Category Archives: ~ pop culture

On this Day … Moby Dick Published


On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, is published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Moby-Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: “Call me Ishmael.” Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest for a giant white whale was a flop.

Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819 and as a young man spent time in the merchant marines, the U.S. Navy and on a whaling ship in the South Seas. In 1846, he published his first novel, Typee, a romantic adventure based on his experiences in Polynesia. The book was a success and a sequel, Omoo, was published in 1847. Three more novels followed, with mixed critical and commercial results. Melville’s sixth book, Moby-Dick, was first published in October 1851 in London, in three volumes titled The Whale, and then in the U.S. a month later. Melville had promised his publisher an adventure story similar to his popular earlier works, but instead, Moby-Dick was a tragic epic, influenced in part by Melville’s friend and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, neighbor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novels include The Scarlet Letter.

After Moby-Dick‘s disappointing reception, Melville continued to produce novels, short stories (Bartleby) and poetry, but writing wasn’t paying the bills so in 1865 he returned to New York to work as a customs inspector, a job he held for 20 years.

Melville died in 1891, largely forgotten by the literary world. By the 1920s, scholars had rediscovered his work, particularly Moby-Dick, which would eventually become a staple of high school reading lists across the United States. Billy Budd, Melville’s final novel, was published in 1924, 33 years after his death.

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a sport not many focus on … Golf & Women of Colour – reminder


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So, I’m flipping through my newest 2015 Essence from back to front because of the horoscope section and as I’m looking I see a section called “trending topics” reporting that the USTA just appointed former tennis player Katrina Adams, President, CEO and chairman of the board and the first African American to fill the role. So, more things have changed in the World of Sports in which women of colour historically have not dominated.  While flipping through my 2014 issue of Essence with various fashions it was became obvious that this is not just about fashion, though the title gave me that impression and had to share given the history. In fact, it is about a Woman named Renee Powell and some young Women who were introduced to her and who have chosen her as their mentor. Now, the surprise to most would be that these brightly fashionable women are people of colour and that the article is about golf or as they say, “One of America’s favourite pastimes.”  In fact my family lived just a few blocks away from a golf course and while golf wasn’t my choice the history of golf was well known in our house, including a couple of good along with the bad and the really ugly stories of racism. It is a sad day to know that the practice is still alive and well, though tiger woods did shatter the glass ceiling some. The art of discrimination is subtle these days, while the stories of’ the good ‘olé boys club were worse, golf is a work in progress. The article tells us about the ups and downs of Powell’s life and daily experiences as a young girl to becoming one of four African-American women qualifying for golf’s top pro-circuit … The LPGA Tour that included Althea Gibson, LaRee Pearl Sugg, Shasta Avery Hardt and Renee Powell. Their legacy on the links is gone into in depth. They list the youngest pro at 17, four others including the niece of tiger woods who also has a great story, but what is even more exciting is that after Powell retired she now owns her own golf club, is the golf pro. She also teaches and mentors a new generation of girls/women of colour who love the game and are willing to take it as far as they can. Golfing is not cheap, so, if you have an opportunity to donate to your area’s youth sports club or make time to teach train and expose kids of colour to golf … do it!

Oh and the article on Golf is in Essence and was written by Connie Aitcheson

and … “Trending Topics” is in the February issue of Essence

Why the Founder of Mother’s Day Turned Against It : by Sarah Pruitt


Beginning in the 1850s, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia started Mothers’ Day Work Clubs in order to teach women proper child-care techniques and sanitation methods. In the years following the Civil War, these same clubs became a unifying force for a country ripped apart by conflict. In 1868, Jarvis and other women organized a Mothers Friendship Day, when mothers gathered with former soldiers of both the Union and Confederacy to promote reconciliation. After Ann Reeves Jarvis died in 1905, it was her daughter Anna Jarvis who would work tirelessly to make Mother’s Day a national holiday.

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Anna Jarvis, who had no children of her own, conceived of Mother’s Day as an occasion for honoring the sacrifices individual mothers made for their children.

In May 1908, she organized the first official Mother’s Day events at a church in her hometown of Grafton, West Virginia, as well as at a Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia, where she lived at the time. Jarvis then began writing letters to newspapers and politicians pushing for the adoption of Mother’s Day as an official holiday. By 1912, many other churches, towns and states were holding Mother’s Day celebrations, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association. Her hard-fought campaign paid off in 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Jarvis’ conceived of of Mother’s Day as an intimate occasion—a son or daughter honoring the mother they knew and loved—and not a celebration of all mothers. For this reason, she always stressed the singular “Mother’s” rather than the plural. She soon grew disillusioned, as Mother’s Day almost immediately became centered on the buying and giving of printed cards, flowers, candies and other gifts. Seeking to regain control of the holiday she founded, Jarvis began openly campaigning against those who profited from Mother’s Day, including confectioners, florists and other retailers. She launched numerous lawsuits against groups using the name Mother’s Day, and eventually spent much of her sizeable inheritance on legal fees.

In 1925, when an organization called the American War Mothers used Mother’s Day as an occasion for fundraising and selling carnations, Jarvis crashed their convention in Philadelphia and was arrested for disturbing the peace. Later, she even attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother’s Day as an occasion to raise money for charity. By the 1940s, Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the calendar. Her efforts were to no avail, however, as Mother’s Day had taken on a life of its own as a commercial goldmine. Largely destitute, and unable to profit from the massively successful holiday she founded, Jarvis died in 1948 in Philadelphia’s Marshall Square Sanitarium.

The sad history of Mother’s Day founder Anna Jarvis has done nothing to slow down the popularity—and commercialism—of the holiday. According to an annual spending survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an average of $168.94 on Mother’s Day in 2013, a whopping 11 percent increase from 2012. In total, Mother’s Day spending is expected to reach $20.7 billion this year. In addition to the more traditional gifts (ranging from cards, flowers and candy to clothing and jewelry), the survey showed that an unprecedented 14.1 percent of gift-givers plan to buy their moms high-tech gadgets like smartphones and tablets.