March to Montgomery

1960s: Days of Rage

Participants, some carrying American flags, marching in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965

“A week after [James] Reeb’s death, on Wednesday March 17, Judge Johnson ruled in favor of the protesters, saying their First Amendment right to march in protest could not be abridged by the state of Alabama: The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups . … These rights may … be exercised by marching, even along public highways. Judge Johnson had sympathized with the protesters for some days, but had withheld his order until he received an iron-clad commitment of enforcement from the White House. President Johnson had avoided such a commitment in sensitivity to the power of the state’s rights movement, and attempted to cajole Governor Wallace into protecting the marchers himself, or at least giving the…

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Joan Didion and the Art of Motherhood

1960s: Days of Rage


“Joan Didion was known for her confident, self-assured statements and the surgical precision with which she observed the world. The one adjective continually invoked of her writerly persona and her work was cool. When she passed recently, one of the conversations that bubbled up about her life and her legacy was her identity as a writer and a mother. Online, some male writers asked if she was proof it was possible to be a great artist and a great parent—to be met with parent writers who quickly pointed out the nonsensicalness of that question. But if we look at Didion’s work itself, we see her contradictions. She is often admired for the clarity and conviction of her writing, but in her work, and how she thought of it, there is the uncertainty and tension between the demands of being a writer and the demands of being a mother. And…

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Octavio Paz: Political thought

1960s: Days of Rage


“… Originally, Paz supported the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, but after learning of the murder of one of his friends by the Stalinist secret police, he became gradually disillusioned. While in Paris in the early 1950s, influenced by David Rousset, André Breton and Albert Camus, he started publishing his critical views on totalitarianism in general, and particularly against Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union. In his magazines Plural and Vuelta, Paz exposed the violations of human rights in communist regimes, including Castro’sCuba. This brought him much animosity from sectors of the Latin American left. In the prologue to Volume IX of his complete works, Paz stated that from the time when he abandoned communist dogma, the mistrust of many in the Mexican intelligentsia started to transform into an intense and open enmity. Paz continued to consider himself a man of…

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Happy Thanksgiving from Me to You

Diane Ravitch's blog

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a time to reflect what we are grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

I am grateful for life. Last year, I had open heart surgery, and for the first five days after surgery, my life hung in the balance. Yet here I am, reading, writing, thinking, alive.

I am grateful for my dear family: My wife, Mary. My children, my grandchildren. I am blessed to be with and near people I love who love me.

I am grateful to live in America. Despite all the challenges our country faces, it’s still a wonderful place to live, where communities come together in bad times, and strangers act to help others.

I am grateful to live in a country where I can speak and write what I wish without fear of punishment.

I am grateful for the rise of a young generation whose idealism and vision will…

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Dan Rather: Thank You, Teachers

Diane Ravitch's blog

I have been saving this lovely tribute for the right moment. It’s now, as red state legislatures rev up their attacks on teachers and on the profession. North Carolina leads the pack in its current effort to lower entry standards for teachers (only an associate degree needed to enter the field—two years of college), and pay tied to student test scores, a practice that has failed everywhere tried. In the background is the Gates Foundation, repeating its well-established practice of funding failure. Florida, too, is lowering its standards for teachers and welcoming non-professionals into the classroom. Think of it: Do you want your next air flight to be piloted by someone with six weeks training? Do you want a surgery performed by a medical student?

Dan Rather, a graduate of the Houston public schools (like me), remembers his teachers with gratitude:

One of the great sadnesses of our current…

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Dion: The Wanderer Has Never Left the Building

1960s: Days of Rage


November 18, 2022: “When Dion DiMucci was attending junior high school in the Bronx, not long before he became a rock and roll sensation with the Belmonts—named for Belmont Avenue, near his home—his grandfather came over every morning to perform a ritual with a wooden spoon and tin cup. … It’s a story Dion has told often, as he did at the podium in 2011 while accepting an award from the National Italian-American Foundation, where Barack Obama, known to eat up to half a dozen eggs with potatoes for breakfast, was in the audience. … Clean and sober for more than half a century now, the kid from East 183rd Street who wrote ‘(I Was) Born to Cry’ in the days when he wolfed down that brain food hasn’t been buzzed on anything stronger than Robert Johnson’s blues for a long, long time. … That’s the way Lou Reed introduced…

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Ascension – John Coltrane (1965)

1960s: Days of Rage


“Conventional wisdom—and many people’s understanding of jazz history—asserts that John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme is the saxophonist’s masterpiece. Recorded in a single session with his indomitable Quartet on December 9, 1964, it almost makes sense as a variety of Christmas disc, an offering from the mind and soul of the true artist to a power beyond. It’s numinous but not preachy, and simultaneously as secular as cutting through an alley to get to the bar faster. The turnaround from studio to factory to shelves was swift. By January of the new year—which proved to be Trane’s fieriest annum—A Love Supreme was in record stores. Even though Coltrane had already been many places jazz musicians had not previously, something about the album felt different. Like the apex, the high-water mark. But we must be careful not to confuse a high-water mark with an end, or a crowning. Its creator saw…

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Ruth Ben-Ghiat: DeSantis Is No Better Than Trump

Diane Ravitch's blog

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian at New York University abd a scholar of fascism. She wrote the following for MSNBC. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to read her assertion that DeSantis is no better than Trump, and may even be much worse, given his insistence that there is only one right way to teach, act, and think—and he decides what it is. I think of him as DeFascist.

She writes:

If DeSantis is becoming many Republicans’ answer to their “Trump problem,” his rise is because of his authoritarian sympathies and attitudes, not in spite of them. He promises a more “respectable”-seeming version of illiberal rule than the baggage-laden outrage specialist that is Trump. No wonder dozens of billionaires backed him even before his November re-election….

But let’s be clear: The man whom Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post celebrates as “DeFuture” would, in fact, continue…

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Turtle Island – Gary Snyder (1974)

1960s: Days of Rage


Turtle Island is a book of poems and essays written by Gary Snyder and published by New Directions in 1974. Within it, Snyder expresses his vision for humans to live in harmony with the earth and all its creatures. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1975. ‘Turtle Island‘ is a name for the continent of North America used by many Native American tribes. By the late 1950s, Gary Snyder had established himself as one of the major American poets of his generation. He was associated with both the Beat Generation and the regional San Francisco Renaissance. He spent much of the 1960s traveling between California and Japan, where he studied Zen. In 1966, he met Masa Uehara while in Osaka. They married the following year and had their first child, Kai, in April 1968; by December, Snyder and his new…

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They Put the Fib in Fiction

Dave Astor on Literature

Seven years ago, I posted a piece about “Liars in Literature.” Now, with “The Lyin’ King” Donald Trump having announced another presidential run last week, I thought it would be timely to write a follow-up featuring some lying characters I’ve “met” since 2015.

Those fictional fibbers may not be admirable, but they sure can be interesting. We wonder why they lie, if they believe their own lies, whether others believe their lies, whether lying will help them or hurt them, etc. But there’s no wondering about whether truth-averse hater Trump’s “Truth Social” social-media platform has the most hilariously Orwellian name ever. 🙂

Among literature’s liars mentioned in my 2015 post were the despotic rulers in George Orwell’s 1984, the men who framed Edmond Dantes in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, the murderer in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the aristocratic Godrey Cass in…

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