“BIDENFATION” AND OTHER PROBLEMS

Former President Harry S. Truman, in my opinion and that of many historians, one of our most underrated presidents, was fond of saying “the buck stops here.” He said it; he meant it; and he lived it. The meaning is clear. When you are the head guy, the one in charge, “El Jefe,” the President, you are responsible for everything that occurs during your tenure, either good or bad, intentional or not, whether you knew about it or not. In business, for example, the standard is whether you knew or should have known. You are the ultimate authority, and human resources 101 holds that with the authority comes the responsibility. Excuses such as “I didn’t know;” “no one told me” or “how could I have anticipated it” are not only unacceptable, they insult the intelligence of those to whom you say it.

Quiz question: What does the “S” in Truman’s name stand for? See answer below.

That brings us to President Biden. Currently, the country is suffering through the worst inflation in 40 years. This is on top of all the other crises, which I have detailed in previous blogs and do not wish to regurgitate here.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in April 2022 the year-over-year inflation rate was 8.3%, and most economists expect the rate to be higher over the next few months. Our economy is in dire straits. You don’t need me to tell you that. Anyone who has bought food, clothing, cars, tires and filled their gas tank knows this all too well. Many families have been forced to choose among, eating, paying the rent, or gassing up their car. Some examples of the foregoing, according to BLS statistics are fuel oil up 81%, gasoline up 44%, milk up 15%, and plane tickets up 33%. Inflation has impacted everyone, but the hardest hit, as always, have been the poor, the working class and seniors on a fixed income.

Gas in my neighborhood has jumped some 80 cents in the past week. Just the other day, one gas station raised its price 20 cents in an hour! Talk about “sticker shock!” Furthermore, we are heading into the summer months when energy usage and prices normally increase. Don’t be surprised to see gas lines and “brown-outs” this summer.

Economists know that inflation, once unleashed, is very tenacious. It is very difficult to weed out. I expect this will get worse before it gets better, a lot worse. BLS has reported that price inflation has continued in May. Anyone who has bought anything recently is fully cognizant of this.

In the past few days we have been hit with the final indignity, maybe the worst of all – a shortage of baby formula. Yes, baby formula. Due to a combination of a massive recall and supply chain issues most stores are devoid of it. Parents are panicking. I can’t think of anything worse than being unable to feed your baby. Moreover, this affects more than just infants. Doctors and pharmacists such as Roger Paganelli have denoted that many “special needs” children suffer from various medical issues that require them to get their nourishment from baby formula via feeding tubes in their stomach. This is truly a matter of life or death.

Can this get any worse? Apparently, “yes.” I have seen news reports on Fox News and in the NY Post that despite the aforementioned shortage the feds have been hoarding pallets and pallets of baby formula. This has been reported by Representative Kat Cammack who claims to have seen these pallets and taken photos of them. Where are these pallets? Take a guess. If you said the southern border go to the head of the class. Evidently, they have been set aside for illegal migrant babies. I think we can all agree that migrant babies should have access to formula, but tell that to a US mother who cannot find any for her own baby. (America first, or America last?)

CONCLUSION

President Biden has not only failed to reassure Americans that he has a plan to deal with these issues, but he will not even take responsibility for them. Furthermore, he has been slow to admit that these problems even exist. Instead, in his recent public appearances he has chosen to blame others, for example, Putin, the GOP, the meat processors, former President Trump, COVID, and circumstances beyond his control for this crisis and his Administration’s failure to deal with it. Americans are not interested on who is to blame; this is no time to play politics; we just want it fixed. People are suffering. People are dying. Regardless of who or what has caused this, it is Biden’s duty and responsibility to fix it.

Apparently, rather than “the buck stops here,” Biden believes in “pass the buck.”

Quiz answer: The middle initial “S” does not stand for anything, just “S.”

MOTHER’S DAY

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 8, most Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day. Notice the singular possessive form of spelling. This is the standard and generally accepted usage. It was the format favored by Anna Jarvis, the acknowledged driving force behind the creation of the holiday, as you will see below, rather than the plural possessive. Her point was each family should honor “the best mother, yours” rather than all mothers.

MD is celebrated all over the world in some form.  Different countries have their own way of celebrating the day and even celebrate it on different dates.  Some countries have replicated the US traditions – hallmark [or email (tacky)] card, flowers, chocolates, and family gatherings; others have incorporated it into other holidays honoring women or mothers; and in still others, a combination of the two has evolved.

According to The National Restaurant Association based on decades of research MD is the busiest day of the year for restaurants.  The traditional custom is to give mom a break from kitchen duties and take her out to a nice restaurant to celebrate. And why not? Doesn’t she deserve it? (On the other hand, on Father’s Day the restaurants are relatively empty as many fathers are put to work barbecuing.) Can you name the second-busiest day of the year for restaurants according to the same survey? See answer below.

Moreover, MD is the third busiest day for attendance at church. Can you guess numbers one and two? See below.

According to “RetailMeNot” the average MD gift this year will cost $134, compared to $120 last year. Greeting cards are the most popular MD gift followed by flowers, chocolate and gift cards. According to the National Retail Federation in 2022 we will spend some $32 billion on MD gifts, which will exceed last year’s amount by some $3.6 billion.

This year there is a flower shortage in many parts of the US due to inclement weather and shipping inefficiencies, so I hope you did not wait for the last minute to order them. Apparently, a goodly portion of flowers originate in South America, which has complicated matters.

As always, traffic on the roads will likely be heavy during the holiday weekend. So, plan to leave early, and use your trusty GPS. Additionally, one can expect the usual delays at the airports due to weather complications, security concerns and heavy usage.

In the US MD was first celebrated in 1908 when the aforementioned Anna Jarvis held a special memorial for her mother.  Ms. Jarvis had been campaigning for the country to recognize a day to honor mothers since 1905 when her mother had passed away.  In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as MD.  It was to be a day to honor mothers and the concept of motherhood and their contributions to society.

Eventually, Ms. Jarvis became disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday.  By the 1920’s the greeting card, retail, candy and flower industries were all marketing their products aggressively to take advantage of the holiday.  Jarvis strongly advocated that people should demonstrate their love and respect for their mothers through personalized, handwritten letters instead.  Being a person of action she organized protests and threatened boycotts of these industries.  At one point, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a candy manufacturers’ convention.

Despite her efforts, commercialization of the day has continued to grow.  Americans, in particular, tend to demonstrate their love in tangible, material ways through the giving of gifts. 

