Monthly Archives: December 2016

Latest Plans for MLK Day 2017

Though we have yet to drop the crystal ball announcing the new year or to officially launch the new regime, this season more than most it seems wise to plan ahead for Martin Luther King Day, set for Monday, January 16, 2017. The message of hope that MLK shared with the world is needed at this hour.

One way to think ahead is to recall the contributions and leadership of MLK. And a way to do this is to immerse oneself in the era and to reflect on the issues is to listen to or read the words of MLK here: The I Have a Dream Speech (1963) http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm or to read the Letter from Birmingham Jail: https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf

The story of the long struggle to establish the MLK Holiday was is a saga in itself. Many articles have been written about that history – for a brief chronology look to the MLK Center’s website: http://www.thekingcenter.org/making-king-holiday

In weeks to come schools and libraries, nonprofits, the faith and academic communities and corporations will all be announcing plans for celebrating the life, work and words of Martin Luther King.  To learn about more about local MLK Day happenings follow the website and FaceBook sponsored by the Governor’s Council on the Martin Luther King Celebration: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=state%20of%20minnesota%20governor’s%20council%20on%20the%20mlk%20day%20celebration%20photos

Because plans are in-the-making keep on clicking during the next couple of weeks.

Some activities are already well set and posted. The day begins with a Youth Rally and March beginning at the State Capitol at 9:00 on Monday, January 16. The March will lead to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts for a program on civil rights, social justice and social consciousness.   Keynote speaker is Caroline Wanga, Chief Diversity Officer and VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Target Corporation.

Across the river hundreds of folks will gather for the annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast. Keynote speaker this year is Myrlie Evers-Williams, a journalist and civil rights activist. Evers-Williams, who was married to murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers, chaired the NAACP from 1995-1998. She also wrote of her experience during the struggle for civil rights in several books including For Us, The Living and, Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I was Meant to Be.

The MLK Day Breakfast has been sponsored for over a quarter century by The General Mills Foundation and The United Negro College Fund. The event is carried live on TPT/Channel 2 and replayed several times during MLK Day and again on following Sundays. Check TPT for specifics.

In recent times there has been a push to promote the idea of community service as an important aspect of MLK Day. To learn more about service opportunities, check with the Corporation for National Service.

And yet, all of these are examples of what others are doing, things people can attend. The reason to post this reminder at the start of the new year is to get readers thinking about taking the initiative locally. A challenge today is to generate ideas, to engage community not only in mega-events but also in local discussions of the message of Dr. King and the history of civil rights, voting rights, human rights. The challenge is to examine how we are doing in 2017.

A wise friend made me understand many years ago that MLK is one national holiday that is devoted not to family or parades or patriotism. It is instead a day for people to gather within their own circles, to get to know each other, to plan to work together to do what needs to be done in memory of Dr. King. To honor Dr. King we reach out within our local circle to understand, to collaborate, and to create a better community. In the spirit of MLK Day we are charged share ideas and energy with neighbors, co-workers, fellow-worshipers or learners, people we don’t even know yet – to work to create a common vision of a just society that recognizes and honors the rights of all.

 

NOTE – added event:  the East Side Freedom Library will sponsor a special screening on the evening of MLK Day — a screening of the recent documentary “Love and Solidarity.” (2014)  The film explores  nonviolence and organizing through the life and teachings of Reverend James Lawson.  Lawson provided strategic guidance during his work with MLK in southern struggles for civil rights, including the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968.  Lawson continued his  work in support of nonviolent protest  in Los Angeles where he organized community and and worker coalitions that played a role in the LA labor movement of that era.

NOTE – added event:  Love Hope Rise 2017 brings energy and ideas to this community’s Martin Luther King remembrance with a Solidarity March set for Saturday, January 14. In the spirit of the community celebration sponsors extend a special welcome to families with children and first-time demonstrators.

 

Theme of the Solidarity March is the basic principle of “treating others as you want to be treated.” There will be an indoor pre-march program, sign-making on the positive values of justice dignity, equality, freedom, stewardship and peace.

Check the Facebook event page to keep up with details and developments. https://www.facebook.com/Love-Hope-Rise-2017-Coalition-421588658172703/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

The East Side Freedom Library, co-sponsor of the March, will join the Love Hope Rise solidarity march as its regular Solidarity Saturday initiative.

