Boston History: Mayor Kevin White & My Father

Boston Mayor Kevin White
Left to right: Barbara Christopher (8th grade), Boston Mayor Kevin White, Mrs. Gardner, Dallos Perry (8th grade), Thomas Johnson. (February 4, 1971)

Last week, while looking through photos at my mother’s house, I found this rare gem. A picture from 50 years ago!

Since my father’s passing in 2018, it’s especially nice to find “new to me” old photos of him. And this one is for the history books. He’s with then Boston Mayor Kevin White.

I’m not sure exactly what the occasion was for this photograph, but it must have had something to do with his work as a Boston school teacher. He taught in the Boston Public School system for more than 20 years. Writing found on the back of the picture gives the names and date.

The timing of finding this picture seems especially poignant. Sometimes it feels like overall not much changes in the world. But it does. Step by step.

The week that I found this picture, showing one of Boston’s most influential mayors from last century, Kim Janey made history as the city’s first woman and first Black mayor of Boston. Janey is the 55th mayor and White was the 51st.

And the way it happened was completely unexpected! I remember being so excited when Michelle Wu decided to run for mayor back in September. Then just weeks later, Andrea Campbell put her hat in the mayoral ring. Boston could have a woman of color as mayor!

Then several others decided to run and there’s been speculation about even more. With so many people, it wasn’t as exciting anymore and I was over it. After all, I don’t even live in Boston, so I wouldn’t actually be voting.

But then, out of the blue, President Biden tapped Mayor Walsh for Secretary of Labor. Suddenly, we have a Black woman becoming mayor during Women’s History Month. And the mayoral election had nothing to do with it. Plot twist!

When the time is right, change happens in ways we can never imagine. Like the way the first woman mayor in the United States was elected back in 1887. It was supposed to be a cruel joke — only Susanna Madora Salter won.

My father loved politics and was quite the conversationalist. When a major event happens, I always wonder about conversations we would have had. Which makes me think even more about this picture.

Since the opportunity presented itself, I’m sure my father must have said something to Mayor White. I can only imagine. But on that day back in 1971, Mayor White got the chance to have a conversation with Thomas Johnson. Which is something that I now miss everyday of my life.

Quote of the Week: Amanda Gorman

“We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.

In the norms and notions of what just is

isn’t always justice.

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,

but simply unfinished.”

~ Amanda Gorman

Watching the inauguration this past Wednesday was a breath of fresh air — a spiritual cleansing for the nation.

The previous two Wednesdays featured an insurrection and then an impeachment. It was heartbreaking. While our democracy is still in a very fragile state, it feels good knowing that our current president, unlike the previous one, is not actively seeking to harm our country.

So I will bask in the balm of Amanda Gorman’s words. This amazing young woman, the National Youth Poet Laureate, is helping us move in the right direction.

Sea Us Now & Black Beach Culture

Photo from Sea Us Now

As a Virgo Sun and Taurus Rising, my astrology is deep into the earth. That may explain why I love my plant babies so much!

But some of the best times in my life take place near water. Not long ago, I learned that I’m a Scorpio Moon, which adds some water to my chart. Growing up on the East Coast may have a lot to do with it too. Living in Quincy, Massachusetts, I’m just a couple of miles from the beach. When I open the windows in the summer and the wind blows just right, I can smell the salty air — one of my favorite scents.

There was a pool in the apartment complex where I grew up, so I swam a lot. I loved doing handstands under water and playing Marco Polo. I lounged by the pool almost everyday during the summers and played ping-pong in the cabana. As children, my brother and I took swimming lessons at the local college. Our parents brought us to the beach for picnics and lots of swim time on the Cape. As a young teenager, I even went to marine science camp.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized many considered it unusual for African Americans to swim. When you think about movies showing beach culture, often focused on surfing, someone like me usually isn’t there. But things are changing.

On Instagram, I found a group of Black women surfers calling themselves Textured Waves. Their website describes who they are and their goal.

Textured Waves [w]as created to propagate the culture and sport of women[‘]s surfing towards women of color and underrepresented demographics through representation, community and sisterly camaraderie. We value integrity, inclusion and advocating diversity in the water.

In the early summer, Textured Waves premiered a short film called Sea Us Now, which was created in collaboration with Seea, a progressive women’s surf brand. The film itself is extremely short, but the conversation around it is fascinating and worth watching.

