Tag Archives: United states of America

Protesting by ‘taking the knee’ during the “Star-spangled banner” – who are the patriots?

Embed from Getty Images

This is the sixteenth and final of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month I have been posting about my experiences. In this last article, I reflect on my journey and its relevance to what is going on these days in the good ol’ US of A.

Imagine the scene. Being an absolute sucker for plaques, I was dutifully reading the plaques in Court Square, Montgomery AL. I was queuing up, or should I say “in the line”, to read the Rosa Parks’ plaque there. There was a couple in front of me.

Why should we celebrate that ****?

– said the fellow in front of me, using a very strong expletive not normally wittingly unleashed on LDV readers. Neeedless to say, the man was white also. This outburst surprised me a bit. Here I was, paying great reverence to Ms Parks, having travelled 4,303 miles (as the crow flies) to do so. And here was this guy asking why we “should celebrate this ****”.

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A journey through American history – a compendium


Over the last few weeks, I have posted up recollections from my recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I have been relating some of the things I saw. Here is a compendium which lists the sixteen posts in this series with links to all of them:

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This single photograph shows an amazing crucible of American history


This is the fifteenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

Without any doubt, the highlight of my USA tour was my visit to Mongomery, Alabama. To coin a phrase of Stephen Fry’s, for someone interested in history, it was like swimming through liquid chocolate. Within half a mile of the State Capitol, there are a clutch of historic sites which bore witness to some of the most seminal events in the history of the USA.

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The woman who refused to budge on the bus – and made history


The statue of Rosa Parks in the Rosa Parks museum, Troy University, Montgomery, Alabama.

This is the fourteenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I’ve wanted to visit the Rosa Parks museum for years. It has been very high on my bucket list. It was a strange desire. The Rosa Parks museum is in Montgomery, Alabama, which is not one of the easiest places to places to get to in the States. (I had to go on a Greyhound bus from Atlanta, Georgia – which turned out to be a very peaceful and calm experience!) And I would not say that I am an expert on the history of Rosa Parks. I had barely read her Wikipedia write-up before I planned a trip to Montgomery. It was just that I respected her as someone who did something quite awesome – she simply, and with quiet dignity, refused to give up her bus seat to a white person and, as a result, sparked a movement that led eventually to the end of racial segregation in the USA and a step-function advancement in civil rights for Black people there.

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The home where Martin Luther King’s family were bombed



This is the thirteenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

In Montgomery, Alabama I visited the Dexter Parsonage Museum (photo above) – which was the home of Dr Martin Luther King Jr during the Montgomery Bus Boycott (of which more in a latter post). Dr King lived here with his family from 1954 to 1960. It is preserved with the furnishings and household things as per that period.

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In the heart of the American rebellion


The main drawing room – what was effectively the “Oval Office” – of the First Confederacy White House in Montgomery, Alabama.

This is the twelfth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

You’re in the heart of the Jefferson Davis rebellion empire!

I had just walked up to the door of “the first Confederacy White House”, across the road from the Alabaman State Capitol in Montgomery. I wasn’t sure that the museum was open – the door was closed and there was no sign of it being open. So it was a bit of a surprise to open the door and be immediately confronted by a very excited docent, who was like a character actor from a John Wayne film. After the declaration above, I half-expected him to shout “Yee-haa!” and plonk a globule of his oral juices into a nearby spittoon!

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Just as US President Jimmy Carter was the antidote to “Tricky Dicky”, could Oprah Winfrey save the world from Trump?



This is the eleventh of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I had the great pleasure of visiting the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. It is set just outside the city centre, in very leafy and peaceful surroundings. The exhibition gave me a sense of a great man, shaped by his upbringing in Georgia, his experience as a farmer and businessman, and his service in the US Navy in nuclear submarines.

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Splendid memorial to Dr Martin Luther King Junior in Washington DC

This is the tenth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

In Washington DC, I was lucky enough to stay in a neighbourhood where the people were extremely friendly and welcoming. But it is true that the centre of “DC”, as it is almost universally called in the States, is odd. It consists of virtually all federal buildings of some sort or another, plus a lot of monuments. In fact there are so many monuments that, after a couple of days, I had definitely reached “peak monument”.