 

 

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Reflections on Kwanzaa at Fifty – A timely message

Kujichagulia (self determination) is the principle honored today, the second day of Kwanzaa. Kuichagulia calls on us to define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for others. Today many Americans of every race celebrate the seven-day holiday, first celebrated by people of African descent around the globe. This year marks the “golden” (50th) anniversary of Kwanzaa.

Founded by Maulana Karenga, (http://www.maulanakarenga.org) then a graduate student, Kwanzaa encourages people to reflect and rejoice in their family, their community and their African culture. Each day focuses on one of seven principles (Nguzo Saba): On the first day, the focus is on Umoja (unity), today we reflect on self-determination. In the days that follow, the emphasis is on these principles, named in Swahili, the recognized language of Pan-Africanism:

  • Day 3 – Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
  • Day 4 – Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
  • Day 5 – Nia (purpose)
  • Day 6 – Kuumba (creativity) and
  • Day 7 – Imani (faith)

To be politically correct remember that the appropriate greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is unique, reflective of the principle of the day.

To learn more about Kwanzaa you might want to view the documentary that Maya Angelou narrated The Black Candle. Learn more here: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Dr-Maya-Angelou-on-Kwanzaa

This site features a bit from a Sesame Street Kwanzaa video.http://heavy.com/news/2016/12/kwanzaa-2016-meaning-candles-founder-days-history-maulana-karenga/

More Kwanzaa basics here: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/kwanzaa1.html Or here http://www.infoplease.com/spot/kwanzaa1.html#principles

Needless to say, there are countless books about Kwanzaa written for children – here is one list selected by librarians, not book sellers: http://www.libraryaware.com/697/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/95f60a68-8c5b-48c0-b019-ff903cb1ea2e?postId=e2bf81ea-bdfb-4158-bc2f-831542405b35

To learn more about African American history, culture and leaders on an ongoing basis, you might want to follow the Schomburg Library here: https://www.facebook.com/Schomburgcenter/

Note: In this Post Truth era know that there are unconfirmed rumors about Karenga that cast a shadow on what has come to be celebrated as a joyous week to reflect on the important things in life.

 

Wren Day (St. Stephen’s Day)-Before the age of gift-returns

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat

If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do

If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!

Though the nursery rhyme suggests that Christmas yet to with Wren Day – the ditty actually refers to the day after Christmas, aka St. Stephen’s Day. If you’ve spent the Christmas holidays on the Dingle Peninsula on the West Coast of Ireland, you may have joined in the Wren Day festivities. If not, here’s the short version of the custom.

Back in the day, long before the advent of ASPCA, the Celtic custom was to celebrate the day after Christmas with a sort of wren hunt….Though there are many versions of the roots of the tradition the Christian version was that God established a competition to identify the king of all birds, to be determined, logically enough, by the bird that flew he highest. One might expect that the eagle would have the edge, but according to legend the infallible eager got tired and lost altitude – to be saved by the competitive little wren that had been hiding under the eagle’s wing. With a little help from the wren, the eagle triumphed.

As usual there are countless versions of the origins of the custom. Some suggest that the Celtic tradition goes back to the Druids who celebrated midwinter (Samhain) with a sacrifice to mark the end of the past year; the wren became the symbol of the old year, possibly because the little bird was known to sing all winter. More than a few wrens may have perished in the traditional Wren Day festivities over the centuries. Young boys did indeed chase and capture the hapless wren that was captured, hoisted on a pitchfork, and paraded in triumph; mummers joined the parade, monetizing it with the passing of the hat memorialized in the nursery rhyme. Over time Wren Day was softened with a stuffed bird replacing the real thing and young girls and even adults joining the celebration.  Today Wren Day is celebrated in fact as well as memory – most notably in Dingle (https://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/home/culture-and-language/wren-s-day.html)

One wonders how the modern tradition of post-holiday gift-returning will be honored by future generations.

 

Relax, learn, then resolve to resist post-truth thinking

The goal of today’s post is simply to relieve the stress of the politically charged season by suggesting interesting and easy stuff that promises to divert the agitated mind or volatile conversation. Without leaving your cushy armchair you can liberate your mind to wander at its own speed. Let you thoughts free flow through the overwhelming digital world that overflows with ideas best communicated in more than 140 characters. Get comfortable, clutch your clicker, catch up on some truthful information and creative ideas that probably slipped through the media melee.

