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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King Day’

The South doesn’t do snow.

Bob and I were supposed to be Grandparenting this morning, but the temperature plummeted and ice is supposed to turn into snow, so the Grands are home from school with the Groom. He is a great Dad and told us he can work from home; also pancakes are his specialty!

And in light of the racist slurs that came from Mr T yesterday, I made Bob sit down on the couch this morning and put Netflix on his iPad. I heard that President Obama was going to be David Letterman’s first guest on his new gig, “My Next Guest” https://www.netflix.com/title/80209096

Cue the bluebirds. We laughed, we even teared up a little, as we listened to Obama talk about bringing his oldest to college. They were having fun with each other and when Letterman told him he really respected Obama – as a man – and embraced him, I felt so much longing for those days. For a President that could make me dream again.

So it was a bittersweet interview, because I miss that man, and nobody mentioned Mr T at ALL. Which was refreshing, but in his absence, in his void, lies uncertainty. Like children of alcoholic parents, we the American people never know what to expect from his mouth or his Twitter fingers. We were getting so close to a deal on DACA yesterday, that I have to think Mr T’s racist remarks were calculated for his base. Just another bright shiny object to deflect the press. We already knew he was a bigoted nationalist, now I wonder if this president is either terribly sinister, stupid, or suffering from Alzheimer’s. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/12/trump-denies-he-called-countries-s–holes-rejects-senators-daca-deal.html

I did not, will not and could not watch Mr T sign a proclamation for Martin Luther King Day earlier. Instead, to commemorate Dr King’s life, I hauled myself out to the outskirts of  Davidson County and registered myself to vote in TN. And I have an idea about what to do on Monday. I will print off voter registration forms and leave them at our local coffee shop.

I recently left a book there with a post-it that said, “Free book from your local Book Fairy.” In Ireland they have a Book Fairy group that does this all the time, and you’re supposed to try and do it without being caught. Yesterday I noticed someone had left another free book in their window. It felt so good to know a mitzvah was being paid forward.

It should not be so hard to vote in this democracy. That bears repeating, “IT SHOULD NOT BE SO HARD TO VOTE IN THE USA!!” President Obama talked about strengthening the habits of the heart; the more we help others, extend our hands and really connect with others, the more we advance our democracy and our own humanity.

My Nana had a saying, “When you throw your toast out on the water, it comes back with jelly on it.”

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Happy Martin Luther King Day everyone. I know, the official holiday is tomorrow, but today is the actual day. And every so often, MLK Sunday is aligned with January 20th, the Presidential Inauguration Day, which is why President Obama will be the only Prez to take the oath of office 4 times!

Last time he said the words “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” twice because a fledgling Justice named Roberts mixed up the “faithfully execute” part. There should be no tripping over the words this time, since the charming pair of oaths will be executed today in a private ceremony and then again tomorrow for public consumption.

But this is only the 7th time in history a President has been sworn in on a Sunday, making the alignment of this particular President with MLK Day  historical in another way. When President Obama said that a mere sixty years ago his father “…might not have been served” at a restaurant a block from where he was standing, I had one of those Aha moments.

My nephew grew up in Memphis. One of his first writing assignments was about asking his mother what a certain sign meant over a water fountain, the sign said “Whites Only.” The Flapper was visiting at the time and copied that paper and sent it to me. I was in college, in Boston in 1968, when Dr King was shot. I marched on the state capital for the first time with a black armband, but I had never personally witnessed the kind of apartheid our country was carrying out on so many different levels.

I lived most of my young life in New Jersey, I still had not experienced teaching at a Head Start Preschool in the projects of Jersey City (now colloquially called ‘public housing’).  I, like most of us back then, didn’t even know any African Americans precisely because we were separated in a not-so-subtle way, by schools and geography. There were no blatant signs of racism in the north, like the water fountain sign in Memphis, but ignorance could only take us so far after seeing women and children being attacked by dogs, bombs exploding in churches, and the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.

You were wrong Mr President, it wouldn’t have been sixty years ago that your Kenyan father may not have been able to sit down in a certain restaurant in DC. King was gunned down less than fifty years ago in April. He was still tirelessly working for social justice even though the Civil Rights Act had been passed 4 years before his death, and wasn’t fully enacted by the states until the late 1970s.

This weekend makes it personal for me. For the first time in my sixty plus years I came face to face with a sign in an antique shop. It was a Pennsylvania Railroad sign welcoming passengers to VA. I felt sick, wondering who would buy such a thing. Bob said we should never forget, and I know that he’s right. Living in the south now makes it all the more personal. Congratulations Mr President, know that we all admire and respect you…and that Martin would be so very proud

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“No Blacks in the Front 4 Cars”

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