Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Jail Brakers and Prairie State Legal Services Offer Cannabis Expungement Event in Crystal Lake

 

Jail Brakers, the program that offers support and services to the families of incarcerated individuals, and the experts at Prairie State Legal Services are offering a special sealing and expungement of cannabis records and convictions presentation at the McHenry County Board of Health office, 620 Dakota Street, Crystal Lake on Saturday, September 3 from 2 to 5 pm.  Use the main entrance at the rear of the building.

After the State of Illinois legalized recreational use of cannabis—marijuana—the Legislature passed an automatic expungement of the records of those convicted of simple possession of small amounts of the drug.  Many others, however, convicted of possession of larger quantities and/or sale and distribution are required to actively petition to have their records removed.  The standing convictions can have drastic consequences for seeking employment and housing, passing background checks, obtaining certain licenses and business permits, obtaining insurance, and even child custody.

Prairie State Legal Services, 400 Russel Court in Woodstock, has developed a special program to guide and instruct individuals on how to make their appeals.  The program is free to the public.  To register for the event visit http://www.eventbrite.com/e/39408756517 .

James Carpenter, Director of the Jail Brakers ministry at Tree of Life UU Congregation.

James Carpenter, a Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS), expedited the program for Jail Brakers and in his broader role coordinating criminal justice system initiatives for Tree of Life. 

The program is produced in cooperation with New Leaf Illinois, a statewide, state-funded initiative made up of 20 non-profit organizations throughout Illinois who provide free legal representation or legal information to people who want their cannabis convictions off their record.


Jail Brakers is an independent ministry of Tree of Life serving the entire McHenry County community.  Contributions to support its work can be made by sending a check made out to Tree of Life UU Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, IL 60050 with Jail Brakers on the memo line or donate on-line at https://treeoflifeuu.breezechms.com/give/online and select Jail Brakers from the drop-down menu under “Give to Unpledged Donations.” The donations are placed in a dedicated fund and not used for any other purpose.   Tree of Life also donates all the administrative expenses of the program so 100% of all donations go directly to client assistance.

For assistance and information contact James Carpenter at 815 322-3223, e-mail him at jailbrakersjames@gmail.com, visit https://treeoflifeuu.org/justice/social-justice/jail-brakers/, or the Facebook event.

 


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Henry Bergh Was The Man Who Was too Kind

 

                                    Fashionable and foppish young Henry Bergh returning from Europe.

Henry Bergh was a softy.  A sentimental fool who could not abide to witness the sufferings of animals and small, helpless creatures.  And that made him a damned annoyance, and worse, a meddlesome nuisance to honest men who were simply trying to get the most out of livestock that God had clearly given them dominion over.  It said so right in the Bible, didn’t it?  To make matters worse he was richer than Croesus and had money to burn and spread around courts and newspapers to persecute men for doing as they saw fit with their own damned property!  And he was slavishly followed by legions of swooning ladies and lily-livered do-gooders abetting his outrages.

Or so a good slice of public opinion would have it.  Just who was the fancy gentleman in a fashionable high hat, and elegant clothes running about the streets wresting whips from the hands of masters?

A contemporary cartoon mocking Bergh for his bleeding heart.

Henry Bergh was born in New York City on August 29, 1813 with a literal silver spoon in his mouth.  His father, Christian Bergh was a ship builder who laid the keels of several ships for the U.S. Navy as well as many a merchant vessel.  Like many sons of self-made men, he seemed a bit spoiled and unmotivated to seek a career.   He was enrolled at Columbia but was an indifferent student and failed to graduate.

Instead of taking a degree the young man left for the Grand Tour of Europe in 1831. He liked what he saw there and lingered.  Bergh tried his hand as a man of letters and penned unproduced plays, sentimental melodramas with pointed moral lessons.

In 1836 his father announced his intention to retire and wrote his wayward son that it was time to stop playing and come home to manage the family firm with his older brother Christian, Jr However reluctantly—probably facing the cutoff of support if he did not comply—Bergh came home.

Back in New York the same year he wooed and wed a lovely society belle with her own fortune, Catherine Matilda Taylor.

