Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Election of 1960: MLK and The Kennedys

image of Martin Luther King meeting John F KennedyObviously, the main event of the 1960 Presidential election was the first televised debate between two presidential candidates. No doubt, that is a milestone achievement and deserves further examination. However, this entry of the 1960 Election will focus on Martin Luther King and his role in the election.

King who always stays neutral, "in order to maintain a nonpartisan posture" and to be to be able to look objectively at both parties at all times", is a man of conviction and stuck to his word despite both John and Robert Kennedy working feverishly to help release King from jail, who was ultimately arrested for driving with a suspended license.

The Kennedy's made phone call after phone call demanding that Martin Luther King not stand trial. They even phoned Dr. King's wife, Coretta Scott King, to comfort her and let her know that they were handling the situation. A classy move. A political move, but still a respected one. And except for the whole moonshine thing (it's how the Kennedy's got their fortune), and the rumors of adultery (Mattress Jack) and the whole Chappaquiddick thing, the Kennedy's are a class act.

So, was it the Kennedy's idea to make the phone call? Were they really that concerned and that proactive? The story continues...

For some reason Nixon's press secretary didn't want Nixon to get involved and blocked any calls about the situation. Had Nixon and his advisors handled this situation differently the election may have gone his way.

Coretta Scott King, six months pregnant and very scared that her husband would be killed in a southern Atlanta jail, called Harris Wofford, an advisor to Kennedy. She called him because she had heard that he had previously tried to release King from jail.

Wofford then proceeded to call Sargent Shriver, Kennedy's brother-in-law (he married Eunice, for those that know the Kennedy family), to ask him to get Kennedy to call Mrs. King. (Side note: Sargent Shriver is Maria Shriver's father, which makes him Arnold Schwarzenegger's father-in-law.)

Kennedy, who had been waiting for Georgia's Democratic governor Ernest Vandiver to handle the matter, promptly called Mrs. King.

Mrs. King, very pleased with the call, told Martin Luther King, Sr. (MLKs father). MLK Sr. then announced that Kennedy's "concern" was enough to make him leave the Republican party and vote for Kennedy.

This move helped shift the African American vote decisively in Kennedy's favor and just may have won him the election.

MLK Jr. remained bi-partisan, but his father's pull was enough to swing the African-American vote in the Kennedy's favor.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Quotable John F. Kennedy

Today would have been JFK's 91st birthday.

To commemorate his birth, I've included some quotes from one of the great orators.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution

"A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."

"Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought"

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."

"Things do not happen. Things are made to happen."

For more quotes go to:

Or for John F. Kennedy lesson plans go to:


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Remembering and Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Often times people get excited about 3 day weekends and don't take the time to truly understand the meaning of the day off. The the history of Memorial Day is well journeyed and has morphed several times into what it is today... a day to honor those that have served and died in our countries many conflicts.

As of May 23, 2008 there have been 4,391 US and US coalition deaths in the Iraqi/Afghanistan conflict (this includes Americans and non-Americans). According to the Pentagon, there have also been 30,112 U.S. troops wounded.

So this memorial Day, which will be the last under the current regime and may be the last to turn a blind eye to the astounding number of casualties, I'd like to take a moment (or many moments) to honor the nearly 4,400 who have died.

CNN has done a tremendous job in trying to recognize each and every one with pictures, details of their unfortunate incident, age and hometown.

What are your thoughts?

If you know any of these people... or anybody who has given their lives in an American conflict please honor them by commenting below. I do have hundreds of readers/day, so your message will be seen. Please feel free to write as much or as little as you'd like... this is your open forum to honor your loved ones, may they rest in peace.

PS -
U.S. war casualties dating back to the Revolutionary War.


Friday, May 16, 2008

US History in Song

I found this song a few months ago when spending some time on YouTube.

The song, US History, by Flipsyde is a representation of the history of the United States as seen through the eyes of a personified America.

