🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating PRIDE Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

This is a repeat of last year’s Pride Month post with only slight modifications.  Today, with so many states attempting to push the LGBTQ community into obscurity,  think it is more important than ever that we remember the fight for LGBTQ rights which I often compare to the fight for Black rights in this country.  There is a reason we have Black History Month and Pride Month … to remember that we are all the same in far more ways than we are different, that we are all in the fight for life together.  We all have feelings, stengths & weaknesses, and nobody is ‘superior’ by virtue of the gender or colour.


My posts are usually geared toward socio-political issues such as racism & bigotry, politics, the environment, etc., but every now and then there is something that takes precedence over all those things — they will still be here tomorrow, right?  Today, I am dedicating Filosofa’s Word, as I have for the past three years, to Pride Month.  Quick question:  do you know what PRIDE stands for?  I’m ashamed to say that I did not know until a few years ago that it stands for Personal Rights In Defense and Education.  Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?  The fight to be recognized and accepted has been an ongoing battle for decades, perhaps longer, and while we have made progress, today there are states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and others that have either passed or are preparing bills that would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The following is Part I of a post I wrote for PRIDE Month in 2019 and reprised in 2020.  I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and frankly when I read over this post, except for a few minor adjustments, I didn’t think I could do any better if I started over.  Part II will be on the schedule for later this afternoon.  Meanwhile, to all my friends in the LGBTQ community … I wish you a heartfelt Happy PRIDE Month!


Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or Black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in throughout his tenure and blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.  This year, President Biden recognized Pride Month, saying he “will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law.”

“”During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America.”

Since this post turned into a history lesson, I wrote a second post to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … stay tuned for Part II later this afternoon!

Pride-month-4

Good People Doing Good Things — Mister Rogers

I was scouring my usual sources for a few good people to write about today and I did find some, but they will have to wait until next week’s post, for during my search something popped up on my radar and by the time I finished reading it, I had tears and knew this would be my good people story this week.

We all knew that Fred Rogers, star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was a good guy.  But this one story shows just how good, just how caring an individual he was.

It all started in early 1987 when …

A mother called into PBS, asking if Mr. Rogers could send an autograph to her daughter. She was suffering from seizures and set to have brain surgery. When Fred Rogers heard about it, he flew to see her in the hospital rather than merely sending an autograph.

When Beth Usher was in kindergarten she had her first seizure. Doctors couldn’t find the problem and sent Beth home.

A few days later, Beth had another seizure. Then another. And another. Eventually, she had around 100 seizures a day. She was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s encephalitis, a rare inflammatory neurological disease that only affects one hemisphere of the brain.

Miraculously, during the 30 minutes when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired, Beth never had a seizure.

“I found his voice comforting. I felt like he was talking to me and nobody else.”

Before surgery that involved removing parts of Beth’s brain affected by the disease, her mother Kathy reached out to the Mister Rogers Neighborhood studio and spoke with the secretary, explaining the situation and asking if she could get a signed copy of Mr. Rogers’ picture for Beth. Less than an hour later, the secretary called back with a special message.

“Will you be home this evening at 7? Fred would like to call and speak with Beth,” the secretary told Kathy. “He called, and I said to Beth, ‘Beth… there’s a friend on the phone for you.'”

Beth spent over an hour on the phone with Mr. Rogers.

“I told him things I hadn’t told my mom or dad. I told him about the surgery and how I thought I might die. It was like talking to an old friend.”

On February 4, 1987, Beth underwent a 12-hour procedure to remove the left hemisphere of her brain. Initially after surgery, she was fine. But things took an unexpected turn, and she slipped into a coma.

“Mr. Rogers would call the hospital every day to check up on me. When he found out I wasn’t improving, he decided to make a trip.”

Beth’s family and nurses stood in the doorway watching as Rogers removed his puppets from his case.

“He gave Beth her own private show,” said Beth’s mother.

Shortly after Mr. Rogers visit, Beth did wake, surrounded by friends.

When Mr. Rogers called that day, Kathy told him the good news.

“He said, ‘Praise God’.”

Mr. Rogers and Beth’s friendship continued through the years. He always called Beth on her birthday until his death in 2003.


In this age where it seems that people think it is ‘cool’ to curse and act stupid on television, Mr. Rogers was the gold standard for children’s television.  So much so that the story goes that his car was once stolen, but when the thieves saw the news coverage, they promptly returned the car with a note reading, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”

Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, and one year later, after Rogers passed away at the age of 74, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution to commemorate his life.  It read, in part …

“Through his spirituality and placid nature, Mr. Rogers was able to reach out to our nation’s children and encourage each of them to understand the important role they play in their communities and as part of their families.  More importantly, he did not shy away from dealing with difficult issues of death and divorce but rather encouraged children to express their emotions in a healthy, constructive manner, often providing a simple answer to life’s hardships.”

