¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Why is 5/5 important to Mexico?

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Be sure to enjoy the day that most think is the Mexican Independence Day. Yet, today actually commemorates a decisive battle in the Franco-Mexican War. The battle took place in the city of Puebla de Los Angeles between French forces and a small number of Mexican troops in 1862.

The Mexican troops were outnumbered 6,000 to 2,000 but were able to outlast the French force and eventually cause their retreat. This sent shockwaves throughout Europe as well as in the United States even though Mexico’s northern neighbor was itself embroiled in the Civil War.

Although a victory in the battle of Puebla, the Franco-Mexican War lasted until 1867 as neither side had enough allied support. After the Civil War ended in the United States, they were able to financially support Mexico in their ousting of French proxy governors. Puebla would be later renamed to Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the Mexican General who had led the victory.

Today the celebration has become a celebration for Mexican-Americans and in the town of Puebla but hardly any other locations in Mexico. The majority of Mexicans celebrate their day of Independence on Sept. 16 which was accomplished 50 years prior to the Battle of Puebla.

Mexican-Americans celebrate this day to honor their heritage and commemorate the Mexican defeat of French forces. Given that the day is close to American Independence Day and Memorial Day, the day lends itself to borrowing some of the same trappings of those holidays while adding Mexican flair.

So, if you want to have a Margarita, a Mexican beer, nachos, or tacos go right ahead. It’s a day to celebrate and probably we need some day to celebrate in light of all the craziness going on around us. Think of the day you’re commemorating like the Battle of Ft. McHenry in the War of 1812 that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner.

What’s your go to Mexican dish?

History Monday #97

A different kind of bus tour thru the South

The wheels on the bus go round and round while Civil Rights leaders call attention to the plight of African-Americans in the United States. I know it doesn’t roll of the tongue like the original lyrics, but it’s a good setup to today’s #HistoryMonday topic.

Greyhound Bus Station, Jackson Mississippi 1939-12-22.jpg

On this day in 1961, a group of 13 Civil Rights leaders—7 black and 6 white boarded Greyhound & Trailways buses and headed on a tour of the deep South. This was not a sightseeing tour but was intended to call attention to the non-enforcement of Supreme Court cases that overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision from 65 years earlier. The Plessy decision had set precedent for the concept of separate but equal facilities as well as transportation.  The riders would come to be called the Freedom Riders by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

The Supreme Court had ruled against the practice of segregation in Morgan v. Virginia in 1946, Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company (1955), and Boynton v. Virginia just the year before. However, local authorities had ignored the reversal of separate but equal and protests had ensued.

Early protest rides in 1946 & 1947 occurred after the Morgan decision went unenforced. Sit-ins also occurred after the Boynton decision. CORE organized the first bus protest rides that would travel from Washington D.C. and end up in New Orleans about 2 weeks later.

fast forward

As the Freedom Riders drew attention to the unfair practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws present in the South, more rides were planned for the summer. In addition to the CORE group of riders, organizers from the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) joined the efforts.

Unfortunately, the Freedom Riders were met with violence in many of the Southern locations even by the police and other authorities. Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi resisted the desegregation efforts and infamous Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor directed police to resist the Freedom Riders.

Pres. John Kennedy appreciated the problems that faced African-Americans in the South but feared escalating violence towards them and urged a cool-down period during the summer. The Freedom Riders encouraged the protests to continue in spite of the mounting violence. Attorney Gen. Robert Kennedy also pushed for a cool-down but CORE & SNCC leaders ignored his advice as well.

Many of the Freedom Riders would be involved in other protests during the Civil Rights Era. Stokely Carmichael became the face of SNCC and gained attention for their coordinated efforts along with Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Speaking of the SCLC, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth had helped to found the organization 4 years earlier with Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, C.K. Steele, Joseph Lowery, and Ralph Abernathy all playing key roles in the initial meeting.

Abernathy, King, and Shuttlesworth were arrested 2 years later in Birmingham while protesting on Good Friday to bring attention to the problems with segregation. King would write his famous Letters from a Birmingham Jail during this stay in jail.

In terms of media response, Oprah Winfrey helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, on her TV program by inviting all living Freedom Riders which aired on May 4, 2011. Eyes on the Prize, a PBS series featured an episode, “Ain’t Scared of Your Jails: 1960-1961,” dedicated to the Freedom Riders and included an interview with James Farmer, a co-founder of CORE and the original Freedom Ride. PBS also broadcasted an episode of its American Experience series in 2012 about the Freedom Riders with interviews and news footage from the Freedom Riders movement. Simon & Garfunkel penned and performed the song “He Was My Brother”, as a tribute to the Freedom Riders.

