elionwyr: (geek)
I really want this book..

Heaven's Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman by Leigh Eric Schmidt.


This is the bit that caught my attention:

In the 1890s, Craddock scandalized many of her contemporaries by defending belly dancing as a "much needed blend of sexuality and spirituality," rather than the "horrible orgy" many thought it to be.

..But there's so much more to this woman. And why the hell don't we know her name?
elionwyr: (Default)
In Montgomery, Alabama, 42 year old seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man.

"In the South, public buses were still segregated. This meant that the first four rows of the buses were reserved only for whites. The "colored" sections were at the very back of the bus. The sections were marked by moveable signs that the driver was free to move at any time to accommodate more or less white people. If whites boarded the bus and there was no room, blacks were forced to move, stand or leave the bus. They were not allowed to sit directly across the aisle from a white person. Blacks were forced to board the bus from the back to avoid walking past a white person on the front of the bus. At times, a black person would pay the driver and walk to the back of the bus, but the bus would depart before they could get to the door, leaving them standing on the roadside." - http://www.rosaparksfacts.com

This wasn't the first time Rosa had run into such trouble. In 1943, she was forced off a bus for sitting in the wrong section of a bus. She was an activist, a member of NAACP, a registered voter, a high school graduate, and a defender of the "Scottsboro Boys," a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa boarded a bus and sat in the first row behind the section reserved for white people. When the bus became fuller and there were 3 white people standing, the bus driver demanded 4 black passengers relinquish their seats.

Rosa refused, choosing instead to simply move over.

"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in. I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move. Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it." - Rosa Parks

She was arrested, though she had not broken the law.

"It is important to note here that in 1900, the city of Montgomery, Alabama had passed a city ordinance that allowed drivers to segregate their passengers by race. If necessary, they could assign specific seats. The law, however, stated that no passengers were to be forced to give up a seat or stand should the bus become too crowded." - http://www.rosaparksfacts.com

Rosa was not the first person to refuse to give up her seat. Her actions, though, sparked a bus boycott, and she became an international symbol of resistance to racial segregation.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world." - Gandhi

Thank you, Miss Rosa.
(And thanks for the reminder, [livejournal.com profile] hughcasey!)

Rosa Parks Facts
elionwyr: (Default)

This is an amazing performance of one of my fav numbers from Evita - Antonio Bandaras & The National Youth Music Theatre Choir
elionwyr: (posse)
My mother sent me an email today about Irena Sendler.

Haven't heard of her? Not a surprise. Indeed, it wasn't until four high school students in Kansas decided, in 1999, to enter the National History Day program that Irena's story rose from obscurity to worldwide notice.

Born in Otwock, Poland in 1910, Irena lost her father when she was 7. He was a doctor whose patients were mostly poor Jews, and he died of typhus contracted from his patients. Reportedly the only doctor willing to treat these people, his dying words to his daughter were: "If you see someone drowning, you must jump in and try to save them, even if you don't know how to swim." Irena took this to heart, which caused her to be suspended from Warsaw University for three years in the 1930's when she protested the segregation of Jewish students in the classroom by crossing over and sitting on the 'wrong' side of the room.

Irena took a job with the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, eventually rising to the position of senior administrator. Having a position of power within an organization that ran soup kitchens and provided financial assistance to the needy throughout Warsaw put her in a unique position to help Jewish families when, in 1939, Germany invaded Poland. She and her helpers risked death by creating over 3,000 forged documents creating Christian identies for Jewish families so they could receive medical and financial assistance.

As we know, things only continued to get worse in Poland. In 1940, the Warsaw Ghetto was created, putting roughly 400,000-450,000 people within an 18 block radius of the city. Contagious diseases such as typhus helped keep the population at roughly the same number no matter how many newcomers were added to the sealed community.

