Thursday, July 28, 2016

On Meeting John Hope Franklin

       In 2001, I had the rare honor of meeting John Hope Franklin.  I was on a week long fellowship at the Library of Congress to study the digital collections there.

       The conference was made up of 50 teachers and school librarians who had been awarded the American Memory Fellowship.  One morning before our seminar, I heard some teachers in the back of the hall excitedly discussing John Hope Franklin .  Had they met him?

        They had indeed!  In fact, they'd had breakfast with him that morning.  My partner and I (a high school English teacher) were the only two in the group from North Carolina and John Hope Franklin was an esteemed scholar and author.   I knew about him because the school library I managed had thirty copies of his book, From Slavery to Freedom.  I turned to my colleagues and said, "I'm from North Carolina and I'd like to meet him, too!"

        And someone responded, "well, just come to the hotel dining room for breakfast tomorrow morning."  And that's what I did.

        That morning, I approached the dining room of the Capitol Suites Hotel, and saw Mr. Franklin at a large round table, "holding court" to a group of educators.  When I entered, he stood up, gesturing to the empty seat beside him.  I was so honored that this great man had saved a seat for me!

        As we ate together, he told me stories of late wife, their orchid garden, his many travels, and the book he was working on, his autobiography, in the Jefferson Building.  I was spellbound.  But most of all, Mr. Franklin was interested in me, my career, my family.  I can honestly say, he was one of the kindest people I'd ever met.  At one point a friend of his entered the room, whose name I don't recall but I do remember what a classy dresser he was.  He was, or at one time, had been affiliated with the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company.

         After breakfast, I departed for the Hart Building to deliver some remarks at Senator Edwards' "Tarheel Thursday" meeting, where his listended to concerns of constituents.  As I exited the door of the Madison Building, there was Mr. Franklin on the porch, waiting for his ride to the library.  We warmly greeted each other.  He told me to be sure to stop by, the John Hope Franklin Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies in Durham.  Wow, a personal invitation!   And he asked me to give his regards to Senator Edwards, which I did.  To that, Senator Edwards responded, "he's a great American."

          I met Mr. Franklin on another occasion, at a discussion (with co-author Loren Scheninger) he gave at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh about his new book, In Search of the Promised Land.  He remembered not only me, but the name of the hotel where we had breakfast.  I felt honored to once again be in his presence.  

        I will never forget meeting John Hope Franklin.  When he died in 2009 at the age of 94, I was living and working in Tarboro, NC and was unable to attend his memorial service.  It was held at Duke Chapel on June 11, 2009, a date chosen by Mr. Franklin because it would have marked the 67th wedding anniversary to his wife, Aurelia.  The two hour service, attended by hundreds, was recorded by WRAL.  Former President Bill Clinton closed the service by sharing memories of his friend.

        The honors bestowed on Mr. Frankin compile a long list, among them, a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his book on George Washington Williams, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  However, I can't help but wonder if he considered his biggest honor the building of the John Hope Franklin Institute for Inter-disciplinary Studies at Duke.

        Two years ago, I moved to Durham and paid weekly visits to this place for nearly six months.  The "noon seminars" there attracted a large audience who enjoyed presentations by scholars from Duke and beyond.  One of the most memorable was an appearance by Mr. Franklin's son and daughter-in-law, John Whittington Franklin and Karen Roberts Franklin.  John Whittington Franklin is director of Partnerships and International Programs at the Smithsonian's Museum of African American History and Culture.

         Whenever I visit the John Hope Franklin Center at the corner of Erwin and I'm greeted by this portrait and am always reminded of the time I met him.

    Memorial Service for John Hope

    A Celebration of the Lives of Aurelia and John Hope Franklin

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Books on civil rights

I saw a reference to this list of books in an article about the civil rights movement.. . 

Spies in Mississippi by Rick Bowers
Local People by John Dittmer, 
A Black Physician's Struggle for Civil Rights by Edward MaziQue
Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody
A New Day in the Delta by David W. Beckwith
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
An Ordinary Hero DVD by Lori Mulholland
Worse than Slavery, by David Oshinshy
 Cotton and Race in the making of America
The Senator and the Sharecropper by Chris Myers Asch

And of particular note:  The Wrong Side of Murder Creek by Bob Zellner

Civil rights veterans

all the southern ladies

here listening to the southern ladies
talking about their mothers, lost lovers
 about their grandfathrs
and death and gossip
oh please get me out of here
no more painted red toe nails
and talking about sentimental shit
how they want to be reincaarnated as violins
how the organza shimmered and the lavender glowed
couldn't wait to be married
ok i'm going to pretend to listen
or imagine that i'm at a reading by Sara  Claytor or Bonnie Korta
longing for the sight of the Fireside Pentacostal Church
and picturing B Boys dancing in the aisles
give me Notes to a Native Son
and the people from whom our favorite music come.
oh give me women
gwendolyn brooks
ella fitzgerald
big mama thornton
billy holiday
elizabeth cotten.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ADF Tonight

       Back from seeing my second performance by the Rioult Dance Company.

Georgeous dancing to choreography with original music, based on the Trojan Women.  

