Tuesday, January 22, 2008

120 Years of National Geographic

Today marks the 120 anniversary of National Geographic. For those over the age of 35 long before cable National Geographic was the way we saw the world. Its images were the seeds of many dreams of all the exotic places I would travel each night. The color and sharp images were a staple of NatGeo. The NGS's historical mission is "to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources. Alexander Graham Bell was a early president of NatGeo. It was formed by scientist and educators to bring together a educational tool that has vastly surpassed even there expectations. The school library had several copies and I was always there to take home a copy. The Egyptian Pharaoh’s was one of the 1st articles that I had read. The images of Egypt had such profound impact on me. The stories and pictures were so life like that when you opened each page you could almost feel the desert air. I had seen the exposé on King Tut
although it would be another 20 years latter before I would see the exhibit. I looked with amazement as I turned each pay. The photography was like you were looking through the camera’s lens.
A social consciousness was the breeding ground within the pages of NatGeo. During Vietnam all the news was what was written in the papers or local TV. National Geographic showed the images of the people and the devastation to the country. It never took a written stance on the war just the pictures stood for them selves.

Culture was the heart of National Geographic. Every month they would profile a new culture with the faces of the indigenous people to each land. The feathers and paint of the Aztec warriors. The body Piercing of the woman of the Congo. The exotic furs of the Eskimos. As each month passed you were exposed to a new way of life and how they lived and they eyes of each person could unveil the story of their ancestors.

Conservation was at the forefront of their premise. I could never forget the wild life covered in oil after the Valdez oil spill. The pictures were able to capture the effects of pollution like I have never seen. The haunting cruelty as you could see just how damaging was its effects were.

The castles of Ireland, the Taj Mahl, Pyramids of South America, to the Coliseum of Rome the architecture contained in NatGeo showed the beauty in what man could achieve. The research and grants provide by National Geo has added to the conservation and preservation of the world around us. Thank you National Geographic for giving me my dreams.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK 104 Days That Changed The World

Henry Loeb was sworn into office neither he or the rest of the world would come to understand the legacy that would follow. Loeb was from a wealthy Jewish family who would latter convert to the Episcopal Church. His conservatism and stubbornness would be part of 104 days that changed the world and silenced one of the most promising voices of humanity. On January 31st torrential rain had sent the sanitation workers of Memphis Tennessee. Home. The next day two workers were killed (Echol Cole and Robert Walker) causing a outcry of unsafe working conditions. Over the next 11 days the sanitation workers had in earnest tried to make simple demands of the City of Memphis that were never met. On February 12th 1,100 of the cities sanitation workers unable to resolve their grievances with the city walk off the job. Jerry Wurf President of AFSCME after many attempts to unionize the ministers and other civic leaders relented and the members of the sanitation workers were then organized and the local branch of AFSCME was formed.

A sit in was scheduled the next day James Lawson and 150 members of the local churches formed COME Community on the Move for Equality. The sit in was a expression of peaceful disobedience non violent protest. The city of Memphis saw otherwise Loeb would enlist the police to break up the sit in tear gas and mace was used and over 100 protesters were arrested but the sit in only galvanized the community further as many high school and college students nearly one quarter of them white would join the sit in.

Lawson would keep constant vigil and prayer over the phone with Martin Luther King who was kept in constant updates to the progress of the strike. Loeb would then declare martial law and bring in over 4000 national guard troops to Memphis. A movement of a black youth group called black power would walk the streets and further complicate the boiling pot that had now been steaming over the city. King perplexed about joining the movement at this point The workers had been caring signs that read I AM A MAN walked up and down in front of city hall.

On April 3rd Martin Luther King would visit Memphis and give his most haunting speech. The crowd was tired as they had battled yet another storm and the closing of his last speech would still the world in manor that had not been felt since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. His last words from the pulpit “We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."“ These words would echo from every corner of the globe as a Nobel Prize winner who had galvanized the masses from Stockholm to Memphis walked off the alter and would never grace us with his eloquence again.