As I stated, MD is celebrated in many countries in different ways and at different dates. For example:

1. The most common date is the second Sunday in May, which is May 8 this year. Besides the US, some of the countries that celebrate it on this date are Canada, Italy the Peoples Republic of China and Turkey.

2. Some countries, such as the UK, Ireland and Nigeria, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The UK incorporated it into a previously existing holiday called “Mothering Sunday.”  ”Mothering Sunday” dates from the 16th Century.

3. Many Arab countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia celebrate it on the vernal equinox (March 20 in 2022).

4. Russia used to celebrate MD on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but in 1998 the date was changed, by law, to the last Sunday in November.

5. Bolivia celebrates it on May 27, which is the date of an historically significant battle in which women played a key role.

6. Since 1950 France has celebrated MD on the fourth Sunday in May, except when the date conflicts with Pentecost in which case it is delayed to the next Sunday.

7. Hindus celebrate MD on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh (April/May).

CONCLUSION

As I said, MD is one of the few truly internationally-recognized holidays.  One of the charming features of the day is the variety of ways and dates on which it is celebrated.  This is derived from the differences in customs and cultures around the world.

One thing is certain now and will remain so prospectively: on this day the mother/wife is truly in charge.  Men, remember the adage “happy wife, happy life.”

Finally, men, all together now, let’s repeat the two-word mantra for a successful marriage:

“YES, DEAR!”

Quiz answers: (1) Valentine’s Day. (2) Christmas Eve and Easter.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT, FREEDOM OF SPEECH

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech…..” So says part of the first amendment, of the US Constitution, that pesky little document that far-lefties and “wokers” often choose to ignore or re-interpret when it suits their purpose. These rights, part of the Bill of Rights, are unique to the USA. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from all other countries. It’s one of the things that has drawn immigrants to our shores for over 250 years.

I don’t want to get bogged down in an in-depth discussion of constitutional law. That is not the purpose of this blog, and bedsides, it would likely bore you, the reader (and me). Instead, I would like to discuss the subject in layman’s terms.

Over the years, there has been a great deal of case law regarding freedom of speech, what it means and its limitations. Currently, to most people, it means one is entitled to express his or her own opinion(s), free of censorship by the government or anyone else. This right is not absolute; the classic exception is one cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theatre, but, otherwise, one is free to say whatever he or she wants regardless of how unpopular it may be. In a famous and extreme example, in 1978 the ACLU defended the right of a neo-Nazi group to march through an area of Skokie, IL, which was inhabited by a goodly number of Holocaust survivors. On the other hand, in recent years social media platforms, such as Facebook and twitter, have banned certain people and opinions based on their interpretation of what is “acceptable” and what is “offensive” or “racist.”

And, now we come to the crux of the matter. According to Politico, the Wall Street Journal, and multiple other media sources, the Biden Administration is planning to unveil a “Disinformation Governance Board” under the purview of The Department of Homeland Security. The DGB will be charged with “countering misinformation.” What is “misinformation?” Obviously, it will be in the eye of the beholder, and that is the most obvious problem. Who gets to decide? Should anyone have that power and authority? Of course, the answer is NO ONE.

Under the Administration’s plan the DGB will be able to label any speech with which it disagrees as “misinformation” and shut it down. To me and many others, this conjures up life in Soviet Russia during the Stalin era, present-day communist China and the dystopian society portrayed in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. This has no place in the US, none.

No person or entity should be permitted to wield that kind of power, not you, not me, not the government, and certainly not the far left group that the Biden Administration has in mind. Alejandro Mayorkas, the Head of Homeland Security, has been the king of misinformation with respect to the crisis on the border, even denying that there IS a crisis. Nina Jankowicz, who has been tabbed to run the DGB, was a strong proponent of the Russian disinformation lies. Can the Administration be more obvious?

According to The Hill far-lefty AOC, always good for an inane quote or two, opined that “we’re going to have to figure out how to rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation.” She uttered similar comments on “60 Minutes” a few years ago. Was she referring to herself as one of the “spewers?” In her mind, “no,” but in my mind, “yes.”

The Administration has claimed it is merely trying to identify those who are spreading misinformation. It has been suggested that the best way to do so would be to purchase a very large mirror.

CONCLUSION

We all know what this is about. It’s not about preserving free speech. It’s not about preventing violence. No, no, no. It’s all about POWER AND CONTROL, getting it, retaining it, and expanding it.

For years, in my opinion, the far left and “wokers” have controlled virtually all of the media narrative, including, for example, social media, news, tv, and movies. The one notable exception has been Fox News. Conservatives have had to tread very carefully, whereas liberals have had free rein. Stories deemed to be harmful to the right, such as Russian disinformation, have been exaggerated and perpetuated. Stories harmful to the left, such as the Biden family’s nefarious involvement with China and Hunter Biden’s laptop, have been whitewashed, ignored or banned.

Now, in the wake of Elon Musk’s purchase of twitter, conservatives and their opinions figure to get a “fair shake.” Now, we will likely have a level playing field. Now, journalists may actually have to do some real work and ferret out the facts to a story. Now, the public will be presented with all of the facts with respect to the news, and they will be free to evaluate it and make up their own minds. That is how it should be in a free society.

Far-lefties and “wokers” are afraid, as they should be. Just listen to the commentary emanating from CNN and MSNBC, if you can do so without laughing, that is.

In their mindless thirst for power and control the lefties and “wokers” have forgotten two things. (1) This new department, like everything else, will have to be funded by Congress. With an election looming good luck with getting a majority of Congressmen to vote to fund it. (2) Every legal scholar I have heard has opined that it is unconstitutional. I believe there will be legal challenges and the courts will rule as such.

One might ask what is the Biden Administration trying to accomplish with the DGB? What is their objective besides providing a sop to the far left and “wokers” that control it? I don’t know, and chances are neither do they.

CINCO DE MAYO

Thursday, May 5 we will celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It is meant to be a festive occasion. In America, even non-Mexicans join in the fun. After all, who does not enjoy a party? Who does not want to eat and drink at a discount? Every year on May 5, many of us eat tacos and enchiladas and drink tequila and margaritas and dress in Mexican garb to celebrate.  Anyone care for a “dirty taco?”

There are a myriad of ways to celebrate the day, such as mariachi band concerts, river cruises, festivals, and parades. In addition, many restaurants offer special deals and specialized drinks on this date to attract customers. Anyone “up” a “tipsy shark” or a “dal Rita?”

Typically, most Americans have no idea of the significance of the holiday. They may assume that it is some religious festival or has something to do with Mexico’s independence from Spain. That would be wrong and wrong. See below, and be edified.

