IN REMEMBRANCE: 4-1-2012

WARREN STEVENS, BUSY CHARACTER ACTOR

20th Century Fox, via Photofest

Warren Stevens in the 1958 film “Intent to Kill.”

By

Published: March 30, 2012

Warren Stevens, a lanky, square-jawed actor with swept-back hair and a husky voice whose face became familiar through his more than 100 roles on television and in movies over six decades, died on Tuesday at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 92.

The cause was chronic lung disease, his publicist, Dale Olson, said.

Mr. Stevens, who first made his mark on the Broadway stage in the 1940s, became a versatile and ubiquitous presence on television in the ’50s. He played three different characters on episodes of “Have Gun, Will Travel” between 1957 and 1963; three different characters on “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” between 1965 and 1967; four characters on “Bonanza” between 1965 and 1970; and four on “Ironside” between 1967 and 1975.

While Mr. Stevens would make appearances on dozens of other television series, perhaps his best-known role was in the classic 1956 science fiction movie “Forbidden Planet.” He played the ill-fated Doc Ostrow, who perishes at the hand of a mysterious force on the planet Altair IV, 16 light years from Earth, after his spaceship arrives to search for a long-lost colony.

In 1952, he had a supporting role as a reporter in the movie “Deadline, U.S.A.,” in which Humphrey Bogart played the managing editor of a big-city newspaper seeking to dissuade its owners from selling it simply to free up their capital. Mr. Stevens was among the cast members who gave “conspicuously flavorsome and good” performances, Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times.

Among his more than 40 films, Mr. Stevens also had roles in “The Barefoot Contessa,” “Gunpoint,” “Madigan,” “Red Skies of Montana” and “Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell.”

His more than 60 television roles over the years included appearances (and sometimes recurring roles) on “Return to Peyton Place,” “The Twilight Zone,” “M*A*S*H,” “Rawhide,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E” and “Gunsmoke.”

In recent years, he appeared with Lou Diamond Phillips, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Majors in the 2004 western “The Trail to Hope Rose” on the Hallmark Channel and in a 2006 episode of “ER.”

Warren Albert Stevens was born on Nov. 2, 1919, in Clarks Summit, Pa. By his early 20s, he was acting in summer stock in Virginia.

After serving as a pilot in the Army Air Forces during World War II, he came to New York and joined the Actors Studio. He soon had roles on Broadway in “Galileo,” “Sundown Beach” and “The Smile of the World,” and in radio soap operas including “The Aldrich Family.”

His break came in 1949 in the Broadway production of Sidney Kingsley’s “Detective Story,” a gritty account of the inner workings of a New York City police precinct that starred Ralph Bellamy. Brooks Atkinson wrote in The Times that “as a decent young man horrified to find himself a common criminal, Warren Stevens gives a fine, reticent performance.” That performance led to a film contract with 20th Century Fox.

Mr. Stevens is survived by his wife of 43 years, the former Barbara Fletcher, and their two sons, Adam and Mathew; and a son, Laurence, from a previous marriage, to Susan Huntington.

SOURCE

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ADRIENNE RICH, INFLUENTIAL FEMINIST POET

Adrienne Rich, 1929-2012
A Poet of Unswerving Vision at the Forefront of Feminism

Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

Adrienne Rich in 1987.

By

Published: March 28, 2012

Adrienne Rich, a poet of towering reputation and towering rage, whose work — distinguished by an unswerving progressive vision and a dazzling, empathic ferocity — brought the oppression of women and lesbians to the forefront of poetic discourse and kept it there for nearly a half-century, died on Tuesday at her home in Santa Cruz, Calif. She was 82.

The cause was complications of rheumatoid arthritis, with which she had lived for most of her adult life, her family said.

Widely read, widely anthologized, widely interviewed and widely taught, Ms. Rich was for decades among the most influential writers of the feminist movement and one of the best-known American public intellectuals. She wrote two dozen volumes of poetry and more than a half-dozen of prose; the poetry alone has sold nearly 800,000 copies, according to W. W. Norton & Company, her publisher since the mid-1960s.

Triply marginalized — as a woman, a lesbian and a Jew — Ms. Rich was concerned in her poetry, and in her many essays, with identity politics long before the term was coined.

She accomplished in verse what Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique,” did in prose. In describing the stifling minutiae that had defined women’s lives for generations, both argued persuasively that women’s disenfranchisement at the hands of men must end.

For Ms. Rich, the personal, the political and the poetical were indissolubly linked; her body of work can be read as a series of urgent dispatches from the front. While some critics called her poetry polemical, she remained celebrated for the unflagging intensity of her vision, and for the constant formal reinvention that kept her verse — often jagged and colloquial, sometimes purposefully shocking, always controlled in tone, diction and pacing — sounding like that of few other poets.

All this helped ensure Ms. Rich’s continued relevance long after she burst genteelly onto the scene as a Radcliffe senior in the early 1950s.

Her constellation of honors includes a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1994 and a National Book Award for poetry in 1974 for “Diving Into the Wreck.” That volume, published in 1973, is considered her masterwork.

In the title poem, Ms. Rich uses the metaphor of a dive into dark, unfathomable waters to plumb the depths of women’s experience:

I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair streams black, the merman in his armored body We circle silently about the wreck we dive into the hold. … We are, I am, you are by cowardice or courage the one who find our way back to the scene carrying a knife, a camera a book of myths in which our names do not appear.

Ms. Rich was far too seasoned a campaigner to think that verse alone could change entrenched social institutions. “Poetry is not a healing lotion, an emotional massage, a kind of linguistic aromatherapy,” she said in an acceptance speech to the National Book Foundation in 2006, on receiving its medal for distinguished contribution to American letters. “Neither is it a blueprint, nor an instruction manual, nor a billboard.”

But at the same time, as she made resoundingly clear in interviews, in public lectures and in her work, Ms. Rich saw poetry as a keen-edged beacon by which women’s lives — and women’s consciousness — could be illuminated.

