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The Kid from Redbank

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer William James "Count" Basie (1904–1984) entitled The Kid from Redbank. Artist’s proof.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

The Master

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of American jazz drummer and composer Maxwell Lemuel Roach (1924–2007) entitled The Master. Print 1/10.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

Viajando por Las Americas: From Guatemala to Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

The immigrant experience is a complex one. Public debates on immigration—around such issues as citizenship and deportation—occur at a national level, but it’s not a monolithic experience, and it entails more than a generic story of a search for a better life. Beyond this narrative are memories of our homeland, childhoods, joy, and heartache. It’s often embedded with difficult decisions—ones involving risk and uncertainty, both physical and emotional. Whether we migrate by foot, land, water, or air, these journeys continue even after arrival with new challenges such as learning a new language or securing a place to live.

Along the way, we discover our resilience.

The 2017 Folklife Festival program On the Move explored the experiences we carry with us as we move to and within the United States. Wherever we go, viajamos—we travel—with our backpack of memories, knowledge, music, dance, food, language, and generations of ancestors who came before us. We reach for these items as we settle in and adapt. It is our toolbox from which we resourcefully build our place in new surroundings and circumstances. We remember the past, but we also learn to adapt.

One such resilient individual at the Festival was Ubaldo Sánchez, an accomplished Central American artist committed to sustaining the craft and tradition of the alfombra de aserrín, which he began learning from his family back in Guatemala when he was five years old. The alfombra is a rug-like decorative piece created on the ground from moist dyed sawdust and other natural materials such as flower petals, rice, beans, and corn. It’s a tradition related to the celebration of Holy Week as practiced throughout Central America and dating back to the sixteenth century. Today, the tradition is not limited to religious occasions.

In the D.C. area, Ubaldo formed a group called Los Viajeros de las Americas—the travelers of the Americas. Here, the craft of the alfombra bridges multiple communities, and Ubaldo’s memory is a resource offered to his new community in the United States. During the Festival, his group created an alfombra on a wooden walkway with four panels: one celebrating the Festival’s 50th anniversary and three depicting scenes in Guatemala and the United States.

Video

Producer: Sean Baker

“An immigrant remembers everything he had to go through in order to get here,” Ubaldo explained. “I remember that one day I carried a gallon of water through the desert. Just like the images I depicted in the alfombra, it made me remember how that journey was once part of my life. All of us who worked on the piece have experienced something like what is represented in the images we created. It is part of what we live in order to get to this country.

“Although I was young, I remember seeing small children in the desert. Sometimes we had to help carry the kids when they were too tired to walk. I also remember how we were left for a night in the snow. One of the people traveling with us almost died.”

Ubaldo described his vision for the alfombra and the significance of its imagery. He explained why the American flag is held by four different hands.

“We put the four [cardinal] directions,” he said. “That represents the colors of the skin according to the color of maize. For the Maya, these four colors are really important. The white corn represents white, the yellow represents the Hispanic or something along those lines, the black represents African Americans, and the red represents the Native Americans or indigenous peoples. Everything has a relationship to nature. All of this has the same colors that we as humans also possess. Based on that, we made the design to represent North America using the American flag with the four colors that represent the human.”

Gallery

Click on the above image to see a slideshow of the making of the alfombra de aserrín

Finding and affirming one’s own identity can be a struggle that takes time to resolve. Ubaldo explained how he had once tried to deny his own indigenous heritage.

“There was a time when I didn’t want to speak my language, Mam,” he recalled. “Perhaps it was my own ignorance, or maybe it was just a phase of my rebellious youth years. Then one day, my high school teacher shows up at my front door unexpectedly. He told me, ‘Look, Ubaldo. If you would recognize your identity, you could go really far with your art. Your cultural roots are really important. I expect that your mother understands Spanish, but I imagine that she also spoke to you in Mam during the nine months she spent with you in her womb. So how is it that you deny your mother?’”

In that moment, Ubaldo realized that art could support his sense of self, and that he in turn could teach other generations of people to continue the tradition of the alfombra. Today Ubaldo continues to create alfombrasat local churches for Holy Week and other religious holidays. He has been invited to produce pieces at the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center, and in honor of President Barack Obama and Pope Francis during his visit to D.C. in 2015.

As an active member of his community, Ubaldo is committed to passing on his craft to younger generations. He also wishes to use his art to break stigmas against indigenous peoples, who are sometimes viewed as possessing primitive knowledge. With the wellbeing of his community in his homeland always in mind, he started a nonprofit organization that sends support for medical aid and access to drinking water for indigenous children in Guatemala.

The remarkable immigrant and migrant experiences—the ones we carry from other places to the ones we create in our new homes—give meaning to our livelihoods and shape the way we interact with the world. The voices and cultural resources of immigrants significantly contribute to who we are as nation. They are stories that deserve to be told.

Michelle Aranda Coss was born in Mexico City and raised in Los Angeles. She is a student in Chicanx Studies at California State University, Northridge, and she is particularly interested in the arts as tools for transformation and social justice. She was an intern with the On the Move program of the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Read more: Colorful Sawdust Carpets: A Guatemalan Tradition from Hola Cultura

A Bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for other bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 259, S. 293, S. 292, S. 245, H.R. 863, H.R. 386, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161

This is a bill, introduced by Mr. Owen, for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution. It establishes a board of managers and states how they are to be appointed. The initial duties of the board are to find a location for the Smithsonian Institution and to plan for the erection of the building. The building shall contain a library, space for the display of objects of natural history, a geological and mineralogical cabinet, a chemistry lab and lecture rooms. It instructs the board to have all objects of natural history, plants and geological and mineralogical specimens, and objects of art and of foreign and curious research belonging to the United States delivered to the Institution.

The board is also instructed to appoint a superintendent to care for the building and grounds, to be secretary of the board of managers and to perform the duties of librarian and keeper of the museum. The board is to appoint a separate professor of agriculture. This bill also includes the provision for a professor of common school instruction who will have the ability to grant certificates of qualification to common school teachers.

A Brief History of the Stoplight

Smithsonian Magazine

Driving home from a dinner party on a March night in 1913, the oil magnate George Harbaugh turned on to Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue. It was one of the city’s busiest streets, jammed with automobiles, horse-drawn carriages, bicyclists, trolleys and pedestrians, all believing they had the right of way. Harbaugh did not see the streetcar until it smashed into his roadster. “It is remarkable,” the local newspaper reported, “that the passengers escaped with their lives.”

Many others wouldn’t. More than 4,000 people died in car crashes in the United States in 1913, the same year that Model T’s started to roll off Henry Ford’s assembly line. The nation’s roads weren’t built for vehicles that could speed along at 40 miles an hour, and when those unforgiving machines met at a crowded intersection, there was confusion and, often, collision. Though police officers stood in the center of many of the most dangerous crossroads blowing whistles and waving their arms, few drivers paid attention.