However a reluctant tycoon, Bergh proved to be a capable administrator.  The firm thrived and expanded especially as he helped transition to the age of steam power.  His active career in business was not a long one.  His father died in 1843 and he felt under no more obligation to continue his business.  He sold out his portion of the firm which brought him a large sum of cash.  He invested wisely for the long term rather than play dangerous games on the market and was able to retire to a comfortable life of leisure on a dependable income at the age of only 32.

He and Catherine returned to Europe where they traveled and took up residence.  He resumed his aborted career as a playwright.

Bergh’s story might have ended there with him idling away his years as a comfortable expatriate had not fate intervened.  The Confederacy was stepping up diplomatic activity in Europe.  One of their primary targets was Imperial Russia, a society whose dependence on virtually enslaved serfs drew the same moral condemnation in the West as Southern Black chattel slavery.  It was also an emerging power with ambition to challenge Britain’s supremacy in international trade, including cotton.  Confederate agents had high hopes of gaining Russian recognition of their independence and even possible intervention in the war.

Secretary of State William Seward, a pre-war political powerhouse in New York State was familiar with the Bergh family, who were loyal Republicans and Unionists.  Bergh was already in Europe and would not be delayed in a mission to St. Petersburg by an ocean voyage.  President Abraham Lincoln appointed him as Secretary to the American Legation to the Court of Tsar Alexander II and Acting Vice Consul in 1863.

In less than two years of service as a diplomat, Bergh learned two things—that he hated the miserable cold of a Russian winter, and that the Russians treated their animals with abominable cruelty.  On the streets of St. Petersburg he could observe almost every day animals being savagely beaten, starving horses worked until they dropped dead in their traces, and worse. 

After resigning in post in 1865, Bergh stopped in London on the way home to America to consult with the Earl of HarrowbyPresident of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which had become famous for its defense of draft and coach horses in London.

New York Unitarian minister Rev. Henry Whitney Bellows lent Bergh his considerable organizational skills to create the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Bergh, with the support of his wife, determined to do something similar at home.  In late 1866 he began lecturing widely and circulating tracts against animal cruelty.  Then he found an important ally, his minister the Rev.  Henry Whitney Bellows of the First Congregational Church of New York City, the city’s leading Unitarian clergyman and one of the most influential Protestant ministers and reformers in the city.  Bellows was also something of an organizational genius.  During the war he founded and organized the United States Sanitary Commission, America’s first great nationwide charity which raised money and collected medical supplies for the Army, organized distribution, established hospitals, and trained and supervised most of the nurses on the Union side.  It was a massive job that required the creation and coordination of local units in towns and cities across the Union as well as close logistical cooperation with the huge armies in the field.  After the war Bellows had re-invigorated Unitarianism with the formation of the National Conference of Unitarian Churches.

Bellows help introduce Bergh to a network of influential reformers and help him develop a strategy of getting an animal protection law passed in New York State that could be a model of the nation.  A little later, at Catherine Bergh’s suggestion, Bellows helped recruit women reformers, many of the veterans of the abolitionist movement, the Sanitary Commission, temperance and other reform movements.  Energetic women were soon the shock troops of a growing movement.

A public lecture at New York’s Clinton Hall in early 1866 was the beginning of a push for legislation in the state.  He was victorious in an astonishingly short period of time—probably faster than any reform movement ever attained its first legislative goals.  In early April the state legislature passed bills drafted by Bergh that prohibited cruelty to animals and granted a charter to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).  Four days later on April 11, 1866 the Society was formally organized in New York City with Bergh as its President—a job he would keep the rest of his life.

Bergh with his ASPC badge.  Deputized to enforce new New York State anti-cruelty laws he often personally intervened in abuse cases and made arrests.

Bergh was more than just an administrator and advocate.  Under the terms of the state law, he and other ASPCA officers were deputized to enforce the anti-cruelty laws on the street.  Among his first targets were the widespread abuse of horses and draft animals; dangerous but popular public entertainments like bull and bear baiting and dog and cock fighting; and the starvation of many domestic animals.  Bergh would personally arrest offenders on the street and haul them before police magistrates.  The press ate up these colorful confrontations and Bergh popularity grew in some quarters as did attacks on him from outraged masters and animal owners who dubbed him the Great Meddler.