She was never supposed to have turned out as she did.

Adrienne Cecile Rich was born in Baltimore on May 16, 1929. Her father, Arnold Rice Rich, a doctor and assimilated Jew, was an authority on tuberculosis who taught at Johns Hopkins University. Her mother, Helen Gravely Jones Rich, a Christian, was a pianist and composer who, cleaving to social norms of the day, forsook her career to marry and have children. Adrienne was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church.

Theirs was a bookish household, and Adrienne, as she said afterward, was groomed by her father to be a literary prodigy. He encouraged her to write poetry when she was still a child, and she steeped herself in the poets in his library — all men, she later ruefully observed. But those men gave her the formalist grounding that let her make her mark when she was still very young.

When Ms. Rich was in her last year at Radcliffe (she received a bachelor’s degree in English there in 1951), W. H. Auden chose her first collection, “A Change of World,” for publication in the Yale Younger Poets series, a signal honor. Released in 1951, the book, with its sober mien, dutiful meter and scrupulous rhymes, was praised by reviewers for its impeccable command of form.

She had learned the lessons of her father’s library well, or so it seemed. For even in this volume Ms. Rich had begun, with subtle subversion, to push against a time-honored thematic constraint — the proscription on making poetry out of the soul-numbing dailiness of women’s lives.

A poem in the collection, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers,” depicting a woman at her needlework and reprinted here in full, is concerned with precisely this:

Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen, Bright topaz denizens of a world of green. They do not fear the men beneath the tree; They pace in sleek chivalric certainty. Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool Find even the ivory needle hard to pull. The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand. When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by. The tigers in the panel that she made Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.

Once mastered, poetry’s formalist rigors gave Ms. Rich something to rebel against, and by her third collection, “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” published by Harper & Row, she had pretty well exploded them. That volume appeared in 1963, a watershed moment in women’s letters: “The Feminine Mystique” was also published that year.

In the collection’s title poem, Ms. Rich chronicles the pulverizing onus of traditional married life. It opens this way:

You, once a belle in Shreveport, with henna-colored hair, skin like a peachbud, still have your dresses copied from that time. … Your mind now, mouldering like wedding-cake, heavy with useless experience, rich with suspicion, rumor, fantasy, crumbling to pieces under the knife-edge of mere fact.

Though the book horrified some critics, it sealed Ms. Rich’s national reputation.

She knew the strain of domestic duty firsthand. In 1953 Ms. Rich had married a Harvard economist, Alfred Haskell Conrad, and by the time she was 30 she was the mother of three small boys. When Professor Conrad took a job at the City College of New York, the family moved to New York City, where Ms. Rich became active in the civil rights and antiwar movements.

By 1970, partly because she had begun, inwardly, to acknowledge her erotic love of women, Ms. Rich and her husband had grown estranged. That autumn, he died of a gunshot wound to the head; the death was ruled a suicide. To the end of her life, Ms. Rich rarely spoke of it.

Ms. Rich effectively came out as a lesbian in 1976, with the publication of “Twenty-One Love Poems,” whose subject matter — sexual love between women — was still considered disarming and dangerous. In the years that followed her poetry and prose ranged over her increasing self-identification as a Jewish woman, the Holocaust and the struggles of black women.

Ms. Rich’s other volumes of poetry include “The Dream of a Common Language” (1978), “A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far” (1981), “The Fact of a Doorframe” (1984), “An Atlas of the Difficult World” (1991) and, most recently, “Tonight No Poetry Will Serve,” published last year.

Her prose includes the essay collections “On Lies, Secrets, and Silence” (1979); “Blood, Bread, and Poetry” (1986); an influential essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” published as a slender volume in 1981; and the nonfiction book “Of Woman Born” (1976), which examines the institution of motherhood as a socio-historic construct.

For Ms. Rich, the getting of literary awards was itself a political act to be reckoned with. On sharing the National Book Award for poetry in 1974 (the other recipient that year was Allen Ginsberg), she declined to accept it on her own behalf. Instead, she appeared onstage with two of that year’s finalists, the poets Audre Lorde and Alice Walker; the three of them accepted the award on behalf of all women.

In 1997, in a widely reported act, Ms. Rich declined the National Medal of Arts, the United States government’s highest award bestowed upon artists. In a letter to Jane Alexander, then chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, which administers the award, she expressed her dismay, amid the “increasingly brutal impact of racial and economic injustice,” that the government had chosen to honor “a few token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.”

Art, Ms. Rich added, “means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.”

Ms. Rich’s other laurels — and these she did accept — include the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

She taught widely, including at Columbia, Brandeis, Rutgers, Cornell and Stanford Universities.

Ms. Rich’s survivors include her partner of more than 30 years, the writer Michelle Cliff; three sons, David, Pablo and Jacob, from her marriage to Professor Conrad; a sister, Cynthia Rich; and two grandchildren.

For all her verbal prowess, for all her prolific output, Ms. Rich retained a dexterous command of the plain, pithy utterance. In a 1984 speech she summed up her reason for writing — and, by loud unspoken implication, her reason for being — in just seven words.

What she and her sisters-in-arms were fighting to achieve, she said, was simply this: “the creation of a society without domination.”

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting. “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” reprinted from “Collected Early Poems” by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1993 by Adrienne Rich. With the permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company Inc.

SOURCE

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EARL SCRUGGS, BLUEGRASS BANJO PLAYER PIONEER

By

Published: March 29, 2012

Earl Scruggs, the bluegrass banjo player whose hard-driving picking style influenced generations of musicians and helped shape the sound of 20th-century country music with his guitar-strumming partner, Lester Flatt, died on Wednesday in a Nashville hospital. He was 88.

Heidi Schumann for The New York Times

Mr. Scruggs, shown in 2007, mastered a three-finger picking style that elevated the five-string banjo from a part of the rhythm section to a lead or solo instrument.