After discovering this song, I decided to check out a few more songs by Flipsyde. What I found was inspiring. Their songs are inspirational, educational, relevant and all send a positive message.

For teachers looking to use this song in class, I do recommend it, but be aware of the language. You might want to run this by the powers that be, or just be sure that your class is mature enough to except the song for what you're using it for... a history lesson.

I apologize in advance if the language offends anyone. It is for educational purposes.

It's got references to the mistreatment of Native Americans, The Revolution, The Civil War and slavery, imperialism, Teddy Roosevelt, The World Wars, including Pearl Harbor and the Atom bomb, Vietnam, the Cold War, Korean War, War in Iraq, etc... etc...

It really is impressive when you look at it from the standpoint of simplifying complex ideas and relationships in US History. If I were teaching US History right now... I'd use it.

Watch the video... then listen to the song again and read the lyrics. And tell me what you think...

US History - by Flipsyde

Hustlin's in my blood my father's name is Britain
His history consisted of robbery killin' and pimpin

Filthy rich and the biggest killer that you ever seen
Once I'm older I'm takin' over I'ma be king

I was locked up in jail when he got the new land
Opened his cells I guess that's how the story began

First mission was to clear it out and claim it as mine
Indigenous people were peaceful it took no time

Great grandmother Africa was blind and disabled
Sons was traitors we played divide and conquer invaded

Sold her children into slavery and profited quick
Started makin' side deals and that's how I got rich

Daddy Britain found out and tried to put me in check
He don't understand I'm a man and I deserve some respect

Tried to bring it to me but I play for keeps and I won
Still my daddy but you ain't the only man with a gun

More money More problems little brother is wild
They call 'em The South he's country with a big ass mouth

Tried to show 'em new business but he don't wanna change
I love 'em but I knew eventually I'd blow out his brains

I'm America!

You know you know God Bless America
You know you know God Bless America
You know you know God Bless

Me and my daddy still cool and my uncles is with us
France Russia and Italy and we all killas

But it's this nigga named Germany that's out of control
Rollin with Japan and Turkey and them niggas is bold

Started fuckin' with my uncles and we all went to war
Uncle France damn near died at the tip of his sword

When the smoke cleared we won let 'em retreat
Shoulda' killed 'em cause they knew they had us close to defeat

Kicked it off again 20 years later it was on
This time my uncle Italy traded and he was gone

I was neutral when Japan hit me guess that he knew
I aint gone' let my family fight without me jumpin' in too

Woulda' lost if I didn't hit Germany's weapon supply
Kamikaze Japanese was always ready to die

Dropped atomic bomb let them niggas know that it's real
Speak soft with a big stick do what I say or be killed

I'm America!

You know you know God Bless America
You know you know God Bless America
You know you know God Bless

I'm racin' with my uncle Russia we the ones with the guns
He supported the North so I rolled with South Vietnam

Thought it would be easy but almost 60 thousand died
They was harder than Korea so we ran for our lives

It's a family called the Middle East and they got bread
Sellin' oil they don't cut me in then off with their head

I got a nephew named Israel that's right in the middle
Pay his allowance as long as he can dance to my fiddle

I had a partna' named Iraq gave 'em weapons and money
Nigga started getting' power and he start actin' funny

Saudi Arabia's cool gotta son Bin Laden
I was trainin' his soldiers to go against the Russians and stop 'em

Then he tried to say I need to take my soldiers and cut
Gave 'em the finger that's when he flipped and blew my shit up

I took it to 'em, and then I took it back to Iraq
and if you ain't my blood brother you gonna be flat on yo' back

The sons of Africa just invented this shit called rap
Tellin' my secrets that's why I'm puttin' their heads on flat

Built an empire quick and it might not last
But I bet I go down in history as the one that smashed

I'm America!

