Saturday, November 28, 2009

Claudette Colvin: The "Real" Rosa Parks 2


Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Author Phillip Hoose
On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders.
Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the bus segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South.
Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.

Claudette Colvin: The "Real" Rosa Parks

claudette-colvin
The images above feature Claudette Colvin. The images of her taken on a bus was part of a municipal bus decoration project done in her honor by school children of Portland, Maine.
an excerpt from the nytimes

From Footnote to Fame in Civil Rights History, By BROOKS BARNES
On that supercharged day in 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala., she rode her way into history books, credited with helping to ignite the civil rights movement.
But there was another woman, named Claudette Colvin, who refused to be treated like a substandard citizen on one of those Montgomery buses — and she did it nine months before Mrs. Parks. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his political debut fighting her arrest. Moreover, she was the star witness in the legal case that eventually forced bus desegregation.
Yet instead of being celebrated, Ms. Colvin has lived unheralded in the Bronx for decades, initially cast off by black leaders who feared she was not the right face for their battle, according to a new book that has plucked her from obscurity.
Last week Phillip Hoose won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The honor sent the little-selling title shooting up 500 spots on Amazon.com’s sales list and immediately thrust Ms. Colvin, 70, back into the cultural conversation.
“Young people think Rosa Parks just sat down on a bus and ended segregation, but that wasn’t the case at all,” Ms. Colvin said in an animated interview at a diner near her apartment in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. “Maybe by telling my story — something I was afraid to do for a long time — kids will have a better understanding about what the civil rights movement was about.”
Ms. Colvin made her stand on March 2, 1955, and Mrs. Parks made hers on Dec. 1 that same year. Somehow, as Mrs. Parks became one of Time Magazine’s 100 most important people of the 20th century, and streets and schools were named after her, Ms. Colvin managed to let go of any bitterness. After Ms. Colvin was arrested, Mrs. Parks, a seasoned N.A.A.C.P. official, sometimes let her spend the night at her apartment. Ms. Colvin remembers her as a reserved but kindly woman who fixed her snacks of peanut butter on Ritz crackers.
“My mother told me to be quiet about what I did,” Ms. Colvin recalled. “She told me: ‘Let Rosa be the one. White people aren’t going to bother Rosa — her skin is lighter than yours and they like her.’ ”
Ms. Colvin said she came to terms with her “raw feelings” a long time ago. “I know in my heart that she was the right person,” she said of Mrs. Parks.
Unlike Mrs. Parks, whose protest was carefully planned, Ms. Colvin was just a 15-year-old who couldn’t stomach the Jim Crow segregation laws one second longer.
Ms. Colvin was riding the bus home from school when the driver demanded that she give up her seat for a middle-age white woman, even though three other seats in the row were empty, one beside Ms. Colvin and two across the aisle.
“If she sat down in the same row as me, it meant I was as good as her,” Ms. Colvin said.
Two police officers, one of them kicking her, dragged her backward off the bus and handcuffed her, according to the book. On the way to the police station, they took turns trying to guess her bra size.
At the time, the arrest was big news. Black leaders, among them Dr. King, jumped at the opportunity to use her case to fight segregation laws in court. “Negro Girl Found Guilty of Segregation Violation” was the headline in The Alabama Journal. The article said that Ms. Colvin, “a bespectacled, studious looking high school student,” accepted the ruling “with the same cool aloofness she had maintained” during the hearing.
As chronicled by Mr. Hoose, more than 100 letters of support arrived for Ms. Colvin — sent in care of Mrs. Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery branch of the N.A.A.C.P.
But Ms. Colvin was ultimately passed over.
“They worried they couldn’t win with her,” Mr. Hoose said in an interview from his home in Portland, Me. “Words like ‘mouthy,’ ‘emotional’ and ‘feisty’ were used to describe her.”

Isn't it embarrassing the schoolchildren of Portland, Maine honor Bronx native Claudette and nothing has been done in Bloomberg and Klein's Broad Prize Award Winning public school system of New York. Social Studies and history is paid short shrift in the so-called greatest city. It is only done well by inspired and brave leaders and teachers in far few schools that risk side-stepping the all day, every day test prep mantra.
for more on Phil Hoose's award winning book

