startling truth of the flying saucer mystery.

“The Group” was responsible for Hudson’s involvement with the UFO conference scene, and in fact directed her to attend one of Moseley’s conventions so they could “keep an eye on things.” At the time, when Tim Beckley was first starting to spread his wings as a publisher in the UFO field, he heard many of Barbara’s stories firsthand and felt that she related them with conviction, though there was no way to verify her claims. Which only added to Hudson’s “aura of mystery.”

“Alien Lives Matter” includes Barbara’s first-person account of a “human”-looking stranger appearing in her bedroom with piercing shafts of light for eyes. She was then taken aboard a ship in what seems to be a pretty standard abduction experience. The aliens told Barbara that they were visiting Earth in an attempt to “contact their own.” This, too, is

familiar, as many other contactees have also been told that they are special “chosen ones,” under the protection of the UFO occupants.

Again, one should read Barbara’s story in “Alien Lives Matter” to get a more complete account of her life as an African-American UFO experiencer.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN SHOW BIZ AND THE ALIEN INFLUENCE

Tim Beckley also relates the stories of some important Black entertainers and their interest in UFOs. Avant-garde jazz musician Sun Ra even claimed to be from another planet, sent from Saturn to preach peace to our war-ravaged planet.

Sun Ra claimed that a bright light appeared around him and his whole body changed into something else. He could see through himself.

“I went up – I wasn’t in human form – and I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn. They teleported me and I was on a stage with them. They told me the world was going into complete chaos. I would speak through music and the world would listen. That’s what they told me!”

Another prominent African American musician is jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey, who has impressive credits, having played alongside Duke Ellington and George Benson and being named Best Female Instrumentalist by “Billboard Magazine.”

“By her own admission,” Beckley writes, “Bobbi has seen things in the sky that were most unusual. She has also been fascinated by psychic phenomena since she was young and is an avid reader of magazines about the paranormal. Bobbi has personally had many, many experiences that could be labeled paranormal and confesses that she is a little frightened of the unseen bizarre realms that surround us. Bobbi is proof that African-Americans are just as hip on UFOs as any other group of open-minded folks.”

The late comedian Dick Gregory was a true crusader who was sometimes thought of as the country’s top back humorist. He told Beckley in an interview that he was certain UFOs exist – he’d seen them – and that a secret government controls what we are allowed to think and believe regarding UFOs and other matters.

Dick Gregory rides a UFO. He believed they are part of a vast conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the late African-American entertainer, Sammy Davis, Jr., held a lively belief in UFOs, having made four observations that were “positively out of this world.” Davis told his UFO encounter stories to Beckley personally in a telephone interview arranged by jazz drummer Buddy Rich, who was also a believer. Davis told Beckley he had never feared whoever the flying saucer pilots were, although we don’t know what his buddy, the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, had to say on the subject.

Did aliens intervene to save the life of a young Jimi Hendrix? Read the riveting account of Hendrix surviving a killer blizzard that could easily have taken his life before the years when he would come to be regarded as the greatest rock guitarist of all time. The story is best left to readers of “Alien Lives Matter” who will appreciate learning the facts of Jimi’s relationship with the aliens and their keeping a careful watch over him so that he could fulfill his destiny as a leading musical figure of his time.

Richie Havens, the black folk music icon, claimed that as he was improvising the song “Freedom” on stage at the legendary Woodstock music festival in 1969 he saw a couple of UFOs dancing among the clouds. He also had other UFO sightings. Havens was so immersed in the subject that he showed up to speak at small UFO conferences held at the Village Gate in Greenwich Village.

STILL MORE AFRICAN-AMERICAN EXPERIENCERS

Alien Lives Matter” also relates the stories of other African-American experiencers.

Riley Martin was a Mississippi sharecropper who had multiple UFO encounters as a child and would achieve a kind of fame on shock jock Howard Stern’s radio program talking about his contact experiences, which continued well into his adulthood.

Growing up as the son of a sharecropper, Riley Martin had his first UFO encounter at seven. As an adult, he became a member of the popular Howard Stern’s “Whack Pack.”

African-American twin sisters Shurlene and Earlene Wallace were typical abductees, frequently being taken from their bedrooms into strange alien environments. Shurlene wrote a book about their encounters called “From the Motherland to the Mothership,” the word “Motherland” being a reference to Africa.

Beckley provides a detailed history of Muhammad Ali and his UFO encounters, which are also related to Ali’s spiritual leader, Elijah Muhammad, who believed that the Biblical prophet Elijah was describing a UFO when he wrote about the “Mother Wheel” as a vision sent by God. Beckley spent time hanging out with Ali and interviewing the champ personally, and he reports on Ali’s experiences with both humor and heart.

Ali views UFO photos and Tim Beckley hovers behind the Champ.

Meanwhile, Stephen C. Finley is a Religious Studies professor at Louisiana State University who specializes in African-American religion and has made a thorough study of the Nation of Islam and its place in ushering in the belief in UFOs in the U.S. beginning in the 1930s, many years before Kenneth Arnold’s 1947 sighting of flying saucers that is usually said to be the starting point for the phenomenon in the modern era. Finley was a guest on Beckley’s podcast “Exploring the Bizarre,” cohosted by Tim R. Swartz, and still available to listen to on YouTube.

Alien Lives Matter: It’s OK To Be Grey” involves the work of many writers and can truly be said to be “years in the making.” Read it for its unique perspective on humankind’s troubled responses to the alien presence, as well as for its embracing of racial diversity in a world still suffering from cruel forms of discrimination. To the greys, we are not white people or colored people – we are simply people.

Sean Casteel.

SUGGESTED READING AND AUDIO/VIDEO

ALIEN LIVES MATTER – IT’S OK TO BE GREY by Tim Beckley, Sean Casteel, Tim Swartz and others

THE MATRIX CONTROL SYSTEM OF PHILIP K. DICK AND THE PARANORMAL SYNCHRONICITIES OF TIMOTHY GREEN BECKLEY

PROJECT MAGNET – THE SAUCERS IN THE SKY ARE NOT STARS!

YOUTUBE CHANNEL — “MR UFOS SECRET FILES”

EXPLORING THE BIZARRE” – KCORradio.com – Podcast

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