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The black slave whose failed bid for freedom led to the American Civil War

This is the ninth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I enjoyed a visit to the wonderful US Capitol “Visitor Center”. At presumably astronomical expense, a fantastic underground visitors’ entrance has been built on the east side of the Capitol. You enter it and are taken on a tour of the US Capitol where you go up inside the centre of the building.

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Reminders of the unspeakable inhumanity of slavery



Bermuda (UK) image number 431 graphic depiction of how slaves were kept below decks

This is the eighth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I visited two sites which reminded me of the unspeakable inhumanity of slavery.
The Charles H Wright Museum of African American history is superb. From the very origins of humanity from one common mother, revealed via mitochondrial DNA, “And still we rise” tells the story of African Americans in great detail with very attractive displays.

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The music that united the world



This is the seventh of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

When I started planning my US trip, I had two items high on my bucket list which I wanted to tick. One was the Rosa Parks museum (of which more later in this series) and the other was the Motown museum in Detroit. I was extremely excited to visit the home of Tamla Motown. I made a major 3000 mile detour in my trip just to do it! And I was not disappointed. I have still not completely calmed down from my excitement three weeks after visiting it!

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The underground road to precious freedom for black slaves

This is the sixth of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

I had low expectations for Detroit. You hear stories about bankruptcy and violence. In fact, I found Detroit to be a wonderful city. It is beautifully spaced out. Rather than having all its prominent buildings in the centre of the city, they are spread out across the urban area. The heritage of the wealth of the automative industry has bestowed some wonderful buildings to Detroit.

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Riot? Rebellion? or Revolution?



Embed from Getty Images

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Prominent US statue of Philip Randolph – #2 in a journey through African American history



This is the second of my posts based on a recent tour of the eastern half of the USA. I visited a number of sites relevant to African American history. To mark Black History Month, I am relating some of the things I saw, in the order I saw them.

Back Bay metro station in Boston, Massachusetts, is a very prominent and large underground railway station, serving a particular busy and affluent part of the city.

As I moved through it, I couldn’t help noticing that the passenger transit area is dominated by a very large statue of a man (photo above). There were several panels explaining the statue, with much praise for its subject, A. Philip Randolph.

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#1 in a journey through African American history – the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment


Detail from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, Boston

I’ve recently returned from a seven city, 10786 mile-long tour across the eastern United States.

This trek sprang from several random “bucket list” items of mine. I was fortunate enough to be able to stitch together an itinerary which did a lot of ticking of my terminal wish list. The visits were all deeply “anorakky” in nature – mainly to museums.

But as I prepared to travel, I noticed that there was a clear theme running through most of my destinations – that of African American history.

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Can you guess what this parliamentary appurtenance is?


In the UK, we’re used to elements of the Palace of Westminster reflecting past goings-on. The two sides of the House of Commons are seperated by enough space to accomodate the length of two swords. And there are little red silk loops for each MP to hang their sword in outside the chamber.

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Nigel Farage proves that he is the ultimate media tart

My photo, taken last week, of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, through the water of the fountain in Court Square, where Black slaves were bought and sold.

I have to say that the news that Nigel Farage is backing an extreme right-wing candidate in a Republican primary (mark that: it’s a party primary – not even a general election!) in Alabama, USA takes secure possession of a whole plethora of biscuits. Does this man stop at nothing to get some media coverage?

I was in Alabama this time last week, so I feel the urge to comment on this, if not having the qualification of detailed knowledge of the situation.

First of all, Farage is taking no risks here. Roy Moore, the candidate he is speaking for tonight, is going to win the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat which was vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became US Attorney General. So Farage is saddling up on a horse which is already going to win.

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Public funding for the arts should be cut during a recession, right?

Grant Wood - American Gothic - Google Art Project

Well, er, no. “America after the fall – Painting in the 1930s” is an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which breathtakingly displays how public funding for the arts during a depression (let alone a recession) can work wonders. As part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, the Federal Arts Project employed artists to create visual art works, which eventually included over a hundred thousand paintings as well as many sculptures and other works. Artists who benefited included Jackson Pollock. There were other New Deal art projects such as the Public Works of Art project, the Section of Painting and Sculpture and the Treasury Relief Art Project.

