Remembering Cesar Chavez…A Hero for All

”It’s ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.”-Cesar Chavez

                                                                                      

How heartening to turn on the computer and see a young Cesar Chavez on the Google homepage to commemorate his birth today, March 31st in 1927. I remember seeing Mr. Chavez in person in NYC; seeing him on TV; listening to his speeches on WBAI and supporting his tireless work for the rights of migrant farm workers to unionize and receive benefits and be treated with dignity and respect.  I remember my family participating in the 1960s boycott of DelanoCalifornia grapes that Cesar Chavez helped organize.

We need another Cesar Chavez to be in the national forefront for the rights of immigrants; hardworking people who risk their lives to come to the U.S.A. to work, support their families, send their children to schools with hopes of bettering the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Woody Guthrie wrote “Pastures of Plenty” in 1941 as he traveled around the county promoting unions and workers’ rights. The lyrics are still relevant today. Listen to Arlo sing his dad’s song, Pastures of Plenty.

Read the lyrics: “Pastures of Plenty.”  A great song is always timeless and always relevant.

“SLOW DOWN, YOU MOVE TOO FAST.” -Paul Simon

On 3/30/1909, the Queensboro Bridge opened connecting the borough of Queens (the largest of the 5 boroughs) to the borough of Manhattan (the smallest borough).

The Queensboro Bridge was also known at the 59th Street bridge. Not too long ago, it was renamed for former mayor of NYC, Ed Koch, so it is now known as: Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

In 1966, Simon and Garfunkel came out with their wonderful song, The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy). I can remember “kicking down the cobblestones” found in some of the western areas of Greenwich Village.

Click onto: Simon & Garfunkel performing The 59th Street Bridge Song. Are you “Feeling Groovy” yet?  Hope you’re smiling!

“And who was wrong? And who was right? It didn’t matter in the thick of the fights.”-Billy Joel, (Goodnight Saigon)

Today marks 40 years since the very last of American troops exited from South Vietnam leaving approximately 58,000 of our soldiers dead and approximately 2 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians dead.

Looking forward to the day when all of our troops return safely from Afghanistan; sooner rather than later. The human cost of war affects all of us. Too many soldiers are killed; too many maimed; too many disabled; too many emotionally and mentally scarred for life. War affects everyone.

“If you love your Uncle Sam, Bring ‘em home, Bring ‘em home.” –Pete Seeger

The Right of Marriage With Full Benefits For ALL People

Edie WindsorEdie and Thea

Hundreds of years ago, the great orator and abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass said: “The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied its privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of its humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?”

Like all great thinkers, his words reverberate today in 2013 as the highest court in the land considers the right for Gays to enter into marriages with full rights and benefits in all 50 states. According to an October, 2012 Gallup poll, approximately 3.4% of Americans identify themselves as gay or bisexual or transgender.  What I can’t understand is why some people feel their lives are threatened by allowing people to marry whom they want to marry!   It just doesn’t make sense to me! 

I applaud 83 year old Edie Windsor for continuing the long battle in Washington, DC yesterday to gain her full marriage rights after her partner, Thea Speyer, died in 2009. If you haven’t seen the documentary on this remarkable couple, click on: A Very Long Engagement for a trailer.

It’s just so simple: people should marry whom they love.

 

 

 

“We Should Live Our Lives So We Could Make a Difference.” -Selma Rubin

I learned something new this morning; Selma Rubin was the co-founder of Earth Day! Where were you on the very first Earth Day?   I was 17 years old and my mom and I attended the first Earth Day celebration in NYC. I’m not quite sure who was there; Pete Seeger had to be there! I grew up seeing Pete many, many times, especially at the old South Street Seaport for free! 

Selma Rubin was born today in 1915 and died last year. Click onto her name above and watch the short video.  Likewise, make sure you click onto “first Earth Day…” above to see a short CBS news clip.  I just read a great memoriam in the Santa Barbara Independent that tells all about this great lady’s life.

Mom is going on 90 now, but she truly introduced me to the good things in life from the time I was a baby: Civil Rights, Tolerance, Justice, Literature, Ecology, Education, Family, Compassion, Empathy, Music, Theatre, Film, Poetry, Food…I am very lucky that I have this time with mom and that she lives nearby.

As Earth Day approaches, think of little things that you could do to make a difference in someone’s life.

What’s Your Definition of a Friend?

“Time doesn’t take away from friendship, nor does separation.”-Tennessee Williams

When I retired, I was so relieved not to have to drive over 80 miles per day back and forth to and from work. Upon hearing that, there are many (and I’ve heard them) that take it upon themselves to boast, “Oh, that’s nothing…I had to fly daily to my job….I had to drive 4 hours to my job….blah, blah, blah.”  Good for them. My distance in horrible weather, especially on the heavily congested Belt Parkway, without any promise of a parking spot, was my personal hell.  Getting to work was my first job, getting a parking spot my 2nd job; my actual job of teaching was a calling, I loved it. When my traveling days were over, I breathed many sighs of relief for several years, even now as I’m writing this.

Ending work brought an end to the daily companionship of women I became close friends with. We’d share stories on our families, movies we loved, recipes, politics and various topics of the day. Also, women I became friends with who moved away, are still friends today, mainly through email. I love technology and am quite grateful for it!

 I believe Tennessee Williams definition of a friend; time and distance doesn’t take away from the friendship.

My friends and I email daily. Once in a while we may call, but it’s most email. They read my blog! One time, about 2 years after I retired, they drove to see me in one car. It was a beautiful visit! But…really…who wants to shlep?  I know I don’t, so I am happy just to email. Recently, I’ve sent them morning videos with my hair sticking up sideways, sleep still in my eyes, wearing my raggedy red plaid robe and drinking my coffee in my Princeton mug. I just say, “Good morning, Friend!”  

Oh, btw, today is the birthday of Mr. Tennessee Williams, a favorite playwright of mine, who was born March 26th, 1911. Oh his plays were/are great: A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, and more, including movie scripts.  I watched his productions all the time and I was fascinated with his life, read biographies/autobiographies and remember seeing him several times on TV interviews. He had a difficult life…an understatement…but what a writer!

Can you still hear Marlon Brando bellowing, “HEY STELLA!!!!”     I can!

A Fighter for Equal Rights….and So Much More…Ms Gloria Steinem!

 

  “We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach. ” –Gloria Steinem

Happy, Happy 79th Birthday, Gloria Steinem!  For the younger generation, Gloria Steinem is an activist, writer, organizer, co-founder of MS magazine, and so much more. You can read about her by clicking onto Who is Gloria?   Also, try to catch the HBO documentary, Gloria: In Her Own Words AND the PBS documentary that Gloria was an integral part of: Makers: Women Who Make America.

For my generation, Gloria Steinem continues to be a courageous and inspirational individual who inspired many women to find their voice and make choices that were good for them and not choices based on society’s norms and intentions.