Black History Month – American Hero, John Lewis

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You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way… to get in the way.

– Congressman John Lewis, 1940-2020

A few years ago, I bought the book, The Children by David Halberstam, but I only read it recently. As an aside, David Halberstam was the commencement speaker when I graduated from college, so I always took a second look at his books.

I looked at this one often in my kindle library, but was never quite ready to sit down for such a serious book. In the last four years, I’ve been engulfed with politics, including racial justice, but I wasn’t ready for a history lesson.

I finally started it last summer, soon after George Floyd’s murder, and with all of Halberstam’s work, it did not disappoint.

I had misinterpreted the title to mean the literal children of the civil rights movement, the young people growing up in that time and after. What I discovered is that Halberstam’s implication that the civil rights movement was left to “the children” – the young adults who risked everything, including their lives to march, to sit at lunch counters, to register to vote, to do many of the things we take for granted, even today.

One of the very surprising things that stood out to me was the level of participation of John Lewis. John Lewis was a hero of mine, but more in an abstract way listening to his modern, inspirational speeches rather than his history, and I wondered why I hadn’t learned his name as readily as I learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. In school. I didn’t realize they were contemporaries, and met and worked together to build what they called the “beloved community.” As I thought about this missing piece in my childhood education, I realized that growing up in the seventies during busing, and my really formative years of middle and high school in the eighties, John Lewis wasn’t part of “history” as we think of it; for that matter, neither was MLK. Lewis’ beating on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was in 1965, one year before I was born, and King was assassinated in 1968 when I was a toddler. These events, and the bulk of the civil rights movement occurred a mere twenty years before I graduated high school; nineteen years to be more precise. In the time between Lewis and King’s assault and assassination, I hadn’t even reached adulthood. This book really brought that home to me. John Lewis would live in my kids’ history books, but for me, he was in my now.

I hadn’t even made it halfway through the book when John Lewis died, and I thought for several days of putting the book down and reading something else, but I didn’t. I finished the story, cringing and welling with tears, and sometimes gasping for air at the horror of it all and the idea that while we’ve come far, we have so much farther to go. When I finished The Children, I immediately read Jon Meacham‘s new book, His Truth is Marching On, and that bridged the short gap between Lewis’ civil rights activism and his congressional career all on that path to the beloved community.

Learn more about John Lewis and his role in the civil rights movement by reading John Lewis in hhis own words in his memoirs, Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement and Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change as well as his graphic novel trilogy beginning with March: Book One.

One of the things that I found somewhat amazing, miraculous even, was the number of long-lasting activists all being in the same town at the same time. They didn’t travel to Nashville; they were already there from around the country attending school. John Lewis, Diane Nash, James Bevel, CT Vivian, James Lafayette, Kelly Miller Smith, Rev. James Lawson, who learned the non-violent method he taught them from his trip to India and learning from Gandhi, and of course as witness, David Halberstam, a local journalist with The Tenesseean in Nashville. Reverand Lawson described it as providential during his eulogy for John Lewis in 2020, and that just gave me chills.

If you do one thing, watch the Reverand James Lawson at the funeral of John Lewis in Atlanta, Georgia:

(c)2021
Wearing a Mask is Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble.
(c)2021

Double Your Mask, Double Your Fun

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Link in tweet provided below.
Chart provided by Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding on his Twitter feed.
(c)2021

Masks have been recommended as a reliable barrier to the spread of COVID-19 for some time. As we’ve experimented with different types of masks, avoiding the ones that medical personnel and health care workers need, including orderlies and maintenance workers in health care settings, the idea of what is the safest has changed over time and have adjusted for the continuing updating of scientific information.

Masks work.

With the new strains that spread more easily and appear to be more deadly showing up all across the United States, it is now being recommended that wearing a KN95 mask is the best way to avoid the spread of covid-19.

They work on their own, keeping out 95% of particles, but as you’ve seen around the news, beginning with the Inauguration, double masking is considered a better way to protect yourself and those around you, especially if you’re going to be with people you don’t live with for longer than fifteen minutes.

