Memorial Day is an American federal holiday currently observed on the last Monday in May. The holiday remembers and honors military men and women who died while on duty in service to America. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was observed on May 30 of each year. That practice would remain from 1868, when it was first observed, until 1970.
On Memorial Day, many Americans are given the day off from work, schools and government offices are closed, stores entice customers to spend money via sales, and families enjoy cookouts.
Still, others will remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice via parades and ceremonies placing the American flag and flowers on the graves of the fallen heroes.
Frequently, Memorial Day acknowledgments are made “to all who served.” While it is true that we appreciate and honor everyone who has fought for our country, Memorial Day remembers and honors those who died while serving our country. Veterans Day, which is observed on November 11, honors all who served in the American military.
On this day of solemnity and remembrance, it also seems inappropriate to use the greeting, “Happy Memorial Day.” Let us honor our fallen heroes and pray for their families who are still with us.
In remembrance of Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. of Miami Gardens who became the first documented South Florida soldier to be killed by anti-US insurgents in Iraq on January 17, 2004. Randle was one of three soldiers who died that day when their vehicle was struck by a homemade explosive device near Baghdad.
Today is January 15, a glorious day in American history. It is the birthday of one of the most outstanding civil rights leaders of our time, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the anniversary of the founding of the first Greek-lettered sorority for college-educated African American women, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Since 1986, Dr. King’s birthday has been recognized as a federal holiday. Because of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, it is observed on the third Monday of January. This year, the King holiday is celebrated on January 18. Due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities around the country are foregoing typical MLK festivities and opting for virtual commemorative celebrations.
On January 15, 1908, one generation removed from slavery and just 21 years before the birth of Michael King Jr., who would later change his name to Martin, 16 African American women students at Howard University, in Washington DC, officially united to form Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, with a mission to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to be “Supreme in Service to All Mankind."
Today, Alpha Kappa Alpha has grown to a membership of 300,000 throughout the United States and abroad. While several notable women are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, currently, its most famous member is Kamala Harris, the next vice-president of the United States. Harris was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha while a student at Howard University.
Dr. King’s personal history is also intertwined with Alpha Kappa Alpha. While a graduate student at Boston University, he was initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha, the first collegiate Greek-letter fraternity for African American men. It was not uncommon for Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha members to become couples, as was the case with King and his wife, Coretta, an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
So on this day, if you see a woman wearing pink and green, AKA letters, and a pearl necklace, be sure to wish her a Happy Founders’ Day. Also, be mindful that Dr. King would be 92 years-old today had he not been assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Let us remember these two icons of African American culture and American culture; both focused on civil rights and service to all. Happy Founders’ Day, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated! Happy Heavenly Birthday, Rev. Dr. King!
Three years ago today, Sandra Bland died while in police custody in Waller County, Texas. She had been arrested three days earlier for not using her turn signal. Never forget her. Don’t stop fighting for social justice. #SayHerName
Enjoy this speech, in video and text, by Donovan Livingston, Ed.M.'16, student speaker at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 Convocation exercises. Instead of a traditional speech, he chose to communicate via spoken word and he is awesome.
“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin,
is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” – Horace Mann, 1848.
At the time of his remarks I couldn’t read — I couldn’t write.
Any attempt to do so, punishable by death.
For generations we have known of knowledge’s infinite power.
Yet somehow, we have never questioned the keeper of the keys —
The guardians of information.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering
In this order of operations — a heinous miscalculation of reality.
For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.
How many times must we be made to feel like quotas —
Like tokens in coined phrases? —
There are days I feel like one, like only —
A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.
But, hey, I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.
Disruptive. Talkative. A distraction.
With a passion that transcends the confines of my own consciousness —
Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards.
I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain,
With veins pumping revolution.
I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.
I am a DREAM Act, Dream Deferred incarnate.
And a movement – an amalgam of memories America would care to forget
My past, alone won’t allow me to sit still.
So my body, like my mind
Cannot be contained.
As educators, rather than raising your voices
Over the rustling of our chains,
Take them off. Un-cuff us.
Unencumbered by the lumbering weight
Of poverty and privilege,
Policy and ignorance.
I was in the 7th grade, when Ms. Parker told me,
“Donovan, we can put all of your excess energy to good use!”
And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice.
She gave me a stage. A platform.
She told me that our stories are the ladders
That make it easier for us to touch the stars.
So climb and grab them.
Keep climbing. Grab them.
Spill your emotions in the big dipper and pour out your soul.
Light up the world with your luminous allure.
To educate requires Galileo-like patience.
Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.
If you take the time to connect the dots,
You can plot the true shape of their genius —
Shining in their darkest hour.
I look each of my students in the eyes,
And see the same light that aligned Orion’s Belt
And the pyramids of Giza.
I see the same twinkle
That guided Harriet to freedom.
I see them. Beneath their masks and their mischief,
Exists an authentic frustration;
An enslavement to your standardized assessments.
At the core, none of us were meant to be common.
We were born to be comets,
Darting across space and time —
Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.
A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened right here —
An indelible impact that shook up the world.
Are we not astronomers — searching for the next shooting star?
I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —
Tribulations into telescopes,
So a child can see their true potential from right where they stand.
An injustice is telling them they are stars
Without acknowledging the night that surrounds them.
Injustice is telling them education is the key
While you continue to change the locks.
Education is no equalizer —
Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.
So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices
Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.
Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.
I’ve been the Black hole in a classroom for far too long;
Absorbing everything, without allowing my light to escape.
But those days are done. I belong among the stars.
And so do you. And so do they.
Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness
For generations to come.
