Thank You President Nelson Mandela

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Dear Readers,

Brooklyn Legends joins the world in mourning the loss of President Nelson Mandela, who has been justly referred to as one of the world’s greatest sons!  It is heartwarming to read the tributes from around the world for there was a time when Nelson Mandela’s name was not always highly regarded in some circles — even here in the United States of America.

In the late 1980s, President Ronald Reagan placed President Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) on America’s official list of terrorist groups.  In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution that called for Mandela to be released from prison.

In 2004, after President Mandela criticized the war in Iraq, an article published in the National Review said “his (Mandela’s) vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given the longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.”  As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list.

Why is this so important to remember now?  For me the answer is simple, we should never forget that Nelson Mandela’s struggle continued long after he was released from prison.  We should watch as many will clamor to be a part of President Mandela’s funeral so that history can record their name.  We should never forget that the leaders of our own country did not always lend their voices in support of all that he was fighting to achieve for his people and his country.  How could they?  These were the same injustices that African-Americans were fighting against here in America.

Nothing was given to President Mandela.  He earned every accolade, every triumph and every reward that he received.

Thank you President Mandela for staying the course.  Rest in peace!

“What A Wonderful World”

Dear Readers,

For the past few weeks, I have seen several posts where people, from all walks of life, were asked to name one song that reminded them of Thanksgiving.

Now there were several answers.  However, the one song that came up repeatedly was by the late, great Louis Armstrong.  The name of the song?  What a Wonderful World!

Enjoy.

On This Labor Day – I’m Grateful!

Quote

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Workplace Diversity

As we prepare to celebrate another Labor Day, I find myself thinking about everything my grandparents instilled in me about work.  I was always reminded that job excellence was the highest form of gratitude I could demonstrate.

As we all know, there was a time when an African-American women like me, could only dream of having a full-time job with benefits and paid holidays.  Of course there are days when I am ready to leave the building and retreat to the comfort of my home, but it does not take me long to realize just how fortunate I am.

I came across a quote from someone whom we all admire that I would like to share.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance,
and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We Pause to Remember – The Murder of Emmett Till

Emmett-Till

Emmett Till

What an inspiring weekend we just witnessed – the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I was proud to see so many venerable groups come together, just as they did on August 28, 1963. The first “March,” was the culmination of many hopes and dreams. Fifty years later, we have made great progress, but there is still much work for all of us to do.

On a more somber note, August 28th holds a painful memory that we should pause to remember – the brutal murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American boy who was killed for reportedly flirting with a white woman. Young Emmett was a native of Chicago, Illinois who was spending the summer with family and friends in Money, Mississippi.

For those who might be familiar with this tragedy, you will also recall the state of his body when he was sent back to Chicago for burial. When his remains arrived Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on viewing her son’s body. She would later state “that the stench was so strong, it was noticeable two blocks away. Despite the gut-wrenching site, she made the decision to have an open casket funeral saying “there was just no way I could describe who, or what was in that box. No way. And, I just wanted the world to see.”

022113-music-emmett-till-family-1

Emmett and Mamie

The same venerable organizations that came together to March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom eight years after Emmett’s murder, stood with Mamie Till Mobley in her fight for justice. Indeed Emmett’s brutal murder was a catalyst for the fight for civil rights that was heard throughout the country. In addition to seeking support from various civil rights groups, Emmett’s mother also turned to the government – her government – for help. Tragically, her plea for justice fell on deaf ears. She tried to meet with President Dwight Eisenhower, but he refused. Her pain was further exacerbated when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote in a memo:

“There has been no allegation made that the victim (Emmett Till) has been subjected to the deprivation of any right or privilege which is secured and protected by the Constitution and the laws of the United States…”

This was truly a dark time in America’s history and the fight for racial and social justice. However, Emmett’s mother refused to harbor any malice in her heart. She spent her life raising awareness of what happened to her son, and she was an eloquent spokesperson for justice until her death in 2003.

