Tuesday, June 30, 2020

French Daredevil Walked a Wire and Became an American Superstar

The Great Blondin on the rope high above the gorge below Niagara Falls.  He had to freeze in this posission for several moments to accommodate the long exposure on a glass plate negative..

Back in 2012 the young scion of a legendary circus family, Nik Wallenda, strolled above Niagara Falls on a high wire.  The act was promoted by the local tourist industry which has been hurting.  Evidently pilgrimages to gawk at the Falls were not as popular as they used to be and newlyweds who can afford a honeymoon now seem to prefer localities with sandy beaches and palm treesABC Television broadcast the event, to tepid ratings.

Still, it was quite an accomplishment and Wallenda was the first to cross directly above the great cascades rather than over the gorge below the Falls.  ABC also demanded that the acrobat remain tethered to the wire so that in event of a slip he would not fall into the water.

Nic Walenda on his 2012 nationally broadcast walk directly above the cascades of Niagara Falls.

But on June 30, 1859 French born acrobat Charles Blondin took a stroll across the gorge bellow Niagara Falls on a rope 1100 feet long, 3¼ inches in diameter, 160 feet above the swirling water. 

Over the next few months he crossed 17 more times in front of ever larger, more astounded crowds, each time with a new twist.  He crossed blind folded, hopping in a sack, pushing a wheelbarrow, on stilts, and carrying his manager on his back. He balanced a chair on the rope and then stood on it.  He stopped to take pictures of the crowd with a bulky glass-plate negative camera.  Once he carried a small stove, stopped in the middle of the wire to cook and eat an omelet.

His picture graced the covers of popular magazines and newspapers were filled with his exploits.  He became one of the first popular entertainment celebrities in American history, known and admired even by those who would never see him perform. 

Born Jean-Francois Gravelet in St. Omer, France, on February 28, 1824 his gymnast father encouraged his early interest in circus acrobatics.  He tried to duplicate a high wire act that he saw in a traveling circus at age 5 by stringing a rope between two chairs.  He showed such remarkable agility and great balance that his father enrolled him in the Ecole de Gymase in Lyon. After six months of training was good enough to start performing successfully as The Little Wonder. 

His father died leaving him an orphan and on his own at age 9, but he had no trouble finding work in circuses and in other venues.  By 1851 he was so well known in Europe that the American theatrical impresario William Niblo recruited him to come to New York City to perform with the Ravel Troupe of acrobats at his famous Niblo Gardens. 

The popular act toured the country for several years.  Gravelet adopted the stage name Blondin or the Great Blondin because of his blonde hair.  Blondin and the Ravel Troupe performed with an early incarnation of P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth and later he became part owner of his own circus. 

Blondin married his first wife Charlotte in New York.  The couple had three children, two of them born while on the road.  In 1858 the troupe performed near Niagara and Blondin became obsessed with crossing the gorge on a tightrope.  It took more than a year to secure the necessary permissions and make arrangements

A  British newspaper illustration of Blondin duplicating his Niagara stuns plus a bicycle ride over an English river.
The Niagara stunts made him in demand everywhere.  He abandoned his long association with the Ravel Troupe and with the able assistance of manager Harry Colcord parlayed his fame into riches.  He demanded a $500 minimum for a performance and at the height of his career made the astonishing sum of half a million dollars a year. 

In 1861 he built a stately mansion named, aptly, Niagara Villa in Ealing, a village near London.   Intending to retire, he found himself still in demand. 

The Prince of Wales, who had witnessed one of the Niagara crossings, arranged for him to appear at the Crystal Palace where he duplicated many of his Niagara stunts in front of a painted backdrop of the falls.  The renewed celebrity led to extensive tours of England and the continent. 

A favorite of the Prince of Wales, Blondin starred at the famous Crystal Palace exposition in 1967.

 His stunts only gained in audacity, including pushing a lion across the wire in a wheelbarrow.  He frequently performed before as many as 10,000 paying customers.  During another stint at the Crystal Palace Charles Dickens may have explained his popularity, “Half of London is here eager for some dreadful accident.” 