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Major Taylor May 21, 2008: Dedication Of The Monument In Worcester, Mass

from the Major Taylor Association press release

CHAMPIONS TO DEDICATE MAJOR TAYLOR STATUE
Greg LeMond, Edwin Moses will be featured speakers at May 21 unveiling
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and three-time Olympic medalist Edwin Moses will be featured speakers at the public unveiling of the Major Taylor memorial from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at the Worcester Public Library. LeMond, who won a world championship in cycling 90 years after Major Taylor did, and Moses, who dominated the 400-meter hurdles in track and field for a decade, were each named "Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year" at the height of their athletic careers in the 1980s. The statue of the "Worcester Whirlwind" created by sculptor Antonio Tobias Mendez is Worcester's first monument to an African-American. The dedication ceremony will be followed by a reception with refreshments in the library's Banx Room. Preceding the noontime ceremony, the Seven Hills Wheelmen and the Charles River Wheelmen's Wednesday Wheelers will lead a 30-mile bicycle ride starting and ending at the library. At 7 p.m. at the library, the Clark University History Department and Higgins School of Humanities will present a panel discussion on "Race, Sports, and Major Taylor's Legacy." Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson will be moderator for these scholars, historians and authors exploring diversity in sports and society, then and now: Andrew Ritchie, author of the biography "Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer" (1988), Janette T. Greenwood, associate professor of history at Clark University, author of a case study of Worcester County's black community in the late 1800s and of "Bittersweet Legacy," on the emergence and interaction of the black and white middle class, David V. Herlihy, author of "Bicycle: The History" (2004), with research on Major Taylor's popularity abroad, C. Keith Harrison, associate professor of sports business management at the University of Central Florida, and associate director of the Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport

Major Taylor 2

WNBC-TV (Channel 4) New York featured 1899 world cycling champion Major Taylor in a segment broadcast on Nov. 24, 2007. Very well done in my opinion.

Major Taylor


There's a Major Taylor Blvd in Worcester and I was curious as to why it was there. I had known about him from studying and teaching black history and had made part of the slide show five years ago. Yes, I know the background song is whacky. I stuck it in because it was a favorite of my mother. Excerpt from the Major Taylor Association

"Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor (26 November 187821 June 1932) was an American cyclist who won the world one-mile track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. Taylor was the second African-American athlete to achieve the level of world championship—after boxer George Dixon.
Taylor was the son of Gilbert Taylor and Saphronia Kelter, who had migrated from Louisville, Kentucky with their large family to a farm in rural Indiana. Taylor's father was employed in the household of a wealthy Indianapolis family as a coachman, where Taylor was also raised and educated. At an early age, Taylor received a bicycle the family and he began working as an entertainer at the age of 13. Taylor was hired to perform cycling stunts outside a bicycle shop while wearing a soldier's uniform, hence the nickname Major.
As an African-American, Taylor was banned from bicycle racing in Indiana once he started winning and made a reputation as "The Black Cyclone." In 1896, he moved from Indianapolis to Middletown, Connecticut, then a center of the United States bicycle industry with half a dozen factories and 30 bicycle shops, to work as a bicycle mechanic in the Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company factory, owned by Birdie Munger who was to become his lifelong friend and mentor, and racer for Munger's team. His first east coast race was in a League of American Wheelmen one mile race in New Haven, where he started in last place but won.
In late 1896, Taylor entered his first professional race in Madison Square Garden, where he lapped the entire field during the half-mile race. Although he is listed in the Middletown town directory in 1896, it is not known how long he still resided there after he became a professional racer. He eventually settled in Worcester, Massachusetts (where the newspapers called him "The Worcester Whirlwind"), marrying there and having a daughter, although his career required him to spend a large amount of time traveling, in America, Australia, and Europe."

It looks like his former home on Hobson Ave is right near Clark University
great kids' biography by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome

There's also another good bio by Todd Balf

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lower Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour 2009, Slide Show

video
Don't Lie and Don't Lie About History. I had some stills from the walking tour and I thought this song might fit. A main thread of the tour is that "It's time to tell the truth about slavery in New York."


Hey, baby my nose is getting big
I noticed it be growing when I been telling them fibs
Now you say your trust's getting weaker
Probably coz my lies just started getting deeper
And the reason for my confession is that I learn my lesson
And I really think you ought to know the truth
Because I lied and I cheated and I lied a little more
But after I did it I don't know what I did it for
I admit that I have been a little immature
F...... with your heart like I was the predator
In my book of lies I was the editor
And the author
I forged my signature
And now I apologize for what I did to you
Cos what you did to me I did to you
No,no, no, no baby, no, no, no, no don't lie
No, no, no, no, yeah, you know, know, know, know, you gotta try
What you gonna do when it all comes out
When I really see you & what you're all about
No, no, no baby, no, no, no, no don't lie
Yeah, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you gotta try
She said I'm leaving
Cos she can't take the pain
It's hard to continue this love it ain't the same
Can't forget the things that I've done inside her brain
Too many lies committed too many games
She feeling like a fool getting on the last train
Trying to maintain but the feeling won't change
I'm sorry for the things that I've done and what I became
Caught up in living my life in the fast lane
Blinded by lights, cameras, you know the fame
I don't know the reason why I did these things
And I lie and I lie and I lie and I lie
And now our emotions are drained
Cos I lie and I lie and a little lie lie
And now your emotions are drained
No, no, no, no baby, no, no, no, no don't lie (no, don't you lie)
No, no, no, no, yeah, you know, know, know, know, you gotta try (got to try, got to try)
What you gonna do when it all comes out (what you gonna do baby)