To set the mood, check out “Life Satisfaction in the Internet Age – Changes in the Past Decade.” Ask yourself, are you better off now? (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215300790)

Minnesotans deserve to read beyond the disgusting headlines and to take pride in the academic aspects of the institution. Some random bright spots of a digital sort:

Explore some of the ever-expanding digital treasures preserved by the Minnesota Historical Society

If you prefer to stress out by focusing on survival in the post-truth era you’ll find an engaging battle about scientific thinking in this ongoing exchange. Follow Intercept’s challenge to Sense about Science and Sense about Science USA. The discourse is understandable to the lay reader who gets to decide wherein lies the truth. https://theintercept.com/2016/11/15/how-self-appointed-guardians-of-sound-science-tip-the-scales-toward-industry/

Should you have the good sense and option to relax and enjoy the season, here are a couple of digital delights you really don’t want to miss:

Though New Year resolutions pre-date the Post-Truth era, the time is now to “go high” with a 2017 resolution to counter fake facts and false assumptions that  distract and distort.  Resolve instead to capitalize on the power of the web to seek and share the truth and to assure that every voter and potential voter possesses the digital age information assessment skills required to preserve this democracy.

Making Time for the Joy of Poetry

The crown of literature is poetry. Somerset Maugham

Writer’s Almanac, the perfect post to the start the day, reminded readers this morning that it was on this day in 1985 that President Ronald Reagan signed a bill establishing an official Poet Laureate for the United States – the story of which may have the longest e-address ever! The LC description is brief and well worth a read. (https://www.loc.gov/poetry/about_laureate.html?utm_campaign=TWA+Newsletter+for+December+20%2c+2016&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&utm_content=The+Writer%27s+Almanac+for+December+20%2c+2016&elqTrackId=7b2a150483574910ad46f5d560051013&elq=49e5474782b94259a19032223d173dd2&elqaid=25815&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=22661)

Thinking about Poets Laureate soon led me to dig a little deeper to learn just who those exalted men and women of words were.   In short order I discovered a great complementary website, again gathered and shared by the staff of the Library of Congress. Did you know that a few states have state poems? And several, including Minnesota, have Poets Laureate. https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/poethttp://www.loc.gov/rr/main/poets/minnesota.htmlslaureate/

Learn much more about the history of Minnesota’s Poets Laureate, past and present here: https://www.loc.gov/rr/main/poets/minnesota.html. The state’s    current Poet Laureate, is Joyce Sutphen, who has held the position since 2011. Learn more about Joyce Sutphen on her website: http://www.joycesutphen.com

On a cold winter day, when one hasn’t quite finished holiday cards or gifts, it’s just too enticing to keep on probing the literary treasures that capture the spirit of the day. So I was at the ready when the email from Poets.org popped up. As is their special way, the folks there have gathered a selection of winter poems – a sort of happy holiday literary escape to lift the spirits of weary readers. Their picks:

“To Winter” by William Blake
“Winter is good – his Hoar Delights (1316)” by Emily Dickinson
“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden
“Winter Field” by Joanna Klink
“The Feast of Lights” by Emma Lazarus
“Noel” by Anne Porter
“Recollections of My Christmas Tree” by Mary Ruefle
“Elegy in Joy [excerpt]” by Muriel Rukeyser
“Why Is the Color of Snow?” by Brenda Shaughnessy
“The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens
“The Coming of Light” by Mark Strand

As a special holiday gift the editors at Poets.org then dipped into their archives to share the charm of E.E. Cumming (yes, i was lower case back in the day)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.E.Cumming)  Take time to enjoy Cummings’ 1960 holiday greeting and some reminders of his delightful way with words and ideas!  https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/archive-e-e-cummingss-christmas-card?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Academy%20of%20American%20Poets%20Newsletter%20December%2020&utm_content=Academy%20of%20American%20Poets%20Newsletter%20December%2020+Version+A+CID_51548827ec6a7804f752ca6728e4f693&utm_source=Email%20from%20Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=read-more

Building a collection and a community: The John Glanton F Collection

I believe that any people’s story is every people’s story, and that from stories, we can all learn something to enrich our lives.

Harriette Gillem Robinet

Building the library from the outside in comes full circle as the Hennepin County Library Digital Collections staff reaches out to further develop the John F. Glanton Collection of photographs. The 800 photographs in the collection reflect, and capture for posterity, the lives of African Americans who lived in the Twin Cities during the post WWII years.

