The Pardu

Jon S. Randal : US History Often Overlooked (Jim Crow, The Fight For Equality, Information, Quest for Peace)


Jon S. Randal's photo.

She never got to finish her journey that day. She was marching along with some 600 protesters for voting rights when policemen arrived with tear gas and billy clubs. The protesters would be beaten, and she would be left bloody and unconscious on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, over the Alabama River in Selma.
Her name was Amelia Boynton, the date was March 7, 1965, and the incident on the bridge in Selma would draw national attention, eventually being called, “Bloody Sunday.”
Boynton, a former teacher and the first African-American woman to run on the Democratic ticket for a seat in Congress from Alabama, had invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Selma. Dr. King and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference would meet and set up headquarters at Boynton’s Selma home, where they would plan the Selma to Montgomery March of March 7, 1965.
When they got on the bridge, she remembers the troopers brutally attacking them. “I felt a blow on my arm that could have injured me permanently had it been on my head,” she would say. “Another blow by a trooper as I was gasping for breath knocked me to the ground and there I lay unconscious. Others told me that my attacker had called to another that he had the “damn leader.” One of them shot tear gas all over me.”
A newspaper photo of the a middle-aged housewife, lying on the ground, left for dead, shocked the entire nation. Bloody Sunday would prompt President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965, with Boynton attending as the landmark event’s guest of honor.
Boynton, who later would be referred to as Amelia Boynton Robinson, would continue being a voice for civil rights, touring the United States “to defend the rights of all humanity to progress — material, moral and intellectual,”
She would also educate people on the importance of voting, saying, “A voteless people is a hopeless people.”
She would remind younger people of the importance of history, saying, “It’s important that young people know about the struggles we faced to get to the point we are today. Only then will they appreciate the hard-won freedom of blacks in this country.”
She added, “You can never know where you are going unless you know where you have been.”
She would be awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom.
On August 26, 2015, Boynton Robinson would die at the age of 104.
But before her death, she was able to finish her journey across the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the Selma Voting Rights Movement 50th Anniversary Jubilee. In her wheechair, she was accompanied by the first black President of the United States, Barack Obama, holding her hand.
Close friends and family would say, she died, harboring no animosity for anyone, not even those who might have hated her for the color of her skin.
She had said, “I was brought up by people who loved others. I love people. We had no animosity. We had no feeling that we hate anyone.”
“Only until all human beings begin to recognize themselves as human beings will prejudice be gone forever,” she said. “People ask me what race I am, but there is no such thing as race. I just answer: “I’m a member of the human race.”
He was born on February 6, 1945 raised in one of Jamaica’s poorest neighborhoods. He struggled in poverty, but he found inspiration in the music around him. It was this music that lifted Bob Marley, and it was this music that would carry him, making him one of the most beloved icons in Jamaica.
His songs represented what he saw, what he believed, lifting his countrymen from the social injustice, poverty, and oppression that they lived with every day. He gave the people hope, he gave the people courage, he urged them to “Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights! Get up, stand up! Don’t give up the fight!”

He was so popular, he was so vocal that others began to fear his voice. On the night of December 3, 1976, two days before a planned concert, he was nearly assassinated. A group of gunmen attacked Marley, bullets striking him twice and also injuring his wife. His manager was shot 5 times and had to fight for his life. Despite the attack, Marley still played at the show after much deliberation. When asked why, Marley responded, “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”
Because of the attack, however, Marley agreed to a self-imposed exile, leaving his beloved Jamaica. He, however, continued writing songs to empower not only the people back home, but people everywhere. In 1977, Marley discovered he had cancer, but instead of taking doctors’ advice on treating it, he continued touring and writing his songs. When he realized he wasn’t getting better, he longed to return to his beloved Jamaica.
He wrote “Redemption Song,” one of his finest songs. According to his wife, “he was already secretly in a lot of pain” and this song dealt with his own mortality. The song urges listeners to “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,” because “None but ourselves can free our minds.” He was honored with the Medal of Peace from the United Nations in 1980. But, Bob Marley was never able to finish his journey back home, dying in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981. His final words to his son Ziggy were “Money can’t buy life.” Still adored by the people of Jamaica, Marley was given a hero’s sendoff with more than 30,000 people paying their respects to him while his body was lying in state at the National Arena.

Jon S. Randal's photo.

It should have been a happy time for Hank Aaron. He was closing in on Babe Ruth’s 39-year-old home-run record in 1974. Before this, very few people acknowledged his talent. Now, he was receiving more than 3,000 letters a day, more than a million letters in all.
Unfortunately, many of those letters came from bigots and racists, who not only spewed hate at Aaron simply for the color of his skin, but also threatened his life.
Yes, it was just a game. But, there were many who did not want to see a black man break a white man’s record.
The letters were filled with so much hate, more hate than Aaron had ever imagined. “This,” Aaron said later about the letters, “changed me.”
One person wrote,””Dear Ni**er Henry, you are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it. … Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. . My gun is watching your every black move.”
The FBI would investigate several death threats and kidnapping plots against his children. An armed guard had to accompanying Aaron. Because of the threats, he would miss his kids’ graduations, and they had to have police escorts at school.
Aaron tried staying focused. He tried not letting the letters bother him. He just kept swinging. “Dammit all,” he said, “I had to break the record. I had to do it for Jackie (Robinson), and my people and myself and for everybody who ever called me a ni**er.”
It was a word that would follow him at every turn.
The night before he would break the record, he would call his mother. “I’m going to save the next one for you, Mom,” he said.
And, on April 8, 1974, the largest crowd in Braves history (53,775) witnessed history. Hometown fans would give him a standing ovation.
But years later, Aaron still has the hate mail. “I read the letters,” he said, “because they remind me not to be surprised or hurt. They remind me what people are really like.”
He would also say, “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”
~ Hank Aaron, born on this day, born February 5, 1934.

A day after Martin Luther King’s Birthday post via Friend of the TPI Jon S. Randal, we work to catchup. It seems brother Randal’s thoughtful posts at times riles some readers. I have posted an example of how best to respond to peopel who refuse to accept MLK as a peace maker.

Jon S. Randal

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., born on this day, January 15, 1929.

Had another disagreement with someone, this one a friend of a friend, who disagreed with some points on one of my posts honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday. He eventually apologized and admitted he was in error, proving he was an honorable man, and all is hopefully well.

But, here’s the point for this post, this seems to be happening more often, not just with me, but on other pages of friends. Those of us who dream of a better world for all, for peace, for understanding, for equality – we have been fighting this battle for so long that we are now fighting each other, spending precious time we don’t have on minor issues instead of looking at the big picture.

We need to focus on that big picture.

We need to be careful what we say on each others’ pages because it can be used against us, by those who seek to continue to spread lies and misinformation, to destroy the dreams of those like Dr. King.

We all need to be working together, not against each other.

We need to support each other, not fight one another.

We need to stop trying to knock each other down, and instead focus on how we can help each other stand back up.

We may not agree on specific issues, but I believe we may agree on more items than we disagree on. We need to save ourselves for the battles that will truly test us, that will determine whether Dr. King’s dreams become a reality.

We need to believe in peace and understanding, and, ultimately, we need to believe in love.

The Juke Box Melting Pot

I was at work when I heard over the radio that Joe Cocker had passed away. Two of my favorite songs are “You Are So Beautiful” and “With a Little Help from My Friends.” I wanted to write a little something about Mr. Cocker, so when I tried to read about his life, I read about the usual stuff about him being a hard rocker, hard drinking, heavy into drugs, played Woodstock, and unfortunately has not yet got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Billy Joel recently said was a shame because Mr. Cocker is one of the greatest singers of all time.
So, as usual, I wanted to find something a little different about the man, what many people may not have known about him:
When Joe and Pam Cocker built a home in a rural part of Colorado in 1995, some of the residents imagined the worst – “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” drugs, alcohol, and rock and roll. But, when the local folk finally met Joe Cocker, they met a very shy man, who would drop into town to fill up his truck at the local gas pump or buy his favorite soft-serve ice cream, a man who carried a bag of vitamins his wife made him take daily, a man who loved fly-fishing. They also met a wonderful couple who loved animals, children, and their new community.
When they found out that Delta County was one of the poorest counties in the state, the Cockers decided to raise money to support the community’s Children’s Christmas Party fund. This was the beginning of the Cocker Kids’ Foundation, a non-profit group, which has made grants of more than $1,000,000. “The grants range from buying tennis shoes and sending kids to music camps to funding scholarships and building playgrounds. The recipients are expected to volunteer their help to another individual or organization in need. The foundation also lights up the town each Christmas and hosts an annual party when a Santa delivers bags of gifts to all the children.”
According to Pam Cocker on their website, she and Joe believe in being a part of a community, which “compelled us to want to help strengthen it by doing something good for the children.”