Blondin continued to perform for three more decades adding new twists to his act, including using a bicycle.  Other tightrope walkers complained that we was ruining their careers and risking their lives—audiences would accept nothing else but Blondin’s sensational stunts.  He made occasional trips back to the United States in addition to shows in Britain and Ireland

In his long career Blondin had occasional accidents, mostly due to equipment failure, but escaped serious injury.  The worst accident occurred in Dublin in 1861, not long after he resumed performing.  While performing 50 above ground his rope broke.  Blondin was able to grab a hand hold, but the supporting scaffolding collapsed killing two workers.  The acrobat was held harmless in an investigation but a judge said that the manufacture of the 2 inch diameter rope “had a lot to account for.” 

At a Liverpool performance around the same time a guy wire snapped while he was pushing the lion in the wheelbarrow entangling the wheelbarrow.  Blondin extracted both himself and the cat from the mishap. Such displays of aplomb only won him a more devoted audience. 

He made his final performance at Belfast, Ireland in 1896.  He died the following year at his beloved Ealing home of complications of diabetes.  He was mourned the world over, but nowhere more the Ealing, where he had become a beloved resident.  He was buried next to his first wife and the mother of his children, Charlotte, who had died in 1888.  His second wife, Katherine would be buried with them when she died in 1901. 

This whimsical statue in Ladywoo, Birmingham, England commemorates Blondin's crossing of the Edgbaston Resevoir.

A statue to Blondin was erected in Birmingham, the site of one of his most famous and daring shows, the 1873 crossing of Edgbaston Reservoir.  In Ealing his memory is honored by two roads, Blondin and Niagara Avenues, and in 1997 the Blondin Community Orchard was planted to make the centennial of the acrobat’s death.

Monday, June 29, 2020

When a Prop Go Wrong—A Bad Day at the Globe

A prop cannon firing under the  thatched roof set the straw on fire dooming the Globe Theater.  
Folks who have been involved in theater, amateur or professional, love to swap yarns about various disasters in front of live audiences.  Ask me sometime about when the set fell on my head in the middle of Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders at Shimer College. 
But even the most grizzled theatrical veteran would have a hard time topping what happened to the cast of Henry VIII on June 29, 1613.  During a performance a cannon sparked a fire in the Globe Theater’s thatched roof, burning the theater structure to the ground.  Fortunately no one was seriously injured, although one actor was said to have suffered an indignity to his pants. 
The Globe, of course, was the famous London theater where William Shakespeare had most of his plays produced and where he appeared in many of them as an actor.  Henry VIII is today one of The Bard’s less produced plays, both because of the liberties taken with the well known historical facts of Henry’s reign and because of suspicion that it was either co-authored or heavily tinkered with by another Globe playwright, John Fletcher.   
The Globe was constructed from timbers of an earlier venue known simply as The Theater in 1599.  It was built on leased land and when the lease was up, the landlord claimed the building, which was owned by an association of actors.  To retrieve their property the actors hired a carpenter, Peter Street and joined him in disassembling the building in December of 1598 while the landlord was celebrating Christmas in the country.  The material was hidden until the next summer when it was floated across the Themes and the new theater constructed on marshy ground south of Maiden Lane. 
The only known near contemporary illustration of the Globe theater by Wenceslas Hollar in 1642.
The new building evidently substantially re-created the original, although it may have been enlarged.  The Globe was owned originally by six actors who were shareholders in the theatrical troupe The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.  One of the six was a minority share holder, Will Shakespeare himself.  The building was an open air amphitheater about 100 feet in diameter contained in a building three stories high.  Although described as The Wooden O and portrayed in the only contemporary sketch, by Wenceslas Hollar, archeological evidence now suggests that it may have been a twenty-sided structure
Three levels of stadium stile boxes were protected under an over-hanging thatched roof were built on to the interior walls.  Surrounding an apron stage about 43 by 27 feet and raised five feet was a large open area where groundlings paid a penny to stand and watch performances while their betters lounged in the boxes.  As many as 3000 people could be jammed into the theater, which was one of London’s most popular places of amusement. 
The design of the theater was believed to mimic the inn courtyards where traveling theatrical troupes performed in earlier days. 
Shakespeare had retired by the time the second Globe, left, was erected, but his plays remained a staple of the resident company.
Shakespeare himself at about age 50 seems to have retired from active involvement in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men about the time of the fire, and perhaps because of it.  When a second Globe was erected on the foundation of the first in 1614 he seems to be gone, although his plays continued to be revived as the source of most of the troupe’s material.  He died in his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1616. 
The new Globe continued on until something even more deadly than fire befell it—Puritans.  It was closed by order of the Cromwell government in 1642 and probably razed two years later to make way for tenements. 
Dominic Rowan and Kate Duchene perform as the King and Queen Katherine in Henry VIII at Shakespeare's Globe. This time the place did not burn down.
In 1997 Shakespeare’s Globe, a modern reproduction of the first theater, opened a few yards from the original site and regularly produces plays from the Shakespeare cannon.  Eleven years ago during a cycle of all of the Bard’s history plays Henry III received a rare revival there. 
This time the cannon fired safely.  Everyone was relieved.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Birth of Pride—Stonewall and The Night the Queers Fought Back

