History Monday #72

Hotty Toddy! History is made in college admissions

History in the Civil Rights Movement is no stranger to the Hospitality State, and today’s #HistoryMonday is about less than hospitable conditions provided by the state’s flagship institution of higher learning. Let’s delve into the event and the results following.

James Meredith, accompanied by U.S. Marshals while entering the University of Mississippi

On this day in 1962, James H. Meredith attempts to enroll at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) along with U.S. Marshals. Federal reinforcements in the form of the U.S. Marshalls had become necessary after resistance from university officials and the state’s governor blocked Meredith’s enrollment at Ole Miss.

A former serviceman in the U.S. Air Force, Meredith applied and was accepted to the University of Mississippi in 1962, but when the registrar discovered his race the admission was rescinded. Meredith was still determined to gain admission.

Meredith had previously tried without success in to enroll at the university. After the second refusal by the university, Meredith filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, alleging that the university had rejected him only because of his race. Eventually, after a series of appeals that ruled the state had no right to refuse Meredith’s enrollment, the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court uphold the lower courts’ rulings and ordered Ole Miss to admit James Meredith. The District Court ordered the Board of Trustees for Ole Miss to admit Meredith on September 13, 1962.

Facing a potential election loss in November of that year, Gov. Ross Barnett boasted, “no school will be integrated in Mississippi while I am your governor.” Barnett along with the state legislature had already been planning to prevent Meredith’s enrollment by falsifying claims of voter fraud against Meredith. The criminal charges of these voter fraud would prevent Meredith from enrolling based on this alleged criminal activity.

Barnett, and his Lieutenant Governor both faced federal criminal charges of contempt on September 28 for their actions to prevent Meredith from enrolling. If they refused to comply by October 2, they could be arrested and pay $10,000 and $5,000 a day, respectively.

In hopes to expedite Meredith’s admission and avoid the fines, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Pres. Kennedy conducted calls with Barnett to secretly admit Meredith but allow Barnett to appear unflappable in the public.

Attorney Gen. Kennedy ordered 500 U.S. Marshalls to Oxford, MS to assist Meredith with his enrollment. The Marshalls’ presence would help perpetuate an appearance of Federal overreach which the Governor would have to necessarily comply with.

Unfortunately, this appearance of the Marshalls in Oxford was not dissimilar to Civil War troops marching through the South. Residents unhappy that Ole Miss was being desegregated and Federal troops were invading the South and its way of life began to riot. Two men were killed in the midst of this violence. In addition to Marshalls, another 3,000 federal soldiers were dispatched by Pres. Kennedy to end the rioting. The next day on October 1, 1962, after troops took control, Meredith became the first African-American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi.

fast forward

The admission of James Meredith is regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of Civil Rights in the United States. Compared to other Civil Rights pioneers like Rosa Parks, Meredith helped other African-Americans take courage to desegregate other universities in the South. The Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka had inspired Meredith to pursue desegregation as the Supreme Court had overruled the Plessy v. Ferguson case that promoted separate but equal facilities.

Meredith graduated from Ole Miss in 1963 with a degree in political science. As part of his activism at Ole Miss, Meredith would go on to help protests through the Sixties partnering with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Stokely Carmichael.

Anniversaries of this date have been held in 2002 and 2012. During the 40th anniversary, officials erected a statue of Meredith in the Lyceum-The Circle Historic District at the center of the campus. The district was designated as a National Historic Landmark for these events in October of 2008.

Ole Miss continues to rehabilitate its image and its conduct towards African-Americans. The school’s mascot while named the Rebels commemorates the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Attempts have been made to remove the mascot, Col. Reb and replace it with Rebel Black Bear and Tony Landshark, but fans are reluctant to embrace the new mascots. Additionally, the school band’s playing of Dixie has also elicited negative responses from critics as well. Due to the historical significance of the song in minstrel shows, these critics argued it should be removed from the band’s repertoire. Use of the “Battle Flag” by fans and students at ball games has also been banned for similar reasons.

Hopefully, Mississippi will eventually move forward and live up to its Hospitality State nickname and overcome much of its historic resistance to African-American equality. Ole Miss has even elected its first African-American Student Body President a few years ago which bodes well for the University to make such steps. Heritage Tourism efforts in the state to commemorate Civil Rights challenges along with the popularity of HGTV’s Home Town in Laurel are also drawing renewed travel to Mississippi.

Will Mississippi ever shed its negative reputation towards African-Americans?      

Current Event Friday #75

Should 5th graders be allowed to date?

