Monthly Archives: January 2018

Hazelton Day of Action: 30 years after Court decision re. student press rights

Back in the pre-digital day “the press” referred to ink on paper – and students cut their journalistic teeth by meeting strict deadlines imposed by the student newspaper.

Because I was one of those fledgling “journalists” I understand deadlines and eleventh hour news tips. As a result, when I learned a few minutes ago that tomorrow, January 31, is Hazelwood Day of Action I knew the drill!

According to the Student Press Law Center (, an Inside the Beltway youth group, January 2018 marks thirty years since the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier decision. This I just learned was a landmark Supreme Court decision that determined that “public school curricular student newspapers that have not been established as forums for student expression are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection than independent student expression or newspapers established (by policy or practice) as forums for student expression.” (Read all about it here

The Student Press Law Center plans to share information and ideas on Facebook Live all day.  At the top of every hour SPLC will broadcast ten minute discussions by people who were involved in the Hazelwood decision as well as other experts on the history and the Supreme Court case.  There will also be a 30-minute #CureHazelwood Twitter blast.  Details to be posted on the SPLC site.

The SPL site also lists a number of resources available from organizations concerned about students’ rights.  These include the following statements about free expression:

From the Journalism Education Association:

Statements about free expression:

From the National Council of Teachers of English:

Hazelwood and students’ right to write.

An earlier post on this blog also explores the issue of student journalists’ rights:

My freshman year at Harrison High School, I saw a journalism class where students were putting out a weekly newspaper. It touched a responsive chord in me.  Irv Kupcinet, American journalist






TESTIFY: Americana From Slavery to Today

The SuperBowl is in the air – and in the streets, the press, the lifeblood of the community.  Wisely, Minneapolis Central Library has seized the opportunity – fortunately for locals and visitors alike the Library is taking the high road by opening the archives and inviting the public to face facts.

American football legend and former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and Diane Sims Page are currently sharing their collection of “Americana from Slavery to Today.”

TESTIFY is a wide-ranging exhibit that features art and artifacts from pivotal eras in American history.  The exhibit also provides a platform for visitors to share their thoughts, feelings and personal experiences.

Learn more about the intent and content of the exhibit here:

Alan Page will also offer a public program entitled “TESTIFY: It’s Not About the Flag or the Anthem: It’s About Justice. The intent, according to Page, is to respond to the ongoing NFL controversy re. players’ protests; focus will shift from whether player protests are appropriate  to a discussion of the underlying issue of racial justice.

Wednesday, January 31, 2:00-4:00 PM

Minneapolis Central Library



We the People face the challenge to aim high

Tolerance is another word for indifference. W. Somerset Maugham

The spirit of tolerance, though true and essential, is a vague concept. I have always grumbled – sometimes raged – at the word and concept of “tolerance.”  In most situations and on most issues I care too much to passively tolerate.

The challenge we face today demands more energy, more passion.  Today’s challenge is to embrace, to work shoulder to shoulder, to share the values, the burden and the benefits of the society and the culture envisioned by our founders.  It’s the principle we as Americans have always celebrated with pride.  We honor the fact that no individual, even the president, is the center of the universe.  The core value of the democracy we share rests on the stated principle that it’s not “me” but “us”.

The Constitution goes so far as to spell out just how we go about achieving the goal of creating and living in a democracy.  As a matter of fact, the Constitution is fairly explicit about the presumption –- and commitment — that We the People are responsible for making the democratic system function.

The good news buried in today’s political debacle is that the challenge to the democracy evokes the best from the nation’s residents and, in many cases, from the institutions that We the People have created over time.  As we practice the fine art of crafting an enduring democracy we are increasingly aware of the means at hand – the law, the press, open elections, a just judicial system, free speech, history, education, technology (managed with care.)

At the same time, we have come to understand the sophisticated and systemic ways in which any of these can be “weaponized.”  Experience is teaching us the subtle in which malevolent manipulation of the tools can undermine democracy processes and principles.   Over time we have grown to realize the extent to which accepted democratic institutions and structures can be shaped to create a society and a culture that we cannot and will not tolerate.  We know in our souls and feel in our hearts that we must join forces to resist with the fierce persistence and unflinching integrity democracy demands.

