January 31, 2014

Old School Friday: New Edition

I was in college when New Edition took the world by storm in the eighties. As a result, they were never the equivalent of the Jackson 5 in my mind. However, it is impressive to see how long they survived in the music industry. Ronnie Devoe, Bobby Brown, Rickey Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ralph Tresvant originally made up New Edition. They got their start in the music business when they weren't even teenagers. Their musical journey has seen them have success as a bubblegum pop group, a mature R&B group, and even as solo superstars.

The group originated in Boston and burst on the scene with their 1983 debut album 'Candy Girl.' Some of their early hits included 'Mr. Telephone Man,' and 'Cool It Now.' As they grew older, they drifted apart. Their most eclectic member, Bobby Brown, would leave New Edition to pursue a solo career in 1986. New Edition would remain strong, however, with R&B crooner Johnny Gill replacing Brown.

The song that still resonates with me from New Edition was 'Can You Stand the Rain'.

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January 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Villager!

If you know me and want to celebrate my 'personal' new year's day ... just make a secure $10 donation in support of my favorite charity -- Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship Fund.   Otherwise ... just leave a comment below ... we don't get many of those over the course of the year!
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OURstory: Morgan State University

Morgan State University celebrates its 147th birthday today.  I was born 92 years after Morgan State University became one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.

Founded in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute by the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the school's original mission was to train young men for the ministry. It broadened its mission to educate both men and women as teachers. It was renamed Morgan College in 1890 in honor of the Reverend Lyttleton Morgan, who donated land to the college. Morgan awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1895.

Morgan remained a private institution until 1939. By this time the College had become an all-inclusive institution. In 1975 the Maryland Legislature designated Morgan as a university, gave it the authority to offer doctorates, and provided for it to once again have its own governing board. In 1988 Maryland reorganized its higher education structure. It strengthened its coordinating board, the Higher Education Commission, and abolished the state college system.

The 1988 legislation also strengthened Morgan's authority to offer advanced programs and designated the campus as Maryland's Public Urban University.

It is important that we learn OURstory whenever possible. Are there any Morgan State alumni in the village?
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January 28, 2014

Village Tips: Affordable Care Act

Just a reminder that the Affordable Care Act requires most 'villagers' to have health coverage. The good news is that most of y'all already have it. If you have health insurance through an employer, Medicare or Medicaid, or a military program, or if you buy policy in the private market, you satisfy the requirement.

For more information or to find the marketplace in your state, call (800) 318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov. To learn more about the health care law, go to HealthLawAnswers.org.
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January 27, 2014

Am I Not Human? What Are Human Rights?

This blog is going to return to its roots. On the 27th of each month we plan to blog about human rights.   The first question that comes to mind is a simple one ...

What Are Human Rights?

While some dictionaries define the word right as “a privilege,” when used in the context of “human rights,” we are talking about something more basic.

Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These are called “human rights” rather than a privilege (which can be taken away at someone’s whim).

They are “rights” because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

Check out this video that answers the question, 'What Are Human Rights?'

Many people know something about their rights. Generally they know they have the right to food and a safe place to stay. They know they have a right to be paid for the work they do. But there are many other rights.

When human rights are not well known by people, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, oppression and slavery can arise.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Reviews UDHR
Born out of the atrocities and enormous loss of life during World War II, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 to provide a common understanding of what everyone’s rights are. It forms the basis for a world built on freedom, justice and peace.  This declaration provided a list of 30 specific human rights.

Just because the nations of the world signed a declaration that defined and respected 'human rights' doesn't mean that abuses don't occur.  Human rights abuses are taking place in America and in most other nations of the world.  On the 27th of each month we are going to shine our blogging spotlight on human rights abuse ... and our hope is that other bloggers will do so as well.

Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?
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January 26, 2014

Unique Building * The Crooked House (Sopot, Poland)

This is a very unique building! The Crooked House was built in 2003. What inspired the architects were Per Dahlberg's drawings. You'll found numerous beauty shops and stores inside along with the branch office for RMF radio broadcasting company. It lies in the Bohaterów Monte Cassino street, the town's most prominent promenade.

I wonder if the building would appear straight and normal if you were drunk?
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January 24, 2014

Rest In Peace: Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)

Born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, Thurgood Marshall was the grandson of a slave. His father, William Marshall, instilled in him from youth an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law.

After graduating from Frederick Douglass High School in 1925, Thurgood followed his brother, William Aubrey Marshall, to Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania. His classmates at Lincoln included a distinguished group of future Black leaders such as the poet and author Langston Hughes, the future President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and musician Cab Calloway.

Just before graduation, he married his first wife, Vivian "Buster" Burey. Their twenty-five year marriage ended with her death from cancer in 1955.

