HEY YO! - Have we got what it takes to respect the jewells of a cityscape? Cincinnati, Save Our Icons!
Monday the Hamilton County Commissioners will be asked to allow the citizens of our county to vote on saving Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and Music Hall. Two great buildings which define our community.
Somedays I feel we have come far towards a diverse and inclusive society and other days I am troubled. Today was a troubling day for me. Today I celebrated the life and legacy of Juanita M. Adams with over 400 others at the Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. I was one of 4 white faces in attendance.
In many such funerals this may not be surprising because churches and schools remain the most segregated institutions in the US. Yet Juanita Adams lived her life broadly, she touched the lives of all of us. As a city staffer for 40 years, a leader in many organizations and as a co-chair of more galas than many people will ever attend benefiting a wide range of community organizations including Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. She lived her life among and for the benefit of all of us whether our complexion is light or dark.
Juanita was willing to engage in any endeavor for good regardless of the race of those who benefitted. I would have thought this celebration would have been much more inclusive.
Perhaps this is a reflection that while many of us are committed to inclusiveness we remain uncomfortable with the culture of the African American community and in particular the Black Church experience. Minorities have no option but to participate in the majority population’s culture. If we aspire to reach the full potential of our society, the majority must be purposeful in experiencing and valuing the culture of all those in our community. It would be a wonderful way to honor the life of Juanita M. Adams.
Union Terminal opened 81 years ago today. Imagine how people in 1933 must have been astonished when then entered the doors and saw the magnificent rotunda. Well, come to think of it, it is the same reaction they have today!
Today at 7:30 AM the moon was still over Union Terminal. (at Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal)
Damon SuperLynch, 75 yrs. old, powerful & my friend. (at New Jerusalem Baptist Church)
The streets of Calcutta we walked today.
Kolkata (Calcutta), India is the cultural capital of India and also known as the “City of Joy.” Today was one of life’s amazing experiences seeing the separation of the wealthy from the poor the separation of the different levels of poverty, created by the caste divisions and the many religions living side by side in the slums. The city is 14.5 million people, filled with beautiful lush gardens along side streets filled with squaller. Nothing I had learned prepared me for the reality I experienced tonight.
I have travelled here to personally experience the human impact of human trafficking in India as the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center works to educate and bring awareness the human trafficking and slavery which exists today.
At the Freedom Center we know that the 300 years of slavery in America has impacted our society in profound ways which continue today.
The work of International Justice Mission, Jeevan Aadhar in Mumbia started by Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA and the Mahimia Transition Home in Calcutta. www.mahimaindia.org is inspiring. I have seen hope in the eyes of the girls in these programs.
In the good moments we have seen evidence of the words of the writer of Corinthians, that “faith, hope, and love abide” We have seen the faith of the individuals who are called to serve these girls, the hope which their efforts bring into the lives of these children and the love one we are to have for others which is the agent of change.
But, we have also talked with girls who are not yet teenagers to those who are in their 20s who have been slaves. Slaves not in an abstract way but slaves no different than the account of Solomon Northrup in the newly released film Twelve Years a Slave. Northrup, like these girls was a free person, then Northrup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery as they also were kidnapped and sold into slavery. Today a young women told of leaving her home on a farm for the first time as a young girl, when she was told there was employment for her in Calcutta. She was kidnapped, all contact with her family was cut off and the work was to be a sex worker in Calcutta.
I knew the data, 2 million girls have been sold into the global sex trade - 1 million of them are in India. They are bought and sold for $100 and can be as young as 7 years old. However, the data and the knowledge can never prepare one for the reality of watching this data manifest itself in front of your eyes, of seeing it pervasive in a community and seeing a neighborhood going on with its daily business with no regard for what is happening in its midst.
Tonight from 5-6:00 PM we walked through the Sonagachi section of Calcutta where it is estimated 10,000 prostitutes work in a one square meter area. We walked for one hour, in this afternoon/early evening time period. I saw over 1,000 prostitutes standing ten to a door step with their children all about them. The saturation and the magnitude was overwhelming.
The environment was the paradox of life. Women selling themselves for less than one dollar to any willing payor. There were the five young boys who with five young prostitutes, scampered into a building for sex. This as next door the shopkeeper sold goods, the printer produces posters and craftsmen built large masks for an upcoming holiday parade. The commerce included the sale of these young minor-aged girls as naturally as the shopkeeper sold a rug, basket or clothing.
Thousands of Women in the City of Joy are without Love or Hope.
There was no Joy for these girls in the city which has Joy as its motto. The magnitude is such it can eviscerate the hope created by the great work of passionate people who are working to give lives to these innocents of the streets. As we walked Brian in our group received a text from his daughter in Cincinnati. His teenage daughter told him she loved him on her birthday. As he thought of the love of his daughter, he saw the faces of these daughters who, in the City of Joy, were without hope, knew no love nor their family.
What can we do? Is this just a reality of the world which we acknowledge and go on with our lives or do we engage?
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
The solutions are not clear to me but the calling to do what is right should be clear to us all. Today, let us be committed to do our part to bend history, not to document it for others. These girls deserve joy, even in Calcutta.
Compared to other countries, we fail in math & science.
In the growing global marketplace, students will need to excel in both math and science to compete internationally as engineers, scientists, physicians, and creative entrepreneurs. Yet, in an assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 15-year-olds in the U.S. placed 25th out of 30 countries in math performance and 21st in science performance.