The ASPCA was at first funded out of the personal purse of the Berghs.  But it soon attracted additional support including a huge $150,000 bequest from Frenchman Louis Bonard in 1871 which enabled the organization to move into more spacious quarters at the corner of 4th Avenue and 22nd Street.  In the city the ASPCA was able to fund heavy duty animal ambulances and even a crane to rescue horses who fell into open excavations with surprising regularity.

The original ASPCA seal.

When Bergh turned his attention to the treatment of animals in circuses and menageries he clashed with P.T. Barnum, but Barnum, a noted humanitarian and Universalist lay leader was won over to the cause.  He conformed treatment of animals in his circuses and other holdings to the standards of the ASPCA and campaigned with Bergh to get other exhibitors to follow suit.

Bergh was appalled to learn that tens of thousands of pigeons were slaughtered each year in sport shooting competitions Bergh personally invented one of the first devices to launch faux pigeons as substitute targets, eventually leading the modern sports of trap and skeet shooting and the abandonment of live targets.

He continued to travel and speak widely, the influence of his ideas and organization growing steadily.  One important 1873 speech was given to the Evangelical Alliance and Episcopal Convention which led directly to a new Episcopal cannon requiring the church’s priests to preach annually on animal cruelty.

New societies spread across the country, many of the spearheaded by the women reformers Bergh had gone out of his way to cultivate. One by one other state adopted laws modeled on those Bergh wrote for New York.  By 1886 36 states had adopted anti-cruelty laws.  With the help of ASPCA legal counsel Elbridge Gerry, Bergh got the Federal Government to ban cruelty to animals used for interstate transportation.

Little Mary Ellen Wilson showing wounds from being whipped by her foster mother was rescued by Bergh.  No laws prohibited physically discipling children in any way so the ASPCA argued in court that since humans are animals she was entitled to protection of anti-cruelty laws.

But Bergh’s work was not confined to animals.  In 1874 Methodist mission workerEtta Angell Wheeler brought the sad case of Mary Ellen Wilson an 11 year old girl abused by her foster motherMary McCormack who daily whipped her with rawhide, used her as a domestic slave, starved her, and kept her locked in a closet.  Together Wilson and Burgh rescued the child and the ASPCA brought charges against Mary McCormack.  At the time children were considered the chattel of their parents or guardians with no rights of their own and no protections from assault or abuse.  Elbridge Gerry cleverly argued that at very least the child was an animal an entitled to protection under those anti-cruelty laws.  Mrs. McCormack was convicted and sentenced to a year in jail.  Etta eventually became a ward of Mary Wilson and lived happily and safely.

The incident spurred a new round of New York legislation and the charter of a new organization, New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children also headed by Burgh.  Similar societies spread to other states starting with Massachusetts.

Bergh continued meddling until he died on March 12, 1888 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Monday, August 29, 2022

The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table Was Not Just a Justice’s Dad

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Despite his many accomplishments, Oliver Wendell Homes, Sr. is best remembered today as the father of the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., he of the impressive mustachio and beneficiary of a bestselling fictionalized biography and an even more fanciful MGM movie.  The father, who evidently did not engage a good press agent, would probably have been both proud and amused.

                        The famous son, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The senior Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 29, 1809. Like his nearly exactly contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was the son of noted liberal minister and a descendent of poet Anne Bradstreet.  Unlike Emerson, he felt no call to the ministry.   

Instead, he studied medicine at Harvard and launched a highly successful practice.  The high regard for his professional abilities was demonstrated when he was appointed Harvard’s chair of anatomy and physiology

Holmes’ intellect, however, was broader than the sciences.  He was a revered wit and wide ranging conversationalist. He pursued literature as a second career.  In 1857 he co-founded The Atlantic Monthly with James Russell Lowell.  His literary output was marked by amazing versatility.  A collection of his humorous essays The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table was published to great success in 1858.  Among his contributions to the American language was Boston Brahmins to describe the largely Unitarian elite like himself who dominated the Hub City both culturally and politically


The first edition of Holmes' hugely popular book of humorous essays, The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table.

