Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Seeking Civil Rights for Blacks, Native Americans

One Final Note on Thanksgiving

The NYTimes had an excellent article, “How Native Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving.” It is part of their Race/Related series which focuses on civil rights for people of color.

The article contains comments from four Native Americans. Sherman Alexie, a Native American artist and poet, said, “You take the holiday and make it yours.”

He said there is deep sadness because the holiday celebrates the end of their culture, the genocide, but it’s also about survival.

Winona LaDuke, environmentalist and activist

Winona LaDuke, environmentalist and activist

Winona LaDuke, perhaps the best-known Native American activist, says “There is this magical made-up time between Columbus Day (or Indigenous Peoples Day for the enlightened) and Thanksgiving where white Americans think about native people.” Otherwise, she says, “we are invisible.”

“If you make the victim disappear, there is no crime.” She says that when the rest of the U.S. refuses to see native people, we can, and do, ignore what we wrought.

Jacqueline Keeler said that the heart of the Pilgrim must have held evil, given what followed. She said, “Indeed, when I give thanks and I cook my native food, . . . I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused.”

The final person is Simon Moya-Smith who said, “Native American Heritage Day falls on the one day each year when Americans ravenously indulge in material possessions – Black Friday. So is this an insult to Native Americans? Of course it is!”

He points out that if Native American Heritage Day fell on a day when children are in school, there could at least be some teaching about it.

The article concludes, why not choose Thanksgiving Day itself? “That way we could learn about the real history of the holiday and not the romanticized version we all hear about.”

James Baldwin, from Wikipedia

James Baldwin, from Wikipedia

James Baldwin Event at the Unitarian Church

This Saturday there will be a celebration of James Baldwin at The Unitarian Church in Westport.

The event is called, “A Celebration of James Baldwin and the causes for which he stood on the 30th anniversary of his death.” It begins at 4:30 with a panel discussion, and concludes with the “screening of the award winning classic film James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket. The film was directed by Unitarian Church-member Karen Thorsen and is still being shown all over the world.”

I hope to go to at least part of the event.

Honoring Pauli Murray

Pauli Murray, from Wikipedia

Pauli Murray, from Wikipedia

I’ll be at an event for another ground-breaking civil rights activist earlier in the day. I’m going on a guided tour of the Yale Law School Library with YaleWomen Connecticut. There will be a “focus on the exhibit with information and artifacts of Pauli Murray’s time at the YLS.”

I’m sure I had read about Pauli Murray in the alumni magazine. Then during the Alumni weekend I attended two weeks ago I found that many participants were visiting the new residential colleges at Yale named for her. But I still did not really register her significance.

Now I know! She was “an American civil rights activist, women’s rights activistlawyerEpiscopal priest, and author. She earned her BA at Hunter College in 1933. In 1940 she was arrested for sitting in the “Whites Only” section of a bus in Virginia, and continued her activism throughout her life.

She earned her law degree from Howard University where she was first in her class. But she was denied admittance for an advanced degree at Harvard because of her gender.

“She earned a master’s degree in law at University of California, Berkeley, and in 1965 she became the first African American to receive a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from Yale Law School.

She was an active lawyer and wrote widely on civil rights.

But she wasn’t finished!

“Drawn to the ministry, in 1977 Murray became the first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest and she was among the first group of women to become priests in that church.”

YaleWomen Connecticut is partnering with the Connecticut Chapter of the Yale Black Alumni Association for this event.

Education for Chibok Girls

Nigeria’s President Buhari has approved funds for the education of the Chibok girls who have been freed from Boko Haram captivity.

The funds are for second semester tuition at the American University of Nigeria in Yola. From what I’ve read earlier, the girls are in secondary school on the campus of the university.

The article stated, “The Federal Government would provide full support for the education of Chibok girls, adding that Buhari was committed to bringing back the remaining girls held by the terrorists through all possible means.”

Buhari also commended the progress made in the rehabilitation of the 106 freed girls who are already back in school.

I’ve read nothing further about the few Chibok girls who came to the U.S. Have you seen or heard news about them?

Nigeria Revisited My Life andn Loves Abroad, my memoir front cover

Nigeria Revisited My Life and Loves Abroad, my memoir.

LOFT and Literature

And I must make one last mention of our event Thursday evening at LOFT in Westport.

This is our “Ladies Night Out,” with me and children’s author and illustrator, Clare Pernice, from 6 to 7:30 pm.

You can shop for others or for yourself. You can buy our books if you don’t wish to buy clothes. Or just come and enjoy yourself with the refreshments, door prizes, bookmarks, and party favors!

RSVP helpful but not required, to

Maybe I’ll see you there.

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.

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