In our house, we recently purchased two bags of KN95 masks to be used with a cloth mask over it during times when we’d spend significant time out of our house. They were quite reasonable on Amazon: 20 masks for $39.99 and they were delivered in two days. They are disposable and can’t be washed, but since they’re covered (with the second mask), we expect to use them for at least a week at a time. This may vary depending on how often you are outside of your house.

My son, who is in the hybrid program at school is expected to wear double masks or the KN95. Please note that this is our family rule; not a school rule. The school has already required actual masks and no bandanas or gaiters as masks have been proven to be more effective.

We wear these new masks when we’re grocery shopping, which tends to take a bit longer. We don’t need to wear them at the drive-thru, although we do mask up for those limited engagements.

If you’re out walking your dog (or yourself for exercise) and you don’t usually run into people, I’d recommend a single mask. At a dog park or public park? Double mask.

Links and Additional Photos:

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Election Connection: Welcome to the Biden Administration

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The Election Connection series will be a bit more sporadic, posted on a need-to-know basis now that we have an Administration that cares about its citizens in all the important and even in the most mundane ways. I still feel waves of PTSD at moments and then I see Press Secretary Jen Psaki swatting stupid questions, not arguing with White House correspondents, and offering experts to give briefings and answer questions, and I remember that it’s all going to be okay. It’s like the last four years were a dream, and I’m Pamela Ewing.

Unfortunately, the last four years weren’t a dream, and as nightmarish as it was to live through, it wasn’t a nightmare either. It was very real.

We need to take that same energy from the last years, the same energy brought to the Georgia Senate race, the same energy brought by the summer protests, and we need to focus it unrelentingly on the next two years, and then the two after that, and then the two after. We can never get complacent again.

Complacent = Complicit

We came very close to losing our republic. As it was, we witnessed a coup attempt, an insurrection that struck at the heart of our democracy. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer, but hundreds of others were injured. Two members of law enforcement have committed suicide. And still, there are Republicans who refuse to comply with law enforcement requirements to go through a magnetometer before entering the House floor. I mean, let’s be realistic and honest here, they’re also refusing to wear masks despite common sense and Executive Order, putting their colleagues and staff at risk (four members of Congress plus one spouse became covid infected because of Republican negligence on January 6th, and that was without their obvious complicity in the attack on the Capitol).

So, it’s time for a Civics lesson, and I will go extra slow as if I were speaking to the newly elected Senator from Alabama (this one) who doesn’t know the three branches of government (see below*) or a Supreme Court justice (this one) who doesn’t know the five rights guaranteed in the First Amendment (see below*).

Some things are etched in stone – the Constitution including the Bill of Rights is one of those things. The Constitution may be amended, and there are procedures in place to do that. In fact, we have amended the Constitution twenty-seven times, most recently in 1992.

Some things are not – Number of Supreme Court justices, the use of the filibuster. Supreme Court justices were based on the number of circuit courts, which have increased to thirteen. This is why many experts feel that the Supreme Court should be expanded to cover each circuit court with its own justice (as established in 1869 with what is known as the Circuit Judges Act).

The filibuster is not part of the Constitution, which makes it easier to change than amending the Constitution would be.

A couple of points:

Unity does not mean to continue to allow ourselves be abused or gaslit.

Unity does not mean giving in to bullies.

Unity does not mean power sharing when Democrats have a clear mandate.

Below the cut are Twitter follows of the Biden Administration, the House Managers of the Impeachment Trial, a selection of podcasts, and other accounts that I follow regularly and find are very informative and honest. Add your own in the comments and I can include them in the next Election Connection.

*Branches of Government
| | |
Legislative Executive Judicial

*5 Rights Enumerated in the First Amendment:
1. Freedom of Speech
2. Freedom of Religion
3. Freedom of the Press
4. Freedom to Assemble
5. Freedom to Protest the Government

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Black History Month – W.E.B. Du Bois and Nikole Hannah-Jones

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Today is February 1st, the traditional start of Black History Month. It would be good to remember, as Congressional Representative Hakeem Jeffries of NY’s 8th District tweeted this morning: “We’ve been here since 1619. Every month is Black History Month.”

