NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Friday October 23rd 2020

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The Alley October 2020 issue

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Midtown Phillips Cleanup

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!!! VOTE !!!

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Ventura Village Neighborhood news

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Remaining COVID-free as we move indoors

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The Forest Through the Trees

Raise Your Voice 

By PETER MOLENAAR 

Folks from this part of the world are familiar with the “signers” who regularly occupy every niche at the intersection of Franklin and Cedar avenues. For some, it is a desperate way to “make ends meet”, while others panhandle for their next “fix” of heroin. Normally, I avoid eye contact. Hey, the new land lord raised my rent by over $300.00. Social Security, plus a union pension and one “odd job” barely covers expenses. So, I grow and sell vegetables in the summer months. 

One day… 

From his post at the intersection, a young mixed blood man beckoned. I recognized him from the community garden’s homeless camp. Window down, I elaborated my refusal to support the heroin trade. Then, while rubbing the site of his war wound, he explained that he was in constant pain and hoped to be admitted to a methadone program. This soldier reminded me of the guardsmen who had been deployed to protect the grocery at 26th Street… so polite and respectful. He accepted a squash from the back of my truck. 

Back to the Peace Garden… 

A hefty “two spirit” person was absconding with the fruits of my labor. I won the battle of words. She won the fruit. “Workers and Oppressed People Unite” sometimes ain’t easy. However, the main threat to our collective existence comes from “above”, not from “below”. 

Fascism, an inherent tendency within the capitalist system, has emerged now as a visible trend. It is a movement which fosters a union of all social classes (including a section of the working-class) with the most greedy, racist, and imperialistic section of the capitalists. As such, fascism constitutes a reactionary right-wing “popular-front”. Naturally, the left must respond with its own popular-front, i.e., the campaign of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

How to soothe the “ultra-left”? 

Hey, the relationship of forces exists in motion. Presently, we remain in the quantitative phase of the ‘revolutionary process’ which, in due time, will culminate in a “revolutionary situation”. Said another way: in the not so distant future, the national interest will be unresolvable under the present order. Only then, will public ownership of finance and industry commence with the people’s consent. To recognize this ‘dialectic’, one must “see the forest through the trees”. Cast your vote appropriately, please.

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Chadwick Boseman: The Bronze Man (1976-2020)

Movie Corner

By HOWARD McQUITTER II 

“The worst is Death, and death will have his day.” –William Shakespeare 

The day I heard Chadwick Boseman died, his death shocked my system. What’s more he was only 43 years old, dying of colon cancer. ( I’m all too familiar with colon cancer, thanks be to God I’m still here to talk about it.) 

Young, gifted, Black and handsome Mr. Chadwick came into the world on November 29, 1976, born and raised in Anderson, SouthCarolina, to Carolyn and Leroy Boseman. The likes of a Boseman– his voice, his expertise, his persona, his reverential treatment of scripts as a thespian not only causes little Black boys and girls to dream, but to do what God gives them as upcoming thespians: talent. 

Boseman leaves lasting marks in cinema by acting in biopics of African American icons such as playing baseball star Jackie Robinson in “42”(2013); college football great Vontae Mack in “Draft Day”(2014); R&B entertainer James Brown in “Get On Up” (2014) ; and first-time African American Supreme Cour Judge Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall”(2017). 

A lesser known fact– but just as important– Phylicia Rashad, famous for her role as BillCosby’s character wife on “The Cosby Show” as Clair Huxtable, was one of Boseman’s teachers in the acting classes at Howard University. Veteran actor Denzel Washington helped Boseman and other students to join an acting program at Oxford University. Hollywood had longtime doubts that a Black superhero with a majority Black cast could or would be a big seller at the box office. 

In 2018, all bets were off when the action/ adventure/ science-fiction movie “Black Panther” premiered, starring Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Micheal B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Forest Whitaker as Zuri, as part of an ensemble under the steady hand of director Ryan Coogler. 

