“I Lit My Purest Candle…”-Tim Buckley

 

You see, I am a poet, and not quite right in the head, darling. It’s only that.”

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Tim Buckley’s “Morning Glory” song is one of my favorites of all of his compositions. Another poet who used a candle in one of her most famous poems was born today in 1892 in Maine: Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Coming from an impoverished background, Millay couldn’t afford college; one day a woman heard a young Edna recite one of her poems and decided to pay Millay’s tuition for Vassar College. After graduating, Edna St. Vincent Millay made her home in Greenwich Village along with so many other writers and musicians. She was very popular during the Jazz Age.  Millay was the first female to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for her poetry volume, “The Harp Weaver,” which contains a favorite childhood poem of mine, “The Ballad of the Harp Weaver,” which begins with:

“SON,” said my mother,

  When I was knee-high,

“You’ve need of clothes to cover you,

  And not a rag have I.”

An Incomparable Artist

 

with James Baldwin

Nina Simone was born today in 1933 in North Carolina. My husband and I continue to listen to her and hear her influences in many of today’s artists, whether they’re aware of it or not. She was a huge personality…strong…powerful…direct and her original compositions, such as “4 Women” were evident of that. Nina Simone was an outstanding interpreter of lyrics, mood, nuance and just the best of the best. I urge you to read about Nina Simone and her very interesting & sometimes, turbulent, life. In the meantime, enjoy the selections:

My Lazy Days of Winter

      

      

“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”-Tchaikovsky

It has been 4 days since my last posting. Just didn’t know what to write about. Life has been OK, no emergencies…Mom’s doing all right, though she’s been in the house for weeks due to the weather and the mountains of snow; yet she doesn’t complain. As long as I always have library books for her and she does her daily crossword puzzle, she’s not bored. How lucky I am that she has never been a demanding person who needs to be entertained. Speaking of Mom, I’ve written before on the time she took me uptown to see a panel discussion on Civil Rights in the early 60s at the NY Society for Ethical Culture. The society is over 100 years old. I definitely remember Sydney Poitier and Harry Belafonte being on the panel and I think James Baldwin also was there among others. Well, today is Mr. Poitier’s 87th birthday!!!  I remember mom and I going to the movies to see “Lilies of the Field” and singing “Amen” along with Sydney Poitier and the nuns. I’ve seen every one of his movies. Today also marks the death of the great Frederick Douglass in 1895. It was a sudden death after having a very nice and productive day at a Women’s Rights conference. Folksinger, Buffy Sainte-Marie was born today in 1941. Always loved her music.

So, I found a little inspiration today to do my blog posting! Yay!

Hope all are well out there in WordPress Land!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Knowledge IS Power”-Malcolm X

   

Yesterday, when I heard that a NYC technology teacher in Flushing, Queens, told his students they couldn’t do reports on Malcolm X, it just reminded me that there are some teachers out there who do not do their HW; that do not know the whole story; that do not educate themselves. It was sad and reminded me of the time I wrote a play for my students that had a song about the release of Mandela from jail that exact month, February, 1990. I had some parents come over to me and say, “I heard this or I heard that about Mandela and I’m not sure the kids should be singing this.” I reassured them with knowledge. “Knowledge is power” as Malcolm said and the show went on. I hope those students and their parents, when they heard about the death of Mandela, remembered their moment on stage. On 2/11/90, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and onto the world stage to change many lives for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Light Has Not Gone Out

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

85 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. His light and his humanity continue to glow. Dr. King greatly influenced how I developed lesson plans; how I provided a safe learning environment for my students and their families; what I taught and how I taught it. Dr. King’s picture always hung in my son’s room and he took it to college with him and to his apartment in the city when he moved out and began teaching in Harlem. He regularly referred to a book he had with Dr. King’s speeches for inspiration.  Dr. King was someone we talked about in our home. I hope that his words and actions and the love he had for humanity never dim and never go out. We need them more than ever.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

As It Snows in NY…

       

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.”-Dr. John Hope Franklin

I’m thinking about my son living in the heat of Southeastern India with his girlfriend, their adopted dog and adopted cat. They decided to teach in India since it would give them the opportunity to learn about people, different cultures and travel; something that would be quite difficult to do if they had children and the responsibility of a mortgage. They are right. Today, the lovely and gentle historian, John Hope Franklin was born in 1915 in Oklahoma. I remember seeing him quite a few times on PBS. Not only was he an historian, writer, educator, I remember listening to him talk about his love for and cultivation of African violets.

Dr. Hope’s love of the flower, his love of learning, his love of traveling all stemmed from his teacher/librarian-mom and lawyer-dad who took the family with him summers when he taught summer schools all over and from those campus bases, the family would continue to travel. Both of his parents cultivated plants in NYC on their window sills, gardenias and African violets.

“As a distinguished scholar, he has used his authority and expertise to foster political and social change. And as a teacher, he has inspired his many students and colleagues to delve deeper into the causes and remedies of inequality, bigotry, and oppression.”jhfc, duke university

Dr. Franklin lived a long life and assisted many of the well-known figures of the 20th Century as they worked hard for equality and Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall, Dr. King, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois and many others. His books taught many of us real history.

I know my son would agree with Dr. Hope’s assessment of travel and plans to use the “glories of” his “journey” wherever he goes and whatever he does in life. Safe travels, my son!

 

 

 

“I Got My Start By Giving Myself a Start.”-Madame C.J. Walker

As a young adult and classroom teacher, Madame C.J. Walker always fascinated me and was truly someone I admired and shared my admiration with my students. Her hair products changed the hair industry and she was the first African American millionairess. What a magical moment for African American women when their hair needs were addressed and they could find products made just for them! Her life story is very interesting and I would read any biography that came out on her and also on her daughter, her only child, A’Lelia Walker who conducted salons during the Harlem Renaissance. Oh to be a fly on the wall during those sessions!!!  I would recommend a book I read about 11 years ago written by Madame C.J. Walker’s great, great-grandaughter, A’Lelia Walker Bundles: On Her Own Ground.

“I really hope that they look at the totality of [Madam Walker’s] life, that it was great that she became a millionaire, but for me, what is really significant and memorable is that she used her wealth and her influence to make a difference: as a woman who advocated economic independence for African-American women, as a philantropist who gave the largest gift to the NAACP they had ever received on their anti-lynching campaign, a patron of the arts.”A’Lelia Bundles on her great, great-grandmother, Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker was born today in 1867.

This day in history contains more magic….The Drifters, This Magic Moment, was recorded today in 1959!