Another week has come to an end, and that means #CurrentEventFriday. After taking last week off with a Friday entry thanks to internet issues, I’m back with another edition. Today’s entry is about who can date and who is allowed to make those decisions.

At its face, this sounds like a black and white issue, that the prospective daters should be able to make the decisions free from outside interference. But for youngsters in Southern Indiana, clearing up the dating restrictions is necessary thanks to a local school.

Riverside Elementary, part of the Greater Clark Community School Corporation has instituted a new policy that prohibits 5th graders from dating each other. This sweeping policy is only decided by the romantic prospects’ ages and not gender, race, or other demographical qualities.

The elementary school, part of a corporation serving the major towns of Charlestown and Jeffersonville has no outline of how they hope to enforce the policy, but are proceeding, nonetheless. Students in the elementary schools that were already in relationships were required to end these relationships by the weekend as the corporation’s zero-dating policy takes effect.

While it may come from a place of genuine concern that students as young as 10 may not be emotionally ready for romantic endeavors, many adults have objected to the corporation’s impact on the relationships. Even some parents who are reluctant to have their 5th graders dating, they have voiced objections to the corporation. Many of these same parents have instructed their children to ignore the policy, arguing only the parents should decide whether to restrict the dating decisions.

Obviously, most of the kids already dating in the 5th grade would argue that no adult should have a say in who or when they date, but that’s kid logic (Note: I refer to them as kids or youngsters as I usually do for anyone under the age of 16—a sign I’m getting old).

I can agree that maybe the school has overstepped its bounds by instituting a zero-dating policy but warning kids of the potential heartbreak associated with young or puppy love is not a bad idea. Young daters are woefully unaware of what early relationships can carry. Admittedly, I can remember even in kindergarten having a ‘girlfriend’, but it was never anything more than just saying those words because it’s neat to say.

Most school corporations already have a no-PDA policy and that’s perfectly fine since school should be about academic pursuits over romantic ones. If Riverside Elementary wanted to promote that policy, that would’ve been fine but outlawing dating is a step too far. Hopefully the administration at the corporation office will help the elementary school refine the policy that all parties are satisfied.

Should the school have banned dating for 5th graders, or should they have allowed parents to make the choice?

History Monday #71

Just over two centuries ago, a group of explorers makes a celebrated return to Missouri.

The boys are back in town, the wild-eyed boys who’d been away. After two years away, I imagine anyone might be wild-eyed. The homecoming celebration for today’s #HistoryMonday had nationwide significance and the travelers would be heralded for years to come.

From Left to Right, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark

On September 23, 1806, the Corps of Discovery returns to St. Louis, MO after two and a half years exploring the recently purchased Louisiana Territory. The Corps’ lead explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark brought back a wealth of information about the largely unexplored region, as well as valuable U.S. claims to Oregon Territory.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition had been organized by President Thomas Jefferson while the Louisiana Purchase was being completed. The expedition was tasked with mapping, describing, and chronicling adventures of the U.S. Northwest. The expedition began on May 14, 1804 near St. Louis and included 28 men and one woman—a Native American named Sacagawea.

Lewis and Clark, along with the rest of the expedition paralleled the Missouri River eventually passing through the Dakotas and eventually into Montana, where they discovered the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide. Eventually they followed the Columbia River and on November 8, 1805, arrived at the Pacific Ocean. This feat was the first effort by European/White explorers to do so by an overland route from the east. Deciding that return during the winter would be more challenging, the Corps wintered in Oregon until March of 1806 before heading back East.

fast forward

Lewis, Clark, and the Corps did achieve their goal of reaching the Pacific, in order to establish American presence and legal claim to the land. Diplomatic relations were established along with trading agreements with nearly two dozen indigenous nations. While the Corps of Discovery did not find a continuous waterway to the Pacific Ocean as expected, they did discover a trail leading from the upper end of the Missouri River to the Columbia River running to the Pacific Ocean.

The Corps of Discovery discovered new flora and fauna. Upon the discovery of these, the Corps brought back several botanical and mineral specimens. Hoping to aid explorers following their efforts, the Corps practiced cartography that included topographical maps of the lands, waterways, and geological formations on maps that were circulated on their return. Along with these maps, the Corps also produced maps that listed and described the various tribes they had encountered. Tribal information was also published about the language and customs of these American Indian tribes.