Who knows how many lives he touched in such a positive way that those people grew into ‘good people’ themselves?  So, although I’m ‘a day late and dollar short’ as my grandpa used to say, I say Mr. Rogers deserves to be our ‘good people’ for this week!

A Short Tribute To A Good Man

People come into our lives seemingly at random, some stay a few minutes, some a lifetime, but many stay long enough to earn a place in our hearts and our memories.  They may leave because of death, because of a disagreement, or simply physical distance, though the Internet has done much to shorten those physical spans.  Today, I learned of the death of one such person … a friend … nay, a member of my blogging family … who left an indelible mark on my heart and who will be sorely missed.  Many of you may remember him … Hugh Curtler.

A retired college professor of philosophy, Hugh was among the wisest men I knew.  More than once, he pulled me back to the realm of reality when my take on the political situation went out of bounds, and while I always listened to his wise words, I often failed to live up to his standard.  Like our mutual friend Keith, Hugh was my gold standard for common sense, for knowing how to respond to things said in the heat of a moment.

I knew that Hugh was battling cancer back in 2020, but for a long time he continued to post on his blog, email me fairly regularly, and comment on mine and others’ blog posts.  His last posts were in January and February 2021, and emails to him later last year went unanswered.  I knew … somewhere deep down, I knew … but I didn’t want to think about it, so like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, I didn’t think about it … much … except on those sleepless nights.

I have a book of Hugh’s, Alone in the Labyrinth, that he signed along with a short note and mailed to me back in early 2021.  I will cherish it for the rest of my life.

There is much I probably could say about Hugh … he was a kind man, a good man, a wise man … but it is his own words that are best suited to remind us of who Hugh Curtler was.  Below are links to just a few of my favourite among his many posts.  Today, I am saddened by the loss of Hugh, but enriched for having known him.

Good Folks

Change

How Free Are We?

If, I say

Thank you, Hugh, for always being my rock, my ‘go-to’ when I needed a bit of good sense.  I will miss you, as I know others will … you were a big part of our ‘blogging family’ and I loved you!  R.I.P. Hugh Curtler

A Tribute To A Great Woman — Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright was one heck of a woman, my friends.  Her death last week took me aback, though it shouldn’t have, given that she was 84 years old!  I wanted to write a tribute to her, but didn’t know quite where to begin, for she was truly larger than life.  Ms. Albright served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997, and as U.S. Secretary of State in the Clinton administrations from 1997 to 2001, but those are facts … they are single-dimensional and they don’t tell who Madeleine Albright was, the person she was.

While I struggled to write a memorable tribute, one that would be worthy of the woman she was and what she gave to the world, I stumbled across a tribute written by none other than Hillary Clinton.  I think Ms. Clinton captured the essence of who Madeleine Albright was, for she had a personal connection, and her words are far more moving than mine would have been.  Thus, I share with you, a tribute to a great woman, Madeleine Albright!


Madeleine Albright Warned Us, and She Was Right

By Hillary Clinton

March 25, 2022

Late one night in 1995, in a cramped airplane cabin high over the Pacific, Madeleine Albright put down a draft of a speech I was set to deliver in Beijing at the upcoming United Nations conference on women, fixed me with the firm stare that had made fearsome dictators shudder, and asked what I was really trying to accomplish with this address.

“I want to push the envelope as far as I can,” I replied. “Then do it,” she said. She proceeded to tell me how I could sharpen the speech’s argument that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.

That was Madeleine, always cutting right to the heart of the matter with clarity and courage. She pushed the envelope her entire life. She did it on behalf of women and girls, shattering the glass ceiling of diplomacy as the first woman to serve as secretary of state and calling out atrocities against women all over the world. She did it for the country that took her in as a child fleeing tyranny in Europe, championing the United States as an indispensable nation and the leader of the free world. She never stopped pushing the envelope for freedom and democracy, including cajoling sometimes skeptical generals and diplomats to see human rights as a national security imperative.