As you go about your day tomorrow, please join Brooklyn Legends in remembering Emmett Till.

single-red-rose

In Loving Memory

Credits:
Background on Emmett Till – Wikipedia
The American Experience – http://www.pbs.org
The New York Times – January 7, 2003
Image of Emmett Till – Wikipedia.com
Image of Emmett and his mother – BET.com
Image of Mamie Till Mobley as her son’s remains are brought home – beststarphoto.com
Image of the red rose – smelltheflowersblog.wordpress.com

Brooklyn Legends – Week(s) In Review

Dear Readers:

The past few weeks have been extremely busy at work and have left me little time to devote to my weekly posts.  Please know that I truly enjoy connecting with you, and I am working to get back on schedule.  My first instinct was to write individual posts for each item that I wanted to share.  But I also realize summer is here and we all long to be out enjoying Brooklyn and meeting and celebrating with our own Brooklyn Legends.  This approach will allow me to share multiple topics, while maintaining the personal feel that I am so fond of.

A Memorial Day Tribute

photo US flag

On Monday, May 29th, Memorial Day was observed in the United States.  I was pleased to read so many tributes where the authors went to great lengths to make the distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Both observances are equally important.  However, it is my opinion that in the United   States we could do more to recognize the women and men who have died to protect the freedoms we enjoy.  Whenever I see and hear the words “Happy Memorial Day,” connected with a sale or other promotion, I feel a bit awkward and find the positioning to be insensitive; especially given the wars we are still involved with.  With so many other days to shop and save, I would like to see us become more mindful of everything we have to be thankful for.

There are two accounts of the origins of Memorial Day that I would like to share.  The first account comes from the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.  The second account comes from The Root and Black America Web.

Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to adorn the graves of the war dead with flowers.  Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30th of each year.  It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.  The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

photo obama lays wreath

Today, in the United States, Memorial Day is a federal holiday that occurs every year on the final Monday of May.  On this day we recognize the women and men who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  Many of the rituals that make up Memorial Day were born out of Decoration Day which originated after the American Civil War as mentioned above.  The one major difference is that today we extend this tribute to Americans who have died in all wars.

The Root and Black America Web

According to Black America Web, African-American veterans were the first to celebrate our fallen soldiers.  David Blight, a History Professor at Yale University, credits African-American soldiers in Charleston, South Carolina with launching the first Decoration Day, in honor of the Union’s war dead on May 1, 1865.

After the Civil War ended, these soldiers went to places where they knew hundreds of their fellow service men, who were also prisoners of war, were buried in mass graves.  As a show of humanity these soldiers, many who were recently freed slaves, gave their fellow service men a proper burial.  After the burials were complete, they decorated the graves.  According to legend, this ritual took hold and was the beginning of the Memorial Day tributes we now see across the country.  To read more of Professor Blight’s account, please click here.

The objective here is not to debate which account is more accurate but to simply point out the important contributions that people of African descent have made to shape our great nation.

We at Brooklyn Legends take great pride in saluting our fallen soldiers and thank them for all the sacrifices they have made.  It is our honor to pay tribute to them.

Happy Labor Day Jamaica!

photo kingston aerial

On Thursday, May 23, 2013, our sisters and brothers in Jamaica celebrated Labor Day.  When I think of Labor Day in New York City, I can clearly see the elaborate costumes, the bands marching with precision and the grand floats that participate in the annual Labor Day parade, held on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York.  People come from all over the United States, and Canada, to enjoy the festivities.  Many of our sisters and brothers from Jamaica take the lead in planning a range of events leading up to this special day.

As I was preparing to write this post, I thought surely the celebration in Jamaica is equally, if not more, spectacular?  So I decided to do a little research and was so impressed with what I learned.  Yes there are indeed wonderful celebrations in Jamaica.  Additionally, great emphasis is place on the importance of volunteering in the community.

History of Labor Day in Jamaica

Labor Day was originally known as Empire Day in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday.  On this day flags representing Jamaica and the United Kingdom were raised and patriotic songs were sung to honor England and the British Empire.