Jon S. Randal's photo.

He is known as “one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers” and today’s generation has dubbed him the “Godfather of Grunge.” He is remembered for his stints with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He is also an environmentalist and a co-founder of Farm Aid and The Bridge School, an educational organization for children with severe verbal and physical disabilities.

But, many have also identified him with Native American culture, so much so that fans started calling him “Neil the Indian.” But, Neil Young, born on this day, November 12, 1945, didn’t have any Native American blood in him, he was a Canadian. But, he had such deep admiration and respect for Native American culture that Native Americans would return the admiration.

Two of his songs were included in the list of 10 Essential Songs for Native Musicians. The two songs were “After the Gold Rush” and “Ohio,” selected by Bill Miller, who is Mohican from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin.

Other fans have also pointed to “Cortez the Killer,” “Pocahontas,” and “Broken Arrow.”
And, of course, his backing band is called “Crazy Horse,” named after the Oglala Lakota leader.

Young’s album, “Americana” has a cover featuring the famous 1905 photo of Geronimo sitting in a Locomobile.

Young took the term “Broken Arrow” from what he learned from reading about Blackfoot Indians, who would use a broken arrow to signal that they would cease fighting.

The lyrics of “Pocahontas” describe the massacre of an Indian tribe by European settlers:

“Aurora borealisThe icy sky at nightPaddles cut the waterIn a long and hurried flightFrom the white manto the fields of greenAnd the homelandwe’ve never seen. 

They killed us in our tepeeAnd they cut our women downThey might have left some babiesCryin’ on the groundBut the firesticksand the wagons comeAnd the night fallson the setting sun.”

“Cortez the Killer” is about the Spanish conquest of the New World, focusing on Hernán Cortés, a conquistador who conquered Mexico for Spain in the 16th century, and also mentions Aztec ruler Moctezuma II:
“Hate was just a legend

And war was never known

The people worked together

And they lifted many stones. 
They carried them to the flat lands

And they died along the way

But they built up with their bare hands

What we still can’t do today.”
Neil Young may not be a true Native American, but his heart and his beautiful, poetic words speak out for Native Americans, spreading awareness and knowledge of a culture he truly loves.

He was known for screaming and scaring some of the toughest men around. He was loud, he was mean, and he was tough.
He spent 20 years in the Air Force, retiring with the rank of master sergeant.
“I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work,” he would say.
But, when he retired, he said he didn’t want to be the mean guy anymore, and he vowed never to scream again.
Instead of planes, he envisioned beautiful birds flying in the horizon. Instead of yelling at recruits, he learned how to talk gently in a soothing voice to the animals and the trees, “happy little trees,” he would call them.
And, his weapon of choice became . . . a paintbrush, which he used for 11 seasons on his PBS show, “The Joy of Painting.” His name was Bob Ross, and he was born on October 29, 1942.
As he is fond of saying, if there is something you don’t like, you have the power to change it, like a painting on canvas, transforming something you don’t like into something you do like…say, a bird, or, a happy little tree.

Jon S. Randal's photo.

Jon S. Randal

I don’t post too many political stories. But, I had to post this one today. Remembering the terrible tragedy in which Americans, stationed in a country in the Middle East lost their lives on a “peace-keeping mission,” leaving a popular President devastated at the loss of life, which could have been prevented with better intelligence and security measures against terrorism. The city’s name started with the letter “B,” and the country’s name started with the letter, “L.”
This tragedy should never be forgotten. On this day, October 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-one thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon, killing two hundred and forty-one (241) American service men.
It was the single deadliest attack on American Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima. A total of 299 lives were lost, including French service men. President Ronald Reagan called the attack a “despicable act.”
Six months earlier, militants had bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, too, killing sixty-three more people, including seventeen Americans. Militants would strike again at government outposts in March of 1984 and September 1984. Congress, led by the opposition Democrats, could have played the tragedy for political points, but did not. Something to remember next time you vote for your representative in Congress. We’re all Americans.

Jon S. Randal's photo.

He fought for the country he loved. He received both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He had an exemplary military record, served 3 tours of duty in Vietnam with shrapnel wounds to prove it, and 12 years of service and high performance ratings. He was also a well-respected and admired teacher of race relations, teaching tolerance and understanding. But, when he revealed that he was gay, his country abandoned him, ruling him unfit for service and discharging him on this day, October 22, 1975.

Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich became a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian service members and gay people generally, his photograph appearing on the cover of Time magazine, becoming the first named openly gay person to appear on the cover of a U.S. new smagazine. The headline read, “’I AM A HOMOSEXUAL’: The Gay Drive for Acceptance.”

Matlovich would fight his discharge for 4 years. In 1979, after winning his case against the air force and receiving a settlement, his discharge was upgraded to “honorable.” He continued fighting for gay rights and adequate HIV-AIDS education and treatment.

In 1986, he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
On May 7, 1988, in front of the California State Capitol during the March on Sacramento for Gay and Lesbian Rights, Matlovich made his last public speech, saying:

“…And I want you to look at the flag, our rainbow flag, and I want you to look at it with pride in your heart, because we too have a dream. And what is our dream? Ours is more than an American dream. It’s a universal dream. Because in South Africa, we’re black and white, and in Northern Ireland, we’re Protestant and Catholic, and in Israel we’re Jew and Muslim. And our mission is to reach out and teach people to love, and not to hate.”
Less than a month before his 45th birthday, on June 22, 1988, Matlovich died in Los Angeles of complications from HIV/AIDS. Above him was a large photo of one of his heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

He was buried with full military honors at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His tombstone, meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans, has no name. It simply reads:
“When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

Jon S. Randal

October 11

She wore frumpy clothes. Her teeth needed straightening. She was very insecure, she believed what everyone said about her, admitting she was an “ugly duckling.” She believed, however, that one’s prospects in life were not totally dependent on physical beauty.

When she finally met a man who was interested in her, she decided not to take him to a fancy, social event, but instead took him to the slums of the Lower East Side, where she did volunteer work, helping young immigrants.

The young man, who had held a rich, sheltered life, saw things he would never forget — sweat shops where women labored long hours for low wages and squalid tenements where children worked for hours until they dropped with exhaustion.

This walking tour profoundly changed the young man, moving him to say, that he “could not believe human beings lived that way.”

The young man’s name was Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the young woman, who changed his life forever, who would change the world forever, her name was Eleanor Roosevelt.

They would eventually marry, and Eleanor Roosevelt would become more than just a First Lady. She was nominated three times, during her lifetime, for a Nobel Peace Prize. She was a renowned social and political activist, journalist, educator, and diplomat. Throughout her time as First Lady, and for the remainder of her life, she was a high profile supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, of equal rights for women, and of social reforms to uplift the poor. She helped the Tuskegee Airmen in their successful effort to become the first black combat pilots.

Even after her husband’s passing, she remained active in politics for the rest of her life, chairing President Kennedy’s ground-breaking committee which helped start second-wave feminism, the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women.