In 1861 France invaded Mexico. Napoleon III, the ruler of France at the time, correctly perceived that Mexico was “ripe for the picking.”  The Mexican-American War of 1846-48 had virtually bankrupted the country.  The US was distracted by its impending Civil War and thus, unable to oppose France in Mexico.  The other European powers, notably Spain and England, were not in the picture.

At first, the French, with their superior numbers, equipment and training, routed the Mexicans, but on May 5, 1862 the Mexicans surprisingly defeated the French decisively in a major battle near Puebla, halting their advance.  The Civil War ended in 1865, and, thereafter, the US was able to assist Mexico.  Eventually, the French needed their military assets at home to prepare to fight the Prussians [in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)], so they abandoned their plans to conquer Mexico and withdrew.

The battle at Puebla was significant for several reasons:

1. Though largely symbolic, this victory gave the Mexicans a much-needed infusion of patriotism and national pride.

2. Since then, no country in the Americas has been invaded successfully by a European country.

3. Most importantly for the US, many historians believe that France’s ultimate goal was to encourage and enable the South to break away from the North.  Mexico could have been used as a military base from which France could have funneled men and equipment to the Confederacy.  If they had not been defeated at Puebla, who knows how far north their army would have pushed and who knows what military and political pressure they would have brought to bear against the US.  It’s possible France could have ended up dominating the entire West Coast of present-day US.  Consequently, it can be posited that that victory helped preserve the Union.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in many other countries. Cities in the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and Japan hold festivals featuring Mexican music, food and drink and celebrating Mexican culture.

Technically, Cinco de Mayo, though recognized as a day of celebration throughout Mexico, is not a national holiday, although it is a holiday in the State of Puebla. Throughout the country, the public schools are closed and many towns hold parades or re-enactments of the battle of Puebla. It should be noted that Cinco de Mayo is NOT to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.

Additionally, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in many areas of the US, particularly in locales where there is a sizeable Mexican population, such as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. As I said above, events include parades, festivals, mariachi bands, and parties. In the past two years COVID fears put a damper on celebrations in some areas, but I believe now many Americans are sick of being restricted and are anxious to “bust loose.”

CONCLUSION

Cinco de Mayo is supposed to be a joyous holiday, as it celebrates an heroic occasion. Many non-Mexicans also get into the spirit of the holiday and participate in the above celebrations. They dress in Mexican clothing, such as ponchos and sombreros, participate in parades, and patronize Mexican restaurants.  In recent years, some so-called “pc police” have objected to this, calling it mocking a culture and even racist (their favorite fallback criticism).  For example, various “woke” communities and universities have placed restrictions or outright bans on celebrations. Moreover, some colleges have gone so far as to ban using the name “Cinco de Mayo.”

Personally, I find these restrictive actions offensive and a violation of the First Amendment.  It’s not as if the celebrants are painting offensive sayings or publishing mocking cartoons. Wearing ponchos and sombreros and dancing the “Mexican Hat Dance” do not rise to the level of, say, anti-Semitic scribblings on walls, burning a cross on a lawn, or fire-bombing places of worship.  THOSE are offensive, or worse.  This merely strikes me as getting into the holiday spirit, not being mean-spirited.

Once again, the majority is being subjected to the tyranny of the vocal minority. Remember, approximately 80% of the tweets are posted by only 10% of the people, so don’t be fooled by the vocal minority. As an aside, I have to say that in my youth we would have dealt with the pc crowd differently. Rather than kowtow, we would have made it point to parade down main street wearing sombreros and ponchos, drinking tequila and dancing the Mexican hat dance. Times have sure changed, and not necessarily for the better.

As I delineated above, Cinco de Mayo is a great source of pride for people of Mexican descent, as well it should be.  It commemorates a significant military victory over a better-equipped, numerically superior force.  The victory held considerable historical significance and should be celebrated.

JACKIE ROBINSON

Number 42. Does that have any special meaning for you, or is it just another number? Baseball fans, civil rights advocates, and students of history will recognize it as the uniform number worn by Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It should be noted that that uniform number has two other major significances:

1. It is the only number to have been retired by every major league baseball team (in 1997); and
2. as has been customary since 2004, every year on April 15 on what is known as “Jackie Robinson Day,” every player wears that number on his uniform in tribute to Jackie Robinson in recognition of the anniversary of his debut in the major leagues in 1947.  On that historic date Jackie became the first African American to play in the major leagues since the 1880s. Any team not playing a game on April 15 will celebrate on the 16th.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Jackie’s debut and the Dodgers’ and MLB’s celebrations will feature a few changes, such as:

  1. Regardless of their team colors all teams’ # 42 jerseys will be in “Dodger Blue.”
  2. The Dodgers are planning to mark the date with various additional ceremonies, events, and fund-raisers at various venues such as John Muir High School in Pasadena, which Jackie attended in the 1930s.
  3. The first 40,000 fans attending the Dodgers-Reds game on April 15th will receive special commemorative gifts.
  4. There will be additional commemorative ceremonies at this year’s All-Star game on July 19, which will be hosted by the Dodgers and which coincides with Rachel Robinson’s 100th birthday.

In order to put this in its proper perspective one must realize the racial situation in 1947. Life was radically different, a reality that few of us who live in the PC era can appreciate.  Much has changed in the intervening 75 years.

For example:

1. Segregation was the law of the land. “Jim Crow” was alive and well.
The “Brown” Supreme Court decision integrating public schools would not come until 1954.
2. Even though many AAs had distinguished themselves during WWII the armed forces would not be integrated until 1948.
3. A disproportionate percentage of MLB players were from the South and espoused all the values, attitudes and experiences of the region regarding AAs.  Most of them had never played ball with an AA.  Many had rarely even associated with one as peers.
4. The prevailing attitude among players, sportswriters, and fans was that AAs were not good enough and did not have the “temperament” to succeed in MLB.

Very few of us lived through that era, and consequently, we cannot imagine the circumstances Jackie had to overcome.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia.  His parents chose his middle name in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt, who had recently died.  He was the youngest of five children.  One of his older brothers, Mack, would later earn some notoriety by winning the silver medal in the 100 meter dash in the 1936 Olympics, (the Games held in Berlin at which Jesse Owens embarrassed Adolph Hitler and the Nazis by winning four gold medals).

Jackie’s parents were sharecroppers and barely scraping by, so in 1920 they moved to Pasadena, California seeking a better life.  In high school and college Jackie excelled in five sports – baseball, basketball, football, track and tennis.  Basically, he was an all-around athlete who excelled in any sport he tried.  At UCLA he became the school’s first athlete to “letter” in four sports (all of the above except tennis).  One of his teammates on the 1939 UCLA football team was the future actor, Woody Strode.  Ironically, statistically, at least, baseball was his worst sport of the four.