For Bill and me and her many friends all over the world, Madeleine’s passing is a painful personal loss. She was irrepressible: wickedly funny, stylish and always game for adventure and fun. I’ll never forget how excited she was to walk me through the streets of her native Prague and show me the yellow house where she lived as a girl. We couldn’t stop laughing when an unexpected rainstorm blew our umbrellas inside out, and couldn’t stop smiling when the captivating playwright and dissident turned president Václav Havel charmed us over dinner. Madeleine was 10 years ahead of me at Wellesley, and for decades we used to address and sign our notes to each other “Dear ’59” and “Love, ’69.”

Madeleine’s death is also a great loss for our country and for the cause of democracy at a time when it is under serious and sustained threat around the world and here at home. Now more than ever, we could use Madeleine’s vital voice, her cleareyed view of a dangerous world and her unstinting faith in both the unique power of the American idea and the universal appeal of freedom and democracy. We can honor her memory by heeding her wisdom.

Stand up to bullies and dictators

In the 1990s, when my husband named Madeleine U.N. ambassador and then secretary of state, she went toe-to-toe with the blood-soaked Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. She helped marshal American power and the NATO alliance to end the brutal war in Bosnia and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. She saw the chronically underestimated Russian president Vladimir Putin for what he is: a vicious autocrat intent on reclaiming Russia’s lost empire and a committed foe of democracy everywhere. In a prescient column in The Times published Feb. 23, she warned that an invasion of Ukraine would be “a historic error” that would leave Russia “diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance.” As happened so often, the man with the guns was wrong and Madeleine was right.

Madeleine Albright talking to Kim Jong-Il, center, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2000.Credit…Andrew Wong/AFP/Getty Images

She was a woman of action, especially when facing injustice. Madeleine understood that American power is the only thing standing between the rules-based global order and the rule of the sword. That did not mean she was ever quick or casual about the use of force, even for the right cause. Madeleine was a diplomat’s diplomat, ready to talk to even the most odious adversary to advance the prospects of peace. In 2000, she was the first secretary of state to travel to North Korea, where she spent 12 hours negotiating with the dictator Kim Jong-il. But, as she often said, her crucial historical frame of reference was Munich, not Vietnam, so she had a deep appreciation for the risks of inaction. Today, with a rising tide of authoritarianism threatening democracy not just in Ukraine but all over the world, that is a lesson worth remembering.

NATO and U.S. alliances are the cornerstone of world peace

As secretary of state, Madeleine helped my husband welcome Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO after the end of the Cold War. Years later, I asked her to head up an international commission for the Obama administration to redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. Having experienced Europe’s historic traumas firsthand, she understood that the security provided by NATO was the key to keeping the continent free, peaceful and undivided. She saw it as a political alliance, not just a military pact, cementing democracy in countries that had only recently freed themselves from authoritarianism.

Madeleine rejected the criticism, renewed recently, that NATO’s expansion needlessly provoked Russia and is to blame for its invasion of Ukraine. As the Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin has noted, that argument ignores Russia’s centuries-long efforts to dominate its neighbors. Madeleine would be quick to add that it also erases the aspirations and autonomy of the former Soviet bloc countries that threw off their chains, built fragile democracies and rightly worried about Russian revanchism. She would encourage us to listen to the insights of leaders like our friend Mr. Havel, who said the message of NATO expansion is that “Europe is no longer, and must never again be, divided over the heads of its people and against their will into any spheres of interest or influence.”

Make no mistake, if NATO had not expanded, Mr. Putin would be menacing not just Ukraine but the Baltic States and likely all of Eastern Europe. As the historian and journalist Anne Applebaum recently argued, “The expansion of NATO was the most successful, if not the only truly successful, piece of American foreign policy of the last 30 years.”

Madeleine Albright, right, with Hillary and Bill Clinton at the funeral for Václav Havel, the former Czech president, in 2011.Credit…Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Madeleine also strongly disagreed with Donald Trump’s approach of treating America’s alliances as a protection racket where our partners must pay tribute or fend for themselves. She knew that U.S. alliances — especially with other democracies — are a military, diplomatic and economic asset that neither Russia nor China can match, despite their best efforts, and are crucial for our own national security.

Attacks on democracy at home play into the hands of dictators abroad

They make it harder for the United States and our allies to champion human rights and the rule of law. In her searing 2018 book, “Fascism: A Warning,” Madeleine described Mr. Trump as the first U.S. president in the modern era “whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals.” She observed that his assault on democratic norms and institutions was “catnip” for autocrats like Mr. Putin. After the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn a free and fair election, Madeleine imagined Abraham Lincoln weeping. “My family came to America after fleeing a coup, so I know that freedom is fragile,” she wrote. “But I never thought I would see such an assault on democracy be cheered on from the Oval Office.” With the Republican Party recently declaring the insurrection and events that led to it to be “legitimate political discourse,” and some of the party’s most powerful media allies pushing Kremlin talking points on Fox News and elsewhere, it’s clear that the threat to our democracy that so alarmed Madeleine remains an urgent crisis.