“Black Panther” takes place in the idealistic kingdom of Wakanda where Black people actually rule. “Black Panther” surpassed nearly everybody’s expectations on the national and international scale. It was only the second movie by a Black director to gross over one billion dollars worldwide. (The first African American to have a movie gross over one billion dollars worldwide was F. Gary Gray’s “The Fate of the Furious “ in 2017.) 

“Black Panther” started out as a comic book by Steve Levy and Jack Kirby in 1966, the first Black superhero. There was talk of doing a movie entitled “Black Panther” having Wesley Snipes playing the title character, but the project never got off the ground. Like the late August Wilson (1945-2005), Chadwick Boseman dedicated his life around the life and history of Black People. 

Some of Chadwick Boseman’s Work In Film 

“The Express”(2008) (Floyd Little), 

“The Kill Hole”(2012) (Lt. Samuel Drake), 

“42”(2013) (Jackie Robinson), 

“Get On Up”(2014) (James Brown) 

“Draft Day”(2014) (Vontae Mack) 

“Message from the King”(2016) (Jacob King) 

“Gods of Egypt”(2016) (Thoth) 

“Captain America: Civil War”(2016) (T’Challa/ Black Panther) 

“Marshall” (2017) (Thurgood Marshall) 

“Black Panther” (2018) (T’Challa) 

“Avengers:Infinity War”(2018) (T’Challa/Black Panther) 

“Avengers:Endgame” (2019) (T’Challa) 

“21 Bridges” (2019) (Andre Davis) 

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”(2020) (Levee) 

“Da 5 Bloods(2020) (Stormin’ Norman) 

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Keep Calm

Peace House Community – A Place to Belong 

BY MARTI MALTBY 

American society seems to have become a lot less civil over the years. I know bullies and those who overreact to perceived slights have always existed, but it seems as though people now think it is their patriotic duty to accuse others of committing a moral wrong every time they hear something that offends them. These days conversations and social media aren’t used to establish mutual understanding as much as to tell other people why they are wrong. 

In some ways I can understand why this is happening now. Between the pandemic, economic collapse, social unrest, and the loss of routine and certainty, we should expect that people will be on edge. Emotions are running high, and people will react more strongly than usual to things that upset them. But on the other hand, panic never made anything better. (You can put that on a t-shirt if you think it will help anyone around you.) The middle of a crisis is when we most need calm, level-headed words and actions. Assuming the worst about others when things are already at their worst just adds to the problems. 

Minnesota history provides us with a wonderful example of dealing with crisis. On September 1, 1894, an inferno raced across Minnesota from south of Hinkley almost to Duluth. Depending on which account you believe, the fire destroyed over 200,000 acres in anywhere from six days to less than a day. (To put that in perspective, the Carr Fire that devastated northern California a few years ago took over a month to destroy a similar swath of land.) Because the Hinckley Fire moved so fast, the only ways to escape it were to find a body of water to hide in or to board a train. John Wesley Blair was the porter on a train that left Hinkley just ahead of the fire. While many of the people on the train were in hysterics, he moved calmly among the passengers, providing water and reassuring them. Eventually the train reached one of the rivers north of Hinckley, and because every car on the train was burning by that point (the carriages were, of course, made of wood), the engineer stopped the train and had the passengers head for the water. Blair patiently helped passengers off the train and then splashed water over the children in the river as the fire raged around them. Once the fire had passed and the temperatures began to drop in the evening, he gathered the survivors into groups to stay warm until rescue arrived. When Blair was asked later how he had stayed calm in the middle of the firestorm, he reportedly replied, “I just resolved I would not lose my head, and if I had to die, I would do it without making a fool of myself.” 

Today, we need more people who can follow John Wesley Blair’s example. Yes, things are worse than at any time most of us can remember, but that doesn’t mean we have to scream every time someone uses a phrase we don’t like or questions their political values. So, as much as it is an overused phrase, I will say to all of us, “Keep calm”. 