In 1961, a legislative act was made to drop Empire Day and to introduce the concept of Labor Day.  However, Labor Day celebrations drew tensions from opposing labor groups and sometimes ended in violent clashes.

After witnessing the various disruptions throughout the country, in 1972, Prime Minister Michael Manley introduced a new chapter to the celebration of Labor Day, filled with activities designed to integrate volunteer work and community outreach to foster a spirit of unity.  Since that time, emphasis has been placed on repainting schools, hospitals, police stations, churches, and roads.  People from all walks of life proudly participate in these activities.

photo jamaica waterfront

The day always ends with a huge celebration that is held either in the national stadium, or at the waterfront, in Kingston.

A Tribute to the Victims, and Survivors, of Oklahoma’s Recent Tornado

photo Pres Obama Oklahoma

On Monday, May 20, 2013, our sisters and brothers in Oklahoma were hit with a category 5 tornado which resulted in a path of destruction that stretched for 17 miles.  This hurricane took place during the day and many residents were completely caught off guard.  When the storm finally barreled through the state, 24 lives were lost.  There is an eerily haunting picture and caption on the cover of Time magazine that says it all:

photo Time mag cover

Shortly after the tornado, John D. Sutter, a journalist who writes for CNN’s Opinion column went to the rural town of Newcastle, Oklahoma and found the cul-de-sac where the tornado was born.  He decided to walk the full 17 miles to provide a daily account of what he found.  He also took to his twitter page and provided real-time tweets of his experience.  On the CNN page, he shares brief vignettes of Americans doing what they always do in times of hardship; pulling together to provide food, shelter and comfort, praying and holding each other up.  To read John’s account, please click here.

During his recent visit, he encountered many people who were also affected by the tornado of 1999.  Their resolve was strong and their faith unmovable.  Understandably, their spirits were a bit low but they were not broken.  People from all over the country have mobilized to assist in the cleanup, rescue and recovery efforts.  I know that the residents of Oklahoma will always be grateful for the assistance they have received.  While nothing will ever replace the lives that were lost, including the 7 children at Plaza Tower Elementary School, it is good to know that during our weakest movements we are not alone.  To learn more about ways that you can support the relief efforts, you can begin by visiting the Red Cross’ website.  For more information, please click here. These photos provide a glimpse at the recent devastation.

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Here are some tweets from John Sutter’s twitter page.

John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/24/13
First hour.  3.15 miles.  Still in the EF0 or EF1 part of the storm.  Tornado was building strength.  Thankfully not much damage #tornadowalk
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/24/13
Jason crawled out of a cellar find his home gone. First move/ Dig out the neighbors across the street #tornadowalk
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/24/13
Coming up on a block in SW OKC that was leveled in 99 tornado and again this week.
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/24/13
Briarwood Elementary in Moore.  Kids survived here but that’s hard to believe looking at it.  Stunned  #tornadowalk
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/25/13
Don’t expect today to be easy. Going by the elementary school where kids lost their lives.  And a hospital. #tornadowalk
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/25/13
PlazaTowers Elementary, where7 kinds died.  In rubble: plastic easter egg, chocolates, soggy cat in hat. #tornadowalk
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/25/13
Ok im getting away from the elementary school.  Too sad.  No emotional capacity.  Feel like a–hole voyeur. #tornadowalk
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/25/13
“You see it on TV but to see it first hand? It’s like you’re in a dream.” Fernando Ayala #tornadowalk
John D. Sutter @jdsutter 5/25/13
Memorial to the 7 elementary school victims.  One wood cross for each #tornadowalk

Sadly, on June 3rd, another tornado hit the same area in Oklahoma that was impacted on May 20th.  This storm claimed 18 lives.  At times like these, there are not many words we can say to provide comfort to those who are suffering.  However, we will continue to remember them in our prayers, and extend to them our best wishes, for that is who we are as a people.  Our natural instinct is to be of comfort to those who are in pain.