Once we get outside of our own shadow we begin to comprehend, if dimly, that the whole of our democratic society really is greater than the sum of the parts.  We can no longer be indifferent….

Our Founders always wondered about how long it would last. The price of liberty is everlasting vigilance. You’ve got to be on your guard every minute or you will lose it.  Michael Novak



Announcement: Minnesota Book Awards finalists

The Friends of St Paul Public Library has just published this list of finalists for this year’s Minnesota Book Awards


Sponsored by Books for Africa

A Different Pond by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui
(Capstone Young Readers/Capstone*)

Mighty Moby by Ed Young, text by Barbara DaCosta
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Hachette Book Group)

Round by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright
by K. L. Going, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
(Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster)




Sponsored by College of Saint Benedict/
Saint John’s University

Alice in France:The World War I Letters of Alice M. O’Brien
by Nancy O’Brien Wagner
(Minnesota Historical Society Press*)

The First and Only Book of Sack: 36 Years of Cartoons for the Star Tribune by Steve Sack
(Star Tribune Media Co.*)

Fortress America: How We Embraced Fear and Abandoned Democracy by Elaine Tyler May
(Basic Books/Hachette Book Group)

Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser
(University of Texas Press)




Sponsored by Macalester College

The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb
(Lake Union Publishing)

Nothing Stays Buried by P. J. Tracy
(G. P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House)

Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger
(Atria Books/Simon & Schuster)




Sponsored by Faegre Baker Daniels

Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen
(Clarkson Potter/Crown Publishing)

It Won’t Be Easy: An Exceedingly Honest (and Slightly Unprofessional) Love Letter to Teaching by Tom Rademacher
(University of Minnesota Press*)   

Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate 
by Carolyn Porter
(Skyhorse Publishing)

Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year by Linda LeGarde Grover
(University of Minnesota Press*)




Sponsored by Education Minnesota

A Crack in the Sea by H. M. Bouwman
(G. P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House)

The End of the Wild by Nicole Helget
(Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group)

Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d
by Mary Losure
(Candlewick Press)

Rooting for Rafael Rosales by Kurtis Scaletta
(Albert Whitman & Company)




Sponsored by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

A Bag Worth a Pony: The Art of the Ojibwe Bandolier Bag

by Marcia G. Anderson
(Minnesota Historical Society Press*)

Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound
by Andrea Swensson
(University of Minnesota Press*)

Miles Lord: The Maverick Judge Who Brought Corporate America to Justice by Roberta Walburn
(University of Minnesota Press*)

Sights, Sounds, Soul: The Twin Cities Through the Lens of Charles Chamblis by Davu Seru, photography by Charles Chamblis
(Minnesota Historical Society Press*)




Sponsored by Fitzgerald in Saint Paul

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
(HarperCollins Publishers)

Stories for a Lost Child by Carter Meland
(Michigan State University Press)

The Through by A. Rafael Johnson
(Jaded Ibis Press)

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
by Lesley Nneka Arimah
(Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House)




Sponsored by Wellington Management, Inc.

by Donte Collins (Button Poetry*)

Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum
for Archaic Media
by Heid E. Erdrich
(Michigan State University Press)

Solve for Desire by Caitlin Bailey
(Milkweed Editions*)

Thousand Star Hotel by Bao Phi
(Coffee House Press*)




Sponsored by Brainfuse

The Exo Project by Andrew DeYoung
(Boyds Mills Press/Highlights)

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
(Amulet Books/Abrams)

Thief’s Cunning by Sarah Ahiers
(HarperTeen/HarperCollins Publishers)

Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni

(Dial Books/Penguin Random House)



Holocaust art speaks truth when words are not enough

The need for reflection and restraint of power is what led Louis Freeh to order that all new agent classes visit the Holocaust Museum here in Washington so they could see and feel and hear in a palpable way the consequences of abuse of power on a massive, almost unimaginable scale. ~ James Comey

In the flurry or a warmish winter weekend – not to mention the frantic anticipation of the Super Bowl – it’s easy to overlook the fact that today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  As James Comey knows only too well, we fail to learn from our history at our peril.  We need to “see and feel and hear in a palpable way the consequences of abuse of power….”

