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Archive for November, 2013

JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY | May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

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In memory of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963

On November 22, 1963, when he was hardly past his first thousand days in office, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President; he was the youngest to die.

Of Irish descent, he was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety.

Back from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.

In 1956 Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Millions watched his television debates with the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President.

His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” As President, he set out to redeem his campaign pledge to get America moving again. His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II; before his death, he laid plans for a massive assault on persisting pockets of privation and poverty.

Responding to ever more urgent demands, he took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, calling for new civil rights legislation. His vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society.

He wished America to resume its old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights. With the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations. But the hard reality of the Communist challenge remained.

Shortly after his inauguration, Kennedy permitted a band of Cuban exiles, already armed and trained, to invade their homeland. The attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro was a failure. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union renewed its campaign against West Berlin. Kennedy replied by reinforcing the Berlin garrison and increasing the Nation’s military strength, including new efforts in outer space. Confronted by this reaction, Moscow, after the erection of the Berlin Wall, relaxed its pressure in central Europe.

Instead, the Russians now sought to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. When this was discovered by air reconnaissance in October 1962, Kennedy imposed a quarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba. While the world trembled on the brink of nuclear war, the Russians backed down and agreed to take the missiles away. The American response to the Cuban crisis evidently persuaded Moscow of the futility of nuclear blackmail.

Kennedy now contended that both sides had a vital interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race–a contention which led to the test ban treaty of 1963. The months after the Cuban crisis showed significant progress toward his goal of “a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion.” His administration thus saw the beginning of new hope for both the equal rights of Americans and the peace of the world.

The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.

© WhiteHouse.gov

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Dallas 22 November 1963

For facts about the the assassination of John F. Kennedy, visit JFKFacts.org

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“And today, JFK’s great concerns seem more relevant than ever: the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the notion that empire is inconsistent with a republic and that corporate domination of our democracy at home is the partner of imperial policies abroad.”

— Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in “JFK’s Vision of Peace,
Rolling Stone, November 20, 2013

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CELEBRATING THE UMBRA WORKSHOP at The Center for the Humanities, CUNY

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

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About UMBRA

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Founded on New York’s Lower East Side in 1961 and dispersed in 1964, Umbra’s influence on American literature continues to this day. The Umbra Workshop was comprised of an aesthetically diverse group of young artists, many with “a strong commitment to ‘nonliterary’ black culture.” The Workshop was nurtured by people as disparate as Langston Hughes and Andy Young, actively engaged in the Civil Rights Movement, in questions of diversity in letters, and, later, in the Black Arts Movement.

The first in a series of gatherings, this event brings together several of the founding members, including poets, novelists, and activists Steve Cannon, David Henderson, Rashidah Ismaili, Joe Johnson and Ishmael Reed for readings and conversation focusing on some of the complex aesthetic, political, social, as well as literary relationships that informed this legendary Workshop.

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MEXICO’S BLACK PRESIDENT ABOLISHED SLAVERY BEFORE U.S. CIVIL WAR (Hispanic Link News Service)

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

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Mexico’s black president abolished slavery before U.S. Civil War

Apr 10, 2013
By
Andy Porras
©  

vicente-guerrero  History.com

Mexico’s second president, Vicente Guerrero 

Only a few of us Chicanos have read or heard of Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s second president. He’s best remembered by our neighboring country’s school children for his words during those revolutionary times,”Mi patria es primero.” “My motherland comes first.”

Since the election of Barack Obama as U.S. President four years ago and his re-election in November, Guerrero is gaining extra recognition in Mexico and the United States as well, on two counts.

Mexico abolished slavery a third of a century before the U.S.

First, he, not Obama, is the first man of African heritage to be elected president of a North American country. Historians write that Guerrero’s paternal grandfather was either a slave himself or descended from African slaves. Second, Guerrero abolished slavery in Mexico in 1829, a third of a century before the United States fought its bloody Civil War and the U.S. Congress passed the 13th Amendment to our Constitution.

Guerrero, the son of African-Mexican Pedro Guerrero, was assassinated two years after taking office. His mother Guadalupe was born to indigenous Mexican parents. Herman Bennett shares their story in his book “Africans in Colonial Mexico”. The first African slaves were brought to the New World before the Mayflower showed up in 1620. By the early 1600s the number of Africans dropped off at Mexican ports “collectively rivaled, if not outnumbered, Spaniards throughout New Spain,” writes Bennett. “At Veracruz, persons of African descent constituted 63 percent of the non-indigenous population.”

As African Americans pay tribute to their forebears this month, we should examine our southern neighbor for the prominent role Africans played there. Their contributions have been flimsily acknowledged and grossly under-appreciated in Mexico, say their historians.

The Third Root

Indoctrinated through a Eurocentric system of education much like our own, most Mexicans know little or nothing about “the third root” that blended with their Spanish and indigenous heritages. The closer you look at this historical image, the easier it becomes to realize how African influences significantly enriched it through art, music, language, cuisine and dance.

As Mexico’s second president following the toppling of Spanish rule, Guerrero, a gallant Mexican Revolutionary War general, was sometimes mocked as “el Negro Guerrero.” But today the state he served carries his name. His family settled in Tixtla, a town 100 kilometers inland from Acapulco, a key port of entry for slave ships which consequently has a large African population.

During Mexico’s War of Independence, Guerrero’s father Pedro, a supporter of the Spanish rulers, asked his son for his sword to present to the viceroy of New Spain as a sign of good will and surrender. Vicente refused, proclaiming, “The will of my father is for me sacred, but my Motherland is first.” His quote became the motto of its southern Mexican state of later named Guerrero in his honor.

Andy Porras, a retired teacher and publisher, has been a contributing columnist with Hispanic Link News Service for nearly three decades. He resides in Sacramento, Calif., and can be reached at andyporras@yahoo.com

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RACIAL PROFILING, POLICE BRUTALITY & PRISONS | 7pm Friday, November 22, 2013, San Francisco

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

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Clickable

Profiling Brutality Prisons

Racial Profiling, Police Brutality & Prisons

policewoman 123rf© 123rf

presented by the
Revolutionary Poets Brigade

speakers

AY Breaks Free Wastershed 2010 magnifying_glass_icon

Al Young
California’s poet laureate emeritus

 Kiilu_Nyasha_th © Scott Braley

Kiilu Nyasha
r
evolutionary journalist,
host of “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle”

poets
Dee Allen
  Martin Hickel
Anne Leonard
Karen Melander Magoon
Michael Warr

music by
Carol Denney

hosted by
John Curl

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Friday, November 22, 2013
7pm
Free

FirstUnitarianUnivrSF1

Unitarian Universalist Church
1187 Franklin Street (near Geary)
San Francisco, CA 94109

MAP & DIRECTIONS

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