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Brief Mars "flower" blog comments, plus some Reverend Jesse Jackson memories on this MLK, Jr. holiday weekend of remembrance

  • Blog Post by: Barry ZeVan
  • January 21, 2013 - 3:19 PM

MARS: Thanks to commenters "hardrain" and ""tdietsche" for their valid observations about my Martian "flower" blog. Mea culpa. My enthusiasm for the possible fact there might have been any vegetation growing on Mars should have been followed by my looking for additional stories, which as ""tdietsche" noted, surfaced (no pun intended) almost immediately, stating some scientists' original thoughts were overturned upon further examination the "flower" was simply a bright part of a Martian rock. I think if I'd inserted the word "if"  regarding the possibility of vegetation growing there, it would have made all the difference. Regardless, once again, mea culpa, but I hope, along with many others fascinated by subjects astronomic and cosmos-driven, we WILL finally learn our planet's characteristics have been replicated many times throughout the universe, and even if that boils down to something as simple as a floral growth, it will be wonderful (and humbling) news. 

REVEREND JESSE JACKSON: I first became acquainted with Reverend Jackson when he was a frequent guest interviewee on our WJLA-TV, Channel 7, newscasts in Washington, D.C., circa 1974 through 1977. I was doing the weathercasts there then, but there was still chat-time during his visits. In 2000, I was retained to be consulting producer (and talent finder) for a ten-hour TV series entitled THE REMARKABLE 20TH CENTURY, which aired on PBS stations and was available in Barnes & Noble and other bookstores which carried tapes (no predominance of DVDs in program sets then). I suggested getting former ABC-TV news colleague Howard K. Smith to be the host. Howard kindly agreed. Howard's daughter, Catherine (Cate) had worked as a producer at our station in the mid-1970s, thus the Howard K. connection was even stronger. Sadly, she's the only Smith of that family left, except for the late Jack Smith's progeny, and Cate's children. She lives in the L.A. area now and we still keep in touch occasionally.

One of the interviewees I was glad to get for THE REMARKABLE 20TH CENTURY was Reverend Jackson. We did the interview in a hotel room in Santa Monica. It had been arranged by one of his Rainbow Push Coalition assistants,  Dr. Karin Stanford, who now teaches at Cal State-Northridge. One of the questions I asked Reverend Jackson was how he became so interested in civil rights. After he related the story to me, Dr. Stanford told me she had never heard him tell that story, and here it is: He said his grandfather was a truck driver and always let young Jesse sit behind him when he drove the truck. Jesse told me he was fascinated with how his grandfather worked the gearshifts. When Jesse's mother took Jesse on his first public transportation bus ride, young Jesse planted himself right behind the driver so he could watch him shift the gears, too. Jesse told me the bus driver said, "You'd better get to the back of the bus, boy.". Jesse told me his mother said, "The driver's right, son. You and I have to go to the back of the bus.". Jesse said he was puzzled, but accepted it. The next year, Jesse's mother was taking him to his first day of grade school. He said they walked toward a nice brick school building, but kept walking. Jesse thought the nice building was his grade school. He asked his mother why they continued walking past that building. He told me she said, "Oh, that's for other children. This is your school." They walked up to the building a short distance from the "nice" school. It was dilapidated and obviously not as up-to-date as the other school building.  

Jesse told me it was then he realized for the first time that people of his race, in those days, didn't enjoy the same privileges as those "other children", as Jesse's mother diplomatically described them to her six year old son. Hearing him tell it was, to me, historic, as some people sometimes never realize the geneses of thoughts and actions encountered in youth are the seeds that propel high-profile action in adult years.

Now we have an African-American President being sworn in for a second term and are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of whom Reverend Jackson was, as is well-known, one of the strongest members of Dr. King, Jr.'s inner circle. Remembering seeing Reverend Jackson crying obvious tears of joy in Chicago's Grant Park the night President Obama won the election in 2008, I wondered if he was also remembering those gearshift days as a significant part of his jusitifed emotional mix that night. 

Thanks for taking the time to read these geezer thoughts and remembrances, and wishing you a blessed Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday tomorrow. If you're so inclined, please also see other geezer thoughts on my SENIOR MOMENT webcasts at www.startribune.com/video, then click to LIFETSYLES. Thanks!

 

  

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