They called her an ugly duckling when she was growing up, but to the world, she was a beautiful swan whose beauty inside helped her speak the truth, making the world a little better for all.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt, born on this day, October 11, 1884

This is a double tribute, one to Peter Max, born on this day, October 19, 1937, and the other is Cinci Freedom. Max is a famous artist whose psychedelic art has immortalized U.S. Presidents to rock idols. Cinci Freedom is…a cow.
Max’s “artistic contributions to the causes of world peace, ecology, human rights, and animal protection, have made him a folk hero and endeared him to millions.” Cinci Freedom was a 2,000-pound white Charolais cow whose last days were numbered at an Ohio slaughterhouse.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to the slaughterhouse…
Cincy, not wanting to be part of the herd and not one to be called sheep, became a folk hero herself. She outsmarted some slaughterhouse workers who were on break, then, hey diddle diddle, she just kinda jumped over a 6-foot fence. She had no beef with anyone, she just wanted to live. She was then out on the lam (don’t have a cow now over my usage of words) and eluded capture for 11 days!
For a week and a half, the daily saga was big news everywhere, even around the world. When Cincy was finally captured, that’s when Peter Max stepped in, saying, “This little girl’s will — facing the end of her life, being so frightened, then taking the risk of all risks to live, to be free — touched me so deeply. It was so inspiring. I knew I had to try to preserve that wonderful spirit.”
Max would donate $180,000 worth of his art to benefit the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to ensure Cincy a long life of peace at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York.
As a Farm Sanctuary spokesperson said, Cincy “symbolized the will to live, to enjoy life and not be messed with.” Something we can all relate to, something Peter Max ensured. I hope you all enjoyed this, um, mooooving tribute. 

smile emoticon

Jon S. Randal's photo.
He was big, but because of the color of his skin, he was never given the chance to show what he truly had in his heart. He was constantly in trouble in school and was eventually expelled for engaging in fights over racial issues. His family was poor, so he decided to enlist in the Navy. On board, the USS West Virginia, he was simply known as one of the “colored cooks.” To earn a little extra money, he would also make the bed and clean the bedroom and bathrooms for the officers, even doing their laundry and shining their shoes.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Doris “Dorie” Miller was collecting laundry, when the first of nine torpedoes hit the “West Virginia” on that fateful morning at Pearl Harbor. Despite enemy strafing and bombing, in the face of serious fire, and in disregard of his own personal safety, Miller assisted in moving his Captain, who had been mortally wounded, to a place of greater safety. And, although unfamiliar with a machine gun, he jumped to operate one to defend his ship and protect the lives of his fellow sailors. Miller then helped move injured sailors through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thereby “unquestionably saving the lives of a number of people who might otherwise have been lost.”
For his “distinguished devotion to duty” and “extraordinary courage,” he received the Navy’s highest honor, the Navy Cross. He became the first black recipient of the Navy Cross. He was finally being recognized as a hero back home, but he chose to return to service, to defend his country, the same country that never believed in him while he was growing up. On December 7, 1943, exactly two years after his courageous effort during the Pearl Harbor attack, Miller′s parents were notified that their son was on board the USS Liscome Bay, when a single torpedo from a Japanese submarine struck the escort carrier, sinking it within a few minutes. There were only 272 survivors and the rest of the crew was listed as “presumed dead,” including Miller.

Doris “Dorie” Miller was born on this day, October 12, 1919.

A 14-year-old boy proudly brings a digital clock to school to show to his teacher, and he is suspended and arrested, accused of being a terrorist – because his skin is brown, because his faith is different, because his name is Ahmed.

He loves building things, and he just wanted to show his engineering teacher one of his inventions, a digital alarm clock. Any other youth probably would have received praise, but this was a school in Texas and the boy’s name was Ahmed Mohamed.

Mohamed, wearing his NASA t-shirt, was called out of class and brought into a room with four police officers, one of whom said, “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

Looking confused and upset, he would be led out of his school in handcuffs. The police claimed he was not “forthcoming” by going beyond the description that what he made was a clock. The officers tried to get him to say that he made a bomb. Ahmed, A middle school robotics club member, who has won awards for his inventions. would repeat that that’s all it was – a clock.
The news story has now become viral, with most people showing outrage. The police would later release Ahmed to his parents and admit “There’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm,” which is what Ahmed said all along.
“I think this wouldn’t even be a question if his name wasn’t Ahmed Mohamed,” said Alia Salem of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “He is an excited kid who is very bright and wants to share it with his teachers.”
Ahmed has now received support from President Obama, from Hillary Clinton, and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who stated, “Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest.”

Ahmed has never been in trouble before, his father said, “people just think Muslims are terrorists but we are peaceful, we are not that way.”
“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, said.

Jon S. Randal

September 16, 2015
A woman knowingly breaks the law and denies rights to people she doesn’t believe have rights and she is hailed a hero. A 14-year-old boy proudly brings a clock to school to show to his teacher, and he is suspended and arrested, accused of being a terrorist – because his skin is brown, because his faith is different, because his name is Ahmed.
This is what happens when fear and paranoia run rampant in a society fueled by hate, promulgated by politicians and media who cater to the lowest common denominator.

 Jon S. Randal

September 11, 2015

Amidst the sadness and the grief of that day, Sept. 11, 2001, there were 50 signs of hope that fateful day, representing 50 babies, one each from the 50 states.

Christina Taylor Green was among those “Faces of Hope,” featured in a book, with proceeds going to the Sept. 11 charity.

For one brief shining moment, this beautiful girl would bring happiness to her family, bring hope to the rest of the nation, and lend her grace to a nation seeking to find what was good in America.

Christina Taylor Green was born on Sept. 11, 2001, back East, in West Grove, Pennsylvania, during that tumultuous time when the nation was still in shock.

Sept. 11 affected everyone back East, according to Christina’s mother, who herself was born in New York. “It was an emotional time for everyone in the family,” but Christina’s birth lent a grace note of hope to that terrible day.
Christina would grow up, knowing the significance of her day of birth. She was very patriotic. “Wearing red, white and blue was really special to her,” her mother said.

She loved dancing, she loved playing baseball, and she loved singing in her church choir. She also belonged to the Kids Helping Kids charity.

She was very much aware of the inequalities in the world around her, and, she would often tell her mother, “We are so blessed. We have the best life.”

Her mother recalled that Christina wanted to be the first female major league baseball player or the president. She would ask her, “Do you mean first lady?” And she would reply, “No, the president.”

That’s why 9 years later, she wanted to give back to people, who were less fortunate in life. She dreamed of going into politics, like her hero, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, when she attended a meeting for the Congresswoman at a local supermarket near Christina’s Tucson home.

“She was all about helping people, and being involved. It’s so tragic. She went to learn today and then someone with so much hatred in their heart took the lives of innocent people,” her mother said.

“I think there’s been a lot of hatred going,” her mother would say, “and it needs to stop.”

It was January 8, 2011, which would become another tragic day for America. Christina’s life was cut short that day, but her brief life inspired many.

I remember Christina, how much she dreamed of helping people, how much she loved life, how much she wanted to make a difference.

In my humble opinion, Christina Taylor Green in her short time here on Earth has made a difference and her spirit continues to make a difference. She was just a little girl, but as President Obama so eloquently said, “I want America to be as good as she imagined it.”

For, Christina….

Jon S. Randal's photo.

Jon S. Randal

September 7, 2015

Jon S. Randal's photo.

He took the picture of the two girls. The dark-haired girl on the right with the impish smile, her name was Eddie, about 8 years old. In the background are spinning machines, the picture was taken at the Tifton Cotton Mill, Tifton, Georgia in 1909. The girls worked there.

It was one of the photographs Lewis Hine would take. Hine was a photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). He left a teaching position to document child labor in order to end the practice. It was sometimes a dangerous job, he was frequently threatened with violence or even death by factory police and foremen.

At the time, industries hid the fact that they employed children. They took advantage of poor families, such as Eddie’s family. Eddie’s father had died and left her mother with 11 children and no income. Her mother was forced to work at the cotton mill for $4.50 a week. Eddie and four other siblings also worked there and they were all together paid $4.50 as well. The youngest children eventually would be sent to an orphanage.

This was during the time when there were no labor laws, no unions. Hine would work diligently to take these photographs, to use them as evidence. At times, he had to disguise himself, even posing as a bible salesman in order to get on company grounds because as a photographer he was prohibited.

Hines’ photographs would be instrumental in changing the child labor laws in the United States. If it were not for him and his photographs, industries would have been able to hide the immorality of child labour and would have been able to continue exploiting children.

