Category Archives: History

Who writes history?

The United States Attorney General was recently criticized for justifying his actions with a supposed quote from Winston Churchill, ” History is written by the victors.” In fact, Churchill didn’t say that and the identity of who did isn’t known.

In the movie, The Report, the main character attributed the statement to Nazi Germany’s leader of the air force, Hermann Göring, but that has never been proven.

I just find it ironic that our right-wing conservative AG would possibly borrow from a  right-wing historical villain.

 

Another Day to Remember

As we age we keep amassing dates we’re supposed to remember and events were not supposed to forget where we were.

May 4, 1970, is one such date. Fifty years ago today was the day Ohio’s Kent State University forever became a permanent chapter in the nation’s anti-Vietnam War history book.

It was the day when Ohio governor James Rhoades unleashed the Ohio National Guard and permitted it to use lethal military force to quell student anti-war activities on the campus of Kent State

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The 1970s Moped Fad

It wasn’t too long after the 1970s 10-speed bicycle craze got going strong before a number of Americans decided they wanted to beat the gasoline lines with a motorized vehicle rather than something that was leg powered. Well, along came the moped.

Mopeds were already popular in Europe and Asia but were somewhat new to America. The simplest of them weren’t much more than a bicycle with a small 2-cycle motor. Back in the 1950 kids played around with a motorized bike called a Whizzer. Well, mopeds weren’t much more than a slicked up Whizzer.

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It’s 1781 All Over Again

When the original 13 colonies declared their independence from England the Continental Congress decided it needed a document of governance. So in 1777, they approved our first constitution, the Articles of Confederation After several years of debate the Articles were ratified and became the law of the land on March 1, 1781.

The new nation was called the United States of America but there wasn’t much united about it. The national government has almost zero power because the individual states reserved power for themselves. What America really was was a very loose association of independent nation-states. If you remember anything from government or civics you may recall that each state coined its own money, formed its own militia, and discounted the problems of other states unless those problems threatened them somehow.

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Getting it Done the Honore’ Way

Think back to September of 2005 when thousands of New Orleans were trapped in football stadiums or atop their flooded homes without food, safe water, or the slightest creature comforts. President Bush flew over in Air Force One and then disappeared over the horizon leaving the desperate in the hands of Brownie and FEMA.

Finally, a ruff and rugged old US Army general named Russell E. Honorè rolled into town and took charge. Where Brownie and others were doing it by the numbers and not getting it done, Honore′ said, screw the numbers, get in that helicopter and fly those pallets of water to the roof of that convention center. Take those amphibious vehicles and haul food to the people trapped on that freeway overpass. Honore′ was exactly the person needed for Katrina and someone like him is what’s needed in this Covid-19.

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Why St. Paddy Parades Got Cancelled

In the last week, many traditional gatherings have been canceled or postponed, and with strong historical justification. Not everyone knows about the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919 but there are many lessons there that could apply to today.

A major flu-related tragedy took place in Philadelphia in September of 1918. It was during the midst of World War One and over 200,000 people gathered in the city’s streets to observe a huge war bond rally and parade.

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Today’s Government Lesson; The Electoral College

Ultimately there were thirty-nine white, mostly educated, mostly wealthy, and mostly propertied men who signed the US Constitution in 1787. In spite of this commonality they differed in many ways, one of which was how much power the typical American citizen should have.

How trustworthy was the common man when it came to making correct political choices for the nation? Should each man’s vote count the same as another man’s vote? The answer to this question is what gave us this thing we call the Electoral College.

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A Few Words About African American Entertainment

For this final day of Black History Month, I went to blackfacts.com looking for a topic. I quickly noticed that Hattie McDaniel became the first black actor to win an Academy Award on this day in 1940. McDaniel won the Oscar for her performance of Mammy in Gone With the Wind.

