Sunday, November 28, 2010

In August of 1955, fourteen year old Emmett Till went to visit his uncle and cousins in Mississippi. He was warned before he went there to "behave." This meant, of course, behaving like a second class citizen in the segregated Southern states. He was told not to look at white people in the eye, or act forward, or draw attention to himself in any way.

The facts are unclear, but Emmett may have playfully whistled at a white woman in a grocery store while he shopped with his cousins. Two days later, he was pulled from his bed and taken away, where he was beaten, mutilated and shot. His body was pulled from the Tallahassee River a few days later, maimed beyond recognition.

Emmett Till's brutal murder is to the Civil Rights Movement as Pearl Harbor was to the start of World War II. His body was returned to Chicago for burial. His mother demanded that the coffin be open so she could see for herself what had been done to her son. She then said that she wanted the coffin that the 50,000 mourners would also see the truth of the segregated South.

A few months later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus. When asked, years later, what she was thinking at that moment, she said: I was thinking about that boy, Emmett Till, and I just couldn't go back.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week--All classes

Parent Teacher Interviews are from 12 to 8 pm. today. However, parents can contact me any time via e-mail. Also, all parents should, by now, have the intouch pass number to keep on top of student's grades in all classes.

There is homework over the Thanksgiving break:

9th graders--your creative writing assignment number 2 is due next week.
11th graders--your creative writing assignment is due next week
AP Euro history: You must do the Enlightenment readings and chart on back. This is due when we get back.

Thanks, everyone, for being a super group of students during this fall semester. Have a good Thanksgiving and be prepared to work hard during December.

Mrs. Olsen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week of November 15th-19th

Florence Kelley (1859-1932) was one of the great woman reformers of the Progressive Era. She campaigned tirelessly for labor rights, including limits on child labor and women's working hours.

Even though she was born into a wealthy family, she learned from example. Her own father removed himself from his business so that he could become an abolitionist preacher.

Florence also had four other sisters--but none of her sisters survived childhood. She grew up the only surviving daughter and only had a distant memory of her small sisters who died young. Really, however, we should all claim "sisterhood" with Florence Kelley. Her whole life was devoted to helping others. She was a socialist who even corresponded with Engels. At this time, however, socialism did not have the negative conotations that it has today. Socialists were responsible for supporting political and judicial reforms that we would take for granted today. One of the cases she supported was Muller vs. Oregon. When Mr. Muller overworked his female employee, the State of Oregon fined him $10.00. He took his appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, where Justice Brandeis prepapared a long brief, based on studies that showed the harmful effects of long working hours on the female body. Mr. Muller lost....and soon other laws would support greater protections for women.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Veteran's Day--Remembrance Day

After teaching in Canada for 20 years, I came back and experienced my first American Veteran's day. Though I was born in Salem and attended Sprague, when I lived in Canada this was a day that was honored with respect and reverence.

For example, in almost every school there was an assembly about war and peace.

Almost everyone wore a fabric poppy to honor the soldiers who fell in the war. The Flanders poppies grew prolifically over the graves in the years just after the war. Of course, another Canadian also wrote the poem "In Flander's Fields."

The Canadians were also very proud of their victory along the Arras line in 1917 April 9th. This was the Battle of Vimy Ridge. I have been to the battlefield twice, and it is preserved as a park because the land was given to Canada for a memorial by France to honor the men who died there. Driving in the area of the Western Front is a bit sad, for just as there are fields of grain, there are also fields of graves. The Canadian graves have maple leafs on them. The memorial to the fallen soldiers is considered one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful of all the foreign monuments along the Western Front. The park still has the trenches and shell holes that are now covered in grass. A small flock of sheep is used to trim the grass as the undulations make it difficult for a traditional lawn mower.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Levellers, Diggers and Ranters....

England faced a civil war between the years 1642 and 1646. It was a war over three main issues, the power of Parliament vs. the King, and the friction between the Puritans and the Anglicans and Catholics, and the inequalities among the various social classes. The King of England, Charles I, was even executed in 1649.

All sorts of "groups" came out of the woodwork to exert their beliefs. If the world was turned upside down with the civil war, and the execution of the King, now was a chance for them to have their say.

There were the Levellers, whose ideas included the levelling of social differences....
and what about the Ranters and Seekers, who questioned everything in society.

The Quakers were another group that emerged during this time.

But my favorite group were the Diggers, who insisted on no private ownership of land. They were fed up with the large noble estates and wanted a more equitable land distribution.

Many of these groups had ideas that are termed "Christian Communism."

All these groups were a headache for Cromwell and he became the "tyrant" to control the government. He became the very thing he detested.