A Cleveland engineer named James Hoge had a solution for all this chaos. Borrowing the red and green signals long used by railroads, and tapping into the electricity that ran through the trolley lines, Hoge created the first “municipal traffic control system.” Patented 100 years ago, Hoge’s invention was the forerunner of a ubiquitous and uncelebrated device that has shaped American cities and daily life ever since-—the stoplight.

Hoge’s light made its debut on Euclid Avenue at 105th Street in Cleveland in 1914 (before the patent was issued). Drivers approaching the intersection now saw two lights suspended above it. A policeman sitting in a booth on the sidewalk controlled the signals with a flip of a switch. “The public is pleased with its operation, as it makes for greater safety, speeds up traffic, and largely controls pedestrians in their movements across the street,” the city’s public safety director wrote after a year of operation.

Others were already experimenting with and improving upon Hoge’s concept, until various inventors had refined the design to the one that controls traffic and raises blood pressure today. We have
William Potts, a Detroit police officer who had studied electrical engineering, to thank for the yellow light, but as a municipal employee he could not patent his invention.

By 1930, all major American cities and many small towns had at least one electric traffic signal, and the innovation was spreading around the world. The simple device tamed the streets; motor vehicle fatality rates in the United States fell by more than 50 percent between 1914 and 1930. And the technology became a symbol of progress. To be a “one stoplight town” was an embarrassment. “Because of the potent power of suggestion, [or] a delusion of grandeur, almost every crossroad hamlet, village, and town installed it where it was neither ornate nor useful,” the Ohio Department of Highways grumbled.

An additional complaint that gained traction was the device’s unfortunate impact on civility. Long before today’s epidemic of road rage, critics warned that drivers had surrendered some of their humanity; they didn’t have to acknowledge each other or pedestrians at intersections, but rather just stare at the light and wait for it to change. As early as 1916, the Detroit Automobile Club found it necessary to declare a “Courtesy Week,” during which drivers were encouraged to display “the breeding that motorists are expected to manifest in all other human relations.” As personal interactions declined, a new, particularly modern scourge appeared—impatience. In 1930, a Michigan policeman noted that drivers “are becoming more and more critical and will not tolerate sitting under red lights.”

The new rules of the road took some getting used to, and some indoctrination. In 1919, a Cleveland teacher invented a game to teach children how to recognize traffic signals, and today, kids still play a version of it, Red Light, Green Light. Within a few decades, the traffic light symbol had been incorporated into children’s entertainment and toys. Heeding the signals has become so ingrained that it governs all kinds of non-driving behavior. Elementary schools put the brakes on bad behavior with traffic light flashcards, and a pediatrician created the “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” program to promote healthful eating. Sexual assault prevention programs have adopted the traffic light scheme to signal consent. And the consulting firm Booz Allen suggested in 2002 that companies assess their CEOs as crisis (“red light”), visionary (“green light”) or analytical (“yellow light”) leaders. You can even find the colorful cues on the soccer field: A referee first issues a yellow warning card before holding up the red card, which tells the offending player to hit the road, so to speak.

A newsboy’s stand and traffic light in Los Angeles, 1942 (Library of Congress)

In a century the traffic light went from a contraption that only an engineer could love to a pervasive feature of everyday life—there are some two million of them in the United States today—and a powerful symbol. But its future is not bright. Driverless vehicles are the 21st-century’s Model T, poised to dramatically change not only how we move from place to place but also our very surroundings. Researchers are already designing “autonomous intersections,” where smart cars will practice the art of nonverbal communication to optimize traffic flow, as drivers themselves once did. Traffic lights will begin to disappear from the landscape, and the new sign of modernity will be living in a “no stoplight town.”

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

U.S. crosswalk signals are downright pedestrian. but others are so clever they’ll stop you in your tracks.

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

A Closer Look at Conservation: Chinese Commemorative Portraits

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website presenting step-by-step descriptions of the process of restoring and conserving several Chinese portraits before exhibition.

A Concrete Vision: Oshogbo Art in the 1960s

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
This online exhibition features works by visual artists from the earliest days of the Oshogbo school in Yoruba, Nigeria. Oshogbo artists drew on traditional ideas to create new forms.

A Durable Memento: Portraits by Augustus Washington, African American Daguerreotypist

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Online exhibition exploring the career of African American daguerreotypist Augustus Washington, in both the United States and Africa. Includes corresponding lesson plans, his daguerreotypes, and a biography.

A Family Visit to the Smithsonian

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Interactive site featuring one family's week-long experience visiting museums and exhibits. Features the family's journal entries and activities they created to help make the most of a visit to Washington, D.C.

A Green City: Past, Present and Future

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students look at the history of city development and city planning as they consider ideas for the future of urban transportation.

A Hip Tradition

Smithsonian Magazine

For many of us, hula conjures up visions of slender Hawaiian women in leafy skirts, coconut bras and plastic leis. Think Blue Hawaii, a 1961 Elvis movie, or the Brady Bunch's ill-fated trip to the islands, complete with a Tiki curse and Alice in a grass skirt.

Until recently, those stereotypes threatened to become the only readily available representations of hula, an age-old Hawaiian cultural practice enacted through chanting, singing and dancing. Each of hula's movements has a meaning that helps tell a story about gods and goddesses, nature or important events. Rather than simply a performance geared for tourists, the dance is something Hawaiians did for themselves for centuries, at religious ceremonies honoring gods or rites of passage and at social occasions as a means of passing down history.

After years of Western imperialism—under which hula was first discouraged by Christian missionaries in the early 1800s and later marketed as kitsch in the mid-1900s—the dance, in many Hawaiians' eyes, was losing any real sense of history or culture. "Outside influences were making it obsolete," says Rae Fonseca, a kumu hula, or hula master, in Hilo on the Big Island. As a result, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a renewed interest in hula's traditional roots began to sweep across the state. Adrienne Kaeppler, curator of oceanic ethnology at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. and an expert in hula, helped form the State Council on Hawaiian Dance in 1969. "During its meetings," she says, "we brought in some of the older hula masters who were willing to share their dances in a variety of workshops." The classes filled quickly, signaling the beginning of hula's renaissance. "It just went on from there," Kaeppler says.

Today, serious hula is everywhere in Hawaii. The dance can also be found among the mainland diaspora and other places such as Japan, Europe and Mexico. Even Hollywood has joined in—Hula Girls, this year's Japanese entry in the Academy Award's foreign language category, tells a charming tale of rural Japanese girls learning the dance. Halaus, or schools of hula, have cropped up in most Hawaiian towns, and men and women of all ages study the dance diligently. "I have my classes twice a week for each age group," Fonseca says. "It entails a lot of dedication."