Associated Press

Mr. Scruggs, left, on banjo and Lester Flatt on guitar in 1963.

His son Gary confirmed the death.

Mr. Scruggs and Mr. Flatt probably reached their widest audiences with a pair of signature songs: “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” a rollicking number that they recorded in 1949 with their group the Foggy Mountain Boys and that was used as the getaway music in the 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde”; and “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” the theme song of the 1960s television sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.” (Mr. Scruggs and Mr. Flatt appeared on the show several times.)

But he also helped shape the “high, lonesome sound” of Bill Monroe, often called the father of bluegrass, and pioneered modern banjo playing. His innovative use of three fingers in an up-picking style, rather than the mostly two-fingered claw-hammer down-picking technique, elevated the five-string banjo from a part of the rhythm section — or a comedian’s prop — to a lead or solo instrument. What became known as the syncopated Scruggs picking style helped popularize the banjo in almost every genre of music.

Mr. Scruggs, who had played banjo since the age of 4 in rural North Carolina, got his big break when he joined Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys, in 1945. The band included Monroe, who sang and played the mandolin; Mr. Flatt on guitar; Howard Watts (a k a Cedric Rainwater) on bass; and Chubby Wise on fiddle.

When Mr. Scruggs stepped up to play during an instrumental section, “listeners would physically come out of their seats in excitement,” Richard D. Smith wrote in “Can’t You Hear Me Callin’: The Life of Bill Monroe.”

Mr. Scruggs stayed with the Blue Grass Boys for two years as they starred on the “Grand Ole Opry” radio show and recorded classics like “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Blue Grass Breakdown” and “Molly and Tenbrooks (The Race Horse Song)” for Columbia Records. He also sang baritone in the group’s gospel quartet.

Early in 1948 he and Mr. Flatt, weary of the low pay and exhausting travel, decided to strike out on their own, despite Monroe’s pleas to stay. Angry and hurt, Monroe refused to speak to them for the next 20 years, a feud that became famous in country-music history.

Although the two said they had not planned to get together after they quit, they ended up forming the Foggy Mountain Boys, naming the group after the Carter Family song “Foggy Mountain Top.” Aided by the former Louise Certain, the group’s manager and booking agent and eventually Mr. Scrugg’s wife, they surpassed Monroe in popularity, helped partly by the corporate sponsorship of Martha White mills. (That sponsor persuaded them to join the “Grand Ole Opry.”) In 1954 they appeared in a Broadway show, “Hayride.”

Five years later the group appeared in Rhode Island at the first Newport Folk Festival, an offshoot of the Newport Jazz Festival, and introduced the Scruggs style to the folk-music revival of those years. Soon young folk musicians were adopting his style, and the Foggy Mountain Boys began to play the college folk-festival circuit. Mr. Scruggs also began to work with his growing sons, Gary, Randy and Steve, and he recorded material by Bob Dylan and other folk-rockers.

Mr. Flatt, by contrast, disliked the new music and felt it was alienating the band’s grass-roots fans. In 1969 the two broke up — they had also performed as Flatt & Scruggs — and Mr. Scruggs, with his sons, formed the Earl Scruggs Revue, a mostly acoustic group with drums and electric bass. It broadened his repertory to include rock, and the group played on bills with acts like Steppenwolf and the singer-songwriter James Taylor, sometimes before audiences of 40,000.

The group stayed together for the rest of Mr. Scruggs’s career, performing at Carnegie Hall and, in 1969, at the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam in Washington. Mr. Flatt died in 1979.

The original album cover for “Foggy Mountain Jamboree” by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs.

Multimedia
Remembering Earl Scruggs

Earl Eugene Scruggs was born on Jan. 6, 1924, in Flint Hill, N.C. His father, George Elam Scruggs, a farmer and bookkeeper, played the banjo and fiddle (and died when Earl was 4); his mother, Lula Ruppe Scruggs, played the pump organ in church. Earl took up the banjo and also the guitar.

Earl depended on a two-fingered picking style until he was about 10. Then one day he found himself in his bedroom picking a song called “Lonesome Ruben” (or “Ruben’s Train”) using three fingers instead of two — the thumb, index and middle finger. It was a style, indigenous to North Carolina, that he had been trying to master.

He learned to emphasize melody by plucking it with his strong thumb in syncopation with harmonic notes picked with his first two fingers. The sound was like thumbtacks plinking rhythmically on a tin roof.

As Earl’s mastery of the banjo grew, he began playing at dances and on radio shows with bands, among them Lost John Miller and His Allied Kentuckians. In December 1945, after the Miller group disbanded, Mr. Scruggs quit high school and joined the Blue Grass Boys for $50 a week. His career was on its way.

In 1992 Mr. Scruggs was among 13 recipients of a National Medal of Arts, and in 2005 “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” was selected for the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

He continued to play into the 21st century. In 2001 he released a CD, “Earl Scruggs and Friends,” his first album in a decade and an extension of the Earl Scruggs Revue. In 12 songs, he collaborated with Elton John, Dwight Yoakam, Travis Tritt, Sting, Melissa Etheridge, Vince Gill, John Fogerty, Don Henley, Johnny Cash and the actor Steve Martin, a banjo player.

Mr. Scruggs’s wife, Louise, died in 2006; his son Steve died in 1992. In addition to his sons Gary and Randy, survivors include five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

At an 80th birthday party for Mr. Scruggs in 2004, the country singer Porter Wagoner said, “Earl was to the five-string banjo what Babe Ruth was to baseball.”

“He is the best there ever was,” Mr. Wagoner said, “and the best there ever will be.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

SOURCE

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BERT SUGAR, BOXING WRITER AND COMMENTATOR

By

Published: March 26, 2012

Bert Sugar, boxing’s human encyclopedia, a prolific writer and editor and a flamboyant and ubiquitous presence in the world of the ring, died on Sunday in Mount Kisco, N.Y. He was 75.