I grew up in NYC in the 70s, at what seemed to be the height of bussing as well as a prominent Back to Africa movement. I didn’t understand why my Black friends didn’t live near me. One of them, Robert, moved with his family to Africa, although I don’t know if that was related to his father’s job or if they decided to “return” (I don’t know the proper term and I apologize for that).

In school, we learned about Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and of course Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr, but not nearly enough. No Medgar Evers, no Emmett Till; at least not that I remember. Thurgood Marshall, of course; he was currently on the Supreme Court at that time. As historic as their lives were, many were left out.

Malcolm X, for example was deemed too militant. It wasn’t until last year when I read his autobiography that I saw how little difference there was between him and the mainstream civil rights movement. Of course, no one agrees with anyone one hundred percent of the time, but students in school should be given all the information and use critical thinking skills to form their own opinions.

I can’t possibly make up for the lack of Black history within American history. As a country we can absolutely begin to try, and I do try in my small space of the internet. Since I am not part of the Black community, I try to draw on Black voices and offer links and some information to get you started.

What I had planned for today was postponed by another tweet I saw this morning; that of March for Our Lives activist, David Hogg who asked if anyone had the link to W.E.B. Du Bois PhD thesis on the history of slavery and abolition in the US, and so with the assistance of David Hogg and Carl Fonticella (who provided the link), I am sharing that to get us started.

W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870, originally published March, 1896.

Relatedly, the 1619 Project would be important reading as well. The pdf is provided through this link from The Pulitzer Center and begins with an introduction from New York Times journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who provided the idea for the project.

Star of Wonder, Star of Night

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Tonight is a unique opportunity to see the conjunction of the planets, Saturn and Jupiter, looking in the sky to some people like a large star, perhaps the same Christmas Star the three wise men (kings, shepherds) saw that guided them to Jesus’ birthplace.

In my neck of the woods, the Northeast USA, sunset is at 4:25pm, and the best time to see the star/conjunction is an hour past sunset looking towards the southwestern sky. With binoculars, you may also be able to see Jupiter’s four large moons.

Some links to read about this special sight while you’re waiting for sunset:

From NASA: The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. They also have a few links to watch it live if you can’t get outside to see it as well as other informational links.

The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn 2020: Fun Facts

Here’s How You Can See the ‘Christmas Star’ in the Night Sky

Apologies for my quick drawn rendition of a Christmas Star. (c)2020

Waiting in Joyful Hope with Michelle Frankl-Donnay

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As we come to the last Sunday of Advent, I have finally decided to recommend an Advent book. The book itself begins with Advent but continues with daily readings throughout the Christmas season. What I have really come to share with you is the author, Michelle Frankl-Donnay.

I have been reading her reflections for a few years now, and she is by far my favorite person to read their reflections. They are a wonderful blend of spirituality and real life with the enormity of the universe for perspective. Professor Frankl-Donnay teaches chemistry at Bryn Mawr College and her science background gives an entire feeling with the mixing of the scientific and religious. Whenever I am reading her books durng the holiday seasons, I am wonderfully surprised at my reactions and how much I get emotionally from her reflections.

In addition to the current book, Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2020-2021, she can also be found at her blog:

Michelle Frankl-Donnay

Quantum Theology

Twitter

Election Connection – Georgia Runoff – Why You Should Care About Georgia

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Living in New York, why do I care about a runoff election in Georgia? And more importantly, why should you care?

Two words, one hashtag: #MoscowMitch

Mitch McConnell, Senator of Kentucky and overall partisan hypocrite.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t start out with calling names, but believe me there are much worse that would be applicable that I am refraining from. He has no conscience. He has no shame.

We came out, 80 million + of us and we sent a clear message that we want the Trump Administration and its policies gone. G-O-N-E. With the amount of votes and the states that flipped from 2016 and especially the states flipping that have been Republican strongholds for years, Arizona and Georgia, it is clear that Republican tactics and policies have been rejected out of hand.