Kumu hulas generally teach their students both hula kahiko (traditional hula) which involves chanting accompanied by percussion instruments, and hula 'auana (modern hula) which features songs, mainly sung in Hawaiian, and instruments such as the ukulele and guitar. Early hula kahiko costumes for women featured skirts made of kapa, or bark cloth. Men wore the skirts, too, or just a loincloth, called a malo. A lei for the head and its counterpart for the ankles and wrists—called kupe'e—were made of plants or materials such as shells and feathers. Hula 'auana emerged in the late 1800s, when international visitors introduced stringed instruments to the culture. It was at this time that the ubiquitous grass skirts came on the scene as well, though costumes for hula 'auana are often more Western in appearance—fabric tops, skirts and dresses for women, and shorts and pants for men, but with lei and kupe'e as adornments. These accessories, however, depend upon which type of dance is being performed. "In hula kahiko," says Noenoelani Zuttermeister, a kumu hula who teaches at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, "a circular lei would be worn on top of the head, whereas in hula 'auana, the dancer may affix flowers to one side of the head."

But while hula historically has involved a merging of different cultural forms, kumu hulas of today want blending stopped. Rather than integrate Japanese or, say, Mexican dance traditions with Hawaiian hula in Tokyo or Mexico City, Fonseca says hula must be kept pure, wherever it is performed. "It's up to us teachers to stress that where we come from is important," he says. Zuttermeister strongly agrees: "If the link is not maintained as it should, then we're not passing on something that is hula and we're not being true to our culture."

Fittingly, hula is strongly associated with family tradition. Both Fonseca and Zuttermeister come from hula-focused families: Fonseca's grandmother was a hula performer in the 1930s, and Zuttermeister's mother taught the dance. Perhaps the best example of a hula dynasty in action is Aloha Dalire, a kumu hula from the town of Heeia on Oahu and the first winner of the Miss Aloha Hula title at the famed Merrie Monarch festival. This weeklong event sponsoring three days of hula competition has been called the "Olympics of hula." The dance's best and brightest compete, and the contests are so popular they're televised live in Hawaii.

Miss Aloha Hula, as one might imagine, is part beauty pageant winner, part mind-blowing hula dancer. Dalire won the title in 1971, a time, she says, when the contest was open to anyone "over 18 and ready to step into the limelight." She hails from a long line of dancers—she's the seventh generation—and her three daughters followed suit. They each individually won Miss Aloha Hula, in 1991, 1992 and 1999.

Dalire believes the Miss Aloha Hula contest births many kumu hulas. That may be true, but the path to becoming a hula master is not universally agreed upon. Each hula school has its own particular steps and rituals. Several kumus seemed reluctant to describe these, instead uttering the Hawaiian proverb, "All knowledge does not come from one," when pressed about them. Dalire says students must study Hawaiian history, culture and language, as well as dance. Malama Chong, a protégé of Fonseca's, says lei-making and costuming are also important. In addition, students may be required to heed kapus (taboos), including abstinence and food restrictions. "It's a serious undertaking that requires years of training," Chong says.

Indeed. Hula has again taken its place as a proud and integral part of Hawaiian culture. The next time you hear Turner Classic Movies, remember Dalire's parting words: "We don't always run around in grass skirts—they're only for sharing hula. We're modernized as much as anyone else."

And, for the record, she's never worn a coconut bra.

Mimi Kirk is an editor and freelance writer in Washington, D.C.

A Kids' Guide to . . .

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson that involves students in a local historic preservation project.

A Letter to Stan Lee, Comic Book Legend, Written by One of His Biggest Fans

Smithsonian Magazine

Dear Stan,

I knew the name and signature "Stan Lee" before I ever knew the name "Marvel." Growing up in the 1950s, so many stories in so many comic books I read, even those I picked up in flea markets going back decades, had that name scrolled somewhere in the opening panels or splash pages. I came to know that I would like any comic book story by Stan Lee, even when I naively thought these comic books were published by a company called "MC," which was stamped in a little rectangular box on each cover, or by a company called Magazine Management, a name I spied at the bottom of each inside cover or first page. It wasn't until the publication of Marvel Tales Annual, #1 that I actually saw your picture and finally had the following answer to my long-burning question, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Stan Lee!"

A casual reader of the Marvel monster, western, war, spy and humor comics of the 1950s and early 60s, I became a Marvelite with Fantastic Four and Hulk #1's. By the themes you incorporated in your superhero works, I grew up confident not only that good ultimately triumphs over evil, that teamwork leads to success, that gumption sees us through hard times, that belief in myself will be the path to achieve my goals, that brains can always defeat brawn, but also (and most importantly), that if I lived by the ethics and morals modeled for me by your superheroes, I could be as good and upright a person as Spider-Man or Thor or the others.

For that, Stan, and speaking for entire generations of readers, I owe you a big thanks in a way that nearly matches my thanks to my parents, teachers and religious leaders who tried to convey the same precepts to me, only they could never do so in the entertaining and effective way you were able to do through the magic of your comic book stories.

Michael Uslan (left) with Stan Lee (right) (Courtesy of Michael E. Uslan)

You didn't desert me when I grew older and went to high school and on to college. In the tumultuous '60s and '70s, my philosopher king was not Plato or Aristotle, but the Silver Surfer. Through your pen, his observations and clarity as he reflected on man and life on Earth influenced my own thinking and personal philosophy. They increased my sensitivity toward the planet and the people on it. The only other philosophic look at life and human behavior that impacted, influenced and inspired me to this degree was "Stan's Soapbox." Through that medium, you did far more than plug the next Marvel comic book. You very often made me think, and in the process made me feel like you were talking to me personally on those pages. Everyone I know who was a Marvel reader in that era feels the same way to this very day.

What about what you did for me personally in life?

  • I was 7 years old when I read my first Marvel/Atlas comic book and saw that "Stan Lee" signature scrawled sidewards in a panel on the first page. That was the moment you became my idol.
  • I was 13 when I read in a fanzine that if a fan mailed you a stamped, self-addressed envelope along with a typed interview with space for you to answer after each question, you would respond. I still have that interview with all your hand-written answers. That was the moment you became my mentor, introducing me to the history of Marvel and the comic book industry.
  • I was 16 when I met you for the first time after hearing your talk at Phil Seuling's Comic Art Convenion in New York City. That was the moment you became my inspiration.
  • I was 20 when you called me at Indiana University to congratulate me for teaching the world's first college-accredited course on comic books, offering to help me in any way. That was the moment you became my friend.
  • I was 36 when you and Margaret Loesch signed me to create the fourth segment of the syndicated animated Marvel Universe TV series, "Commander Video." That was the moment you became my creative boss.
  • I was 49 when I approached you to join me at DC Comics to create your Just Imagine comic book series. That was the moment you became my creative partner.