Commemorative facilities have also been erected to honor the Freedom Riders’ legacy with one located the old Greyhound Bus terminal in Montgomery, Alabama, which became the new Freedom Ride Museum as part of the 50th Anniversary. Two years later, Montgomery police Chief Kevin Murphy presented Congressmen John Lewis with his own badge and apologized to Lewis for violence the statesman had suffered during Civil Rights protests. Jackson, Mississippi also commemorated the 50th Anniversary with a reunion and conference in the city. President Barack Obama declared the Anniston, Alabama bus station the Freedom Riders National Monument in January 2017.

Have you visited any of the sites of the Freedom Riders protests?

Current Event Friday #101

Wanna go the movies?

Let’s all go to the movies, let’s all go to the movies and return to normal life. That sounds like a great idea, but you may not have much of a selection depending on the theater and the films out at the box office. Today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at what is happening in the world of film.

War of words erupts after AMC says it will ban Universal films ...

As movie theaters have closed nationwide as part of social distancing, film studios have released their films on their on-demand streaming services. Many moviegoers have found that they enjoy paying to watch shows that were just released on their home screens. Film studios have seen their revenues for these movies are comparable to theatrical release and in some cases even better than the theatrical release numbers.

Early this week, the head of Universal Studios noted this phenomenon and indicated that they will continue this practice along with theatrical releases even after social distancing ends. Given the success it’s hardly surprising, but it didn’t exactly thrill movie theaters.

After the announcement, AMC Theatres declared that they were not going to show or promote Universal films as a result. Regal Theaters made a similar announcement to AMC’s a few days later. AMC’s stock dropped just a day after announcing their new policy. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

The cost for an outing to a movie theater has already become somewhat cost prohibitive anyways, so this won’t help them more. For the cost of one movie theater ticket, people can watch films that were just made available by studios in the comfort of their home. Independent theaters and drive-ins are also expected to make more money in the midst of this fight as well. Since people can stay safely distanced in their cars and it’s summer, drive-ins will rake in the money. After social distancing restrictions are lessened, the independent theaters can also take advantage of a major corporation arguing with another major corporation. On-demand rentals and purchases will also see a spike.

I’m lucky if I go to the movie theater more than a handful of times annually. I’m fine with watching a movie on-demand for less than $10 and sometimes less than $5. If the movie is garbage at least I didn’t waste a lot of money like I would at a theater. Yes, you miss the large screens, but technology has made portable screens and projectors semi-affordable if you really want to watch on a large screen. Even the appeal of movies as a dating location has lost its appeal in recent years. Movie-size candy is affordable as well, and quality popcorn is affordable, so movie theaters don’t really have an edge anymore.

Knowing that movie theaters have already lost money while closed, I’m guessing they’re going to blink first and will eventually end up showing some Universal Film Studios movies. If not, I’ll watch the shows on demand or at the local independent establishment.

Would you rather watch new films at the movie theater or at home?

History Monday #96

Nueva administración en España en este día

While it looks like North Korea may be changing management shortly, today is also a historical day for another nation’s change in leadership. Today’s #HistoryMonday is heading back to a date that is the furthest date we’ve looked at in this series.

Gibraltar - Wikipedia
The Rock of Gibraltar located at the Southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula 

On this day in 711, Tariq ibn Ziyad (Arabic: طارق بن زياد) lands at Gibraltar with Berber troops from Northern Africa. Tariq was attempting to expand the Umayyad Caliphate along the Mediterranean and conquer the city of Constantinople.

Tariq, governor of Tangier, Morocco led the expedition with soldiers who likely had been conquered and converted to Islam. Berbers had traveled to Southern Spain prior to the expedition led by Tariq, but with little success.

Numbers of how many troops were in the expedition vary greatly. The most conservative estimates are somewhere around 1,200 troops and the highest estimate puts the number around 12,000. Since the historical accounts are provided by both Moorish and Spanish experts this explains the discrepancy.

