February is Black History Month and I hope that everyone takes the time to read, absorb & truly appreciate the OUTSTANDING contributions, culture, and history of our African American citizens, as well as ALL other cultural contributions that have shaped our country and made us great.
Additionally, I hope that you will take the time to do a DEEP study of our history, the great and the truly horrible, in order that we might enlarge our hearts, understanding, and also our minds. I also highly encourage you to TRAVEL when able, to all the AMAZING historical and cultural destinations we have in this OUTSTANDING country of ours.
I am blessed in my life to have friends of all races, denominations, and orientations, and I treasure each and every one of them. I grew up in a socioeconomic environment that exposed me to many cultures and races. I have also been blessed with a passion for reading and learning, and a vibrant love for, and opportunities to travel. All of these have greatly enriched my life.
*Shirley Chisholm– first African American woman elected to Congress, 1969-1983. Incredibly tenacious and inspiring!
*Desmond Tutu– South African Anglican cleric and theologian, known for his work as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist. Bishop of Johannesburg from 1985 to 1986 and then the Archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, in both cases being the first Black African to hold the position. Theologically, he sought to fuse ideas from black theology with African theology. He also oversaw the introduction of women priests.
*Dave Chappelle– American comedian/Actor/Producer/Writer & multi AWARD winner. I love his humor but more than that I admire his bravery in standing for his convictions. In 2004, Dave donated his time to Seeds of Peace Intn’l Camp, located in Otisfield, Maine, which brings together young leaders from communities in conflict. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Chappelle
*Maya Angelou-American Singer/Actor/Writer/Poet/Speaker/Author is a HERO of mine for SO MANY reasons (see my photo at the end of this blog)
*One of my ALL TIME favorite historical photo’s and one of my all time HERO’s, Jesse Owens. Captured here after winning GOLD at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany *Note the Hitler salute of the SILVER medalist LUZ LONG. *Read about Jesse and Luz’s relationship in FUN FACTS!
*I visited the Vicksburg National Military Park summer of 2020 with a dear friend and we had the WHOLE park to ourselves! If you ever get the chance to go, please do! It is SO inspiring! Please read up on ALL the INCREDIBLE UNSUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN ( and ALL ETHNIC) war HERO’s, they DESERVE our ADORATION!! *
*USS Cod Submarine Memorial, Cleveland, OH. These submarines are SO SMALL inside! I don’t know how the men & women of the U.S. Navy do it, I really don’t. God bless them!
*pictured Michael Smith, age 8, 1998
*John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Cleveland, Oh./*Kennedy Space Center Cape Canaveral, FL. *Don’t miss the chance to go to ANY of our countries AMAZING space facilities. They are truly incredible!
*Are you aware of just HOW MUCH AFRICAN AMERICANS have contributed to our space program? If not, READ up on it! We would NOT have made it to the moon without their contributions!
*St. Louis Cemetery New Orleans *Richard Eels house, underground RR, Quincy, IL.* I have been to BOTH destinations and each is RICH with history and ALIVE with GHOSTS of the PAST! VISIT if you DARE! *
Bunche Beach, located on San Carlos Bay near Fort Myers, was originally the only place where black residents could enjoy the beach when the area was segregated in 1949. It was named after Ralph Bunche, the first African-American to win the Noble Prize in 1950, and is unique in that the natural habitat is still being preserved today.
*Scott and I at Bunche beach in 2016 (although we visit nearly every year).
In addition to these, I am blessed to be an educator. Working with children in an enriching and supportive environment has greatly increased my knowledge of diversity and my love for inclusion. Of the countless things I have learned from students, one of the most obvious to me is that racism, exclusion & intolerance are NOT inherent character traits.
*in our school district we strive to promote DIVERSITY and INCLUSION EVERY day and in EVERY way!
*These three friends from 3 different races are holding hands and my heart 🙂 *Kindness notes written by students showing ways we can be kind to one another
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery“- ―
*Our halls are filled with reminders of how unique, special, and important each and every one of us are. So that NO ONE need ever feel excluded.
Children are remarkably curious, adaptive, and empathetic. Often their unabashed questioning of the unknown quells the misconceptions and prejudices that often plague the more “mature.” Who among us has never been caught off guard by a child’s uncensored questions? What parent has never cringed due to their child’s public and often inappropriate statements?
In 1998 our family went on a camping trip to the BEAUTIFUL HUZZAH river in Steelville, Missouri where our camper experienced a catastrophic axle break thereby ruining what would have been an otherwise perfect weekend. While waiting for the mechanics verdict, my family strolled the streets of downtown Steelville, where we ran across a rather nice man who approached us eager to talk about our Great Pyrenees puppy, Maximillian.
Our daughter Kendall, then three years old, noticing that the man had all visible skin covered in tattoos, loudly announced, “YOU INKED YOURSELF AND THAT’S BAD!” The guy laughed it off, but her father and I were MORTIFIED! He and I had NEVER told her that tattoos were BAD and had NO IDEA where she had come up with this notion.
We did however take this opportunity to explain to her that this was not right, nor was it any way to talk to someone. I wish I had been more mature myself. If I had, I would have suggested that she open a dialogue by asking him to tell her what some of the tattoos meant to him. Instead, I remember wanting to escape the scene as quickly as possible! EMBARRASSING!
I often wonder if adults were more childlike, which is to say more open to questioning with an eye towards understanding, and less assumptive and defensive, if we might not ALL be a lot better for it.
I do not claim to be a history major, nor do I KNOW what it is to be a race, creed, color, culture, orientation, or anything other that what I am. What I do claim is that I do not support exclusion or hated. I strive to be nonjudgmental & non-hypocritical. My goals are to learn, understand & to be understood, and above all else to love as I wish to be loved.
Below is my ALL TIME FAVORITE PHOTO taken for “dress like your HERO” day at school. Maya Angelou is a HERO of mine because she overcame a lifetime of ADVERSITY starting in early childhood when she was put on a train at only 3 years old with a NOTE pinned to her coat to go live with her grandmother.
And she handled it all with incredible grace, strength, resolve, resilience and perseverance (and I aspire to ALL of these). She NEVER gave up, NEVER gave in, NEVER got bitter, NEVER stopped believing, and rose to become a icon for generations. And her POETRY is TRANSCENDENT!
**Please be sure to check out my featured destinations, helpful links, fun facts, relevant topics & articles, GoodBooks, and social media links. I have worked hard to gather a lot of great information related to this blog, so CHECK IT OUT!**