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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Special Day In American History

 Monday, January 21, 2013, marked a special day in American History. It was the second term of  America's first African American President, Barack Obama.  President Obama  used the same bible as civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Inaugural swearing in ceremony. Monday was also Dr. King's birthday, a federal holiday in the United States. I am quite sure the approximately four hundred Montford Point Marines watched the Inaugural Ceremonies with keen interest. The ceremonies lasted for hours, and Dad viewed the events with awe.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., March on Washington, 1963
This is where the Famous "I  Have A Dream Speech" was given.

Back in 2008, during President Obama's first campaign, Dad would  follow the broadcasts of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News. He would call his older sister in Daytona who is well versed in politics. Sometimes during the first Presidential campaign Dad had to turn away from politics, because his blood pressure would get so high.  A classic Western would then be turned on and he would announce in his Southern with Northeastern twinged accent*, " I must have seen this movie about eighty times." All of his children would nod their heads, because we knew this to be true.


Dad is far from a "TV Couch Potato".  Like his brothers and sisters, he is a voracious reader. Our household had a set of World Book Encyclopedias. Every morning my father reads the Hartford Courant, the nation's oldest continuously published paper, and when it was around, the afternoon paper, which was The Hartford Times. There were other local newspapers, plus Newsweek, Time, and of course, VFW magazines. (Veterans of Foreign War). There were also some military books. Luckily for us in Windsor, CT we had a local branch of the public library fifty yards away.

 I never forgot that line from the HBO series, "The Wire", where an ancillary character (Brother Mouzone) asked, "You know what the most dangerous thing in America is, right?  A N----- with a library card." "The Wire" is a show that is studied in major universities across the country. It was written by newspaper journalists who actually knew the subject matter personally, since they were assigned the Baltimore, Maryland beat. It did not win major television awards, but "The Wire" is considered a cult classic.

 Education is something you cannot take away from an African American. It allows an individual to think and not accept the status quo. For these reasons that is why enslaved Africans were not allowed to be taught to read or congregate. Sadly, there are African Americans today who brag about never having read a book!


Back to the inauguration of President Obama. The Montford Point Marines were extremely grateful for the support that President Obama gave them in the quest for the Congressional Medal of Honor. They experienced similar hatred and discrimination as The Commander and Chief experiences while trying to serve our country.

 My dad spotted Tuskegee Airmen during the Inaugural parade. I informed dad that it took decades for people to know about their contributions. The  Hollywood picture "Red Tails" had to be financed personally by director/producer George Lucas, of "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" fame. Major motion studios did not want to touch the film, because they thought there was no market for films with all black casts. (Source: BBC News, Jan. 12, 2012)

It took over twenty three years for the film to come into fruition. Social media, the press, church groups, and fraternal organizations were at the forefront in filling those movie seats. I caught a showing of the film in a packed house opening weekend, and sure enough there were local Tuskegee Airmen talking to movie patrons with a display table of memorabilia.

Photo courtesy of  L. Ramos, J.D.

I watched the Inauguration with my best friend and her little cousin. The words were inspirational and I could  not help but notice how diverse the speakers were. There was an air of inclusiveness, so much so that little Ayana from Miami was enthralled by the ceremony. Ayana is only four years old and smart as a whip. A candid photo of her was sent to Channel 7 news in Miami, and on to New York media, Twitter and beyond. Ayana has her armed raised as if she was taking the oath of President. Because in America, little Ayana's dreams can be realized. We can never underestimate the power of the media and images.

* Dad often used Northeastern phrases such as "youse guys" and sometimes a Southern "ya'll";  meaning "you all". When upset Dad would use the phrase "you people".  Nevertheless, he
 always emphasized proper phone etiquette and formal business speech.
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