He was a hero who was never acknowledged. Later in life, people lost interest in his work, he would lose his house, dying at the age of 66.
But the photographs remain a testament to his work, to his dedication to do what was right. Hines is one of the unsung heroes of the labor movement.

Jon S. Randal
August 31, 2015
Sometimes I ask myself why I post stories about caring, about understanding one another, and ways to improve the world, when it seems like half the world doesn’t care at all. There just seems to be so much hate all around, it’s all about “ME,” forget about the Other Guy, and Why Should I Worry About the Future? My last post was about the photo of the 5 children, black and white, smiling, hugging each other, with no worry about the world around them. I wondered whether it was a false perception, whether it was an illusion, given the current state of the world.

“Captain’s log,” star date 08301.5: The tiny, little beings who have been visiting me showed up again this weekend. For those of you following my Star Date encounters, these are the stories of these tiny “alien” beings called “nephews” and “nieces,” who have been visiting and trying to teach me a different way of looking at the world.

This time it was tiny Niece 1 (age 8 in earth years) and even tinier Niece 2 (age 4) who visited; neither had been here since star date 11291.4. In previous encounters, my guides were usually Niece 1 (NEC-1) and Nephew (NHW-1). Niece 2 (NEC-2), the tiniest one, was more of an observer and was more cautious. She rarely exhibited any interaction other than hiding behind her parental units. The last time they visited, it was only at the end of the visit when the tiny being displayed hug transference.

This time, however, perhaps picking up on my current state of mind, NEC-2 took the lead and displayed a never-before-seen multi-kinetic energy, which she used to attach herself to me like a photon magnet.

Wherever I went, this tiny being would follow. When I retreated to my sleep chambers, she would ask about me. When I sat down, I would find her on my lap, this bundle of never-ending energy, asking to see my yard, wondering if little fairies were hiding there, asking to refuel with chocolate muffins, wanting to play non-stop. After a while, her parental units started calling her my “little shadow.”

At the alien athletic arenas (called “play-grounds), she would ask me to propel her and NEC-1 through the air on gravity-defying pendulums called “swings.” I was also forced to view more indoctrination films, in which beings of a diverse nature, one looking like a rodent and another a feisty duck, had to solve problems, such as ensuring there were enough hot dogs for everyone. One particular character named “Donald” believed he was the most awesome, most greatest, most bestest leader of this empire that was “Disney.”

At the end of their visit, NEC-2 would transfer her hug technology to me for the umpteenth time. And, as the alien visitors boarded their transport vehicles, NEC-2, looked back at me, ran toward me, opening her arms, and gave me one last hug transfer. This time she held tight, obviously ensuring that whatever she was downloading into my heart would be complete.

As they lifted off and as NEC-2 waved, saying goodbye 20 million times, I saw the display features of her face, with sad, puppy-dog eyes and a giant pout, a display which had replaced the big, round, sparkling eyes and contagious smile she had when she first sat on my lap and looked up at me – and I realized at that point what my mission was – to continue posting whatever I could to improve this world and ensure that NEC-2 and all the other tiny, little beings sent here to save this world will have all the help they need to make this a better world for all, echoing the statement by a great “human being,” “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

This will be my mission . .

I don’t know why the senseless death of two people I don’t know affects me so much. People die every day, all over the world. It could be that these two people were journalists, a profession which I studied for, in which I’ve met some of the most intelligent, caring, and driven people, some of whom became friends for life.
It could be that these two people were young, just starting out promising careers. It could be that both of them each had recently announced their engagements to the loves of their lives, a promise now forever unfulfilled. It could be that one of those people, the camera man’s fiancee, had to watch all this in the control room as it happened. It could be that it was just supposed to be a normal day for them, just doing their job, with no expectation of what was to come. It could be that these senseless deaths are unfortunately becoming a norm in this society.
I don’t know their full story, but no life should be cut short by senseless violence, no life should be taken away from loved ones, no life should end before its time.
Please don’t leave any political comments, please don’t make this any more negative than it is, let’s just honor their lives and their memories. No one, I mean, no one deserves to be gunned down.
I just wanted to share my thoughts on the loss of two young lives, an example of the senseless violence that seem to go on and on and on in this world. I had hoped that after so many years we would have become civilized enough to end this type of violence. I guess not. Let’s just cherish the lives we take for granted and the lives of loved ones near to our heart. Today, let’s think of the friends, family, and loved ones left behind in this tragedy.
Today, let’s just appreciate that for many of us there is a tomorrow.
August 29, 2015
More than a billion people logged unto Facebook the other night. Think about – a billion people.
Yet, today, on the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, what’s trending on Facebook is Donald Trump.
I know, Trump is current. But, you can’t say that the words spoken by Dr. King on August 28, 1963 is not relevant today. All week, I’ve been posting recollections from that day from regular people who felt the impact of that day, who still feel the impact today. All week I’ve been posting excerpts from Dr. King’s speech, words that are still very much relevant today.
At a time when we probably need to remember what we fought for and the lives that have been lost fighting for equality, for freedom, for peace, when the nation seems so divided over race today, when lives continue to be lost based on the color of their skin, when families and friends continue to fight over whether racism is still with us today, when people in our cities are getting fed up and shouting “Black Lives Matter,” when mothers are fearing for the lives of their children, you would think there would be a movement to rekindle the Dream, you would think there would be a national discussion on this topic.
I’ve been fortunate to have friends who do still believe in the Dream, I’ve been fortunate that many have allowed me unto their newsfeed to continue to talk about the issues that I believe are relevant. Thank you for allowing me to speak, thank you for taking the time to read my somewhat long posts, thank you for just being there and letting me know that I am not alone.
I still have a dream . . .

August 26, 2015

Jon S. Randal's photo.

Molly and Dick Esseks were 75 and 74 years old, respectively, when they were interviewed for their recollections about the 1963 March to Washington. They were recently married. Molly’s friend was African-American, she knew that she “had suffered terrible indignities just because she was African-American.” Molly wanted to support her friend, when she heard about the March. Her new husband, Dick Esseks, did not think it was a good idea for Molly to go to Washington.

“I was terrified,” Dick said. “Here was this lovely girl I had just married, and I didn’t want her to be shot. There had been deaths in the South.”
Molly replied, “you know, you get to the point that I didn’t think I could have any self-respect if I didn’t stand up for what I believed.”
Dick countered, “They don’t need you!”
Molly replied back, “Yes, they do need me. I’m just the person that they need, I’m a peace-loving, quiet person, and I stand up for what I believe, I can’t let other people stand up for me anymore.”
Dick, remembering the church services he attended which essentially said women should obey their husband, put his foot down and said, “I forbid you to go!”
Molly just looked at him.
“This is why I was afraid of getting married,” Molly said. “I don’t want some man telling me what I can and can’t do. I am going. You don’t have to go if you’re afraid, I understand, but I have to go.”
That was it, Dick had no choice but to cave in, they went…together, and they never regretted it. Dick respected Molly for standing up for what she believed in, and they both realized just how much they both loved each other.
Molly would remember, “I was happy that there were so many people witnessing this message that just had to get through.” She remembers how happy she was that she and her husband were there together, witnessing this event as well.
Dick would say, “I realized that Molly had done the right thing. And I was grateful to her for more or less forcing me to go.”

August 22, 2015

Remembering the Dream yet to be

Jon S. Randal's photo.

Everyone had prepared for the worst. “It would be impossible to bring more than 100,000 militant Negroes into Washington without incidents and possibly rioting,” the media declared. 

As the March drew closer, organizers received bomb threats. A man in Kansas City telephoned the FBI to say he would put a hole between Dr. Martin Luther King’s eyes. The LA Times received a message saying its headquarters would be bombed unless it called President Kennedy “N*gger Lover.” 

The Washington, D.C. police forces were mobilized to full capacity, calling 5,900 police officers to duty, joining reserve officers, deputized firefighters, 2,000 National Guard, and 3,000 additional outside soldiers to join the 1,000 already stationed in the area. And, just for additional protection, the Pentagon was ready to send in 19,000 troops. 

The rest of Washington, D.C. also prepared for the worst. The jails shifted inmates to other prisons to make room for those arrested in mass arrests. For the first time since Prohibition, liquor sales were banned in Washington D.C. Hospitals made room for riot casualties by postponing elective surgery. 