You have always remained my idol, mentor, inspiration, friend and role model.

(Courtesy of Michael E. Uslan)

You have changed the world, entertained so many generations, impacted the American and world cultures, and inspired legions of youth while positively influencing their own forming moral and ethical codes. You have elevated the American comic book and all graphic storytelling from its years of denigration to a respected art form that has taken its rightful place in the world's great art museums, galleries and universities. You have created a new, modern day mythology that will live on in the traditions of Homer, Aesop, Grimm and Walt Disney. And you have accomplished all this with integrity, honor and humanity toward your fans.

I cannot begin to just imagine what this world would have been like without the magic of Stan Lee.

You have been celebrated around the Earth by people who love and respect you...people like me.

And so, as we approach Thanksgiving this year, in addition to giving thanks for my parents, my wife, my kids and my granddaughters, I plan on giving thanks for Stan Lee and the blessing he has been for so many generations of comic book readers through his gift of the printed word, which entertained us but also inspired us to be the best we could be.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better... To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Stan, you were the most successful man I've ever known.

Michael Uslan is a producer of many award-winning films, including the Batman movies, and taught the first accredited college course on comic books, at Indiana University in 1971. He co-taught a Smithsonian EdX course "The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture" with Stan Lee. You can take that course here.

A Life in Beads Teaching Poster

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teaching poster for grades 4-6. Exploring the traditional art of dressmaking and dress decoration among women of Native American tribes from the Great Plains region. Through the stories and art of contemporary women who continue these traditions, students will learn about materials used in the past and today, as well as the cultural values and meanings behind dress decoration. The poster includes maps, student activities, and a variety of historical and contemporary images.

A Massive Collection of Cat Art Is up for Auction

Smithsonian Magazine

By all accounts, Patrick Eddington was a beloved high school art teacher and artist who worked hard for and had a great rapport with his students at Salt Lake City’s Highland High School. But he had another passion beyond teaching: cats. Now, several months after Eddington’s death, his massive personal collection of cat-inspired artwork is being auctioned off for charity.

Cats and dogs have captivated the art world for generations, but Eddington’s project wasn’t just about making portraits: it was about collaboration. About a decade ago, Eddington set off on a project to compile as much cat art made by and with some of the world’s top artists and writers, many of whom he contacted through simple, if genial, letters, Ann Poore writes for the Utah-based magazine 15 Bytes.

“The story of how Patrick Eddington acquired the original Cat Project artworks is quite remarkable,” Matthew Quinn, executive vice president of Quinn’s Auction Galleries, tells ArtDaily. “For years he carried on an extensive correspondence with a staggering number of visual artists and writers. His genial letters, little gifts, and certainly his persistence, charmed many of them into contributing to the project. That was a feat in itself.”

Eddington who became known as "Pat the Cat," didn’t just want to build up a personal collection—from the beginning, he intended to eventually compile these artworks into something to display to the public. To this end, he persistently pursued artists and writers like Ray Bradbury, Kiki Smith, Haruki Murakami and Ralph Steadman, to name a few.

“This project is a labor of love,” Eddington wrote in a 2004 letter, according to Hyperallergic’s Claire Voon. “It will culminate as a large book and traveling exhibition. It will also help Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I’ve asked individuals I admire to create cat-related works. They are not the typical cat images but creative works.”

For Eddington, cats weren’t just fluffy little cuddlers—they were venal, vain and self-serving animals. He was intrigued by their complex nature throughout his life, and while he never completed the "Cat Project," the proceeds from the auction will still go to the animal sanctuary as he intended, Voon reports.

All in all, the auction contains 246 different pieces, including several ceramic, cat-faced jugs that Eddington made himself. With such a wide variety of styles and artists represented in the sale, it seems like it has something for just about everyone.

A Member of the Little Rock Nine Discusses Her Struggle to Attend Central High

Smithsonian Magazine

Fifteen year-old Minnijean Brown thought her new high school would allow her to become the best person she could be. She envisioned making friends, going to dances and singing in the chorus.

But, her fantasy quickly evaporated. As one of the first nine African-American students to attend Little Rock Central High School in 1957, she was taunted, ridiculed and physically battered. On her first day, she faced the horror of the Arkansas National Guard blocking her entrance to the building and the terror of an angry, white mob encircling the school.

Recently, the 74-year-old activist, teacher and social worker donated more than 20 personal items to the National Museum of American History to help tell the story of the Little Rock Nine—as she and her fellow African-American students at Central High came to be known.

Nearly 60 years ago, these teenagers, none of who were particularly political, and all of whom were looking for wider opportunities, were thrust into the crucible of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in one of the most dangerous and dramatic school desegregation efforts in the country.

“At a certain point, I didn’t know if I would be alive to graduate from high school, or be stark, raving insane, or deeply wounded, “ says Trickey.  

Several of Trickey’s school items, including a notice of suspension and the dress she designed for her high school graduation, are now on display in the “American Stories” gallery at the museum. Her graduation gown, a simple, white, swing dress with a flared skirt, and a strapless bodice under a sheer, flower-embroidered overlay, is a testament to her determination to get her high school diploma. She attended three schools in as many years, was expelled from Central High and ultimately had to leave Little Rock and her family to finish high school.

One of her greatest pleasures, says Trickey, came in 2014 when she was asked to speak at an award ceremony for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girls education advocate who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. (Ricky Fitchett/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Minnijean was the eldest of four children born to Willie Brown, a mason and landscaping contractor, and his wife, Imogene, a nurse’s aid, seamstress and homemaker. A native of Little Rock, she attended segregated schools and started senior high school as a 10th grader in 1956 at the newly opened Horace Mann School for African-Americans. It was across town from where she lived and offered no bus service.

In the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that banned racial segregation in public schools, representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) searched for students who would enroll in previously all-white schools throughout the south. Minnijean heard an announcement on the school intercom about enrolling at Central and decided to sign up.  

Although about 80 African-American students had been approved by the Little Rock School Board to transfer to Central the following year, the number dwindled to 10 after the students were told they couldn't participate in extracurricular activities, their parents were in danger of losing their jobs, and there was a looming threat of violence. The parents of a tenth student, Jane Hill, decided not to allow their daughter to return after the mob scene on the first day. 

According to Trickey, her real motivation for attending Central was that it was nine blocks from her house and she and her two best friends, Melba Pattillo and Thelma Mothershed would be able to walk there.