(For an excellent account of the Hinckley Fire and John Wesley Blair’s actions, check out Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 by Daniel James Brown.)

Not much is known about John Blair prior to the historic Hinckley Fire. He was born in Arkansas in 1853. Blair’s job as a porter for the Saint Paul and Duluth Railway Company likely involved hauling baggage, cleaning the train cars and seeing to passengers’ needs – which may have included everything from shining shoes to serving food and beyond. Like many Black men around the turn of the century, Blair likely found his work as a railroad porter to be a way to gain a steady income and a bit of upward mobility. But porters were also often mistreated, underpaid, overworked and subjected to countless indignities on the job. 
PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF THE HINCKLEY FIRE MUSEUM 

 

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VOTE 2020

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS 

As a voter in Minnesota, you have many rights—get to know them! 

HAVE TIME OFF WORK TO VOTE 

You have a right to take time off work to vote without losing your pay, personal leave, or vacation time. 

VOTE IF IN LINE BY 8 P.M. 

You have the right to vote if you are in line to vote anytime before 8 p.m. 

REGISTER ON ELECTION DAY 

You have the right to register to vote on Election Day if you can show the required proof of residence. 

SIGN IN ORALLY 

You have the right to orally confirm who you are and to ask another person to sign for you if you cannot sign your name. 

ASK FOR HELP 

You have the right to ask anyone for help, except for an agent of your employer or union. 

BRING CHILDREN TO THE POLLS 

You have the right to bring your children with you to vote. 

VOTE AFTER SERVING FELONY CONVICTION 

You can vote after you finish all parts of your sentence, including any 

probation, parole, or supervised release. 

VOTE IF UNDER GUARDIANSHIP 

You have the right to vote if you are under a guardianship, unless a 

judge has revoked your right to vote. 

VOTE WITHOUT BEING INFLUENCED 

You have the right to vote without anyone in the polling place trying 

to influence your vote. 

GET A REPLACEMENT BALLOT 

You have the right to a replacement ballot if you make a mistake on 

your ballot before you cast it. 

FILE A COMPLAINT 

You have the right to file a written complaint at your polling place if 

you are unhappy with the way an election is being run. 

BRING A SAMPLE BALLOT 

You have the right to take a sample ballot into the voting booth. 

VOTE EARLY 

Vote by mail or inperson September 18 

through November 2. 

ELECTION DAY: Tuesday, November 3

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What’s Old is New Again Quarantine and Vaccination

By SUE HUNTER WEIR 

In January 1900, health authorities were at odds over whether a young girl was suffering from chickenpox or smallpox. Four doctors determined that she had smallpox which would have required her to be quarantined, but Dr. Norton, Health Commissioner, insisted that she had chickenpox and accused Dr. Henry Bracken, Secretary of the State Board of Health, one of those who disagreed with him, of “creating an injurious panic without warrant just to belittle me.” Bracken argued in favor of aggressive steps to contain the spread of the disease, arguing that containing the outbreak was critical for the economy: “An epidemic of this kind stagnates business.” Editors of the Minneapolis Tribune chastised both men in an editorial on January 25, 1900: “It would seem as if two men occupying the important positions which they do would cooperate in matters looking to the spread of disease and the preservation of the health of the community.” 

All of this— the disagreements between health professionals, and arguments for and against quarantining patients to stop the spread of the disease— was the same then as it is now. The one thing that is different—and it’s a huge difference—is that there was a vaccine that was 95% effective for more than 100 years although many, perhaps most, people had not been vaccinated. 

In 1904, the city’s health inspectors had enormous power to enforce quarantine laws and to vaccinate people. In January, the city reported only one case of smallpox compared with twenty or thirty per day the previous year. That quickly changed. In February, four students at Augsburg Seminary (now Augsburg College) were infected with smallpox, and health inspectors vaccinated every instructor and student on campus including two “anti-vaccinationists” who showed up with guns. It’s not clear how authorities persuaded the two to be vaccinated, but they did. Ole Jacobson, who was “suffering from smallpox complicated with other maladies, which tend to unsettle his mental faculties,” made three unsuccessful attempts to escape from the Quarantine Hospital before staff tied him to his bed.Homes of those who suffered from smallpox had a yellow card on the door that identified theirs as a quarantine house and anyone who lived there could be arrested if they were seen out and about. 