We at Brooklyn Legends salute the victims, survivors and first-responders of this tragedy.  We will remember them in our thoughts, prayers and conversations.  We have sent a modest donation to The Red Cross to support the relief efforts.  Please join us if you can.  Remember, every bit helps.

photo closing photo

Credits:

The US Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
United States Flag – interiors.blogspot.com
President Obama at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, 2013 – huffingtonpost.com
Arlington National Cemetery – images.search.yahoo.com
http//aglobalworld.com/holidays
Flag of Jamaica – google.co.uk
Photo of Kingston Jamaica – google.com
The Waterfront in Jamaica – Pinterest via Kamizzie
President Obama and the FEMA Team – whitehouse.gov
Time Magazine
John D. Sutter – Google.com
CNN.com

Slide show photos:
Teacher finds one of his students – Pinterest via Britney Campbell
Flag on the Ruins of a home in Oklahoma – US Air Force on Flickr
Dog lost during the storm – Godvine.com
Policemen assisting recovery efforts – Weather.aol.com
Two friends console each other – weather.aol.com
Thoughts and Payers – Fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net

Remembering the Victims, and Survivors, in Boston

photo RosesYesterday our sisters and brothers in Boston suffered unspeakable pain at the hands of another person.  What began as a beautiful day, where people from all over the world came to enjoy the annual Boston Marathon, ended in pain, confusion and despair.  I am heartened to see so many posts, calling for prayers and support for the people of this great city.  I also saw some responses that surprised me.  Some bloggers asked “what good will prayers do now?”  “Why are we always praying for something that has taken a bad turn?”

For me the answer is simple – what affects one of us, affects all of us.  The world is really closer than we think.  While I am safe in Brooklyn, NY, I, like many of you, have friends and family who live in Boston and the surrounding area.  Because at times like these all we have is each other, and it is the well-wishes and support of our fellow sisters and brothers that will help us all make it through tragedies such as this.

photo BostonMany of us will provide hands-on assistance to the people in Boston, further proof that we are all connected.  This morning I whispered a prayer for those who perished, and for those who  survived.  As we know, the survivors will live with haunting memories of the pain and agony of yesterday’s tragedy for years to come.

Many of the children who participated in yesterday’s race were running in honor of the children who were murdered in CT last year at Christmas time.  And now, sadly, some of them are no longer with us.

We at Brooklyn Legends are sending our best wishes, and prayers, for the victims and survivors of this tragedy.

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Credits:
Both pictures provided by google.com

In Honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Civil Rights Icon

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the passing of civil rights leader and icon, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The year was 1968, and the civil rights struggle was woven in the fabric of American life. The entire world watched as people of African and Caribbean descent fought to end racial and social injustices throughout the country. Hundreds of supporters would gather and march for equal access to education, housing, employment and voting rights.  We have made phenomenal progress but, as we also know, there is still much work to do.

I am happy to see so many tributes in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. This is simply awesome. When you have a moment, I encourage you to read The Root’s tribute: MLK’s Assassination: 12 Forgotten Facts – Forty-five years after his death, a look at lesser-known or overlooked details surrounding the tragedy.  Please click here to enjoy this article.  The New York Times has also prepared a tribute to Dr. King in its Times Topics section. Once there you will see an encyclopedic list of articles, newly digitized videos and archival photos. To see more, please click here.

martin-luther-king-jrAs we pay respect to Dr. King, we would be remiss if we did not salute his widow Mrs. Coretta Scott-King.  A devoted mother and community activist, she carried on her husband’s legacy, with unmistakable style and grace, until she passed on January 30, 2006.

In December 1968 Mike Wallace, of 60 Minutes, visited Mrs. King and her children at their home in Atlanta, Georgia.  This was the King family’s first Christmas without Dr. King.  We thought you might enjoy this special video. 

We at Brooklyn Legends are proud to salute Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a true American hero and his widow Mrs. Coretta Scott-King.
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Credits:
The Root’s Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – http://www.theroot.com
The New York Times Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – http://www.nytimes.com
Mike Wallace Interview with The King Family – http://www.cbs.com via YouTube

Photos:
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – http://www.nobelprize.org
The King family at home in Atlanta, GA – nydailynews.com