Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’
Investment in the arts doesn’t cost us money – it MAKES us money!
I just got back from a rally at City Hall. It was organized by city council member Jimmy Van Bramer to protest the proposed budget cuts to both publicly funded arts organizations (NEA, NEH and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and the library system. Lots of other council members, museum directors, actors, union representatives and many more were on hand. It was a beautiful spring day. I spoke very briefly, making the economic and social argument—that arts funding benefits the economy and creates jobs way in excess of the amount invested. It has the effect of lowering crime, raising property values and lowering child abuse! Really!
The Trump administration and their Republican allies hope to eliminate funding for a number of federal arts organizations. This is a political move—it really doesn’t amount to much money—it’s a tiny part of the federal budget. The amount of federal funding is $741 million, which sounds like a lot, but is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the United States’ annual federal spending, an amount supporters say is too small to make a difference in the budget if it was cut. On a budget pie chart it doesn’t even show up, it’s too small.
Q: What does that “investment” get us as a nation?—A: It gets multiplied more than 100 times= $135.2 BILLION…
* Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
As we treasure society’s hope chest, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that celebrated contralto Marian Anderson sang an Easter Sunday concert for more than 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. A radio audience of millions listened in.
Anderson had been denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color. Instead, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes permitted her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial.
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies”*…
As if things weren’t weird enough…
By a number of political measures, this year bears an uncanny resemblance to the transformative 1896 presidential election… It pitted Republican William McKinley against Democrat William Jennings Bryan. Although McKinley won—the incumbent, Grover Cleveland, was a Democrat and the economy was bad—Bryan’s candidacy ushered in an era of fiery oratory and Democratic Party populism. Indeed, Cleveland’s pro-business Democratic Party largely vanished from American politics.
That probably sounds at least a little bit familiar, what with Trump’s populism and his own brand of fiery oratory. But, political scientists Julia Azari and Marc Hetherington argue in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the similarity goes well beyond personality….
So what does this mean for the future of American politics? “[W]hen political conflict between the parties becomes polarized, the same polarizing issues tend to become divisive within parties as well,” Azari and Hetherington write. “[T]he fate of previous eras of division suggests that this brand of politics is rarely sustainable in the long term. If not in 2016, it seems change is likely to come soon.”
The eerie similarities, then to now, detailed at “If History Is a Guide, American Politics Is About to Get Weird.”
* Mark Twain
As we batten down the hatches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957, at 8:54p, that Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a Democrat (of the Dixiecrat variety), began a 24 hour and 18 minute filibuster, the longest ever conducted by a single Senator. Thurmond was speaking in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957; his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act led him to switch to the more comfortable home of the Republican Party.
Much more conversational coaching at “Women Trying To Politely End Conversations With Men In Western Art History.”
* Hedy Lamarr
As we demur, we might trip the birthday fantastic for Freda Josephine McDonald– better known by her stage name, Josephine Baker– the dancer, singer, actress, and civil rights activist born on this date in 1906 in St. Louis, Mo. By the mid-1920s, the “Black Venus” had become the toast of Paris and a celebrity throughout Europe; in 1934, she became the first black woman to star in a major motion picture (Zouzou) and to become a genuinely world-famous entertainer.
Baker was a vocal opponent of segregation in the U.S.; she worked closely with NAACP and refused to perform for segregated audiences.
Known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, Baker received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. Her funeral service in Paris in 1975 drew 20,000 people, and she was the first American woman to receive a twenty-one-gun salute from the French government.
[Update from friend Ted Coltman: “Not to quibble, but I thought France, like most nations, reserves a 21-gun salute (i.e., with artillery) for heads of state, including the president of the French Republic. Are you sure it wasn’t a “3-volley salute” by a 7-member rifle party, which would still constitute ‘full military honors’?” Ted may well be right about this– as about so much else. FWIW, my source was this piece from the National Women’s History Museum. Either way– quite a woman.]
From Bloomberg, an interactive graphic that allows readers to see and compare the heritages (as reported in the 2010 Census) of residents of the U.S. as whole and of each of the nation’s 3,143 counties.
(The example above was pulled at random… One notes that a “German heritage vs Mexican heritage” sort yields Maricopa County, Arizona– the precinct policed by brown-skin-busting, sexual-abuse-ignoring, vendetta-prosecuting “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, the subject of a current Justice Department investigation– as the county in the U.S. with the most self-identified citizens of German heritage. Chillingly weird.)
As we wonder if the “melting pot” has become a “fondue pot,” we might spare a thought for the first Mississippi field secretary of the NAACP, Medgar Evers; he was assassinated on this date in 1963 by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens’ Council.
A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood.
A finger fired the trigger to his name.
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game.
– Bob Dylan, ‘Only a Pawn in Their Game’
As we steel our resolve to avoid the Intentionalist Fallacy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1965 that about six hundred people began a fifty-four mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery. The marchers were demonstrating for African-American voting rights and commemorating the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, who’d been shot three weeks earlier by a state trooper while trying to protect his mother at a civil rights demonstration.
One hundred years after the end of the Civil War, the protections of the Fifteenth Amendment had, in many Southern states (as indeed, in many others) been eroded by local statute and intimidation. And indeed on the outskirts of Selma, after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers were brutally assaulted, in plain sight of photographers and journalists, by heavily armed state troopers and deputies.
Feeling _____? About to head out for a night on the town in _____? Then dress in _____!
click the image above, or here, for full-screen interactive version
And for a grid version, click here.
As we reorganize our sock drawers, we might recall that on this date in 1896 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that color mattered in a different kind of way: it ruled that separate-but-equal facilities were constitutional on intrastate railroads. For half a century thereafter, the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation in the U.S., across which laws mandated separate accommodations on buses and trains, and in hotels, theaters, and schools. While the Court’s majority opinion denied that legalized segregation connoted inferiority, a dissenting opinion from Justice John Marshall Harlan argued that segregation in public facilities smacked of servitude and abridged the principle of equality under the law.
At a Rome, Georgia bus station, 1949 (source)