The early good news from 1904 came to a tragic end in April 1904, when Joseph H. Lockwood died from what doctors originally thought was apoplexy. His funeral was held on Easter Sunday and was attended by members of his immediate and extended family. Within a month, six of them had died. By the time that the disease had run its course, the only members of Joseph Lockwood’s family to survive were his wife, Melinda, and one daughter, Helen. Melinda Lockwood had nursed her adult children through what must have been a devastating and heartbreaking ordeal. The Lockwood family was not the only family to lose loved ones to smallpox but they were the most hard hit so much so that the pandemic was named the ‘Lockwood Contagion.” 

The six family members of the Lockwood family who died from smallpox are buried in Section 4 of the Cemetery which is the loop at the end of the Cemetery’s only road. Eleven other family members who died earlier,and from other causes, are buried in various locations throughout the Cemetery. Joseph H. Lockwood was the third great-uncle of Lu Jacobson, one of Friends of the Cemetery’s most active volunteers and supporters. In 2011, Lu had a marker placed on the six graves in Section 4 and has been adding two or three individual markers for other family members every year: 2017-Ira and Leland Lockwood; 2018; Maud Mabel Lockwood; 2019 Charlotte (Lottie) and Phebe Irene Lockwood and in 2020 Harry C. and Lawrence Lockwood. There are four others that she plans to have marked in the next two years. 

The six family members of the Lockwood family who died from smallpox are buried in Section 4 of the Cemetery which is the loop at the end of the cemetery’s only road. Eleven other family members who died earlier, and from other causes, are buried in various locations throughout the Cemetery. Joseph H. Lockwood was the third great-uncle of Lu Jacobson, one of Friends of the Cemetery’s most active volunteers and supporters. In 2011, Lu had a marker placed on the six graves in Section 4 and has been adding two or three individual markers for other family members every year: 2017-Ira and Leland Lockwood; 2018; Maud Mabel Lockwood; 2019 Charlotte (Lottie) and Phebe Irene Lockwood and in 2020 Harry C. and Lawrence Lockwood. There are four others that she plans to have marked in the next two years. 

Photo by Tim McCall
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The People Are Coming Back

METRO TRANSIT 

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON 

Yesterday (14 September), I went for a bus ride to West Saint Paul to take a friend out to lunch for his birthday. It was one of probably less than a half dozen bus trips I’ve taken since COVID-19 became an issue. Partly this is because of COVID and partly because of debilitating back pain which keeps me from standing or walking very much. Anyway, one thing I noticed on this trip is that transit ridership has really sprung back to life. This is a good sign. 

On 12 September 2020, new transit schedules went into effect. Many routes are now back to normal, and others have seen significant improvements. As far as routes in the Phillips neighbourhood go, here’s the scoop: 

Routes 2, 5, 11, 14, 21, 22, 27, and the C Line are back to normal weekday schedules. 

Route 9 has seen improvements but is still not fully back to normal. 

Light Rail is back to running every 10 minutes, but does not run 11 PM to 5 AM. 

Other bus routes in Phillips are still suspended (these are mostly rush-hour-only routes like the 39 and 53). 

Unfortunately, or fortunately as your perception may be, paper schedules are still not being given out on the buses. Presumably this is for “sanitary” reasons. 

Well, anyway, we should keep supporting Metro Transit by riding buses and trains safely” (wear masks, keep social distancing, and don’t give the drivers a hard time about the rules), so that this nightmare ends as soon as possible. Vladimir Putin already has a vaccine, and we will soon have one too. 

So much has to be restarted in our society once the virus is under control. Functional transit is one piece of the puzzle. 

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