Along with her graduation dress, Trickey has also donated a program from her high school commencement ceremony. (NMAH)

“The nine of us were not especially political,” she says. “We thought, we can walk to Central, it’s a huge, beautiful school, this is gonna be great,” she remembers. 

“I really thought that if we went to school together, the white kids are going to be like me, curious and thoughtful, and we can just cut all this segregation stuff out,” she recalls. Unfortunately, she was wrong.

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to keep the African-American students from entering Central. When the nine students did get into the building a few weeks later, a full-scale riot broke out and they had to escape in speeding police cars. They weren’t able to enroll until two days later when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in 1,200 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division. With bayonets fixed, the soldiers escorted the students, single file, into the school and disbursed the jeering protestors.

Although troops remained at Central High School throughout the school year, the Little Rock Nine were subjected to verbal and physical assaults on a daily basis. The African-American students were isolated and never placed in classes with each other, so they couldn’t corroborate their torment. On three separate occasions, Minnijean had cafeteria food spilled on her, but none of her white abusers ever seemed to get punished.

In December 1957, she dropped her chili-laden lunch tray on the heads of two boys in the cafeteria who were taunting and knocking into her. She was suspended for six days. That school notice is now part of the Smithsonian collection along with a heartfelt note by her parents documenting all the abuse that their daughter had endured leading up to the incident. Then in February 1958, Trickey verbally responded to some jeering girls who had hit her in the head with a purse. That retaliation caused Trickey to be expelled from Central High.

“I had a sense of failure that lasted for decades over that,” says Trickey.  After she left Central, white students held printed signs that said, “One down…eight to go.”

Following her mid-year dismissal, Trickey was invited to New York City to live in the home of Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, African-American psychologists who had conducted pioneering research that exposed the negative effects of segregation on African-American children. Their now famous “doll tests,” were part of the documentation used by the NAACP to argue the Brown v. Board of Education case.

While living with the Clarks, Trickey attended the New Lincoln School, a progressive, experimental K-12 school that focused on the arts, to finish out her 11th- and 12th-grade years.

“I was very, very grateful for the gift that I’d been given,” she says. “My classmates at New Lincoln allowed me to be the girl that I should have been, and allowed me to do all the things I thought I might do at Central.”

At the end of her stay, the Clarks wanted to give her a gift and settled on a graduation dress. Trickey made some sketches and Mamie Clark took the design to her dressmaker.

“It was a perfect fit, and I felt perfectly beautiful in it,” Trickey remembers. “Many New York papers covered the graduation, and there was a photo of me with my shoulders up and I have this big smile, and I have this real feeling of relief,” she says. Along with her graduation dress, Trickey has also donated a program from this commencement ceremony.

Trickey went on to attend Southern Illinois University and majored in journalism. In 1967, she married Roy Trickey, a fisheries biologist, and they started a family, which eventually included six children. They moved to Canada to protest the Vietnam War, and she earned both a bachelors and masters degree in social work. Later in her career, she returned to the United States and served in the Clinton administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior. Now, she works as an activist on behalf of peacemaking, youth leadership, the environment and many other social justice issues.

According to her daughter Spirit Trickey, it took nearly 30 years before Trickey revealed to her children the full extent of her role as a foot soldier in the Civil Rights movement.

“She felt like she didn’t have the context to put it in. The nation had not acknowledged it, so it was very difficult to explain,” says Spirit, a former Park Ranger and now a museum professional. Eventually, with the airing of documentaries like PBS’s “Eyes on the Prize” in 1987, and the 1994 publication of Warriors Don’t Cry, a book by Trickey’s friend Melba Pattillo Beals, Spirit and her siblings began to understand what their mother had gone through.

Also, the Little Rock Nine started to be recognized for their contribution to desegregation. In 1996, seven of them appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and reconciled with some of the white students who had tormented them. A year later and 40 years after the original crisis, then-President Bill Clinton symbolically held the door open at Central High for the Nine. Clinton also awarded each of them the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999. Individual statutes of the Little Rock Nine were placed on the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol in 2005. They and their families were all invited to the first inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008.

One of her greatest pleasures, says Trickey, came in 2014 when she was asked to speak at an award ceremony for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girls education advocate who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. As Trickey was being introduced at the Philadelphia Liberty Medal ceremony, the speaker compared Malala’s experiences with that of the Little Rock Nine.

“When I met that wonderful young woman, I saw myself, and it was so great to be able to make the link between her treatment and ours,” said Trickey. “I now tell youth audiences, I was a Malala.”

Trickey believes that she will be trying to come to terms with the events of her high school years for the rest of her life. “My research, my understanding continues to unfold.”

One truth that she now understands is that many of her white classmates had been taught to hate. “We couldn’t expect the white kids at Central High to go against what they had learned their whole lives,” she says.

Through the 1999 book Bitters in the Honey by Beth Roy, Trickey was able to hear the perspective of white students who resisted segregation. Roy conducted oral histories with white alumni 40 years afterwards to explore the crisis at Central High. Trickey discovered that she in particular angered white classmates because they said, “She walked the halls of Central like she belonged there.”

Trickey also realizes now that she may have been singled out for harsher treatment. At an awards ceremony in 2009, she was speaking with Jefferson Thomas, one of the Nine, when he suddenly turned to her and said, “You know, you were the target.”

“We were all targets,” she laughed at him dismissively.

“No, you were the target, and when you left, I was the target,” he revealed. 

Last Spring, Trickey delivered her Little Rock Nine objects to the Smithsonian in what her daughter termed a “sacred ceremony.” John Gray, the director of the National Museum of American History, welcomed her and had a warm, gracious conversation and interview that was videotaped. Curators and star-struck interns filled the room to hear Trickey’s oral history.

She described the afternoon as a day that she will never forget because the desegregation pioneer was assured that her story and that of the Little Rock Nine would be preserved for future generations not as African-American History but as American History.

Minnijean Brown Trickey’s graduation dress, suspension notice and other items are featured in a case in the exhibition “American Stories” at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. through May 8, 2016.

A Michigan Museum of Shipwrecks

Smithsonian Magazine

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, located at Whitefish Point in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was founded in 1978 by a group of teachers, divers and shipwreck enthusiasts who were interested in exploring the area around Whitefish Point. The museum is home to 19 different exhibits incorporating artifacts that were raised from wrecks, ship models and a memorial to those lost in the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. In addition to the museum, visitors can also see the restored lighthouse keeper’s quarters, the fog signal building, the surf boat house and the Whitefish Point bird observatory.  “We were hoping to find shipwrecks and we were successful, as far as that went,” says Sean Ley, development officer for the museum. He spoke with Smithsonian.com about the history of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes region and why the museum is such a popular tourist destination.

