Monthly Archives: January 2013

Myrlie Evers-Williams Gives Invocation at the Inaugural

Myrlie Evers-williams

Myrlie Evers-Williams became the first laywoman to give an inaugural invocation at President Barack Obama’s inauguration Monday. Evers-Williams is the widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was killed by a white supremacist in 1963.


Medgar Evers

“You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.”


This is Myrlie Evers, who gave the invocation, with their son at the funeral of her husband, Medgar Evers. He was a civil rights activist in Jackson, Mississippi, and was shot dead in his driveway in 1963. She has had a distinguished career in national and international human rights organizations.


Okay, I’ll duck the “give it a rest!” spitballs. Just want to say that, doing her research, the author of The Help saw this cover and read the coverage in the widest selling magazine of that era, and still wrote the story she did about that exact year.

What If Mary Had Said No?

A clergywoman/poet friend posed this question recently. This is my response at the moment

BotticelliThen it would have been sexual assault.

I’m not being snarky. Where was her right to say no? Nor am I being anachronistic in asking about such an uneven balance of power, which was then recast as praising her as a “vessel,” of all things, to establish a divine presence on earth and an Old Disciples Club that to this day feels free to stand between women and their choices about their own bodies.

I am no doubt late to the party for such discussions, but I appreciate your posing that question. Much of my response arises from the death of the gang-raped young Indian woman, the shot to the head by the Taliban of the young girl determined to go to school, and usurpation of women’s bodies as political fodder in the recent election campaigns. 

Does rape by a deity equal “legitimate rape”? There’s a long, worldwide history of such events. Mary and the angel can probably be traced back to Leda and the Swan.


“Seneca Fallls, Selma, Stonewall” A Line from President Obama’s Second Inaugural Speech






SELMA 1965





Aaron Swartz, Dead at 26


Sad, painful and infuriating. I certainly would not presume to know, but reading news accounts and blogs about his death, I can’t help wondering if so many people in awe of his intellect and accomplishment (and basking in their proximity to him) failed to consider that this was in fact a very young person making increasingly bizarre decisions, and repudiating adults who might have questioned some of his actions.

And yes, it does appear that MIT handled the JSTOR matter ineptly.

Far worse, though, was the federal government which refused any discussion, insisting that Swartz plead guilty to a felony and serve time behind bars. The prospect of a prison term and over a million dollars in fines, although probably unlikely in the legal long run, would have terrified anyone who felt as isolated as this young man must have felt, to the point of acting irrationally.

Another Child Shot In Boston, MA


A 13-year-old boy was in critical condition late Friday night after being shot while walking to church for choir practice on Humboldt Avenue in Roxbury, his mother and ­police said.

Gabriel Clarke, the 13-year-old Roxbury boy who was shot in the stomach as he walked to church Friday evening, is in critical but stable condition today and is expected to recover, according to police and his pastor.

“I honestly believe this is nothing short of a miracle,” said the Rev. Nigel G. David Sr., the pastor at their church.

Damn, damn, damn. I do not want to hear about miracles, and of course the shooter must be caught. For starters, I want to hear how the city and state plan to deal with entire communities filled with generations of citizens suffering post traumatic stress syndrome. 

How can any child be expected to function academically while living under siege. And while knowing full well that the larger world has no interest in keeping them safe from deadly harm.

I want to know when the emergency committee of experts from schools, courts, hospitals, law enforcement, media, social service agencies, etc. will be convened with major funding, and not dismissed until city planning groups, university-school partnerships, job training and hiring commitments, lab schools, tutoring programs, etc, etc. charged with turning Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan into a national and international model for ways to turn throw-away minority neighborhoods into safe, functioning communities have done the job. (Add writing/editing skills to that list.)

And enough of expecting the clergy to lead the way. Some fine people, no doubt, but politicians cannot palm off the responsibility onto a group that, here in Boston, has been spinning its wheels for decades. 

An active social gospel in the Neighborhood House tradition– with solid counseling, medical and dental clinics, meals-on-wheels, pre-school, child care, and other services– can always be a useful part of a larger vision, but we are not going to pray away an on-going emergency. The house is on fire, dammit!

Good-bye to Gerda Lerner


Gerda Lerner spent her 18th birthday in a Nazi prison, sharing a cell with two gentile women arrested for political work who shared their food with the Jewish teenager because jailers restricted rations for Jews.

Lerner would say years later that the women taught her during those six weeks how to survive and that the experience taught her how society can manipulate people. It was a lesson that the women’s history pioneer, who died Wednesday at age 92, said she saw reinforced in American academia by history professors who taught as though only the men were worth studying.

“When I was faced with noticing that half the population has no history and I was told that that’s normal, I was able to resist the pressure” to accept that conclusion, Lerner told the Wisconsin Academic Review in 2002.

The author was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and is credited with creating the nation’s first graduate program in women’s history, in the 1970s in New York.


Author and Cultural Historian Richard A. Long Has Died



Richard A. Long, a noted cultural historian and the author of numerous books on Black history, has died. Long was the Atticus Haygood Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Emeritus at Emory University.

via Author and Cultural Historian Richard A. Long Has Died.