This nation’s Holocaust Museum offers a readily accessible refresher on the essential story of the Holocaust – a reminder for many, a framework for focusing our 21st Century minds on a time that can slip into the history when our leaders forget or never knew our history.

At times, when the truth overwhelms and words fail, art can communicate ideas, true facts.  These and several other sites share artists’ reflections, interpretations and unique perspectives on horrors too diabolical for mere words.

If time permits, you might want to delve into this excellent lecture that explores the art of the Holocaust in greater depth:

In these troubled times, we must not lose sight of the truth that it is on our shoulders at this time to learn, remember, reflect on our history and open our minds to the responsibility that rests with each of us and with our nation to shape a world that is sufficiently wise and caring to learn from the past.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today ~ Abraham Lincoln





History matters: Lessons from the Woman Suffrage Movement


On this day, in the midst of World War I, the House passed a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote by a count of 274 to 136. Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana who, a year earlier, had become the first woman to serve in Congress, implored her colleagues to support the legislation: “How shall we answer their challenge, gentlemen: how shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted for war to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?” The Senate, however, failed to pass the amendment in the 65th Congress (1917–1919), so the measure was once again reintroduced in the House in the 66th Congress (1919–1921), passing on May 21, 1919, by a vote of 304 to 90. The Senate concurred shortly afterward. The 19th Amendment then went to the states, where it was finally ratified in August 1920.

As today’s press reminds us, women are in the political and societal spotlight at this juncture – the Women’s March and Me Too are indicators of a shift in public attention to the majority population.  What interests me more is the vastly increased number of women who have thrown their bonnets in the ring to run for public office.

And yet, what surprises, even disappoints me, is the fact that there is so little mention of the fact that this political engagement is the logical, inevitable – if delayed – response to a movement that shaped our politics a century ago.  2018 marks one hundred years since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the monumental achievement of the Woman Suffrage Movement – a time to learn and celebrate the accomplishment and to reflect on the profound impact of that bold struggle.

Volumes have been written about the history, the women, the organizations, the protests.  Needless to say, Wikipedia offers a starting point with tips on related resources. The MNopedia article about the Woman Suffrage Movement in Minnesota by Eric W. Weber, shared on MinnPost, offers an excellent introduction to what was happening on the ground in Minnesota a century ago –  Earlier posts on this blog offered a Minnesota slant on the movement.

Learning and thinking about the Suffragettes – their long struggle, their vision, and their ultimate success – offers a necessary source of creative energy and vision.  This democracy depends on a vision realized and reinforced by a history of individual initiative, freedom of speech, collaboration and truth — character epitomized by the Woman Suffrage Movement.  We ignore the history of the women’s right to vote at our peril.

You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own. Michelle Obama

P.S.  If you happen to be traveling to Our Nation’s Capitol you may be interested in know:

Places to go, things to do in the new year!

I find television very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.  Groucho Marx

The Water Bar & Public Studio celebrates the reopening of their great gathering place Friday, January 26, with a Winter Social and Exhibition Party.  Theme of the evening, marking the Water Bar’s first exhibition, is River Relationships: Portraits of a River and Its People.   It’s 6:00-9:00 PM at the Water Bar, 2518 Central Avenue NE.  Details here:

The Super Bowl inspires different strokes for different folks.  Take a Knee Nation tackles themes of “sports, social justice, labor and race” at the Take a Knee Nation conference set for February 3-4.  Learn more about the origins of the event here:  The East Side Freedom Library offers a preliminary kickoff to the conference with a free and open discussion on Wednesday, January 24 – details here:

Also opening this weekend at the ESFL is Nidoto Nai Yoni, John Matsunaga’s exhibit of photographs from the remains of WWII: Forgetting and Remembering the Wartime Incarceration of Japanese Americans.  The project, supported by the Minnesota Japanese American Citizens League and the Council on American Islamic Relations-Minnesota, portrays the experiences of immigrants confined in camps in Thailand, Kenya, Laos and other sites.  The exhibit opens Friday, January 26, 6:30 PM.  On Saturday, February 17, 1:00 PM there will be a discussion of the roles of artists as observers and resisters.

