© 2011 jbjd
“BadFiction” blog owner and proprietor Patrick McKinnion – that’s his picture on the left, captured from his “profile” page – describes the blog offers “a look at bad movies and worse politics…” He identifies himself as an “IT professional and father. Bad Movie fan and Birther Debunker” But notice, he never claims to be an historian. And, as you will see, this only makes sense.
“Dispatches from Birtherstan” is a regular feature of the blog, In “Dispatches,” McKinnion updates his numerous readers – according to the service Alexa, he is much more popular than me – as to the latest shenanigans from ‘Birthers,’ loosely described as anyone who points to the chasm between allegations President Obama has established he is Constitutionally eligible for the job; and the documentary evidence (available in the public record) that he has done no such thing. But he doesn’t stop there. No; he ridicules our endeavors by calling us names, and poking fun at our publications by altering those names, too. As far as I know, I have always been “jbjd” on his blog. And, in my infrequent visits, I have read no vitriol, however masked in ‘humor,’ ostensibly aimed directly at me.
I was first directed to the blog to satisfy my curiosity when I began receiving hits from that site. But I am not a regular reader. Then, a few days ago, I ran a search which produced a link to Mr. McKinnion’s “Dispatches from Birtherstan” feature, covering “15-17 January 2011”. Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with an edited version of a comment I had originally posted on drkate’s blog, along with Mr. McKinnion’s introductory remarks:
Oh, and look at this wonderful bit of racist revisionist history.
Rosa Parks was an orchestrated act of political theatre. Teenager Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat, first; but she was too young and too dark-skinned to constitute a worthy test case.”
(I captured a screen shot, just in case…)
“[R]acist revisionist history”? Say what? Generally, I would not post such a comment under my moniker which contained historically based political opinion, without references. I would be even less apt to omit such references here, as I am aware that most people are unfamiliar with the seminal contribution made by Claudette Colvin, however unintentionally, to the Civil Rights struggle in the ’60s, and the court cases that de-segregated public accommodations; and I want them to know what she did. But the only live link that remained in the abridged comment on BadFiction; was to the full comment on drkate’s blog. I clicked on that. And, not surprisingly, in that original comment on her blog were 2 live links, one to my homage to Howard Zinn, on my “jbjd” blog; and one to the NYT.
Here is the comment as it was posted on drkate’s blog, reproduced in its entirety:
Rosa Parks was an orchestrated act of political theatre. Teenager Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat, first; but she was too young and too dark-skinned to constitute a worthy test case. From GUESS WHOM HOWARD ZINN CALLED HIS “STAR” PUPIL? jbjd.
P.P.S. For further reading about Claudette Colvin, see this story that appeared in the New York Times in November 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/26/books/26colvin.html)
I admit, the link to my homage to Howard Zinn was selfish. See, in that article, I had pointed to the historian’s comprehensive knowledge of history by including an interview in which he mentioned the omission from history of several key players, for example, ‘the teenager who refused to give up her seat on the bus, before Rosa Parks.’ That’s all he said, he didn’t even mention Ms. Colvin by name. But I had selfishly pointed to his mere mention of the event so as to validate my holding him in such high esteem; and I used this opportunity to point others to read more about him.
But the second link was to a 2009 NYT book review by Brooks Barnes, of Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, whose author, Phillip Hoose, had just won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Here are some quotes from that NYT article:
Young people think Rosa Parks just sat down on a bus and ended segregation, but that wasn’t the case at all,” Ms. Colvin said in an animated interview at a diner near her apartment in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. “Maybe by telling my story — something I was afraid to do for a long time — kids will have a better understanding about what the civil rights movement was about.”
After Ms. Colvin was arrested, Mrs. Parks, a seasoned N.A.A.C.P. official, sometimes let her spend the night at her apartment.
“My mother told me to be quiet about what I did,” Ms. Colvin recalled. “She told me: ‘Let Rosa be the one. White people aren’t going to bother Rosa — her skin is lighter than yours and they like her.’ ”
At the time, the arrest was big news. Black leaders, among them Dr. King, jumped at the opportunity to use her case to fight segregation laws in court. “Negro Girl Found Guilty of Segregation Violation” was the headline in The Alabama Journal. The article said that Ms. Colvin, “a bespectacled, studious looking high school student,” accepted the ruling “with the same cool aloofness she had maintained” during the hearing.
As chronicled by Mr. Hoose, more than 100 letters of support arrived for Ms. Colvin — sent in care of Mrs. Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery branch of the N.A.A.C.P.
Mr. Hoose said he stumbled across Ms. Colvin’s story while researching a previous book, “We Were There, Too! Young People in U.S. History.” Several sources told him to investigate what had almost become an urban myth: that a teenager had beaten Mrs. Parks to the punch in Montgomery.
For your convenience, here is that NYT article.
Summing up, I just want to say that, while I, too, find many faults with the NYT, this time, they got the story right.
P.S. to Mr. McKinnion: I recall that I first learned about Ms. Colvin’s act of defiance years ago, after wondering how Ms. Parks, who happened to be the Secretary of the local NAACP, ‘happened’ to be on that bus and refuse to give up her seat. I incorporate lessons about the feisty teenager, into my teaching, as a tool that both points to the distortions of history; and (hopefully) imbues my students with the courage to ‘be the change they wish to see in the world.’ (Mostly students of color, they have already demonstrated considerable courage just to survive in the inner city, although few view themselves as heroes and heroines.) Plus, I think it’s really neat that she was an ‘in your face’ kinda girl way back then! You write that you are a father. Perhaps your children would enjoy learning this ‘real’ history of the Civil Rights Movement; I know my son did. Not surprisingly, being a black boy in America, even by the time I taught him about Claudette Colvin, he had already carried out several noteworthy courageous acts.
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