In 1930, he applied to the University of Maryland Law School, but was denied admission because he was Black. This was an event that was to haunt him and direct his future professional life.

Thurgood sought admission and was accepted at the Howard University Law School that same year and came under the immediate influence of the dynamic new dean, Charles Houston, who instilled in all of his students the desire to apply the tenets of the Constitution to all Americans.

Paramount in Houston's outlook was the need to overturn the 1898 Supreme Court ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson which established the legal doctrine called, "separate but equal." Marshall's first major court case came in 1933 when he successfully sued the University of Maryland to admit a young African American Amherst University graduate named Donald Gaines Murray.

Applauding Marshall's victory, author H.L. Mencken wrote that the decision of denial by the University of Maryland Law School was "brutal and absurd," and they should not object to the "presence among them of a self-respecting and ambitious young Afro-American well prepared for his studies by four years of hard work in a class A college."
Thurgood Marshall followed his Howard University mentor, Charles Houston to New York and later became Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During this period, Mr. Marshall was asked by the United Nations and the United Kingdom to help draft the constitutions of the emerging African nations of Ghana and what is now Tanzania. It was felt that the person who so successfully fought for the rights of America's oppressed minority would be the perfect person to ensure the rights of the White citizens in these two former European colonies.

After amassing an impressive record of Supreme Court challenges to state-sponsored discrimination, including the landmark Brown v. Board decision in 1954, President John F. Kennedy appointed Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In this capacity, he wrote over 150 decisions including support for the rights of immigrants, limiting government intrusion in cases involving illegal search and seizure, double jeopardy, and right to privacy issues. Biographers
Michael Davis and Hunter Clark note that, "none of his (Marshall's) 98 majority decisions was ever reversed by the Supreme Court."
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson appointed Judge Marshall to the office of U.S. Solicitor General. Before his subsequent nomination to the United States Supreme Court in 1967, Thurgood Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases he argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the government. Indeed, Thurgood Marshall represented and won more cases before the United States Supreme Court than any other American.

Until his retirement from the highest court in the land, Justice Marshall established a record for supporting the voiceless American. Having honed his skills since the case against the University of Maryland, he developed a profound sensitivity to injustice by way of the crucible of racial discrimination in this country. As an Associate Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall leaves a legacy that expands that early sensitivity to include all of America's voiceless.

Justice Marshall died on January 24, 1993.

I invite all villagers to use the COMMENTS section ('Village Voices') to share your thoughts, memories or insights on Thurgood Marshall.
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January 22, 2014

Rest In Peace: Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Actor Heath Ledger died, at the age of 28, in his downtown Manhattan residence on this date in 2008. The cause of death was an accidental combination of prescription drugs.

I truly enjoyed Heath Ledger in the roles he played in movies such as 'The Patriot' and 'A Knight's Tale'. He was also convincing in 'Brokeback Mountain' ... a movie that won an Oscar. He won a posthumous Oscar as 'Best Supporting Actor' for his role as The Joker in the new Batman movie.

Click here to see his full bio. Do any of you have thoughts on the life and career of Heath Ledger that you care to share at this time?
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January 18, 2014

Obama's Address: 'Making 2014 a Year of Action to Expand Opportunities for the Middle Class'

In this week’s address, President Obama said 2014 will be a year of action, and called on both parties to help make this a breakthrough year for the United States by bringing back more good jobs and expanding opportunities for the middle class.

What do you think? Can Congress and the White House 'get along' enough in 2014 to make a difference for the middle class?
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January 13, 2014

Rest in Peace: Teddy Pendergrass (1950-2010)

Teddy Pendergrass died on this date in 2010. The consummate African American sex symbol of the 1970s music scene, Teddy Pendergrass gained unparalleled adulation from female fans for his suggestive crooning and his women-only concerts at which teddy bears were passed out to audience members.

Pendergrass was born in Philadelphia on March 26, 1950. Prior to his solo career, he had already been in the spotlight for many years as the lead vocalist of one of the most lyrical and distinctive of the Philadelphia soul groups, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. In 1982, Pendergrass was in an automobile accident that left him a paraplegic. However, he was able to successfully resume his career until his retirement in 2006.

I encourage all villagers to use the COMMENTS (or 'village voices') option below to share your memories of Teddy Pendergrass. What was your favorite Pendergrass song?
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January 10, 2014

Unique Building * The UFO House (Sanjhih, Taiwan)

This bizarre looking building in Sanjhih is actually an abandoned resort project. The Taiwanese locals call it The UFO House because of it’s somewhat extra-terrestrial design. Cypherone (Taipei) has a Flickr set with over 40 photos of this abandoned holiday resort in Taiwan.