In the end of course, not only was The March one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history, it was also one of the most peaceful marches ever for its magnitude, a day not only remembered for Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech advocating racial harmony, but also because of the racial harmony exhibited at the march itself, where peaceful people of all colors joined together. 

As one person who was there, Hazel Mangle Rivers, stated, saying she was impressed by Washington’s civility: “The people are lots better up here than they are down South. They treat you much nicer. Why, when I was out there at the march a white man stepped on my foot, and he said, “Excuse me,” and I said “Certainly!” That’s the first time that has ever happened to me. I believe that was the first time a white person has ever really been nice to me.” 

Simple civility. A symbol of what could be, of what should be. This was the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

August 21, 2015
Jon S. Randal Jon S. Randal

Jon S. Randal's photo.
Another story you may not have heard about, another hero who has been forgotten, another moment in time that needs to be remembered:
He just wanted to help. Jonathan Daniels was an Episcopal seminarian, who had graduated from the Virginia Military Institute as Valedictorian of his class. He had come to Selma, Alabama, after answering Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to join the voting rights movement. He would tutor children, help poor locals apply for aid, and worked to register voters.
On August 20, 1965, Daniels, a Catholic priest, and two young, black female members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) stopped at one of the few local stores serving non-whites to buy a cold soft drink.
Daniels opened the door for 17-year-old Ruby Sales. But standing in her way and barring the black teenager’s entrance was Tom L. Coleman, an unpaid special deputy who was holding a shotgun and had a pistol in a holster.
Coleman threatened Sales, leveling his gun at Sales. According to Sales, she remembered him saying, “I’ll blow your brains out.” She then remembers Daniels suddenly pushing her away. She started falling, then “the next thing I know, I heard a shotgun blast.”
For a minute, Sales thought she was dead. But, it was Daniels. He had pushed Sales down and caught the full blast of the shotgun. He was instantly killed.
Daniels was only 26 years old. His last, unselfish act was to step in front of a shotgun blast aimed at black teenager Ruby Sales and save her life. Daniels died on his mother’s birthday.
Upon learning of Daniels’ murder, Dr. King would say that “one of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry was performed by Jonathan Daniels.”
Daniels is now one of 40 martyrs memorialized at Southern Poverty Law Center’s Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.
He is the third person memorialized with a bust in the Human Rights Porch of the National Cathedral. The other two are Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. The formal unveiling ceremony was August 16 and the dedication service will be in October.
Sales, who was so traumatized by Daniels’ murder that she nearly lost the ability to speak for the next seven months, would find the courage to testify at Tom Coleman’s trial despite death threats made to her and her family. Unfortunately, Coleman would be acquitted by a jury of 12 white men.
Sales would say, “To lose someone like Jonathan was not only the loss of my beloved friend, but it was a loss for America.”
Sales would go on to follow in the footsteps of her friend, Jonathan Daniels, attending Episcopal Theological School in Massachusetts, then speaking out and becoming a nationally-recognized human-rights activist.
At the Virginia Military Institute, where Daniels graduated, there is now a plaque that bears his likeness and a quote from Daniels’ valedictory speech to his fellow cadets:
“I wish you the decency and the nobility of which you are capable.”

Fifty years ago, on August 20, 1965, Jonathan Daniels was killed in Alabama. He was shot while saving the life of a young black teenager. Daniels was an Episcopal seminarian, who had graduated from the Virginia Military Institute as Valedictorian of his class. He had answered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to join the voting rights movement.. He would say: 

“I wish you the decency and the nobility of which you are capable.”

Jon S. Randal's photo.

August 21, 2015 (And we missed a great piece from Jon S. Randal)

He would march a lonely road, as the first African-American to graduate from the University of Mississippi, and on his own personal March Against Fear, to highlight continuing oppression and to encourage blacks to register and vote.

The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 had recently passed, but James Meredith attempted to march on his own from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. He had the promise of the governor that he would be allowed to march with the protection of the State Highway Police, but on the second day of his march, a white gunman appeared from the side of the road and shot him three times with a shotgun.

As Meredith fell to the ground in agony, a photographer captured the moment, which would become an iconic photo of the struggle for civil rights.

As the news spread and as Meredith lay in a hospital, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders took up his cause and marched in Meredith’s name. Black and white marchers would come from across the South and all parts of the country, they would be attacked and tear-gassed by the Mississippi State Police, but they pushed on, intent on finishing Meredith’s march.

Just as they were close to completing the march, 20 days after Meredith had started the march and more than 200 miles later, the day before arriving in Jackson, a lone marcher would join them. Meredith, after being treated for his injuries, would find the strength to limp with the marchers and was able to walk in the front of the line with Dr. King. King and Meredith would lead an estimated 15,000 marchers, in what was the largest civil rights march in Mississippi and would register more than 4,000 African Americans to vote.

In his speech, Meredith would say, “The purpose of the march that I started three weeks ago was to point up and to challenge that thing at the base of the system of white supremacy. That thing is fear – a fear that grips the Negro in America to his very bones, not only in Mississippi, but in every section of this country….”

Just as he did, on this day, August 18, 1963, despite harassment and extreme isolation, when he graduated from the University of Mississippi, Meredith completed his courageous journey, but this time, he wasn’t alone.

Jon S. Randal

August 19, 2015

It was a hot evening, in the middle of August. What was supposed to be a routine traffic stop would soon explode. The residents of this restless neighborhood had been promised relief from unfair (and illegal) real estate practices and discrimination from a military-like police force.

A police officer stops and confronts two young, black men. A scuffle ensues, and violence erupts. A mob forms as witnesses shout police brutality. The police attempt to break up the angry crowd several times, but the crowd grows larger and becomes more vocal. A riot erupts, looting and property damage begin. The National Guard will eventually be called in and reporters would describe the streets as resembling an “all-out war zone in some far-off foreign country, it bore no resemblance to the United States of America.”

It was 1965, the place was Los Angeles, and this was, depending on which side of town you were in (or the color of your skin), the Watts Riots or the “Watts Rebellion. The six days of racially-fueled violence and unrest resulted in 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, 3,438 arrests, and more than $40 million in property damage (almost 1,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed, although no homes were attacked and arson and looting were largely confined to white-owned stores and businesses that were said to have caused resentment in the neighborhood due to perceived unfairness.)

Mainstream white America would view those actively participating in the riot as criminals destroying and looting their own neighborhood, while many in the black community would see the riot as an “uprising against an oppressive system.” The Los Angeles police chief would publicly describe the people he saw involved in the riots as acting like “monkeys in the zoo.”

Dr. Martin Luther King would visit the area afterwards, saying the Watts riots were “the beginning of a stirring of those people in our society who have been by passed by the progress of the past decade,’’ people who have been pushed into ‘‘despair and hopelessness.’’

A governor’s report confirmed Dr. King’s statements, saying the root causes of the riots were high unemployment, poor schools, and other inferior living conditions for African Americans in Watts.

Recommendations for addressing these problems included “emergency literacy and preschool programs, improved police-community ties, increased low-income housing, more job-training projects, upgraded health-care services, more efficient public transportation, and many more.”

They promised all of this would come, and, most importantly, police racism would cease.

This was 50 years ago…

Flash forward . . . to Ferguson, Missouri.

It was a hot evening, in the middle of August. What was supposed to be a routine traffic stop would soon explode. The residents of this restless neighborhood had been promised relief from unfair (and illegal) real estate practices and discrimination from a military-like police force.

A police officer stops and confronts two young, black men . . . .
Jon S. Randal's photo.

August 17, 2015

Jon S. Randal's photo.

August 17, 2015
He was the closing act, scheduled to perform on the third and final day of Woodstock, Sunday, August 17, but because of the delays and the length of the other performances, it was 8 a.m. on Monday morning when Jimi Hendrix finally appeared and launched into arguably the most memorable performance of Woodstock.

