Category Archives: holiday

What the 4th of July means to me

I’ve always enjoyed fireworks shows. I have great memories of family barbecues, music, dancing, fun, children and the grand finale of the sparkly light displays in the sky in all their glorious designs and colors.

As an African American, celebrating Independence Day didn’t seem to apply to me and my people. Jim Crow was still around in the 1950s when I was a little girl, and I could see the racism and differences in civil rights so clearly. Through the years as blacks fought and won rights for equality (voting, jobs and more), racism seemed to get worse. I got the impression early on that if racist whites could not enslave my people, they did not want to share this country with us and had no use for us. For blacks, the battle for rights continues. Today it is rampant and out of the closet where we see the hatred blatantly displayed in the media and against our black president.

So while most Americans celebrate the 4th of July for American independence (freedom) from Britain, it has not been a celebration for blacks, Native Americans and hispanics in the traditional sense. In spite of genocide, enslavement, disenfranchisement and crimes against our people, we have survived. That is a lot to be grateful for.

Yet, I still love the holiday and will always celebrate it in my own way…with family, friends, barbecues, outings, music…and enjoy the fireworks display as long as our city provides them. Whatever it means to you, I hope you enjoy it too!

Mother’s Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, 1870

This is to wish my family and friends a wonderful Mother’s Day – both men and women. I choose to celebrate every day all year long, keeping in mind that many of our holidays were diverted from the original thought into big business for profit. On the major holidays, I choose not to spend money for THEIR self-serving interests.

While I appreciate all the Mother’s Day greetings I get from family, friends and especially my children, I am saddened because many who I know are depressed today. Really depressed. Many friends have contacted me saying their mother’s have passed away, died unexpectedly, their children are away, or they have son’s who died in war. I’m aware that many in this nation suffer greatly because their children have been murdered, like Trayvon Martin’s mother. Mother’s Day should not be a reminder to these people of that pain they feel all year. As the rest of us celebrate with our loved ones, millions suffer in silence.

How different and strengthening would this nation be if we celebrated Mother’s Day for its original intent? No wars and a focus on peace and equality. Wouldn’t all mothers AND fathers be much happier? Would that be something to celebrate?

Here’s the original intent for Mother’s Day and the woman who created it. With this in mind, I choose to focus this day and all days toward PEACE and DISARMAMENT, which was the original intent for this day. After the Civil War, this woman campaigned for womens’ rights, anti-slavery, equality, and for world peace. She was an ardent antislavery activist who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1862, sung to the tune of John Brown’s Body.

Think about why you may be learning this for the first time and why we don’t focus on what Julia Ward Howe intended for this special day.

Marion Young

Mother’s Day Proclamation
by Julia Ward Howe, 1870

The First Mother’s Day proclaimed in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe
was a passionate demand for disarmament and peace.

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Biography of Julia Ward Howe

US feminist, reformer, and writer Julia Ward Howe was born May 27, 1819 in New York City. She married Samuel Gridley Howe of Boston, a physician and social reformer. After the Civil War, she campaigned for women rights, anti-slavery, equality, and for world peace. She published several volumes of poetry, travel books, and a play. She became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1908. She was an ardent antislavery activist who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1862, sung to the tune of John Brown’s Body. She wrote a biography in 1883 of Margaret Fuller, who was a prominent literary figure and a member of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transcendentalists. She died in 1910.