The Zegota (Council to Aid Jews) was formed in December 1942. Because Irena was allowed access via her job with the welfare department to access the ghetto, she was nominated to head up the child's division of this new secret organization. She accepted the position, and for the next year she and about a dozen helpers rescued 2500 children from the Warsaw ghetto, smuggling them into private homes, orphanages, and a convent outside the ghetto walls. Kids were snuck out in toolboxes, body bags, sacks, sewers, and more. The children were adopted by other families with the promise and understanding that, when possible, the kids would be returned to their families after the war.

Sadly, heartbreakingly, in many cases this was not possible as there were so few survivors. Most of the parents died at the Treblinka death camp.

Irena kept careful track of all the childrens' names - true as well as adopted/false names - in coded lists that she hid within jars and buried in a neighbor's backyard.

In 1943, the perhaps inevitable happened: Irena was arrested by the Gestapo. Questioned and tortured, she had her feet and legs broken so badly that she would need crutches and/or a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She never betrayed her co-conspirators, nor did she give the Germans information about the children.

She was sentenced to death.

However, the Zegota bribed her would-be-executioner, who allowed her to escape. Irena went into hiding for the rest of the war, still continuing to try to help the Jews when and if she could.

After the war was over, Irena used her secret lists to try to reunite children with their families. She was persecuted by the Communists when Poland fell under Soviet rule and put into jail. After her release, she continued on as a social worker, largely forgotten by history, with the exception of being honoured by Yad Vashem as a 'Righteous Gentile' in 1965, which was confirmed by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1983.

...And then four teenagers in Kentucky found mention of her in a news article and decided to make her the focus of their research project.

Part of their effort involved the writing of a play, "Life in a Jar," (Check the website for info about when and where to catch the production.) as well as trips to Poland to interview Irena, who had this to say:

"I was stunned and fascinated; very, very suprised; interested." In one of Irena's first letters to the girls, she wrote, "My emotion is being shadowed by the fact that no one from the circle of my faithful coworkers, who constantly risked their lives, could live long enough to enjoy all the honors that now are falling upon me.... I can't find the words to thank you, my dear girls.... Before the day you have written the play "Life in a Jar" -- nobody in my own country and in the whole world cared about my person and my work during the war ..."

It is because of the work done by these high school students that the world was made aware of the remarkable work and bravery of this remarkable woman.

"Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal."

"After the Second World War it seemed that humanity understood something, and that nothing like that would happen again. Humanity has understood nothing. Religious, tribal, national wars continue. The world continues to be in a sea of blood. The world can be better, if there's love, tolerance, and humility."


(Thank you, Mom, for telling me about this incredible woman!)
elionwyr: (evolution)
Most of us are aware of how much news we don't really get in the US. Oh, it trickles in, but let's be honest..how many more of us know about Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton than we do about war in Africa?

One of the names we should know, and do not, is Leymah Gbowee. (And please, keep on reading after her story; there are six other people there worthy of being known.)

Gbowee is at the heart of the story of how the unarmed women of Liberia fought for peace.

In the years between 1989 and 2003, violence became the currency of the West African nation of Liberia. Civilians were the casualties of the clashes between the autocratic President Charles Taylor and corrupt warlords; children were recruited as soldiers, women raped. Over 250,000 people were killed in the violence and thousands more displaced.

Out of these years of darkness comes an incredible yet largely ignored story of the women of Liberia, which director Gini Reticker highlights in her documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Screened as part of the Cineforum in London on March 30, Pray the Devil focuses on a back-story that possibly changed the face of Liberia: exhausted by a war in which they were abused by all factions, the women, be they Christian or Muslim, got together to fight for peace, with songs and white T-shirts as their only weapons.

- Deepa A, http://www.islamonline.net

This documentary is called Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

The film is only showing in select theaters - schedule here (and oh, Philly/NJ folk, get thee to the Colonial the week of May 8th..take advantage of your chance to see this movie!)

More info here:


Feb. 2nd, 2009 12:21 am
elionwyr: (brrrrr)
I would like to introduce you to a rather remarkable woman.

