BLACK HISTORY: A HISTORY OF RESISTENCE

CYRIL BRIGGS, FOUNDER OF THE  FORGOTTEN NATIONAL SELF DEFENSE  ORGANIZATION, THE AFRICAN BLOOD BROTHERHOOD

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CLICK HERE  FOR FULL  STORY

Founder Of The Forgotten ProBlack Movement The African Blood Brotherhood

 

Towns established by former slaves after Civil War are dying out


Gwen Hebron Reese, 73, sits in historic St. Paul Community Church in the Sugarland community of Poolesville, Md. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

March 27, 2015

The old people used to say that Sugarland, Md., one of the hundreds of all-black towns and communities established by freed slaves after the Civil War, got its name because its founders believed that “the women here were as sweet as sugar.”

Gwendora Reese, 73, and her cousins Nettie Johnson La’Master, 74, and Suzanne Johnson, 65 — who are direct descendants of the town’s founders — are telling the story of Sugarland. Reese and La’Master grew up here, in wood-frame houses built by their fathers, direct descendants of freed slaves who founded this community about an hour’s drive north of Washington.

They remember their mothers canning peaches and their siblings skipping along dirt roads, playing tag among fruit orchards. They remember sitting on the hard benches in the church built by former slaves. And visiting elders who spoke with pride about a community founded and run by blacks. Sugarland had its own general store and postmaster.

“It was a community born out of slavery,” Reese says. “The church was one of the first community buildings they built. By them being in slavery, they learned trades. Some were blacksmiths. My great-grandfather made bricks. They took the skills they learned in slavery and helped each other building log cabins.”

Sugarland was founded on Oct. 6, 1871, when three freedmen — William Taylor, Patrick Hebron Jr. and John H. Diggs — “purchased land for a church from George W. Dawson, a white former slave owner, for the sum of $25,” Reese says. The founders made a small down payment and continued to pay until the debt was settled. The deed dictated that the land be used for a church, a school and “as a burial site for people of African descent.”

Today, Sugarland is mostly horse country with million-dollar homes that sit on rolling hills. Many of the houses that former slaves built have been torn down. The forest has overtaken lots where freedmen once lived. The winding dirt roads that separated this black community from a white world are now paved.
But Reese, La’Master and Johnson remember a different place. “It used to be you could stand on a hill and see all over Sugarland,” Reese says wistfully.

 

Gwen Hebron Reese and Nettie Johnson La’Master, 74, make their way to the St. Paul Community Church from the cemetery of their ancestors that dates back to just after slaves were freed in the Sugarland community. The resource center of the church houses the Sugarland Ethno History Project.
At the war’s end, 4 million enslaved people suddenly faced stark decisions. Many wondered where they would go, what they would eat and how they would survive. Some stayed on plantations working as sharecroppers. Others fled for a “promised land,” hoping to find jobs in cities. Some freedmen tried to scrape together nickels and dimes to buy land, creating all-black communities and towns across the country, where black people, sheltered from a white world, would run stores, banks, post offices and schools.

In his autobiography, “Up From Slavery,” Booker T. Washington described “wild scenes of ecstasy” in response to news of freedom that came to the farm in Virginia where he grew up a slave. But the rejoicing, he wrote, was quickly tempered by a new reality.

“For I noticed that by the time they returned to their cabins, there was a change in their feelings. The great responsibility of being free, of having charge of themselves, of having to think and plan for themselves and their children, seemed to take possession of them.”

A feeling of gloom seeped into the slave quarters, Washington wrote. “To some it seemed that, now that they were in actual possession of it, freedom was a more serious thing than they had expected to find it. Some of the slaves were seventy or eighty years old; their best days were gone. They had no strength with which to earn a living in a strange place and among strange people.”

Freedom of millions of people prompted a national crisis. Millions of slaves, prohibited by law from learning to read, were illiterate. Many owned nothing and had no money.

