Monthly Archives: August 2014

Tug-O’-War For Cleopatra Statue

My late father, a history professor at DePaul University, would never have spoken the first words of this article. And a few other particulars of the story are less than accurate, but I am delighted to be able to archive the piece here.

This discovery, which sparked a bit of contention,  led ultimately to a happy conclusion with the Death of Cleopatra restored and displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Definitely worth a visit.




By Ron Grossman, 20 June 1988

Don`t be fooled by your textbooks’ silence, Marilyn Richardson`s father used to tell her. Black folks have a history, too. We just have to go out and find it.

Last month Richardson made her dad proud. In a storeroom of the Forest Park Mall, she found a long-lost work of Edmonia Lewis, the first black American to win international renown as an artist. It was, however, a bittersweet discovery.

“The Death of Cleopatra,” a life-sized sculpture commissioned for the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia, was surrounded by last year`s Christmas decorations and paint cans.

Richardson said Frank Orland, head of the local history society, who had led her to the sculpture, told her that the statue needed “renovating” so it could be put on public view. The Egyptian queen’s white marble face and arms were to be redone in flesh tones, her robe in royal purple, she said Orland told her.

Orland, who also was seeking further information on the work, had taken charge of it two years ago, the latest in a string of caretakers dating to the turn of the century, including a racetrack owner, the Navy, the post office and a Cicero firefighter. None of them, though, knew the sculpture`s full story.

Orland refused to comment on his plans or to allow a photograph of the sculpture to be taken. In a phone interview, he said only, “The Queen is not ready to receive visitors.” He added that he would tell his side of the story in a forthcoming pamphlet, “Cleopatra the Great: Statue of Forest Park.”

“I was excited and heartsick both,” said Richardson, a humanities professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Staring me straight in the face was an important piece of black history which had been missing for 100 years. Only it was …

Turning Over Their Own Rocks And Crawling Out

Missouri police officer on leave over video in which he says: ‘I’m … a killer’

They are crawling out from under their own rocks. Just connect the dots – from rage-fueled hatred of President Obama to declaring open season on powerless young black men. For each of these outspoken killers in military or civilian uniform, imagine how many anonymous like-minded men and women are in agreement and cheering them on.

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 11.16.28 AM

Militarized Police In Ferguson, MO

Perhaps someone can tell me under what circumstances police would unleash this sort of weaponry on the residents of any majority white small town anywhere in America — night after night.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 1.09.04 PM

Ferguson, MO, Law & Order



Michael Brown is dead. Any offenses he committed in life died with him. The convenience store video has zero to do with the manner of his death. Chief Jackson is a vicious, cynical, dangerous racist who

– Allowed Michael Brown’s body to lie in the street for hours before it was removed in a police van rather than an ambulance.

– Gave Officer Darren Wilson a solid week of anonymity and cover to concoct whatever story and make whatever personal arrangements he wished. And time to thoroughly scrub his name, image, and words from all online locations, email, and social media.

– Ordered/allowed his police officers to transform themselves into a deadly occupying militarized force that acted with impunity against citizens and members of the media. manandpolice

– Revealed the surveillance video and distributed copies of stills from it without alerting Cpt. Johnson, and claimed to act under FOIA which has no mandate that requested information be made public let alone distributed at a press conference (If, in fact, there had been such a FOIA request at all.)

– Waited hours to say there was no connection between Michael Brown’s death and the video. video

– Said Wilson, who shot Brown, had no disciplinary action on his record. That does not address the possibility of complaints against him.

Flail as they might, Chief Jackson and his minions are not going to get away with this. A corner has been turned. Whatever attempts are made to demonize the victim, his killer will be held accountable.

And a bit of Ferguson Police Department history:


T. J Anderson and Others Discuss Black Composers

An excellent and informative article with wisdom and insight from the brilliant composer, T. J. Anderson — in the wonderful photo below.

A link to an article on an Atlanta performance of Anderson’s Slavery Documents 2 with a brief passage from my program essay for the premiere held at Boston’s Symphony Hall in 2002.


Not Maria W. Stewart? Who Is It?

FAYERWEATHERThis picture that has appeared online identified as Maria W. Stewart is actually Sarah Harris Fayerweather of Connecticut. She had an amazing story of her own, as you might imagine. So far, there is no known picture of Stewart. Still searching, though.

War PR 2014


My point in posting this viral photo is that this is what propaganda looks like. This simply promotes hatred and demonization. Further, the fact that something so crude, and certainly not what it is purported to be, could be accepted and believed is a measure of … what exactly? Still sorting that out.

And there are also these IDF graphic design posters — in English. 

Certainly mosques, homes, and schools have been used for destructive purposes. These posters instruct angry, frightened people to see every Palestinian home, mosque, and ambulance as a deadly trap. But the ambulances, for instance, in use now are filled with injured and dying. Yes, there is a risk of sabotage, but the message of the poster is that all ambulances are fair game.

Can reasonable people assume Palestinian doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc. are fanatical enough to show up in ambulances and at hospitals prepared to both work to save lives, and having signed on as willing to be blown up for the cause? They risk their lives, but not in collusion with, or as shields for, guerrilla fighters.