So no — no, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.
Newly redesigned $20 bill will feature Harriet Tubman on its face and Andrew Jackson on the reverse side.
Yesterday, Black folk in the US went absolutely crazy celebrating the announcement that abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the United States $20 bill. However, Andrew Jackson is not “off” the $20 as has been widely reported. Andrew Jackson will be on the reverse side of the new $20 bill along with a depiction of the White House. Any logical thinker and realist would know that the United States is not about to allow a woman, especially a black woman, to totally displace a white male on currency. Let’s just keep it real.
Also know that the $5 and $10 bills have also been redesigned. The concept for the newly redesigned bills will not be unveiled until 2020 and there is no firm date of when a decision on the final design for the bills will be made and the when the bills will be placed in circulation. Let that sink in. It will be four years before the “concept” will be unveiled. Also note that the U.S. Treasury website indicates that the $10 bill, honoring women’s suffrage leaders —Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, will be released first.
Black folk, as a people group, have yet to rise to the level of actually earning the respect of the power brokers in this country because Black folk still don’t know, and therefore use, their actual power. So Black folk are frequently placated by superficial actions such as this redesign of United States currency.
Don't get it twisted, Harriet Tubman on United States currency is a good thing. Sharing her depiction on currency with Andrew Jackson who was a slaveholder and lead in the genocide of Native Americans? Waiting at least four years for the bill to even be released into circulation? Not so much. Only in America are Blacks expected to be happy while they are being insulted.
Millions of people around the world are devastated by the transition of former South African President Nelson Mandela. At ninety-five years old and still fighting health challenges, we knew this day was inevitable.
Social media and mainstream media exploded with tributes to the man who spent 27 years in prison and fought for the civil rights of blacks in South Africa. Sadly but not unexpected, some people took the opportunity to use this great man’s death to make crude jokes and display other instances of disrespect.
No matter the detractors, Nelson Mandela’s legacy as a leader, an activist and a compassionate gentleman will live on in perpetuity. So much of South African history and the history of people of color around the world is intertwined. Mandela united ethnically diverse coalitions of people around the globe in their universal call for his release from prison or sanctions calling for divestment by corporate giants. That was truly a period of ‘Power to the People’.
Upon his release from and throughout his election and tenure as South Africa's first black President, Mr. Mandela remained a statesman. Rather than get bogged down in sadness, let's use this moment in history, while reports on his life permeate the media, to teach or reintroduce others, especially children, to the legacy of Nelson Mandela. He was a true leader. He was imperfect. He will be missed.
I went to see Red Tails yesterday with my Dad. He asked about movie times and where it was playing so I know that was my cue to be a good daughter and take him. After being married 58 years, Dad still misses my Mom who transitioned almost two years ago. Whenever he wants to do something or go somewhere I try to oblige him.
I don’t like going out to the movies. First of all, there are no theaters in my neighborhood so anywhere I go requires at least a 10 or 15 minute drive. Then there’s the parking, expensive admission and way overpriced food at the concession stand. Not to mention the fact that I usually have lots to do and going to the movies takes a real big chunk out of my day.
Anyhoo, we saw the movie at the Aventura AMC24. We arrived just in time for the previews to start. My Dad had not been to a movie theater in at least 25 years. He said the previews were too long. The movie showtime was scheduled for 4:15 p.m. and that’s the time he expected it to start. The movie started at 4:30.
The opening scenes of the movie explicitly indicate the movie is ‘inspired’ by true events. If you expect a documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen, this is not the movie for you. Does it touch upon the racism the men of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps endured? Yes, it does. It also highlights the assumptions of intellectual inferiority of the black pilots and their relegation assignments that did not have any impact on the War.
This movie is also entertaining if you enjoy the rock ‘em sock’em shoot’em up special effects producer George Lucas is known for in his Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. There are portions of the movie that are predictable and others that are not. The character development of the men was good but could have been a little more in-depth. The relationship between Joe and Sofia was a tad clumsy but a contrast to the fighting and racism.
I highly recommend this movie. Kudos to George Lucas and to director Anthony Hemingway for a movie that will be remembered for a long time. My deep appreciation to the Tuskegee Airmen for the obstacles they overcame and the lives they saved. There are a few Tuskegee Airmen still alive today. If you know them or they live in your community, please say thank you.
In spite of the cost of the afternoon — admission ($29.00), concession ($24.78) and valet parking ($11), I would have spent twice that to see my Dad smile and have him talk about the Tuskegee Airmen and his military experience for the rest of the evening.
The transition of Senator Edward Kennedy was expected after his health challenges became more difficult to overcome. Young people may not know the Kennedy legacy but my generation of Americans knows the Kennedy family as this country’s royalty.
Each tragedy that family endured was shared with the American public and we felt their pain. The assassinations of JFK and Bobby, John Jr. ‘s salute at his dad’s funeral and his tragic death left us in awe of the resilience of that family. Now that Ted, the last of the famous Kennedy brothers, has passed on the family power, influence and mystique is in the limelight again.
As we say good-bye to Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, let us remember the legacy of one of this country’s famous families.
"Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action." ~ Malcolm X
Today is the anniversary of the birth of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz AKA Malcolm X AKA Malcolm Little. Had he lived, he would have been 84 years old.
Often misunderstood, Brother Malcolm was one of the most prolific leaders of our time. He came into his own beliefs about people and religion and paid the ultimate price. Brother Malcolm is not given the respect and recognition he deserves. He is most often characterized by his once separatist views but Brother Malcolm grew beyond that.
Get to know Brother Malcolm by checking out the links below and spread the word of the true story of Malcolm X.