The Stonewall was a dive bar operated by the Mob in New York's Greenwich Village.  It's patrons were outcasts and the most flamboyant of a rough streets scene--young hustlers, drag queens, butch lesbians.  It was also an inter-racial scene that attracted police attention.  Wealthier and more respectable Gays gathered and partied more discretely in posh clubs that authorities usually ignored.

Pride Month is drawing to a close with the anniversary of an unexpected uprising that started it all.  This year the exuberant parades and festivals that have been the hallmark of Pride celebrations have been cancelled or muted by the Coronaviurs pandemic and lock down.  Much of the observations have shifted to on-line and social media events.  The internet is awash in rainbow Pride Flags and the updates to include transgender and People of Color.  Those additions are particularly apt in light of the history of the spark that ignited the powder keg.

This Rainbow Flag update by Danial Quasar is one of the more popular versions that add recognition to the transgender community and People of Color.
June has also been the month of a new surge of Black Lives Matter marches and protests in the wake of the murder by police of George Floyd and a long litany of others.  Members of the LGBTQ of all races have been conspicuous participants and leaders in these events.  And that is also as it should be.  Episodes of violence, arson, and looting as well as confrontations between demonstrators and militarized police and National Guardsmen set many tongues wagging bemoaning that “violence never accomplishes anything.” 
In point of fact as much as I am a supporter of militant and creative non-violent direct action and civil disobedience as a tactic, I recognize along with Dr. Martin Luther King that, “Riot is the language of the unheard.”  He recognized that the urban rebellions of the 1960’s grabbed the attention of somnambulant and complacent White America.  Much of the early violence of the marches this month have been traced to right wing white Boogaloo activists trying to spark a civil race war, aggressive police action, and simple criminal opportunism, some was simple pent-up community rage.  Anti-racists have clearly defined the priorities of those more concerned with property damage than Black Lives. 
In the end, the BLM movement will outlast the early violence and become a lasting voice for institutional and societal change.  Just as Pride emerged from its violent birth.
Fifty one years ago on the night of June 27, 1969 something snapped when New York City Police made one of their regular raids on a Gay bar.  Instead of meekly submitting to arrest, the denizens of the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar operated by the Mafia and patronized by the most marginalized of folks—homeless street kid hustlers, drag queens, butch dikes, and others resisted when police started to arrest them. 
The raid was conducted by a small team of detectives, uniformed officers including women led by Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine of the Public Morals Squad. 
For some reason patrons refused to follow the familiar procedure of such raids—allowing restroom inspections of individuals in women’s clothing to determine if they were men and providing identification upon request.  Dumfounded by resistance, police called for backup and patrol wagons.  There was some scuffling inside. 