On March 3, 1865, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, which dispensed food, clothing and medicine, and built schools.
“The Freedmen’s Bureau didn’t have much funding and manpower,” said Deborah A. Lee, a historian in Virginia who worked with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of American heritage. “They worked with people in the local community to establish schools or build schools. There was a huge hunger for learning.” One woman who kept a diary described “people of color going around carrying books everywhere.”

Before Emancipation, in most states, slave codes prohibited slaves from learning to read and write.

Buying land was important, Lee said. “They would build buildings, whether it was a home or a fellowship hall.” Because some of them were working to earn a living during the day, they would raise community buildings at night. “There is a story of one church where the women would hold lanterns so the men could work in the dark.”

Often, Lee said, freedmen paid a premium for land — “even from those sympathetic to them. They often paid more for land than white people would, but it was very important to them. . . . They wanted to develop their autonomy and independence as much as possible.”

‘History is being lost’

By 1888, at least 200 black towns and communities had been established nationwide. Some were modeled on black towns that had been formed after the American Revolution and during the antebellum era — from the late 1700s to 1860.

“The black-town idea reached its peak in the fifty years after the Civil War,” Norman L. Crockett wrote in his book “The Black Towns.”

“The dearth of extant records prohibits an exact enumeration of them, but at least sixty black communities were settled between 1865 and 1915. With more than twenty, Oklahoma led all other states. Unfortunately, little is known about many of the black towns,” he wrote.

Crockett wrote that not much was documented about daily lives, aspirations, and fear of people living in such towns as “Blackdom, New Mexico; Hobson City, Alabama; Allensworth, California; and Rentiesville, Oklahoma because residents failed to record their experiences and whites were not interested in preserving and collecting material on the black towns.”
Many of the black communities were tight-knit, rural, and centered around school and church, said Susan Pearl, a historian at the Prince George’s County Historical Society in Maryland. “Little communities formed. The first thing they would build was a church or a Freedman’s Bureau school. That happened in Chapel Hill,” a community in Prince George’s that freed blacks founded in 1868.

Hope Lee, 76, a retired government worker and a fifth-generation descendant of one of the founders, still lives in Chapel Hill, which sits off Indian Head Highway. A few other original families remain, she said, but “all the younger people are moving out. As they widen the roads, property is being lost. People who are moving in don’t have the same passion for Chapel Hill that the originals do. . . . The history is being lost.”

And not just in Chapel Hill. Researchers across the region are racing to document black towns and communities before they disappear. Emily Huebner, a research archivist on the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland Project at the Maryland State Archives, has been studying Unionville, a community founded in 1867 in Talbot County by veterans of Colored Troops who fought in the Civil War.

Gwen Hebron Reese, 73, passes through her family cemetery that dates back to slave days behind the St. Paul Community Church in the Sugarland.
For more than 20 years, Reese has been collecting her community’s history.

“You go digging around to see what you can find out,” she said. “It is like a puzzle. The pieces are slowly coming together.”

She discovered that two of Sugarland’s founders fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War. “My great-grandfather’s brother [Luke Hebron] was a Confederate soldier,” she said. “He joined the fight because it was a source of income for his family.”

A second black man who fought for the Confederacy was Basil Dorsey, who is listed in church records as one of the founders of Sugarland.  About 15 years ago, Reese interviewed one of Dorsey’s nieces, Mary Beckwith Crenshaw, who told her about the Confederate recruiters who came to Poolesville during the war.
“The grown-ups said that they traveled in pairs,” said Crenshaw, who was 92 at the time of the interview. “They said that they were Confederate recruiters looking for men that were willing to sign up” — even black men.

Crenshaw’s father and Dorsey went to Rockville, Md., for physicals.

“My father didn’t pass, but Uncle Basil did,” she said. “The reason that they signed up was for the money that they told them that they would receive.

“I was told that my father and the other families in the community helped take care of his family while he was away. They made sure Aunt Nancy and her daughter, Mary, had lots of wood during the winter, and when they butchered hogs in the fall of the year they gave her meat. The women gave them homemade sausage, pudding, scrapple and canned goods.”

