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Mary Seacole: Black British Heroine

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Thanks to a Clipmarks clipper from the UK named MickFinn, I’ve been amazed by the heroic story of Mary Seacole. Here’s MickFinn’s intro:

Mary Jane Grant was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. Her father was a Scottish soldier, and her mother a Jamaican. Mary learned her nursing skills from her mother, who kept a boarding house for invalid soldiers. Although technically ‘free’, being of mixed race, Mary and her family had few civil rights – they could not vote, hold public office or enter the professions. In 1836, Mary married Edwin Seacole but the marriage was short-lived as he died in 1844.

clipped from

Mary Jane Seacole was a mixed-race British nurse. . . Seacole was taught herbal remedies and folk medicine by her mother . . .
[O]f a nomadic disposition, on hearing of the terrible conditions of the Crimean War and certain that her knowledge of tropical medicine would be of use, she travelled to London and volunteered as a nurse . . .
Although an expert at dealing with cholera, her application to join Florence Nightingale‘s team was rejected . . . She then borrowed money to make the 4,000 mile journey alone . . .
[S]he distinguished herself, treating the wounded on the battlefield, on many occasions treating wounded soldiers from both sides while under fire . . .
Following the cessation of hostilities in 1856 she found herself stranded and almost destitute, and was saved from penury by the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces . . .
Today she is noted not only for her bravery and medical skills but as “a woman who succeeded despite the racial prejudice of influential sections of Victorian society”

A watercolour of Mary Seacole, with sleeves rolled up ready for action. c.1850.


The only known photograph of Mary Seacole, taken for a carte de visite by Maull & Company in London in c.1873.1873:
  blog it

I wonder how many thousands of such heroes there are, of whom I’ve never heard. You know of her?

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Written by Monte

February 13, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Posted in healthcare, Race, Women

Ma and Pa Clinton Flog Uppity Black Man

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Why Hillary’s race comments matter

I saw two groups excusing Senator Clinton’s suggestion that LBJ made Martin Luther King, Jr., successful.

The first comprised middle-class white people, who reverted to the rolling of eyes and labeling the controversy “just politics” (the implication being that no sensible person would see the comment as anything significant—along the lines of “these blacks are so touchy!“*) The second set was the older, authoritarian set of African-American civil rights leaders (their implication being “The Clintons are icons; we’ll not allow that talk.”)

Ishmael ReedA deeper view was offered by author Ishmael Reed: “[Bill] Clinton was able to seduce black audiences, who ignored some of his actions that were unfriendly, even hostile, to blacks.”

Reed is brilliant (the headline above is his, for instance), and I encourage you to ponder his entire post, which details the Clinton record, then thumbnails the history of black America’s rocky relationship with white feminism. To pique your curiosity, a couple of excerpts, followed by a video of Hillary’s comments: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Politics, Poverty, Race, Religion

Harkin: An Apology For Slavery

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Iowa’s Sen. Tom Harkin spoke on June 18th in support of a bill that made an official government apology to black Americans for slavery in the United States, and for the government’s long failure to act against it. I am proud that one of my state’s Senators was a key mover in the apology. Every time America honestly faces the dark sides of its past, we become a better people.

Does it end racial division? Of course not. But, as with all trauma, healing only happens in small steps. Words are always part of those steps.   Some may say “Talk is cheap, nothing is solved, this Senate didn’t cause slavery anyway.”  But we are responsible for our history, and I’ll take an apology over official silence any day.

Today, Senator Tom Harkin delivered remarks on the Senate Floor just prior to the passage of S. Con. Res. 26, which he introduced and co-sponsored. The transcript follows.

“Madam President, the clerk just read for the first time ever in this body what we should have done a long time ago. An apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws which, for a century after emancipation, deprived millions of Americans their basic human rights, equal justice under law and equal opportunities. Today the Senate will unanimously make that apology. Read the rest of this entry »

Pagan Abraham, father of three religions (part 1)

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A sermon (and a worship gathering sequence— Proper 8 A), preached in June of ’05 at home at New Oaks Church in Washington, IA.

Monte: [God] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15 NRSV)

But how? And when? Ancients thought of time differently than we do – what did it even mean?  And why millions of descendants?

If you could have one thing from God, would you ask for millions of descendants? Is that what you were aching for as you came in this morning?

Abram’s world, 4,000 years ago, was almost incomprehensibly different from ours. The birth of Jesus, 2,000 years ago, in a world so different from our own, is only halfway back to Abram.

I wonder what God was really saying to Abram. I wonder how Abram understood it.

And now, after 40 centuries, I wonder how it could possibly speak to me?

Pray Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

June 26, 2008 at 3:47 pm

No points for passwords [Readings for June 1, 2008]

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“Did you pray X? And what did God say he would do if you prayed X? Then what has he done for you here tonight?”

Modernism leaves us no peace unless everything is black or white, one way or the other. Red or Blue. Pro-choice or pro-life. For us or against us. Government assistance or “up by your own bootstraps.”

Either-or thinking has its problems. For one, it’s usually fiction. I’d be reluctant to trust someone who could see no value in any of the positions above; they all, at their best, bring elements of the nature of Jesus to a discussion.  Can you see him there, in each place?

And either-or thinking has brought us to a place in evangelicalism where, because the next world matters, it can be all that matters. Or where because faith matters, the life I live doesn’t matter. Or where the Bible says X, X is wooden truth in every instance.

Fortunately, Jesus Christ is wonderfully pre-modern. Watch him look beyond such artificial divisions, into the complexities of the heart, in this Matthew reading.

Proper 4 (9); June 1, 2008

Genesis 6:9-22;7:24;8:14-19; Psalm 46; Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28, (29-31);

Matthew 7:21-29

21-23″Knowing the correct password-saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance- isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience-doing what my Father wills. I can see it now-at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Politics