Louis Lanzano/Associated Press

Bert Sugar was the author of dozens of books; the editor, at various times, of The Ring magazine and Boxing Illustrated; and a television and radio commentator.

He had lung cancer and died of cardiac arrest at Northern Westchester Hospital, his daughter, Jennifer Frawley, said.

The author or editor of dozens of books; the editor, at various times, of The Ring magazine and Boxing Illustrated; and a television and radio commentator who rarely turned away from a microphone, Mr. Sugar was as voluminous a speaker as he was a writer.

Garrulous, opinionated, an eager conversationalist who was known to talk with just about anybody, he was an accomplished raconteur with a bottomless sack of anecdotes and an incorrigible penchant for wisecracks and bad jokes. You could pick him out in a crowded room by his voice — a distinctively upbeat growl — or by the omnipresent wide-brimmed fedora on his head and the fat cigar in his mouth.

Mr. Sugar, who was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005, was not simply a character, however. He wrote about the sport with swagger and panache, a prose style that carried the weight of expertise and that simply assumed the authority to bellow and bleat:

“In the world of the early 1900s, still awash with Victorian gentility and doily-type embroidery on everything from manners and modes to conversation and conventional heroes,” he wrote to introduce an essay on the great black champion Jack Johnson, “the name of the heavyweight champion stood out in stark relief, a man of swaggering virility who epitomized the turbulent yet proud surety of the populace of a nation destined for greatness.”

In the 1980s, he dared to choose and rank the 100 greatest boxers of all time, and 20 years later he revised the list (and the book explaining it). In “Boxing’s Greatest Fighters” (2006), he ranked Sugar Ray Robinson No. 1, Joe Louis at 4 (after Henry Armstrong and Willie Pep) and Muhammad Ali at 7 (after Harry Greb and Benny Leonard). At 100, he listed Mike Tyson, whose chapter he began this way:

“To perplexing questions like ‘Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?’ and ‘Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?’ can be added another: What the hell happened to boxing’s kamikaze pilot, Mike Tyson?”

Herbert Randolph Sugar was born in Washington on June 7, 1936, and, according to family lore, legally changed his name to Bert as a child because he was tired of classmates taunting him with, “Herbert, please pass the sherbet.”

He attended public schools, graduated from the University of Maryland and earned business and law degrees at the University of Michigan, where he wrote for The Michigan Daily and played rugby. He passed the Washington bar in 1961 — “the only bar I ever passed,” he was wont to remark — but instead of going into the law, he moved to New York City and worked for a time in advertising.

An obsessive sports fan and an inveterate memorabilia collector who had a 700-pound chunk of stone from the original Yankee Stadium planted in his rock garden, he leapt into sports journalism by the beginning of the 1970s, purchasing Boxing Illustrated — which he edited well but ran as a business badly — and a handful of lesser-known, short-lived sports publications. For a while in the mid-’70s, he edited the men’s magazine Argosy.

In 1979, he and several others, including Dave DeBusschere, the former basketball star, and Bill Veeck, the former maverick baseball club owner, purchased The Ring; Mr. Sugar was its editor through troubled financial times until 1983. Mr. Sugar’s book about Muhammad Ali, “Sting Like a Bee,” written with the boxer Jose Torres, was published in 1971, and Mr. Sugar was the co-writer, with Angelo Dundee, Ali’s longtime cornerman, of Dundee’s autobiography, “My View From the Corner: A Life in Boxing.” (Dundee died on Feb. 1.)

With the former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, he wrote “Inside Boxing” (1974), an examination of boxing technique. And he wrote on other subjects as well: a history of ABC Sports, a biography of the escape artist Harry Houdini, a primer on horse racing. Nearly as immersed in baseball arcana as in boxing arcana, he edited several volumes of statistics and trivia.

Mr. Sugar lived in Chappaqua, N.Y. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, the former Suzanne Davis, whom he married in 1960; a son, JB; a brother, Steven; and four grandchildren.

SOURCE

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SKYWATCH: GLOBAL ASTRONOMY MONTH, HUBBLE PHOTO COMPETITION, AND MORE

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NASA / ESA

Bulletin at a Glance

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Observing
This Week’s Sky at a Glance
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Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Competition

March 28, 2012 | Try your hand at creating a beautiful Hubble image and you might win an Apple iPod Touch or iPad. > read more

Vesta: A Study in Black and White

March 30, 2012 | NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is scrutinizing the second-largest asteroid from close range. Yet some aspects of Vesta’s surface — especially splashes of very bright and very dark material — are puzzling. > read more

Hubble Images Stir Up Dark Matter Debate

March 28, 2012 | Dark matter in the “Train Wreck” galaxy cluster (Abell 520) appears to behave in unusual ways. Now, new Hubble images are heating up the debate. > read more

Did the Moon Come From Earth?

March 27, 2012 | New findings show that the Moon might have incorporated more of Earth when it formed than previously thought — a problem for the widely accepted “big splat” hypothesis. > read more

An Emerald-Cut Diamond in the Rough

March 27, 2012 | Astronomers have discovered a rare, rectangular galaxy 70 million light-years away. The dwarf galaxy’s unique history presents a challenge for current theories of galaxy evolution. > read more

Observing

Global Astronomy Month logo

The World Celebrates Astronomy

March 28, 2012 | People are coming together this April for Global Astronomy Month 2012, a planetwide celebration of astronomy designed to bring people together through star parties, music and artistic performances, online observing events, and much more. > read more

Tour April’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

March 29, 2012 | April stands to be a great month for planet-watching. Venus and Jupiter are over in the west, Mars is high up in the southeast, and Saturn pairs with the bright star Spica low over the eastern horizon. > read more

Mars Takes Center Stage

March 5, 2012 | The Red Planet (actually yellow-orange) is the brilliant “star” climbing steadily in the east these evenings. Now’s your best chance to examine our next-out planetary neighbor. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Watch Venus skim the Pleiades April 2, 3, and 4

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

March 30, 2012 | Bright Venus high in the dusk skims the Pleiades, while Jupiter sinks ever lower. And the Moon joins first one star-and-planet pair, then another. > read more

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COLORLINES: TRAYVON HAD IT COMING, OR SO WE WILL SOON BE LED TO BELIEVE

You Got a Problem? Well, Now You Do

Trayvon Martin was just 17, and maybe he hadn’t yet put together his strategy for dealing with life as the object of America’s nightmares. So he improvised and got killed. “But he had it coming; he was born black and male in the U.S.,” says Kai Wright.