The very next day upon returning to Lorain Hotel Martin Luther King was shot a nation was in turmoil. In major cities across American the billowing smoke could be seen as cities burned in protest. Bobby Kennedy would alert the nation at a campaign stop in Indiana against the advice of the local police officials unable to provide protection addressed a weary nation. In Boston James Brown was set to perform a concert when Mayor Kevin White pleaded with him to cancel the concert. James brown refused and latter that night the Mayor would broadcast the event live on local television. As the concert began many had rushed the stage and the police were moving in to restore order when James brown addressed the crowd and persuaded the audience to return to its seats. Having been in Boston Children’s Hospital that day my father had out of fear spent the night. James Brown performed and Boston was one of the few cities did not succumb to rioting and order was restored. A teary eyed James Brown had with a heavy heart entertained the crowd.

President Lyndon Johnson had charged Undersecretary of Labor James Reynolds with negotiating a solution and ending the strike. On April 8th lead by a grieving Coretta Scott King would lead a march of 42,000 through Memephis in Honor of MLK. Reynolds would continue to meet with the Loeb and through much deliberation between the union, COME and the workers on April 16th the strike had finally ended.

The 1st 104 days of 1968 will be remember for the final chapter in the life of Martin Luther King. What was amazing was that he was a threat to the highest order in that any time he would appear his influence would follow. He no longer was a voice of only Civil rights he had become a citizen of the world. Had he lived what influence would he have had over strikes all over the United States? Unions saw the power in him. Presidents could not ignore him and his enemies would come to fear him as they could not contain the force of righteousness that trembled from his lips. No longer would they be able to do business as usual he exposed oppression and advocated for the rights of all men.

On April 3rd 1968 Martin Luther King sat in the Pantheon and was carried by the Gods to Mount Olympus and meet with Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around and as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. He would visit Rome consult with the Emperors. He would open the doors of the church of Wittenberg He would guide the pen of Abraham Lincoln. He would whisper in the ears of Franklin Roosevelt that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. His spirit was felt in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya: Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; and Memphis, Tennessee--the cry is always the same--"We want to be free." He would stand in front of Bull Conner and Henry Loeb no longer can you call your dogs mace my children. For his eyes have seen the glory.

Franklin Inventor, Dimplomat, Abolitionist

Benjamin Franklin Petitions Congress
January 17, 2006 marks the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth (January 17, 1706-April 17, 1790). During his life, Franklin had many careers including service as a diplomat, a printer, a writer, an inventor, a scientist, a lawmaker, and a postmaster, among others. In his later years he became vocal as an abolitionist and in 1787 began to serve as President of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. The Society was originally formed April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, as The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage; it was reorganized in 1784 and again in 1787, and then incorporated by the state of Pennsylvania in 1789. The Society not only advocated the abolition of slavery, but made efforts to integrate freed slaves into American society.
Franklin did not publicly speak out against slavery until very late in his life. As a young man he owned slaves, and he carried advertisements for the sale of slaves in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. At the same time, however, he published numerous Quaker pamphlets against slavery and condemned the practice of slavery in his private correspondence. It was after the ratification of the United States Constitution that he became an outspoken opponent of slavery. In 1789 he wrote and published several essays supporting the abolition of slavery and his last public act was to send to Congress a petition on behalf of the Society asking for the abolition of slavery and an end to the slave trade. The petition, signed on February 3, 1790, asked the first Congress, then meeting in New York City, to "devise means for removing the Inconsistency from the Character of the American People," and to "promote mercy and justice toward this distressed Race."
The petition was introduced to the House on February 12 and to the Senate on February 15, 1790. It was immediately denounced by pro-slavery congressmen and sparked a heated debate in both the House and the Senate. The Senate took no action on the petition, and the House referred it to a select committee for further consideration. The committee reported on March 5, 1790 claiming that the Constitution restrains The committee reported on March 5, 1790 claiming that the Constitution restrains Congress from prohibiting the importation or emancipation of slaves until 1808 and then tabled the petition. On April 17, 1790, just two months later, Franklin died in Philadelphia at the age of 84.

Source National Archives.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Willie O'ree Breaking Ice

Just about every morning back in the 80s my day started out the same the drive up Broad St. to the Cozy Corner. A quaint litter dinner in South Providence. What made the dinner unique was it sat at the upper end of Broad St situated in A Italo American and African American nieghborhood. The walls celebrated the diversity with sports memorabilia from the golden age to the modern day. The debates passionate who was better Marciano or Louis, DiMaggio or Aaron and the big debate of the 80s Magic or Bird. The counter was standing room only I had my favorite booth I sat at each day.

