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Knowing the Klan

Ku_Klux_Klan_Virgina_1922_Parade
Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade.
Picture credit: Public Domain, Library of Congress

 

Yesterday on our news was the story of a person who had been run out of office in one small town near us, only to show up in another.

He left and moved to a place just down the road a bit.

The causation for this furor was over his association and/or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.

This same group has made the news here repeatedly in the past few years.

We came here in 2004 and had a friend who unknown at first to us, was the son of a former Grand  Dragon of the Florida Klan.

This man was gentle, kind and sweet and had many friends.

It was hard to learn about his father.

We both have very strong feelings about the Klan, who even today still throw flyers into yard’s in mostly Black neighborhoods here in Central Florida, encouraging people to join them.

The papers are put into plastic bags with rocks in them.

Years ago in a College class about silent films, my instructor showed a film, The Birth of a Nation and implied that the Klan was, in the beginning, not just about hate, murders and hangings.

It was more about doing good for those in the South who had been ravaged by the Civil War.

As I read about it now, I can see that this is not the case, at all.

When it began in the 1860’s, it may indeed  have had more altruistic ideas, but as the years went on, these quickly faded and were replaced with those closer to what we now know as the Klan today.

On another personal note, years ago my best friend in California moved to Mississippi.

We were both pretty unhappy about this.

It was not her choice, her husband was from there and wanted to go back home.

To say that she was upset about the radical cultural changes in her life, was an understatement.

She was from California and the difference between the two states in so far as racism and race relations was/is huge, actually, it was more like a chasm.

On my first trip there to see her years later, I was shocked, dismayed and appalled at what I saw.

It was like the Civil War had never happened.

Too many of the local people looked as if all of their hope had been taken away and they were simply trying to just get through life, day by day.

There is one film that for me, best defines what it is like for many African-Americans living there,  or what the state has been like for entirely too many years: Mississippi Burning.

Think you know the Klan?

Think it is gone?

Think again.

As long as there is hate and fear of the differences between color and race, they will always be here, in fact they will flourish.

Those who belong to the Klan are cowards and their hate is what binds them together.

Only education, understanding and acceptance can change this.

These are the things that the Klan are most afraid of, and it is how we can change and defeat them forever.

 

Places to learn more:

Ku Klux Klan

Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school

Police in Fla.’s “Friendly City” were KKK members

The Legacy of Harry T. Moore

Ku Klux Klan in Florida

 

 

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Morgan Freeman, a Man For All Reasons and Seasons

Morgan-Freeman1
Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty
Picture credit: Still looking~

 

Seeing a story on the Weather Channel this morning about Morgan Freeman, was both a surprise, as well as a delightful joy.

It appeared to be mostly about his wide range of Humanitarian activism, but was also about the release of his newest film.

Dolphin Tale 2 is being released this week and Morgan is from the original cast and of course, returns as the kindly genius who created Winter’s artificial tail.

You see, Morgan Freeman is someone that I have deeply admired for many years and learning about all of his other passions today, only deepened that admiration.

It does not hurt that his calming, deep resonating voice is as smooth as melted butter.

Morgan who is 77 and lives primarily in Mississippi, does so much for many, it is hard to keep up.

I was not aware of some of his other environmental activities until seeing the story this morning on AMHQ.

Am I surprised?

No.

This quiet man of deep convictions, just goes about doing his job, giving unforgettable performances that will live in our memory banks forever:  Shawshank Redemption, Invictus,  Million Dollar Baby and  Seven.

Oh, this could go on forever….

Shawshank by the way, is still number one  on the IMDB all time favorite film list.

My favorite of his countless great roles, you may be shocked to learn, is when he has played God.

I would like to believe that God would be similar to the character that Freeman has portrayed of him and that he also has a wicked, or wry, sense of Humor.

It comes as little surprise, that just being an actor, is not quite enough to quench Freeman’s seemingly insatiable thirst for giving back.

To call him a world-class Humanitarian is a clear understatement of the man and his many missions.

Morgan’s opinion on Black History Month and Racism is commendable and well-known.

Freeman co-owns a Blues Club and as of this moment, is involved in all of these Organizations:

One Earth, Global Warming, The Grenada Relief Fund, Autism Speaks, Rebuilding Together and Oceana.

This multifaceted man who has meant so much, to so many, has achieved well deserved respect and admiration, that has grown exponentially over the years.

Morgan Freeman truly is a man for all reasons and seasons.