Why is there a shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point?
In all five Great Lakes, we know there are over 6,000 shipwrecks with over 30,000 lives having been lost. Lake Superior is perhaps one of the most dramatic, although it doesn’t have the highest concentration of shipwrecks. It is the biggest water of the five Great Lakes and has seas that sweep across from the northwest to the southeast of the lake with tremendous force. Of the 550 known wrecks in Lake Superior, well over 200 rest along the shoreline from Whitefish Point, which is where our museum is, west to the town of Munising. The reason there are so many wrecks along there is because there are no natural harbors for ships to hide when they have these huge storms. Whitefish Bay is kind of a natural bay, and with its point sticking out, it does provide a great deal of protection for ships that are lost.

Many people seem fascinated by shipwrecks. Why is that?
The most modern connection to shipwrecks was the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975, in Lake Superior. The Fitzgerald was a 729-foot modern freighter with radio, radar and up-to-date safety equipment. Suddenly, she disappeared off the radar screen with no survivors; that was not supposed to happen during the modern day. That shipwreck is one of the biggest mysteries because it’s so recent and because no one knows exactly why the ship was lost. Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot wrote the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” in 1976.

Before the Fitzgerald there were two other major losses on the Great Lakes— the Daniel J. Morrell in November 1966 in Lake Huron and the Carl D. Bradley in November 1958 in northern Lake Michigan.

Describe the worst shipwreck in the history of the Great Lakes.
In terms of loss of life, hands down, that’s called the SS Eastland, which went down in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915. For whatever reason, the ship turned over onto its port side right there in the river. Passengers either wanted to see something in the river and they went to port side, or the engineer improperly ballasted the ship, or it wasn’t a stable ship to begin, but she flipped over right into the Chicago River, not terribly deep water maybe 20-30 feet, and killed 844 passengers and crew. It still remains the worst loss of life on any single shipwreck in the Great Lakes.

How has the museum been received, both by the public and families who have lost relatives in shipwrecks?  
We constantly hear from people who lost loved ones to shipwrecks, and they want to find out more about their ancestor who was aboard a ship and how he lost his life on it. We get a lot of inquiries about that. The population of Whitefish Township, where the museum us, is only about 550 people, and each year we get an average of 70,000 visitors to Whitefish Point. People want to see something different.

You’ve worked at the museum for 15 years. What is it about shipwrecks that fascinates you? 
It primarily has to do with a lifelong interest in shipwrecks that was generated when I was a young boy. I grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, not far away from where the Eastland tipped over. As a matter of fact, on September 8, 1860, a very famous Great Lakes wreck called the Lady Elgin went down right off of Winnetka, so when I was a kid, there were parts of the Lady Elgin still on the beach. There are graves of those lost who washed ashore from the Lady Elgin and were buried in the bluff right there. I ended up pursuing an arts career but I was always associated with the shipwreck historical society. It’s just a very interesting piece of culture, of U.S. history, to be affiliated with.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found since you’ve been at the shipwreck museum? 
What I would say is most surprising since the early days is the invasion of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. Zebra mussels are an invasive species brought in by saltwater vessels coming through the St. Lawrence into the Great Lakes, and we can’t get rid of them. Many dive sites in the lower lakes are just covered with destructive zebra mussels, so scuba divers can dive on historic wrecks but they don’t look like ships anymore, they look like a coral reef, filled with zebra mussels. I mean millions of zebra mussels. Lake Superior, so far, has not been invaded.

Do shipwrecks still occur? 
Oh yes they do. One might think they wouldn’t, but that’s what they thought about the Titanic and the Fitzgerald. Even with the latest safety equipment, a ship is still a vessel that’s been constructed a certain way. If it takes on water in a way it shouldn’t, just the physical property of water and buoyancy will cause it to flip.

There hasn’t been a shipwreck quite as a dramatic as the Fitzgerald. In 1989, the Coast Guard lost a vessel up here called the Mesquite, but there was no loss of life. There are some fishing boats that have been lost to collision and recreational vessels, but I don’t think we’ve had a shipwreck with significant loss of life since the Fitzgerald when down.

Anything can happen and certainly there are many organizations and safety procedures that try to prevent shipwrecks but you won’t find anyone who goes on the lakes who will say ‘I guarantee you we will not get in a shipwreck.’ The danger is always there. And the awareness of the danger keeps you on your guard so that you are a little more cautious. One old gentleman once told me, “Constant vigilance is the price you pay for traveling on the Great Lakes.”

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, owned and operated by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, is open daily from May 1 to October 31. Accessible by automobile, the museum features shipwrecks, and the history of the U.S. lifesaving service, the U.S. lighthouse service and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as other exhibits. For more information, visit the museum online or call 1-800-635-1742.

A Monumental Assignment

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson in which students explore why communities build monuments, then design their own monuments. They define the concept of community and identify the importance of group symbols.

A More Perfect Union Collection Search

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Search engine with more than 800 artifacts from the online exhibit A More Perfect Union, including: archival photography, publications, original manuscripts, works of art, and handmade objects on the Japanese American experience during World War II. A More Perfect Union focuses on the experiences of Japanese Americans in internment camps.

A More Perfect Union: Japanese-Americans and the U.S. Constitution Homepage

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Online exhibit focused on the experiences of Japanese Americans who were placed in internment camps during World War II. Explores a period of history when racial prejudice and fear upset the delicate balance between the rights of citizens and the power of the state. This story is told through through interactive galleries that combine photographs, objects, oral histories, and first-person accounts. Includes a comment board, a search engine with more than 800 artifacts from the Smithsonian collection, related activities, additional web sites, and bibliography, and additional resources.

A Mural on View in the African American History Museum Recalls the Rise of Resurrection City

Smithsonian Magazine

The words and images on what is known as “The Hunger Wall” are stark, but visceral. “Brothers and Sisters, Hunger is Real,” screams one panel in blood-red letters. “Chicano Power” and “Cuba Libre,” roars another. The voices are from some of the nearly 3,500 people who descended upon Washington D.C.’s National Mall in May, 1968 for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People's Campaign.

“People do make history, and many times what they do or what they say is not written down, particularly if it’s just the average Joe Blow,” says Vincent deForest, a Washington, D.C. activist who was working with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) at the time.

“We know the names of the great heroes written in books, but it’s the little people who also contribute. . . . How do we collect their artifacts? So that’s in the wall,” he says. “It is symbolic of these individuals whose names we may never know, but who were there and made sizeable contributions to what we were commemorating.”