Above my seat was a article called O’ree’s Hell on Ice. I never heard of Willie O’ree but the first time I waited to get served it was something to pass the time. I knew about Jackie Robinson and new who Pumpsi Green was I new that Bill Russell was the first black coach in the NBA but had no idea who Willie was. It was the 25th Anniversary of the landmark game on a January night in Montreal. On that Night with the bruins struggling with injuries they called up a kid from New Brunswick Canada named Willie O’ree. It did not make the nation press in Canada or the States there was no fanfare just another kid from the Canada getting to live his dream. What brought chills up my spine was the details of the hell he went through for the next 20 years in his own private hell. It would be another 25 years before another black player would be called up.
What I carry with me the rest of my life is the picture of Willie with his Bruins sweater standing on the ice looking like he was ready to shoot a wrister through the net. Then when you see the title of the Bill Reynolds’s column O’ree’s Hell on Ice it was stirring. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but that headline is forever burned in my memory. O’ree was the last to break the racial barrier in North America Sports people will always remember Jackie, Jack Johnson, Fritz Pollard and many others who were first but Willie is unique he is the first and last the first in hockey and the last to integrate north American Sports.
January 18,1958 was a day no one seemed to remember lets make January 19, 2008 When Willie O’ree takes the ice tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden 50 years latter a day we soon wont forget.
By Kevin Allen, USA TODAY January 18,2008
Full article By Kevin Allen, USA TODAY
Inspiring generations of players
Today, O'Ree's message of perseverance is made to children all over the country through clinics and speeches. "His message has nothing to do with color," McCants says. "His message is about education and following your dreams." He says players get inspired when they see O'Ree and hear his story: "It doesn't just inspire kids. It inspires program directors."
Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla, the NHL's highest-profile black player, says, "It rubs off on you when you meet him and see how much energy he has. It's inspiring to see how much he gives back to the game and to the kids. I'm in awe knowing what he went through. There is a lot of trash-talking going on, and I can't imagine what he must have gone through."
McCants says, "I coach kids and I can't get them to listen for 10 minutes or even 10 seconds, but they listen to Willie. People are naturally attracted to him."
The diversity program has grown significantly since O'Ree began working for the NHL. Goalie Gerald Coleman, who played in the Chicago program and O'Ree's All-Star Game, was drafted by Tampa Bay and has played two games in the NHL, in 2005-06.
"It was Willie who pushed me," says Coleman, with the Anaheim Ducks' farm team in Portland, Maine. "He came from nothing to do something no one else had done. My thought was, 'Why can't I do that?' He's making a difference. To me, if we are getting one, two or three kids in every city to play, we are accomplishing something. It may take 12 years to get five more black guys, but that's a start."
McCants says minority players still face racial issues when they play and what they hear from O'Ree helps them deal with it. O'Ree reminds them not to let insults get in the way of their dreams: "If you speared me or butt-ended me, I went after you. But when it came to racial remarks, I let it go in one ear and out the other. If I responded to every word that was said to me, I would have been in the penalty box all the time."
O'Ree says there is still much to be done, that race or cultural issues don't hold back minority players as much as facilities: "Hockey is a unique sport. You can bounce a basketball around in many places, and you can always throw a baseball or football around or kick a soccer ball anywhere. But to play hockey, you need to get on the ice. … We need facilities for these kids."
Fifty years after making history, O'Ree is still working to change the complexion of the game.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Golf Week "What??????