You know you know God Bless America
You know you know God Bless America
You know you know God Bless

Hustlin's in my blood my father's name is Britain
Hustlin's in my blood my father's name is Britain

The red the white the red the white the blue
The red the white the red the white the blue


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Survey Results: Who is the Best President since 1950?

Put down your pencils. The polls are now closed.

The readers of have spoken... the best President since 1950 (from the choices given) is... William Jefferson Clinton.

This is Clinton's first Survey Victory and came as kind of a surprise to me. With 33% percent of the vote he narrowly edged out Ronald Reagan who received 29% of the vote.

Here are the full results after 72 votes:

Harry Truman - 11% (8 votes)
Dwight D. Eisenhower - 5% (4 votes)
John F. Kennedy - 20% (15 votes)
Ronald Reagan - 29% (21 votes)
Bill Clinton - 33% (24 votes)

Despite his impeachment trial, in 1998 and 1999, Clinton's approval rating still ranked among the best in history at 73%. He ended his term with an approval rating of 68%. And according to Wikipedia, (I know... not the most reliable source) his final rating is higher than that of any other departing president since approval ratings began more than seventy years earlier.

Why was his approval so high?

How about 8 years of relative peace and prosperity. A good economy leaves people happy. Nobody can doubt his intelligence, and how he used his intelligence to be the best fiscal leader we've had in a long, long time. This rationale could be the same reason Ronald Reagan ranked so high.

Thank you to all who contributed, and more importantly to those that commented and opened up a dialogue. I'd like to hear from more of you concerning the results. Does this surprise you?

To get it started - here is my grandfather's reaction
I just reviewed your survey. It seems to me that the answers were progressive. By that I mean young people with very little knowledge of past history voted the current appeal.They knew little or nothing of Truman and Eisenhower. I wouldn't say IKE was a good President,but he could have run on any ticket and been elected. He was that popular.It would be the same for Colin Powell. It's unfortunate that we are faced with our present dilemma. The good ones don't have national appeal and the ones with national appeal are awful. They are supported by young liberals who would have been better to serve Army time to open their eyes. GP
I welcome thoughts on GPs comments as well...


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

History Goes Viral: Teddy Roosevelt on Immigrants

This came across my email this week. It was urged that I pass it on to every American with a computer. I didn't... but I do share it with you.

'In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.'
- Theodore Roosevelt 1907
It is difficult to put our 2008 minds back to 1907. But we can try....

What are your thoughts on what Roosevelt is saying?

Free Advertising on my sister site on the Teddy Roosevelt page (for 1 year)for the best comment/interpretation of what Roosevelt is saying... I'll pick a winner in a week.


Friday, May 02, 2008

May 2, 1939: Lou Gehrig "The Iron Horse" Ends the Streak

Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees played in 2130 games a major league record that would stand for 56 yearsLou Gehrig was a man of consistency. In 17 Major League seasons he wracked up a .340 batting average, hit 493 homeruns and collected 1,995 RBIs. In the 16 years preceding the 1939 season, Gehrig averaged 38 homeruns and 150 RBIs.

But through the first 8 games of the 1939 season, Gehrig batted .143 with 1 RBI. The poor start was inconsistent with the true Lou Gehrig. Thus, on May 2, 1939 Gehrig voluntarily benches himself "for the good of the team." Gehrig did make one quick appearance during the game, when he brough the Yankees lineup out to the umpire... but ultimately, his consecutive-game streak was halted at 2,130 games.

Though he didn't know it at the time, Gehrig had contracted amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease). Gehrig's streak would stand for another 56 years. On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. played in his 2,131st consecutive game. Ripken would go on to play in an unprecedented 2,632 consecutive games, before he too benched himself for the good of the team.

May 2, 1939, will forever be the day when Gehrig "hung 'em up." Two month's later, on July 4, Gehrig would make his famous Farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. Full text of the speech is below. (Hollywood echo, not included...)

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

"Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.

"When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.

"So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."

For an audi version of the speech and to find more information, visit the official Lou Gehrig website: