Moyers on King, Johnson, Clinton and Obama, and civil rights

January 19, 2008

Moyers keeps the hammer solely on the head of the nail — again.

This video segment from Bill Moyers’ program should be suitable for classroom use — short, covering a lot of civil rights history, with great images.

From the video:

LYNDON JOHNSON: It’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.

BILL MOYERS: As he finished, Congress stood and thunderous applause shook the chamber. Johnson would soon sign into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and black people were no longer second class citizens.  Martin Luther King had marched and preached and witnessed for this day.   Countless ordinary people had put their bodies on the line for it, been berated, bullied and beaten, only to rise, organize and struggle on, against the dogs and guns, the bias and burning crosses.  Take nothing from them; their courage is their legacy. But take nothing from the president who once had seen the light but dimly, as through a dark glass — and now did the right thing. Lyndon Johnson threw the full weight of his office on the side of justice. Of course the movement had come first, watered by the blood of so many, championed bravely now by the preacher turned prophet who would himself soon be martyred. But there is no inevitability to history, someone has to seize and turn it.  With these words at the right moment —  “we shall overcome”  — Lyndon Johnson transcended race and color, and history, too — reminding us that a president matters, and so do we.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Just in case you missed Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS this week.

Uganda to start DDT use; funding delayed program start

January 19, 2008

New Vision, a website in Kampala, Uganda, via, notes that Uganda will start using DDT in residential spraying against mosquitoes, in February 2008.

Use of DDT would have started earlier, the article says, but for lack of money.

So, participants in the defense of wise environmental policy and Rachel Carson, against the scurrilous charges of junk science purveyors, should take note:

  1. There is no ban on use of DDT against mosquitoes, in a serious, controlled program of integrated pest management.
  2. No environmentalist is to blame for the lack of DDT use in Uganda (and probably elsewhere). As with anti-malaria programs worldwide, lack of funding or lack of organization generally is the reason for any lack of action against malaria.

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National Statuary Hall’s newest residents

January 19, 2008

Po'pay, statue in the Capitol, photo from Architect of the Capital

Pictured at left is the statue of Po’pay, one of two statues of heroes from the history of New Mexico featured in the National Statuary Hall, a collection in the U.S. Capitol. Po’pay’s statue was added to the collection in 2005, one of the two latest additions.

Po’pay was a leader of the revolt against oppressive Spanish rule over New Mexico’s native inhabitants between 1675 and 1681, a century before the American Revolution.

In 1997, the New Mexico Legislature selected Po’pay as the subject of the state’s second statue for the National Statuary Hall Collection and created the New Mexico Statuary Hall Commission, whose members were appointed by Governor Gary Johnson. Four sculptors were selected to create maquettes, and Cliff Fragua was awarded the commission in December 1999. It will be the seventh statue of a Native American in the collection; the others are King Kamehameha I, Will Rogers (who had Cherokee ancestors), Sakakawea, Sequoyah, Washakie, and Sarah Winnemucca.

The seven-foot-high statue was carved from pink Tennessee marble (making it the only colored marble statue in the collection) and stands on a three-foot-high pedestal comprised of a steel frame clad in black granite. It is the first marble statue contributed to the collection since that of South Dakota’s Joseph Ward, which was given in 1963; the other statues given since that time have been bronze. Its acceptance marked the first time at which every state in the Union has been represented by two statues in the collection. In addition, Po’pay is historically the first person represented in the collection to be born on what would become American soil.

No image or written description of Po’pay is known to exist. Sculptor Cliff Fragua describes the statue thus:

In my rendition, he holds in his hands items that will determine the future existence of the Pueblo people. The knotted cord in his left hand was used to determine when the Revolt would begin. As to how many knots were used is debatable, but I feel that it must have taken many days to plan and notify most of the Pueblos. The bear fetish in his right hand symbolizes the center of the Pueblo world, the Pueblo religion. The pot behind him symbolizes the Pueblo culture, and the deerskin he wears is a humble symbol of his status as a provider. The necklace that he wears is a constant reminder of where life began, and his clothing consists of a loin cloth and moccasins in Pueblo fashion. His hair is cut in Pueblo tradition and bound in a chongo. On his back are the scars that remain from the whipping he received for his participation and faith in the Pueblo ceremonies and religion.

Fragua, an Indian from Jemez Pueblo, studied sculpture in Italy, California, and New Mexico; he created his first stone sculpture in 1974.

The other 2005 addition to the collection was Sarah Winnemucca, heroine from Nevada (pictured below, right).

Sarah Winnemucca, in the National Statuary Hall, Architect of the Capitol photo

Sarah Winnemucca
[facsimile of her signature, “Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins”]
Defender of Human rights
Author of first book by a Native woman

Each state may have two statues in the collection.

My work on the Senate staff often required that I walk the Capitol, especially between the Senate and House Press Galleries. I often lamented that it was not available or accessible to students.  This collection of statues is one of the better unsung galleries of history in Washington, D.C. It is heavily influenced by politics and current fashion. Selections illustrate how state legislatures try to make their state’s reputation, and can be very quirky. For example, Pennsylvania’s statues include Robert Fulton, an inventor of the steamboat, and John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg — but not Ben Franklin or William Penn.  Why?  There could be a paper done on the politics of the choices of each of the 50 states.

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Hittin’ the big time? Or just catching up?

January 19, 2008

Adnan Oktar’s mean-spirited campaign against knowledge, science and evolution still makes headlines — this time in the blog of Die Zeit, the most widely-read newspaper in Germany.

I’m flattered at the mention. I’d be happier if I knew Turkey’s ban on blogs had been lifted. I’d be happier if Die Zeit’s view leaned much more toward protecting freedom of the press, and much less toward general xenophobia against Moslems. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the comments.

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is banned in Turkey, China, and blocked in the Duncanville, Texas, school system. What does that mean?

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