When Dorsey died in 1880, a notice of his death was printed in the Montgomery County Sentinel: “Basil Dorsey, (colored,) died last Sunday night. He was a noted darkey in our midst; and had served through the late war on the confederate side.”

Reese found other stories about the war. Here in a 1937 interview, her great-grandfather Phillip Johnson described for the Work Progress Administration what it was like living as a slave near Edwards Ferry.

“We all liked the Missis,” he recalled. “But the overseer was so cruel. . . . I promised him a killin’ if I ever got to be big enough.”

Johnson remembered Yankee and Confederate soldiers swooping into Poolesville, seeking recruits. He feared that the owner of his plantation would require him to fight for the Confederacy, which had authorized the enlistment of “able-bodied Negro men” in March 1865.

“Cap’n Sam White, he join the Confederate in Virginia. He come home and say he goin’ to take me along back with him for to serve him. But the Yankees came and he left very sudden and leave me behind,” Johnson said. “I was glad I didn’t have to go with him. I saw all the fightin’ around Poolesville.”

Johnson recalled watching a Union soldier shoot a Confederate soldier. “He raised his gun twice to shoot but he kept dodging around the house an he didn’ want to shoot when he might hit someone else. When he ran from the house, he shot him.”

Keeping records
In 1995, Reese, her cousins and other descendants of founding families organized the Sugarland Ethno-History Project to help preserve the community’s history. Reese, Johnson and La’Master established a historical foundation with the help of an archaeologist from Howard University, and are trying raise money to build a Sugarland museum.

“These books are priceless,” Reese says, thumbing through a school primer that helped teach one of her ancestors to read. The back two rows of St. Paul Community Church in Sugarland are set aside for family histories and newspaper clippings. Reese has collected antiques, irons, water basins, tools and detailed records her ancestors left.

“Here is a church register dating to 1882,” she says. Instructions in the front of the register dictate that the church keep detailed records of community members:

“The Discipline of our Church provides that every Society shall have a permanent Register, in which the Secretary of the Church Conference ‘shall enter in chronological order the full names of all who shall join the church, with the time and manner of the reception of each; and also shall make a permanent record of all baptisms and marriages within the congregation.

“These Registers are intended to be permanent, and to contain not only the list of living members, but of all who joined the Church. . . . A Register, therefore, should be large enough to last a generation and should never be revised or rewritten until the book is exhausted.”

Reese flips through the register and lands on a page in which someone has recorded a sermon from 1881: “Jan 16th . . . discussed whether the race white is better to the collard race than they are to themselfs . . . discussed by CW. Johnson, R. Hebrowns, F. Branson; . . . It is desided colard Race is better to themSelfs.”

Several more pages contain a record of a dispute that came before the church board of trustees, which governed the community.

In this self-contained community, Reese says, punishment often meant banishment from church for a few weeks.

On Oct. 26, 1885, for example, the church board heard a case about a young woman who was kicked out of her house by her grandmother, who told her to “take your dirty rags you stinken huzzie and go away from here.” She fled to the home of a man who was found guilty of taking her in.

The register also includes an obituary: “In rememnance of Brother Nathan Richson who departed this life April 13 1888. . . . Brother richson was a good member and a good man to his family. He was born Dec. 22 1842. . . . he leaves a wife and six children to mourn his lost. . . . Brother Richson will be remembered for many years. he was good singer could not be excel. Brother is gone, he is gone, yea he is gone to rest with the angels above.”

Reese and her cousins handle the fragile records with care. Reese, who took a class on the preservation of historic items, re-wraps the book in acid-free plastic and carefully places it on a bench in the back the church. Sometimes she wonders whether she will run out of space and then what will happen to the history of Sugarland.

La’Master still lives in the house her father built. The house began with two rooms, but her father, an inventor, continued adding rooms until it had 16. When he died in 2010, La’Master couldn’t bring herself to pack up his belongings. So she left things where he put them — his reading glasses on his desk, the wood in his iron stove, his bugle from World War II.

“There is so much history in this house,” La’Master says.

