“We teach that education is a great privilege that can lead anywhere, but sometimes I worry that I might be selling them a dream. So I try to teach them what’s possible, but also what’s real. They need to learn that hard work leads to success. But I also tell them that they might need to be a bit more patient than others. Sometimes they ask hard questions, and I try to answer as honestly as possible. A few weeks ago, I was teaching a lesson about segregation, and one of my students raised his hand. He said: ‘If segregation is over, then why are there only black kids at our school?’”
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Sunday, May 10, 2015
On Mother’s Day
I went out walking
in the old neighborhood
Look! more trees on the block
forget-me-nots all around them
ivy lantana shining
and geraniums in the window
Twenty years ago
it was believed that the roots of trees
would insert themselves into gas lines
then fall poisoned on houses and children
or tap the city’s water pipes starved
for nitrogen obstruct the sewers
In those days in the afternoon I floated
by ferry to Hoboken or Staten Island
then pushed the babies in their carriages
along the river wall observing Manhattan
See Manhattan I cried New York!
even at sunset it doesn’t shine
but stands in fire charcoal to the waist
But this Sunday afternoon on Mother’s Day
I walked west and came to Hudson Street tricolored flags
were flying over old oak furniture for sale
brass bedsteads copper pots and vases
by the pound from India
Suddenly before my eyes twenty-two transvestites
in joyous parade stuffed pillows under
their lovely gowns
and entered a restaurant
under a sign which said All Pregnant Mothers Free
I watched them place napkins over their bellies
and accept coffee and zabaglione
I am especially open to sadness and hilarity
since my father died as a child
one week ago in this his ninetieth year
(from Begin Again: The Collected Poems, FSG 1999)
from wikipedia (citations ommitted):
The first attempts to establish a "Mother's Day" in the United States came from women's peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of groups of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War.
In 1868, Ann Jarvis, mother of Anna Jarvis, created a committee to establish a "Mother's Friendship Day", the purpose of which was "to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War." Jarvis – who had previously organized "Mother's Day Work Clubs" to improve sanitation and health for both Union and Confederate encampments undergoing a typhoid outbreak – wanted to expand this into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular. Her daughter would continue her mother's efforts.
There were several limited observances in the 1870s and the 1880s but none achieved resonance beyond the local level. At the time, Protestant schools in the United States already held many celebrations and observations such as Children's Day, Temperance Sunday, Roll Call Day, Decision Day, Missionary Day and others. In New York City, Julia Ward Howe led a "Mother's Day for Peace" anti-war observance on June 2, 1872, which was accompanied by a Mother's Day Proclamation. The observance continued in Boston for about 10 years under Howe's personal sponsorship, then died out.
Several years later a Mother's Day observance on May 13, 1877 was held in Albion, Michigan over a dispute related to the temperance movement. According to local legend, Albion pioneer Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped up to complete the sermon of the Rev. Myron Daughterty who was distraught because an anti-temperance group had forced his son and two other temperanceadvocates at gunpoint to spend the night in a saloon and become publicly drunk. From the pulpit Blakeley called on other mothers to join her. Blakeley's two sons, both traveling salesmen, were so moved that they vowed to return each year to pay tribute to her and embarked on a campaign to urge their business contacts to do likewise. At their urging, in the early 1880s, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday in May to recognize the special contributions of mothers.
Frank E. Hering, President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, made a plea for "a national day to honor our mothers" in 1904.
In its present form, Mother's Day was established by Anna Jarvis with the help of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker following the death of her mother, Ann Jarvis, on May 9, 1905. Jarvis never mentioned Howe or Mothering Sunday, and she never mentioned any connection to the Protestant school celebrations, always claiming that the creation of Mother's Day was hers alone.
A small service was held on May 12, 1907 in the Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where Anna's mother had been teachingSunday school. The first "official" service was on May 10, 1908, in the same church, accompanied by a larger ceremony in the Wanamaker Auditorium in theWanamaker's store in Philadelphia. The next year the day was reported to be widely celebrated in New York.
Jarvis then campaigned to establish Mother's Day first as a U.S. national holiday and then later as an international holiday. The holiday was declared officially by the state of West Virginia in 1910, and the rest of the states followed quickly.
On May 10, 1913, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on all federal government officials (from the president down) to wear a white carnation the following day in observance of Mother's Day. On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day and requesting a proclamation. The next day, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother's Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war. In 1934, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday.
In May 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives voted twice on a resolution commemorating Mother's Day, the first one being passed without a dissenting vote (21 members not voting). The Grafton church, where the first celebration was held, is now the International Mother's Day Shrine and is a National Historic Landmark.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
My father-in-law, Douglas Brin, has been keeping the most incredible journals for the last 45 years (since he was 22!). They are filled with words and illustrations and collage. They are beautiful and a small selection was recently on display at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale (which employs two full time art curators!) The exhibit continues until July 31, 2015.