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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You Think Your Pain and Your Heartbreak are Unprecedented in the History of the World, but Then You Read.” -James Baldwin, American Novelist, Essayist, Intellectual…

In 2013, the great thinker and writer, James Baldwin might (maybe not) add: “…but then you go on the Internet, or you download books onto your Kindle…”  We all experience pain and heartbreak of various kinds at some point in our lives. James Baldwin certainly experienced it as a Black man in America; as a homosexual in America; as a Black homosexual in America; as a thinker, writer, philosopher who spoke his mind in America. I loved his books (The Fire Next Time, Go Tell It On the Mountain, The Fire Next Time, Giovanni’s Room and so many more). his plays (“Blues for Mr. Charlie”), his interviews and admired him very much. Again, as I’ve previously stated in other postings, I probably have my mom to thank for she introduced me to a lot of writers and thinkers and musicians at a very tender age.  

James Baldwin was born today in 1924 in NYC. He attended De Witt Clinton HS (Class of ’42), where he wrote for The Magpie, the school’s literary magazine and The New School for Social Research.   For many years, Baldwin was considered controversial by some members of our society…he talked about race in very real terms and, though he loved his country, he couldn’t stay here and ended up moving to France where he found more peace living as a Black man and living as an openly gay man. Many Black artists and writers moved to Paris post WW II and found much more tolerance, but that’s a whole other posting for another time.

“When the protests of the late 1950s and 1960s that Baldwin wrote about brought the Paris expatriate back to the US, the connection between racial justice and democracy in America was once again at the center of the nation’s politics, asking every citizen to realize that his or her liberty was not freedom so long as other Americans were being denied their rights.”—Darryl Pinckney, The New York Review of Books, 11/25/10  It was in the early 60s that my mom schlepped me by train up to the Ethical Culture Society where we sat spellbound in the auditorium and listened to a Civil Rights Panel featuring Baldwin, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and others I can’t remember.

Baldwin knew pain and heartache very well beginning from his childhood and throughout his life, but he continued to move forward and was not a pessimist and knew without a doubt, “The hope of the world lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself.”

Anyone who has heard James Baldwin speak, will never forget the tonal quality of his voice, it was mellifluous, unforgettable. His words echo so true today in the 21st Century  in a letter he wrote to his nephew, also named James. This letter was published in December, 1962 and here is an excerpt: “This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish. Let me spell out precisely what I mean by that for the heart of the matter is here and the crux of my dispute with my country. You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits to your ambition were thus expected to be settled. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity. Wherever you have turned, James, in your short time on this earth, you have been told where you could go and what you could do and how you could do it, where you could live and whom you could marry.”The Progressive, 12/1962

 Of course things are better here, no one is denying that but it is important that we know our history, which includes “pain and heartbreak” and injustices and man’s inhumanity to man. As Baldwin pointed out in the quote used to title this posting, “…but then you read.”  That quote continues, “…It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” We are all connected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I am the me I choose to be.” –Sidney Poitier

Happy 86th Birthday MR. Sidney Poitier!!  Oh how I loved him and had a crush on him. What a human being, what an actor, what a face, what a man!!!!!!   Did you read The Measure of a Man?  I remember my mom taking me to the Ethical Society in NYC to see Mr. Poitier speak on Civil Rights with Harry Belafonte and I think James Baldwin, but I was very young, under 10, but I was mesmerized. That event had to be before 1963, so who knows who else was on that stage…Oh how I wish I could remember!!!!!   At ten, mom took me to see Sidney Poitier in “Lilies of the Field” where we both walked out singing, Amen.”  Watch Mr. Poitier teaching the nuns English in “Lilies of the Field” and singing with them right here.

It was individuals like Sidney Poitier who helped shape my national and world views, along with my parents, and took me with them on the road to equal rights for all. Thinking of Mr. Poitier this morning brings back such memories of an individual who helped develop the conscious of America…who fought long and hard in the Civil Rights Movement, who demonstrated integrity, pride, true American values, a zest for life, the true definition of a M-A-N. I hope the younger generation is propelled to look up Mr. Poitier and learn more about him. Again, Happy 86th Birthday, Sidney Poitier, a man for all times.