The fundamental truth that Madeleine understood and that informed her views on all these challenges is that America’s strength flows not just from our military or economic might but from our core values. Back in 1995, Madeleine told me a story that still inspires me. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, she visited parts of the Czech Republic that had been liberated by American troops in 1945. Many people waved American flags as she passed, and to her surprise, some had just 48 stars. They had to be decades old. It turned out that American G.I.s had handed out the flags a half-century earlier. Czech families said they had kept them hidden all through the years of Soviet domination, passing them down from generation to generation as the embodiment of their hope for a better, freer future.

Madeleine knew exactly what that meant. Even at the end of her life, she treasured her first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, sailing into New York Harbor in 1948 as an 11-year-old refugee on a ship called the S.S. America. She would have been thrilled by President Biden’s announcement on Thursday that the United States will welcome up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, and she would encourage us to do more to respond to this unfolding humanitarian nightmare. She would warn, as she did in her book, about the “self-centered moral numbness that allows Fascism to thrive,” and urge us to keep pushing the envelope for freedom, human rights and democracy. We should listen.

Good People Doing Good Things — Chef José Andrés

I have written several times in the past about Chef José Andrés and his humanitarian works, and today he is back in the spotlight.  I had trouble writing this one, for more than a few times the tears blurred my vision.  If ever there was a man who qualified for sainthood, it is Chef Andrés.

Chef Andrés has helped feed firefighters who were battling wildfires in California, he opened numerous kitchens during the first year of the pandemic to feed struggling families and give jobs to displaced restaurant workers.  He showed up to feed the thousands of displaced people in New Orleans after Hurricane Ida last year and in 2018 he and his team went to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.  This time, however, may top all the rest, for Chef Andrés and his World Central Kitchen (WCK) team have gone to the borders of Ukraine to feed the thousands of refugees streaming into Poland, Romania, Moldova and, beginning Monday, Hungary.

The team has a three-phase plan that first addresses feeding refugees as they cross at the borders and those remaining in the country. After that, the organization plans to focus on helping feed people at refugee facilities in neighboring countries. Finally, he said, the third phase would take place once the fighting has stopped in Ukraine, and WCK would help organize trucks to enter Ukraine and establish community kitchens in various communities.

“I will make sure we don’t fail.”

On Monday, Chef José Andrés had spent nearly all day handing out plates of hot food to hungry Ukrainian women and children who had fled Russian missile attacks in their country and crossed the border into Poland and he was exhausted, but before going to bed he posted this video that I think you’ll find tells the story far better than any words I could write.

José Andrés speaks from Poland

I noticed Chef Andrés’ blurb on his Twitter page and I think he sums it up well when he says …

“We all are Citizens of the World. What’s good for you, must be good for all. If you are lost, share a plate of food with a stranger … you will find who you are.”

Chef Andrés has won numerous awards, but the one that stands out in my mind is the National Humanities Medal he was awarded in a White House ceremony in 2016.

As I wrote this, I could not help but wonder how I could help, how I could do some small something to help, so after checking my bank balance, I decided to make a small donation to help Mr. Andrés and the WCK purchase food to help the displaced Ukrainians.  My hat is off to this wonderful humanitarian and all those who travel with him on his mission to provide food to those in need.  Thank you, Chef Andrés — be safe for the world needs you!

Black History Month: A Very Noble Man … Mr. Dabney Montgomery

In today’s environment, it would be easy to focus during Black History Month on the wrongs that have been done throughout our history and continue even today against Black Americans.  Certainly it is important to bring those stories to light, especially these days when some are trying to hide those parts of the nation’s history.  But to limit my posts to only those would be wrong, for there are so many true heroes throughout our history who deserve to be recognized, to be noted.  I first wrote this post on September 6th 2016, three days after the death of Mr. Dabney Montgomery, but last night I read it again and I think Mr. Montgomery deserves another spotlight, another round of applause.  So, without further ado, please allow me to tell you about Mr. Dabney Montgomery …

dabney-montgomery-3


The Tuskegee Airmen was a group of African-American military fighter and bomber pilots, as well as navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and other support personnel, who fought in World War II. Officially, they formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces. Mr. Montgomery was a member of this group, serving as a ground crewman until the end of the war in 1945.