 

Places to learn more:

Morgan Freeman Bio – Wikipedia

Morgan Freeman’s Top 10 films

Morgan Freeman narrates new LGBT equality advertisement

Morgan Freeman on Ending Racism: ‘Stop Talking About It’

Morgan Freeman Global Warming PSA

Morgan Freeman fund for scholarships turns 15

Morgan Freeman proves he’s real-life action hero by landing malfunctioning plane 4 times

Morgan Freeman To Receive AFI Life Achievement Award

Morgan Freeman to Receive an Honorary Degree from Boston University

Rebuilding Together PSA featuring Morgan Freeman

 

 

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My Most Admired Women~

Clinton_and_Aung_San_Suu_Kyi

Hillary Rodham Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi
Picture credit:  U.S. State Department

 

They say that today is International Women’s Day.

This makes me just a bit curious, what about all of the other days?

What follows here is a selfish post.

I have always wanted to write about the women that I think have changed the world and influenced me.

So, with the excuse of what has been deemed their “day,”  I shall  begin!

I would like to speak of just a few of the women who have impacted my life and are especially worthy of mention here today.

 

I would of course, begin with my grandmother, who had 18 children and was the matriarch of our huge family and my mother, who raised me as a single mother, long before it was socially acceptable. Between them, these two very different, equally strong women, gave me all that was needed to become the person that I am today.

berthanugentmother

 

Of the women in my past not related to me, that I most admired,  I would like to mention a very special History teacher at Shortridge High School who made the subject come alive, for one who despised the whole idea of it, Mrs. Mary Walker.
She was a tiny, vibrant, African-American woman with beautiful white hair and I loved being in her class.
To this day, I can still hear her saying the word  ” Hapsburg’s.”

marywalker

 

Of all of the world’s current women leaders,  the one that I hold in the highest esteem is  Aung San Suu Kyi   of Burma/Myanmar. What she had done for her people and her country is  simply astounding and remarkable and there are few in the world who could have endured all that she has.

aungsansuukyi

 

Dr. Judith Marti was my first Anthropology Professor at CSUN and  taught mostly Ethnography Classes, which is basically, the study of a people through written observations.  She made a huge impact on all the years that followed in College. My classes with her and the lessons in life that she gave me, changed the way that I looked at  the world. She pushed me to always do better in every paper, every project, I would know little of real Anthropology if it were not for her. (Regretfully no picture)

 

Mrs. O’Brien, the dynamic, demanding,  Irish Charge Nurse at two of the facilities where I worked. She put the fear of God in all who were near, and not meeting her expectations in Nursing and patient care and taught me how to be a better Nurse. She often stood over me as I did treatments and remarked how perfectly they were done. As I told her, I had many times to practice with my son, who had years of skin breakdowns due to his paraplegia. We became very close and I will never forget her passion and her insistence on nothing but the best from all who worked with her. (Regretfully no picture)

 

For our current positive status in women’s liberation and equal rights we all owe much to many women, but for my own generation, my connection has always been to Gloria Steinem.  Those of us who came of age in the ’60’s, especially in Southern California, found their voice,  through hers. We were able to fight for our rights,  when no one wanted to give them to us and what she did made me a stronger woman. Regrettably, we are still waiting in this backwards thinking state of Florida for the ERA to be passed!

GloriaSteinem1972

 

In American politics, my choice must certainly be  Hillary Clinton  for being one of the most intelligent, powerful, accomplished women of my time. She is the closest we have come so far in putting a woman in the White House. For that I will forever thank her. Hillary has worked hard all of her life to make the world a better place for all of us.

HillaryClinton

 

 

 

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Crispus Attucks, Walkingfox and me, the connection~

Crispus_Attucks

Crispus Attucks  –   “The first to defy, the first to die”
The Poem by Irish Poet John Boyle O’Reilly
Picture credit: Public Domain

 

Crispus Attucks was the first to die,  along with four others, in the Boston Massacre of 1770, which became the impetus for the American Revolutionary War.

He was born in 1723 in Framingham, Massachusetts and died on March 5, 1770 in Boston.

Although he was born a slave, he later escaped, and as a runaway slave he would become a whaler for many years, as well as a rope maker.

Standing at  6′ 2 “,  Crispus was strong and muscular and a good fit to become a whaler.

His father was Prince Yonger,  who was born in Africa and later brought to America as a slave.

His mother Nancy Attucks,  was a Natick Indian from Massachusetts,  who was also forced into slavery, she was descended from John Attucks, of Massachusetts,  who was hanged during  King Philip’s War.

Crispus had a sister named Phebe and perhaps also a brother.

This was all happening at  the beginning of the American  Revolutionary War.

