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In Light of Recent Events…

A Guest Post

By: Kathleen Finegan, Library Director

The recent protests at the MU campus in Columbia reminded me of an experience I had as an undergraduate at UMKC in the 1970s.

I had enrolled in a course called ‘Negro History.’ The course had not been taught for a while, thus the Negro rather than Black or African American history.

The course was taught by a Dr. Underwood and the class was full, every seat taken.

As the course developed and the members of the class engaged in discussion, two of my classmates stand out.

One was named Charles; he was a black man and we had several classes together and often shared our notes when one of us missed class. It was rumored that Charles had traveled to Haiti and returned with a more radical view on civil rights.

The second member of the class that stands out was nicknamed ‘Son of Norway.’ He  was interested in genealogy and his background was Scandinavian.  He didn’t shy away from comparing his investigation of his family history with that of Black Americans.

A class like Negro History being taught in the 1970s was bound to encourage critical inquiry and argument. Dr. Underwood to his credit demanded that all discussions remain civil and further the pursuit of understanding.

One day in class Charles and Son of Norway had an exchange about the comparability of the history of Blacks in America and the history of Scandinavians in America. Charles maintained that the history of Black Americans, because of slavery and the struggle for civil rights was more fraught than that of Scandinavians, who choose to immigrate and settle in America. He also referred not to this history of white men, but of pink men.

Charles substituted the pink race for the white race, and referred to Son of Norway as a pink man.

Son of Norway responded to begin called a pink man much as a Black man might respond to being called a N—–.

The class erupted. Everyone had something to say about the pink designation.

I learned a lot in the ruckus that followed that day. Words, and especially naming, is a powerful tool. Learning about history entails an understanding of that power..

Reading some of the responses of former MU President Tim Wolfe to the complaints of the MU minority community, I thought, Pink man.

Kathleen Finegan

 

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Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
everyones irish

I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely day (safely, please!) and has some kind of planned celebration! If you are looking for somewhere to celebrate in style next year, this is your blog post! Here are 5 places you won’t have to leave the country to celebrate St. Pat’s in style!

1. New York, NY. Surprisingly, NYC’s parade is the oldest and largest in the world and is run entirely by volunteers! The parade has been going on since March 17th, 1762. This year (and in years past) there has been some controversy over a ban on gay rights groups and marchers with gay pride signs. If you’re not up for patronizing a parade with such a ban, check out St. Pat’s For All parade in Queens.

2. Boston, MA. Your friendly neighborhood blogging librarian (me!) was there last year. It’s a pretty wild time in that city. The parade is the second largest in the U.S. and last year took nearly 3 hours. The main celebrations take place in South Boston (Southie) but there are festivities throughout the city. This year marks the first year they are allowing a gay pride group into the parade. Typically, the activist groups host their own parade following the main parade. There is a 5/10K run prior to the parade and all of the pubs and restaurants within about a mile of the parade route are packed. Get there early to get space in the premier Irish pubs, but be prepared to pay a hefty cover charge (I ended up in a Mexican restaurant with a $5 cover but they were serving the more traditional Irish beverages and the bathroom didn’t have a line).

3. Chicago, IL. Each year local plumbers and various volunteers dye the Chicago River green for a couple days and some of the fountains run green as well! Chicago does, in fact, have a bit-o-Irish heritage, which leads to pretty fantastic festivities. There is a parade, of course, but there are other events scattered throughout the city.

4. Kansas City, MO. Yep, Avila U’s. hometown is host to one heck of a St. Pat’s celebration. We’ve had the Irish flags up in different parts of the city since the beginning of March and this last weekend there were more parades and St. Pat’s events scattered throughout the city than I really care to count. Today is the “big” parade (which started at 11AM) and there will be specials at pubs and restaurants throughout the town all day. Oh, and Power and Light will be open for revelers much of the day and around 5PM the Mowgli’s will be putting on a free show! Somehow, KC has a pretty hefty Irish background.

5. San Francisco, CA.  San Francisco is a party city in itself – but when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, you can expect them to go all out. A traditional parade that dates back to 1852 is just the beginning. Visitors and locals can pick basically any bar in the city for a good time.

Everyone have a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day! For you Avila students, I hope you’re enjoying the first official day of your Spring Break!

Sláinte!

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