Tag Archives: The Civil Rights Movement

Thoughts On Andrew Cuomo’s “America Was Never That Great” Comment

America was created based on the ideal that every citizen is equal and is entitled the same rights. While the ideal is wonderful, the reality is that we live in a country that is more complicated.

Yesterday, at a bill signing, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that America was never that great. Naturally, his comment drew ire from you know who and some members of the Republican Party.

I agree and disagree with his statement. I agree because America has a long way to to go before all citizens are completely enfranchised. Women, citizens of color and other minorities are still routinely discriminated against. There are some people in this country who would like nothing more than anyone who is not Caucasian, Christian, heterosexual (and male by extension) to become second class citizens.

I disagree with him because America is a great country. A century ago, members of my family emigrated from Eastern Europe. This country not only welcomed them with open arms, but supported them so they could give future generations a better life than the life they had in the old country. If America’s borders had not been open, they would have likely died in the gas chambers and the concentration camps. Future generation of my family (myself included) would have never been born or given the opportunity to live and thrive. While we have not completely corrected the mistakes of our collective American past, we have come far in starting to correct them. The Civil Rights Movement, The Feminist Movement and the LGBTQ Movement have opened many of our eyes about the disenfranchisement of our fellow citizens.

The issue with the comment is not just the context, but the timing. Mr. Cuomo is running for re-election for Governor. His statement gives those who want to replace him as Governor another reason to prove why they are better suited for the position.

Only time will tell if this comment is just a momentary blip or if it is the reason why he loses the Governor’s race. Either way, it shows how complicated it is to be an American in 2018.

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RIP Aretha Franklin

Today, we lost of one of the giants of modern music, Aretha Franklin.

Known as The Queen Of Soul, her powerful voice and unforgettable songs have touched multiple generations of fans and performers. Her music broke barriers and easily jumped across genres, pulling in fans of every race, color and creed.

Her activism in the Civil Rights movement paved the way for people of color to succeed in ways that had only been dreamed of before.

Her music is iconic. Respect and Chain Of Fools are still feminist anthems decades after they were released.

One cannot help but sing along to her songs and feel the joy that comes from her music.

She was 76. RIP.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday-The Ernest Green Story (1993)

To be the first in anything is to become a hero. It is also a difficult journey that tests the strongest among us. Ernest Green is a part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were chosen to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also the first African-American student to graduate from  the school in 1958.

In 1993, his story was told in The Ernest Green Story.  Morris Chestnut played the title role in the television movie.

I feel like this is one of those movies we should all see, regardless of race or ethnicity. America in 2018 is not the same America of the late 1950’s. But we are also, not so far away from the period. If nothing else, this film is not only a reminder of how far we have come, it is also a reminder that the battle for civil rights and true equality still needs to be fought.

I recommend it.

 

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Warriors Don’t Cry Book Review

In 1957, Melba Pattillo Beals did not intend to make history. She simply wanted an education. But like every other African-American in the  Jim Crow south, she was considered to be second class and did not deserve the same education as her white peers.  A member of the of Little Rock Nine, she was one of the first African-American students to enroll at the historically all white Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Her memoir, Warriors Don’t Cry, was last updated in 2007. Told in a first person, the reader is taken directly into the writer’s head and experiences the Civil Rights Movement through Ms. Beals’s perspective and memories.

The main message I got from reading this book is that it doesn’t take place in another world and another era. It takes place in America, not too long ago. If nothing else, it is a stark reminder of the ugly underbelly of American culture and how we must continue to fight for the equality of all citizens. Ms. Beals got the ball rolling, it is of the utmost importance that we continue what she and the other members of the Little Rock Nine started.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

 

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The Shape Of Water Movie Review

The story of a romance between a human female and a non human or super human male is not new to readers or audiences.  This basic narrative has been rebooted many times over in many different ways for generations. The question is, can the writer or writers make their narrative stand out from similar narratives?

The new film, The Shape Of Water, takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute woman who works for a government facility in the janitorial department. She spends her time with her co-worker and friend (who talks enough for both of them),  Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her middle-aged bachelor neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins). One day, a new classified experiment arrives the facility under the control of Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Elisa and Zelda are told to keep their time in the laboratory short, but Elisa’s curiosity gets the best of her.

The experiment is an Amphibian Man (Doug Jones), who Mr. Strickland would like to kill and experiment on. But Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) has a conscious and a secret reason for keeping the creature alive. Can Elisa save this creature and how will that forever change them both?

Using a fairy tale, Beauty and The Beast motif, this film is one of my favorite in 2017. I loved the basic fairy tale narrative blended with life in the early 60’s. Both The Cold War and The Civil Rights Movement are so seamlessly blended into the plot that the audience forgets about the history lesson they are receiving. I would not be surprised if this film did well come awards season.

I recommend it.

The Shape Of Water is presently in theaters. 

 

 

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Fairy Tales, History, Movie Review, Movies

Flashback Friday-Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999)

Dorothy Dandridge was was undoubtedly a trailer blazer in not just the Civil Rights Movement, but also in opening doors for performers of color to move beyond the stereotypical roles of servants or background characters.

Her life and work is chronicled in the 1999 television movie, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Halle Berry starred in the title role with Brent Spiner as Earl Mills, Dandridge’s faithful manager who stayed with her through thick and thin.

This television movie is one of the better biographies to have come out in recent years. Neither over the top or too long, it was the story of a trail blazer whose legacy will never be forgotten.

I recommend it.

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RIP Dick Gregory and Jerry Lewis

A good comedian is more than the joke coming out of their mouth. A good comedian makes us laugh, brings people together, helps to create understandings and heal the wounds that hate and prejudice create.

Yesterday, we lost comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory. A few hours ago, Jerry Lewis passed away.

In the 1960’s, Dick Gregory was the face of black comedy in America. Breaking the color barrier, he used his platform to speak of the injustice that African-Americans faced. He use his celebrity to fight not just against prejudice and hatred that were part of daily life for African-Americans, but he also protested against the Vietnam War by going on a hunger strike.

He was 84.

Jerry Lewis is more than an actor/comedian/philanthropist. He is an icon. Pairing with Dean Martin in the 1950’s, Lewis was the goofball compared to Martin’s straight man. When they professionally parted ways, Lewis became a star in his own right. One of his most beloved movies (and my personal favorite) Jerry Lewis film is The Nutty Professor. While on the surface, it is slapstick comedy, there is a more subtle message about self-esteem, finding love and being brave enough to show the person who you love your real self.


He was 91.

RIP.

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