A large mural from Resurrection City that grew up on the National Mall in 1968 as a protest movement against poverty now resides in the Smithsonian's African American History Museum. (NMAAHC, gift of Vincent deForest)

“The Hunger Wall” was once part of a mural that was 32-feet long, 12-feet high and 12-feet wide. It made up one wall of what was called City Hall in Resurrection City, USA.” That’s the tent encampment that sprouted on the National Mall for six weeks, comprised of anti-poverty demonstrators supporting the Poor People’s Campaign. DeForest, now 80, saved a portion of the mural, and donated it to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The mural came from the largest building in the tent city, which had so many residents, the Postal Service issued it a zip code. The four eight-feet-by-four-feet panels ran horizontally along the top of 12 separate pieces of plywood that combined together into a enormous piece of art.

“That was the central location of staff and where press conferences were held outside,” explains deForest. “One side of the wall . . . became what we called ‘The Hunger Wall,’ where anybody living in the city or not living in the city could express themselves by putting their information on the wall.”

Throughout the six weeks that he spent in the tent city, deForest says he felt all along that the mural should be saved; particularly after having met so many people who were part of it.

“The leadership were being taped by the press, and written about by the press, and there were all of these other voices and expressions I thought were important too,” deForest adds. “The visual part really stirred me—the way in which individual people came to put their ideas or just express themselves in the way they did through the mechanism of the wall. ‘The Hunger Wall’ became their voice and I didn’t want that to be lost in memory.”

The thousands that converged on the National Mall from all over the United States were participating in perhaps King’s most ambitious vision, a campaign against poverty that brought together ethnic groups ranging from poor whites to Mexican-American activists to Black Civil Rights leaders to Native Americans. In January of 1968, King gave a speech supporting the move to expand on the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 War on Poverty into a broad national campaign.

“It rained 30 to 40 days while we were putting up this city,” deForest recalls, “so it was unbelievable that the spirit of the community living in the city for that number of days was as high as it was.” (Henry Zbyszynski/ Wiki Creative Commons)

“We are tired of being on the bottom,” King said. “We are tired of being exploited. We are tired of not being able to get adequate jobs. We are tired of not getting promotions after we get those jobs. As a result of our being tired, we are going to Washington D.C., the seat of our government, to engage in direct action for days and days, weeks and weeks, and months and months if necessary.”

The museum’s senior history curator William Pretzer says the key to the Poor People’s Campaign is that it was a multi-racial movement aimed at economic justice.

“The Poor People’s Campaign was initially conceived by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and he and the SCLC had put into motion the planning of it,” Pretzer says. “It wasn’t narrowly within civil rights legislation and it wasn’t African-American. It was explicitly ‘Let’s bring all the groups together because poverty is society-wide. Let’s bring all the groups together, come to Washington and create demonstrations and protests but also lobby directly around policies with our congressional representatives.’”

The SCLC drew upon a Economic and Social Bill of Rights, seeking $30 billion dollars for a poverty package including a meaningful job, a living wage, access to land and the ability to play a role in the government.

But King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, just prior to the planned beginning of the campaign. Caravans, a mule wagon train and bus trips were already set to start arriving in Washington, D.C. from nine cities, ranging from Selma to Los Angeles to El Paso to Chicago to Boston. At first, deForest remembers, SCLC leaders and King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, debated whether to delay the campaign.

“But it was decided that in honor of King and this revolutionary campaign that he decided upon, that we would move ahead,” deForest says. “The death of King . . . really released the kind of activism that I had never seen before, and everybody was willing to contribute something.”

The Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette was the national coordinator of the Poor People’s Campaign, and the SCLC’s new president, Rev. Ralph Abernathy pushed the start date back to May 12. He procured a temporary permit from the National Parks Service for an encampment of 3,000 people on the grassy area south of the reflecting pool. On that date, thousands streamed into Washington D.C. for a Mother’s Day March led by Coretta Scott King. Construction of Resurrection City began within days, after a very special ceremony.

“Recognizing that the land initially belonged to Native Americans, there was a ceremony where they gave us permission to use the Mall area for setting up this unique city for poor people. It was very impressive,” recalls deForest.

University of Maryland architect John Wiebenson mobilized his class, and other volunteers to come up with a way to house all of those people. The tents were created out of plywood, two-by-fours and canvas.

“They pre-fabbed the A-frame structure in a way that they could put it on a flatbed trailer truck, bring it to the Mall and then unload it and erect these frames along the mall,” deForest says.

Resurrection City had its own newspaper, the Soul Force, as well as an education center, and community center. Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. was elected mayor of the shantytown.  DeForest says photographers, a film team from UCLA and even artists were sent to document the caravans coming in from all over the country. There was even a mule wagon train that came in from Marks, Mississippi.

“I think they started in Marks, because that was an area that turned King’s mind toward ‘We have to do something about poverty in this country.’ It was a very impoverished area and he was moved by what he saw,” deForest says, “so he decided that that would be one of the bench marks in the South.”

Reies Lopez Tijerina, who fought for the rights of Hispanics and Mexicans, led the Chicano (a word that became a point of pride for Mexican American Civil Rights activists despite its derogatory beginnings) contingent into the city from the West Coast. Tuscarora Chief Wallace (Mad Bear) Anderson was among the leaders of the Native American contingent.

Thousands converged on the National Mall, participating in perhaps Martin Luther King’s most ambitious vision, a campaign against poverty. (Warren K. Leffler, Library of Congress)

“There were Native Americans, there were poor whites, there were women’s groups, the National Education Association, the teacher’s union participated,” Pretzer says, adding “a number of Chicanos came from L.A. and El Paso, so each of those different demographic groups were widely represented. College students, members of the Black Panthers, also some flat-out gang members from the Bronx and Chicago. There were just lots of different kind of people who came and stayed on the Mall. Lots of hippies too. These people might not have participated in the lobbying but they were there to express their opposition to poverty in general.”

There was a lot of lobbying. Activists met with congressmen and administrators in various departments including Treasury and State, and they held meetings and talked about legislation that could alleviate poverty. But there were serious challenges from the start. For one thing, the weather was a problem.

“It rained 30 to 40 days while we were putting up this city,” deForest recalls, “so it was unbelievable that the spirit of the community living in the city for that number of days was as high as it was.”

That, he says, was helped by visits from entertainers ranging from Nancy Wilson to Lou Rawls and Harry Belafonte. Marlon Brando participated and so did Burt Lancaster. But such a massive gathering required a lot of coordination between very different groups with very different needs.

“The policy needs of the Native American contingent didn’t correlate with what African-Americans were asking for, or the Chicano movement,” explains Pretzer. “There were political and logistical arguments within the community. There was no single set of goals anyone could subscribe to.”

On top of that, the muddy conditions made everything uncomfortable, and Pretzer says the public and the federal government didn’t respond very favorably. That brought disillusionment. Except on June 19, 1968, where organizers brought 50,000 people to the National Mall for Solidarity Day. It was Juneteenth—the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery in the U.S.—and it was glorious. Demonstrators surrounded the Reflecting pool, sent up prayers for the poor, sang songs, and Coretta Scott King addressed the crowd.