In 1941 Jackie left UCLA just shy of graduating to play semi-pro football, but in early 1942 he was drafted and stationed at Fort Riley in Texas.  He applied for admission to OCS. Initially, his application was rejected as few blacks were accepted at the time, but following a personal appeal from Joe Louis, the reigning heavyweight boxing champ, he was accepted.

Jackie’s tenure in the army was marred by one unfortunate incident in which his fiery temperament got him in trouble.  While riding on an Army bus one day the driver told him to move to the back.  Jackie refused.  As a result he was nearly court-martialed for insubordination and other “trumped up” offenses.  A conviction would have changed the course of his life and, possibly, the country’s as well, but he was acquitted.

In 1945 Jackie signed to play for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. Unbeknownst to him, Branch Rickey, President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was looking for a Negro to break the major leagues’ “color barrier,” which had been in place since the 1880s.  He had compiled a list of the best players in the Negro leagues and was evaluating them for suitability.  There were many players better than Jackie, notably Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, but due to age, temperament and other factors, they were all eliminated in favor of Jackie.

Rickey knew the first AA player would have to “turn the other cheek” to a great deal of verbal, physical and emotional abuse.  Otherwise, it might be many more years before the next one got a chance.  When he told Jackie this, Jackie was shocked and replied: “Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” Rickey’s famous reply was that he was seeking a Negro “with guts enough not to fight back.”

To make a long story short, Rickey signed Jackie.  He played for the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers AAA minor league affiliate in the International League, in 1946.  He “tore up” the league, winning the MVP award.  The next year he made his debut in the major leagues.

To me, his debut was one of the most significant events not only in baseball history, but also in the country’s history.  There was tremendous resistance not only from other Dodgers, but from players on other teams as well.

Again, it is very hard for us to appreciate the level of abuse to which Jackie was subjected. Breaking into the major leagues is hard enough, physically. The added mental and emotional pressures Jackie and other AAs had to overcome was mind-boggling. Jackie had to endure a tremendous amount of prejudice and abuse both on and off the field (name calling, spiking, “beanings,” separate lodgings and restaurants on the road, etc.  Eventually, other AAs would join him in the majors. They had to overcome many of the same obstacles.  Some were unable to survive, but many more did.

Luckily, Dodger management was behind Jackie 100%.  When some Dodgers players threatened to quit, strike or demand a trade, the team’s manager, Leo Durocher, a fiery, no nonsense person himself, nipped the rebellion in the bud.  He declared: “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a f****** zebra.  I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays.”  Players on other teams also threatened to strike, but MLB Commissioner “Happy” Chandler quelled that rebellion quickly as well.

CONCLUSION

Rickey chose well with Jackie.  In baseball parlance, he “knocked it out of the park.”  Attendance soared and not just in Brooklyn but in every other city as well. Black people came in droves to see their hero, Jackie Robinson, play.  In those days, attendance was the primary source of ball clubs’ revenue, so Jackie made money for everyone.

Not only did Jackie “take” all the abuse without incident, he starred on the field and became an integral part of one of the most storied teams in baseball history, the “Boys of Summer.”  In a ten-year period from 1947-1956 that team dominated the National League.

It won six pennants, lost another in a playoff and lost another by one game.

Among Jackie’s many MLB accomplishments:

1. Rookie of the year in 1947 (the first one).
2. National League MVP in 1949.
3. Appeared in six World Series.
4. World champion in 1955.
5. First ballot hall of famer in 1962.
6. Member of the MLB All-Century team.

Jackie was extremely versatile,  Although he came up as a second baseman, he also played first, third and the outfield.  Many times, he was among the league leaders in fielding at his position.  He was one of the best “clutch” players I have ever observed.  He could beat you with the bat, the glove or on the bases.  I have never seen a better baserunner or a tougher competitor.  When on base, he would drive the opposing pitcher crazy with his antics.  He was always a threat to steal a base.  I saw him steal home in the 1955 World Series.  When caught in a rundown he often escaped, which, generally, was a rarity.  His aggressive style of play was unique for the 1940s and 1950s.

As an example of his extremely competitive nature, one story will suffice.  In the decisive third game of the 1951 playoff with the NY Giants, when the Giants’ Bobby Thompson hit the pennant-winning home (dubbed: “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”) all the Dodgers left the field immediately with their heads down in defeat.  All except for Jackie.  He watched and made sure that Thompson touched all the bases on his home run trot.  He would not accept defeat until Thompson had completed his circuit.

Jackie retired from baseball after the 1956 season worn down by age and diabetes, but he did not retire from life.  For example, he became very active in the civil rights movement; he became the first black to serve as vp of a major corporation (Chock Full O’Nuts); he went into broadcasting; and he acted in a movie of his own life story.

Ultimately, however, his fierce competitiveness could not overcome ill health.  Jackie died on October 24, 1972 at the relatively young age of 53 from complications of heart disease and diabetes.  I’m sure that all the stress he had to endure on the playing field also contributed to his early demise.

Jackie’s legacy, however, lives on.  There are countless statues, schools, parks and roads named in his honor.  Moreover, every time a black or other minority takes the field in the major leagues, the NFL or the NBA, he owes a debt to the pioneer who made it all possible.

So, tomorrow, while watching your favorite team in action take a moment to appreciate the special achievement of one Jack Roosevelt Robinson.

OPENING DAY

Today is April 7, and after a long winter of cold, rain, economic turmoil, war, COVID issues, and a lock-out by the owners, today will mark the start of the 2022 baseball season, aka OPENING DAY. Finally! This is the latest OD in many years, and for a while it appeared as though the season would be delayed considerably further, but finally the adults in the room hammered out a deal. Some fans blamed the players for the delay; others blamed the owners; still others blamed both sides. Most fans just wanted a settlement and baseball. As we know sports are a healthy diversion, especially in times such as now.

Twelve teams will commence playing today; others will begin tomorrow. And, of course “Mother Nature” may force further delays. As I write this, I am aware of two games that have already been postponed due to inclement weather. Typically, many early season (and late season) games are played in weather more suitable for football. Why? We know why – M O N E Y. If MLB persists in playing games in March, April and November why doesn’t it mandate domed stadiums in cold weather locales? Probably, too logical for the Lords of Baseball.

