Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Amazing Grace

Peanuts Confronts “Sea of Violence”

“He has a great attitude,” Marleik Walker, the boy voicing the black character Franklin in The Peanuts Movie. says about his character in an NPR interview.

The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie poster from Blue Sky Studios

A little background from Wikipedia in case you don’t know: “Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward.”

Wikipedia says it’s probably the longest running comic strip ever written by one person.

But did you know how Franklin first appeared?

Harriet Glickman, a teacher raising three kids in suburban Los Angeles, wrote to Charles Schulz eleven days after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. “She said, ‘Dear Mr. Schulz, since the death of Martin Luther King, I’ve been asking myself what I can do to help change those conditions in our society which led to the assassination and which contribute to the vast sea of misunderstanding, hate, fear and violence.'”

Schulz replied that he liked her idea, but was afraid it might seem patronizing to black readers. So she asked two black friends for their suggestions about the character, and sent these off to him.

A few weeks later, she got a reply. “You will be pleased to know that I have taken the first step in doing something about presenting a Negro child in the comic strip during the week of July 29,” Schulz said. “I have drawn an episode which I think will please you.”

Harriet and Marleik Walker were interviewed this week on NPR nearly five decades after her letter and after Franklin’s first appearance.

Glickman and Amazing Grace

I heard about Glickman’s story this morning at The Unitarian Church in Westport. Our new senior minister, Rev. Dr. John Morehouse, spoke about it in his sermon on grace. His latest blog post tells the story too.

We finished the service singing, of course, Amazing Grace. We were accompanied by Beth Palmer with a brilliant arrangement. Her own?

I came home and told my husband Clem he should go. He raced out of the house without even having a bath first, all because of Amazing Grace!

His beloved sister was named Grace. She was hard-working, successful, and a bit cheeky! She used to tease him, saying that one day she’ll build an office of several floors, and name it Amazing Grace. She said to him, “When you come to visit, I’ll keep you waiting at the reception for half an hour before seeing you!”

She died many years ago. Her memory stays with him. He was near tears as they sang!

John Newton, former slave trade, author of Amazing Grace

John Newton, former slave trader, author of Amazing Grace

You can see an even more professional presentation with commentary! “Wintley Phipps delivers perhaps the most powerful rendition of Amazing Grace ever recorded. He gives the same background Rev. John presented this morning – the author of the words was a slave trader who had a conversion experience.

Wikipedia tells me that John Newton, through his “recalcitrant insubordination . . was forced into service in the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. . . In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of Ireland, so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion.

“Whilst his boat was being repaired, he wrote the first verse of his world-famous song. He did however, continue his slave trading career until 1754

or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.” He later became active in the abolitionist movement in the United Kingdom.

Amazing Grace was first published in Olney Hymns in 1779.

Autumn Colors

Along Ford Road in Westport CT

Along Ford Road in Westport CT

I was still thinking about grace, the hymn, and the service as I was driving home from church this morning.

I passed a tree, colorful even now in November, reflected in the water off Ford Road in Westport. I drove on, thinking how lovely it was. But I want to share this, I thought, so I stopped, turned around, and took a picture for you.

New Federal Executive Council

President Buhari will inaugurate his new Council this week, at last! “According to the statement released by presidential spokesman on Facebook, the ceremony will be held on Wednesday.

“President Muhammadu Buhari will officially inaugurate a new Federal Executive Council on Wednesday, November 11, 2015.”

And First Woman Governor in Nigeria

Mama Taraba, first woman governor in Nigeria

Mama Taraba, first woman governor in Nigeria

After a court battle, Aisha Jummai Alhassan has been named governor-elect of Taraba State. She was included in the list of ministers to be inaugurated on November 11. So Buhari will have to replace her in his ministerial appointments.

She is affectionately known as Mama Taraba. Taraba is one of Nigeria’s poorer states. Let’s wish her well.

Ten Million Children

The Peace Corps Nigeria Alumni Foundation issued a press release yesterday announcing a donation of $3,000 to assist teachers in Nigeria. The teachers are, “at a school created by a group of refugees displaced by Boko Haram terrorists. The school is located near a camp for internally displaced persons in the city of Yola.

“A volunteer staff of 40 displaced teachers provides the instruction. One thousand children are enrolled in classes from kindergarten to the senior high school level.  PCNAF’s donation covers the costs for five teachers to receive a stipend of $50 a month for the next 12 months.

The press release continues, “More than 10 million children of primary school age in Nigeria, more than any other country in the world, are not attending school. Most of those children are in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram terrorism is now making that unfortunate situation much worse.”

In case you would like to make a donation to support the teachers at the school, please visit

Mohammed Indimi, 10th Wealthiest Nigerian

Mohammed Indimi, 10th Wealthiest Nigerian

Wealthiest Nigerians Part II

Following up on my last post about three of the ten wealthiest Nigerians, here is the tenth from the top. He is Alhaji Dr. Mohammed Indimi, with a reported $670 million.

He founded his company Oriental Energy Resources  Limited in 1990. “Dr. Indimi is an astute business man with a notable presence in the international business arena,” the company website says.

The company directors are almost all family members.

The website also says he is a philanthropist, but I was unable to find where his philanthropy goes.

More coming later.


Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


  1. Didn’t know “Amazing Grace” was part of UU hymnody! 🙂 Actually I did not learn it in the liberal Baptist church I grew up in. Only later. Also enjoyed the story of Franklin and your pastor’s blog. Keep the 10 wealthiest coming.