Thousands of Young Black Men Die in Gun Crimes Every Year

INFOGRAPHIC] Gun homicide is the number one cause of death for black teens. Below, Hatty Lee paints the grim picture.

Also: As Millions Fight for Trayvon Martin, Kill at Will Laws Flourish

How Scholarships Leave Student-Athletes Powerless in the NCAA Game

While March Madness kicks into full swing, it highlights college athletes who are simultaneously the most visible and vulnerable students in the country. Jamilah King explains.

Texas Has to Chill With War on Voting Rights Act The same “chill effect” that Texas attorney general Greg Abbot is concerned about is the same chill that protectors of voting rights are concerned about when it comes to photo voter ID law, especially in Texas.

Howard University Men in Hoodies School You on Racial Profiling [Video] The Howard University men that are part of the Howard Students For Justice group created the video which asks viewers to check their biases about black men.

Black Masculinity, Personal Loss and the Crazy-Making Tragedy of Trayvon Martin It is sad how this country continues to sweat black men. And in the past month, the one thing I can’t shake is a deep fear and dread for the black men in my own life, writes Akiba Solomon.

California Senate Moves to Protect Immigrant Families in Deportation Nearly a quarter of the U.S. citizen children that Colorlines.com found stuck in foster care as parents moved through detention and deportation are in California. The state Senate is moving forward with a bill that would keep their families together.

Worried About NYPD Spying? Go FOIL Yourself! In response to the slew of stories of NYPD spying on Muslims, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund has launched a mass Freedom of Information Law campaign—GO FOIL YOURSELF—to help individuals find out if they have their own NYPD file.

Anti-Gay Marriage Group Looked to Divide Gays, Latinos and Blacks Confidential documents show one of the nation’s leading anti-gay groups planned to defeat campaigns for gay marriage across the country by “fanning the hostility” between black voters and gay voters.

People of Color Tell Their ‘I Could Be Trayvon’ Stories on Tumblr

IcouldBeTrayvon.com asks visitors to share stories and pictures about their personal experiences with racial profiling.

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. . . .AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: “THE LOTTERY”

The short story The Lottery was originally published  in The New Yorker magazine on June 26, 1948. It was written by Shirley Jackson (Dec 14, 1916 – Aug 8, 1965). Up until then, Ms. Jackson was an American author who was unheard of until she gained fame – and notoriety – with her short story. The story ignited a cascade of hate mail and cancelled subscriptions. 

Many readers interpreted the story as an attack on the values of small towns across America.  What should be understood is that during the late 1940s, when this short story was published, many city councils across America sponsored weekly cash-prize lotteries that would draw people together in rural communities.  The lotteries were meant to create commerce for the local merchants.   Despite its reception at the time it was published, the story has achieved cult status as a short story classic and it is widely read in American classrooms today.

After viewing the movie The Hunger Games, which is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, I decided to post this not-so-well-known short story. The Hunger Games addresses a dystopian society in a future America, where in the ruins of a nation once known as America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV, where two young people, via a national lottery, are pitted against other young people from various districts to fight to the death, with only one victor left standing. The two young people must fight using their wits and skills, gladiator-style to stay alive and if they survive, bring glory to their district, all the while this bread and circus spectacle is beamed to the twelve districts as a live reality show.

The Lottery precedes The Hunger Games (Reprint edition July 3, 2010) by six decades, but, its message even for that time still made for a story that made quite an impact on its readers, as it still does today. Just as in The Hunger Games there is a rebellion against the lottery, so too in The Lottery there a rebellion (albeit a last minute rebellion) against what is about to take place as a result of the lottery, but, in the end, the lottery continues, as it has become so deeply ingrained into the communities that it has become the common and the routine in their daily lives. A community or nation, that could settle so comfortably into a tyrannical and totalitarian society that worships bloodlust and death.

I now present to you, The Lottery.