He also wrote novels, which were popular in their day but are now largely forgotten and scholarly biography.  Holmes’ biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1885 is a classic of the genre

Over his long life he frequently contributed poetry to newspapers and journals, which led to his greatest public acclaim.  His work ranged from the whimsical, The Deacons Masterpiece or the Wonderful One-Hoss Shay, to transcendental musings, The Chambered Nautilus, to the unabashedly patriotic, Old Ironsides.  The latter poem was credited with saving the famous frigate USS Constitution from the scrap yard.  It floats today in Boston Harbor, a tribute to the power of Holmes’s words

Holmes died on October 7, 1894 in Boston at the age 84.

He is best remembered for Old Ironsides, but his wit is best displayed in another poem.  Note that decades before the local color writers supposedly invented it, Holmes was capturing the old New England accent and attitude of Massachusetts villages.

Plates from Holms's Wonderful One-Hoss Shay.

The Deacon’s Masterpiece or the Wonderful One-Hoss Shay

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,

That was built in such a logical way

It ran a hundred years to a day,

And then of a sudden it — ah, but stay,

I’ll tell you what happened without delay,

Scaring the parson into fits,

Frightening people out of their wits, –

Have you ever heard of that, I say?

 

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.

Georgius Secundus was then alive, –

Snuffy old drone from the German hive.

That was the year when Lisbon-town

Saw the earth open and gulp her down,

And Braddock’s army was done so brown,

Left without a scalp to its crown.

It was on that terrible Earthquake-day

That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.

 

Now in building of shaises, I tell you what,

There is always a weakest spot, –

In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,

In pannel or crossbar, or floor, or sill,

In screw, bolt, throughbrace, — lurking still,

Find it somewhere you must and will, –

Above or below, or within or without, –

And that’s the reason, beyond a doubt,

That a chaise breaks down, but doesn’t wear out.

 

But the Deacon swore (as deacons do,

With an “I dew vum,” or an I tell yeou”)

He would build one shay to beat the taown

‘n’ the keounty ‘n’ all the kentry raoun’;

It should be so built that it couldn’ break daown:

“Fer,” said the Deacon, “’t's mighty plain

Thut the weakes’ place mus’ stan’ the strain;

‘n’ the way t’ fix it, uz I maintain, is only jest

‘T’ make that place uz strong uz the rest.”

 

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk

Where he could find the strongest oak,

That couldn’t be split nor bent nor broke, –

That was for spokes and floor and sills;

He sent for lancewood to make the thills;

The crossbars were ash, from the the straightest trees

The pannels of whitewood, that cuts like cheese,

But lasts like iron for things like these;

 

The hubs of logs from the “Settler’s ellum,” –

Last of its timber, — they couldn’t sell ‘em,

Never no axe had seen their chips,

And the wedges flew from between their lips,

Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;

Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,

Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,

Steel of the finest, bright and blue;

Throughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;

Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide

Found in the pit when the tanner died.

That was the way he “put her through,”

“There!” said the Deacon, “naow she’ll dew!”

 

Do! I tell you, I rather guess

She was a wonder, and nothing less!

Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,

Deacon and deaconess dropped away,

Children and grandchildren — where were they?

But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay

As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

 

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; — it came and found

The Deacon’s masterpiece strong and sound.

Eighteen hindred increased by ten; –

“Hahnsum kerridge” they called it then.

Eighteen hundred and twenty came; –

Running as usual; much the same.

Thirty and forty at last arive,

And then come fifty and FIFTY-FIVE.

 

Little of all we value here

Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year

Without both feeling and looking queer.

In fact, there’s nothing that keeps its youth,

So far as I know, but a tree and truth.

(This is a moral that runs at large;

Take it. — You’re welcome. — No extra charge.)

 

FIRST OF NOVEMBER, — the Earthquake-day, –

There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,

A general flavor of mild decay,

But nothing local, as one may say.

There couldn’t be, — for the Deacon’s art

Had made it so like in every part

That there wasn’t a chance for one to start.

 

For the wheels were just as strong as the thills

And the floor was just as strong as the sills,

And the panels just as strong as the floor,

And the whippletree neither less or more,

And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,

And the spring and axle and hub encore.