MN Writes MN Reads is a digital age program offered by Minnesota libraries.  It’s for writers interested in easy-to-use, free resources for publishing and sharing e-books, and for readers interested in reading e-books by local writers.  Learn more at or at your local public library.

Mizna is meeting the challenge of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-immigrant sentiments by taking the renowned Arab Film Festival on tour.  Mizna will tour independent Arab cinema to six Minnesota college campuses and their neighbors.  Campuses include Macalester, Hamline, St. Catherine’s, Concordia (TC’s), Metro State and St Benedict’/St. John’s.   The tour begins this week and continue through April.  Details here:

You might also want to check out yet another timely event at the ESFL here:

Poken Sword offers a unique and “luminous evening dedicated to the love of language” on the regular fourth Friday evening of the month, i.e.7:00 PM on January 26 at 2001: A Space, 2001 5th Street NE in Minneapolis.   Local emerging and established writers will read on works related to this month’s theme, “torment.”  The evening will begin with bluegrass ensemble Pants on a Chair and their songs of heartache and murder:

The Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum takes a look at an earlier time when the press was cast as the “enemy of the people.”  Independent scholar Beth Johanneck will speak about a time in the 1930’s when the Minneapolis underworld was ruled by not-so-Minnesota-Nice gangs that failed to appreciate journalists’ efforts to clean up the city.  The MISF meeting, open to all, is at 9:30, speaker at 10:00, at the Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis.

 The Minnesota Genealogical Society, and several of its affiliates, have moved from their South St. Paul site to Mendota Heights.  New address: 1385 Mendota Heights Road, Mendota Heights, MN.  As more MGS library and other resources come online MGS can offer ready access to the unique resources of a host of organizations — here’s a good starting point:

In case you missed the headlines, be sure to check out the new documentary, premiered at Sundance, celebrating the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “RBG” will restore your faith in the rule of law and the wisdom of this stellar jurist.  Check it out here:  More about the filmmakers here: and a fun SNL spoof on RBG’s not retiring here:

 Whistling Shade, the literary journal and small press, has issued a fun call for submissions for their Spring/Summer issue.  They’re looking for poetry, stories, essays, whatever the format on the topic “Food and Drink”.  Sounds like a creative way to spend a few snowbound evenings – and to justify some good eats.

Fun read for a winter’s eve:  Unique libraries share information about their “oldest holdings.

Should you prefer maps you might want to explore the Civil War Maps series recently digitized and available online from the National Archives.

Winter in Minneapolis brings out the best in Northeasters – The next Winter Market at the NE Farmers Market is Sunday, February 18, 10 AM-2 PM. Chowgirls Killer Catering will be there with tacos: scrambled eggs, carnitas or mole seitan, white rice and black beans with cilantro and lime spices. DJ theme of the February Market is funk/soul/disco/blues!

Does The Post (the movie) leave you craving more movies about journalism?  Ever aware of readers’ needs the (real) Washington Post has published a list of the ten best movies about journalism – complete with reviews by noted journalists. Seems like another winter project for an enterprising library or other seeker of truth organization.

The Blue Ox Review (I love the name!) is a new blog, curated by Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota – who explains the title of her blog as “a nod to independence.”  Lisa, a veteran reviewer, is somehow  finding time – and “itch – to share her reviewing skills on her own blog:

The University of Minnesota-Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library and Friends of the Duluth Public Library are now accepting nominations for the Thirtieth Annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards.  The awards ceremony is set for May 24 –Deadline for entries is soon – February 1!  Find all of the details about NEMBA here:  https://lib.d.umn.du/about/nemba.