In some years MLB has scheduled “pre-opening” games before the official OD. The initial “pre-opener” was played in 1999 in Monterey, Mexico. Other “pre-openers” have been played in San Juan, Sydney and, most recently, in Tokyo. Opening in these distant locales may be inconvenient for the players, but MLB does it to broaden the exposure and appeal of the game. Indeed, MLB rosters are chock full of players from countries such as the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Asia. According to MLB 28% of MLB players are foreign-born.

MLB does not consider these “pre-openers” to mark the official start of the season. It has always considered OD to be the first date when a full slate of games was scheduled. Got it?

For many years, MLB had scheduled the very first game of the season in Cincinnati, usually on the first Monday in April, with a full slate of games the next day. This was in recognition of the fact that the Reds were the first professional baseball team. In fact, the Reds are the only team that has always been scheduled to play its first game at home. There have only been three years when they opened on the road – 1966, when the home opener was rained out,1990 when the season was delayed due to a lockout, and this year again due to a lockout. The team was formed in 1869 as the Red Stockings. It has undergone various name changes and is now known as the “Reds.” Incidentally, for you trivia buffs, they went 65-0 that first year, the only perfect season in baseball history.

The National League was organized in 1876, and the American League in 1901. For many years there were 16 teams – eight teams in each league, all in the northeast, with no team being located west of St. Louis. With the advent of air travel in the late 1950s it became feasible to add franchises in other sectors of the country. Presently, there are 30 teams – 15 in each league.

This year the Cleveland Indians will be known as the “Guardians.” This continues the ill-advised trend, in my view, to eliminate “inoffensive” and “insensitive names,” which are objectionable to a small but vocal group of people. I think this is a bigge r issue with the “woke” crowd than with indigenous people, but these are the times in which we live.

Despite the often inclement weather, OD holds a special meaning. Mention those words to any sports fan, and, immediately, he knows what it means and to which sport it pertains. Not football, not basketball, not hockey. OD means that another season of Major League Baseball is beginning. Baseball fans look forward to OD every year. Local newspapers step up their coverage of the local team in anticipation. Many of them even print a daily countdown of the number of days remaining until OD. In addition, OD occurs in the Spring, a season that symbolizes a new beginning and one which most people anticipate every year.

Most fans will acknowledge that baseball is no longer the most popular sport. In fact, according to TV ratings, betting interest and most fan polls, football has superseded baseball. Perhaps, basketball has as well, particularly among younger fans. However, baseball, which has been played in the US in some form since the 1840s, is part of the social fabric of America.

Most men remember their first game of “catch” with their father or their first baseball game. For most boys it is a “rite of passage” as uniquely American as the flag. In fact, I have a more detailed recall of a World Series game I saw with my father in 1956 than I do of ballgames I saw last year.

Every fan is optimistic on OD. Every team starts with the same 0-0 record. None has lost a game yet. Every team still has a chance to make the playoffs, and as we have seen in recent years, once you make the playoffs anything can happen. For example, in 2016 the Chicago Cubs won it all for the first time since 1908. Think about that for a minute. That means that no present Cubs fan, and virtually none of their fathers, were even born the previous time the Cubs had won. In 2017 the Houston Astros won their first WS after having languished near the bottom of the league for many years. Unlike other sports, very often the team with the best regular season record does not win the World Series or even get there. Several wild card teams have actually won the World Series, most recently, the Washington Nationals, in 2019.

Many fans, and even some reporters, place undue emphasis on the opener forgetting or ignoring the fact that the season consists of 162 games. Over the course of a baseball season even the best teams will lose approximately 60 games. To many fans, a win OD means the season will be outstanding; a loss means the team “stinks.”

Down through the years, OD has produced some memorable events, such as:

1. In 1907, the NY Giants, forerunner of the San Francisco Giants, forfeited the opener after rowdy fans began throwing snowballs at the players and umpires. There were not enough police on hand to restore order, so the umpires forfeited the game to the visiting Phillies.
2. In 1910 President Taft became the first President to throw out the “first ball.” In 1950 President Truman threw out the “first pitch” twice, as a righty and a lefty. Over the years nearly every president has done so, and the practice has evolved from a perfunctory toss from the stands to a more elaborate ceremonial toss from the mound. Will we see President Biden follow tradition this year? Your guess is as good as mine, but I doubt it. Can you imagine him doing the “wave?”
3. In 1940, Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians, known as “Rapid Robert” because of his high velocity fast ball, threw the only OD day no-hitter in baseball history. As an aside, there were no radar guns in Feller’s day, so one day some officials attempted to “time” his fastball by having him throw a pitch against a speeding motorcycle.
4. In 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on OD becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues since the 19th Century.
5. In 1975 Frank Robinson became the first African American to manage in the Major Leagues. Later, he became the first AA manager to be “fired.”
6. In 1996, John McSherry, an umpire, suffered a fatal heart attack near home plate.
7. Early in the 20th Century teams would, on occasion, open with a doubleheader. Doubleheaders used to be quite common, particularly on Sundays and holidays. Now, they are rare, and when they do occur it is usually the result of adding an extra game to make up for a rain-out. The reason? Money, of course.
8. In 1946 Boston Braves fans attending the game got an unpleasant surprise. It seems that the Braves’ management had had the stands freshly painted, and the paint had not completely dried. Many fans got red paint all over their clothes. The embarrassed management issued a public apology and paid the fans’ cleaning bills.
9. Tom Seaver started the most openers – 16. Walter Johnson pitched the most OD shutouts – nine, including a 1-0 victory in which he pitched 15 innings. No chance of that happening today.
10. In 1974 Henry Aaron clouted his 714th homerun tying Babe Ruth’s all-time record for career homers.
11. In 1968 minor leaguer Greg Washburn became the only pitcher to appear in two OD games in the same year. (He won both 2-0).

12. Some of the individual OD records we may see broken today are most home runs (3), most hits (5) most RBIs (7) and most strikeouts (15). Maybe, we will see another no-hitter, although the way the game is played today any no-hitter would be a group effort.

CONCLUSION

As I said, weather is often an issue on OD, especially in the northern cities where it is not unusual to have cold, damp, rainy weather in early April that is more suitable to football than baseball. It reminds me of one of the major criticisms of baseball, that the season is too long. We all know the reason – tv money. The owners like it, because it makes them rich and less dependent on attendance for revenues. The players tolerate it, because it fuels their astronomic salaries. As for the fans, well, they will just have to grin and bear it.

