Monday, January 27, 2014

A Challenge for April

Last year I participated in the A to Z Challenge.  Every day for the month of April (except on Sundays), I wrote a post.  The idea was to use a different letter of the alphabet as a writing prompt, starting with the letter A and working my way through the alphabet.  There were a couple of letters that were challenging, but it was a good writing exercise, and I enjoyed seeing how other participants met the challenge.  

Each participant in the A to Z committed to visiting at least five other participating blogs each day and leaving comments.  I have a blogging neighborhood and I tend to stay within my little community.  The A to Z Challenge was like taking a vacation to a new country...there was a lot that was familiar, but I also was introduced to new ideas, new styles, and (frankly) the outright odd.

I just signed up to participate in the A to Z for 2014. Once again we will be working our way through the alphabet, starting with "A" on April 1st.   Last year there were several hundred participants, and this year there are already over 200 signed up!   If you are a blogger, I encourage you to participate.   Click here to read more about it and sign up.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Woolworth's and One Man's Legacy to America

I saw a posting on Facebook this morning that one of the "Greensboro Four" had died.  Franklin McCain died last Thursday after a brief illness.  I wouldn't have recognized his name, or even remembered "The Greensboro Four," if the posting hadn't included the iconic photo above.  In 1960 four African-American college freshmen sat down at a Woolworth's "whites-only" lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina and asked for service.  Their request was refused and they were asked to leave.  They remained in their seats and thus started a sit-in movement that changed American history.  This non-violent protest touched off six months of sit-ins and economic boycotts and paved the way for many other protests of racists policies.

In February of 1960 I was 9 years old, yet I remember so much of the civil rights movement because it was brought into my middle class living room every day.  On the evening news we watched police attack peaceful protesters.  Life magazine arrived by mail every Friday with vivid photos of the struggle for civil rights.  Even though I lived thousands of miles from the south, I knew the songs and the chants of protests from television.  Our inhumanity was recorded and broadcast to the world.  And eventually our culture began to change.

We owe a debt to those brave individuals who stood up to change the status quo. As we look back in our history it is difficult to believe that there was a time where, not only did discrimination exist (because it stills exists now), but that such blatant discrimination was not recognized as wrong.  

The Woolworth's chain went out of business in 1997, but that lunch counter from the Greensboro Woolworth's lives on at the Smithsonian American History Museum.  It was one of my favorite exhibits to visit when I was in Washington D.C. because it reminded me of the power of a few individuals to make lasting change.  One of these days I will take my granddaughters to the museum.  It's important that we remember.

Rest in Peace, Franklin McCain. 
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