As I began writing about her the names of other black performers who’d became famous playing racially stereotypical characters came to mind and I went to YouTube and watched some videos of Stepin Fetchit, Pigmeat Markum, Moms Mabley, and Eddie Anderson.  I’m old enough to remember when these people performed on radio and in the movies and that I remember them as really being funny. Such is not the case today. I think with age and education our awareness and sensitivity have been attuned to what was behind it all and how offensive it must have been for those who were forced to make their livings from playing these parts.

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Vouchers Are Taking Us Back to Brown v. Topeka

It could be argued that the modern desegregation movement began with the 1954 Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Topeka. A decision in which the court ordered public schools to desegregate with, “all deliberate speed.” The immediate problem became, not everyone was on the same page about the meaning of all deliberate speed.

Sixty-six years after Brown racial segregation still exists throughout America and many will argue that the conservative segregationist crowd is taking us backward with the widespread use of educational vouchers.

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Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician, Dead at 101

The following is from the Associated Press, February 24, 2020, by BEN FINLEY

“Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter that she died Monday morning. No cause was given.

Bridenstine tweeted that the NASA family “will never forget Katherine Johnson’s courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her. Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world.”

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Ohio’s Camp Sherman & The Spanish Flu

With all the talk about the Coronavirus, I couldn’t help but think about the world’s greatest pandemic, the 1918 H1N1 Spanish Flu outbreak. The flu pandemic struck close to home in that the World War One military post at Camp Sherman outside Chillicothe was hard struck by the flue. I did some Googling and found this brief but informative article from the National Park Service’s website. I might add that of the many building used as makeshift morgues and hospitals a woolen mill on Barrett’s Mill Rd., outside Rainsboro was used as a hospital to treat victims of the pandemic.

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Black History Matters, Even If You’re White

I was attracted to the following video for several reasons. First, YouTube’s lead-in tag implied that knowledge of Black History was as important for white people just as it was for blacks.

Second, the line had meaning because of something that happened last week in a Facebook group where I’d been posting lead-ins to my CGS Black History Month stories. The main administrator of that site notified me that several members had complained about my posts and told me, I had been forewarned.

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Dr. Mary E. Britton, Black Suffragette

The following was reprinted from library pages found at Berea College, KY

Mary E. Britton

“Mary E. Britton (1855-1925) was a student at Berea College from c1870-1874.  A public school teacher and activist, Britton later earned a medical degree and became the first African-American female doctor in the state of Kentucky, practicing in Lexington.

Mary was born in Kentucky, on Mills Street in what is now Lexington’s Grazt Park Historic District.  Her parents, Laura Marshall and Henry Harrison Britton were both free African Americans living in the slave state of Kentucky.  Her mother, Laura Marshall, was a freed slave of a biracial ancestry whose father was the well-known Kentucky public official Thomas F. Marshall.  Laura Marshall was a well-educated, intelligent woman and a talented singer and musician.  Laura encouraged and instilled a love for education, music and public service in both of her daughters.  In short, her family was well respected, honored and trustworthy within the circle of prominent and affluent Kentucky families.

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Edwards v. South Carolina – The Right to Unpopular Views

There have been many court cases that involved the civil rights of African Americans. Most people have heard of Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that declared segregated public schools to be unconstitutional. A case you may not be aware of is Edwards v. South Carolina which was decided on February 23, 1963.

“The Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. South Carolina that the Fourteenth Amendment does not permit the State “to make criminal the peaceful expression of unpopular views.” Civil disobedience is declared a legal act performed by citizens of the state to express their grievances.”¹

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Robert Smalls; Life’s True Hero

Someplace along life’s journey I heard the story of Robert Smalls and jotted him down as one of life’s true heroes. I found this story at www.blackfacts.com.

“Robert Smalls was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5, 1839 and worked as a house slave until the age of 12. At that point his owner, John K. McKee, sent him to Charleston to work as a waiter, ship rigger, and sailor, with all earnings going to McKee. This arrangement continued until Smalls was 18 when he negotiated to keep all but $15 of his monthly pay, a deal which allowed Smalls to begin saving money. The savings that he accumulated were later used to purchase his wife and daughter from their owner for a sum of $800. Their son was born a few years later.

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