When he returned to his home in Selma, Alabama, after the war, Jim Crow laws and segregation were still the law of the land in the south.  Having just been honourably discharged, Mr. Montgomery attempted to board a train in Atlanta to return home to his family. “Before I could get in, a white officer threw up his hand. ‘You can’t come in this door, boy, you got to go around the back.’ “ After returning home, Mr. Montgomery went to the courthouse in Selma to register to vote in the next election, but was told by a clerk that he would need the signatures of three white men before he would be allowed to register.  His father, Dred, a fireman for Southern Railroad, knew three white men who were willing to sign.  But when Mr. Montgomery returned to the courthouse with the signatures, yet another hurdle had been put in his way … he was told he must own at least $1,000 worth of property.  He did not own property, and thus was denied the right to vote. Obviously not much had changed in the south during his time of service to his country.

Mr. Montgomery attended Livingstone College in North Carolina on the GI Bill and graduated with a degree in religious education in 1949. A man of many interests and talents, Mr. Montgomery soon ended up in Boston, where he studied dance at the Boston Conservatory of Music, and later in New York at the New York City Metropolitan Opera Dance School!  Sadly, an injury soon ended his dance career, and in 1955 he went to work for the City of New York, first as a Social Service Investigator in the Department of Social Services and later for the Housing Authority.

Then one day …

“I was sitting at home in New York City and I saw that attack on people in Selma on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They gassed them and beat them with sticks — the sheriff, the officials in their uniforms, because they was [sic] marching to the governor’s office to vote.

“And I saw them knocked down, and I saw the gas in the air, and I was sitting here — this is happening in my hometown, Selma! I said, ‘I’m going and get[ting] a taste of that gas.’

“I went to my director and said, ‘I’ve got to go home. … I’m going home to take part in that movement.’ “

dabney-montgomery-2.pngThe date was Sunday, 07 March 1965, and the event Mr. Montgomery saw on television would become known across the nation as “Bloody Sunday”.  The previous year, 1964, the Voter’s Rights Act was passed, but African-Americans were still meeting with resistance when attempting to register to vote, and as a result, only 2% had been able to register.  Dr. Martin Luther King was working with the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to register black voters.  There was much resistance in Selma, and on February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper.  In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7. Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma that Sunday, and led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, planned to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.

Mr. Montgomery had been active in the Civil Rights movement before, participating in the 1963 March on Washington, but when he returned to Selma, he jumped on the bandwagon with determination to make things better, to do whatever he could to help bring about an end to racial segregation. Within days of arriving in Selma, Mr. Montgomery connected with Dr. King, and by the beginning of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on 21 March 1965, Mr. Montgomery had become one of Dr. King’s bodyguards.  The march took four days of walking 12 hours a day, sleeping in fields along the way, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that President Johnson had ordered.

dabney-montgomery-5Eventually, Mr. Montgomery returned to his job in New York City and in 1971 he married the girl of his dreams, Amelia. Mr. Montgomery retired from the New York City Housing Authority in 1988, but he did not rest on his laurels!  Since his retirement, he has worked as a Social Outreach Worker for Project FIND, a non-profit organization assisting older adults on Manhattan’s West Side. Montgomery was also very active with Harlem’s Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the oldest organized black church in New York, and was also active on the Parks Committee and Harlem’s Interfaith Committee of the Tenth Community Board of Manhattan. He also frequently visited schools to talk to the children about his experiences, and according to his wife, he remained active until he became ill, just a few weeks prior to his death.

In 2007, Mr. Montgomery, along with the other Tuskegee Airmen, received the Congressional Gold Medal.  The heels from the shoes he wore during the march from Selma to Montgomery will be on display in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, which is scheduled to open the 24th of this month.

dabney-montgomery-4There is no official record of how many of the Tuskegee Airmen are still alive today.  What is certain is that within another decade, there will likely be none left to tell the story.  With that in mind, a group called The History Makers began recording, preserving and sharing the life stories of thousands of African Americans, from President Barack Obama to the oldest living black cowboy.  You can hear Mr. Montgomery’s story in his own words .  What a noble project!  And what a noble man … my hat is off to Mr. Dabney Montgomery … Rest in Peace, sir, and thank you for your many contributions.

Black History Month — Sojourner Truth

Every year during this month celebrating Black History and those who made it happen, I try to highlight a few of the people who have made outstanding contributions in one area or another that had a positive effect on the nation and the people.  There are so many to choose from that I’ll never run out, I think, although I do periodically redux one from a prior year.  Today, though, I want to tell you a bit about a woman whose name you’ve certainly heard, but you may not know much about her – Sojourner Truth.