Lower Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour 2009, Part 3


from the event description: Lower Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour. At each site along the tour route, students from Law, Government, and Community Service High School will be performing and presenting historical information. Classes are encouraged to make posters and banners about slavery in New York to carry and display along the tour route.
• Distributed by African American History and United States History students from Law, Government and Community Service Magnet High School, Cambria Heights, Queens.
Based on the New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance curriculum guide
• Other than at the colonial era African American Burial Ground, which was uncovered during excavations for a federal office building in 1991, these sites, and slavery in New York in general, have been erased from historical memory. There is not even an historical marker at the South Street Seaport in the financial district of Manhattan where enslaved Africans were traded in the 17th century and were illegal slaving expeditions were planned and financed up until the time of the American Civil War.
• For more information, contact Dr. Alan Singer, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University, at
516-463-5853 or catajs@hofstra.edu or Michael Pezone at zenmap@aol.com.
full page google map at mapchannels

Lower Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour 2009, Part 2


from the event description: Lower Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour. At each site along the tour route, students from Law, Government, and Community Service High School will be performing and presenting historical information. Classes are encouraged to make posters and banners about slavery in New York to carry and display along the tour route.
• Distributed by African American History and United States History students from Law, Government and Community Service Magnet High School, Cambria Heights, Queens.
Based on the New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance curriculum guide
• Other than at the colonial era African American Burial Ground, which was uncovered during excavations for a federal office building in 1991, these sites, and slavery in New York in general, have been erased from historical memory. There is not even an historical marker at the South Street Seaport in the financial district of Manhattan where enslaved Africans were traded in the 17th century and were illegal slaving expeditions were planned and financed up until the time of the American Civil War.
• For more information, contact Dr. Alan Singer, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University, at
516-463-5853 or catajs@hofstra.edu or Michael Pezone at zenmap@aol.com.
full page google map at mapchannels

Lower Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour 2009, Part 1


from the event description: Lower Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour. At each site along the tour route, students from Law, Government, and Community Service High School will be performing and presenting historical information. Classes are encouraged to make posters and banners about slavery in New York to carry and display along the tour route.
• Distributed by African American History and United States History students from Law, Government and Community Service Magnet High School, Cambria Heights, Queens.
Based on the New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance curriculum guide
• Other than at the colonial era African American Burial Ground, which was uncovered during excavations for a federal office building in 1991, these sites, and slavery in New York in general, have been erased from historical memory. There is not even an historical marker at the South Street Seaport in the financial district of Manhattan where enslaved Africans were traded in the 17th century and were illegal slaving expeditions were planned and financed up until the time of the American Civil War.
• For more information, contact Dr. Alan Singer, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University, at
516-463-5853 or catajs@hofstra.edu or Michael Pezone at zenmap@aol.com.
full page google map at mapchannels

Monday, May 11, 2009

Manhattan Slavery in New York Walking Tour Map


View The Full Screen Map

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Gerra Gistand: Winner Of 13th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition

video
from youtube

Fourth grader Gerra Gistand, a student at MacGregor Elementary School in Houston ISD, presents the winning speech from the 13th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition held Jan. 16, 2009, at Ant...
Fourth grader Gerra Gistand, a student at MacGregor Elementary School in Houston ISD, presents the winning speech from the 13th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition held Jan. 16, 2009, at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Held days before the historic inauguration of President Obama, the competition challenged students to focus on the question If Dr. King were alive today, what do you think he would say about current events? Presented in Dallas and Houston by the Texas-based law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, the competition commemorates the life of Dr. King and is designed to highlight the cultural diversity of the community while recognizing and encouraging the writing and presentation skills of elementary school students.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Wangari Maathai And Black History Month


from Jess Washington at the Associated Press who did an article on
Time to end Black History Month?

Should Black History Month itself fade into history? No way. An excerpt from the story about a teacher that I'm proud to know:

At Daniel Warren Elementary in Mamaroneck, N.Y., kindergarten teacher Jane Schumer has dedicated many hours this year to the story of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for leading a movement that planted millions of trees in Africa.
Schumer connected Maathai's story to Obama, who planted a tree in her program and whose father was from Kenya. She connected Maathai to Martin Luther King Jr., who like Maathai was jailed for fighting injustice.
Schumer doesn't have any special black history plans for February.
"It can't be contrived," says Schumer. "It's a way of thinking, a way of life ... to me, the whole year has built up to this month ... the emphasis we have is what people would want to accomplish with Black History Month."
Steve O'Rourke, who has a kindergartner at Warren Elementary, says his son wants to ask Maathai, "You and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. both went to jail for doing the right thing. What did it feel like to be in jail?"
"Whenever we denote something as belonging in a certain month, it becomes tempting to say it belongs in that month alone ... ," says O'Rourke. "Ideally I would like us to have a common rather than compartmentalized history."

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