Hall of Fame pitcher, Early Wynn summed up the essence of OD thusly: “An opener is not like any other game. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one you can’t lose them all.” Joe DiMaggio, always looked forward to OD. He felt “you think something wonderful is going to happen.” Finally, I am reminded of that renowned philosopher Yogi Berra, who could turn a phrase with the best of them, who is reputed to have said: “A home opener is always exciting, no matter if it’s home or on the road.”

So, which teams will reach the World Series? Which team will win? Most of the “experts” that I have heard are predicting the Dodgers will defeat the Chicago White Sox. I think the Dodgers have the best team on paper, but, as we all know, the games are played on the field, not on paper. I think the TV networks would like to see a Dodgers-Yankees Series. I think that would generate the most interest and the highest TV ratings. They used to meet on what seemed like a regular basis back in the 1950s, but they have not met since 1981.

What is your favorite OD memory? Please share.

PLAY BALL!

RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR UPDATE – BIDEN DITHERS WHILE PUTIN DEVASTATES

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates once opined that Joe Biden “has been wrong about every major foreign policy and national security decision over the past four decades.” It sounded like an exaggeration, but the more I have seen of Biden’s decision-making ability since he has been inaugurated the more accurate the quote seems to be. I cannot recall one decision he has made that has benefited the US, not one. Moreover, in a recent blog I challenged my readers to come up with one and so far no one has been able to do so. In my opinion, based on his decisions regarding the Russia-Ukraine War, he has kept his streak alive.

Biden is nothing if not consistent. His style is to fail to anticipate, and then we when he does act or react it is with a weak, halfway measure. For example, everyone knew that Putin was going to invade Ukraine. He told us he would. He has often said he considers Ukraine to be a part of Russia, particularly since there are millions of ethnic Russians living there. Then, he spent months amassing hundreds of thousands of troops along the border. What did Biden think he was going to do?

Biden was passive until the invasion, and then he instituted various financial and economic sanctions. Most observers have characterized them as too little, too late. Ukraine President Volodymy Zelensky, not one to mince words, put it most succinctly: “If [Biden] had started sanctions months ago there would not have been war.” Now, Zelensky wants the US to increase the pressure. He is advocating a boycott of Russian oil and a “no-fly” zone. By the way, the courage and leadership Z has shown throughout has been remarkable. Now, there’s a leader! Reminds me of Washington during the Revolutionary War and Churchill during WWII.

The impact of the current sanctions is debatable depending on whose opinion one reads. But, for sure, they have not and will not deter Putin. He is not going to just throw up his hands and leave Ukraine because some funds have been frozen and the Russian people are suffering. Russia is not the US where public opinion matters to leaders. He has plenty of money, and he does not care about everyday Russians. What he does care about is his legacy, and he wants to be the one who resurrects the former Soviet Union. He will not stop until he is stopped.

So, how do we stop him without an actual physical war. I say we pull out all the stops with respect to sanctions. Hold nothing back.

Not to oversimplify, but let me put it in simple terms that even Kamala Harris could understand. Starting a war is easy. What is difficult is sustaining a war. All wars require two things above all else in order to be sustained – funds and supplies. And, if you don’t have funds you can’t acquire supplies; you can’t pay your troops; you can’t feed them; you can’t operate your weaponry; you can’t fight.

Russia is not a wealthy country. Its GDP is about $1.71 trillion, which comes to less than 10% of the US’s. Its primary product of value is oil. It relies on exporting oil to sustain its economy. It is relying on oil exports to fund the Ukraine War. Without it, it could not continue to fund the war. It could not sustain it. Currently, who are the main importers of Russian oil? The US and NATO countries. Therefore, it stands to reason that the most effective sanction would be to cease buying Russian oil. The US’s oil reserves could easily pick up the slack, but to do so Biden would need to reopen the Keystone Pipeline. So far, he has refused to do it, so the war continues to drag on and on. People continue to die, and still Biden continues to dither and dither and dither. Either he doesn’t get it or he does and is too afraid of offending the small but vocal cadre of far left socialists who are imbedded in his circle of advisors.

Everyone I talk to understands the above concept, even my 14 year-old grandson. Even many liberal Dems have spoken out in favor of it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would not oppose it. My strong recommendation would be to convince Biden to act. Alternatively, Congress could pass a law authorizing it and if Biden vetoes it, try to override the veto.

Something has to be done. Ukraine is being demolished. Thousands of people, non-combatants, children are dying. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and have nowhere to go, and to what end?

CONCLUSION

I understand that Biden wants to avoid a war with Russia. No sane person wants a physical war with shooting and bombing that could escalate into a nuclear war. But, Biden has to realize that Ukraine is just the opening salvo of Putin’s plan. Putin is a disciple of Josef Stalin’s. Stalin’s mantra was to continually push for expansion until he met resistance. If he did not, keep on pushing. If he met resistance he would pull back and wait for another opportunity.

The US and NATO have provided Putin with the perfect storm of opportunity to pursue his goal, but that’s another story for another blog on another day.

Putin will not be appeased. He will not bow to weak, wishy-washy sanctions. Appeasing aggressors has never, ever worked throughout history. It will not work now. He will not stop with Ukraine. He will want the Baltics, Moldovia, or Poland next, all of which are NATO countries. Will NATO invoke Article V?

Joe: grow a pair. Cease importing Russian oil, and re-open the Keystone Pipeline!

HEROISM IN UKRAINE

It was supposed to be a walkover, a slam dunk, a laydown, David vs Goliath Part II. Russia had amassed some 200,000 troops at the Ukraine border. These troops were supported by a veritable cornucopia of weapons including, among others, planes, tanks and missiles. Most observers assumed they would roll through Ukraine in a matter of days or weeks like the Germans had rolled through Poland in 1939. They would be welcomed by the Ukrainians as liberators; they would capture Kiev in short order; they would assassinate or capture President Volodymyr Zelensky, his family and other key political leaders; they would install a “puppet” government; and the US, NATO, and the rest of the world would protest but otherwise wring their hands and stay on the sidelines. Biden was too timid, NATO was a disorganized “paper tiger” afraid of losing access to Russian oil; and Ukraine was not willing or able to offer much resistance. Ukraine would be another notch in Putin’s belt, another step on his way to restoring the post-WWII Soviet Union. Next stop, the Baltics, then maybe Poland, Romania, and the rest of Eastern Europe.