Who Was Sojourner Truth?

Sojourner Truth was an African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist best-known for her speech on racial inequalities, “Ain’t I a Woman?”, delivered extemporaneously in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.

Truth was born into slavery but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. She devoted her life to the abolitionist cause and helped to recruit Black troops for the Union Army. Although Truth began her career as an abolitionist, the reform causes she sponsored were broad and varied, including prison reform, property rights and universal suffrage.

Family

Historians estimate that Truth (born Isabella Baumfree) was likely born around 1797 in the town of Swartekill, in Ulster County, New York. However, Truth’s date of birth was not recorded, as was typical of children born into slavery.

Truth was one of as many as 12 children born to James and Elizabeth Baumfree. Her father, James Baumfree, was an enslaved person captured in modern-day Ghana. Her mother, Elizabeth Baumfree, also known as Mau-Mau Bet, was the daughter of enslaved people from Guinea.

Early Life as an Enslaved Person

The Baumfree family was owned by Colonel Hardenbergh, and lived at the colonel’s estate in Esopus, New York, 95 miles north of New York City. The area had once been under Dutch control, and both the Baumfrees and the Hardenbaughs spoke Dutch in their daily lives.

After the colonel’s death, ownership of the Baumfrees passed to his son, Charles. The Baumfrees were separated after the death of Charles Hardenbergh in 1806. The 9-year-old Truth, known as “Belle” at the time, was sold at an auction with a flock of sheep for $100. Her new owner was a man named John Neely, whom Truth remembered as harsh and violent.

Over the following two years, Truth would be sold twice more, finally coming to reside on the property of John Dumont at West Park, New York. It was during these years that Truth learned to speak English for the first time.

Sojourner Truth’s Husband and Children

Around 1815, Truth fell in love with an enslaved person named Robert from a neighboring farm. The two had a daughter, Diana. Robert’s owner forbade the relationship, since Diana and any subsequent children produced by the union would be the property of John Dumont rather than himself. Robert and Truth never saw each other again.

In 1817, Dumont compelled Truth to marry an older enslaved person named Thomas. The couple marriage resulted in a son, Peter, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia.

Early Years of Freedom

The state of New York, which had begun to negotiate the abolition of slavery in 1799, emancipated all enslaved people on July 4, 1827. The shift did not come soon enough for Truth.

After John Dumont reneged on a promise to emancipate Truth in late 1826, she escaped to freedom with her infant daughter, Sophia. Her other daughter and son stayed behind.

Shortly after her escape, Truth learned that her son Peter, then 5 years old, had been illegally sold to a man in Alabama. She took the issue to court and eventually secured Peter’s return from the South. The case was one of the first in which a Black woman successfully challenged a white man in a United States court.

Truth’s early years of freedom were marked by several strange hardships. Truth converted to Christianity and moved with her son Peter to New York City in 1829, where she worked as a housekeeper for Christian evangelist Elijah Pierson. She then moved on to the home of Robert Matthews, also known as Prophet Matthias, for whom she also worked as a housekeeper. Matthews had a growing reputation as a con man and a cult leader.

Shortly after Truth changed households, Elijah Pierson died. Robert Matthews was accused of poisoning Pierson in order to benefit from his personal fortune, and the Folgers, a couple who were members of his cult, attempted to implicate Truth in the crime.

In the absence of adequate evidence, Matthews was acquitted. Because he had become a favorite subject of the penny press, he decided to move west. In 1835, Truth brought a slander suit against the Folgers and won.

After Truth’s successful rescue of her son, Peter, from slavery in Alabama, mother and son stayed together until 1839. At that time, Peter took a job on a whaling ship called the Zone of Nantucket.

Truth received three letters from her son between 1840 and 1841. When the ship returned to port in 1842, however, Peter was not on board. Truth never heard from him again.

Abolition and Women’s Rights

On June 1, 1843, Isabella Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth and devoted her life to Methodism and the abolition of slavery.

In 1844, Truth joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Northampton, Massachusetts. Founded by abolitionists, the organization supported a broad reform agenda including women’s rights and pacifism. Members lived together on 500 acres as a self-sufficient community.

Truth met a number of leading abolitionists at Northampton, including William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and David Ruggles. Although the Northampton community disbanded in 1846, Truth’s career as an activist and reformer was just beginning.