Lewis and Clark established an immediate legacy as they returned to St. Louis and continue to be recognized today. It’s not hard to see it locally myself, as the county I live in is named for William Clark’s brother George Rogers Clark. Yet, one of the main roads in Clarksville named for George Rogers Clark, is named for Lewis and Clark. Even the newest bridge spanning the Ohio River connecting Clark County, Indiana to Prospect, KY bears the Lewis and Clark name as well.

low angle photography of gateway arch in st louis
Photo by Matthias Cooper on Pexels.com

As the expedition began and ended in St. Louis, the most obvious symbol of their legacy is seen in the Gateway Arch National Park. Located near the Corps’ embarkation and return point, the monument recognizes the expedition’s efforts and that the city is the Gateway to the West. The National Park is known for its 630’ tall cantilevered arch that defines the city skyline.

While the Corps of Discovery were the first Americans to explore the Western Frontier, their travels would inspire many others such as Kit Carson, John C. Frémont, Jim Bridger, Pres. Teddy Roosevelt, and John Muir. Other Western frontiersman such as Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok would promote and celebrate the West while magnifying the stories of the Western explorers and the natives.

What do you know about Lewis and Clark?

The Edge of Eighteen

Nobody wants a Dear John letter, but a Dear Self letter is a completely different story

I’ve seen several introspective exercises lately; from another blogger I’ve discovered through WordPress — Retrospective Lily and a BlazeTV podcaster—Allie Stuckey, so I thought it’s a clever idea for me as well. So, enjoy this letter to me at 18.

Dear Ryan,

Enjoy this time in your life. You have your academic life planned out and although many of your friends in your classes will be going elsewhere, your college of choice is best for you. Along those lines, you will find the saying, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Is a well-known saying because it often proves true. You’ve been interested the last year and a half in being an elementary teacher, but that’s not how plans worked out. Some of this has been decided for you, it’s also been decided by you and that’s okay.

While you toyed with the idea of being a pastor for a few months this senior year of high school, but convinced yourself otherwise, you did eventually realize that was the path God planned for you. You still teach as a substitute teacher, so you do get to teach. You also use gifts of teaching as a pastor to help the parishioners under your care.

You will have a college experience similar to many middle-class Americans, and that is partly why your college tenure took longer. While you’ll never wake up hungover in a strange place surrounded by a stranger, you did enjoy the freedom college offered. Without having your parents to wake you up or immediate consequence for skipping class, you took advantage of those freedoms more often than you should. Your parents will be disappointed in your efforts but as your efforts were similar in high school, they still loved you despite your lackluster enthusiasm for school. You will also continue schooling as a pastor and help teach other pastor friends how to slide through college classes.

I know you hope that you will be married and have kids by now, such is not the case. Your brother Ross is married with three kids himself, and these nephews are some of your favorite people. Seeing these nephews on a regular basis and hearing their excitement to see their Uncle Ryru is a particular highlight for you until you have kids of your own.

As of the writing if this letter, I know you’ll probably be sad you’re not romantically involved, but you have dealt with it and it hopefully get better. You will end up dating a girl for 9 months and this serious relationship is the pinnacle of your romantic endeavors, but it’s not meant to be. You’ll both write each other off and hopefully you can eventually learn not to recoil when you hear from her.

You’ve always had the gift of gab like your father and it may have gotten you dinged in conduct grades during elementary school for talkativeness, you are much more selective now. The word ‘selective’ is a nice way of saying introverted. You can still carry a conversation with friends, but you’ve internalized conversation like your mom and Ross.

High School and Middle School were never helpful for your confidence and that’s sill the case to this day. You are finding ways to receive attaboys and confidence boosters from many you encounter and thankfully it’s for internal qualities not the external.

Be glad that as you will face more surgeries for your pacemaker, the technology will improve greatly. The recovery time for these operations has accelerated immensely. You still wish the Holter monitor wouldn’t itch when you have to wear one, but it’s only a one day a year commitment, it’s not that bad.

Eventually your metabolism will catch up to you. Your family always worried when you were a kid that you were a picky eater and ate too little. You learned to enjoy food and would eat more as a teenager, but now you’re diabetic so you have to be careful with what you eat and how much you eat. Being mindful of your diet is probably a good habit for you so that you’re not a pudgy little man.

Most importantly as you’re reading this, you will find you do enjoy writing. You take pride in proclaiming that you write succinctly and efficiently and that you dislike writing for academic reasons. That’s still true from the academic standpoint. Writing this letter and blogging afford you the opportunity for catharsis and educating. You will find you enjoy writing poetry which I know at this point you never would have imagined. You always enjoyed history class and current event discussions and this blog allows you to share historical facts and opine on current events.

Sincerely,

2019 Ryan

 

While I could cover more topics in this letter, I think it’s enough for now and is fit for public consumption. I did enjoy this project as a way of looking at how far I’ve come and where I need to be. There are still some places I could be better now that are holdovers from when I was 18, and all I can say is that we’re all a work in progress, and we are better today than we were yesterday.