And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt

In another hour it will be worn out!

 

First of November, fifty-five!

This morning the parson takes a drive.

Now, small boys get out of the way!

Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,

Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.

 

"Huddup!" said the parson. — Off went they.

The parson was working his Sunday’s text, –

Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed

At what the — Moses — was coming next.

All at once the horse stood still,

Close by the meet’n'-house on the hill.

First a shiver, and then a thrill,

Then something decidedly like a spill, –

And the parson was sitting upon a rock,

At half past nine by the meet’n'-house clock, –

Just the hour of the earthquake shock!

 

What do you think the parson found,

When he got up and stared around?

The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,

As if it had been to the mill and ground!

You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,

How it went to pieces all at once, –

All at once, and nothing first, –

Just as bubbles do when they burst.

 

End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.

Logic is logic. That’s all I say.

 

—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Note:  Adapted from the Biographical Notes accompanying my reader’s theater piece Four Hundred Years of Unitarian and Universalist Poetry—From John Milton to Sylvia Plath.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

It Was Bigger and Wider than Dr. King—The March for Jobs and Freedom Moved a Nation

Dr. Martin Luther King's ringing I Have a Dream speech was the highlight and climax of the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom in Washington and helped change America, but the March itself was bigger than any one man.

Like a lot of people back in ’63 I was glued to the television for the beginning-to-end coverage provided by CBS News of the March for Jobs and Justice on August 28.  I was a 14 year old in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the time.  I was both thrilled and awestruck.  Listening to Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech literally changed my life.

The March was the brain child of labor and Civil Rights leader A. Phillip Randolph.

The march originally was the brainchild of an elder of both the labor and Civil Rights movements.  A. Philip Randolph, President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and of the Negro American Labor Council as well as a Vice President of the AFL-CIO modeled his call for a march on Washington on a similar event he had planned back in 1941 to force President Franklin D. Roosevelt to open employment in the burgeoning defense industry to Blacks.  Just the threat of thousands of Negros descending on the Capital had been enough to cause the President to establish the Committee on Fair Employment Practice and bar discriminatory hiring in the defense industry.  Randolph wanted to bring similar pressure on President John F. Kennedy and Congress to move on stalled Civil Rights legislation, but also to bring up new issues of jobs that had been overshadowed by the tumultuous battle for civil rights in the South

Randolph brought together the leaders of all of the largest national Civil Rights organizations including James Farmer, President of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); John Lewis, President of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); Roy Wilkins, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Whitney Young, President of the National Urban League; and Dr. King, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to form a coalition to sponsor the march.  It was no small feat because of turf wars, ideological differences, and egos.

Civil Rights Leaders and major speakers at the March for Jobs and Justice, standing left to right are Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice Matthew Ahmann, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) leader John Lewis, Protestant minister Eugene Carson Blake, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) leader Floyd McKissick, and UAW President Walter Reuther; sitting are National Urban League Executive Director Whitney Young, chairman of the Demonstration Committee Cleveland Robinson, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters President A. Philip Randolph, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leader Roy Wilkins.

In addition, Randolph sought support from the Labor movement, most significantly from Walter Reuther, President of the United Auto Workers (UAW)The white dominated craft unions of the AFL, however, were notable for their absence

Bayard Rustin of the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and the organizer of the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, an early forerunner of the Freedom Rides that was meant to test a Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination in interstate travel, was tapped to coordinate volunteers and logistics, recruit marchers from across the country, and attend to all the other details of the march while Randolph pulled together political, labor and religious support for the march. 

Veteran pacifist and Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin of the Fellowship of Reconciliation was the Deputy Director of the March and in charge of most of the planning and logistics.  As an openly Gay man his public profile was kept low.  Retail workers labor leader Cleveland Robinson was named Chairman of the Administrative Committee.

Other than being a star speaker that day King was not heavily involved in the planning or management of the event. He even left the details of mobilizing SCLC supporters to his aides.

As word spread, it became apparent that the march was going to turn into the largest event of its kind in history.  The media began to pay attention.  On the day of the march, buses poured into the city from sleepy Mississippi towns and from gritty industrial hubs like Detroit and Chicago.  Trains from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were jammed.  Thousands of local Washington residents swelled the throng. 