Outside the church, Reese and La’Master take a walk among the tombstones, remembering the sheer determination of the community’s founders.

“There it is,” Reese said, pointing to the headstone of her great-grandfather. Etched in the rugged stone marker are the words, “Phillip S. Johnson. Died Jan. 1938.”

Next to the marker is the broken tombstone of Phillip’s wife, Rachel, who died a week before he did. Many years ago, it was hit by a tree felled by lightning, which slashed it diagonally, leaving a pointed edge jutting up from the ground.

“I tried to repair it myself. It stayed for several years, then you can see the piece fell off,” said Reese, one of the last trustees of the church built by former slaves who created Sugarland.

 

 

Hard to believe it was only yesterday

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Another summer day in the desert.  Everyone in my town likes a front porch. Since we don’t believe in building inspectors here, everyone builds his own.  Peristent inspectors will find themselves spending twelve hours a day drilling small  holes in rock  in order to test the temperature of out hot springs.  Word has it, they’re not even warm.  We figure we’ll fill our springs with  the hot water we bring back from outer space.

Our SpacePort is almost ready to go!

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Long ago, a cow died here. Cattle ranchers shot the coyotes before they could eat their kill.   Better to die as an animal among animals than to be slaughtered as a side of beef.  Last week, wolves were spotted on the hills directly overlooking the town.

Run, little brothers,  run and run. There are rabbits in the next valley.

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 The City Council was released from the County Jail yesterday evening.  We gave it plenty of cake. The entire Council had all been voted back into office earlier that day.  Now, the town is sending them all on a fact-finding mission to Denmark. Why? Oh, we just feel it’s about time someone checked up on the Danes.

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 We ended the day with a demonstration against justice and unity. They are both too noisy, and seem to involve building inspectors and rice cakes,  as well as  too much walking around. The city council suggested “Man why don’t we save ourselves all that aggravation and just have a revolution?”

We settled on an uprising/skirmish,  picked sides and scheduled it for Wednesday.

By midnight, the city council was in jail again.

It leaves for Denmark on Saturday

Under Uraguay’s Dictatorship

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                                                    EDUARDO GALEANO
                                       CELEBRATION OF THE HUMAN VOICE/2
 
 
“Their hands were tied or handcuffed, yet their fingers danced,  flew, drew words. The prisoners were hooded, but leaning back, they could  see a bit, just a bit, down below. Although it was forbidden to speak, they spoke with their hands. Pinio Ungerfeld taught me the finger alphabet, which he had learned in prison without a teacher:
 
“Some of us had bad handwriting ,” he told me. ” Others  were masters of calligraphy .”
 
The Uruguayan dictatorship wanted everyone to stand  alone, everyone to be no one: in prison and barracks, and throughout the country, communication was a crime.
 
Some prisoners spent more than ten years buried in solitary  cells the size of coffins, hearing nothing but clanging bars or footsteps  in the corridors. Fernandez Huidobro and Mauricio Rosencof, thus condemned,  survived because they could talk to each other by tapping on the wall.  In that way they told of dreams and memories, fallings in and out of love; they discussed, embraced, fought; they shared belief s and beauties, doubts, and guilts, and those questions that have no answer.
 
When it is genuine, when it is born of the need to speak, no one can stop the human voice. When denied mouth, it speaks with the  hands or the eyes, or the pores, or anything at all. Because every single one of us has something to say to the others, something that deserves to be celebrated or forgiven by others.”
 
 
 
Galeano, Eduardo. “Celebration of The Human Voice/2.” The Book of Embraces.
Trans.  Cedric Belfrage. New York: Norton, 1989. 25.
 
 
 
THANK-YOU, PAUL SEIMMERING

HAITI: IT’S NOT A NATURAL DISASTER!

On the eve of the earthquake anniversary, the capital’s streets look little different than they did 12 months ago. An estimated 810,000 people – a majority unemployed – continue to live in 1,150 camps. –  Christian Science Monitor

NOTE: Text in black is directly quoted from Wikipedia. Text in brown is written by myself. Photos from Google Images.