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The Lottery
by Shirley Jackson
The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 26. But in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner. The children assembled first, of course. School was recently over for the summer, and the feeling of liberty sat uneasily on most of them; they tended to gather together quietly for a while before they broke into boisterous play, and their talk was still of the classroom and the teacher, of books and reprimands. Bobby Martin had already stuffed his pockets full of stones, and the other boys soon followed his example, selecting the smoothest and roundest stones; Bobby and Harry Jones and Dickie Delacroix– the villagers pronounced this name “Dellacroy”–eventually made a great pile of stones in one corner of the square and guarded it against the raids of the other boys. The girls stood aside, talking among themselves, looking over their shoulders at the boys, and the very small children rolled in the dust or clung to the hands of their older brothers or sisters. Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed. The women, wearing faded house dresses and sweaters, came shortly after their menfolk. They greeted one another and exchanged bits of gossip as they went to join their husbands. Soon the women, standing by their husbands, began to call to their children, and the children came reluctantly, having to be called four or five times. Bobby Martin ducked under his mother’s grasping hand and ran, laughing, back to the pile of stones. His father spoke up sharply, and Bobby came quickly and took his place between his father and his oldest brother.The lottery was conducted–as were the square dances, the teen club, the Halloween program–by Mr. Summers. who had time and energy to devote to civic activities. He was a round-faced, jovial man and he ran the coal business, and people were sorry for him because he had no children and his wife was a scold. When he arrived in the square, carrying the black wooden box, there was a murmur of conversation among the villagers, and he waved and called. “Little late today, folks.” The postmaster, Mr. Graves, followed him, carrying a three- legged stool, and the stool was put in the center of the square and Mr. Summers set the black box down on it. The villagers kept their distance, leaving a space between themselves and the stool and when Mr. Summers said, “Some of you fellows want to give me a hand?” there was a hesitation before two men, Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, came forward to hold the box steady on the stool while Mr. Summers stirred up the papers inside it.The original paraphernalia for the lottery had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Warner, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Summers spoke frequently to the villagers about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as much tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here. Every year, after the lottery, Mr. Summers began talking again about a new box, but every year the subject was allowed to fade off without anything’s being done. The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained.Mr. Martin and his oldest son, Baxter, held the black box securely on the stool until Mr. Summers had stirred the papers thoroughly with his hand. Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Summers had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood, Mr. Summers had argued, had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing, it was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into the black box. The night before the lottery, Mr. Summers and Mr. Graves made up the slips of paper and put them in the box, and it was then taken to the safe of Mr. Summers’ coal company and locked up until Mr. Summers was ready to take it to the square next morning. The rest of the year, the box was put way, sometimes one place, sometimes another; it had spent one year in Mr. Graves’s barn and another year underfoot in the post office. and sometimes it was set on a shelf in the Martin grocery and left there.There was a great deal of fussing to be done before Mr. Summers declared the lottery open. There were the lists to make up–of heads of families, heads of households in each family, members of each household in each family. There was the proper swearing-in of Mr. Summers by the postmaster, as the official of the lottery; at one time, some people remembered, there had been a recital of some sort, performed by the official of the lottery, a perfunctory tuneless chant that had been rattled off duly each year; some people believed that the official of the lottery used to stand just so when he said or sang it, others believed that he was supposed to walk among the people, but years and years ago this part of the ritual had been allowed to lapse. There had been, also, a ritual salute, which the official of the lottery had to use in addressing each person who came up to draw from the box, but this also had changed with time, until now it was felt necessary only for the official to speak to each person approaching. Mr. Summers was very good at all this; in his clean white shirt and blue jeans, with one hand resting carelessly on the black box, he seemed very proper and important as he talked interminably to Mr. Graves and the Martins.Just as Mr. Summers finally left off talking and turned to the assembled villagers, Mrs. Hutchinson came hurriedly along the path to the square, her sweater thrown over her shoulders, and slid into place in the back of the crowd. “Clean forgot what day it was,” she said to Mrs. Delacroix, who stood next to her, and they both laughed softly. “Thought my old man was out back stacking wood,” Mrs. Hutchinson went on, “and then I looked out the window and the kids was gone, and then I remembered it was the twenty-seventh and came a-running.” She dried her hands on her apron, and Mrs. Delacroix said, “You’re in time, though. They’re still talking away up there.”

Mrs. Hutchinson craned her neck to see through the crowd and found her husband and children standing near the front. She tapped Mrs. Delacroix on the arm as a farewell and began to make her way through the crowd. The people separated good-humoredly to let her through: two or three people said, in voices just loud enough to be heard across the crowd, “Here comes your, Missus, Hutchinson,” and “Bill, she made it after all.” Mrs. Hutchinson reached her husband, and Mr. Summers, who had been waiting, said cheerfully, “Thought we were going to have to get on without you, Tessie.” Mrs. Hutchinson said, grinning, “Wouldn’t have me leave m’dishes in the sink, now, would you. Joe?,” and soft laughter ran through the crowd as the people stirred back into position after Mrs. Hutchinson’s arrival.

“Well, now.” Mr. Summers said soberly, “guess we better get started, get this over with, so’s we can go back to work. Anybody ain’t here?”

“Dunbar.” several people said. “Dunbar. Dunbar.”

Mr. Summers consulted his list. “Clyde Dunbar.” he said. “That’s right. He’s broke his leg, hasn’t he? Who’s drawing for him?”

“Me. I guess,” a woman said, and Mr. Summers turned to look at her. “Wife draws for her husband.” Mr. Summers said. “Don’t you have a grown boy to do it for you, Janey?” Although Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer perfectly well, it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask such questions formally. Mr. Summers waited with an expression of polite interest while Mrs. Dunbar answered.

“Horace’s not but sixteen yet.” Mrs. Dunbar said regretfully. “Guess I gotta fill in for the old man this year.”

“Right.” Sr. Summers said. He made a note on the list he was holding. Then he asked, “Watson boy drawing this year?”

A tall boy in the crowd raised his hand. “Here,” he said. “I m drawing for my mother and me.” He blinked his eyes nervously and ducked his head as several voices in the crowd said things like “Good fellow, lack.” and “Glad to see your mother’s got a man to do it.”

“Well,” Mr. Summers said, “guess that’s everyone. Old Man Warner make it?”

“Here,” a voice said, and Mr. Summers nodded.

A sudden hush fell on the crowd as Mr. Summers cleared his throat and looked at the list. “All ready?” he called. “Now, I’ll read the names–heads of families first–and the men come up and take a paper out of the box. Keep the paper folded in your hand without looking at it until everyone has had a turn. Everything clear?”

The people had done it so many times that they only half listened to the directions: most of them were quiet, wetting their lips, not looking around. Then Mr. Summers raised one hand high and said, “Adams.” A man disengaged himself from the crowd and came forward. “Hi. Steve.” Mr. Summers said, and Mr. Adams said, “Hi. Joe.” They grinned at one another humorlessly and nervously. Then Mr. Adams reached into the black box and took out a folded paper. He held it firmly by one corner as he turned and went hastily back to his place in the crowd, where he stood a little apart from his family, not looking down at his hand.

“Allen.” Mr. Summers said. “Anderson…. Bentham.”

“Seems like there’s no time at all between lotteries any more.” Mrs. Delacroix said to Mrs. Graves in the back row.

“Seems like we got through with the last one only last week.”

“Time sure goes fast, ” Mrs. Graves said.

“Clark…. Delacroix”.