For a lighter take on this kind of project, enjoy Brad Paisley’s take on this idea:

Have you ever written a letter to yourself?

Poetry Wednesday 69

It’s time to “Let It Flow”

“Let it Flow”

I wonder, if others like me sometimes dream about drinking

Sleeping like the dead each night barely blinking

Lonely hearts like mine all under the moon let unforced tears flow

Some for old, unhappy, far-off things, and battles long ago:

Getting dangerous to follow my mind and remember her, they mess up my thinking

 

I gaze at the liquid therein filled to the lip of the glass

Lift the glass to my mouth, hoping memories of her will eventually pass

Honey is what I call you, letting those words flow like from many bees

Too long I have been numbed, couldn’t see the forest for the trees

She broke me like a rejected clay project from pottery class

 

Let flow the tequila, bourbon, wine, or water; the thirst is real

Her affection was fake, and should be gone; still it darkly lingers like the sun as it sets

Warm me and let your love flow through and to me, overcome all my regrets

Not going to risk the danger of emotions that I don’t want to feel.

Should drink something healthy to deal with the emotions, best to avoid troubled waters

Soon, I’ll feel alright, let healthy feelings flow; joining other lonely sons and daughters.

 

© Ryan Stroud 2019

History Monday #70

Time to set sail

♫ Come sail away, Come sail away, Come sail away ♪ Words that may or may not have been sung by a group of historically significant people part of today’s #HistoryMonday. Well, I doubt any of those aboard the ship actually sang a Styx song, but it’s still a fun song and those sailing are traditionally seen as a bunch of no-fun churchy types so it’s anachronistically humorous.

The Embarkation of the Pilgrims (1857) by Robert Walter Weir

On this day in 1620, the Mayflower sails from Plymouth, England, with just over a hundred passengers. Bound for Virginia, the ship carried prospective colonists–a handful religious dissenters and many others entrepreneurs. Thanks to stormy weather and navigational errors the Mayflower arrived November 21 in modern-day Massachusetts. These colonists founded the first permanent European settlement in New England almost a month later named Plimoth Plantation.

The travelers are remembered primarily as members of the radical English Separatist Church, rebels from the jurisdiction of the Church of England. A decade earlier, this same group of Separatists fled to Holland from England and state prosecution endorsed by the Church. Being exiles in Holland, this group never felt comfortable in their safe space, and felt that being with other Englishman separated by the Church and the government by the Atlantic Ocean was a better option.

Persecution and suspicion in Holland provided economic challenges for The Separatists, so travel to the New World needed financial backing.  These investors along with three dozen church-members entered into an agreement to travel to the New World. The investors were promised a substantial financial return on their investment with the colony’s efforts once established.  The investors and church-members left Southampton on the Mayflower a month before with a smaller vessel—the Speedwell, but the smaller vessel was forced to return to port after two failures of seaworthiness. So, the Mayflower left for America alone from Plymouth on this day almost four centuries ago.

fast forward

We all know the immediate effects of this voyage as the colony was established, around half the population died within the first year. Thankfully, in 1621 the health and economic condition of the colonists improved, and Governor William Bradford invited neighboring Native Americans to Plymouth to celebrate the bounty of that year’s harvest season at the first Thanksgiving. Eventually, Plymouth’s population reached 3,000 people, but the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the north, settled by Puritans in 1629 would eventually overshadow Plymouth and expand into a much larger colony encompassing much of New England.

Often missed with the Thanksgiving narrative, is the ratification and signing of the Mayflower Compact. The agreement between the literate and affluent persons on board the ship provided the prototype for American democracy and the U.S. Constitution.

The sailing party on the Mayflower as mentioned above celebrated an autumn harvest known as the first Thanksgiving. This celebration was commemorated in the early days of the United States post-Revolution. Eventually, Pres. Lincoln resurrected the commemorative celebration in the midst of the Civil War, and it would become the permanent U.S. Holiday we celebrate each November.

A fun fact, the dating of this event varies by 10 days depending on the calendar used. Before the mid-18th Century in Great Britain and its colonies, two different calendars were used—the Gregorian and Julian. The date disparity between these two calendars has historically been termed Old Style (OS) and New Style (NS). So, the Mayflower set sail on September 16, 1620 N.S. on the Gregorian Calendar and September 6, 1620 OS on the Julian Calendar. As the Gregorian became the standard calendar for the West by law, this calendar has taken over the Julian or O.S. dating system.  

Have you ever visited the Plmoth Plantation where the Mayflower sailing party settled?