The Warmth of Other Suns

Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration is a compelling work. It won the national book critics circle award for nonfiction. In its acknowledgement she expressed the greatest measure of gratitude for Ida Mae Gladney, George Swanson Startling, and Robert Pershing Foster, the people who gave so much of themselves to a book they did not see.

Wilkerson captured what it was like for Blacks to live in America. She focused mainly on the living conditions in the Jim Crow South and their experiences in the North and West. Her antagonists had previously lived in Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Florida. With the great migration they moved to New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Wisconsin, and California among other places.

Many of these migrants worked in the cotton belt and or picked fruits in Florida. They were abused, worked extremely long hours, feared for their lives, and witnessed lynching. They escaped such brutality of extreme pressure as trains brought them to their destination in northern cities. Robert Foster was somewhat different because he had a medical education, and decided to drive to California to establish himself. His trials were just as bad as the laboring class because it was difficult for him to find lodging at hotels, set up a practice, and to have getaways to Las Vegas.

Although many Blacks who migrated from the South were better off from those that were left behind, still they were faced with opposition from whites where they settled. This was because of the color of their skin. The jobs they were able to get was the lowest on the totem pole. This was particularly hard for Black women. Often, white workers at factories refused to work with Blacks. Housing was also a problem, so Blacks were mostly crowded in the less desirous districts of northern cities.

These conditions led to riots in the North. Undoubtedly, there was a caste system that favored whites whether they were Western or Eastern European immigrants. It was NAACP that took up the cause of Blacks and were fighting for their rights. Gradually, Civil rights leaders emerged like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., the Kerner Commission was a landmark decision, [ET1] and President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964 that paved the way for social change.

It was estimated that over six million African Americans migrated North and West. They accounted for America’s diversity of mayors, politicians, actors, singers, teachers, business men and women, musicians, sportsmen and women, government and non-governmental professionals, and workers of all sorts.   


 [ET1]

Move Slowly

As we grow older

It’s wise to learn to move slowly

That’s because people age,

And they have to watch their steps.

People should do so for their own safety.

As young adults we’re on the move.

We walk quickly to do our chores.

It’s as though we’re always in a race.

But, later in life our pace diminishes.

This is because people tend to slow down.

So, when you’re taking a trip

Be sure to do so sensibly.

Take your time climbing stairs.

Watch where you’re walking.

For, the ground may be uneven.

At night make sure that paths are lit.

If they are dark use a light.

It’s a good idea to have a companion.

A friend can be a good guide.

So, make the most of your adventures.

These simple joys depend on

How you care for yourself,

And by the precautions you take.   

Community Service

It’s a delight to be

Of service to your community.

Many people depend

On your help

To make their lives better.

So, why don’t you do your part?

Give a helping hand to others.

And in your own way

Do what you can.

Anyone can help

At a soup kitchen in town

Where you’ll be able

To serve the poor and homeless.

There are some churches,

And community centers

That have these facilities available.

They cater for people in need.

Others may volunteer

In their city

Especially by working

At a hospital, school, or library.

These institutions have opportunities

For you to help in various jobs

That will benefit the community.

Monetary gifts are always welcome.

“God, help those that volunteer in their communities.  Let them see that the people who they serve are their brothers and sisters.  Bless their efforts.”

Amen

The Soul of America

Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels analyzed the sweep of American political history. It showed how power, and social movements intersect to produce rather hopeful, and sometimes disturbing results. Meacham stated that America has had some good and bad presidents. But they inevitably made political decisions to further their chances of being elected or re-elected to this office.

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862 that freed the slaves later led to much Southern resistance. Edward Pollard’s Lost Cause became the rallying cry for many Southerners. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan to epic proportions served as a reminder that their struggle continued. Huey Long and Father Coughlin were demagogues that further fanned fears during turbulent times. Senator Joseph McCarthy stirred up Americans about communism before he was brought down. These were moments that led to terrorism, injury, death, wrongful dismissal of workers, and citizens being ostracized.

Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson had to lead during such dysfunction. FDR had the Great Depression and a world war on his hands. Yet, he successfully put in place economic growth and social programs for Americans. A Southerner, Lyndon Johnson became president after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Johnson was the architect of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legislation providing for gender protections, and outlawing segregation in public accommodations. Nor must we forget the work done by the civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and John Lewis.  

The Wright Brothers

David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers is a fascinating biography. It tells the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio and how they were able to fly. They were the owners of Wright Bicycle Company that were used to finance their endeavors. Their initial attempts with gliders led them to Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina where they were first successful. Their first flight was on December 17, 1903 when the Wright Flyer took off with Orville at the controls.

After a number of experiments the Wrights returned to Ohio to work on developing a practical airplane. They continued tests at Huffman Prairie where on September 29, 1905 Orville flew 12 miles in 20 minutes. Wilbur flew 24 miles in 39 minutes. During these rather demanding times Wilbur and Orville were eagerly supported by their father, Bishop Milton Wright, and their sister Katharine.

Initially, they made attempts to interest the war department in their experiments but to no avail. But foreign nations notably France and Germany were eager to have them demonstrate their invention. This led Wilbur to visit France where he flew their plane at Le Mans on August 8, 1908. Flights were later made at Pau, in Germany, and Rome before thousands of adoring spectators.

While in Europe, the war department began to show an interest in the Wright’s plane with all the positive news in the national and international press. Orrville therefore was able to do successful demonstrations at Fort Myer, Virginia on September 17, 1908. In one of these demonstrations Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge, who was a passenger with Orville was killed in the plane crash. Orville was badly injured, and took several months to recover.