Conversation with Books is a tradition at St. Catherine University.  Professors and avid reader graduates will discuss the selected books on Saturday, February 2, 1:00 pm at Coeur de Catherine center on campus.  Details, including the list of books to be discussed, are online at

First Fridays sponsored by the U of M Archives and Special Collections continues in the new year.  First Fridays are free and open to the public; light refreshments served at 11 with presentations beginning at Noon.  All are in the Elmer L. Andersen Library. For a full schedule of winter/spring 2018 offerings click here:

CraftBOWL is another timely winter event sponsored by the American Swedish Institute.  Focus of CraftBOWL is “The Handmade” – a broad look at what “handmade” means in traditional and contemporary, local and global terms.  It features the work by three internationally acclaimed craft artists from Sweden: Jogge Sundqvist (wood), Ingegard Raman (ceramics) and Bertil Vallien (glass).

Club Book announces the line-up for the Winter/Spring 2018 season. Writers on this winter/spring roster include Omar El Akkad, Peter Geye, William Kent Krueger, Laura Lippman, Ariel Lawhon, Anita Shreve, Patricia Hampl, Emily Fridlund, and Samantha Irby.  Fortunately for the homebound and many others Club Book extends the reach of the writers by podcasting the discussions soon after the presentations.  The series is funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  Events are free and open to the public.  Details about writers and their books, dates, locations and more about Club Book here:

The Friends of the St Paul Public Library is the monthly sponsor of Books & Bars, a long-running series of book discussions moderated by Jeff Kamin every Tuesday of the month.  The February 6 book discussion is on Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homecoming.  It’s at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 5:00 for happy hour social, discussion at 6:15.  No registration required.  Enjoy Jeff Kamin’s description of the Why of Books & Bars here:

So much to do, so little time.



Truth ain’t goin’ away – So what do we do now?

A year ago this weekend we were inaugurating the 45th President of the US.  We were marching with pride in the Women’s March and girding our loins for what was to come.  A year ago I posted these comparatively hopeful comments.  Somehow I thought we would recognize and eschew the attack on truth and facts and informed citizenship that was to follow.

As the weeks and months passed, reality happened and hope faded with each proclamation, every disruption of information integrity, every political appointment, every charge that the press is the “enemy of the people,” every assault to truth that emanated from the Oval Office and environs.  The more I observed the more I admitted what a well-oiled army of deconstructionists had invaded the nation.  They came with a diabolical action plan brilliantly designed to attack the very essence of an informed democracy.  As a lifetime protagonist for a free press, an informed public and the fundamental principle of truth, I was and am cut to the proverbial quick.

In truth, hope faltered.  Though I kept writing blog posts, they were sappy – most never posted. Posted blogs were generally limited to calendars of events, posts that passed on information produced by organizations and individuals whose words and acts were braver and more articulate than my own.  Mine was silent resistance here to the insidious and methodical attack on truth.   I started to characterize this blog as Moping Around with Mary……

The anniversary of the inauguration prodded me back to Poking.  It’s clear that industry is not going to honestly address, much less solve, the onslaught of alternative facts, propaganda, foreign interference or any other strategy that cuts into corporate profits.  Consider the latest brain burst from Mark Zuckerberg:

Clearly, it cannot remain to the gurus of corporate America to lead the crusade for truth.

And so I’m back to thinking and writing,  sharing on this blog, more about how it remains to us as thoughtful individuals, as institutions and as a society to “speak truth to power.”  It takes work and guts.  And yet, as the great philosopher Elvis Presley who advised us that “truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”  Though I’ll continue calendar highlights that might fall through the cracks, I’ll go back to more thought posts about basic principles of truth, the right and responsibility to know, freedom of the press and the insidious peril to this democracy.

Words matter.  Truth matters.  Ideas and opinions matter.  Inspired by the weekend Women’s March I’m determined to stop moping and return to poking around and speaking out.  My hope is to “go high” with renewed energy and commitment to truth and to the ways in which the press, education, libraries, civic discourse and individual engagement and action can keep hope alive.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. ~~Desmond Tutu