In a unbelievable attempt to sensationalize a story that the media will not let die Golf Week went one step further. The recent cover of Golf Week has been pulled of the shelves and the negative publicity in created will be debated on every sports talk shows and evening news for weeks. Kelly Tilghman, in her second year as anchor of PGA Tour coverage on Golf Channel, was suspended for two weeks because of comments she made during the second round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, when she and analyst Nick Faldo were discussing young challengers to Woods. Faldo suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up [on him] for a while." "Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman said, laughing. Tiger Woods has down played the incident as he and Kelly Tilghman have been friends. Many pundits have demanded Tiger make more of a social stand instead of letting the story die. My point is I don’t want athletes being my means of being educated on social injustice. There has always been pressure on Michael Jordan Tiger woods to make more stands but what we forget is they are athletes. Because someone can jump through the roof or hit a ball 400 ft does not make them social advocates. The fear I have is they would have public relations managers telling them what to say and it would be based on popularity on issues and in the end would be disingenuous anyway. If it is not in someone’s heart to do something we need to stop making them to stand up for what they do not believe in.
The greatness of Muhammad Ali was he believed deeply in his opinions and when he made a stand he was willing to suffer the consequences. When he not register for the draft for Vietnam he was stripped of his title jailed and was not able to make a living. He did not waiver. He believed in what he was doing and stood behind his decision. When John Carlos and Tommy Smith stood on the medal stand at the Mexico City Games in 1968 with the black gloves raised
high they made a stand. The lost any chance of cashing in on any endorsements from there success and were willing to do so. They were sent home and Avery Brundage went so far as to try to strip them of their medals. Smith and Carlos’s families were subject to many death threats yet they stood for what they believed in. In 1960s Red Arabach started a all black starting five during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He was willing to stand for what he believed. During the pre season when Bill Russell and other Celtics were denied access to white only hotels he pulled the whole team back on the bus and found another hotel. Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson were the greatest examples of champions and had made political statements by just performing and doing it at a time when there was so much pressure on them and there performances were a statement in and of its self. During the 60s they were pressured to speak out during the Civil Rights Movement but the fact of the matter was they were from a different generation and that wasn’t in there nature. They for a short time vilified for their weak stands and was unfair to both their legacies.
If Tiger Woods decided that he would no longer golf until all country clubs had opened its doors to woman and African Americans I would applaud him. This simple truth is many of today’s athletes make social statements but do not stand behind them. If Michael Jordan would sell his share of the Charlotte Bobcats until Gay athletes were allowed to come out publicly then I would be eager to hear his message.

What the world is lacking is real leaders. In the absence of such voices of injustice and intolerance we look for athletes to stand up for us. Nelson Mandela never took a poll before he came out on a issue. Ghandi never had a P.R. Machine tell him what was popular issue to take on. I am still looking for a leader one I can stand behind. A person that doesn’t take polls look for popularity choice but finds in his or her heart and speak from a place they believe in and will be willing to suffer consequences. Smith Carlos, Ali Arabach, Branch Ricky and Don Haskins where are you?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Seperation or Adaptation

Today we are facing a very perplexing dilemma when the gap between the separation of church and state is actually becoming the separation of God from other Gods. Mike Huckabee's recent comments ring of a constitution as only the Christian right sees fit.

I was born into a family that was separated by church in my own home. My father being a devout Catholic and a mother whom was a Protestant. At a early age I had no relationship with God as I could not understand him. Speaking Latin was not on my priority list as a child so the message always seemed lost in translation. At my mothers church the Minister often would be side tracked so we would open our Bibles for the days lesson and some how we never got there. As I have grown I have studied many religions Buddhism Islam different denominations of Christianity I have come to appreciate the spiritual principals that I have found in all religions. It was around 1990 I had joined a Church of All Faiths and found my self choosing to worship as a Christian. I thank God for my Pastor as he said God wanted volunteers not prisoners. He made it clear to me that your relationship with God was a personal one and it should be a based on belief and yearning to establish a connection with spirit of God

As a child the Sunday dinner conversation always found it self in politics and religion. I am grateful through all the spirited debates I was able to hear different choices and was actually encouraged to make up my own mind.

The men from My Church had attended a men’s empowerment workshop with people from many religions. At this conference a Pastor from another church made a very derogatory remark about Muslims. I do not remember the exact reference but it was referring to the selling of bean pies. Reverend Beatey became incensed. He always told us that the value of attracting people to God not dividing them. I often heard him state that the building of a Church should be one of attraction and never based on destruction of another’s faith. His foundation at New Life was not to take people from other churches but find people who had no faith and feed them clothe then and nurture them. As a missionary he never put his faith on the people he helped it was contingent on his assistance. The mere fact was people became attracted to his faith and adopted it for their own.