At the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the
colony of St. Domingue, now Haiti, furnished two-thirds of France’s overseas
trade, employed one thousand ships and fifteen thousand French sailors. The
colony became France’s richest, the envy of every other European nation. This
plantation system, which provided such a pivotal role in the French economy, was
also the greatest individual market for the African slave trade

 The slave population on the island totaled almost half of the one million slaves in the Caribbean by 1789. Two thirds were African-born and much less inclined to submission than those born in the Americas.The death rate in the Caribbean exceeded the birth rate, so imports of enslaved Africans were necessary in order to maintain the numbers required to work the plantations. The slave population declined at an annual rate of  five percent: that is, 25,000 of them died every year – twenty-five thousand planned, anticipated, essential murders. Meanwhile, French revolutionaries were preaching the mantra of universal equality for which they will forever be famously associated.

Yes, it was the Age of Enlightenment – and all over the world,  peoples of African descent who had no doubts regarding their equal worth nevertheless seized upon Enlightenment language, analyzed it, pointed out its profound contradictions, and  most of all, gauged its implications for themselves. People of European descent,  propelled equally as far from their countries of origin by imperialism, were no less aware of the impossibility of reconciling Enlightenment principles with their own economic self-interest. 

They all tried. Their biggest big shots, thinkers who remain revered to this day, gave the problem their best shot. When they couldn’t do it, they were smart enough to more or less shut up. However, black people everywhere – whether enslaved, free, Maroon, escaped, or being educated by their white fathers at Europe’s leading universities absolutely refused to drop it.  So did their abolitionist allies. Free African-Americans in Boston, New York, and Philedelphia wrote treatises on the topic and smuggled them south to slaves via ships along the Atlantic seaboard. The fact that slaves were forbidden to learn to read proved absolutly useless to slaveholders. No slave community lacked literate people. In fact many slaveholders remained unaware that all of their field hands had memorized David Walker’s Appeal, before they themselves had even gotten a copy

In August of 1791, the first organized black rebellion ignited the twelve-year
San Domingo (Haiti) Revolution. The northern settlements were hit first, and the flood
that overwhelmed them revealed the military strength and organization of the
black masses. Plantations were destroyed, and white owners killed.
Some of the rebellion’s leaders include Boukman, Biassou, Toussaint,
Jeannot, Francois, Dessalines, and Cristophe. These men would help to guide the
Revolution down its torturous, bloody road to complete success, although it
would cost over twelve years and hundreds of thousands of lives. Many of those
leaders themselves would fall along the way, but the force of unity against
slavery would sustain the revolution.

  Because the plantation owners had long feared such a revolt, they were well armed and prepared to defend themselves. Nonetheless, within weeks, the number of slaves who joined the revolt reached some 100,000. Within the first two months, as the violence escalated, the slaves killed 4,000 whites and burned or destroyed 180 sugar plantations and hundreds of coffee and indigo plantations.

By 1792, slaves controlled a third of the island, and France dispatched 6,000  soldiers to Haiti – a year later, only 3,500 troops remained

Finally, after twelve bloody years,  France’s revolutionary National Convention  abolished slavery. Haiti was a sovereign state.

350,000 Haitians and 50,000 European soldiers had died.

That’s how much France wanted to keep using half a million human beings as beasts of burden. The whole world knew that its  new government could have stopped the blood bath at any time. U.S. slaveholders watched in terror and tightened their grip on slavery for another 70 years – when they sacrificed an entire  generation in their own frenzy of greed and fear.

The earthquake that hit Haiti was as much a man made as a natural disaster. No nation lacks the most basic,  simple and fundamental ability to respond to public emergencies by mistake, coincidence, ignorance,  or choice. No people remain so completely vulnerable and defenseless 220 years after half a million of them conducted a highy organized 12-year military campaign against a world power  – one that had been giving Great Britian, Spain , Portugal and the Netherlands a run for their money for a few centuries.

