“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson had a life-long love affair with nature that was accompanied by a deep and terrible sense of loss because of the human destruction wreaked upon the biosphere. Although Carson’s literary fame is based on only 5 books, she also wrote numerous short pieces during her employment at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as newspaper stories, magazine articles, speeches and personal letters. She was among the finest writers of the 20th century USA.
Her biographer Linda Lear has done a great service by sharing a sample of these virtually unknown Carson writings in the anthology Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson. These give us a glimpse of the living breathing woman behind the environmental icon. Read more
Filed under: Discrimination, Race, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics, Unions
There are no barbed wire adorned border walls. You won’t see unsmiling heavily armed solders toting automatic weapons as you wait nervously in a long line for clearance to cross over. You won’t have to show a passport or have your car torn apart during a search for weapons or drugs. In fact unless you are an expert at modern urban wall art, you may not even realize you have crossed one of these Chicago borders.
They are the ever shifting boundaries in Chicago’s gang and turf wars. What the Associated Press has called, “a Sandy Hook Elementary School attack unfolding in slow motion”, caught the attention of the national media with the killing of 15 year old South Sider Hadiya Pendleton.
Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy called it a gang shooting, and that Pendleton, who had no gang affiliation, was a victim of “Mistaken identity — wrong place at the wrong time.” Leaving aside the issue of where is the right “place” and when is right “time” to get shot, this statement tells us nothing. Read more
“Listening to person after person eloquently, yet desperately, plead for their schools not to be closed during the Austin-North Lawndale Network school utilization hearing on Jan. 31 brought forth, to my mind, heart-wrenching images of our enslaved African-American ancestors pleading for their loved ones not to be beaten, sold at auction, or killed.”—Bonita Robinson, retired Chicago teacher, Duke Ellington School, Austin-North Lawndale Network
The Chicago Public Schools(CPS) has asked residents to attend any of 28 meetings around the city to give their input about neighborhood schools being closed because of “underutilization” and “budget constraints”. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has forcefully refuted these CPS rationalizations in their publication The Black and White of Education in Chicago.
In response to threatened school closings by the CPS leadership, neighborhoods across the city are saying NO— loud and clear. One such meeting was held on a cold Chicago evening in late January in the Friendship MB Church on Chicago’s West Side near where I live. Schools from the Austin and North Lawndale neighborhoods were represented.These communities are largely black and working class.
In the face of the cold-blooded racist threats to close their neighborhood schools, people responded with a night of love, pride and solidarity. Hundreds of parents, students and teachers packed the Friendship MB Church as people spoke of the deep love they had for their neighborhood schools where teachers and staff go that extra mile even when they must fight for the most basic modern educational resources.
“We have the most devoted teachers in our school. I’ve been an A student since the 8th grade. I love Henson and love is very strong word. And man do I love Henson. I’m graduating, so why should I care if it closes. They help the entire community, not just the people who go there.”— an 8th grade student at Mathew Henson School, Austin-North Lawndale Network
Filed under: Discrimination, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics
I don’t mind telling you how scared I was that morning of June 20, 1971. That was the day we were going to Rising Sun, Maryland to picket the Klan at a picnic they were sponsoring. The fear was deep and profound. Butterflies in the stomach? Well, I had a gang of scorpions brawling down there.
Sure, this was Maryland, not Mississippi. It was 1971, not a few years before when the Klan was still leaving a trail of bodies all over the South. But part of the Klan’s power was its ability to install fear in people. It was sure working on me.
Filed under: Global Economy & Politics, Society & Economy, U.S. Politics, Unions
It was a cold clear Saturday morning on December 22, 2012 when I got off the CTA Green Line and walked toward the St. James Cathedral to join with members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC). WOCC was planning march and sit-in to demand a living wage of $15 an hour for Chicago’s downtown retail and restaurant workers. The Illinois minimum wage is now $8.25, far below what is needed to support families or even individuals.
The Hawk, Chicago’s legendary icy wind off the Lake, was not present as I crossed the Michigan Ave bridge on the way to the Cathedral. The Hawk can easily cut through the North Face jackets favored by many Chicagoans and makes carrying a large protest banner as tricky as sailing a schooner around Cape Horn. And leafletting to passersby when The Hawk comes down? You can lose dozens of fliers in an instant if you relax your grip and then have to chase a passel of airborne leaflets through crowds of shoppers and tourists.
The weather was with us that day.
WOCC was a new union in town, barely a month old, but had already pulled off two successful public actions including banner drops at Macy’s department store and marches through Chicago’s upscale Magnificent Mile (aka MagMile) shopping district.