Spain was being ruled by a Visigoth king Roderic (Spanish: Rodrigo) who had usurped the throne with encouragement by local Iberians and support from other Visigoth nobility. Welcomed by the Iberian senate and some bishops, Roderic was tolerated by the common folk since his reign was short-lived.

fast forward

After invading Hispania (Latin: Spain) forces from Morocco known as the Moors continued conquering the Iberian Peninsula and renamed it Al-Andalus in the Arabic language. Their reign lasted almost eight centuries until the unification of the several kingdoms under Ferdinand and Isabel in 1492. During this period, Spain was influenced heavily by Islam which is still seen today. Among those influences are the Alhambra, Hindu-Arabic numeral systems, spiced foods, and libraries.

Alhambra - HISTORY
The Alhambra, an example of Arabic architecture in Granada, Spain

Loan words in Spanish also bear the influence of the Arabic language. These include: azúcar (Sugar), aceite (oil), alcohol, Ojalá (hopefully), azul (blue), and the article el derives from the Arabic article al.

The Southern province of Spain still bears the Arabic title for Spain. Andalucía/Andalusia is known for the cities of Seville, Cordoba, and Malaga. Sevillian oranges known for their distinctive flavor are a contribution of the Moors through their Spice route trade in Spain.

During this period, the legend of El Cid began to take root. Celebrated as a character displaying tolerance between Christians and Muslims. Born as Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, he was able to command both Christian and Moorish troops in the early 11th Century. As he was able to earn the trust of Moors, he was given the Arabic title al sayiid which was transliterated as El Cid in the Spanish language.

The Moors promoted a cooperative and tolerant existence between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Spain that was not common through the rest of Europe but was present in much of the medieval territories governed by Muslim rulers. As Spain reacted to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century, these tolerant policies were sadly suspended. The Torquemada and other Inquisitors punished not only Muslims but also Jews in an attempt to establish Christianity as the official state religion.

Do you know who owns Gibraltar now and why it remains famous?

Current Event Friday #100

Changes to grocery shopping are necessary with social distancing

It’s time to do the marketing, we’re out of milk, potato chips, and frozen waffles. Before the challenge of Covid-19 this wasn’t a challenge. Most anyone just headed to the supermarket and bought what was on their list and brought it back home and place their goods in the fridge or pantry. Now many have adapted to how they will shop at grocery stores and these adaptations are today’s #CurrentEventFriday topic.

Running to the grocery store wasn’t a difficult or dreaded errand before social distancing, but now it has become more challenging. If I had forgot something on my list or realized after shopping that I should’ve added something to the list, I’d just head back to the store the next day and I’d have what I need. Now, I wait and add more things to the list for when I’m going to get groceries again.

Kroger begins online grocery ordering and curbside pickup at ...

 

One method I’ve found that others had already been using prior to this is ClickList® from Kroger. This allows you to select goods that the local Kroger or one of its subsidiaries have in their inventory. Once you’ve selected everything on your list, you choose a time to pick up the order at your local store. Once you’ve completed these steps, you pay for the purchase. You arrive at the store at the selected time, and contact the

phone number of the store and give your name and the slot you’re in and an employee loads your vehicle with your order. If some of the products you’ve selected are unavailable, you can choose whether to allow employees to substitute a similar product. If you choose to not allow a substitute for an out-of-stock item, then you will be refunded for the cost of that item and it will not be included in your order.

Many other grocery stores use their own version of this service. I’ve not used these programs at these other stores so I can’t testify to the process or the ease of using them. I would imagine that these services aren’t that dissimilar.

Along with the curbside pickup, stores are also offering delivery options or shipping. Since I don’t live in a location that is within the shipping or delivery radius, I’m unsure of how well this works. I’ve used pizza delivery apps and they work fine; I’m guessing grocery delivery also works.

The challenge and benefit of using these services is it prevents browsing or the impulse buying that inevitably happens when shopping in person. The challenging characteristic is the same in any online retailing which is that you may or may not enjoy the product once you receive it. Admittedly, I’m a little hesitant to online shop, particularly for clothing and had been for grocery shopping but what’s on my grocery list is products I already like and use.

Some products are unavailable for online grocery shopping so you may have to shop in person. Among those include hand sanitizer, alcohol, and pharmacy products. I have went shopping while wearing a mask and practiced social distancing in store and had no major problems. As the restrictions are changed, we’ll have to see whether online grocery shopping is the preferred method. I am enjoying the convenience of the service but wandering the massive Kroger stores does limit my exercise. So, not walking around a large grocery store and ordering more food may cause the ‘Quarantine 15’ that so many are joking about.

Have you used online grocery shopping? Is it better than conventional grocery shopping?