Flights resumed on Governors Island in New York. Wilbur flew up the Hudson River, and caused a sensation by circling the Statute of Liberty, symbol of the friendship of France and of welcome to America. The Wrights later years were taken up with lawsuits over patent rights that worn out Wilbur, who died of typhoid fever on May 30, 1912. Orville carried on the Wright business ventures with further research. He died of a heart attack on January 30, 1948,

Numerous Wright monuments were erected, one dedicated to Wilbur at Le Mans. The largest Wright memorial is at Kitty Hawk at Kill Devil Hills. There is also a memorial on Wright Brothers Hill overlooking Huffman Prairie, and an aircraft carrier, USS Wright bears their name.         

Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference was filled with essential bits of information. How did Hush Puppies become popular? Why did Paul Revere’s ride become of historical importance in the American colonies? How did crime decrease in New York City in the 1990s? Why was there a problem with the suicide epidemic in Micronesia? What accounted for the success of Sesame Street? And why was it that smoking was such a problem among American youths?

Gladwell showed how connectors, mavens, and salesmen were able to play a major role in these developments. But before that could happen, he felt that word-of-mouth had to play an important part. This was when information passed from one individual to others had to reach a critical mass. This phenomenon the author likened to an epidemic that people usually think about when talking about diseases. However, he saw literal analogies when referring to how social causes, advertisements, and movements would begin to catch afire.

Gladwell argued that it only would take a well-positioned connector like Paul Revere to spread the news about the British invasion. A maven was knowledgeable and keen on providing advice to consumers who knew him. Many of these notable individuals were specialists of many sorts. Then, it would take a salesman who was usually an opinion leader to influence customers to buy a product, or to follow his recommendations. The author also discussed what was the optimum size of a company for it to work efficiently. Its workforce had to be no more than 150 strong. If it became larger than this number it would be time to start a new branch.     

Independence Day

July 4th is an auspicious federal holiday.

It’s unlike other holidays.

For the American Colonies were no longer subject to British rule.

This national day is a time for celebration.

Independence Day ushered in America’s freedoms.

So, let’s commemorate this day of deliverance.

Let’s fall on our knees in devotion to Almighty God.

And mark our nation’s birth with pomp and parades.

Let fireworks explode and decorate the evening sky.

Americans celebrate with carnivals, fairs, and games.

It’s time for reunions, ceremonies, and public events.

Independence Day began when the Second Continental Congress

Voted to approve the resolution for Independence proposed

By Richard Henry Lee of Virginia

Declaring the United States independent from Great Britain

From that time on its celebration

Was marked by gun-salutes, speeches, music, and prayers

“God has continued to guide our nation.  Let’s glorify this achievement.  And let America’s universal goal perpetuate freedom for all – young, old, male, female, religious, and non-religious with equanimity for all peoples including LGBTQ+.  Regardless of their creed, color, national origin and beliefs, let America be a beacon of hope to the world.”

Amen

Recycling

Recycling creates jobs.

Its economic returns are well documented.

About 24,000 people work in recycling

That generates some 13-billion dollars annually.

There are many benefits in processing these materials –

Including alumina, plastic, and soft drink containers,

Steel cans, detergent bottles, newspapers, and trash bags,

So, consumers help when they purchase such items.

These materials could be collected, processed

And manufactured into a variety of new products.

But consumers should buy the right kind recyclables,

And they could have these materials collected

At curbsides, drop-off centers, or refund centers.

Remember recycling reduces the amount of waste to landfills.

It helps conserve natural, and valuable resources, and saves energy.

Above all, it creates jobs from which many workers benefit.

Recyclables cost go up, and come down depending on supply,

And recovery facilities sort these products for manufacturing.

“God, help us recycle our products.  Guide consumers to care for the environment, and in providing jobs for people.”

Amen

Juneteenth Freedom Day

Activists have succeeded in pushing Congress

To recognize June 19th as a national holiday

On June 19th, 1865 General Robert Granger

Issued a proclamation notifying black slaves

In Texas they were free.

This “Juneteenth Jamboree” grew in stature

And in many states it has become mainstream.

The Anacostia Museum of the Smithsonian Institution

Has had an exhibition about Juneteenth.

Reading of the works of African American novelists

Like Ralph Ellison, and Maya Angelou are popular.

Singing of traditional songs like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,”

And “Lift Every Voice and Sing” are sung at such gatherings.

Celebrations on “Jubilee Day” are picnics, rodeos, and cookouts.

Families celebrate reunions, park parties,

Attend blues festivals,

And there’s a Miss Juneteenth contest.

But revelers never forget to have a Strawberry soda –

The drink associated with these festivities.

And, for the more serious minded,

There are lectures, exhibitions of African American culture

Accompanied by a voter registration drive.

To top it all, everyone should be part of a barbecue cookout,

The centerpiece of most Juneteenth celebrations.

“God, on this day of remembrance bless these Juneteenth festivities when African Americans began their fruits of freedom.”    

Car Trips

People like going on trips.

They like travelling in their cars,

And going to different places.

But they have to do so safely,

That’s why it’s wise to wear a seatbelt.

It doesn’t make sense risking your life

When you drive in areas that aren’t safe.

That’s why it’s best to know about your destination.

Often, this could be a problem in some cities.

Drivers could be caught up in rush hour traffic.

It could be dreadlock trying to navigate your car.

Is your vehicle in good working condition?

Are you familiar with the area where you’re driving?

These questions are important for a driver’s safety.

A number of other questions come to mind.

What would you do if you have a flat?

Do you have roadside service?

Is the area safe if you’re stranded?

That’s why before venturing out do your homework.

Make sure you have a smart phone for emergencies.

Safety matters the most when you’re driving.

So, it’s good to obey the speed limit.

Drive with lights when it’s overcast,

And always be sure you have enough gas.

These are the responsibilities of a good driver.

“God, help us to make trips safely.  Be with us and let us be cognizant that we ought to take all necessary precautions when driving.”

Amen