In 1850, Truth spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. She soon began touring regularly with abolitionist George Thompson, speaking to large crowds on the subjects of slavery and human rights.

As Truth’s reputation grew and the abolition movement gained momentum, she drew increasingly larger and more hospitable audiences. She was one of several escaped enslaved people, along with Douglass and Harriet Tubman, to rise to prominence as an abolitionist leader and a testament to the humanity of enslaved people.

‘The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave’

Truth’s memoirs were published under the title The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave in 1850.

Truth dictated her recollections to a friend, Olive Gilbert, since she could not read or write. Garrison wrote the book’s preface.

‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ Speech

In May 1851, Truth delivered an improvised speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron that would come to be known as “Ain’t I a Woman?” The first version of the speech was published a month later by Marius Robinson, editor of Ohio newspaper The Anti-Slavery Bugle, who had attended the convention and recorded Truth’s words himself. It did not include the question “Ain’t I a woman?” even once.

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or Negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it. The men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

There is also a poem, but I am given to understand that Sojourner herself did not write it, but rather the poem was adapted by Erelene Stetson. from her speech.

It seems to me that despite a hard life, Sojourner Truth stood for the things that matter in life, stood her ground for what is right, to eradicate slavery and give women the rights they should have always had.  My hat is off to this fine woman.


My thanks to Biography.com for the above information.

Honouring Dr. Martin Luther King …

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a federal holiday in the United States to honour one of the greatest men who ever lived in this country.  I first wrote this tribute to Dr. King in 2017, and each year I reprise it, with slight changes or minor additions, for I find that it still says exactly what I wish to say.  Given the increase in racism in the United States in recent years, I think the above quote seems more apt today than ever before.  So please, take just a minute to, if nothing else, listen once again to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  In these troubled times, it is good to be reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.  More than ever, I wish we had a few Dr. Martin Luther Kings fighting for equality and justice for all today.


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

mlk-3Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 93 years old last Wednesday, had he lived. On this day, we celebrate not only his life, but also his legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL people, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2022.  Dr. King’s fight lives on, for we have moved further away than before from his dream.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth your time.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, more than five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Stepen Bantu Biko, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. Instead, the past several years have found our nation backtracking on civil and human rights in a number of areas, ranging from discriminatory travel bans against Muslims to turning a federal blind eye to intentionally racially discriminatory state voter-suppression schemes, to opposing protections for transgender people, to parents demanding a re-write of our history to salve their own consciences.  I think Dr. King would be appalled if he returned to visit today.

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever.

Here is a bit of trivia you may not know about Dr. King …

  • King’s birth name was Michael, not Martin.
    The civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.

  • King entered college at the age of 15.
    King was such a gifted student that he skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him otherwise. King was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology.


  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial.
    Six years before his iconic oration at the March on Washington, King was among the civil rights leaders who spoke in the shadow of the Great Emancipator during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, 1957. Before a crowd estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000, King delivered his first national address on the topic of voting rights. His speech, in which he urged America to “give us the ballot,” drew strong reviews and positioned him at the forefront of the civil rights leadership.


  • King was imprisoned nearly 30 times.
    According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail 29 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.


  • King narrowly escaped an assassination attempt a decade before his death.
    On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.


  • King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.
    On June 30, 1974, as 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

Note:  Our friend TokyoSand has written a post with ideas for how each of us can help carry on Dr. King’s legacy … I hope you’ll pay her a visit!

“They Call Me Mr. Tibbs” — R.I.P. Sidney Poitier

It was less than a week ago that I shed a tear over the death of the beloved Betty White, and today I shed yet another upon reading of the death of another Hollywood icon, one who broke the colour barrier on the ‘big screen’, Sidney Poitier.  Mr. Poitier was 94 … not quite as old as Betty White who died just a few days short of her 100th birthday, but like White, he had a long and meaningful career … he made a difference.  How many of us can say that?

Sidney Poitier (r) with Nelson Mandela

A bit about Mr. Poitier’s start in life from today’s Washington Post

Sidney Poitier was born on Feb. 20, 1927, in Miami, where his parents were on a visit to sell tomatoes they had grown on their farm in the Bahamas. The family soon returned home, to the desperate poverty of Cat Island. His mother dressed the seven Poitier children in flour sacks.

At 15, after being jailed overnight for stealing corn, he was sent to live with an older brother in Miami who could provide a roof but little else. After the frightening encounter with police in Florida, he left for Harlem, hoping to find a more welcoming environment for Black people.