This condition is a force. It’s a force imposed on a people by interests more powerful than all of their combined will and courage. Never  mind blaming it all on Haiti’s history of brutal dictatorships – that’s a classic legacy of colonialism that happens to suit developed nations just fine. Since when have the western powers suffered the temerity of any small upstart nation that gets in our way? We’ve proven over and over that we’ll prop up any brutal dictator that will play ball with us – and if there isn’t one immediately available, we’ll go recruit one.

Freedom and democracy  becaome obscene insults when paired with names like Pinochet,  Batisata, Peron, and Duvalier,

Haiti has always been packed with plenty of people who know exactly how to run a democracry. We could have backed them any time we chose. We didn’t want to.

That’s because we’ll choose cooperative facists over stubborn socialists – and we’ll do it every time

In 1973, the CIA sponsored an horrendously violent military coup against the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende. He had one last chance to speak to the people before the troops of  brutal criminal, and CIA tool General Augusto Pinochet,  came for him. Just before the end,  as the sound of automatic rifles exploded in the background, Allende said:  

 “Soon the radio will be silenced, and  my voice will no longer reach you. It does not matter. You will continue hearing it. I will always be next to you.
The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves.
Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues
will open again where free men will walk to build a better
society.
Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the

workers!”Seguimos oyes, querido Salvador. Siempre vamos a te escucho.

We hear you, dear Salvador. We will always hear you.

¡Viva Haití! ¡Vivan los trabajadores! ¡Viva el pueblo!

MISSING FREEPORT, ILLINOIS: A FREEPORT BEAT REPORTER LOOKS BACK

MY JAW DROPPED WHEN I TURNED ON THE TV AND SAW FREEPORT, ILLINOIS PROTESTING ON MSNBC. SOMETIMES I HAVE TO TAKE A BREAK FROM THE NEWS FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS, SO I’D MANAGED TO MISS THE HEADLINES. I WORKED FOR THE JOURNAL-STANDARD NEWSPAPER IN FREEPORT IN 2008 AND 2009 – IT’S THE KIND OF SPUNKY TOWN A REPORTER CAN FALL IN LOVE WITH. FREEPORT HASN’T LOST JUST ONE FACTORY. IT USED TO BE A PROSPEROUS MANUFACTURING CENTER: IT’S LOST A BUNCH OF FACTORIES. I FELT SAD THAT THE WORLD GOT TO WITNESS ONLY THE LOSS OF THE LAST ONE.

I DECIDED TO SHARE THE KIND OF FREEPORT DAY I USED TO LOVE BY POSTING ONE OF THE STORIES I WROTE FOR THE JOURNAL-STANDARD. I LIKED TO JUST POKE AROUND, STICKING MY HEAD INTO VARIOUS SCHOOLS TO SEE WHAT PEOPLE WERE UP TO. SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS IN THE FIRST GRAPH – BLOGPRESS SOMETIMES TAKES OVER FORMATTING DECISIONS. THE DAMN UNIONS ARE PROBABLY BEHIND IT…

THE GREAT FOURTH GRADE OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN, JOURNAL-STANDARD

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Photo Claire O’Brien / The Journal-Standard

Freeport, Ill — The day was cold and blustery, but the campers were prepared. They had pitched tents, built a campfire, lugged in sleeping bags and stocked up enough food for everyone. They wore warm coats, and carried notebooks and pens, ready to take notes and collect data.

Most importantly, the adventurers stacked a pile of newly sharpened roasting forks near the campfire, ready for marshmallows, S’mores and any other culinary option that might become available.

Although the fire provided enough smoke for distress signals, this strategy would not become necessary – because the campsite was surrounded by the familiar houses of the neighborhood surrounding Lincoln-Douglas School.

In fact, the campsite was right there in the rear of the schoolyard, within shouting, if not throwing, distance of the back door. Even if you closed your eyes, you just knew you were in school – mainly because there was school work to do. And that was the whole point of the great Lincoln-Douglas School camp out.

Teachers wanted to show the students – specifically, the fourth grade – that reading is a part of the whole of life, and doesn’t exist solely in the special sphere of school and library. You need words and language and reading everywhere you go in the world, even in the unlikeliest places – like a campground.

