Ernest Lee Thomas
Thomas will be at Taste of Soul promoting a new book and greeting the crowd.
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
We all remember him as Roger “Raj” Thomas from the popular late 70’s sitcom, What’s Happening and recently as funeral director, Mr. Omar, on the TV sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, now Ernest Lee Thomas can be seen at Taste of Soul, Saturday, Oct. 16 promoting his new book, “Conversations with my Mother: Food for Mind, Body and Soul.”
This will be his first time appearing at Taste of Soul where he’s eager to meet the crowd. “We’ll be doing the book signing there,” said Thomas. He will have his mother,() as she is the inspiration and subject of the book itself.
“It’s about her life coming from Mississippi 1930’s to present day,” said Thomas. The book charts the life of his mother from the time of Jim Crow to election of our first Black President, Barack Obama. ” More important, it’s about her being a devout Christian. Her 80 years of faith never wavered and was always consistent and instilling that faith in me.”
Thomas wrote the book to be a tribute to his mother’s spirit and life but also to be an inspiration to others. “Our mothers had lives before us and they made a lot of sacrifices and they want us to ask them,” said Thomas.
He had been working on another book, “From Raj to Mr. Omar: No Roger, No Rerun, No Rent,” when his mother approached him about a book idea. “I got the tape recorder and she started talking about it. I just realized how selfish I had been, so self-absorbed in my world and realized, I can’t even wrap my mind around being Black and a female in the 1930’s in Mississippi.”
He’s also working on some other books geared towards how to make it in the entertainment business. Thomas has also been a motivational speaker since, What’s Happening. “I think God gave me the gift of motivation to get inside a person,” said Thomas.
Thomas also has a kids and teen show he’s working on called, Kids and Teen Justice, which is a non-profit web program. “It’s about teaching kids conflict resolution,” said Thomas. “Our aim is to get law enforcement, the judges, teachers and parents involved as our board of directors and consultants.”
He’s also been ushering in a new age of talent as a producer and mentor. “I’ve been managing artists…writers…actors and musicians and that’s been challenging,” said Thomas. “I want to give someone else a chance; the new blood and the future stars to realize their dreams. I consider myself the ‘Dream Keeper.’ Everybody has their gift, I think that’s mine, the Dream Keeper.”
He’s also appeared in plays with Kirk Franklin and Bern Nadette Stanis and had a recurring role on Everybody Hates Chris. “That was four years of just heaven on earth,” said Thomas about working on Everybody Hates Chris. He also starred in a film entitled, Paroled about a felon who can’t escape his past.
Be sure to catch Ernest Lee Thomas at Taste of Soul Saturday, Oct. 16 and check out his book, “Conversations with my Mother: Food for Mind, Body and Soul.”