During the height of the Vietnam war, in the midst of continued civil rights unrest throughout the nation, amidst the stench of the garbage strewn about a muddy field after three days of peace and music, with only 30,000 to 40,000 people still remaining after many had already gone home, Jimi Hendrix surprised and shocked the remaining crowd with his own interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Some called it uplifting, some called it disrespectful, some called it haunting and eerie, but it was trademark Hendrix, using amplifier feedback to convey the sounds of bombs falling, jets flying overhead, and what sounded like the cries of human anguish.

After Woodstock, Hendrix appeared on the Dick Cavett show, and was asked what he felt about the controversy.

Hendrix replied, “I don’t know, man. All I did was play it. I’m American, so I played it. I used to sing it in school. They made me sing it in school, so it was a flashback.”

Before Hendrix finished what he was saying, Cavett interrupted, warning the audience that before they start sending in “nasty letters” complaining about Hendrix and the “unorthodox way” he performed the national anthem, they should know that “This man was in the 101st Airborne.”

Hendrix then respectfully disagreed with Cavett’s description. “I didn’t think it was unorthodox,” he said. “I thought it was beautiful.”

One critic agreed, saying, “Because he interpreted ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ it gave it a meaning that was closer to where we were all coming from. There wasn’t anti-American sentiment. It was anti-war sentiment. He brought it home to us in a way nobody ever had.”

And, years later in a film produced and written by Bob Dylan, the rock critic character played by Jeff Bridges would go into this speed rap about what Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner was all about, a black man, wearing a costume honoring his Native American heritage and “that it was not a protest, it was not negative, but rather a cry of despair and love, and that what it said was, ‘I’m a native son. This belongs to me, the anthem and the country.’

August 16, 2015

A few years ago, I wrote this tribute celebrating Julian Bond. I’ve always admired his courage to speak up for what is right, to point out what was wrong, and to never back down. He will be sorely missed in this world:
“He doesn’t back down from anyone. When he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, he was asked to disavow his public opposition to the Vietnam war, and he refused, so the state refused to give him his seat. He fought it all the way to the Supreme Court, and won. He went on to serve the House for four terms.
When the legislature elected a segregationist as governor of Georgia, he refused to support the vote, even when ordered by the lt. governor. He went on to be elected for six terms in the Georgia Senate.
When George W. Bush was elected as President over Al Gore, he attacked the administration for selecting Cabinet secretaries “from the Taliban wing of American politics, specifically targeted Attorney General John Ashcroft, who had opposed affirmative action, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who defended the Confederacy in a 1996 speech on states’ rights. He termed the Bush administration as illegitimate.
When elements of the NAACP opposed gay marriage, he stood up for gays and lesbians and publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage, stating “African Americans … were the only Americans who were enslaved for two centuries, but we were far from the only Americans suffering discrimination then and now. … Sexual disposition parallels race. I was born this way. I have no choice. I wouldn’t change it if I could. Sexuality is unchangeable.”
His name is Julian Bond, social activist, leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, writer, established the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, chairman of the NAACP.”

Rest in peace, Sir,

On the second day of Woodstock, Saturday, August 16, 1969, an unknown band would take the stage, a band that hadn’t even released their debut album. By the time they left, they were one of Woodstock’s breakout acts, closing their set with the instrumental ‘Soul Sacrifice,’ a funky, percussion-fueled dynamo that would propel the group, simply known as Santana.
The group’s leader, Carlos Santana, who would be named one of the greatest guitarists of all time, would also be a voice for civil rights, speaking out on immigration issues, saying, “One day there will be no borders, no boundaries, no flags and no countries and the only passport will be the heart.”

Regarding war in the world, he would say, “Peace has never come from dropping bombs. Real peace comes from enlightenment and educating people to behave more in a divine manner.”
After all, he would add, “The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”
August 15, 2015

Jon S. Randal's photo.

On a Friday night, August 15, 1969, a little known folk singer from Greenwich Village was the opening act for “an aquarian exposition” on a dairy farm near a small town in New York. It was the opening day for Woodstock, and Richie Havens was asked to extend his nearly 3-hour set to allow other artists to get to the festival.

“I’d already played every song I knew,” he would say, “and I was stalling, asking for more guitar and mic, trying to think of something else to play – and then it just came to me…The establishment was foolish enough to give us all this freedom and we used it in every way we could.”
The song he improvised was based on the old spiritual “Motherless Child,” which would become his hit, “Freedom.” The original song dates back to the era of slavery, when children of slaves would be sold and taken away from their parents. Havens would sing with emotion, “sometimes I feel like a motherless child,” conveying the pain and hopelessness of a child ruthlessly torn from his or her parents.

Havens would recall, “Woodstock happened in August 1969, long before the Internet and mobile phones made it possible to communicate instantly with anyone, anywhere. It was a time when we weren’t able to witness world events or the horrors of war live on 24-hour news channels.

“News coverage was filtered and selective, and we felt manipulated and silenced by the lack of information. So much was happening around us, and we didn’t feel like we were being told the truth.

“With everything that was going on in the late 1960s — the war in Vietnam, civil and human rights issues, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination — we rallied and relied on strength in numbers. We came together communally to be heard and to be acknowledged.”

He would add, “My fondest memory was realizing that I was seeing something I never thought I’d ever see in my lifetime – an assemblage of such numbers of people who had the same spirit and consciousness…”

Havens, along with Joan Baez, the Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and many more were able to sing their message of love, harmony, and peace to nearly half a million people on that muddy farm.

Max Yasgur, owner of the farm, pointed out that the event had the potential for disaster, riot, looting, and much violence, but instead, the people spent the three days together with music and peace on their minds.

It was a victory for peace and love, he would say, “If we join them, we can turn those adversities that are the problems of America today into a hope for a brighter and more peaceful future…

August 14, 2015

On October 17, 1968, Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos were forced to return their awards because they raised their fists in a “human rights salute,” showing solidarity with the civil rights movement. 

IOC president Avery Brundage defined it as a “black power salute” deemed unfit for the Olympic games and violating the basic standards of good manners and sportsmanship,” even though when he presided over the 1936 games, Brundage had allowed the Nazi salute. Both athletes were expelled from the games.

When they got to the podium for the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos were wearing Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges on their tracksuits. (Silver medalist Peter Norman, an Australian, wore one too, in solidarity with the black athletes.) To symbolize the poverty that plagued so many black Americans, they wore no shoes. “For those individuals that were lynched or killed that no one said a prayer for, that were hung tarred…or thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage,” Carlos wore a necklace of black beads, while Smith wore a black scarf. Both bowed their heads, raised their gloved hands and remained silent while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played.

When they returned home, newspapers compared the men to Nazis, sportscaster Brett Musburger called them “black-skinned storm troopers,” and Time magazine called their act “nasty” and “ugly.” His “un-American activities” got Smith discharged from the Army, and someone threw a rock through a plate-glass window at his baby’s crib. The two men received death threats for years. Even Australian Norman, for his role in supporting them, was ostracized in his country, banned for two years from the sport, and was not allowed to participate in the 1972 Olympics even though he had the fastest times. 

All because the athletes had the courage to speak out. Since then, 
public opinion has recently begun to shift, and many people now celebrate the sprinters’ courageous and principled act. Smith and Carlos received an Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2008 ESPY Awards honoring their action. In a 2011 speech to the University of Guelph, Akaash Maharaj, a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee and head of Canada’s Olympic Equestrian team, said, “In that moment, Tommie Smith, Peter Norman, and John Carlos became the living embodiments of Olympic idealism. Ever since, they have been inspirations to generations of athletes like myself, who can only aspire to their example of putting principle before personal interest. It was their misfortune to be far greater human beings than the leaders of the IOC of the day.”