“There goes my old man,” Mrs. Delacroix said. She held her breath while her husband went forward.

“Dunbar,” Mr. Summers said, and Mrs. Dunbar went steadily to the box while one of the women said, “Go on. Janey,” and another said, “There she goes.”

“We’re next.” Mrs. Graves said. She watched while Mr. Graves came around from the side of the box, greeted Mr. Summers gravely and selected a slip of paper from the box. By now, all through the crowd there were men holding the small folded papers in their large hand, turning them over and over nervously. Mrs. Dunbar and her two sons stood together, Mrs. Dunbar holding the slip of paper.

“Harburt…. Hutchinson.”

“Get up there, Bill,” Mrs. Hutchinson said, and the people near her laughed.

“Jones.”

“They do say,” Mr. Adams said to Old Man Warner, who stood next to him, “that over in the north village they’re talking of giving up the lottery.”

Old Man Warner snorted. “Pack of crazy fools,” he said. “Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while. Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There’s always been a lottery,” he added petulantly. “Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody.”

“Some places have already quit lotteries.” Mrs. Adams said.

“Nothing but trouble in that,” Old Man Warner said stoutly. “Pack of young fools.”

“Martin.” And Bobby Martin watched his father go forward. “Overdyke…. Percy.”

“I wish they’d hurry,” Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son. “I wish they’d hurry.”

“They’re almost through,” her son said.

“You get ready to run tell Dad,” Mrs. Dunbar said.

Mr. Summers called his own name and then stepped forward precisely and selected a slip from the box. Then he called, “Warner.”

“Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery,” Old Man Warner said as he went through the crowd. “Seventy-seventh time.”

“Watson” The tall boy came awkwardly through the crowd. Someone said, “Don’t be nervous, Jack,” and Mr. Summers said, “Take your time, son.”

“Zanini.”

After that, there was a long pause, a breathless pause, until Mr. Summers. holding his slip of paper in the air, said, “All right, fellows.” For a minute, no one moved, and then all the slips of paper were opened. Suddenly, all the women began to speak at once, saying,  “Who is it?,” “Who’s got it?,” “Is it the Dunbars?,” “Is it the Watsons?” Then the voices began to say, “It’s Hutchinson. It’s Bill,” “Bill Hutchinson’s got it.”

“Go tell your father,” Mrs. Dunbar said to her older son.

People began to look around to see the Hutchinsons. Bill Hutchinson was standing quiet, staring down at the paper in his hand. Suddenly, Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. “You didn’t give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair!”

“Be a good sport, Tessie.” Mrs. Delacroix called, and Mrs. Graves said, “All of us took the same chance.”

“Shut up, Tessie,” Bill Hutchinson said.

“Well, everyone,” Mr. Summers said, “that was done pretty fast, and now we’ve got to be hurrying a little more to get done in time.” He consulted his next list. “Bill,” he said, “you draw for the Hutchinson family. You got any other households in the Hutchinsons?”

“There’s Don and Eva,” Mrs. Hutchinson yelled. “Make them take their chance!”

“Daughters draw with their husbands’ families, Tessie,” Mr. Summers said gently. “You know that as well as anyone else.”

“It wasn’t fair,” Tessie said.

“I guess not, Joe.” Bill Hutchinson said regretfully. “My daughter draws with her husband’s family; that’s only fair. And I’ve got no other family except the kids.”

“Then, as far as drawing for families is concerned, it’s you,” Mr. Summers said in explanation, “and as far as drawing for households is concerned, that’s you, too. Right?”

“Right,” Bill Hutchinson said.

“How many kids, Bill?” Mr. Summers asked formally.

“Three,” Bill Hutchinson said.

“There’s Bill, Jr., and Nancy, and little Dave. And Tessie and me.”

“All right, then,” Mr. Summers said. “Harry, you got their tickets back?”

Mr. Graves nodded and held up the slips of paper. “Put them in the box, then,” Mr. Summers directed. “Take Bill’s and put it in.”

“I think we ought to start over,” Mrs. Hutchinson said, as quietly as she could. “I tell you it wasn’t fair. You didn’t give him time enough to choose. Everybody saw that.”

Mr. Graves had selected the five slips and put them in the box, and he dropped all the papers but those onto the ground, where the breeze caught them and lifted them off.

“Listen, everybody,” Mrs. Hutchinson was saying to the people around her.

“Ready, Bill?” Mr. Summers asked, and Bill Hutchinson, with one quick glance around at his wife and children, nodded.

“Remember,” Mr. Summers said. “take the slips and keep them folded until each person has taken one. Harry, you help little Dave.” Mr. Graves took the hand of the little boy, who came willingly with him up to the box. “Take a paper out of the box, Davy.” Mr. Summers said. Davy put his hand into the box and laughed. “Take just one paper.” Mr. Summers said. “Harry, you hold it for him.” Mr. Graves took the child’s hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly.

“Nancy next,” Mr. Summers said. Nancy was twelve, and her school friends breathed heavily as she went forward switching her skirt, and took a slip daintily from the box “Bill, Jr.,” Mr. Summers said, and Billy, his face red and his feet over large, near knocked the box over as he got a paper out. “Tessie,” Mr. Summers said. She hesitated for a minute, looking around defiantly, and then set her lips and went up to the box. She snatched a paper out and held it behind her.

“Bill,” Mr. Summers said, and Bill Hutchinson reached into the box and felt around, bringing his hand out at last with the slip of paper in it.

The crowd was quiet. A girl whispered, “I hope it’s not Nancy,” and the sound of the whisper reached the edges of the crowd.

“It’s not the way it used to be.” Old Man Warner said clearly. “People ain’t the way they used to be.”

“All right,” Mr. Summers said. “Open the papers. Harry, you open little Dave’s.”

Mr. Graves opened the slip of paper and there was a general sigh through the crowd as he held it up and everyone could see that it was blank. Nancy and Bill, Jr. opened theirs at the same time, and both beamed and laughed, turning around to the crowd and holding their slips of paper above their heads.