In a word, a


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Special Collections

This is interesting on how libraries select objects...from Laura Micham

Dear Dana,

Thanks so much for your kind offer of these items. We don’t normally seek objects like gloves or lace as they tend to have less research value than writings on various kinds. In other words, the meaning and significance of objects for historical projects of the kind that are generally done by our researchers is not as great as that of commonplace books, letters, diaries, and other archival materials that we hold. We do have some artifacts in our collections but relatively few. They tend to be difficult to house and preserve relative to the amount of use they receive. The same is true for bibles. Family bibles are sometimes kept by historical societies if they contain significant genealogical material, but not for the bible as an object in and of itself. If Birdie’s bible contains genealogical information I would be grateful to have scans of it or could make scans myself and return the book to you.

I gave you the slightly long-winded explanation because you’re a fellow librarian and have a wonderful curiosity about the Bingham Center and Rubenstein Library. I thought you might be interested in how we make some of our appraisal decisions. We continue to be thrilled to have the opportunity to preserve and provide access to Birdie’s commonplace/autograph book!

The Master

"Master painter
mountain dwelling
amusing himself with brush and ink.
 a picture of rives and mountains
goes on for a  thousan of miles.
Roots of mountains sink in unison
above lake's surface.
Under thick clouds a monk gathers
firewood, walks
past Buddhist temples by quiet streams,
past noises of chickens and dogs,
all happy at peace under good government.
While opening his scroll, tears wash his
dust filled eyes.
Hand on chest, three times he sighs."

Colophone:  third day of the third month, 1205

p. 41, Silent Poetry, Lilly Library
(on front shelf)

Trojan Women

July 19, 2016  The Rioult Dance Company performed last night at Reynolds and WOW!  What a stunner.  Visually breath-taking with music composed for the piece by three contemporary composers.  Interesting that the choreographer had been a track and field athlete in France.

overview:   RIOULT Dance NY, known for its sensual, articulate, and exquisitely musical work, will present WOMEN ON THE EDGE…Unsung Heroines of the Trojan War, a trilogy of dances inspired by Euripides’ tragic heroines Iphigenia, Helen of Troy, and Cassandra. Artistic director and choreographer Pascal Rioult’s interpretations of these timeless myths highlight not only the grace, strength, and resilience of women in society but also the futility and immorality of war. The program includes Rioult’s Iphigenia, On Distant Shores, and the ADF commissioned Cassandra’s Curse, each set to commissioned music by contemporary American composers Michael Torke, Aaron Kernis, and Richard Danielpour, respectively.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Courses for Teachers at MIT

Several years ago, I took a course in French history through MIT  Open Course Ware.  It was great and I even emailed the professor several times.  Courses are offered in hundreds of areas, from physics to history to liteature...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Flyleaf, July 14, 2016

Eric Nelson tonight!

Wonderful poet from Asheville, taught at Georgia Southern for 26 years.  Many awards.

Beautiful imagery. His book is titled "Some Wonder."  Rich and inspiring.


Second Poet:

Viet Nam soldier -- became a doctor; said the A in poetry was one of the few good grades he receivd.
PTSD -- hitting the ditch when he heard a car back backfire, while he was walking his dog.
Hard hitting poems about his experiences in Viet Nam.

Monday, July 11, 2016

They Will Not Pass This Way Again

They Will Not Pass This Way Again

Six lives cut short by policeman's hand
Now watch the people scatter
They will not pass this way again

Sadness spreads across terrain
Refrain that black lives matter
For they'll not pass this way again.

Families grieve as only families can
While friends console and flatter
Young men were gunned down again

"The Storm is Passing Over" we sing
As reverence stills the clatter
What offering can we bring

Time sweeps forward the busy hand
Begins a brand new chaper
A prayer is lifted a voice is raised
The refrain that all lives matter

ADF "Re(Current) on July11 2016 provided the inspriration for this

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Zen Poets

Home grown, North Carolina Jazz group:  Zen Poets


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why AA Isn't For Everyone

This article points to the lack of scientific research in AA and point to the difficulty atheists have in a program that mentions "God" five times in the 12 Steps.

Also interesting -- Jellineck's alcohol theory is debuked.  I studied him in grad school.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company

      I was present for the second part of Bill T. Jones' trilogy, an oral history/dance performance/musical homage to Bill's nephew Lance Briggs.  Lance was about to embark on a promising dance career when he got sidetracked by drugs and male prostitution.   Later, he was mysteriously became paralyzed from the waist down and is now in a wheelchair.
     Lance, the artist, was in the audience that night of the performance and gave a moving testimony after the performance, during a question and answer period with the company.
     What a powerful performance.  I would have gone a second night if I could have.  Bill T. Jones is a national treasure and has impacted audiences worldwide.  His Friday night presentation really impacted me and I stayed up late reading about his long career and many honors (including the National Medal of the Arts).  I'm surprised I hadn't heard of him before, but that's what 30  plus years away from dance will do.
     After church today, I took a long walk around "the wall."  It took me an hour, and I ran into my teacher, Shayla, outside Whole Foods.  During the conversation, it came up that she apprenticed with Jones.  Not only that, she's from Roanoke, and graduated from Hollins.  Small world indeed.
     I want to write a poetic tribute to Bill called:  "Go Tell the World," about his many gifts.  He was one of 12 children and moved with his parents from Florida to New York as part of the "Great Migration."   Born to dance apparently, because his performaces are unforgettable.