August 11, 2015

Willie Mae Thornton, better known as “Big Mama Thornton

On August 13, 1952, the rock classic, “Hound Dog” was recorded for the first time, becoming a #1 smash hit for seven weeks. But, if you’re thinking Elvis, you’re probably gonna be “Cryin’ all the time,” because the first recording of “Hound Dog” was written for and sang by Willie Mae Thornton, better known as “Big Mama Thornton,” a blues legend, who recorded the song and made it a hit four years before Elvis.
It was one of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller’s first songs before they would write other rock classics such as “Stand By Me” and “Jailhouse Rock.”
“Hound Dog” made Big Mama a star, and on her own, she would later write and sing another classic, “Ball and Chain,” which would be covered by another white artist by the name of Janis Joplin at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival. Both songs are included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll,” and although both songs made tons of money, Big Mama received little compensation.
Big Mama was very unique in her time, not only because of her powerful voice, but also because she refused to be categorized. She learned how to play drums and harmonica just by watching other performers.
She was also famous for her transgressive gender expression, often dressing as a man on stage, wearing work shirts and slacks, and setting the stage for later rock ‘n’ roll artists’ who experimented with their sexuality. Feminist scholars such as Maureen Mahon often praise Thornton for subverting traditional roles of African American women, adding a female voice to a field that was dominated by white males. “Her strong personality transgressed patriarchal and white supremacist stereotypes of what an African American woman should be.”
Her career began to fade in the late 50s and early 60s, but she continued to play small clubs. In one of her last records, she returned to her church choir and gospel roots, singing gospel classics. She would die at age 57 on July 25, 1984 of heart attack due to her long-standing alcohol abuse. In 1984, she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2004, the non-profit Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls — named for Thornton — was founded to offer a musical education to girls from ages 8 to 18.

Jon S. Randal's photo.


He was a legend, but no one knows for sure his true story. Some say he was an immigrant from Mexico, who found success in the gold mines of California. But jealous miners forced him off his claim, saying Mexican immigrants had no right to hold a claim. Others say he was severely beaten, his brother lynched, and his wife raped and killed.

That’s when Joaquin Murrieta began his life of crime, supposedly to kill those who were responsible for the atrocities against his family and right the injustices against Mexicans. During his quest, he became known as the Mexican Robin Hood, giving away any ill gotten gains to the poor, who in turn helped to shelter him from the law.

On this day, on July 25, 1853, Murrieta was finally killed by California Rangers and his severed head was placed in a whiskey jar to be displayed (and viewed for a $1.00) throughout Northern California towns.

To this day, no one knows truth from fiction. Depending on whose side you take, Joaquin Murrieta was either a vicious desperado who was eventually brought to justice or the basis for the legend of Zorro and a legend who symbolized the resistance of the Mexicans to the Anglo-American domination of California.

Even after his death, the legend continued as rumors circulated that the Rangers killed the wrong man, placed the wrong head in the jar, and that Joaquin Murrieta, was still seeking justice for Mexicans, and as one documentary stated, symbolizing “a cry against racism, a cry against crimes against humanity, a cry against the outrages committed against men, women, and children all in the pursuit of individual profit.”

This is going around again, it needs to go around. 
Researched the story: In 2013, a woman, Maria Lopez, saw a woman selling brightly colored roses on a train. The woman was trying to make ends meet, but having trouble selling the roses. A man approached her, inquired about the roses and the cost. Lopez at this time was videotaping the encounter. The woman thought the man would purchase, maybe, 10 roses for $14. 
The man instead offered to buy all the roses from her. He started handing her $140 in cash. She couldn’t believe it. He then shocked her again by asking her to promise to give out all the roses to anyone on the train who needed a rose, not to sell them, but to hand them out for free. She immediately started crying, witnessing this gesture of humanity from a complete stranger. 
Lopez would say, “It’s a testament to the lack of love and lack of generosity in the world. I think people are yearning for that.” 
“It changed the whole atmosphere of the train, which is usually so tense,” Lopez said. “It was this amazing sense of us all being human beings.” 
I hope that by watching and sharing this video, it changes the atmosphere of this news feed (or of your day). 

Amidst the hate, the racial taunts, the ape noises displayed by participants of the Ku Klux Klan rally Saturday, this is the image going viral, that of a black South Carolina state trooper, displaying his humanity by assisting one of the protesters, a man proudly wearing a t-shirt with the Nazi symbol. The man had taken ill because of the heat, and it was not his fellow protesters shouting over the Confederate flag’s removal who helped him, but a black man, the same black man who assisted in the taking down of the same flag during the flag removal ceremony – Leroy Smith, director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Rob Godfrey captured and tweeted this image, saying, “not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down.” The image is now being shared across social media.

The Ku Klux Klan and other groups protesting the removal of the Confederate flag said they were there to peacefully display their heritage, but unfortunately some of their members were there to display the other “H” word – hate.
One man was caught in a video making ape noises, another man threatened to “hang your black **ss.” In another video, another Confederate flag-holding white man tells a person that they are the color of excrement.

But, in the end, it was not this supposed display of this “H” word (Heritage) that has captured this nation’s attention, it was instead the display of Humanity, which Trooper Leroy Smith showed, the same humanity displayed by family members of the nine innocent people who were shot and killed by the gunman, who proudly posed in front of the Confederate flag. Those family members forgave the gunman despite him taking away their loved ones.

Trooper Leroy Smith helped this man despite the hate displayed by his fellow companions proudly displaying the Confederate flag that even famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee said should not be displayed. These are the examples that are rightly being displayed now and being shared, not the hate, but the humanity, and, finally, the last “H” word – “Hope.”

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandella

He has always been a fighter. He was not one to easily give in. He fought for freedom, he fought for justice, he fought for peace throughout the world. When they tried to break him by imprisoning him for 27 years, stealing the best years of his life, then offering him freedom if he renounced the struggle against apartheid, he refused. 

He once said “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela has been honored not just for his contributions in his own country, but also for his contributions around the world – the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of peace throughout the world. He was dedicated “to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the upliftment of poor and underdeveloped communities.”

He wasn’t afraid of anyone, and he spoke up against other world leaders when he felt they were wrong. But, the strongest part of him was and always has been his heart, speaking up for those who did not have a voice, caring for those who were afraid to ask for help, and showing the world what one man could do, what one man can accomplish if he never gave up, what one man can mold from love, strength, and hope the dreams of millions.

Nelson Mandela, July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013.

The Charleston Nine

Jon S. Randal

There were nine victims in the Charleston church shooting. The oldest victim was 87 years old, the youngest, 26. They were mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. They were deeply devoted to their faith and strong supporters of their communities. They were all described as “kind-hearted people,” who asked no questions when a stranger walked into their midst, who welcomed him with open arms and unconditional love.

They had names, they had families, they had lives that were cut short by hate. I hope these names will be remembered for their courage, for their love, and for their contributions to their church and their community. I hope these names will give their families, the survivors, and us the courage to move forward and change some of our thinking, change the way we treat one another, and hopefully change the world for the better:

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor at Emanuel AME who began preaching in the church in his teens, was 41 years old and the father of two. He also served in the South Carolina Senate. He is remembered for his dedication to helping others. Another community member at the scene said the pastor had died while “trying to bring together a people for peace.”

Tywanza Sanders, 26, recently graduated, earning a degree in business administration. A close friend said he was the type of person who “would give you the clothes off his back.” She first met him when she dropped her wallet on the street and he chased her to return it. He also helped her when she had a car accident driving from Virginia to see her husband.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, was an employee of the Charleston County Public Library for three decades, who is remembered as a true public servant. She once said, “I like helping people find answers,” adding that the best thing about being a librarian was service. “Your whole reason for being there is to help people.”

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 49, was a Mother, speech pathologist, coach, and minister, who dedicated her life to helping young people, especially her children, better themselves. Her son posted, “You were a better mother than I could have ever asked for. This has truly broken my heart in every way possible.”

The Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49, was a church singer and former Charleston County employee, who was a big part of the county’s services for the poor. She was described as “always a warm and enthusiastic leader,” who believed in the school’s mission to help students achieve their potential by connecting faith with learning.”

Susie Jackson, 87, a longtime church member, was described by her grandson “as a very loving, giving person with a great smile,” who was always trying to help people.

Ethel Lance, 70, a sexton at the church, was a loving mother and grandmother, who always found time to spoil her seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, by buying them gifts and taking them to the movies.

The Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, a member of the church’s ministerial staff, was a retired pastor from another church in Charleston, who devoted his life to the church he loved.

Myra Thompson, 59, wife of the vicar of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church, was a longtime member of the Emanuel AME church and was teaching Bible study during the shooting.