It reminded me of the importance of creating something for the future. Documenting that yes, Black women surfers are out there enjoying life right now. Their existence shows a roadmap for the next generation. The conversation alludes to the precarious history of African Americans and water. Our African ancestors were brought to this country in ships. Many suffered horrifying deaths at sea and those who lived witnessed it. There is also a strong history of racial discrimination at public swimming pools in this country. If we look at the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, even our drinking water is harmful. African Americans have ancestral and current trauma involving water that needs healing.

The joy of Sea Us Now starts that aquatic healing. It feels like a daydream. The women of Textured Waves in colorful bathing suits catching the waves. The sound of moving water, peaceful music and driving in a vintage car by the seashore. Carrying their surfboards. Palm trees and ice cream. Short vignettes of style, beauty and warm weather. Flowering trees blowing in the breeze along with their natural hair. Sisterhood. A carefree afternoon. Time for reflection and dreaming. The gift of exercise on the beach. Black health and wellness.

They describe the film as “a re-imagining of our history with the coastline and the sea” and “a love letter to our past and our future.”

If you want to skip right to the film, it starts a little after 25 minutes and goes until almost 30 minutes. But I do hope you watch the conversation.

It’s quite striking that the timing of the film’s release was in the midst of the protests after George Floyd’s death. Watching the video of his murder made me physically hurt. This film is like a balm for the body and soul. In the midst of everything, we can still find happiness and peace. We always have. That’s how we’ve survived.

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Screenshot: YouTube

Ocean Spray All In On The Dreams Challenge

 

Ocean Spray Dreams Challenge

By now you’ve probably seen the viral video by @Doggface208, where he peacefully glides along on his longboard, singing Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, while joyfully chugging down a big jug of Ocean Spray Cran·Raspberry juice.

What’s not to love? Great song. Happy guy. Delicious and healthy juice. Plus I love the local connection with Ocean Spray. Their corporate headquarters are in southeastern Massachusetts, fairly close to where I grew up. I remember visiting cranberry bogs as a kid. But I digress.

So anyway, sales and streams of the song skyrocket. Fleetwood Mac gives their nod of approval on Twitter. Then Mick Fleetwood makes his own video doing the same.  A new meme is born – Cranberry Dreams or Dreams Challenge.

The man behind @Doggface208 is named Nathan Apodaca. A recent profile of him in the Los Angeles Times shares that he buys the large jugs of juice to save money and drinks about one a day. “The colder, the better.” According to the article, his car battery had died the day he recorded the now famous video and he was on his way to work.

Since he was having problems with his car, Ocean Spray surprised him with a brand new truck! A video was posted a couple of hours ago on their Instagram feed. Of course the truck is filled with more than enough juice to last for a little bit. Ocean Spray CEO, Tom Hayes even did his own version of the Dreams Challenge.

I wonder who’s next!? Does this thing have momentum? Stay tuned.

*Updated 10/8/2020* The answer to the question about momentum is absolutely yes! Have you seen the fly from Pence’s head during the debate? Take a look at this hilarious video with the sound on.

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Screenshot: Ocean Spray Instagram

Quote of the Week: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined US Supreme Court August 1993

Dissents speak to a future age. It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.’ But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.    ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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I took this picture of the steps of the United States Supreme Court in August 1993. At the time, I was applying to law schools and visiting different campuses. This trip to Washington, D.C. was a personal pilgrimage of sorts. I felt that I should see the seat of government in person before becoming a lawyer. I love a good ritual and traveling too, so it was perfect for me.

Before the trip, I got a visitor’s pass to the House of Representatives and sat in while they were in session. It was a free for all and the behavior reminded me of a bunch of kindergartners. The representatives were walking all over the place, shouting and talking over each other. The gavel was repeatedly pounded and many requests were made to come to order. I remember feeling disappointed and dismayed. No wonder the country had so many problems!

It was harder to get a pass to visit the Senate, so I wasn’t able to see the behavior. The Senate is supposed to be more dignified. Maybe then. But the way things are now, I know better.

While I was there, I took a short tour of the public parts of the Supreme Court, but did not see the Court in session. I’m not sure what day in August 1993 I was there, but on August 10th, Ruth Bader Ginsburg took her seat. I never thought about it before, but I was there at a very historical time.

The United States is a better place because she served. Her death last night was such a blow. RBG held on for as long as she could. I hope that she is at peace.