” Nancy Attucks, was an Indian and possible descendant of John Attucks, a member of the Natick Indian tribe. John Attucks was executed for treason in 1676 during the King Philip War.
The word “attuck” in the Natick language means deer.”    from African-American Registry

On that eventful day in March of 1770, Attucks was at the front of a large group of Rebels, which resulted in a confrontation with British troops, that ended with him being killed along with four others.

John Adams, who would later become our second President,  would defend the soldiers who killed him, they were acquitted. This event would later be called the Boston Massacre by John’s cousin Samuel Adams.

This popular phrase was often heard after the trial, “Even a Red Coat can get a fair trial”

Attucks is buried in the Granary Burial Ground in Boston, a precedent set by him being buried with white men.

A Monument to Honor him, was erected in 1888 and stands in the Boston Common.

My vague connection to this man is:

After leaving LA and going to Connecticut to Walkingfox’s home to begin a new life, I found that he already had a wide circle of friends, from every state and every Nation in New England and these places, these names, these people, would all soon become quite familiar and important to me.

We have been to every state in New England as Walkingfox attempted to teach me about his people and their History, one of those trips was to Plymouth for  the Annual day of Mourning or as it is known in the non Native world, Thanksgiving.

We made two trips up to Plymouth for this event, before moving south to Florida. These were wonderful chances to be with others who also came to remember the History of this place. Warm people, warm memories.

plymouth1        sachem5

Left, Walkingfox at Plymouth Rock Monument and Right,  Wampanoag Moonanum James of UAINE

On that emotional day, we stood with others at the place where many captured Native  prisoners had been executed and their heads hung on posts,  in the center of the town. It was a very somber, sad day for all who stood in the frigid cold and prayed for those who had died there so long ago during the King Philip’s War.

firewomanwf       renatowalkingfox

Left, Firewoman was a Wampanoag and Right, Renato is Natick, both were very dear to us.

We have friends of the Natick and Wampanoag Nations that are referred to in this story
about Crispus Attucks, so as you can see, telling it and sharing it is all quite personal.

*One other personal footnote:
When I attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, our long time, biggest rival in Basketball,  was always Attucks High School, an all African-American school known for having the best players in our state and they nearly always beat us and made the state finals.*

 

These are some excellent places to learn more about this most special man:

African-American Registry

The Grio: Remembering Crispus Attucks

PBS:  Crispus Attucks

The Murder Of Crispus Attucks

Short and sweet, just the facts

Crispus Attucks Museum

 

 

 

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Keloids, Colors and Rainbows~

Rainbow_plasma_ball

We do all live in a Rainbow World~
Picture credit:  Ray Kurosumi

*** An update***
I owe a huge apology to the students at Harvard for comments written here yesterday.

My mistake was in only reading a caption and then writing this story,
I had not gone to the web site and seen the actual  pictures.
What I found there were the remarks by some students who feel, as I often have,
that they are only being judged by the color of their skin. Yes some of them are brutally honest,
but if that is what it takes to get people to stop and think about ONLY seeing color, so be it.
I stand most definitely corrected!

 

I read an interesting post this morning and felt compelled to comment on it.

It was about some students at Harvard and some not so kind remarks about the color of one’s skin.

I took umbrage to this and my reply was quick and may I add,  just a bit curt.

If you have seen the movie Invictus, you heard the word Rainbow used many times,  it struck a note deep in my heart.

Martin Luther King, Jr. used the word frequently as well, it brought him many followers who believed that his thinking was good for the country.

Anyway, back to the Harvard comments.

Do you, do any of us,  really know every single person that inhabits our DNA?

Do you know who all of your Ancestors are?

Not likely.

I spent my entire life  looking for my father, whom I never met and only saw his face for the first time on this past Christmas Eve. It seems that he was either Scottish or Norwegian.

So now that part of my life is known, but what about the hundreds of others before him?

Let me digress.

When I was in Nursing School many years ago, we spent a week on Dermatology, it was a week that would change my life.

One day, the Instructor decided to comment about a certain skin type of scar, she called it a Keloid.

I had never heard the word before, but was stricken by the sound of it.

She gazed around the room and then frowned, “ Well she said, I cannot show you what a Keloid looks like because we have no African-American students here today.”

Then she put a graphic on the screen of one up close.

Aha~

I raised my hand and said,  “ Excuse me, but is this one? “

I showed her the scar on my arm from an injury a few years earlier.

She looked at me in total disbelief, ” You can’t  have one, you are not Black.”

Quite the contrary, I was a very pale, blue-eyed, blonde.

May I say that in that moment,  you could have heard a pin drop in the Classroom!

