Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Driven Youth

“Keep true to the dreams of your youth,” Friedrich Schiller

I took Frederic and Blandine Wirt Emerson School where they filmed a dance class and interviewed art teacher Deb Weiss and several students in her classroom during lunch hour.  Zavier Evens, a thoughtful eighth grade, showed them some of his work.  Thanks to Deb, Camilo Vergara’s MLK prints were in the hall nearby.  I explained “The Dream Continues” project to several students, including Latrice Young, who told me she’d be speaking at “Spirit of Engagement” program at IUN organized by Ellen Szarleta and Sandra Hall Smith of CURE (Center for Urban and Regional Excellence) later in the day.  I told her I’d be there.

Deb Weiss’s student decorated a courtyard with an autumn theme.  A couple years ago, word came down that Halloween decorations were out because some folks believed it was a pagan holiday.  In the past the Vatican has condemned Halloween as a satanic ritual.  FOX blabbermouth Sean Hannity called it a liberal holiday because “we’re teaching our children to beg for something for free.”

“Spirit of Engagement drew a large crowd, including Times correspondent Lu Ann Franklin.  One activity involved painting words or symbols having to do with the spirit of engagement on one’s arms.  I persuaded Fred McColly, who had visited the Archives earlier, to participate.  He had “sustain” on one arm and “ability” on the other.  I opted for “Rainbow” and “Connections,” the former name of an LGBT group and the title of a Kermit the Frog song.  Student Government Association president Larissa Dragu took photos.  I was delighted to find Latrice Young and dancers from Wirt Emerson taking part, including Chandler Stewart, whose body art statement was “Driven Youth.”   The first item on the program was an inspirational “Spoken Word” by Latrice, who will attend NYU after she graduates and had the words “stand strong” painted on her arms. 
above, Sandra Hall Smith; below, Larissa Dragu photographs Wirt Emerson students Jazlyn Brokemond, Chandler Stewart, and Imani Dixon; NWI Times photo by John J. Watkins
The main agenda consisted of expounding upon five community projects, including “Value Art, Live Substance Free,” a collaboration involving IUN’s schools of Nursing and Social Work as well as South Shore Arts and taking place at Hammond Academy of Science and Technology.  The final two, “A Tribute to Nina Simone” and “South Shore Dance Alliance,” were especially interesting.  The latter showed off the talents of the Wirt Emerson dancers.

As Frederic, Blandine, and I munched cookies and drank lemonade provided by CURE, I said goodbye to my French friends, who are leaving early Thursday and have a busy schedule for their last full day in Gary.  We’ll keep in touch, and they promised to return after completing their documentary.
Civil rights pioneer Hilbert Bradley passed away at age 93.  A World War II veteran, he was the first African-American graduate of Valparaiso Law School.  During the early 1960s he launched Fair Share Organization, which picketed companies with discriminatory hiring practices.  Anderson Company, for instance, had a policy of favoring relatives of employees.  Since only a couple blacks worked there – as janitors – the policy had the effect of excluding minorities.  He also founded the Indiana Coalition for Black Judicial Officials and organized demonstrations that led to Bernard Carter becoming a Lake County Superior Court judge.

In Fantasy Football I knocked off Phil to move into a tie for first place with a 4-2 record.  Marshawn Lynch made up for the Texans’ defense sucking.  I successfully acquired the Ravens’ defense via free agency. My next opponent, Kira Shifflett (The Cougar) had two Bears on her roster, Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery.  I have receivers Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett but sat Bennett, listed as questionable, in favor of Tony Gonzalez.

Justin Verlander held the Red Sox to a single run (Mike Napoli’s HR), but that was one more than the Tigers scored, so Boston leads the AL series 2-1.  Living in the Detroit suburb of Beverly Hills in eighth grade, I rooted for Al Kaline, Harvey Kuenn, Charlie “Paw Paw” Maxwell, and pitcher Frank Lary, known as the “Yankee Killer.”  Lary was 5-1 against the Bronx Bombers in 1956 and 7-0 two years later (by which time I was back in Fort Washington PA, rooting for the last place Phillies).
At lunch Jonathyne Briggs introduced me to Communication adjunct Ibrahim Yoldash.  We talked about The Cramps and Alex Chilton’s cult band Big Star.  Jon told me about the bittersweet documentary “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” which traces the band’s commercial failures and critical acclaim.
Mike Olszanski posted a Facebook photo of District 31 delegates at the 1978 USWA convention in Atlantic City.  Rank-and-filers seated near the microphone included Mike Mezo, Jim Robinson, Cowboy Mezo, and Oz, all of whom I interviewed for the “Steelworkers Fight back” Shavings Oz and I edited.  A quarter century later, Robinson is now director of District 7.
Ray Smock wrote: It now appears the shutdown will end today or tomorrow. The Senate bill will be passed. Senator Cruz will not filibuster it and the bill will go to a House that has been beaten into submission not by Democrats, but by cooler heads among Republicans and business leaders from both parties all across the nation. This is a terrible tragedy barely averted. We must find ways to prevent the appropriations process, the hallmark of what Congress is supposed to do, to never again include draconian threats to the government or to the faith and credit of the United States. This should apply to both political parties. We become our own worst enemies, potentially more destructive to the nation than an invasion of a foreign army, if we use partisan politics to threaten the very existence of the United States Constitution.”

Nicole Anslover showed her Sixties students part of a PBS documentary on the women’s movement.  It opened Kathrine Switzer successfully running the Boston Marathon despite efforts by the organizer to physically prevent her from participating.   It included a quote by Gloria Steinem to the effect that Betty Friedan tried to have women fit into American society while she wanted to transform American society.  After Friedan called lesbian feminists the “Lavender Menace,” Rita Mae Brown embraced the name and wore Lavender Menace t-shirts to the 1970 Second Congress to Unite Women.

With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Clothesline Project t-shirts were on display in Tamarack with such messages as “Stop the Abuse,” “Don’t Stop believin’,” and “I Finally Learned to Love.”  Quite moving.

I was hoping to have Dave sub for me at bowling so I could attend the Sand Creek condo owners meeting, but he was M.C. at an East Chicago Central Awards banquet.  I struggled but the Engineers won all seven points against Cressmoor Lounge.  Their anchor, Jim Carson, mentioned that wife Marcia is an adjunct in IUN’s Education Division and that they’re friends with retired Purdue Cal History professor Lance Trusty.  Stayed up to see the Seattle band Head and the Heart on Letterman.

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