All these programmes helped to produce an extraordinary decade for American Art, which is reflected brilliantly in the Royal Academy exhibition, on until June 4th in Piccadilly, London.

What comes over is that the decade established a distinctive American Art world, which was finally free of reference to art elsewhere. There is an extraordinary variety of styles producing a most colourful and impactful exhibition, reflecting the profound changes going on in the USA at the time.

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Donald Trump is a dangerous and complete joke – but the joke is on the American people

I give you this series of early morning tweets from the President of the United States of America, as collated by Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire:

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

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The Trump story that takes the biscuit – until the next one that takes it…

I’m going to sound callous but I do believe that perhaps the only plus point of a Trump Presidency is its comedy value. Viewing figures for the US late night shows are booming.

I thought we had reached the pinnacle of Trump comedy with the story of how he appeared, in front of a cross-party gathering of Congressional leaders at the White House, to base his call for an investigation into voter fraud on a conversation with German golfer Bernard Langer.

But yesterday there came a story which really takes the biscuit. At 3am one morning, local time, President Trump phoned his national security adviser to ask whether a strong or weak dollar was best for the American economy.

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A little part of who I am is struggling to survive

 

I feel as if a little part of who I am is struggling to survive. A little part that has been nurtured and has grown since, as a teenager, I marvelled at the liberal values and writings of Robert Kennedy and Dr Martin Luther King.

It’s the part that grew up regarding US history as testament that a people can use lessons of a divided past to create a society that offers opportunity for all.

And it’s the same part of me that’s always been so proud that I have family amongst those tired and huddled masses who were welcomed with open arms to a nation founded on that simple, yet beautiful, declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

That’s the promise of the United States. A promise to which so many have trusted their futures, and their dreams. But it’s a promise that today seems under threat.

Perhaps not all are equally welcome.

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What happened to the lamp beside the golden door?

The Telegraph reports:

Mr Trump signed an executive order closing US borders to all refugees for a period of at least four months and temporarily banning all travellers from half a dozen countries, regardless of whether they have already been issued visas…

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Thirty-seven Americans have the power to change the course of history

 

Today, the US Electoral College will meet in 51 separate locations to decide who will become the next President of the United States. The decision these individual men and women make will determine the outcome of every significant global event for the next decade, if not the next century.

Earlier this year, on 4th August, the Harvard Republican Club issued a press release stating that, for the first time in their one hundred and twenty-eight year history, they would not be endorsing the Republican nominee for president.  The presumptive nominee, they said, was not just unfit to be president but represented, “a threat to the survival of the republic”.

They went on to say that, “His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy.” and that, “He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House”. This approach, with a little assistance from foreign hackers, has brought him within touching distance of the White House.

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The USA: The clue is in the title – and it is the greatest example of pooled sovereignity between states

Four of the USA’s founding fathers: (l to r) Adams, Morris, Hamilton, Jefferson

There was a rather strange moment on Thursday’s BBC Question Time. There was a discussion about President Obama’s intervention in the EU referendum debate.

Liam Fox was waxing lyrically about how the USA has great democracy, and all we want is the same democracy ourselves without our country being, he posited, controlled by “Brussels”.

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  • User AvatarLiberal Neil 21st Oct - 12:06pm
    Barry - the numbers were way above what the organisers or anyone else expected.
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 21st Oct - 12:06pm
    apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for...
  • User AvatarDavid Becket 21st Oct - 11:58am
    Well said Richard, Caron and Neil, most activists agree with you. I hope the leader and those who are likely to vote for this read...
  • User AvatarNeil Fawcett 21st Oct - 11:39am
    Dear Richard, As a member of the Federal Board I agree with all your points, in fact I have made several of them myself at...
  • User AvatarJennie 21st Oct - 11:37am
    Thanks Richard, and Caron
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 21st Oct - 11:36am
    @ nvelope 2003, May I point you towards a report by the Joseph Rowntree Trust. 'Brexit explained: Poverty, low skills and lack of opportunity' It...