“Tessie,” Mr. Summers said. There was a pause, and then Mr. Summers looked at Bill Hutchinson, and Bill unfolded his paper and showed it. It was blank.

“It’s Tessie,” Mr. Summers said, and his voice was hushed. “Show us her paper, Bill.”

Bill Hutchinson went over to his wife and forced the slip of paper out of her hand. It had a black spot on it, the black spot Mr. Summers had made the night before with the heavy pencil in the coal company office. Bill Hutchinson held it up, and there was a stir in the crowd.

“All right, folks.” Mr. Summers said. “Let’s finish quickly.”

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. The pile of stones the boys had made earlier was ready; there were stones on the ground with the blowing scraps of paper that had come out of the box Delacroix selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands and turned to Mrs. Dunbar. “Come on,” she said. “Hurry up.”

Mr. Dunbar had small stones in both hands, and she said. gasping for breath. “I can’t run at all. You’ll have to go ahead and I’ll catch up with you.”

The children had stones already. And someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles.

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, “Come on, come on, everyone.” Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.

“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

-from The Lottery and Other Stories, by Shirley Jackson

The New Yorker: Audio podcast discussion by fiction editor , Deborah Treisman. The Lottery, read by A. M. Homes.

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HATEWATCH: CALLING ALL BLACK PEOPLE: NOM WANTS TO USE YOU

Calling All Black People: NOM Wants to Use You

by  Mark Potok  on March 27, 2012

Black folks, this is a message for you: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country’s preeminent group fighting against same-sex marriage, really, really likes you. They even want to make some of you famous!

Have NOM’s principal leaders, former president Maggie Gallagher and current leader Brian S. Brown, stood up for African Americans before? Well, not so much. But it turns out that they’ve decided that you’re actually very important.

That unexpected revelation came out yesterday, when the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign publicized the contents of some previously confidential 2009 documents outlining NOM’s strategies for winning the national battle for “traditional marriage.” (The documents were just unsealed in a Maine court case over NOM’s refusal to identify its donors there, as required by state law.) “The strategic goal of this project,” NOM said, “is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”

Translation: Let’s get people who support marriage equality to denounce black opponents, making them look like evil racists. Maybe that’ll make people forget that the vast majority of black civil rights leaders support same-sex marriage.

Could this be something more than simply exploiting black people — folks who NOM figures would be hard for Democrats to criticize without splitting their base — for the cynical uses of opponents of same-sex marriage?

No, NOM’s pretty transparent about that. The “project” to which its call for a wedge strategy refers carries this title in the newly released document: “Not a Civil Rights Project.” They couldn’t make it much clearer than that, could they?

The newly released documents are remarkable, in part, because NOM has made much of keeping its battle, as well as its propaganda, both civil and factual. But as we say in a story published today— an article on NOM originally scheduled to be published in the forthcoming May issue of the Intelligence Report — NOM can be less than honest in its use of propaganda. Among other things, we point out that although NOM says it has no evidence that gay men molest children at higher rates than straight men, it frequently links to websites of others who claim to. We also point out that NOM, despite its claims, keeps bringing up the subject of children and sex.

Turns out that’s part of the plan, too. In one NOM documents entitled “Sideswiping Obama,” the group urges activists to raise “such issues as pornography” and “the protection of children.” “We will put a special focus on exposing those administration programs that have the effect of sexualizing children,” along with other “policy threats to children.”

What do pornography and sexual threats to children have to do with same-sex marriage? Well, nothing really. But as another NOM document points out, the object isn’t so much to appeal to rational argument, but rather “a new, more emotionally powerful set of messages.” You know, like gay men molesting your kids.

Let’s get back to using certain racial and ethnic groups to battle same-sex marriage for a moment. NOM points out that the Latino vote in America is “a key swing vote” and suggests a good way to appeal to that constituency: “[G]ather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites.” And they’ve already talked to a former Mexican beauty queen! Because Latinos apparently are into those “glamorous noncognitive elites.”

NOM isn’t the first organization to use such cynical marketing ploys, schemes that seem to have little do with the interests of the people they claim to represent, and it certainly won’t be the last. But the revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting. Because that is precisely what it has done.

SOURCE

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF SLAVERY VICTIMS AND THE TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE: MARCH 25, 2012

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Quick Facts

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade remembers the lives of Africans who were forced into slavery in North, Central and South America.

Local names

Name Language
International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade English
Día Internacional de Rememoración de las Víctimas de la Esclavitud y la Trata Transatlántica de Esclavos Spanish

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is on March 25 each year. It honors the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.

Broken ChainThe International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade remembers the lives of transatlantic slave trade victims. ©iStockphoto.com/Perttu Sironen

What do people do?

Various events are held on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These include memorial services and vigils for those who died in slavery, as a result of the slave trade, or from campaigning to end of slavery. In addition, African-American inspired music is performed and exhibitions of art and poetry inspired during the slave trade era are opened.

This day is also an occasion to educate the public, especially young people, about the effects of racism, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Educational events are held in schools, colleges and universities.

Public life

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

About 17 million people were transported against their will from Africa to North, Central and South America during the 16th century and up until the 19th century. Millions more died while being transported to the Americas. This mass deportation and resulting slavery are seen as one of the worst violations of human rights. Some experts believe that its effects are still felt in Africa’s economies.

Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade’s causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice.

On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008.

Themes

The theme in 2008 was “Breaking the Silence, Lest We Forget”.

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Tue Mar 25 2008 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Wed Mar 25 2009 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Thu Mar 25 2010 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Fri Mar 25 2011 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Sun Mar 25 2012 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Mon Mar 25 2013 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Tue Mar 25 2014 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance
Wed Mar 25 2015 International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade United Nations observance

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STAND YOUR GROUND


Cartoon by R.J. Matson, St. Lous Post-Dispatch (View more cartoons by Matson)

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