But, here we are ten days into the invasion, and things have not exactly gone Russia’s way. Surprise! Surprise! The Ukrainians did not welcome the Russians. Quite the opposite. They are fighting them “tooth and nail.” For example, according to multiple media reports:

  1. The Ukrainian government has not fallen and remains as strong as ever. Furthermore, contrary to what other heads of state have done in similar circumstances Zelensky has not fled the country, nor does he intend to. Not only has he stayed but his family and other key officials have as well. This is despite the reports that Russia has deployed some 4,000 mercenaries to assassinate Zelensky, his family, and other key government officials. When offered to be evacuated he defiantly replied “I don’t need a ride; I need more ammunition!” His bravery has been an inspiration to both his countrymen and to the world. Nevertheless the EU reported that in excess of 500,000 refugees have already fled the country and before all is said and done the total could exceed four million.
  2. As I write this Russia has not been able to capture any major cities, nor has it been able to gain control of the airspace despite the fact that it was thought to be one of Ukraine’s major weaknesses. In a show of solidarity weapons are flowing in from various countries.
  3. Many observers have noted that Russia has not yet unleashed its full arsenal of weaponry. Perhaps, it wanted to avoid massive devastation, because it wanted to occupy the country afterwards. There are indications that may change. Douglas Lute, a former US ambassador to NATO, cautioned that Russia has ” a lot… of weapons not employed yet.” Unleashing them would shorten the shooting war, but it would damage Russia further in the world of public opinion.
  4. Various media outlets have disclosed the presence of a Russian army convoy 40 miles long that is converging on Kiev. If it were to arrive intact the potential havoc it could wreak would be devastating.
  5. Since the inception of the invasion Russia has dropped over 100 cruise missiles on Ukraine. That sounds like a lot, but I have to believe there are many more where they came from.
  6. There are reports that they have used cluster bombs on Karkiv. These are so deadly and kill so indiscriminately that their use has been banned by many countries, and some people consider their use to constitute a war crime.
  7. There have been reports of Ukrainians attacking Russian troops and tanks with only Molotov cocktails for weapons. NYT correspondent Valerie Hopkins reported that some of them have even “tried to repel Russian tanks with their bodies” to no avail.
  8. One Ukrainian was shown removing a land mine from a bridge with his bare hands while smoking a cigarette. He was not trained in bomb disposal, and he was not wearing any protective equipment. Brave or foolhardy? Take your pick.
  9. A Ukrainian brewery has stopped brewing beer and commenced using the bottles for Molotov cocktails.
  10. In a somewhat humorous story in Spain, in protest of the invasion, a Ukrainian was arrested for attempting to sink a $27 million yacht belonging to his boss, a Russian oligarch.
  11. It has been reported that the members of the Snake Island garrison are alive and being held in a Russian prison facility. You may recall that a few days ago when a Russian warship demanded their surrender they defiantly replied “Go f**k yourself!” The ship proceeded to destroy the facility, but apparently the people survived.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world has united against Russia to a degree that we have rarely seen.

  1. The US and other countries have imposed very strict sanctions designed to hurt Russia and its people financially, economically and emotionally. For instance, the Russian banks’ assets, and those of various influential oligarchs, have been frozen. Even the Swiss, who have always remained neutral in any conflict, have joined in. It should be noted that so far energy has been exempt from sanctions.
  2. Russia’s banks have been locked out of the S.W.I.FT. financial system, a devastating blow, which effectively precludes them from effecting transactions internationally. Bruno Lemaire, the French Finance Minister, called this the “financial nuclear option.” The various financial sanctions have been effective. The ruble has declined to the point where it is worth one US penny; the Russian stock market “crashed” and trading has been suspended; and there have been “runs” on Russian banks as depositors have been desperately trying to withdraw their money.
  3. The sanctions are having a devastating effect of the Russian people, and it will only get worse. They can’t get their savings; food and other necessities are scarce; and inflation is running wild. I see similarities to post-WWI Germany and present-day Venezuela. How long can they take it? We have already seen protests, which is most unusual in Russia.

CONCLUSION

One can debate the effectiveness of the sanctions. There has been some impact as I have discussed above, but it would have been better if Biden would have acted sooner and more forcefully. In addition, as I blogged last week Biden should have ceased buying oil from Russia and reopened the Keystone Pipeline. His impulsive and ill-advised decision to shut it down remains one of the most inane decisions of his presidency, and God knows there have been plenty of them. As it stands now, by buying oil from Russia we are, in effect, helping to finance the invasion.

The invasion has not been kind to President Biden, politically. According to a CNN poll released yesterday 58% of those queried disapprove of the manner in which he has been handling it. That percentage is likely to increase as the inflationary impact takes hold on everyday Americans. Unfortunately, as always, the poor and working class people will suffer the most. Let’s hope they remember that in November.

No one knows what is going to happen, and anyone who says they do is either delusional or lying. The possibilities range from outright Russian withdrawal to nuclear war with many possible outcomes in between. Remember, Putin is a disciple of Josef Stalin’s. He is very aggressive, and, at the moment, he senses weakness and vulnerability in the leaders of the US and NATO. His ultimate goal is to resurrect the post-WWII Soviet Union, and he thinks this is the time to do it. The invasion of Ukraine is but one piece of that strategy and should be viewed in that context.

WAR IN UKRAINE

Every newly-elected president goes through it. Every newly-elected president gets “tested” by our enemies. At their core, autocrats are bullies. They want to see what they can away with. Like all bullies they will keep on pushing and pressing until they are stopped. The best example of this that I can remember was Hitler’s and Nazi Germany’s pre-WWII repeated aggression and the allies continued appeasement (remember Neville Chamberlain in 1938 proclaiming the Munich Agreement guaranteed “peace in our time”), but there have been many others throughout history.

Some presidents, like Truman with communist expansion in post-WWII Europe, Kennedy, with the Russian missiles in Cuba, and Trump with Russia, China and North Korea passed the test. Others, like Carter with the hostages in Iran, failed.

In my opinion, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is Biden’s “test.” How will he respond? Will he roll over and merely issue meaningless platitudes; will he hide in his basement; or will he be strong and determined. I’m not advocating we send troops to fight the Russians in Ukraine. No sane person wants that. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. We don’t have to defend them with troops. But, Biden has a variety of other options at his disposal.

My recommendation would be to hit Putin where it would really hurt him. The Russian economy is very fragile. Currently, its major source of revenue is oil and gas. We have allowed it to establish a pipeline directly to Europe to sell oil and gas to our allies. Russia is making a fortune from this, and as a bonus, it has control of their economies. It can charge whatever it wants, and it could shut down the pipeline entirely whenever it wants. Even worse, a second pipeline is on the way. At the same time, Biden shut down our own Keystone Pipeline for “environmental reasons.” As I have blogged previously that was an inane decision on many levels that never made any sense to me and many others.