At first, he scrounged for change to sleep in pay toilets. When it became too cold to sleep on benches, he lied about his age (he was 16) and joined the Army in 1943.

He became a physiotherapist at an Army psychiatric institution on Long Island, but his anger at what he called the “abusive” attitude toward the patients and the racism he encountered at a local roadhouse antagonized him. Through the intervention of a sympathetic doctor, he received an honorable discharge.

Flipping through help-wanted ads in 1945, he saw a call for actors at the American Negro Theatre in New York. He figured it was easy work — that any profession that advertised next to requests for porters, busboys and dishwashers must require no special talent.

At his audition, Mr. Poitier’s unintelligible, singsong island accent dismayed theater founder Frederick O’Neal. But O’Neal was in such dire need of male actors that Mr. Poitier was hired with the understanding that he would also moonlight as the theater’s janitor.

During his first Broadway appearance, a small part in a 1946 production of Aristophanes’ ancient Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” Mr. Poitier suffered stage fright and began delivering lines out of order. But citing his “terrible fierce pride,” he later said he was determined to refine his skills. Over the next several years, his good looks and sensitivity as a performer brought him to the attention of Hollywood, and he made a strong impact in “No Way Out,” his film debut.

In his second feature film, Mr. Poitier was cast as a young clergyman in “Cry, the Beloved Country” (1951), based on Alan Paton’s novel about apartheid. Working on location in South Africa, Mr. Poitier was forced to live far from the studio, and he had to deal with other restrictions and insults. Officially, he was an “indentured laborer” of director Zoltan Korda. Mr. Poitier later called South Africa “on a racial, political and social level, the worst place I have ever been.”

Still a relative unknown on-screen, Mr. Poitier owned and operated a Harlem ribs restaurant to support his growing family between movie assignments. He had married Juanita Hardy, a model, in 1950, and they had four children.

As we now know, Mr. Poitier went on to help change the way the world viewed Black people through his many, many films and roles.  I first remember seeing him in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and then in To Sir with Love, both in 1967, but the role he may be most famous for was that of Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night.  There is no way I could possibly summarize Mr. Poitier’s life and career in a single blog post, nor will I try.  A few accolades are in order, however.  Mr. Poitier was the first Black man to win an Academy Award for best actor.

In 2002, Mr. Poitier received a lifetime achievement Oscar for “his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence.” That year, Denzel Washington became the second Black man to win the best-actor Oscar.  In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Mr. Poitier was modest about his legacy, saying …

“I was part of an influence that could be called paving the way. But I was only a part of it. I was selected almost by history itself. Most of my career unfolded in the 1960s, which was one of the periods in American history with certain attitudes toward minorities that stayed in vogue. I didn’t understand the elements swirling around. I was a young actor with some talent, an enormous curiosity, a certain kind of appeal. You wrap all that together and you have a potent mix.”

R.I.P. Sidney Poitier … you made a positive difference in the world.

Betty White — She Will Live On In Our Memories

I am not into ‘celebrities’ and following the private lives of actors, musicians, athletes and the like.  But yesterday, the death of one celebrity brought me to tears.  That celebrity was, of course, Betty White who died on Friday just 18 days short of celebrating her 100th birthday.

Ms. White, in the words of former First Lady Michelle Obama …

“… broke barriers, defied expectations, served her country, and pushed us all to laugh. Barack and I join so many around the world who will miss the joy she brought to the world.”

She had a long career, playing in so many different television shows that I cannot count them all, but throughout her career she has cared about people and issues.  Take, for example, her first televised variety show where, in 1954, as the host and producer, she defied racist demands to get rid of a scheduled guest, Arthur Duncan, because he was Black.  Duncan, at 21, had been performing in a dance quartet for years and was looking for his big break.  Betty White gave it to him, and to the naysayers she simply said, “Live with it.”

A funny story in my own family about Betty White … one day my granddaughter, who was then about 4 or 5 years old, saw Betty White on television and excitedly declared, “Grannie … there’s the Queen of England!!!”  Needless to say, this became a family joke that is still laughed about today, and I imagine Betty would have taken some pleasure from the mix-up had she known.

R.I.P. Betty White … you gave so much to us and you will be missed.

In 1969 with talk show host David Letterman

With husband, game-show host Allen Ludden who died in 1981.

Betty as Rose Nylund in The Golden Girls, the role for which she is best remembered, shown here with co-stars Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur.

In 2010, Betty receives the Screen Actor’s Guild’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’

On her 90th birthday

With President Obama in 2012

Betty White in 2021 … she still has that winning smile and twinkle in her eyes.