In brief, John F. Glanton (1923-2004), a civil engineer by profession, was also an accomplished photographer.   With the fervor, without the solipsism, of today’s selfie enthusiasts, he carried his Graflex black and white camera everywhere – to weddings, parties, sports events, musical performances, church functions and family gatherings – wherever members of African American community of St. Paul and Minneapolis gathered during the late 1940’s.

Though Glanton didn’t talk much about his photographic collection, when he died at age 80, his family discovered and recognized the value the permanent record he had created. Fortunately, they realized that the collection deserved to be shared with posterity. The family donated the entire collection of 800 photographic negatives to the Hennepin County Library Special Collections.

Recognizing the value of the visual record, librarians encountered just one challenge:   Glanton was more interested in capturing, than captioning…

The photographer who had recorded all those hundreds of images had not identified his subjects – no doubt because the viewers would easily recognize their friends and family!

The solution: To build the collection from the outside in by engaging the public in the process – and fun – of identifying the subjects of Glanton’s photos.

Thus, on a warm day last July, generous members of the public gathered at Hosmer Library to enhance the resources of the Hennepin County Library by supplying names – and stories — for the subjects that Glanton had photographed.   The story of that project was widely shared in the local press; check these links for an overview of what’s preserved in the Glanton collection:

Members of the public also participated in follow-up sessions again at Hosmer Library and at St Peter Claver Church in St Paul.

Today, the photographs, now digitized, captioned and partially searchable, are an important feature of the Library’s Digital Collections. (See earlier posts on this blog.) And yet, the Glanton Collection remains a work-in-progress. Because many of Glanton’s subjects are not yet identified librarians continue to turn to the public to lend their eyes and memories to the group effort.

One way to contribute is as easy as a click on the collection to view the photos; if you are able to identify an event or subject, simply make a note in the “comments” section at the bottom of the screen for each photo. http://digitalcollections.hclib.org/cdm/search/collection/p17208coll1 Another possibility is to contact the library directly (specialcoll@hclib.org or 612 543 8200) to share the information or to obtain further information.

Or make it a social event by taking part in a gathering similar to the Hosmer and St. Peter Claver events. Staff of Special Collections are now working with staff at Sumner Library to schedule a Glanton Collection event in North Minneapolis, tentatively set for sometime in March. Staff are also working with the family that donated the photographs to plan an event during Black History Month in February.

 

Fake news – The post-truth needle has moved – Now what?

Post-election public awareness of the depth and breadth of fake news is growing by the hour. The recent BuzzFeed blast (https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/the-strangest-fake-news-empire?utm_term=.gmdrXdGXg#.oc7BJQpJw) brings the pernicious practice into the daily lives of masses of the general public are just now feeling the pain.

If there is any hope it lies in the fact that the explosion sparks a flicker of hope that the current torrent of public awareness may lead to action – including a heightened level of “perceptive paranoia” among news consumers. For now, the communities bamboozled by the false claims of high profile neighbors-to-be are injured, insulted and enraged.

Meanwhile, in the journalistic background action steps are underway: For starts, there is increased respect — not to mention expanding career opportunities — for fact checkers such as the truth-seekers at Ballotpedia (http:ballotpedia.org), Annenberg’s (http://www.factcheck.org), Politifact (http://www.politifact.com), the Poynter Institute (http://www.poynter.org) to name just a few. Fact checkers can’t change the original but they can inform perceptive individuals to the incipient dangers of the misinformation and disinformation.

Understandably, serious journalists are seriously exorcised.   Members of the press, appropriately outraged, have spoken out in multiple ways. These are but a few of the published critiques based on the fake news story:

In the parlance of the media mavens, the “needle has moved” on fake news. We are well in the Post-Truth Era.   In our own good time the American public has heard the poet’s message – today, fake news IS the news.

We have a public disinformation epidemic that is spreading like a vicious virus through the communications channels – formal and informal – of this democracy.  The true fact is that we have a preliminary, if not universal, diagnosis.

With all due respect for The Bard: The fault, dear Readers, lies not in the stars but in ourselves.”

Another good read:  http://www.cjr.org/tow_center/mobile_notifications_changing_new_york_times.php?utm_source=Pew