1. Be Thankful. We’ve got to learn to love each other. Learn to love each other.
2. Three farmers on their way to the dance – 1914.
The relentless unforeseen.
We are in the middle of history and how I imagine the world, really matters.
What are we walking towards?
3. Via Mental Floss. Sergeant Henry Johnson was an African-American in World War I and an American hero.
Still conscious, Roberts handed Johnson grenades to toss. When those ran out, Johnson began firing his rifle while being hit by bullets in his side, hand, and head. Quickly, Johnson shoved an American cartridge into his French rifle, but the ammunition and the weapon were incompatible. The rifle jammed. As the Germans swarmed him, Johnson began using the rifle like a club, smashing it over their heads and into their faces.
After the butt of the rifle finally fell apart, Johnson went down with a blow to the head. But he climbed back up, drew his bolo knife, and charged forward. The blade went deep into the first German he encountered, killing the man. More gruesome work with the weapon followed, with Johnson hacking and stabbing bodies even as bullets continued to strike him.
Johnson’s Wikipedia is a peek into our soul.
In 1918, racism against African Americans was common among white U.S. soldiers in the U.S. military, but French attitudes differed. Johnson was recognized by the French with a Croix de guerre with star and bronze palm, and was the first U.S. soldier in World War I to receive that honor.
Johnson died, poor and in obscurity, in 1929. From 1919 on, Henry Johnson’s story has been part of wider consideration of treatment of African Americans in the Great War. There was a long struggle to achieve awards for him from the U.S. military. He was finally awarded the Purple Heart in 1996. In 2002, the U.S. military awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross. Previous efforts to secure the Medal of Honor failed, but in 2015 he was posthumously honored with the award.
Returning home, now Sergeant Johnson participated (with his regiment) in a victory parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City in February 1919. Johnson was then paid to take part in a series of lecture tours. He appeared one evening in St. Louis, and instead of delivering the expected tale of racial harmony in the trenches, he instead revealed the abuse that black soldiers had suffered, such as white soldiers refusing to share trenches with blacks. Soon after this a warrant was issued for Johnson’s arrest for wearing his uniform beyond the prescribed date of his commission and paid lecturing engagements dried up.
5. I have a client. She’s African American. Her father died and he had amassed a significant estate before he died. He came from a dirt floor house in West Texas. When we first met, she noticed pictures of my kids. She gets who I am. Even though she knows who I am and that my boys are brown and that I kiss them goodbye every morning and goodnight every night she has told me numerous times that I cannot be part of her world. From the outside looking in, I’m a white attorney and the distrust level is high (I think she really likes and respects me because I’ve earned it). Despite who I am, she reminds me that I have to earn trust. It is not given, nor should it be. It should be earned.