Posts tagged: History

Drinking Only Beer For Lent

By , April 10, 2011 12:40 am

It sounds like a disrespectful college dare gone wrong, but it’s not.

CNN interviewed a newspaper editor and beer blogger who is only drinking beer (and water) for Lent. The beer fast has historical roots relating to 17th Century German monks.

Check out the interview:

Read more at CNN

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My First New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By , March 19, 2011 11:13 pm

On Thursday – which was a beautiful day here in New York – I joined about two million other people on Fifth Avenue to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I’ve lived in the NYC area for nearly 15 years, but I had never attended the parade. It was a lot of fun. There was a great vibe from revelers celebrating their Irish heritage, as well as from all the bagpipers, bands, dancers, police, firefighters and others participating in the parade. There was also a cool moment where New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stopped to pose for pictures with some nearby parade-watchers.

As much as the parade is about Irish pride, it’s also about New York. People from New York City, the Tri-State Area and around the world, from different races and nationalities, participated in and watched the parade. The event itself is a big part of New York, too. The first one was in 1762, making it the oldest civilian parade in the world. At 200,000 participants, it’s also the biggest parade in the United States.

Take a look at some video that includes Mayor Bloomberg.

Here are a few photos:

For more information about the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, check out the History Channel.

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Celebrating Secession

By , December 22, 2010 2:44 pm

South Carolina seceded from the Union 150 years ago this week. The Civil War began soon after that.

This past Monday night, folks at the Secession Gala in Charleston danced, drank and denied that the Civil War was about slavery. They claim it was about tariffs and states rights.

That’s wrong, of course. If you’re not sure, take a look at documents from some of the states as they seceded.

From Edward Bell in the New York Times:

South Carolina: “The non-slaveholding states … have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery” and “have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes.”

Mississippi: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. … There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union.”

Georgia: “A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia.”

(By the way, the Disunion blog on the chronicles and analyzes the events of the Civil War as they happened 150 years ago. It’s fantastic!)

A couple of weeks ago on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore took on the folks who celebrate secession and think saying slavery caused the Civil War is politically correct. No, “It’s correct correct.”

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The South’s Secession Commemoration
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

See Also:
The Old South Isn’t Folksy or Elegant
Confederate History Month

“Mad Men” And Race

By , September 20, 2010 6:13 pm

It’s 1965 in AMC’s “Mad Men” and it has barely dealt with the issue of race. What’s up?

I love the show, but when the issue has come up, it’s usually regarding a client at the ad agency: How they will sell their products to blacks (“Negroes”), why clients won’t hire blacks, etc. There have been very few blacks or any people of color with speaking roles on the show that is set in New York City. In Season 2, Paul Kinsey did have a minor story arc that involved a black girlfriend, but blacks on the show have been mostly in the background: the Draper’s maid Carla, elevator operators or sandwich vendors.

Yes, the show needs to be realistic. The show is about sex, sexism and relationships. It would be tricky, but not impossible, to introduce the issue of race and intelligently combine it with sex: the ultimate taboo when it came to race. So, the writers need to be smart.

In the last few weeks, though, race has become more visible. In last night’s episode, “The Beautiful Girls,” it’s revealed one of the firm’s clients won’t hire blacks. Peggy raises the issue in a meeting, but she was quickly shot down. More importantly, though, she tells a guy at a bar, “Most of the things Negroes can’t do, I can’t do either.” It’s an acknowledgment that the fight for equality is about fighting both sexism and racism.

And then there was the mugger: The black mugger in the bad neighborhood whose face was obscured by shadows that demanded money and jewelry from Roger and Joan. It was disappointing that the first on-screen black character with a speaking part in weeks had to be a criminal. The obscured face made it clear the mugger was just supposed to be a faceless black man to Roger, Joan and the viewers. Was he supposed to be an Invisible Man?

I really hope so. I hope the writers and producers were doing something smart last night and not being lazy. “Mad Men” is an intelligent show. As it moves into the late 1960′s they’re going to have to address the changing nature of race in society and in the lives of the people at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, while continuing to substantively explore the sex and relationships of those people. I hope last night’s episode was the beginning of that.

Photo credit: AMC/”Mad Men”

The Old South Isn’t Folksy or Elegant

By , May 1, 2010 12:41 am

Two states just wrapped up a month that they dedicated to Confederate history or “heritage.”

Movie Poster For 'Gone With The Wind'

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Confederacy is celebrated in some states when the it and the Confederate flag get away with little or no criticism in popular culture. It’s because those other representations of the antebellum South are romanticized as if straight out of Gone With The Wind. That film begins with the following on the screen:

There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind…

What’s incredible is that the quote includes slavery as part of the pretty world of the film’s “Old South.”

Flash forward to today. For some, the Old South is still that pretty world. For them, it’s either country and folksy or, just the opposite, elegant and aristocratic. There are films like Sweet Home Alabama where the parents of Reese Witherspoon’s character have sofa pillows with the Conferderate Flag on them. And I like watching fast cars jumping over things as much as the next guy. When The Dukes of Hazzard movie came out, though, with the General Lee and the Confederate flag on top of it, I couldn’t go see the film. Then there is the country-pop act Lady Antebellum. The story behind their name is that the band thought they looked good in pre-Civil War style photo shoot. Ok, but is that the only name they could think of? Didn’t anyone think it might be a problem for a country band from the South to be called a name that references and glamorizes (that would be the “Lady” part) the pre-Civil War era?
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Confederate History Month

By , April 19, 2010 9:20 pm

If you know me, you know that I love history and that I truly believe having a complete understanding of history is important so we’re not doomed to repeat it (as the saying goes). Understanding and celebrating history, though, are two different things. So, the fact that several states are currently having Confederate History Month boggles my mind.

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Bob McDonnell Holds Women's Rally

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell came under fire earlier this month for leaving slavery out of his declaration of April as Confederate History Month. He apologized, put slavery in the new declaration and the story died shortly after that. I don’t think the controversy should have been about why was slavery left out of the Virginia declaration. The controversy should have been why is Virginia, as well as Georgia and Alabama, having Confederate History Month at all?

The Civil War wasn’t a noble struggle for states’ rights. The only state “right” the Confederacy defended was slavery. The Civil War was only about slavery. Defending slavery wasn’t just about perpetuating a the slave labor system (which, even if Lincoln hadn’t ended it, probably wouldn’t have been able to sustain itself anyway). It was about having a population that boosted slave states’ representation in Congress and the Electoral College. Even though slaves couldn’t vote, they counted towards 3/5 of person toward representation in Congress. Not only did that influence the passage of laws, it influenced the Electoral College which elects the president. Southern states seceded because they saw their voting power and economic way of life being threatened by abolitionists and the balance of power toward the free states in North. The balance of free and slave states was maintained by the Compromises of 1820 and 1850 and helped keep the Union together. But numerous events in the 1850s began to shake this fragile balance. One event was the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act which empowered the federal government to capture, try and return escaped slaves to their masters, even in free states. Slave-holding states didn’t care about “states’ rights” when it came to getting their slaves back.

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