But within days, there were reports of violence against passing motorists, and fire bombs. On June 23, police decided to move in with tear gas.

“A combination of Washington D.C. police and (National) Parks Service Police decided the encampment should end . . . and they went in with bulldozers . . .and picked up the material and dumped it,” says Pretzer.

Though the shantytown’s permit was set to expire on June 24, very few were aware of the plans to knock the city down the day before, says deForest.

“It was unannounced that they were going into the city to break it up . . . and word got back to us that night,” deForest recalls. “So we rushed down and we saw the workmen were just carting everything away. We didn’t know where they were going or anything. It was unbelievable. I was so angry I didn’t know what to do!”

DeForest and some friends found a pick-up truck, and discovered the materials were being taken to Fort Belvoir, a military installation in nearby Fairfax County, Virginia  He says they went there, told officials they were part of SCLC and they needed the material they had removed from the camp. It had all been put into a warehouse, and some of it had been neatly packaged.

“There were people who were aware of the cultural worth of the material and they had selected out what they felt they wanted,” deForest says. “When I saw the portions of ‘The Hunger Wall,’ neatly packaged, we just went and got it, put it in the pickup and got out of there.”

At first, the mural was in deForest’s garage. Later, he began using it as a historic backdrop the work he and his brother Robert deForest were doing in preserving African-American historic sites. The organization was first known as the Afro American Bicentennial Corporation, and later became the Afro American Institute for Historic Preservation and Community Development.

“We worked on different projects, one of which was the study of historic sites, and we would feature different programs on African-American history,” says Vince deForest. “One of my favorites was the re-enactment of the Frederick Douglass 1852 speech in Rochester, New York. We would do this on the fourth of July.”

On July 5 that year, Douglass gave a speech on why blacks and slaves didn’t believe in celebrating Independence Day, because it would be the same as celebrating their enslavement. DeForest says they got actors to do that speech, including James Earl Jones, and it became very popular.

“On the fourth we’d be out on the Mall where everyone was watching fireworks and we’d pass out flyers announcing this event on the next day at the Frederick Douglass home—it’s got that hill that creates a natural amphitheater,” deForest recalls, adding that this was before the Visitor’s Center at site now was built. “We built a stage area at the bottom so people could come and sit on the hillside . . .and behind the stage I would put ‘The Hunger Wall,’ so that became the backdrop for the oration.”

Later, the mural was on display at the District of Columbia Historical Society. Pretzer says it was in storage there when the museum acquired it from deForest. He says the museum chose to focus on an event that happened in Washington, but was in fact the product of people from all over the country who came on this pilgrimage.

“It had quite a lot of influence because a lot of people in Washington saw this,” Pretzer says. “The civil rights movement had a couple of big successes with national legislation. But the question became ‘What are the new causes? How do we express these new causes?’ There was a lot of interest in Washington as to whether this national event could affect Marks, Mississippi.”

DeForest says when museum visitors see the mural, he wants them to remember something.

“The struggle, as we note every day in our newspapers around poverty and the dignity of the poor, is still with us. We have a constant reminder in the symbolic voice of the wall, that our work is not finished,” deForest says. “And the person who had the vision to create Resurrection City and the Poor People’s Campaign, is very much with us today.”

The Resurrection City Mural is on view in the National Museum of American History and Culture's inaugural exhibition "A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond."

A New Candidate for Animal Farm

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson that looks at George Orwell's satire of propaganda and rhetoric in "Animal Farm." Students design a political campaign for a candidate who will offer real freedom to the animals.

A New Holocaust Museum Is Coming to the Netherlands, With Help From Germany

Smithsonian Magazine

During World War II, the Nazis killed between 75 to 80 percent of the Netherlands’ Jews—a staggering proportion that represents the largest number of Jewish victims in Western Europe. In memory of those who lost their lives to Nazi persecution, Germany has now pledged €4 million (around $4.5 million) toward the revamping of Amsterdam’s National Holocaust Museum, putting the project within sight of its €27 million goal.

As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports, the National Holocaust Museum of the Netherlands opened its temporary headquarters in a teachers’ college across the street from the Hollandsche Schouwburg in 2017. During the war, deportees were sent from the building, a former theater converted into a detention center for Jews slated for deportation, to one of two transit camps, then onward to Nazi death camps. Small children were separated from their parents and held in a nursery; with the help of the Dutch Resistance, however, hundreds of these children were smuggled into the college next door, saving them from near certain death.

“[C]hildren were surreptitiously handed over a hedge between the nursery and the college and hidden in a classroom until they could be smuggled to the countryside by Dutch Resistance groups,” wrote Richard Sandomir of the New York Times in a 2018 obituary commemorating Johan van Hulst, who served as the college’s principal and is credited with rescuing as many as 600 children.

Plans for the new museum involve expanding the institution to include the Hollandsche Schouwburg and installing “state-of-the-art” displays, according to the JTA. So far, the museum has raised €21 million (around $23 million) for the renovation, including contributions from the Dutch government, private donors, and, most recently, Germany.

“We dare say this with this contribution: The National Holocaust Museum is coming,” Emile Schrijver, director of Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter, told the local Het Parool newspaper, as quoted by the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey.

Organizers were not expecting such a large donation from the German government.

“We thought there might be of a donation of half a million to one million euros,” Schrijver said. “A few weeks ago we received a message from Germany informing us that we would get €4 million.”

Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, installing a civil administration under the authority of the SS shortly thereafter. Persecution of the roughly 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands followed a pattern seen in many other nations under Nazi occupation: Jews were required to register with the authorities and wear a yellow star; banned from the civil service; restricted to certain areas; and, ultimately, deported to concentration camps, primarily Auschwitz and Sobibor.

Anne Frank famously went into hiding in Amsterdam before falling victim to Nazi atrocities. She was one of many. By the time of the last deportation in September 1944, 107,000 Jews in the Netherlands had been sent to concentration camps. Only 5,000 of them returned.

In February, the National Holocaust Museum will close for renovations, with the new institution expected to open in 2022. The project is still €6 million shy of its fundraising target, and organizers are working to secure additional donations. But the contribution from Germany is laden with a particular significance.

“Germany feels responsible for the history,” said Schrijver, according to Boffey. “With this contribution [to the National Holocaust Museum] they take their responsibility and want to warn people. We are naturally delighted with this large amount, but the symbolism behind it is even more important than the money itself.”

A New Society Project

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson meant to accompany a study of the "Progressive Era" in America history. Students design their own 'progressive society.' The lesson can be adapted to the study of any period.
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