To me, the obvious initial move would be to reopen the Keystone Pipeline. That would restore our energy independence, allow our allies to buy oil from us rather than Russia, and deal a huge blow to the Russian economy. That would likely provide us with the leverage to convince Russia to stand down. We don’t have to commit troops. Countries need money to finance wars. Where else could Russia get it?

CONCLUSION

As the saying goes, “elections have consequences.” For a variety of reasons, we elected a weak, cognitively-challenged president instead of a strong one. He has exhibited weakness at every turn. Both our friends and our enemies have observed this. Our friends are anxious and afraid; our enemies are emboldened. History has shown us repeatedly that weakness invites war; strength prevents it.

Putin has taken advantage. He has been planning this for a long time, while we have been focused on silly issues like CRT and cancel culture. We have been “asleep at the switch.” We could have and should have focused on the Ukraine issue months ago when it could have been handled more easily. Like they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Now we are suffering the consequences of our prior inactions.

There is a real danger that he will not stop with Ukraine. He may decide to continue on to the Baltic States or other neighboring countries. He sees himself as the second coming of Joseph Stalin. His ultimate goal, as he has stated himself, is to re-create the old Soviet Union. Like all bullies, he will keep pushing until he is stopped one way or another. China, North Korea, Iran, our other enemies, and our friends as well are watching to see how Biden reacts.

Joe, what will you do? The whole world is watching.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

As many of you know, February has long been designated as Black History month. According to Wikipedia, its purpose is to officially recognize AAs that have made significant contributions to Black history and culture. Currently, it has been recognized officially by the governments of the US, Ireland, Canada and the UK. In the US it is also known as African-American History month. The UK and Ireland observe it in October.

Although most people are familiar with the most famous AAs, such as Barack Obama, MLK and Muhammed Ali, among others, I believe scant few of you are familiar with the many others that have also made significant contributions. They also deserve to be recognized. I have profiled a few of these less widely known persons below.

The history of BHM can be traced to 1926. That year Black historian, Carter Woodson, and the Association for the Study of Negro Life announced that the second week of February would be known as “Negro History Week.” That particular week was a logical choice because it included the birthdates of both Abraham Lincoln (2/12) and Frederick Douglas (2/14). Many Black communities had been celebrating those two dates since the late 1800s.

In 1969 Black educators and a group called the Black United Students at Kent State University proposed expanding the week into a Black History Month. The idea caught on. By 1976 BHM was being observed all across the US at various universities and other centers of Black culture. That year, as part of the nation’s Bicentennial celebration, President Gerald Ford officially recognized BHM to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans.” The month of February was the obvious and logical choice.

There is no shortage of Blacks who have made and are making significant contributions to Black history and culture, too many to discuss them all in a brief blog. Therefore, as I mentioned above, I have chosen five persons who may not be generally known, but who nevertheless have made significant contributions to Black history and culture.

Dred Scott (c 1799-1858

Dred Scott, his wife and two children were enslaved AAs who sued unsuccessfully for their freedom based upon the fact that the family had lived in the State of Illinois and the territory of Wisconsin, where slavery was illegal, for four years. The laws in those jurisdictions stipulated that slaveholders would forfeit their rights to ownership the slave(s) had lived there for an “extended” period. The Scotts lost the case, but the decision was very controversial. It exacerbated racial tensions between the pro-slave and anti-slave states, and many historians believe it hastened the outbreak of the Civil War. The Scott family was manumitted by private agreement in 1857. The decision was later nullified by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Dred Scott did not live to see that. He died of tuberculosis in 1858.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913-2005)

Rosa Parks was active in the civil rights movement for many years, but she is best remembered and honored for a single act of defiance. On December 1, 1955 Parks was employed as a seamstress in Montgomery, AL. She was riding the bus home sitting in the “colored” section, as required. The bus was full, and in accordance with the law the driver ordered her to give up her seat to a white woman. Parks was tired after a long day of work and refused. The incident sparked a bus boycott that lasted over a year and changed the course of history. The NAACP represented her in the courts. The result was a decision that rendered bus segregation unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. Parks was fired from her job, but she landed on her feet. She relocated to Detroit where she found similar employment, and later she worked for a Black congressman, John Conyers. In addition, she became active in the Black Power Movement and other Black causes.

Later in life, Congress honored her as “the first lady of civil rights” and the “mother of the freedom movement.” Upon her death she became the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Frederick Douglas (c 1817-1895)

An escaped slave from Maryland Frederick Douglas was a staunch abolitionist, an orator, author, and statesman. He was so accomplished that he debunked all the stereotypes of the day vis a vis slaves, for example, that they lacked the intellectual capacity to function independently. On the other hand , he was such an accomplished author and orator that many abolitionists found it hard to believe that he had once been a slave. he was a staunch supporter of slaves’ rights and women’s suffrage. He became the first AA to be nominated for vp of the US (on the Equal Rights Party ticket in 1872). He believed in maintaining a dialogue with those who held opposing views. His mantra was “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”

Harriet Tubman (c1822-1913)

Harriet Tubman was a staunch abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery she escaped but that was not the end of her story. She devoted her life to helping others escape as well. Using the famed “Underground Railroad” she undertook over a dozen missions and rescued some 70 other slaves. Even one mission was highly dangerous. The risk of capture or death was very high. I can’t imagine the bravery it took to make as many as she did. During the Civil War she spied for the Union Army, and afterwards she became a staunch advocate for women’s suffrage. In 2016 the Secretary of the Treasury announced a plan to put her likeness on the front of the $20 bill and move Andrew Jackson’s likeness to the back. According to Wikipedia that hasn’t happened yet, but it is still in process. Harriet’s life was portrayed in a 2019 movie starring Cynthia Erivo. If you haven’t seen it I strongly recommend it.

George Washington Carver (c1864-1943)

George Washington Carver is generally considered to be the most renowned Black scientist of the 20th century. He was also a strong environmentalist and an accomplished inventor. He was a vigorous advocate of using crop rotation to counteract the depletion of the soil by continuously growing cotton. In this regard, he urged farmers to rotate other crops such as sweet potatoes and peanuts. His talents and accomplishments were recognized and commended even in the white community. For example, in 1941 Time magazine characterized him as a “Black Leonardo [da Vinci].”

CONCLUSION

Throughout history, there have been a plethora of Blacks that have risen above humble beginnings to make significant accomplishments. The foregoing are merely a few examples. In my opinion, they all exhibit one commonality. Rather than bemoan their fate of being born a slave or poor they set about doing something about it. They took advantage of the the great opportunities available in America to better oneself. I think this generation could learn a valuable lesson from them.