Her name is Meena.

Meena was born in Afghanistan in 1956. Today, we think of Afghanistan and the Middle East and we think of repression and terrorism. We think of the Taliban. That isn't the way life has always been, though sometimes that's hard to believe. Meena grew up in a country swept by a desire for change. She, like so many other young women, went to university; and it was during her years at college that she became an activist, as she learned to dream of a world where poverty and corrupt politics could be overcome.
Read more... )
elionwyr: (somber)
This is the post I've never wanted to write.

I'm going to put a cut here, so you don't have to read if you don't want to. This is about abortion; you should have a choice.

In case you choose not to read, here's a quick summary:

* Abortion is never easy.
* There will always be a reason to terminate pregnancies.
* Men need to be more responsible about the part they play in pregnancy...regardless of the outcome.
Abortion is not a political issue. It is a health issue, and a spiritual issue, and neither of these things should be part of the political playground. That said, I'll go on. )
elionwyr: (somber)

This is the story of Interesującą Kobietę, a woman that history says didn't exist.

(ETA: Yes, the post starts off talking about Harry Potter role-playing. Keep reading.)
elionwyr: (bang)
Mostly for my own reference.

Mookie, eons ago, said this woman reminded her of me - perhaps not in looks, but in spirit, which I find dang flattering.



" Rancher, author and newspaper editor Caroline Lockhart entertains friends at her home."

Alice Paul

Mar. 23rd, 2008 05:14 pm
elionwyr: (write hard die free)
A few days ago, my mother posted an entry in her LJ about suffragist leader Alice Paul.

The entry is, frankly, shocking, and hard to believe.

In a nutshell, her participation and leadership in protests resulted in her and a score of other women being incarcerated and treated in ways that one would assume could not happen in America. The abuse these women received in jail, after being arrested for nonviolent protests, included filthy living conditions, being fed worm-ridden food, and being violently attacked by the prison guards in an incident that came to be known as The Night of Terror, when 40 guards were instructed to these 33 already-jailed protesters a particularly violent lesson.

It's a horrible bit of history to learn.

It's terrifying to read that Alice's decision to go on a hunger strike resulted in tube-feedings of liquid and maggot-ridden food; that our then-President, Woodrow Wilson, pushed to have her declared insane, in an effort to discredit her. This is documented in HBO's movie "Iron Jawed Angels." The doctor asked to declare Alice insane responded, Alice Paul was strongand brave. That didn't make her crazy, and to say, "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

...Shared because I think it's important. Terrifying, but important.
elionwyr: (posse)
A statement that is still true.

There was a push online this week to have people email the UK Home Office and speak up in defense of a gay Iranian facing deportation.

His partner was hung - HUNG - two years ago, after being charged with sodomy. Mehdi Kazemi, now 19, was studying in England at that time, and has been petitioning for asylum since the death of his partner. If he should be forced to return to Iran, he will be arrested and executed.

Seems impossible, doesn't it? And yet, according to the Times Online, "According to human rights campaigners more than 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran since the revolution in 1979."

Over 4000.

(And let's not get too self-righteous, folks. Being gay can still you get killed in the US, too. It's just our private citizens that are responsible, and not our government. Yay us.)

Mehdi's been fighting his pending deportation for two years now. It's not stated that public outcry helped his case, but I choose to believe it did.

For now, Mehdi's safe. May that continue to be the case.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3531630.ece - the whole story
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3547964.ece - the reprieve (at least for now)

ETA: 40-year old Pegah Emambakhsh is also facing deportation. There is an ongoing international campaign to protest her impending deportation.

http://www.ncadc.org.uk/emmaginnsfolder/emmaginnsfolder/aug%2007/pegah.htm - for more info
http://dorigo.wordpress.com/2007/08/23/save-pegah-emambakhsh/ - details what exactly she faces
http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/03/read-these-now-now-i-say.html - for more details

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