The Stonewall Inn in 1969 looked just as seedy as it was.
Meanwhile some patrons who had been released were joined by passersby outside the bar.  The crowd quickly swelled.  Taunts and jeers were exchanged between the police and crowd.  The crowd began to interfere as drag queens were led to the wagons.  When a lesbian made several unsuccessful attempts to escape, she was beaten and cried out to the crowd, “Why don’t you guys do something?” 
That ignited the crowd which began pelting police with beer cans, coins, and rubble from a nearby construction site.  They attacked the wagons, freeing some of those arrested.  Police retreated into the bar and barricaded themselves.  They grabbed some members of the crowd as they went, including folk singer Dave Van Ronk who had been playing at a nearby club and came out to investigate the ruckus, and Howard Smith, a writer for the Village Voice.
When a lesbian named Betty repeatedly tried to break away from custody and was roughly handled by several cops she famously pleaded, "Why don't you guys do something?"  It became the Remember he Alamo battle cry of a movement.
Observers reported that the most aggressive members of the crowd were the young street kids.  They used an uprooted parking meter as a ram to try and break down the doors of the bar and crashed through the plywood covered windows.  When they got in police drew their pistols and threatened to shoot while rioters used lighter fluid to start a fire
The Fire Department responded as the crowd outside grew to hundreds.  The Tactical Police Force (TPF) arrived in riot gear to rescue the besieged officers in the saloon.  They formed a phalanx and moved up the street being blocked and taunted by an impromptu kick line of drag queens and “sissies.” 
Drag queens played a leading role in the resistance in the the nights that followed the police raid.
Rioters and police played a brand of violent tag around the narrow streets of the Village until after 4 AM. 
Later that morning the riots were front page news
And they were not over.  The next night even larger crowds gathered in front of the building and fighting continued.  Despite heavy rain there were sporadic eruptions the next two nights. 
Meanwhile the Gay community, which had been largely unorganized except for the small Mattachine Society which advocated a campaign to educate the public that Homosexuals were “normal,” began to meet and debate tactics.  Thousands of fliers were printed for a Wednesday march
The original rebellion, which had been entirely spontaneous, was already laying the groundwork for a new, open and defiant Gay movementTaking cues from the Civil Rights Movement and the Peace Movement, which were also confronting authorities with a new militancy, and taking advantage of the traditional anti-establishment radicalism of the Village, the beginning of a new movement was taking place. 
On Wednesday the Village Voice—the most liberal paper in New York, carried a harshly critical piece on the riots describing participants as “forces of faggotry.”  Angry demonstrators descended on the Voice offices that night and threatened to burn them down.  Other violent confrontations erupted in the neighborhood as police tried to stop marchers, this time for the first time carrying signs and “making demands.” 
That was the last night of disturbances, but things changed quickly over the next year.  Two new militant Gay organizations emerged in New York, the Gay Liberation Front, which allied itself with the broader radical movement, and the Gay Activists Alliance which advocated a focused campaign demanding an end to police harassment and for broader rights for Gays
Similar or allied groups sprang up in major cities and college towns across the country.  New Yorkers founded three new newspapers, Gay, Come Out!, and Gay Power which soon had press runs of 2000 to 2500.  Again, similar publications were founded across the country. 
The Christopher Street March on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion is considered the founding event of the Gay Pride marches now held internationally.
On June 28, 1970 the anniversary of what was now being called the Stonewall Rebellion was marked by Christopher Street Liberation Day and a 51 block march from the Village to Central Park with thousands of marchers filling the streets.  Marches were also held in Chicago and Los Angeles. 
These became the Gay Pride Marches and annual events across the country. An indication of how accepted and mainstream Gay rights have become, at least in big cities, is that there are official floats sponsored by city sports teams. Politicians galore and all of the major media turn out to court the potent Gay vote and consumer demographic
The 2019 Pride Parade in Chicago was typical of colorful and exuberant celebrations around the country which were now courted by politicians and corporations eager to cash in on a lucrative demographic.
Last year Gay Pride Parades  also reflected a community increasingly under siege by a well-oiled and funded backlash led by religious zealots and abetted by the radicalized Republican Party eager to pander to a big part of its base.  With Republicans in complete control of many governorships and State houses rafts of anti-Gay legislation have been enacted or proposed. 
And now the Cheeto-in-Charge, who in an earlier incarnation had proclaimed himself a “friend of the Gays,” has lent his full blather and bluster to stoking the fires of repression. Trump has worked to strip protections against discrimination in agency after agency. The Supreme Court recently smiled on so-called religious liberty grounds for refusing service to Gays, lesbians, and transgender folk although it pleasantly surprised many by recently affirming the legality of marriage equality.
Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender Black woman, is now being recognized and celebrated as the person who threw the first brick at police on the night of the Stonewall uprising.
So it was not a surprise that the LGBTQ community has enthusiastically joined in the BLM marches or that the debt owed to Black transgender women, drag queens, and butch dikes in the original Stonewall uprising has finally been recognized and celebrated.  51 years after the fact Pride Month has returned to its roots—Resistance!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

March March—Murfin Home Confinement Music Festival 2020

March March by The Chicks.

