“We should not think of our past as definitely settled, for we are not a
stone or a tree,” wrote poet Czeslaw Milosz. “My past changes every
minute according to the meaning given it now, in this moment.”
So, yes, you have the power to re-vision and reinterpret your past. Keep
the following question in mind as you go about your work: “How can I
recreate my history so as to make my willpower stronger, my love of life
more intense, and my future more interesting?”
We have a glorious capitol. Modest and elegant, the 1839 building is considered a neo-classical gem. Surrounding it is a verdant square of neat pavilions. But for now, the area is scarred by Confederate monuments. Those statues will come down eventually. Here is who belongs in their place:
1.) George Henry White A successful lawyer and businessman, the African-American from New Bern was the last black Congressman between Southern Redemption and the 1940’s. White supremacists hounded him from office in 1901. In his departing speech, White predicted that African-Americans would “rise like a phoenix” from their political disenfranchisement–a prophecy fulfilled by President Obama. His comments leaving North Carolina were darker: “I cannot live in North Carolina like a man and be treated like a man.” Let’s do him justice.
2.) Daniel Russell The corpulent Wilmington farmer served as governor from 1897-1901. Governor Russell led the short-lived “Fusionist” movement of white Populists and the biracial Republican Party. A white Republican, Russell distinguished himself by fighting for African-American rights during the infamous Wilmington Coup of 1898, barely escaping with his life. Although his political movement was cut short, Russell’s courage was vindicated by history.
3.) Harriet Ann Jacobs Jacobs shocked the consciences of northern women with her autobiographical novel, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The bracing text describes her struggles with sexual abuse by masters and the grueling difficulties of maintaining an enslaved woman’s dignity. Her social and artistic accomplishment is all the more profound because the words came directly from a female escaped slave, at a time when most African-Americans were kept illiterate by force of law. Her novel is a monument in itself; her life deserves physical commemoration.
4.) Lillian Exum Clement The Capitol is ahead of the curve here. Clement is already noted on a poster lining the rotunda, and for good reason. This mountain native broke the political barrier keeping Southern women out of office, getting elected to the state House at age 26. She spent the rest of her life fighting for gender equality and social reform.
5.) The Greensboro Four Never has our state had a prouder moment than on February 1, 1960. As most know–and all should–four students anchored themselves in a segregated Woolworth’s and demanded service. They kept it up for five months, and they won. A monument to these men would feature all four and be modeled on the Vietnam War memorial already present at the Capitol.
These statues would expand the story of our state. The struggle for racial justice would take its place alongside the military struggle for freedom (as memorialized in several US military monuments). More women, minorities and Republicans would join our pantheon. That’s long past due.
I am glad that you are finally paying attention to what is happening in Guam. Many of you, as I am reading online, are asking for the first time, “What is Guam?” Every day growing up here, we have been told all about you. I am sorry that it is only when we are the subject of bombs that you even attempt to say the word Guam; there are so many more interesting things I wish you would want to know about us. We, on the other hand, are not as surprised by the latest bomb threat. We are quite used to hearing Guam and bomb in the same sentence. Every month or so, when another missile is tested, or rhetoric fired, we hear how North Korea, or China, or Russia could bomb Guam. I have even saved pictures of China’s infamous “Guam Killer” bombs on my computer so our Independence group can use it in Independence 101 presentations as an example of why we need to get free NOW. Yes, there are people in Guam who want independence from you. But there are also people in Guam who hear these threats of bombs and cower to the hype. They start to believe that we need your mighty military bases and beg for more, because then we would not be bombed, right? But you have been the source of all our bomb problems.
The worst bombs that have ever been dropped on Guam were yours near the end of World War II. At the beginning of the war, you left us defenseless to the Japanese, knowing full well that they were planning to invade Guam all along. You safely boarded your white military wives on ships and sent them home months before the attack, but did nothing to protect us. That’s right, the last time an invading nation that you said you would protect us from attacked, you surrendered in 2 days and left 20,000 people to suffer, many falling victim to the most atrocious of war crimes. But we are strong and we survived not just that ugly war but also the losses that came after. When you returned in 1944, you leveled our island with your bombs, leaving most families without a home to return to. We were scattered and displaced so you could build your enormous bases. And we were so grateful to you that our people served and continue to serve your military and die for your freedom in higher numbers per capita than you…
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Inventor, architect, and author Buckminster
Fuller lived to the age of 87. For 63 of those years, he kept a detailed
scrapbook diary that documented every day of his life. It included his
reflections, correspondence, drawings, newspaper clippings, grocery bills,
and much other evidence of his unique story. I would love to see you
express yourself with that much disciplined ferocity during the next two
weeks. According to my astrological analysis, you’re in a phase when you
have maximum power to create your life with vigorous ingenuity and to
show everyone exactly who you are.