Following Directions

Reading directions, processing them and carrying them out in sequence is a skill campers need to have, and the Lincoln-Douglas fourth graders jumped right in.
Even though the students hadn’t actually put up those tents themselves (a few dads had done that the day before) teachers made sure the kids knew that the often tricky procedure required a careful reading of the instructions – followed by an application of them in the correct sequence.
Now that the fourth grade had trekked across the remote tundra of the Lincoln-Douglas playground, it had more sequence reading to do –  recipes.

The young chefs crowded around a picnic table, where teachers passed out recipe cards. The children read the instructions intently. S’mores have to assembled in a specific sequence, and campers had to know that their marshmallows would disintegrate if they were allowed to burn too long. They could burn them, but only very briefly. Things really did go a lot better at the campfire if you read the instructions.

Of course, it helped that principal Deb Kleckner is a Girl Scout, and was prepared – as only a Girl Scout can be – to solve any problem that might arise.

roasting a marshmallow

roasting a marshmallow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kleckner manned the campfire like a pro, adjusting sticks and logs, moving stray embers and insuring an adequete oxygen supply.

The same hardy dads who had erected the tents had built the campfire.
“But I could have done it,” Kleckner said. “I’m not a Girl Scout for nothing. And the kids did learn how important sequencing is to a campfire. We talked about the formation of the wood and kindling, what steps have to come first, how to leave room for oxygen – oh, it was nothing but sequencing!”

Dear Mom and Dad

After stuffing themselves with as much graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow as supplies and teachers allowed, one hardy band of campers settled into a nearby tent, their writing supplies at hand.

Student teacher Cassie Busker filled the children in on their next assignment.
The entire fourth grade – all three classes – have been reading a book called “Firestorm.” The novel’s hero, a young boy named Axel, gets caught in a forest fire caused by a bolt of lightning while camping with his aunt and uncle.

Axel is a resourceful fellow, not unlike the Lincoln-Douglas fourth graders, and he directs his relatives to that part of the forest that has already burnt down.

Here, in relative safety, the family waits for the surrounding fire to move on. The fourth grade assignment: pretend that you have just been through Axel’s ordeal and you have found a way to get a postcard home to your parents. What will you write?

The children considered the question for a few moments, then hunkered down to write.
“Dear Mom and Dad” everyone began – and then the tent was quiet, save for the faint sounds of children breathing and the wispy rustling of paper.

Trouble in Forest Park

Letters home completed, the adventurers left their cozy tent and moved on through the wilderness, eventually arriving at a very large camper.

Encouraged by the welcoming sight, the travellers knocked on the door, which was immediately opened by … a teacher! No stranger to the fourth grade, Ms. Swalve ushered the children in with another book about camping.

Soon enough, the camper was filled with reading children, sprawled hither and yon, all following the adventures of the protagonist of “Trouble in Forest Park.”
The novel is designed as a “leveled reader,” one of three books using the same vocabulary words, but written at a different skill levels.

Camp Old Indian - aerial view 1985

Camp Old Indian – aerial view 1985 (Photo credit: linkerjpatrick)

For a good chunk of time, pages turned and noses periodically sniffled, as the Lincoln-Douglas wilderness readers learned how one intrepid girl proved to the boys that she was just as good at camping as they were – maybe better.

Eventually, the fourth grade sojourn in the big camper came to its inevitable conclusion, as all good things must. The children put away “Trouble in Forest Park” and trooped down the steps, heading toward the school.

Far away, they could make out their teacher, Mrs. Ludwig, beckoning them back to class. Their fourth grade room seemed strangely far away after so much time in the woods. Yet, there was the school, as familiar to the children as their own houses, with their classroom just down the hall.

And Mrs. Ludwig was suddenly right in front of them, telling them to step on it – they had fourth grade business waiting for them inside.

GO, PRETZELS!!

by claire o’brien/co’brien@journalstandard.com

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LUCY DALGLISH: TELL THE TRUTH !!