I did not have a computer at that time, so had no way of confirming or dismissing her comment and as our precious little free time was severely limited, I never did check up on it until many years later.

This was the first of the new colors to come into my personal Rainbow.

Did I mention that as a child growing up, my grandmother seemed obsessed with constantly telling me that we were PURE Irish?

Now fast forward to the year 1999,  when I left California and became the now 15 year partner of Walkingfox.

We spent years traveling around the country meeting Native people on many Reservations.

It was a life changing experience and the beginning of a new course for me.

He was convinced that I had Native Ancestors, but I refused to believe it, due to the color of my skin.

Then,  late one night,  I called my Aunt and finally asked her if we had any Natives in our family, her reply like that of the instructors rocked my world,  she said , ” Yes we have Shawnee Ancestors, I thought you knew. ”

Well I did not know and later I found out that this Aunt was the ONLY one in our family that my grandmother had shared this information with.

Then  a few weeks later on one of our trips, we were in Ohio and met some wonderful Shawnee people.

One of them came up to and said, ” You are Shawnee.”

I admitted that this had only been recently learned.

She stared at my back,  as I was wearing a strapless sun outfit, and said,  ” The mark on your back is very important to our people.”

I had no idea what she meant,  but assumed she was referring to the quarter sized mole on my left shoulder.

Her next words would take my breath way, ” That is the mark of a Medicine person to us.”

My grandmother was a Nurse, I had been a Nurse, it seemed plausible.

I had spent so many years caring for others, how could I know this may have been predestined?

So, back to the present about why the unkind comment made by an unthinking student at Harvard about the color of skin, hit so hard.

Unless one has had a Genetic test of their DNA, one cannot fully know just who their Ancestors were, can they?

When you look at me, what do you see?

Do you see an African-American person, a Native American person, probably not.

All that you see is my very white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes.

But, that is not the entire picture and now you know.

I am Prussian, Irish, Native American, English, Scottish/Norwegian and African-American.

So to all of you in the world who ONLY see color when you look at people,  shame on you, you have access to excellent reference and education sources everywhere on the planet and this is your level of thinking?

Please, in the future, may we all try to see the Rainbow that exists in each of us~

 

 

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Zora Neale Hurston

ZoraNealHurston

Zora Neale Hurston in 1937
Beating a Haitian tambour maman or mama drum
Picture credit: World Telegram staff photographer

 

As an Anthropology student in California years ago,  I do not remember ever hearing about this remarkable woman.

It was only after coming here to Florida in 2000, that I became aware of her work in my own field of study.

I was at the University of Florida Press in Gainesville one day, picking up some books, when I noticed a stack of hers on the counter.

I asked the person there who she was and she said that she was  ” A Florida writer.”

Well as soon as I got home, I looked  her up and the shock hit me, she was a great deal more than just a “Florida writer.”

So this is a brief introduction into the world of this extraordinary African-American woman, whose life was just celebrated recently in the Annual Zora Festival in Eatonville.

Although many are not aware, Zora was not born in Florida, she was born in Notasulga, Alabama on January 7, 1891, but was brought to Eatonville at the tender age of 3.

Eatonville,  which is near Orlando, was/is one of first all black towns in this country.

I believe it was certainly the first one here in Florida.

Zora was the daughter of Baptist preacher and after they moved to Florida, he later became the Mayor of Eatonville.

After her mother died when she was 13, her father remarried quite quickly and soon after, her father and new step-mother sent her away to a boarding school in Jacksonville.

When they stopped paying for her tuition, Zora took what ever work she could find during this period, to stay in school.

Later as their  only black student, she received a BA in Anthropology at Barnard College/ Columbia University and graduated in 1928 at the age of 37.  (she had changed her date of birth to be able to complete her education)

During this time she worked with renown Anthropologists, Franz Boaz  and Margaret Mead.

She also became an active writing member of the Harlem Renaissance Era in the 1920’s.

Sadly, Zora later had several personal issues that hurt her and caused her great embarrassment.

Like so many other very talented, political and social trailblazers, Zora died alone and poor.

She was buried in the Garden of Heavenly Rest in Fort Pierce,  Florida,  in an unmarked grave in 1960.

Years later  in 1973, an upcoming author  Alice Walker  (who in 1982 would  write The Color Purple) and who had benefitted from Zora’s  example and writing, went to Fort Pierce and found what she believed to be her grave site and had a marker placed there.

 

This is an excellent accounting of her fascinating life:  Zora Neale Hurston

 

Zora Festival 2014

Zora Sustaining a Culture of Color

 

 

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