Remember the Dixie Chicks, the female trio who shook up country music in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s?  Texans singer Natalie Maines and multi-instrumentalist sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Strayer were Platinum Record artists and multiple Grammy, Billboard,   Academy of Country Music, and Country Music Association Award winners.  But it almost ended in 2003 when Natalie Maines told a British audience that they did not support the upcoming invasion of Iraq and were “ashamed” that President George W. Bush was from Texas.  Overnight they became country music pariahs and their music was banned from country radio.

Critisism of President George W. Bush during the ramp up of the invasion of Iraq while the Dixie Chicks were on their Top of the World tour made them overnight country music pariahs.
They never really went away, although the country music establishment still shuns them.  They became stars of the emerging Americana genre, cross-over pop, and were embraced by feminist and progressive fans.   They came roaring back with a defiant single Not Ready to Make Nice off of the Taking the Long Way album and tour in 2007.    
In March of this year, with 33 million albums sold, and sales of 27.5 million albums in the U.S. alone, the Dixie Chicks became the bestselling female band and bestselling country group in the U.S. during the Nielsen SoundScan era 1991 to present
Then this Thursday, June 25 inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement and the waves of protest across the nation the trio dropped Dixie from their name like a statue of Jefferson Davis toppling from a pillar.   Now simply The Chicks the also released a powerful new song March March with a stunning video directed by Seanne Farmer. 

Introducing The Chicks.
The song and the video touch the multiple issues roiling America and responses to them.  The production also checks and supports a list of activist organizations including Headcount Black Lives Matter, the Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union, Supermajority Education Fund, March For Our Lives, Mi Familia Vota, Native American Rights Fund, Planned Parenthood, White People For Black Lives, the Innocence Project, and Proclaim Justice.
 March March is truly an anthem for this moment.  Thanks, Chicks!

Friday, June 26, 2020

McHenry County Black Lives Matter Responds to Back the Blue Motorcycle Ride

Black Lives Matter supporters will return to Veterans Acres in Crystal Lake where hundreds rallied peacefully on June 3.  Youth led the way.
Until recently Black Lives Matter/George Floyd/I Can’t Breath protests in McHenry County have had the streets and parks pretty much to ourselves.  Through most of June peaceful youth-led rallies and marches have brought hundreds, even thousands out in Woodstock, Crystal Lake, McHenry, Algonquin, Cary/Fox River Grove, Huntley, Harvard, and even tiny, rustic Richmond.  Counter protestors managed one under-attended event in Algonquin and individuals have heckled BLM protestors and buzzed events with flag-waving trucks shouting obscenities and threats.  They have made their presence known mostly by hate-filled comments to newspaper reports, on-line mouth frothing, and cyber-stalking harassment of identified BLM leaders and participants.

Now as Illinois opens up in Stage 4 response to the Coronavirus pandemic and perhaps believing that the local BLM movement is sputtering out a Back the Blue Motorcycle ride is scheduled for this Saturday, June 27.  Ostensibly in defense of police who they claim are under siege following nation-wide Black Lives Matter marches, rallies, and civil disruption.  But organizers are also critical of local municipal leaders and police chiefs who have not only been “soft” on our homegrown protestors, but have expressed solidarity with their cause, in some cases even taking a symbolic knee.  Statements by rally organizers have also made it clear they want to signal the BLM movement that they risk a possible violent backlash. 
Although they claim to be non-partisan pro-Trump and Second Amendment are heavily promoting the event in their circles.  There will be no shortage of MAGA caps and Trump banners will be as common as Thin Blue Line flags.  There will not, however, be many “pussyface masks which they regard as a radical/liberal plot.

According to the Northwest Herald:
Former Crystal Lake resident Joe Alger and Woodstock Harley-Davidson owner Doug Jackson organized the Back the Blue Ride in light of protests surrounding the Minneapolis police killing of Black man George Floyd.
“The goal of this ride is to show those that hold the Thin Blue Line that we stand with them and against anarchy,” Alger said.
Throughout the years, Alger has participated in more than 45 rides for soldiers killed in action, he said…
… “I don’t believe there’s systemic racism in this country,” Alger said.
The bikers who have long made Woodstock Harley-Davidson their unofficial headquarters are not outlaw gang members.  Most are middle-age and older white guys with comfortable incomes—the folks who can afford costly Hogs.  They have gained local respect for their escorts of funerals of U.S, Troops and welcome home celebrations and for charities like the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots campaigns. But any are also in Trump’s core base and the Resident has suggested several times that he believes that bikers will “ride to the rescue” to prevent a vast Democratic/liberal/alien/socialist plot to “steal” his presidency.  Like some “fine people” in white nationalist groups, Trump apparently thinks that bikers will be his Brown Shirts.  At least some of the riders on Saturday will share that fantasy

McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett first enforced the Back the Blue Ride and then promised to attend a listen at the McHenry Black Lives Matter rally on Saturday.
Most local municipal leaders have stayed clear of endorsing the ride while promising to respect the rider’s freedom of speech.  But McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett was an early and enthusiastic backer.  Not only did he endorse the ride, but he ordered Back the Blue yard signs which he was selling for $5 a pop.  After McHenry BLM leaders reached out to him, Jett changed his tune.  He now says he also shares the vision of police reform community leaders are pressing.  He is now also offering and selling Black Lives Matter yard signs and says that money from the sale of both signs will go to support the work of Youth and Family Services of McHenry County which offers services to Latino and other minority youth.  Jett also says he will attend a BLM rally in McHenry on Saturday as well as checking in with the bikers.  We will see how well he performs that juggling act.
According to a Back the Blue organizer:
Riders will meet at 9:30 a.m. for registration at the Woodstock Harley-Davidson, 2235 S. Eastwood Drive. Anyone with a street-legal vehicle is welcome to join and fly their blue line or American flags, Alger said. Departure will begin at 11 a.m. with plans to visit the Woodstock, McHenry and Crystal Lake police departments.
“We will ride through the downtown area of Crystal Lake, McHenry and Woodstock with brief stops at each police department,” Alger said. “We will end up back at Woodstock Harley for hot dogs and fun.”
Alger said he won’t enforce the use of masks or other COVID-19 precautions, noting that “it’s not [his] job to police other people.”
Pointedly saying that they are not counter-protesting or opposing the Back the Blue ride, BLM leaders in McHenry, Crystal Lake, and Woodstock are planning on new rallies to back their calls for police reform and continue the conversation in McHenry County about white privilege and systematic racism

Luis Eric Aguilar, a McHenry /BLM youth leader, met with Mayor Jett.
Luis Eric Aguilar, a McHenry youth leader explained:
 I met with Mayor Wayne Jett and the McHenry PD today [June 24] to go over our peaceful protest and demonstration planned for this Saturday. The Mayor has agreed to attend and to listen! Furthermore, we are aware of the already planned 'Back the Blue Ride' and the Mayor and I agree that both groups are there to express their support for the PD and the community and that neither was created in counter of the other. This Saturday will be a celebration of the 1st amendment rights given to all Americans.
I may even have friends in that ride and I will still encourage them to join us in the conversation. Education is the first step. We may not agree on everything but across the country we are witnessing an awakening of knowledge towards racial justice.
One day, we will all look back at McHenry and celebrate its history. Our kids will have their generation issues and our job is to teach the right approach to creating actual and effective change.
Although the exact plans in Woodstock have not been posted as of this writing, Crystal Lake will have a rally from 10:30 to 12:30 at Veteran’s Acers on Walkup north of Route 176.  This will be a rally with no march planned.  The Back the Blue Ride will probably pass the park on its route.
The Crystal Lake call says:

This is a peaceful, family-friendly, coordinated event with McHenry, Crystal Lake, and Woodstock. It is a response to the “Back the Blue” ride that begins/ends at Woodstock Harley Davidson and makes brief stops at each of these police stations.
The originator of that event states that there is no such thing as systematic racism.
The purpose of our protest is to assert three clear messages. Everyone needs to know these messages. 1) Black Lives Matter, 2) systemic racism exists in nearly all facets of society, 3) it also exists in the police force which is why there is an important public discourse regarding defunding the police.

In McHenry a rally will be held between 1 and 2:30 pm at Knox Park, 333 Knox Drive.
Participants at Saturday’s BLM rallies are asked to wear masks, practice social distancing as much as possible, and wear black.  I would add that those of us who are older and white respect the outstanding leadership of our youth, Blacks, other People of Color, and other marginalized targeted communities like LGBTQ.