I.F. STONE, WITH A MAP OF  VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA/ ZOOMINTO

SOMEWHERE, I.F. STONE IS WATCHING YOU. MAYBE NOT FROM HEAVEN (SEE BELOW) BUT BELIEVE ME, FROM SOMEWHERE. HIS EAGLE EYE WON’T DIE AS LONG AS THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM, AND JOURNALISTS WHO BELIEVE DEEPLY IN A FREE PRESS.

“HEY LUCY! THIS IS IZZY – JUST TELL THE TRUTH! “/ZOOMINTO

PLEASE SEE POSTS DATED SEPTEMBER 16, 19, 20, AND OCTOBER 2 FOR BACKGROUND INFO.

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ALEC’S ENERGY PLAN HEADS FURTHER SOUTH

The Junior High School Press Association faces heavy sanctions for releasing photos of the toxic biohazards being cleaned up by thousands of Black prison inmates in an undisclosed 500 square mile location somewhere west of the Rockies.  This isn’t the first time the JHSPA has attracted the wrath of the American Legislative Executive Council, which has been granted expanded new powers to censor the media in the wake of an immigrant invasion of Arizona last August.

And it isn’t the first time JHSPA’S former Washington correspondent Tupac B. Wells, who took the photos, has received an serious blot on his permanent record. Wells, grade 8,  was recalled to  Frederick Douglas Junior High School in  Newark, New Jersey and demoted to the cafeteria beat shortly after the invasion for questioning ALEC’S  drone-based surveilence evidence of this drastic breach of our southern border.

Now, the 13 year-old reporter has been required to turn over all his photos to ALEC,  forbidden to leave Newark, and forced to write “I WILL be grateful to America” 1,000 times. Wells has been further demoted, this time to the afternoon recess beat, and his editor, Malcolm J. Baldwin, also an 8th grader, has been kicked down to the 7th Grade Society Desk. An investigation is under way to determine how Wells got assigned a national story when he should have been covering the cafeteria.

Baldwin has remained defiant in backing his reporter; meanwhile Wells  refuses to apologise to a New York Times correspondent whom he allegedly referred to as a cheap hack and an opportunistic tool.

The Times had no comment. Its reporter gave Wells the finger.

I.F. Stone’ Weekly continues to be banned.

READ POSTS DATED 6/8, 7/4, 7/19, AND 9/8 FOR BACKGROUND ON THIS CONTINUING STORY!

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IT ALL STARTED IN THE FORD COUNTY JAIL

Fort Dodge Jail

Fort Dodge Jail (Photo credit: Kevin H.)

Less than a week after I wrote this story, I was subpeonead by the Ford County DA to reveal the name of the confidential source mentioned. It was the beginning of a nightmare for both Sam Bonilla and myself. More to come on Electrica in the Desert.  NOTE: The photo above is of the old Fort Dodge Jail just outside of the Dodge City limits. It was constructed as part of the federal military campaign to subdue the Native peoples in Kansas after the Civil War. It’s not the jail in which Bonilla was incarcerated a few miles away, but I included it because, for me, it symbolizes an ongoing mentality that characterizes the forces that continue to operate in southwestern Kansas.
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O, RICE! A POET REPORTS FROM BALI

ACEP APRILYANA, A YOUNG SUNDANESE POET FROM JAVA, IS WORKING IN BALI.

HE LEARNED TO GROW RICE FROM HIS GRANDFATHER.

MY  POETRY  FARMERS

Acep Aprilyana

It’s not a beautiful poem.

It’s a poem standing guard.

When the earth is raped, my ink sweats,

Sunburning my paper jet.

I do not know the poetry of flowers

For here, the soil is

decorated with a dream

and unable to speak.

O  rice ..

Please give my kind compliments to the country’s leaders

Arriving into the mouth of the gate

They are good at talking.

O fruit ..

ACEP’S BLOG, SUNDANESE IN ACTION MAY BE UNDER CONSTRUCTION OR LACKING NEW POSTS. JUST CHECK BACK.

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