Currently, Senator McConnell is the Majority Leader in the Senate. He has single handedly halted legislation in Congress.

The House of Representatives have passed laws for the past two years – hundred of laws – and sent them to the Senate. Mitch McConnell decides what is brought to the floor for debate and to be voted on. He’s brought nearly none of them. Not voting rights, not covid survival checks for struggling American citizens, not state and local government monies to offset their covid spending for police and fire, not money for testing and PPE.

All Mitch McConnell does is confirm judges, most of them unqualified as determined by the American Bar Association. Many of them with less experience than anyone else on the bench. Mitch McConnell blocked most of President Obama’s agenda including judges and one Supreme Court justice.

On the night that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, Mitch McConnell was communicating his intention to confirm a “replacement” justice as soon as possible despite the election coming in mere weeks.

He cried in saying farewell to fellow Senator Lamar Alexander who is retiring and has yet to say any words of condolence for the almost 300,000 Americans who have died during the pandemic this year from covid.

He tells his followers that he doesn’t want to “bail out blue states” while ignoring the reality that the blue states bail out the red states each and every year, and blue states receive less in federal aid than Republican run states.

To put it simply, Mitch McConnell is despicable.

He has already said that he will block Biden’s choices for judges and any Supreme Court justices that are nominated. He will not advance for vote any Cabinet confirmation who he doesn’t agree with.

In other words, McConnell will single-handedly hamstring the Biden Administration that the majority of the country has voted for, has spoken in favor of.

President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris have been given a mandate to get this country on track and to be better; to move away from corporate welfare and debilitating trade wars and help the people in this country who desperately need the help. They can begin to address the racial disparity that’s been built into our system since its founding.

All that is for naught without the Senate though.

As of this writing (a few days before publishing), 126 House Republicans, 17 Republican Attorneys General, and untold numbers of GOP Senators have signed on, either by name or by silent complicity in attempting to overthrow the will of the people, to have the courts intercede and throw out the election with lies of nonexistent voter fraud and disinformation.

However, we have a chance to nip this un-American, unpatriotic behavior in the bud: if we win the two Senate seats in the Georgia runoff happening on January 5, 2021 and you can help even if you don’t live in Georgia and can’t personally vote for Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock.

Money is still needed.

Volunteers are still needed – for phone calls, for texts, for transporting voters to the polls on January 5th.

We also need to remind people that when they go to the polls during early voting beginning on December 14 (yesterday) and finishing on January 5th, they need to vote for BOTH Warnock and Ossoff. If they are BOTH elected to the Senate, the Senate will be tied 50-50, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the deciding vote and the Democrats will control the agenda.

Start by going to Vote Save America’s Georgia Page. It will give you all the information you need to get started in volunteering, in getting out the information, and in getting out the vote.

Next week, I will talk about the current Georgia’s Senators’ blatant corruption.

Vote Save America – Georgia Runoff

Jon Ossoff

Rev. Raphael Warnock

Fair Fight

COVID Information Updates

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As the virus continues its rampage throughout the United States and in other parts of the world, I wanted to update my information center.

It can be found here: Covid Information Center

What follows is some related links that I am sharing here and will update their respective subject posts by next weekend. There will be more as news warrants it.

If there’s something that you found helpful that isn’t on one of my posts, please comment below or email me. Use the subject line so I don’t misread your email as spam.

Fauci: We won’t be able to sit in theaters without masks until a year after an effective coronavirus vaccine is created

Emergency Preparedness and Checklists for Everyone

Biden-Harris Transition Website

Biden-Harris Plan for Covid-19 Reponse

Clicking for entire thread will take you to Twitter. (c)2020

“…Nothing Ever Really Ends, Does It??…” – Chuck Shurley (Spn, 5.22)

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Supernatural ended a week ago, and I am still not over it. I have many thoughts about the finale, both positive and negative, and I am still not ready to confront them.

In lieu of my opinions and emotional upheaval, I decided to share a few links of things that posted in the days leading up to the last episode.

BEWARE SPOILERS

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