These are the names we should remember, their stories are the stories we should pass down to our children, they belong to that long list of names of ordinary people who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom, for equality, for love, names that will hopefully transform future lives, names that will hopefully help a nation in need of healing.

peace ~


McKinney Texas.  

We are moving towards brazen examples of the following imaged in many states.

How did this image? (See the Fourteen year old standing in the small group of girls as the Storm Trooper approaches).

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Lead to this image: (See Storm Trooper with knee in the back of someone’s just beyond pubic (girl) teenager.)

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We will leave the question of how to other screeds. We have posted a thoughtful piece from a Friend of the TPI: Jon Randal.

See Jon’s TPI Page listed among site pages to the upper right.

An essay with a cause!

June 7 2015

I want to say something about the pool party currently circulating in the news, in which teenagers were kicked out of a community pool because of the color of their skin. I know all the facts are not in, but there apparently was enough information that the police department suspended one of their own police officers for forcing a young girl face down on the ground and handcuffing her and threatening other unarmed youths with a gun.
If you follow my posts, you know that I try to post about love, peace, and understanding, but incidents such as this do not bring about trust, it does not promote love, it certainly will not bring about peace, and it does not help foster understanding. We obviously have a problem in this country that we can no longer deny, and it is a problem that will continue to fester. We can’t just continue to blame it on the police (it’s much deeper than that) and I don’t think it is solely because of racism (although in this case, it is a big part of it, along with fear and ignorance).
We know this problem exists in other institutions and we know that other groups (not just people of color, but also other people who are perceived different based on their sex, their religion, their sexual orientation, their status in society, etc) are also affected. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know whether anyone at this time has the answers. But, I do believe we need to all look deep within our souls and ask whether we can live with one another, treat each other with respect, and talk with each other. Because if we can’t talk to each other in a civil manner, if we can’t look in each other’s eyes and see each other as equals, if we can’t take that first step and love one another without conditions, then we will never be able to solve this problem or for that matter any problem we face or will face.
Peace ~

 Jon S. Randal 
          June 7, 2015

When I write my little “tributes,” it is because I read something inspiring about these individuals, past and present. I liked the message they were trying to present, I admired a certain deed (or many deeds) they performed, or I just saw something in their lives that I felt would benefit others.

I’ve written about many great people in the past, and it has been pointed out to me many times that some of these people made mistakes, or had weaknesses or flaws in their character. I understand that, but I also understand these people are, after all, human, and, as humans we all have made our mistakes, we all have weaknesses that we try to overcome.

I think everyone that I have written about, someone out there can google and find something negative in their lives, even the people I admire the most, such as Dr. Seuss, Dr. King, John Lennon, Albert Einstein, etc., etc. (except for probably Mister Rogers, so don’t anyone ruin my perception of him, lol.)

Which brings me to the Kennedy brothers, John and Robert, two people I’ve admired for a long time and whose words and actions I have posted about many times here on fb. Growing up, I heard a lot about them, then I started reading about them. I was probably closer to Robert because he was younger. I’ve admired him for his courage, I’ve admired him for his words, and I’ve admired him for his promise.

I’ve listened to and re-read his speeches when Dr. King was assassinated, his messages on violence and injustice, and his ideas on what America could be, should be. I have heard rumors about, which have never been proven, and I know he has made his mistakes. But, I still think he would have made a great President, I think he would have ended the war in Vietnam, I think he would have improved race relations, and I think he would have inspired us to treat each other with more compassion, more respect, and more kindness.

You can always argue with me, but, in the end, we will never know. He was never given the opportunity to prove himself, he was never given the chance to continue to grow as a person, as a public servant, as a leader. And, we were never given the chance to get to know him better. With that said, I will continue to post his words as well as the words of others I admire, when I feel the message is still relevant, when I believe it can help someone, when I know those words still inspire.

As you can tell, I love words, and if someone can express or say things better than I am able to, I will post those words. Robert F. Kennedy is still a hero of mine, he was not perfect, but he was human, and his words continue to have meaning today, as well as his hopes and his dreams for humanity. Robert F. Kennedy was born on November 20, 1925, and he died on June 6, 1968.

I’ve often posted a pic of a side of a house with the words painted on it, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” I’ve tried on this page to retell stories of courage, of people who stood up against hatred and ignorance. Here’s another story that you need to know about:

Fifty years ago, on this day, May 28, 1963, a racially mixed group of students and faculty staged a sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter in Mississippi’s capital city. They did nothing wrong, and was sitting there peacefully. 

But, at the time, dining facilities were strictly segregated. Soon, a white mob formed. According to one of the student protesters, Anne Moody, who wrote in her 1968 memoir, “Coming of Age in Mississippi,” “all hell broke loose” after she and two other black students, Memphis Norman and Pearlena Lewis, prayed at the lunch counter when the mob started becoming aggressive. One man threw Norman unto the floor, then slapped Moody for being with a black man, then another man threw her against another counter. 

Soon, the Jackson police arrived, but instead of protecting the protesters, they just watched as 300 angry whites were allowed to attack the peaceful protesters at will. Some of the students were beaten, and one was knocked unconscious. Others were doused with ketchup, mustard and sugar, as this historic photo shows

Medgar Evers, Mississippi leader of the NAACP, helped organize the boycott and the sit-in. Two weeks later, Evers was assassinated outside his family’s home on June 12, 1963. 

I retell these stories because I think people need to know our history, need to know that hatred and fear still exists out there today. Just read your newsfeed, the newspapers, or watch the television news. Some of these occurrences are not covered by the media, just like some of these historic events such as this story above or the other one I posted about slaves and the first Memorial Day, are not in your history books. Other occurrences of racism, intended or not, such as how the media treated Charles Ramsey, are masked and manifest themselves in other forms. And, hatred is not only directed at the color of someone’s skin, it also rears its ugly shape in the way we treat other differences, whether it is religion, sexual orientation, culture, disability, age, you name it, we as a society will find a way to hate what we don’t know. 

But, here’s the point of this post. Not all people are haters. Not all people just stand by and watch. There are a few people who will stand up and say this is wrong, this is not right. There will always be heroes among us who will speak, even when their voice shakes. We need to recognize these people, we need to acknowledge their courage, and we need to stand by them. After all, these may be the same people who may one day be the only ones standing up for us.

May 25, 2015

We celebrate Memorial Day to honor our war heroes, those courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives for their country. There are currently many stories circulating about these heroes, some famous, some not so famous. For Memorial Day, I would also like to honor the loved ones left behind, the wives, the husbands, the children, other family and friends because they too sacrificed their love, their future to support these brave men and women.

One such person is Clara Gantt (pictured here). The LA Times did a story on her December 2013. In the article, she is grieving, having received her husband’s body finally. She waited 63 years. She was 94 years old when this picture was taken.Her husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt, had served in the South Pacific during World War II. He was on a train with fellow soldiers when he saw her, the woman who would be the love of his life, Clara. Two years later they would marry. But, he was called to action again, this time for the Korean War, as a medic. He told her if anything should happen to him, she should re-marry. She simply replied that she expected him to return home.

But, he never came home. She received the last letter from him in December 1950. That same month, he was taken prisoner, defending his unit’s position. He was declared missing in action. It was only years later that it was discovered that he had died in March 1951.

But, Clara did not know that, so, as she promised, she waited for him to return. She never re-married. Every day, she waited for him. For 63 years. During that time, she tried to go on with her life, becoming a caregiver for people with disabilities and for children. She and her husband always wanted to have children. 

Over the years, she faithfully attended the meetings that would give wives and family members updates on missing veterans. In Oct. 2013, at one of the meetings, she was told her husbands’ remains were finally found and identified.

The picture here is her reaction, upon finally seeing her husbands’ flag-draped casket returned home. 

“I told him I missed him so much,” she said. “I am very, very proud of him. He was a wonderful husband, an understanding man,” she told reporters at the airport. “I always did love my husband, we was two of one kind, we loved each other. And that made our marriage complete.”

Army Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gantt was awarded posthumously the Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart. But, the heart he cherished the most was Clara’s heart, a heart which waited 63 years for him to finally return.

Jon S. Randal's photo.

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