My lack of faith in my adolescence was directly related to being violated as a child. As my relationship with God has grown I harbor no bitterness to the Catholic Church or its parishioners. What happened to me was a result of a man not following his faith and in my processes of forgiveness I can no longer make claim to hatred and intolerance. My family is still Catholic and I admire their faith. I find the most satisfying form of reconciliation was based on being delivered from my anger and new found forgiveness. The people in the catholic church never harmed me it was some clergy who choice was to disregard the faith and use innocence as a means for their perversions

Were the people whom fell victim to the Crusades of the Catholic church volunteers or prisoners of faith. In Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated similar views to Mike Huckabee the news media almost lost its collected minds. There have been examples of combining Church and State as early as mans first formation of religion. Was the Roman Emperor Constantine really interested in bring Rome to his new found faith in Christianity or was he a Emperor afraid of loosing a country? Ultimately combining the pagan rituals around Christianity. The world has struggled with its understanding and manifestations of God since the beginning of time.

Our founding fathers in their absolute brilliance or unknowing arrogance left the basic pennants of the separation of Church and State Thank God how ever you call his name.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Well you can send us homeless but please make sure they do not bring thier appitite. Imagine that we now need to apply for a permit to feed the homeless. Our problems on homelessness in America are complex and varied. The image of a drug addict or hobo's on a train is as inacurate as it gets in todays world.

Familes and children make up a large segment of the homeless today.
Liberal estimates suggest nearly 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year, according to The National Coalition for the Homeless, findings from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the Urban Institute, and the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers. Of the 3.5 million people experiencing homelessness, approximately 39% are homeless youth and children. Although the 3.5 million homeless people only account for 1% of the United States population, those who are living in a perpetual state of homelessness more often than not, are not shiftless or lazy, but unfortunate victims at the crux of economic and societal forces.

Last year in Orlando Florida Eric Montanez, 21, a member of Orlando's Food Not Bombs, had just finished serving food at Lake Eola Park when he was arrested for violating a city ordinance that limits the number of people you can feed at 25. The charge is a misdemeanor and a federal lawsuit has been filled on behalf of Mr. Montanez stating the city ordinance as unconstitutional.

As the problem continues to escalate we shall see a rise in such lawsuits. It is understandable that keeping the parks safe and clean is another priority of most U.S. cities but as a mater of prudence it is this writers belief that more effort can be made by city officials in providing clean up crews while non profit agencies help absorb the cost of feeding our nations homeless.

By Emily Bazar, USA TODAY

Cities are cracking down on charities that feed the homeless, adopting rules that restrict food giveaways to certain locations, require charities to get permits or limit the number of free meals they can provide.Orlando, Dallas, Las Vegas and Wilmington, N.C., began enforcing such laws last year. Some are being challenged.Last November, a federal judge blocked the Las Vegas law banning food giveaways to the poor in city parks. In Dallas, two ministries are suing, arguing that the law violates religious freedom.

DALLAS HOMLESS: The 'Lord's table' deemed illegal"Going after the volunteers is new," says Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "They think that by not feeding people, it will make the homeless people leave."City officials say the rules were prompted by complaints about crime and food safety. Some say they want control over locations so homeless people can also get services such as addiction counseling and job training."The feedings were happening several times a week" in parking lots and sidewalks downtown, says Dewey Harris, director of Wilmington's Community Services Department. "A lot of the merchants said, 'We feel uncomfortable when you have all these homeless being fed downtown when we're trying to attract tourists.' "Last March, the city restricted meals on public property to designated locations and required a permit. One spot has been approved: a city park parking lot.Dallas also limits outdoor food giveaways to approved locations. Those distributing food must take a food-handling course and get a city permit, says Karen Rayzer, director of environmental and health services. A violator can be fined $2,000.Orlando adopted an ordinance in July that requires a permit to serve more than 25 people in a park within 2 miles of City Hall, where most food giveaways were taking place. An applicant may serve twice a year in each park."This ordinance wasn't established to ban feeding," says city spokeswoman Heather Allebaugh. She acknowledges that some groups ignore the law.City Commissioner Robert Stuart voted against it. He is executive director of the Christian Service Center for Central Florida, which feeds 325 homeless people a day but, as private property, is not affected."It's not fair to take a population without a home and make them criminals," he says. "And I don't think we ought to be limiting the opportunity to help others."