Organizers put the crowd at more than 300,000.  The National Park Service, in charge because the speakers’ platform was erected at the Lincoln Memorial, said 200,000.  Whatever was the case, crowds filled the Mall far past the Washington Monument.  About 80% of the marchers were Black. Marchers included many celebrities including actors like Sidney Poitier, Harry Bellefonte, and Charlton Heston—yes that Charlton Heston. 

Charlton Heston, Harry Bellefonte, novelist James Baldwin, and Marlon Brando added star power to the March.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, but the three major broadcast networks broke away from their usual programming of afternoon soap operas to cover the swelling crowd and speeches live

Marian Anderson, who had sung on the same steps at the invitation of Eleanor Roosevelt after she was denied use of the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in 1939, opened the program with the National Anthem.  Several other performers took to the stage over the course of the program, perhaps most notably Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Mahalia Jackson. 

Peter Paul & Mary were among the notable entertainers who performed.  They led the crowd in Pete Seeger's anthem If I Had a Hammer.

The Catholic Archbishop of Washington, Patrick OBoyle led the invocation.  Other religious leaders on the program included Dr. Eugene Blake on behalf of the Protestant National Council of Churches and two leading Rabbis. 

After Randolph’s opening remarks each of the major civil rights leaders took the stage in turn. Floyd McKissick had to read the remarks of CORE’s James Farmer, who was in a Louisiana jail. The youngest leader, John Lewis of the militant SNCC, excoriated the Kennedy Administration for not acting to protect Civil Rights workers who were under regular and violent attack across the South.  Randolph and others who were trying to flatter and coax the President into action forced Lewis to strike the most inflammatory portions of his speech, but what was left was still plenty critical. 

Despite their notable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement key figures like Rosa Parks, and Dianne Nash were excluded from the speaker's list.  In the end the only woman to address the crowd was singer and dancer Josephine Baker who had spent most of the previous 30 years as an expatriate in Paris.  She wore her World War II uniform as a decorated member of the French Resistance.

Slain NAACP organizer Medgar Everss wife Myrlie was on the announced program to lead a Tribute to Negro Women but did not appear.  In fact, several prominent female figures in the Movement were either not invited or had their requests to be added to the program rejected by Randolph.  In the end the only woman to speak was jazz singer and dancer Josephine Baker who wore her World War II Free French uniform emblazoned with her medal of the L├ęgion d’honneur

It all led up the last major address—the highly anticipated speech of Dr. King.  If civil rights veterans knew what to expect from the notoriously eloquent leader, millions of Americans viewing at home were in for an eye opening experience.  The speech, built to the thundering crescendo:

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

The hundreds of thousands of ordinary folks who showed up for the March for Jobs and Justice were just as important as any of the movement heavies and celebrities.

The nation, or much of, it was awestruck and impressed.  That speech, along with the continued televised violence against Blacks struggling for equal access to public accommodations and the vote, helped set the stage for the major Civil Rights legislation enacted in the next three years.  


 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Revisiting The Convention of Crickets—Murfin Verse

The delegate caucus.

Two years ago, the Republican National Convention which renominated the former orange Resident of the United States was in full ugly swing.

This verse erupted after stepping out my back door at 1:30 am.  Unlike the pleasantly cool night this year in McHenry County it was close and muggy.  I was trying my best to keep from being over-exposed to the Trumpista hate fest, but it kept creeping in on newscasts and social media.  No wonder I was restless.  Surrealism anyone?

"Mistah Chairman, I Rise to a point of order!"

The Convention of Crickets

August 26, 2020

 

The Convention of Crickets

nominates the Night.

The Fireflies and Cicadas

            concur.

The Night accepts

            and blankets all

            whether they like it

            —or not.

Jiminy advises prevaricators

            to let their consciences

            be their guide.

Harry from Times Square

            endorses families of choice.

The Mormon delegates

            plot catastrophe

            and revenge.

Buddy’s backup band

            chirps the exit music..

Session adjourns at Dawn.

 

—Patrick Murfin


                    Harry the Cricket entertained friends in the Families of Choice Caucus.